Capital One Rewards Barometer Sheds Light on Holiday Rewards

Updated on Apr 13, 2017

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Merry music playlists are in full swing, peppermint-flavored everything is gracing café menus, and seasonal sales are gearing up the ensuing holiday shopping rush. It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and it also happens to be one of the most costly.

Savvy shoppers want to leverage their cashback rewards credit cards for the onslaught of expenses this winter—and they’re making it a point to choose a credit card that doesn’t limit their gift-giving potential. One trend is clearly emerging; consumers want to stipulate when, where, and how they shop, earn, and redeem rewards this holiday season.

Limitations Lead to Headaches

According to the Capital One Rewards Barometer, 72% of rewards card holders are aware of certain cashback rewards limitations, such as only being able to redeem in fixed amounts or higher cashback rates in specific spending categories. Cashback cardholders said the ability to earn the same amount of rewards on everything they buy (62%), and earning rewards in a simpler way (45%) would most improve their experience earning credit card rewards. Flexibility is key and being able to earn the same amount of rewards on everything they buy is the number one improvement that rewards card holders would like to see.

Beyond Black Friday

The anytime, anywhere consumer mentality is upon us and gone are the days when retailers can dictate when and where to shop for holiday deals—. According to a survey by retail research firm Conlumino, 45% of shoppers said they planned to spend less on Black Friday this year than last year—with 18% sitting it out altogether.

Shoppers are also taking advantage of seasonal price slashing to stock up on items from their personal wish list. Data from Bizrate Insights suggests more shoppers purchase gifts for themselves through Black Friday, and then focus on buying for others in December. And they can score an extra special indulgence for themselves if they use their cashback rewards toward their Black Friday finds, which is a top motivation for redemption (21%).

Spend on your Terms

Consumers’ “my way” bravado is not only driving what days they’re shopping for their holiday gift list, but how they’re spending and earning rewards. The ability to earn a higher cashback rate in categories where they spend the most money is the most important cashback rewards feature for 26% of rewards card holders according to the Rewards Barometer, followed by being able to redeem any amount of cashback earned at any time (24%). Shoppers don’t want to be held back by cashback rewards they can only redeem in pre-fixed amounts like $25 or $50, when the gift they are fixated on is $40.

‘Tis the Season of Mobile

Shopping moments are outpacing shopping marathons, according to recent research published by Google. A survey of consumers’ holiday shopping intentions by Ipsos MediaCT found that 61% have begun researching purchases before Thanksgiving weekend, but sales will take place later in the season because smartphones have replaced the need to rush to the store.

And, when it comes to mobile shopping, it’s all about quality of time over quantity. According to Google data, shoppers spend 7% less time in each mobile session, but the share of purchases on smartphones rose 64% during the last year—in fact, some 30% of all online shopping purchases now happen on mobile phones. Through it all, cashback card holders are interested in tapping into their smartphones to track rewards in order to improve their earning and redemption experiences (21%).

The Bottom Line

No matter what method you choose for checking off every recipient on your holiday list, it’s clear that shoppers are seeking experiences that accommodate their busy lifestyles. Capital One understands the need for consistency and simplicity when it comes to credit card rewards—consumers can avoid the frustration of limitations thanks to Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This cashback credit card gives consumers unlimited 1.5% cashback on every purchase with no limit on how much they can earn, and no changing categories.

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