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Do you think travel reward programs are worth the effort?

Do you think travel reward programs are worth the effort?

Old Jan 1st, 2009, 01:46 PM
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I just booked RT tickets to Glasgow for my parents, my husband and me using 200,000 (!) airline miles. I don't get to fly that much anymore, but I do use FF credit cards to pay for everything possible, and for me the 'FF' stands for 'Faithful Flyer' - that was my airline of choice whenever I did fly. I felt really lucky - I got all four tickets on 'super-saver' rates!

I am also a member in a couple of different hotel loyalty programs that I can occassionally feed with business travel. Those hotel points have come in quite handy a few times, especially for hotel stays near an airport before flying out the next day.

I do have a fear that all of these loyalty programs are going to become so diluted that they may be of little use in the future, but for now, I'm still a fan.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 02:54 PM
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Absolutely worth it. My husband even pays our real estate taxes with the card that gives us miles on Continental.

We travel to Portugal for free about every 12 months when we see 25,000 mile seats on their website.
There and back becomes 50,000 per person.

He just signed up with AMEX for a platinum card. Cost $450 dollars....they will award 100,000 miles after you charge $1000. I see that as two of us flying to Portugal for a total of $450. He will probably use the card for a year and not renew. No way would we be able to purchase tickets for both of us for $450.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 03:02 PM
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lowcountrycarol - please give details or a link to that American Express Platinum offer. I can't find it on their website. Thanks.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 03:35 PM
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I'm an aeroplan member (Air Canada) and I recently got an aeroplan visa, but I don't charge all that much to it - I got it for work expenses that get reimbursed right away so I can keep the balance at zero.

Aeroplan charges all sorts of fees/surcharges on tickets to Europe. An economy seat to Heathrow ends up costing in the neighbourhood of $400 Cdn on top of the 60,000 points needed. It hardly seems worth it.

I just booked a Business Class seat to London, though, using 85,000 points and around $500. That to me is worth it as that seat would be way too expensive for me to buy.

We used to have our "family" visa card as an Aeroplan one, but the yearly fee was just too high to justify it. We're a one-card couple.
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Old Jan 1st, 2009, 04:58 PM
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The AmEx offers with 50,000/charge $500 (AmEx Gold) and 100,000/charge $1000 (AmEx Plat)are invitation in the mail only.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 04:52 PM
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I might as well chime in here. We have the AMEX Delta Sky Miles Platinum (135/yr) and we've flown free to europe (coach) for the last 3 years and will this year also. Our last trip (Oct 08) was into Pisa and out of Venice (from Boston) and would have been 6,000+ for both of us. Instead it was taxes and fees. Well worth it to us. Since we book so far out (at least 6 months and usually more) we are never disappointed by not being able to snag decent tickets.

We're doing BOS/LHR/BOS in September and it's already booked and paid for with our Delta miles. We do pay it off every month. I wouldn't give those buggers a cent more than I have to.

However, we were also paying for our two kids' tuitions with our card and now they're both done with college. We may have to kick in for one of those tickets next year. Boo hiss.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2009, 03:03 PM
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I use the Avion card in Canada. During one week earlier this year, all the stars aligned to make the following possible: Avion has a promotion twice a year with British Airways where one Avion point can be swapped for 1.5 BA miles. During one of these swap promos, BA had a 2 for 1 deal. We will be flying out of Vancouver to Windhoek, Namibia via Joburg and returning through Livingstone, Zambia via Joburg. All this for 60,000 Avion points. We figure with this deal, the return was about 7 - 8%. Well worth the trouble in my opinion.
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Old Jul 2nd, 2009, 09:06 PM
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We just returned from a European trip for which 3 RT tickets and 6 room nights in London were all "paid" with loyalty points (Continental Airlines OnePass and Intercontinental Hotels Group Priority Club.) Those things alone would have run to $5K or more at current rates. In addition, having elite status with both progams provides nice perks like expedited lines for check in, security screening and flight boarding, access to airport lounges, priority baggage handling, free checked bags with additional weight allowance, hotel room upgrade and welcome gift (usually something edible.) In the last six months I have also used miles for two US domestic tickets and one trip to Mexico.
Sure, I earned all those miles as a road warrior doing business travel (augmented with an FF affiliated credit card), but when I find myself on one of those trips where things don't go well I console myself with the fact that the miles earned will be put to good use. They don't call them loyalty programs for nuthin'!
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 12:10 PM
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My wife and I just booked Business Class plane tickets San Diego--Milan and Paris--San Diego for next Spring. Because the SAN--JFK legs are on two-class planes, we will be in first class on those segments. We did the same thing (SAN--CDG) in Spring 2008 also. That was using Aadvantage miles ($50 fee per year) for purchases we would have made in any event (and bonus miles for adding new cards when solicited to do so). I think it was well worth it for us.
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Old Jul 16th, 2009, 03:23 PM
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A great example of the utility of travel rewards programs and, more importantly, the utility of hotel rewards programs, is my next major trip.

