I use my credit cards for ALL my purchases since I do not carry a balance. This allows me to make the best use of my cards because I earn cash back or points that can be converted to cash or gift cards.
I noticed that each card has a slightly different way of either allowing you to earn points or to redeem those points that you have earned.
Today we will be looking at redeeming the points from Chase. Some of the options may give you a different redemption rate so we will assume that we have 2150 points for all comparisons. When you have earned your points and you are ready to redeem you have the following options available from Chase:
Cash back: When you choose cash back you have the option of requesting a check that you can deposit to any account. You may also request a statement credit to wipe out some of the purchases you have already made. The final option with cash back is to have your cash back be direct deposited to your chase checking account if you have one.
Cash back is redeemed at a rate of 100 points per dollar, so if you have 2150 points you will get either a check for $21.50 or an account credit of $21.50.
You may also choose to donate your points to charity but this will redeem at a rate of 100 points per dollar with a cutoff to the nearest hundred. So if you have 2150 points you can only redeem 2500 and will have to leave the 150 to roll over when you accumulate more points.
Gift cards: You can opt to redeem your points for a gift card at the rate of 100 points to $1 for most cards. There are a few occasions where you will get a small bonus for redeeming your points. There is a special (at the time of writing this post) where you can get a $25 GAP card when you redeem $20 worth of points. This means if you have 2150 points you would be able to get a $25 gift card instead of needing to have 2500 points to get that card.
Not all gift cards offer this bonus so it really is a lucky break if you catch one of those cards that offer the bonus cash.
Merchandise: If you opt to get merchandise you can cash in your points for things like electronics or office products to name a few. The point value for each item is different so it is not a matter of a straight conversion of 100 points to $1 value like with the cash back or the gift cards.
Travel: The point conversion for flights is not listed on the page and you actually have to search for a flight before being able to see how many points you need to convert for every level of the reward.
Experiences: Under the experiences category you can redeem your points according to a preset range of rewards. The choices begin from 1 to 10,000 points and you can pick something like an indoor skydiving experience worth 7,800 points or $78.
I have redeemed my points in the past for cash back in the past because it used to be worth more to me at the time. I would simply have the cash deposited to my account because that was easier than having a check mailed out to me and then having to go out and deposit that check.
Whatever way you decide to redeem your rewards it would be good to keep up with the changes in redemption rules that sometimes happen. That way you can make the best decision for your budget!!!
I also agree that paying for as many purchases as possible with a credit card is a good strategy as long as you pay off your balance in full and on time (see the referenced article).
In terms of the most efficient way to claim cash rewards from Chase, travel can be redeemed at the highest rewards rate (.01 per point). As a result, I pay for travel with cash (say $1,000) and turn right around and redeem the points to offset the travel costs ($1,000). To me that’s the equivalent of receiving cash to do what I was going to anyway (take a vacation). Finally, I find redeeming rewards on the Chase site to be very easy and intuitive, which I appreciate.