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My miles and points balances are always in a state of flux. I’ve burnt more on short, small trips this year than in previous years, as our travel patterns have changed a bit.
Last year we spent roughly half a million miles and points on a 30 day, 6 country adventure in Europe. We saved a lot of hotel points for this endeavor, and it pretty much cleaned us out of everything except IHG points (at the time).
Now we’ve been taking trips that are no more than a week, burning what seem like only handfuls of points at a time. Yet…I tend to feel like the well is running a bit dry.
Mid-2017 points & miles inventory
I *do* have an Award Wallet account, which is a great resource. I highly suggest you sign up. I used their numbers to get my totals, plus looking up the ones that they can’t track (due to stupid airline requests). I did have to look up a few accounts I have yet to link. Here are our totals (mine + my wife’s):
|Club Carlson Gold||67000|
|Hyatt Gold Passport||5000|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||60000|
|British Airways Avios||120000|
|American Express Membership Rewards||148000|
|Barclaycard Arrival "Miles"||12000|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards||28000|
What surprised me was how many points and miles we have between the two of us. I honestly didn’t expect the total to be anywhere close to this. Assuming a fairly conservative value of 1.0 cent per point (even though the different currencies vary wildly), our points are worth about $14,000 in travel!!! That’s sort of insane.
Our stash is diverse
This is what stood out to me more than anything. I realized that I misjudged our balances by forgetting the sheer number of programs with which we have points or miles.
Conversely, there are only a handful of airline and hotel programs with which I have more than 100,000 points. Two other airline balances are creeping up on 100k as well (Alaska and Avianca). The one thing that needs to change is our lack of flexible points. We’re almost always running on fumes when it comes to Chase UR.
The only trip on the radar is our adoption trip (SEE: A new look at award flight options for our adoption trip). My wife and I were finally matched with our kids in June, and we are eagerly awaiting a travel date to go meet them. It will be the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
A few friends have remarked that kids may equal the end of our traveling. This *might* be true, and I’m open to that if the situation warrants it. However, after the period of bonding as a family and depending on the kids’ needs, I hope we will still be able to squeeze some globe-trotting into our lives. It may not be as frequent, but I know we can make it happen with miles and points. Especially when we’re sitting on 1.3 million of them.
Or maybe I’m just a points hoarder?
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Definitely travel with your kids!!! Sure, I won’t be the same, but it is worth it.
We hope to! I already have a few ideas in mind. 😉
I hope things go smoothly with your new family and you get to travel a lot with them when everyone is settled. Just my prejudice, but I find car travel much easier with little ones than flights. Granted, that was a long time ago.
RE: Award Wallet – The total at the bottom of the page gives me a thrill and I love being able to see balances in one place.
That is crazy amazing. How long did it take you to build that up? I am new to this hobby and I hope to have something like that someday. I have 5 kids so when we do a trip the miles get spent pretty fast, so I fear my total won’t get that high.
Congrats on your match. Traveling with kids is great.
We’ve been travel hacking like this for 5 years, but only really heavily the last 3. So far, it has been enough to sustain my wife and I just fine. We pay $500-$800 per year in card fees, not counting the business ones I write off. But we’ve gotten roughly $5,000-$10,000 per year in travel the last two years.
Kids will be a new adventure. I hope to keep up our travels with them!!
Keep hoarding, you will need it with your children. We have 4 children (also adopted, two from Ethiopia) and our trip to London, Paris and Germany took 1.78 million points (although that also included my parents-in-law), Egypt, Greece, Turkey, and Jordan took 1.4 million, and Japan, China, Hong Kong and Macau took 2.23 million (including the equivalent of about 1.23 million Hilton points). All of these were about 2 and a half weeks and we do like to fly in business class for long flights, so YMMV. We also went to Costa Rica for 5 nights for only 294K points, New York for 3 nights (again with the in laws) for 361K, and Virginia and DC for 3 nights for 112K, so staying closer to home and flying economy will let you stretch your points, but a whole family still takes a lot of points! And getting the children used to flying business class is a dangerous game!
How do you get all those points? It seems like it would take forever to do it.
Over the course of about four and a half years, between my wife and I, we have opened or upgraded roughly 100 credit card accounts (considerably less than half are currently open) that included a sign up or upgrade bonus, so that is a start (probably 6 million points or miles). We have several hotel cards that give us annual point bonuses (Club Carlson, 4 cards) or free nights (IHG, 2 cards, Hilton Reserve, 4 cards, Marriott, 3 cards and, now closed, Hyatt, 2 cards), which I record as point equivalents when we use them, so roughly equivalent to 650,000 points per year from 15 cards. We also have a business that allows us to generate about 500-700,000 points and miles each year from business expenses. We have spent between $2500 and $3000/year on annual fees with occasional bumps for particularly good sign up bonuses, so it has probably cost us about $12-$15,000 in card fees total over 4 and a half years and provided, at full retail prices, about $420,000 worth of flights (188 flights total) and hotel rooms (186 nights total) (plus we still have about 5.5 million points and miles).
@Ian —> Well, I’m not all that far behind you, at approx. 1.2M points total — that after burning
— 150,000 points for my daughter and boyfriend to travel to Europe (UA, SFO-CDG, 60k; AA, MAD-CLT-SFO, 60k; actual value of the tickets as booked, $11,261.12); PLUS 30,000 points for one night @ an airport hotel for them.
— 480,000 points for my wife and I to travel to Europe (separately), spent on a combination of airfare and hotels using AS/VX, B6, SPG, and Hilton, equivalent to an average point redemption of 21¢ across the board.
— Approx. 28,000 points for a trip to New Orleans.
Nice! Even though I oddly thought that our reserves were depleting, this actually hasn’t been the case. We have more points, and they’re just getting more diverse. Hope you keep accruing!!
I still just keep up a spreadsheet. I have 3.7M miles/points (about 1.1M being air vs hotel, etc.). Granted 1M or so is Club Carlson. Because of my mother’s health big trips have been rare over the past couple of years. She recently passed on and I am retiring within a year, so I expect the total to start dropping next year.
You bring up an interesting point which I forgot to add in my comment above: the issue isn’t necessarily the total number of points, rather it’s where they reside — in which programs.
In other words, my 1.2M/Ian’s 1.4M/your 3.7M is irrelevant if they are scattered about with 819 points here, 750 points there, etc. What makes the various programs work is to have a significant number in a single program —> for example, your 1.1M in Club Carlson, my 300+k in AS, or Ian’s 148k of Amex MR points (versus, say, 500 points in an account with air berlin, or 100 Victoria miles with TAP — both of which were free for signing up; the question is what do I do with them?).
This is especially true for those that need to move around large families. 50,000 airline miles are quite useful for a single or couple, but for a family of 6 like mine, even 100,000 have limited utility if you want to take the whole family on trips.
Even the Southwest companion pass is a lot less useful when you have to pay for 5 and get one free versus paying for 1 and getting one free for a couple, a 16% discount versus a 50% discount.
My bigger holdings:
CLUB CARLSON 1,119,850
I guess the copy and paste made that stack pretty weird.
Just curious, but how did you get so many Choice and Club Carlson points? Those are on the opposite ends of the hotel spectrum
Indeed. I realize just how lucky I am, having both my kids reach the age of 21+. Generally now, it’s travel for two, not four –or six, if they were each bringing a friend! (That above-referenced trip for my daughter and her boyfriend constitutes college graduation presents.)