Upping my mileage/points game

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MikeZ
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Upping my mileage/points game

Post by MikeZ » Fri Mar 04, 2016 11:57 am

So for the past 6 or 7 years I’ve had decent luck not having to pay for most of my personal domestic airfare needs. I would get a credit card from an airline, do the minimum spend (usually paying for 6 months of car insurance and pre-paying my Verizon cell bill for several months) and then cancel the card come time for the annual fee. Wait several years and wait till they solicited me again with offer. 50,000 miles is usually my floor for taking the airline offers. I supplement this with a light amount of miles I get from travel for work. I don’t spend a lot each month on the cards so that’s not a major source of points. Almost all my miles are coming from the sign-on bonuses.

I’ve also done this with cash back cards (Sapphire, Amex Gold). I’ve always taken my points in these cases as cashback. My best win in that space was about 5 years ago when I got an Amex Gold with 75,000 point sign on bonus which I took out as gasoline gift cards, I suspect I got that offer due to the fact that I rented a small cheap house in the richest part of the city I was living in. Usually $200 cash back is the floor for these offers.

I’ve never looked into hotel point cards as we have always stayed with Hotwire/Priceline/AirBNB so I’ve never really had an appeal for those type of cards. Also while we do like nice properties, but I’ve never cared much for upgraded rooms so status/points/etc never really hit me as important.

Never been too serious about it, just take offers when I get them, never carry a balance, and always cancel before I get hit with an annual fee. My credit score is >800 so I can’t say it’s had a negative impact.

But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane! Using 100,000 miles I was able to get a business class trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, a ticket I would never be able to afford with cash. I earned 50,000 of those miles from a credit card sign on bonus and 50,000 from a rare international project for work that had me flying to Europe and Asia.

The problem is that in the past I’ve never been able to accumulate enough points to dream of a premium cabin trip and I don’t foresee a path to accumulate those kind (100k-200k) of miles a year in the future without stepping up my game.

From what I can tell there seem to be some different strategies people talk about online:
1. International airline credit cards to book on other alliance carriers (e.g., use BA miles to book awards on AA flights for less miles than AA would require)
2. Having multiple entities and opening up business credit cards.
3. Transferring non-airline points (e.g., hotel points, cash back points, etc) to airline miles.
4. ‘Manufactured Spend’ which seems more risky and I don’t really shop at any one store enough to justify sitting on giftcards.

I read the blogs and flyertalk forums, but I don’t really seem to fit the mold of most of the point junkies. I don’t spend much (<$1,000 a month), I’m not a road warrior, and I may fly 2-3 times domestically and 1-2 times intentionally for personal trips. My vacation schedule is mostly fixed so I can’t jump at last minute deals often.
I’m really looks for a more strategic overview of the whole miles game to see what strategies align with my circumstances, which I’m having a hard time piecing together from blogs and forums. Anyone know of any good next steps to take?

flyingaway
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by flyingaway » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:40 pm

I just do as you did, apply for credit cards for normal spending, but do not do manufactured spending. I have yet to cancel any cards, will do that soon. I do not even use the credit cards when there are extra charges for using credit cards, for example, not paying my son's tuition fees with credit cards with 2.5% surcharge.

My family's average normal spending that can be put on credit cards (without extra charges) is about $1,000 or less a month. My observation is that sometimes I tended to buy something with the bonus credit cards that I might otherwise not buy. I tended to plan more vacations than I might not otherwise want to, since I have to spend the miles accumulated on some cards before I cancel them.

dougp29
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by dougp29 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 12:58 pm

I think your post writes the book on the churning game. Excellent job!

Drew777
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Drew777 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:05 pm

If you want to up your game to the level of being able to take regular international business/first class trips you're gonna need to spend a LOT of time doing research. Much more than anyone can write in a short response to your post. I would recommend researching on Flyertalk, Saverocity, Travel Codex, Reddit Churning, check out the blog links on Reddit, Boarding Area, etc.

Signup bonuses are always going to be the best way to get as many miles as possible as fast as possible. I just jump on every big signup bonus I think I'll be able to use. Between my wife and I we've got about 35 bonuses in a little over a year. With the amount you spend there's no way around it, you're going to have to look into manufactured spending if you want to accumulate that many miles. I can't give much specific advice since I've essentially stopped manufactured spending now that I have so much business spend. And yes, start using your bank points (Chase UR, Amex MR, Citi TYP, etc) to transfer to airlines rather than for cash or gift cards. Spread out your applications between banks also. Get cards from Chase, Amex, Citi, BOA, Barclays, US Bank, Capital One, etc. I know you said you don't do hotel cards, but look into the SPG cards because you can transfer 20,000 SPG points to most airlines for 25,000 miles.

