What do you do when points vanish into thin air?

Photo of author

By Christopher Elliott

When Jonathan Govias tries to transfer 6,000 points from one frequent flier program to another, they go missing. No one is willing to help him recover the missing miles. Are they gone for good?

Question

I’m having an issue with Points.com I thought you might be able to help resolve. I recently traded 6,000 American Airline miles for 6,000 JetBlue miles, with a transaction fee of $100. The interface stated that the estimated processing time was five to eight business days.

More than eight days passed, and my account hadn’t been credited. So I contacted Points.com. I was told a “system issue” would delay my transfer, but that it would eventually happen.

A few days later I checked in again, sending an email to Points.com. The response: “Our records show that your trade is now completed.” But I still didn’t have my miles.

I contacted JetBlue last week and was told that it would “investigate.” I called again today, and was told that they had submitted a request (their turn of phrase) but “their hands were tied” until Points.com completed the transaction.

Points.com is giving me the metaphorical finger and True Blue claims they can’t help. I’m out $100 and 6,000 American Airlines miles. Can you offer any guidance please? — Jonathan Govias, Boston, Mass.

Answer

Those points should have been transferred to you account immediately. When they weren’t, Points.com should have tracked them down quickly, and without any additional prompting from you.

Let’s back up and explain what Points.com does, for the uninitiated. The site allows you to consolidate all of your loyalty programs in one place and trade or transfer miles between programs, for a fee. (Related: My airline tickets disappeared. How do I get them back?)

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

I’m a Points.com member, myself. I’m a reluctant participant in a few loyalty programs, even though I’m on record as being a loyalty-program skeptic. My account balances are strictly tourist-level, because I’m not a serious collector, but for many travelers, being a card-carrying elite is important. I understand that. (Related: How to quit your loyalty program: Here’s your guide to a points-free life.)

But here’s something I don’t understand: Why pay $100 to transfer $60 worth of miles? Frequent flier miles are valued at around one cent a mile, give or take. So 6,000 miles would only be worth $60. You must have had a really good reason for doing that. (Here’s our guide to resolving your consumer problem.)

From your correspondence, I see that you tried to keep an email trail, right up until you received a response that said “do not reply.” I’m not sure why any company would accept an email and then tell you not to reply. That doesn’t sound like customer service at all, and Points.com is hardly alone in doing this.

My advocacy team and I contacted Points.com on your behalf. It responded to you, apologizing for the missing points and for its “do not reply” policy. It promised to review its email practices and posted your missing 6,000 frequent flier miles to your account.

Photo of author

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

Related Posts