6 Worst Ways to Use Your Credit Card Points

December 15, 2017

Credit card points are one of the most popular ways to maximize your credit card usage. Every credit card is different in how many points that they get and different ways that you can earn extra points. Regardless of the card that you have, there are some ways that you should avoid using your card.

Each credit card company has different ways that you can use your points. Some of them have unique ways, but the vast majority are going to have similar options and ways that you can redeem your credit card rewards.

Buying an “Experience”

Most credit card companies have special experiences or exclusive events that you can redeem your points for. It could be anything from special passes to concerts or box seats at a professional sports game. These can be really tempting, but you should ever use your points. The problem is that with most of the experiences, you can book them yourself and it will be cheaper than what you would spend in books.

Unless, you are getting a bonus on top of your points and it’s honestly an experience that you can’t book yourself, don’t spend your points this way. Sure, it might be more convenient to use your points, but it could be costing your several hundreds of dollars.

6 Worst Ways to Use Your Credit Card Points

Buying Products

Just about every credit card program has a “store” that you can shop in. You can use your points to buy just about anything from tech gadgets to jewelry. Sure, this might seem like an easy way to buy Christmas gifts, but you could be wasting thousands of points.

If you buy goods with your points, you could be getting about 1 cent return for your points versus if you purchased the product at retail price. Instead, go to Amazon or look for those gadgets at a discounted price. Buying merchandise with your credit card points are one of the worst ways that you can use them.


Gift cards

Another standard way that a lot of cardholders use their points is to redeem them for gift cards. On the surface, this seems like a great way to use your points. You aren’t losing any value, and it’s almost like getting cash for your points.

Instead of using your points to buy gift cards, buy the gift cards using your credit card. Sure, you won’t get the cards with the points that you’ve already racked up, but it’s an excellent way to earn some additional points.


One of the most common ways that people use their points is to book a hotel. Hotels can be expensive, there is no doubt about that. If you can afford to book the hotel comfortably, save the points for a time when you’re going to be going on a trip, and you’re going to be booking an expensive hotel that you wouldn’t normally stay at.

Also look for deals inside your account website to get bonuses on your points for booking through the credit card company travel portal.

Letting them Expire

This isn’t technically a way of “using” the points, but it’s something that millions of cardholders do every year. Millions and millions of points don’t get used, and they expire. Not using your points is like throwing money out the window.

Even if you don’t have the time to book a flight or you can’t stay in a hotel before your points expire, try and use them in whatever way possible. Buying a gift card or even purchasing merchandise is better than letting them expire.

Donating to Charity

If you’re feeling charitable at the end of the year, you might consider donating your rewards points to charity. Obviously, the rewards points are translated into cash and then given to one of the charities of your choosing that the card company works with.

Donating to charity is a great way to use your money, but not your credit card points. The IRS doesn’t recognize credit card points as a tax-deductible donation. Sure, donating to charity isn’t only about getting a deduction, but it’s a nice advantage. Instead of donating your points, book a flight with those points and donate the money that you save.

Using Your Credit Card Points

If you’re going to be using your credit card anyway, why not earn some points for it? Those points are a great way to enjoy some free flights or hotel rooms. Regardless of how you use your points, it’s important that you have a card that’s going to give you the best return on your purchases.