For most, rewards not in the cards

No doubt the promise of frequent-flyer miles, room upgrades, or cash-back programs lure many Americans to charge forward with their credit cards. But such rewards don't hold weight with most people.

In fact, 3 out of 4 Americans are not influenced by reward programs when choosing between credit or cash, according to a nationwide survey by the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index.

Only one-quarter of the more than 1,000 adults polled said that credit-card reward programs have a great deal or good amount of influence in encouraging them to charge. Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of consumers said they don't even have credit cards offering rewards or rebates.

"It is surprising that only a quarter of American consumers are influenced by the many frequent-flyer points, hotel rewards, and other rebates, since they are constantly being bombarded by offers from credit-card marketers," says Jordan Goodman, spokesperson for the Index.

For the month of May, the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index is at 51, a six-point drop from April and the biggest drop since the Index was launched last December.

When the Index falls, it means that Americans on the whole are paying off rather than adding to their debts.

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