With rewards credit cards, you get rewarded for making everyday purchases like gas, groceries, or even your phone bill. These rewards typically come in cash back, points, miles, and sometimes statement credit — all of which can mean serious savings for spenders.
According to US News’ 2018 travel rewards credit card survey, 52% of Americans earned at least $300 from their rewards cards, while one-fifth earned over $1,501.
Credit card providers use rewards as an incentive for new customers and encourage existing cardholders to continue using their cards. Rewards programs vary from flat-rate earnings (e.g., two miles for every dollar spent) or bonuses for shopping in specific categories (e.g., three points to the dollar for travel, two points for dining and leisure, and one point for everything else).
When you open an account, the card provider will inform you about the program, such as how many points, miles, or cash back you can collect. For instance, you may receive 50,000 points for signing up and spending a certain amount of money. But how much are those 50,000 points worth?
The answer to this question can help you decide which credit card is the right one for you. To help you with the process, US News My Money explains what you need to know about credit card points.
How Much Are Credit Card Points Worth?
Typically, credit card points are the equivalent of one cent, but that doesn’t mean they always are. With some card providers, how much your points are worth depends on whether you redeem them for travel, cash back, gift cards, or products.
Suppose you earn 10,000 points. They may be worth $100 when you exchange them for gift cards. But if you redeem them for statement credit, they may only be worth $60.
Travel rewards are slightly different, as each point is worth about one cent with nearly every credit card issuer. Travel credit cards might provide a fair redemption rate for travel but less so for other alternatives. Some issuers may have a lower rate if you redeem your points for cash back, gift cards, or merchandise. On the other hand, some may have a higher value.
How Much Are Loyalty Program Miles Worth?
The reward points you earn from your credit card provider share similarities with the points and miles you collect from a loyalty program. However, there are a few key differences.
First, miles are generally connected with frequent flier programs. When you use a branded airline card, you earn miles when you travel with that company. Hotels and cruise lines are two other popular types of branded cards with loyalty programs. When you reserve a room or book a trip with the affiliated card, you can earn big points.
The miles and points you earn from a loyalty program are typically valued at one cent, though miles might not have a flat rate. How much your loyalty rewards are worth changes based on the flight, when you reserve your trip, class, and more.
Are Points Worth It?
As we mentioned earlier, credit card rewards can help you save big. However, that doesn’t mean getting a rewards card is right for everyone. For example, people who have difficulty paying a monthly balance, making timely payments, or controlling their spending won’t benefit from the rewards.
Making the most of your rewards credit card points can take some effort. While managing one card is simple enough, having several rewards cards can give you even more rewards. However, this also means fulfilling welcome bonus requirements and making sure you pay your balance off completely every month to maximize your rewards.
Having more than one credit card requires juggling minimum spending requirements and due dates. All of this effort may offset your desire to earn rewards. In addition, minimum spending requirements might cause you to spend more than you usually would. It’s never wise to go beyond your normal spending habits for the sake of rewards.
Plus, some credit card providers may not accept your application if you’ve already opened a few accounts over the last one or two years. Alternatively, they might only let you qualify for the welcome bonus for a specific card once. These restrictions can prevent you from racking up generous welcome bonuses.
The best rewards credit cards have generous earning and redemption value for the purchase you usually make. Make sure to check out any fees and what you must do to take advantage of a rewards program to get the most out of your card.
- US News Staff. “What Are My Points Worth?” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report, 1 Dec. 2020, creditcards.usnews.com/articles/what-are-points-and-miles-worth.