Survey: Half of Holiday Shopping Done with Credit Card

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AAA Release: Half of Holiday Shoppers Purchase Gifts with Credit Cards for Rewards

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 4, 2012) — Credit cards are the most prevalent form of payment for holiday shopping (43%) among Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee residents. A growing number of survey respondents (50% vs. 42% in 2011) ranked points/rewards/miles as the number one factor in determining which credit card to use for purchases, even if it means using a card with a higher interest rate. Click here to view the Consumer Pulse™ survey results.

Nearly four in 10 reward card holders (38%) said they will use reward points to save on holiday shopping, with over two in five (42%) using the points to purchase merchandise for others and 32 percent using the points for cash back. Consumers who say they will use the rewards to buy merchandise for themselves nearly doubled from last year (30% in 2012 vs. 16% in 2011).

“Rewards continue to be the major draw for people deciding whether to use a credit card to purchase gifts this holiday season,” said Jill Perry, AAA Financial Services, The Auto Club Group. “However, reward promotions frequently change so it’s wise to review the fine print before redeeming points for holiday shopping.”

Reward Redemption Trends

More than half (58%) of respondents said reward points are very important when choosing a credit card, a 12 percent increase from 2011.
The top three rewards that are most appealing to survey respondents when choosing a credit card: points redeemable for cash back (60%), miles (37%), and triple points (35%).
Almost half of reward card holders (48%) said they redeemed reward points within the past six months.
Tips for Choosing the Right Credit Card for Holiday Shopping:

Have a Plan: Make a list of everyone you have to buy for, including ideal gift and budget.
Review Rewards Program: Review each of your credit cards reward program to find merchandise that can be purchased as gifts or find if there are ways to get cash back to purchase gifts.
Determine which Credit Card Best Suits Your Budget: If you are able to pay your credit card bill in full upon receipt and have no previous balance, use the card with the reward card offering that has the most beneficial points or cash back program.
Check Card Interest Rates: If you have to use a card(s) that carry a balance, be sure to use the card with the lowest interest rate, instead of the one with the best reward program.
AAA offers a Member rewards Visa Credit Card to AAA members with the ability to earn unlimited rewards on everyday purchases plus 2,500 bonus points after the first qualifying purchase with no annual fee. Card holders can earn triple points on all qualifying AAA purchases including travel, as well as double points for gas, grocery and drug store purchases, and one point per $1 spent on purchases everywhere else. Cardholders also receive built-in lost luggage reimbursement, common carrier travel accident insurance, and travel and emergency assistance.

The Auto Club Group, the second largest affiliation of AAA clubs, offers travel, insurance and financial services to more than 8.4 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories. This includes Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois, Minnesota and Tennessee; and a portion of Indiana. The Auto Club Group belongs to the national AAA federation with nearly 53 million members in the United States and Canada, whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

The AAA Consumer Pulse™ Survey was conducted online among residents living in the Southern Region of The Auto Club Group (Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee) from October 25 - 27, 2012. A total of 629 residents completed the survey with 554 being major credit card holders. The survey has a maximum margin of error of +/- 4.2 percentage points. Overall survey responses are weighted by gender and age within state to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee.

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