Credit card travel rewards may not seem very useful right now, but don't forget you can redeem them for cash back

Crystal Cox/Business Insider
  • With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Platinum Card® from American Express, and other cards that earn travel rewards, you’ll get the most value for your points when you redeem them for flights and hotels.
  • If your priorities have shifted and you’d prefer to get cash back, you can redeem your travel rewards points for statement credits or a check in the mail.
  • At best, your travel points will be worth 1 cent each as cash back, but with Amex Membership Rewards and Capital One miles, your rewards are worth less than a cent apiece.
  • It could also be worth getting a card like the Citi® Double Cash Card to earn money back on all your purchases.
  • See Business Insider’s list of the best cash-back credit cards.

If you have a huge stash of travel rewards earned from credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Platinum Card® from American Express, you might be wondering when you’ll ever get to put those points to use. Travel isn’t a possibility in the short term because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, and while you could use your points to speculatively book a trip for months in the future, no one could blame you if that’s not top of mind right now.

If you’re looking to maximise your credit card rewards, now could be a great time to pivot to earning cash back. There are many great cash-back cards to choose from, including the Citi® Double Cash Card and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, but you can even turn travel rewards points like Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards into money back.

Redeeming travel points for cash back isn’t always the best value – in some cases, each point is worth less than 1 cent – but if putting money back in your account is the main goal, it’s an option worth considering.

Here’s how turning travel points into cash back works with different credit card rewards programs.

American Express Membership Rewards

If you have the Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, or another Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points, you can redeem your rewards for cash back, in the form of a statement credit toward your account balance.

To redeem Amex Membership Rewards for cash back, navigate to the Rewards section of your card account. The first tab on the page, Cover Your Card Charges, allows you to select purchases you want to cover with points.

Unfortunately, you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point when you redeem Amex points for cash back – which means you’d come out ahead using a cash-back card that earns you 1% back on your purchases. But if you’re short on cash, it’s nice to have this option.

Bank of America

You can redeem points from cards like the Bank of America® Premium Rewards® Visa® credit card and the Bank of America® Travel Rewards Visa® credit card for cash back as a deposit in a Bank of America account, in a 529 college savings plan, or as a statement credit to your credit card account. For all three options, you’ll get 1 cent per point.

To redeem Bank of America points for cash back, log into your account, then click on the “Rewards” tab. From there, click “Cash,” and select how you want to get your money back.

Capital One

Capital One lets you redeem miles from the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, the Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business, and other cards for cash back – but at a subpar rate of 0.5 cents per mile. You can also redeem Capital One miles toward statement credits to cover travel purchases on your account, and this gets you a better rate of 1 cent per mile. But this won’t be useful if you’re looking to cover non-travel expenses.

To redeem Capital One miles for cash back, log into your account, then navigate to the Rewards page. Select “Cash” under the redemption options, then decide how many miles you want to redeem for cash back. You can get the cash back as an account credit or as a check in the mail.

Chase

You can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve®, and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Log into your Chase account, click on Ultimate Rewards, and then click “Cash Back” from the list of options. You’ll then be asked to choose how much cash back you’d like to redeem for, and Chase will show you how many points that will require.

Citi

If you have the Citi Premier Card or the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, you can redeem your ThankYou points for cash back at a rate of 1 cent per point.

Once you’re logged into your Citi account, hover over “Rewards & Benefits” and select “ThankYou Rewards.” Then, select “See All Ways to Redeem.” From here, click “Cash & Charity.” You have the option to redeem your Citi points for cash in the form of a check, in denominations of $US50 or $US100, or for statement credits starting at 1,000 points for $US10 up to 25,000 points for $US250.

Discover

With the Discover it® Miles, you can use rewards to cover travel purchases on your card statement, or to get cash back in your bank account. With either option, you’ll get 1 cent per mile.

To redeem Discover miles for cash, log into your account, select “Ways to Redeem,” and then click “Miles as Cash.”

Wells Fargo

You can redeem Go Far Rewards from Wells Fargo credit cards like the Wells Fargo Rewards Card for cash-back checks in the mail, or use your points to get money deposited in an eligible Wells Fargo account in increments of $US25.

To redeem for a statement credit, log into your Go Far Rewards account, and select “Use Your Rewards,” then “Redeem to Account.” If you have a Wells Fargo debit or ATM card, you can also withdraw rewards as cash. Each point is worth 1 cent.

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