What are Your 2016 Travel Goals? For us, miles and points are not the goal, but they are crucial in enabling us to fly first class or business class to the destinations and luxury hotels we really want to visit. Earning 1 million miles and points last year allowed us to visit the best New Zealand luxury lodges by flying comfortably in Qantas A380 First Class and Etihad First Apartment on the A380, to fly Air Berlin Business Class to Europe, and most recently to fly to Four Seasons Bora Bora in Air Tahiti Nui Business Class.
To put this post in context, we are not elites in ANY airline frequent flyer program (since we fly very few paid flights) or hotel loyalty program (since we prefer luxury hotels–more on this below), so our miles and points earning is NOT from employer-reimbursed flights or hotels. Instead, it's all from credit card signup bonuses, spend, category spend bonuses, other bonuses, and from buying miles.
Since the very best luxury hotels and resorts are not available with miles and points–Aman Resorts, Virtuoso boutique hotels, Four Seasons, Mandarin Oriental, The Peninsula–we tend to focus our miles and points earning on transferable points (such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, AMEX Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou points) that can transfer to airline frequent flyer programs, as well as airline miles. That said, we did make an exception that I'll describe below under Credit Card Signup Bonuses, and I'll explain why.
In contrast to hotels, miles and points do enable you to fly most of the very best first class products, such as Singapore Suites, JAL First Class, Etihad First Apartment, Emirates First Class, Cathay Pacific First Class, and others, even though of course there can be significant restrictions in award availability depending on your dates, route, the number of award seats you're seeking, etc.
I say “most” because there are first class products such as Etihad's The Residence, SWISS First Class and Air France First Class that are effectively impossible to redeem for, unless you have an enormous points balance and, in the case of SWISS and Air France, are also a top-tier elite in the airline's frequent flyer program.
But back to the focus of this post–our progress so far in 2016.
Here's our rough breakdown so far in 2016 of our earned and purchased miles and points:
- 42%: Credit Card Signup Bonuses
- 8%: Spend and Category Bonuses
- 20%: Purchased/Shared Miles
- 30%: Other Bonuses/Referral Bonus
- 36%: American AAdvantage Miles
- 19%: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- 14%: British Airways Avios Points
- 14%: Hyatt Points (= 4 free nights at Category 6 property)
- 11% SPG Starpoints
- 6% Citi ThankYou Points
- 100K Avios via 2 British Airways Visa cards, one for each of us
- 100K Hyatt points (equivalent, since the Hyatt Visa gives 2 free nights at any Hyatt, and we will use them at the Park Hyatt Maldives, a Category 6 property that requires 25K points per award night)
- 70K SPG Starpoints via 2 SPG Business AMEX cards
- 40K Citi ThankYou points via the Citi ThankYou Premier card
- 40K Ultimate Rewards points, most of it at 5X, from the Ink Plus and Chase Freedom
- 20K other miles and points from meeting minimum spend on new credit cards
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