The jet lag is subsiding as I actually slept last night and woke up at a normal time. Today is return our first Delta rent a cars, square up with Skymiles rewards network, as we haven’t used them in years and do a points inventory.
As I mentioned a day or so ago, I concentrate on certain programs, but take advantage of everything out there as I can always use a hotel room here, or upgrade there. If I concentrated on Hilton Hotels and went to a town where there wasn’t one, I’d actually have to pay for a room. Paying is a bad thing for a frugal guy. Same goes with airline rewards. I don’t fly on Delta, but Delta and US Scareways are the two local airlines here on Hilton Head Island, so I like to keep a few around for emergencies. The nearest Southwest Airlines airport is 160 miles away, but I have 8 round trip awards just in case anybody needs them. (hint hint).
So I’ll recap my totals and have a reference for the present and also give you an idea of how and why I have these.
- American Airlines: 640,000 This is my #2 airline as connections aren’t that good from Savannah, but they have the BEST Around the World redemptions with the Oneworld Alliance. 380K of these are targeted for our next around the world trip of 35K flight miles in business Class at 190K each ticket. I owe about 125K for trades I’ve done leaving about 135K uncommitted. I’ll use them to transfer into Hilton Honors points at 1 AA to 2 HH for Hawaii in December or keep them for further trades. I am Platinum status with AA so I earn 2 miles for every mile flown and am racing another guy to the 2 million lifetime mark for Lifetime Platinum Status. Dwight will win, but we’re having fun. I fly them when the promos are fantastic, which is often, and Around the World.
- United Airlines: 31,000 This is my primary airline for flying, but as you can see I don’t have much of an inventory. I am presently crediting all my United and other Star Alliance flights to British Midland Airlines. I actually owe these to two other flyers for previous trades so I’m really at zero. I’ll add to this when promos arise, but probably use them for upgrades or trades. My status is Premier which gives me a 25% flying bonus.
- Southwest Airlines: 8 Round Trip Vouchers I got these from the Continental to Amtrak to Choice Privileges to SW transfer promo. They are good for positioning to Mileage Runs or for one ways on Open Jaws. I have too many.
- Northwest Airlines: 10,000 This is a sad story. This used to be my primary carrier, but they instituted a stupid policy involving charging for exit row seats. They forgot to exempt thier elite flyers and I bolted. I had accumulated over 1.1 Million miles with them. I still hold Silver status with them. I am in the Great Race promo with 3 others and we will garner 45K miles each which will give me a 50K+ balance which is enough for two domestic tickets for my kids. I give them tickets for birthdays and Christmas.
- Continental Airlines: 2,000 I hold gold status with them from a status match and use Continental for flights I can find using their low fare guarantee. The status gives me 2 miles per mile flown and I get free upgrades for myself and a travelling companion. I basically then fly for free and add to my balance here. Today or tommorrow, I’ll try for Savannah to San Francisco as I know they will be dropping their overpriced-price.
- Delta Airlines: 800 miles and growing. They have two promos going right now. One is the Budget rent a car deal at 5K per rental, and the 25 partner promo. Both Katy and I will hit these promos hard for trading purposes or using from Hilton Head Airport.
- British Midland Airways: 65,000 miles This is my primary accumulating airline due to the following factors; 1. One way redemptions. 2. Cash and miles option for reduced mile and cash use. Outstanding award earnings. If you fly alot, you need this program. These I will not trade. I hold Gold Status with BMI which allows me access to the Star Alliance lounges worldwide and domestically.
- US Airways: 0 miles I just don’t use them unless the miles are free and in quanities for at least a domestic redemption.
- Starwood: 23,000 That may not seem like alot for my favorite program, but the redemption amounts are 2K, 3K or 4K per night. Effectively an SPG point is worth 4 to 5 times as much as a Hilton Hhonors point. Both Katy and I collect these from use of our Starwood Credit cards (she has about 7K). They are best used in my opinion on lower end hotel stays which cost 2, 3 or 4K per night. You can get into 25K per night rooms, but I’d rather have 6 to 8 nights in an OK room than one night in a palace. I also like this program for the cash and points option. A room that was supposed to be 4K per night can be had sometimes for 2800 points and $35. I’ll add these to my portfolio anytime I can get them at under 2 cents apiece. Last year when I was striving to reach lifetime Gold status with American Airlines I converted about 40K of SPG to 50K AA to reach the lifetime goal. I’ll always have at least an exit row seat when I fly American from now on, thanks in part to Starwood.
