1) I can get a gift card, at about a 5-10% discount, to some store I occasionally shop at. Not one I *always* shop at, like the grocery store, but one like Kohl's or Bed Bath and Beyond. With 4,500 points I can usually get a $50 gift card. But I know what they're doing! They want me to shop more and put more money on my credit card. I don't *really* need most things at BB&B, the only thing I have to buy there is a wedding gift 1-2 times a year. But if the gift card is sitting there staring at me, it's hard to wait for a wedding gift, I'm kinda like "well I do need a new towel..."
2) I can apply it directly to my credit card balance. With 4,500 points, I can get rid of $45 worth of stuff I already bought. This is not as "fun" and the knowledge that I could have got $50 worth of stuff if I got a gift card bugs me.
Anyway this was running through my mind this weekend, because Marc and I replaced our 12" omelet pan we use all the time but it was flaking apart. We went to Bed Bath and Beyond, I did not have one of those gift cards because I've been trying to be "good" and pay off the credit card (slight balance carry over, it'll probably be paid off next month).
What's more financially responsible to do with the 4,500 points?
$50 gift card, it's worth more
$45 payoff, avoid shopping
And related question... do you have credit cards with points? What do you do with it?