Travel Hacking in 2023: Year in Review

  1. Travel Hacking in 2021: Reflecting on the Past Year
  2. Travel Hacking in 2022: A Bittersweet Year for Miles and Points
  3. Travel Hacking in 2023: Year in Review

It’s been yet another interesting year for Miles & Points in 2023, with some interesting developments, several big setbacks, and many small wins. 

Finding value in points programs has continued to become more challenging, with notable devaluations, exits from the market, and tightening of terms and conditions. Nonetheless, if you know where to look, value can always be found in this hobby.

Let’s recap the biggest wins and losses of 2023 in the world of miles and points.

Highs of 2023

Frugal Flyer Growth: Two Meetups, New Tools, and a Rebate Loyalty Program

Building off our inaugural event in 2022, we hosted two meetups in Edmonton in 2023. In March we partnered with Prince of Travel to host a Miles & Pints event which was an excellent opportunity to bring our two knowledgable communities together. Later in September, we hosted our own miles and points event which had an excellent turnout.

Meeting our readers makes all the work we put into Frugal Flyer worth it for us, and we appreciate your support as Frugal Flyer continues to grow. You can expect more meetups in 2024 as we love to bring the community together in Edmonton, an often under-appreciated city in the miles and points scene.

Earlier this year we launched the Miles & Points Partner Transfer tool, making it easy to quickly see all current transfer options across loyalty programs in both Canada and the United States. Users can filter by bonuses, focusing on promotional transfer rates to get the most out of their miles and points.

More recently, we refreshed the Rebate Comparison tool to add sorting, filtering, and other functionality, making it easier for readers to ensure they are getting the most cash back when signing up for a new financial product. We are always thinking of new ideas for potential tools to build; if you ever have an idea of a tool you would like to see on Frugal Flyer, let us know!

Finally, we launched our FlyerFunds Loyalty Bonuses program to put more cash back in our reader’s wallets. While other rebate sites focus on a referral structure, we wanted to reward those who are signing up for rebates with us for continuing to choose Frugal Flyer for all their financial product needs.

Travel Continues to Normalize

When compared to 2022, travel has moved back to a much more normalized state of affairs. Anyone who traveled in 2022, especially during the summer, remembers the massive delays, slammed airports, and sea of lost luggage. 

2023 was much better. Not only were operations smoother, but entry requirements were consistently removed, making travel accessible and much more risk-free than what previously existed.

All of the domestic and international trips we took in 2023 went off without a hitch. If anything, the turbulence that was 2022 made us all better travelers and more prepared to problem-solve when faced with unique and stressful situations. Additionally, it showed us the utility that miles and points can have when faced when a difficult situation, as opposed to having to pay cash or rely on the airlines for reimbursement.

We are hoping that travel continues to improve through 2024 without any further setbacks.

New Routes, Programs, & Partnerships

As with any year, there are always major shakeups and shakedowns in the world of airline partnerships. This year, several notable partnerships were forged between some of our favorite airlines and loyalty programs, and new experiences are sure to be had as a result.

A personal favorite for us was the announcement of a new partnership between MBNA Rewards and Alaska Airlines. You may recall a low of 2022 was the discontinuation of the MBNA Alaska Airlines credit cards, which meant no opportunities to earn Alaska Miles organically in Canada.

Fortunately, in Summer 2023 MBNA announced that the MBNA Rewards currency would be 1:1 transferable to Alaska Mileage Plan. Given the MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard earns 5X points on restaurants, groceries, and more, this presents a fantastic opportunity to acquire the coveted Alaska Miles. This transferability is expected to be implemented in 2024. 

MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard

The MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard earns MBNA Rewards points and gives cardholders the opportunity to earn 5x MBNA Rewards on restaurant, grocery, digital media purchases, and more.

Check out our MBNA Rewards World Elite Mastercard review for more details.

30,000 MBNA Rewards

The Avios points currency, known primarily as the currency of British Airways Avios, has continued to mature as a currency this year. Avios can be transferred freely to and fro different airline programs that use the Avios currency, including:

  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Iberia Plus

Coming in March 2024, Finnair Plus will also adopt the Avios currency, opening up even more options for redemption. 

Transferring to Qatar Airways Privilege Club is an apt strategy for booking redemptions on Qatar Qsuites with better availability and lower taxes and fees, this is even more so the case for a brand new partnership between JetBlue and Qatar. This unique partnership allows members to book transatlantic flights on JetBlue Mint Business Class for 78,000 Avios.

Related: The Best Ways to Redeem British Airways Avios for Business Class Flights   

Needless to say, if you’re not collecting Avios via Avion transfers from the RBC Avion Visa Infinite card, you’re missing out on a whole plethora of fantastic flight redemption avenues through Avios and its many Oneworld partners.   

