Risks of points and miles mentality

Generally, living the life of a points- or miles-earner is easy.  You apply for a card.  You meet the minimum spend requirements, and then you carry on your life as a consumer using a credit card for purchases wherever practical.

There are a few things that happen if you get into it very far, though, so you’d might as well be aware:

  1. You might justify a purchase based on how many miles you’re going to earn from it.  ALERT!  ALERT!  ALERT!  You’ll quickly eat up the money saved on free travel if you buy that 65-inch LED TV that you don’t really need if you’re doing so “because it will earn you enough points to get you halfway to Europe.”  Um…just put the cash towards four tickets to Europe.  Done.
  2. You might never look at credit cards pulled out of your friends wallets the same.  It’s true, I have said many-a-time to friends at the lunch cashier, “You know you could be earning rewards for this lunch?!”  I haven’t ruined any friendships (yet?), I’m just saying it does change one’s mentality a bit.

    credit cards

    So many credit cards to choose from!

  3. If you get deeper into the world of points and miles, you’ll devote a good chunk of your brain to “which card to use when.”  Brain power has been put to much worse use, so it’s really not so bad.  But if you have three or four cards in your wallet, you’ll find yourself calculating which card to use for a given purchase, and when you get it wrong, you’ll kick yourself, wondering if the cashier would let you return it and then buy it again with a different card.  (Yes, I’ve wondered this, although I’ve never asked.)
  4. You’ll start wondering if there are purchases that don’t normally accept credit cards for which you could be using a card and thus earning travel.  In some cases, this will make sense (e.g. one-time payments for an auto insurance premium).  In other cases, DON’T DO IT (e.g. taxes–it’s pretty much never worth the fee that they’ll charge to pay by card).
  5. Since many rewards cards have annual fees associated with them (often waived for the first year), you’ll watch your statements like a hawk for the fees to appear, at which point you have to make a choice–cancel or not-to-cancel.  I’ll explore this in more depth–but it’s something that may now show up on your calendar.

Anyhow, just a few things to prep for.  Hopefully you won’t lose sleep over it–unless you’re in Frankfurt for the New Year and you got there on free tickets using Chase points.  In that case, when everything is quiet in your vacation rental, and your children are fast asleep, you may very well lose sleep from the deafening barrage of fireworks outside your window.  Yes, this happens.

But you’ll still be glad you came.

If you’re unsure about how to make frequent flyer miles work for you–or just need some more info to get started–check out Fly the Family for Free.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *