When the pandemic hit in 2020, we saw loyalty programs shift priorities and focus on keeping their members engaged without flying, staying in hotels, or setting foot in stores. They adapted by providing more ways to earn loyalty currencies, adding more cash equivalent rewards like gift cards and statement credits, all the while enticing them with offers they could use from home.
As we’ve emerged from two years of our altered lifestyles, we’ve seen loyalty programs keep the pandemic adaptations and evolve their programs to suit more walks of life. From converting Aeroplan points to Starbucks Stars and getting more value from American Express points when redeeming for statement credits, we’ve seen the programs that adapted new stay-at-home measures keep those in place.
Instead of thwarting the programs, the pandemic helped their evolution, which has set a new course for the industry. The emerging trends will continue to focus on cash equivalent rewards and partner variety, and it will place importance on immediate rewards. That is either by lowering redemption requirements for existing rewards, as we’ve seen with cash back credit cards letting you redeem as little as $1, adding lower value rewards like $5 gift cards, or by allowing a combination of points and cash to be used for a reward.
With the ongoing evolution, selecting a program will come down to those that match your lifestyle habits and provides meaningful rewards that you know you will use.