Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Most Valuable Travel Rewards In 2024

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Among the myriad of travel perks that can help you save money or enjoy complimentary upgrades, loyalty program membership stands out as a significant one. The second annual Barclays US Consumer Bank’s Travel Rewards and Loyalty Reports delve deep into the loyalty programs and benefits that are most frequently used by travelers, shedding light on their importance in the travel landscape.

Loyalty Program Membership is Important

Of the 1,000 US travelers surveyed by Wakefield Research, 77% report currently belonging to a travel loyalty program of some kind. These respondents report flying by air at least once in the last 12 months and intend to travel again during the next 12 months. Additionally, 89% of respondents indicate being a loyalty member at some point.

The program types include:

  • Airlines
  • Car rentals
  • Cruise lines
  • Hotels
  • Online booking sites

Roughly 51% join to earn airline rewards, 43% for hotel rewards, and 30% for booking sites. Cruises and car rentals are the smallest programs as they tend to have fewer travel opportunities.

Of the travelers currently enrolled in loyalty programs, 76% cannot imagine taking the caliber of trips they currently do without the benefits. Not having the rewards can mean having to switch travel providers, opt for more affordable accommodations, reduce the trip length, or book a less convenient travel method.

Millennials are most likely to enroll in loyalty programs with an 83% enrollment rate versus a 75% average for Gen X, Gen Z, and Baby Boomers. Further, Millennials are more likely to travel this year.

Most Valuable Travel Loyalty Rewards

As travel loyalty programs are so prolific and offer plenty of value for most members, 77% of respondents anticipate traveling more in 2024 than in 2023. Specifically, 79% are leisure trips and 21% are business-related.

With that in mind, below are the most wanted benefits (ranked by highest demand):

  • Ability to earn and redeem rewards (70%)
  • Lower costs, reduced fees, and low rate guarantees (58%)
  • Elite status or perks, free checked bags, priority boarding, etc. (55%)
  • Improved travel experience through upgrades, lounge access (51%)
  • Access to experiences like concerts and events (29%)

Travel points are the most valuable benefit of being a loyalty program member or by using a particular credit card rewards program. While points have multiple redemption options, respondents plan on using 65% for flights and 54% for hotels.

Most Valuable Travel Points

Unsurprisingly, airline miles are deemed the most valuable type of travel point. Eighty-nine percent of travelers report that points are essential to their preferred travel style.

Below is the extent to which travel rewards support award travel:

  • Airline miles (69%)
  • Hotel points (60%)
  • Car rentals (37%)
  • Cruise lines (26%)

Airline and hotel points typically provide the most value. They can also be the easiest to earn or redeem as there are numerous travel options for domestic and international trips.

The majority of respondents (72%) will be using their travel rewards for travel within the United States this year, although international travel is increasing. Europe (29%), the Caribbean (23%), and Canada or Mexico (22%) or the most popular foreign destinations.

Most Valuable Travel Deals

Travel points are the most valuable perk, but several non-point travel rewards are also worth the membership.

Here are the three most popular discounts and upgrades available to elite members and travel credit card customers:

  • Hotel deals (71%)
  • Flight upgrades (70%)
  • Priority boarding (60%)

Additionally, frequent travelers who take at least five or more flights per year perceive gaining the most value from travel rewards.

Business Travel is the Most Rewarding

These various perks make it possible for the majority of survey-takers to get more value from their rewards programs than they put into them. The success rates vary by travel type and generation:

  • 84% of business travelers (versus 67% of leisure travelers)
  • 79% of Millennials
  • 72% of travel credit cardholders

While business travel is far less common than leisure travel, loyalty membership and travel points are more rewarding for those who can book work trips.

Final Thoughts

Every travel loyalty program has different perks, point redemption options, and destination choices. Finding the right program makes it substantially easier to travel more often and with a better experience. To find out more, see the full survey results.

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