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What’s Your Price on the Spouse’s Time when It Comes to Miles and Points Hobby?

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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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.

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20 thoughts on “What’s Your Price on the Spouse’s Time when It Comes to Miles and Points Hobby?

  1. My husband doesn’t want to call banks either, but he will if I make a big deal out of it. I always tell him “this is the price of free travel.” He doesn’t do any of the work or planning, so the least he can do is call the bank when I ask. He’s getting better.

    • Holly, I agree. I make my husband call now and again, but I have to be very picky on this sort of thing. Yesterday he came home from work at 8:30 PM and was completely exhausted. This happens on a regular basis in my household. On top of it, he has a million responsibilities in connection with our religion. He seriously works like a dog and the last thing he wants to do is call banks and cancel cards in the evening. Plus, he doesn’t like going anywhere, so “free” travel means nothing to him. It’s a tricky balance, but we are still married, so that’s good! 🙂

  2. I guess I’m pretty fortunate my husband doesn’t care at all. In fact, one time when he saw me searching for the way to send a secure message to cancel one of his cards, he asked me why couldn’t he just call and do it over the phone. I was shocked. Now, I think he rather likes talking to them on the phone and seeing what they will offer as a retention. He’s weird like that. Haha. He doesn’t mind miles and points. I’ll just tell him he got a new card and to use it and he does. He’s grown rather fond of all the travel perks lately like lounge access and upgrades.

    • Jennifer, you are very fortunate! I wish my husband felt this way, but alas. It’s very nice when spouses are willing participants when it comes to our hobbies. Definitely makes things easier. My husband does like lounge access and upgrades, so I try to gently remind him that those are the result of me putting in the hours of work.

  3. You are overthinking this too much. Just call yourself and navigate your way to a rep. Mention that this is your husbands account but you will be handling it. They will have him come on and verbally authorize you to do that. His role won’t last more than a minute after which you can take over and do your thing.

    • @Varun I hear what you are saying! I’ve mentioned it in the post as well. Unfortunately, sometimes the reps won’t let your spouse handle the phone call. It has happened to us before. Not to mention, there is still nuisance involved, plus no guarantee that they would let us convert to anything worthwhile. After taking those factors into consideration, I decided to cut my losses. That said, I would absolutely ask him to call if larger amount of $ was on the table. In fact, it’s a strategic decision: lose a battle, in order to win the war! 🙂 But yes, you are right, I most definitely overthink things.

  4. It was time for the annual fee on my Barclay arrival card this August of 2017. I called to cancel the card and spoke to a retention specialist and she talked me into changing to the no fee Barclay arrival card. The rep has suggested it when she asked why I wanted to cancel and I said I could not justify the annual fee.

    Hubby – He acts like he hates the hobby but likes the deeply discounted travel. I heard him brag to someone about the huge discount I got for our 25th anniversary in Jamaica trip, but he doesn’t say that to me. I made a year end report after my first year of this hobby with all the deals and savings and could barely get him to acknowledge it was a good thing. I am less than 3 years into the hobby and still consider myself fairly new to it. But this hobby has enabled me able to go on vacation more often and to nicer places. We never could have justified the price of our Jamaica vacation if I had to pay cash. We would never have been able to fly to Florida during the super expensive days around Christmas without this hobby. We never would have taken a quick 3 night trip over 4th of July.

    Most people I talk to are not willing to put in the time and hassle for the points. I look at is as a challenge, a game, or a sport. I also avoid some of the great deals because there is too much hassle or time needed. I hear about buying tickets of Korean Air and using them for cheaper Delta flights, but that just sounds like too much hassle for me. But your story on using AA miles to pay for a hotel stay popped up in my head when I saw the Barclay deal for 50k AA points for one cheap purchase and the annual fee. I love Southwest and get the best prices from them. I would have ignored that AA offer if I had not read your article. So I will be using those AA miles to pay for my rental car in Florida this winter! I made sure to use the link from your site for the Barclay AA application since I got the idea from you of using the points for a hotel stay instead of flying American Airlines.

    I have really enjoyed your website and am glad I gave it a try. Since I don’t have kids I was not sure I would get much from it, but that was not true at all. You have given me several great ideas to help with future trips! Thank you for the time and the expense of hosting this website!

