Deciding Which Points Program is Best for You


Photo by Lawrence Lessig

Because there are so many programs out there: airline points, hotel points, car rental points, non-specific brand points, you the people, need some criteria whereby we can evaluate which program works best for YOU.

Not all programs are created equal. What program allows you to earn points quickly might not apply to your neighbor because of different brand usage.

Here are some things to consider when looking into different programs:

  1. Do you enjoy the primary program brand? If you want to earn points with Delta you need to enjoy flying on Delta (or at least one of their partners). If you want to earn points with the Priority Clubs group you need to enjoy staying at their hotels.
  2. Does the program service your favorite locations? The real estate maxim applies to points programs – location, location, location. Does the airlines fly to and from your favorite destinations. Does the hotel brand have hotels in your favorite destinations.
  3. How flexible are the points? Some programs will allow you to search for reward flights or stays without any points. If they do you can see how often a made up search yields a flight at their lower tiers. Some programs do not limit reward availability and are thus much, more appealing.
  4. How long are the points valid? If your points will expire in 12 months and you are going to find it difficult to keep the points go with another program that allows you 24 months, or 36 months, or even some programs never expire.
  5. What are the ways you can earn points with the program? Be sure to tailor this to your personal usage. If a particular item you usually use will give rewards in program A, but not program B, then go with the one that has the most earning potential.

One final thought to consider. There are programs, such as ThankYou Rewards that allow you to earn points that can be used for all flights, hotels, vehicles, and merchandise. Such a program may be best for you.