Rant: The Misleading Headlines on the Sapphire Reserve Offer Ending

Below I’ve copied several headlines from bloggers in the points/miles blogosphere regarding the Chase Sapphire Reserve. These were all posted this week though I expect similar, additional posts today as well.

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From Million Mile Secrets

From Dans Deals

From Dans Deals

Email from Award Wallet

Email from Award Wallet

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From Travel Skills


Dans Deals for a Second Time!

Without any other background and simply reading the above headlines what do would a reasonable person assume? I would argue a reasonable, logical person would think the 100,000 point signup bonus offer on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is ending for good and the last day to apply for the current offer is today (1/11). That seems like a pretty fair conclusion no?

Guess what? It isn’t true.

In case your favorite affiliate blogger failed to mention this or buried the actual end date of the offer in 1,000 word exposé on why you need the Chase Sapphire Reserve before Thursday, this offer is available in branches till at least March 12th. There is no question this is probably one of the strongest bonus out there right now – in fact, I demonstrated how this offer was worth $1,100 CASH in your pocket at a bare minimum – but unless you don’t live near a Chase branch, there is no reason to rush into this offer especially if you have concerns about 5/24 status and/or can’t meet the required minimum spend.

I don’t know why it irks me that many of these bloggers fail to put their readers first but is it really that hard to make the headline “Last Chance to Apply Online for 100k Sapphire Reserve Bonus”, “The 100k Online Signup Bonus for the Sapphire Reserve Ends Wednesday” or something similar? Actually it’s not as I saw at least a few bloggers do the right thing.

From Pizza in Motion

From Pizza in Motion


Trust me I understand why bloggers are failing to do this as any in branch applications don’t make them any money. They only make money when readers apply via their links – in fact, good money as the rumored commission on this is $200 to $300 per successful application if bloggers have direct Chase links for this card, less so if not direct links. Starting Thursday their sales pitches to readers to apply via their links gets much harder when their links will literally offer half the public, in-branch offer. So unless you don’t live/work/travel near a Chase branch before March, there is no reason to fall for all this  “Last Chance” or “Hours Left” (you know some blogger will post that headline today) bullshit. 

Hey bloggers be better than this…

2016 Year in Review: Miles Earned, Miles Burned & More

First and foremost – A Happy New Year to all my readers!

Things have been quiet here for a while now but I’m looking to change that going forward and what better way to start with a post about my 2016 travels and miles/points activity. Some would argue 2016 has been quite a rough year with all the notable deaths (and even the deaths of several competing blogs) but it will always be most memorable to me for one little reason.

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She has certainly changed the way I think about travel and my miles goals/balance. In fact, she is largely responsible for some of the reduced numbers below even if she doesn’t know it (its ok kiddo). Gone are my days of flying off to Thailand for two weeks with just my wife and instead will be soon replaced with trips to Disney and other family friendly resorts closer to home.

The point of this is to not brag about my activity or balances as many people have far exceeded what I’ve done below. As a reader of many other similar blogs, I always find these types of posts interesting and historically my readers have as well as it offers a more detailed, personal analysis into how your favorite blogger (I am your favorite blogger right? :P) handles his own miles situation.

2016 Miles Earned: 1,003,413

Not only do I use AwardWallet to track my miles balances in dozens of programs (p.s. signup soon & pay $10 to be grandfathered for the premium version before it increases to $30) but I also keep a detailed spreadsheet with my miles balances over time as well a detailed credit card application tracker. This is how I’m able to compare data year over year and get very accurate figures.

In 2016 my wife & I applied for only 13 credit cards with total signup bonuses of 479,600 miles/points which is a stark difference from years past as I’ve attempted to make things “simpler” this year instead of chasing every deal or miles currency out there. The remaining miles came from everyday spending, reselling (see below), referrals (e.g. Starwood Amex), manufactured spending, various spending promotions (e.g. Barclays AA 15k miles for spending $500/month for 3 months), mileage shopping portals (including their lucrative bonuses from time to time) and a few paid stays at hotels (mostly using the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit).

