Not actually a frequent flier - so is there any point to points?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by StephanieA, Jan 31, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. StephanieA

    StephanieA New Member

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    Hello nice people!
    I joined Aeroplan last year because my family were taking a long plane trip from London to Tokyo (we live in London). I figured we'd get a huge pile of points, because that seemed like such a massive journey. [noob] Well, I was wrong, and we only got 6000 points. We and our family do fly once or twice a year to Canada, which might get us a few more points before the end of the year. I didn't realise until after I'd signed up that Aeroplan requires you to use your points within a year, or they evaporate. I doubt we'll ever fly enough to accumulate enough points to actually use them - 6000 points will just about buy me a crappy travel alarm clock from the Aeroplan website.

    What should I do? Should I hope that another return flight LHR-YYZ will provide enough points to actually make this thing worthwhile? Should I get some cheesy credit card (I have never owned a credit card before and can't see myself actually using it). Or should I just bail from all this points malarkey?
     
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  2. gregm

    gregm Gold Member

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    Not actually a frequent flier - so is there any point to points? <GASP!>:eek:
    How many of us fainted?
     
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  3. Free2travel

    Free2travel Silver Member

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    The only trips our family takes are the ones we use our points on! Sign up bonuses, my friend, sign up bonuses!
     
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  4. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

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    Honestly, it doesn't sound like it's the hobby for you. . .
     
  5. chrislacey
    Original Member

    chrislacey Milepoint Guide

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    Hi @StephanieA and welcome to MilePoint! I have a few ideas for you:
    • Aeroplan miles expire after 12 months of inactivity. As long as there is new account activity, your older points remain valid as well :) Make sure you're keeping the accounts active (any type of transaction, in or out, counts) so you don't lose your miles.
    • Lots of people in the frequent flyer community are in a similar situation as you...in that they don't have companies who pay for an insane amount of travel and so they do look to credit card signup bonuses and other promotions to fill their account. I'm not a fan of "churning" (applying, getting accepted, meeting the minimum spend requirement for the bonus, canceling, and repeating the process) just because it's a lot of work. That said, people literally see millions of frequent flyer miles doing this type of thing. If you want free travel...it's certainly an easier way to get lots of points. Just be careful as each company has rules about giving out the free miles - and you can't "rinse and repeat" the process with all companies. Lots of blogs provide more information.
    • As an infrequent traveler, there are not many ways (other than credit cards) to build up your account quickly. That said, when you do travel, sticking with the same airline alliance (Star Alliance in this case) and depositing your miles into your Aeroplan account will add up over time. You can see a list of alliance partners here: http://www.staralliance.com/en/about/member_airlines/. Regardless of which Star Alliance carrier you fly (lots of caveats, but in general...), you should be able to get mileage credit in your Aeroplan account.
    I hope that helps a bit :) If you have other questions, we do have a dedicated Aeroplan forum: http://milepoint.com/forums/forums/air-canada-aeroplan.53/

    In closing...if it takes 5 years of banking miles from infrequent trips to get a free domestic ticket...hey! it's still a free ticket ;) Good luck!

    -Chris
     
  6. 121traffic

    121traffic New Member

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    Fellow noob here. Intro forthcoming. But in addition to echoing what Chris said, why NOT use that miles card? My one caveat would be to not limit yourself to a card that dumps miles into one specific program, but rather a true "traveler's card" that has a point/mile system with a 1:1 transfer ability into any number of programs. (See the Chase Sapphire Preferred here in the US)

    There are lots of good cards out there that will help you out, although I don't know specifics of what's available in the London market. I used to travel modestly, i.e. a half dozen times a year for personal reasons, and more with reimbursed work trips, all domestic. Back then, I used an AMEX Premier Rewards Gold for just about EVERY purchase I made. 3X points on airfare/travel, 2X on gas/groceries, and 1X on all other purchases. AMEX obviously needs to be Paid-in-Full every month, but you could do the same with a traditional credit card and as long as you PIF, no interest is charged.

    It adds up fast. Now I'm not super-rich or even particularly wealthy, but I do okay. I often crossed the $30K/annually spent mark because I used it for everything except my mortgatge and cars. Think about it...$50 for dinner here, $100 for groceries there, the occasional couple thou in home improvements, Christmas shopping, etc. In addition to the points garnered from the purchases, I got the standard 15K points bonus for crossing the $30K/year mark. Accrued points + Bonus meant about 55,000 points a year just from purchasing alone. I took a lot of free trips on Delta and other domestic carriers that were available at the time...at least a couple round trips a year. See how this can add up?

    I think I'm going to dump AMEX here soon, though, since their list of transferable rewards programs is losing steam fast.
     
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  7. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Yes, but....

