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Survey: Most consumers are underutilizing the benefits of their rewards cards

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Rewards cards do you use them? If you answered no you are in good company

A new survey by Capital One found that most consumers love their rewards cards but the majority aren’t fully taking advantage of the offers and perks (such as miles, cash back and discounts) that they’re entitled to. The Virginia-based bank’s survey also revealed that consumers have room for improvement when it comes to learning about the benefits of the rewards programs they’re enrolled in.

It’s interesting to note that many consumers love their rewards cards, but a majority don’t take the time to learn exactly what perks they’re eligible to receive. Three-fourths (74 percent) of rewards cardholders believe they save money by using their card, and 82 percent of respondents say they have been with their credit card for a long time. However, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of those surveyed were unsure of how the rewards programs actually work.

There are other key findings gleaned from the Dec. 2016 Capital One Rewards Card Outlook survey. For instance, many travelers get frustrated when using travel-related rewards. Nearly half of those surveyed (49 percent) said that redeeming their travel rewards was more complicated than they expected, and almost as many respondents (48 percent) stated that they had difficulty booking travel with their miles.

Moreover, 51 percent said they avoided miles-based programs entirely — presumably to avoid the hassle of redeeming them. So when it comes to packing their luggage and going to the airport, it seems many Americans simply forget about (or neglect) using various card rewards that lead to savings and other enticements.

The same survey showed that 43 percent of cardholders use their travel rewards for personal air travel; 32 percent use their reward for hotel stays; and 25 percent use their rewards to gift travel to others. The payments industry and card issuers are introducing new incentives and apps to accommodate evolving consumer preferences. To reduce travel-related frustrations, companies are offering hotel discounts, foreign exchange transactions with no fees, and partnerships with ride-sharing services to make travel easier.

Consumers can take advantage of these perks, but they should first understand the scope (and limitations) of the rewards programs that they’re interested in. Some credit cards, like the Venture and Quicksilver cards from Capital One, offer no foreign transaction fees and other valuable benefits that help people save on things they already use.  For example, the Quicksilver card is great for loyal Uber users – every time you pay for 9 Uber rides with Quicksilver, you get $15 in Uber credits.

So how big is the travel industry? It’s estimated that Americans (both domestic and international travelers) spend a whopping $2.6 billion each day on personal and business travel. Companies are racing to offer new solutions and remove the headaches associated with bustling airports and busy airlines.

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