Points Are Gonna Be Worth A Lot More & A Lot Less This Summer…At The Same Time
I have been talking about the rough return to travel quite a bit lately. This week I wrote about the airline terminals still being somewhat shuttered which caused lines and backups everywhere we went. But I have noticed another trend that I think will make some of our points the most valuable they have ever been but other points near worthless this summer. I know that sounds contradictory, but it really isn’t. It is all because cash prices for travel are shooting to the moon and the value of your points will be dependent on the system they live in.
Hotel Points – Super Valuable
I think your hotel points are going to be worth a lot more than normal this summer. Well, at least in the more popular destinations. I saw $350 rooms in Alaska for a Hyatt Place on a Tuesday night (12,000 World of Hyatt points a night). A buddy stayed at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island this weekend and rooms were listed at $1200 (70,000 Bonvoy points a night).
Every where I have looked to book this summer has seen prices well above normal. Florida is bananas, as is Vegas on the weekends. Everyone wants to go to Alaska and Hawaii, so guess what, cash prices are through the roof there too. It goes on and on. But it appears people are willing to pay it because hotels are at or near capacity often these days.
The one really good thing about hotel programs, for the most part, is that they have award charts. No matter what the cash price does they normally stay in the same price range for award redemptions. Because of that when cash prices shoot up, you win! The examples I shared above are two to three times what I would normally expect to get for those points. And I think we will see this time and time again over the next several months. Those free night certificates everyone is sitting on just turned into gold as well, assuming there is standard award space available.
Airline Miles – Worth A Lot Less
On the other side of the coin you have airline miles. Most of these have gone to a dynamic pricing based redemption and ditched their award charts. That means that as cash prices go up so does the cost in miles. There are still sweet spots to be had but it is getting tougher and tougher, hi American Airlines.
On top of that when you do find award space that is good they are often labeling it a web special or putting it in a different fare bucket so that you can’t use partner miles. Have you tried booking Delta with Virgin Atlantic or American with British Airways Avios lately? Good luck there! I used to have no problem finding both for short flights from Detroit Metro to LaGuardia Airport and now there is practically nothing.
Many of us like to save our airline miles for international business or first class. That tends to pump up the valuations of airline miles some because prices can be so high. But with less options available for international exploration we are more domestic focused these days and the value just isn’t there domestically like it is internationally. And for some reason US airlines tend to follow more of an award chart for international travel than they do for their bread and butter domestic travel.
Coming out of the pandemic we are seeing some really interesting travel trends. Leisure travel is through the roof while business travel is still severely lacking. Combine that with the fact that the capacity available is still a lot lower than pre pandemic and we are seeing packed hotels and airplanes. This is driving prices through the stratosphere for hotels and flights. But, that is only a good thing for static award charts. That means some of your miles and points are going to be worth a ton more than normal this summer and others are gonna continue to collect dust unless you want to take less value.