Just a quick update on what I’m up to points and miles wise. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve pretty much ceased all MS (occasionally relying on Kiva) and am happy to pay 3% for cash on a cruise to meet bonuses. Reselling was a great experience, but I decided that to commit to this, it required a lot more time and effort than I was able to give, so I all but stopped.
Today, I’m using reselling very opportunistically, such as if I happen to be in local store that has a crazy clearance dept, or if there is a shopping portal bonus available. Effort wise, I think I’m doing to about two RA (retail arbitrage) visits for the past 3 months, and until this past week or so, about 3-4 OA (online arbitrage).
My evolution on OA is now that I go ‘deep’ on a product, perhaps buying $1000 or more of a single unit (which could mean 100 USB chargers, all the same color) and then I throw the lot into a giant box and let it sit. Profit is small, but I find that a transaction like that, when there is a bonus on, may be worth something like:
- 4000 bonus airmiles
- 2000 regular airmiles
- 3000 Thankyou Points
- $70 discounted giftcards
- $70 from vendor rewards
- $200 cash profit (Sale Price minus COGS)
As you can see, doing that once a month or so isn’t really game changing financially, but my plan here is to keep a earn cycle on the points/miles side so that they continue to accrue. Also, having a channel like this makes it easier to meet minimum spend.
The benefits of going deep are that packing is easy, you reduce the risk of mixing up products, and everything becomes faster. That said, risks increase, because you could be holding a lot of inventory if something changes on the supply side.
I figure that this sort of reselling, plus some peak sales periods may result in 100-200K in airmiles per year, ignoring signup bonuses.
Because earning is slow, my strategy is to protect certain miles wherever possible. A prime example is that I would once value Avios very highly for domestic travel, but I would also often obtain them via points transfer, now I try to focus more on the longer picture, eg
7500 Avios for $200 flight for 7500 ultimate rewards = 2.66 cents per point value, which sounds great. However, if I’m also looking at a 80,000 Long Haul Business Class flight worth perhaps $1-2K, then, even though the cents per point is lower, the value may be higher because I simply wouldn’t pay that much cash for that flight. In either case, I’d try to protect the transferrable points, and use them only at the last resort.
As such, I’m trying to build up balances in accounts like United or British Airways via the optimum shopping portal available, and focusing signups on substitute options, such as the 60,000 Jetblue card which will take some pressure off Avios burning.
I’m enjoying being average
Other than three days in 2015, where I was a king among men, I’ve considered myself pretty average in terms of the miles and points game, there are so many people out there that are earning more, and traveling more, and better able to grasp the value of a gig. For me, I’m happy fitting my miles and points stuff into my schedule, and nothing makes me happier than earning a ton of points while spending maybe 20 – 30 minutes in a month on it. I know that I’ll never hit the big time like this, but think with careful planning on the spend side, it should allow us to continue the ‘travel is free’ stuff for at least another 2-3 years.
One thing I’ve been meaning to do, but been lazy at implementing, is to start ‘phantom spending’ my travel. For example, if I book a $1,000 vacation, I think it would be cool to put $1,000 into a dedicated travel budget account, so I restrict the lifestyle inflation a touch, and also, when the miles gig finally gives up the ghost, I’ll have many years of ‘free’ saved up ready to keep the fun times going.