    • @Clyn6 Thank you for your kind words! You have no idea how much they mean to me. It is so nice to hear that the blog also benefits those who don’t have kids. Obviously, Nancy and I write from the perspective of those who happen to have children because well, that’s our life as we know it. 🙂 That said, my hope is that many folks of different backgrounds can get a useful nugget of information here and there. I think principles are the same, whether you have ten kids or none. Same goes for income as well because we all like to save money, right?
      I am thrilled that you were able to afford some nice travel opportunities due to miles and points hobby. I know your husband has serious medical issues, so it’s probably nice to just get away from everything now and again. I’m certain that your husband appreciates it no matter what he says to you.
      I’m glad you found my post on using AA miles for hotels and car rentals useful. I don’t actually make commission on that Barclay card, but I’m grateful that you want to support the site. It’s the thought that counts. Some cards pay us, many do not. We try to cover the best offers regardless. I definitely appreciate you taking the time to comment and hope that our content will be useful to your family in the future. Thank you again for your encouragement!

      • I am sorry the Barclay app did not help you. That is a bummer! But I will keep trying to use your links because I appreciate your website. I am very impressed you remembered about my husband’s health! The medical expenses definitely take a good chunk of our income, so the points and miles discounts help us out a lot. That suggestion for AA miles actually saved the day just recently. We had a sudden opportunity to go to Florida last week and the hubby was saying we could not afford to go. We have some very kind friends that winter in Sebring and they said we could stay with them. That was a wonderful opportunity that helped us afford this trip. We have the Southwest points to fly there. But it was actually those AA miles to use for the rental car expense that was the deciding factor (for hubby) on whether we could afford to go. So thank you for helping me get to Florida this winter! : )

      • I totally second @Clyn6! My hubby and I dont have kids but I adore your blog because of your travel philosophy and endorsement of using miles and points as they fit your lifestyle best. In fact, I am in Chiang Mai right now on my honeymoon and am stalking your blog because I love your posts. 🙂

    • @Clyn6 Oh please, don’t worry about the commission! My kids won’t be starving, I promise. 🙂 I always encourage readers to apply for cards that fit with their goals. If they happen to pay us, great. If not, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Like I said, I very much appreciate the thought, regardless.
      I’m so glad you will be able to go to Florida thanks to AA miles. How neat! I hope you and your husband have brighter days ahead of you. I’m very sorry about the fact that medical issues are causing such hardship for your family. It’s a tough thing to deal with, I’m sure. Your husband is fortunate to have such a loving wife.

  5. My man is happy to call. He loves traveling and values my “work”. I don’t call it my hobby, I call it my job!

    And yes I often breakdown gains per hour! Last year our family of five flew with cash from NZ to LA on Fijian Airways. We paid cash because my father-in-law was treating the family to an Alaskan cruise, and we didn’t have enough points for 5 on same airline.

    We got an amazing deal on Fijian Airways that saved us around $2500 (or was it $3500?), when compared to flying on Air NZ. The bad news was a 4-hour layover in Fiji with three young rambunctious boys! My man looked at me as if it sounded horrible and might not be worth it. So, I added up the total layover time of 8 hours. Divided $2500 by 8, and pointed out that we would be making over $300/hr to hang out in a lounge with free food with our kids. I added, if someone said they’d pay you $300/hr to hang out with your kids in an airport, would you take the job?

    Suddenly his face lit up! And we used the savings to stop at Disneyland for a couple of days on our way to Alaska.

    The rest of the family flew directly to Vancouver, where we meet them later. When they questioned our crazy itinerary my guy’s face lit up and he explained with enthusiasm how much we earned per hour to spend time with our children!

    • @Talchinski Yes, one thousand times yes! You have trained your man well, so thumbs up. Absolutely, it makes sense to add up the savings when you have to deal with inconvenience. My in-laws are actually supposed to fly on Fiji Airways next year and will have to connect in Nadi airport both ways. They booked it because it was way cheaper than other options. I think it’s a good thing because it breaks up crazy 14-hour flight into manageable chunks without adding extra flying time.
      I actually looked into flying through Fiji, but there was no award availability. I ended up redeeming Avianca miles on United instead. I hope we can survive 14 hours in economy. Yikes!

  6. I am super fortunate that my new hubby volunteers to call (not just cc companies but any phone calls really) because he knows how much I haaaaaaaate (hate!) making those calls.

