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What does credit card rewards/frequent flyer miles mean to you

OK…I don’t use my credit cards much except for emergency…and I probably should because I know USAA does give some type of rewards (I think) and haven’t really looked into it.

The reason I ask is because for some reservations outside of Airbnb I do require check. This is usually high peak weeks/holiday weeks that are far out. I despise paying credit card fees, and I love the feeling of not being susceptible to a credit card chargeback.

I am pondering allowing all credit cards and then guests have the option (during peak weeks) to pay check or use credit card - but they pay the credit card fees. Also, I believe in NC (according to my interpretation of the law) credit card fees are taxed at the lodging rate (just the same as if it was part of the room rate) when I pass the fees to the customer.

So what does it mean (to you) when you get to purchase $1,500 on your credit card? What exactly is your reward?

Doest it mean you will earn $50 to spend somewhere? Honestly I have no idea how rewards or frequent flyer miles work…so anyone feel free to explain to me.


I don’t even have a credit card anymore. And when I did I used to pay of what I spent on the same day. My theory is if you can’t pay it off don’t use it.

Anyway been just using a debit card for years.

No clue about the rewards thing.

Yeah…pretty much like me. I know many do use their credit cards and pay off the balance every month. And they do it for the charge back protection, which is supposedly a lot better than charge back protection when using a debit card. Not entirely sure. And then for the rewards.

I put everything possible on my credit card(s) and then pay them off every month. Using my Costco Amex meant a free membership every year plus cash. I’ve gotten two round trips to Australia, one to Germany, one to Hawai’i and I don’t know how many domestic flights off of them. Cash rewards from several others. It is totally worth it. Now if I can get something cheaper by paying cash, I will. Otherwise it goes on a card.

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Thanks K9 - this is the experience I am looking for. Can you share any numbers? I am trying to wrap my head around an estimate or something to see what it really “means” to someone. How much in purchases and what was the flight price? And how do frequent flyer miles even work?

It depends on the card and the rewards system.

We have one that gives 3% back on travel expenses. Another gives 6% back on groceries.


I’d say I’ve gotten roughly $10,000 worth of cash and flights over the the last 22 years. How much did I spend, I don’t know but I didn’t buy anything I wasn’t going to buy anyway. On Costco alone I get a rebate of between $100-$200 a year. Let me add that is on a middle income averaging about $60000 a year over the past twenty years.

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If you aren’t using a reward credit card you are leaving cash on the table.


I just edited my original post. I think I wasn’t being clear. What exactly does a $1500 or $4000 purchase “mean” to you? That is where I am trying to understand. I understand using credit card and paying off at end of month gains rewards to spend elsewhere.

I am trying to wrap my head around some type of real numbers spending, examples, etc. if that makes sense.

On the card that rewards travel best, you get 3% of the purchase price toward other travel items, airline or hotel gift cards, or in some reward systems, a statement credit.

So, $45-120 depending on where the purchase falls in that 1500-4000 range.

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From time to time, there are also “sales” on certain rewards, so you could get an additional 10-20% in purchasing power with that reward.


I have an Amazon credit card. I get one point for every dollar spent on non Amazon purchases and two points for every dollar spent on Amazon purchases. For every 100 points I accrue I get one dollar to spend on Amazon.

I used to work in personal finance and researched reward cards for my clients. It is completely worth it to use reward cards if you don’t spend any more on the purchase than you would if you weren’t using a reward card and if you pay the balance in full every month. Also, you need to make sure that the rewards offered are something you can use. I always advised my clients to never pay extra like you are proposing in order to accrue rewards. If you have to pay a fee to use a credit card it always more than negates the reward points.

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Hmm…so in your example Ellen with Amazon card - would it work like this:

Let’s say the rental cost plus loding tax comes to $2,000 exactly. Since it’s not an amazon purchases then the cardholder would earn 2,000 points. This equates to $20 to spend on amazon for future purchases.

In this same example let’s say I give the guest the option to pay check for free. Or they can use their credit card and pay a 3% credit card fee. So they would need to pay $60 in credit card fees. But they receive the peace of mind of being protected in case I’m a fraud.

And I wonder if most credit cards offer travel cancellation insurance - and under what circumstances. Ellen- did you happen to come across trip insurance options when you were researching rewards?

Hmm…because if someone pays by check and also needs to purchase trip cancellation insurance. I am wondering how it compares with using the credit card, paying the credit card fees, and some of that being off set by the rewards. Do rewards or frequent flyer miles usually have a cut off time to use?

And what about refunding a deposit back to a card - if there is a refund then I assume the card holder does not get to keep the rewards…correct?


Your example is exactly why I advised clients not to spend extra money to get points. $2,000.00 x 3% is $60.00. It is foolish to spend $60.00 to get $20.00. Most of my clients didn’t purchase travel insurance. None of them used Airbnb. I have attached a link to an article about credit cards and Airbnb. One thing you should consider before you decide to accept credit cards is that if a customer disputes a credit card charge the credit card company is likely to side with the customer. Regarding your comparisons to paying by check, I would have definitely advised them against paying by check until they arrived at the lodging and judged it to be satisactory as yes, the transaction could be fraud.

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