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How to Decide Whether to Book a Trip With Points or Cash

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As avid travelers, we often face the dilemma of booking a trip using loyalty points or cash. While both options have advantages, deciding which one to choose requires careful consideration. Here are some factors to help you make an informed decision when deciding whether to book a trip with points or cash.

Value of Points:

One of the key factors to consider is the value of your loyalty points. Evaluate the redemption rates and conversion values offered by your loyalty program. Calculate the monetary equivalent of your points and compare it to the cash price of the trip you wish to book.

Availability and Flexibility:

Consider the availability and flexibility of using points versus cash. Some loyalty programs have limited availability for award seats or hotel rooms, especially during peak travel periods. If you have specific travel dates or a particular destination in mind, check the availability of award bookings in advance.

Point Expiration and Devaluation:

Take into account the expiration policies of your loyalty points. Some loyalty programs have points that expire after a certain period of inactivity. If your points are at risk of expiring soon, using them for a trip may be wise rather than losing them. Additionally, be aware of potential point devaluations.

Travel Goals and Preferences:

Consider your personal travel goals and preferences. If you have a particular trip or experience in mind that aligns with your travel aspirations, it may be worth using your points to make it a reality. On the other hand, if you value the flexibility of cash bookings, prefer specific accommodations or airlines, or want to earn loyalty program benefits through cash bookings, using cash might be the better option.

Cost of Acquiring Points:

Evaluate the cost associated with acquiring additional points. If you need to purchase or transfer points to have enough for a desired trip, compare the cost of acquiring those points to the cash price of the trip.

Trip Insurance and Benefits:

Consider the trip insurance and additional benefits when booking with cash or using certain credit cards. Some credit cards offer travel insurance, trip cancellation protection, or other perks when you use the card to book travel.

Future Point Earning Potential:

Think about your future point-earning potential. If you have upcoming opportunities to earn significant points through promotions, credit card spending, or other means, it might be worth preserving your points for future redemptions. Conversely, if you anticipate a decrease in your ability to earn points or if you have an excess of points, using them for a trip can be a wise choice.

Deciding whether to book a trip with points or cash depends on various factors such as the value of your points, availability, flexibility, expiration policies, personal preferences, cost of acquiring points, trip insurance, benefits, and future earning potential. By carefully considering these factors, you can make a well-informed decision that maximizes the value and enjoyment of your travel experience.

Article originally published on Medium.