Stop Opening Accounts with Worthless Loyalty Programs
Image Courtesy: American Airlines

Stop Opening Accounts with Worthless Loyalty Programs

I was walking by a major big box retailer in New York City the other day, and I saw a sign in the window that said “Open a Credit Card and Get 5x Points Today”. I briefly got very excited before I realized that the store has nothing that I would want to buy and therefore the points are completely worthless to me.

Some loyalty points provide extraordinary value and can be worth keeping your loyalty with an establishment to continue to earn. In particular, your “loyalty” to airlines (see how the programs compare here) and hotel chains {see how these programs compare here) has real value. When you recognize that just for opening a new credit card, you can easily earn well over $500 in value with an airline or hotel chain (or points that transfer into either), you also recognize that you can throw out your Starbucks and Subway loyalty cards.

Find the best travel rewards credit card sign up bonuses.

And, to boot, it simply isn’t necessary to be a member of too many programs, especially if you are just getting going with travel rewards. By joining Singapore’s Krisflyer program, you can earn the full value of all miles flown on all United or Jetblue flights, as well as any Star Alliance program members, and transfer points from all four major transferable point currencies (Chase, Citi, Amex, and Starwood). We also like the American Airlines program as there are several credit cards from Citibank and Barclays that can feed into it. British Airways also provides good value on short haul redemptions. Delta’s program is worth joining if you can still bear to fly it.

Within the hotel area, most people will find tremendous value in the Starwood – Marriott program, especially post-merger now that all sorts of great redemption opportunities have opened up through the 3:1 fixed transfer ratio. Hyatt is also a tremendously valuable program. You can also get a couple free nights at a Conrad by flipping a Hilton card, but the program is – like the other major hotel programs – substantially less valuable than Starwood and Hyatt for regular spend.

Once you are a member of the 3 or 4 airline programs and the 2 or 3 the hotel programs you need, it is time to stop. Every one of these places is selling your name, phone number, address and all sorts of other information about your purchasing habits. In this day and age, you just don’t need everyone to have your information in return for less than nickel in value.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to bank transparency and the climate crisis. Since co-founding BestCashCow in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

User Generated Content Disclosure: Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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