How Rewarding is Your Rewards Credit Card?

How Rewarding is Your Rewards Credit Card?

Consumers want straightforwardness. In every aspect of life, we like rules we can understand. This holds true for rewards programs. According to a recent survey by Wakefield Research for Capital One, nearly 1 in 4 rewards card holders (24%) believe it's difficult to determine the value of the rewards they've earned with their rewards card.

Cut through the clutter. Too many rewards cards are just too confusing. 79% of rewards card holders would rather use a single rewards card for all types of purchases – compared to using multiple cards to maximize rewards on different types of purchases (22%).

Tips to Maximize Rewards. Sometimes, earning rewards can feel like a game with rules that keep shifting. Maybe that's why, 80% of rewards card holders follow a strategy to maximize the amount of rewards they earn. This includes: using one card to make nearly all their purchases (39%), using a card with the highest rewards for the type of purchases they make most often (29%) and using one rewards card consistently (27%).

Bummer. Most loyalty programs are missing the mark. You don't always get all that you expect from a rewards program. Just 31% of rewards credit card holders are completely satisfied with their primary rewards card program. That's less than 1 in 3 people!

Easy Does It. Though satisfaction is trending upwards, work remains to be done. Card holders want their rewards experience improved by keeping it nice and easy. The top changes that would improve their rewards card experience are:

♦ Allow me to earn the same amount of rewards on everything I buy, everyday (54%)

♦ Make earning rewards seamless (46%)

♦ Remove limits to the amount of rewards I can earn (30%)


Cashing In On Your Cash Back


Cash Back Frustrations. Cash back rewards card holders have specific complaints about the process. Their biggest issue is having a minimum amount that must be earned before redeeming rewards (27%), followed by hidden charges (17%) and cash back rates that change throughout the year (15%).

Extra Special. Despite the gripes, customers still want to earn something extra with rewards programs. In 2015, 1 in 3 rewards card holders (33%) took a trip or made a purchase that was only possible because they used rewards to fund some or all of it .

Change Is In The Air. The reason rewards card holders would be most likely to consider switching to a different primary rewards credit card is: the ability to earn better rewards for every dollar they spend (38%).

Cash In. Cardholders may be frustrated with the rules and restrictions, but they aren't cutting up their plastic. Among those who have redeemed rewards from their primary rewards credit card, 55% have done so within the past 3 months. And the most popular reward goes to... cash back. 62% say cash back is the reward they usually redeem with their primary rewards card.

Cash Back Tips. Not all cash back cards are equal. When shopping for your cash back rewards card, look for features that current rewards card holders think are the most important:

♦ Earning the most cash back for every dollar I spend (40%)

♦ Earning the same amount of rewards across all purchases (15%)

♦ Having a rewards program that's clear to understand (13%)

o The Capital One Quicksilver credit card allows card holders to earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. How much easier can it get?!


Travel Rewards Cards: Can't This Be Easier?

Survey: Nearly 1 in 3 Rewards Card Holders Have Been Frustrated by a Travel Rewards Program


If you haven't booked your vacation yet, make sure to read the fine print if you want to use travel rewards. The rules can be confusing. Nearly 1 in 3 rewards card holders (30%) have been disappointed by a travel rewards program and just 43% of airline and hotel loyalty card holders are completely satisfied with their rewards.

Things That Make You Go Arghhh! Here are the limitations travel rewards card holders find the most frustrating:

• Not being able to use rewards to fly when they want to (25%)

• Programs that can change the rules at any time (24%)

• Being limited to a single airline or hotel chain (21%)

2016 Travel Plans. The weather and vacation season is about to heat up. On average, card holders who will use their rewards to pay for a vacation this year, expect to pay 39% of their trip with rewards. For a glimpse at where they'll go, here's how they describe their travel styles:

♦ Extended Getaway: week or longer vacations (40%)

♦ Weekend Warrior: travel most weekends (19%)

♦ Day Tripper: explore local attractions (15%)

So Many Choices. Not everyone will hit the road. 54% of rewards card holders would prefer to use their cash back rewards to offset the cost of something they need, compared to 46% who want to treat themselves to something they may not buy otherwise.


Bonus Findings


Millennials Turn to Friends and Family for Card Advice

Friends play a big role in the lives of millennials – including their financial lives. 41% of millennials with rewards credit cards say a friend or family member had the most influence on their decision about which primary rewards credit card to use. This compares to 28% of rewards card holders overall.

Mobile Getaways Made Easy

Smartphones can make booking a vacation quick and easy. 40% of rewards card holders have used a mobile app to plan their vacation, including 67% of millennials.

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