What to redeem on
Initially when the points redeeming was a new territory, the banks used to offer only a limited variety of products. In addition to that, the prices used to be very high, offering no scope for negotiations. However, now there is a whole categorical list of what can be done with these points.
The most common is the conventional catalogue which includes apparel, gadgets, jewellery, luggage items, and the like. There is also an option which allows customers to encash their points against gift vouchers. For instance, with HDFC Bank's Gold Card you can get gift vouchers from Domino's, Cafe Coffee Day, Pantaloons, Westside, Lee, Music World and Landmark.
However, going a step further, these days, banks have tied-up with certain merchants which allow you the opportunity to redeem your points instantly. You don't have to contact the bank and get vouchers; you can pay using the points.
When the consumer uses the card, the reward points get reflected on the machine as soon as it is swiped. So, if you have accumulated points worth, say, Rs 500 and you buy goods worth Rs 1,000, the merchant will offer you the choice of using your points for payment.
Some banks today offer air tickets on reward points, a feature that was earlier limited to co-branded cards. HDFC Bank, for instance, has tied up with Jet Airways, Indian and Kingfisher Airlines to allow its card users to convert their reward points into air miles. Usually, the value of one air mile is set equal to one reward point.
Speaking about this, Parag Rao, executive vice-president, head (product and portfolio management), credit cards, HDFC Bank, says, "The air miles required to get complimentary tickets would depend on the airline and the travel sector."
In addition to this, some banks, like Bank of Baroda, let one redeem their reward points against cash. That is, cash corresponding to one’s reward points are credited to his/her account. Deutsche Bank does the same on its Gold Card, but also offers a gift catalogue.