Which travel card perk is the most popular?

CreditCards.com

Free checked bags are the top travel benefit offered by credit cards, according to a random telephone poll of 1,005 consumers commissioned by CreditCards.com.

The poll, conducted by GfK Roper Jan. 24-26, asked consumers which credit-card travel benefit respondents found most valuable. Twenty-two percent selected free checked baggage, beating out rental-car insurance (20 percent), travel insurance (14 percent), priority boarding (12 percent) and airport lounge access (4 percent). Twenty-three percent of respondents said "None."

The preference for free checked bags is a sign of the times. Since 2008, all major U.S. airlines except Southwest and JetBlue have started charging fees of around $25 for the first checked bag on domestic flights. Airline co-branded cards typically offer at least one free checked bag on domestic flights, as well as priority boarding and, of course, frequent-flier miles that can be redeemed for free trips.

The baggage fees can outweigh the annual fee for a credit card, especially if you travel with family. Let's say you, your spouse and two kids take a vacation and each member has a suitcase they want to check. That's potentially $100 in baggage fees.

But if you buy that ticket with a Gold Delta SkyMiles credit card from American Express, you and up to nine people traveling on the same reservation get a free checked bag. The card's annual fee is $95, waived the first year, so one trip can more than pay for the card. It also offers priority boarding and 20 percent off in-flight purchases of food, drinks and movies.

Similar savings are available with the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage World MasterCard. For an annual fee of $95, waived the first year, you and up to four traveling companions get a free checked bag each. Plus you get priority boarding, 25 percent off certain in-flight purchases and $100 a year in flight discounts.

More general bank-issued travel reward cards lack the boarding and baggage perks, which the airlines control, but their rewards for free travel can be redeemed at a much wider variety of airlines and other travel providers. Most travel-rewards cards, issued with or without an airline’s participation, include rental car insurance and travel-accident insurance.

Those other perks are actually more valuable to certain demographics. The survey showed adults 34 and under and people making less than $50,000 a year are more likely to prefer rental-car or travel insurance.

Overall, there are signs of a widening disaffection with all kinds of rewards cards. In a recent Mercator survey, [http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/infographic-reward_program-use-decline-age-1701.php] the number of cardholders who said they participated in a credit- or charge-card reward program in 2013 fell to 68 percent, down from 76 percent a year earlier.

Yet travel-industry loyalty programs are still growing, according to LoyaltyOne Consulting, which works with travel and retail companies on rewards programs. A study by the company last year showed that airline programs constituted the largest segment of the travel and hospitality loyalty industry, with a combined 371 million members in 2012, 14 percent more than two years earlier.

Nevertheless, Jeff Berry, senior director of research and development for LoyaltyOne, says there’s an emerging division between people who want “aspirational” rewards -- such as an international trip or a big-screen TV -- and those who prefer “utility” rewards, such as cash-back or grocery discounts.

Those “utility” reward cards that offer immediate financial gain have taken off since around the recession in 2008-2009, Berry says. In addition, travel rewards tend to be less immediate, and complicated redemption rules and changes to award-redemption levels could drive people to other kinds of rewards, he says.

“There is a level of complexity that is built into travel awards,” he says. “That is a perceived risk factor for a consumer: ‘I don’t know what my points will be worth three years from now, so I’ll get cash.’ ”

Karen Augustine, manager of primary data services for Mercator Advisory Group, says more people are finding credit cards with non-travel rewards that might be more relevant to them. For instance, retail cards are surging in popularity, as more department-store shoppers are responding positively to the familiar checkout clerk question, “Would you like to save 10 percent on your purchase today?”

“Retail-sponsored cards are luring people that may not have otherwise applied for a credit card or used a credit card, because of the rewards they are offering,” Augustine says. “Some people say they think it’s more valuable.”

