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People are Relying on Travel Rewards and Loyalty Programs Now More Than Ever Before

Remember endless days of being home and unable to travel during the past few years? As those days are slowly becoming a distant memory, inflation has been cited as a leading factor for why travelers have not traveled in the last five years, and people are increasingly turning to loyalty and rewards programs to help cover airfare, hotels, and other costs. Barclays US Consumer Bank released its 2023 Travel Rewards and Loyalty Report in August. It contains valuable insights into how economic conditions and market trends have influenced consumer attitudes, sentiments, and behaviors related to travel, loyalty and rewards programs. 

Miles and points are making it possible for consumers to travel, and travelers are much more focused on accumulating reward points. Our report found that 76% of loyalty and rewards program members couldn’t imagine taking the kinds of trips they want without the benefit of such programs. For more than a third (36%), this has only increased since the pandemic – especially among millennials, with 74% indicating that earning the most rewards is more important than any other factor, including lower costs when traveling and annual fees. 

When it comes to travel rewards, men and women differ slightly in their preferences. Men (56%) prioritize earning the most rewards, whereas women (68%) prioritize getting the lowest cost for travel. In addition, since the beginning of COVID-19, 44% of men – compared to 30% of women – are more focused on accumulating travel rewards.

Barclays is a “partner-first” bank, which means we work closely with our travel, affinity, and retail partners to deliver meaningful co-branded credit card programs that deepen cardmember loyalty and engagement and enhance experiences with their favorite brands. 

During the pandemic, our partners adjusted travel and loyalty program categories to allow cardmembers to earn and reallocate points and miles in non-travel related areas. When travel restrictions were in place, many partners enhanced reward categories for everyday spending on items like groceries, gas, dining, and in-home streaming services. We continue to collaborate with our partners to offer limited-time promotions, bonuses, and additional incentives for those spending categories most used by cardmembers. 

The push for contactless payments also increased during the pandemic and has remained popular as businesses in the travel and retail industries look to make the buying experience faster and more seamless for people on the go.

The rewards and loyalty space is becoming increasingly more competitive as we enhance programs and make reward offerings more attractive to consumers. It’s imperative for card issuers, like Barclays, to keep a pulse on changing trends and preferences and give consumers the choice and flexibility they’re looking for, in addition to the miles and points that help make travel possible for many.

You can find the full report here.

This information is for educational purposes only, not intended to be financial or legal advice. Always consult a qualified financial advisor before taking any action based on this information. The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy, position, or opinion of Barclays Bank Delaware.

Blog Author

Doug Villone 
Head of Cards and Partnerships
Barclays US Consumer Bank

Doug Villone is Head of US Cards and Partnerships, responsible for the US Consumer Bank’s (USCB) consumer credit card portfolio and partnerships with more than 20 of America’s best brands. Doug is a seasoned financial services leader with more than 25 years’ experience in credit cards, banking and payments. 

Doug rejoined Barclays in April 2023 after spending five years at Goldman Sachs where he served most recently as the Global Head of Operations for Marcus, its consumer branded business. He oversaw all facets of operations during the bank’s foray into the highly competitive US consumer market with products that included credit cards, loans, investments and savings. He previously worked for USCB from 2007 to 2018 in various leadership roles that spanned credit card partnership management, operations and chief of staff to the CEO. Earlier in his career, Doug managed credit card programs for HSBC Card and Retail Services and Bank of America (previously MBNA). 

Doug holds an undergraduate degree in political science and history from the University of Maine at Farmington. 

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