Most Americans have a wallet full of plastic and use it frequently for perks such as travel miles and points. There are, however, an increasing number of consumers that will not touch these cards with a 10 foot pole. Why not? It could be a for a number of reasons including personal preference. Most simply do not believe benefits like travel miles and points are a good thing and to use them is akin to a sin.
Why Travel Miles and Points are so Darn Awful
- Cash is king. There are many people that firmly believe if the cash isn’t on hand, don’t buy it. Live within your means. These people do not use credit at all or only in an emergency. Loyalty programs that award rewards like travel miles and points do not impact their financial planning.
- Overspending to receive travel miles and points. Many people will spend more than than normal to rack up travel miles and points for that planned family vacation. The problem is they are accumulating more debt and not getting a bargain. The trip is actually costing them more than just paying travel expenses in advance.
- You might never take that trip. Say your vacation has been booked for over a year. There are many circumstances that change even the best laid plans. What if there is a family emergency or unexpected death? Then you are stuck with a bunch of travel miles and points that are worthless. Since travel miles and points always have an expiration date if the trip is not within the right time frame all the money you spent is down the drain.
- Devaluation of travel miles and points by the credit card companies. Accumulating points for vacations or business trips is appealing but in reality the rules of the game are always subject to change. A prime example of this is the Hilton Honors program in 2013. The company decided to change their list of eligible hotels classifications from seven to 10 and doubled the amount of points needed to qualify for the more expensive rooms. The best part was they only implemented the new program for travel miles and points six weeks after their announcement.
When Travel Miles and Points are Not Evil
Contrary to what some people believe, travel miles and points can be a great thing to have on certain occasions.
- When someone else is footing the bill. The best example of this is for business travel. If your job requires you to fly a fair amount for work purposes your employer has to pay your fare as an expense. That is when the employee receives frequent flyer miles they can use for personal reasons without shelling out a red cent.
- When someone makes a mistake. This does not occur very frequently but does happen. Several years ago an appliance company provided free travel when consumers purchased their products. They thought people would only want big ticket items and would shy away from the small stuff. They were out in left field as people only bought the cheapest items to qualify for the program.
So are Travel Points and Miles Evil?
No. The loyalty programs offering travel points and miles are not inherently rotten. They just come with certain risks and everyone has their personal preference. As long as you aware of the pitfalls, you won’t make a bad investment.