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The beginning of the end of travel rewards?

The beginning of the end of travel rewards?

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Old Jan 28, 19, 7:49 am
  #61  
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Originally Posted by joer1212 View Post
Actually, nothing worked for me in the way it had in the past. I simply settled for less.
But doesn't trying App-o-Ramas that just keeping failing (1 out of 7 approved) just make it harder to get approved by banks who count inquiries?

It's still working for me in that I only apply for a handful of cards a year, one at a time, and am still getting approved for almost all of them. But I only apply for "real value" bonuses, I don't bother with the typical low cashback bonus or low points bonus.

In fact, I detoured to virtually-only business cards a couple years ago (to get below 5/24 at Chase), and that worked for me, with only one bank (FNBO) not wanting to give me a business card. And while I'm getting closer now to running out of business cards that I want with good bonuses, I've reached my 1/24 goal.

So it depends how hard you were pushing that might determine how much this has changed for you in recent years. For me it's changed a bit regarding which cards I have to do in what order, but it hasn't changed my strategy of only applying for high-value bonuses and doing all spend "organically" and of "spacing out" card applications. And so after more than dozen years, I'm still spending most of each year putting "other spend" on minimum spend requirements, only on "real" points or miles (no cash back, hardly ever even cash-back equivalent)..
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Old Jan 28, 19, 8:02 am
  #62  
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I think these programs have been victims of their own success. I started the miles and points game in 2008, getting serious in 2011 or 2012. In 2008, I hadn't stumbled across bloggers or FT yet, and the airline programs and the benefits were confusing and complicated to me, an occasional leisure traveler. I remember talking on the phone with an airline rep and trying to figure out what the heck status was and why I would want it. I hung up thinking that it was unimportant to me. That in the day when credit card spend counted and we had a huge monthly overhead that could be paid by credit cards for no fee. (face palm!)

By 2012, I was staying up reading the blogs and FT and my eyes were opened to the possibilities. My ambitions were still modest... a trip a year would be great, and my miles and points earnings were on track for that modest goal. I was still somewhat risk adverse... I never did the multiple browser tricks and was cautious in many other areas. Many of the bloggers that I followed were brand new or relatively new. Several that I read regularly didn't even have affiliate links yet. As a group, they were very creative and not much slipped by. Opportunities were plentiful.
Yes, those were the days!

By 2015/2016, the recession was well behind us, blogosphere had exploded, and it was dawning on the banks and airlines that their programs were vulnerable to serious exploitation. Yes, the party is basically over for the ambitious. But it still works great for the person, couple or family with the aspiration of a trip or two a year. The banks and airlines can't make it too hard or they lose the participation of the everyday credit card user. I see this as more of a problem for the airlines. If you can't get an award seat, why bother with miles when you can, simply and easily, get 1-2% in cash back on a bank card with no hoops to jump through. IMO- The banks are the airlines stiffest competition.
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Old Jan 28, 19, 8:35 am
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Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
Yes, there are FTers, but I don't know if they'll come to this thread.

If you read all the threads in airline forums for people discussing and asking for help with booking saver tickets, there you'll find that some people are only looking for coach tickets TATL/TPAC. If all you look is threads about people churning cards to no end, maybe you don't see the same thing.

Keep in mind that not all FTers know how to get an "infinite" number of miles/points. For example, some want to travel with a family of 5, and just can get enough for coach for 5 TATL roundtrips, and then are still plagued with the trouble of getting 5 coach saver awards on the very same flights.

