You either love them or hate them – they either work for you or they don’t.
I know several people who very successfully and diligently collect points and are able to use them for flights – sometimes even business class. Gosh, I have even had some limited success in this field and what a joy when you are able to go online and obtain a ticket for nothing!
But let’s face it – there is no such thing as a free lunch. So who is winning here?
The banks – most credit cards that give points charge very high interest. So you spend spend spend, accumulate points point points and end up paying for those points with the very high interest charges.
The airlines – so you are a frequent flyer and you are collecting points. It makes sense to therefore fly on flights where you can add to your points…..even if it means going a little out of your way or adding a connection or two. The airlines are buying your loyalty with points that you can supposedly use to get “free” flights. However getting your free flights might not be that easy – but more about that later.
The corporate traveller – yes those road warriors. No-one envies them. Another flight, another city, another night in an anonymous hotel far away from friends and family. It is a lonely life. So they deserve the points they get on the flights booked by the company don’t they? Yes of course they do. But there is a trap here – there is always a trap!
You see once you start collecting those points you get hooked, so you travel some more, and then you get your status with that airline upgraded. Now they really have you! There is something quite nice about boarding before everyone else. It’s called elite status (or words to that effect).
You get used to this and then if your travel starts to slow down it creates worry. How will you keep your Double Titanium status if you don’t do at least 100 flights a year. The stress becomes unbearable while you plot ways to add a few more miles. You become quite desperate. Maybe you should fly to Edmonton or Fort St John for the weekend. Hey wait, here’s a flight to Grande Prairie. There is no limit to the list of places you can go to in order to keep that Elite frequent flyer status.
And then there is the pain and agony of redeeming you points for a flight. Not so easy as click and point. Depending upon the destination or the route the allotment of “reward seats” on each flight might be extremely limited and pretty much disappear almost a year prior to travel. Sometimes you might be required to book a one way because the return date is not yet in the system but if you wait for that the reward flight will be gone. Once you add stopovers and multiple segments into the mix you definitely need to phone in and be prepared for a lengthy wait. Don’t be impatient. Put the phone on speaker and clean out your kitchen cupboards but preferably do this at midnight or 6 am when the call loads are lowest. Clean kitchen cupboards, business class flight to Sydney for nothing – double whammy!
So STOP….take a deep breath. Celebrate the times that you do earn a free ticket or an upgrade using points. Forget about the points that have expired (oh wait – have they stopped that now?)
And what about the losers you might ask? Yes those are the ones who fall for the high interest points earning cards and don’t pay off the balance each month before that crippling interest kicks in. Better off not to earn points and just buy the ticket you want on the airline you want to the destination you really want to go to.