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When should you redeem cashback rewards?

Redeem cash back often unless you earn bonuses for other redemption options.

Updated

Fact checked

Our pick for a cashback credit card: Chase Freedom Flex℠

Chase Freedom Flex℠ logo

Up to 5%

Cash back

  • Huge signup bonus for a no-annual-fee card
  • 5% back in rotating categories on up to $1,500 quarterly, then 1%
  • New rewards on travel, dining and drugstores
Apply now

When you have a cashback card, it’s fun to watch your rewards pile up. But as you do, you might start wondering when you should cash out.

It’s best not to overthink it. But as a rule of thumb, err on the side of redeeming rewards early.

When is the best time to redeem cash rewards?

There’s no “best” time to redeem cash rewards, but it’s generally a good idea to redeem them regularly. This helps you avoid losing them to expiration and possible decline in value.

Here are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to redeem your rewards:

  • Redemption minimum. Some providers require you to have a minimum before redeeming — often $25.
  • Expiration date. If your rewards expire soon, it’s definitely worth cashing them in.
  • Reward devaluations. Credit card providers often change reward values. Protect yourself by redeeming your cash back consistently — especially if your cash back are from earned points.
  • Bonuses for certain redemptions. You might get a reward boost if you redeem your cash back for options other than cash or cash deposits. For example, if you redeem a $20 gift card through the Discover rewards center, you’ll get at least $5 added to the card.

Discover cash back categories 2018–2019
When should you redeem cashback rewards? - screenshot 1

Compare cashback credit cards

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Chase Freedom Flex℠
5% back in rotating categories up to $1,500 combined each activated quarter (then 1%), 5% on travel purchased through Chase, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
Get up to 5% cashback in rotating and newly added everyday categories. The refreshed Freedom Flex card has lots of earning potential.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0
Get 3% cash back on groceries on up to $6,000 annually (then 1%) with no annual fee. This is a simple and effective rewards card. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$95
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $250. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Citi® Double Cash Card
Up to 2% cash back on purchases (1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay)
13.99% to 23.99% variable
$0
Earn up to 2% on every purchase with no annual fee. This is the highest flat-rate cashback card on the market.
Chase Freedom Unlimited®
5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase, 5% on Lyft, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1.5% on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 23.74% variable)
$0
This solid 1.5% cashback card gets even better with the addition of up to 5% back in categories like travel, drug stores and dining.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Will my cash rewards expire?

Whether your cash rewards expire depends on your provider. With some issuers, your cash back won’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing. With other issuers, your rewards will expire after a certain time.

A good way to check on your provider’s policy is to read your card’s terms and conditions.

For example, the Citi® Double Cash Card‘s terms explain how your cash back might expire.

When should you redeem cashback rewards? - screenshot 2

Can my cash rewards be revoked?

Your provider can revoke your cash back under certain circumstances. Typically, it will do so if your account isn’t in good standing — for example, because it’s not current on payments or it’s been used for fraud.

Here’s an example: The Chase Freedom Unlimited® credit card’s terms explain that your rewards typically won’t expire, though there are certain instances in which they might.

When should you redeem cashback rewards? - screenshot 3

Will my rewards lose value?

Your rewards can lose value if your provider changes its terms. Luckily, this typically doesn’t happen because most providers peg your rewards to a percentage of your spending.

As an example, check out how Bank of America distributes rewards for the Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card:

Be more vigilant when your provider distributes cash back in the form of points. The value of your points depends on what you redeem them for, and your provider could change redemption costs at will.

When should you redeem cashback rewards? - screenshot 4

What can I redeem cash back for?

Depending on your provider, you may have a few options to redeem your cash back. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Statement credit.
  • Electronic deposit into a checking or savings account.
  • Check.
  • Gift cards.
  • Travel — hotel stays, flights, car rentals, etc.

Bottom line

Unless you get bonuses for redeeming a certain amount of cash back, it’s usually wise to redeem rewards as often as you can. This will help you avoid losing cash back to expiration and devaluations.

Check out our guide to find out more about cashback credit cards.

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