I used to like Airmiles. I thought it was great that I could get a point for every X amount of shopping money I spent. Then I went to redeem my points for a flight, and discovered that it wasn't as easy (or free) as I thought to spend my points on air travel. You see, I could only use my miles on the ticket portion of the flights. I had to pay the tax and surcharges in cold hard cash. That kinda sucked. Then there was that whole process of having to call in, wait a bazillion years to talk to an agent, and go through a booking process more rigorous than my NEXUS application. The entire ordeal of redeeming my points felt very out of my control, and my A-type self doesn't like that. Further limitations like black-out dates or restrictions on the airlines I could book were also reasons why I didn't care for Airmiles or that other one, Aeroplan.
But everyone needs a credit card, right? We have a "one card" policy in our household, because we're not big on debt. More credit card = more potential for debt. Thus, we only have the big V, and the one we happened to opt for is the Avion. Now, whenever bills come through our credit card (which they do), or we make any big ticket purchases, Hubbs and I get one point per dollar towards a flight. We also have all of that travel protection jazz and car rental insurance coverage, which is totally worth the annual $170 we pay.
When we want to redeem our points for a flight, we just go online and book it. Skipping the hassle of having to deal with being on hold is priceless, really. When we need to pay the taxes and surcharges for the flight, there's the option to do it with our remaining points or, as I prefer, we can use our credit card to pay, thereby accruing back some of the points we just cashed in. No black-out dates or airline restrictions, and for those who like doing Euro travel, there are promotional periods when you can transfer Avion points into British Airways points at a rate of 1.5x the Avion total. Not too bad, eh?
Sure, the interest rate is kind of high (22%), but that's why you pay off your cards, folks! Obviously not for the faint of heart, or those who like to make minimum payments :) But for us, it's such a good way to accrue points. Our only beef with Avion is that they haven't updated their per-flight redemption limits in quite a few years, and now that fares are going up, it's harder to find flights that don't exceed these values. This means that, unless we book on a crazy good seat sale, we still have to cough up the difference.
Avion, if you're reading this, it's time to increase those limits.
Nonetheless, our trip for 4 to Maui was completely paid for in points. What has your card done for you lately?