It's good to have a big balance of miles with one or two airlines, but don't pass up good opportunities with other airlines either. I'd rank the top programs for international flights Alaska, American, United, British Airways, Delta. All transferrable bank points can offer good value. I'd still grab other cobranded airline cards when their signup bonuses increase as well. Cards like Arrival Plus, Venture, etc. can be used to help cover taxes and fees on international flights also.

killjoy2012
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by killjoy2012 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:09 pm

FlyerTalk is a better venue to discuss this topic. Most of the people here who are into miles/MS are also members over there.

You can do signup bonuses for the airline you're targeting, both personal and business cards.
You can target other cards in the same miles partnership program, where the miles can be moved/consolidated.
You can target other cards... where their points are convertible to airline miles (e.g. Chase UR miles)
You can do mileage runs - find very low fare, long haul flights & go fly around for the sole purpose of acquiring miles. Problem is having time to do this.

Across all of the cc ones, you want to try to get all of your spend on CCs. Many people even get their mortgage, rent, taxes, etc. on cards. Watch the fees.
If you don't spend enough at one store for GCs, then get Visa/MC/Amex gift cards. Watch the fees.
etc. etc.

For most of us that don't do this for a living, there's a point of diminishing returns. For most, that is the point of doing large signup bonuses and trying to move as much personal spend on those CC as practical.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by ResearchMed » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:16 pm

MikeZ wrote: ...
But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!

Using 100,000 miles I was able to get a business class trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, a ticket I would never be able to afford with cash. I earned 50,000 of those miles from a credit card sign on bonus and 50,000 from a rare international project for work that had me flying to Europe and Asia.

The problem is that in the past I’ve never been able to accumulate enough points to dream of a premium cabin trip and I don’t foresee a path to accumulate those kind (100k-200k) of miles a year in the future without stepping up my game.

From what I can tell there seem to be some different strategies people talk about online:
1. International airline credit cards to book on other alliance carriers (e.g., use BA miles to book awards on AA flights for less miles than AA would require)
2. Having multiple entities and opening up business credit cards.
3. Transferring non-airline points (e.g., hotel points, cash back points, etc) to airline miles.
4. ‘Manufactured Spend’ which seems more risky and I don’t really shop at any one store enough to justify sitting on giftcards.
...
Welcome to the "club".

Last year, apparently due to an equipment change, Alitalia upgraded us at no cost to their Business Class to Rome. And then back home.
[I'll avoid too much comment on how the "return" part was handled via us arriving in Rome, checking in to our hotel, waking up after a nap, and finding an email from Alitalia that they had "cancelled the tickets" for our return flight. Trying to resolve this from overseas, with calls to the USA or within Italy, yielded nothing for more than a week. :annoyed It helped when they finally responded that we'd be B-class on the way home, too.]

We still joke that it was a "ploy", to get us hooked on premium travel.
All we'd done in the past was Premium Economy.

Over the years, we've accumulated a huge number of miles/points, and now it's time to cash in.
DH can charge his business and consulting travel on our cards and get reimbursed, instead of using his corporate card (which he couldn't use for consulting anyway).
Those hotel stays (often at pricey conference hotels) add up.

However, we'll be spending those points now faster than we can accumulate them in the future, so this is suddenly more of a concern.
I think we'll need to start doing some of the card churning, at least a bit, but thus far, we haven't dealt with any of that.

I didn't know about the "using fewer BA points for AA travel than if AA points were used", so I need to look into that type of thing.
I'm just now learning how to use several steps to transfer points through several accounts to use points from A to travel on C, etc.

We've just booked our first premium travel for this spring, and we are trying 2 different international carriers so that we can learn which carriers and aircraft/seating patterns we prefer.

We just used AA points before those points get devalued later this month.
Now... must see if there is any travel we can book in advance to maximize those points now.

We also need to find out about bonus points, etc, and when - if ever - it pays to "pay" for extra points when there is a 40-50% bonus.
(At first glance, it looks like luxe travel to Japan, for example, would value those points quite high, but haven't double checked that.)

