Congratulations, you. Earning points is the binary requirement to being a clever human being in the world today, and since you can legitimately earn them from home without a credit card or any travel – that’s a fair statement. But a new study brought by American Express shows that 86% of people are doing it all wrong, or at least, kinda.

amex gold cardsEarners Not Burners

American Express commissioned a survey of spending, giving and other habits in relation to holiday purchases, and the results were overwhelming. 86% of surveyed participants said they would be earning points of some kind (airline, hotel, credit card, cash back etc) but most likely wouldn’t be redeeming any points.

Considering points can be used to cover everything from flights, to hotels, to Amazon shopping bills, which we know you all have, that’s surprising. In terms of best practices, it’s not exactly wise either. Points are not like savings accounts or investment portfolios, which can appreciate over time. In fact, it’s the opposite.

Hot Tip: Spend Your Points

Most loyalty programs have devalued over the last 5 years, and most will do so again in the next five. Every time they do, your airline miles, hotel points or other points currency become worth less – not more. Don’t burn points on things you can easily afford, or don’t need, but don’t sit on them for too long either. Make someones day, or make yours with an overdue vacation.

Here’s more on why credit card points are increasingly valuable.

Taking a brief side tangent, the survey also turned up some good news. Most people surveyed plan to give 10 gifts or more to friends, family and colleagues this year, and an impressive 72% said they plan to donate to charity or causes in some way, shape or form. For gift card fans, 51% of Americans said they get them, so it’s safe to say they’re officially “ok” to give.

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