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Most consumers view their credit cards as a great solution for unexpected or emergency expenses, but many of today's credit cards are actually a great way to turn even routine expenses into something that be quite a bit more rewarding. With points-based credit card rewards, which are now offered by the vast majority of credit card issuers, consumers can get points for every purchase they make. Those points can then be traded in for everything from flights and hotel stays to shopping passes, exclusive discounts, and free merchandise. There are a number of great options available, and they're all just a few clicks away.

Gaining Approval: Know Your Credit Score Before Applying for a Points-Based Card

Though points-based reward cards are now one of the most popular options for today's consumers, they're also among the toughest cards to get. That's because credit card issuers are essentially giving consumers not only a way to accrue debt and build a balance, but also a way to use that balance for "free" reward products. For this reason, consumers should typically have at least average credit before applying for a points card. Be sure to check the credit reporting information listed by the major bureaus before applying.

What to Know: Points Schemes Vary Between Banks and Lenders

Though it would be easy if one dollar spent on merchandise equaled one point earned toward a reward, that isn't always the case. Furthermore, many consumers find that one point earned does not equal one redeemable dollar in a credit card company's stores. For this reason, it's absolutely essential that customers pay attention to the fine print in each card's contract. Understand how points are earned, and be sure to read through the guidelines for redeeming points and calculating their overall value at the time of redemption.

Oftentimes, this insight into how points are earned and redeemed can be the deciding factor between the major points-based credit cards on the market. Be sure to pick the card that makes it easiest to both earn and use points, and look for a company that has a wide variety of redemption tiers so that even a low points balance can be put to use for merchandise, travel, or other pursuits.

Always Compare Points Cards Before Choosing Any of the Available Options

Like all credit cards, points-based reward options vary greatly between major issuers and the biggest financial institutions in Canada. Consumers should make sure to submit their credit information only to the company that offers a rewarding product with the best credit limit, the lowest interest rate, and the best points scheme.

The best way to conduct a thorough comparison of available points reward cards is to use a service like KANETIX, which shows each card's points system, potential interest rates, and other benefits, side-by-side with options from every major bank and issuer. It's the best way for consumers to get a good idea of which card will work with their spending habits, credit picture, and financial needs over the long-term.