Consumers are becoming less satisfied with their credit card rewards programs as conditions such as expiration dates and spending minimums have diminished the experience, new survey data suggest.

The Capital One Rewards Barometer is a quarterly survey Capital One Financial Corp. and consumer-marketing firm BIGinsight conduct. Just 50% of the roughly 1,000 U.S. consumers they surveyed in February rated the value of their rewards programs as "very good" or "excellent, compared with 55% who responded favorably in a similar survey just three months earlier.

Forty-seven percent said that they were pleased with how quickly they could redeem rewards, down from 52% who said so in the November survey.

In general, consumers want their rewards programs to be simpler, the survey data suggest. Only 45% of respondents even bothered to redeem rewards, and almost half said that they would be more likely to redeem rewards if banks or card companies made the redemption process easier. Forty percent said eliminating expiration dates for the rewards would improve their experience, and 60% said they would be more likely to cash in rewards if their cards had more special deals with merchants, such as discounts for using their card at a specific restaurant or retail chain.

Cash continues to be the most-popular redemption option, but gift cards have overtaken airline tickets as the No. 2 most redeemed item.

Forty-five percent of respondents typically opted for cash, and most said they would use the cash reward to pay down their card balances. In the November survey, airline tickets were the second-most redeemed item at 30%, but they dropped to No. 3 in the February survey, at 28%.

Thirty-two percent of respondents in the February survey said that they used their rewards on gift cards, primarily for shopping or dining. Despite rising gas prices, only 6% requested gas gift cards, the survey found.

In a separate survey Auriemma Consulting Group's London office conducted in the United Kingdom, UK indicated apathy toward rewards programs because issuers had invested less in them and the related marketing (see story). The findings there suggested that UK credit card issuers would have a receptive audience if they strengthened and more heavily promoted their rewards programs.

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