What’s Next?

I started the Frequent Miler blog about a year ago.  My original intent for the blog was to have a means to teach family and friends about my new hobby.  Instead, the blog’s focus quickly changed to the “search for the perfect perpetual point machine”.  As a result, I frequently search for and write up complicated schemes for earning points and miles.  Additionally, I’m always on the look out for ways to earn airline and hotel elite status quickly and cheaply.  Here are a few of the results from those efforts:

  • 5X Everywhere: In the post “One card to rule them all” I showed how to earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar for virtually all transactions.  To do this trick you need a Chase Ink card (Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Ink Classic, or Ink Cash) and a nearby friendly and well stocked Office Depot.  If you have all of those things and a little time to devote to it, you’ll find points rolling in month after month.
  • Delta Platinum Status: In the post “Mileage running, from home” I showed how to use Delta branded credit cards to earn and maintain high level elite status with Delta.  By following this process I always have oodles of Delta SkyMiles available for redemption.  Platinum status gives me free upgrades on domestic flights, better award availability, and free award changes (up to 72 hours in advance of a flight).
  • Hyatt Diamond Status: In the post “Hacking Hyatt” I showed how it was possible to earn Hyatt Diamond status at a reasonable cost (during Hyatt’s first quarter 2012 promotion).  I didn’t go for this because I don’t often stay at Hyatt hotels, but a number of readers did go for it and they are now enjoying the great perks that Hyatt Diamond status offers (free breakfasts, free confirmable suite upgrades, etc.).
  • Southwest Companion Pass: In the post “Sears 15X: Leveraging the deal” (and several related posts) I showed how to earn a Southwest Airlines companion pass by buying and selling stuff from Sears during a 2 day promotion.  Thanks to that adventure, I’ve already booked my family’s spring break trip to Key West using a combination of Southwest points and the new companion pass earned from that deal.  The companion pass is good for the rest of this year and all of 2013! 
  • Marriott Platinum Status: In the recent post “Pursuing Platinum @ Marriott” I detailed how I plan to secure Marriott Platinum status through Feb 2014.  If you’re interested in doing the same, please also see “Marriott Savings and Status”.  This status will ensure that I get a welcome gift with each stay, club lounge access (for free breakfast and evening hors devours) on weekdays, free internet, and room upgrades when available.

Thanks to the tricks listed above, and many others, I now have mid to high level elite status at multiple hotel chains and with Delta, and I have plenty of points and miles (see also “How I earned over 1 million points and miles in 6 months”). 

So, what’s next?  What goals should we pursue?

 

The goals listed below are not necessarily easy or even possible.  They are, rather, goals that I think are worth pursuing if we can find ways to accomplish them:

More SPG Points:  Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points are arguably the most valuable points you can get.  However, other than signing up for credit cards, winning contests, or actually staying at Starwood properties, SPG points can be hard to get.  There is no SPG Mall for earning bonus points, and sadly SPG Amex cards have no bonus categories for earning extra points at grocery stores, gas stations, etc.  Instead you simply earn 1 point per dollar for regular purchases, and 2 points per dollar at Starwood properties (Sheraton, Westin, W, etc.).  There are some point earning options involving investments, and time-shares that might be worth pursuing.  Let’s keep our eyes out for opportunities like these!

More Membership Rewards:  American Express’ Membership Rewards program is not as valuable as it used to be (especially with the loss of Continental as a transfer partner), but it’s still pretty good.  Points can be instantly transferred to airline programs such as Delta and British Airways.  Even better, Amex frequently runs transfer bonuses in which you get more than 1 airline mile for each point transferred.  So, finding cheap ways to accumulate Membership Rewards points is worth pursuing!

United Elite Status:  I don’t fly United often, but thanks to the Ultimate Rewards program I have access to plenty of United miles.  With Platinum status or better, I would have access to better award availability, free close-in award bookings, and free award changes.  While it’s currently possible to get all of those benefits by asking a friend with elite status to book award trips, it would be great to be able to do this on my own.  So, I’ll be on the lookout for easy ways to get and maintain United elite status.

SPG Platinum Status: Thanks to SPG Gold status this year I’ve received free internet during my stays, and I’ve been upgraded to club floor rooms a few times.  These perks are great, but with Platinum status I would be guaranteed free breakfast (continental breakfast, at least) and would be eligible for suite upgrades.

Hilton Diamond Status:  Hilton Gold status is incredibly easy to get and it is quite valuable on its own, so I don’t really need Diamond status.  However, two credit cards offer Diamond status after $40K per year in spend.  The Hilton Surpass card, in particular, is attractive since it offers 6 points per dollar at grocery stores, drug stores, and gas stations.  I’m tempted to get the Surpass card and then buy and liquidate $40K worth of gift cards per year at stores like these.  By doing so, I would earn 240,000 Hilton points per year, along with Diamond status!  The main reasons not to do this are that Hilton points are already very easy to come by through credit card churns, and that Gold status is nearly as valuable as Diamond status.

