Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

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SitraAchra
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Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by SitraAchra » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:25 pm

I have several colleagues who spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the internet for ways to double, triple, and more their points-du-jour, be it American Airlines Miles, or Chase Sapphire points, what have you.

While I think selecting a few credit cards to maximize cash-back is a totally reasonable and financially savvy idea, the trend I am seeing is people catering their purchases simply to get more points in order to get cheap air fare for fancy vacations. I think it's basically the adult equivalent of trading in tickets that cost $20 of quarters from Chuck E Cheese to get some $5 super soaker behind the prize counter.

This type of behavior seems to give the impression of saving money, but getting a discount on a trans-pacific flight still requires significant expenditure for food, hotel, ect.

Does anyone successfully accumulate points without getting caught up in it? To me it seems like a waste of time buying some gift card with a certain credit card to be used at a department store because you get 7x points in some account. If anyone is doing this successfully and genuinely saving more than they are spending, speak up!

squirm
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by squirm » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:43 pm

I play the credit card games, but I don't let it change my spending patterns. I always pay them off too. Over the years I've earned thousands of dollars. I also always call the card issuer for the cards that have annual fees and can usually get those fees reduced or waived.

All the money gained from the cards is earmarked for fun travel.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:10 am

I have a co-worker that does the same, but I'm not convinced it's a game worth playing. I have to travel multiple times a year for work, so I do rack up some frequent flyer miles and hotel rewards points for that. But I'm prone to ear infections, so I'd rather not spend the miles on a "free" or reduced fare flight for vacation. I suppose if one was going to take the trans-pacific flight and vacation anyways, playing the points and miles game would offset the costs, particularly if one could get points and miles through work-related travel.

But my extent of playing the points and miles game is really just focused on hotels. I use a specific hotel chain when traveling for work, as long as there is a cost-effective option within the travel budget for work. And I might get their no annual fee credit card to use for travel expenses, since it gives enough status at the chain to use the fitness centers for free at all properties, which is important to me. But I stick to cash-back cards for most of my purchases, as cash-back has more value to me personally.

Loik098
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Loik098 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:16 am

Google "manufactured spending" and read for awhile. Peruse the forums about it on Flyertalk or Reddit. The point-earning methods your friends are employing are child's play compared to what many MS folks do. MS/churning can be an enjoyable hobby, and like any hobby, consume an amount of time commensurate with one's level of experience.

TomCat96
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by TomCat96 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:29 am

SitraAchra wrote:I have several colleagues who spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the internet for ways to double, triple, and more their points-du-jour, be it American Airlines Miles, or Chase Sapphire points, what have you.

While I think selecting a few credit cards to maximize cash-back is a totally reasonable and financially savvy idea, the trend I am seeing is people catering their purchases simply to get more points in order to get cheap air fare for fancy vacations. I think it's basically the adult equivalent of trading in tickets that cost $20 of quarters from Chuck E Cheese to get some $5 super soaker behind the prize counter.

This type of behavior seems to give the impression of saving money, but getting a discount on a trans-pacific flight still requires significant expenditure for food, hotel, ect.

Does anyone successfully accumulate points without getting caught up in it? To me it seems like a waste of time buying some gift card with a certain credit card to be used at a department store because you get 7x points in some account. If anyone is doing this successfully and genuinely saving more than they are spending, speak up!

I've been doing the credit card points thing so far, and it's been working out really well for me.
I don't change my spending habits at all. The value of the points I receive, for me at least, exceeds the value of cash back rewards.

Clearly if you change you spending habits just to acquire more points, it's self defeating. The point of credit card reward points is to provide you with the most financial benefit. If you never travel, then you are better off with a cash back card. But if you're like me and enjoy traveling at least once a year, the savings from using credit card points can exceed the benefit you get from cash back rewards.

For example, I used to stay in baltimore every year during a busy convention. I was spending nearly 1000 dollars on two nights of hotel stay.
I calculated that instead of spending $1000 dollars, I could simply use starwood points. The two nights of stay was only 18000 points, making the value of each starwood point at 5.5 cents in this particular instance. 5.5 cents back per dollar spent far exceeded any cash back rewards I got.

At that point, i switched over from cash back to miles and points. I've never looked back since.

HIinvestor
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by HIinvestor » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:39 am

It really depends on the situation. We spend money we would spend in any case and like some of the rewards we get. We have a card we pay $59/year for that gives us 2% back on all our purchases. We got 75,000 points on Sapphire for spending a few thousand dollars we would have spent anyway within 90 days of getting the card, plus free travel and primary car rental insurance. We have another card that will give us $500 for spending a few thousand that we have to pay on estimated taxes anyway in 90 days after getting the card.

We like the Sapphire points, as we've used it to buy plane tickets at the last minute for D to fly with us (she rarely knows he schedule very far ahead of time). Last minute tickets are expensive but with the points, they are quite reasonable and allow great flexibility.

IF you have excellent credit, only spend what you would have otherwise spent, and pay your balance in full every month (so no interest, late fees or finance charges), there are some interesting opportunities. It can take some time and thought, but we have no regrets. We don't spend a ton of energy on it and don't max out the opportunities, but it has given us some nice bonuses. :moneybag :dollar

awval999
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by awval999 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:55 am

SitraAchra wrote:I have several colleagues who spend an inordinate amount of time scouring the internet for ways to double, triple, and more their points-du-jour, be it American Airlines Miles, or Chase Sapphire points, what have you.

While I think selecting a few credit cards to maximize cash-back is a totally reasonable and financially savvy idea, the trend I am seeing is people catering their purchases simply to get more points in order to get cheap air fare for fancy vacations. I think it's basically the adult equivalent of trading in tickets that cost $20 of quarters from Chuck E Cheese to get some $5 super soaker behind the prize counter.

This type of behavior seems to give the impression of saving money, but getting a discount on a trans-pacific flight still requires significant expenditure for food, hotel, ect.

Does anyone successfully accumulate points without getting caught up in it? To me it seems like a waste of time buying some gift card with a certain credit card to be used at a department store because you get 7x points in some account. If anyone is doing this successfully and genuinely saving more than they are spending, speak up!
I am in the points hobby. My excel spreadsheet says that my wife and I have earned 1.4 million points in the last 18 months.

