Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. This blog 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.
When you travel as much as I do you talk to all sorts of people. Some who travel only a few times a year with family while others are those who are on the road each and every week. The one thing they all have in common is they care about points to some degree. Some with a passion while others just incidentally as they come from normal every day activities that generate points.
Another thing these folks also have in common is they tend to hold strongly to some point myths and would swear they are true when they are in fact “Fake News” if you will. Let’s look at my “Top 10” list (in no particular order of importance) of the ones I tend hear most often.
1) You can have too many types of points – MYTH!
The FACTS are you can never have too many points and I play with every single program I can join. Winning is when all the programs line up where you can 2 or 3 or 4x dip. For example when a card has a spend offer, in addition to a category bonus, then you can play with some say restaurant local program and lastly send all the points to another program to bump up the value even more. You see my point that you can never have too many types of points. Now what is true is that you can hold on to points for too long and they drop in value so earn everywhere and burn them ASAP!
2) All points are worth the same, about 1 cent each – MYTH!
The FACTS are points wildly differ in value. Some points, like SPG or Starwood Preferred Guest points, are in retail value the most valuable travel points in the industry. Some folks get 2 or 3 cents value when either redeeming or transferring to partners. Also, when it comes to hotel points, they can often have a MUCH lower value than 1 cent each – so the math works both ways.
3) I can’t earn points while spending points – MYTH (sometimes)!
The FACTS are that there are times you can and can not earn points when spending points. For example, with Delta if you spend SkyMiles using PWM or Pay With Miles from Delta Gold, Platinum or Reserve Amex cards you do earn elite MQM points but not SkyMiles. Another quick one is IHG points. If you have their CO-branded Chase IHG card you get 10% points back when you spend points. It is true, however, under most circumstances airline award tickets do NOT earn you any points at all.
4) You can always freely send your points to others – MYTH (most of the time)!
The FACT is most programs do not allow, at no cost, you to send or transfer your points to others. Delta Air Lines is one of the worst. They charge a fee that will cost you MORE than the value of the points to send the points to someone else. There are, however, a few exceptions. One of the best is Club Carlson points – you can send them to just about anyone you want no charge with just a phone call.
5) You must reach a certain age before you can collect points – MYTH!
The FACT is if they are a breathing human being they can join almost any points program and you should (see point 1 above). Sure there may be rules that you must be a certain age to get a travel credit card but that does not stop your baby from banking points from a very young age wherever they are allowed.
6) It is best to focus on one program only (hotel or airline) – MYTH!
The FACT is, back in the day when airline status was simple to get, that may have been true – not so much today. Unless you are crazy dedicated to only one airline then it is smarter to earn on all the airlines and hotel chains. Plus, with so many cards like the non-Delta Amex Platinum card you get free SPG and Hilton Gold status each year so why not save points in both programs. The exception to this is if you have some vacation goal in mind where you do focus on one program for one specific trip in mind and may give up a larger bonus to reach some specific goal.
7) You must keep an airline credit card to keep your points alive – MYTH!
The FACT is with any of the big US airlines (including Alaska) once your points hit your frequent flyer account you do not need to keep their CO-branded credit card to keep your points. Now with Delta points never expire (until you do, that is) but with other airlines, without the CO-branded card, you may have to do other tasks to keep points coming in to keep them from going bye-bye. Now with some credit card points, like Amex Membership Rewards, you do have to have a card to keep the points alive so do keep this in mind.
8) It is hard to keep points from expiring – MYTH!
The FACT is that is just takes a little bit of effort and using tools like Award Wallet to track your programs. The simplest way with so many programs is using their shopping portal for some kind of online order once a year or two to reset your point expiration clock. Or in my case with my AA account via my Sprint PCS bill I earn a few points every month and it auto-resets for me month after month with zero effort on my part.
9) It is hard to collect huge amounts of points – MYTH!
The FACT is that is harder than it once was due to rules like the Chase 5/24 or others that are rolling out month by month. You can still collect huge totals of points by applying for many travel cards (that allow it under their current rules) for huge bonus offers. There are also spend bonus deals and so many ways to buy and sell “stuff” that yields HUGE amounts of points. All it takes is time and effort but it is not “hard” if you are willing to invest the time. Now finding time to do this, yes, that can in fact be hard – but the task itself is not.
10) Cash is always a better value than travel points – MYTH!
The FACT is cash clearly has a fixed value. You know what cash is worth and I respect those who focus on cash rewards. They don’t have to play the silly hidden award chart game Delta plays for example. They just buy a ticket for the cheapest price they can find with the cash they earned from other cards. However, if you are not a coach seat flyer and like business class or even other airlines 1st class seats and experience then the cash ticket vs. a points ticket will vastly differ from each other. The same goes for hotel points. If you can, via creative spending, earn hotel points to pay for a room vs. paying cash the points price could be 20-30% of retail. Thus cash is not always the best choice for value!
So there you are. I could probably have made this list twice as long as the list of point myths vs. facts is almost never ending with people dreaming up all kinds of situations they think are true when they clearly are not.
But I am sure I missed your favorite point MYTH! Why not comment below on the one I left off this list that makes your head spin “when I hear someone say…” – René