As 2017 comes to a close, I felt it was pretty successful with my travels and credit card plan. There were some large bonuses, but we also saw banks tighten up on churners. Since we are entering a new year, I figured I would share my predictions for 2018.
My Predictions for 2018
Southwest Companion Pass
This is one of the most (maybe the most) coveted domestic perk available. It becomes even more valuable as Southwest begins flying to Hawaii. Since this will be happening in either late 2018, or 2019 I think we see changes to the Companion Pass.
Currently, you can earn the Companion Pass by opening 2 Southwest credit cards. Sure, the 5/24 rule by Chase limits the amount of people who can earn this pass, but people are changing their strategy. Newcomers to this game realize this perk is valuable.
There are 2 possibilities here:
- Credit card bonuses no longer count towards Companion Pass. That would be an absolute nightmare to everyone in this game.
- Increasing the number of points needed to earn the Companion Pass. This option wouldn’t be as bad as option 1, but would definitely hurt many.
While many are excited to use their Companion Pass to Hawaii, I am sure Southwest is looking to reduce the number of Companion Passes.
SPG Program Disappears
The other week, I wrote about Chase and American Express issuing Marriott Cards. I think by the end of 2018, we will see SPG phased out and rolled into the Marriott Program.
While I think the SPG is overvalued, I hate seeing fewer options for award travel. I am sure SPG loyalist are not keen on seeing their points and benefits go over to Marriott.
When Marriott finally decides to retire SPG and move everyone’s points at 1 SPG to 3 Marriott points, many will be upset. But this game is about adapting, so be prepared to adapt once again.
Once the new breaks about SPG rolling into Marriott, we could see:
- People burn their SPG points to redeem at max value
- Love your airline transfers? Unless Marriott plans to keep those, I could see many people moving their points to airlines
Once points are converted to Marriott Points, I believe Marriott Flights and Nights packages will be the first devaluation we will see.
Either way, I think 2018 will be the last year SPG points will be around
Revenue Based Award Tickets
More airlines are changing to revenue based earnings on tickets. We also see more dynamic pricing on award tickets. Delta does their own thing, Southwest and Jetblue award tickets are tied to the price of the airline ticket. I read an article a few weeks ago where British Avios and Flying Blue are looking to change their award tickets to dynamic award tickets.
This will increase the number of points/miles needed for award travel, especially for business award tickets.
I wouldn’t be shocked to see United announce they are going to be introducing a more “flexible” option for travelers.
Also as we see more revenue based tickets, Delta will lead the way to add pass fuel surcharges off to customers.
By the end of 2018, we will see fewer award charts and more revenue based award tickets
If 2017 was an indication, banks are really trying to squeeze out churners. We are good at using the banks for value and they aren’t big fans of that.
Banks will continue to tighten their approvals for consumers with high open accounts.
We will also see more restrictions on bonus points awarded from the larger banks. To combat this there could be a few options:
- Slow down opening cards to get back into the big banks good graces. I personally don’t go with this logic. There are too many good cards out there to wait for a few banks.
- Look at smaller banks to earn rewards. They might be more forgiving.
in 2018, we will see more restrictions on approvals and earning bonuses. I hope all of you planned your long game while also chasing bonuses.
Premium Economy is the New Business
Basic economy is on the rise, but we are seeing more carriers introduce/improve Premium Economy. I don’t believe we will see lower cost for this either.
While we hear about awesome new suites, there are plenty of articles out there explaining that first class is shrinking. The future will become business class is the new first class, premium economy is the new business, class, and economy will be economy but tighter and fewer benefits
AA has a Premium Economy and Delta has rolled out a true Premium Economy to attempt to catch up to International competitors. These routes will expand and we will see a slow removal of first class and fewer business class seats across a few airlines.
In 2018, be prepared to see more true Premium Economy rolled out, but we’ll see First Class seating reduce like leg room in coach.
Mobile payments are on the rise and that means issuers are going to want your business. I think we are going to see more issuers offer rewards for mobile payments.
The US Bank Altitude is a perfect example of this, where you are rewarded 3 points per dollar for all mobile payments. For the first time ever, Chase is offering mobile payments as a Quarter 1 category on the Chase Freedom.
We will see more banks add this benefit, because mobile payments have increased and with the addition of numerous mobile wallets, everyone wants a piece of the mobile pie. This will benefit consumers as we will be rewarded nicely for using our phones.
While Chase is rolling out this for quarter 1, I would expect Discover to follow along in quarter 2. Maybe this will be like the year wholesale stores (like Costco) were 5% back the whole year. This could be a big win.
In 2018, we will see more credit cards offering mobile payments as a bonus category.
Who knows if any of these predictions will come true in 2018, but I am sure we will see more changes and devaluations. Hopefully, the changes aren’t too bad, but I think there will be some significant changes this upcoming year.