The Devil’s Advocate and I are in the middle of a bit of a kerfuffle. The truth is that when his weekly series started, it presented a unique perspective. Unfortunately the quality of his content has gone down faster than a bottle of Krug in Cathay Pacific first class.
I’ll admit, though, that he got me a few weeks ago. He attacked my beloved Lufthansa first class, and it hurt. But he was right. Because my love for Lufthansa is unconditional. We have a thing. And you’ll never understand. But I respect that. Much like you and your girlfriend must have a thing, because she tolerates you putting her in angled business class. 😉
I’m not sure what has happened since, but he has gone from making valid points to basically just being a troll.
Last week he wrote a post about why Membership Rewards points are “worthless,” which I rebutted because… well, it was possibly the worst argument I’ve ever read on the internet (and I read the comments sections of AOL news stories, so that says a lot).
This week he returns with a post entitled “We Interrupt This Series So My Readers Can Thrash Plucky.”
In case you don’t have five minutes (or any brain cells) to spare, here’s a 45-second summary of his argument:
Now, I’ll do what I can to use as many gifs as possible, because I think they’re more on Julian’s level… maybe he’ll actually understand my argument that way?
Instead, today we’re going to look at Little Plucky’s Membership Rewards argument point-by-point and tell him why he’s wrong.
(I have a sneaking suspicion this is gonna be pretty sweet.)
Little Plucky also claims my argument partially boils down to the fact that the hotel transfer partners are “useless” because of the bad transfer ratios. That’s not what I said at all. I said the hotel transfer partners are useless because the hotels partners are useless. Unless you disagree and think that Best Western has a lot of fantastic ultra-premium properties, that’s a pretty big difference.
In case you didn’t catch on in the last round, your argument was so bad that I actually tried to do you a favor by arguing some points on your behalf. So Membership Rewards’ hotel partners are useless, right? It’s not the transfer ratios? So if each Membership Rewards point got you 10 points with a hotel transfer partner it would still be worthless since it’s not the transfer ratios that are the problem, but rather the partners as such… right?
Because I’d be perfectly happy redeeming points at the Conrad Koh Samui…
Or the St. Regis New York…
But, I mean, I guess who would really want to stay at those hotels anyway, right?
Now we move on to Little Plucky’s defense of AmEx’s transfer partners. He lists a bunch of partners who have huge fuel surcharges on redemptions and argues the following about them…
I’m thrilled to redeem ANA Mileage Club miles for Lufthansa first class roundtrip between New York and Frankfurt 100,000 miles plus ~$800 in fuel surcharges.
What??? He’s thrilled about spending ~$800? Well, I suppose that’s one position. A different and substantially more sane position by us folks who actually work for a living is that no one is thrilled about spending ~$800 on anything unless it has the words “Super Bowl” and “~50-yard line seats” in it.
Honey, you couldn’t pay me $800 to go to the Super Bowl. If we’re talking about front row seats to a One Direction concert, though, that would be a different story.
You’re right, shame on anyone that doesn’t mind paying less cash for a first class ticket on one of the best airlines than they’d pay for an economy ticket. Angled flat business class is the only way, after all!
And there are tons of uses of Membership Rewards points that don’t involve any fuel surcharges, including many redemptions through Air Canada Aeroplan, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, etc.
For instance, AJK mentioned that…
…MR purports to offer transfer bonuses. In reality, though, it’s been like three years since the last DL bonus.
Yes, at least Plucky didn’t try to sell us all on the latest 30% transfer bonus to Virgin America which still doesn’t even get you to a 1:1 transfer ratio. Hey, look everyone, AmEx is screwing you over by 30% less this month!
You can’t even keep your argument straight here. One Virgin America Elevate point can be redeemed for more than two cents towards the cost of a Virgin America ticket.
It’s ironic that you don’t understand the concept of points currencies being worth different amounts, given that, you know, the whole basis of your argument is that one points currency is “worthless.”
I’m sure in his next post about how Starwood points are worthless, he’ll slap their wrists for having a 65:1 transfer ratio to Air New Zealand Airpoints. And maybe after that we can have a post about how currency conversion is a scam. How dare they only give us one US Dollar for every 11,000+ Indonesian Rupiah!
And then he selectively shares comments from his readers:
My reader Jason noted another downside of Membership Rewards that is super exclusive to just them…
I never see this discussed, but aren’t there fees associated with transferring MR points to partners?
Why, yes, Jason, AmEx is kind enough to charge us an additional fee when we transfer MR points to domestic carriers. They say it’s because they’re being charged taxes on the transfer. Interesting though that neither Chase nor SPG feels the need to pass along the same tax, isn’t it?
Do I like that they charge these fees? Nope. But:
- It only applies to US programs, which aren’t the ones I generally choose to transfer points to anyway
- The fee is 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99 per transfer — if that’s the difference between a program being valuable or not, then that’s on you…
I had just enough Frontier miles to get a whopping $20 in Papa Johns gift cards. Which is did because those miles are about worthless.
I almost hesitate to ask how many Frontier miles were required to get extra pepperoni.
Mipo777, I realize based on reading what the Devil’s Advocate has to say, transferring points to Frontier might seem like a good option. After all, they don’t have fuel surcharges and your girlfriend might really like the animals on the tail. But if you come over here and read my blog, I’ll show you how you should actually redeem your points. 😉
But let’s not restrict this to my own readers. Here’s what commenter David Young wrote over at Plucky’s blog…
The MOST valuable thing about MR is they can be turned into cold, hard CASH at 1c/mile.
He’s right. American Express Membership Rewards are equivalent to a cash back card but with a super high annual fee. Hey, who wouldn’t want that?
Right, the $0 annual fee on the Amex EveryDay Card is just a real killer! And I think you’re missing the point (no pun intended). Points can’t be worthless when at worst you can redeem them for one cent cash each.
And since Plucky doesn’t play Devil’s Advocate, I’m sure he would never argue one way on something and then turn around and argue it the opposite way just to get back at me, right? Because that would make him a hypocrite, wouldn’t it?
“Why Membership Rewards is more or less dead to me” by Plucky Schlappig
Oh, Plucky. I’m so disappointed.
This guy is better at selectively quoting than a politician! The part he left out is that the post of my title had “for now” in it at the end. And I hate to break it to you, but they’re more valuable to me now thanks to all the positive changes that Membership Rewards partners have made, and all the “sweet spot” redemptions we’ve figured out.
Allow me to quote myself from the last post (since I’m not actually convinced you read it):
A transferable points currency is akin to investing your money vs. storing it under your mattress. Yes, the value of transferable points currencies can fluctuate. But that’s a good thing. Sometimes they lose partners or their partner programs devalue, while other times they add more transfer partners or their partner programs open up new redemption opportunities.
And if we’re going to start selectively quoting blog comments, I can play that game too.