Last week I listed all of my travel plans for 2024 (so far). Today I wanted to lay out my thinking process on how I plan to approach miles and points hobby this year. There won’t be any earth-shattering revelations, but rather some common-sense solutions.
But before we get to the list itself, a short rant. My main priority is to focus on the miles and points hobby less. Way less. Sometimes I feel like I’m stuck in a bizarre echo chamber and can’t get out. It’s almost like we are all junkies looking for that next fix. The next sign-up bonus, the next trip, the next lucrative points opportunity. It all gets very tiresome at times, especially when things don’t go according to the plan.
Part of the problem is my ADHD brain. Nancy has mentioned this YouTube channel, and I highly recommend it as well. Anyway, there is a parody there about ADHD and I feel seen!
A couple of quotes: “We are different thinkers, we like to tinker”, “My brain doesn’t work like that, man, it just goes OFF and ON.” Indeed.
Anyway, I often refer to canceling cards with annual fees as cutting the fat. Well, my goal in 2024 is to cut the fat by reducing the amount of miles and points content I consume on a daily basis. Do I need to read the reviews of business-class seats? Not really. Any business class is a good business class in my book. Plus, I don’t plan my trips around this sort of thing anyway. The idea is to stop wasting my time/energy on any content that has zero relevance to my situation. The only exception is reading trip reports about luxury hotels (my guilty pleasure).
Sure, we are in the business of writing about miles and points and being informed is part of the job. But let’s face it, I won’t be pursuing hotel status via mattress runs and 99% of our readers won’t be either. And those who will can read about it on 100 other blogs.
I want to be more present in my everyday life, especially when it comes to my kids. I also want to be a better spouse, a better friend and not just a miles-and-points gal. End rant.
Cutting the fat (aka annual fees)
If you are a middle-class person, this is something you really have to watch out for. The annual fees that some folks in this hobby pay can seriously get out of control. I’m not saying it’s never worth it, but this is a situation of YMMV You have to be very disciplined to make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
A year ago I wrote a post with a section on the annual fees I pay each year. For the most part my line-up is still the same. My husband was approved for Jet Blue Plus credit card a few months ago, so I canceled mine. No need to have two cards for the same exact benefit, since our points are pulled together.
I do plan to renew both of our Choice credit cards this year, since we each will get 30k points in exchange for $95 annual fee. I’m reasonably sure that I will get close to $150 in value from these points, so plan to hang on to both cards (for now).
I’ve written before that Capital One Venture X is for the most part a no-brainer for traveling families. I still feel this way, but I’m a bit disappointed in its travel portal. I probably need to dedicate a separate post to this, but looks like I will have to book a more expensive carrier because Ryanair is not listed, just so I can use up my $300 travel credit. It’s not a huge difference, and I do prefer Easyjet, but that makes Priority Pass benefit anything but free. I also needed to book some hotels, and none were listed on C1 portal. Not good.
But I’m keeping the card for now because we have a lot of flights scheduled this year, and I’m reasonably sure that I will come out ahead despite the $395 annual fee (by using Priority Pass benefit). Still, this card might be on a chopping block before the next renewal.
Applying for new credit cards
My husband and I are taking a break from applying for new bonuses, and not by choice. We each got eight new cards in the last two years, and the banks are on to us. I got several rejections lately, so that’s my cue that I need to take it easy for awhile. I do plan to apply for Wyndham Earner credit card again in a few months because I’m stubborn, and because it will give me Caesars Diamond status. The idea is to attempt to get another free-ish offer from Holland America so we could go on Alaska cruise.
I doubt I will get approved because Barclay’s is sensitive to new inquiries. But it’s worth a shot. If denied, I’ll try again when some of my inquiries fall off the credit report. Speaking of, if we play our cards right, we might even get approved for Chase Sapphire Preferred X2 next year when we are both eligible for welcome bonus.
I don’t really pay attention to my 5/24 status, but since I like Chase points the most, it could absolutely make sense to skip mediocre cards and hold out for my UR pot at the end of the rainbow. It goes without saying that I’m not about to sit out any lucrative offers with the idea of “saving” myself for Chase.
When it comes to everyday spending, I plan to maximize 5x categories and take advantage of offers from my Citi SYWR credit card. It won’t be a game changer, as using my limited spending towards new bonuses will almost always yield a higher ROI. But beggars can’t be choosers.
Since I’m a crazy person, I’m already starting to book trips in 2025. My 2024 schedule is completely full, and I probably should cancel a trip or two. But you know I won’t! Anyway, I’ve already redeemed Hilton points on a resort stay in Florida. I’ve also booked a Holland America cruise from the MGM Gold match for me and my husband. It’s an itinerary I’ve been salivating over for years, so I’m super excited.
This summer I hope to use my medley of hotel points on a road trip out West that I’m tentatively planning for 2025. To begin with, we were going to rent an RV, but decided to abandon the idea. Neither one of us feels comfortable driving it and frankly, having five people share it for eight nights seems like a nightmare.
Instead, I plan to redeem my Best Western, IHG and Choice points on two rooms, with some Hyatt and AirBnB stays sprinkled in. Everything must go. I won’t obsess over CPP (cents per point) and use what I have to save real money.
My goal is to visit Grand Canyon, Zion, Yosemite and Sequoia national parks, with an overnight in San Francisco at the end of the trip. I do hope to cover 90% of the cost via my existing stash of miles and points. It will be epic, at least I hope so. Stay tuned for all the details.
As you can see, I don’t have ambitious plans. Rather, I intend to mostly take a break from applying for new cards and utilize the points I already have for a plain-vanilla roadtrip in 2025. No Maldives or Q-suites on the menu. Sorry, guys. But I do have a lot of exciting trips coming up this year and can’t wait to share all the details on the blog.
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.