Credit card miles likely to lose value as travel surges

Here's why and what expert is advising

Michael Finney Image
Monday, June 14, 2021
Credit card miles likely to lose value as travel surges
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers racked up airline reward miles through shopping and staying home. Now, experts advise using them before they lose their value.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Liz Alvarez works on her travel deal all year round, telling 7 on Your Side's Michael Finney, "I have my rewards card through Alaska Airlines and I use it on certain purchases, to make sure I get miles and keep my miles that I have, active."

Like most of us during the pandemic Alvarez didn't travel, so her Alaska miles piled up. A couple months back she started counting down the days till when she could book next year's travel to Mexico.

"I think it was in April, because we go to Puerto Vallarta every year, we have a timeshare down there," Alvarez says.

RELATED: Consumers leave rewards on the table when they don't use credit card points

That booking strategy was genius and here's why: during the pandemic, while we were working and staying at home, we kept earning miles and points by shopping online and having meals and groceries delivered. This while airports and hotels were empty and flights were flying half-full. Miles were going out; not many were being spent.

Ted Ross knows about this. He is senior industry analyst for

RELATED: QUICK TIP: Which hotels have the best rewards?

"These travel companies have clearly suffered over the past year, and while they're bouncing back there's a lot of points and miles in the system," Ross says. "I think that they're going to be looking to liquidate those miles at ratios that are more favorable to them, so it underscores the point that you should use these rewards sooner rather than later. They're unlikely to get more valuable over time; in fact, they will probably lose value."

Not only that, Ross says it could get trickier to use our points: "Sometimes you run into various blackout dates and other kind of rules and regulations."

Bottom line for miles and points? Book soon, book often.

RELATED: Thinking of traveling soon? Expert shares tips on how to navigate pandemic travel

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