The 5 Worst Ways to Redeem Credit Card Rewards

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My favorite part of earning thousands of credit card miles each year, is the time that I get to redeem them (isn’t it everyone’s?).  With so many cities and countries on earth to visit, it can be quite a large choice!  But, what worries me about some of you reading this blog, is that you may make the wrong choices with your points.  You know, like underutilizing them.

Let’s dig into five of the worst ways to redeem your credit card miles and points, shall we, so you don’t make a grave mistake!


1.  Physical Items

I see this play all the time.  What you must see is that award miles and points for credit card companies are liabilities for them.  That means that secretly, they don’t want you to use them very efficiently.  Heck, they really don’t want you to use them at all!  So, they often dangle an item in front of you, like a new blender, for an inflated points to dollar ratio.

For example, a Nespresso VertuoLine instant coffee machine costs 47,840 Membership Rewards points in the American Express shopping mall.  At 1 point per dollar value, a conservative valuation, that’s $478 worth of points.  The very same machine costs $299.00 on


2.  Point Devaluation

We see this happen often.  You hoard and hoard points or miles, waiting for that perfect trip.  Then, out of nowhere, the airline or hotel chain decides to ‘devalue’ their program by adding new categories of hotels that cost more points than before, or raising the price of a roundtrip flight.

One way to avoid this is to ‘earn and burn,’ meaning grossing as many points as possible in as short of time as possible, and using them quickly!  Usually, these companies are good about giving you time between announcements and when the changes take effect.  Take a look at to make sure you don’t miss the news!


3.  Annual Fees

Simply put, if the cost of owning a credit card doesn’t match the amount of miles that you’re earning, there is no reason to be using that credit card.  Many cards, though, offer lots of bonuses to make up for this difference.  The American Express Platinum card is a great example of this, with its free Starwood Gold status, Global Entry enrollment, and other benefits.


4.  Missing out on that Sign-Up Bonus

This is the saddest of sad moments.  You get the credit card for that hefty sign-up bonus, but fail to meet minimum spend requirements in the time frame allotted.  Don’t miss out!  Use’s reminders to e-mail you when that date is approaching!


5.  Events Put On by the Credit Card Company

This happens more than you think.  Chase and American Express often offer up special events at the US Open or in your local city for things like SegWay tours.  The points redemption, like the physical items redemption mentioned above, are super inflated and often not worth your points!



So, those are some very simple ways that you can waste your points!  Did I miss any above?  Let me know in the comments some ways you think people waste points!

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