Award Booking Chase Credit Cards Devaluation Foolishness Thoughts

Time to get out of the miles and points game?

Go...crazy? Don't mind if I do!
Go…crazy? Don’t mind if I do!

A few things have happened in the last month or so that have really made me question my competency with miles and points – and even made me wonder whether it’s still worth it? In the end, I don’t think I’m quitting, buuuut I am getting a bit old (or baby brained) and making mistakes that I shouldn’t be. This is happening concurrently with the miles and points game changing (read: devaluations) – can I keep up? Here are some reasons I considered getting out and the solutions that I’m implementing to keep myself IN.

Reason 1: I forgot to cancel a card before the annual fee was due

This one is kind of embarrassing on two fronts. Before we left for Germany I noticed my Chase Sapphire Preferred card was missing. Embarrassment #1. THEN when I went to check online to make sure there had been no fraudulent charges, I noticed that my annual fee had already hit and I hadn’t cancelled the card yet. Embarrassment #2.

Lost this, forgot to downgrade, #fail
Lost this, forgot to downgrade, #fail

I had decided months ago to downgrade to a regular Sapphire (keep line and credit history, get rid of annual fee), but I was really shocked that I hadn’t cancelled before the fee hit. Even though I have a detailed spreadsheet I check two or three times a week, I missed it. Yes, it was still waived because I cancelled soon enough, but still.

Gmail reminder
It’s as easy as googling “gmail reminder”

Solution: Set up auto reminders through gmail

If I start paying annual fees by mistake I’m going to cut into the money I save really quickly and painfully. I’ve now set up calendar reminders for 11 months before each annual fee is due – my spreadsheet is too long to not miss something every once in awhile.

Reason 2: One of my credit cards went missing

See above. I know my CSP is in my house somewhere, I just don’t know where. Since I downgraded it doesn’t matter (change in expiration date) but still…embarrassing.

Solution: Create a system that is a little more organized than my sock drawer

I need to do this, but I’m terrible at organizing. Anyone have suggestions?

Reason 3: Infant taxes have the potential to become painful

Even though we had a great agent help us book our lap infant below what it should have cost, it’s not something I can really count on. When flying premium cabins internationally a lap infant is supposed to cost 10% of what the cash ticket would cost – or $2000 in the case of our current trip. That’s…a lot. Yes, M will be old enough for her own seat soon, but that’s going to cost miles so costs are rising either way.

Lufthansa First Class
Do we need to give this up?

Solution(s): Start flying coach, stick to domestic vacations, or start manufacturing more spending

I haven’t decided which of these solutions to pursue yet. Flying coach would cut costs by quite a bit (both miles and cash wise) and we’d still be saving money. We just wouldn’t be flying as comfortably as in the past. I’ll have to do some thinking about whether M is “worth” the miles to fly in premium cabins. Another option is to stick to domestic vacations and shift our earning strategy to saving money on hotels.

Albert Bierdstadt's Rocky Mountain
If so, there are consolation prizes to be had in the U.S. (Albert Bierdstadt)

After the German mountain landscapes I’m curious to check out the Rockies or the Appalachian mountains, which I’m sure are equally impressive. Finally, I think it’s time I need to step up my manufactured spending game. If you don’t know what that is, here is a primer. Saverocity has some of the most skilled MS people out there – it’s about time I caught up.

Reason 4: Playing the game takes up too much time

One thing preventing me from really ramping up my manufactured spending is time. I already spend so much time looking for award tickets (either for my family, friends, or clients) – that’s the part of the game I really enjoy and most enjoy helping people learn about.

gcmap.com Asia
This kind of stuff is fun for me (gcmap.com)

But I can do that from the comfort of my home when my daughter is sleeping – manufactured spending requires a real time commitment – and time is money. So sometimes I really do think about quitting because I just imagine what else I could do with my time. Write the greatest American novel composed entirely of run on sentences, perhaps?

Solution: Stick to pursuits that are the most efficient timewise

I’ll have to evaluate what that entails exactly, but in the spirit of German efficiency, I’ll need to learn to maximize my time better. Which leads me to the fifth and final reason that really made me think about this:

Reason 5: I dreamt about booking an award ticket the other night – it was super intense

Seriously.