Also, it depends how people deal with sleep, and their size. Short people who sleep easily even if sitting upright may have a lot fewer issues with flying economy than taller people who have trouble sleeping upright.
I tend to fly Economy on all my flights (even US - Asia), as I have a family of 4 and prefer getting multiple free Y tickets than fewer J tickets and then purchasing the rest, even though "value" of J/F is much higher. For me, the value is in saving money on flight tickets than spending it on J/F on a flight, then spending that money on side trips etc etc. I feel the value of J/F is also sometimes pretty notional since not sure many would really purchase those fares for $5-6k, but till I learn the tricks of raking in a lot of points thru CC, I will be doing Y flights and am ok with that.
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Old Jan 28, 19, 12:42 pm
  #64  
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Originally Posted by abhilife2001 View Post
I tend to fly Economy on all my flights (even US - Asia), as I have a family of 4 and prefer getting multiple free Y tickets than fewer J tickets and then purchasing the rest, even though "value" of J/F is much higher. For me, the value is in saving money on flight tickets than spending it on J/F on a flight, then spending that money on side trips etc etc. I feel the value of J/F is also sometimes pretty notional since not sure many would really purchase those fares for $5-6k, but till I learn the tricks of raking in a lot of points thru CC, I will be doing Y flights and am ok with that.
For me, I've already visited Asia several times and I'm going back again in a few months. So, in my case, it's not as if I have some burning need to go back to Asia. The dread of having to pinch my knees up to my chest for ~15 hours outweighs the benefits of seeing sights that I've already seen.
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Old Jan 28, 19, 2:58 pm
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Originally Posted by kapooncha View Post
For me, I've already visited Asia several times and I'm going back again in a few months. So, in my case, it's not as if I have some burning need to go back to Asia. The dread of having to pinch my knees up to my chest for ~15 hours outweighs the benefits of seeing sights that I've already seen.
I look at it this way.. do I want to have 1 trip fully paid for but in J or two fully paid trips in Y.. I tend towards Y but it maybe just me.
And this may also be because, thanks to my company policy, I anyway's don't travel in J so have not used to that comfort anyway (other than sundry op-ups) !
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Old Jan 29, 19, 1:20 pm
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Here's an article that has, I think, a better take on all this. I think New York Magazine allows a few views without pay? (I'm a subscriber.)

Banks Don’t Like Paying You So Many Credit Card Rewards — But They Will

https://nym.ag/2TpCWvi

The gist of it is that rewards will continue, although perhaps with less generosity (they've already had to pull back on things like unlimited PP guests for Sapphire Reserve). Merchants are really the ones paying for our rewards, through transaction fees. Lots of stuff I didn't know: for instance, Signature Visa cards charge merchants a higher transaction fee than regular Visa, but Visa Corp. requires merchants to accept all or nothing. There's currently a lawsuit by merchants trying to allow them to defeat these requirements and allow them to choose exactly which cards they accept. The big credit card vendors (including Amex) are actually getting together to discuss how to deal with the rewards situation (sounds like that should be a huge anti-trust violation, but I'm not a lawyer). Amazon may be on the verge of switching to a one-brand-only policy like Costco, in order to control transaction fee expenses (OK by me, since I'm buying Amazon gift cards at the grocery story anyway).

The sky is not falling, but the landscape is ever changing.
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Old Jan 29, 19, 3:52 pm
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Interesting how so many here have used the phrase "the sky is not falling." And that has me curious as to what you all think would constitute "the sky is falling?" Would the banks have to completely eliminate rewards for you to think the sky is falling?
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Old Jan 29, 19, 4:24 pm
  #68  
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Originally Posted by kapooncha View Post
Interesting how so many here have used the phrase "the sky is not falling." And that has me curious as to what you all think would constitute "the sky is falling?" Would the banks have to completely eliminate rewards for you to think the sky is falling?
Significant reductions in interchange in the US (or card acceptance due to merchants gaining the right to discriminate based on card type) would likely do it for me. At that point, the game basically ends.
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Old Jan 29, 19, 4:53 pm
  #69  
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
Amazon may be on the verge of switching to a one-brand-only policy like Costco, in order to control transaction fee expenses (OK by me, since I'm buying Amazon gift cards at the grocery story anyway)
I doubt it. Why would they then be constantly offering deals where you get a sizable one-time discount by partially paying for your purchases with either Amex MR points or Chase UR points? And while I don't know of promos related to it, they also let you pay with Citi ThankYou points. Most of those options would disappear if they went with only one card from one bank.

Costco is a much more specialized retailer than Amazon, given that it requires a membership. If Amazon suddenly started only accepting Amazon credit cards from Chase, that might be the end of Amazon's dominance. If Amazon's possible competitors started advertising that they still accept all major credit cards, can't you just see the erosion of customers from Amazon? Does Amazon want to become the Myspace equivalent in the online shopping world?

With Amazon's might, a more likely scenario I see is that they come to an agreement with certain banks to allow surcharges for certain cards at Amazon (even if those surcharges are not allowed by those banks anywhere else), and then the most that you'd get is "the price goes up $x.xx with this card, do you want to continue or choose another card? or "the price would go down $x.xx if you paid with card Y; do you want to pay with card Y instead?".
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Old Jan 29, 19, 5:41 pm
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Originally Posted by abhilife2001 View Post
I look at it this way.. do I want to have 1 trip fully paid for but in J or two fully paid trips in Y.. I tend towards Y but it maybe just me.
And this may also be because, thanks to my company policy, I anyway's don't travel in J so have not used to that comfort anyway (other than sundry op-ups) !
30 years ago I would have made the same choice. But I think there are several factors that go into the decision including your age (and relative ability to handle cramped seats), length of flights, how you earn miles (i.e. through actual flying, by credit card bonus, or by CC spend) and financial situation, as well as your personal EQM requirements for status. For me it's a holistic approach - my preference is to save miles and use them for a J TATL flight (65-70k one-way on UA) but I am loathe to pay $$$ to fly during peak season.

Originally Posted by kapooncha View Post
Interesting how so many here have used the phrase "the sky is not falling." And that has me curious as to what you all think would constitute "the sky is falling?" Would the banks have to completely eliminate rewards for you to think the sky is falling?
No - as noted above there are two critical factors:
(1) Conversion to a fixed value (a la WN or B6) would completely eliminate any incentive to use a card that earns miles (as the earn is usually less than you'd receive with a cash back card), or
(2) Elimination of TATL and TPAC saver award seat inventory for peak travel, i.e. summer (it's pretty challenging now, but not impossible).
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Old Jan 29, 19, 6:36 pm
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Originally Posted by mia View Post
The app-o-rama has not been a productive card application strategy since about 2015. In 2016 you started this thread with the same sky-is-falling theme:

The Future of the App-o-Rama & Credit Card Churning

What did work for you in 2016 - 2018?
The sky's been falling for a long time. Good thing there's lots of sky.

Seriously, if you are 1/7 on applying for CCs, the problem is that you are doing something wrong. When you apply for a credit card, you should more or less know if you will be approved. Applying for cards where you have no chance of being approved only hurts you. Of course nothing is 100%, but if you are 1/7 you should probably reconsider your strategy.

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Old Jan 29, 19, 7:58 pm
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Originally Posted by sdsearch View Post
I doubt it. Why would they then be constantly offering deals where you get a sizable one-time discount by partially paying for your purchases with either Amex MR points or Chase UR points? And while I don't know of promos related to it, they also let you pay with Citi ThankYou points. Most of those options would disappear if they went with only one card from one bank.

Costco is a much more specialized retailer than Amazon, given that it requires a membership. If Amazon suddenly started only accepting Amazon credit cards from Chase, that might be the end of Amazon's dominance. If Amazon's possible competitors started advertising that they still accept all major credit cards, can't you just see the erosion of customers from Amazon? Does Amazon want to become the Myspace equivalent in the online shopping world?

