iDine/Rewards Network - Is iDine a better value than the airline and hotel programs?
Oct 8, 10, 3:34 pm
The more I think about it, the more attractive the cash back program looks compared (at least) to the HHonors and Mileage Plus programs to which I belong.
Let's compare what you get for spending $1000 in a year.
- With the cashback program, you get $100 ($12.5 for the first $250, $50 for the next 500, and $37.5 for the last $250).
- With HHonors, you'd get 8000 points as a VIP member.
- With United, you'd get 5000 miles as a VIP member.
As far as I can tell, $100 is worth much more than 8000 HHonors points, since you need 25000 points for a category 3 night and the room rates are much less than $300. Similarly, I think $100 is worth more than 5000 miles, since you need 25000 miles at least for a flight and many flights cost less than $500.
For the airline and hotel programs to be a greater value, I think you'd need to get at least a 50% bonus on all dollars spent.
The biggest drawback I am seeing with the cashback program is that it now gives an American Express® Reward Card rather than cash. I cannot tell if there are fees on these cards.
Oct 9, 10, 9:06 am
I doubt there are fees, and you could enroll those cards in your idine account.
Oct 9, 10, 8:56 pm
I was a longtime Cash member. I agree with your assessment: if you are a frequent diner, you come out ahead on the cash. In my heavier business-travel days, I simply did it because I was so awash in miles and points. The NPV of a little bit of green in my pocket right then was greater than throwing a few more AA miles on a huge pile of them to be used years later.
Only reason I quit is because I wasn't traveling as much and then I noticed most of the member restaurants that I actually liked were leaving the program. Now, I'm happy to earn a few thousand AA miles per year by accident - I don't really even think about iDine anymore. It's such a hollow shell of what it used to be...
Oct 10, 10, 7:13 am
Well, the thing is, you're comparing iDine earning after you've reached the amount of spend to get to the highest cash back level, but you're not factoring in the occasional promos at airline and hotel programs, which may be able to earn you much more than normal there (but only at certain times of year). If you go for those promos, but then as a result of that don't have enough spend on the cashback to get to the highest level, that could completely reverse the relative value of each.
And the more different airline programs you collect with, the more likely it is that you'll be spending a greater amount of each year with one or another of them offering a bonus.
Did the cashback version have a "double cashback" bonus for Mon/Tue/Wed dines for much of this year (through mid-August) the way many airlines had double miles for that?
Did the cashback version have a Dine, Then Dash bonus in the 2nd quarter the way United did? I earned 1500 bonus UA miles from that, though I don't remember the specifics of the promo. I earned lots more bonus UA miles from sort of Double bonus in the 1st quarter, but again I can't recall the specifics of that promotion.
But then I dont think UA has had another bonus since mid-August. So would you have gotten enough spend to get to the top cashback level if you had only used the cashback program from mid-August until now, for example?
Oct 10, 10, 7:19 pm
You can enroll one card (or more) in each program, as long as different cards of course, and select to earn what is best during that particular period.
Oct 12, 10, 7:40 am
This goes to the much longer threads of what are miles worth (to you). Personally, I value miles at between .01 and .025 to acquire, (ie you can buy 100,000 miles per year at .022 per mile, aprox), and tent to spend them on international business class, where I value them at about .05 each.
If you dine out a lot, or very expensivly, then Idine is worth .14-.15 per dollar spent. With the miles, it varies as to the promotions. My primary program is AA, so the deals have been between 5 miles per dollar (when I use Idine), 10 miles, and 20 miles. There have also been 500 mile bonus's available.
In summary, I tend to get miles at 10 miles per dollar spent or above, and $'s at 5 miles spent. In the past few years, it's generally been miles.
However, if I was just getting started, I might just try to get in the 10-12 or so dines you need to get to the highest level, before the next promotion starts. You might get there by splitting checks........ (and lots of other tricks you can learn from the forums.)