One of the toughest things about comparing all the different rewards credit cards out there is that the credit card companies aren’t very good about showing you what your points can buy until AFTER you sign up. Go ahead, try and find the rewards catalog for a reward credit card without logging into the site.
Most reward programs sound the same. Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend with some specials here and there thrown in to maybe give you more points at grocery stores, gas stations or elsewhere. The catch though is that it doesn’t matter how many points you earn, what matters is what you can get with those points. Remember Chuck e Cheese and Showbiz Pizza? 10,000 tickets gets you an 8″ stuffed animal. What do 10,000 points get you from your credit card?
Less than two years ago I used 40,000 points on my Capital One Miles Reward card to get $400 worth of gift certificates to Baby’s R Us. I pretty much furnished the nursery for free. It was a great deal. I logged in at Christmas time this year (2007) looking to do the same for a pregnant friend. Imagine my shock when I found out that the rate was now 18,000 points for a $100 gift card, not 10,000. That is nowhere near as sweet of a deal. In fact, I’m looking for a new card to replace this one. But, look at the big splashy front page and all the comparison sites out there and all you’ll see is that $1 gives you 1 point.
So, in hopes of helping everyone, I am collecting rewards point catalogs from all credit card companies. I’ll try and get as many as I can, but I just explained how they can be hard to get, so I’m asking for your help. Download your rewards catalog, or scan the one they sent you in the mail and email it to me at thegourmet@financegourmet .com I’ll turn them into pdf files and we’ll get a catalog going here that anyone can use. Don’t worry, if there is any identifiable information on it, I’ll black it out before it gets posted.