Points & Miles Will Matter More In A Post Covid-19 World…
There can be a disconnect between the worlds of travel, points and miles, where points obsessed travelers care more about the flying journey than where they’re actually going.
Hey, it’s not every day you get to experience a shower at 40,000 feet while sipping Dom Perignon using points, so it’s somewhat understandable. In a post covid-19 world, “where” will matter even more, but getting there, or not going at all may come down to points, with fewer flights and countries limiting access to protect resources. For some, points and miles could be all the difference in going, or not.
The TL:DR Version
As we move into a new normal, won’t you care more about the extra space on board or at your accommodation when you get there? That quickly gets expensive, and your credit card points or airline miles are the best out.
It’s no secret that the world of travel is headed back into a direction of classism not experienced in decades. Think pre-iceberg Titanic, with people sipping caviar and socially distancing up top, and huddled masses down below sharing bowls of slop, with one spoon. Actually, think places where unless you’d be on the upper deck, you’ll really struggle to get there at all.
To protect natural resources, help locals recover and prevent second or third waves of this awful pandemic, many tourism boards are looking to limit flights, cruises and overnight accommodation options to make travel more exclusive and attract a new, sustainable version of travel.
That’s not every destination, but many of the most sought after destinations will become more exclusive than ever as the world looks to mitigate risk going forward. While cheap flights aren’t going anywhere, if demand rebounds and fewer planes, trains, cruises or people are allowed into certain destination,s that’s absolutely going to create a textbook case of supply and demand, with limited supply and higher demand driving higher prices.
It’s unlikely that a perfect socially distant solution to airport security, check in our other features of the journey will be ironed out anytime soon, but that makes the added space on the plane all the more valuable. For travelers who were happy enough with economy, or premium, points and miles will be the key to unlock the big upgrade or points redemption which gets you up front from the start.
Coughing up $5,000 per person for an international first, or business class ticket is no small feat for most of the world, but earning points from home, which can make that ticket cost just a few dollars in cash is something just about anyone could pull off. With rewards credit card bonuses north of 50,000 points, just two cards could earn someone a round trip.
Hotels? Same story.
I don’t know about you, but in a world recovering from covid-19, I’m not all that thrilled by the idea of mega hotels and love the idea of villas, or small boutique luxury hotels with guests few and far between – literally. Hotel points can be the difference in spending 25,000 points a night earned from your year of buying groceries and the many other necessities, or paying $750 per night, in a time where that’s not all that easy for many, at all.
If you’re already earning points en masse, full speed ahead, captain!
If however you’ve been on the fence about whether it’s all worth it or not, it’s really more worth it than ever, as odd as that may seem in a world without travel right now. With travel in the dumps, airlines and hotels will actually let you use points when and how you want, at least a lot more than they did when business was booming.
With a full recovery not expected for three years, that gives you three years to enjoy better than average ability to redeem points on your terms, at prices you can come to terms with. Without the ability to easily hop or a plane or lay down on a hotel bed, the quickest way forward is via rewards credit cards.
The best way to start out in the credit card rewards world is with a card that gives you the option of turning your points into miles with a variety of airlines, or to use as cash for travel and other purchases. Think of it like a Swiss Army Knife, rather than just a pair of scissors.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred card currently offers a 60,000 point welcome bonus and only a $95 annual fee. Earning is strong, points can be converted into lots of different types of miles and you can always use them as cash for travel, if needed.
Citi Premier is another fantastic intro choice, which from August 23rd will offer 3X points on flights, hotels, supermarkets, restaurants and gas stations. That means a $1000 purchase would earn 300 points on any of the above categories.
Amex Gold is another slightly higher than entry level offering, which included 4X on restaurant and supermarket spending and 3X on flights booked with airlines. In addition, there’s fee credits for things like Seamless food delivery.
The reason these, or perhaps all three are good choices is that many of the loyalty programs you can transfer your points to are shared across all three. If you wanted to fly with Singapore Air, or Virgin Atlantic, you could convert points from all the banks into one of those loyalty programs, among others.
Fair Or Not, It’s Reality
Few things in life are fair, and travel becoming more elitist is just another one of them. The difference maker is that even people with limited incomes can travel in extraordinary ways thanks to learning how to maximize points and of course, actually starting to earn them.
If you have places you want to go, and specific ways you want to see them, it’s going to be a lot more fun to rely on points to unlock these experiences going forward than cash. Many of the most bucket list destinations are going to get more expensive, but you won’t mind nearly as much if you flew first class to get there, on points.