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Which Credit Card Benefits: Cash Back or Points?

February 15, 2022 by Space Coast Credit Union

Credit cards offer several benefits from covering emergencies to earning rewards. By handling them responsibly, you build up your credit, which will help you obtain lower interest rates for loans and get better insurance premiums. Plus, credit cards are often safer to use than debit cards thanks to their fraud prevention features. But with so many card options available (and vying for your attention) with cash back or points, it can be overwhelming to choose a rewards program that’s best for you. In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each type to help you score rewards in no time! 

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What is a cash back program?

Cash back is a type of rewards program where cardholders receive a percentage of the money they spend on qualifying credit card purchases. For example, a cardholder would earn $1 for every $100 spent on qualifying purchases with a 1% cash back program. The amount of cash back you receive depends on the issuer’s rewards program and how much you spend on eligible purchases for cash back (e.g. groceries, dining, gas, and travel). 

Cash Back Pros

Most people love cash back programs for one major reason—simplicity. They offer cardholders a lot of earning potential, which makes cash back rewards an alluring option. Here are some other common reasons why many opt for a card with this type of purchasing power:   
  • Flexibility: Cash back credit card programs often offer a variety of ways for you to redeem the percentage of money you’ve earned. You can redeem the cash back for statement credits, online purchases, gift cards, donations, or simply cash value (cha-ching!). So, if you’d like to use your cash back to buy Christmas gifts or for trip money, you have plenty of options.  
  • Convenience: With many cash back programs, you can make purchases wherever you want for whatever you want and happily know that you’ll earn a percentage of what you spend. So, cash back programs are typically a no brainer, as it’s often straightforward to calculate your kickback amount, and it’s easy to redeem your rewards. 
Bonus! Most cash back credit cards are annual-fee free, which means you’re more likely to come out on top in rewards vs. spending on fees. 

Cash Back Cons

Before signing up for a cash back credit card, be sure to read the fine print on its program requirements to ensure that you can get the most out of it with the type of spending you do. Here are some things to look for with cash back programs: 
  • Minimum/maximum amount: Some cash back programs will require that you earn a specific cash back amount before you can start making redemptions. And, they may even have a limit on how much cash back you can earn during a specific time period. 
  • Qualifying purchases categorizations: Some cash back programs will require you to make purchases in specific categories, and sometimes only during certain months or quarters, in order to earn a percentage of those purchases. If you don’t typically make purchases in those categories, then cash back may not be beneficial for you. 
However, if the cash back categories do apply to you, then this can be one big plus! 

Visa® Platinum Credit Card

Not to toot our own horn, but if you’ve been looking for a card with no annual fee, low variable rates, and a cashback program, you’re in luck with SCCU’s Visa® Platinum credit card! This card offers a 1% cash back program33 on everyday purchases—both in stores and online. 

Plus, you can enjoy an introductory rate of 0% for 6 billing cycles, and a rate as low as 11.24% thereafter13. This card also includes extra features, such as roadside assistance, card controls, and fraud prevention features, such as free 2Way Text Fraud Alerts, Visa® Zero Liability Protection14, and ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock46. Learn more about Visa® Platinum’s benefits here.

What is a points credit card?

Whether you’re checking out a local retailer or flying on a plane, you’re bound to hear about points credit cards offers pretty much anywhere you go. With a points program, you earn a certain number of points every time you use your card for qualifying purchases in certain categories. Earning rates will vary by issuer. 

Every points program will have its own requirements for how many points you need to earn for rewards, how you can exchange points, and what you can exchange them for. Some redemption examples include travel, cash back, statement credits, gift cards, donations, tickets, and merchandise. 

Sometimes points program offer limited-time promotions where you can earn bonus points during certain periods of time for meeting specific spending requirements. For example, when you initially sign up for the card, the anniversary of the day you opened the account, or during the holidays. 

Points Pros

Why do people sign up for points credit cards? Let’s take a look at some of the most appealing pros with this types of rewards program:  
  • Rewarding: The #1 reason that most people get a points credit card is because the points may offer a greater return on investment than cash back for certain items and services. Most notably, for travel rewards like lodging and flights, so these cards can help you save money on them in the long run. 
  • Extra perks: Who doesn’t love some extra perks? They will vary by issuer, but some offer roadside assistance, concierge service, travel and emergency assistance, free carry-on bags and other upgrades. 

Points Cons

Points credit cards also have a couple of cons to keep in mind when you’re exploring your options and comparing programs among issues. Here are the top ones to keep in mind: 
  • Specific spending/redeeming categories: Unfortunately, with some programs, it can be difficult to earn points in categories that don’t often apply to your spending habits. And, it can be hard to calculate the value of points, especially compared to cash back rewards and other points credit cards. Also, it’s a good idea to see if and when the card has any expiration dates on redeeming points to ensure you’re not losing out on any of your earnings.
  • Comprehending points programs: There’s often a bit of a learning curve with a points program. It’s a good idea to read the program’s description line by line. And, feel free to reach out to the issuer if you have any questions or would like some examples of how you can redeem points. But by doing your research, and taking advantage of points promotions, you can maximize your earning and redemptions and save big in the end. 

Visa® Signature Credit Card

Just another humble shout out, with our Visa® Signature credit card, you can earn points with every purchase! You’ll earn 3 points for groceries, 2 points for restaurants, and 1 on every other purchase43. You can redeem points for cash back, travel, entertainment, merchandise, theme park tickets, gift cards, and more. And annual fees, cash advance fees, and balance transfer fees? All zero with this card! Enjoy 0% for the first 6 billing cycles and a variable rate as low as 12.24% thereafter45. This card also comes with plenty of perks as an added bonus and fraud prevention features for your peace of mind. 

Cash Back vs. Points: Which is better?

When it comes to cash back vs. points, the winner depends on your lifestyle. Be sure that the card you choose offers the most potential for you to earn rewards for qualifying purchases that apply to your spending habits and that the rewards match your interests and goals. It’s also a good idea to check that the fees don’t outweigh the value of its reward potential. Overall, many people love cash back because it’s flexible, but others love points because they offer more value for travel redemptions. However, the beauty of credit cards is that you don’t have to settle for just one or the other. As long as you qualify, you can have both a Visa® Signature and Visa® Platinum credit card at SCCU, but you can maximize your earning potential by having only one card.

How to Apply for a Credit Card at Space Coast Credit Union

At SCCU, we believe in earning rewards without all the hidden fees. Both our Visa® Platinum and Visa® Signature credit cards offer special introductory rates, low variable rates thereafter, fraud prevention features, no annual fees, and stellar rewards. Plus, you can make contactless payments with these cards in stores!

Not sure which one would be the most rewarding for you? Have questions about requirements to qualify? Feel free to get in touch with us via Live Chat, phone, in person, or WhatsApp, and a Team Member will be more than happy to help answer your questions. You can easily apply online for a credit card at SCCU as long as you work or live in one of these counties and have a valid form of identification. 
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