You can now redeem points for crypto — but you may not want to

May 15, 2021

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Alternative ways to redeem your points on things besides travel are nothing new. But it’s accelerating fast and evolving in new ways.

The latest way to redeem your stash of points is part of a wave of developments in the world of, you guessed it, crypto.

Crypto is hot these days, and for good reason. The value of certain cryptocurrencies has seen exponential growth in recent months and while some believe this is purely a speculative bubble, there is no denying that crypto is entering the mainstream consciousness.

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Brex, an all-in-one financial services provider for businesses that awards points you can redeem with travel transfer partners, cash in at a fixed value, etc., announced that you can now exchange its reward points for crypto — either Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) — in the same fashion as redeeming them for miles, cash or travel.

The company says this is the first-ever crypto rewards program for businesses. But the big question remains, even if you believe in crypto — is it worth it?

Related: Is earning Bitcoin with each swipe the credit card reward of the future? These cards think so

A new redemption option

Brex relies on its rewards partner, TravelBank, to fulfill crypto orders on behalf of its customers. In turn, TravelBank leverages crypto exchange Coinbase to store, hold or exchange crypto accrued by Brex’s customers.

But unfortunately, even if you believe in the future of these cryptocurrencies the redemption rate will be pretty measly. For every 1,000 Brex points you redeem, you’ll receive $7 of either Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH). In other words, you’ll receive just 0.7 cents per Brex point towards crypto. 

To get a better sense of how this is not a valuable redemption, consider that you can cash Brex points out at a full 1 cent each via a Brex Cash account. From there, you can buy crypto directly through a crypto exchange — all without incurring a fee. You also have the option to transfer Brex rewards to travel partners at the same rate.

Clearly, getting 1 cent per point is clearly a better value than 0.7 cents per point. So while you can convert Brex points directly to crypto using its new partnerships, the value just isn’t there compared to doing it yourself. You do, however, get the convenience of having it all done on one platform. And that’s what Brex hopes you’ll care about the most.

Related: This crypto company just unveiled a no-annual-fee card with up to 3% back — here’s why we’re intrigued

Bottom line

For years now, it’s been possible to redeem credit card points on non-travel purchases such as on Amazon, gift cards, cash, online shopping and much more. But the value of those redemptions typically is quite low — especially when you compare using those points on travel. 

TPG publishes a monthly valuation of most credit card and travel currencies — and we derive those numbers from how much you can extract from points and miles towards travel. Redeeming Chase Ultimate Reward points for Amazon, for instance, at a paltry rate of 0.8 cents per point is not the most worthwhile usage considering you can get 2 cents per point in value or more (our TPG valuation for Ultimate Rewards) when used with transferable travel partners.

The new ability to redeem points for crypto with Brex just mirrors this phenomenon. Companies and issuers may be providing ease-of-use for some enticing, new redemption opportunities, but this may not always provide the best value when it comes to using your points.

Related: Best business credit cards of 2021

Featured photo by Alexander Spatari/Getty Images. 

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