We’ve heard this oft-repeated frequent flyer predicament many times over the years. You almost have enough miles for an award ticket in one program, and some orphan miles sitting in another program that you no longer use. Meanwhile, someone else would love to have your unwanted miles in exchange for some of their orphan miles. Points.com has developed a solution to this common situation you may want to seriously consider. Points.com launched the Global Points Exchange program, GPX, last month. The program allows members of different programs to trade their miles and points. Previously, the only way to transfer points between frequent travel program members was limited to transfers made within each individual program.
The trading rates will be set by the community of users and the fees for trades will be based on the transfer fees set by the loyalty programs. For example, the fee for transferring between 1,000 and 5,000 American AAdvantage miles is $50, plus a $30 per transaction processing fee. If an AAdvantage GPX user was able to find someone who wants to trade 5,000 AAdvantage miles for 5,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles, they would pay the transfer fee and receive the Mileage Plan miles. The Mileage Plan member would pay the transfer fee set by Mileage Plan — $0.01 per mile, plus a $25 processing fee per transaction ($75 total).
Members can set their own trading rates and the folks at points.com expect most trades to be made at a one-to-one ratio, but the community will eventually determine the market value of each program’s points and miles.
GPX has been in development for over a year and the beta version launched Dec. 17, 2007. You can only trade with the companies registered on GPX and at first only five programs are participating. Although we cannot list the programs here because the names are not being released until the launch date, we did hear from Christopher Barnard, president of points.com:
“Since GPX is in the beta stage and we are focused on learning as much as we can in this first phase, we have chosen to launch with a major U.S. carrier, a mid-sized carrier and a smaller airline program. To fill out North America we have included a Canadian program, and to set the stage for further growth, a European participant.”
Barnard says that with this mix of programs, points.com anticipates to gain valuable insight from the beta phase and that visitors to the site can expect additional partners early in the new year and “regularly thereafter.”
“The points.com member base will be the first to be invited to check out GPX, we are very interested to get feedback from our users and we extend that invitation to InsideFlyer readers as well,” says Kerry Reynolds, points.com partner marketing manager. “In this first phase of GPX, we look forward to watching how the community receives this new way to trade miles and points.”
Reynolds says they are working to build the product out over the next 12 months, so you can expect improvements. For more information and to test the GPX beta version, visit www.points.com and click the “trade on GPX” link.