Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.
Time to knock out another reader request and a very good one to address as we continue the greatest mistake an airline has ever made that is #Skymiles2015. Reader Liz asks:
“More information on ways to earn miles that don’t involve credit cards and also, if using miles for anything other than flights is ever a good value and if so, when.”
In truly dyslectic fashion I will start at the back end of the question; with VERY few rare exceptions there are never ever any times spending your Skymiles for anything other than flights is a good value or idea. Just don’t do it.
Before I cover it, everyone needs to understand that earning with credit cards is the absolute best, cheapest and simplest way to earn points. Next year under Skymiles2015 getting on a plane and flying will be the WORST POSSIBLE WAY to earn Skymiles and should be avoided as much as possible. That is unless you can get away with really sticking it to your employer and gouging them for ridiculously high ticket prices to earn miles flying, it is just not what you want to do next year. No, manufacturing with Delta AMEX airline travel cards will be the best route. But that is not the question asked.
So on to the first part of Liz’s question. So much changes as of 01JAN2015. Until then, clearly mileage runs can rack up some serious points. If you have the time, the run from Toronto to Hong Kong can earn a Diamond over 40,000 Skymiles for one round trip for under $800 all-in. Now for mileage runners the Skymiles don’t matter it is all about the MQMs, but in this case since we are talking Skymiles I wanted to touch on it. The same ticket under Skymiles2015 would just earn a general Skymiles member just over 3,000! Now is the time to earn on long routes.
Another good option both this year and next is complaining. Remember “Bob” who just about complained 100,000 points back after getting nailed with the T72 rule? Depending on your class of service you can get a nice amount of miles when things don’t go right. Plus, next year in 2015, when ONLY $$$ not our loyalty matters to Delta, the service, products, food, IFE, bag handling & Skyclubs had darn well better be perfect; if it is not perfect as paid for complain to get the miles we need to make up for what we have lost under the new program.
Other little incentives. One of the other readers questions was about Skymiles dining. This is a simple program, but getting 5 miles per dollar dining out is nice. Depending on where you live this can mean a bunch of choice and a bunch of miles. For me in the SBN area it means just about zero. However, if you can take your pals out and have them pay you cash back or even better say pay for an employee outing you could earn some nice Skymiles this way.
For now, don’t forget about 5x from SkyMall. No, I don’t want you to buy lawn yetis for everyone in the neighborhood. To me buying a single yeti is a dumb idea. But SkyMall will price match most major retailers including sale prices so be sure to compare if SkyMall does sell anything you are wanting to buy to see if they sell it.
These are the big ones. The smaller ones are things like rental cars, hotel stays with SPG CrossoverRewards, some utility bonus deals, surveys and the like. Some of these are good, others just so-so. Count the cost.
That gets us to the one thing Liz wants to avoid – credit cards. Simply put, I earn a TON of points this way each year. Look at it this way, and I get that most just will not do this, by manufacturing $120,000 in spending on my two Delta Reserve AMEX cards I am netting out 180,000 Skymiles. What ways? Kiva.org if you have the option to park funds for months at a time can result in lots of free points. Buying AMEX gift cards and then cycling them out via buying Visa Debit Gift cards and via Walmart sending to BlueBird is a simple $5,000 each month. $1,000 a month on Amazon Payments is super simple. Paying bills that do not incur a fee for paying with a credit card can be a sweet way to bump up the spend. All of these so far don’t cost you to earn the miles. I really could go on and on but you get the point – more than ever under Skymiles2015 NOT flying is the way to earn big.
The final one is transferring from either SPG or AMEX Membership rewards and hoping with the dramatic cut in earnings from flying in 2015 that bonus for transfer will return; if we could have 25-100% bonus deals come back this could be a chance to end up with some sweet Skymiles yields. Don’t bank on this one as it has been a while since we have seen good deals this way. – René
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.