- Hilton Hhonors: 52,000 I like Hilton points for their elite member awards. The ones I like are the GLON award which is 6 nights at the Hilton Resorts for 175K points and the AXON awards of 4 nights for 120K. You must have Gold status for the GLON and a Hilton Amex card for the AXON awards. We’ve stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu on our honeymoon with the GLON when it was only 100K for 6 nights, the Rome Cavilerri Hilton for 6 nights which I split with my son, 3 nights apiece ( I am a good Dad). We are using the AXON this April in Athens, Greece at the Hilton for 4 days before our Easy Cruise. I don’t really work hard to collect these but can easily add to my balance by swapping American Airline miles one mile for two HH points. In December we are going to try the Hilton Waikola on the Big Island of Hawaii. We spent some time there while staying at the next door Marriott and liked it better than that particular Marriott.
- Marriott Rewards: 50,000 This is an easy number to remember as it was given to me by Marriott for losing my last 7 night redemption certificate and embarrassing me in St Thomas this past January. I wrote about it before, but to refresh the Marriott in Hawaii took two award certificates for a one week stay and I arrived in St Thomas without my award. They made up for it by giving me 50K points and also 50K to the guy that arranged the stay for me. He spent about 3 hours on the phone with Marriott Platinum desk getting things squared away. Marriott treated both of us right. I don’t accumulate many Marriott points as the rooms are expensive to stay in and there have not been many promos for outsiders collecting points. Several years ago you’d get 15K points for a credit card application and a free one night stay certificate, but we just haven’t been back that way in awhile.
- Radisson Goldpoints: 47,500 These came from the Shutterfly promo of 2006. I don’t typically collect these but they have had two huge promotions that I really loaded up on. The first was ValueMagazines in about 2005 where I got close to a million points and then the Shutterfly deal where I picked up about 700K
- Priority Club 7500 This is the Holiday Inn, InterContinental Chains. I convert into this program from other programs when I find a Points Break redemption option at 5K points per night. My Continental, Amex MR, or other programs may be converted to these when I need them for that excellent redemption.
- Choice Privileges 139 I crushed them during the CO-Amtrak-Choice 5 to 1 promo and used all mine already, BUT, I got close to one million points during that promo between all my family members so we still have a few to go around. Again, I don’t stay at these unless it is free, but have enjoyed the awards as I needed them.
- Hyatt Hotels 0 There just not enough Hyatts around for me to be able to depend on them being where I need them. I signed up for a promo they had last fall and never got to use it as I couldn’t find a reasonably priced room in a city I needed.
- TripRewards 0 I probably won’t ever have points with this group of hotels as I use them for the Free Night Guarantee Program as described in the January 22, 2008 blog entry. When staying for free it is pretty tough to collect points too. You can look in the archives for info on the best guarantee program in the hotel industry. The hotels are typically just ok and one night stays as that is all the guarantee offers for free.
- Priceline 0 There is no reward program with Priceline that I know of but I sure use them a bunch when I can’t find a TripRewards free night or a points redemption I like. The archives on date 10/30/07 teach you how to effectively use biddingfortravel.com, tripadvisor and Priceline to get rooms at over 50% off.
- Thank You Points: This is the cornerstone of my airline tickets from an off the record method. I have told a few people and the info is online, but I’m not going to spread it around unless people specifically ask.
- American Express Memebership Points 10,000 I got them when I applied for the Platinum Business Card and converted 15K to Priority Club right away for the Points Break redemption. I have no idea what I’ll do with these.
As I review this thread I feel pretty well covered. I’ve got status on 5 airlines with redeemable miles or credits or free travel available on 6. My hotel programs cover hotels around the world for FREE, with points or best rate guarantees and at worst I have to pay about 50% of the going rate using Priceline. It was a good review for me. I can see that I tend to “earn them and burn them” more often with the hotels and bank up my airline miles for bigger awards and trades. That is just my style. I don’t advocate it for everyone, but do suggest you keep an eye on your miles and points as devaluation happens more often, than your points and miles increasing in value.
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