The international premium travel does seem to be the best use of those points.
We won't waste points on domestic travel, or not unless (until) we get much older/wearier :(

RM
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Jags4186
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Jags4186 » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:24 pm

If you don't spend a lot, or don't have a lot of reimbursable business expenses, you'll need to learn how to manufacture spend. Really no other option in order to keep hitting all of those sign up bonuses.

Start with Chase cards as they're the most restrictive in approving you, then move onto American Express and Citi. Also, learn how to apply for business card--sell 1 thing on eBay and you have a business.

US Bank flex perks are generally good for domestic coach travel (20,000 points for a ticket that costs $400 or less, and on up from there).

Reality is though, unless you get into MS, you won't be taking a lot of international business class trips once you blow through your initial allotment of sign up bonus points.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by jeffyscott » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:11 am

MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane! Using 100,000 miles I was able to get a business class trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, a ticket I would never be able to afford with cash. I earned 50,000 of those miles from a credit card sign on bonus and 50,000 from a rare international project for work that had me flying to Europe and Asia.
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.

I discovered another way to sleep on a plane...Ambien or Xanax. Cost is about 10 cents each way, using generics. :beer
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

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ResearchMed
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by ResearchMed » Sun Mar 06, 2016 10:50 am

jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane! Using 100,000 miles I was able to get a business class trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, a ticket I would never be able to afford with cash. I earned 50,000 of those miles from a credit card sign on bonus and 50,000 from a rare international project for work that had me flying to Europe and Asia.
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.

I discovered another way to sleep on a plane...Ambien or Xanax. Cost is about 10 cents each way, using generics. :beer
It all depends upon personal priorities.

For us, those 40,000 points, for example, are "worth" far more than "$400-600".
IF we could pay $400-600 to upgrade from coach to business class, we'd do that instantly.
However, the actual out of pocket dollar cost is more likely to be at least $2k, and sometimes considerably more, depending upon date/route/airline.

Another use of those points would be for urgent last-minute domestic travel, when only full coach fare is available.
Again, that's worth far more than $400-600.

Finally, not all of us (the two of us, specifically) can take sedatives, sit relatively upright, and arrive many hours later without having a variety of serious physical pain. It wasn't at all like that when we were younger.

The bottom line is that it is all personal choice, and much of that is determined by "where one is" in terms of savings/age/etc.
There are apparently some number of serious multi-millionaires (meaning more than 2m or 3m) here on BH.
Then there are a bunch who are in the 1-3m category.
And there are a lot, especially those who are just starting to take "saving for retirement" seriously (either due to age or new awareness), and a 2 comma portfolio can seem ... unreachable [although almost all of us started at a similar low $ point].

It's really difficult to "compare" choices given the disparate backgrounds and current positions.

And that doesn't even start to get at how some people prefer a fancy huge-screen TV while others don't even watch much/any TV; some enjoy fancy cars while others simply want reliable transportation (old car, or bus/train).

There are sometimes veiled (or not so veiled) judgments here made about others' choices/priorities.

RM
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Jack FFR1846
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:43 am

I don't travel so do things that are somewhat "manufactured spending" or just circling spending around.....get gift card A, use gift card A to get gift card B plus some cash back which then is used in an auction to buy gift card A at a discount..... Big circle where the cash out is dependent only on how fast the circle can go.

Anyways, I'll take yesterday and today as an example of how you might benefit from what I'm doing. Stop & Shop and Giant supermarkets currently have a promotion where you are able to buy Visa gift cards and collect double gas points. For you, this means you get to spend on your airline card and get miles. I buy 2 $500 cards ($505.95 including activation fee), bring them to Wal*Mart and buy a money order for $999.30 (they have a 70 cent fee). I then deposit the money order in my credit union account. My cost: $5.95 X 2 plus 70 cents. I now have more than enough gas points (this now is good for $2 off per gallon) to have the gas pump go to 1.9 cents per gallon. So just over $1000 in spending for nothing and essentially the max amount of gas: 35 gallons at 1.9 cents per for 67 cents. I bring gas cans to assure that I get the full 35 gallons.

