Americans still want to travel, even after the 2022 “revenge-travel” craze. A survey by Going, a travel deal service, found that 68% of 3,274 respondents plan to spend more money on international travel in 2023 compared to 2022.
But there is a problem. Travelers are also going bankrupt. According to the same survey, the No. According to the same survey, money was the No. 1 barrier to traveling this year. While inflation can zap budgets and consumers continue to rack up credit card debt at an alarming rate, dream vacations may end in their wake.
Are you ready to start using your credit card points, airline miles, and hotel reward points? Although it might seem like it, actually using those points can be a challenge. It’s one thing to earn travel rewards with credit cards and spend on travel. Redeeming them successfully is another.
Consumers are confused
According to a survey of 2,041 Americans by iSeatz (a loyalty program service provider), 84% of travelers cited issues with user experience as their greatest frustration when using travel rewards. The second survey, which was conducted by the same company, asked 291 loyalty programme service providers to share their perceptions of their greatest challenges. Only 20% identified user experience as their most pressing problem.
It seems that travelers are tired of the inability to use loyalty programs. The programs don’t know this is a problem.
Flying in business class to international destinations is one way to maximize American Airlines AAdvantage points, especially with partner airlines like Japan Airlines. The American website and app have a confusing mixture of viewing and filtering options. Users must either view each day individually to search for award availability, or use a larger calendar view that does not allow filtering by specific airlines.
It would make the process more efficient if you could add filters such as “business class” and “Japan Airlines”, to the calendar view, so it only displays relevant dates. Users are instead forced to manually search through a sparsely populated award calendar.
Travel rewards programs are notorious for their unfriendly user interfaces. You can transfer credit card points to an airline which flies to Hawaii. It’s difficult to find any assistance on the credit card website. Travelers should instead spend their time researching and searching for redemption options via third-party websites or message boards.
No incentive to improve
These loyalty programs can be a big business opportunity for travel brands. On Point Loyalty, an advisor firm, recently estimated that these programs are worth tens to billions.
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles: $28 billion.
American Airlines AAdvantage: $24 Billion
United Airlines MileagePlus: $22 Billion
It’s not that these programs are unable to hire a user interface designer (20 or more) to improve their search tools. They have a strong incentive for travelers to sign up for their rewards program, but not to get them spending their points.
It’s also difficult to hold these programs responsible for poor user experiences. NerdWallet reviews annual airline and hotel program ratings based on dozens of factors. These include the value of points and miles, as well as the selection of movies available onboard. It’s difficult to determine the user-friendliness and accept responsibility for poor experiences.
All is not lost
The status quo is unlikely to change, but frustrated consumers have options. Point.Me, a third-party service, offers custom award search tools as well as concierge services to assist travelers in spending their points. Although these services are not free, they can help travelers see the truth and provide clear instructions on how to spend their miles.
It’s possible to avoid most of the travel loyalty headaches by making things easy. Although booking domestic flights or using credit cards points to book travel through a portal rather than transferring to partners might not be as glamorous, these options make it easy to book.
When it comes to travel rewards using the miles and points is a win.
Maximizing your Rewards
A travel credit card should be able to prioritize what is most important to you. These are our top picks for the best travel cards in 2023, as well as those that work best for: