The travel industry has taken a hit with the global COVID-19 pandemic, which means most people are traveling less than they used to. With a lack of travel, many travelers used to redeeming credit card rewards for award flights and hotel stays are faced with the dilemma of what to do with their points, miles, or cash back.
Credit cards have long been a preferred method of earning rewards to fuel award travel, but credit card issuers have had to recently adapt their redemption, earning, and benefit options to account for decreased travel demand. In addition to the different redemption options available from each card issuer, you might also consider using services like PayPal Pay with Rewards to offload your unused credit card rewards.
What is PayPal Pay with Rewards?
PayPal Pay with Rewards is a free service provided by PayPal that allows you to use credit card rewards to pay for online purchases. PayPal has partnered with companies like Discover since 2019 to provide ways for Discover cardholders to use their rewards for online purchases when checking out through PayPal. In 2020, PayPal expanded its Pay with Rewards program to include other U.S. financial institutions and their loyalty programs.
You may have noticed an option to check out using PayPal when doing your online shopping. Using this method will typically allow you to pay for your purchases using a linked card or bank account in your PayPal account. However, PayPal Pay with Rewards increases your options by now allowing you to use available rewards on certain linked cards at checkout.
This is generally a convenient way to use your rewards for online shopping, but it’s especially useful now because people are traveling less and have loads of rewards to use. So if you have one or multiple of the best travel credit cards, but you aren’t currently saving up your rewards for travel, consider PayPal Pay with Rewards as a reasonable alternative for using your points on online purchases.
How does PayPal Pay with Rewards work?
Using PayPal Pay with Rewards is simple and straightforward. You’ll need a PayPal account, which is free to create and use, and then you’ll have to link your eligible rewards credit cards. Once your cards are linked, choose to Pay with Rewards when checking out with PayPal at an eligible online retailer.
PayPal, including PayPal Pay with Rewards, can be used to make purchases at millions of online stores. This makes it easy to shop where you want and use rewards instead of cash. There’s no minimum spend required for Pay with Rewards, and you can also apply rewards as partial payments on your purchases. In addition, PayPal perks like free return shipping and purchase protection could apply to eligible purchases.
Keep in mind, the value of your rewards when using PayPal’s Pay with Rewards tool depends on the rewards you’re using. For example, 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points are worth $70 when using them to check out with PayPal. This is a lot less value than the $100 you’d get using the same number of points to book award flights with Amex Travel.
However, it’s still a better value than using 10,000 Membership Rewards points for $60 of a statement credit. And it’s much more valuable than letting your points sit and not using them at all.
Which credit cards does it work with?
Currently, PayPal Pay with Rewards works with multiple loyalty programs, including the following:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Capital One rewards
- Citi ThankYou Rewards
- Discover Cashback Bonus
Overall, the Pay with Rewards program includes many of the popular rewards programs, which makes it easy to pick and choose which rewards points you want to use at any given time from your PayPal wallet. This is more convenient than going through each individual rewards program if you have cards from multiple credit card issuers.
PayPal Pay with Rewards will likely make the most sense if you often use the best rewards credit cards to earn rewards on purchases, though it depends on which cards you’re using. Using the best cashback credit cards with Pay with Rewards may not make as much sense. You might get lower value for your eligible purchases using your cashback rewards on Pay with Rewards than if you were to use them for straight cash back or statement credits directly through the applicable rewards program.
Take a look at these cards to see how Pay with Rewards could work for you:
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a popular travel rewards card that offers 25% more value toward travel redemptions through the Chase portal. Redeeming points at 1.25 cents per point offers excellent value, but not if you aren’t currently traveling. Instead, you can link your card to PayPal and use Pay with Rewards for online purchases. They’d be worth .8 cents per point using this method.
Check out our Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card Review.
Citi Premier® Card
The Citi Premier® Card is another travel card that may not be seeing as much use right now, but you can use your Citi ThankYou points with PayPal Pay with Rewards. ThankYou Points are worth .8 cents apiece when used for Pay with Rewards, which doesn’t necessarily reflect their best redemption value. However, if you aren’t traveling, it’s typically a best practice to redeem your points and get some value out of them instead of waiting to use them.
Learn more at our Citi Premier® Card Review.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The The Platinum Card® from American Express is a luxury travel card that offers good redemption rates (1 cent per point) for award flights. PayPal Pay with Rewards offers .7 cents per point, which is much lower, but it’s better than the .6 cents per point you’ll get from statement credits. So if you aren’t traveling, consider using Pay with Rewards for your online purchases before using your Membership Rewards points for statement credits.
Check out our The Platinum Card® from American Express Review for more details.
How to sign up for PayPal Pay with Rewards
It’s simple to sign up for PayPal Pay with Rewards, following these steps:
1. Navigate to the PayPal homepage and sign up for a free PayPal account. If you already have a PayPal account, you can log in now.
2. Click on the “Wallet” button located at the top of your online account.
3. Use the “Link a card” option to link cards with eligible rewards to your PayPal account.
4. Once your card is linked, you’ll see your available points and how much they’re worth with Pay with Rewards. You can then use your rewards to pay for purchases at participating merchants using PayPal.
Is PayPal Pay with Rewards legit?
Yes, PayPal’s Pay with Rewards is a legitimate program offered by PayPal, one of the biggest online payments companies in the world. PayPal had more than 12 billion payment transactions in 2019, as well as more than 300 million active accounts. The Pay with Rewards program offers one convenient location where users can use credit card rewards from multiple card issuers to make online purchases.
Is PayPal Pay with Rewards a good way to spend your credit card points?
PayPal Pay with Rewards might be a good way to spend your credit card rewards if you aren’t using them for travel and need to make online purchases. The redemption value with Pay with Rewards varies depending on which rewards program you use, so it’s a good idea to check and make sure you’re getting better value than you’d get from a statement credit. Otherwise, it likely wouldn’t be worth it other than the convenience of being able to use PayPal at millions of online merchants.
Who is PayPal Pay with Rewards right for?
PayPal Pay with Rewards could be a good option if you enjoy the ease and convenience of using PayPal to make online purchases. Because PayPal partners with millions of online merchants, it’s easy to find exactly what you want to purchase at your favorite stores.
The bottom line
PayPal Pay with Rewards may not be the most valuable redemption option for everyone, but it can provide a helpful online shopping alternative if your travel rewards are currently unused. It’s especially convenient for credit cardholders who use cards from different card issuers. If you’re juggling multiple rewards programs, Pay with Rewards makes it easy to have all your cards and rewards in one place (your PayPal wallet) so you can select the one you want to use.
If you’re currently saving up rewards for future travel plans, this program likely wouldn’t be a good use of your points. However, if you’re trying to use up loads of rewards, take a look at Pay with Rewards and see whether it’s worth it for you.
Great for Flexible Travel Rewards
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Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®; 3X points on dining, select streaming services, and eligible online grocery purchases; 2X points on all other travel purchases, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases