Dipping My Toe in the Points Chase…

I am not a points blogger. This makes me a little different from a lot of the blogs on Boarding Area, but I just don’t have any experience with it. Honestly, it’s never been a huge interest of mine, as I’ve been very focused on helping people travel for work with the minimum of stress. And it’s been about as much as I can handle to be on the road all the time and blogging regularly. And the points scene can be so intimidating! If you go on to FlyerTalk or other frequent flier message boards, there’s a lot of discussion of churning credit cards, intricate mileage runs, and advanced reward booking techniques. Where is a beginner to start?

Recently, however, I’ve begun to realize that with a few relatively small changes and some strategic planning, I can accrue points and status far beyond what I currently have. This realization coincided with my trip to Blog World this past weekend, of which I think a lot of points newbies would be super jealous. I was surrounded by many great points and miles bloggers, who were happy to share their knowledge with me, and who were also incredibly patient with my rookie questions. With them, I’ve developed a plan to maximize my miles, and I only have to go out of my way a little bit.

The plan:

1)      Apply for a couple of key credit cards when the bonus is right. Pay attention to which ones give 2x or 3x points for gas and groceries, and use accordingly. I plan to get the AmEx Platinum, which has a great bonus and gets you into lots of the airline clubs.

2)      For trips with two or more nights, consider changing hotels to maximize stays during promotions.

3)      When it makes sense, look for flights with two legs instead of direct flights. (If I had done this during 2011, I would have had Executive Platinum in six months. Sigh.)

4)      If it’s available, and it won’t make me lose my mind, let them bump me.

I will be expanding on this plan in upcoming posts. Just know that you can get a lot more points with only a little more effort, and you’ll be that much closer to elite status or a free vacation!

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Comments

  1. I have to say, I would NEVER do items 2, 3 or 4 on your list. Not for work, not for leisure. Travel is difficult and tiring enough even when things go smoothly. I am not going to change hotels, risk getting caught somewhere because I missed a connecting flight, and/or risk not getting to where I want/need to be because of being bumped. No way, no how. No amount of points or status is worth that.

  2. I too avoid 2,3 and 4 on your list. Those just add to the stress.

    Amex Patinum gets you AA, DL, US and AS lounge access domestically. It doesn’t include UA/co or VX…the “gets you into all the airline clubs” statement is a little bit of a stretch…

  3. I’ll be interested to hear your experience with this, and how you work it into your business travel. I love reading this blog, as well as many others on Boarding Area. And I definitely pick out the tips that fit my travel schedule, which is 95% business-related. But what I never see in a post on maximizing points, stays and miles, is a trip that includes:

    …After three connections to maximize EQMs from EWR to SEL, my customers picked me up at the airport at 8am for 12 hours of meetings, then a 3-hour dinner, and then 3 hours of karaoke, before dropping me back at my hotel at 2am.

    …After 3 hours of restless sleep, I woke up at 5am to answer emails for 3 hours and have a teleconference with my East Coast U.S. office, then switched hotels to maximize my stays, and then was picked up at 8:30am for another 12 hours worth of meetings and 4 hours of karaoke.

    …After only 4 hours of sleep, and with what felt like a failing liver, I went to the airport to fly 6 hours to a city I’ve never been to before, whereupon my customer picked me up and drove me straight to a 5-course lunch even though I was still hungover from the night before, and after taking in 4000 calories in one sitting, we had a 6-hour meeting (during which no coffee was served), before going straight to a 4-hour dinner, at which we were served five bottles of wine between four people. And then we were taken to karaoke.

    This isn’t meant to be a “woe is me” tale, because I love my job. It’s just that many of the tips are impractical for the kind of business travel that me and my associates do. So like I said, I fit in those that work for me. But yesterday I flew EWR/NRT/MNL over the course of 23 hours, and if there had been a second connection in there I’m sure I would have lost my mind.

  4. I think these are great suggestions. If you plan accordingly that should help minimize the stress, and perks will start to stack up before your eyes. I like perks! Thanks for the info!

  5. I think everyone has valid points

    Don’t worry, I’m not planning on going crazy. More like, if it makes sense, instead of taking the direct flight home go through DFW. I don’t want to add to an already complicated trip, I don’t want to make myself crazy, and I don’t want to risk not getting to a meeting I need to attend. That being said, there will be times when it works, and I’ll change hotels or add a segment then.

    @travel656, I think you have already maximized that trip!! Not sure you could do more than you have there. 🙂

  6. I posted an extreme example, of course. But I just know that in business travel, I have more than a few trips that closely resemble that extreme. So when I read that someone switches hotels three times in a week, or takes two bumps at the airport, or makes three connections, I always think I must be the crazy one for taking the easy way, comparatively speaking, of course.

    I’ve had all these great plans when I’ve taken a bump before, and then I wind up on a bus headed to the airport Travelodge at 11:30pm and I start to wonder what went wrong with my life. 🙂

    There’s gotta be a ward in a mental hospital somewhere that’s got five guys in it who were all, at separate times, brought down by one last limoncello toast from a client at 2am.

    I also fear that if I switch hotels, my dry cleaning is gonna wind up packed away in a warehouse somewhere with 5,000 letters to Santa.

    Or maybe I’m over thinking this.

  7. limoncello? i LOVE limoncello. aside from that, i would NEVER change hotels for miles or points. but i have flown through DFW to get an extra ‘leg’ on a journey. also, at year’s end when i have gotten all i will get from AA, i am flying only SWA so i guess i am a points grabber at heart…..

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