Monthly Archives: June 2015

Points and Miles: Where to Start? What to Expect?

2015-06-20 Where to start
Friends know I love to travel and I’m starting to get questions about how I can take such nice vacations each year. When I reply that I use miles and points to help defray my expenses, of course then they want to know how I can accumulate those points if I’m spending them for travel. I explain about using credit cards both for the sign-up bonuses and for strategic spending to earn those points. Then the inevitable question comes: which card should they get first? The answer? It depends.

It sounds like a cop-out but it is truly the best answer because the best card for someone just starting out in this game depends on how they want to use their points and miles. Is your goal domestic travel or premium cabin international travel? Will you be traveling solo or as a couple or a family? Do you live near an airline’s hub or is your city serviced by an airport with limited service? All of these are things to consider what card is right for you.

But the most important factor is: where do I want my points and miles to take me? The different airline alliances have different strengths in different parts of the world, so accumulating points with a destination in mind is crucial. Once you can answer that question, you’ll have a good place to start.

Setting Expectations

Once people start accumulating miles their expectation becomes “I can fly any time, anywhere for free!” – and that’s not realistic. I try to coach people that when using frequent flyer miles (more-so than hotel points) a person will need to be flexible in at least one of these three categories:

  • Date/Times
  • Routing
  • Destination

If a person is locked into a certain destination on certain dates and is only willing to fly non-stop, they’ll almost certainly find themselves disappointed when they can’t use their miles. I run into this frequently myself. I love to go skiing and am in a ski club. The club sets the dates and the destinations. Many times we fly to smaller mountain airports that have only a few flights per day. So quite I often I must decide whether to pay cash or use the same number of miles on a regional jet flight in economy that could otherwise be spent on a business-class trip to Europe.

Decisions can be further complicated depending on whether or not there’s a traveling companion who’s paying cash. What if the flights with award availability are much more expensive that the flights one would choose when paying cash?

All these factors should be considered when determining whether to use points and miles or cash for a trip.

If you’re wondering where to start, drop me an email and tell me where you’d like to go, what credit cards you have now and I’ll be happy to offer suggestions on the best cards to use to get you to your destination. Email:

(Note: if you don’t currently pay off your credit cards in full each month, this game is not for you. The interest incurred will offset the value of the points and miles earned.)

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Earn 5000 Bonus Point Per Stay at Hilton

2015-06-17 Hilton PromoToday Hilton announced a limited-time offer where you can earn 5000 bonus HHonors points for each stay between now and July 6. You must register for this promotion before you check out of your first eligible stay.

2015-06-17 Hilton Double Points Double Miles
When you stack this with the Double Points/Double Miles promotion, you can really rack up the miles quickly!

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Activate Q3 Bonus Categories for Chase Freedom

While we’re still wrapping up spending for Q2 categories that include restaurants, you can now register your Chase Freedom card for Q3 bonus categories which include gas stations and Kohl’s department store. When using your Freedom card in bonus categories you’ll receive 5 Ultimate Reward points per dollar spent on up to $1500 in combined purchases. Ulitmate Reward points can be redeemed for 1 cent each or used like cash to redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal.2015-06-16 Freedom Q3 Bonus Categories

But if you also have a Sapphire Preferred personal card or one of the Ink business cards, all of which carry an annual fee, you can transfer your Ultimate Rewards point to one of several frequent flyer or hotel programs. When Ultimate Rewards are used in this way, it’s possible to get a lot more value than just 1 cent per point.

Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

Ultimate Rewards Transfer Partners

To activate your bonus, look for the email from Chase. Just click on the link and you should see this activation screen. You must activate your account by September 14 to qualify for bonuses for Q3.2015-06-16 Freedom Activation Complete

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Changes to Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards LogoMembership Rewards (MR) is the points program from American Express.  MR points can be accumulated via a number of their credit cards including the Premier Rewards Gold Card, Platinum Card®, American Express® Green Card, Blue Sky from American Express®, Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card and Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card. Some of these cards ean bonus points when shopping at certain merchants.

One of the great things about MR points is that they can be transferred to a number of travel partners including:

  • Aeroplan (Air Canada)
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Alitalia (1000:750)
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) (1000:750)
  • Delta (1000:750)
  • Etihad (1000:750)
  • Hilton
  • SPG (1000:500)

One of my favorite uses for MRs is transferring them to British Airways as BA Avios are great for short haul trips on American Airlines as they transfer at a 1:1 ratio vs. some of the other ratios we see above.

Unfortunately that’s changing on October 1. Starting on that date the transfer ratio to British Airways (and Iberia, which also uses Avios) will be 250 MRs to 200 Avios, which is a 25% devaluation. While that won’t be a huge hit for short haul trips, it would make a big difference when using Avios for long haul trips, like my upcoming trip to Australia. I didn’t have enough Avios in my account and topped it off with MRs so I’d have enough to make the reservation.

I suppose this is to be expected as we’ve learned that nothing stays the same in the world of points and miles but it’s still disappointing.

Categories: American Express, British Airways, Membership Rewards | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

First Friday = 3x Points or More on Dining

CSPOnce again it’s the first Friday of the month and that means 3x points on dining when you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred to pay.  But really, if you don’t have the Chase Freedom card that’s been earning 5x points on dining since April 1st, what are you waiting for?  The Freedom is a no-annual-fee card that’s a terrific complement to the Sapphire Preferred.  And if you don’t have either of these, the Discover cards are offering a 5% bonus on dining for the April-June time frame so that’s a better choice.Chase Freedom

Rewards-earning cards are great…but only if you take advantage of them!

Categories: Credit Card Promos, Discover, Freedom, Sapphire Preferred | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Discover Card Q3 Registration Now Open

2015-06-01 Discover Q3 RegistrationRegistration is now open for 5% bonus categories for Q3 2015 (July-September) when using your Discover card.

Bonus categories for Q3 are Home Improvement Stores, Department Stores and You’ll earn a 5% cash bonus for up to $1500 in purchases in this time frame.

Many home improvment and department stores sell gift cards, so here’s a great way to stock up for future purchases. The discount even applies to Amazon e-gift cards!

Log into your Discover account and register today.

Categories: Credit Card Promos, Discover | Tags: | Leave a comment

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