Yet Another Great Tim Winship Article: “Are online rewards programs better than the airlines?”

June 11, 2008 · 0 comments

Tim Winship is one of my favorite writers; he writes for about rewards points programs with a focus on frequent-flyer miles.
He wrote a great article
last week that was picked up by USA Today, called, “Are online rewards programs better than the airlines?”
The article mentions some of the Ghosts of Rewards Programs Past, like Beenz, Flooz, Blink, and Cybergold. Winship says the number of online rewards programs has declined because they “overspent on infrastructure development, salaries and overhead, and indulged in wildly unrealistic revenue projections.” He provided quotes from several popular programs’ closure announcements — interesting but sad reading.
From the perspective of the frequent flyer mile collector, he says, there’s little reason to use programs other than the airline miles’ own online shopping malls because the miles earned are competitive or sometimes better (versus, for instance, earning points at MyPoints and cashing out for airline miles) and also because so many non-airline rewards programs have gone by the wayside.
I wouldn’t disagree with Mr. Winship’s assessment — from the standpoint of a miles collector. If your interest isn’t in accumulating frequent flyer miles but is in earning actual cash back for your shopping purchases (as well as for other activities like completing surveys, visiting websites, etc.), there is still very much a reason to use non-airline online rewards programs.
I don’t fly, or at least, not unless absolutely necessary. I’d rather earn cash back for shopping that I could use to buy a ticket on any airline (or preferably, to gas up my car to drive there instead). I don’t have to earn $200 worth of miles to cash out from a non-airline rewards program…Ebates has a $5 minimum and there’s no minimum for PayPal cashouts at a couple of programs including Not knocking mile collectors or trying to start a “we’re better than you” argument; just saying that for me, personally, earning miles isn’t very appealing.
Enjoyed the article, though; it made some very good points, and it brought back memories of a lot of formerly great rewards programs that have since shut their doors.

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