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Credit Card Rewards Missed Out On in the Largest U.S. Cities

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Credit Card Rewards Left on the Table in the Largest U.S. Cities

NerdWallet’s poll of consumers found that at least 13% of credit card holders who plan to buy gifts between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day don’t intend to use their credit cards. And our estimates based on expected shopping patterns in the nation’s largest cities show that’s a lot of credit card rewards missed this holiday season.

These shoppers could have collectively earned $151,810,172 in rewards with a card that had the average rewards rate of 1.14%, according to a NerdWallet analysis.

The table below shows the cost of living-adjusted average amount shoppers in the nation’s 96 largest cities, listed in order of population, are expected to spend on holiday gifts, along with the total rewards that would be left on the table by consumers not using their credit cards when purchasing gifts.

Holiday spending, missed credit card rewards

CityAverage estimated spending on credit cards for holiday giftsCredit card rewards missed by shoppers not using credit cards to buy holiday gifts
New York, New York$746.11$5,135,244.63
Los Angeles, California$647.43$2,046,125.57
Chicago, Illinois$641.41$1,401,055.09
Houston, Texas$619.15$1,070,358.62
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$670.90$837,745.47
Phoenix, Arizona$582.45$673,177.62
San Antonio, Texas$625.17$686,479.79
San Diego, California$613.73$694,038.19
Dallas, Texas$642.62$624,938.97
Austin, Texas$606.51$447,049.10
Jacksonville, Florida$602.90$406,461.78
San Francisco, California$736.48$559,278.67
Indianapolis, Indiana$582.45$383,577.59
Columbus, Ohio$591.47$394,333.83
Fort Worth, Texas$666.68$400,655.12
Charlotte, North Carolina$657.06$414,966.73
Detroit, Michigan$584.85$307,767.53
El Paso, Texas$535.51$272,679.83
Seattle, Washington$839.37$491,077.04
Denver, Colorado$629.38$339,966.66
Washington, District of Columbia$718.43$401,720.06
Memphis, Tennessee$534.91$271,079.56
Boston, Massachusetts$791.24$445,861.72
Nashville-Davidson, Tennessee$650.44$338,249.35
Baltimore, Maryland$614.94$310,435.36
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma$546.95$260,454.55
Portland, Oregon$753.93$391,527.06
Las Vegas, Nevada$655.85$311,709.54
Louisville/Jefferson County, Kentucky$586.06$283,707.99
Milwaukee, Wisconsin$580.04$265,479.69
Albuquerque, New Mexico$571.62$251,608.01
Tucson, Arizona$587.26$250,676.64
Sacramento, California$644.42$243,151.05
Long Beach, California$647.43$238,451.85
Kansas City, Missouri$574.02$212,672.52
Mesa, Arizona$582.45$208,805.93
Atlanta, Georgia$593.88$226,482.33
Virginia Beach, Virginia$643.22$230,357.65
Omaha, Nebraska$557.17$191,981.25
Colorado Springs, Colorado$577.63$203,442.81
Raleigh, North Carolina$575.83$202,712.28
Miami, Florida$607.72$221,403.40
Oakland, California$688.34$231,166.54
Minneapolis, Minnesota$651.04$217,331.88
Tulsa, Oklahoma$557.78$173,190.04
Cleveland, Ohio$634.19$192,616.90
Wichita, Kansas$625.77$183,765.84
New Orleans, Louisiana$551.16$173,441.04
Arlington, Texas$666.68$192,103.49
Bakersfield, California$608.32$159,905.87
Tampa, Florida$565.60$162,773.92
Aurora, Colorado$629.38$168,842.43
Honolulu, Hawaii$744.30$222,403.90
Anaheim, California$637.20$170,564.34
Santa Ana, California$637.20$158,280.66
Corpus Christi, Texas$572.82$141,040.04
Riverside, California$647.43$158,957.09
St. Louis, Missouri$563.79$146,901.34
Lexington-Fayette, Kentucky$602.30$152,120.71
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania$540.93$143,439.87
Stockton, California$616.74$138,324.29
Anchorage, Alaska$734.07$170,699.03
Cincinnati, Ohio$594.48$144,223.51
St. Paul, Minnesota$660.06$149,751.89
Greensboro, North Carolina$646.83$145,514.87
Newark, New Jersey$677.51$145,092.42
Plano, Texas$531.30$115,584.58
Henderson, Nevada$655.85$148,813.12
Lincoln, Nebraska$583.05$126,239.23
Jersey City, New Jersey$670.29$142,973.41
Chula Vista, California$613.73$121,593.15
Buffalo, New York$559.58$114,512.89
Fort Wayne, Indiana$563.19$110,499.79
Chandler, Arizona$582.45$111,669.19
St. Petersburg, Florida$565.60$119,550.91
Durham, North Carolina$563.79$113,644.76
Irvine, California$637.20$123,800.67
Madison, Wisconsin$603.51$125,671.76
Norfolk, Virginia$643.22$129,422.71
Lubbock, Texas$566.20$109,355.59
Gilbert town, Arizona$582.45$95,479.46
Winston-Salem, North Carolina$646.83$121,153.84
Glendale, Arizona$582.45$103,461.02
Paradise, Nevada$655.85$127,529.74
Reno, Nevada$690.15$132,075.61
Garland, Texas$642.62$113,999.37
Hialeah, Florida$607.72$122,372.93
Chesapeake, Virginia$643.22$116,733.83
Irving, Texas$531.30$90,565.13
North Las Vegas, Nevada$655.85$114,286.66
Scottsdale, Arizona$582.45$116,282.00
Baton Rouge, Louisiana$568.00$105,927.91
Fremont, California$688.34$122,779.45
Arlington, Virginia$718.43$138,846.46
Richmond, Virginia$595.68$109,061.42
Boise, Idaho$563.19$95,852.62


This analysis was based on an online poll of 2,017 U.S. adults age 18 and older taken Nov. 2-4 by Harris Poll for NerdWallet. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the general adult population. Of the total sample, 1,654 adults had credit cards. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate, no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

U.S. population numbers for 2014 are from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The estimated average credit card rewards rate of 1.14 cents per dollar was calculated by NerdWallet based on the “earn” and “burn” rates for credit card rewards and average American household spending.

Average expected spending on holiday gifts and total missed rewards was based on cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research.

Because of missing data, this study didn’t include San Jose, California; Fresno, California; Toledo, Ohio; Orlando, Florida; and Laredo, Texas.

Image via iStock.