Types of Miles to Redeem.
The type of points you are working with is perhaps the most important to understand when utilizing miles and points. Some issues have a fixed financial value, while others have a matter of a variable and can even be transferred to other programs.
For redemption, fixed value points have an explicit, published dollar value. Because of their simplicity, fixed-value point programs are popular among smaller banks.
Even in fixed-value point currencies, the value of your points can vary depending on the type of redemption. For example, when redeemed for travel rewards, points may be worth 1.5 cents each, but only 1 cent when redeemed for cashback.
The most significant benefit of a fixed-value point currency is that you can almost always use your points to purchase an award that would otherwise require cash. In addition, because issues have a fixed value, point programs do not have to worry about limiting capacity, and you do not have to stress about redeeming your points for almost anything.
Most airline and hotel programs are variable rewards, which means that points do not have a fixed monetary value. The value of these miles and points can vary significantly at times; at others, it is pretty tightly linked to the dollar price of redemptions.
Variable-value programs provide the best opportunity to get the most out of your points while also providing the most access to aspirational travel and experience redemptions. They can, however, be among the most difficult to redeem on demand.
Because of the ability to transfer points to other programs, point currencies such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points are commonly referred to as transferable point currencies.
How to Redeem Your Miles?
Now that you understand the various miles and points programs available, how do you go about booking an award with your issues?
This, like many other aspects of miles and points programs, varies by program and award. The website of the points program is usually the simplest way to redeem points for an award. However, you will need to contact a call center for complicated awards, some redemption, or mentions in specific programs.
If you’re looking to redeem points in a bank’s transferable points program or an aviation or hotel program, your first stop should be the website of whichever miles or points program you’re using.
A transferable program will typically outline the types of redemptions available to you, showcase redemption promotions, allow you to transfer your points when applicable, and provide links to third-party websites on which you can redeem your miles and points.
In the case of hotel and airline programs, booking a travel award is frequently the same as booking a flight or hotel with cash. When looking for flights or hotels, you can usually choose to see rates in money or points.
Miles and points programs will rely on third-party portals for refunds that fall outside of the scope of their core product offerings. These portals are almost always accessible through a link on the program’s website.
Airlines frequently use third-party portals for gift card redemptions, magazine subscriptions, and merchandise redemptions. For example, Delta and Alaska Mileage Plan miles can be redeemed for magazine subscriptions via the third-party Mags for Miles website. Marriott outsources its gift card redemptions to a third party. Banks will frequently book travel awards through a third-party travel company portal.
Historically, you went to the call center first, but airlines’ websites have greatly improved in recent years, significantly lowering the need to call in.
Most airlines and hotels now allow you to book most award availability online. While some complex and challenging travel redemptions or booking flights on certain partner airlines may necessitate a phone call, most travel award redemptions can now be completed online for most airlines.
Airline and hotel programs aren’t the only things that require you to call in to redeem your points on occasion. For example, while most Citibank’s ThankYou Points rewards can be saved on thankyou.com, some perks must be processed through their call center, such as student loan rebates.
Why Redeem Miles From Your Credit Cards Now?
Due to the apparent COVID-19 pandemic, the last year and a half has been far from ordinary. Travel was almost non-existent, people were spending less, and economic uncertainty was high. However, travel is experiencing a strong rebound as the world begins to return to normalcy. Combining that with several other economic factors gives us a perfect environment for earning points and miles. As travelers return to the skies, they have amassed larger-than-usual totals in airline and credit card reward programs. And they’re beginning to spend them.
Several factors combine to make now an excellent time to cash in points.
Flights on major US carriers booked with points are fully refundable. If you need to cancel the trip, you will receive a full refund of your issues and associated fees. Cash-purchased tickets offer a credit for a potential flight rather than a reimbursement and may charge fees. Refundable tickets are more expensive.
For expensive trips, such as a family vacation abroad, the difference between receiving a credit or a refund can be significant. As a result, a few tourists are still wary of international travel. At the same time, conditions are still fluid due to the global epidemic; using points to book a flight to a different country can provide greater peace of mind, according to Jamie Larounis, who writes about loyalty programs on his webpage, the Forward Cabin. In addition, he is now seeing some concern about air travel near Eastern Europe due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Encouragement from the Airlines.
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, direct flights to Phuket are operated by British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Thai Airways.
It’s no secret that the airlines struggled financially even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel levels plummeted to all-time lows, and it took months to see a glimpse of hope. As a result, several airlines, including American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, and Spirit Airlines, used their customer loyalty programs as collateral to finance loans to stay afloat.
Airlines will make some positive changes toward full recovery as travel is once again in high demand. Several airlines have purchased new planes for their fleets, and reports indicate that business travel is resuming.
