It's a new year and the world is full of predictions for what 2024 may bring. While I don't know for a fact what it will bring, I can share my fondest hopes!
This blog got a bit popular in 2023 and we now consistently have over 1,000 unique readers a month, which is very exciting. By far the most popular article is our Southwest feature, so it seems like I am in good company with other folks passionate about travel. And who knows, maybe with enough like-minded people supporting ideas such as the ones below, some pioneering bank will actually make these wishes come true! So, without further ado, let's get into my 2024 travel hacking wish list!
Innovation in Card Benefits
Sometimes it seems like card issuers just copy each other's playbooks. Bilt Rewards shook things up quite a bit (and I hope they continue to do so) but some more innovation is sorely needed in the credit card and points industry. Instead of copying each other's benefits, how about something truly innovative, like offering primary auto insurance (CDW) when booking through ride-sharing platforms such as Turo? An innovative partnership like that would benefit not only cardholders, but would serve as a huge differentiator for the bank itself and act as a way to stand out in an awfully crowded marketplace. Also, I wish credit card issues would stop making card holders jump through needless hoops for benefits that just aren't valuable. This includes gimmicks such as Amex's notorious Saks credits which, let's be honest, nobody actually wants. But at the start of the year you find many cardholders buying Saks makeup online just to feel like they got some value out of their card and are justified in paying the annual fee. Benefits should actually be beneficial, not be so difficult to use that they reveal themselves as the thinly-veiled marketing ploy that they are.
Innovation in Earning Points
Are there cards that have good earning categories? Beyond a doubt. You want a dining card? It's easy to find one with a 3x multiple. You want a gas card? You can get 4x, depending on which card you use. But imagine if a single card let you earn at attractive multiples on every common spend category: dining, grocery, gas, travel. And, on top of that, gave you something more than 1x on all other spend. What an absolute game changer that would be, it would instantly become the favorite card in everyone's wallet.
Innovation in Transfer Partnerships
Do I love transferring points to Air France? Absolutely. Do I need another way to do that? Not at all. Yet it seems that all issuers have the same rolodex of transfer partners. Sure, there is some innovation. I love, for instance, that Bilt allows you to transfer points to Turkish, which was previously possible only with Citi ThankYou points. But how about a card that allow transfers to Alaska Mileage Plan, probably the most valuable points currency out there? Or JAL? There is a whole list of partners that are accessible only via Bonvoy points; it is beyond time for another transferrable currency to begin chipping away at that monopoly.
Innovation in Customer Support
Grizzled veterans like me can figure out good points redemptions. There is nothing we love more than nerding out with 20 browser tabs open. But for those new to this hobby it can be beyond intimidating! How about a points concierge to help cardholders get the most value out of their points instead of encouraging terrible redemptions at a rate of 1 CPP (cent per point) or even worse? What a tremendous amount of respect that would show for customers. And it would open up the world of travel to so many more people.
I know there is a good reason some of the above have not been implemented by any bank. Some are not what you would call "low hanging fruit" and would require forging complex business partnerships. Others would simply cost banks more than they want to pay. But I can confidently say to any bank representatives who may be reading this that hitting even some of the above points would more than justify a generous annual fee in the minds of many people.
I would love to hear from you in the comments! What changes in the world of travel would you like to see in 2024?