All posts in this series:
- Conferring with the enemy (Part 1): A credit card for a travel plan
- Conferring with the enemy (Part 2): Fulfilling minimum spend requirements on a credit card
- Conferring with the enemy (Part 3): The waiting (for miles to post) game
- Conferring with the enemy (Part 4): Redeeming British Airways miles from Boston to Dublin
- Conferring with the enemy (Part 5): Finishing the deal
I love travel, and especially the game of travel hacking. And these days, the most lucrative way of earning frequent flyer miles is by the use of credit cards. (It’s much more lucrative than flying, ironically.)
So because of this, I routinely give up the opportunity to earn thousands (if not tens of thousands) of frequent flyer miles. And this is due to one rule I follow: don’t put ordinary spending on a credit card.
Some credit cards offer sign up bonuses. And if you have a plan for what to do with those frequent flyer miles, and have budgeted for how to achieve the “minimum spend”, and then put the card away, then I won’t yell at you. (Though if you’re carrying debt in other places, you may want to ask yourself now is the right time for this kind of game.)
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So I had finally achieved the minimum spend of $2,000 on my credit card. I had kept very active track of this number, and as soon as I had hit the threshold, I sent a message asking the company to confirm it. They did:
Now there was nothing to do but sit back and wait for the points to roll in. Which could be in any number of weeks.
And all the meanwhile, the departure date was growing closer, and award availability was dwindling. It occurred to me during this thing that I should have started this process at least a few months sooner.
To this, we can learn a valuable lesson: Don’t trust frequent flyer mile programs. Don’t wait too long to plan your adventures when they rely on frequent flyer miles, because the party could end at any time.
Now, remember my plan: Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus (a partner of British Airways), which just squeaks in at being 25,000 miles round trip.
I looked at the new award chart after the British Airways devaluation, nervous if this sort-of-loophole was going to go away.
And the answer is that prices did increase, but only if you were flying business class. Whew.
It used to be 25,000 for coach, 50,000 for business class (which is astoundingly good). Now it was 25,000 for coach, and 75,000 for business class, which is still a great deal, but no longer astoudingly so. Score another point for the benefits of international coach for award travel, especially if you’re an infrequent flyer.
From this we can glean yet another lesson: Deals that seem too good don’t last. Moreover, the better the deal, the less likely it will last. I still hear people wax rhapsodically about the old US Mint trick (buying coins with a credit card and then depositing the coins in your account to pay off the credit card), but who actually thought that someone wouldn’t eventually notice?
So I dodged a bullet here, at least this time. And a good thing too, because my miles didn’t post until after the devaluation went into effect.
But at least they posted. I was hoping not to have to add another post in my travel hacking blunders series.
So now that I had the miles, time to redeem them. Easy?
Of course not. Stay tuned for what happened next.
But enough about me. Have you ever had a travel plan experience where the rules changed on you mid-way through?