High 6 errors each factors and miles newbie makes

Editor’s notice: This can be a recurring put up, often up to date with new info and gives.

There’s a purpose why dozens of all-encompassing, detailed assets exist for maximizing factors and miles: This can be a difficult pastime. When you’re new to all of it, you’re withstanding the proverbial fireplace hose of data and making an attempt to navigate potential pitfalls and errors — which most likely really feel like they’re in every single place.

At one time or one other, factors and miles humble us all. It doesn’t matter your background, character, strengths or weaknesses — there are errors that each one factors and miles inexperienced persons (and even seasoned execs) make.

Let’s check out six of those errors within the hopes of saving you from the stomach-churning realization that you simply simply gave up — or missed out on — vital worth.

Believing all factors and miles are equal

Consider loyalty currencies identical to international money currencies. You possibly can “purchase” the identical merchandise (on this case, award flights and inns) with several types of forex. Nonetheless, relying on which one you’re going to make use of, the quantity of forex required varies considerably. Similar to one U.S. greenback isn’t equal to 1 British pound, one Chase level will not be equal to 1 American Categorical level or one American AAdvantage mile. Each forex has its personal distinctive worth.

Compounding the confusion are banks like Capital One, which refers to its rewards as “miles.” If we go to dinner and I ask why you’re utilizing the American Categorical® Gold Card to pay as an alternative of your Chase Sapphire Most popular® Card, don’t say as a result of the Amex Gold earns 4 factors per greenback spent whereas your Sapphire card solely earns 3.

A greater reply could be that you simply worth an Amex Membership Rewards level greater than a Chase Final Rewards level. That means, you’re evaluating the worth of the rewards earned, not the variety of miles earned. So, be sure you perceive the worth of the currencies you’re gathering and work out which is able to enable you obtain your award journey objectives most effectively.

Not understanding airline partnerships

In my view, that is the most important information hurdle to beat for inexperienced persons to maximise redemptions. Redeeming miles for partner-operated airline flights sometimes yields the best worth in your miles. However to somebody who’s by no means heard of this idea earlier than, the thought of utilizing Delta SkyMiles to fly KLM is as international an idea as making an attempt to make use of Euros to pay for groceries right here within the U.S.


The method of redeeming miles on accomplice flights additionally confuses inexperienced persons. When reserving a accomplice flight, the important thing factor to recollect is that you simply do the whole lot with this system whose miles you maintain.

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So within the above instance, you’d use Delta SkyMiles on the Delta web site or with a Delta cellphone agent to e-book the KLM flight and pay in response to the worth Delta fees. When you wanted to alter the ticket later, you’d do it by Delta. There’s no switch of miles from Delta to KLM. Actually, you don’t do something with the working provider (KLM on this case) till it’s time to check-in and fly.

Associated: 5 methods to up your mileage redemption sport

Transferring factors earlier than confirming availability

Transferable factors like Chase Final Rewards or American Categorical Membership Rewards are essentially the most precious and extremely coveted loyalty currencies. They supply flexibility through a number of airline and resort switch companions — providing you with some ways to make award journey a actuality. Nonetheless, they will simply journey up inexperienced persons when it comes time to redeem them.

Earlier than transferring these factors to a particular airline accomplice, you have to do the whole lot attainable to make sure the award seat you need is definitely out there and can nonetheless be out there for reserving when your factors present up in your airline account.

Some airline web sites — comparable to these for United Airways, British Airways and JetBlue — are identified to point out seats within the preliminary search outcomes as out there, solely to have them unable to be confirmed on the ultimate checkout web page. We name this “phantom availability.” You should verify with a cellphone agent that the seats you need are literally out there earlier than transferring your Chase, Amex or Citi ThankYou factors to the airline.

Some packages, comparable to American AAdvantage, even allow you to put award tickets on maintain with out the required miles in your account, so be sure you ask about that possibility earlier than transferring.

Missing group

Chances are you’ll assume you’re organized, however factors and miles will put that notion to the check. Monitoring your credit score rating, card utility dates, checking account log-ins, fee dates, minimal spending necessities, annual bonuses, annual charges and the loyalty currencies you maintain is a frightening process. Failing to maintain these organized may imply tons of of {dollars} in curiosity and late charges, or 1000’s of missed factors and miles.

Chasing standing


The attract of holding mid- to top-tier airline or resort standing could cause unwarranted irrational conduct and invoke vital bills — each in money and time.

My private rule of thumb for standing is fairly easy: Except you routinely fly for enterprise (funded by your organization or consumer), permitting you to earn and revel in standing advantages organically, then try to be an airline free agent and keep away from chasing standing. The one exception is if you’re focused for top-tier standing through a problem or match, and you may full it with virtually all natural journey.

Earlier than the pandemic, I acquired dozens of questions from readers who have been considering mileage operating and incurring tons of, if not 1000’s, of {dollars} in bills (plus days of their time) to attain airline standing; in any case that, they could have solely used the standing advantages a handful of instances a yr. Don’t let airways lure you with their shiny elite playing cards and (devaluing) statuses. Generally, it is simply not value it for the leisure traveler.

Associated: The most effective bank cards to jumpstart elite standing

Fearing annual charges

I utterly perceive the newbie who can not comprehend paying $695 for the privilege of utilizing a bank card. That’s some huge cash and would induce skepticism. True to kind, I reply roughly 100 questions per week about what bank cards readers ought to get subsequent; a large portion of those folks state they aren’t all for paying annual charges.

As a newbie, it’s necessary to not get sticker shock when an annual charge. As an alternative, analyze all the advantages that the cardboard and its loyalty program are giving in return. When you have been supplied a enterprise class ticket to Europe in return for $95, you’d most likely take it. Nicely, a number of playing cards routinely have sign-up bonuses able to getting you that ticket — you simply must pay the annual charge. (The charge is usually waived within the first yr.)

Equally, recurring journey advantages like lounge entry, airline credit, major automotive rental insurance coverage, journey delay safety and concierge service can simply justify an annual charge. So don’t keep away from playing cards simply since you see a charge — do the maths and see if the associated fee is sensible for you.

Associated: Information to bank card annual charges

Backside line

These newbie errors aren’t meant to dissuade you from pursuing factors and miles, however moderately to deliver consciousness to potential errors. It’s necessary to set reasonable expectations and remind all of us concerning the effort and time required to actually maximize our loyalty portfolios. So be proactive in defending towards errors, and ensure to succeed in out to a discussion board for assist while you’re uncertain!

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