Welcome to 2017! This year, a credit card that is losing old benefits will gain new ones; some of the best loyalty programs deals will live on; and Digital Wallet cards will die. Maybe.
Before I detail my 2017 predictions, let’s look at how well I predicted 2016…
- Citi will add American Airlines as a new ThankYou Rewards transfer partner: WRONG
- 50K will (once again) be the standard signup bonus for Chase’s Sapphire Preferred card: CORRECT
- US Bank will increase the FlexPerks Travel Rewards card’s signup bonus: WRONG
(they did increase the bonus, but only temporarily for the the Olympic games)
- Wyndham will surprise us again: CORRECT
- Rite Aid will move to cash only for prepaid reloads: CORRECT
3 out of 5 is not great, but I’ll take it. You can read the full text of my 2016 predictions here.
So, with the understanding that my predictions are worth little, and without further ado, here are my 2017 predictions….
Citi will add significant new benefits to the Prestige card
Last year Citi announced that in July 2017 they would be taking away several of the Prestige card’s best benefits: No more AA Admirals Club access; no more free golf; and no more 1.6 cents value towards AA flights. Then, shortly afterwards, Chase announced the Sapphire Reserve card. As everyone knows, the Sapphire Reserve was a huge hit. Just as Amex has added benefits to their Platinum cards, Citi has to do something to try to keep their share of the high-end travel card market. What exact benefits will they add? I have no idea.
Alaska won’t significantly devalue their Mileage Plan program
Alaska Airlines arguably has the best current rewards program among US carriers. It is the last to continue to award miles based on distance flown, and it has not drastically raised award prices (except with respect to Emirates awards) as have AA, Delta, and United. There is little doubt that Alaska’s Mileage Plan program is ripe for a big devaluation, but I don’t think it will happen in 2017. Alaska Airlines will have its hands full trying to integrate Virgin America into their operations. They’ll wait until 2018 to lower the boom.
Marriott won’t devalue their travel packages
Marriott Travel packages have always been a good deal, but with the newfound ability to transfer SPG points to Marriott at a 1 to 3 ratio, travel packages have become off-the-charts great. I wrote about the merger and travel packages here and here. When a deal is ridiculously good, it usually goes away. And it will, but I think not in 2017. Marriott is expected to roll out a single new rewards program in 2018 to encompass both Marriott and SPG. I expect that Marriott will be satisfied with keeping their rewards program as-is until then.
The promise of Digital Wallet Cards will die
The idea behind digital wallet cards was great: A single smart credit card would replace all of your credit, debit, and gift cards. But just as the technology caught up to the promise, the US adopted EMV chips. And, unfortunately, Digital wallet cards can’t handle EMV. Several companies claim that they’re still working to release their digital wallet cards, but I think that 2017 is the year that they’ll officially throw in the towel. See also: Coin Digital Wallet Card Review.
What do you think will happen in 2017 with respect to miles & points? Comment below.