I have many times agreed with Andy at The Lazy Traveler’s Handbook over the past couple of years, but today I don’t. That may sound odd given that he quotes me in the post as saying I was not a buyer in this sale (and I’m not). Where I took exception to Andy’s point is when he said this: “It would be a great deal for anyone who doesn’t mind paying for miles or points. I do mind, so I wouldn’t touch this deal even at a better time”. The thing here is that we are always paying for miles and points. Always. Any time you choose to earn a mile or point rather than a penny or two, you have essentially bought that point — think of it like using the cash back card and then immediately using your cash to buy the points. Citi’s Double Cash perhaps makes this point as glaringly obvious as possible since you actually have to choose to convert the cash to points, but the same is true with any points since you could have earned cash back rather than accepted the points instead. As Greg noted in Frequent Miler on the Air yesterday, we further “buy” miles any time we choose to convert a more flexible currency — like Membership Rewards — to an airline miles — like Aeroplan. I am not a buyer at the moment, but I wouldn’t say that you dodged a bullet by not buying. In fact, I bet that the people who did buy will probably end up with a fantastic deal. I am not confident enough to wager my dollars and cents on it, but I’m definitely not confident enough to say it was ridiculous to do so. I share Andy’s conservative view of the COVID-19 situation, but I can concede that some may come out well ahead on this gamble.
Benjy at Miles to Memoies makes the argument as to why you consider giving up Amazon Prime. I’ve been on the fence on Prime for a number of years now — ever since they began adding more and more entertainment and taking away free shipping on various items. It’s not that I don’t like being entertained, it’s just not the reason I signed up for Prime years and years ago and I could take it or leave it. I have a grandfathered plan that allowed others to be added, so in my case canceling wouldn’t only affect me. Still, I agree with most of Benjy’s points. Ironically, the one I am on the opposite end of is “What’s the rush?”. I do value getting things quickly in large part because Amazon still tends to be the fastest delivery on most day to day items where I live and there are many things I could not otherwise get locally. But now that everything takes a couple of weeks to get delivered, I’m becoming less and less tied to Amazon….
Julian Kheel at CNN Underscored, who some readers will remember from his Devil’s Advocate days (including many posts he wrote here at Frequent Miler), tackles some good tips aimed at those who have lost their job and are struggling in the current economy. That said, the tips he offers here could really apply to any of us. My wife and I cut down on entertainment / streaming costs a couple of years ago, which is why I recently noted that the consumer Platinum streaming credits weren’t terribly exciting to me. The auto refinance tip could be a hot one for some given the current low interest rates and inspired me to write a post on how some readers could save money on interest and potentially stack up to $450 in new account bonuses in the process. Good stuff here.
Erin Hurd at NerdWallet reviews key tips for getting value out of JetBlue TrueBlue. While I’m not thoroughly versed in TrueBlue because they haven’t fit my travel patterns for years, I was surprised by how many tips I picked up out of this post. One example is that I wasn’t aware that JetBlue offered automatic bonuses for 3 or 7 round trip flights in a calendar year. Another is that I hadn’t noticed that JetBlue only charges 6K miles for an inter-island one-way with Hawaiian Airlines. While Southwest has been a better value in Hawaii, they don’t serve all of the routes that Hawaiian does, so that could be a decent tip depending on cash rates. In the current period of no travel, it’s a good time to build up knowledge of niche programs like this to keep in the database for future trips.
Of course, that tip on inter-island Hawaiian flights might not come in handy for quite a while. God Save the Points covers Hawaii’s current proposals to limit infections coming from travelers to the islands, which may soon include fines for hotels and rental car companies — and may require hotels to keep your room key to enforce the 14-day self-quarantine requirement on arrival. I understand where they’re coming from with these restrictions, but as a family traveler an inability to even take a walk outside for 14 days would make it impossible for me to consider a trip to Hawaii until restrictions ease. That’s obviously the point here, and I accept that given the current situation — but unfortunately it will also make it difficult for Hawaii to lock in future tourism dollars with no idea when these restrictions may end.