Although less accessible to Canadians, Skyteam has also become a more formidable alliance for miles and points enthusiasts with the addition of Virgin Atlantic to the program. Air France KLM Flying Blue is most accessible to Canadians and contains many sweet spots of its own. In 2024 they added Etihad and ITA Airways as partners, are now allowing free stopovers for award bookings, and launched their own co branded credit card with Brim. You can also get your hands on Flying Blue Miles easily by transferring from American Express Membership Rewards (CA or US).

Lows of 2023

More Miles & Points Devaluations

Along with a bevy of enrichments to the programs mentioned above, there were lots of devaluations across a variety of loyalty programs, airlines in particular.

We all know devaluations are part of the hobby, but that doesn’t make it hurt any less when your favorite miles and points loyalty program or credit card is devalued.

In particular, the cost of award redemptions with Cathay Asia Miles, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, and Qatar Airways Privilege Club all increased or changed in a net negative direction. 

In July 2023 Qatar Airways silently updated its award pricing for last-minute awards to Doha, a the ‘Saver’ fare level. For example, with 31 days of departure, it now costs 94,500 Avios from North America to Doha in business class compared to 70,000 previously. Likewise from Europe to Doha, it costs 54,000 Avios compared to 43,000 previously. This increase in pricing can be avoided by booking more than 31 days in advance, which is a best practice when booking award flights.

Furthermore, in the fall we noticed a disappearance of Saver award availability for most of 2024, with most flights only showing Flexi pricing. Award inventory seemingly comes in waves with Qatar Airways, so keep an eye out if you are looking to make this redemption. The other opportunity is to look 360 days out at schedule open, as the Qatar Airways Privilege Club program gets access to award seats in advance of other programs.

Meanwhile, in October 2023 Cathay Asia Miles released a new award chart with increases in points costs across the board of 20-30%. In particular, for long-haul flights, business class goes from 70,000 miles to 84,000 miles required.

Alaska Airlines was hit with devaluations as well and on multiple fronts. First, Japan Airlines awards booked with Alaska miles were devalued, with the cost in points increasing most notably for:

  • Business class awards between the United States (except for the West Coast) and Japan increased from 60,000 miles to 80,000 miles (33% increase).
  • Business class awards between most of the United States and Southeast Asia increased in cost from 65,000 miles to 100,000 miles (54% increase).

I was lucky enough to get my business-class flights on Japan Airlines booked just before this devaluation took place.

Additionally, Alaska made a further far-reaching change to how partner awards will be priced, which will take effect in March 2024. Instead of having an individualized award chart for each partner airline, there is now a harmonized award chart (well, actually a series of three charts based on region), which will close up several sweet spots for redeeming Alaska Miles. In particular, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Finnair, and Korean Air have all gone up significantly in the number of points required to redeem. 

You can view all of the Alaska Partner Award charts here on the Alaska Airlines website. Note that these are ‘starting at’ rates, meaning that the actual quoted price in points can be higher for some dates depending on demand, etc. 

One piece of good news however is that thanks to these new harmonized award charts, you can now mix partners on a one-way award itinerary using Alaska miles. The silver lining in an otherwise disappointing development for a program that has already suffered greatly in accessibility to Canadians.

Aeroplan Crack Downs: Family Sharing, Award Inventory Tools, and New T&Cs

In 2023 there was quite a bit of drama with the Air Canada Aeroplan program. 

First, Aeroplan announced the disabling of the ability to create new Family Sharing accounts. The reasoning provided was pretty cryptic, citing ‘rampant fraud’. I do not know the specifics but I can only speculate that fraudsters were somehow using the feature to drain accounts or utilize points from fraudulent accounts or accounts with fraudulently acquired points. 

While it was only supposed to be a few weeks before getting things back up and running, Family Sharing has remained disabled since August 2023. Fortunately, if you already have a Family Sharing account you can still use it and add/remove members as you please.

Next up, Aeroplan clashed with several notable award inventory aggregators, including and ExpertFlyer. Executives asserted that award inventory aggregators were placing undue strain on the airlines’ backend systems, to the extent that it’s significantly impacting their partners and the overall end-user experience. As a result, Air Canada issued a cease-and-desist order to, demanding that they stop scraping the Air Canada website for award availability. 

In the wake of this, Cowtool, a beloved third-party Aeroplan award aggregator, voluntarily shut down on its own terms and ExpertFlyer removed Star Alliance airlines from its system. However has indicated that it will not comply with the cease-and-desist order and will continue to index Air Canada award availability. 

Although partner availability has improved since the above, these developments still put a spotlight on the extremely inefficient search options on the Air Canada website, and there is clearly a great demand for these award inventory scraper websites. I personally use regularly and find it immensely helpful when searching for award availability. I would be quite disappointed to lose it. 

