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TheStreet Open House

What Would You Give Up For A Cheaper Flight This Summer?

Stocks in this article: COF

MCLEAN, Va., May 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Long layovers can eat up hours of the day and are not worth the cheaper plane ticket for a majority of rewards card holders. According to the recent Capital One Rewards Barometer,* which surveys how consumers accumulate and redeem credit card rewards, more than two-thirds of respondents would opt for a direct flight over snagging cheaper airfare with longer travel time. The survey also revealed that only 18 percent of respondents would give up their already cramped in-flight space for a cheaper plane ticket.

"Several benefits that were once embedded in airfares are now being offered a la carte," said Amy Lenander, Vice President of Rewards Programs at Capital One. "As summer travel begins to heat up, consumers should take a closer look at their rewards programs to see if they can offset these new travel costs with their rewards points. Building rewards points is only worth it if you can actually use them."

Summer Travel

According to the survey, more consumers plan to travel this year than last (70 percent vs. 67 percent respectively) with many kicking off summer travel on Memorial Day weekend, a 31 percent increase over last year (21 percent  in 2013 vs. 16 percent in 2012). In order to offset costs, more travelers plan to use their credit card rewards this year to cover airfare for their summer getaways (67 percent vs. 58 percent respectively). The cost of gas seems to be less of a concern for travelers this year, as only 13 percent plan to redeem rewards for gas compared to 18 percent last year.

Loyalty

Even with more people traveling this summer, the survey reveals that hotel or airline loyalty is trumped by summer travel deals. Interestingly, when making summer 2013 travel arrangements, respondents said that they first consider their destination (45 percent) and then find the best deal (42 percent). Loyalty to particular airlines and hotel chains was a priority for only seven percent of rewards card holders. Those surveyed, however, are noticeably more loyal when it comes to their primary rewards card. In fact, more than half of respondents who indicate satisfaction with their program report that they have had the same card for five or more years. Rewards programs that offer both banking and credit card rewards are likely to retain more of their customers, as 42 percent of those surveyed prefer to bank and earn credit card rewards from the same financial institution.

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