Although I don’t know much about their business model, and I can’t vouch for them outside my specific experience, it’s worth mentioning a service of Points.com that I’ve found useful: transferring “points” from one “loyalty program” to another.
In my case, I had a bunch of otherwise useless “Esso Extra” points, accumulated from my gas purchases. Points.com let me transfer these points to my Air Canada Aeroplan account. The benefit wasn’t huge — 1020 Esso points (about $1000 worth of gas, redeemable at Esso for a free litre of oil) earned me 204 Aeroplan miles (about 1% of the miles required for a flight from Charlottetown to Boston), I imagine that in the hands of more dedicated loyalty program gamers, the site could provide some real benefit.
Do airline plan “miles” bear any fixed relation to real miles? I’ve never done anything with my five flavors of miles, because I have no idea what they represent.
I believe that the assignment of miles bears some relation to distance — i.e. you fly 2,000 miles and you get 2,000 “miles.” But the “spending” of miles — redeeming them for actual “free” travel — bears no relation. For example, a Charlottetown to Boston Aeroplan flight costs 15,000 miles.
That’s horrible. I much prefer the straight 1% kickback my credit card gives me. Still, I guess it’s that or nothing when you fly, so it’s silly of me not to collect the miles, to the extent it’s easy. But not knowing what miles are worth or how quickly they expire, I’ve always picked flights from whatever airline is selling that trip the cheapest. My points or miles are scattered to the four winds, if I have any left.