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The Good Problems – My Favorite Points and Miles Barriers To Entry

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Points and Miles Challenges

Points and Miles Challenges

Admittedly, the phrase “favorite barriers to entry” sounds silly – assigning a positive to something which makes our points and miles hobby tougher may seem nonsensical.  But, for my own selfish reasons, I perceive certain barriers to entry as an advantage.  Whether they actually are is a different matter.  But on a whole, I firmly believe that if something was easy, we’d all be doing it.  And if we’re all doing it, it’s less likely I’d receive outsized value from it.  In my view, certain points and miles challenges can work for us just as much, if not more, than they can work against us.  So today, I’m sharing a few of my favorites.  Share yours in the comments!

Choice Privileges Award Night Booking

I’m confident the mere thought of staying at a Choice hotel is a barrier to entry for many.  A night at a Choice property is just not going to happen for those people.  Beyond that, redeeming for an award night with Choice has a significant requirement.  According to the program’s rules, members can redeem for a free night  “no more than 100 days prior to planned arrival for all locations worldwide.”

Given our affinity for certain Choice brands and a fairly flexible schedule, we have no problem booking relatively close-in.  At the same time, we’re able to obtain excellent value out of the Choice Privileges program.


Since kids, we’ve substantially adjusted our meal schedules.  So when we dine out, we’ll do so much earlier and avoid weekends.  We take the same strategy with travel.  We’ll drive or fly when others are not doing that as much.  In addition to a more pleasurable experience, we often pay fewer miles and points for award flights and hotel nights.

Points and Miles Challenges

Application Rules

Many of us can good-old-days it and say, “I remember being approved for X many credit cards in one night.”  A variety of application rules since have made doing so tougher, but we can still pick up huge bonuses often.  I’m confident banks are better able to offer those because individuals aren’t taking advantage of the system as much as they previously could.  Bank of America has made things tougher in recent years, but I’m still able to pick up solid bonuses.  (I’ll never come around on the most draconian rule of them all, though.)


I’ve said before that I’m not a very creative person.  That’s not exactly convenient for someone who enjoys a hobby which more highly rewards the most inventive individuals.  I try to make up for my creativity shortcomings by putting more time into it.  The primary reason I’m okay with that time investment is because I enjoy process.  Of course, many out there don’t have the time, nor would they want it, perhaps, for such endeavors.

All Those Other Banks

We spend much time discussing the credit card heavyweights – Amex, Chase, and Citi – along with a few others for good reason.  But so many others are out there, and plenty of them offer lucrative plays.  Indeed, we can sometimes do better with them than all of those household names.  But I’m continuously amazed how uninterested some travelers are in banks beyond the obvious ones.  Perhaps that’s one of the many differences between casuals and the rest of us.

Points and Miles Challenges

FNBO’s Amtrak Cards

Speaking of other banks, let’s talk about FNBO.  When it came out that the Amtrak cards were moving on from Bank of America, I was curious to see where they’d end up.  Back in the day, they were a Chase partner and provided ridiculously good value (they still do, but not as much as back then).  But I’m so glad they ended up with FNBO rather than Chase, Citi, or Amex.  Plus, instead of easy transfers from those bank currencies, I like that Amtrak points are a bit more difficult to earn with FNBO.  Fingers crossed, Amtrak point value stays fairly high.


Over the past few years, there has been a push to take our hobby online – “pajamas” or “couch” spending.  That works for many and has for me from time to time.  But I also like going out and experimenting.  Along the way, I’ve found I’m able to accomplish more by simply following the Golden Rule.

It seems our hobby, and society in general, has a high a-hole quotient.  It’s as if one cannot be bothered to treat another civilly.  Condescension takes priority.  Perhaps treating someone kindly is a lost art.  Pro tip: pass the love and be fulfilled, in more ways than you can imagine.

Fine Print

This isn’t always fun – I know I don’t read it enough.  But I’ll definitely dive in here and there.  It’s remarkable how much we can figure out by simply reading the smaller font.  The fine print is extremely specific on what is and is not allowed.  Meanwhile, it can give us the recipe of exactly what to do.  Of course, this is even more evident when incorporating it into existing plays.

Points and Miles Challenges

Points And Miles Challenges – Conclusion

Things can get tough out there.  But sometimes those points and miles challenges have a silver lining.  So when the inevitable bad news comes, I’ll try to look beyond the obvious for the positive.  There may not always be one, but I’m confident they’ll appear regularly enough to warrant the search.  In our points and miles hobby, which barriers to entry do you enjoy most?

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.



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