How Many Rewards Do You Need to Earn Before You Redeem?

You’ve earned a nice stash of points, miles or cash back, but they’re not yours quite yet. Before you can use them, you have to redeem them. And, for many rewards cards, there’s a hurdle you’ll need to clear – the “minimum redemption amount.”rewards trap

Although you might want that $10 you’ve earned right now, most cash-back and general purpose credit cards will require you to beef up your rewards balance before you can redeem. Some even require you to redeem in certain increments.

Fortunately, most issuers set the minimum redemption bar pretty low — $20 or $25 for most cards. Capital One’s rewards card offerings, meanwhile, have no minimum redemption amounts.

While most cards’ minimum redemption amounts are pretty low, they can be a problem for two types of cardholders:

  • Low spenders: If you don’t spend much on your card, you’ll have to wait several months (or more) until you can redeem. If the card couples a redemption minimum with a required redemption increment, you’ll then have to wait several more months until you can redeem again.
  • Those who want to cancel their cards: With cash-back and general purpose rewards cards, your rewards live only as long as your card does. If you cancel, you forfeit any remaining rewards. That means if you’ve got $12 worth of rewards hanging out in your account, you need to keep your card long enough to earn up to the redemption minimum before you take the money and run.

Wondering about the minimum redemption amount on a card you’re considering? Our chart shows how much you have to earn on some of the most popular rewards cards before you cash out.

Minimum redemption amounts for rewards credit cards from our partners
CardWays to redeemMinimum redemption amountRequired to redeem in increments?Other redemption options without minimum?
Blue Cash Everyday and Preferred from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner)Cash back (statement credit); merchandise, gift cards25 Reward Dollars for all optionsYes, increments of $25N/A
American Express Blue SkyStatement credit toward travel expenses; gift cards; cash back; merchandise7,500 points for travel Yes, increments of 7,500 points for travel; other options vary (check Rewards Catalog listings)N/A
Membership Rewards cards from American Express including Membership Rewards cards (includes Green card, Platinum, Premier Rewards Gold and others) Statement credit for eligible charges; travel; gift cards; point transfer into hotel and airline loyalty programs; online shopping1,000 points when redeeming toward eligible charges; 5,000 points for travel (using Pay with Points feature); various minimums for transferring points and buying gift cardsNoShop with points on Amazon.com
BankAmericard Cash RewardsCash back (statement credit, check, direct deposit)$25NoN/A
BankAmericard Travel RewardsStatement credit toward travel expenses; cash back; gift cards2,500 points for all optionsNoN/A
Barclaycard ArrivalStatement credit toward travel; cash back (statement credit); gift cards; merchandise10,000 miles for travel. 5,000 miles for cash back and girt cards.YesN/A
Capital One QuicksilverCash back (account credit or check); gift cardsNoneNoN/A
Capital One VentureStatement credit toward travel expenses; cash back; gift cards; merchandiseNone – however, you must have enough points to cover an entire travel purchase (no partial redemptions)NoN/A
Chase Freedom; Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
(Ultimate Rewards cards)
Cash back (direct deposit, statement credit); merchandise; gift cards; travel; experiences$20 for statement credit, direct depositNoNo stated minimum for other redemption options, but you must redeem enough points to cover the cost.
Citi ThankYou cardsCash back (check or statement credit); gift cards; merchandise; travel; experiences; refunds for full amount of past purchases (aka, the "Select and Credit" option)$50 for check; $10 for statement creditYes, in $50 or $100 denominations for cash back in the form of a check. In increments of $10, $15, $25, $50, $100, $175 and $250 for statement credit.No stated minimum for other redemption options, but you must redeem enough points for the full cost.
U.S. Bank Cash+Cash back (direct deposit, statement credit); U.S. Bank prepaid gift card$20 for prepaid gift cardYes, but only for prepaid gift card (increments of $5)Direct deposit or statement credit
Sallie Mae MasterCardCash back (statement credit on card or Sallie Mae student loan; deposit into Upromise account)$25NoNo
Citi Double Cash cardStatement credit, check, gift cards$25Only for gift cards ($25 increments).No
Barclaycard CashForwardStatement credit, direct deposit into bank account, gift cards$50NoNo

Updated Oct. 23, 2015

 
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