On Becoming A Points Whore

Hi, I’m Dave. I’m a points whore.

In the last year and a half I’ve become addicted to collecting points and miles for travel.

What sparked this addiction? Well, that was about the time I realized that┬átraveling from Buenos Aires to the States used to cost me about $850 for a roundtrip ticket. These days you’re unlikely to find a coach ticket for less than $1400. We’re now a family of three, so when I add on my wife and daughter, that quickly balloons to $4200 for a trip back to the States. That is crazy money.

I started to search for ways to cut these costs and quickly came upon the world of points addicts. These are people who research the best deals, credit card offers, shopping purchases, mistakes, and ways of hacking the system to rack up free airfare, hotel rooms, car rentals and more.

The biggest sites for these addicts are FlyerTalk and MilePoint. These high-volume forums are made up of people who are travelers and want to find the best way to maximize their travel and purchases. The problem with these sites is that they really are high traffic and finding the best deals is not always the easiest task. Luckily, a number of great blogs come to the rescue. These blogs feature some of the best deals and offers in a much more condensed and easy to handle format. My favorites? The Points Guy, Deals We Like, One Mile At A Time, View From The Wing, Mommy Points and Million Mile Secrets.

By following these blogs for the past year, I’ve signed up for surveys, entered contests, transferred miles with bonus offers, purchased miles, exploited loopholes and racked up a significant number of miles and points good for free travel. How did I do? Here’s some of my best scores:

  • Upgraded my wife to Hilton Gold Status through a loophole discovered on these blogs. This allowed us to get a 7am check-in in New York after a long flight from Buenos Aires, free Internet and free breakfast – a huge money saver.
  • With two 2-night Holiday Inn stays for weddings last year and a few other minor promotions, I was able to rack up over 30,000 Priority Club points and get a $75 Visa gift card for a total spend of about $400. I then used 25,000 of these points for a nearly $400/night Times Square hotel room and 5,000 points for a $190/night Hotel Indigo stay. Not a bad return on money I had to spend anyhow.
  • I signed up for three Citibank American Airlines credit cards last year which earned me 150,000 in AA points. I then used these points to fly my wife, daughter and me roundtrip from Buenos Aires to NYC for 120,000 points total. We also got priority boarding and 10,000 points refunded for having their credit card.
  • I transferred Delta SkyMiles between accounts during a special pricing promotion they ran and accumulated over 500,000 SkyMiles between all our accounts. The cost of each mile was about $0.011 each. I then used 100,000 of these SkyMiles to fly business class on Aeromexico to the States, effectively spending $1100 for a fare that was well over $5000. And we still have a lot of miles for future flights.
  • We purchased US Airways miles during a promotion they had and are now able to fly Laura’s mother to the States next month in business class for about the same price as a coach ticket.

I have a lot of other examples as well, but these are just some of the benefits I was able to take advantage of through my new addiction. Some of these points came free and some required a bit of upfront spending. I’ve completely changed how I use credit cards and shop online – I don’t do anything without figuring out which shopping portal to use or how I can maximize my spending to get the most miles back. In fact, we’re spending 2 nights in New Hampshire this month just to get bonus points for a promotion from Radisson that we can later turn into over 9 nights at one of their lower properties or 2-3 nights at one of their high-end hotels.

While this is a bit more difficult to do from Argentina due to the lack of online shopping and credit card use, it’s not impossible to take advantage of a lot of these deals with only some limited time in the States or using these points-earning credit cards in Buenos Aires. Check out the blogs I mentioned and you’ll find that you may develop the addiction too…