On the value of not chasing deals

Update 2: I am weak.

Update: This deal is getting more and more tempting, especially since Jetblue is strong in Boston and we fly a lot of coach. Here’s a nice analysis of the value you can get. Also @robertdwyer is really doing a great job of peer pressure on Twitter! Will I remain strong?!?!? I want to chase so bad! Ahhhhh.

There is a really good deal going on right now. As always in the blogosphere I have no idea who reported it first, but I first saw it on Angelina Travels so she gets the hat tip. Just keep an eye out for affiliate links though.

Anyway, that’s not really what this post is about. If you’re not familiar with the deal, basically Jetblue is trying to steal customers away from Virgin America. Depending on how many miles you have with Virgin America right now, Jetblue will give you a certain number of miles in its own program – provided you fly a flight roundtrip with them by the end of the summer.

Figuring out how to leverage this deal is pretty easy:

You can turn 40K Starpoints into 50K Virgin America points, as long as you fly the roundtrip and have 50,001 Virgin America points they will give you 75,000 Jetblue points. Or 100K TYP can get you the same deal. If you find a cheap roundtrip flight (let’s say $150 but I’m sure you can do better), you are getting 75,000 Jetblue points and 50,001 Virgin America points for the cost of the miles you transferred plus the roundtrip flight.

That is a pretty great deal. INCREDIBLE, even. But is it worth chasing?

For me, the answer is no way. For starters, I’m going to have trouble finding the time to do what essentially amounts to a mileage run. We’re also completely booked for summer travel so I’m not going to be able to go anywhere with my family either.

Secondly, even though I get a ton of points and value from the match – I only get the value if I use them. Having lots of points in different programs is great, it can offer flexibility. But it also can be a source of stress if you are trying to figure out how to get rid of those points constantly or if you are hamstrung because of your need to burn them.

I fly five or six times a year. Maybe ten in a good year. Even then, I’d probably be hard pressed to get rid of those points! I know because it’s happened to me time and time again. Chasing these deals takes energy in two places: on the front end while earning (I’d need to make the mileage run) and on the back end while redeeming (I’d need to figure out a way to use them).

At my current life stage, that’s just not a good option for me.

Another example. You know what else sounded like a great deal? The 8X Ebay Bucks deal I jumped on to buy $450 worth of Staples gift cards. BTW, that IS a great deal: if you have the time to work it and track everything. But I still need to get rid of the Ebay Bucks before I lose them forever and I only was able to get rid of the Staples gift cards because someone hooked me up with a buyer. Otherwise it just would have created a lot more stress, for what…$40 and whatever I earned from the portal?

Here’s the bottom line: in the past, every time a great deal came around, I chased it. But even then when I didn’t have any kids, chasing every single deal meant that my time, energy, and game was stretched. It’s like pushing too hard in a lane in Dota (video game analogy), pressing too high on the soccer field leaving space behind for your opponent to exploit (sports analogy), or trying so hard to make the perfect birthday party for your kid that you end up creating more stress than fun (parenting analogy).

Now that I don’t chase every deal, I definitely don’t get as much value as I could out of my points. I’m not going to turn 40,000 Starpoints into 125,000 points anytime soon (like > $1000 worth of travel).

But that’s okay. If the big headlines pressure you to jump on this deal, just take a step back. If you know what you want to redeem the points for, go for it. If you’re not sure? Discretion can often be the better part of valor.



Just an average joe trying to fly his family for less

8 thoughts on “On the value of not chasing deals

  1. I’m on the fence on this deal too, albeit for different reasons. Living in a city that is not the greatest for either JetBlue or VX, I am reluctant to deplete my smallish stash of MRs and Starwood points and to then have the stress around using the points, esp. when my MSing has gone way down. Good to have your post to balance all the “greatest deal” posts flying around.

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