    He never cared about miles and points until I got into it, but he let me have all his info (long before we even got married) so I can sign up for cards. Before we got married and knew anything about miles/points, he would just tell the rep that he gives permission to have his gf speak on his behalf and handed me the phone. Worked every time!

    Others thought he was nuts for letting me do that, but he knows how much I enjoy this hobby (dare I say it is actually my cheapest hobby? Lol) and how responsible I am, so he never batted an eye. He was totally sold when we flew biz class to Korea and used the companion pass all year. 😀

    Back to my honeymoon now LOL 🙂

    • @ClimberMonkeysAbroad First of all, congrats on your honeymoon! Sounds like you guys are having an amazing time. I remember my honeymoon eons ago. We could only afford a humble apartment at the beach, within a short drive from our neck of the woods. But that was before I stumbled across this crazy hobby.
      You have no idea how happy I am to hear that folks without kids are benefiting from the blog. While I do try to tailor many of our vacations to what my children enjoy, I often do stuff that I personally like and just drag them along. I’m also glad you happen to enjoy my sense of humor. It’s most definitely an acquired taste, but I’m glad you are digging it! I say some crazy stuff sometimes. Nancy is the normal one around here. 🙂

  7. As a miles and points enthusiast, let me say that I find your blog to be both informative and entertaining. I have bookmarked a number of travel blogs and I must admit that I usually will read yours first. I am sure that you have found your niche in writing about families, and you and Nancy both do an excellent job in covering topics that pertain to a family of 4 or 5 (Leana, I find it truly amazing that you have not known English all you life – I can’t imagine what it would be like for be to go to Belarus and after a few years start a travel blog). But it may interest you to know that I don’t use miles and points for a family – only for my spouse and myself. And since the comments to this post are centered around how much (or how little) a husband is involved, I just want to share my perspective as a husband who is the one who plans all the trips and applies for all the credit cards. In the few times my wife has had to be involoved in calling a bank, it has never crossed my mind that there would ever be any reluctance on her part. We just find it much easier for me to dial the number and make the first attempt to speak with a rep (with her permission). And if it is necessary for the rep to speak to her directly, plan B would be have all the information and questions to ask written down beforehand. She is not taking a subservient role, but since she has little interest in keeping up with the details and intricacies of miles and points, it just works much better this way.

    • @Steve Goodness, so many nice comments from readers! I feel unworthy. I do appreciate your kind words, of course. Nancy and I try to make this blog informative, as well as entertaining. It definitely isn’t always easy. So many sites already cover news items, and do it quite well. So, we have to put our own (at times crazy!) spin on the information. Obviously, some posts of mine are better than others, but it’s to be expected, I guess. I’m a busy mom and this is a part-time gig. The fact that you find this blog useful is definitely encouraging. I’m not sure I’m all that great at conveying my thoughts in English, but I appreciate you saying so. It’s not really all that amazing, to be honest. After all, I’ve been living in US for many years. I should be able to write in English! 🙂 But thanks anyway.
      As far as your wife’s hobby involvement goes, I’m glad you found what works for you. There is no right or wrong way to approach this subject. I know for me personally, if I ask my husband to get involved in calling banks, it very often ends in an argument. It doesn’t even have to take long, he just hates it so much. I used to get resentful about the whole thing, but it really wasn’t fair to him. Plus, he will call if I ask him nicely, I just have to be very picky when to do it and when to cut my losses. This time I decided to let the points go.

  8. I went through this with my mom who recently had a stroke. I had her verbally tell the rep that I had her permission to speak on her behalf and they all spoke to me. Of course, that is a different situation than yours.
    Someone may have mentioned this already but you should have durable power of attorney for your hubby (and he for you). It’s easy to find a form online. Then you can email or fax it to the CC companies and then they have to talk to you!
    If you don’t have this, you really need to ASAP, travel hacking aside. I thought about having my mom’s POA tattooed on my arm, I was asked for it so much right after her stroke!

    • @Lindy First of all, I’m very sorry to hear that your mom had a stroke recently. I can’t even imagine the kind of stress you are going through right now. I wish her a speedy recovery.
      Thank you for your tip on POA. Hmm, I never thought about applying it to this hobby, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. We actually both have a document signed that applies to medical emergencies, but I’m not sure if that’s the one you are referring to. something else I need to take care of: getting together a record of all of our credit cards.

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