Ten 2019 Points & Miles Predictions

Let’s get right to it…

1. Disney will once again be bookable through with Chase Ultimate Rewards

Let’s start off with an optimistic prediction. It’s bizarre how Disney is selectively blocked for Ultimate Rewards redemptions. I think they’ll be able to patch up whatever caused the rift and we’ll once again see all things Disney bookable with Ultimate Rewards in 2019.

2. Amex will devalue their generous referral program

It’s just too good to be true, and if you’re not taking of advantage of it now you may regret it.

3. American Airlines -or- Alaska will devalue their premium cabin award chart to Asia

American and Alaska miles are strong for travel to Asia with partners JAL and Cathay Pacific. This won’t last. Book now.

4. A “relationship bank” will introduce a compelling premium rewards credit card

If I could only have one credit card it would be the City National Bank Crystal card. It’s great to see someone other than Chase and American Express offering an excellent overall product, and I think we’ll see more of this in 2019. I’m looking at you, First Republic – but it could come from anywhere. Maybe even a very high end “private bank”. We’ll see.

5. Bank of America will introduce a premium rewards card with a $400+ annual fee

Their Premium Rewards card is good, but it’s just not quite…premium enough? They’ve got relationships in place with a small but useful collection of airlines. Time to leverage that into a compelling product.

6. Plastiq will be acquired

Online payments run more effortlessly through Mastercards than Visa. Plastiq has been running promos with Mastercard like crazy. I think they’ll be acquired by some Mastercard related entity in 2019.

7. Chase will discontinue 5x

5x at office supply stores has gone on for a very long time. It’s almost to the point where Staples sales would dip if Chase discontinued 5x there. You’ve been warned. 3x is the new 5x.

8. Hilton will *not* make their points redeemable for 0.5 cents a piece on Amazon

Although this “glitch” occured a couple of times, I do not think Hilton points will be redeemable for 0.5 cents a piece on a regular basis. It just doesn’t make sense. They regularly sell Hilton points for 0.5 cents a piece. They wouldn’t allow Amazon redemptions (a near cash-equivalent) at the same price you can buy Hilton points. This won’t happen.

9. Amex will make Membership Rewards worth 1.5 cents a piece towards Fine Hotels & Resorts redemptions for Platinum cardholders

This is another optimistic prediction, but one that Amex should seriously consider to be competitive with Chase. Membership Rewards are good for flights. They’re not good for hotels, cruises, activities, and vacation rentals. To make Membership Rewards a currency that can fund more complete vacations they should consider making them worth more than 1 cent per point towards “other” travel. To differentiate themselves from Chase and Citi  they could restrict this to the hotels in their Fine Hotels & Resorts program. You’re welcome, Amex. Now make it happen.

10. The Citi Prestige redesign will be a flop and the card will be discontinued for good

We’re all waiting here with bated breath [not really] for Citi to redesign their flagship Prestige card that seems to get redesigned a couple of times a year. It’s clear at this point that Citi doesn’t know what they’re doing with this card. I predict they’re going to give up in 2019 after it’s 3rd redesign is a flop.

How did I do on last year’s predictions?

Last year I batted around 0.300. We reviewed what we got right and what we got wrong in this episode of the Milenomcs² No Annual Fee Podcast.

About the author

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer


  1. Great list!

    For #2, I don’t believe Amex will devalue their referral programs. It allows Amex to side-step paying cash for affiliate links to bloggers and instead give points to people, some (or many) of which will either not use them as expensively as they could, or will hold back from spending the points for a while whilst in accumulation mode. It also engenders more loyalty if people can get something for referring cards to others with ease

    #3, I agree, ish. I don’t believe the non-stop to HKG or TYO will devalue, but the CX-awards on AS where for between 0- and 10,000 miles you can take on a premium award for Africa/Middle East/ Australia will definitely be devalued.

    #4, yes, that makes total sense, and I too hope that CNB goes down that route, but I doubt it as the reward structure is already very rich and they probably don’t feel the need to add more at this stage (they aren’t, after all, trying to keep up with JPMChase, BoA or Citi, so the calculus is different for them I would venture)

    #5, yes.

    To #4 & #5, I would add that Amex has a huge gap between the Centurion and the Amex Plat, and should seriously consider say a “Amex Titanium” at the $999 level with a supreme set of benefits, including status with many of their MembershipReward partners, CSR-like ease of travel credit redemption, etc….

    #7, most likely.

    To that, Chase will break the buck, the 1:1 ratio, for all transfers. It may go up for IHG, e.g. 1:1.5, and almost certainly go down for Hyatt, 1.5:1. I also think Chase is going to drop 5/24 for application approvals, but not for sign-up bonuses

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