Poll methodology
The survey was conducted Jan. 24-26, 2014, by GfK Custom Research North America on behalf of CreditCards.com, via random digit dialing phone interviews with 1,005 interview subjects. Interviewees were approximately split between males and females ages 18 and over, with 544 females and 461 males surveyed. The raw data was then weighted by a custom designed computer program that automatically developed a weighting factor for each respondent, employing five variables: age, sex, education, race and geographic region. Approximately three quarters of the interviewees were reached on land lines and the rest on cellphones. The total margin of error on weighted data for the full sample is plus or minus 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.

See related: How high is too high for a rewards card's annual fee?, Booking via travel website may affect reward miles, perks, 11 hidden credit card perks

Rates

View Comments (0)

Recommended for You

  • Tycoon buys 30 Rolls-Royces for Macau hotel

    A Hong Kong tycoon has placed the biggest ever order for Rolls-Royce cars, agreeing to buy 30 Phantoms to chauffeur guests at a luxury resort he's building in the global gambling capital of Macau. Stephen Hung's $20 million purchase surpasses the 14 Phantoms bought by Hong Kong's Peninsula Hotel in…

    Associated Press
  • Enjoy this refreshing Triple Play offer!

    Get FIOS TV Mundo starting at $79.99/mo. w/ no annual contract + 2-yr. price guarantee. Or sign for 2 yrs. & get a $300 prepaid Visa. Click here.

    AdChoicesVerizon FiOS ®Sponsored
  • Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia

    Tycoon's arrest sends shock wave through Russia MOSCOW (AP) — The arrest of a Russian telecoms and oil tycoon has sent shock waves through the country's business community, with some fearing a return to the dark days of a decade ago, when the Kremlin asserted its power by imprisoning the country's…

    Associated Press
  • Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks

    Before You Buy Alibaba, Check Out 4 Top China Stocks While investors gear up for Alibaba Group 's (BABA) hotly anticipated initial public offering, don't forget about other Chinese stocks that are worth keeping an eye on. Today's Young Guns Screen of

    Investor's Business Daily
  • As Fed takes baby steps, Cramer's trick for profit

    In turn, Cramer says making money in the market, involves looking at the environment through the lens of the Fed. "The trick is to remember that they speak for the common person," Cramer said. "The Fed wants the common person to make money." With that backdrop always in mind, Cramer says it becomes…

    CNBC
  • Costco Stores in Canada to Stop Taking American Express

    “The credit card relationship between American Express and Costco Wholesale Canada will not be renewed when it expires” on Dec. 31, the company said today in an e-mail to Canadian customers. The message was attributed to Lorelle Gilpin, vice president of marketing and membership for Costco…

    Bloomberg
  • Play

    Citi, Bank of America Offer Discounted Mortgages

    Citigroup and Bank of America will offer mortgages at discounted interest rates to help borrowers with low incomes or subprime credit. AnnaMaria Andriotis joins MoneyBeat. Photo: Getty.

    WSJ Live
  • "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savings

    "The Retiree Next Door": How successful retirees stretch their savingsBy the time she hit her late 40s, Toni Eugenia wasn’t sure she would ever be able to retire. Eugenia, 56, a pharmacy technician who lived in Houston, was nearly $200,000 in debt and

    Yahoo Finance
  • 1 Tip To Lose Belly Fat

    It's Hollywood's Hottest Diet And Gets Rid Of Stubborn Fat Areas Like Nothing Else.

    AdChoicesagoodcooksSponsored
  • CNBC Anchor Calls Out Fed-Hater Bill Fleckenstein In Startling Shouting Match

    CNBC Bill Fleckenstein of Fleckenstein Capital appeared on CNBC's Futures Now program on Tuesday. Futures Now host Jackie DeAngelis came out swinging, asking Fleckenstein right at the top if he was willing to admit that he had misunderstood monetary policy. Sounding taken aback, Fleckenstein…

    Business Insider
  • Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court

    Beanie Babies creator's sentence debated in court CHICAGO (AP) — Federal prosecutors seeking to put the billionaire creator of Beanie Babies in prison for hiding millions in Swiss bank accounts told appellate court judges Wednesday that the toymaker's sentence of probation threatens to erode the…

