This post may contain affiliate links. Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. Please read my Disclosure and Privacy pages for more info.
When you have a card with flexible points like the Citi ThankYou card or American Express Platinum card (personal and business), you can use those points to book travel. There are lots of great benefits to booking through a portal, but there’s also a downfall. Keep reading to find out why you shouldn’t book your ticket using Thankyou points or other travel portal.
Why You Shouldn’t Book Your Ticket Using ThankYou Points
When you book using a portal, it’s quick and easy. Just like booking on an airline website. Many of us book our flights this way because you save money, earn miles, are eligible for upgrades, and can earn elite status faster.
You save money because you can use your points instead of paying cash. You can even use a combination of points and miles.
Tickets booked through portals earn miles. Even if you pay for your flight with points.
Yep, tickets bought with points (or a combination of cash and points) through a booking portal like the ThankYou Portal or Amex Travel earn airline miles. Unlike tickets purchased with airline miles.
The difference is because you’re redeeming your points through a portal, and the issuer is paying cash for your airline ticket. It’s like using a Groupon or Living Social coupon. You’ve paid an upfront price for your purchase and now you’re redeeming your points.
These tickets are treated just like booking on the airlines’ websites, except for one crucial difference.
But there is a downfall if you book through a portal. If you need help changing your ticket because of a flight delay, the airline can’t help you. You have to contact your travel agent, or in this case, the booking portal.
I recently flew to Beijing and booked my ticket through the Citi ThankYou portal. Because my flight to Beijing was delayed four hours, I could have canceled my ticket for a full refund.
But because I had booked through the portal, they had to process the refund. Saturday morning at 6:30 am PST, I couldn’t reach them. 🙁
So I had to take my flight. But it turned out well because I got upgraded to Business Class and enjoyed a night at the Grand Hyatt Beijing.
There are lots of benefits to using points to buy airline tickets through a portal like Citi ThankYou.
You save money, earn airline miles, are eligible for upgrades, and earn elite status faster. But it’s not all rainbows and sunshine.
If you have to change or cancel your ticket, you have fewer options. Only the issuing agency can make changes to your ticket. When booking through a portal, they are the issuing agency.
This means that the airline can’t touch your ticket. You have to contact the travel portal. If they’re closed or you can’t reach them because you’re traveling, you’re out of luck.
Pin this to your travel, travel hacks, or travel tip board:
Comment, share this post, tweet, or give me a +1.
Get the best credit card signup bonuses.
Got a question? Or want help, suggestions, travel tips, learn how to travel for free, find out about travel deals, and maximize your miles and points? Use the subscription box below to sign-up and get post updates by email.
Read our blog via RSS feed.
Traveling Well For Less has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Traveling Well For Less and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.