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Consumers are shying away from redeeming travel-reward points because economic conditions are forcing many to save points for everyday items and cash rewards, observers say. "Travel is out of vogue," says Mark Johnson, president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Loyalty 360, an association that promotes incentives and rewards. Before the recession, consumers routinely hoarded their points to save for a big trip, says Nancy Gordon, executive vice president for Citigroup Inc.'s ThankYou Rewards program. "We're starting to see a shift happen where customers are using their points for more-practical rewards," she says. Some of these rewards include discounts on mortgage and student-loan payments, Gordon says. Citi customers can redeem a mortgage credit to any financial institution, she adds. Despite the consumer shift to more-practical rewards, travel rewards will not become obsolete, Johnson says. Earlier this month, SunTrust Banks Inc. introduced a cobranded Delta Air Lines Visa check card that will enable holders to earn Delta miles on all signature-debit purchases (CardLine, 6/16). "Once the economy picks up, people are expecting a pretty big rebound in travel," Johnson says.

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