Traveling to the UK isn’t exactly my cup of tea, but back when Chase ran the 100,000 miles offer for the British Airways credit card, I applied because it was simply too good to pass up.
These BA miles (which have since been renamed Avios points) are quite flexible because they can be used not only on British Airways, but also partners like American Airlines. However one year later, I’m still stuck with 100k (now 108k). Why? Because I haven’t had time to go on vacation and don’t foresee my schedule clearing up anytime soon.
So I was contemplating ways to sell or trade these Avios points… and that’s when I came across Points.com. In a nutshell, it’s a website where you can trade (and buy) frequent flyer miles, credit card points, and rewards from other loyalty programs.This is my personal review of Points.com. I signed up there to give this thing a whirl. The initial enrollment was fairly painless, asking the usual questions like name, email, etc.
After you are logged in you are directed to the main dashboard screen…
As you see there’s kind of a lot going on in the screen and to be honest, it was bit overwhelming at first glance. But I quickly figured out what everything was.
Your Balances = If you want to track your miles and credit card points, you can use the “Add Programs” menu on the right and register the ones you participate in.
For the airline mileage programs, it looks like you will just have to enter your member number and password. For the credit cards there were only 4 listed:
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Diners Club Club Reward
- Futura Rewards
- Wells Fargo Rewards
Out of those the one which requires the most info to register is American Express – you need to provide your 15-digit card number, expiration date, 4 digit CID, zip code, and expiration date.
I only signed up to investigate the Points.com exchange rate and fees, so for now I won’t be registering any of my programs.
Trade, Exchange & Buy
This area can be accessed from the menu on the top of the page. And this is the whole reason I came here…to redeem my points!
Unfortunately I didn’t see British Airways/Avios points listed :( However, there are plenty of other reward programs participating:
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- American Airlines AAdvantage
- Asian Miles
- Audience Rewards
- AviancaTaca LifeMiles
- Best Buy Rewards Zone
- Continental OnePass
- Delta SkyMiles
- Esso Extra
- Frontier Early Rewards
- Hawaiian Airlines Miles
- Icelandair Saga Club
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Priority Club Rewards
- S&H Greenpoints
- Saudi Arabian Alfursan
- Trident Hotels Privileges
- US Airways Dividend Miles
- Virgin America Elevate
If you want to get rid of these points/miles, you select “move out of a program” and it will show you deals available for trade and exchange:
When I looked for Delta SkyMiles there were not exchanges available but for trade there were 48 offers available. Apparently the oldest results are shown first. To see the latest postings, you will have to go to the last page. Here are some random examples…
As you see some offer fairly good conversions, others not so much. However the big drawback is the trade fee. On the Points.com it says “The trade fees are set by the loyalty programs” so I guess you can’t blame them… they are what they are. But it really turns what otherwise would be a good conversion to a not-so-good deal.
Give & Redeem
In addition to trading/exchanging/buying, you can also select the “Give & Redeem” tab from the top menu. Here you can convert your airline/hotel/credit card points into gift cards and memberships.
With the gift card options, I tested several programs for conversion to $100 gift cards with partners and the values I saw were below one cent per point. Pictured right was the conversion for 10,000 AmEx Membership Rewards points to a $100 Amazon gift card.
The best values I see are the “low balance offers” which require a lower number of points. With these, it looks like Points.com is leveraging partnerships with companies to bring you memberships and other things at a discount. Example:
- Printrunner – 5% off any order and it’s stackable with existing discounts. The cost to get this offer is 226 AmEx MR Points. If you are placing an order with them for a couple hundred bucks, the savings would definitely exceed 1 cent per point.
Verdict: Is Points.com legit?
Before I investigated the site myself, I did some Googling for Points.com reviews and the first thing I saw was a thread on FlyerTalk which alleged:
“This is a scam between the airlines and Points.com”
It was some guy griping, incoherently to the point that I couldn’t understand what his complaint was. The funny thing was he admits in his rant:
“I made a mistake by not paying attention to the loss in miles in this transaction, and got only 1796 America West miles for 19,511 Alaska miles”
Admittedly he didn’t pay attention, and somehow that means Points.com is a scam? That makes no sense.
Points.com is not a scam. They disclose all the fees and exchange rates up front to swap miles and points. So there’s no valid way anyone can claim they are a ripoff or scam.
But is Points.com a good deal? Well if you’re a regular reader, you already know my golden rule is getting at least 1 cent value per point. So in that aspect, the Points.com exchange rate for many offers isn’t the ideal situation.
However I do think it could be a good deal in certain situations:
- If you have miles that are about to expire, then getting something for them is better than nothing. If the airline doesn’t allow you to redeem for gift cards directly, then you might as well redeem them through Points.com or an alternative site that offers the same service.
- If you only need a few more points in your loyalty program to book reward travel, then paying a premium for a few thousand miles might make sense. For example, if you need 200,000 miles for a trip and only have 198,000, then buying 2,000 at a bad exchange rate will still probably be worth it.