Families are the Biggest Loser in the Delta & Award Wallet Break-up

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Many of us know that Award Wallet really simplifies managing miles and points accounts.  If I used just one hotel and airline program then I could easily keep an eye on those balances without the help of any program, but the reality is I have points in dozens of programs.  I know the same is true for many readers of this blog.  Even if I was just responsible for my own programs, that would still be a lot to keep track of without a site like Award Wallet that keeps track of all the balances and expiration dates in one place.  It also simplifies logging into the programs by keeping your account numbers and passwords in one place.  Until yesterday you could track virtually all major hotel and airline programs, with the exception of Southwest and American Airlines.  The worst thing that can happen to points is that they expire unused.  However, with Award Wallet it is easy to keep an eye on all expiration dates at one time.

However, I don’t just have my dozens of programs to keep an eye on.  I have my husband’s and my daughter’s as well.  To a lesser extent I also have my parents and in-laws accounts to be aware of.  Those with larger families have even more.  A spreadsheet can help with tracking and managing some of the information, but a spreadsheet can’t replace the auto-updating of point balances and expiration dates the way that Award Wallet does.

News broke yesterday that Delta had gone the way of American Airlines when they sent a cease and desist letter to Award Wallet that demanded they cease allowing Award Wallet users to track and access their Delta accounts via the Award Wallet site.  However, I was too busy yesterday picking my daughter up from school, taking her to swim lessons, going to Grandparent Day ceremonies, getting the family fed, the toddler bathed and in bed, etc. to write about it…the exact same reasons that I am also too busy to effectively track all of the many miles and points programs my family uses without the assistance of a product like Award Wallet.

For those not familiar with how Award Wallet works, you can choose to have Award Wallet store your passwords so you can access them from any computer, or you can choose to store them locally on your specific computer.  I remember when American Airlines no longer allowed their frequent flyer accounts to be accessed by Award Wallet there was a bunch of talk and speculation that it was due to security concerns.  I’ve since heard excuses reasons related to screen scraping, proprietary information, wanting traffic directed back to the airline websites, etc.  I frankly don’t care what the reasons are as there are likely solutions to whatever the problems are if the airlines wanted to remain customer friendly in this respect.  I would happily pay a reasonable fee for this service via an app or similar.

I completely agree with Gary when he says that he is less engaged with programs when he can’t see the balances update regularly.  American Airlines is a perfect example.  I rarely check on the balance, and rarely do things to make it increase.  Multiply that effect out across multiple family accounts and it isn’t hard to imagine why the accounts that are easier to use and manage get more attention.  I still value my AA miles, but they just aren’t in the forefront of my mind since I don’t see them on a regular basis in Award Wallet.  Though perhaps that is the point…?

Families are way too busy for this nonsense.  I hate to say it, but I don’t think this is the end of the Award Wallet fall-out.  That said, I really hope that other airlines realize how valuable this service is for some of their customers, and understand that engaged customers can be some of their best long-term customers.  Thumbs down, Delta.  I also really hope that Award Wallet is working diligently to come up with a solution with the various airlines so their great product doesn’t have the rug entirely ripped out from under them.

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  1. I don’t know about everyone else, but I refuse to give some website all my travel account passwords. It’s as unsafe as having some site track your bank and investment balance.
    What I do is have a column in my spreadsheet where I put the date of last activity in each account, and another one where based on the rules of that program, I automatically calculate the expiration date. You can also have it conditionally formatted to highlight those accounts that are nearing expiration.
    You don’t need to obsessively check each account each day. I just record all travel transactions that I expect to generate some account activity and once a month check those accounts to make sure it went through.

  2. I couldn’t agree more. I use awardwallet to keep track of 5 accounts in my family — multiply by all the major airlines (except American and now Delta) and all the major hotels, and you can imagine what a timesaver this is. I agree that I won’t bother checking those airlines websites and will likely fly them less unless they do something major like a super transfer bonus or something to make up for it. When you add this to the difficulty of redeeming awards on Delta (skypesos), it becomes hard to justify why one should fly with them… even though I like their product. It’s a real shame.

  3. I use Award Wallet and pay for the service, but I still have mixed feeling about the security.

    In terms of ‘less engaged with programs when he can’t see the balances update regularly’, my guess is that this is more valid for an average person than for a miles pro (I consider myself a half pro ;)). Even if AA restricts one to access their AAdvantage site to, hypothetically, once a week, I think a miles pro (and half pro) would continue to apply for Citi 50K cards as frequently as one possibly can.

    • Even if you continue to churn AA cards, you might be less inclined to put effort into the smaller things like dining, partners, shopping, etc. Or as always, maybe it’s just me. 😉

  4. If a business is dependent upon free third party access to another platform, there is always a danger of being shutout. If award wallet wanted to, it could enter into a contractual arrangement for access to AA and delta systems. They choose not to pay. I wonder how long it will be before all programs demand payment and how award wallet will respond. United has also talked about web scrapers and aggregators with regards to some of their recent web site changes as well.

  5. BTW, in protest, I unchecked the box in my skymiles account to have statements emailed. I assume this means Delta will now incur the cost to mail me a paper copy.

  6. Actually, now that I think about it, skypesos don’t expire, so really dumbfounds me why Delta is taking this measure. The other reasons (security, etc.) don’t hold water. I don’t use awardwallet, but I do religiously use yodlee which I find invaluable for tracking my credit card balances and bank accounts, in addition to my point balances.

    • Yeah the expiration thing doesn’t exactly add up with Delta specifically, but I still think that airlines don’t cry for us when our miles expire. 😉 Of course, with all the Delta changes these days wouldn’t shock me if they introduce expiring miles…that would be an interesting coincidence.

  7. AmEx has access to your points balance without password storage. Could Delta have offered API to that very basic information only? They could have, even if for a fee. Instead they chose to offer lawyers at 50 paces at dawn. It’s not about security.

  8. Since AMEX & Chase already have a “secure” relationship in place with the airlines/hotels, perhaps AMEX or Chase should make Award Wallet a very generous offer and purchase the technology / company and incorporate it into their website somehow. Award Wallet recently celebrated a milestone of 100,000 members. Obviously, there is a demand for this type of service. I think the points community should be stomping our feet on this issue and the direction this is headed. I think we owe it to our friends at Award Wallet. I don’t think we should take this lying down.

  9. Delta is making so many PR blunders that they are fast becoming my least favored airline. Continued arrogant, high handed behavior. I know they are running a business and entitled to protect what is theirs but they are stepping all over the rights and interests of their customers rights to keep informed and to make travel and record keeping easier.

  10. Since Delta raised the number of miles required to travel to southeast Asia a few years ago from 60K to 80K (restricted economy)overnight without warning – thereby screwing all of it’s Skypesos collectors, I basically gave up on them. I used to use them as my number one program often flying on their planes and using partners. I was just at 60K miles on the day that they raised the requirements – so in effect I lost a free trip to Asia. I have since used these miles to go to Hawaii and from now on I avoid them at all cost. This new event really doesn’t bother me much because I don’t waste my time on their program any longer.

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