If you've gotten confused at times by all the changes in airline and other loyalty-points plans, and been dazzled by the constantly-changing stream of offers and bonuses—you're not alone, and a small industry of consultants has risen up to show you how to maximize your points for the trip you want. At a fee, of course.
And the fee can be serious; as much as $200 to book an award itinerary with your "free" tickets. Probably no one really needs a consultant like that to book a round-trip from the U.S. to Europe with points, but for complex itineraries and premium seats, it may make sense for some.
On the other hand, since there's no accrediting organization for these consultants, comparable to the professional organizations of travel agents, you're taking a chance on who you pick. Those who are good at it know how to check the inventory of airlines and how to work the partner webs of those airlines to find seats and destinations you want.
Photo: an archive of loyalty cards...remember some of these?