2016 Miles Burned: 570,195

I was first surprised at this low number (last year was over 1.2 million miles + several free night certificates) but considering I took only a handful of trips this year, I guess it’s not that surprising. It’s no shock why we traveled less with a pregnant wife in the first half of the year and raising a newborn in the latter half of the year. Here is a break down by currency:

  • 300,000 Hilton HHonors Points for 6 nights total (2 rooms for 3 nights each) at the Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • 120,000 Marriott Rewards Points for 2 nights at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
  • 20,000 American AAdvantage miles for 4 intra-Hawaii flights on Hawaiian Airlines
  • 30,000 Hyatt Points for 3 nights points & cash at the Hyatt Clearwater Beach Resort (combined with DSU)
  • 6,875 Hertz points for full-size SUV rental in Oahu (3 days) and full-size SUV rental in Kauai (one week)
  • 2,475 Hertz points for convertible rental in LA for weekend trip to Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel
  • 25,633 Southwest Rapid Rewards points for 2 roundtrip Islip to Tampa flights
  • 65,212 Citibank ThankYou Points for 2 roundtrip, non-stop flights JFK to St Lucia (2017 trip)

You might be questioning why you don’t see any miles listed for say the flights to Hawaii or the hotel in Kauai but those were booked in 2015 so they technically didn’t count as miles burned in 2016. This low number also underscores a problem I have where I am not burning enough points compared to what I’m earning. I plan to address more of this in a future post.

Reselling Endeavors:

This was my new gig for 2016 and is another reason why I’ve spent less timing blogging in 2016. I got into reselling in late 2015 and started small with some simple gift card reselling as well as easy electronics to flip including iPads and Apple Watches. In 2016, I’ve taken the next step and expanded my reselling to still include gift cards due to the easy, “do it in your pajamas” factor but other products. Some have worked out well – others not so much (Hess trucks for one). I’ve also joined several groups to learn more about reselling which has been quite interesting to see how some people make this their full time job.

When I start reselling (and especially with gift cards last year), I was happy to break even as long as my “profit” was the credit card rewards. Think buying $1,000 of gift cards on a credit card that earned 5x and reselling them for $1,000 – my cash pnl is $0 but I netted 5,000 points in the process. I think the biggest take away from this year was to stop focusing on just earning points and learning to focus on deals that actually made money as well. In fact that should be the number one focus with the points being an extra perk on top. This is something I hope to expand in 2017.

Summary:

2016 was definitely a year of transition for me in how I approach miles/points. In years past, I’ve easily burned millions of miles a year to go on some amazing trips, flying first class and staying at 5 star hotels around the world. This year I struggled to redeem miles as my travel was more focused on domestic travel early in the year and then stopped completely after my daughter was born this summer.

I definitely plan to travel with my daughter before she is a year old but there will be no crazy trips to Asia, South Africa etc. that will require a huge burn of miles. Instead, it will be focused again mostly on domestic trip with maybe a Caribbean/Mexico trip mixed in. I’m going to expand on this in a future post but my miles needs have shifted drastically and I think I’ve actually failed to account for that change until recently with my miles strategy. This is definitely something I’m working on for 2017 and I think my numbers above will look a lot different come next year.

Good luck and best wishes to all on your success in the miles/points game in 2017!

A Fellow Blogger Just Spent One Million SPG Points to Throw Out the First Pitch at Game 7 of the World Series Tonight 

File this under one of the most amazing/ unique use of points but DansDeals just posted he won an SPG auction to throw out the first pitch tonight at…Game 7… of the World Series. Ya know arguably one of the biggest sporting events in recent memory with the Cubs looking to break a 108 year curse and the Indians looking to win for the first time in 68 years!


If we assume a 2.5 cent value per point, Dan “spent” ~ $26,500 worth of points to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. I don’t normally advocate the use of points for non-travel but I have to admit this is pretty freaking cool – I’m definitely a bit jealous. I’m sure he will remember this for  the rest of his life. Congrats Dan!

Here is the press release from SPG:

“November 2nd, 2016 – Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG(r)), the award-winning loyalty program now a part of Marriott International, Inc., is excited to announce the highest-ever bid on its SPG Moments platform.

Today, SPG Member Daniel Eleff redeemed 1,060,500 Starpoints to throw out the first pitch at Game 7 of the World Series tonight in Cleveland. The redemption amount is equivalent to over a month of free nights in a superior room at the St. Regis New York.

The SPG Moments program gives SPG members once-in a-lifetime experiences and VIP access to premier sporting events, concerts, culinary experiences, and more.

Eleff, founder of the deal blog DansDeals.com, will take the mound this evening at Progressive Field to kick-off the final match-up of the 2016 World Series between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs.

This record-breaking point redemption reflects the historic nature of this World Series and, as the official hotel and resort loyalty partner for Major League Baseball(r), SPG is proud to create this once-in-a-lifetime experience for Mr. Eleff.”

