As I write this in 2017, a new United reward devaluation is set to occur. Over the years, each travel reward program has devalued their points on a regular basis. The number of trips you could do with points 10 years ago is much less than the number of trips you could do today and this will likely continue.
However, the earning rate of points has seemed to stay the same. Chase UR, for example, gives 1% to 5% of your credit card spend into UR, which you can then convert into whichever of the travel points you want. However, that conversion rate has not increased over time to compensate for devaluation of the underlying points.
Similar to every other credit card earning program. Southwest gives 1% to 2% on spend in Southwest points on the Chase credit card but those points are worth less as time goes on, which means the value of the credit card has diminished over time.
I have really enjoyed paying little to nothing for travel over the last decade. And I am not one to game CC signup points. I have legitimately received travel points from business travel, and still have a large pool remaining, but over time with more and more devaluations, I wonder what the future holds. Will we look back at the period from about 2010 to 2020 as the era of great reward travel deals? And if so, is there anything we can do about it?
At some point does it make sense to cash out travel points for gift cards? Southwest lets you transfer points to Amazon GC at a 1 to 1 cent ratio. Given Southwest points are worth about 2 cents for travel currently, it’s a bad deal, but eventually they’ll be worth less and less and presumably will sever the Amazon GC washout option, at least at the current rate.