With Amazon's might, a more likely scenario I see is that they come to an agreement with certain banks to allow surcharges for certain cards at Amazon (even if those surcharges are not allowed by those banks anywhere else), and then the most that you'd get is "the price goes up $x.xx with this card, do you want to continue or choose another card? or "the price would go down $x.xx if you paid with card Y; do you want to pay with card Y instead?".
I'm just reporting what's in the story. They are "constantly offering deals" currently; that has no relevance for what they might do in the future. That argument holds no water. The author notes that because so many Amazon customers are Prime members, they are in a sense like Costco members, and thus more willing to submit to such limits. It's to Amazon's advantage because Bezos could negotiate much better transaction fees in return for exclusivity. The author also discussed the possibility of offering "discounts" for the use of some cards as opposed to others; this is already legal in a limited way, and depending on the outcome of this lawsuit, could become widespread.
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Old Jan 30, 19, 10:42 am
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Originally Posted by hotturnip View Post
I'm just reporting what's in the story. They are "constantly offering deals" currently; that has no relevance for what they might do in the future. That argument holds no water. The author notes that because so many Amazon customers are Prime members, they are in a sense like Costco members, and thus more willing to submit to such limits. It's to Amazon's advantage because Bezos could negotiate much better transaction fees in return for exclusivity. The author also discussed the possibility of offering "discounts" for the use of some cards as opposed to others; this is already legal in a limited way, and depending on the outcome of this lawsuit, could become widespread.
Prime is already losing its luster for me with the prices increasing and service declining (in particular the “Prime 2-day shipping” often being more than 2 days without explanation). If they stopped taking my credit card of choice, I’m canceling, and I think a lot of others will too. Accepting a variety of credit cards is necessary to be competitive; I can’t imagine they’d shoot themselves in the foot like that.
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Old Jan 30, 19, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by strickerj View Post
Prime is already losing its luster for me with the prices increasing and service declining (in particular the “Prime 2-day shipping” often being more than 2 days without explanation). If they stopped taking my credit card of choice, I’m canceling, and I think a lot of others will too. Accepting a variety of credit cards is necessary to be competitive; I can’t imagine they’d shoot themselves in the foot like that.
Prime as a service has been gradually eroding for us over time. It's a shame, because it had made us loyal customers of Amazon to the point where we hardly look at other retailers. Seems like it was an easy win-win relationship.

I'm not sure if a credit card limitation would cause me to leave. I'd try to get Amazon credit (gift cards, etc.) at a discount at first, but I would be hyperaware of a stealth price increase through a lack of rewards and any inability to recover that value would make me less loyal to Amazon. And frankly, just the act of making it less convenient increases the odds that I'll start looking elsewhere again.

It wouldn't be an instant cancel-the-service thing for me, but it would be a reminder that Amazon isn't the only game in town and that someone else might start running promotions and trying to capture my business. Target or even good ol' eBay would be back in the game, whereas they are not now - so long as my product is available on Prime.
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Old Jan 30, 19, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Prime as a service has been gradually eroding for us over time. It's a shame, because it had made us loyal customers of Amazon to the point where we hardly look at other retailers. Seems like it was an easy win-win relationship.

I'm not sure if a credit card limitation would cause me to leave. I'd try to get Amazon credit (gift cards, etc.) at a discount at first, but I would be hyperaware of a stealth price increase through a lack of rewards and any inability to recover that value would make me less loyal to Amazon. And frankly, just the act of making it less convenient increases the odds that I'll start looking elsewhere again.

It wouldn't be an instant cancel-the-service thing for me, but it would be a reminder that Amazon isn't the only game in town and that someone else might start running promotions and trying to capture my business. Target or even good ol' eBay would be back in the game, whereas they are not now - so long as my product is available on Prime.
The cynic in me wonders if that wasn’t the intent all along - get people hooked on the stellar service, drive out the competition, and the gradually dial it back (but not so abruptly that you get an exodus of customers). The thing is, the competition has stepped up too, and I often find just as good a selection and prices and better quality info at specialty stores. (For instance, I bought a camera from B&H rather than Amazon because there was more detail on the product description and in the reviews). And speaking of reviews... that was a game-changer that Amazon pioneered. Now they’ve been flooded with shady Chinese merchants selling knockoff products that spam their own pages with fake 5-star reviews, to the point where you can’t trust any of them.

I realize I’m off on a tangent here, but I think the proliferation of unvetted third party merchants will ultimately be Amazon’s undoing, and I’m seeing other retailers (eBay, Walmart, Newegg, etc.) blindly following suit rather than recognizing they can differentiate themselves here. Add to that a company as rich as Amazon trying to pinch pennies by reducing their accepted payment methods (or pushing customers to their co-branded credit card), and that’d be the last straw for me.
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