Get Started

Learn more about Credit Cards, Travel Programs, Deals, and more.

Yes, I’ll Have More – The Case for Points and Miles Hoarding

This post may contain affiliate links - Advertiser Disclosure. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Points and Miles Hoarding

Almost two and a half years ago, I reflected on two opposite principles – immediately  redeeming/cashing out points versus hoarding them.  At the time, I described how my strategy is a balance of the two: cashing out all bank points and smartly hoarding airline miles and hotel points.  News flash – this strategy hasn’t changed all that much.  Anyway, the correct answer for each individual is different.  What’s optimal for one person probably isn’t for another.  The key is to think first – don’t just collect a ton of different currencies without a plan.  And we’re in quite a different travel landscape now than back in early 2021.  I figure the time’s right to talk more about the case for points and miles hoarding.  Here are just a few ways we can benefit from high balances.

Flexibility

One’s ability to do more with bigger points totals may seem obvious, but I feel we don’t appreciate this freedom enough.  In a world of dynamic redemption schemes, I greatly value the convenience of more points on-hand.  Not too long ago, Marriott and IHG enabled points top offs on free night certificates, greatly expanding what hobbyists can accomplish with more points.  But I recently leveraged the flexibility of a healthy Hilton Honors balance for a different reason.

My siblings and I are huge U2 fans.  I argue that I’m the biggest – I’ve seen the band live more than the other two combined and I’m the youngest.  For quite some time, we’ve hoped to see them at The Sphere in Vegas this fall.  Dates were just recently announced.  At the time, my brother worked on tickets, and I covered hotel reservations.  Indeed, I was concerned about hotel availability, especially at reasonable award rates.  I went ahead and made 12 total reservations for six different dates.  That way, we’d be good regardless of the show date.  Long story short, we got tickets, and I cancelled ten of those reservations.  I wouldn’t have been able to make contingency plans without a healthy Hilton Honors balance.

Points and Travel Tricks

Outrunning Devaluation

This may sound antithetical to many out there.  After all, by choosing to pad points and miles totals at a pace beyond the rate one can consume them, individuals are inevitably subjecting themselves to cents per point devaluations.  This may be true, but certain hobbyists obtain what they consider a greater value in return.

Years ago, I heard Randy Petersen refer to his points and miles stash as a “Travel IRA.”  I’m paraphrasing, but he basically enjoyed the peace of mind knowing that he had more than enough airline miles and hotel points to indefinitely cover his travel.  I feel the same, and I highly value that aspect.

In calculating and reaching my financial independence number, I knew that I should prepare for inflation’s impact.  Similarly, I’m smartly collecting currencies to mitigate higher award prices in the future.

Aspirational Travel Exists

People get into our hobby for a variety of reasons.  Some want to visit opulent hotel properties or fly in premium classes.  In our current life season, my family and I don’t overly focus on these, but we still enjoy these experiences from time to time.

There’s no getting around the fact that one must build up significant loyalty balances to realize their dreams, travel-related or otherwise.  The common wisdom is to do so in bank points currencies more so than with specific loyalty programs.  This mitigates devaluation a bit, since bank points have more redemption options across a wider variety of programs beyond my favorite method (cashout).  Still, some may find accumulating in a specific loyalty program a wise decision, based on a variety of factors, including:  faster accumulation from a wider variety of activities, more valuable credit card welcome offers, pooling points, etc.

Saving points for that next big trip is an honorable goal, and the process of doing so is part of the fun!  That’s worth the hoarding risk to many.

Points and Miles Hoarding

Conclusion

I feel that some consider points and miles hoarding shameful.  Perhaps it’s because they do something differently and want to validate their own decisions.  Whatever the reason, I don’t think there’s any absolute right or wrong here.  There’s nuance to so much in our hobby, and individuals should focus on the angles that impact them most, tactically and strategically.  Coming full circle, the true shame is when an individual mindlessly hoards points and miles without thinking through the entire process to consumption.  To that end, define and revalidate your goals periodically, ensuring they map to the currencies you are pursuing.  Correct your course and go get ’em!

Why do you hoard points and miles?

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.

Lower Spend - Chase Ink Business Preferred® 100K!

Chase Ink Business Preferred® is a powerful card that earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points in a broad range of business categories on the first $150K in spend per year. Right now earn 100K Chase Ultimate Rewards points after $15K $8K spend in the first 3 months with a $95 annual fee.

Learn more about this card and its features!


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.

20 COMMENTS

  1. MIKE

    Building the best means for me a lifetime (to the extent these ff programs thrive going forward) IRA type. current partner and I have 3MM amex, 500K urs, and 500 capital one. together with substantial miles in AA (500k), delta (500k) kris flyer (600k) 800k virgin, 300 klm airfrance, 400 hh miles 300 Alaska air, HH 300Km MH 400K, Hilton 800k. Hyatt 150K 2 annual 2-4 week bucket list trips… this year Croatia at 4th of July. south africa at Christmas. already drawn miles for these. I start about a year in advance planning. hoarding to make sure I capitalize on the most efficient point use and routing…. it has worked for the last 35 years.

  2. I am literally planning early retirement next year and my miles and points will allow me to travel in luxury wherever I want. IRA here.

  3. A last min trip for my wife and I on an airline I haven’t used in years (United) to join my grandson on his first trip to Italy after he already purchased his (along with his mom and dad) put me in a position to utilize my hoard of UR points. Easy transfer and we are sitting next to my daughter’s family to and from Italy. Long time points hoarder here.

  4. My wife and I have points/miles in various programs in the several million range with some trips already booked and paid for into 2024. We have been fortunate in being able to be approved for various cards and Subs and many upgrade offers.

    Many times have my wife’s sister and her husband travel with us and we cover the air and hotel with our points so it’s good to have the mix. Since I started to track details on our points in 2018 we have spent 5.8million but continue to acquire points to replace our spend.

    Having the points has allowed me to book alternate travel arrangements as protection similar to what Benjy did with the Vegas hotel but in our case it was round trip business class tickets to Europe.

    I like the term Travel IRA because this bank of points/miles allows us to take multiple trips per year many times in business class and staying in higher end hotels (our preference).

  5. I won’t pay cash to stay at a hotel that charges bogus fees on top of the room charge. Our favorite chain is Hyatt , so any stay where they charge those fees has to be free nights or on points. That means saving points for a long time . We’ve stayed 2 weeks on points at the Maui Andaz and 2 weeks at Orlando Regency Grand Cypress.

  6. I hoard without the goal of doing so.

    With “saver” fares getting harder to get I need a higher balance in a very currencies, my travel frequency has dropped and they sent me all these Amex Biz Plat NLL offers ….

    But always needed a health bank as I was rarely in a position to be overly flexible about time (work) and location (visiting family)

  7. I’m in the travel IRA group although I have nowhere near enough miles and points to sit without earning for years. My retirement goal is 2 million points each with Chase, AX, Citi, and C1 as well as various misc. program accumulations. That plus whatever I can organically get plus maybe learn to ms should hopefully do the trick.

  8. I use points to book flights for family and friends. I never want to be in a position to say “sorry, can’t do it this year.” So, I keep balances in go-to currencies.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related

7,703FansLike
9,903FollowersFollow
16,444FollowersFollow