Travel, renting cars and staying at hotels spring to mind as the most obvious perks of credit card reward programs. Yet you can also redeem your reward points for statement credit or cash back to pay down a portion of your credit card balance. If you have some travel costs coming up, you might get better value from using points for that as you may get more value out of your points by redeeming toward hotels and flights. It really depends on how much debt you have and what interest rate you're paying.
Here are some ways to leverage your reward points toward your credit card balance as well as a few tips on when and how to redeem them.
How much are my points worth?
Points usually carry more value when used for travel than when you use them for cash, whether that's getting cash back or redeeming them for statement credit. But this isn't always the case and can vary depending on the credit card issuer. Typically, one reward point is worth one cent. This means that at a minimum you can expect to accrue a 1:1 reward-to-cent ratio.
Can reward points be used to pay my credit card bill?
For some cards, accumulated reward points can be used towards your next credit card payment. In some cases, redemption options include requesting your reward points as cash payment through a check or direct deposit, which you can then use to pay for your next credit card payment.
It's worth stepping back and evaluating the value of each redemption possibility. For instance, your credit card company may offer you 1.5 cents redemption value toward travel, but only 1 cent redemption value for cash. In this case, 35,000 reward points may result in $525.00 of travel value but only $350.00 worth of reward points that can be put toward a credit card payment.
Taking this option to use points for cash can sometimes really help keep your balance down to strengthen your credit score. But it really depends on the amount of reward points you've accumulated, the overall size of your debt and your lifestyle.
Can reward points be used to pay for travel?
While you can certainly use your reward points as cash back or statement credit for your credit card balance, you may get more value out of your points by redeeming them toward travel arrangements. There are some credit card companies that offer even greater point redemption values through cash and travel reward bonus structures. For example, if you've accumulated 45,000 cash back points then you can expect to have a real world dollar value of $450 using the above 1:1 ratio as a baseline. However, with a card that offers a 20% travel loyalty bonus, your reward-to-dollar ratio may now be 1:1.2, whereby each point is now worth 1.2 cents for a total value of $540.