The points game is not fair – but who says it has to be?

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what is fair

Warning: I am in a contemplative mood this weekend and the result is this post. Just sharing the thoughts from this past week that have filtered down into my thinking, been churned up, and come out like this. Here we go:

  1. What the banks who make travel cards want: We get a card, get bonus, then use the card each time we buy anything ever.
  2. What we want: Get a HUGE new card bonus and then only use the card to get max value and points and pull whatever card gives us that.


  1. What the airlines want: Buy the most expensive ticket they sell, buy all the upgrades like WiFi, hotel & cars from their site. Oh, and pay back the least amount of points possible.
  2. What we want: Buy the cheapest ticket, get free upgrades & avoid the airline site because we can get more points starting at other sites. Oh, and get max bonus points including promo routes.


  1. What the hotels want: Pay the highest price possible per room, holding suites as long as possible to sell them too for as much as possible. Release as few rooms on points as they can and offer as few perks as they can get away with.
  2. What we want: To always book on points, get free upgrade as well as breakfast and much more. Oh, and points back as a rebate for even coming to the hotel and booking on points.

So do you see any problems here? You bet, what they want and what we want are in direct opposition to one another. The companies care about getting as much money as possible – Duh – and we want to keep as much of ours in our pockets while still getting value.

I recently had someone “ask / tell me” “what value I bring to Delta” (the blog but I am also extrapolating to me as a Diamond Medallion flyer)? That made me think and it really applies to the banks and the hotels as well. So while I am not the “ideal” HVC since I don’t just spend with no thought to the value I receive, I do make choices due to loyalty. Lets take a look.

  • Banks. I have a LOT of cards. In fact I have had or hold almost every single card ever made (not quite, but working on it). I get cards for the bonus points they offer. But I have cards that “Live” in my wallet. Some are always there. Others come and go. Some, like my AMEX Reserve card stays in place until I reach $60,000 in spend then there is ZERO point to spend more as I spend to earn MQMs. After that, no point. Now I do have two of them so I can switch to the 2nd for my next $60,000 in spend! And that is my point. I get the cards for the bonus. I use and keep the cards for value. If banks want me to keep pulling their cards they need to provide value. That is one of the reasons I like the Barclay’s Arrival+ card so much and pull it often!
  • Airlines. I am clearly a Delta fan boy. I don’t have to be. On the blog I call out Delta when they do dumb things. The airline does not like that – too bad – stop doing stupid things. I do provide value to Delta on the blog as I also tell about ways for flyers to “enjoy” a.k.a. stick with Delta even when devaluations hit rather than going away. If you look at my blogging brethren you will see 99.99% of them just do not like Delta, think I am a fool for sticking with Delta, and encourage others NOT to fly Delta. I could do that too, but I want people to fly and to be elites on Delta. So there is the answer to THAT question. What about me personally as a Diamond? Sure I do a few mileage runs now and then (ok ok a bunch of them) but I also do pick Delta for business and other flights when I do not have to. I have enough points and other choices that I could switch / status match to AA and be a top elite with them and to be honest AZO airport is not that much farther than SBN and prices are often much better. I choose to spend my money on Delta and that is value to the airline.
  • Lastly hotels. SPG has yet again this year sucked me in to get my 25 stays to be Platinum. I have canceled other bookings and switched to SPG properties. I hold one SPG card still but did cancel the second and I held them for the simple reason that each gave me 2 stay credits toward status. Will I keep going with SPG? I am not that far from lifetime GOLD so maybe but everyone keeps saying how great Hyatt is and I may have to consider a match next year at some point. Right now, I see SPG value plus the Crossover Rewards is a big factor.

Maybe we can have it both ways. But, the companies need to be careful. They can push us to get max value out of us but push too far and we will break. I do change what credit cards I use, I could switch airlines if things get bad enough, and hotels, well that is a simple move should I want to! – René

PS – Be sure to enter to WIN 15,000 MQMs this week!

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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  1. Business and customers. A delicate balance. I have flown the others and I always come back to Delta. They have been managing the balance very well with me.

  2. As a Diamond now that will drop to Gold for 2015( unless I will the 15K MQM to make Platinum ) I would stick to Delta but Work travel and ticket prices are the Key and for my main route SAN-BOS delta’s pricing has gone way above others and I am forced to use Alaska or Jet blue. 2014 I have had to shift 40K in BIS miles to Alaska just from cost and that hurts my loyalty and status.

    But I try and use Delta for Personal travel as much as I can.

  3. I trust that both the airline and its credit card issuer know what they are doing. Most offers last long enough to cause me to believe that they both make a profit on them (but just not from me…). Since the banks pay the airlines for the miles, any loss would be to the banks. Somehow I don’t have a lot of sympathy for the banks, given what they did to our economy.

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