Several times during the year I spend an afternoon tallying my travel miles and points.
This year I decided to switch from the American Express card to the Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card. My sole motivation was acquiring Southwest’s companion pass. If you’re not familiar with the companion pass here’s the payoff………
Friends fly when you do
Companion Pass is the benefit that allows you to choose one person to fly with you, free of airline charges (does not include taxes and fees from $5.60 one-way) every time you purchase or redeem points for a flight. To qualify, simply fly 100 qualifying one-way flights or earn 110,000 qualifying points in a calendar year, and you’ll earn Companion Pass for the following full calendar year, plus the remainder of the year in which you earned it. LINK
To hit this you need to earn 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points or fly 100 qualifying one-way flights in a calendar year. 100 one-way flights in a 52 week period……. not going to happen, we’re going to nail this on points!
A member who earns 110,000 Companion Pass qualifying points or who flies 100 qualifying one-way flights booked through Southwest Airlines per calendar year will qualify for Companion Pass. Companion Pass qualifying points are earned from revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, points earned on Southwest Rapid Rewards Credit Cards, and base points earned from Rapid Rewards Partners. LINK
Right now we’re roughly 70 days into 2018 and I’ve earned 70,000 of the required 110,000 Companion Pass points. The Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards card gave me 40,000 points for the first $1000.00 I spent, my first two trips of the year netted that. The remaining 30,000 points came from additional travel, college tuition, groceries and general central Florida living.
We have a trip planned for two to Nashville in the coming weeks. The cash value of airfare and hotel was $2466.76. That’s before meals, Uber and doing anything fun. The hotel was $1595.84 which cost 250,000 points (.63 cents per point), the airfare was $871.92 and required 67,114 points (1.29 cents per point). Everyone interprets point values differently, however, I look at points as a benefit for my butt in a seat and my head in a bed….. which means I saved $2466.76.
Aside from the four or five family trips, we take each year there’s should be more and better options for travel miles and points, consider this…
- Last week I had an evening meeting at my hotel, I spent $27.00 for four beers, but I would’ve loved to have used hotel points instead of cash for the transaction.
- Recently I flew to California on American Airlines, which I have no status on. It would’ve been great to use any credit card points instead of my own cash for a first class upgrade.
- When I rent with Hertz, I qualify for their “President’s Circle“. I’d love the ability to use Hertz points to cover the mileage charge for one-way rentals.
- Southwest sends me free drink coupons every ten flights, but converting Southwest points into drink vouchers would rock.
- A better exchange rate with American Express branded products. A $25.00 American Express gift card costs 5,000 points, a $25.00 Home Depot gift card costs 2,500. The American Express gift card….. not a great value for the points spent.
- I wish my mileage and point accounts could be connected to services such as Uber, Lyft & Order Inn allowing me to use points to pay for the transaction.
Most miles and points can be converted into various gift cards, but that requires planning ahead, the immediacy of converting them on the spot is what I’m looking for.
If you decide to join the mileage and point game pick your brand of an airline, hotel chain and rental car company…… then stay loyal to them!
“The man who chases two rabbits, catches neither.” ~ Confucius
Next, select a credit card that will maximize points for your chosen airline, hotel and rental brand. Most hotels will provide bonus points at each of their loyalty levels, which means the more you use, the more you earn. Also check for promotions from, Marriott, Hilton, Delta and Southwest.
Remember I’m not a financial guy, so read the mouse print before you apply for anything. Remember, any finance charge on an outstanding balance will quickly outweigh any mileage or point gain.
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