Well, guys and gals, I must have been living under a rock lately. The Hobby got a new moniker: The Game. And I’m digging it!
You might have noticed all the predictions of doom and gloom to the miles and points universe. There is also a lot of finger pointing as to who caused this catastrophe. Some bloggers are saying that the other guys (the evil bloggers) were selfish and leaked the deals that should have been only discussed during private events.
To be honest, there is merit to some of the accusations. I don’t know the details but apparently, some have published posts on fragile deals even though they promised not to do so after learning about them at seminars. If true, that’s extremely selfish and even sleazy.
But publishing posts (with hat tip) on things that are floating on the interwebs for everyone to discover? Not so much. I hear talk about what it means to be a good steward of the hobby. If there is a manual with universal rules on what you should and should not publish, can someone send it over to me? Personally, I blame Chase Sapphire Preferred (aka my arch nemesis) for offering sign-up bonus so generous, even a monkey could figure out it’s a no-brainer.
Sure, the publicity, the interviews etc, probably did speed up the process, but I think some sort of tightening was inevitable. In fact, I’m surprised it took banks so long to wake up and smell the losses. To say bloggers were selfish for talking about it in public after you yourself learned about the hobby from a blog, is kind of selfish.
All of us in The Hobby err.., The Game are a little selfish. It’s true. Unless you are miles and points “Robin Hood” who uses sign-up bonuses and earnings from M/S to treat the poor to nice vacations, well, you are selfish. I admit, I’m selfish. Even though I try not to be stingy with miles and points when there is a clear need, majority of my windfall is burned on my own family as well as my parents.
Because that’s what it is: A windfall. The banks don’t exist so people get to fly in Singapore suites for close to nothing. That’s not why they give out these juicy bonuses. They are selfish too, they just got burned for far too long, by far too many people.
So, here are a few bullet points with practical information:
1) If you are just starting out, ignore all the noise
There are plenty of bonus opportunities and it will take you years to go through all of them. I repeat, these developments have very little effect on your life. If you have a spouse, you can sign up for just 3 to 4 cards every 12 months, and get a nice yearly vacation out of it. No, you won’t be flying in Singapore suites, but who cares? A nice, deeply discounted trip to Caribbean or Hawaii is pretty sweet even if you have to fly there in economy.
I recommend you look at Chase cards first because you can get the bonus again after 24 months. Have a specific need that isn’t covered by Chase? I doubt it, but look at other banks and see if something strikes your fancy. Check my page of Best credit card deals for family
If you are a single parent, obviously, your churning ability will be cut in half. Still, there are plenty of opportunities if you know where to look. Feel free to shoot me an email after checking out my Free Consulting Service page. Yes, it really is free.
2) If you’ve been in this hobby for a few years and are running out of options, stay calm
You may have to settle for lower bonus and consider obscure banks, but opportunities are still there. I wrote a post on getting a TD Cash Visa that comes with $200 sign-up bonus. While not spectacular, between my husband’s and mine applications, we’ll get $400 in free money, all in exchange for spending $3,000 total. If you factor in 1% we’ll earn on minimum spend itself, that’s a return of 14%, not too shabby.
In the same post, I’ve mentioned TD Aeroplan Visa that offers 25,000 miles in Air Canada program, annual fee waived. That amount will take care of 2 one-way saver tickets to Alaska on United Airlines, Star partner. Both spouses get this offer, and you can get a family of four to visit Denali National park, which I highly recommend. Use other miles to fly back.
Some offers you can get again few months after canceling the card, such as Bank of America. While co-branded Alaska Airlines card doesn’t offer rich sign-up bonus to begin with, you can get it few times per year. Then redeem the miles on American or wait for it, Alaska Air flights!
Is it more work? You bet! But you are still getting a nice return on your time and effort. Forget the good old days and focus on what you have to work with right now. Perhaps consider getting a Spirit credit card and use those miles instead of Southwest Rapid Rewards points. Yes, there are fees, but if you can’t get any more Chase cards, it’s something to consider.
Bottom line: There is still plenty of low-hanging fruit.
3) If you are getting tired of miles and points rigamarole, consider slowing down
Look for deals, good cash back opportunities and maximize rewards on your everyday spending. Also, look into bank account bonuses, where there is no credit pull involved. Follow TheFlightDeal for cheap fares and you may not need to rely on miles all that much, especially if you have flexibility on destinations.
Cash is king and always has been. I’ve said it from day one of starting my blog and many thought I was a complete fool. Well, with award chart devaluations, primarily focusing on cash doesn’t look so stupid now, does it?
Leana is the 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.