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Americans find frequent flyer, credit card rewards and hotel loyalty programs confusing

BURLINGAME, CA – More than half of Americans (54%) find frequent flyer programs confusing, according to a new study by NextAdvisor. And, that’s not all they’re confused about. When asked about credit card rewards and hotel loyalty programs, well over four in ten Americans say they are perplexed by these plans as well, 44% and 47%, respectfully.

What’s concerning is that many Americans don’t even know how many miles, rewards or points they have accumulated. Over a third of frequent flyers (35%) don’t know how many miles they have. Nearly half (47%) of respondents don’t know their hotel loyalty point total, and 35% are uncertain as to their credit card rewards.

And, even if they did know their totals, many haven’t taken the time to find out how to redeem them. That’s the case for 36% of those enrolled in frequent flyers programs, 33% of hotel loyalty program enrollees, and 24% of those with access to credit card rewards.

“By not redeeming miles, rewards or loyalty points, consumers are literally leaving money on the table,” said NextAdvisor analyst Julie Myhre-Nunes. “That’s why it’s important for you to take the time to find the programs and credit cards that best suit your needs. If travel programs are confusing to you, a cash back card, especially one that earns a flat cash back rate like the Citi Double Cash Card or Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa Card, might be a simpler option to reap some rewards. Bottom line, spending a few minutes to better understand how reward programs work can truly pay off in the long run.”

Perhaps because of the confusion, 40% of “frequent flyers” claim they have let miles expire at some point while 42% of hotel loyalty program users have let their points expire. This is compared only 25% of credit card reward program users letting points expire despite credit card rewards program users being more common.

Millennials (ages 18-37) are less likely to express confusion around frequent flyer miles (51%) than non-millennials (57%). However, they are more likely (48%) to express confusion around credit card rewards than non-millennials (42%).

To alleviate some of the confusion around travel credit cards, NextAdvisor just released its 2018 Travel Rewards Credit Card Analysis. The study reviews 22 travel credit cards and details how much real money consumers can expect to earn for every $100 spent with each card.

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