The (false) allure of 30 points per dollar

Another holiday season is upon us, bringing reminders from airline loyalty programs to buy all your gifts through their portals in an effort to earn extra points. It also brings my periodic reminder that choosing to do so is not always a smart idea.

Today’s example comes from FTD and American Airlines. American & FTD are offering 30 points per dollar spent on flowers. That’s a theoretically huge payout, assuming you are planning to buy flowers via FTD anyways. But you’re also not necessarily paying the same price for those flowers.

First FTD bouquet I compared shows a $10 price difference if you want to earn AAdvantage points
First FTD bouquet I compared shows a $10 price difference if you want to earn AAdvantage points

I clicked through the link in the email I received and also went directly to the FTD site. The prices on many of the bouquets are different depending on which version you choose. It turns out that FTD doesn’t pass along the “sale” price on the cobrand portal. In this example it is $10-20 in price variation; I’ve seen different numbers in the past.

Yes, the FTD bouquet prices are $20 more in this case. That's a hefty premium for AAdvantage points
Yes, the FTD bouquet prices are $20 more in this case. That’s a hefty premium for AAdvantage points

Added bonus of the generic version of the site is there’s an offer for a $5 coupon if you sign up for the FTD email list; no such offer on the branded version of the site.

Get a $5 coupon for your FTD order, but only if you don't want the AAdvantage points
Get a $5 coupon for your FTD order, but only if you don’t want the AAdvantage points

I won’t get in to the relative value of FTD orders versus direct from a local florist or the other challenges that come from these deals. Suffice it to say that the price you see may not be the real price for the product, especially when “blinded” by the mega points earning potential. And the companies are betting on less informed consumers making that mistake. Don’t be that guy.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I literally just received this offer. Thanks for being Johnny on the spot and putting this out there so quickly. Not that I had any plans to buy any flowers for anyone for Christmas anyway, it was tempting to follow their link. I will admit that I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to compare their non-branded prices. Something to be aware of for sure.

    1. I try to not harp on this too often but every now and then I bring it up again. Maybe I should more often, but I feel like I’d be a broken record at that point.

    2. In this case your timing was quite perfect. I agree that others may be used to it, but it’s the first time (that I remember) that I have seen it, so I am glad you put it out there again. 🙂 Gotta post it when it feels right. Can never have too much awareness.

  2. I’ve seen the same thing with hotel prices somewhere like The prices are marked up ever so slightly if you use a portal in most cases. What a joke.

  3. I want to say thank you too. Not that I had any intention to use these offers but I really like when a blog takes a critical approach to any offer and points out the cons too. More often than not the blogs are all stupidly pushing offers without helping readers understand what they’re really getting into, probably because their incentives aren’t aligned with those of their readers.

  4. In addition I’ve found that miles from 1800FLOWERS offers almost never go through without the two-months-to-post excuse and then follow-up. They give no assistance and just tell you to contact the airline program and chase it. They’re initial replay is always wait the two months or so, and come back, even if the time is already over.

    The time spent and frustration is just not worth it, so I now stay away from them altogether.,

  5. Thanks. I have seen this in the past with eBags using cashback portals such as eBates and MrRebates, so this doesn’t surprise me. But thanks for the reminder.

  6. Similar with 1-800 Flowers… also, 1-800’s “gift cards” are often not really gift cards either… they’re “savings passes” and can’t be combined with any other offers so you have to pay full price to use. Those corporate florists… a shady bunch. ????

  7. We read and love you for your unrelenting integrity and honesty and here it shines so once again, we thank you for credible reliable travel and flying news. If ever in doubt, do the right thing as you always do.

  8. I’ve used these deals in the past to extend mileage expiration but that’s it…they’re overpriced and you can’t apply most other offers to them. Add in delivery fees and it gets worse.

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