Points.com Review: Is It a Scam or Good Deal?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

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 found myself still stuck with 100k (now 108k). Why? Because I didn’t have time 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 flier 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…

Points.com screenshot

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, these are currently participating:

  • Citibank Thank You Rewards
  • Diners Club Club Reward
  • Futura Rewards
  • HSBC Rewards
  • Wells Fargo Rewards

I only signed up to investigate the Points.com exchange rate and fees, so for now I won’t be registering any of my credit card programs.

Trade, exchange and redeem

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 or exchange my points!

Unfortunately I didn’t see British Airways/Avios points listed. However, there are plenty of other airline, hotel and retail reward programs participating. With some programs, you’re limited to exchanging for points in another program. With other programs, you can redeem for gift cards, subscriptions and, in a few cases, PayPal funds.

Points.com participating programs include:

  • Aeroplan
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
  • American Airlines AAdvantage
  • Amtrak Guest Rewards
  • Asia Miles
  • Audience Rewards
  • China Rewards
  • Choice Hotels Choice Privileges
  • Club Carlson Gold Points
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • Esso Extra
  • Frontier EarlyReturns
  • Hawaiian Airlines Miles
  • Hyatt Gold Passport
  • Icelandair Saga Club
  • IHG Rewards Club
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • La Quinta Returns (redeemable into PayPal)
  • MeliaRewards (redeemable into PayPal)
  • Saudi Arabian Airlines
  • Speedway Speedy Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Trident Hotels Trident Privilege Programme
  • US Airways Dividend Miles

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:

trade and exchange

“Exchanging” means you’re swapping points among your own programs. “Trading” means you’re trading with other users. When you trade, apparently the oldest results are shown first. Here are some random trading examples for American Airlines …

Points.com trading American Airlines Aadvantage miles

Some trades 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, memberships and, in a couple cases, PayPal funds (see list above).

With the gift card options, I tested several programs for conversion to $100 gift cards with partners, and the values I saw were below 1 cent per point.

Another option 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 miles or points. If you are placing an order with them for a couple hundred bucks, the savings would 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”

The funny thing was, the person who leveled that criticism admitted the following:

“I made a mistake by not paying attention to the loss in miles in this transaction, and got only 1,796 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, trade and redeem miles and points. So, while you may not get the kind of deal you’d hoped for, it’s unfair to call the site a 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, 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 big trip and only have 198,000, then buying 2,000 at a bad exchange rate will still probably be worth it.

Compare the top travel card bonus offers

Updated September 8, 2014


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

13 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Vladimir August 6, 2014 at 2:56PM

    I have transferred 8166 miles from US Air to United and these point disappeared. I have filed a complaint with points.com and received an automatic email that they received a request and working on it. It has been 2 years now and I am still waiting for my points. Now I get a similar offer to transfer point on America Airlines now, and I am not doing this again. Points.com is a SCAM. Stay away from Points.com.

  2. Junk Fee Watch July 21, 2014 at 10:03AM

    From some of the exchange amounts I’ve seen, it sounds like
    you could wind up going from Avios points to Adios Points!

  3. Ripoff alert April 28, 2014 at 8:11PM

    Points.com is a ripoff. The transaction costs are way to high (for what you get). If you do not have any chance to use up the miles, then it is a ‘last resort’ option.

  4. Chris March 6, 2014 at 5:11PM

    Yeah points.com only pitfall is that the programs have a transfer fee themselves. Look at British Airways Avios as an example- You can only transfer 27,000 points Annually and BA charges you over $200 for that privilege. Makes perfect sense that points.com has to recoup that cost somewhere… Really as the poster mentions, that site is great if you are desperate to transfer your points…

    That said, If you have some avios available and looking to get rid of them.. I can use / will buy them off you. email me at “buyyouravios @ hotmail . com”.

  5. BG August 23, 2013 at 10:57AM

    The site is not a scam but a RIP OFF!!! Don’t waste your money or points unless you HAVE TOO.

  6. Tom May 15, 2013 at 1:22PM

    I just completed several transactions and redeemed miles I would never use. A couple of years ago I redeemed American miles for Home Depot gift card with no trouble. The miles I just redeemed on United and US Air also were without problem. I redeemed some for PayPal and some for Walmart gift cards. PayPal was posted and credited within a couple of days (next day on one of the redemption)and I got the Walmart gift cards in just over a week. Point is not a scam. Using you miles to book travel is a better value, but booking FF tickets isn’t all that easy today, particularly if you are flying with someone else. So, depending on the airline you can get about 0.5 cents per mile. I would much rather take what I can get rather than deal with the airline FF bookings.

    • TLH March 5, 2014 at 7:41AM

      One can no longer redeem U.S. Airway miles for Pay Pal cash. Don’t know if this is the case for other airline miles.

  7. Robins May 5, 2013 at 5:49PM

    Now I am not comfortable to redeem any points with their site, let it disappear….better that way, than “clever” guys enjoy my reward… There is no good review?????

  8. Fred April 27, 2013 at 1:43PM

    I tried to convert 44,000 Frontier Airlines miles to a $132 Amazon.com gift card 2 months ago. The website says the transaction is “completed” but I have not received the eCertificate via email. When I tried to contact the company by email on their customer service page is says the server name “salesforce.com” does not exist. I think “Points.com” is a scam. You’d be better off not wasting your time and letting your miles expire rather than sending them to some off-shore racket like this.

  9. Arro May 8, 2012 at 5:22AM

    Be warned… this worked in 2008 and 2009 to redeem points to amazon. This winter I tried to redeem for Target and I still don’t have the gift card.

    Once I chose to redeem it went off the points.com site to some canadian site and instead of getting an electronic code like for amazon it said I would receive a card for Target that I have still to receive. Its now May and I did the transaction in October !!!

  10. Randy Stevenson April 16, 2012 at 3:15PM

    Points.com has allegedly scammed me out of 47,059 American Airlines miles. I signed up for the service and traded the miles for a gift card. Four months later Points.com has not supplied the gift card and will not return any of the several e-mails I sent.

    In my opinion Points.com is a scam.

  11. Yeti March 3, 2012 at 12:52PM

    I had to pay $50.00 to transfer ( electronically ) 2000 miles from my wife’s plan to my plan. Alaska Airlines said Points.com was responsible for this ridiculous fee. Points.com said Alaska Mileage Plan was responsible. Whatever!! — that is $50.00 to push a couple of buttons in less than 20 seconds

    • Jumus March 14, 2013 at 2:32PM

      Yeti,

      First of all you didn’t HAVE to pay $50. You paid it because it was YOUR CHOICE to transfer the 2000 miles. Your choice, nobody elses.

      $50 to push a couple of buttons. Really ? Is that what you are paying for ? Or are you paying for computer systems to communicate with each other and transfer the miles from one program to another. If you had to push 15 buttons would you have felt more justified ?

      Don’t play the victim. It’s not a color that suits you….

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