For you, it's the time to make this circle, but you're getting airline miles as fast as you can buy gift cards. Be careful, though because if you just buy gift cards the CC company is going to see what you're doing and could do something you don't want. In my case, I only use cash back credit cards and use a different one for every gift card I buy. With about 15 active cards, I can do this as much as I can stand. I will repeat with a card but will buy some groceries or return cans to reduce the amount charged.
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cherijoh
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by cherijoh » Sun Mar 06, 2016 4:37 pm

MikeZ wrote: But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane! Using 100,000 miles I was able to get a business class trip to Munich for Oktoberfest, a ticket I would never be able to afford with cash. I earned 50,000 of those miles from a credit card sign on bonus and 50,000 from a rare international project for work that had me flying to Europe and Asia.
And if you think international business class is good, you ought to try international first class :wink: Years ago when I travelled internationally for business, we were booked business class for trips to Europe or Asia. (I think my former employer has since bumped it back down to coach :annoyed). But our in-house travel department would get the occasional 1st class upgrade and I won that "lottery" once or twice. I also blew my wad of frequent flier points for a 1st class international trip a few times when business class was fully booked for FF. But that was back when I traveled a lot for business and could regularly get FF miles for that business travel. For my current job, I have flown just once in 6 years.

I think I now have enough on American for an international business class ticket due to a 50K bonus on the Citi AAdvantage MC. I haven't been aggressive with the credit card deals but that one appealed since I am in a hub for AA (now that they merged with US Air).

OP - besides all the tactics already mentioned, I would look for the occasional opportunity to buy miles at a discount. This might work for you if you just need a little boost to get you to the next FF ticket.

brito11
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by brito11 » Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:09 pm

I second doing a lot of research if you want to get into this. There really isn't any shortcut, due to the ESID (each situation is different) aspect of the "hobby." Also, do keep in mind that there have been several recent, significant changes that make it harder to manufacture spend and churn credit card bonuses (e.g Chase limiting cc app approvals).

tedclu
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by tedclu » Mon Mar 07, 2016 3:24 pm

2014&2015 were the height for cc rewards/ms.

There still are a lot of opportunities out there. but getting much hard to scale. Card issuers have implemented more limits for people who play this game.


Good luck, flyertalk is your friend.

38,000 ft
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by 38,000 ft » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:14 pm

There are some services that let you pay the IRS using a credit card, with a fee of last I checked around 1.8%. That can be useful to achieve credit card spend bonuses.

dbr
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by dbr » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:01 pm

38,000 ft wrote:There are some services that let you pay the IRS using a credit card, with a fee of last I checked around 1.8%. That can be useful to achieve credit card spend bonuses.

States may allow that and some counties paying property tax. Last time I bought car they let me put $5000 on a card with no fee for that. You would not pay that fee for regular spend, but to meet a bonus it is well worth while.

stuffthatpig
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stuffthatpig » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:37 pm

I play this game a bit and rarely delve into MS. If you need help meeting minimum spends and you can float it, picking up some Visa Gift Cards can allow you to front load some spending for a reasonable fee. You don't even have to plan to unload them like I do in MS. You'd be surprised at the number of places that will let you pay with a debit card which is exactly what the VGC is. I want to find a bank that will let me pay my mortgage with a debit card. Otherwise your best bet is to pick up some Bluebird/Serve cards, read a pile about them and go to town. Depending on your bank, you could start buying money orders with the visa gift cards but banks don't always like deposits of money orders. They think they look sketchy or something. You should be aware of the impending 5/24 Chase rule if you're not already. Simon Malls are your friend.

BW1985
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by BW1985 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:19 am

Anyone successfully doing MS? Very curious about this.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

stuffthatpig
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stuffthatpig » Tue Mar 08, 2016 3:48 pm

BW1985 wrote:Anyone successfully doing MS? Very curious about this.
I've dabbled but I know a few people doing serious amounts of it. One guy in my town does $40-60k a month. He travels for work and hits up multiple locations for gift cards multiple times per week and buys 5-10k a time. I think it really depends on what you're going for. If you have a source for cheap VGC or if you can buy a bunch at stores that give you category bonuses (office supply is the easiest), you can clear 3-4% in rewards. If you're doing 300k+ a year and clearing 3%, we're talking about a decent amount of cash back and likely a ridiculously opulent travel lifestyle. Funding new bank accounts is a pretty easy way to go but has limits. You probably won't hear about any great success stories until the method is shut down.

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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by BW1985 » Tue Mar 08, 2016 4:03 pm

Very interesting, thanks. Seems pretty risky at high dollar amounts.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

stm
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stm » Tue Mar 08, 2016 6:16 pm

BW1985 wrote:Very interesting, thanks. Seems pretty risky at high dollar amounts.
No doubt we are in the sunset and it gets harder and harder as the tragedy of the commons descends and banks and CC issuers clamp down. Properly managed though, it can be very lucrative. Wife and I made more MS'ing than with our regular salaries last year and the year before. Risk and return I suppose.

