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The Best Credit Cards, January 2013

In addition to the rewards program, for a limited time, new cardholders may qualify for a welcome bonus. After spending at least $1,000 on the card over the course of the first three months, you can receive 100 Reward Dollars. Also for a limited time, American Express is offering an introductory 0% APR on all purchases for twelve months. If you like the idea of a simple rewards program, consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.

Chase Freedom® Visa. If you are willing to do a little more work in return for the potential for higher cash back rewards, take a look at the Chase Freedom Visa. Every three months, Chase changes offers bonus categories that earn 5% cash back, but you need to call or go online to “activate” these categories to receive this bonus. Furthermore, the 5% you can earn is limited to a total spending amount of $1,500 each quarter, so the maximum you can receive from this bonus is $75.

For the last three months of 2012, the bonus categories were hotels and airlines, as well as purchases at Best Buy and Kohl's. The bonus categories for the first three months of 2013 is 5% cash back on up to $1,500 spent between January 1 and March 31, 2013 at gas stations, drugstores and Starbucks® stores. There are new 5% categories every three months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. In addition to the cash back program, Chase is offering $100 in bonus cash back after spending $500 on your new Chase Freedom Visa card over the course of first three months from account opening.

The best credit card for airline miles

Most often, the best way to make the most out of your credit card spending for your travel needs is to use the credit card that is tied directly to the airline you travel most frequently. For better or worse, United Airlines flies the routes I generally travel for the best prices, so I use a credit card where I earn rewards in the form of United MileagePlus points. There are cards that are more flexible for travelers who use multiple airlines or don't have one such frequently-traveled route.

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