New research from US credit card giant American Express has revealed that consumers are more likely to splash the cash on a credit or charge card that offers them rewards – such as cashback, retail vouchers and travel rewards.

According to the annual American Express ‘Passive Plastic’ research, nearly half (47%) of Brits own a rewards card with four in 10 admitting they are more likely to redeem their rewards than a year ago.

In addition, those with a rewards card estimate that by cashing in their points, they have generated average savings of £137 per year, up from £123 last year and £116 in 2011. This equates to more than £3 billion amongst Brits carrying rewards cards in the last 12 months.

A total of 17% said they rely on their rewards for ‘incidental and unexpected expenditure’ and a further 11% use them to ‘fall back on during tight times’. A total of 11% claim their rewards every month with three quarters (75%) redeeming at least once a year.  

Racking Up Rewards

Savvy cardholders are also looking for opportunities to rack up rewards as quickly as possible with just under half (49%) saying they are more likely to pay with their credit card rather than use a debit card or cash in order to earn rewards, whilst just over a third (36%) will spend more in shops that offer a loyalty programme.

Vice president of consumer card acquisition UK at American Express, Nicholas Stefanovitz, said with household budgets under pressure, it is good to know that so many people are making the cards in their wallet ‘work that bit harder’.

“Whether you want straight cashback, to collect points that can be redeemed for flights and holidays, or simply want money off your weekly shop, there’s never been a better time to switch your plastic for a card that helps you save while you spend.”

The Promise of Points

Commenting on the results, Mark Haviland; managing director of Rakuten Marketing – a division of performance marketing network Rakuten, said the trend towards collecting and using rewards and loyalty points offered by the likes of credit card companies or shopping sites, is growing.

“The promise of points or little treats can not only tip the balance in favour of making a purchase in a shoppers’ mind, but also generates strong brand loyalty meaning shoppers are likely to come back again and again (while watching their points build),” Haviland said.

Haviland said many are delaying that final purchase decision until they can see a clear benefit from buying and stressed that brands should be thinking creatively about ways to reward loyal shoppers.

The 2013 research, of 2,000 UK adults aged 18 and over, was conducted by One Poll.