We sure are getting close to holding a million miles! It is really just a psychological achievement, there is no added utility or reward for having that much accumulated. However, I am still excited to reach that amount. I credit reading Million Mile Secrets, The Points Guy, and Richmond Savers for posting such great content for me to learn from. We will actually hit it in a little over a month once we get the IHG bonus on the second card.
We have been really paying attention to miles for about 2.5 years now. I have always accumulated when traveling by using reward accounts, but I never tried to maximize points by using shopping portals, sign-up bonuses, special offers, etc. As such, I had a bunch of United Airlines points and quite a few Marriott Reward points. Since we got serious, our point balances have increased significantly, mostly from just being more aware of what is needed to earn the most points.
Total Value ($)
|American Airlines||Airline||201,000||$0.017||$ 3,417||Banking these for a trip to the Midwest for the 2015 holidays and used some recently for our Hawaii trip|
|Barclays Arrival Card||Credit Card||26,000||$0.011||$ 286||Using most of the rest for parking and a nice dinner at the Ritz Carlton next week|
|British Airways (Avios)||Airline||0||$0.016||$ 0||Next on the list! These are awesome to get to Hawaii from the West Coast and useful on American flights as well|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||Credit Card||191,000||$0.021||$ 4,011||It is tempting to redeem some for cash right now! It is worth almost $2,000 in cash…|
|IHG Rewards||Hotel||73,500||$0.007||$ 515||A new addition due to an increased sign-up bonus. We are working on the second 70,000 bonus for my wife’s card right now|
|Marriott Hotels||Hotel||340,000||$0.007||$ 2,380||Building for a 1 week Caribbean reward that will make the points worth much more than this rate. Decided to use 60,000 for a Mother’s Day present|
|United Airlines (Mileage Plus)||Airline||52,000||$0.016||$ 832||Not happy with them right now and the value of the points decreased|
|US Airways||Airline||0||$0.019||$ 0||Recently rolled over to American Airline accounts|
|Total||883,500||$ 11,441||A new record for us!|
You can see that we are hording Chase Ultimate Reward points right now. That is because they can be transferred to several programs (including United and Marriott). That gives us a lot of points to use if we need to move them over to either one of those programs. We use a Chase card as our default when not trying to earn a bonus on a new card (or except for gas and groceries).
We also earned 50,000 Marriott points for attending a time share presentation in March while in Hawaii. The option was $200 resort credit or the points. Since the points are valued at about $.007 each, I thought it was an easy decision. Also, we avoided the resort restaurants for the most part, so we would have spent it just because we had them. I would rather save them for the next trip!
Around that same time, I completed the required spend on the Ritz Carlton Rewards card. Despite the high fee, the card has some great perks, besides the 140,000 point bonus! We were able to use the $300 annual credit on airlines to have snacks and watch movies on the plane. It also covered one of the baggage fees for the flight not covered by my United card fee bags. It also gives us a couple of suite upgrades each year and a Gold status with Ritz/Marriott.
I hope to use it next week when we stay at the Ritz Cartlon in San Francisco after a work conference. Is using 60,000 Marriott points for a Mother’s Day present wrong? I hope to get my wife a nice spa treatment while there, but hopefully we can use a suite upgrade or get upgraded due to the Gold status. (As a side note I just received a metal version of the Ritz Cartlon card and it is awesome!)
By the way, the 340,000 points is AFTER using 60,000 points for the upcoming stay. That means we have enough for a Marriott Air + Stay package now! I hope to use that sometime next year and should be able to get a week in Grand Cayman AND 50,000 airline points to use for a flight! Not bad, not bad at all.
The US Airways/American Airlines merger was a good thing for us! Now we have almost 200,000 points in 2 accounts instead of in 4 accounts. We still have the credit card for both airlines for each of us, so we will probably drop down to just 1 American card in my name (annual fee is offset by baggage fees on 1 trip). You can also get the fee waived if you request it, sometimes for doing something like 5 purchases in 3 months (of any amount).
Overall, I am really pleased with our progress and we will be able to travel back to the midwest for the holidays (we now need 4 seats needed since the youngest will be over 2 then!) this year with 100% points. In addition, a Grand Cayman vacation at the Ritz in 2016 is looking pretty solid. I think we are at 100% of the hotel and 2-3 flights for free right now if I had to estimate. Some of the $11k we have don’t have an acutal purpose, but it sure is nice to use them when needed.
The IHG Reward bonus was too good to pass up. I think it is usually 50,000 points, so the 70,000 point offer was 40% more than typical. IHG includes Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, and Candlewood Suites. With a wide range of hotels and price points, we could use them on a road trip, or for a luxury stay in a big city. There is also a free night each year to offset the $49 annual fee. I think that makes the card a keeper for us. I don’t stay at this chain a lot, but it will be in the rotation moving forward (mostly for family, not work).
We also just finished a bonus for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card for my wife. It gave us a 40,000 point bonus, plus 5,000 more for adding me as an authorized user. When you add in the 4,000 points we earned from spending, the 49,000 points are worth $490 in cash or easily double that amount (round to $1,000) in travel.
I think this card is a keeper, despite the high fee. We will probably keep one for at least the next year. I may change my mind, but at least I can transfer all those points to whichever of the travel partners I choose before I close the card. I could also move them over to our Chase Freedom card (no annual fee), but then they can only be used for gift cards or cash back. That essentially limits the value to $.01 per point.
I think the next step is to have my wife open a Chase Ink Plus card for her small business. It is not as hard as you think to get one, Million Miles Secrets wrote about it a while back. That would be another 40,000 points to add to the collection!
Also on the horizon would be a pair of British Airways cards. Their points are called Avios and the card gets you 50,000 of them with $2,000 spending in 3 months (annual fee is waived in the first year). The 100,000 points we would get form a card each would be enough to get our family of 4 a roundtrip to Hawaii again! There are some fees, but it is still probably a 90% discount on the flights.
I don’t plan on paying for a hotel in the next few years if it is not a work trip. Hyatt has a good offer that we may jump on later this year as well.
I wrote recently about the Dangers of Credit Card rewards. Based on that, I need to make some decisions to avoid losing a lot of value form paying annual fees for cards we don’t need. We will probably keep 1 airline card, 2 hotel cards, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. We would also have some older no annual fee cards that I just keep open for credit score reasons.
If I closed those old cards, it would stay on my credit report for several years. You don’t instantly lose the aging that those cards provide if you close them, but you do eventually.
Should I spend points or keep accumulating? Are you worried about point devaluations?