Earning miles and points is fun. For those that play this game, being rewarded with free and deeply discounted travel and cash back activates the pleasure centers in our brains. We don’t carry cash, we faithfully load our Redbirds, and we always shop through portals . We book mistake fares without checking our schedules first. When someone asks what we want for dinner, we fire up the Rewards Network app to search for restaurants that we can earn an extra 5 miles per dollar spent.
But can it go to far? Can the miles and points game damage your real-life relationships?
This MarketWatch article gives a few examples and raises some good points.
To summarize, it seems some people are extremely pushy when it comes to paying with their credit cards to get reimbursed and/or earn rewards. I thoroughly don’t understand this. For me, it’s a clear cut case of respecting others.
Here’s what I will do to maximize points earning
Earning Hotel Points
- The friends I usually travel with are mostly only worried about two things: price and location. Search for hotels on Kayak as well as on the individual chains’ booking engines. Compare the different rates available from multiple sources.
- I volunteer to look for the rooms and invite everyone to do the same, then we’ll discuss what we find. I usually end up finding the cheapest rates using a combination of promo codes or elite status so everyone is normally on board with my suggestion. If not (for whatever reason), I can try to leverage my elite status with Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt by mentioning that if I book the room, we’ll receive free breakfast and/or lounge access. Free booze in the lounge and hangover food in the morning can be enough to sway the group.
- Search for coupon codes and deals at Frequent Flyer Bonuses . Apply those to group bookings to earn additional points.
- Search for points and points+cash rates. I don’t mind using my points at their fair value (or buying the points at retail value) and getting reimbursed if it will save the group some cash.
Earning Points For Meals
- If anyone pulls out cash for their leisure (aka non-reimbursed) meals, I don’t see anything wrong with offering to pay for their meal with a card. Take the cash or request a Venmo .
- Suggest restaurants that belong to the Rewards Network . It’s a passive way to collect some additional points if the group decides on that restaurant or bar.
- Always offer to call for the s (and link your SPG account). You’ll earn credit card rewards, SPG points, and generally be seen as a good person trying to move the group along.
- If I know of someone making a large online purchase, I will suggest they use a cash back portal or if they are not interested, ask them to use my information.
- Sign up for Venmo and encourage your friends to do the same. Your friends can pay you back easily for any expenses you pick up on your card. The money will come directly from their checking account – no cash necessary.
And here’s what I won’t do:
- I won’t insist on using my credit card for others’ expenses in any circumstance. No means no, and the pushy co-workers in the MarketWatch article are dicks.
- I won’t insist on a particular hotel/restaurant. It’s a mutual decision.
I’d encourage everyone to think about what makes this hobby fun. If you piss someone off in the process of your quest to earn more miles than them, is that really something to be proud of?
Reading articles like the one above irked me a bit, because travel is about escape, broadening views, and sharing the experience. I feel really good when I can convince another person to travel more. I feel like (or the majority of fellow miles and points churners/bloggers/etc. would share my views.
Am I right or wrong? Do you know someone like the guys in the story? Are you that guy?