Thursday, November 7, 2013

Stay Calm and Carry On - MileagePlus Changes Hurt But Don’t Overreact

There’s an old adage in the PR business – only put bad news out on a Friday. That’s exactly what United Airlines did last Friday when they announced sweeping changes to their MileagePlus program and a significant increase in the number of points required for flights on their airline and any of their Star Alliance partner airlines.

Reaction to the news was predictable.  Scores of members took to social media channels to voice their displeasure.  And while many threatened to boycott the airline or cash out their MileagePlus accounts for greener pastures, I take a different view.

Since it’s highly unlikely United will reverse their decision, the only logical next step is to fight fire with fire and turbocharge your earning potential. 

Let me explain.  Ask the majority of frequent travelers how they earn the bulk of their miles and they’ll point to the flight and hotel bookings they make each year.  Some will reference the affiliate credit cards and partner deals such as car rentals and online shopping. But one reward category that continues to be undervalued is the bonus miles associated in all aspects of mileage earning possibilities.

Follow the Money
According to loyalty marketing research firm Colloquy, of the $48 billion worth of points and miles issued annually in the U.S., as much as 40 per cent are made up of bonus points. 

While impressive, I believe the number could be twice as high if more frequent travellers took advantage of the bonus miles available through reward programs. The challenge is many of these bonus offers have limitations, are difficult to find or hard to remember particularly when they appear in the form of an ill-timed email alert.

Seek and You Shall Find
Thanks to sites like ours, there a numerous ways to stay on top of offers. Plus, I find those who discover great bonus deals are all the more willing to share tips with fellow members of the collector community. For more than eight years I’ve run FrequentFlyerBonuses.com and have seen a considerable spike in traffic as more engaged collectors discover the power of bonus miles. Right now we’re tracking dozens of MileagePlus offers at http://www.frequentflyerbonuses.com/mileageplus.html and numerous partner deals but the best advice is to keep checking back.

Changes to reward programs are inevitable and it is a vicious cycle, we earn more miles, they raise redemption rates which leads us to finding avenues to earn even more miles and so on. Rather than throw in the towel, fight back by earning even more miles. And when you find a great deal – spread the word.

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