Our 2019 Frequent Flyer Miles and Points Earning is off to a slower start than last year, but I figured it's a good time to take stock. We're well into Q2, but still over 7 weeks away from Q3.
For us, our frequent miles and points earning is a means to an end, with the goal international first class and business class awards. These are also the highest value return on miles and points, with redemption values of 5-10 cents or more per mile or point. No cash back credit card card can compare.
Due to the nature of TravelSort, which focuses on luxury hotels, we ignore hotel credit cards and points. The best luxury hotels and resorts, such as Aman Resorts, Four Seasons, Oetker Collection, Cheval Blanc and similar cannot be booked with miles and points. And as comfortable as flying first class can be, it can't compare to hotels and resorts such as Amanpulo, Four Seasons St. Petersburg, Ashford Castle, and Velaa and Joali in the Maldives.
But let's return to the topic of this post–2019 miles and points earning in progress. To date, my husband and I have earned about 340,000 miles and points. I've done a rough breakdown of the miles and points we've earned so far, by category:
- 65%: Credit Card Signup Bonuses
- 13%: Spend and Category Bonuses, Including AMEX Offers and Shop Through Chase
- 13%: Buy miles plus buy miles bonus
- 5% Award bonus
- 5%: Referral and Relationship Bonuses
And here's a breakdown by the type of miles and points earned:
- 71%: AAdvantage miles
- 12%: Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- 12%: Alaska miles
- 5%: AMEX Membership Rewards points
Credit Card Signup Bonuses
We took advantage of targeted snail mail offers to earn several Citi AAdvantage card signup bonuses. The only other signup bonus we earned was a 40K Alaska Visa bonus. It's been awhile since we redeemed Alaska miles, but Mileage Plan does have good partners, particularly JAL and Cathay Pacific, if you can find award space.
Spend and Category Bonuses
In terms of category bonuses for spend, it's hard to beat the 5X categories for the Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards: Internet, cell phone service, and importantly for us, office supply stores, since the last enables us to buy Amazon and Whole Foods gift cards so as to earn 5X on all Amazon and Whole Foods spend. We're also happy to be earning 5X on grocery stores this quarter with the Chase Freedom, and of course 3X from the Chase Sapphire Reserve on all travel and dining.
The card we generally use for other spend when we're not working towards minimum spend for a new card is the AMEX Blue Business Plus, as it's a no annual fee card and earns 2X on all spend.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately everyone values and spends their frequent flyer miles and points differently, so there's no one size fits all approach. Last year and even this year we've found ourselves redeeming primarily AAdvantage miles, for awards such as Qatar QSuites Business Class, JAL First Class and Cathay Pacific Business Class, so we've focused on earning AAdvantage miles.
We do book some short haul intra-regional award flights with British Airways Avios, so it's been handy to be able to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards or AMEX Membership Rewards points to Avios, especially with transfer bonuses such as the recent Chase 30% Transfer Bonus to Avios, although we'll have to see what the upcoming British Airways Avios Devaluation on May 30 does to award chart redemption rates.
How are you earning most of your miles so far, in 2019?