First Person: I Am Giving Up on Frequent Flyer Programs

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I just want to save some money. Is that so bad? The problem with rebate programs is that they are not always designed to be convenient for the consumer. Granted, why would they be? Companies are not going to give their products away. Lately, airlines have been making news due to increased restrictions in their frequent flyer programs. I could see a day where these types of financial incentives no longer exist. This is why I am about to give up trying to save money with these types of programs. The hassle just isn't worth it.

Restrictions

One of the major issues has always been the restrictions placed on something like free tickets. The average consumer like me would think that every seat should be available for redemption. No such luck in a competitive society. In the future, I could see airlines squeezing out rebates to an even greater degree. When I was growing up there was an incentive to stick with one company and try to build up a bank of miles. It seems like those days are gone. From a financial standpoint, it makes sense for a consumer like me to shop around for every single travel expense. That includes airfare, hotels and rental cars. Brand loyalty is just too expense.

Infrequency

There is the cold hard reality that large companies do not build their business around the consumer that buys their products and services on an occasional basis. I am, admittedly, the infrequent leisure-based traveler. Business travel and expense accounts are not part of my life. Therefore, companies like airlines will say that they want my business, but that isn't totally true. I just don't represent enough revenue, which is why frequent flyer programs are not designed with people like me in mind.

Cash and transfers

These developments over the last couple of years don't exactly make me that upset. After all, a company doesn't owe me anything. Still, it can be frustrating when companies "nickel and dime" consumers like me. Baggage fees are obviously insulting, but the latest trend of having to pay to use miles can be very irritating. I will admit that I strongly dislike the experience I had with one airline where I had to pay a fairly steep fee in order to transfer miles between family members. It is still cheaper than buying a ticket, but should I have to pay in order to move digital data between family accounts? That seems a little greedy.

Don't get me wrong. I will still use frequent flyer and other incentive-based programs when I can. However, I don't put nearly as much effort into them as I did in the past. Soon, it may not matter. Eventually these programs may just disappear.

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