Our 2017 Miles and Points Progress
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Hilary Stockton

My Award Booking Service helps travelers book first class and business class with miles and points. As an independent affiliate of Cadence, I also have access to Four Seasons Preferred Partner, VirtuosoPeninsula Hotels PenClub, Dorchester Diamond Club, Belmond Bellini Club, Shangri-La Luxury Circle, Langham CoutureRitz-Carlton STARS, Starwood Luxury Privileges, Rocco Forte and other 5-star hotel partners, so I can book, for no extra cost, your perfect luxury hotel or luxury cruise with VIP amenities not available anywhere else. Become a client and upgrade your stay!

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Our 2017 Miles and Points Progress


How is your 2017 miles and points progress? For my family, frequent flyer miles and points are the means to an end--they're what enable us to fly internationally and for me, be productive for work and for my family, not be overly jet-lagged at the destination or when returning home.

Because of the nature of my business, which specializes in luxury travel, we don't value hotel points apart from Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, as those transfer to a number of frequent flyer programs and can be profitably used towards first class and business class awards. The best luxury hotels and resorts, such as Cheval Blanc, Aman Resorts, Four Seasons, The Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental, and luxury boutique properties, cannot be booked with miles and points, so I give my clients the same advice I practice--focus on earning transferable miles and points, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards points, AMEX Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou points and Starwood Starpoints, as well as some individual frequent flyer miles such as American AAdvantage, Alaska Mileage Plan and the like.

Those miles and points can, with proper planning, be turned into award tickets on many of the best commercial airline products currently available, such as Etihad First Apartment on the A380, JAL First Class, Singapore Suites, Singapore First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, Emirates A380 First Class, etc.

Getting back to the topic of this post, here's our rough breakdown of the miles and points we've earned so far in 2017, about 10 weeks into the year, by category:

  • 66%: Credit Card Signup Bonuses and Spend Required to Obtain
  • 21%: Referral Bonuses
  • 13%: Spend and Category Bonuses

And here's a breakdown by the type of miles and points earned:

  • 41%: AAdvantage miles
  • 33%: Chase Ultimate Rewards points
  • 26%: AMEX Membership Rewards points

Credit Card Signup Bonuses

To date, my husband has signed up for 2 new credit cards, and I've signed up for 3 new cards. We both took advantage (no pun intended) of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select without the 24 month language, while it was available, and I also applied for and was recently approved for the CitiBusiness AAdvantage card without the 24 month language. Even after the 2016 AAdvantage Award Chart Devaluation we value AAdvantage miles for travel to Asia, particularly JAL First Class (which I prefer to Cathay Pacific First Class, for the comfort of its bed) and JAL Business Class.
My husband was able to get approved for the Ink Plus card before it was discontinued, which I was happy about, since I definitely prefer the 5X categories of the Ink Plus to the Ink Business Preferred's 3X.
I was also happy that I got the AMEX Blue for Business card with 10X for U.S. restaurants up to $2000 spend in the first 6 months, and 2X for all spend on the first $50,000 spend in the first year. I'm using this card a great deal thanks to those intro offers (unfortunately no longer available). Since I have an AMEX Business Platinum, I'm able to transfer out these bonus Membership Rewards points to airline partners.
  • 65K Ultimate Rewards via Ink Plus and $5000 minimum spend
  • 126K AAdvantage miles via two 50K Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select cards, which we matched to 60K offers
  • 10K AMEX Membership Rewards points via AMEX Blue for Business card
Spend and Category Bonuses
A good deal of our regular spend is at 5X or even more, due to 5X on all Amazon spend5X on all Whole Foods spend, 5X on NYC MTA subway/bus card spend and taxi spend this quarter with our Chase Freedom, 10X on restaurants with my recently acquired AMEX Blue for Business, and some gift cards we acquired at 5X with the Chase Freedom's 2016 Q4 5X drugstore bonus. For other travel spend, we earn 3X with our Chase Sapphire Reserve, and for otherwise non-bonused spend, I earn 2X Membership Rewards points with my AMEX Blue for Business card.

So far this year we've earned around:
  • 25,000 Ultimate Rewards points, most of it at 5X from my work spend, Whole Foods, Amazon, commuting, and travel spend
  • 15,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points from 10X on dining and 2X on otherwise unbonused spend.
Thanks to readers, I earned 55,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for referrals to the AMEX Business Platinum card, and earned 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Refer a Friend bonuses for my Chase Freedom.
The Bottom Line
While we are quite moderate when it comes to our new credit card applications, we have enough miles and points that I'm happy with our progress so far this year, particularly as we are still in the early stages of planning our 2018 travel and some of it will be closer to home than is typical for us. While it was disappointing to not be able to apply for more Chase cards even with Chase Private Client status (since Chase is now strictly enforcing 5/24 even with Chase Private Clients) I feel fortunate that it did get us my husband's 100K Chase Sapphire Reserve and 60K Ink Plus, even without any pre-approvals for him.
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Picture?type=large Peggy L. commented 12 Mar 2017
Nicely done, Hilary! You're so lucky to earn at least 5x on almost everything and to have your husband earn as well. I don't even max out the 5x categories each quarter but do earn bonus miles at the MileagePlus shopping portal (4,198 so far). I convert all UR points to UA miles and have earned 16,628 so far since my 100,000 Sapphire Reserve points posted in January. My husband has earned a whopping 1,883 miles so far this quarter on the Explorer card I got him last year for a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus. He gets cash back on his Freedom card. Safe to say I'm the spender in this household! Normally by now I'd have about 6 trips booked for the year but have just 2 so far (booked the 2nd just last night with Avios); duties are keeping me grounded for now. Last night's booking involved transferring 1,000 UR and 1,000 MR points to BA Avios for a low mileage trip and I'm done collecting them. About 500 MR points left. I'm halfway to earning a free night at the NY St. Regis with Starpoints.
Avatar_60_hilary Hilary Stockton commented 13 Mar 2017
Thanks for your comment Peggy; I don't max out our Chase Freedom 5X categories either every quarter--only on certain quarters, such as grocery stores and restaurants. That's a good number of miles from the MileagePlus shopping portal! I've doubled down on Amazon given the 5X plus extra JetBlue TrueBlue miles, even though the latter take a good amount of time to post.
User_avatar_default Sil L. commented 13 Mar 2017
I applied for 2 Citi cards without the 24 months language in January 2017. One has 2.5k CL (lowered from 13.5), the other personal with the 13.5 CL. It will be 70 days from first application when I apply for the cot biz without the 24 months language. Will cit move cl from personal to biz in order for me to be approved? Is it best I lower 2nd personal card the CL n4 applying for Citi biz?
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