It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? I never actually tried to put a $/per hour figure on my husband’s time, but recently an opportunity presented itself. So, his Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (more details on the current offer here) was coming up for renewal, which meant the annual fee of $89 was about to hit the account. As most of you know, I hate, hate, hate annual fees.
Unfortunately, I goofed and had 2,300 points left in the account. That amount is good for $23 discount towards travel. I could have been smarter about the way I went about redeeming points on purchases, but what’s done is done. Travel redemption starts at 10,000 points, so I would have to charge $3,850 to get to that threshold.
Since most of my spending currently goes towards new sign-up bonuses, and since I was running out of time, this wasn’t going to happen. We could try to convert to no-fee version of this card, but last time I called Barclay, I was told that regular Arrival has been discontinued and not available for conversions. I’ve read that other people in the hobby were told otherwise, so YMMV I did end up converting to Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard in the past ,but that product has been since discontinued as well.
To call or not to call?
I sent a secure message to Barclay and asked them what conversion products are available. They responded and said that my husband would have to call. Great. As much as I hate calling banks, my husband hates it more. He is the most non-confrontational person I know (unless he is dealing with me!).
The other day we went to drive-thru at Starbucks and ordered one of their overpriced drinks. When we pulled up to pay, turns out they made us two instead of one, to the tune of $10. Ten bucks for two drinks! My husband was just going to pay for both of them. I said no way, Jose. So, they ended up refunding us $5 because I spoke up.
Back to Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. Sure, $23 is a lot of money and if we can somehow cash out the points at face value, it would be sweet. But is it sweet enough to bother my husband and make him use his precious time off? Let’s say we would spend half an hour on the phone (worst case scenario). That would be an equivalent of making $46 per hour, tax free. (Note to new readers: Banks will often let you authorize someone else to speak on your behalf, but not always.)
That’s very good, but not spectacular. It’s a bit more than what he makes in overtime pay, and he sure prefers working on computers to calling banks. Plus, there is no guarantee that our phone call would end up in a successful conversion anyway. If I make him do it now, he may not want to call next time when the juice will truly be worth the squeeze. What to do?
I decided to let the points go and simply cancel the card via SM. If the account was in my name, I would absolutely call. I don’t make anything close to that amount, sadly. Plus, I have a bit more free time than my husband and this is my rodeo, not his.
He hates anything related to miles and points hobby and I don’t think it’s fair to force him to do things that aggravate the heck out of him. Not even for potential $46 per hour in profit. While I personally take advantage of bank account bonuses from time to time, I rarely get my husband involved in setting up an account in his own name. I view it as losing a battle in order to win a war. See my post Tips on dealing with miles “allergic” husband
The thing about our marriage is that he is usually the giver and I’m the taker. Not, it’s really true! Take, for example, an insane trip we are planning for our big wedding anniversary next year. Originally, my husband just wanted to take me to Tahiti. But no, I had to add New Zealand and Australia.
When I told him about my elaborate plan, his response was: “I will do anything to make you happy.” And this is coming from a man who hates flying. Gals, before you get all jealous, know that he will go into a dark mode after sitting in economy seat for more than 4 hours. But it’s the thought that counts, right?
I won’t even mention all the getaways we do locally when he would much rather sleep at home. My point is, I need to be more considerate of what he wants (or doesn’t want). After our epic trip is over, that is.
What do YOU get out of this hobby?
Have you ever calculated your profit per hour? Is there a profit to speak of? Is miles and points hobby actually enriching your life or making it miserable? It’s important to determine your own goals so you don’t chase after what others think you should be doing with your precious time. That said, if you don’t have an emergency fund (the $ kind), I strongly recommend you focus on that instead of travel, at least for the time being. Take advantage of IHG PointBreaks list and other cheap travel opportunities while you are getting your finances in order.
For me, the goal is not so much to make money, but rather travel for pennies on the dollar. I’m not opposed to making actual $ profit, obviously, but it is a secondary goal. Though I admit, I often get carried away and let this hobby dictate how many trips we end up taking during the year. When it comes to managing money, I’m not perfect and still looking for the right balance.
There were times we should have stayed home, but we didn’t because I had a stash of miles and points burning a hole in my pocket. So, if I’m being honest, this hobby is probably costing me money rather than saving it. But it’s OK because I enjoy travel and view it as an investment in memories of our time together as a family.
I also enjoy collecting miles and points, as well as figuring out various sweet spots in award charts, so this hobby very often doesn’t feel like work. That’s the key, I believe, in not burning out and getting absolutely sick of it all. There is a reason most people don’t want to bother with miles and points. They are just like my husband who absolutely hates the whole rigamarole. And I get it because I hate it too sometimes. Sometimes.
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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.