Finally, in November 2023 Aeroplan released a major update to its Terms & Conditions. This included several notable revisions including but not limited to:

  • Prohibition of creating multiple Aeroplan accounts using different email addresses or names.
  • Family Sharing, specifically Aeroplan may require you to validate your family relationship and may take extreme action if members of a pool are found to be engaged in fraudulent activity.
  • Inactive Aeroplan accounts may be closed after 3 years instead of 5 years.
  • Transferring or switching, including upgrading or downgrading, between different Aeroplan cards, product types, or financial institutions may result in your account being suspended, revoked, or terminated. 
  • Aeroplan members may be granted a maximum of one New Card Bonus for each type of Aeroplan co-branded credit card, regardless of the issuer.
  • Linking your Aeroplan card to an account that’s not your own is considered a prohibited activity.

Needless to say, it’ll be interesting to see how these changes play out in practice.

Changes in the Canadian Credit Card Landscape

Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can bring some uncertainty to the world of miles and points, especially when it involves financial institutions and their credit products.

Most recently, it is expected that the HSBC acquisition by RBC to close in the next while which is a massive deal in the Canadian banking industry. While we aren’t sure what to make of this right now when it comes to their credit products in the future, we will be watching closely to see what happens. Typically, less competition is a bad thing for consumers, but we want to wait and see what happens with this one.

Additionally, it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for existing HSBC cardholders as well with the conversion or transfer of existing credit card products and points.

We also saw a number of new credit cards introduced in the Canadian marketplace this year, but unfortunately, many of them missed the mark from a value proposition perspective.

The most positive addition was the Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard which finally created a way for Canadians to natively earn Flying Blue Miles on their purchases. While it is currently lacking a welcome bonus, it did have a great offer earlier this year. Flying Blue is slept on as a program, so being able to accrue through another method was a welcome addition.

Brim Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard

The Brim Financial Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard offers Flying Blue Miles on purchases that can be used for flights around the world, along with a way to increase your status with Flying Blue.

Check out our Brim Financial Air France KLM World Elite Mastercard review for more details.

60,000 Flying Blue Miles
Jun 10, 2024

Near the tail end of 2023, we saw two new underwhelming cards enter the marketplace: the Neo Cathay World Elite Mastercard and the BMO eclipse rise Visa card.

The Cathay World Elite Mastercard powered by Neo replaced the previously existing RBC Cathay Pacific credit card. While it is nice to have another method to earn Asia Miles in Canada, the card has an annual fee of $180 which is out of step with the rest of the World Elite Mastercard market and offers benefits that can be had simply by signing up for the Cathay Asia Miles loyalty program. It would be great to see them improve the card over time, but for now, the launch was relatively lackluster.

On the other hand, the BMO eclipse rise Visa card isn’t bad, it just doesn’t add anything new to the marketplace. While it offers no annual fee, there are better options out there, so it just felt like a new yet non-notable addition to the Canadian credit card lineup.

We are hoping that we start to see more impactful innovation from financial institutions in 2024 when it comes to new credit products and improving upon their existing lineup.

What’s Next for Frugal Flyer in 2024

While we have been able to continue to build out the FlyerFunds Rebate program in 2023, we are always working with our partners to see what other mutually beneficial opportunities exist. We’ve recently added rebates on Rogers rebate credit cards and rebates on Simplii bank accounts, with plans in the works to add other financial institutions and products in 2024. 

We want to focus on continuing to bring our community together as personal interactions and the building of collective knowledge are the most enjoyable aspects of Miles and Points. We will leave things ambiguous for now as we iron out some details, but more information will come in due time.

We are also looking for new paid writers who are interested in writing casually for Frugal Flyer. We would love to chat with you about this opportunity to join our team if you have knowledge and passion about the world of miles and points. 

Additionally, we are interested in someone who has a passion for social media. If you are interested in some additional freelance work on the side on an as-needed basis, we would love to hear from you.

If either of these opportunities are of any interest to you, please reach out to us via email if interested!


The beauty of miles and points is that while you can always look back to what happened over the past year, the year ahead is what is always worth being optimistic about. While things are always changing, sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, we look forward to what 2024 will bring the world of miles and points and similarly, Frugal Flyer.

We appreciate you reading throughout all of 2023 and look forward to continuing to share our knowledge with you in 2024!

Reed Sutton

Reed Sutton

Founder at Frugal Flyer
Reed is addicted to the art of earning and redeeming travel points, and frequently pairs his trips with his other hobby: photography. Through Frugal Flyer, Reed aims to distill some of the complex and esoteric points strategies into digestible information. Furthermore, he hopes to use his technical expertise to develop invaluable applications and tools for the travel community.
Josh Bandura

Josh Bandura

Co-Founder at Frugal Flyer
Josh has been involved in the miles and points game since 2015 but has scaled up his knowledge and points earning potential in recent years. With a consistent attitude of "min-maxing" in many aspects of his life, Josh has transferred this mindset over to the miles and points game. Always looking for the next big opportunity, he aims to share content on a variety of topics including his travels, miles and points, and most importantly, how to get the most out of your credit cards


FlyerFunds Rebates: Comparison Tool Now Available

Review: The Saint Hotel New Orleans French Quarter, Autograph Collection 


Leave a Comment

All comments are moderated according to our comment policy. Your email address will NOT be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.