Just 15 percent of Americans have ever redeemed points to pay for part or all of a trip, according to a new survey of 1,012 adults from the American Institute of CPAs.
In all, consumers are holding on to 195.4 billion unredeemed loyalty points in hotel, airline, retail and other loyalty programs — about 70 percent of all points earned or available since the start of the year, per new data from reward platform Switchfly.com.
"There are a lot of people who don't actually use their points," said Eric Engleman, general manager of product for Switchfly.
At least some of that outstanding-points balance is from consumers who sign up for loyalty programs opportunistically, with no intent of using the program frequently enough to earn a reward, he said. For example, joining to get the free Wi-Fi offered to hotel loyalty members or getting in on a restaurant's program just for the teaser free-appetizer coupon. The average household has 29 different reward memberships but uses just 12, according to the 2015 Colloquy Loyalty Census.