Hyatt Diamond Status:  Even though I passed on an earlier opportunity to earn Hyatt Diamond status, I still think this is a worthwhile goal.  There can be huge value to their free breakfasts, free internet, and suite upgrades on paid stays.  Let’s continue to look out for opportunities here.

More Ways to Increase Spend: I’ve written often about ways to increase credit card spend and get all (or most) of your money back.  See, for example, “Top 10 ways spend a lot of money (and get most of it back).”  Unfortunately, there is no single magic bullet that works for everyone without limit (at least, not since the US Mint stopped selling coins without shipping or handling fees).  Whether your goal is to meet minimum spend requirements for credit card sign-up bonuses, or to achieve very big spend to earn miles and/or elite status, this is a very important topic that I’ll continue to pursue indefinitely.

Reader Input

Did I miss any important goals that you would like to see added to the list?  Other than “more ways to increase spend” (which is a given), which of the above goals would you most like to see me pursue?  Please comment below.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Comments

  1. Congrats on your 1 year anniv approaching! You’ve become one of the very top bloggers with your great level of original content. You have carved out a great niche with outside the box thinking and great lab research from both you and your readers. Keep doing more of what you are already doing! The last thing the world needs is another “Points 101” blog regurgitating the same promos for the 100th time.
    My biggest suggestion- develop your active “lab experimenting” readers into a more formal community to leverage the network effect. A core group out there experimenting and sharing results can maximize everyone’s individual efforts and result in new ways of looking at the opportunities that can bring new breakthroughs.

  2. FM. It seems like early on you wrote about trying to replace the income you had back when you had a regular job. I’m curious, have you managed it? I hope so since the last thing I want is for you to go back to working for the man. I need your content.

  3. What about Chase Ultimate Rewards Points — I know the “One Card to Rule them All” Scheme is brilliant, but can you/we do better than 5pts per dollar, or is that the max? Regardless, I really enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the fine work!

  4. This is the first blog I read everyday and I’m always surprised by the ideas and tricks that you offer. Some suggestions to improve the site: have a user generated tips and tricks section where readers can post ideas for possible promotions. This would be an easier way to share ideas than emailing you directly.

    Secondly, it would be great if there was an efficient way to convert ultimate reward points to SPG points and Delta Skymiles. I have 74,000 UR points plus another 40,000 points coming soon and already have several thousand United and BA points that I haven’t redeemed yet.

  5. @FM – your stated mission is to discover the perpetual points machine, and you’ve succeeded to some degree. Thanks to your tip about vanilla reloads, I played around with the NS card and have been able to manufacture $6k in spending in the past 2 months without paying any fees besides the ones charged by reload packs, or having to sell any gift cards or products on ebay. I already ordered my Paypal card and will get Mio as well, to try and generate $10k+ per month in “spending” without overusing any one card.

  6. More like one Blog to rule them all…

    You and your blog totally rock! 🙂

    So I’m sure I’m talking for most when I say- THANK YOU! Nobody does more for points-earning than you!

    P.S-.American Express’ Membership Rewards program has been discontinued. It won’t be back. I spoke to a supervisor yesterday who told me this. But Amex has been giving out some pretty conflicting info regarding this…so who knows!

  7. Thanks to you, I’ve remodeld my kitchen at a 20% discount and earned TONS of miles doing it. I’m more mindful of all of my purchases and am getting to know my local office product stores a lot better. Traveling with my family of 4 is a financial challenge…thanks to you tips and tricks we can take an extra trip a year. Thanks for all you do!

  8. my vote is more SPG points. I was just talking with a friend about that last night.
    @ grant – you can transfer UR points at 1:1 to Korean Airlines. However that link you provided does not indicate you can transfer those Korean miles to any of those partners. that’s just the list of partners where you can use your Korean miles (i.e. you can use the miles to redeem a Delta flight through Korean Airlines booking service)
    @ Jay – the MR program is still ok. The MR MALL has been discontinued.

  9. Two thumbs up for Greek2me’s opening comment: “Congrats on your 1 year anniv approaching! You’ve become one of the very top bloggers with your great level of original content. You have carved out a great niche with outside the box thinking and great lab research from both you and your readers. Keep doing more of what you are already doing!”

    There are two coins of the realm: Ultimate Rewards and SPG. Fantastic results on UR. Now, on to conquering SPG. Good luck to us all.

  10. Phew, you had me worried a bit when I saw the title, like you were quitting to take some other goal in life or something.
    Congrats on the great year!

  11. You are an invaluable resource to the points community. I took advantage of all the big cc bonuses last year but am not interested (time and hassle) in cc churning. And I did not want to add more cc’s, so I’ve been taking advantage of your advice on maximizing points through your blog. Thank you.

  12. Hi FM, I also want to say THANKS! For me, your blog is definitely the most valuable and a must read every morning. I can only read about churning so many times on all the other blogs!

    For the future, I would rather pursue the most lucrative opportunity available rather than focus on one program at the expense of missing opportunities to earn other types of miles/points.