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MikeZ
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by MikeZ » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:07 pm

Thanks everyone!

So far I've started to listen the Saverocity The Observation Deck podcast and found out about the travelcodex fourm.

Still a lot of homework to do though!

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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:33 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:38 pm

tedclu wrote:2014&2015 were the height for cc rewards/ms.

There still are a lot of opportunities out there. but getting much hard to scale. Card issuers have implemented more limits for people who play this game.


Good luck, flyertalk is your friend.
Flyertalk is great when you know what you are looking for. Bogleheads help to identify the needs and point one in the right direction. When I started out, I did not even know the term "Manufactured Spending." Speaking of MS, life was good when the Red Bird was singing. And now even the Blue Bird (and Serve) is facing mass extinction.

Victoria
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MikeZ
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by MikeZ » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:44 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
Watching classic movies on demand while someone hands me a hot fudge sundae all while passing over the North Pole. This is the life..... 8-)

Oh and Black Label at airport lounge in Hong Kong :sharebeer

Not a bad way to do a work trip.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Mar 08, 2016 8:55 pm

MikeZ wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
Watching classic movies on demand while someone hands me a hot fudge sundae all while passing over the North Pole. This is the life..... 8-)
Visiting the North Pole is more impressive. I've recently watched an independent film presented at the Banff Film Festival where a few guys traveled to the Arctic to ski during a lunar eclipse. The discomforts of their transportation and lodging were spectacular and memorable.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Texanbybirth
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Texanbybirth » Tue Mar 08, 2016 10:28 pm

I'm such an anxious flyer, lying flat or sitting nearly upright I don't sleep much on long flights. 9 hours over the bumpy Atlantic? Yeah right, I would have been awake in my own bed. I'd rather take the cheap seats (and my wife and baby) and rest up once landed. Of course, they make the experience look so elegant online, but I'd rather take my chances and hard work and get rich enough to fly that way on my own dime. Ha!

Now domestic first class, we do that all the time. I love a good meal and some wine, and generally get the tickets for quite cheap. We're heading to Chicago later this year in F, and I'm looking forward to some relaxation in the air.
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stuffthatpig » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:44 am

Texanbybirth wrote:Now domestic first class, we do that all the time. I love a good meal and some wine, and generally get the tickets for quite cheap. We're heading to Chicago later this year in F, and I'm looking forward to some relaxation in the air.
I have to ask. What route are you flying that you receive a decent meal in domestic F? I'm sure the transcon routes have good food but usually it's worse than the food in the airline club.

BW1985
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by BW1985 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:56 am

stm wrote:
BW1985 wrote:Very interesting, thanks. Seems pretty risky at high dollar amounts.
No doubt we are in the sunset and it gets harder and harder as the tragedy of the commons descends and banks and CC issuers clamp down. Properly managed though, it can be very lucrative. Wife and I made more MS'ing than with our regular salaries last year and the year before. Risk and return I suppose.
Wow, that's impressive!
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

tedclu
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by tedclu » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:13 am

VictoriaF wrote:
tedclu wrote:2014&2015 were the height for cc rewards/ms.

There still are a lot of opportunities out there. but getting much hard to scale. Card issuers have implemented more limits for people who play this game.


Good luck, flyertalk is your friend.
Flyertalk is great when you know what you are looking for. Bogleheads help to identify the needs and point one in the right direction. When I started out, I did not even know the term "Manufactured Spending." Speaking of MS, life was good when the Red Bird was singing. And now even the Blue Bird (and Serve) is facing mass extinction.

Victoria
Flyertalk is a great place to start, you just have to read.
I'm sorry you only know Redbird and bluebird, there were a lot of opportunities before 2014. And there are a lot more after their death. Just have to look at the right place, bogleheads is not the place.

Without MS I only spend 1k a month on cards, with MS I have spent millions.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Texanbybirth » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:17 am

stuffthatpig wrote:
Texanbybirth wrote:Now domestic first class, we do that all the time. I love a good meal and some wine, and generally get the tickets for quite cheap. We're heading to Chicago later this year in F, and I'm looking forward to some relaxation in the air.
I have to ask. What route are you flying that you receive a decent meal in domestic F? I'm sure the transcon routes have good food but usually it's worse than the food in the airline club.
We've flown out of DFW to Philly, Boston, Orlando (multiple times for family), St Paul, and upcoming to Chicago. I know nothing of airline club food, as we're not allowed in there. I suppose you take simple folk like us and throw us in F, and we'll call anything "a good meal and some wine". :happy
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, | Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. | None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: | His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

Texanbybirth
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Texanbybirth » Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:18 am

tedclu wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
tedclu wrote:2014&2015 were the height for cc rewards/ms.

