Here are 4 ways you can continue to get the most out of your travel credit cards during the pandemic.

Use points towards retail purchases

Many banks are letting people redeem their credit card rewards points for different kinds of retail purchases. For example, if you have Aeroplan points with Air Canada, you can use them with retail partners including Home Hardware to buy merchandise directly.

However, it's good to bear in mind that using travel rewards points to buy merchandise directly is usually not as good a value as redeeming them for travel. But while you may get slightly less money for your miles, it can still be worth it if the merchandise you're considering is something you were planning to buy anyway.

Buy gift cards with rewards

Another way to get some immediate return on your rewards is through gift cards. Many card issuers are letting customers spend their points on gift cards, which is a great way to treat yourself or someone close to you. It's also an easy last-minute gift idea!

Gift cards can also work well if your points or miles are in danger of expiring. Rather than losing all of their value or spending points on merchandise you wouldn't otherwise purchase; gift cards can extend the value of your miles and give you more flexibility around when and how to spend them.

Donate your points to charity

Did you know you can donate both rewards points and air miles to charity? With many nonprofits struggling to raise funds, a gift of miles can be a generous way to give back. What's more, some airlines will match your donation of miles, giving you twice as much impact at no direct cost.

The downside of charitable giving through points is that it's not tax deductible, so keep that in mind when considering how you want to give this year.

Keep building for a big splurge

Maybe the savviest way to handle your points? Keep building them up for a big trip!

In general, travel rewards points get better value when used for travel expenses, such as flights and hotel stays. Even though your next international trip may be a while away, it can also take some time to build up the points needed for a long-haul flight. Saving up for a first-class flight to Japan may require all the points you earn between now and the end of the pandemic.

What's more, flyers may find a lot of discounts and incentives to go abroad after the tail end of the pandemic. It might be the perfect opportunity to go on a dream vacation at an amazing discount - which will be even easier to do with a large amount of points in your back pocket.