Friday, May 04, 2007

What's the Point of Points?

I checked my credit card statement the other day, and realized that I have quite a few rewards points--enough to get a $25 gift card to various stores and nearly enough for an assortment of small appliances. What I don't know, really, is how I handle these points. Part of me is just like, "eh, get another Starbucks gift card and get yourself a few iced lattes over the coming summer months." Another part of me is like, "No! Save up the 50,000 points for a round-trip ticket to Europe!" A third part of me is like, "Hey, if you save these points until, say, November, they could take care of a chunk of your Christmas shopping."

No decision has been reached. How do you handle your rewards points?


Tessa said...

Ugh, I always wind up with option A (instant gratification). I am trying to save them now but we'll see how long I can hold out!

Strange Bird said...

Be careful that you don't wait too long to cash them in (or just check your fine print carefully)... with some cards the points expre after five years. And I don't know about you, but I don't think I could earn 50,000 points in five years. Well, maybe. But I charge too much.

I try to wait until I can get the $100 check. Last time I got the $37.50 one, but then I realized if I waited to $100 I got a better return on the points. The first time I redeemed my points I got an mp3 player, because I knew I wouldn't pony up the money for it and I really wanted one, but I won't be doing that again because you can't return it when it breaks six months later. :(

So. Um. I go for the check, and live a little more comfortably for a few bucks worth.

English Major said...

That's a really good point, strange bird--if I kept charging at exactly the rate I do, I'd just make the $50,000-points-in-five-years deadline, but that's not something I can really rely on. I'm also dubious about blackout dates, surcharges, &c.

I should check out the options for checks.

I do think I'll probably spring for an ice cream maker for a friend's birthday, though.

BD said...

I use points for birthday or Christmas gifts, or for gift cards to places that sell clothes I can wear to work. I use airline miles and upgrade certificates to travel with friends, and I use hotel points at really bad rates, for cheap nights in hotels with friends. My attitude tends to be, points are free (since I am careful not to charge more than I otherwise would just to earn points), so I might as well "spend" them on nice experiences with the people in my life. Plus the occasional cashmere sweater for me :-)

SavingDiva said...

I use my points for gift certificates. You get more bang for your buck than you do for cash. I usually use them for wedding presents. All of my friends are getting married, so I'm saving hundreds by using my credit card freebies to pay for the gifts that they registered for. The great thing one will ever know!

smbmoney said...

I *always* go for the checks, except once when I got a retro alarm clock. I'm no longer using it. Wish I'd gotten the check! :)

Krystal said...

My cash-back points come in a lump sum at the end of every year, so I don't really get a choice. Although, I'd still rather cash over anything else anyway!

3 Things About Money said...

I think saving up 50,000 points means you are going to use that credit card lots and you will be severely tempted to go ahead and charge, again, lots, when you are at about 48,000 points to get over the hump and get that ticket. So I vote against the 50,000 round trip to Europe but all the other options sound terrific.

shantyirish said...

I had reward points from Pampers from buying their products. I saved them for a year and used them at Christmas to get some presents for my child and then I donated the rest to a charity that Pampers ran and they used the points to provide for underpriveldged children. I have points from my debit card too not sure what I will do with them yet though.

Anonymous said...

I use them to get credit off my statement. I really want to get the gift cards! But unfortunately I have a very small amount of credit card debt that I am trying to kill by the end of the year, so I used all the points I had for that goal.

plonkee said...

Just get the cash and spend it. Its also what I do with my supermarket loyalty points. I figure if I try to save them up that'll only tempt me to spend more.

shawna said...

I use mine for gifts. That way I don't have to worry about budgeting for gifts so much.

Caroline said...

I get $25 petrol (gas) cards for 3,900 points. That's usually enough to fill the entire tank.
With all the bills I put on my credit card, I can usually do that twice a year.

If you use your rewards for something you have to buy anyway, then you're effectively getting free money.

KMull said...

I use a cashback card and use my rewards to pay for my everyday purchases.

ispf said...

Don't save them for *too* long! I was hoarding the points on my card for a long time to pay for a big screen TV. The credit card (sony card by visa) recently changed their terms and now my points are worth about 2/3rd the value before :( They must have sent me some notice about change of terms - which I am sure I shredded with the rest of the junk mail :(

ps said...

Unless you can get some cash credit for the reward points, I'd say save them up for some Christmas shopping. Also, I've seen that a lot of times some of the rewards companies come up with great offers for redeeming your points around holiday times, i.e., during those days, you can get more out of your saved-up points.

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