Loyalty Rewards: Which Banks Offer the Best Value for Loyal Customers

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

Do you want a company that treats you like you're a high roller when the reality of your bank account is far less glamorous than that? Customers want to be given enough perks from a bank to make them feel special, even if they don't have six-figure bank accounts and perfect credit. We all want to feel like the prettiest girl at the school dance sometimes.

You're in luck. There are several banks that offer loyalty programs you'll want to take part in.

Citibank

Citibank offers a loyalty program called Citi ThankYou. There are 5 rewards cards through Citi that are involved in the program, and you can use the points earned to score products or book that trip of your dreams. You can also redeem these points to use as a statement credit or get gift cards with them to popular retailers and restaurants.

If you use your points for free merchandise, this program offers a wide assortment of products and point ranges needed to get them. You can get some cool items such as laptops, cameras, bags, suitcases, and even unique products like a Star Wars Darth Vader hardside suitcase.

Citi has some great rewards cards in its lineup whether you're looking to get in on the rewards points program or if you'd rather just go with a cashback option like the Citi Double Cash Card.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

Chase offers several loyalty programs and rewards cards, including Chase Freedom Unlimited, Chase Freedom, Chase Sapphire, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Disney Premier Visa card.

Our favorite of the bunch is the Chase Freedom Unlimited. It's a really straightforward card with rewards that are easy to redeem. You'll get 1.5% cash back on all purchases. The best way to maximize your rewards on this card is combining it with other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards. The great part about this one is you know you'll be getting cash back on just about every purchase, so there's no need to do some quick calculations in your head to see which card is the best one to use when you pull up to the gas pump.

Capital One Purchase Eraser

With this loyalty program, you can erase travel-related purchases from your card by using your points on the Capital One Venture Rewards card or VentureOne Rewards card.

To use the Purchase Eraser, you need to charge some travel purchases on your Capital One credit card. It could be on a cruise, an airfare, hotels, or more. Then you'll go online and redeem your points to erase the qualifying charges. You can select the purchase from your card you want to erase.

Bank of America Premium Rewards

With this bank's loyalty program, you'll earn points with every purchase you make on this credit card. Any non-travel or dining purchase will earn you an unlimited 1.5 points per dollar spent. For travel and dining categories, you'll get two points for every $1 you spend.

You can trade in those points for cash through an electric deposit, a statement credit, or even deposit that money into a College 529 savings plan held at Merrill Lynch. The points can only be redeemed in this way once you save up 2,500 of them though.

If you don't want the cash, you can redeem them for travel purposes at the card's Travel Center or exchange them for gift cards. Every point is worth one penny, and the points will never expire.

To Make the Most of Your Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are only a good deal when you use them. So make sure you know what your bank offers and that you read all the fine print.

Sometimes when you hear your card will give you 5% cash back on restaurants and eateries, you assume that means everywhere, but there can be important exclusions, such as bakeries. Before you go spend a fortune in cupcakes on your child's birthday party thinking you'll get 5% cash back, you may want to double check.

You should take advantage of any one-time bonus offers for opening a bank card, also. Some cards, such as Bank of America Premium Rewards, offer bonus points you can earn if you spend a certain amount in the first 90 days. For the Premium Rewards card, for instance, you'll get 50,000 in online bonus points if you spend at least $3,000 on your card in that timeframe. These are one-time offers you definitely want to nab while you can.

Figure out if the rewards points you rack up have an expiration date. You don't want to have an epic Britney Spears-style meltdown because you learn half the points you spent the last three years accumulating are no longer good.

You also need to understand the conversion rate of points to dollars. That may sound straightforward, but it rarely ever is. It's a confusing maze that varies from card to card. With one card, one point might be worth 1.5 cents if that point is used for travel rewards, while it may only pay 1 penny per point if redeemed for cash. And the conversion rate could be higher or lower if you redeem gift cards. You need to fully understand the conversion rates for you to get the most bang for your buck.

Finally, strive to pay off your credit card balance in full each month. If you don't, you'll be charged interest. You won't be gaining anything if you start paying interest because it will detract from the value of your rewards. In some cases, you may end up paying more in interest than you would get back in loyalty rewards.