(WHTM) — Credit card rewards can be a big help to consumers, especially this time of year. Still, some people aren’t taking advantage of these programs, and now these rewards could be in danger of going away.
It’s the season for shopping, and with that shopping comes lots of swiping. With supply chain issues and inflation, we’re paying more for everything this holiday season. One way to ease that a bit is by using credit card rewards.
“It’s a good part of your financial arsenal, there’s no reason not to do it,” said Jeff Tassey, chairman of the board for the Electronic Payments Coalition.
Consumers using these programs earn rewards and other perks for every dollar they spend. Cashback is by far the most popular type of reward card.
“It’s a way to reduce pressure on the budget and do some discretionary things you might not otherwise not do, but also do a lot of things that are important to you that might be a struggle,” Tassey said.
Tassey said about 90% of all credit card users have at least one rewards card. He said they’re especially good to use now with gas prices because the more they climb, the more cash you get back.
“There’s a lot of different ways people manage these rewards, and many consumers are quite strategic about it and it’s an important way for them to manage their finances,” Tassey said. “The rewards cards are extremely popular amongst all income groups, it’s not just for wealthy people by any means.”
In 2019, consumers received $50 billion in rewards. These cards can really come in handy during the holiday shopping season.
Many people use their rewards for travel. Some even use it to save for retirement.
But new legislation could make these rewards a thing of the past. The bill would prohibit credit card companies from restricting the number of card networks merchants can use to process transactions, which would lower credit card processing fees retailers have to pay.
It sounds good for merchants, but it may not be so good for consumers.
“At the time of the purchase, it takes the choice out of your hands as to where that transaction is routed. It can go over an independent network, regional network, that sort of thing. It might be the lowest cost to the retailer, but you aren’t going to get your rewards or any of the other benefits,” Tassey said.
That’s because credit card companies use those swipe fees to fund your rewards. Similar legislation became law more than a decade ago with debit card swipe fees, and now debit card reward programs are very rare.
Of course, the counter to this is that with retailers paying less of these fees, they can pass those savings on to customers. But multiple studies show that doesn’t happen.