Do Airlines offer the Best Loyalty Rewards Programs?

Many people like to collect airline frequent flier miles because of the opportunity for free travel and upgrades.  So much so that they'll use a credit card affiliated with their favorite airline or be sure to fly a partner of their airline whenever possible to earn more miles, even if it's not the most convenient route.  But are airline programs really the best way to maximize your reward earnings?

 

"No".  In an videotaped interview with Wall Street Journal "Middle Seat" travel columnist, Scott McCarthy, it became clear that hotels give you a far better return on your money than airlines.  Hotels return between 8 - 10% of your room rate in reward benefits. Who's at the top of the list?  Marriott, with Hilton a close second.

 

The short interview is quite informative and worth listening to.  You can catch it at this link.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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A very interesting interview...and one of the points that comes clear from it is the one I've always made: What are you looking for?

 

He gives examples, for instance, of how younger people may want low-cost rewards (dinner, say) that they can get immediately. Others may be mainly interested in the free wifi, lounges and upgrades some hotels offer. And others, like I, who seldom stay in hotels (Airbnb, thank you!) are interested mainly in convertibility to air travel.

 

For those in my situation, the hotel perks mean nothing; the bonuses for signing up for hotel-affiliated credit cards can be significant. My wife and I recently got 75,000 Hilton points apiece for opening a credit card and spending $2000 on it over a 3-month period (not hard, sadly!).

 

Those 75,000 points convert to 57,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, which convert 1:1 with a long list of airline programs. So, for spending only money we would have spent anyway, we got enough miles to cover 2 round-trip tickets to Europe.

 

So, even the young people he cites who want immediate gratification can do well on card bonuses...and it's not only the hotels that offer them.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

Agreed, especially if you are clever enough to find a great back door to use your points the way you like.  I think the point of the video was that your hotel gives you a lot more for the money you spend there than airlines do.

 

I use a generic rewards card in Canada that builds up a dollar amount of bonus.  I buy the hotel, flight, car rental I want and the money is returned to me.  That way it's simple and easy.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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