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

Nov. 12, 2021
4 min read
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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:

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  • 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 Hotels.com 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 image by (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023