No it doesn't save any money. In fact my excel spreadsheets states that I have spent more money the last two years on vacations.

However, that doesn't take into account how many more vacations we have went on, the 5* accommodations that we never could have afforded, the many weekend trips, international trips to Europe, Canada and Mexico.

The points and miles allow us to travel farther and better. But not for free.

Childfree living is coming to an end for us. So these miles and points have allowed us to do many things on our bucket list before children come along.

ponyboy
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by ponyboy » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:41 am

I consider myself a very casual credit card points player. This year I sold some of my rewards for $1800 in cash...and booked 2 round trip flights to hawaii later this year. Considering I can do it all from the comfort of my computer...I say its easily worth it.

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Ketawa
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Ketawa » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:03 am

The low-hanging fruit in this is to get signup bonuses for new credit cards, which in my opinion is well worth the time invested. In a little over 2 years, I had 24 new credit cards that gave substantial bonuses after meeting minimum spend. I used the points to take 4 trips that I already planned on without spending a dime of my own money on hotels or plane tickets. I still have a gigantic number of points. I won't be paying for a plane ticket for a long time.

I have scaled back getting any new credit cards since the bonuses simply aren't available to me anymore.
AMEX - once lifetime
Citi - used to be easy to churn, but the loopholes have been closed, now have a wait
Chase - two year wait
Barclays - not easy to churn

I'm not convinced that points cards can beat cash back cards enough to make the extra complexity worthwhile for everyday spend, so I stick to Citi Double Cash, Chase Freedom, AMEX Blue Cash Preferred, and PenFed Cash Rewards for my everyday spend.

Shallowpockets
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Shallowpockets » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:15 am

1. 4 million miles, $1800 in cash back. 24 credit cards. Yikes! I would hate to keep track of those payments.
The 1.4 million miles accumulated in 18 months. How does that work?
Surely there is a lot of spending there on top of bonus miles. Maybe not manufactured, but spending nether the less.
These broad statement are nice, but details on how that exactly works would be good.

hoffse
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by hoffse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:15 am

Lurker here, but thought I would chime in on this.

I think it's very situational. The points/miles bloggers would have you think that that the game is only worth it if you are flying first class to Bora Bora. My husband and I have a different perspective, which is that these points help defray the costs of trips we are going to take anyway. We mostly use Chase points because the transfers to United, Hyatt, and Southwest work really well for where we are located. This is what we've done with them recently:

December 2015 - Visited family in Belgium over Christmas week. I traded 120,000 points (worth $1200 in cash) for two round-trip tickets to Europe. The rate of those tickets when we purchased them was $1600 each (again, Christmas week). So we gave up $1200 of cash value for $3200 of flight value, and we ended up flying direct on Lufthsansa. We originally planned this trip as a final visit to see my H's grandma. Unfortunately she passed away before we got there, but we were able to visit with many extended family, and we visited the place where she is buried. It meant a lot to my H, and it came to mean a lot to me as well. Belgium, by the way, is a fantastic country.

March 2016 - My job hosted a retreat in California. Employees were covered. Spouses were invited, but you had to get them there on your own dime. My employer was willing to book tickets for spouses, but they didn't tell us what it was going to cost. I found out we were flying Southwest, so I just booked H on the same flight I was on using Chase points. I traded about $200 cash value worth of points for it, and it cost us about $10 out of pocket in 9/11 security fees. When we got back from the retreat we found out what the employer-booked flights cost: $600. For southwest. I wish I was joking.

September 2016 - My H is in a wedding in Nashville. It's a multi-day event, and it necessitated three nights in a hotel over Labor Day. Nashville is $$$. The hotel with the block of rooms was about $250/night. But there's a Hyatt nearby. So I moved 24,000 chase points to Hyatt (worth $240 in cash value) and booked three nights at the Hyatt. The cash rate for that particular Hyatt was about $175/night for that weekend.

I do sometimes buy gift cards when I know we're going to spend X amount at store Y. Until recently I could just buy them on staples.com, have the gift card emailed, and still get the points. Now I have to go into a store to do it, so we don't do this as often.

One rule we follow is that we only use these cards for bonus categories where we get at least 2 points per dollar. That's because the cash value of those points is 1 cent per point. By following this rule we can always cash them in for money that's at least equal to what we would get on our Fidelity card. So far I have found the redemption rate to be much better when I transfer the points to airlines or hotels, but there are no guarantees that this will continue or that we will have the occasion to use it.

Another rule we follow is that we don't book trips just based on what our points can do. We try to budget for our travel, and then if we can defray the cost with points we view it as a bonus. We went to Italy in June and did not use points because they didn't work for what we wanted to do.

We pay $95/year for the ability to transfer points out of our Chase account to the airlines/hotels. So far we have come out way ahead by doing this. If we reach a point where our ability to travel declines or the redemption rate drops, then I'll stop paying the fee.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:24 am

I don't travel, so don't go searching for miles. I will do things where I don't have to go out of my way or spend a lot of time. Churning credit cards for $100 a card? Sure. I buy a certain gift card at a grocery store to get gas discounts. I then use those gift cards in order to pay one of my bills at the retailer. Doing this gives me store points that eventually are converted into gas discounts. I also use those gift cards at the retailer to buy gas gift cards, giving me more points that will be converted to gas discounts.

I don't buy anything I would not have bought anyways. I do other manufactured spending techniques. Good for about $5k a year.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

nbseer
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by nbseer » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:32 am

This was more worth it about 20 years ago when airlines like American were offering triple miles on certain routes. We flew free to Hawaii several times.

Problem now is airlines make you jump through so many hoops to get scarce free seats it's not worth it in my opinion. Instead of one-stop flight, the free seats are often on 2 or more stops with dicey connection times.

We now ignore the '50,000 mile bonus' credit card come-ons, and use money back cards instead.

Atgard
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Atgard » Wed Aug 03, 2016 8:48 am

It really all depends on how much time you want to invest in it, if you kinda enjoy the CC/points game, and when & how you travel.

I prefer the simplicity of a 2% credit card that I signed up for years ago and haven't touched since. All my spending is on that card, my 2% cash gets automatically deposited in my account, bill is automatically paid in full every month, and record-keeping (for tax purposes, budgeting, etc.) is much easier when all my spending is on one account instead of having to download and look through 10 different cards. It's like an index fund for me, set it and forget it.

