Happy New Year to you! If you believe in the Mayan calendar, spend all of your miles by the end of the year–they will expire during the apocalypse. Just Kidding!
As far as travel goes, 2011 was a pretty good year for me. While I did not do any international travel, I did travel a fair amount of domestic travel, which was nearly all for leisure. Due to some upgrade savvy, most of this travel was in First Class. In the coming weeks I will highlight some of these experiences in the form of trip reports.
At the start of the year, even before becoming a miles and points junkie, I made it a goal to obtain Medallion status on Delta for the first time. Originally I thought I just might be able to make Silver Medallion. (25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles or MQMs) As it turned out, I ended up exceeding my goal and making Gold Medallion (50,000 MQMs despite flying only about 25,000 “Butt-In-Seat” miles. HOW SO??
Thanks to The Points Guy, I got in on the 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus for new cardmembers, after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months. I then immediately turned around and transferred all of those points to Delta. Concurrent to this, Delta had a 50% bonus all AMEX Membership Rewards points transferred to Delta. In addition, transfers of 100,000 or more AMEX points would earn 25,000 MQMs. Because of these two promotions, I literally went from zero status to elite status overnight. I will quickly mention here that I have enjoyed numerous other perks of the card–including elite-level rental car benefits, rental damage insurance, SPG Gold Status, and especially airport lounge access!
Another big promotion for me this past year was the Radisson Big Night Giveaway. As I mentioned already, a phantom stay netted me 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points–good for at least one night at any Radisson hotel in the world. High off of my success, I tried it again with a new Club Carlson account. I have not seen the points post just yet since the “stay” was only a few days ago, but they did charge my credit card for the stay which gives me some hope. We will see if I can get 50,000 more points.
The final big points haul for me of 2011 was actually a little bit of a surprise. Back in November I applied for and was accepted for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. For spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months there is a 50,000 point bonus–which is still active. In addition, there is a 7% bonus on all earned points during a calendar year.
However, due to some confusion about my address I waited and waited for the card to arrive, but it never did. Finally at the beginning of December I got a hold of them (I am always amazed at the immediate response once receives when calling them….listening AMEX???) and everything was straightened out. When I called to activate the card, I was informed I had until mid-February to meet the spend requirement. I quickly pointed out that due to their error I had only just received the card, and should get an extension. They obliged, and I received the card just in time to do my Christmas shopping.
After only about two weeks of use I am roughly halfway to meeting the $3,000 spend threshold. But here is this crazy part. Via AwardWallet I was informed that my Chase Ultimate Rewards Account had changed to 50,000 points. I wondered if this was a mistake and logged, to see it listed as “an” adjustment. I have made a couple of payments already, but most of it is not yet paid off. I know this will earn me 3,500 based on the card’s 7% annual points bonus, but maybe I still have a chance to get in on 50,000 more points.
Also, I bought US Airways 90,000 miles (for around $1,300) this past summer. I plan to top off my account to 120,000 and then redeem for a First Class ticket to Asia (Tokyo) with a stopover in Europe (Rome) either this year or next year.
Thus, 2011 has been a decent points haul for me. With some points still pending, I am looking at about 400,000 – 500,000 points and miles earned this past year. I know of many points junkies like Frugal Travel Guy and One Mile At a Time who gain 900,000 miles and points constantly churning credit cards, but I am pretty satisfied. When it comes to miles and points I am pretty soft core–I don’t do a ton of Credit card churns (the two I have gotten I intend to keep for a while) and don’t do many mileage runs.
I think of the miles and points I have earned, as a real asset. I am currently unemployed and really appreciate knowing that I can still have some aspirational travel ahead of me in 2012 and beyond.