There still are a lot of opportunities out there. but getting much hard to scale. Card issuers have implemented more limits for people who play this game.


Good luck, flyertalk is your friend.
Flyertalk is great when you know what you are looking for. Bogleheads help to identify the needs and point one in the right direction. When I started out, I did not even know the term "Manufactured Spending." Speaking of MS, life was good when the Red Bird was singing. And now even the Blue Bird (and Serve) is facing mass extinction.

Victoria
Flyertalk is a great place to start, you just have to read.
I'm sorry you only know Redbird and bluebird, there were a lot of opportunities before 2014. And there are a lot more after their death. Just have to look at the right place, bogleheads is not the place.

Without MS I only spend 1k a month on cards, with MS I have spent millions.
Wow! I may need to look into this...
Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, | Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. | None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: | His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

stuffthatpig
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stuffthatpig » Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:24 am

Texanbybirth wrote: We've flown out of DFW to Philly, Boston, Orlando (multiple times for family), St Paul, and upcoming to Chicago. I know nothing of airline club food, as we're not allowed in there. I suppose you take simple folk like us and throw us in F, and we'll call anything "a good meal and some wine". :happy
Ah...so they are decently long flights. I received delicious chicken kebabs on an AirCanada flight last year and was so confused they were serving real food on real plates. Usually domestic first is free chips and a cookie. The free booze is nice though. A whiskey really helps me relax after a long workweek.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by jeffyscott » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:23 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
My feeling is that better sleep on the way over might be worth $100 or so to us ($50 per person), as that's about the most we spend on a hotel. As I understand it, business lets you lie flat but at an angle. I don't think I'd find that to be comfortable enough to really sleep normally, anyway. So I'd have to get first class before I'd be willing to spend the equivalent of even $50 or $75 per person for an upgrade.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

BW1985
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by BW1985 » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:26 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
My feeling is that better sleep on the way over might be worth $100 or so to us ($50 per person), as that's about the most we spend on a hotel. As I understand it, business lets you lie flat but at an angle. I don't think I'd find that to be comfortable enough to really sleep normally, anyway. So I'd have to get first class before I'd be willing to spend the equivalent of even $50 or $75 per person for an upgrade.
Depends on the airline. I've had business class seats lie flat. I don't think you're going to find either for a $50 upcharge though.
"Squirrels figured out how to save eons ago. They buried acorns. Some, they dug up, for food. Others, they let to sprout, in new oak trees. We could learn from squirrels." -john94549

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jeffyscott
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by jeffyscott » Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:56 pm

Yep, I know those upgrades will never be available for a price anywhere near what I'm willing to pay.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

sk.dolcevita
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by sk.dolcevita » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:19 pm

38,000 ft wrote:There are some services that let you pay the IRS using a credit card, with a fee of last I checked around 1.8%. That can be useful to achieve credit card spend bonuses.
Generally 1 airline mile = $0.01 or 1%. Not an attractive proposition with 1.8% surcharge unless you desperately need miles to get over a hurdle.

I have prepaid my power bill (estimated) for six months using a credit card. The surcharge in this case is a small fixed nominal dollar amount. Ditto for Comcast, but no surcharge in this case. Also, I have paid my homeowner's insurance before the bank mails it in; all it takes is a call to bank to tell them insurance has been paid. Just these three items helped me meet $2000 of the $4000 spend requirement of Chase Sapphire last month.

dbr
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by dbr » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:31 pm

sk.dolcevita wrote:
38,000 ft wrote:There are some services that let you pay the IRS using a credit card, with a fee of last I checked around 1.8%. That can be useful to achieve credit card spend bonuses.
Generally 1 airline mile = $0.01 or 1%. Not an attractive proposition with 1.8% surcharge unless you desperately need miles to get over a hurdle.
The more typical situation where one would use this is charging off $1000 to $3000 (cost $18-$54) to qualify for a mileage bonus of 30,000 - 50,000 miles. It would not pay to merely accumulate miles/spend this way.

frugalecon
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by frugalecon » Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:40 pm

jeffyscott wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
jeffyscott wrote:
MikeZ wrote:But then something happened: I discovered international business class. Wow, I’m hooked on actually being able to sleep on a plane!
To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
I don't want to try business class for similar reasons. Being able to fly to Europe in economy several times a year using miles is a privilege. I derive pleasure from what I do while traveling, not from the conveniences of my flights or hotels.

