Toilet paper topped credit card rewards-redemption purchases in April

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Luxury has gone out the window during coronavirus when it comes to credit card rewards point redemptions, according to new data from PayPal on where people are redeeming accumulated rewards.

Toilet paper and cleaning products topped the list for U.S. credit card customers using rewards points to make purchases in April, as household budgets are squeezed by the pandemic and travel plans are on hold, PayPal said in a Thursday press release.

Items consumers said they were most likely to purchase with credit card rewards were toilet paper and cleaning products (25% each), drinking water (22%) and personal hygiene products (20%). Two-thirds of consumers said they are more likely to buy essentials with rewards points, according to the survey, which Atomik research conducted online with PayPal April 29-30.

In an alarming signal about consumers’ interest in credit card rewards programs during the pandemic, about 40% of consumers are unaware of their credit card balances, PayPal’s survey suggested.

PayPal last year announced partnerships with major credit card issuers including American Express, Chase, Citi and Discover enabling customers to redeem accumulated rewards from any of those card brands for online purchases through PayPal. PayPal in 2016 released research that showed 22% of consumers shop on mobile devices while in the bathroom.

The move is part of PayPal’s initiative to become a more ubiquitous checkout option with e-commerce merchants.

“With travel and luxury still less of a priority for many right now, our research shows that people are instead tapping into their rewards balances to support small businesses in their community and give back to causes,” said Jill Cress, PayPal’s vice president of consumer marketing, in the release.

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