Could I earn more with multiple cards with 3%+ in certain categories? Or earn signup bonuses opening new cards, having to remember to spend a certain amount on them and pay bills or set up auto-pay again, closing them, etc., etc.? Could I earn more with airline miles or hotel points in certain circumstances? Yes.

However, the hassle factor is not worth it to me -- I don't enjoy it and would rather work a few extra hours and earn more that way. Also, my trips are generally not flexible -- so I've found that using miles has not worked out well for me, the dates are always blacked out or cost 4x the normal rates, negating any good deal. (I often have to travel to Hawaii over Xmas to visit in-laws. I know, boo hoo. But miles don't work well for that, plus there are usually more stops which is a no-go with 2 young kids.)

Anyway, there's no right or wrong answer. It depends on the factors above. It is certainly possible to earn more than 2% by playing the CC opening bonus/multiple CCs/miles game. But what is the marginal utility? Up to you if it's worth it to play.

Corleone
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Corleone » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:25 am

I think you are overstating the amount of work and understating the payoff. Yes, there are people who go all in and it becomes a part time job, but there are easy ways to earn a ton of free money. I got an AMEX Blue Preferred cash 2 years ago as my first rewards-specific card. I get over $500 cash back per year on it. It's peanuts compared to what I have gotten from my Southwest Rapid Rewards cards. I followed the steps to earn my companion pass by getting both the Plus and Premier cards in January of last year. In a year and a half, I have taken/booked 14 round-trip flights and haven't paid anything other than the $5 security fee for each flight. It could have been more if all flights were just me and my wife with her as my companion. I estimate the value here to be about $4000. No churning, no manufactured spending, just taking advantage of a good deal. I also got a Discover It card last year when they were doing the 20% cash back for Apple pay, resulting in almost $1500 cash back. I know my wife would be bothered by having to manage a bunch of cards, so she just uses the Amex for everything while I manage the rotating categories and use the appropriate card to maximize cash back/points. I don't care whether it's points or cash back, when I see an awesome credit card offer I jump on it. If you really wanted to keep it simple, you could do one or two points cards a year just for the initial bonus and then cancel them. I plan on getting cards in my wife's name next year to get two more years of the companion pass and another 3-4k of free flights.

dbr
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:38 am

It's a hobby. As such it is worth it by definition. I think there are very few people who could justify the payback at a fair wage for the time invested.

If you read some of the references there are people who travel so much for work they can't figure out how to get rid of the miles they accumulate. Other people scratch and claw for every 100 mile bonus they can find.

A major issue is how to value points. You can convince yourself you have made incredible scores if you value that first class ticket to Europe at $10,000 or more. The problem is practically no one scrounging for frequent flyer miles would actually buy such a ticket at such a price. Objectively what you get for service might be worth a few hundred dollars. On a frequency basis I wager there are more people on FlyerTalk complaining about lousy premium service than about lousy economy service. Lousy economy service is expected these days. I price those things keeping in mind what I could do with the money paying for a real hotel or restaurants once on the scene. There are people who somehow feel that can't travel at all in an economy class seat. For medical reasons that can be legitimate by anyone's standards. Miles may be a way to a more comfortable trip. For those people more power to them.

Disclaimer: We have managed to rack up a few million not bis* miles and companion passes on a few airlines and we do use them. Whether or not the time involved was/is worth it, who can say. I was born into an airline family and am just interested in the business.

*bis = butt in seat. It is a term used to distinguish with pride those earning miles by actually flying from those held in contempt for earning miles by charging money on credit cards. I do not apologize for my over 70 years of commercial air travel.

jrbdmb
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by jrbdmb » Wed Aug 03, 2016 9:56 am

I guess like in all "hobbies" there are differing levels of involvement. I an definitely in the beginner category - I do have a Citi Double Cash and AMEX Preferred card and use then where appropriate to get the most cash rewards.

But when I see those in the advanced / expert / obsessed category - traveling from store to store looking for $500 Visa gift cards to buy and then figuring out how to liquidate them so they can immediately pay off their CC balance so they can repeat the process - all while CC companies put new rules in place to make Manufactured Spending more difficult - I realize I just don't have the time to play the game that way.

hoffse
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by hoffse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:02 am

I'll also add that the black-out date thing isn't necessarily true for certain airlines or hotels. Southwest has a flat redemption rate, and you can pay for any fare that's available with points. If the fare drops, the number of points required also drops. The reverse is also true. Southwest points are currently worth more than 1 cent each. We wait for Southwest sales and then book with points.

Hyatt is similar. As long as there is a room available at the lowest rate, then it's up for grabs on points. Granted, I'm sure there are specific hotels (Hawaii?) or certain times of the year when the lowest available rooms book out in advance, but I have yet to actually encounter this in my own travel. So far, we have always been able to book the hotel we want, for the dates we want, on points, both domestically and internationally. There happens to be a Hyatt in every city we travel to frequently that requires an overnight (paid) stay, so this has worked great for us.

The legacy carriers are more challenging with their availability, and for us American is the most difficult. That being said, I have found that saver rates to Europe on United are pretty consistently available for economy. This has required very little flexibility from us - as I mentioned in a previous post, we got direct flights to Europe over Christmas week. We only booked about 6 months out. We were planning to pay cash for these flights because we assumed there would be no availability, and our dates were firm... but thank goodness I checked!

So the black out date thing depends on what airline you are flying, where you are going, and where you are flying from. Cash is king, but the savings can be SO high with travel points that I think it's worth accumulating both points and cash back if you travel a couple times a year. As long as you are redeeming points for travel that will happen regardless, then you are saving money.

dbr
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:32 am

jrbdmb wrote:I guess like in all "hobbies" there are differing levels of involvement. I an definitely in the beginner category - I do have a Citi Double Cash and AMEX Preferred card and use then where appropriate to get the most cash rewards.

But when I see those in the advanced / expert / obsessed category - traveling from store to store looking for $500 Visa gift cards to buy and then figuring out how to liquidate them so they can immediately pay off their CC balance so they can repeat the process - all while CC companies put new rules in place to make Manufactured Spending more difficult - I realize I just don't have the time to play the game that way.
I don't do that either. There are degrees, and there is a middle ground.

dbr
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:43 am

hoffse wrote:I'll also add that the black-out date thing isn't necessarily true for certain airlines or hotels. Southwest has a flat redemption rate, and you can pay for any fare that's available with points. If the fare drops, the number of points required also drops. The reverse is also true. Southwest points are currently worth more than 1 cent each. We wait for Southwest sales and then book with points.

Hyatt is similar. As long as there is a room available at the lowest rate, then it's up for grabs on points. Granted, I'm sure there are specific hotels (Hawaii?) or certain times of the year when the lowest available rooms book out in advance, but I have yet to actually encounter this in my own travel. So far, we have always been able to book the hotel we want, for the dates we want, on points, both domestically and internationally. There happens to be a Hyatt in every city we travel to frequently that requires an overnight (paid) stay, so this has worked great for us.

The legacy carriers are more challenging with their availability, and for us American is the most difficult. That being said, I have found that saver rates to Europe on United are pretty consistently available for economy. This has required very little flexibility from us - as I mentioned in a previous post, we got direct flights to Europe over Christmas week. We only booked about 6 months out. We were planning to pay cash for these flights because we assumed there would be no availability, and our dates were firm... but thank goodness I checked!

So the black out date thing depends on what airline you are flying, where you are going, and where you are flying from. Cash is king, but the savings can be SO high with travel points that I think it's worth accumulating both points and cash back if you travel a couple times a year. As long as you are redeeming points for travel that will happen regardless, then you are saving money.
I don't think there are black out dates as such anymore. What is true is that availability is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but for a lot of people that is where the sport lies. The origin of this, of course, are the sophisticated algorithms airlines use for revenue management. What is also involved is price tiers with the lowest costs being nearly never available and many airlines having always available at a higher cost. Naturally ever buying a ticket at higher cost is losing the game by definition. If the object is to just get the trip using the miles, generally flights are very available.

hoffse
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by hoffse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:08 am

dbr wrote:
hoffse wrote:.
I don't think there are black out dates as such anymore. What is true is that availability is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but for a lot of people that is where the sport lies. The origin of this, of course, are the sophisticated algorithms airlines use for revenue management. What is also involved is price tiers with the lowest costs being nearly never available and many airlines having always available at a higher cost. Naturally ever buying a ticket at higher cost is losing the game by definition. If the object is to just get the trip using the miles, generally flights are very available.
Yeah, you're right about that. You can always find a flight, but the points can be wildly different. On Southwest though, the points are always worth the same value. There are no "saver" rates or anything like that. The wanna get away fares always cost 70 points for every dollar of the listed fare. So the number of points you need is directly tied to the fare price. A $300 fare is 21,000 Chase points. If you redeemed the 21,000 points for cash, you would get $210 back. In other words, you save 30% off the wanna get away fare when you pay in points every single time. SWA doesn't really play games.

The other airlines do play games, and that's where you may have to hunt to find flights that require fewer points. Certain routes are still pretty easy to find though. YMMV.

When I started this, I spent a couple hours plugging in destinations H and I visit often (or knew we wanted to visit) into each of the legacy carriers just to see. For us, Southwest and United worked the best, with one route on Delta that is always discounted for us (which we use to visit H's brother). That one Delta flight can be obtained by transferring points to KLM/AirFrance. So we opted for the Chase cards because they made the most sense for what we wanted to do. It was a couple hours well-spent, and so far we have not paid for a single domestic flight since we started doing this. We have also never taken a connection in order to redeem points or had to change our dates in order to redeem points. Granted, most of our domestic flying is on Southwest, and they are by far the easiest. But we've also used United and that one Delta route a few times with great success.

These things change all the time though, and you have to willing to abandon the plan when (not if!) the airlines change their rules.

dbr
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:18 am

hoffse wrote:
dbr wrote:
hoffse wrote:.
I don't think there are black out dates as such anymore. What is true is that availability is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but for a lot of people that is where the sport lies. The origin of this, of course, are the sophisticated algorithms airlines use for revenue management. What is also involved is price tiers with the lowest costs being nearly never available and many airlines having always available at a higher cost. Naturally ever buying a ticket at higher cost is losing the game by definition. If the object is to just get the trip using the miles, generally flights are very available.
Yeah, you're right about that. You can always find a flight, but the points can be wildly different. On Southwest though, the points are always worth the same value. There are no "saver" rates or anything like that. The wanna get away fares always cost 70 points for every dollar of the listed fare. So the number of points you need is directly tied to the fare price. A $300 fare is 21,000 Chase points. If you redeemed the 21,000 points for cash, you would get $210 back. In other words, you save 30% off the wanna get away fare when you pay in points every single time. SWA doesn't really play games.

The other airlines do play games, and that's where you may have to hunt to find flights that require fewer points. Certain routes are still pretty easy to find though. YMMV.

When I started this, I spent a couple hours plugging in destinations H and I visit often (or knew we wanted to visit) into each of the legacy carriers just to see. For us, Southwest and United worked the best, with one route on Delta that is always discounted for us (which we use to visit H's brother). That one Delta flight can be obtained by transferring points to KLM/AirFrance. So we opted for the Chase cards because they made the most sense for what we wanted to do. It was a couple hours well-spent, and so far we have not paid for a single domestic flight since we started doing this. We have also never taken a connection in order to redeem points or had to change our dates in order to redeem points. Granted, most of our domestic flying is on Southwest, and they are by far the easiest. But we've also used United and that one Delta route a few times with great success.

These things change all the time though, and you have to willing to abandon the plan when (not if!) the airlines change their rules.
I do agree Southwest is a customer friendly airline in many ways. They do not have an international route network (other than Mexico) so that is a limitation. As points go SW would be top of my list for going that way.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by guitarguy » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:25 am

We switched from cash back to primarily shooting for travel/points stuff a while back. Massive thread about it here; viewtopic.php?f=2&t=192008

So far after jumping on a couple of big-time signup bonuses, booking a couple of free flights, staying a few free nights in hotels, and still having a stockpile of points left over, I'm sold on the points game.

We take at least 1-2 trips each year...and using points will absolutely lessen the cost more than, say, using all cash back cards and then using that cash towards what we pay out of pocket for these trips. In this situation, I think it's a good fit for us.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by guitarguy » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:27 am

dbr wrote:
hoffse wrote:
dbr wrote:
hoffse wrote:.
I don't think there are black out dates as such anymore. What is true is that availability is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, but for a lot of people that is where the sport lies. The origin of this, of course, are the sophisticated algorithms airlines use for revenue management. What is also involved is price tiers with the lowest costs being nearly never available and many airlines having always available at a higher cost. Naturally ever buying a ticket at higher cost is losing the game by definition. If the object is to just get the trip using the miles, generally flights are very available.
Yeah, you're right about that. You can always find a flight, but the points can be wildly different. On Southwest though, the points are always worth the same value. There are no "saver" rates or anything like that. The wanna get away fares always cost 70 points for every dollar of the listed fare. So the number of points you need is directly tied to the fare price. A $300 fare is 21,000 Chase points. If you redeemed the 21,000 points for cash, you would get $210 back. In other words, you save 30% off the wanna get away fare when you pay in points every single time. SWA doesn't really play games.

The other airlines do play games, and that's where you may have to hunt to find flights that require fewer points. Certain routes are still pretty easy to find though. YMMV.

When I started this, I spent a couple hours plugging in destinations H and I visit often (or knew we wanted to visit) into each of the legacy carriers just to see. For us, Southwest and United worked the best, with one route on Delta that is always discounted for us (which we use to visit H's brother). That one Delta flight can be obtained by transferring points to KLM/AirFrance. So we opted for the Chase cards because they made the most sense for what we wanted to do. It was a couple hours well-spent, and so far we have not paid for a single domestic flight since we started doing this. We have also never taken a connection in order to redeem points or had to change our dates in order to redeem points. Granted, most of our domestic flying is on Southwest, and they are by far the easiest. But we've also used United and that one Delta route a few times with great success.

These things change all the time though, and you have to willing to abandon the plan when (not if!) the airlines change their rules.
I do agree Southwest is a customer friendly airline in many ways. They do not have an international route network (other than Mexico) so that is a limitation. As points go SW would be top of my list for going that way.
SW also travels to Jamaica and stuff too. They are expanding, even if ever so slowly.

For us SW miles are the main thing we try to collect outside of UR points. In laws live in TX and SW has a hub in DAL. We fly there every year pretty much. Going forward, we will be flying free each year without much hassle at all.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by SRenaeP » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:29 am

dbr wrote: I do agree Southwest is a customer friendly airline in many ways. They do not have an international route network (other than Mexico) so that is a limitation. As points go SW would be top of my list for going that way.
Southwest definitely doesn't have an expansive international selection but it's more than just Mexico. Last I checked, they fly to Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bahamas and Aruba as well.

-Steph

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:35 am

SRenaeP wrote:
dbr wrote: I do agree Southwest is a customer friendly airline in many ways. They do not have an international route network (other than Mexico) so that is a limitation. As points go SW would be top of my list for going that way.
Southwest definitely doesn't have an expansive international selection but it's more than just Mexico. Last I checked, they fly to Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Bahamas and Aruba as well.

-Steph
True. For me Caribbean and Mexico resorts are all about the same as not really being our travel destinations. That, of course, is unfair to lots of real differences and opportunities. I have been to Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Mexico City and environs, and relatives to Costa Rica, Yucatan etc. and everyone has had great trips.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by hoffse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:43 am

Side-note: I do get really annoyed by the points bloggers who act like you have to fly first class, transpacific for points to have any real value. Sure, that might be the highest redemption rate (8+ cents per point!), but seriously if you wouldn't pay out of pocket for that experience, I think it's false economy.

Southwest and United are pretty boring as far as redemptions go, but it lets us save a lot of money flying across the country to see family. We live on the east coast and have very elderly grandparents in the midwest and California that we try to visit each year while we still can. They are now too frail to travel to see us. H's brother lives in Wisconsin. And then there are the obligatory weddings, work events, etc. that might prompt some travel.

We've had surprisingly good luck with international redemptions, but it doesn't always work out. That's OK too. We aren't going to book a trip to a random place just to burn points. I get the impression that points bloggers - and some of their followers - do book random trips to burn points.

Then again, I don't have millions of points to blow through before the next devaluation.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by SRenaeP » Wed Aug 03, 2016 11:51 am

hoffse wrote:...I get the impression that points bloggers - and some of their followers - do book random trips to burn points.

Then again, I don't have millions of points to blow through before the next devaluation.
I'm noticing this too. It seems like glamorous and/or international travel has become the latest status symbol. I'm in a travel-related FB group and I've seen people take ridiculous trips (think 36 hours of travel to spend 36 hours in a place) just to get another passport stamp.

-Steph

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:01 pm

hoffse wrote:Side-note: I do get really annoyed by the points bloggers who act like you have to fly first class, transpacific for points to have any real value. Sure, that might be the highest redemption rate (8+ cents per point!), but seriously if you wouldn't pay out of pocket for that experience, I think it's false economy.
I am sure with you on that one. I sometimes range around in a spreadsheet and contemplate what points are really worth or what uses of points make sense. I have arrived at a rule of thumb that for a transatlantic flight from the US a choice between economy and business is worth $250 each way per person. For two people that is similar to a room in a four star hotel in Europe, and, frankly, I am dubious it is worth that. Based on that algorithm it is almost impossible to ever choose a business class ticket for points unless the deal is a remarkable one somehow. I am somewhat rethinking that for transpacific. Even then, it will not turn out that the value of points would ever be the actual cost of a business or first class ticket on an international flight except when some condition makes such accommodations not optional. A complicating factor is the range of premium economy/economy plus offerings, which are widely variable in what that actually is.

I think in my world and as seen on many blogs and postings on the subject a frequent flyer mile is worth on average, overall, around 1.5c-2.0c.

You can definitely read on FlyerTalk, for example, a mind set that traveling in economy is so far "beneath" the elite that it isn't even an option. In that case the 8c/mile payoff can be mentally justified, also enhancing the self concept of "elite." It is also true that some of the participants on that forum really do spend $3000-$10,000 of their own money for transatlantic flights in business or first. I have no quarrel with people who put their money where their mouth is. When it is the money of an employer or a client I am not so sure.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:05 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
hoffse wrote:...I get the impression that points bloggers - and some of their followers - do book random trips to burn points.

Then again, I don't have millions of points to blow through before the next devaluation.
I'm noticing this too. It seems like glamorous and/or international travel has become the latest status symbol. I'm in a travel-related FB group and I've seen people take ridiculous trips (think 36 hours of travel to spend 36 hours in a place) just to get another passport stamp.

-Steph
It is, however, amazing how many people travel round trip US to Asia twice a month or twice weekly around the US and literally amass a million bis miles in a year or two. Once you account for the doubling of points, etc. at elite levels some people really do have miles they have no way to spend. Plus who wants to get off a plane from a year of being not at home 75% of the time in order to travel somewhere free. In reality jobs like that are horrible, no two ways about it.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by health teacher » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:07 pm

Getting both SW cards last year netted us 10 round trip flights for around $270 when considering the annual fee which isn't waived on the cards and the 9/11 security fees. So we received about $1,800 worth of airfare free.

We are in a position in which I still had about 30k Southwest Points and an expiring companion pass so we booked an "extra" trip for maximum value on the points.

I planned to use points for the hotel but my Citi Hhonors card is not transferring my points to my Hhonors account. So, I had to Hotwire a hotel which ran $430 for the 4 nights. My mindset was "Okay, we can get great value on our points and knock another state off the list." IDK if this is a particularly good thing.

One random note to anyone who didn't know, if you plan to use Hotwire or Priceline for hotels, cross reference Better Bidding to get a better idea of what the hotel is before your purchase. It's not a guarantee, but it's been correct the 6 or 7 times I have used Hotwire.
Last edited by health teacher on Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by SRenaeP » Wed Aug 03, 2016 12:08 pm

dbr wrote:
hoffse wrote:Side-note: I do get really annoyed by the points bloggers who act like you have to fly first class, transpacific for points to have any real value. Sure, that might be the highest redemption rate (8+ cents per point!), but seriously if you wouldn't pay out of pocket for that experience, I think it's false economy.
I am sure with you on that one. I sometimes range around in a spreadsheet and contemplate what points are really worth or what uses of points make sense. I have arrived at a rule of thumb that for a transatlantic flight from the US a choice between economy and business is worth $250 each way per person. For two people that is similar to a room in a four star hotel in Europe, and, frankly, I am dubious it is worth that. Based on that algorithm it is almost impossible to ever choose a business class ticket for points unless the deal is a remarkable one somehow. I am somewhat rethinking that for transpacific. Even then, it will not turn out that the value of points would ever be the actual cost of a business or first class ticket on an international flight except when some condition makes such accommodations not optional. A complicating factor is the range of premium economy/economy plus offerings, which are widely variable in what that actually is.

I think in my world and as seen on many blogs and postings on the subject a frequent flyer mile is worth on average, overall, around 1.5c-2.0c.

You can definitely read on FlyerTalk, for example, a mind set that traveling in economy is so far "beneath" the elite that it isn't even an option. In that case the 8c/mile payoff can be mentally justified, also enhancing the self concept of "elite." It is also true that some of the participants on that forum really do spend $3000-$10,000 of their own money for transatlantic flights in business or first. I have no quarrel with people who put their money where their mouth is. When it is the money of an employer or a client I am not so sure.
While I've never paid for FC or BC, I agree about flying basic economy. Seat size and pitch have shrunk so much over the years that it's uncomfortable on a flight of any real duration. If I can't get an exit row seat, I will paid to upgrade to premium economy on any flight longer than two hours. That said, maybe the once a year traveler doesn't mind so much but I fly about once a month and almost all of the flights are more than two hours. I'm willing to pay not to be uncomfortable on a regular basis. What's the point of having/accumulating all this money, otherwise?

-Steph

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by MandyT » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:05 pm

hoffse wrote:Yeah, you're right about that. You can always find a flight, but the points can be wildly different. On Southwest though, the points are always worth the same value. There are no "saver" rates or anything like that. The wanna get away fares always cost 70 points for every dollar of the listed fare.
You've said this twice, but you should be aware that it is no longer the case. Effective April 17, 2015, Southwest changed from a fixed to a variable redemption multiplier (even within a category such as "Wanna Get Away"). Starting some time around April 2016, 72 become the new 70. A multiplier of 72 appears to be the lowest currently in use, but some flights use higher multipliers. This has been discussed on flyertalk.

As far as the overall discussion: I haven't gotten into serious churning/manufactured spending, but it's probably about time for me to apply for the Southwest Premier card again to get the bonus. It's worth it to me to use a 5% card when available and a 2% card for everything else. After I retire, I might put more effort into chasing points and bonuses, or I might decide it isn't worth the trouble. As someone said upthread, it's essentially a hobby, and I'm not sure there's a point to discussing whether a hobby is a "waste of time". Any hobby can be taken to a negative extreme.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by nedsaid » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:18 pm

I have saved on two vacations. On my first European trip, I cashed in points to save hundreds of dollars. On another trip, I got free roundtrip tickets to Amsterdam around which I build a trip.
A fool and his money are good for business.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by JimmyD » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:47 pm

I jump in and every now and then if I can get a credit card sign up bonus worth $400 or more. Did that twice over the last year to help pay toward two trips.

Outside of that, I don't have the patience to keep up with all the tracking required and I'm sure as heck not going to go out of my way to buy something extra I otherwise wouldn't have.

The vast majority of our spending goes on our Citi Double Cash card (2% cash back with no hoops to jump through) and we use those points once a year toward our annual anniversary vacation.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by tedclu » Wed Aug 03, 2016 1:55 pm

worth every min of my time. Fly international biz/first class stay at 5 star hotels for penny on the dollar.

start reading below.

https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/comme ... es_feb_28/

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by takeshi » Wed Aug 03, 2016 2:27 pm

SitraAchra wrote:Waste of time or worth it?
Worth is always highly subjective regardless of topic. It could be either depending on how well you can leverage the redemption options with a given rewards program. It's not just about the rewards program itself. For example, many are able to attain decent value with American Express's Membership Rewards. However, I can only get about 0.6 to 0.8 cents with the redemption options that I can use. I can get much more per point with Chase's Ultimate Rewards which is why I focus on UR. Some are not able to get high point values with UR either. You have to do the research and figure it out yourself. If you don't want to hassle with it and if you don't have sufficient spend to run through these programs to benefit then use cash back cards.
SitraAchra wrote:While I think selecting a few credit cards to maximize cash-back is a totally reasonable and financially savvy idea, the trend I am seeing is people catering their purchases simply to get more points in order to get cheap air fare for fancy vacations.
Some do, some don't. I always recommend that one starts off with one's existing spend and then find programs that fit existing spend versus selecting a card or program and then trying to justify it.
SitraAchra wrote:Does anyone successfully accumulate points without getting caught up in it? To me it seems like a waste of time buying some gift card with a certain credit card to be used at a department store because you get 7x points in some account.
Those are two entirely different things. Plenty of people do successfully accumulate points and redeem for high value without manufactured spend which is the second thing you're referring to. Then again, plenty profit from manufactured spend as well.

If you're not willing to put in the time and effort then, yes, anything can seem like a waste of time. Those that do these things and benefit from them obviously don't find them to be a waste of time. We can't tell you where your preference lie but it seems like you've made up your mind about it. Go with whatever works best for you. Just don't assume that this is a universal matter and that what works best for you is best for everyone.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by hoffse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 3:59 pm

MandyT wrote:
hoffse wrote: Effective April 17, 2015, Southwest changed from a fixed to a variable redemption multiplier (even within a category such as "Wanna Get Away"). Starting some time around April 2016, 72 become the new 70. A multiplier of 72 appears to be the lowest currently in use, but some flights use higher multipliers.
Ah thanks for the heads up on that. Last time I bought a ticket was in the spring, and it was 70 points. Game is always changing...

And the end of the day I will redeem points if 1) it's a flight I'm going to take anyway and 2) my redemption value is better than the cash value of my points. That's easy enough to figure out, and then I don't get worried when a devaluation occurs or the rules change. I think that keeps it in "hobby" territory for me vs. becoming a second job to keep up with all of the rules that change each year.

I used to chase sign up bonuses more, but H and I have found that our natural spending habits tend to keep our points bank in a decent place. We never have tons to burn up, but if we want to fly out west to visit Grandma, we have the points to do it. I think if I had a huge bank of points I would worry more about devaluation.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by oldcomputerguy » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:06 pm

SitraAchra wrote: Does anyone successfully accumulate points without getting caught up in it? To me it seems like a waste of time buying some gift card with a certain credit card to be used at a department store because you get 7x points in some account. If anyone is doing this successfully and genuinely saving more than they are spending, speak up!
I put the majority of my monthly spending on a Fidelity 2% cash back Visa. So far this year it's paid me a little over $200. Previously I was using a double-miles Capital One card for this same purpose; after a typical year it would return enough miles to pay for a plane ticket. I switched to the Fidelity card to eliminate the annual fee and to get cash rather than airline miles.

I don't go chasing multiple categories of spending with various cards, it all goes on one card. But I think it does make sense to accumulate reward points/cash for purchases I'm going to make regardless (groceries, gas, etc).
"I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people; and if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you." (Aaron Sorkin)

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:14 pm

There are 2 facets:

1) is the monetary award worth it?
2) is the effort expended to get that monetary award worth it?

1) is subjective. if you make $1,000,000/yr then I would say no, the monetary award is not worth it. If you make $45,000/yr then it's highly worth it. If you don't care about travel it's probably not worth it--just stick to cashback.

2) is objective. if you're like me and spend 3-4 hrs/wk reading up on this stuff and trying to exploit the system, then you need to do a cost benefit analysis. If I spend 150 hrs/yr doing this and I get $10000 in benefits then I am effectively earning $66/hr after taxes. If you have the ability to spend 150 hrs/yr and earn more than $10000/yr after taxes then you should be spending your time doing that. I do not have the option so this is a much better use of my time.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Allixi » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:31 pm

"I didn't get rich by writing a lot of checks" - Bill Gates (on the Simpsons)

You can't spend your way to wealth. Playing the points game is a hobby that costs money, not a job that makes money (unless you become a successful blogger/shill and get paid for referrals). Whether it's worth it depends on how much enjoyment you get out of playing the game and the travel you end up doing because of it.

I signed up for 3 cards this year and spent ~$15,000 which I was going to do anyway. I will probably redeem 70,000 of those points ~ $1600 worth of plane tickets (and have some leftover). If I had put everything on my Citi Double cash card I would have gotten $300 cashback at most. If I had paid with cash or check I would have gotten nothing.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by alaskantraveler » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:50 pm

I play the miles and points game. It has been extremely rewarding for me. I've actually spent more on travel as a result because I travel a lot more because miles and points collecting makes it cheaper to travel. I was under employed for 3 years with my gf/now wife. We visited 32 countries on 4 continents.

For those doubting the value of the hobby. If I was just starting today.

I would apply for (all in the same day:

Chase Sapphire Preferred $4k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Chase United $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Citi AAdvantage Platinum $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Barclays Arrival $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 40k points worth approx. $420
AMEX Gold Rewards(trgted)$3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750

If I was just starting and I had a good credit score I could likely get all these credit cards on the same day. I would net 240k points worth approx. $3420. I would have to spend $16k in 3 months. To do this I could visit a simon mall. Buy $9k in visa debit gift cards in one stop taking on $71.10 worth of gc fees. Then drive over to Wallyworld and liquidate $3k per day in money orders (depositing into my bank on the same day. I could make all the minimum spend with two trips to a Simon Mall and 6 trips to WallyWorld.

This process hasn't even scratched the surface. And before people get to bent out of shape, the process I described is by no means the only way to MS. As for the credit cards I have had all but one of these credit cards more than once and gotten the bonuses multiple times. Cancel after having the card one year and the annual fee posts. I don't worry about my natural credit card spend because it is only about $12k/year. I can spend that easily in one day manufacturing the spending. Even with a 2% cash back card on $12k/yr natural spend I'd only get $240 worth a year. Not spending on the best card in a particular situation just isn't worth the effort when dealing with natural credit card spending.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by lemonPepper » Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:53 pm

If you agree that luxuries quickly become necessities, then you should not spend time chasing miles and points.

Points & miles is a game played by credit card companies & travel providers to lure you into fancy travel, get you hooked and trap you. If you make enough money to afford these kind of hotel and flights, most likely it's not worth your time to spend on credit card rewards. If you don't make enough to pay for these hotels and flights yourself, they hope you will get used to this luxury and spend more than you should.