As a result, airlines reinvest in their rewards programs and expand their alliances with credit card issuers. On June 23, LATAM Pass, one of Latin America’s most popular frequent flyer programs, and MasterCard announced a seven-year partnership to expand their co-branded airline credit cards. With expanded partnerships, airlines have more opportunities to promote more rewards to customers. The 100,000-point welcome bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and Iberia Visa Signature® Card is a perfect example: you’ll earn many valuable Avios points after meeting a shallow minimum spending requirement. Travel is returning, but with inflated prices.
Customers are encouraged to use their airline points. For example, Delta Airlines’ reward tickets booked through the end of the year should count toward uplifting the customer’s loyalty program status. Previously, only cash-paid flights were considered toward program status. United Airlines joined the list of airlines that allow customers to buy tickets using “money plus miles,” so “members can redeem miles quicker and not wait until they have a large total,” according to Covey. In February, United also held flash sales for points-purchased tickets to London and Australia, and members can now use points to purchase food and beverages on flights.
It Takes Time to Search for the Best Deal.
Redeeming points to get the most bangs for your buck can be tricky. At the time of writing, a business class flight from New York to Paris on Delta costs 320,000 SkyMiles points on a random day in March, but a similar flight on Air France costs only 75,000 miles plus $213 with Air France’s Flying Blue loyalty program. Air France has partnerships with American Express, Citi, Chase, and Capital One, so clients with membership rewards points can transfer them to Air France for a fraction of a Delta ticket.
According to the company’s founder, Adam Moritz, a new website, Point. Me, who debuted throughout February, aim to help travelers see more of their redemption options.
Airlines are still adding back routes and flights, so it may be challenging to find precisely what you want, according to Tiffany Layne, owner of LaVon Travel and Lifestyle in New York City. Still, she says booking as far in advance will give you the most options. As a result, airlines are reinvesting in their loyalty programs and expanding their collaborations with credit card issuers. For example, on June 23, LATAM Pass, one of Latin America’s most popular frequent flyer programs, and MasterCard announced a seven-year partnership to expand their own co-branded airline credit cards. With expanded partnerships, airlines have more opportunities to offer more rewards to customers.
The 100,000-point welcome bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card and Iberia Visa Signature® Card is a perfect example: you’ll earn many valuable Avios points after meeting a shallow minimum spending requirement. As a result, travel is returning, but so with increased fuel prices.
Availability of More Seats and Places to Visit.
Airline companies would like to fill as many seats as possible, so almost all seats are now available to buy with points, rather than just a subset. However, most airlines’ prices fluctuate, so it’s important to check back periodically before the flight to see if the number of points required has decreased.
Because demand was low during the pandemic, business class seats on international flights are more plentiful than usual. However, corporate travel is still down, and companies that allow employees traveling abroad to consider buying business class seats to arrive (somewhat) refreshed for meetings are not purchasing as many tickets.
Travel is becoming less intimidating as more countries eliminate COVID testing for vaccinated passengers. On February 11, London is, among the most popular tourist destinations for US visitors, dropped its testing requirement. Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, and other countries, are welcoming visitors. Alison Carpentier, director of guest loyalty at Alaska Airlines, a member of the Oneworld alliance of 14 global airlines, including Cathay Pacific and Qantas, said the abundance of tickets bought with points has been good for international tourism starts to open back up.
Holidays are Right Around the Corner.
Hopefully, as the holiday season approaches, we can expect brighter memories than 2020, as COVID-19 vaccination rates rise. This will almost definitely lead to more reunions, travel, and spending.
According to e-Marketer, holiday spending in the United States will increase by 2.7 percent in 2021 to $1.093 trillion. And, with more than half (52 percent) of respondents reporting that they believe those who can fly safely, as per the U.S. Travel Association’s June 2021 Monthly Travel Report, there is more than enough evidence to suggest that holiday travel and spending will increase.
By accumulating points and miles now, you can also save money on holiday travel while also earning rewards on your purchases. And, with credit cards’ valuable consumer coverage, such as return and fraud prevention, you can feel very confident in purchasing items while attempting to avoid buyer’s remorse. Furthermore, a travel credit card can serve as an insurance policy if you intend to travel during the festive season. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® includes a slew of travel benefits, such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance, car rental insurance, lost luggage compensation, and trip delay compensation.
These are purely the opinions of the author based on observations and analysis of financial platforms and a study of public reviews and ratings on why you should redeem your miles from your credit cards. Excerpts from various sources have been used to clarify the facts in this article. A glossary of all the sources used can be found at the end of the article. This article is for educational purposes only and is not financial advice.