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Credit cards can be a convenient alternative to cash, and one that pays you back with perks from reward points to frequent flier miles. But those rewards may soon be getting less rewarding.

From cash back to free flights, credit card perks are nice to have… especially these days when every little bit helps. But just when you need it most, it seems like more and more banks are reducing the reward for pulling out that plastic. Example? It’s practically a tradition that 25,000 dollars put on a card would get you one free domestic airline ticket.

But some banks are now making a dollar spent equal to a penny’s worth of ticket. So if the ticket you want costs $400 bucks, you’ll need to spend $40,000 to get it.

Other companies are doing away with Double Rewards, or upping the points required to earn merchandise. You might see shorter expiration periods, higher redemption fees or caps on rewards. You might also see minimum monthly spending requirements: for example, in order to get double points, you might have to charge at least $1,000 a month.

How will you find out if your favorite program is on the chopping block? You might get a letter, or it might be buried in a monthly statement insert.

Bottom line? There are hundreds of cards out there and just as many rewards programs. And they change constantly and these days often not for the better. So before you plan on plastic perks paying for your next trip, best you pull out that fine print and give it a glance.

Stacy Johnson

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