6 Coolest Ways You Can Use Your Credit Card Points
Whether you’ve earned credit card points as a new member bonus, for making purchases or participating in a loyalty program, at some point, it’s wise to use them. Unfortunately, some credit card points expire, so once you rack up enough points to redeem a certain reward, you should take action.
Popular options for trading-in points include statement credits, gift cards, cash back or travel. And while some of those are mentioned here, you may learn some hidden perks related to these types of redemptions the average person doesn’t know about. Here are six of the coolest ways to use your credit card points, so you can live a richer life.
Donate Your Points to Charity
“A lot of people don’t realize that they can donate credit card points to the causes they support,” said Lana Khabarova, founder of SustainFi. “That is unfortunate because millions of dollars worth of points expire each year. Many major credit card companies, including American Express, Chase, Citi, Discover and Wells Fargo, let you donate points to charity through their portals.
“In some cases, you are limited to the few charities selected by the credit card company. But, in other cases, you have a lot of options. American Express gives you access to the JustGiving portal, which lets you donate to over 1.5 million charities. Wells Fargo lets you redeem points for the CharityChoice gift card, which can be used at over 1,000 nonprofits.”
Get More Out of Gift Cards
“One of the best ways to use your card points is to redeem them for gift cards,” said John Li, co-founder and CTO of the lending company Fig Loans. “Gift cards make thoughtful presents to friends and family members, more personal than cold-hard cash but still flexible, so your loved ones can find a great gift of their choosing. Often, retailers partner with credit card companies to sweeten the deal with extra rewards for you, to stretch your points into even higher gift card values. If you play your cards right, literally, you won’t have to pay a dime to give the gift of gift cards all year long.”
Take a Trip to Space
“Is there anything cooler than going to space?” asked Jared Beilby, credit card analyst for Merchant Maverick. “Virgin Atlantic lets you redeem points for a three-day experience on Virgin Galactic, which includes a two-hour trip to the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere. There is a bit of a catch, though. You can only enter yourself into a prize drawing for the experience and, if you win, you’ll need to pony up 2 million points.
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Use Them on Amazon and Possibly Snag a Discount
“Amazon allows you to redeem credit card rewards such as Citi ThankYou Points and American Express Membership Rewards on your purchases,” said Logan Allec, a CPA and owner of personal finance site Money Done Right. “Not everybody knows about this yet, and Amazon is actually trying to get more publicity about these programs by offering special discounts to people who redeem their points on purchases.
“Earlier this month, for example, I took advantage of a targeted promotion that Amazon is running where if you redeem at least one Citi ThankYou Point on a purchase, you will receive 20% off your Amazon purchase up to $30. I did just that and redeemed one Citi ThankYou point — and saved $30! I don’t think even redeeming your points with the best travel partners could yield $30 for one point.”
“The deal appeared on my Amazon homepage — so savvy shoppers should keep their eyes out for deals like this!”
“Credit card points are fun and can give you rewards on your everyday spending, but investing your cash is the true way to grow long-term wealth,” said Allec. “A few credit cards make it easy to invest your rewards. For example, the Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature Card has no annual fee and gives you 2% cash back in the form of points that you can transfer to your linked Fidelity investment account.
“American Express also has a line of Charles Schwab Cards that you can use to earn cash back that will be automatically deposited into your Schwab investment account.”
Transfer to Travel Partners for Upgraded International Flights
“Sometimes the most popular ways to redeem your credit points are not the best ways to redeem them,” said Allec. “For example, while you could simply redeem your Chase Ultimate Rewards point for travel through Chase — which, granted, would give you a 25% redemption bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and a 50% redemption bonus with the Chase Sapphire Reserve — you could possibly extract even more value from your points by transferring them to travel partners.”
“Your mileage may vary, but I’ve personally found that I can get the most bang for my Chase Ultimate Rewards points when I transfer them to travel partners to redeem for long-haul business- or first-class flights.”
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Last updated: Oct. 15, 2021