There Is No Perfect “Game” – 5 Common Miles & Points Mistakes

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miles and points mistakes
Photo by Jeff Golden

Why That Mistake Isn’t A Huge Deal

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I am not perfect. I am not a perfect husband, a perfect father or a perfect traveler. Much of my life has been learned “the hard way” through making honest old fashioned mistakes. Through those mistakes I have improved in all aspects of life.

This hobby works the same as everything else. It takes time, work and a lot of effort to become “good” at it. Then, even when you are supposedly “good”, you screw up. You make a mistake that is so dumb that you are embarrassed even thinking about it.

Usually when I write posts like this it is because I have made a mistake and am writing as a cautionary measure. Fortunately that hasn’t happened today (yet), but for some reason this topic came to mind, so why not write about it?

Common Miles and Points Mistakes

These certainly don’t represent all of the mistakes people make, but these five mistakes are common and not a huge deal in most cases.

Missed the due date on a credit card – I have dozens of credit cards and I have made a late payment exactly once. The good news is the banks are generally willing to credit back the late fee if you are a good customer. Doing this is also a great incentive to improve your organization methods. Also remember that late payments only hit your credit report after more than 30 days, so the worst thing that happens is you pay a late fee.

Made a terrible award redemption – It happens. Even the expert award bookers have done it at some point. This is the type of thing that tends to happen less often with experience. Don’t sweat a mistake like this. Just earn more points! There is no scarcity in miles & points and maybe that mistake will provide knowledge that will later help you with an amazing redemption.

Also, sometimes bad redemptions really aren’t bad. For example, a couple of years ago my wife wanted to go to Maui. I burned 22,000 points per night at the Hyatt Regency (my review) when the rates were only about $275-$300. At the time I didn’t want to spend that money, but I had plenty of UR points, so I did it. The trip was fantastic, but obviously I didn’t get the most value for my points. Still worth it though. What a great trip!

miles and points mistakes
Hyatt Regency Maui – Sunset. Not the best redemption, but it was worth it!

Got hit with a hard inquiry when opening a bank account, television subscription, cell phone account – Darn them! Always running my credit. There is not much you can do about this and remember a hard inquiry in and of itself is not a mistake. For example, if I switch television providers and save $20 a month for two years, but they run my credit, is it worth it? Yes it is.

Lost track of how much in gift cards I have to liquidate – This is one that I have not personally done, but I know others have. One time I did find an old Vanilla Reload buried in a drawer, but thankfully it had been redeemed. Even if you make a mistake that costs hundreds of dollars, you are still coming out ahead in the end. Consider your mistake an “investment” in a new system of organization so it doesn’t happen again.

Didn’t verify documents after applying for an offer – This mistake happened to someone I know. (Not me.) This person was applying in branch at Citi for the ThankYou Preferred offer that paid 5x at grocery, drug stores and gas stations for the first 12 months. (No longer available.) They brought in a print out of the offer to the banker who acknowledged it was available. When the person returned home they realized they were given the normal 20,000 TY point bonus and nothing else. After escalating to Citi, nothing was done. That was a HUGE LOSS, but this person was able to get multiple Citi AA Executive cards last year to make up for it!


Everyone makes mistakes and no one bats 1,000. This hobby can get complicated and things are constantly changing so you are bound to make a mistake at some point. When it happens, get up & brush yourself off and stop focusing on what you lost and instead focus on all that you have gained. At least that is what works for me.

Feel free to share your mistakes in the comments!

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. […] 5 Common Miles and Points Mistakes & Why Not to Worry (Miles to Memories). Made plenty myself, including my first missed credit card payment. FIA makes every effort to confuse customers and make them forget about payments due, and I somehow screwed up in my Fidelity Amex first month somewhere along the line of verifying my payment checking account. Even auto-pay setup is odd. […]

  2. Fortunately I’ve never made a mistake. Yeah, right.

    I wish I could say that I’d only paid late one time like you, Shawn. Embarrassed to admit t’s probably happened to me 5-10 times over the years (never more than once per year, or maybe ever, on any particular account). But fortunately I’ve been able to get the fee waived (and any interest charges) every time with a simple call or chat session. In fact, I just did that on an Amex card today!

    A more recent mistake I made was thinking that I had all of my Amex cards (between my wife and I, including Authorized User cards) registered for the Smart & Final Amex Offer. After we made our first batch of purchases, I realized that one card didn’t get email notifications regarding the deal being used. Sure enough, I found that one of our Twitter accounts was not synced with a new card we had received a while back. I had registered for the Offer via Twitter, but the new card number wasn’t synced to that Twitter account yet. Fortunately, as soon as I synced the card, I got an updated email from Amex stating that I was registered for the deal now. Unfortunately, I had already made the purchases. But, fortunately, I was able to chat with Amex and they added the $25 credits for me (or at least they’re supposed to hit in 3-5 days, fingers crossed!).

    Your gift card commentary is a great one. I think I”ve tracked them pretty well, but given my recent influx of gift cards, I think I need to step-up my record keeping on this front!

    • I’m glad Amex is coming through on the credits. My wife (I’ll blame her) actually used one card 4 times at S&F, so we are stuck with a gift card we paid FULL PRICE FOR! Imagine the horror!

      • Oops. Forgot to mention that my wife (my fault) did the same thing! Fortunately just one use of one card. Glad I’m not alone. The deal still worked out reasonably well …

        • Haha , ok I’ll admit it, it was my fault and not my wife’s. Luckily for us it was only on one swipe. Not bad considering we were dealing with 21 cards (63 swipes) between the two of us.

  3. Hey Shawn..i just cancelled by AMEX platinum and got the gold premier rewards card (50,000 after 1000 spend) will i be eligle for the bonus. I spoke to them numerous times and they have repeated the offer i signed up for. Saw your post anbout not getting bonus if you have had another amex card before….thoughts?

  4. I applied for the Chase Ink 70k offer last year after finally deciding to jump into the churn game. There was tons of back and forth with Chase about the business, being an authorizing officer, etc. I got to a point where I finally gave up and just applied for the sapphire preferred. I was probably only one step away from getting the Ink card…stupid waste of a hard pull and great bonus offer.
    However, my only consolation is that it was going to take a couple months to meet the minimum spend. I used that spend for other card bonuses. Still a waste though.

  5. Got hit with a hard inquiry on a Wyndham timeshare presentation where I did not buy in. Gotta factor a hard pull in on the cost-benefit ratio of taking up free stays for timeshare presentations. Also, dismayed at credit unions (not mentioning names) that do a hard pull for opening deposits by credit card when a soft pull, or delayed access to funds, is sufficient.

  6. When loading my serve card with a VGC at family dollar. The register rang a fraud alert after I slide my VGC and they refused my transaction because the register wouldn’t allow them to do anything. Having the day off, I went to the other side of town and no alert. Everything was going fine. Until….

    I slide my gift card. No funds!! I was told to call visa and I was told the previous transaction was paid for and there was no remaining funds on my GC.

    After numerous calls and stoping by Family Dollar. Even writing to their corporate office. I never heard back even after the store called their corporate office in front of me. Talk about getting in trouble! $500 out the window. So I learned to be a little more careful when trying these things.

    I did hit my min for 100k AA miles and I’ll get more value than I lost. But that definitely stung. Still does. Ugh


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