I want all my friends and family to get as excited about points and miles as I am… but to do it we’ve got to do it on THEIR terms. Gotta always remember that. This is the first of three posts that hopefully tell a story / help you educate your families.
Teach a Man to Fish:
- Part 1 (Educate)
- Part 2 (Encourage)
- Part 3 (Execute)
Each year for “Spring Break” I take a trip with friends to a beach house in the south of Florida on the gulf. It’s on a private island and we’re very fortunate to be able to do this for free. One of my friend’s step-father owns a small beach house on Palm Island where we have a guys week each year. There are four or five us with about 1,000 square feet of living space with nothing to do on the island but eat, drink, go to the beach, and keep ourselves entertained.
One of the guys is a chef, so we eat well. The rest of us learn how to clean up and take orders for excellent food. Surprisingly a significant portion of our conversation focused on “how can I go to this wedding for free” or “I want to take a trip to Europe and not get ripped off” or my favorite (from my youngest brother) “I want to take a pimp trip”.
My two friends have a bunch of credit cards that are getting them 0% interest, points at Amazon, and some cash back. My brother owns a small business and is racking up American Express Membership Rewards to the tune of about 300,000 points (time to get him an Ink Bold to diversify). Each of them in the end want the same thing. They want to travel at a price they can afford! Instead of a conversation focused on sharing stories they were all focused on “How do I do this?” and “Can you show me now?” or “Can we spend a day on this when we get home?”. They’re hooked; in their own way they’ve seen what is possible, and how with a little thought they can make it happen. Sure my brother has a head start with membership rewards, but he wants to fly Lufthansa First through Frankfurt … MR can do that but there are better programs for him.
Three different guys, three different wants, different credit scores, different financial situations, and different spending capability.
- Me: So, What do you want to do? / Where do you want to go?
- Someone Else: I dunno.
- Me: No really, where do you want to go?
- Someone Else: Ummm … how about XYZ or ABC?
No one ever says “I’d like to fly Lufthansa First to Frankfurt spend a week in Germany. Then I’d like to head to Bangkok in Thai first, spend a few days in the city and then off to Phuket. Lastly I’d like to Fly Singapore Airlines to Sydney for a week and then head back to Los Angeles on Qantas.” … well I do.
If I said that to most of my family and friends I’d either get some blank stares or laughs. Either way, it’s a foreign language to them. It is my (our) responsibility to help educate them on the basics; the concepts. If our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents were able to get us where we are today we can help them and others do the same.
We spent time talking about the various programs, but when it came down to it they all need to set goals. What was their objective? If they don’t know where they want to go, or what they want to do then I couldn’t help them figure it out. Not knowing where you want to go isn’t the same as “I want to go here or here or here or here”. Sure you might need to simplify / get down to it to figure out what to plan is … but its something.
With a goal set, we’ve got to explain simply how to do it. Talk about RDMs, EQMs, open-jaws, and direct versus non-stop have no place here. Here are the programs, here’s how you track your balances, and here’s how these points can be used. Two complimentary examples:
- United MileagePlus and Chase Ultimate Rewards … Earn United miles with both!
- Use AwardWallet to track your balances. They’ll send you an email each day your balance changes.
- Give some examples of how miles / points can be redeemed.
- United miles could be used to book a flight directly on United OR on any of their partners (the latter is one of the least known things to new travelers and is oftentimes the BEST redemption option).
- Those Chase Ultimate Rewards points, book a flight on United through the UR travel portal, or transfer points to United to top off a balance and redeem for that dream trip to Munich on Lufthansa.
We don’t need to give all the details here on how/when/who, but we need to open up minds. Don’t overwhelm … did you learn all about calculus, or how to speak a foreign language in one session? Yes, points and miles are calculus and a foreign language (or 10) all wrapped up.
Oh, and tell them about a trip you’ve taken; SHOW THEM PICTURES!!! Its way more than 1,000 words of value.
With some basic education done you’ve likely intrigued your “subject”, planted the seed, and they may already have a bug. Our next step is to encourage them …
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day TopCashback is donating $50 cash (to be deposited to your TopCashback.com account) for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (along with your First Name, Last Initial, and Airport Code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post by TOMORROW at 11:59pm ET to be eligible to win. That gives you two days to win!
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49