oints and miles may take you to exotic destinations, but a new survey found American credit card holders tend to value a more practical prize: cash back rewards.
The December 2021 survey of 2,764 U.S. adults was done in conjunction with the 2022 Bankrate Awards, and it found that more than 4 in 10 (41 percent) U.S. adults listed cash back as their favorite credit card feature.
The next-most-desired features didn’t even come close to the overwhelming popularity of cash back rewards. Cash back was three times as popular as the next favorite feature, wide acceptance.
While travel rewards may offer more value for savvy folks who know how to transfer and redeem points and miles, there’s a reason cash is king, according to credit card expert Jason Steele. Cash back is practical and can be used to pay for anything. Plus, it doesn’t require you to learn complicated rules or jump through hoops when trying to redeem rewards, Steele points out.
“It’s easy: You select the credit card and earn the cash back,” he says.
Cash back soundly beat out all other credit card features with U.S. consumers across all generations, education levels, geographic regions and household incomes, the Bankrate survey found.
Cash back was more popular among older generations and a bit less popular among the youngest generations. Here’s a generational breakdown of the percentage of credit card holders who chose cash back as their top credit card feature:
While cash back was still number one with Gen Zers, their picks for favorite credit card features were more diverse than older generations. Four other credit card features, besides cash back, were popular enough among Generation Z to reach double digits: a card being “accepted most places” (14 percent), retail perks such as extended warranties and purchase protection (10 percent), customer service including the mobile app (10 percent) and a low interest rate (10 percent).