    If you're taking that long to get the "free" ticket don't be duped into spending lots of extra time or money to accumulate the points to get to that redemption. If you pay $50-75 extra in airfare each of those 5 years then the "free" ticket actually costs $250+ and you're limited to the options with the award seats available.

    Points can be great but they aren't always worth chasing. I'd look VERY closely at the cost side of the equation before committing to such a path.
     
  8. wharvey

    wharvey Silver Member

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    I have found myself not travelling much due to our move to Georgia and my searching for a new job; so I ask myself this question often. I have given up on airline status... now just want to use the miles I have accumulated.

    Hotels are another story; we do trips where free hotel stays can be good!

    If you are spending money, you have a use for a hotel credit card! I cringe when I see people paying cash or writing checks. Use someone else's money and get points as well.

    I agree with others; you will want to decide what airline or hotel program to stick with... and focus on them.

    GOOD LUCK!
     
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  9. Terry Yap

    Terry Yap Gold Member

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    welcome to MP ! I was wondering if you have any significant hotel stays this year ?

    You could also earn Aeroplan miles from hotel stays, at times the bonus miles from certain hotel chains for Aeroplan may be attractive. Or consider Rocketmiles as another way of chalking up Aeroplan miles.

    with a decent Aeroplan mile stash, and Aeroplan being a Star Alliance member, perhaps you could find a partner airline flight award redemption that interests you..
     
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  10. jbcarioca
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    jbcarioca Gold Member

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    Great advice! We all are prone to say YMMV, and it does, but many people have neither the habits nor the inclination to pursue this obsessive hobby. factually, we who are habitual users of the site can safely be called obsessive. :eek:
     
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  11. Terry Yap

    Terry Yap Gold Member

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    jbcarioca, i only check MP once every 10 min, probably mildly obsessive in your books ??? ;)

    on a more serious note, agree, deliberate mileage runs and mattress runs just to chalk up the points/miles may not be the best idea for an infrequent flyer...should consider if the returns warrent the time/effort/money spent...on reflection and calculations, some returns really may not be worth it...
     
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  12. StephanieA

    StephanieA New Member

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    Thanks! This has been so helpful. I think I will keep on with it for a couple of years then; making sure I keep the points active each 12 months, and maybe having a go at one of those credit cards, although the ones I have just looked at all say You Must Be A USian. I don't think I'll change my buying habits just to get points (as Aramean warned) but it seems to me that there are so many airlines that use Aeroplan I'll have a fair chance of finding a good fare with them. I would always choose Air Canada for my transatlantic trips anyway.

    It really is a hobby, isn't it? Do you points-chewers spend lots of time online working at this? I would be driven more by being a tightwad than by needing a new hobby :)

    What's Rocketmiles? Do you get points for miles travelled in low Earth orbit then?
     
  13. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Most of them are focused on the US market but there are a few in Canada, too.

    It can consume a whole lot of time if you let it. :)

    A hotel booking site which provides bonus points as part of the booking process. The bonuses are significant but the hotel selection has historically been limited and you need to compare the prices.
     
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  14. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    I do not travel much,nor do I make much money..

    Most of us start out that way, and no one means to get fat,

    Little extra food here and there, few extra miles from credit cards, friends spend, and all of a sudden we are fat, have more miles than we can spend, and to tell the truth, we even give some away, too many tomatoes growing in the garden.

    Have an extra spoonful every day and it will happen to you, it can be done we all started with nothing.

    I am lifetime Gold and I made it happen so can you,

    Welcome, new one.

    Life is what you make of it, success does not just happen,
     
  15. Terry Yap

    Terry Yap Gold Member

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    yeah, I don't travel that often too, but knowledge from MP and many travel bloggers has allowed me and my family an opportunity to have tremendous experiences when we do have an opportunity, for example staying in a great Hyatt suite on a diamond suite upgrade (after a Diamond Challenge) for my daughter's birthday.these are experiences we would probably never have had if it weren't fr knowledge gleaned from fellow MPs and bloggers:p
     
  16. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    While there is great value to be found in the miles & points game for someone who doesn't want to put much time in, I think a pure cash-back credit card is an easy and good answer. In the US (sorry), we have a Fidelity-branded Amex issued by FIA that gives a flat 2% back on everything (caveat: FIA's customer service is pretty bad). Money is flexible - you can use it to book any airline seat with no blackout dates, capacity controls, etc. Or use it to buy dinner.

    If you're going to stay in the game, you might consider other star alliance airlines for accumulating miles from Air Canada flights. Some people are fond of Avianca Life Miles. You may need to do some digging to see which program is best for you, but I would not let the "sunk cost" of 6000 miles in your Aeroplan account drive your choice of ongoing program(s). First things to look for:
    • Expiration windows
    • Star Gold qualification
    • Flexibility of awards (e.g. UA allows one-way awards)
    • Award chart structure (zones, revenue, or distance)
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2014

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