Efficient salami-slicing, or "how low can the points balance go?"

Discussion in 'Air Canada | Aeroplan' started by mevlannen, Jul 24, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Of late I have been burning off my squirreled away collection of Aeroplan points, in anticipation of impending (and most likely un-warned-aforehand) devaluations of the reward matrix.

    Just burned my last 50,000-point slice for a transcontinental, transborder J-class reward, using my erstwhile SE priority rewards option. Have now 26 points left.

    Two questions:

    1) does anyone have any good ideas what to do with 25 of those 26 points? and...

    2) how low have any of you drawn your balances?
     
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  2. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    I got to 206 once on my primary account. Some great redemptions to get to that point.
     
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  3. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    IMO, unless cashing out of a program completely, with no future earning, making any sort of effort to "slice as thin as possible" is inherently inefficient, or at minimum has a strong tendency to be inefficient. Points/miles tend to be most valuable in moderate to large sized chunks (or at the margin to make those chunks), and when redeemed opportunistically - not when redeemed on an arbitrary schedule for something you may or may not want.

    If you hit a low number by coincidence - great! If not - no big deal. I guess the ideal is positing the miles needed for an award and then booking it - no time to devalue.

    Also - over time I've seen many people overreact and liquidate points at a worse rate than any reasonably-anticipated devaluation or award chart change. It's always worth the sanity check of asking yourself what the worst-case you expect a devalued chart to be for your award of choice, and making sure you aren't undercutting that.
     
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  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yeah, I didn't do it out of spite or anything like that. Just had bookings to make.
     
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  5. superangrypenguin

    superangrypenguin Silver Member

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    Here I am feeling high after burning 300,000 miles with another 300,000 to go...................=P

    Good job OP. That's pretty awesome. Why burning them so early though? There are still some great J redemptions from Canada to HKG/HND/NRT and TPE (via BR). Until they [expletive] with that I'll keep on earning on AP and burning them.....(even without status next year)
     
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  6. mikeschu
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    mikeschu Gold Member

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    Not AC, but went down to 50 AGR (Amtrak) points and 179 SPG points via redemptions. I also managed to get to a really low IHG balance (around 500 points) before writing out a few notecards earlier this year.
     
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  7. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Dear Penguin: thank you for kind words. I suppose that I could have burned them off for a ticket to China, but then again, my last trip over there was so nasty an experience that I am twice-loth to repeat the experience. Getting mugged in Beijing, then getting sick and dragging myself around like a sick thing trying to get back home minus the contents of my purse? Not so good.

    (thank goodness that I had kept my passport stuffed in my brassiere, or I'd have *really* been stuck!)

    All that alongside, one of the benefits of retirement is being freed from worrying about the illusory glimmers of travel-programme 'rewards'. What little I am doing now is either on a coastal float-plane, or paid J (other than the various already booked-as-J rewards trips).

    Best as ever,

    /elane
     
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  8. slalom

    slalom Silver Member

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    Now that I'm flying primarily on AA, I've burned up my AP miles down to a relatively useless 11,053!
     
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  9. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    I've gotten my AS balance (my primary account) down to the low hundreds. Not specifically to burn, but more out of need.

    To be honest, if I had 7 digit balances in multiple accounts, I'd feel like I was doing it wrong, and about to get whacked by good by some devaluations. The miles and points are for spending, not hoarding (since the value tends to dissipate over time like snow in a chinook wind).
     
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  10. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    When I have more than I need to redeem for e.g. F or biz to wherever for my wife and I...I have too many points. When I do not have that many...I have too few.

    If you get to 7 figures by hoarding...you're doing it wrong. If you get there because you are earning faster than burning...it'd probably be nice to be less busy, but not the end of the world to eat the occasional devaluation. Don't burn for something you value less just to lock in a so-called "favorable" rate. e.g.130k miles for the trip you want beats 100k for the trip you didn't want but "beat the clock" with, if you get at least "30% more enjoyment" out of it. Just don't go out of your way to NOT burn.

