The Bakkt app has limited value, but it’s still worth downloading — here’s why
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Even though it’s been around for a few years, I hadn’t heard of the Bakkt app until last week.
Primarily a platform that allows users to manage their digital assets (such as cryptocurrency), it didn’t have a lot of tie-ins to the points and miles world. Recently, however, they’ve caught on to the fact that travel rewards are another type of digital asset, and added a few programs to their repertoire. Now you can use Bakkt to buy or spend select types of points like cash.
Like with all things in loyalty points, having the ability to redeem points in certain ways doesn’t always result in a good value. And, admittedly, Bakkt’s options aren’t very good. Trading 100 hotel points only yields 35 cents, for example.
Still, Bakkt has piqued my interest and it’s worth at least a cursory look. You may even decide that there’s a specific, limited use where it works out in your favor.
Let’s dig in a little.
What is Bakkt?
Bakkt is an app designed to help you aggregate, manage and spend digital assets in a single place. It’s best known for its cryptocurrency management, but it also tracks and manages several rewards programs and gift cards.
Of note to travelers, Bakkt allows you to connect select travel rewards programs with your profile. If you wish, you can then convert those points to cash and redeem them for cryptocurrency, gift cards or cash. You can also buy points through the app to top off your account (similar to Points.com).
Bakkt also has options to connect to Apple Pay and Google Pay to let you pay for daily expenses more directly.
Bakkt loyalty partners
At the moment, Bakkt partners with 17 travel programs and is most heavily weighted toward hotels.
Airline and train partners: Alaska Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways and Amtrak.
Hotel partners: Best Western, Caesars, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, MGM, Radisson, Red Lion, Red Roof Inn and Wyndham.
They also partner with several retail and dining partners (such as Starbucks and Office Depot Rewards) and most major credit card currencies.
Be aware that not all programs offer options to buy or convert points. After linking my Frontier Miles account, I learned that Bakkt will track that balance but there are no options to do anything with those points.
Linking loyalty accounts
Setting up your loyalty accounts in Bakkt is incredibly straightforward. Once you’ve downloaded the app, just click on “Rewards” on the home screen and it’ll take you to a screen where you can “Add a Rewards Program”. All you need to do is enter your member number and password and the accounts should be linked within a few minutes.
Easy points for new Bakkt users
Both offers look the same: You’ll get 1,000 points (in the associated program) for successfully linking your account and another 2,000 points if you use the Bakkt app to convert points to cash. Here, Wyndham is by far the easier deal. You can convert just 100 Wyndham Rewards to cash but Choice has a minimum conversion of 8,000 points.
Assuming you participate in the Wyndham promo, you’ll net 2,900 points for an easy win. Since Wyndham “go fast” awards (points plus cash) start at 1,500 points per night, you might be able to put those points to use even if you don’t have a meaningful balance with Wyndham already. My bonus points posted instantly both within my Bakkt activity and online in my Wyndham account, so you can use them immediately if you have a redemption in mind.
The Choice promo isn’t nearly as good since you have to convert 8,000 points to get the bonus. Ultimately you’d cash in a net 6,000 points for about $25 in value. I did, however, link my Choice account in hopes of earning the 1,000 miles in the first half of their promo. Unlike the Wyndham offer, points won’t post for four to six weeks so I’ll have to wait and see if I get any easy freebies. It’s also possible that I won’t get any points since the details mention “one offer per member.” Does that mean one Choice offer or one loyalty offer of any type? It’s still unclear.
Buying points with Bakkt
Bakkt does not allow you to buy all types of rewards points, but it does allow you to buy points with Wyndham Rewards. Presumably, more loyalty programs will be added in the future.
Buying points with Bakkt is easy and does not include any transaction fees. With Wyndham, the price through Bakkt was exactly the same as buying points directly (1,000 points cost $13). However, buying points directly with Wyndham means you’re eligible for limited-time offers on your purchase. Right now, Wyndham is offering 40% bonus points on larger transactions, which makes buying directly a better deal.
As with all points purchases, buying points is rarely a good deal unless you’re topping off your account for a specific, immediate redemption.
Should you cash out points with Bakkt?
With Wyndham, you can cash out points for 0.35 cents each. A 15,000-point conversion (what you’d need for a midrange hotel redemption) would therefore yield $52.50. The option I got for Choice was even lower, at about 0.31 cents.
To be clear, you can get higher values by using your travel points for actual travel, even without seeking out specific properties or the “absolute” best redemptions. I wouldn’t recommend you cash in all your points, even if you feel flush in rewards.
Bakkt may be better than nothing
Regardless, Bakkt is still an okay option in a few specific cases, boiling down to being better than nothing.
Wyndham Rewards points — much to my frustration — expire after three years, whether or not you’ve had any activity in the meantime. Because of this, I have a subset of points that will expire in March unless I redeem them beforehand.
Easy enough, but even if I find a Wyndham property that lines up with my intended destination, there’s a good chance I’ll have expiring points left over. My most likely scenario would be a 15,000-point redemption, which is the going rate for one night at a midrange property or two nights at a lower-tier property. That would awkwardly leave me with 4,307 points … not enough for a free night but worth about $15 if converted via Bakkt.
Is $15 a lot? No, of course not. But it beats letting points expire and totally forfeiting their value.
If you have a Wyndham or Choice account, you should look into downloading the Bakkt app for this month’s easy points promotion. You can earn 1,000 points (maybe more) in just a few minutes.
Beyond that, the travel portion of the Bakkt app still appears to be in its infancy. There are a few built-in features, but it’s far from an all-encompassing solution at the moment. Sadly, even the features that do exist aren’t particularly valuable given the purchase and conversion rates. Still, it’s always nice to have another resource at your disposal and I think this will just be the beginning of what we see with Bakkt.
Feature photo by Tobias Arhelger/Shutterstock
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