Miles and Points is a game where rules are constantly changing and redemption rates seem to always be increasing. While getting the most out of your points can be daunting, here are 3 common mistakes and how to avoid them.
1: Redeeming Points for Gift Cards or Shopping
Redeeming your hard earned Chase, American Express, Capital One, or Citi points for a gift card or shopping experience often nets you less than 1 cent per point in value. As opposed to getting exceptionally good value for your points( upwards of 2 cents per point), gift card redemptions are frequently below average.
If you’re struggling to use your points, consider booking via your credit card issuer’s travel portal or convert the points to cash as a last resort option. Both usages will ensure that you get at least 1 cent per point.
2: Transferring Points before confirming Award Space
Did you recently hear about a great redemption? Don’t rush to transfer your hard earned points to a program without confirming the award space ahead of time. Furthermore, many airlines allow you to put an award on hold while you transfer your points. This can be done by calling in and making a hold over the phone while your points transfer. Some airlines even allow you to put a hold on an award for more than 24 hours while your points are being transferred.
You never want to be stuck moving 100,000 points from Chase or Amex to an airline only to find out that there is no award space to be found. Remember, once you transfer your points there’s no going back so play if safe and confirm that space.
Only transfer points if you can find award space online and if the transfer process is instant. For longer transfers, complex itineraries, or around the world bookings, call in to the customer service center and place that booking on hold. It never hurts to play it safe and as the saying goes, “It’s always better to be safe than sorry”.
3. Not Paying off your Credit Card on time
For many miles and points travelers, credit cards provide the bulk of the miles and pointes earned. They are essential to points accumulation, but can also become your worst enemy if you rack up a large amount. Credit cards often carry an absurd, unfathomable interest rate, that I avoid paying at all cost. To pay interest on a credit card as a miles and points traveler breaks all laws!
Don’t over use your credit card or make purchases that you don’t need. In additional, try to pay off as much of your card before the closing date so it doesn’t show up on your statement balance. If you’re putting large amounts of business spend on a personal credit card, consider getting a business card as well. A business card allows a large amount of credit and your statement balance does impact your overall credit score, but you should still pay that card in full.
If you’re worried about forgetting to make a payment, set monthly reminders, or even set up autopay. I try to avoid autopay as I like to go through my statement balance, but if you find yourself constantly getting close to the due date, set up auto pay.
While these aren’t earth shattering tips, these are 3 important rules to considering following if you want to maximize the value of your points. While I’m not on the boat of business class seats or bust, I’m definitely a firm believer of getting average value for your points (essentially the reason you’re into points and miles to begin with). Using these tips, you are guaranteed to at least get a redemption value of 1 cent per point, with a potential to get significantly better value. In addition, you are also protected from making a speculative points transfer to a seldom used airline. Remember, while the miles and points can be extremely rewarding (no pun intended), redemption rates can change without notice!