The United Nations World Tourism Organisation article states international tourism will drop between 60% and 80% worldwide, at the end of 2020. Air Travel restrictions restrict free movement of people to other countries from the US or the US. But, there are some best way to redeem credit card points even if you don’t have any travel plan.
Most people are cautious and are avoiding travel to make sure they don’t catch COVID-19 pandemic and also to flatten the curve. This will be the new normal until the vaccine is successful.
So, chances are, you are not going to use your credit card rewards for travel. What does it mean for the stash of credit card rewards you already have? By chance, if you have a cash back credit card, you want to use them and redeem credit card rewards for statement credit or a snail mail check..
But, if your credit cards are only travel credit cards that accumulate hotel points, airline miles or points in proprietary credit card reward systems, then this article explains the best ways to redeem credit card points for non-travel benefits.
Redeem For Statement Credit
Firstly, just double check if you are not exercising your option to redeem rewards for statement credit. So, this will help cover a portion of the credit card bill. Most flexible rewards program offer a statement credit redemption even though the points are from a travel credit card. For example, take a look at Amex Membership Rewards, Citi Thank You Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards. All of these also offer an option to redeem for statement credit.
Remember, you will not get the best cent per point (cpp) of rewards if you redeem for statement credit. The value may be equal to 1 cpp max with the flexible reward program.
Amex MR gives only 0.6 cpp if you choose to redeem for statement credit where as Chase UR is generous and gives you 1 cpp. Some premium cards in Citi TYR program lets you get 1cpp reward for your stash, although some restrictions like multiples of $50 exists.
Chase Pay Yourself Back Feature
Chase Pay Yourself Back is a great feature that was introduced after the pandemic. You can take advantage of your stash in the best way if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) card or to an extent if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) Card.
Through Chase PYB feature, you can get cash back for your spend in certain categories. Those categories include charity purchases, grocery, dining or home improvement with the Sapphire card.
This is a great option during shelter in place to get cash back on your grocery purchase and other useful categories. Not just that, but you get a sweet bonus of 25% or 50% in cpp value from your Chase ultimate rewards points. As a result, you get 1.50 cpp with Chase Sapphire Reserve card and 1.25 cpp with Chase Sapphire Preferred card.
This option is currently available only for the next 3 weeks, until the end of September, unless Chase extends it. This may be a really successful feature for Chase and they may be willing to extend it, but don’t hold your breath.
Cover Minimum Payment Using Reward Points
Citi Thank You Rewards Program enables customers to cover minimum payment using reward points. Let’s say, you incur a $100 charge and your minimum payment is $35, then you can use $35 worth of Citi TYP points to cover minimum payment. This change is recent because of the Covid-19 pandemic and a good positive one at that.
Having this handy feature always available to you, makes it helpful in case of unfortunate job loss situation. It can also help cover sudden lower income or higher ad hoc spending months, due to other reasons.
If you are eligible, you can login to Citi Mobile Application from App store or web online account. Then, look for Covid-19 relief option in the rewards detail section. You can also call the number on the back of credit card and opt in. You have until Nov 7 to put this option to best use.
Redeem Credit Card Points For Gift Cards
Flexible reward Credit card tends to provide the option to redeem gift cards. Thus, it makes American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards or Citi Thank You rewards liquid. You can convert into gift cards for places of interest to you. Some of them may be restaurants, malls, retailers, grocery and more.
However, there may be better indirect options through your frequent flyer programs or hotel reward programs to get gift cards to redeem points. Explore all possible options to get the best bang for the buck.
For instance, you may redeem AA miles through Points.com website for giftcards to common places like Macy’s, Home Depot and Wayfair.
Similarly, Hawaiian Miles offers you a direct option to trade for gift cards. Also, Marriott Bonvoy does the same through shop with points. Delta SkyMiles has a marketplace to redeem rewards for gift cards.
Shop With Points
This option became highly popular right after the Covid Pandemic broke, so a lot of rewards programs have paused it. For instance, Southwest Airlines pauses its alt redemption options because of pandemic. So, you can not redeem southwest rapid rewards points for gift cards or other merch.
However, there are still programs that lets you redeem rewards for subscription to magazine. Some Flexible reward programs helps you shop with points.
For instance, Chase Ultimate Reward points enables you to shop with rewards in websites or stores such as Amazon and Apple.
Similarly, Citi ThankYou Points helps you to purchase on various websites like 1-800-flowers, PayPal, Best Buy and Amazon, and much more.
Also, Discover Cash back rewards enables you to pay in Amazon through shop with points program. All you need to do is checkout with your Discover Cash back card and apply your available points.
Pay Off Student Debt Or Mortgage
Citi Thank You Points has amazing options to extend your rewards for unique redemption options like paying off student debt or making mortgage payment. If you happen to have a premium Citi card such as Citi Prestige and you have no travel plans this year, then it’s a no-brainer to pay for these important bills and improve your overall debt situation.
In case of Mortgage, Citi allows you to make payments in multiples of $25 until 100 USD. Also, you have the option to pay in multiples of $250 until 1000 USD.
Similarly, paying off Student debt can be done in the same denominations using points. Both these options have a redemption rate of 1 cpp in value.
Redeem Credit Card Points To Donate To Charity
Finally, you can opt to donate your credit card rewards to a charity you like. Look out for donation partners in each of the credit rewards program websites. Flexible rewards like Citi TYP and Discover cash back rewards offer this to you at no cost.
It does not just end there. Also, there are airlines miles that can go to charity Delta SkyMiles, American AAdvantage or United miles.
Just understand the restrictions in terms of partners, these rewards programs work with, for a charity donation. With United MileagePlus, they have a Miles Mission program where you may donate MileagePlus miles to charity partners such as Red Cross, Conservation International and more.