The Deal Mommy

Talking to Your Reluctant Spouse about Miles and Points

If you’re in a couple and have just discovered the magic of travel hacking, chances are you’ve got a reluctant spouse. I hear “my husband won’t get on board” or some variation almost daily. 

The reluctant spouse is someone who just doesn’t get it.   Maybe he thinks cash is king. Or maybe she took years to pay off her debt and won’t get a new credit card. Or maybe (gasp) he’s just not into travel. Whatever it is, you will need to have…

The Talk

It’s the travel hacking version of the birds and the bees. That time you set aside to explain to your better half why opening up six credit cards in a single day may not be nuts. Or why you want to buy $5000 worth of gift cards at the mall. I’m going to give you some tips to help you navigate the talk more effectively. They are hard earned from both my experience and that of many others.

The reluctant spouse is the string to your lantern: Without the string it would all just blow away.

Without the string it would all just blow away.

The Kite and The String

I came up with a relationship theory a long time ago: the best couples are ones with a kite and a string. The idea is that some people are kites (travel hackers) and some are strings (reluctant spouses). The kites need the strings to keep them from flying off into the ozone and the strings need the kites to get them off the ground.

Occasionally a two kites or two strings relationship works, but I’ve seen two-kite-ers who just get into trouble because they have no boundaries. Conversely I’ve seen two string-ers who just bore each other into submission. Get one of each and you bring balance to the force. 

Listen First to Understand

Once you’ve identified that you’re dealing with a string, you can start to convince him (I’m using “him” for convenience)  to tie himself to your kite. However, first you’ve got to find out what his specific concerns are. I’m stealing from Stephen Covey’s 7 habits here because listening first does two things.

First, until you get it, you’re just not gonna get it. Asking specific questions like “why do you prefer cash back?” or “why are you afraid of going back into debt?” or “what about travel don’t you like?” opens up communication and shows you value your partner’s opinion: even when it’s clearly wrong (JOKE!). 

Bring the right tools to the task

Secondly, hearing the specific concerns allows you to figure out a solution that assuages the right symptom. Don’t treat a stomachache with Tylenol. 

For instance: Deal Dad works with numbers and spreadsheets everyday. When we were first married I wanted to go to Thailand for summer vacation. He thought it was too expensive. I created an excel spreadsheet breaking down costs for two weeks in a four star beach resort here in the states- no transport- and one in Thailand including airfare. I went on to prove it costs about the same to spend two weeks in peak season and four star anywhere in the world, especially if miles are part of your currency. Once he saw it in black and white he got on board. (I did the same comparing Ireland and Ocean City, MD on 4th of July here.)

However, if your spouse is genuinely afraid of credit you could show him reams of data and it will get you nowhere. Personal success stories- preferably of people he knows- will be a lot more convincing. Get him to a frequent flyer happy hour, STAT.

And if you partner just hates to travel?  Well, it could be one of two things. One option is to up the comfort level. Maybe he hates travel because, well, travel can suck sometimes. Add in the lounge, the lie flat seat and whatever else you can to make it hassle free and he might reconsider.

But if he just hates to travel? Don’t make him. You’ll both be happier in the end. Take off yourself or with a friend. Negotiate for something he wants on the back end. 

I’d love to hear your tips as well if you’ve converted a reluctant spouse in the comments. 

The Deal Mommy is a proud member of the Saverocity network. 

Is your reluctant spouse hesitant to tie his string to your kite? Here are some tips to get him off the ground.


19 thoughts on “Talking to Your Reluctant Spouse about Miles and Points

  1. Paula Hamblen

    My husband loves to travel and totally trusts my advice but just doesn’t want to get into the nolts and bolts. So I frequently begin with you don’t want to know why but just do what I am asking.

  2. MickiSue

    Being married to a cost analyst has its plusses, but getting involved in travel hacking and MS is not one of them. He HAS tied his string to my kite though, and has been pleasantly surprised to find that he LIKES lie flat seats and a Westin over a Motel 6.

    Because it is apparently a point of honor not to “need” fancy travel. Whatever, right?

    He’s at the point where he’ll double check that he has the current “right” cards in his wallet. He remembers to use the Costco for gas, and he remembers cashbackmonitor for buying online.

    Baby steps. Baby steps.

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  5. John

    My significant other supports the game, but doesn’t like to talk to the credit cards companies on the phone for things like retention bonus or reconsideration. Does CC companies allow significant others to talk on their behalf?

    1. thedealmommy Post author

      Hi John,
      I know this one from recent experience. With American Express Deal Dad called (OK, I dialed and handed him the phone). He told the rep “my wife handles this stuff” and gave his permission for me to speak. I negotiated a 20K retention bonus and handed the phone back to him to formally accept the offer. The rep told Deal Dad “She really knows her stuff!”. If he only knew… 🙂

      1. Gerald

        Amex is the worst. When I was unable to talk because my jaw was broken, they refused to let my wife speak for me. They don’t have live chat or email support.

          1. MickiSue

            If your wife is not only an AU, but an account manager, she can talk for you, especially with your jaw broken. You can make her one on the site, I believe.

            I don’t even have to fake talk like a man w/Amex.

            OTOH, other banks, like Barclays, require a ridiculous amount of paperwork to name someone an account manager.

      2. Juan Meza

        I do that all the time with utility bills and other things. As long as they are on hand to give their permission you can talk about whatever.

      3. Bill

        Yep, once SO gets through the verification and grants permission, I start talking. Having an SO who doesn’t churn credit cards is one way to bypass 5/24. 🙂

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