Please note this site has financial relationships with American Express and this post may contain affiliate links. Read my Advertiser Disclosure policy here to learn more about my partners.
Like many of you, I have a spouse who isn’t as enthusiastic about the miles and points game as I am. I’m totally okay with that because when I met him back in 2006, he hadn’t even flown in years thanks to panic attacks on planes, so we’ve come a long, long way from not getting on a plane to circling the globe recently for his 40th birthday.
We took baby steps to get him where he is now by starting small and with trips that were to places he really wanted to go on – think football games. I ensured the travel was more comfortable for him with E+ seats or better whenever possible, and I tried to steer him clear of long lines at the airport and when boarding by utilizing Pre-Check, airline lounges, priority boarding, and things of that nature since those were parts of the process that were usually very stressful for him. It may seem snobby or elitist, but really the main goal is simply to keep down the anxiety level at every step of the process for someone who at their core is a pretty nervous flyer. I’ve learned how to play the travel game in a way that works for him, at least most of the time.
Along the way he started to not only enjoy travel much more, but he started to participate more on the earning side of the equation, too. He applies for rewards credit cards a few times a year, and puts some thought into which card to use for a given purchase. Usually we keep things simple and just give him a card to use for most everything when we need to hit a spending threshold, but he can tell you about which cards earn a bonus for restaurants or at gas stations, and usually even knows the Freedom bonus categories for the quarter. He also knows to holler at me to help find a shopping portal when making an online purchase. Again, he doesn’t take it to the crazy person obsessed level that I do, but that’s probably a good thing.
Recently we were driving by a gas station that historically has had Vanilla Reloads in stock that you could purchase with a credit card. We were working on spending $10,000 on a credit card he obtained in order to trigger the 100,000 mile bonus, and needed a help boosting the spending a bit. We only had the card with his name with us, so I offered to pump gas and stay with the four year old in the car while he went inside with the credit card to pick up a couple Vanilla Reloads if they had them. His face went white when I said that – apparently he had thought I was the one going in the store to complete that task with his card. This store historically checks IDs when buying any type of gift card, so I didn’t want to go in with his card only to have to come right back out. Upon seeing his “freak out” face I offered to have us all go in together, but getting the four year old un-strapped and re=strapped in her car seat killed that idea for all of us quickly.
Ultimately he went in with a verbal reminder of what a Vanilla Reload looks like (he’s seen them before) and instructions to just text me a photo if he’s not 100% sure he found the right type of card. With every step he took closer to the store I realized more and more this was a bad idea, and probably over the line of stuff I could expect a non-points junkie to do.
Sure enough, he came back to the car the proud owner of $1,000 in MyVanilla Personal Reloadable Prepaid Cards. Yes they have the word Vanilla on them, but they are a far cry from the Vanilla Reloads I can just easily load online to my BlueBird. I had saved a trip into the store, but inherited $1,000 of mess to deal with because I pushed the limit of his miles and points activities.
He was annoyed he had gotten the wrong type of card (but they said Vanilla, so how could it be wrong?!), and I was less than thrilled. Honestly though, fussing about what type of plastic vanilla type of card your partner bought has to be the absolute dumbest thing in the world to be upset about, seriously. The dumbest. Ever. I just promised to myself to never ask him to purchase anything like that again, and told him I’d take care of dealing with it. A few seconds later, it was done and already (mostly) funny.
Luckily taking care of the MyVanilla Personal Reloadable Prepaid Cards wasn’t very hard. We needed some cash anyway, and you can pull $400 off per day each one per day via an ATM, and then we used the remainder to pay bills via Evolve Money. There are small fees to do all that, so it wasn’t something I would do on a regular basis, but it was a quick and easy way out of the $1,000 spent to get those two cards. You can learn more about the differences in all the similar Vanilla cards here.
That one event was a total non-issue in the grand scheme, but it was a good reminder to keep the miles and points tasks for non-point-a-holics within their comfort zone and ability level. My husband is not comfortable with the nuances of gift cards, and that’s fine. He doesn’t really need to be – heck my knowledge level there isn’t incredibly deep either. I know just enough to easily hit minimum spending requirements when I need a little boost. I’m not someone that is doing this day in and day out, and I don’t want to be. However, I do want to keep both earning and burning miles and points fun and productive for both of us, so knowing the boundaries of that is important. Sticking to those boundaries is equally important.
I consider myself lucky that my partner is as into miles, points, and travel as he is now. Family travel wouldn’t exactly be very fun without such a key member of the family, so we will continue with the system that is working for us, and that includes keeping him far, far away from anything with the word vanilla written on it. Unless of course we are talking about Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream!
What is your partners limit for miles and points related activities?