Are loyalty programs are even worth it anymore? Watch this recorded webinar to learn more

Nov 12, 2021

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Article banner for Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards

Whenever a loyalty program makes a negative change — be it removing award charts or adjusting prices with little to no notice — the doom-and-gloom crowd comes out in full force. They lament the end of outsized value for points and miles while simultaneously lambasting the offending company.

And the last several weeks provided plenty of fodder.

With Marriott announcing that it would soon get rid of published award charts,  American announcing a major overhaul of how you’ll earn AAdvantage elite status in coming years, it has a lot of readers asking a simple question: Are loyalty programs even worth it anymore?

Well here at The Points Guy, we wanted to tackle that question head on — and we did just that on our most recent TPG Talks webinar, part of Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards.

During the session, I sat down with fellow editorial team members Summer Hull, Benét Wilson and Benji Stawski to discuss our own take on this pressing question. Together, we bring decades of cumulative experience in earning and redeeming travel rewards across virtually every loyalty program out there.

And if you missed the live webinar, you’re in luck — as the full recording is below.

Why we held this session

We frequently tout the value of top loyalty programs at TPG, and there are still ways to make the most of these currencies. Plus, not all of them are going backwards. We even honored one program — Air Canada’s Aeroplan — with our Investment in Airline Loyalty award last week.

Nevertheless, gone are the days of many lucrative sweet spots like:

  • A Hilton Honors award chart that topped out at 50,000 points per night (now 120,000 points — though with no published chart)
  • A one-way flight in Cathay Pacific first class from the U.S. to Asia for 67,500 AAdvantage miles (now 110,000 miles)
  • A round-trip, business-class flight to the Seychelles with a free stopover in Paris for 120,000 Delta SkyMiles (now … well, who knows?)

Even well regarded programs like the World of Hyatt aren’t immune to this trend, as the program just introduced peak and off-peak pricing on award stays last month (albeit after multiple delays due to the pandemic).

Read more: TPG special analysis — How Hyatt’s peak and off-peak pricing changed average award rates

And with the increasing prominence of fixed-value programs — including Capital One Rewards, which launched its new premium Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card earlier this week, and the underrated Rewards program — why should an average traveler even worry about these airline- and hotel-specific programs?

Key takeaways from the session

We covered a lot of ground during the session, but here’s a snapshot of what we discussed:

So ultimately, are loyalty programs worth it? The general consensus was, “Yes, but …”

In other words, there are still ways to make the most of these programs. And since they’re all free to join (and some have points and miles that don’t expire – including United, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic), there’s no harm to signing up for any and all of them.

That said, they’re not for everyone. So make a plan that works best for you — and be prepared to adapt when things change.

Full recording

If you want to catch more of the discussion, be sure to review the full recording right here:

Featured photo of Lufthansa first class by Zach Griff/The Points Guy.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below 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.