Last year it was so simple, that is my choices were so simple. I had, not just my Delta business AMEX Reserve card that I have held forever, but also a personal Delta AMEX Reserve card. I would often pull either card for most purchases other than those where 5x came into play. Why? My choice was simple even if I was not getting MAX value for my spend. I was working to get to $60,000 in spend on each card to net out a total of 60,000 bonus MQMs (30k from each card) plus the bonus SkyMiles that came along with that. Simple.
But as we all know Delta has not been honest with us this year. They promised the moon when it came to SkyRubles last year and then pulled the rug out from under us. They cut and cut and even stooped so low as to remove the award charts online (even though they still use them). Trust is just gone when it comes to the Delta award program. This is really sad to me.
So I am no longer driving all my spending to earn SkyMiles as I have in years before. I have canceled one of my two Delta Reserve cards already. Now part of my spending confusion is driven by my personal MQM totals (I know, a good problem to have). As you can see I only need to end the year with 235,000 MQMs to hit my goal to rollover Diamond Medallion status until 1FEB2018. Why not 250k you ask? I can meet the MQD exempt spend next January via spend on my remaining Reserve card, earning 15k MQMs after 30k spend, and be done. So I only need ~47k MQMs this year. I have 15k on the way once I get to 60k AMEX Reserve spend this year. So all I need is about 30k flying. I have about 15k worth of Delta mileage runs booked already and will use my Global Upgrade certs to buy tickets to earn the rest of the MQMs I need. Simple.
But that does leave me with spending issues as I mentioned from the outset. After I am done with Delta spend what do I do now? Where will I drive my spend for the next half of the year and for every day spending. What should be my “points bucket” I toss all my spending into?
Membership Rewards points. I have shifted my buying of airline tickets over from my Reserve card to the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card <—LINK. Clearly getting 3x per dollar is much smarter than 2x and I can earn it on any airline not just Delta. Plus, I trust the value of membership rewards much more than SkyRubles now. So that choice was not really all that hard. But do I pull this card for ALL other spending? Sure for things like gas that I can get 2x. But what about other spend? Should I make it simple and just use this card for everything?
FlexPerks points. My USbank FlexPerks® Travel Rewards Visa Signature® <—LINK still has it’s place. Both for grocery store purchases and for real charitable giving I use it as well as “manufactured” charitable giving. So this card has it’s place in my wallet.
But again, what about everything else and all the little things I buy each day. In the past it was just always – always – always my Delta Reserve card. I had a two-fold reason for doing this. One was to mix up spend, but also just because the numbers to reach each year were large each year. Now I am finding I have to think. Many times it ends up being the Barclay’s Arrival Plus card that hits the counter at checkout. Other times my Chase Sapphire Preferred (like at restaurants). I also trust and value both of those points for lowering my travel expenses.
There are still simple things that have not changed. I still have my cell and cable bills auto-billing to my Chase INK Plus card and will keep doing so as long as they offer 5x. To be able to spend ultimate rewards points at 1.25 cents each for travel OR to be able to transfer them to so many good partners puts these points in the real value bucket. I just like simple and 5x is as simple as it gets!
I also have other cards that I have in my wallet and keep for the perks but don’t really use for much spending (other than UBER) like my non-Delta The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN <—LINK. Also my Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express <—LINK I, for now, only use when staying at SPG hotels.
The funny thing to take from all of this is I now have to choose and think and Delta’s choices have affected my spending pattern with AMEX. I wonder if AMEX knew ahead of time that Delta was going to make so many drastic #KeepDescending choices before they signed the new multi-billion dollar deal with Delta for years to come. I wonder if they would have offered such a sweet deal if they knew that Delta’s choices would impact customer spending for those like me. – René
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