Gutting another Rewards Program — Dining for Miles Becomes Just Another Program

Rewards Network’s Dining for Miles programs are being revamped, a.k.a. gutted.

You may know the program as iDine (what I’ll always call it), and its precursor was Transmedia — the old program where you paid to sign up and had a membership card which you needed to present at restaurants for a cash discount.

The program awards frequent flyer miles in the program of your choosing when dining at a participating restaurant. Traditionally the award was 10 miles per dollar, although increasingly of late some restaurants only offered 5 miles per dollar spent and some restaurants gave miles only on certain days of the week.

Now comes the announcement that earning in the program is being changed dramatically. Instead of a default of 10 miles per dollar (plus frequent bonuses), most members will only earn 3 miles per dollar beginning July 1, 2005.

    On July 1, 2005, we will be changing the benefit structure of the [Airline] Dining program. We will be introducing a tiered membership structure. … Under the new program structure your benefits and tier level will be based on your level of participation in the program as outlined below:

    • Elite Member – 12 or more qualified transactions in 2004 (full calendar year) or between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2005 – 5 Miles/$1.00 Spent

    • Engaged Member – 4-11 qualified transactions in 2004 (full calendar year) Or between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2005 Or have/create an [Airline] Dining Online Profile – 3 Miles/$1.00 Spent

    • Active Member – 0-3 qualified transactions in 2004 (full calendar year) Or between January 1, 2005 and June 30, 2005 And no AAdvantage / One Pass / Flight Fund Dining Online Profile yet created – 1 Mile/$1.00 Spent

    At the beginning of each calendar year, you will be eligible for the benefits of the membership tier for which you qualified based on the number of qualified transactions at the end of the immediately preceding year.

(Note, some emphasis and elipses mine.)

Here are the notices for each of the participating airline programs:

That amounts to notices up on the websites for all participating programs except USAirways (as of this writing), which I presume is just a website updating issue.

Certainly this will save alot of money for Rewards Network. For me, I won’t seek out their participating restaurants anymore for miles earning. Miles now make the difference for me in deciding where to eat (I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, especially to my foodie friends). No longer.

The premium cashback program appears to be unchanged at the moment. In exchange for a fee, you can earn 20% back on your dining bills instead of miles. I haven’t seen any revised terms there.

And the Diners Club program remains unchanged as well — essentially giving you the premium cashback program for free when paying at participating restaurants with your Diners Club card.

I will certainly make the choice to pay with Diners Club where accepted now and take the cashback instead of the miles. And since Diners Club will become accepted everywhere that takes Mastercard next year, I will use the card at all participating restaurants period. No more Dining for Miles for me.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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