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Beating The System: Travel Points Pointers

Beating The System: Travel Points Pointers

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Beating The System: Travel Points Pointers

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  1. Beating The System: Travel Points Pointers With Brian Kelly, The Points Guy

  2. The Agenda Earning Redeeming Q & A For more information go to http://thepointsguy.com

  3. The Basics: What Are Points? • Mile$ vs. Point$ -Airlines -Hotels -Credit Cards

  4. Earning: Credit Cards • Credit Card Gravy Train -Sign-up bonuses up to 100,000 points -Category spending bonuses -Redemption bonuses

  5. A Note On Your Credit • Understanding your credit score -Payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, new credit, types of credit -2-5 point temporary hit per application • Strategy -Start with good credit -Pay off balances or interest rates negate points value -Multiple cards: issuers, business and personal, family and friends -Be cautious before applying for a mortgage!

  6. Earning: Sign-Up Bonuses • Up to 100,000 points per card -My haul last year: eight credit cards, over 650,000 points • Know your spend requirements -Anywhere from first purchase to $10,000 in four months • Targeted offers: the only junk mail I like receiving!

  7. Earning: Spending Bonuses Never settle for 1 point per dollar spent Popular category bonuses: airfare, gas, groceries, dining, wireless service, business marketing, individual airline/hotel spend on co-branded cards Spend threshold bonuses: points, elite status, elite miles, companion tickets

  8. Credit Card Points 101 • Transferable points • Fixed-value points • Airline miles & hotel points Not all point credit cards were created equal!

  9. Earning: Transferable Points • Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility! • Sharing points with family/friends • Transfer partners = options • Don’t forget about partners of partners • Don’t put all of your points in one basket

  10. Earning: Transferable Points Programs • Transfer partners: Delta, Aeroplan, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, JetBlue, Aeromexico, El Al, Flying Blue, ANA, Singapore, Frontier, Hilton, Starwood, Best Western, Choice Hotels, Priority Club, etc.- Transfer bonuses • Transfer partners: United, British Airways, Korean Air, Southwest, Marriott, Hyatt, Priority Club, Amtrak.

  11. Earning: Fixed-Value Points • Easiest to understand • Least valuable: generally 1 point = 1 cent • Examples: Capital One No Hassle Rewards • Best for: -Families with non-flexible travel schedules -Domestic flights -Earning elite status • NOT for: International premium class travelers

  12. Earning: Airline and Hotel Credit Cards • Generally not transferable • Exchange flexibility for perks like: priority check in, free checked bags • Examples: -Delta and Starwood American Express cards -United MileagePlus Explorer card -Hyatt Visa from Chase -Citi American AAdvantage cards

  13. Best Cards on the Market • Chase: Sapphire Preferred -Key benefits: 2x points on dining and travel, 50,000-point sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees • American Express: Premier Rewards Gold Card -Key benefits: 3x airfare, 2x gas and groceries, 25,000-point sign-up bonus, 15,000-points bonus at $30,000 spend • Capital One: Venture Card -2 points per dollar on everything, no foreign transaction fees, probably best fixed-value points card out there. Wait for 100,000 sign-up bonus • Starwood Preferred Guest American Express -Best co-branded, 25,000-point sign-up bonus, multiple transfer partners, elite status with $30,000 spend

  14. Other Ways To Earn Flying Shopping Dining Promotions and Bonuses

  15. Earning: Flying Still a great way to earn, generally 1 mile per mile flown Class of service bonuses Elite Bonuses: can help accrue miles over twice as quickly. Map out your travel for the year.

  16. Earning: Shopping • Never go directly to a retailer’s web site • Almost every airline and credit card points program has an online shopping portal. -Example: Skysmilesshopping.com for Delta • Spend bonuses • EVReward.com: Great for checking bonus offers at specific retailers

  17. Earning: Dining Airlines and hotels have affiliated Dining Networks: another way to diversify and “double dip” Link every card you have to one Earn 3x points as a regular member, 5x as a VIP Great way to keep miles active

  18. Earning: Promotions and Giveaways • Social Media -As simple as “liking” an airline or hotel property on Facebook -Tweeting an airline or hotel -Ex. I got 3000 SPG points for liking the Sheraton Madison on Facebook. I value that at $90. • Pay attention to blogs for promos -Have a goal in mind, pay attention to your specific programs, and have fun—especially when you’re not spending money!

  19. Earning: When Does It Make Sense To Buy Miles? • Generally never • Exceptions: -Promotions such as US Airways miles sales at 1.45 cents apiece -To top up for a specific award -Transfer promos

  20. Earning Points Takeaway Your strategy is specific to YOU and your needs Flexibility is the most important thing Diversify: don’t put all your points and miles in one basket

  21. Redeeming 101 The usual frustrating scenario: you have the points but can’t use them for what you want. Airlines have terrible technology for searching, especially partners and alliances

  22. Redeeming: Types of Airline Awards • Saver Awards -Lowest redemption levels -Available to partner airlines • Standard/ Peak Awards -Can only be booked in one’s own frequent flyer program -Higher points requirements -Sometimes only available to elite flyers

  23. Redeeming: Finding Award Availability • Star Alliance: United, US Airways, Air Canada, etc. -United.com pulls up two columns: Saver and Standard • SkyTeam: Delta, Air France/KLM, Korean Air, etc. -Delta.com is broken -AirFrance.us: Sign up for Flying Blue • Oneworld: American, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, etc. -AA.com only shows you American and Alaska, adding Qantas and BA this spring -Qantas.com pulls in most partner awards

  24. Redeeming: Other Tools ExpertFlyer.com: Paid service for finding both award seat and upgrade availability on many airlines. Call your airline: After you research, call in with exact flights, routes and dates. Benice. Keep track of your miles using AwardWallet. Tip: Have a goal in mind. This makes the work worth it. Once you master searching for awards, you’ll get places you never thought possible.

  25. Redeeming: Hotel Points Don’t forget about hotels! Often more valuable than airline miles Lots of places to save money like Europe Choose your programs with your goals and needs in mind

  26. Redeeming: Starwood Preferred Guest One of the strongest programs Most valuable points, for me ~3 cents each Fifth night free, automatic 20% savings Cash & Points option Great airline transfer partners and ratios: 20,000 SPG points  25,000 airline miles Great associated credit card: SPG Amex

  27. Redeeming: Hyatt Gold Passport • Maximum hotel free night redemption: 22,000 points • Lucrative promotions • Associated credit card: Chase Hyatt Visa -One of best sign-up bonuses on the market -2 free nights at any Hyatt -$75 annual fee

  28. Redeeming: Reduced Price Awards • Priority Club IHG: -Point Breaks: rotating list of hotels requiring only 5,000 points for free nights • Marriott Rewards: Pointsavers • Hilton HHonors: -Pointsretchers -Points & Money • Always do the math: Sometimes it makes more sense to pay for a room than to use points

  29. Redeeming: Cars Hertz: Free rental days National: Choice of cars Avis: Airline bonuses Enterprise: Just launched new points program

  30. The Takeaways • Put together the points strategy that works for you -Research programs that will get you where you want to go -Clarify your goals: coach/first class, international/domestic • Diversify your points • Share your experiences -Forums like FlyerTalk and Milepoint -I learn from my readers’ comments • Pay attention to the news and promos and visit ThePointsGuy.com