How to Absolutely Waste 21,000 SPG Starpoints…

…by burning them for a 30 minute chat.

spgpointsguy

Here are some better uses for 21,000 Starpoints (which is valued at $567 per TPG’s own calculations of 2.7 cents a points). And yes that value is too high. 

  • Transfer 60,000 points to Marriott and book a category 4 Ritz Carlton (or two nights a low level Ritz Carlton)
  • Book several nights at lower level Marriott hotels or one night a higher level Marriott and have points leftover
  • Transfer 20k Starpoints to an airline, get 25k miles and book a roundtrip domestic flight
  • Or book a one way flight to the Caribbean or Hawaii (among other airline redemptions)
  • Book one night at a Category 6 SPG Hotels
  • Book several nights at lower level SPG hotels
  • Literally almost anything else that doesn’t involve a one-time chat with someone about points & miles and effectively paying an hourly rate of $1,134.

If you really want to chat and learn/optimize your miles situation, my consulting services are a much better value.

My thoughts on this redemption…

Dumpster-Fire

A Different Kind of Anniversary Trip…

Let me preface this by saying this isn’t a normal points/miles/credit card rewards post at PointsCentric. So if you do not care for a personal anecdote, you can skip the rest of this post…

Today is quite a special day for my wife and I as we are celebrating our 3rd wedding anniversary and this time of year always brings back amazing memories of our wedding night 3 years ago. In fact, it reminds us of our journey together as we’ve actually been together much longer  – in fact almost 4x as long (since my junior year of high school in fact). And every year around this time, we go on an extraordinary trip to celebrate, always seemingly topping the last amazing “once in a lifetime” trip. It started with our honeymoon to Moorea & Bora Bora in 2013, continued with a surprise trip in 2014 that my wife only found out our destination when we got our boarding passes at the airport and culminated with a Dubai/Maldives mega-trip last year. Of course, trips like these wouldn’t be possible without points & miles and I’ve included a quick synopsis on how we made each trip possible (I have to have some points angle in my posts).

1) 2013 Honeymoon – Moorea & Bora Bora

We used 62,500 American Airlines miles per person to fly business class JFK-LA-Tahiti and back on a combination of American Airlines / Air Tahiti Nui followed by a ferry to Moorea and a short flight to Bora Bora. For hotels, back in the day you could redeem 145,000 Hilton HHonors points for a 4 night stay at top-tier hotels using AXON awards. I redeemed 290,000 Hilton HHonors points total for 4 nights at the Hilton Moorea followed by 4 nights at the Hilton Bora Bora.

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2) 2014 First Anniversary – Bali & Thailand

We used 140,000 United miles to fly first class JFK-Seoul-Bali-Phuket-Seoul-JFK on a combination of Asiana / Thai Airways and my wife had no idea about the destinations or airlines involved. At the time it was only a 10k premium for first class over business each way so it was a no-brainer for a chance to fly Asiana first class suites and on the way home, we had the whole first class cabin to ourselves! For hotels, we were able to get great cash rates at the Conrad Bali and Le Meridien Phuket so it didn’t make sense to redeem points.

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3) 2015 Second Anniversary – Dubai & Maldives

Quite possibly our most memorable trip, I redeemed 90,000 Alaska miles per person to fly first class JFK-Dubai-Maldives on Emirates. For the return, I redeemed 90,000 American miles per person to fly first class Maldives-Abu Dhabi-JFK on Etihad. For the hotels, I used two free Hyatt anniversary nights at the Grand Hyatt Dubai and 150,000 Hyatt points for a 6 night stay at the Park Hyatt Maldives.

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Over a three year stretch, we got to experience several of the most exotic and beautiful locations on Earth that I promise would have never happened without points and miles. However as amazing as those trips were, our lives changed drastically earlier this year to the point where we knew jumping off to some exotic locale for a week wouldn’t be feasible for a while…

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Our family now feels more complete with the addition of our little Krista and we wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, do you want to know our big “trip” this year to celebrate our anniversary? A nice 7 minute drive to a local steakhouse where we can enjoy probably our nicest meal in months before returning home and reliving the grandparents of babysitting duties.

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I’m sure there will be times we wish we could jump on a plane and vacation for a week at some crazy locale (in fact, that may have happened earlier this week when I saw my buddy fly Emirates first class to Dubai and the Maldives) but my trip planning will now focus on family friendly destinations and resorts (paid with points of course). Suffice to say, this  anniversary trip will be just a bit different than year’s past but coming home to this smiling face makes this “trip” seem the best of them all. And compared to the journey we are currently on watching Krista grow and develop daily before our eyes, I’m not sure anything could top this adventure. 

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