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Waiting for your tax refund? There are other ways to get cash back all year long

NBC News

Inflation is slowing and consumer confidence is rising, but so is credit card debt. That’s where rewards programs can help.

Most cardholders have access to them and are taking advantage at an unprecedented rate: The six largest U.S. credit card issuers paid $67.9 billion in reward redemption and partner payments in 2022, up 24% from the year before, LendingTree found, as Americans’ spending vaulted back from pandemic lockdowns.

Unlike the one-time boost from a tax refund, experts say many of the rewards available lately — to users of credit cards, debit cards and even “buy now, pay later” loans — can provide ongoing budgetary relief.

“With high prices and high interest rates, everybody’s looking to save money,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate. “The main message is to get money back for the things that you would have bought anyway.”

Consider cash-back cards (and their fine print)
As with any credit card, it’s unwise to carry a monthly balance if you can avoid it, especially since the average interest rate for a new credit card is 24.59%, according to LendingTree. Those fees could erode any cash back to be earned.

These offerings are mainly designed to keep buy now, pay later customers spending, said Sheridan Trent, director of market intelligence for TSG, a consulting firm focused on electronic payments. But she said they could encourage users to avoid amassing an unwieldy number of payment plans on multiple platforms.