By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – If you’re the kind of person who always pays your credit card bills on-time, some credit card issuers think you deserve a reward.  As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan finds, rewards are just one type of financial incentive that more and more companies are using to lure you in.

In the wake of the financial crisis, consumers like business owner Cheryl Laughlin are cautiously using plastic again, while remaining focused on paying down debt.

Greg McBride with says credit card issuers have taken notice, luring even high-risk customers with attractive offers that go beyond slashed fees and 0% introductory rates.  McBride says, “Credit card issuers, they don’t issue a card that’s designed to be a one size fits all for everybody. instead, they issue a variety of different cards, each one targeted to a specific type of consumer.”

The latest trend is rewarding consumers who pay on-time, or pay more than the minimum.  Perks include cash back or interest rate rebates.  While this provides incentive to pay down debt, Joe Ridout with Consumer Action says, “If you carry a balance even a couple of times a year, the interest you’re going to pay on a rewards card, which is always going to be higher, that will generally outstrip whatever rewards you’re building up.”

To make the most of the card you choose, experts recommend you:

– Evaluate its incentives.

– Pay off your debt before any interest free period is up.

– Focus on paying your balance in full each month.

According to McBride, “That will do two things. It will keep you out of debt but it will also help establish a strong credit history.”  One more thing to keep in mind – cards that reward good financial behavior still charge a fee if your monthly payment is late.   If you’re more than 60 days delinquent, your interest rate could take a big hit.

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