Survey: Over 50% Of Rewards Credit Cardholders Would Consider Giving Credit Card Points Or Rewards As A Gift

Survey: Over 50% Of Rewards Credit Cardholders Would Consider Giving Credit Card Points Or Rewards As A Gift

Many Americans agree that free hotel nights and redeemable travel rewards are some of the best perks that rewards credit cards have to offer. Such rewards are how most people plan to fund their upcoming travel plans. At the same time, the majority of rewards credit cardholders would be willing to give their valuable, hard-earned credit card points and rewards to someone they care about as a gift.

A new survey by OnePoll for Forbes Advisor asked Americans with travel rewards credit cards questions regarding how they feel about various credit card rewards and benefits (and perhaps sharing those perks with others). The survey also took a closer look at travel-related gifts—whether people would enjoy receiving this type of present and which items and experiences topped travelers’ wish lists.

Key Takeaways

  • The majority of rewards credit cardholders (53%) would consider giving credit card points or rewards to someone else as a gift.
  • Among those who would give a travel-related gift, the majority (70%) would give it to their spouse (or significant other), children or parents.
  • Plane tickets are the most desirable travel-related gift for 25% of survey participants, followed closely by hotel stays (17%) and cash (16%).
  • Although not everyone appreciates the gift of travel, most participants (88%) indicated that receiving a travel-related gift would be a welcome surprise.

Giving Credit Card Points or Rewards as a Gift

When you use credit cards wisely, those pieces of plastic (or metal) in your wallet have the potential to benefit you in meaningful ways such as building good credit and protecting you from fraud. Many cardholders note that their credit cards also offer valuable rewards-earning benefits like cash back (66%), travel rewards (22%), hotel rewards (20%) or airline rewards (15%). And over 40% of cardholders are highly likely to take advantage of their credit card’s merchant discount offer codes to save money on purchases.

It’s likely a combination of these benefits that make credit cards such a popular payment method among survey participants compared with cash or debit cards. The latter two payment options, after all, typically have no (or few) rewards-earning capabilities.

Over the past three months:

  • 100% of survey respondents used credit cards.
  • 71% paid with a debit card.
  • 68% paid for transactions in cash.

Not only do Americans enjoy earning credit card rewards and cash back, most people would consider giving credit card rewards to someone else as a gift. Fifty-three percent of rewards credit card holders say they would think about sharing their credit card rewards with someone else, but another 18% aren’t sure. Only 28% of people indicate that they would not consider bestowing their credit card rewards on another person.

Men (61%) are more likely than women (50%) to gift their credit card rewards. Additionally, age also plays a role in whether a rewards credit card holder would consider giving rewards or points as a gift.

For Travel-Related Gifts, Most People Stick to Close Relationships

Most people (56%) have at least thought about giving a travel-related gift to someone else. Yet only one in four have received a travel-related present themselves in the past. Among those who would give a travel-related gift to someone else, the majority would offer it to their spouse/significant other (23%), children (25%) or parents (22%). Some would consider offering such generosity to friends (12%) or extended family (10%).

It is important to point out that credit card companies may not allow you to transfer points or miles to another person’s account. Yet there are workarounds that might help you get the job done in other ways. For example, you might be able to transfer points to a travel partner that allows points pooling. Or you could consider using your points or miles to make a travel-related purchase for your loved one (e.g., an airline ticket, hotel stay, cruise, etc.) and gifting those experiences instead.

Plane Tickets, Hotel Stays and Cash Are the Most Desired Travel-Related Gifts

If you’re considering buying someone the gift of travel (either with your credit card rewards or via some other payment method), it helps to know what people want. Below are the seven travel-related gifts that topped the holiday wish lists of our survey participants for inspiration.

  • Plane Tickets: 25%
  • Hotel Stay: 17%
  • Cash: 16%
  • Cruise: 14%
  • Gift Cards (i.e., Airbnb, Airline, Hotel): 13%
  • Exclusive Experiences: 7%
  • Rental Car: 4%

Plane tickets were most popular among those between the ages of 18 and 25. Thirty-four percent of those in this age group selected a plane ticket as their preferred travel-related gift of choice. Meanwhile, 20% of people in the 26 to 41 year old age group desired hotel stays and 47% of people over 77 years old preferred cash.

These findings are in line with the benefits that cardholders enjoy most from their travel rewards credit cards as well. The two most preferred credit cardholder benefits—free hotel nights (41%) and rewards that are redeemable for airline frequent flyer miles or hotel points (20%)—match up with the top two items on people’s travel-related wish lists. Cardholders also appreciate perks like airport lounge access (11%), TSA PreCheck and/or Global Entry reimbursement (9%), and free checked baggage benefits (7%) when flying.

Most People Would Welcome the Gift of Travel

There’s no such thing as the perfect present. Yet our survey found that the overwhelming majority of Americans would welcome the gift of travel.

Most survey participants indicated that they would feel excited (33%), happy (33%) or appreciative (22%) if they received a travel-related gift. Only a small percentage of people (less than 5%) said they would feel upset or concerned. However, a slightly higher percentage of people over the age of 77 (7%) did communicate that the gift of travel would upset them. So, it’s wise to make sure that your loved one is open to this type of experience before you redeem valuable credit card rewards or cash back on a flight or hotel stay.

On occasion, different brands may offer another travel-related gift (of sorts) to their customers—upgrades. Customers with elite hotel status, airline status, or co-branded rewards credit card holders are often more likely to enjoy such benefits.

When asked, the travel upgrades people say they appreciate the most are as follows.

  • Hotel Room Upgrades: 31%
  • Airline Seat Upgrades: 24%
  • Extra Hotel Night: 19%
  • Cruise Room Upgrade: 11%
  • Free Checked Bag (Airline): 4%
  • Rental Car Vehicle Upgrade: 4%

Bottom Line

Americans recognize the value of credit card rewards and cash back. If you feel inclined to share the love with your friends and family and redeem credit card rewards for travel-related gifts, most people would appreciate such gestures. Customers tend to be appreciative of the travel-related benefits that different credit card issuers and brands offer as well, especially when those benefits take the form of travel rewards and free upgrades.


This online survey of 2,000 U.S. adults was commissioned by Forbes Advisor and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct. Data was collected on November 22-28, 2022. The margin of error is +/- 2.2 points with 95% confidence. This survey was overseen by the OnePoll research team, which is a member of the MRS and has corporate membership with the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). For a complete survey methodology, including geographic and demographic sample sizes, contact

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