  13. First, congrats! I will not repeat what others have said, but you are doing really well.
    I like the goals you have laid out and would myself like to see you focus more on achieving elite status with airlines.
    It seems to be the obvious progression. Of course, you and the readers will keep up the miles and points collection, but once you get the points, what then? How do you maximize the benefits and increase the enjoyment of redeeming the miles.

  14. Congrats on 1-year!

    One suggestion would be to focus on the best options when redeeming miles/points. Many times I end up just getting gift cards to restraunts because I don’t travel a lot and don’t want to lose the points/miles. Thanks.

  15. I believe Hallmark would see this as your 1 year (paper) anniversary. So, this would suggest that you should celebrate by buying a ream of paper from OD and enjoying the points. 😉

    I enjoy seeing how you have actually use your status, points, and upgrades on trips. This gives me good ideas on how to think about traveling in the future to maximize the points and status. This blog has certainly changed the way I travel!

  16. Thanks as well and congrats on the anniversary. I’ve been reading since nearly the beginning and your content has been invaluable to me. Keep it up buddy!

  17. Miler,

    Congrats on one year! As stated numerous times, you are the best blogger for those of us not at the beginners stage. Off the top of my head, just want to highlight what I consider your best work:

    1. Office Max-Ebay-Walmart scheme (for those who don’t realize, even though the initial way you highlighted died, there is still a way to break even and max some spend-PM me on flyertalk if needed)
    2. Of course, “one card to rule them all”. My goodness; greatest thing that ever happened was this revelation and the type of thing you can share openly.
    3. “A challenger to the throne.” Love that post! (one of those ones I read, thought it was too expensive, then the lightbulbs went on)
    4. Basically, any of your lab stuff with double dipping. Sears is my favorite! Keep up that portal work; it is critical.

    As for my vote, since I am Hilton Diamond running on Surpass, I want to see you tackle it and tell me what I am missing to make it easier.

  18. Congrats to FM. I just love your posts. I do read it like a religion! Is it possible to trade the points? I mean I hate to see Dave’s UR points being under valued…

  19. I love the idea of readers privately submitting ideas to you and then you tasking a few of your readers to try it out and report back (hopefully in different parts of the country). Together we can really come up with some terrific opportunities.

  20. I am normally not a big fan of mattress runs, but if you really want SPG Platinum, just do C&P Mileage runs at the 4 Points Romulus. As a Category 1, will cost you 1,200 points +$25 per stay and you only need 21 stays for Plat if you have the personal and business Starwood Amex.

    And once you have Plat, that 1,200 points is only 700 points because of the 500 point Plat amenity.

  21. @Smitty, I agree. Some stores/states have different rules so it would be a good idea to have people try different stores in different parts of the country.

  22. Congratulations on 1 year blogging anniversary!

    As many others mentioned before, your blog is at the top of my everyday read list.

  23. I am interested in buying mastercard or visa gift cards in dollar value of more than $500, say $1K or more, are u aware of where I can purchase them? (obviously buy them with a CC and have no cash advance fees, etc)

  24. Congrats on the year of success and all of the travels!

    To FM and all: a quick question as I’m relatively new to the blog and the Chase UR Mall. Will I still get credit through the mall for using coupons when finalizing purchases? I have read where using coupon sites in general will invalidate the computer cookies (or something like that), but I received a 20% coupon in an email for Bed Bath and Beyond and wanted to use it through the mall for a purchase. Any advice or experience would be greatly appreciated!

  25. @RZA, you should earn points on the total amount you paid including the gift card. For example, if you want to buy a table at BBB for $200, but you have a 20% coupon, your total will be $160 and you should earn points from the $160 spent. It depends on which Chase card you use, some have higher point offers.

  26. Just want to say I follow a couple of blogs, but totally love yours. Stuff that really speaks to and connects to the regular non-everyday flyer.

  27. I also want to say how much I enjoy your blog and how unique it is. I am sure you have more followers than you know. I look forward to your second year of posts.

  28. I’ll add to the chorus of thank you’s. Having an out of the box approach is refreshing, and certainly potentially quite lucrative for all your readers. I don’t have any particular requests, other than to just keep doing what you do so well.

  29. Thanks FM! I’ve been reading blogs for about 3 years now and you are currently my daily fav! Given me lots of good deals! Lowesand Sears ESP! Keep up the good work!

  30. Thank you for providing us such wonderful and creative information. You helped me obtained 20K UR last month with Lowe’s 10x. I appreciate that you respond to emails to better assist.
    Definately The Blog that Rules them All!

  31. FM, your blog is terrific, congratulations on your successes. In terms of “what’s next” I think it’s time for you to start thinking about blurring the line between blog (traditionally one way info exchange) and a bulletin board like FT or Milepoint (lots of voices, chaotic). Yours seems to be the most collaborative and reader-focused blog out there, and WordPress comment feature is just too limiting and good conversations die quickly. I don’t know the answer, but if you can figure it out, that’s “what’s next.”

  32. As a newbie, your blog has been a great source of information and instruction. Thank you! Just know that if you write it, we will read it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *