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My Commentary on the Latest Earth-Shattering Events in Miles and Points Universe

As you’ve probably figured out, I’ve decided to discontinue my news roundup. There are many reasons for that. Most of them have to do with laziness and existing thorough coverage on other blogs. But from time to time, I will write a brief commentary on the latest “sky is falling” events. Here we go:

The hobby is dead

What hobby? This hobby, The Hobby. And friends, you are all hobbits, I mean hobbyists. Don’t laugh, this is apparently the term used for all of us freaks. Am I in a  cult? Get me out of here! Hey, that reminds me of Bob Dylan’s song:

“There must be some kind of way out of here,
Said the joker to the thief,
There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Business men – they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line
Know what any of it is worth.”

Hmm, that’s deep… Anyway, no, The Hobby is not dead, not yet. To quote the same song : “But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate.” I’ve written about Chase tightening its approval criteria. Amex has their one bonus/per lifetime rule. And the most horrendous development yet: Citi is getting smarter.

But here is the thing: As long as your credit score is high, you can still get Chase co-branded card. I just did. Amex has many offers, and it will take awhile to go through all of them. Not to mention, it started sending out targeted offers that don’t have the “one bonus, that’s it” language in them. I suspect, eventually, they will loosen the requirements. Citi will let you get the bonus again as long as it has been at least 18 months since you’ve closed the card. For a family that takes one or two vacations per year, the sky is not falling.

As long as there is competition, banks will continue dangling the carrot, and I will happily accept it. In fact, some offers have improved recently. Citi HHonors Visa Signature is dangling 75,000 points bonus in front of you. Capital One Spark Cash for Business card now comes with $500 sign up bonus when you spend $4,500 in 3 months. Of course, there are many other limited and targeted offers as well.

Check this email I got from one of my readers: “Just to show that I practice what you preach, I recently booked the honeymoon trip for my oldest nephew and his soon to be wife from Israel to Sri Lanka for 80,000 United points + less than 200$ (great value redemption: these flights go for >1500$ each, but more important a chance to be generous to a young couple who really needs this vacation but could not afford it).”

That’s incredible! But wait, why didn’t the couple  sign up for cards themselves? Oh, that’s right, they don’t got any such offers in Israel. Monster sign-up bonus on credit cards is strictly an American phenomenon, due to banks’ competition for your business. Of course, The Hobby is relatively small, and you are  the freaks. But you are freaks with miles.

Delta program will become revenue-based in 2016

Is anyone really surprised? This is another non-event. Here is the announcement from Delta:

“HEADS UP FOR SUMMER 2016

We know your miles are important, so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes. For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other dynamics. Most Award prices will remain unchanged. Miles needed to upgrade under the Mileage Upgrade Award program will increase, and to provide greater access to these upgrades, we’ve expanded the eligible types of fares.”

Delta, you evil machine!!!

First of all, they have provided plenty of notice. Second, it’s their program, and they can run it as they please. In fact, for most normal families, this is probably good news. Why? It will make it easier to use Delta currency, as it will be tied to price. In fact, non-stop short routes might get cheaper. You can already redeem miles on some  at the cost of only 15,000 mies roundtrip. Obviously, those who are looking to get outsized value  on international routes as well as premium cabins are the losers in this scenario. But that’s not the target audience of my blog. Travel Codex  has probably the most balanced commentary on this development.

So, what should you do with your Sky miles now? If you are looking to redeem them for a cross-country/Hawaii/Europe/Caribbean flight and can find saver availability, it makes sense to burn them before summer 2016. Those will only become more expensive once the revenue component kicks in. Honestly, it never pays to hoard huge amounts of miles in any program. Earn and burn.

Ironically, I wish I had some Sky miles back in June. I wrote about my AAdvantage business class redemption  for flights to Seattle. Well, guess what? Delta had 4 saver seats (12,500 miles one-way) from Orlando, with the flight departing at 10:30 AM. Yes, I spotted a unicorn, on Delta, out of all places. But I had no Sky miles and no Membership Rewards points, flexible currency that instantly transfers to Delta.

Yes, I have Citi Thank You points that transfer to Air France (Delta partner). But their program will only let you book award flights  10 months in advance. So, Delta currency is not worthless. In fact, you can redeem 1 mile for 1 cent on Delta airfare as long as you have their co-branded card. I value most miles speculatively at 1 cent each, so this is on par with other programs. Incidentally, some are getting a targeted offer of 60K Sky miles+$50 credit (read this post with details and non-affiliate link).