Solution: Get a life

Final Thoughts

No, I’m not really going to quit the miles and points game. Still, I think it’s important for all of us to evaluate where we are from time to time – there is no point in earning miles just for miles’ sake, or becoming unbalanced in the rest of our life, or turning the hobby into a pursuit where we lose money. As I’ve said before, my goal is to expose my family to new experiences in as much comfort as possible – all these things that have been happening lately have just reminded me I need to take stock of the means by which we will get there. The game keeps changing but the goal stays the same.

Anyone else notice “slip ups” in their game, have ideas for how to combat them, or ever feel the same way?

Joe
Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less
http://www.asthejoeflies@gmail.com

20 thoughts on “Time to get out of the miles and points game?

  1. Yep. Just got hit w/ a $35 fee for a dumb slip-up (paid an Amex bill one day late). I rarely use that card outside of sync deals but am hoping they will still do a courtesy fee waiver when I call in. In more troubling news, I could not load a GC to BB at Walmart (it was NOT one of the “difficult to load” variety). On calling the issuer, was told the balance had been drained (fraudulently) my someone else. Not sure how that happened as the card was in my physical possession since activation but thankfully it was only a $100 card. Blackhawk said they will “take care of it” but the claim-filing process sunk a lot of time and I have to wait 45 days for them to investigate. With that, and BB getting harder and harder to load with each passing day anyway, MS started to lose its luster for a moment. Of course I won’t quit; will just try to adapt 🙂

  2. You’ll most likely need to start flying coach when she turns 2 anyway. We’ve run into that because most F/J products now are going the way of private pods, rather than seats next to each other. Once AF replaces its angle flat 772 product with the pod-style seats, that’s about it for us getting to Europe in J. I really don’t want a 2 year old sitting that far from me, because the actual result of that will be her to end up sleeping on me – which I find less safe than in her own seat with a belt.

    Keep working on those UR. You’re BOS-based, IIRC. Fly BOS-DUB on EI for 25k Avios RT in coach and buy a revenue ticket onward (or another segment on EI with more Avios). It’s a 5.5 hour flight, not much longer than BOS-SAN. When you look at it in those terms, it almost hurts to dump twice the points on a business class seat 🙂

    1. Heh, actually, we could go to Dublin for the rest of our lives. We loved Ireland when we went on our babymoon. AND those seats aren’t pod-style so maybe we could go in J still. LOL.

      Maybe I’ll just take a break until she’s 5…

  3. 3 ring binder with baseball card organizer sheets, write the name of the card that goes in a particular slot on a piece of paper and place it in the slot. You could also write when it needs to be cancelled, the application date etc.

    You might also want to “forget” to cancel before the fee posts and then let the miles/cert/points post before canceling within the grace period. Mint is good about reminding you when there is a fee.

    1. I really like the baseball card sheet holder idea. I keep all my cards I am not using in a travel envelope in a box that is VERY well hidden in my house. I am a bit paranoid about break-ins so i don’t want someone finding my CC stash and going to town (even though I know I could cancel, get charges reversed its still lots of headaches and calling).
      I do keep a Google Drive sheet with all my cards and color code them for which are active, which I have received bonus, the annual fee, and what date to potentially cancel. Since it’s on Google Drive I can access it anywhere to reference relatively easy.

    2. I use a three-ring binder with baseball card inserts for inactive cards and that works well. I also have a small area of a drawer dedicated to cards and other financial stuff that falls into the gray area–not currently needed but not ready to be filed or go to the inactive folder yet.

  4. I bought a business card holder that could for credit card. It holds about 75 or so cards which is more then plenty for me at the moment. I have it organized by how often I plan to use the card. Most often go towards the front and least often/will be cancelled at the back.

    It’s small enough to fit in a wall safe I have so it’s secure and organized.

  5. Just a fyi, the Appalachian don’t even remotely compare to the German Alps, but the Rockies are a close second.

  6. I am another fan of the three ring binder. I have mine organized by bank and plastic sheets to hold the cards. I have a sheet to start each section and follow it with 1) any printed info that came with the card that I want to keep (Alaska and USAir have their version of companion passes, sometimes a lounge pass comes with a card, etc.), 2) screen shots of the offer/promo with which I got the card, 3) confirmation I set up autopay, etc. I can make notes about fees, what a CSR told me when I called to waive them, etc.
    I could put all the info in a spreadsheet but that takes time, and I like having all the documentation together.
    Old school but it works for me.

    1. I contemplated for a bit but decided against! But it’s the first time I’ve actually thought there may possibly be a day when I do in the future…possibly. I find it productive to reflect from time to time

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