If you’ve been following my South Pacific redemption saga, you know that I recently burned a TON of miles and points. When I said at the beginning of the process that everything must go, I meant it. Of course, I do still have some leftover miles and points. So, let me share the numbers with you. You won’t be jealous, I promise!
American Airlines AAdvantage miles:
Mine: 1,500 miles
Spouse: 1,300 miles
Spouse: 5,500 miles
Mine: 17,000 miles
Spouse: 20,000 miles
Mine: 11,500 miles, soon to be zero (post coming up)
Revenue-based airline programs
Spouse: 60,000 Rapid Rewards points for now, soon to be zero after redeeming them on gift cards (read my post for explanation)
Mine: zero, soon to be 61,000 points
Spouse: 1,500 points, soon to be 62,500 points
Spouse: 600 Membership Rewards
Spouse: 50,000 Merrill+ points, redeemable towards up to 2 airline tickets valued at $500 each (or total $500 statement credit)
Mine: 6,000 Hilton points, 15,000 Wyndham points
Spouse: 23,000 IHG points, 15,000 Wyndham points, still waiting on 100,000 Hilton points that the rep said should be deposited this month (a post coming up soon)
Analysis of the current situation
As you can see, I have tiny balances in AAdvantage and Delta airline programs. Those won’t do me any good now, but at some point they may come in handy after I get approved for Citi and Amex credit cards. I’ve never had any Delta co-branded credit cards before, if you can believe it, so those are on my radar. I would like to wait till I have solid plans for Delta flights, so I can take advantage of a free checked bag benefit. But I may sign up in 2018 and collect miles speculatively.
I keep Avianca currency as my emergency stash. You can redeem these miles on Lufthansa flights with no fuel surcharges. So, if something happens in Belarus, my miles may come in handy. Last-minute economy availability on Lufthansa flights from Orlando to Minsk seems to be decent, and the cost is 30,000 miles+tax. Avianca doesn’t charge close-in booking fees. Last-minute revenue Lufthansa fare from Florida is usually astronomical:
There is an option to pay $668 for a flight with 2 stops, but spending 30k miles still beats it by a long shot. Avianca will let you co-pay with cash if you are short on miles. So, technically, I could utilize our balances for a roundtrip ticket if needed. I recommend everyone keeps some traditional miles (or flexible points) as emergency stash, especially if they have relatives in another state or country.
When it comes to hotel points, we don’t really need them all that much. They are nice for weekend getaways, but it’s not the type of currency I want to hoard. I have gotten good use out of IHG program when we had a family emergency, so plan to hang on to our 23,000 points for now. As soon as Amex deposits my husband’s Hilton bonus, I will burn it for my in-laws’ stay near LAX after their flight from Sydney.
As far as my Wyndham points go, I plan to redeem them on vacation rental as soon as my husband and I get our 15,000 anniversary points from renewing co-branded Wyndham credit cards (current version doesn’t have that benefit).
Am I in panic mode due to my meager current supply of miles and points?
No way, Jose! My miles and points did exactly what I intended them to do. I spent time, energy and money accumulating them. And what better way to burn them than on my dream trip to South Pacific? I really don’t like hoarding. To me, the mile that is not used is a wasted mile. Plus, I like a good challenge. It’s kind of fun starting from scratch, to be honest. I’m looking forward to what opportunities 2018 will bring. Some will call me delusional (the hobby is dead, y’all!), others will call me an optimist. You be the judge.
Sure, it’s good to keep few currencies on hand. If you have flexible points, you are largely protected from major devaluations. When one program makes negative changes to their award chart, you can simply use another transfer partner. Plus, there is always an option to use points towards revenue travel. My biggest issue with flexible points is that they usually involve premium cards with an annual fee, though Amex has few notable exceptions.
Still, if you are sitting on large balances of flexible points (as in 500k+), ask yourself why? Is it because you are saving them for a specific redemption or simply because you are dealing with paradox of choice? Having plethora of options can be a blessing and a curse.
So, I would like to encourage all of you to make 2018 a year of spending. As in spending miles and points. You’ve worked hard to accumulate your precious stash, now it’s time to have some fun. Hawaii, Alaska or even South Pacific, anyone?
It’s closer than you think…
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.