The Points Guy Study Finds Many Americans Will Travel This Year & Will Use Their Credit Card Rewards

Staff Report From Georgia CEO

Thursday, June 6th, 2024

 The Points Guy (TPG), commissioned consulting and market research firm The Harris Poll to conduct a study on consumer behaviors around travel, credit card spending and rewards management. The survey, which was administered to 2,100 U.S. adults ages 18 and up, explores how these attitudes vary across generations. The following are key findings from the study.

Summer is the most popular time to travel, and data shows that road-tripping will be more popular than flying in the next 12 months.

With travel expected to be on the upswing this year, the study found that 76% of Americans plan to travel in the next 12 months, and of them, 69% plan to travel in June, July and August alone. Of those who plan to travel in the next 12 months, 69% will take a road trip for personal travel, which is higher than the 56% of travelers who will fly. Many Americans are opting into road trip adventures that bypass the restrictions of an airline, including weight limits and added costs for luggage.

Consumers love the ability to rack up points and miles, but they aren't always sure about how to use those credit card rewards.  

Consumers love to use their credit cards to earn rewards, but many are confused about when to redeem their points and miles. The study found that 40% of all rewards card holders confess that they are often not sure when to use their credit card rewards and when to save them, and that confusion is highest among Generation Z (66% ages 18-27 agree, compared to 47% of millennials ages 28-43, 36% of Gen Xers ages 44-59, and 27% of baby boomers ages 60-78). One thing that's clear to consumers is that credit card rewards are great for travel — 45% of rewards card holders say they have signed up for a credit card specifically for the travel rewards, and over 4 in 5 rewards card holders who plan to travel this summer (81%) say they are planning to use their rewards for those upcoming plans. 

Most rewards card holders could be at risk of having their points devalued.  

While some card holders maintain an "earn and burn" mentality (meaning they use the points nearly as quickly as they earn them), some prefer to let their points accumulate as much as possible. According to the study, 26% of rewards card holders only check their balance a few times a year, and 80% also say that they prefer to let their points accumulate as much as possible before using them, with millennials, Gen Xers and baby boomers more likely than Gen Zers to cite the latter (83%, 82% and 80% vs. 66%). As a result, many card holders could be missing out on unknown perks or be at risk of their points being devalued. 

Men and women redeem their points differently.  

Opting for cash back versus travel perks when using rewards is subjective. Habits can depend on a variety of factors, including debt, upcoming plans, personal preference and gender. Among rewards card holders, women are more likely than men to use credit card rewards for cash back (63% versus 52%), and men are more likely than women to use credit card rewards for travel-related expenses (65% versus 50%).

Rewards card holders are using points for hotels more than flights. 

Nearly all rewards card holders (94%) have used rewards. More than half used their credit card rewards for travel-related expenses or cash back (57% each), while 36% of rewards card holders have used their rewards for non-travel-related expenses. More rewards card holders have spent their points on hotels (36%) than airfare (31%).

Survey Method:
This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of The Points Guy from May 7-9, 2024, among 2,100 adults ages 18 and older, among whom 1,548 have plans to travel in the next 12 months, and 1,393 currently have a rewards credit card. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval.  For this study, the sample data is accurate to within +/- 2.5 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact [email protected]

About The Points Guy
The Points Guy (TPG) is a trusted travel and lifestyle media platform that focuses on maximizing travel experiences while minimizing spending. Through an informative, clever point of view, TPG has become the leading online site for all things points, miles and resourceful travel experiences. The site's editorial content and newsletter consists of firsthand flight, hotel and airplane reviews, curated travel guides and immersive video components, as well as global event activations. Since its launch in 2010, founder Brian Kelly has expanded the team to include a distinguished editorial staff and an extensive network of freelancers around the globe. Today, TPG reaches 11 million unique monthly visitors and more than 4.7 million followers across social media platforms (Instagram, Facebook, X and TikTok).