MCLEAN, Va., Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- This "Black Friday," the traditional prime holiday shopping day, nearly half of rewards card holders are not planning to hit stores or online retailers according to the latest Capital One (NYSE: COF) Rewards Barometer ( www.capitalone.com), a quarterly survey among American consumers that focuses on how they accumulate and redeem credit card rewards. However, that doesn't necessarily mean holiday shopping budgets are down as more than half of rewards card holders' (58 percent) budgets remain the same as last year and 14 percent are planning to spend more this year. Credit card rewards can help supplement these holiday budgets, yet only 18 percent are taking advantage of redeeming rewards for gifts.
"Consumers' shopping habits are really changing. They 're becoming more accustomed to sales all the time, every day—not simply using coupons or on specific dates anymore," says Jacqui Stafford, style expert and author of The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget. "You really don't need to be a bargain hunter to score some fabulous deals this year."
Holiday Spending: Men versus Women More than one-third of respondents said the economy has changed how they use rewards, especially women with 23 percent reporting that they now use rewards to offset essential expenses like gas and groceries. Further, this holiday season, more women plan on spending less than the prior year in comparison to men (24 percent vs. 18 percent). Thinking ahead to post-holiday shopping bills, men and women are on the same page with one-quarter planning to use their cash rewards earned from holiday shopping as a credit on their statement to offset holiday expenses.
Holiday TravelThe hustle and bustle of holiday travel is the ideal time to take advantage of rewards, but more than a quarter of those who tried to redeem rewards for travel were unable to do so with blackout dates to blame. With 24 percent of respondents still undecided as to whether they'll plan to travel this holiday season, these blackout dates as well as rewards restrictions may prevent their last minute travel. In fact, more than half would consider traveling during peak holiday periods (e.g. within 1-2 days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years), if guaranteed to be able to use rewards for their trip. Interestingly, nearly 80 percent of respondents haven't even tried to redeem for holiday travel this year, with many saying that they thought it was too much of a hassle (28 percent) or they didn't have enough time to plan (29 percent)."Traveling during the holidays can certainly be stressful, but using your rewards to book your trip doesn't have to be a hassle," said Amy Lenander, Vice President of Rewards Programs at Capital One. "Not all rewards programs are alike and blackout dates are not universal, so look at the fine print for restrictions to make sure you are able to travel any time you want." Rewards TrendsAdditional trends stemming from the Rewards Barometer this quarter include:
- Since 2011, the top three credit card rewards have been cash, gift cards and domestic airline tickets.
- Since the spring of 2012, 40 percent of rewards card holders consistently reported they prefer a simple rewards card offering the same rate across all purchases.
- Approximately one-third of consumers remain unaware if they are charged a fee or additional expenses when using rewards to book travel.
- Over the last year, approximately half of rewards card holders remain unaware that they may be charged foreign transaction fees for purchases made while traveling abroad.
- Redeem for Gifts: Rewards can help ease the financial burden of the holiday shopping season so join nearly half of rewards card holders who are considering redeeming rewards for gifts this year.
- Can't Decide, Get them a Gift Card: For family or friends that are difficult to shop for, use rewards for a gift card so they can get what they truly want this holiday season. Of those who plan to redeem for holiday gifts, 58 percent plan to redeem for gift cards rather than merchandise.
- Book Now, Redeem Later: If you plan to use your Capital One rewards card for all your holiday travel, you can retroactively redeem rewards online and on your Smartphone within 90 days of your travel purchase with Purchase Eraser.
- Book Travel without Hassles: Get a rewards card that offers the flexibility to redeem rewards for future travel without fear of blackout and expiration dates. One quarter of rewards card holders surveyed plan to use the rewards earned from holiday shopping toward spring or summer travel in 2013.