If you’re just starting to build credit, you’re probably eager to get your first rewards credit card. But deciding which credit card makes the most sense for you isn’t easy. Do you go for the card with the massive sign-up bonus, an airlines card, or a simple cash-back option? is an app that wants to help you decide. Should you use it? We dug into it to help you decide.
MaxRewards is a credit card “shopping” site and app that’s designed to help you maximize your credit card rewards.The app analyzes your spending to help you find the right card (or cards) to maximize rewards based on what you’re already spending. For example, if you’re a road warrior, it may recommend a credit card with huge category bonuses for gas station purchases. It recommends cards with lucrative sign-up bonuses, including several cards with no annual fees.Additionally, when you’re out and about, MaxRewards recommends which card you should use for a particular purchase to maximize the points you earn. For example, if you’re at Aldi, and you pull out MaxRewards, it will tell you to use your Amex Blue Cash Everydaycard which offers 5% cash back on groceries.On top of these features, MaxRewards tracks your monthly spending, your rewards account balances, and your credit score. These are “nice-to-have” features, but aren’t a huge draw. I expect that most people who use MaxRewards will already have access to spending recaps, budgets, and credit scores in some other financial apps.
I was impressed by MaxRewards’s portfolio of recommended credit cards, it included a few “sleeper” cards that I haven’t seen elsewhere. However, it also missed a few newer cards that have lucrative sign-up bonuses such as $300 in cash.Overall the mix of cards included travel cards that are beloved by travel hackers and cash-back cards with lucrative cash sign-up bonuses. A few cards with significant “category spending” rewards such as 3% to 5% back on groceries or dining made the cut too.MaxRewards is an app that can make a lot of sense no matter your spending habits. If you don’t spend much on credit cards, you might not qualify for the best “sign-up bonuses,” but MaxRewards will point you to cards that offer bonuses for small spending thresholds. Do you spend a lot on groceries but very little on dining out or travel? MaxRewards will help you find the right credit card.I personally think pulling out my phone to check MaxRewards for a card recommendation is an unnecessary hassle. However, you may find that worth a few extra pennies in rewards to check which card will help you earn the most rewards.All of these reward features are great for people that don’t have credit card debt, but don’t have the time (or desire) to become travel hackers.However, if you’re carrying around high-interest credit card debt, you need to stay away from MaxRewards. Routine overspending will ruin your financial life, and credit card rewards are a gateway drug to overspending. If you’re currently carrying a balance, instead of focusing on credit card rewards, you need to focus on 0% balance transfer credit cards. Getting a 0% interest rate, cutting spending as fast as possible, and increasing your income will help you get out of debt.
Overall, MaxRewards does a good job recommending high-quality credit cards to responsible people. I like that it considers the cards you already have in your wallet before recommending a new credit card. The spending analysis also makes a lot of sense.But before giving MaxRewards an overwhelming endorsement, I think it’s fair to include a few caveats. Don’t download MaxRewards if you’re in credit card debt. It’s too risky. Additionally, don’t sign up for too many cards at once. Work through one credit card sign-up bonus at a time to avoid overspending. Be careful about enrolling in cards with annual fees. Even if the fee is waived the first year, the fees can add up later on.If you can follow those three rules, feel free to use MaxRewards. It’s not a perfect app, but it will help you earn more rewards with less effort.