My Week in Points Is Back: The Deals, The Triumphs, The Flubs from My Pursuit of This Odd Little Hobby

I am bringing back the My Week in Points column that fell by the wayside in 2013.

An element was I was too busy with work, travel and wife time to consistently blog. Or you could say I lost discipline.

The other side why I discontinued it is at the time there was a proliferation of miles and points blogs and I had little to add. Over the past year-plus many of these blogs have fallen by the wayside as the authors devote time to other pursuits. What are left are high-quality how-to blogs, round-the-clock news feed blogs, paste every deal blogs, credit card promotion blogs, and some hardcore manufactured spend blogs for the full-time obsessive. There is a lot I love, a lot I like, and plenty that are not for me.

There is still not a lot from people who have travel as their primary passion, rather than miles and points. Not a lot from people who struggle to resist this taking over their lives. And surprisingly few people talking about what they actually do for their miles and points in contrast to saying, or marketing, what you could do.

To tug at one hot-button thread, what happens when you already have all big cards with affiliate links? The affiliate channels don’t want blogs talking about churning and they don’t want blogs talking about non-affiliate cards. A big silence that I enjoy filling when I talk credit cards at Frequent Traveler University.

By way of disclosure, I once had the full slate of credit card affiliate links. At times I promoted them though pulled back when I felt I could not provide content worthy of justifying their use. Others could. I didn’t have the time or focus on that area. So I ignored the ever-urgent notices to hype the cards and I think most are gone from my account. Amusingly, Discover was the first to fall a couple years ago. I might still have one or two banks. I don’t oppose them on principle, just that they weren’t right for me at the time. I support blogs I like with my clicks when the card and offer is what I want.

Enough navel-gazing, you want miles and points:

Miles and points smart reads:

  1. I published a massive list of the miles and points blog posts I bookmarked in 2014 while this column was on hiatus.

New Year Mileskeeping:

  1. Started buying Delta e-gift cards for my Chase Ritz-Carlton $300 annual benefit. I had been doing $50 though am increasing to $100. Most US airlines, except United, seem to work, see Doctor of Credit’s What Triggers The Ritz-Carlton $300 Annual Travel Credit?
  2. Amex Mercedes-Benz Platinum $200 annual travel credit needs to do as well. I love my Citi Prestige card and doubt I will keep the Amex through the annual fee, maybe go for another Business Platinum when it hits one year since I have had that bonus.
  3. Reset all my annual spend counters. Amex Delta Platinum $50, Amex Delta Platinum Biz $50k, Amex Delta Platinum wife card $50k, United Explorer $25k, maybe doing my United Explorer Biz $25k though the 10k RDMs bonus is marginal and not needed for EQD waiver if done on the personal card. Yeah, I am no good at getting 5x. Not into ordering gift cards or chasing around office supply stores and no Walmart anywhere near me. All Target for me.

Credit cards:

  1. I have not applied for any cards since late August. Time for another round. I 40+ open accounts and one or multiple of many of the popular once.
  2. Chase Fairmont – I closed mine in August 2014 and heard reports it may work to get again. This time will keep and hold. After staying at their hotels, my wife has decided putting the annual $12k spend on these cards to get the annual free night is worth the effort.
  3. Chase Ink – I have none at the moment and got rejections last year. May try again.
  4. Amex ‘Old Blue.’ I closed my SPG card so have a 4th credit card slot that I can put to this or an EveryDay card. Tough call. Will I maximize the Old Blue category bonuses or go the simple route to keep my Membership Rewards active with an EveryDay? Conveniently, FrequentMiler is asking the same question, see Evaluating the old Blue Cash $50k limit.
  5. I am liking US Bank FlexPerks more and more even though redeeming is a hassle. They had mercy on me in my last big award. I interested in the new-ish Amex version of the personal FlexPerks Travel Rewards card, as I already have the personal and business from the last Olympics, and personal and business Club Carlson. US Bank Gold Checking is free if you have one of their credit cards.
  6. I am try for a 3rd US Airways card though Barclaycard has rejected every one of my applications with them since 2012. I was going to close one of my US Air cards but in addition to the 10k annual bonus they also sent me an offer to spend $500 each of the next 3 months for another 15,000. This seems to have started around July 2014. My other card renewed June 2014 and did not get this offer. I had planned to close my Choice Privileges and Priceline cards. Choice Privileges points come in handy and I didn’t want to give up an easy way to boost balances. $4k spend is a free night at a decent hotel in Europe. Priceline, well, Shatner is on the card.
  7. Other cards, I am undecided. Maybe cycle through Citi AA or Hilton Reserve again? I am not sure if I have Hilton Gold this year.
  8. Oh, yeah, and finally closed my Chase Marriott Premier Rewards after collecting the annual cert. May get this again in the future to replenish my Marriott Rewards stash.