Should you collect Delta currency through everyday spending? Heavens, no. But that goes for all miles. Invest in flexible points instead, such as Membership Rewards. Amex EveryDay Preferred is probably the best candidate for most middle-class families Note that some have reported receiving a targeted offer of 30,000 points sign-up bonus instead of the usual 15,000 points after going through  CardMatch tool.

“First Friday” dining benefit on CSP card will be discontinued in January 2016 

My prayers have been answered.

P.S. New IHG PointBreaks list should be bookable today. Read my previous post for more details.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

6 thoughts on “My Commentary on the Latest Earth-Shattering Events in Miles and Points Universe

    • Leticia, wow, the eighties! I didn’t even know The Hobby was around back then. I think there will always be opportunities of one sort or another. It will be harder to get bonuses repeatedly, I have no doubt of that. Banks will eventually develop an algorithm to weed out bonus chasers, Chase is heading in that direction, as we speak.But I don’t lose sleep over it, and try to focus on all the cool things we got to do as a family so far.

  1. Life is all about choices. This game is about choices. The sooner you learn what your personal rules are for the game, the better. Mine are always evolving. My Family Travel Commandments for Playing the Game:

    1. Prioritize the Americas/Hawaii. Your miles go further, especially as the Americas keeps distance based Avios and Southwest in play. I roll 4 deep, It ain’t easy getting us all over to Europe.
    2. Dont MS. Just. Don’t. Also, Don’t do Delta!
    3. Pick a limited # of programs and go all in so that you can fly your family together via large balances in the same limited set of programs. Focus on:
    a. Avios and Southwest. Best bang for buck for families given Avios distance based charts and Southwest’s availability and low costs (going to PVR for about 8500 SW points/pp)
    b. Prioritize flexibile points (UR,MR more so than SPG or Citi points for now) as they give you a lot of flexibility and UR are very easy to earn with portals and the Freedom 5x. Also, UR and MR both transfer to Avios so you can go big on Avios, and UR transfer to Southwest.
    4. Don’t bite the hand that feeds. Pay a few annual fees and be responsible with your credit. Keep the issuers happy with your as a customer.
    5. Plan 2-3 trips a year. Plan them deliberately, and earn accordingly. No need for random trips, always have a goal/vision in mind, spend/apply accordingly, and you will always have the points you need.
    6. This is all about fun, enjoyment, and time with family. Once it stops being one of those, or gets in the way of living a productive life, take a break. And then come back with the right adjustments.

    I’ll stop there for now.

    • @Cheapblackdad I’m going to have to make a post out of your recent comments. This is just too good! I hope you don’t mind? Comment or email me if you would rather me not do it.
      I pretty much agree with everything you said, except. I think for most families it’s best to focus on accumulating MR points through everyday spending and getting Chase bonuses via co-branded cards. Just my opinion, and obviously, most disagree.

  2. Feel free to use whatever perspective I provide.

    I think your point on “most families” is probably pretty solid. My wife always gets a friendly text, snapchat, or e-mail whenever I notice she uses a card in the wrong category. That probably gets old for a lot of families. And shopping most of your purchases through the UR portal may be a bit exhausting for most.

    There’s probably a post you could do to talk about different levels and what combo makes sense. I am probably a like a 6 on a scale of 1-10. I usually cycle between 3-4 cards based on category, shop portals for maybe 25-50% of my online purchases, and sign up for bonuses every 3-4 months. Every purchase that can be on a credit card is on a credit card, unless there’s a fee above 2%. But I don’t MS, I don’t do every purchase through a portal, and I’ve gotten exhausted from all of the DoC bank sign up bonuses, and my Amex offers game is weak sauce, so there’s no way I am above a 6.

    • @Cheapblackdad Are you kidding? As far as normal families are concerned, on a scale of 1-10, you are a 12 when it comes to maximizing rewards! 🙂 Honestly, I hardly ever do portals, but then again, I don’t shop that much. And when I do, it usually involves buying discounted gift cards on Giftcardgranny.
      I actually put together a post on 2-card combinations http://milesforfamily.com/2014/01/27/yes-chase-sapphire-preferred-can-be-a-keeper/
      It’s a bit outdated since Club Carlson killed BOGO benefit, but most of the info is still relevant. I probably should do a follow-up post.

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