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Nearly Half of Rewards Card Holders Aren't Planning to Do ANY Shopping -- Online or In-stores -- on "Black Friday"

November 14, 2012 at 8:15 AM EST
Capital One Survey Reveals Rewards Redemption is on the Rise as the Holiday Season Approaches

MCLEAN, Va., Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- This "Black Friday," the traditional prime holiday shopping day, nearly half of rewards card holders are not planning to hit stores or online retailers according to the latest Capital One (NYSE: COF) Rewards Barometer (, a quarterly survey among American consumers that focuses on how they accumulate and redeem credit card rewards. However, that doesn't necessarily mean holiday shopping budgets are down as more than half of rewards card holders' (58 percent) budgets remain the same as last year and 14 percent are planning to spend more this year. Credit card rewards can help supplement these holiday budgets, yet only 18 percent are taking advantage of redeeming rewards for gifts.

"Consumers' shopping habits are really changing. They 're becoming more accustomed to sales all the time, every day—not simply using coupons or on specific dates anymore," says Jacqui Stafford, style expert and author of The Wow Factor: Insider Style Secrets for Every Body and Every Budget. "You really don't need to be a bargain hunter to score some fabulous deals this year."

Holiday Spending: Men versus Women
More than one-third of respondents said the economy has changed how they use rewards, especially women with 23 percent reporting that they now use rewards to offset essential expenses like gas and groceries. Further, this holiday season, more women plan on spending less than the prior year in comparison to men (24 percent vs. 18 percent). Thinking ahead to post-holiday shopping bills, men and women are on the same page with one-quarter planning to use their cash rewards earned from holiday shopping as a credit on their statement to offset holiday expenses.

Holiday Travel
The hustle and bustle of holiday travel is the ideal time to take advantage of rewards, but more than a quarter of those who tried to redeem rewards for travel were unable to do so with blackout dates to blame. With 24 percent of respondents still undecided as to whether they'll plan to travel this holiday season, these blackout dates as well as rewards restrictions may prevent their last minute travel. In fact, more than half would consider traveling during peak holiday periods (e.g. within 1-2 days of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years), if guaranteed to be able to use rewards for their trip. Interestingly, nearly 80 percent of respondents haven't even tried to redeem for holiday travel this year, with many saying that they thought it was too much of a hassle (28 percent) or they didn't have enough time to plan (29 percent).

"Traveling during the holidays can certainly be stressful, but using your rewards to book your trip doesn't have to be a hassle," said Amy Lenander, Vice President of Rewards Programs at Capital One. "Not all rewards programs are alike and blackout dates are not universal, so look at the fine print for restrictions to make sure you are able to travel any time you want."

Rewards Trends
Additional trends stemming from the Rewards Barometer this quarter include:

  • Since 2011, the top three credit card rewards have been cash, gift cards and domestic airline tickets.
  • Since the spring of 2012, 40 percent of rewards card holders consistently reported they prefer a simple rewards card offering the same rate across all purchases.
  • Approximately one-third of consumers remain unaware if they are charged a fee or additional expenses when using rewards to book travel.
  • Over the last year, approximately half of rewards card holders remain unaware that they may be charged foreign transaction fees for purchases made while traveling abroad.

Rewards Tips
Capital One offers the following tips to help consumers use their rewards to simplify the holiday season:

  • Redeem for Gifts: Rewards can help ease the financial burden of the holiday shopping season so join nearly half of rewards card holders who are considering redeeming rewards for gifts this year.
  • Can't Decide, Get them a Gift Card: For family or friends that are difficult to shop for, use rewards for a gift card so they can get what they truly want this holiday season. Of those who plan to redeem for holiday gifts, 58 percent plan to redeem for gift cards rather than merchandise.
  • Book Now, Redeem Later: If you plan to use your Capital One rewards card for all your holiday travel, you can retroactively redeem rewards online and on your Smartphone within 90 days of your travel purchase with Purchase Eraser.
  • Book Travel without Hassles: Get a rewards card that offers the flexibility to redeem rewards for future travel without fear of blackout and expiration dates. One quarter of rewards card holders surveyed plan to use the rewards earned from holiday shopping toward spring or summer travel in 2013.

Survey Methodology
This BIGinsight survey was conducted from September 20–25, 2012 among U.S. Adults 18+ who indicated that they currently have a "rewards credit card" – that is, a credit card with a rewards program that is issued by a bank or credit card company. The total sample size for this survey was N=1,045, with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. BIGinsight delivers executives timely, consumer-centric insights from multiple sources. As a comprehensive resource of information, BIGinsight represents the voice of the consumer and provides knowledge to marketers regarding consumer views on the economy, personal finance, retail, lifestyle, media and domestic and world issues.

About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation ( is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., and Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., had $213.3 billion in deposits and $302.0 billion in total assets outstanding as of September 30, 2012. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One offers a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. ING DIRECT, a division of Capital One, N.A., offers direct banking products and services to customers nationwide. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.

Capital One is committed to driving industry leading rewards by consistently engaging its customers with rich rewards, perks and benefits. The No Hassle Rewards® program from Capital One offers easy ways to earn rewards and a flexible suite of redemption options including travel, cash back, merchandise, gift cards, experiential rewards and more. With No Hassle Rewards, there's no limit to the amount of rewards a customer can earn and rewards don't expire.

*Survey conducted among U.S. Adults 18+ who indicated that they currently have a credit card with a rewards program that is issued by a bank or credit card company.

Contact: Pam Girardo

SOURCE Capital One