The difference between cash back and points is that the former is the most versatile type of credit card rewards, as it can be redeemed for anything, and there’s never any doubt about how much it’s worth. Points, on the other hand, have a value set by the credit card company and tend to be worth the most when redeemed for travel. Credit card companies won’t always clearly disclose points values, and those values can change over time. It’s possible that points could be worth 1 cent apiece one day and 0.8 cents each the next.… read full answer
You can spend points for many different things. Usually, you can trade them for travel, gift cards, unique experiences, charitable donations or even cash. There are no restrictions on what you can use cash for. You can typically redeem cash back for a statement credit, paper check, or direct deposit to a bank account. One thing credit card shoppers should watch out for are cards advertised as offering cash back that really provide points. For example, the Chase Freedom Flex℠ offers “5% cash back” in certain bonus categories. But what it actually gives is 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1, which cardholders can then trade for cash back at a rate of 1 cent each.
Earning rate: Usually at least 1% cash back or 1 point per $1 spent.
Devaluation: Points can be devalued by the issuer, while cash back can’t.
Redemption options: Statement credit, check or deposit for cash. Travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash and more for points.
When it’s the best choice: Points for frequent travelers. Cash back for everyone else.
Let’s take a look at two high-profile cards in a battle of cash back vs. points.
Citi Double Cash Card tops the cash back offerings with 2% cash back on all purchases and an introductory APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers, with a balance transfer fee of 3% intro fee ($5 min) for each transfer in first 4 months, after that 5% ($5 min) for each transfer. It also chases a $0 annual fee and requires good credit to get.
But if you’re a frequent traveler, Chase Sapphire Preferred is a more attractive option. It gives 5 points per $1 spent on travel purchased through Chase, 2 points per $1 on all other travel purchases, 3 points per $1 on dining and online grocery purchases, 3 points per $1 on select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. It has an initial bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. This card’s points are worth 1 cent each toward cash back or gift cards or 1.25 cents each toward travel. There’s a $95 annual fee and the card requires good credit.
For both cash back and points cards, you can expect to lose your rewards if your account closes for any reason. Most cards don’t let your rewards expire over time. But Citi Double Cash Card’s cash back expires if you don’t use your card for 12 months. And on points cards alone, your points can be devalued if the issuer decides to charge more points for its rewards. So, frequent redemption is essential.
So, the bottom line is that frequent travelers should check out points cards. Otherwise, cash is king.
Credit card points are worth an average of 1 cent apiece, though credit card point values usually range from 0.5 cents to 1.5 cents per point, depending on the card and the redemption method. For example, you might spend 2,500 points on a $25 gift card, but the same number of points might only get you $15 when redeemed for merchandise.… read full answer
More credit cards reward users with points than you might think, too. For instance, some so-called “cash back” cards actually give points, which cardholders can redeem at a rate of 1 cent per 1 point.
Average Credit Card Point Values by Issuer:
Type of Credit Card Points
Average Point Value
Average Value of 1,000 Points
American Express Membership Rewards Points
$0.0076 (less than 1 cent)
Bank of America Travel Rewards Points
$0.01 (1 cent)
Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
$0.0125 (1.25 cents)
Citi ThankYou Rewards Points
$0.01 (1 cent)
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Rewards Points
$0.015 (1.5 cents)
Wells Fargo Rewards Points
$0.01 (1 cent)
High Credit Card Point Values:
U.S. Bank FlexPerks Gold: 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for plane tickets, hotels, and rental cars.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 1 cent per point for other redemption methods.
J.P. Morgan Reserve: 1.5 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 1 cent per point for other redemption methods.
Chase Sapphire Preferred: 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 1 cent per point for other redemption methods.
Citi Premier: 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel through Citi ThankYou; 1 cent per point for gift card redemptions; 0.5 cent per point for cash back redemptions.
It’s important to note that credit card points can get devalued at any time by the card issuer. That means the point values listed above can change. Usually, card issuers will reserve the right to change rewards programs - including point values - in the card’s terms and conditions.
For example, a card issuer can decide that a $300 plane ticket should cost 1,000 more points than it does currently, which in turn lowers the redemption value of the reward point. That’s why cash back is usually a better value than points - $1 in cash back will always be worth $1.
You can redeem Commerce Bank credit card points for cash back (which is always issued as a statement credit), airline tickets, gift cards, fuel discounts, or merchandise.… read full answer
Here’s how to redeem your Commerce Bank rewards:
Cash Back: Minimum of 2,500 points needed to redeem. Available as a statement credit only.
Airline Tickets: If you plan to use points, you have to redeem at least 10,000 points per ticket. If your ticket is worth less than 10,000 points, you won’t be refunded those points.
Airfare must be purchased through the Commerce Bank Rewards Service Center, either online or over the phone at (800) 350-7193.
There’s no fee if you book online, but expect to pay a $40 fee for booking over the phone. You can use points, cash, or a combination to pay. Tickets are non-refundable and can’t be altered.
Gift Cards: Redeem your points for gift cards from retailers like Amazon, Bath & Body Works, AMC Theatres, Chili’s and more.
Fuel Discounts: Use your Commerce Bank credit card at a participating Shell or BP location to redeem 2,000 points for a 50-cents-per-gallon discount on up to 20 gallons of fuel. But if you pump less than 20 gallons of fuel, you still use all 2,000 points. You just have to visit the Commerce Bank Rewards page and select “Point of Sale” from the “Redeem” menu for Fuel Discount locations.
Merchandise: Spend points in “Commerce Bank Rewards” to buy products ranging from electronics to games and clothes.
Keep in mind that all Commerce Bank rewards points expire 3 years after you earn them, so it’s important to use them periodically. There are a few other restrictions worth noting, too.
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