Airline loyalty programs are notoriously confusing. They are constantly changing the rules, and it’s hard to know what your miles and points are actually worth. Brian Kelly, aka The Points Guy whose website focuses on credit cards rewards, stopped by Yahoo Finance to share some tips on how to maximize your travel experience.
It’s a great time to be a traveler, but that doesn’t mean it’s a great time to show airline loyalty. Over the past couple of years, many airlines have switched their miles-based loyalty programs to revenue-based systems. This means you have to spend more money to earn miles and status. Currently, the Alaska Airlines Mileage plan is the only program still using a mileage based program.
By and large, loyalty programs offer superior customer service, so if you’re an elite member who travels often, the perks could be worth it. Other travelers should take a serious look at their habits to determine if their time and money could be better spent somewhere else.
“For most people at the low or mid-tier, it doesn’t make sense,” said Kelly. “Don’t pay more to fly an airline in hopes of extracting some of what you’re paying out later. That’s a fool’s errand.”
Kelly also points out that airlines are selling more and more perks piecemeal, so you can still get loyalty perks without the commitment. For instance, now you can pay to get upgraded or select a premium seat without having to be an elite member.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.