Are non-travel statement credit redemptions worthwhile?

Jun 2, 2020

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It’s no secret that nine times out of ten, you’ll get the best redemption value when you use your travel rewards points on, well, travel (especially if you can transfer your points to valuable airline and hotel partners). But most issuers do still provide non-travel redemption options.

Typically speaking, redeeming your points as a statement credit isn’t your best option because of subpar redemption rates. However, with so many currently unable or unwilling to travel, a lot of cardholders are considering alternative redemption options for points besides travel.

The good news is that some issuers have adjusted their redemption options to account for this. With more non-travel redemption options than ever, does it makes sense to redeem your points for a statement credit rather than waiting for travel to return to a state of normalcy?

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Below are the top points-earning cards that currently allow you to redeem your points as a statement credit for expenses other than travel, along with how much value you’ll get by going that route.

Card Category restrictions for non-travel statement credits  Redemption rate  Worth considering? 
Chase Sapphire Reserve Grocery, dining and home improvement stores 1.5 cents/point Yes
Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Grocery, dining and home improvement stores 1.25 cents/point Yes
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card  Food delivery, takeout 1 cent/mile Yes
Capital One Spark Miles for Business Food delivery, takeout 1 cent/mile Yes
Citi Prestige® Card Anything 1 cent/point Yes
Citi Premier® Card Anything 0.5 cents/point No
Citi Rewards+® Card  Anything 0.5 cents/point No
Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card (no longer available for new applicants) Anything 1 cent/point Yes
Bank of America® Premium Rewards® credit card  Anything 1 cent/point Yes
Amex Membership Rewards cards  Anything 0.6 cents/point No

(The information about Citi Prestige and Wells Fargo Propel has been collected independently by TPG. The card details on this page have not be provided by or approved by the issuer.) 

When does it make sense to redeem for purchases other than travel?

While no one can make that choice for you, we can provide you with insight into which cards offer the best value on non-travel statement credits right now. The best redemption options will still continue to be travel, especially on cards with transfer partners. But if you’re looking at a choice between carrying a balance on your card or redeeming points for a statement credit, it’s worth considering using your points — especially if you’ll get at least one cent per point or mile on that redemption.

Related: Beginner’s guide to points and miles

CSR temporary Pay Yourself Back bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve’s temporary 50% redemption bonus on groceries, dining and home improvement purchases is one example of a solid non-travel statement credit option. Through the end of Sept. 2020, cardholders can redeem points at the same rate for these eligible non-travel purchases as they could through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

While it’s still possible to get a higher value per point by transferring them to airlines for premium cabin flights or excellent hotel deals (TPG values Chase points at 2 cents each for this reason), this is still a valuable option to have in your back pocket if you don’t plan on booking premium-cabin trips in the near future.

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Fixed-value cards

The Bank of America Premium Rewards credit card and the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card are both what we call fixed-value credit cards, meaning their points are worth the same no matter what you redeem them for. In these cases, it makes just as much sense to redeem those points for your everyday expenses for a statement credit as it does to use them on travel.

That’s one of the reasons we tend to recommend these types of cards year-round for beginners and occasional travelers — while there aren’t opportunities to maximize redemption value, you also don’t have to worry about subpar redemptions if you don’t want to use your rewards for travel every time.

Related: Best cards for large purposes

Subpar statement credit redemptions

Any time you’re getting less than one cent per point, you should seriously consider holding off on using your rewards as a statement credit.

Delta Air Lines Airbus A220-100 aircraft as seen on final approach landing with landing gear down at New York JFK John F. Kennedy International Airport on 14 November 2019 in New York, US. The airplane has the registration N121DU, 2x PW jet engines. The renamed Airbus A220 airliner was Bombardier CS100, BD-500-1A10. Delta Air Lines DL Delta is the largest airline carrier in the world with a hub in New York-JFK. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
With Amex and Citi cards, you’re almost always better off saving your points to use on future travel rather than a statement credit. (Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The American Express Membership Rewards program is probably the most notably bad option when looking at statement credit redemptions. You’re only getting 0.6 cents per point when you redeem for a statement credit across any of its Membership Rewards cards. Considering you can potentially get more than triple that value if you utilize Amex transfer partners, you’d be better off saving your points.

Citi is another example. While you’ll get 1 cent per point on the Prestige, that’s still significantly less than you could get if you utilize transfer partners. If you’ll otherwise have to carry a balance, of course you should do what you have to do to prevent that. But unless in extreme circumstances, it’ll be better to save those points for future travel.

This is doubly true for the Citi Premier and Citi Rewards+, both of which offer only a 0.5 cents per point redemption rate on statement credits.

Bottom line

At the end of the day, choosing the best redemption option comes down to your priorities and the specific situation. During normal circumstances, we’d almost never recommend using points for anything not travel-related. But these are certainly not normal circumstances, and there are currently some decent non-travel redemptions available across some travel cards.

If you have upcoming trips planned that you’ll soon start to book (especially premium-cabin flights), it might be best to go ahead and save those points for that redemption to get the absolute best value.

However, if you know travel is off the table for you until 2021 and you could utilize those points for a solid (even if not stellar) non-travel redemption, I’d say it’s worth looking into when you have a Chase Ultimate Rewards, Venture miles or fixed-value credit card with a stash of points.

Featured image by Isabelle Raphael / The Points Guy

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