Another important thing to know is the most programs and banks are considerably less rewarding and gameable as they were 5 years ago. My personal take is it's no longer worth the time to spend on gaming this system. The game is stacked against you. Use a combo of few good cards cashback cards and move on. Many airlines make it very hard to use your miles. And hotels keep increasing the # of points required.

I like these three:
1. amex blue cash preferred
2. citi double cash
3. citi costco visa

and maybe a chase sapphire preferred as they still have good partners but it takes effort to get good value out of those rewards

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:03 pm

The game, of course, as played by the big boys (of which I am not one), is racking up credit card opening bonuses. This has nothing to do with points for spend, which is a small collateral benefit. You should have seen the blood in the water when AMEX, apparently by mistake, reopened their Platinum card for a 100,000 point bonus for two, maybe three, days last May. On the other hand, banks are getting wiser. AMEX has been installing and extending a one per lifetime limit on many bonuses, and Chase put a 5/24 limit on some new card families meaning no card approval if you had five cards from ANY source issued in the last 24 months. Of course the big driver the last few years has been airlines selling points to the card companies, thus making a significant addition to their below the line income. Then it is a race to devalue the worth of points year by year.

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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by RyeWhiskey » Wed Aug 03, 2016 5:40 pm

The question is totally subjective, and for me the CC schemes are a waste of time. Fundamentally they add complexity, which is exactly what I'm working against. So, and again this is just my opinion, it's best to have 4 big cards (one from each major CC), and however many store cards you need (I have REI, Macys, and Costco). Anything more is needlessly complex for someone striving for simplicity while maintaining an excellent credit score. :beer
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by traveler90 » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:20 pm

Very worth it if you have a vacation in mind you want to take. Personally I would just get enough points for economy fare tickets at a minimum. We always rent an apartment overseas so we don't use points on that.

Earning points on a regular basis isn't a "scheme" though. Everyone should have a card that earns some sort of points or cash back. No-brainer.

dbr
Posts: 30643
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by dbr » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:23 pm

traveler90 wrote:Very worth it if you have a vacation in mind you want to take. Personally I would just get enough points for economy fare tickets at a minimum. We always rent an apartment overseas so we don't use points on that.

Earning points on a regular basis isn't a "scheme" though. Everyone should have a card that earns some sort of points or cash back. No-brainer.
Right It might be called a scheme when it is based on bonus points. I would say it is definitely a scheme when it involves manufactured spending and various aspects of churning.

harikaried
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Joined: Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:47 pm

Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by harikaried » Wed Aug 03, 2016 6:30 pm

dbr wrote:You should have seen the blood in the water when AMEX, apparently by mistake, reopened their Platinum card for a 100,000 point bonus
Our latest 2 credit cards were this AmEx Platinum, and so far it's been a waste of time with AmEx freezing pretty much all points accounts for an indefinite amount of time. This was the first time we signed up for points/miles instead of cashback, and it's been disappointing.

darkhorse
Posts: 120
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2012 4:13 pm

Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by darkhorse » Wed Aug 03, 2016 7:25 pm

alaskantraveler wrote:I play the miles and points game. It has been extremely rewarding for me. I've actually spent more on travel as a result because I travel a lot more because miles and points collecting makes it cheaper to travel. I was under employed for 3 years with my gf/now wife. We visited 32 countries on 4 continents.

For those doubting the value of the hobby. If I was just starting today.

I would apply for (all in the same day:

Chase Sapphire Preferred $4k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Chase United $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Citi AAdvantage Platinum $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750
Barclays Arrival $3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 40k points worth approx. $420
AMEX Gold Rewards(trgted)$3k spend 90 days fee waived first year. 50k points worth approx. $750

If I was just starting and I had a good credit score I could likely get all these credit cards on the same day. I would net 240k points worth approx. $3420. I would have to spend $16k in 3 months. To do this I could visit a simon mall. Buy $9k in visa debit gift cards in one stop taking on $71.10 worth of gc fees. Then drive over to Wallyworld and liquidate $3k per day in money orders (depositing into my bank on the same day. I could make all the minimum spend with two trips to a Simon Mall and 6 trips to WallyWorld.

This process hasn't even scratched the surface. And before people get to bent out of shape, the process I described is by no means the only way to MS. As for the credit cards I have had all but one of these credit cards more than once and gotten the bonuses multiple times. Cancel after having the card one year and the annual fee posts. I don't worry about my natural credit card spend because it is only about $12k/year. I can spend that easily in one day manufacturing the spending. Even with a 2% cash back card on $12k/yr natural spend I'd only get $240 worth a year. Not spending on the best card in a particular situation just isn't worth the effort when dealing with natural credit card spending.
Excellent guide!

If I can ask two follow up question
1. Would they show up as several different hard inquiries on the report, five in this case
2. Can you also provide overview on how love will go about redeeming these 240k points if they don't have current travel plan but would like to travel at some point in future

Thanks a bunch

Dimitri
Posts: 427
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Re: Points/Miles Schemes - Waste of time or worth it?

Post by Dimitri » Wed Aug 03, 2016 10:32 pm

alaskantraveler wrote: ... If I was just starting and I had a good credit score I could likely get all these credit cards on the same day. I would net 240k points worth approx. $3420. I would have to spend $16k in 3 months. To do this I could visit a simon mall. Buy $9k in visa debit gift cards in one stop taking on $71.10 worth of gc fees. Then drive over to Wallyworld and liquidate $3k per day in money orders (depositing into my bank on the same day. I could make all the minimum spend with two trips to a Simon Mall and 6 trips to WallyWorld. ...
Wouldn't WalMart be required to report this activity (purchase of money orders with gift cards)?

Certain money services business (MSBs) are required to report suspicious activity. The following MSBs are subject to the suspicious activity reporting (SAR) requirement:

* Money transmitters
* Money order - issuers, sellers and redeemers
* Traveler's check - issuers, sellers and redeemers
* US Postal Service

A report must be filed when a transaction that is conducted by, at or through the MSB is both:

Suspicious, and $2,000 or more

Suspicious. A transaction must be reported if the MSB knows, suspects or has reason to suspect that the transaction (or a pattern of transactions of which the transaction is a part):

...Serves no business or apparent lawful purpose, and the reporting business knows of no reasonable explanation for the transaction after examining all available facts.


https://www.fincen.gov/financial_instit ... sbsar.html
Let's never come here again because it would never be as much fun.

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