Credit card reward redemption works a little differently for every issuer. But generally, you can redeem your rewards online or by calling your issuer’s customer service. Depending on your card, you may be able to redeem for travel, statement credits, paper checks, gift cards, merchandise and more. And you may get more value when redeeming for some things than others. The … read full answerChase Sapphire Reserve® card, for example, gives you 50% more value for your points when you redeem for travel.
Some credit card companies also have special rules and restrictions for reward redemption. For example, you might be required to earn a certain amount of rewards before you can redeem. Or you might have to redeem rewards in certain increments. In rare cases, like with the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, you might even receive your earnings just once per year.
Given how much reward redemption procedures can vary from credit card to credit card, it’s good to read a card’s terms and conditions carefully before applying.
Here are the basics of credit card reward redemption:
Credit card users can usually redeem rewards for travel, cash back (check or statement credit), gift cards, merchandise and more.
Most credit card companies let customers redeem rewards online or over the phone.
Each credit card company has its own reward redemption rules. Rules may dictate when you can redeem rewards, for example.
Your credit card’s terms and conditions will include information about reward redemption. Be sure to read them in detail.
Some scammers attempt to pose as a credit card “reward redemption center” to get your credit card details. Don’t give personal information to unsolicited callers.
There is a common phone scam where someone claims to be from the “Reward Redemption Center.” If you get this call, hang up right away and block the number. Don’t give them any personal information. The caller is trying to commit fraud, not to give you any real reward. Here’s how the scam works: they say you have won a free gift card, but you need to pay for shipping to get it. They do this to get your credit card number, then use it for fraudulent purposes.
So, the bottom line is don’t trust anyone who calls saying they’re from the “Reward Redemption Center.” Your credit card issuer will never call you like this. And if you’ve earned rewards on your card, you can take care of reward redemption on your own. The only true way to redeem rewards you’ve earned is directly through your credit card company.
Cash back vs. miles is a frequent debate among rewards credit card shoppers, but it’s like comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruit, or rewards that you earn on every purchase, in this case. And both have their virtues, though a lot depends on your personal tastes. For example, you always know how much cash back is worth, while miles tend to be more mysterious. Miles are also associated with travel, which is fun. But much like you can eat both an apple and an orange, there’s room in your wallet for a … read full answercash back credit card and a credit card with miles. The best approach is to use a cash back card with a high baseline earning rate for everyday purchases and a credit card with miles for travel expenses.
It’s still good to know how these two major rewards currencies compare, no matter how many credit cards you decide to get. So let’s take a look at some of their biggest similarities and differences.
Typical Redemption Method: Statement credit vs. Eligible travel expenses
Averages are from WalletHub’s 2021 Credit Card Landscape Report. And if you’re wondering, rewards devaluation is when a credit card company increases the number of points or miles needed for a certain amount of redemption value, which decreases the value any unredeemed points or miles you may have. That’s not a concern with cash back because a credit card company can’t change the value of a dollar.
Cash back is just a lot more straightforward than miles because it’s already in dollar terms. So you’ll always know exactly how much you’re earning on a particular purchase as well as how much your unredeemed rewards are worth. With credit card miles, you have to compare the number needed for a certain redemption item – a flight, for example – to how much that item would cost if purchased normally.
But cash back and miles credit cards have a lot in common, too. For example, you’ll find a similar mix of rewards programs among both types of cards. Some offer the same rewards earning rate on all purchases. Some give you more rewards in designated bonus categories, if only up to a certain amount spent. And others offer even higher bonus rates in categories that change every few months. You’ll also find initial bonuses on both types of cards but only on some offers in each group.
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