Victoria
My feeling is that better sleep on the way over might be worth $100 or so to us ($50 per person), as that's about the most we spend on a hotel. As I understand it, business lets you lie flat but at an angle. I don't think I'd find that to be comfortable enough to really sleep normally, anyway. So I'd have to get first class before I'd be willing to spend the equivalent of even $50 or $75 per person for an upgrade.
I have a ruptured disc in my back, and the ability to lie down on a long flight is worth a lot. That said, it is easier for me to be in Economy on a day flight. So my best use of miles to Europe is business class eastbound and economy westbound. It works really well on airlines like United that permit that split.

On topic, there are miscellaneous ways to pad balances, like special rental car deals, Mileage Plus Shopping, the dining programs, etc. I might take advantage of Fidelity's deal with United to get some extra points this summer. I can generate about 40k miles a year from credit card spend, about 15k miles from travel, so I really do need to generate additional miles to get into the game.

takeshi
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by takeshi » Thu Mar 10, 2016 10:49 am

Bonus chasing is typically about as good as it gets. Some are able to MS but creditors seem to be cracking down on it, generally speaking. Some of them are even placing restrictions for bonus chasers. I'd also advise FlyerTalk as a resource for this sort of topic.
jeffyscott wrote:To me points/miles are money. I will never be willing to spend 100,000 miles (rather than the normal 60,000) for that, the extra 40,000 miles is worth at least $400-600 to me.
Different people evaluate the value of rewards differently. There are those that say premium international travel rewards aren't worth the cost to purchase the fare since one might not pay that fare to begin with. For others it retains the value regardless and such fares easily run several times more than what you value 100K miles at. Each has to decide what works best for the individual as preferences and priorities vary from person to person.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by VictoriaF » Thu Mar 10, 2016 6:23 pm

tedclu wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
tedclu wrote:2014&2015 were the height for cc rewards/ms.

There still are a lot of opportunities out there. but getting much hard to scale. Card issuers have implemented more limits for people who play this game.


Good luck, flyertalk is your friend.
Flyertalk is great when you know what you are looking for. Bogleheads help to identify the needs and point one in the right direction. When I started out, I did not even know the term "Manufactured Spending." Speaking of MS, life was good when the Red Bird was singing. And now even the Blue Bird (and Serve) is facing mass extinction.

Victoria
Flyertalk is a great place to start, you just have to read.
Your comment is equivalent to stating that the Internet is a great place to get information. Yes, there is a lot of valuable information in FlyerTalk, and on the Internet, but if you don't know what to look for, it's not useful.
tedclu wrote:I'm sorry you only know Redbird and bluebird, there were a lot of opportunities before 2014. And there are a lot more after their death. Just have to look at the right place, bogleheads is not the place.

Without MS I only spend 1k a month on cards, with MS I have spent millions.
Manufactured Spending opportunities are a case of the tragedy of the commons. When MS venues are widely known, they dry out from overuse. When MS venues are restricted to a few insiders, it does not help the rest of us that there are "a lot more" of them. To look at the right place, one needs to know what "the right place" is. I don't.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

stm
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by stm » Fri Mar 11, 2016 12:59 am

VictoriaF wrote: Manufactured Spending opportunities are a case of the tragedy of the commons. When MS venues are widely known, they dry out from overuse. When MS venues are restricted to a few insiders, it does not help the rest of us that there are "a lot more" of them. To look at the right place, one needs to know what "the right place" is. I don't.

Victoria
This is a decent primer (https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... _spending/) - buying gift cards is still very scalable.

Pdxnative
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Pdxnative » Fri Mar 11, 2016 1:40 am

Here's a link to a different article on r/churning: https://redd.it/47zger

Also, if you want to post on the 'what card wednesday' thread there you may get more ideas.

Good info on using points/miles: https://www.reddit.com/r/awardtravel

Milenerd is a good blog.

Be careful. There is a lot of advice given in the churning world by people who really don't know what they are talking about. Also, many of the popular blogs are pushing credit cards for large referral bonuses, so take what you read with a grain of salt.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Mar 11, 2016 4:06 pm

stm wrote:
VictoriaF wrote: Manufactured Spending opportunities are a case of the tragedy of the commons. When MS venues are widely known, they dry out from overuse. When MS venues are restricted to a few insiders, it does not help the rest of us that there are "a lot more" of them. To look at the right place, one needs to know what "the right place" is. I don't.

