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Earning Tons of Rewards Costs More Now, But It’s Not That Big a Deal

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Points and Miles Costs

Points and Miles Costs

I enjoy the process of earning points, miles, and cash back as much as the rewards themselves.  I’m confident some of you can relate.  Luckily, we have a variety of options to earn large amounts of points and miles.  Methods we use to do so can change, but many options remain the same – some with slight tweaks along the way.  And certain plays get more expensive.  Increasing points and miles costs may seem concerning, but in my view, it’s not that big of a deal.  Here’s why.

Increasing Earn Rates

The bonus category arms race has continued for years.  Earn rates have generally only gone one way – up.  Yes, there have been some devaluations along the way, but not everywhere.  And often, earn rates and other opportunities more than make up for those devaluations.

It wasn’t too long ago when many touted using the old Amex SPG card for earning 1.25x airline miles in a variety of programs.  It was so prevalent, I remember certain people feeling the need to justify why they weren’t using the SPG card for everyday spending.

Points and Miles Costs
Remember this one?

I loved how Starwood used to be, including their old card and the options it enabled.  But we’ve come so far since on the earning side.  We’re now at the point where obtaining 2% cash back everywhere is the absolute floor for earning.  We’ve become so spoiled, it’s somewhat disappointing to “only” earn that figure.

Here are just a few options easily available to many of us:

Points and Miles Costs
I’m loving 9x on the Gold right now at supermarkets.

In my experience, paying attention to such increasing earn rates and adapting accordingly has been key to outrunning cost increases.  It takes more work, but that’s fine with me.  In my situation, I don’t consider sitting on the sidelines and complaining a worthy alternative.

More Expensive Options > No Options

Maybe I’m polishing a turd here.  But when it comes to earning points and miles at scale, I’d rather a method become more expensive than disappear completely.  A costlier method isn’t necessarily worth discarding.  We still have the power to mitigate the higher expenses by earning more optimally, including via the earn rates I mentioned.

Many in our hobby are smarter and more creative than this writer – shocker.  Identifying new ways to earn new points and miles at high rates isn’t always easy.  Finding alternatives to address higher fees is more consistent for many.

Points and Miles Costs
In the points and miles hobby, sometimes you get what you pay for.

If It Was Cheap, Everyone Would Be Doing It

I like that certain levels of the points and miles hobby are easy for all to enjoy.  But if everything was simple, more people would do it all.  And more than likely, those easy methods would end up dying quicker.  I apply that to increasing costs, as well.

Obtaining that extra juice after putting in more effort, time, and maybe money is fulfilling to me.  Similar to other life matters, I get from the hobby what I put into it.

Paying For Convenience

With every passing day, I value my time more than money.  I reconciled this about six years ago.  In terms of our hobby (and inevitably some other things), I often choose to pay more dollars for what I obtain in time efficiency.

I may choose to do something from home which costs more dollars than I would have spent on the street.  Also, more time-consuming methods often entail additional costs that aren’t as easy to quantify (fuel costs, car depreciation, time away from family and friends, etc).

Points and Miles Costs – Conclusion

In a weird way, I sometimes feel reassured when points and miles costs go up.  Entities deciding to increase the price of something implies the method will stick around for at least a bit longer.  And I can often manage costlier methods.  Bigger picture, I know that our hobby remains extremely generous, and a few costs around the edges aren’t game changers.  What points and miles costs have you recently absorbed to play the game at a higher level?

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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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.


  1. Some people hold a particular card — say, the Amex Platinum or Business Platinum — and they wring their hands as to whether they will be able to cover the annual fee with the statement credits. There are endless blog articles leading readers to do just that. And, there are endless comments that complain about this card or that card not being worth its annual fee. These people are likely not using the card for its intended purpose. If these people were using the card for its intended purpose, they would be seeing value that far out-strips the card’s cost . . . and they wouldn’t be complaining . . . they’d be cheering. Raise the cost . . . fine. The Business Platinum will still be the most valuable card in my wallet.

  2. I’ve been doing this a long time, especially manufactured spending. But just a month ago I learned that the $500 gift cards I’ve been buying in the grocery store could earn grocery reward points if I bought the correct way. I had been buying the gift cards With the $5.95 fee, avoiding the same cards that has a $6.95 fee. For obvious reasons.
    But I mistakenly bought the $6.95 fee card a month ago and realized that it generated $2.50 in Grocery rewards, something the $5.95 fee did not do. My strategy has since changed.


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