Personal Points: A Few Mistakes Not to Repeat

It’s not often that I update specifically on the miles/points I’ve earned in a week, but I’ve made some dumb moves this week and thought maybe my experience could stop you from making the same mistakes (or at the very least, make you feel better about yourself).

Mistake #1: Waiting a Year to Get Around to Doing Something with my Wyndham Points
I bought Wyndham points a full year ago when they were at bargain-basement prices.  It seemed like a good idea at the time, but frankly they were left sitting in my account for months while I was deciding what to do with them.  I could’ve saved that cash and I would have still been okay burning the miles I had acquired – for free – through other methods.  But what’s done is done, and I finally transferred 30K Wyndham points to 12K US Airways miles and will receive a 6K bonus in a few weeks.  I think most will say that the $99 I originally spent to eventually buy 18,000 Dividend Miles is a great price, but I think I just got lucky that my Wyndham points were still relatively valuable by the time I went to transfer them given their track record of making changes without a grace period. 

Mistake #2: Transferring Wyndham Points to US Airlines Miles
My first mistake wasn’t the end of the world, but it does get worse.  When I went to make the transfer, I accidentally copied in Mike’s Dividend Miles number instead of my own.  It’s not that I don’t mind spreading the wealth, but even with the bonus he’ll still only be at 24,120 miles which is enough for absolutely nothing.  Now I’ll waste time trying to earn those additional 880 miles to get him to a domestic ticket or sit around with unusable points for another year until US/AA merge and he can combine mileage accounts.  A wasteful move, on my part, although maybe it’s useful to someone to know it’s possible to transfer Wyndham points to someone else’s airline account.  Check all account numbers before hitting submit.

Mistake #3: Guilting Myself into Staying with Marriott
I spent one night at a Courtyard Marriott recently and should be content that I got a decent price.  Instead, I am stupidly stressing out over the fact that I only need one more stay by April 30 to earn a Megabonus free night certificate, which I don’t even need.  I do have travel plans for the remaining two weekends in April, but a Marriott-family hotel isn’t convenient for either scenario.  The financially best option is to cancel one night at the FTU host hotel and stay at a nearby Marriott instead but the most convenient option is to just forfeit my Megabonus certificate.

Mistake #4: Planning Europe in July
I normally travel in shoulder seasons, but the way my life overlaps with my sister’s schedule limits us to traveling in July.  I can’t remember the last time I took a “big” trip in the summer, and now I remember why: summer airfare is expensive and award availability is slim-to-none considering my inflexible dates (story of my life).  By the time this trip rolls around, I’ll already have visited ten different states in 2013, so I’m really favoring an international destination, and I’ve yet to see a fair fare that fits my criteria.  Guess it’s time to pay up since paying too much is better than not traveling at all.

Hopefully the rest of you are having an easier time with miles and points this week!

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Becky

Editor and Lead Author at The Girl and Globe
Becky loves hiking and the outdoors, reading a good book on a rainy day, practicing yoga with friends, cooking with Sinatra in the background, relaxing with her husband and a good glass of wine, and above all: travel. Read more about Becky.

Comments

  1. says

    Oh, the guilt and irrationality. I can add to your list.

    #5 – Checking an airfare for a ticketed flight. I used 35,000 SkyPesos for a Puerto Rico trip in November. Obviously, there was not availability, so I used the Pay with Miles option for a $349 ticket. I then checked the fare. It’s now $289 flight. I got a great deal, but I still feel bad.

    #6 – Spending more money to save money. My $44 Delta credit has been burning a hole in my pocket for months. I just used it for a weekend trip to Vermont. The fare only cost around $85 out of pocket (less than the bus from NYC). But I still spend money to save money. I know I’ll enjoy the trip, but by the time I’m done, I’ll have spend $300 to take advantage of that $44 discount.

  2. says

    “no availability” not “not availability”, and “spent money” not “spend money”. I wish Boarding Area would let me fix my typos. I know how to write, I swear, I have a decade-old AP English score to prove it.

  3. says

    @Kay, For point #1: Keep in mind if Delta has a schedule change you can probably cancel and rebook at no penalty (if the lower price is still available by then). It’s a long shot, but it’s worked for me in the past. For point #2: I have an IHG free night cert. also burning a hole in my pocket that will like result in a similar expense. I feel your pain.

    @Seth, I’d LOVE to use points but I cannot travel midweek and I can’t find availability on the weekends. I’m not surprised, just annoyed. I’ve got alerts on your site set up but I’m not holding my breath and looking for potential revenue options in the meantime.

