Know Your Loyalty Program Lingo!
Remember the first time you walked into a Starbucks and didn’t know a vente from a grande or an extra shot versus a shot of vanilla? Yeah, it was intimidating to say the least. Loyalty programs can be a little like that too. They often use jargon and terms that the newbie might not be so familiar with. So to help get you acquainted here’s an introductory guide to some basic loyalty terms. (You might want to grab a tall bold for the adventure.)
Orphan miles are essentially miles that you have earned through a loyalty program that you are not likely to use. You probably don’t have enough miles to redeem for anything and you probably aren’t going to be collecting any more either. These types of miles are accrued by people belonging to loyalty programs who actually aren’t that loyal to the program.
For instance you may have become a member of an airline loyalty program when planning a trip somewhere you’d never been and are likely to never visit again, like say Johannesburg. You flew the airline, collected some points, ate some curried impala and put the card away somewhere safe in your wallet, never to see the light of day. But before you cut up the card and toss it in the trash, check to see if you can transfer your points to another loyalty program. It would be a shame to see them go to waste.
Redeeming points or miles means trading them in for some other goods or service. They can be considered currency and have their own value. Loyalty programs offer extensive lists of products available in exchange for points or miles, or you can redeem points/miles for gift cards or into your PayPal account on Points.com. Most loyalty programs also provide items for redemption at various point and mile values. That means if you want to save your points for something more expensive like a big screen TV you can, it will just require more miles or points than say a $25 restaurant gift card.
Trading points or miles means that you trade your loyalty points or miles with another person belonging to a different program. Maybe you’re planning a family vacation and need a few more points or miles to get there. You can post your “wanted ad” and it will be seen by thousands of loyalty users itching to make a deal, or you can accept one of the offers that someone else has already posted. It’s kind of like putting up a “wanted” or “for sale” flyer up on the community bulletin board, albeit a digital bulletin board. Not too toot our own horn, but the only place you can do this in on Points.com. Please note that there is a fee for trading – you can learn more about the trade fees here.
If you are a member of more than one loyalty program and chances are that’s big yes, you can transfer points between programs for your convenience. Some loyalty programs will let you do this on their websites, and some allow you to do this on Points.com. On Points.com, a handy calculator will determine how many points or miles the conversion you wish to make will give you. This way you can see if it’s an exchange you wish to make before you make it. For a list of which programs exchange on Points.com, visit our supported programs page.
Earning points or miles simply refers to how you acquire them. Once you’re a member of a loyalty program this usually means making purchases. And with these purchases you will get points or miles that non-members will not. You will also be able to redeem these miles or points for goods and services. How many points or miles are needed for redemption and how many points and miles you acquire through purchases vary and are different for all programs whether you’re shopping in-store or online. These days there are lots of ways to earn: online shopping portals, shopping in retail stores, flying, staying at hotels, renting cars etc. Be sure to check out your program’s website to find out all the ways you can earn.