How Inflation Affects Your Credit Card Rewards

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Woman excited about her credit card rewards and using a laptop to book travel
Dean Drobot /

The value of credit card points and miles is often nebulous, allowing card issuers to continuously tweak their offers into things that sound more compelling and competitive.

In practice, NerdWallet notes, this usually means our credit card rewards are losing value behind the scenes, as the number of points needed to redeem savings is regularly increased. And with rampant inflation lowering our purchasing power everywhere else, it’s natural to expect credit card rewards are experiencing the same thing.

But an analysis by NerdWallet says it “found something unexpected in a sea of bad inflation news: Many rewards programs’ points have become more valuable this year compared with the previous year.”

For example, this year:

  • American Airlines miles grew in value from 1.2 cents per mile to 1.5 cents (a 25% increase)
  • United Airlines miles grew from 1 cent per mile to 1.2 cents per mile (20%)

The analysis found that, overall, airline miles are worth 8.7% more on average than they were in 2021. The rewards of “almost every domestic airline” stayed the same or grew in value.

The catch is that redeeming those rewards is harder right now because of high demand, and the heightened value could disappear as economic conditions change.

Want to compare current offers and start racking up more of those extra-valuable points? Head over to the Money Talks News Solutions Center to find the best credit cards for travel rewards.

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