Points and Travel Stereotypes
I tend to focus around the edges of points and travel. Habitually, I question commonly held points and travel norms, such as elite status, earning and redemption schemes, and goals. A common theme is that I focus on strategies that work best for my situation, and I encourage others to do the same for theirs. While I may hold some unpopular beliefs, others I have are remarkably conventional. Today, I’m sharing several points and travel stereotypes I meet.
I Default to Points Hotels
When my family and I identify our next travel destination, I jump to points hotel options in the area. By doing so, I’m immediately limiting myself to certain lodging options, some of which are suboptimal. I’m more open to splurges on points hotels rather than ones I book with cash back rewards. Sure, I’m being a good steward of a currency I value more – cash – but sometimes, I’m polishing a points hotel turd in the process. Every so often, I’ll rationalize a points hotel stay we’re less excited about. Once in a while, we do splurge on niche properties with cash rewards, but I challenge myself to do that more often.
I Overly Focus on Chase Freedom
Four times annually, the Chase Freedom categories grab my attention. The wife and I have several Freedom accounts, and naturally, I want to maximize the 5x quarterly categories.
Often, they’re straightforward to efficiently maximize, but other times, they’re a bit more of a puzzle. I’ve caught myself on a few occasions spending way too much time figuring them out. Why spend that time figuring out how to get 7.5k extra points? Even with multiple cards, the limit we can earn is relatively low. I’m much better off using that time researching 3x/5x opportunities on our Freedom Flex, Sapphire Reserve, and Business Cash cards. But like clockwork, the Freedom categories draw me in every three months.
I Find Most Any Points and Travel News Intriguing
Speaking of getting sucked in, our points and travel hobby is never short of news to occupy my time. And I’ll give pretty much anything a shot. I’ll often read about a program, perk, or bonus into the fine print, no matter how much I think it stinks or is inapplicable for my situation. What I consider to be the American Airlines Loyalty Points shell game is a recent example. Indeed, as I read about it, I was hypnotized into thinking “why not go after status?” But I quickly snapped back into my reality a few minutes later – elite status is mostly useless to me. Regardless, I can’t deny my enthusiasm for points and travel. While I question much, I also tend to have an open mind. The key for me is balancing those two items.
I Must Check Out Complimentary Breakfast
Regardless where I’m staying, I need to visit the complimentary breakfast spread. I’m rarely disappointed, and I most always find something to appreciate. Whether it’s coffee and a packaged danish from Super 8 or the full breakfast during a Fine Hotel and Resorts stay, I usually come out ahead. Maybe I’m missing some of the local breakfast scene by doing so, but those places are usually options for other meals during the day.
I Rely Too Much on One Card Issuer
We shouldn’t ignore outstanding welcome offers or other lucrative points earning opportunities. If we do, we end up losing out over time. But when I fall in too much love with any card issuer, I’m more vulnerable. Sure, I control this a bit by simultaneously earning a variety of bank points, and hotel/airline currencies to a lesser extent. But inevitably, I focus more on certain points than others at any given time. Right now, that’s Amex Membership Rewards. But I must remember that my favorite points currency is my biggest weakness. These currencies are always a target for devaluation or worse. A few years ago, US Bank FlexPerks points had my heart, then we got shut down. No matter what, I still find myself in too deep with one currency and must rebalance my strategy.
I Rationalize Hidden Costs
Probably my biggest cost in the points and travel hobby is my time. Of course, the pursuit is rewarding and worthy of my time – to an extent. But often, I’ll take a few minutes away here and there to scratch the points and travel itch more than I probably should. All this time adds up, and much of it was an unnecessary waste of time. With every passing day, time is a more important asset to me. I realize that I can’t do everything. Nonetheless, I must routinely remind myself of that.
I Must Use All of My Uber Credits
Many of us, especially Amex enthusiasts, have way more Uber credits than we need. That glaring balance is unavoidable as the end of each month nears. I feel that if I don’t use it, I’m throwing money away. I know that’s not exactly accurate, but I feel I must use it, nonetheless. We can apply this to pretty much any time-based credit or benefit. I think you get the point.
I try to have a sense of humor about the points and travel stereotypes I shamelessly embrace. Big picture, we all have our wrinkles and weaknesses. Moving forward, I’ll inevitably follow a few, but they’ll mostly fit into my own points and travel goals. I’ll aspire to that, at least. Of course, one’s tailored strategies have a mix of unique and popular techniques. What points and travel stereotypes have you embraced?
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