I’m going to borrow something from the churning subreddit. It’s not a great deal or some insider information but rather an interesting observation. In “The people of /r/churning are rich“, redditor odin99999 observes:
In the data point collection spreadsheet for the CSR applications, the average stated income is ~$135,000 w/ ~750 responses (i took out a couple of outliers that were likely typo mistakes). according to cnn money, $135k (household) is the top 14%.
The average age is 30 yo.
So the average churner is 30 years old and makes $135k (likely household).
In other words, as the top-rated comment on that thread observes: “The miles and points game is just extreme couponing for the upper middle class.”
It’s not just one thread on Reddit that tells us this. Let’s take a look at the demographics for Saverocity. Take this with a grain of salt, given the difficulties in gathering accurate data from people on the web, but directionally this should be reasonably accurate:
Seems pretty upper middle class to me, wouldn’t you agree? The Points Guy’s readers are apparently doing even better, possibly because they’re less likely to have kids if the demographics are to be believed.
There’s a useful concept called the hedonic treadmill which essentially says that people never get any happier. Sure, you can be temporarily giddy when thinking about that trip you’re going to take or that car you just bought but soon enough you get used to it and return to being your normal self.
For many years now banks have for some reason seen fit to allow (and obviously, I’m generalizing here) affluent and well-educated people to earn money and take trips with little effort on their part. That gravy train is slowing down and has been for some time, though there’s still plenty of fun to be had. It stings a bit because we’re used to things having been so easy and they probably won’t be like that again for a long time, if ever.
I’m reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb right now and he’s got an interesting discussion of the philosopher Seneca and Stoic philosophy that seems apropos. I’d heard of Seneca but never knew he was the wealthiest citizen in the Roman Empire at the time. Taleb writes:
When Zeno of Kition, the founder of the school of Stoicism, suffered a shipwreck, he declared himself lucky to be unburdened so he could now do philosophy. And the key phrase reverberating in Seneca’s oeuvre is nihil perditi, “I lost nothing,” after an adverse event. Stoicism makes you desire the challenge of a calamity. And Stoics look down on luxury: about a fellow who led a lavish life, Seneca wrote: “He is in debt, whether he borrowed from another person or from fortune.”
Worst case scenario: I never obtain the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I’m never approved for another credit card bonus again, every point I have gets clawed back, I travel less frequently, and I have more time to spend with my family and/or find a new hobby into which to channel obsessive-compulsive tendencies. I think I can live with that.