Delta:

  1. SkyMiles 2015 is alive. Stopovers are dead and changes to Delta pre-2015 award tickets now re-price entire ticket. Glad I didn’t waste time booking a lot of trips that I would have likely needed to change later.
  2. China Eastern and China Southern briefly appeared on delta.com for award booking, then vanished. Follow reports on FlyerTalk.

United:

  1. Christmas week I had great flights between Newark and Los Angeles. Outbound was packed and no chance of an upgrade. Return was empty and wife (no status) and I both got upgraded after splitting the PNR. When we were on the same award ticket, neither of us was upgrade eligible, even though I am 1k and have an Explorer card. She was never supposed to be eligible but inherited my status when we split the PNR. Nice meal with a sumptuous sundae. She blamed me for not earlier teaching her the English phrase ‘the works.’ Reports are this feature/bug will end April 15, 2015.
  2. United Platinums and up have until 2/1 to request a Global Entry reimbursement voucher. You can renew Global Entry up to a year before expiration and the voucher is good for 6 months, so you can stretch it.

American Airlines:

  1. As much as I would like to fly them as a protest vote, their NYC presence is so diminished, and virtually nothing out of Newark, that I can just don’t see it working for me. I still have 4 $50 AA’s e-gift cards from my Amex Platinum last year.

Hilton:

  1. I went with gut feeling rather than math in doing some points and cash bookings. Seemed a decent use of their points compared to full awards unless staying 5 nights to get the 4th free. Seems odd that I didn’t earn points on the cash portion or any of the hotel spend. Don’t tell my wife I am not so happy about those Phuket on-site spa trips now.

Readers, let me know, is this useful?

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  • James M. (@talljames)

    Very useful. It helps to see other’s thought processes about different cards and such. Thanks!

  • I vote for ‘useful’. Greatly enjoyed your bookmarked posts for 2014, by the way!

  • Thanks for the link, seemed to get a lot of good feedback about that post so I’ll put together something for other cards offering something similar.

    My vote is useful as well, although I am probably a bit biased.

  • Ted

    thanks for doing this. Worthwhile.

  • augias

    thank you! good post. It’s “navel-gazing” though, not “naval” — unless you’re watching ships go by? 🙂

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @augias – corrected, thank you.

  • P T

    Useful.

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  • Rich

    Very useful, glad to see the return of this feature. Your credit card sessions at FTU Advanced in D.C. were the best part of a very good weekend – I appreciate a well informed alternative view. Question on your Target reference – are you using Amex for Target or Redbird? Thanks.

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  • TJ

    Please update if you have success with the Fairmont. I regret not keeping the card/getting the annual free night.

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  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Rich – thank you. Re: Target, 8 of the first, 4 of the second (me, wife, father, mother).

  • I thought this line was great on the sundae: “She blamed me for not earlier teaching her the English phrase ‘the works.’”

  • Eric

    Incredibly useful. Sets you apart from the other blogs. At least for me, there is extreme value in reading about how another traveler thinks about the game. Appreciate you sharing.

  • walterj

    Yes, good content, interesting to see your approach to earning and using miles etc. I am also doing the Fairmont 12K spend. I also enjoy reading your digest.

  • john

    Thanks for this! Can you comment a bit more on the flexperks cards? Are you keeping them past the first year or closing/converting? Are you just getting them for the $400 signup bonus?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @jon – not keeping the business card. The category bonuses don’t do much for me. Personal I will keep. 3x charity, 2x grocery and, with a bit of hassle, good value out of FlexPerks.