We’ve identified the problem, now what…? You’ll notice there were no Airline Credit cards on the list. One word, sustainability. We’ll cover that later.
First, lets go to Google Flights (www.google.com/flights) and enter the dates and locations. The best value shows in green. United $575.00 round trip with one stop in Chicago. Hmmm, that’s a lot of money. Let’s explore other options with our 4 cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: We received 50k points when we signed up. $300 Airline credit, which can be used for any travel expense. Go to Chase.com, find Travel and put in your flight information. Ok. same price but they will book the flight for 38,333 points. Is this a good value? 38,333 x .021=$805.00 worth of points. Not liking that…even if I remove the $300 credit, I’m still at $505.00
American Express Business Platinum: We received 75k for signing up. $200 Airline credit but we have to choose one airline and stay locked in for a year. 50% Point refund when you book at Amex Travel. Go to American Express and log into your account, select travel, enter the info and…same price $575.00 or 57,500 MR points. We have the points but wait, we get half back! That means we ultimately use 28,750 MR points. 28,750 x .019=$546.25. $200 travel credit is no help because it only applies to luggage fees, lounge access fee’s etc.. Ho-Hum
Starwood SPG card: We received 25k in points for signing up. Remember that little card quirk? we’ll come back to that…
Amex Everyday Preferred: Put it away, other than getting points for the purchase, it’s no help here.
Now at this point I go to United.com and enter my flight info and ask it to show the price in miles. 50k United miles for this trip. United miles are valued at ~.015 each so 50,000x.015=$750.00 in United miles…still no good. BTW, we don’t have an Airline card so where do we get the miles anyway? Chase Sapphire will transfer 1-1 to United. 50k Ultimate Rewards=50k United Miles, very easy to do. Math time: 50k Chase points are valued at .021 each. $1050.00. Definitely not a good option.
Last stop is Delta.com, enter info, choose show flights with points…What’s this? 20k Delta points round trip non-stop?! Wow Really? Same Problem though, I have no Delta Points. Amex Membership Rewards ALSO transfer 1-1 to Delta easily. 20,000 MR points x.019=$380.00 +about $20 in taxes, so we are near $400.00 round trip and non stop. Use the $200.00 travel credit (choosing Delta or use the $300 Chase credit at the check-in counter to pay luggage fees.
The SPG use 20k points get 25k airline miles option? No good here. 20k x.027=$540.00
So I used 20k MR points from Amex, transferred to Delta immediately, booked a $575.00 flight for around $380 in points+~20 in taxes. Told her to be thankful and take a carry-on bag (free) and went about my day.
This Matters: In points and miles, your goal is to obtain more value that the point value is listed for, that is a win. Amex values their points at ~.019 so, we received $575.00 in value for $380 in points. 575/20,000=.028 in return! We used points valued at .019 and made them worth .028. Big Win. This math applies to Hotels and Airlines. If I can’t at least equal the value of the point, it’s time to just pay for it and earn more points.
Wasn’t that a fun exercise? I love that part and while it appeared to take a lot of time, it took me about 10 minutes start to finish. As you become more familiar with PMs, you will become more efficient.