Which travel benefits US consumers like the most?

Cheryl Kar
November 29, 2021, 9:40 AM UTC

For travelers, redeeming benefits off their travel credit cards has been a key way of saving money when on-the-go while also, in some cases, enjoying elite privileges along the way. And with travel surging, it’s common to see travel brands partnering with card operators to get hold of their audience.

It’s no surprise to see a fierce competition with new entrants in the travel credit card landscape. So, what do brands need to know about travel cardholders? 

One in ten US consumers say they applied for a travel rewards card last year (13%)

A recent survey conducted by YouGov asked US adults the primary reason that draws them to apply for a travel credit card. Among those who applied for a card last year, the data reveals that earning for welcome bonus (39%) or earning rewards on travel spending (35%) are the primary reasons for application. Travel benefits, chosen by a quarter of this audience, emerged as the least important factor of the three.

As restrictions around international travel ease, travel brands and credit card issuers continue to try to capture a share of travelers spending money by offering exclusive features.  

But how impactful are these rewards in improving consumers’ relationship with these brands? 

The survey shows that of the respondents who applied for a travel rewards card last year, about two-thirds (68%) say that the removal of elite benefits (like free breakfast for elite members or meals in first class) make a difference in their relationship with an airline or a hotel chain providing these rewards.  
 
It’s the same scenario when considering daily housekeeping and cleaning services, with 71% of adults in this group factoring these rewards when planning their stay in a hotel.  

So, what do travel brands need to prioritize when considering US consumers who apply for travel cards? 

Our data shows that lifestyle benefits like dining or gym credits would have little or no impact on nearly half of Americans who applied for a travel card (46%). However, it’s worth noting that this audience is influenced by how reward points are calculated – as four in five consumers say that if airlines or hotel chains increased the points required to redeem certain benefits, it would have an impact on the credit card issuer they opt for (81%). 

Finally, we asked consumers what makes them save these points? The survey suggests that when it comes to saving airline miles, or points close to half of American consumers do so for travel (47%), while other benefits like cash-back and gift cards matters to two in five of the US travelers (40%). 

A version of this story originally appeared on Forbes Advisor

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