    Associated Press
  • Apple to unveil new iPads, operating system on Oct. 21 : report

    The company plans to unveil the sixth generation of its iPad and the third edition of the iPad mini, as well as its operating system OS X Yosemite, which has undergone a complete visual overhaul, the Internet news website said. Trudy Muller, a spokeswoman for Apple, declined to comment. The iPad is…

    Reuters
  • Margaritaville casino owners seek bankruptcy

    The owner of Biloxi's Margaritaville casino has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Tuesday, only hours before a hearing where the landlord aimed to seize the property. The filing by MVB Holding LLC in U.S. Don Dornan, a lawyer for landlord Clay Point LLC, said the company had planned to ask…

    Associated Press
  • Embraer to sell 50 E-175 jets to Republic in $2.1 billion deal

    Brazil's Embraer SA, the world's third largest commercial planemaker, said on Wednesday it booked a firm order from U.S. The deal, which will be included in Embraer's order book for the third quarter, is valued at $2.1 billion, the planemaker said in a securities filing. The planes will be operated…

    Reuters
  • Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks

    Gilead Stock Is Falling On These Drug Setbacks Gilead Sciences (GILD) shares are backsliding Wednesday on news that the patient drop-out rate for hepatitis C drug Sovaldi is quadruple that of clinical trials. In addition, the biotech's Phase 2 study results

    Investor's Business Daily
  • Norwich Information Security MS

    Online, accredited, top ranked. NSA Center of Academic Excellence. Recognized by the Department of Homeland Security. Download your free brochure!

    AdChoicesNorwich UniversitySponsored
  • Play

    What the Fed Meeting Means for Bonds

    Janet Yellen & Co. are expected to hint at their timetable for raising interest rates. Here's how investors should prepare ahead of the meeting.

    WSJ Live
  • Here's What Mark Cuban Wishes He Knew About Money In His 20s

    Cuban is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. Billionaire investor and entrepreneur Mark Cuban is generous with his advice. When we asked him what he wishes he'd known about money in his 20s, he said:

    Business Insider
  • SHOE COMPANY: Our CEO Just Disappeared And Most Of The Money Is Gone

    "and like that: he's gone." This is an actual headline from a company press release: "CEO and COO disappeared, most of the company's cash missing." (Via FastFT) In a statement, German-based shoe company Ultrasonic said its CFO,  Chi Kwong Clifford Chan, has been unable to reach the company's CEO,…

    Business Insider
  • 10 rock-solid stocks for conservative investors

    10 rock-solid stocks for conservative investors Shares with low volatility can beat their indexes with less risk Bloomberg News/Landov U.S. Bancorp is the cheapest S&P 500 stock

    MarketWatch
  • Billionaire Investor Says Chinese People Work Harder And Western Companies Could Face Deep Trouble After Alibaba IPO

    Michael Moritz, the chairman of VC firm Sequoia Capital, is a huge fan of Chinese internet companies and reiterated his enthusiasm for the Chinese market in an interview with The Wall Street Journal Wednesday. The billionaire investor described the Alibaba IPO as a “major landmark event” that is as…

    Business Insider
  • Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More

    Top Analyst Upgrades and Downgrades: AEP, BHP, GE, Incyte, 3M, Tyco, Under Armour and More Stocks were firm on Wednesday morning ahead of the FOMC meeting outcome. Tuesday’s rally may have sparked higher interest again, and investors are looking for bargains

    24/7 Wall St.
  • Best Womens Wrinkle Creams 2014

    Mom reveals simple wrinkle solution that has researchers very excited. Try this free solution today to look and feel years younger.

    AdChoicesBellaLabs.comSponsored
  • 6 Things Debt Collectors Wish You Knew

    The work debt collectors do is not popular, and has become increasingly derided by those who don’t like what we do or simply don’t know the facts about debt collection. Too often, debt collection is painted with a broad brush to create a portrait that isn’t accurate, and doesn’t properly educate…

    Credit.com