The wife and I have decided to take a quick week-long trip to Crete to catch some sun. We were able to book into the Blue Palace Resort, which is, by all accounts, a true 5* resort for $150 + 8k SPG points per night. The retail rate? Over EUR 500 per night. Even before the (slim) chance of an upgrade due to our SPG status, the value of those points is in the $0.05 per point range. That is pretty phenomenal value and even better than the $0.03 per mile range that I seek for my airline miles.

We earn almost all of our SPG points from our Amex card. Even assuming that you pay a 2% penalty for using the Amex, a $0.05 redemption rate means that you have made a 3% return off your use of the card.
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 07:40 AM
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Another consideration when choosing an airline FF plan/credit card. When redeeming FF miles, will this airline (and its partners) allow you to book an open jaws flight? I've had no problem with British Air. People with other plans seem to think it can't be done. But I'm not sure they tried.
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Old Jul 17th, 2009, 09:42 AM
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You are right, Mimar, it is often useful. On American Airlines, using Aadvantage miles, my wife and I had no problem booking San Dego to Milan and Paris to San Diego. Because the flights change planes at JFK we could (an still can, if we later decide to) stopover in NYC for however many days we want and do the JFK to SAN flight at that later date. We can also, of course, change our CDG departure to an earlier or later date as long as reward seats are available. For example, we wanted to return on 1 June but 29 May was the closest we could get--in a few weeks/months maybe more seats will open up. All of this can be done at no cost, but it is so much easier to book the original itinerary with a live person vs. on-line that we gladly paid the $20 per person fee to use a reservation person.
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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This year, I'm using FF miles to fly into Venice and out of Rome. Using Hilton and Marriott points for 18 of my 21 nights in Italy... have to pay for the other 3 nights since there aren't any Hiltons or Marriotts in Sienna and Assisi.

Been doing these free vacations for a number of years now. So, yes, I do think the programs are worth it!
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Old Jul 20th, 2009, 03:32 PM
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I have a Continental One Pass Chase Mastercard. It's the only card I use and I charge everything, and I mean everything, to get miles -- from a single cup of coffee to my car registration to my dental appointments. I don't have an expense account (I'm just a regular consumer) and I pay off my balance each month.

I also signed up for a OnePass Business card just to get 21,000 free miles. Used it once, then cancelled, after the miles hit my account.

I love the Continental program because I do the majority of my shopping online and they have retail partners -- meaning, if I order online from Home Depot, Dell, Target, Zappos, eBags, Lands End, etc., I can sometimes get up to 10 miles per dollar purchased, which adds up rather quickly -- A $300 item can add up to 3,000 miles instantly.

And, they send you 2 lounge passes per year (whoppee!), too.

I've had the card about 5 years and I figure I've easily gotten about 4 FF trips to Europe because of it. I've never had a problem getting the tickets, as we usually travel in the off-season.

And, Continental will now be part of the Star Alliance at the end of this year, too, which is even more appealing for me.
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Old Jul 27th, 2009, 07:40 PM
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I didn't read the entire thread but using AA Citi Master Card we flew first class to CA one year and Seattle last week. We are last minute planners and think that if first class is not sold out they open up the seats for miles.
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