Are non-travel statement credit redemptions worthwhile?
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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, streaming services||1 cent/mile||Yes|
|Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business||Food delivery, takeout, phone services||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||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 the Spark Miles, Citi Prestige, Citi Premier, Wells Fargo Propel and Bank of America Premium Rewards cards 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.
Capital One purchase eraser temporary options
Capital one is another example of a non-travel redemption option that could potentially be worth it. Through Sept. 30, 2020, you can redeem your miles through Capital One’s fixed-rate purchase eraser tool for eligible food delivery, takeout and streaming purchases (phone services instead of streaming if you have one of the Capital One Spark Miles cards). Like for travel, you’ll get a one-cent redemption rate per mile.
As with Chase, there is still an opportunity to get a higher return on your miles if you take advantage of Capital One’s transfer partners. But that doesn’t mean you should entirely ignore this option. If you aren’t planning on traveling with any of Capital One’s transfer partners anytime soon, using your miles for 1 cent each to help you save money on everyday expenses isn’t a bad redemption.
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.
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.
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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