Watch out for reward card restrictionsHow providers make it tricky to claim your rewards

26 June 2013

New research from Which? Money has found that some of the best-looking reward credit cards on the market come with fiddly restrictions that could see customers losing out on their hard-earned rewards. 

When we investigated the major credit card reward schemes available, we found that many force customers to cash in your points - regardless of whether you want to - and others restrict the way you can redeem your rewards, making it difficult to use them.

Watch out for expiry dates on vouchers

The House of Fraser, Debenhams, John Lewis, Amazon and Laura Ashley reward cards automatically send vouchers once you hit a certain points threshold - preventing you from saving up points for a big purchase. You could save up the vouchers, but some have short expiry dates, so unless you use them quickly you'll lose the benefits entirely.

House of Fraser's vouchers expire after just three months, and Laura Ashley and Debenhams vouchers expire after six. And while Amazon vouchers expire after a more reasonable 12 months, you'll be sent a voucher each time you reach £10. John Lewis automatically sends out £5 vouchers, but they have no expiry date.

Redeeming your rewards online

Although vouchers can be convenient if you're shopping in store, it's not always the case if you're shopping online. only allows you to redeem your rewards as £15 or £20 vouchers. So if you've saved up enough points to buy a £500 holiday, you need to apply for 25 separate vouchers, and then input 25 separate voucher codes when you come to pay.

We think card providers should be more explicit about restrictions when customers take out their cards.

How to make the most of your reward card

To make the most of a reward or cashback credit card, you need to ensure you pay off your bill in full each month, to avoid paying any interest. Setting up a direct debit will help to avoid incurring charges for late payments.

Take a look at our round-up of reward cards to compare the different deals available and choose the best one for you.

More on this...

  • Best cashback credit cards - we round up the best deals available
  • Your rights when paying by credit card - our consumer rights guide explains how you're protected
  • Which? recommended credit card providers - find out which companies are rated the highest