Air Miles irks users with cash miles limits

Some Air Miles collectors reacted with anger on Monday after learning the reward program is lowering the cap on in-store cash miles redemptions to $50 per day as it prepares to resume the program on April 5.

The redemptions were halted after Air Miles discovered nearly two weeks ago that some stolen cash miles had been used to make purchases.

The latest changes to Air Miles redemption policies follow a controversy that erupted last year, when the company was planning to void Air Miles that hadn’t been claimed after five years. That plan was withdrawn before it was to take effect as many customers reacted angrily.

Francis van Roode, 50, said he’s considering replacing his Air Miles credit card for one that offers other rewards because of the new spending limit.

“I use those cash rewards to go to Staples, buy a new computer monitor or, like a few weeks back, I bought a new office chair, things like that,” said the Vancouver information technology consultant.

“Fifty bucks? So if I want to buy a $300 monitor, I get $50 off and have to put up the rest? That’s not great.”

The previous daily limit for in-store redemptions was $750, but Air Miles says most of its collectors use the cash miles in small amounts.

However, Andrew Allen says he shares an Air Miles card with his parents so that they can afford to buy big-ticket items, such as fixtures for his bathroom renovation project.

“Fifty dollars is not going to pay for the bathtub I want to get,” said the 32-year-old administrator at McMaster University in Hamilton.

“The tub alone is probably going to cost $300 or $400. The old way was $750, which was fine for me.”

He said he’s been collecting Air Miles since the 1990s and doesn’t want to stop but hopes the company changes its decision.

Air Miles said it chose to implement the $50 cap to reduce the risk of fraud while ensuring most of its collectors can still claim their miles for discounts.

The loyalty program says Air Miles customers will be able to redeem up to 475 cash miles worth $50 per day, starting Wednesday as of 5 a.m. ET.

But Air Miles won’t allow the loyalty points to be used to purchase gift cards, prepaid credit cards or other similar products.

“I worked hard to collect those Air Miles. I think I should be able to use them the way I want to use them,” said Deonne Garry, a 39-year-old office worker from Fall River, N.S.

She said she has been using her points to buy Visa gift cards at a grocery store to give away or for personal purchases and is furious that Air Miles won’t allow it anymore.

The company is urging customers to ensure their email addresses on file are up-to-date to receive notices when the cash points are used and instructions if it appears somebody else redeemed them.

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