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Large point balances and income yet cant spend

Large point balances and income yet cant spend

Old Jul 30, 19, 4:02 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2019
Programs: BA, Virgin, Marriott
Posts: 8
Cool Large point balances and income yet cant spend

I am in an extremely fortunate position whereby I earn several million loyalty points per year through business expenditure (Amex and Avios). I am also a high income earner that could afford to travel luxuriously without points, if I chose to spend my money on it.

Unfortunately I have got into an extremely bad mindset where loyalty points are dictating my travel and holidaying plans. I just can't bring myself to pay for a flight (or hotel), and if there is no reward availability for a flight, I will either not travel or modify my trip in a negative way so I can utilise points. Furthermore, I spend hours upon hours searching for reward flights, and given 'time' is an asset, it is poor use of time.

I appreciate this isn't a typical thread and I hope I don't get any hate over it, but it's gotten to the point where it's become a real issue. Some days I wish these points never existed so I have no choice but to pay cash… I have worked extremely hard for years and years to earn a a living that would allow me to treat myself and family, yet I can’t bring myself to spend any of it on travel because my brain says "Why pay money for travel when you get it free using points". Whilst this is great when the availability is there, I need to reprogram my brain so I don’t feel guilty paying cash for tickets or hotels when there isn’t availability via points.

Hoping there may be somebody else who has had similar experiences and have made it through to the other side!
controlz is offline  
Old Jul 31, 19, 6:52 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: South Park, CO
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Welcome to FT!

I can't say I've had the same experiences, but will offer my thoughts...

- While I do sometimes look at what's available and then plan travel from there, it's because I have such a wide range of travel desires that it's never a negative for me. So with that being the case for you, would the old "pros and cons list" approach help wrap your head around choosing to pay cash in those situations? Or you could post here when confronted with such a choice - occasionally folks will post a "help me decide whether to redeem miles or pay cash" for a particular flight scenario, which usually results in a number of people weighing in with their opinions/recommendations.

- Amex has a great range of available transfer partners. How well do you know the Amex transfer partners' programs in terms of what shows up as available on their websites, and alternative places to search for availability? Some people aren't aware that with some FFPs, not all partner awards show up online and you may have to call to book; also there may be other partner FFP sites where you can search availability first before calling.

- The Award Nexus site is an excellent tool for searching award availability. You can log in with your FlyerTalk login to search for free:
https://awardnexus.com/user/login?url=%2F

- As you may know, award availability is very fluid and can come and go quickly. ExpertFlyer is a useful subscription site where, among other useful tools, you can set award seat availability alerts for many airlines. This can let you get a jump on openings much faster. https://www.expertflyer.com/

- While I personally don't use them and don't think they are needed for the vast majority of people, you can use an award booking service, which for a fee will look for and book awards for you. It might be what you need if you're not finding any pleasure in spending hours searching (I happen to enjoy doing it but not everyone does!). There's a thread on here about those services including reviews: Award booking services - a list and some reviews

- You could also look at other redemption options for the miles & points, besides flights and hotels. While the other options often aren't the best value for most people, given your situation it may be something you would like and feel better about doing...special events, experiences, products, services. One unqieu, high-end example: https://frequentmiler.boardingarea.c...million-miles/ Points and miles can often be donated to charity, as well.

Good luck and have fun whatever you do!
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84fiero is online now  
Old Jul 31, 19, 7:23 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: FDH (Friedrichshafen)
Programs: AAdvantage, BAEC, Avios, Alaska, SAS Eurobonus, DL Skymiles, IHG Priority, Best Western Rewards
Posts: 1,952
One way to adjust your mindset is to stop thinking of award flights and rooms as "free". They are not.
​​​​​Think of points and miles simply as another form of currency and assign a value to each type of points.

Do you feel guilty paying for a coffee, a beer or your weekly groceries in Dollars, when you could be paying in Rand or Shekels? No? Points and miles are just the same - a different form of payment.
controlz likes this.
The_Bouncer is online now  
Old Jul 31, 19, 4:44 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Programs: HH Diamond
Posts: 2,331
I plan vacations in two different ways -

1. Plan a vacation where I can use a lot of points (this is like your mindset); or
2 Plan a vacation where I want to go, when I want to go, and any use of points is nice but incidental.

