There are those times you have no choice, you just have to get your points out. Maybe you are about to cancel a card that will result in your points going away and you must choose something. Many times the wise choice is moving to a no fee card (if one exists in the same type family of cards) that can save you from making low value choices. But other times you have to look at other options.
Some programs allow you to cash out points for some fractional value as a cash credit or a similar cash type choice. Take Citi Thank You card points as one such example. If you have travel plans sending them to a partner should be first considered (for Delta flyers maybe KLM Flying Blue could work well). But another choice I like is getting 1.25 cent each booking a Delta ticket (not bad). Yet another one is the cash option getting only ½ a cent value as a statement credit (not good). Citi Prestige over the years removed the many options to get at least 1 cent each with say Visa Gift cards or Walmart cards that you could use at Sam’s Club. But you may have other ways to work around this limitation.
Many point programs offer gift cards as a way to cash out your points. You may say: “I really don’t need to turn 50,000 points into $500 of pizza gift cards“. You know what, neither would I. But there are other options if you look hard enough and maybe you should consider gift card reselling under these circumstances. Take a look at Cardpool <-link and other similar sites that will buy gift cards from you. Some choices can yield poor value while others could net you almost 1 cent value each either in cash or another more valuable card to trade for.
Notice the choice, as one example, of Best Buy gift cards. If you have this as a point redemption choice you could redeem and sell them at nearly 1 cent value each. Not as good at you would like, or as good as transfer or travel redemption choices, but at least you are nearing what most consider the minimum value of most travel points – that is, 1 cent each. But there can be even more choices for getting something you can use.
If you elect to not take cash (i.e. a check) but to have a different gift card sent to you that you may find greater value in like Amazon “cash”. In this instance a Best Buy card can be sold at very close to a full 1 cent trade that you obtained from cashing in your points from the program that did not offer this kind of “exit” value.
Bottom line is simply this – programs change their rules all the time. I, personally, like the flexibly I have with SkyMiles but I no longer actively collect them due to the nasty and no notice changes Delta makes year after year. Yes, I spend them when I get them free or as a by product of other activities, but collection is not a goal. Other programs are also constantly devaluing their points and if you are hoarding them for some future event this is simply not wise as by the time you are ready to cash them in the choices may be either gone or restricted to gone up in value.
It is shocking that programs that once offered us so much value and drove unbridled loyalty now have driven so many like me to consider cash back programs as the go to choice. While I hope you are never in a position to ever have to settle for ½ cent value, trading “up” could be a final way to salvage some value or greater value when a situation forces you to cash out! – René