    When Delta was my primary account, I took it right down to 0, or at least under 1k multiple times (by transferring in MR points to make a target award).
     
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  11. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Hmm, does that get you a toaster, anyway?
     
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  12. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    I do like what Mattsteg wrote, and largely agree. My accumulation strategy was always passive, along the lines of 'ignore the darn thing and let it do what it does', and the redemption's been not so much to maximise perceived cents/mile, as to maximise value-in-use. If doing the J-cabin boomerang between Salishaan and New England makes me happy, then that's what it is going to be.

    If I just sit back and let the 'mile-barrel' refill itself as a consequence of my everyday business, there'll be another freebie coming up sometime late next winter, which is a fair interval of time away from my upcoming freebie.

    All that being said, I did find the almost-perfect drawdown of account balance amusing, on some sort of four-year-old happy-moppet level.
     
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  13. superangrypenguin

    superangrypenguin Silver Member

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    Oh Elane, sorry to hear about the grief. That sounds pretty crappy. It's one of the many reasons I won't go to China (even if I'm Chinese). TPE is awesome though! BR to TPE or BR/AC to HKG (no scamcharges since the government forbids that). Great AP redemption locations
     
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  14. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Ni hao, Penguin!

    Now, on the other hand, Hong Kong. Hmmmm.... could I have a similar experience for fewer points by hopping over to Vancouver and taking the train to a restaurant over on Lulu Island?

    (let's see 15,000 points for a short hop of 30 minutes means a burn rate of 500 points/minute. Efficient, that!)
     
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  15. YULtide

    YULtide Gold Member

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    Dim sum is much better with jetlag.
     
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  16. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Well, it's hard to argue with survivor logic.

    Closest I have come to that is trying to scrounge together a 'breakfast' at YYZ transborder after a red-eye in from Vancouver. In a proper pod, thank goodness.
     
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  17. eponymous_coward
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    eponymous_coward Gold Member

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    I can't imagine getting to seven digit balances via work/personal travel or manufactured spend (the latter seems too damn much like work). I also lack the ability to funnel my own small business's funds through credit card spend that seems to be the "trick" to do that. YMMV.

    I don't generally burn for no good reason. One longhaul premium trip every year-eighteen months (and accruing for that) seems to work out for me.
     
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  18. milchap
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    milchap Gold Member

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    I am down to one short haul reward trip.......and it is over.
    Adios Aeroplan !
     
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  19. QSG
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    QSG Gold Member

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    What, no toaster !? ;):D
     
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  20. The Lev
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    The Lev Silver Member

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    I haven't been below half a million in a long time.

    Mevlannen, sorry to hear about your China experience. :(
     
  21. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Ni hao, The Lev!

    I would not wish the Mongolian death worm on anyone. Hint: don't eat the salad at the hotel.

    I do wish that AC ran pod flights from YVR to URC, though. Eighteen hours of snoozing at 41,000 feet, okay!
     
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  22. YULtide

    YULtide Gold Member

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    There's a reason the Chinese don't eat raw vegetables.
     
  23. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Funny thing -- we were talking about that at Thanksgiving dinner this past weekend (about not eating salads when overseas), and then we looked at the plates: cooked potatoes, carrots, turnips, brassicas and great slabs of ham. No raw veg to be seen, at all.

    Old habits die hard, I suppose.
     
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  24. yyznomad

    yyznomad Active Member

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    I managed to burn all of mine down to around 100 AE miles but it built up quickly again.Burned them off for friends and family. Trying to keep my balance as low as possible.
     
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  25. mevlannen
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    mevlannen Silver Member

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    Points balance climbs back up again, it does. I don't find myself often looking into it, but when it gets up to something reasonable again I shall use them to snag another J-cabin holiday-trip from Salishaan over to New England. A near-freebie is a good thing, always.
     
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