Pretty much all my articles are about how much I love miles and points, especially yesterday’s post (My Favourite Ways to Earn Miles and Points), so I thought I’d write about the exact opposite by giving a negative perspective about it instead. This is pretty much a post that gives suggestions on how the industry can improve. Some may be far fetched idea, but others are probably doable.
But this also means that some companies are going to take a beating from me.
Very Much a Dislike
The first list are items that I very much dislike and really hope that something can be done about it.
Taxes and Fuel Surchages on Reward Flights
This one probably drives me the craziest. The reason is because hotels don’t have a problem making their reward night (minus resort fees) all inclusive with this points system, so why can’t airlines? For sure a loaded question and lots of factors come into play. Bottom line is if it can be done by hotels, it makes airlines look worse.
Locally, look no further than Air Canada, they are one of the worse culprits world wide.
I never fully agreed with limited award availability. If you had a Starbucks points card and earned enough for a free drink, Starbucks won’t tell you that they ran out of quota of how many reward coffees are available and that we have to come another day to get our free coffee. Imagine if they said that?
Point is they give the reward on demand, and there is no quota system. This quota system drives me crazy sometimes. I know that Aeroplan is trying mitigate this issue with Market Fare reward flights, but it’s not exactly the same but it’s a start.
Locally, WestJet won’t have this problem because their reward system works in the form of cash back so they won’t have award availability issues.
Expiry Policies Regardless of Activity
Wyndham Rewards offers a perfect example of this type of expiry policy. The points expire 4 years after being posted to the account regardless of activity. This is a very annoying expiry type of policy and I completely avoid these types of programs.
Locally, WestJet and Porter airlines had similar expiry policies, but they were smart enough to make some changes. Air Miles is just about to start their expiry policy where miles expiry 5 years from when they are deposited, regardless of activity.
Lack of Increase in Earning Ratios on Credit Cards to go with a Devaluation
We see devaluations to all reward programs, not many programs survive this, even cash back *cough cough MBNA Smart Cash*. What I mean by devaluation is that it will cost more miles and points to redeem for the exact same reward.
What’s more annoying is that the earning ratios do not go up with the reward redemption devaluation. That just means that we are getting and lower me lower return for every $1 spent on our credit cards. Thus pushing people more towards fixed reward or cash back instead.
This industry shift isn’t necessarily a bad thing, only if the fixed rewards and cash back market becomes more competitive in the process, then I would be glad to make the shift too.
Not so Much a Dislike
The next list are factors that are generally on people’s pet peeves list, but not so much on mine and I will explain why.
Expiry Policies With Activity
Ideally, I would prefer never having any sort of expiry policy, like Best Western Rewards or Delta SkyMiles. But I think that it is a fair enough compromise if we get to keep them active so long as we have some sort of activity. Ideally I would like to see 24 months expiry policies though, if there is no activity whatsoever within 24 months, then points can expiry, so long as activity is loosely defined, such as earning and redeeming.
Not like Porter Airlines, who only counts flying as an activity. Though it is not like they have too many other options to earn points anyway.
It drives me crazy when I see devaluations, as I clearly stated above, but I also know that it is inevitable, because inflation catches up to everyone. There is only so much that can be some to mitigate this issue. The hope is that we have ample time to redeem within the old reward chart before the new one kicks in.
At the end of the day, I am a strong believer of demand and supply. What I mean by this is that we should not be scared to leave one program to give our business to the more competitive products and services. So long as we, the consumers kept shifting our attention to companies that want to offer a strong product, we keep the companies honest.
But if we get complacent, and stay loyal to a program, they won’t need to offer something better because they will be making enough money. This is why I always recommend to diversify your portfolio!