Rewards credit cards can be amazing tools for you to earn valuable rewards on your spending if you play your cards right. Rewards credit cards are some of the best credit cards for savvy consumers who are looking to make each dollar they spend go further. In general, rewards credit cards let cardholders earn rewards points, miles or cash back on each dollar they spend on purchases.

That said, keep in mind that some rewards credit cards let you earn unlimited rewards while others may have a limit on the total amount of rewards you can earn. Also, some rewards credit cards let you earn a fixed amount of rewards across all your purchases while others let you earn rewards at an accelerated rate on certain types of purchases, say airline tickets, dining, groceries, gas, hotel bookings, etc. Some cards also have rotating categories that change quarterly or several times a year - some of these require that you enroll in the categories within a specific date range. It pays to do your homework and figure out which rewards credit card best suits your lifestyle and spending needs.

Depending on the specific rewards credit card you hold and your credit card company's rewards program, the type of things you can redeem your rewards for will vary. Broadly speaking, most rewards programs are quite flexible and allow you to redeem rewards for a range of things such as cold hard cash, travel, air miles, hotel stays, merchandise, gift cards, statement credit, etc.

The common types of rewards credit cards that are available on the market include cash back credit cards, hotel credit cards, airline credit cards, travel credit cards and bonus credit cards. The latter offers customers with excellent or good credit attractive sign-up bonus offers if they haven't had the cards before.

How do sign-up bonus offers work? Well, in order to lay your hands on a sweet bonus, you are usually required to spend a certain amount on your new card within the first few months of card approval. Each credit card is different, so read the fine print carefully before applying. It helps to you plan your purchases - especially big ticket items - ahead of time so you can take advantage of the generous sign-up bonus offers that require a certain amount of spending within a specific time frame.

How to make sure your rewards really count

The most important thing to do in order to ensure that your credit card rewards really count is to never carry a balance on your rewards credit card (or any other credit card for that matter). By not carrying a balance, you avoid inccuring interest charges and late payment fees. These fees and charges can easily erode the value of the rewards you have earned!

To make sure your credit card rewards equal real savings, adopt the good habit of paying your credit card bill in full and on time every month. Also, it helps that you factor in the cost of using your rewards credit card - some rewards credit cards come with annual fees while others do not.

Denise Bay is a staff writer at Email: