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My wife recently snuck under the Chase 5/24 threshold (meaning we have added less than five new cards in the last 24 months). This provided an opportunity to get some new cards. We are methodically adding a few business cards before moving on to new personal cards. As we review the current offers on the table, I find that we are focusing on programs that offer transferable or flexible points and miles. Here are 4 reasons I think it is best to focus on these types of cards right now.
Maximum Options for Travel Redemptions
When you hold Delta SkyMiles, Rapid Rewards Points, American AAdvantage Miles, Hilton Honors Points, IHG Rewards Points, or any other multitude of single program currency you are bound to the redemption options that they provide. Some of these programs do offer redemptions outside of their services. However, these choices are usually limited and not very valuable. On the other hand, with Chase Ultimate Reward Points, American Express Membership Rewards Points, Capital One Rewards Miles, Citi Thank You Points, or any other transferable options you have more flexibility.
You are able to use that program’s redemptions or are free to move that currency to the partner program that offers the best value. By accumulating points across multiple programs to give yourself the highest number of options. The one caveat to this is if you are aiming for a specific redemption and have a strategy to make it happen like Dan did here!
Cashing Out is an Option
While cashback cards are a great choice for many people and certainly beat a debit card, most of us are into this game for the travel experiences. With that being said we are in uncertain times. Unemployment numbers are high, and many people are dealing with difficult circumstances. If you do lose a job, have an expense come up, or find that you are not in a position to travel there is still the option to turn your points or miles into cash. Flexible points will offer a cashback value whereas an airline or hotel specific program most likely will not. This fallback option is a big plus!
Protects from Devaluation
Besides death and taxes, the only other certainty is that most rewards programs will devalue their currencies over time. Every year the majority of programs experience an explicit or shadow devaluation. It can be a movement of properties to higher tiers, removals of award charts or moves to dynamic pricing. If you are heavily invested in one company’s plan and this occurs, you are left holding the bag. However, if you have transferable points you have the flexibility to maximize the value from your points or miles by transferring to the program that offers the most value for your redemption.
Protects from Bankruptcy
Several weeks ago, Boeing’s Chief Executive David Calhoun suggested that a major airline will “most likely” go under due to the coronavirus pandemic. More recently a ratings firm RapidRatings ran an analysis on airlines and reviewed the strength of each airline. Of course, there is no guarantee an airline WILL go bankrupt, Even if one does your miles may be okay depending on the scenario. Here are details of programs that have gone through tough times. Either way, I’d prefer to avoid a situation like these and the best way to do so is to stack a flexible currency.
While earning points or miles that provide multiple redemption options is always beneficial it seems even more important in the current environment. What are your thoughts? Do you agree and if so, what other reasons do you see for focusing on transferable points? Let us know in the comments below!
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Just applied and got the CitiBiz AA and Amex Hilton cards yesterday.
So, I’m doing the opposite.
After getting hosed by Chase, in particular on hundreds of thousands of points from flights airlines cancelled (which I’ll never get back…)
Yeah, I growing my branded points so that I actually have some recourse.
Hey George, thanks for sharing. So the airlines cancelled your flights and you can’t get your points back?! That seems totally unfair. I’ve definitely focused on branded points at times in the past but with some of the uncertainty going on in the (travel) world I felt that the next couple cards we get should have more flexibility.
is it worth it now to buy IHG points (100% match) cost is .005 per point. Max purchase 250K giving you 500K IHG for $2500
Hey Robert, Dan did a post on this a few months ago and here is the link.
I guess it depends on whether you can get more value than the cost. I generally don’t think it is worth it unless you have a specific redemption in mind and buying points is going to make it cheaper than a cash purchase. Buying points to hold is a riskier strategy IMO.