Which Credit Cards Have The Most Restrictions On Rewards?

While many banks have nixed rewards programs for debit cards, credit card issuers still push these extras — things like cash-back, airline miles, and points that can be redeemed for purchases — as a way to attract new customers and retain existing cardholders. But when it comes time to earn or use those rewards, some cards are more friendly than others.

We recently wrote about the many catches and pitfalls associated with credit card rewards in general, but now In a new study, the folks at CardHub have gone a step further and compared rewards programs offered by the nation’s 10 largest credit card issuers.

The most common limitation on rewards programs involved a requirement that one meet a certain spending threshold before rewards could be redeemed. Nearly 80% of the cards in the survey had this condition.

It was a huge drop to the second-most common restriction — rewards that expired after a missed payment. About 1-in-3 cards had a zero-tolerance policy in this regard, while 54% of cards had a policy that resulted in partial loss of rewards for a missed payment.

Overall, Capital One cards had the fewest restrictions on rewards, while Discover’s credit cards had the most restrictive rewards policies. The company’s highly touted It Card was the lowest-scoring card in the CardHub report.

Discover’s cards fared poorly in all three categories — restrictions on maximum earnings; redemption limits; and rewards expiration. It brought up the rear in each category, tying with Citi and Barclaycard for last in the expiration column.

Barclaycard’s poor showing in that category was balanced out by its first-place score in the earnings category, where it tied with CapOne and Wells Fargo.

In terms of consumer-friendly expiration policies, Bank of America received the highest score, beating out CapOne, Chase, and American Express, which all tied for second place.