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.
Having worked in tech for many years I say this almost every week, that is, “there are no dumb questions” because if you don’t ask, you may end up doing something, well, dumb. So, if someone could have helped you to do whatever it is the right way, and the fix is simple, but you choose NOT to ask and just did whatever anyway, that is dumb right?
So what are we talking about? Again, taking the above in mind, there are actions in the frequent flyer world that will cost you and we don’t want that to happen. Take a look and see what you think:
Q1) What travel card should I choose if I want to carry a balance?
A1) None! Even asking this shows your thinking is not in the right place. Those of us earning tons of points from new cards plus bonus points and then from bonus deals from spend always always always pay off all our cards in full each month. Get your finances in line before you ever start trying to collect points.
Q2) I redeemed my points for (insert some item here like a toaster) and it seemed like a good deal.
A2) It was a great deal, for the airline, not for you. The bottom line, at least when it comes to Skymiles if you hold a Delta CO-Branded AMEX card you can get 1 cent per point value buying a ticket. So, if you paid, say, 10,000 Skymiles for your toaster you just burned at least $100 in travel money.
Q3) I always close my cards before the fee hits and often right after I get my bonus points! Smart choice right?
A3) Not paying an annual fee, unless the card gives you equal or better value for that fee, is smart. Canceling quickly is not smart. You have after all paid for a year why not just keep the card for at least 11 months and perhaps use it. The better choice, since holding cards with no balance on them does not negatively affect your credit score, is to downgrade to a no annual fee card. This, most times, gives you options should you apply for more cards from a bank and they should wish to close an old account to get a new one approved moving a credit line over to the new one.
Q4) I have so many points I should just give some to a charity that is a good cause?
A4) I am all for supporting a good cause. You know what a good cause needs most? CASH! I am no accountant but from my understanding you can deduct CASH (i.e. donations from your FlexPerks credit card that can earn you 6% back) but you cannot deduct the “value” of points.
Q5) As long as I pay with my travel card when renting a car I am covered, right?
A5) One would think that, but you need to be VERY careful. Debit cards for example don’t have the same coverage that many credit cards have. Plus, what about outside the USA or your own auto policy? Read this 3 parts post to find out if you are covered like you think you are!
Q6) I like to spread out my travel card applications through the year to lessen the impact on my credit score.
A6) While you are correct that no matter when you apply you are impacting your score by a few points. However, most points enthusiast have found doing more than one card app in a day (I normally do 3-6) and across different banks and then cooling off for 91+ days results in more approvals than the spread them out method of applying. Keep in mind every 2 years these hits do drop off.
Q7) Is it smart to focus all my earning of points on just one program like Delta?
A7) No. Clearly we are Delta flyers and many choices we make funnel our points to Delta so we can spend them on Delta and that is just fine. However, having points everywhere and building them so you have options when it comes to travel, to me, is the best choice.
Q8) If I book in business class I get to use the Skyclubs right?
A8) Yes and No. When flying internationally yes, but Delta does not count some places as international even though they are (confusing I know). Domestically, unless flying certain routes from NYC, you do not get into the Skyclubs with a business class ticket.
Q9) I am saving up points so I can combine my wife’s & my points for a trip.
A9) I commend you both for having a Skymiles account, but you cannot do that, that is, combine Skymiles accounts into one. Yes, you can book tickets to the same place, but the reservations will not be in one record or PNR. They will have to be linked and that can cause issues. For the sake of simplicity, most times you cannot just send points from one person to another with normal airline frequent flyer programs. Programs outside the airlines like Ultimate Rewards or FlexPerks are different and do allow this.
Q10) Why do Delta mainline jets say they are cashless & the regional airlines only take cash?
A10) OK you have stumped me on that last one. I think it is so stupid, even though they are two different airlines (they look the same due to paint on the outside of the jets), that they cannot have the same cashless payment system it would seem.
So there you are. While there truly are no dumb questions, we can now see that some lines of thinking could be not so good for you. Any other questions? Fire away!- 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.