Victoria
This is a decent primer (https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... _spending/) - buying gift cards is still very scalable.
Thank you for the link. It's excellent information.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Ricola
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Ricola » Fri Mar 11, 2016 5:58 pm

Does anyone know of a list of point programs that retain your points forever? I have been burned too many times by having all of my points lost because I didn't do any business with them for awhile. Recently had Hilton Honors wipe out over 100k of points because I didn't stay within the last 12 months.

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jeffyscott
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by jeffyscott » Fri Mar 11, 2016 7:05 pm

Delta miles do not expire, no activity is required to keep them.

There's usually fairly easy ways to earn a few points/miles for the others and prevent expiration, though. Hilton has a no fee Visa, I'd guess all you had needed to do was get that and make a purchase once in a while.
Time is your friend; impulse is your enemy. - John C. Bogle

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grabiner
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by grabiner » Sat Mar 12, 2016 11:14 am

Ricola wrote:Does anyone know of a list of point programs that retain your points forever? I have been burned too many times by having all of my points lost because I didn't do any business with them for awhile. Recently had Hilton Honors wipe out over 100k of points because I didn't stay within the last 12 months.
There are often inexpensive ways to keep an account active, such as online shopping. In addition, you can often avoid earning points. At most hotels, I earn airline miles rather than points, as this keeps the airline miles active, and I can use a different airline for each hotel visit. I will often fly United, earn American points for my rental car, and earn Delta points for my hotel, keeping three programs alive with a single trip.

You can also convert points that you aren't using regularly. I don't usually earn Hilton points, but a promotion and two long stays last year made it worthwhile. But since I don't expect to stay at a Hilton anytime soon, I converted my Hilton points to American miles, which both prevented the Hilton points from being lost and postponed the expiration of my American miles.
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Barefootgirl
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Barefootgirl » Sat Mar 12, 2016 2:49 pm

Does anyone know of a list of point programs that retain your points forever? I have been burned too many times by having all of my points lost because I didn't do any business with them for awhile. Recently had Hilton Honors wipe out over 100k of points because I didn't stay within the last 12 months.
You might want to try loading your data into award wallet.com - it populates the expiration dates for you and helps you keep track.

Yes, I've seen that so far in 2016, there are fewer and fewer opportunities to be found...and increasingly it becomes counterintuitive to share the ones remaining or those newly found, in a wide forum.

I think starting out now would be a rather large challenge, but there's no reason to give up. Eventually, some deals just come your way organically - through personal contacts or banks, airlines, etc. that want to keep you playing.
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

Barefootgirl
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by Barefootgirl » Sat Mar 12, 2016 2:51 pm

buying gift cards is still very scalable.
- but the liquidation is now a bit more complicated...but there's quite a bit of public information still available, just caution is advised.
How many retired people does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Only one, but he takes all day.

fareastwarriors
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by fareastwarriors » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:20 am

I'm planning to travel to Zanzibar, Tanzania in the summer. Should I get a new CC card for mileage?

Right now I'm just using Citi DoubleCash and it's great since I have gotten 1000's of dollars back. I don't travel too often - maybe once a year I go abroad and once/twice to NYC (from SF, CA). I can rack up $10,000/month in CC spend no problem.

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MikeZ
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Re: Upping my mileage/points game

Post by MikeZ » Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:49 am

fareastwarriors wrote:I'm planning to travel to Zanzibar, Tanzania in the summer. Should I get a new CC card for mileage?

Right now I'm just using Citi DoubleCash and it's great since I have gotten 1000's of dollars back. I don't travel too often - maybe once a year I go abroad and once/twice to NYC (from SF, CA). I can rack up $10,000/month in CC spend no problem.

Okay, as the OP that is still getting my feet wet on this whole thing and still have a lot to learn, here is what I think you can do.

You'll want to open up multiple credit cards that offer sign on bonuses. 1. An Airline Credit Card 2. A general reward (e.g., Chase Ultimate Rewards, etc) where you can transfer them to airline miles and 3. a hotel card that can transfer to airline miles. 4. Business credit cards of 1-3. Hit the minimum spend on each of these to get the sign on bonuses. For 2 and 3 make sure you get a good point-to-mile exchange rate, like SPG points which transfer at a good rate to AA miles. I've heard good things about partner awards on Alaska Airlines.

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