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Majority of Travelers Say Points & Miles Essential To “Taking the Caliber of Trips They Do”

A new study by Barclay’s US Consumer Bank shows collecting points and miles is at an all-time high, with at least 76% of travelers enrolled in a program and crediting them for “the caliber of trips” they take every year.
If it’s getting harder to find quality award space on flights and at hotels, one of the reasons could be because more travelers are using points and miles to improve their quality of travel.


The discovery was one of several found by the Barclays U.S. Consumer Bank’s 2024 Travel Rewards and Loyalty Report, released on May 20, 2024.


Travelers Expect More Personal Travel, See Points as the Key to Get There

It should come as no surprise that most U.S. travelers are enrolled in a loyalty program – 77% say they are currently in one, while 89% were in one in at least one point in their lives. Moreover, 76% say they “can’t imagine taking the caliber of trips they do” without the use of their points and miles.


With points and miles collections getting bigger, more Americans say they want to travel more in the next 12 months. 77.2% of respondents say they are going to do more travel, while 73% say it’s going to be for pleasure instead of business.


So, what do travelers love about loyalty programs? 70% of travelers said the ability to use and redeem points and miles is the best benefit, while 58% they appreciate the lower costs, which includes reduced fees or guaranteed lower rates. Earning perks and status was the third most popular benefit, giving flyers the chance to earn free checked bags or priority boarding. An improved travel experience, including lounge access, was the top benefit for 51% of travelers, while only 29% said the top benefit was access to concerts and events.


As miles and points are becoming more popular, one would believe that travelers would have a better strategy in earning free trips using credit cards. Unfortunately, that’s not the case just yet. Only 37% enrolled say they have a strategic approach to earning miles, while only one-in-three are using their travel credit cards for day-to-day purchases. Although that’s a comparatively low number, Barclays says that is an increase of 27% compared to 2023.


It should come as no surprise that the majority of travelers are using airline miles and hotel points towards discounted travel. Two-thirds of travelers burned airline miles last year, while 60% used hotel points for free rooms. Only 37% used car rental points for free days, while 26% used points associated with cruise lines.


Those points are most commonly being used for travel within North America, with 72% planning travel within the United States. Europe is the second most common destination, with 29% planning a trip across the Atlantic. At least 22% of travelers said they were planning to visit Canada, Mexico, or The Caribbean.


You can read the full report here.


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jimatems May 21, 2024

I'd been top tier with several airlines from the earliest days of frequent flyer programs more than 40 years ago. I earned the status by flying (a lot). I still fly a lot but have the same loyalty to the airlines that they now have for passengers - none.

The airlines are no longer in the flying business. They are  credit card brokers. Worse yet, it's a con game in which those "miles" depreciate faster than Weimar (pre-WWII German) marks. Anyone who chooses a mileage credit card over a money-back card is foolish. 

Danwriter May 21, 2024

After 17 years as EXP on AA I stopped chasing miles five years ago, when the airlines switched from miles to money for elite status. Since then, my manra has been: fly less, buy F. No more chasing mostly chimeric upgrades, as the number of miles/points needed for rewards constantly increases and availability constantly diminishes.