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Even with alone a few arcade canicule larboard until Christmas, you can still tap rewards acclaim agenda credibility and common flyer afar to clasp in some abundant last-minute gifts.
It’s a accepted option, with hardly added than bisected of consumers application rewards credibility for anniversary shopping, according to Maritz Motivation Solutions, a aggregation that operates rewards programs for abounding above acclaim agenda issuers, airlines, and added companies.
And the accumulation can be appealing good. Added than two-thirds of Americans who participate in rewards programs apprehend that their credibility redemptions will save them an boilerplate $149 this anniversary arcade season, according to a abstraction by Citi Retail Services.
The able banknote amount of credibility can alter widely, depending on what you redeem them for. Here’s how to get the bigger blast for your gift-giving buck.
Most common flyer programs and breadth rewards cards let you buy airline tickets as ability for accompany and family.
You’ll apparently assets this affectionate of allowance for admired ones or appropriate friends, and this is area you’ll usually get the best amount for your points. Generally, calm airline tickets accommodate a amount of 1 to 2 cents per point, sometimes up to 3 cents, says Howie Rappaport, a rewards able and blogger for AwardWallet, an app that helps a bisected actor users clue their 110 billion credibility from 700 adherence programs all in one place.
Rappaport says that “hands bottomward the best value” in the airline amplitude is purchasing all-embracing business and aboriginal chic airline tickets application the accomplice airlines of Alaska, American, Delta, and United. He says, “You can consistently acquire 4 cents to added than 10 cents per mile in value.”
That’s not article you’d apprehend if you’re in the abridgement and drillmaster chic crowd. Last year, Rappaport says that he and his wife, additional bristles friends, flew roundtrip business chic from New York to Johannesburg, South Africa, on Qatar Airways for 150,000 American AAdvantage afar each, instead of $6,500. That works out to 4.3 cents per common flyer mile.
To accord the allowance of air travel, all you allegation to do appropriate now is accord a Christmas agenda with your promise. Later, your almsman can acquaint you back he or she wants to fly, and at that point you can align to absolutely acquirement the tickets in the recipient’s name.
When you’re not abiding what your allowance almsman would like, a allowance agenda is a acceptable solution, and cyberbanking allowance cards are absolute for last-minute shoppers.
Most allowance cards can be purchased for a amount of 1 cent per point. So a $25 allowance agenda would amount 2,500 points. However, some allowance cards back ethics of beneath than a penny a point, so besom up on your point-value algebraic (see below).
Many rewards cards let you use your credibility to anon pay for purchases at accommodating retailers. For example, you can use your American Express Rewards credibility to pay for purchases at Amazon, Best Buy, Expedia, Ticketmaster, and several added retailers.
This advantage is abnormally valuable, because it lets you amount boutique for the best deal. Abounding rewards programs action commodity through their own proprietary online catalogs, area bound rewards affairs associates ability not get the best price. “The amount you get [from these catalogs] is abundant lower than if you shopped around,” says Sam Dogen, who writes the Financial Samurai personal accounts blog.
But analysis appropriate now if this advantage is accessible in your rewards affairs and boutique anon to accommodated Christmas aircraft deadlines with retailers’ expedited shipping, which may amount extra.
You can’t aerate point amount if you don’t apperceive how to account the dollar amount of a point. Here’s how to do it:
Start with artful the point amount of redemption. Bisect the dollar amount of whatever you’re affairs by the cardinal of credibility bare to acquirement it. In one catalog, we begin an Apple iPhone 7 32GB that could be purchased for 187,800 points. No retail amount was listed, but Apple was affairs it for $549, which agency those credibility were account alone 3/10 of one cent apiece.
Many rewards accretion catalogs appearance a retail amount and archetypal numbers for merchandise. Copy and adhesive that archetypal cardinal to cross-check the amount that added retailers are charging for the aforementioned account additional accepted aircraft (which is about congenital into the amount of accolade merchandise).
When you use credibility to pay for a acquirement at Amazon or elsewhere, the amount you appetite to ambition should be one penny per point. Ditto for allowance cards, but consistently check; bisect the dollar amount of the allowance agenda by the cardinal of credibility bare to buy it. Abounding airlines acquiesce you to toggle airfares amid dollars and points/miles.
The amount of your acclaim agenda spending could be higher, depending on how abounding credibility you’re earning for anniversary dollar you charge. Typically, you acquire one point for every $1 you spend, which sets a baseline of value, wherein one point is account one penny.
However, for assertive categories of purchases, abounding accolade cards accord you two, three, five, or added credibility per dollar spent. That boosts the assorted ethics of your credibility on redemption. If you can account the boilerplate cardinal of credibility you’ve becoming per dollar spent–whether 1, 1.5, 2, or more–that’s how abundant added your accretion amount is worth.
To addition your rewards amount alike more, some experts acclaim acclaim cards that acquire a allotment cash-back–instead of credibility or miles–per dollar spent. “A 2 percent cash-back agenda would be better, because banknote is added adjustable than a allowance card, which usually can be acclimated in alone one accurate store,” says Gary Leff, a rewards able and columnist of ViewFromTheWing.com.
Many cash-back acclaim cards additionally action percentage-point earning multipliers back you use them for assertive categories of purchases, such as gas, groceries, and travel. Use our Acclaim Agenda Advisor allegory apparatus to acquisition the best agenda for your spending patterns.
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Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit alignment that works ancillary by ancillary with consumers to actualize a fairer, safer, and convalescent world. CR does not endorse articles or services, and does not acquire advertising. Copyright © 2017, Consumer Reports, Inc.
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