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The Points and Travel Games We Play…On Ourselves

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Points and Travel Tricks

Points and Travel Tricks

It’s comical how seriously many of us take the points and travel game.  Hobbyists debate some of the most esoteric and often-inconsequential stuff.  Full disclosure, I’m partly to blame for that.  And talking heads of much higher notoriety play a significant role in shaping the points and travel narrative.  Over time, I’ve found certain misconceptions have set in.  Occasionally, hobbyists aren’t so much employing points and travel tricks – rather, they’re the victims of such things.  Here are just a few that I feel are worth a bit of reflection.

It’s Worth Waiting For That Chase Card

By now, most all of you know about Chase’s diabolically genius 5/24 rule.  Seemingly overnight, this draconian move brought a perceived premium to holding certain cards in Chase’s portfolio.  Since such cards are tougher for many to acquire, some assign more value to them than they should.  It’s what they can’t have that they covet most.

I gave up on the 5/24 rule several years ago, evaluating that I could do exponentially better by pursuing non-Chase cards.  For other reasons, some are in the situation where it makes sense to pay attention to the 5/24 rule.  But many would and can do much better by leaving it behind.

Points and Travel Tricks

Hyatt Globalist Is A Must-Have

Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  Ask yourself – what has World of Hyatt Globalist status done for you lately?  Does the status apply to your overall travel goals, or are you shaping those to fit a Hyatt-compatible holiday?

Hyatt’s footprint is expanding but still nowhere near Marriott’s or Hilton’s.  Regardless, Hyatt points and status are worth absolutely nothing if there is no Hyatt at your travel goal’s destination.  As a top-tier elite under the former Gold Passport program, I came to this conclusion years ago and haven’t obtained Hyatt status since.  I fear many others have not, as they continue eating the rancid fruit at the Hyatt Place near the airport.  And speaking of breakfast….

Breakfast Should Be Free

Plenty of hotel brands include complimentary breakfast to all visitors, but there’s apparently no requirement that the meal is satisfactory.  Some elite members receive breakfast, or credits toward one, with disappointing results, as well.

Just a reminder: sometimes, you get what you pay for.  Shelling out cash money for breakfast, whether at the hotel or beyond, can lead to pleasing results.  Not coincidentally, food quality is often better, and the overall experience can be superior.  Regardless, it beats the anarchy at the everyone-eats-free option.

Caring How Others Redeem

Dwelling on how others redeem their points and miles is futile.  Sure, one can learn how to pull off a certain redemption trick in any given situation, but that doesn’t mean the individual should redeem for the exact same thing.  Be yourself and do what you want to do, not what others are posting.

Points and Travel Tricks

Cash Is King

I’m a big fan of cashing out, but I realize it’s not the optimal move for everyone.  If someone can get a better value out of transferring bank points to a travel currency mapped to one of their priority travel goals, bravo!  And cash back loyalists (including me) should periodically step back and reassess if that’s still the optimal move for where they are in life.

Unwavering Support to The Cult of Personality

Some big talkers in the points and miles community have somehow reached a level where anything less than complete agreement with them is perceived as heresy.  Here’s just one example.  I’m not a site commenter elsewhere – I’m busy enough with that here at MtM.  When I read non-MtM stuff, I often notice others who present valid points – which may not fall 100% in line with the blogger – get pounced on by the sycophants.

I’m going to let you in on something.  Most anyone who puts time and effort into the points, miles, and travel hobby can probably do just as well (at a minimum) as any blogger or perceived expert.  In our silly world of points and miles, nobody who pontificates on the internet for money is worthy of blind adoration or above polite questioning.  I include myself here.

Enough with the idolatry.  Instead, take in as many different sources of points and travel content as practical, understand biases, synthesize, and come to your own conclusions for your situation.

Points and Travel Tricks

Wrapping Up

I think we all need to come up for air more often, including me.  Our hobby is as generous as it is ridiculous.  So much in our lives is more important.  To that end, I’ll continue enjoying the hobby at my usual level of extreme moderation.  What unhealthy points and travel tricks have you noticed in yourself and others?

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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. Amen! It seems that many of the more famous bloggers build up loads of points due to business expense and travel. I travel for business about once every other year. My family are cheapskates who like Holiday Inn Express for free breakfast and couldn’t care less about fancy hotel rooms, as long as they’re clean.

  2. When you are a free agent, you realize there are plenty of hotels that offer free breakfast and usually much cheaper than what Hyatts, Marriotts, and Hiltons offer. Also, as a free agent, you will feel freedom to plan trips to destinations that you want to go instead of going to places because there are hyatts there! It’s really pathetic in some ways that people travel to destinations to justify their time & efforts in points & miles, it’s like being handcuffed in some ways.

    Will cut out alot of cards this year/next year and just stick to AMEX Gold/AMEX Blue biz & CSP/Freedom family/Ink card for 5/4/3/2x on everything then either cashout or redeem points and save thousands in fees. Some bloggers def do good job at overselling perks, etc and making you feel like you miss out on something when it’s not really a huge deal.

  3. Benjy, indeed, a person should ask what any tier status in any program is doing for them. The various loyalty programs have their members mesmerized with “being something.” Over the years, I’ve learned some hard lessons about actually realizing tier benefits. As a practical matter, the only thing tier status means to me is a higher points-earning rate. Nothing more. And, if you’re paying solely with points, then the earn rate doesn’t mean anything. Today, I don’t want my premium cabin seat to be probabilistic, so I pay for it (cash or points). Today, I don’t want my hotel suite to be probabilistic, so I pay for it (cash or points).

    • I tend to agree, Lee. Indeed, as an Executive Platinum, I opted for Flagship First on AA miles recently. I like the peace of mind from grabbing the sure thing rather than deferring for the chance of an upgrade.

  4. I agree completely regarding Hyatt. Under no possible scenario would I ever earn Globalist and their other tiers are weak. I’ll transfer UR for free nights, but that’s about it. I can’t see ever paying for a Hyatt.

  5. Most anyone who puts time and effort into the points, miles, and travel hobby can probably do just as well (at a minimum) as any blogger or perceived expert.

    That’s very kind and unfortunately I think it’s inaccurate. You’ve never said as much but I very much get the impression that you heavily partake of ms, which I don’t. I recognize in myself that creativity is just not one of my strong suits, so parroting what others do or making only minor modifications, is just my way. I don’t see that as changing much with ms. Until I can have some people provide help that’s not just coded references, I’ll just have to continue maximizing what I can through personal and business spend. YMMV.

    • Christian, I think Benjy is referring to generalized strategy. The most noted bloggers have been at it for 15 to 20 years. It is their job. I’ve been an avid reader of the blogs for only a few years now. I’m just an amateur. I do not MS. Just organic spend. Yet, I have found many of the most noted bloggers often have strategy blind spots. To one well-known blogger, I posed a simple question . . . which led to him having an a-ha moment . . . which led to him changing a fundamental strategy. So, to Benjy’s point, if a blithering idiot such as myself can come up with a new idea, it’s not beyond an average hobbyist to do well.


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