  4. Ron B. says

    #2 is really not an issue to worry about. Just wait until they combine with AA miles in the future. Or, get the US credit card & get 5k RT savings in addition to bonus pts. Or, get the AA credit card later and get 10% back.

    Keep up the good posts!

  5. Katherine says

    Thanks. Good to hear I am not alone on absurd stressing out over maximizing points! I hope your post will make me stop and think. This is supposed to be fun after all.

  6. peter S says

    20000 US points is good for roundtrip in Economy class in Southeast Asia. In my opinion, it is the best economy award in US air award chart if you want to fly economy.

  7. Grant says

    You may be in luck regarding the 880 US Airway miles you need. You can always use Points.com to exchange points/miles form other programs. For example, here are the available options to get 880 US Airway miles into your account:
    1,633 Amtrak Points (my personal favorite)
    2,783 Asia Miles
    5,565 Hawaiian Miles
    2,783 Alaska Miles

    It’s not perfect, but moving 2,000 UR Points to 2,000 Amtrak Points will get you 1,078 US Airways Miles.

  8. says

    @ Becky – Re: the Delta schedule changes. I think I may have just missed a quick fare sale. $289 to San Juan is pretty cheap. I shouldn’t feel guilty. I spend $0 out of pocket to go to the Caribbean for a weekend, and managed to get some worthless SkyPesos to good use. It’s just silly buyer’s remorse.

  9. Elaine says

    As I stumble my way into this hobby, your post helps me keep things in perspective. I too obsess about the little mistakes when in reality I have gotten a great start. Also especially appreciated this comment:

    “Guess it’s time to pay up since paying too much is better than not traveling at all.”

    I am planning a trip – my first since I started in this game – and the easiest thing to do is to book one more trip for real money as I continue to accumulate points and miles, rather than get crazy trying to get enough points to do it for free. I am happier with trips that are planned months ahead, so not only will the point accumulation be a headache, but I will be uneasy as the trip approaches and I have no reservations. As I read the blogs, Flyertalk and Milepoint, it is easy to get into a place where one must always find the very best deal. But lots of things go into one’s definition of “best” and your comment reminded me of that.

    Finally, I appreciated Seth’s comment and your reply. Although I read Seth’s blog regularly, I had forgotten about all the tools on The Wandering Aramean. I am now registered to use them.

    All in all a great post! Thank you.

  10. says

    @Ron, I worry (perhaps irrationally) about my points devaluing if I hold onto them too long. Your comment is a good reminder to relax a little!

    @Katherine, I do have fun :) I am trying to remember that monetary value is not the whole story with miles redemptions – good advice for all.

    @Peter, thank you! I tend to overlook awards that don’t originate in the US and that’s a great option.

    @Grant, I do have orphaned miles in other programs that could be transferred into US miles. It’s a quick and easy option; thanks for reminding me.

    @Alanea, sister trips are a ton of fun and I hope you get an opportunity to plan more soon!

    @Kay, I agree: it was a good deal either way. You’ll have a great time there.

    @Elaine, “best” is quite subjective and not a simple math problem of the most cents per mile. I’m okay with redeeming my miles at 3 cents each to go to Alaska in coach rather than 10 cents each to the Seychelles in first class because I’ll still end up money ahead and I’ll be creating an experience that means more to me. However, it’s still painful to pay $1300 for a coach flight to Europe in the meantime, even if it does save me a lot of booking headaches.

  11. Mariah B says

    I know what you mean. We are going to Las Vegas to visit family and (trying to stay under budget) I have the whole family in 4 hotels for 4 nights. Hmmm.

  12. Boraxo says

    Point #4 is not a mistake at all.

    A couple of years ago my parents decided that we should all visit Orlando during spring break. Not my first choice on scheduling. Naturally this made it impossible to find a good mileage redemption opportunity (even at the 25k level) and we ended up buying tix on WN. Car rentals were also expensive.

    My brother died unexpectedly a few months later, so that ended up being one of the last vacations that we all enjoyed together. So never, ever regret traveling at peak season if it means spending time with your family. Because you never know.

  13. says

    @Webazoid, thanks! We’ve done that already but I appreciate the reminder :)

    @Mariah, Each Las Vegas hotel is so individualized that I bet moving around will be fun. Make it an experience instead of a chore.

    @Boraxo, I’m very sorry for your loss and am uplifted by your story of how you created such wonderful memories. It sure puts things in perspective.

  14. says

    Great tips. I’m spending a long weekend in Fl using my points on a Hialeah hotel. It’s perfect b/c I’m not working right now but still wanted to take my family on a vacation to Florida.

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