Capetown, Table Mountain view

The miles and points game isn’t for everyone – a dream deferred?

Posted on Posted in Loyalty Points, Photography, The Good Stuff, Travel

I was on a twitter chat recently and the question of dream trips surfaced (as it always does).  For me, my answer is usually Antartica as it is uber-expensive even for a couple and twice as much for me as a solo traveler with the single supplement.  Generally if a trip costs more than the down payment of my house, I probably won’t be doing it anytime soon (unless I hit the lottery).  So I think you can agree, Antartica is a dream trip that my miles & points can only take me so far in the cost savings.  For others on the chat, dream trips varied and the reasonings for not being able to achieve them were the standard “too expensive”, “not enough vacation time”, “no one to go with me”

Elephants in Botswana
Dream Safari realized with a points redemption – Elephants in Chobe -Botswana

When I saw the Ireland dream trip pop up as too expensive, I immediately replied that this “dream trip” was quite achievable with a simple credit card bonus.  You can fly to Dublin from Boston (like I did) on the bonus miles and thus save alot of money in your dream budget. I didn’t include my link to my Dublin trip on miles with Aer Lingus.  I was naive to think that everyone would jump at the chance for their dream trip with a credit card bonus – it seemed so simple until it wasn’t.  The reply came back “I’d rather not sign up for a credit card but thanks for the information”.  I didn’t press further as each person’s situation is different.  I know many people without credit cards, who use debit only or cash.  That’s what works for them.  It further validates (for me anyway) that the person holding you back from achieving your dream anything is you.  So Ireland will continue to be a dream for this person due to costs.

Castle in Dublin
A man’s home is his castle literally in Dublin!

The miles and points game does require a bit of commitment, strategy and a slight risk tolerance.  I’m not a hardcore miles and points person as I’ve mentioned before – I don’t have 30+ credit cards, I’m not a churner (opening/closing credit cards for repeat bonus points) and I don’t manufacture spend (using various methods).  My method is conservative as I’m able to achieve my miles/points goals within reason with little added effort.  To be fair, I only need miles for me, if I had a family to travel with, I’d be hardcore to maximize my points potential.  At conferences, I’ve heard some creative strategies, learned of those who take great risk and have been richly rewarded (points millionaires) along the way. So many ways to play the game, all with the same goal to visit paradise for a lot less.

So back to your dream trip or maybe just your vacation trip – where do you want it to be?

Easter Island Moai
Moai of Easter Island – Dream Trip Realized with Points

For a friend, he and his family want to go to Disney World next year, I suggested signing up for (I have no affiliations – I get nada for recommendations so I try my best to align the needs with the current offers) the British Airways Chase Visa.  He thought I was a bit crazy given that he doesn’t fly BA but he did hear me out about the benefits of BA distance based award chart now that USAirways is in the OneWorld Alliance due to the American merger.  I had to explain it a few times as I went all geeky on the partner, alliances, etc.  If he meets the Chase BA spend requirement, he would get 50,000 Avios.  Philadelphia to Orlando on USAirways direct costs 15k Avios so that he has enough for three air tickets (total of 45,000 Avios) with 5,000 left.  He doesn’t care about maximizing his points potential or return on investment (ROI) which I think would be the Boston – Dublin flight for 50,000 Avios, he sees that he can get free airfare to Orlando, giving him more money in his budget to spend on food and fun at Disney.  That for me, is a fantastic way to get into the points/miles game conservatively with little risk and no additional commitment to learn award charts, airport routes, etc. A simple in/out with a credit card sign-up.

Cinderella's Castle at Walt Disney World Christmas
Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World

With the changes by Delta and United to a revenue based model of mile earning, the route to an award ticket for the normal, non road warrior traveler will depend even more on credit card sign up bonuses and other spend types that are not travel related such as shopping portals.

So what is your dream trip?  Can you achieve it with a credit card sign-up and would you?  What do you think of the person’s response on Twitter?  If Ireland was your goal and I just showed you how to achieve it with little risk, would you also say “no thanks” and continue dreaming?

Sydney Opera House
Seeing Sydney twice is a dream realized with points


4 thoughts on “The miles and points game isn’t for everyone – a dream deferred?

  1. I’m not sure if I have a single dream trip — there are just too many places I want to go! New Zealand is pretty high up there, though, and a (few) credit card signups would get me there. Would I do it? Maybe, but I tend to rely on other options first.

    Unfortunately, it’s hard to know a person’s situation based on a single phrase on Twitter. Maybe (s)he has had problems managing debt in the past and a credit card becomes a high-risk option. Maybe their credit is poor and they’re unable to open a card. Or maybe it’s just outside of their tolerance.

    1. Becky – agree hard to know a person’s situation but in my experience (family & friends), I know many who can easily open a quick credit card, get the bonus, and take their dream trip but they don’t. I’ve been fortunate with conservation miles/points game to experience so many amazing dream trips and I wish more would try to do the same (obviously if their credit is good)

  2. Good article. I have no issues with signing up for another card to get the bonus points but like most tax systems in countries, understanding miles and the loop holes takes hard core dedication to get your head around it.

    Unfortunately for Aussies, your options are heavily limited, huge bonus miles are far and few between. To top it off, most of the big players slug you a hefty international transaction % fee on top of exchange rates. You’ve got to wonder if it’s worth it!

    1. Roma – you are correct with the aussie system – I’m not familiar with any products to build points given Qantas as the dominant carrier. I, personally, am not a fan of the aussie practice of passing the credit fee to the consumer – as if I have cash to pay my hotel bill of course I’m using a credit card and now have to pay additional fee to do so – drives me mad.
      The UK has a few more options for points but the US is where the majority of points are to be had.

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