Most of the time I go with plan 2, but once in a while, especially when there is a major devaluation pending, I go with plan 1.
Maybe you should try a plan 2 vacation once. Once you've made a vacation plan, allow yourself a few hours to investigate the points options, but if they require a significant change to your vacation plan, say "oh well" and use cash. When the vacation is over, you can see if you hate yourself for spending the cash; if so accept it and go back to plan 1.
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jbeckett is offline  
Old Aug 1, 19, 3:35 am
  #5  
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Join Date: Jul 2019
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Originally Posted by 84fiero View Post
Welcome to FT!
The Award Nexus site is an excellent tool for searching award availability. You can log in with your FlyerTalk login to search for free
I have never seen Award Nexus before, it looks interesting. Thanks for sharing.

As I already have BA, QF and AF accounts anyway, is it not just as easy for me to search on those 3 sites individually? I assume it wouldn't display anything more than what's already on those sites?
controlz is offline  
Old Aug 1, 19, 7:41 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: NYC
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Originally Posted by jbeckett View Post
I plan vacations in two different ways -

2 Plan a vacation where I want to go, when I want to go, and any use of points is nice but incidental.
Go with plan 2 if you value your relationship with your wife and kids.
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Old Aug 2, 19, 3:53 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Barcelona, London, on a plane
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Originally Posted by erik123 View Post
Go with plan 2 if you value your relationship with your wife and kids.
That's a bit rough. My partner LOVES it when I use miles to fly her in Business Class and to stay at a luxury hotel with exec lounge... (because the cash budget would never allow for it) Same when I take my nephews, parents, in-laws etc. or merely organise their travel.

A wife that insists on you blowing your $$$ unnecessarily will end up in divorce court for some reason or another...
craigthemif is online now  
Old Aug 4, 19, 9:18 pm
  #8  
Moderator: Le Club Accorhotels
 
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A few random thoughts:

1) I suggest thinking of miles/points as a currency instead of "free travel". At a minimum, the value / opportunity cost of using miles is equal to what you'd get by using the miles to redeem for gift cards or merchandise (these options tend to offer terrible value, but using a near-cash redemption option as an example, miles have a minimum value of 0.3-0.5 cents per mile).

2) There are many different ways to approach your situation, e.g.
"I want to use miles as much as possible even if the value isn't great."
"Where can I realistically go using my miles?"
"I want to go to xyz. How can my miles help me with my trip?"
It may make sense to spend a little time thinking about your priorities...

3) In your case I'd argue that the best strategy will likely involve using miles and cash. Or to put it differently: How can your miles reduce the cash cost of your travel, while maximizing the value of your miles? E.g. instead of spending $25k for four business class tickets and ten nights at a 5* hotel, it may be possible to book four business class award tickets, thereby reducing the cash outlay to, let's say, $8k. Or you may want to go to a destination with very limited award availability: Consider booking two award tickets and paying for two tickets out-of-pocket.
Jasper2009 is offline  
Old Aug 7, 19, 11:21 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
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Originally Posted by jbeckett View Post
I plan vacations in two different ways -

1. Plan a vacation where I can use a lot of points (this is like your mindset); or
2 Plan a vacation where I want to go, when I want to go, and any use of points is nice but incidental.

Most of the time I go with plan 2, but once in a while, especially when there is a major devaluation pending, I go with plan 1.
Maybe you should try a plan 2 vacation once. Once you've made a vacation plan, allow yourself a few hours to investigate the points options, but if they require a significant change to your vacation plan, say "oh well" and use cash. When the vacation is over, you can see if you hate yourself for spending the cash; if so accept it and go back to plan 1.
Number 2 is my approach. If I want to go someplace, it's nice if I can fly there on points, but if there's no award availability for the airlines servicing a particular area, then I pay. Same thing with hotels--in fact, I'm much more likely to ignore the use of points if my itinerary is dictated by traveling only to places where I can use my points. While points have helped make some trips possible (I first traveled to London seven or eight years ago because there were some particularly attractive Choice hotel point redemptions at the time that, combined with cheap flight prices, made me decide to do a last-minute trip), I've been to too many great places in this world where there are no chain hotels or convenient commercial airline flights.

I figure points help stretch my dollars. If I can't use them on this trip, maybe there's a later trip where I can, but I try not to worry about going only to places where I can use points or whether I'm getting good point values for hotels or flights.
lwildernorva is offline  

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