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My favorite kind of miles, points, and elite status are the ones that you get primarily by just maximizing the things you were already doing. However, I have been known to go out of my way to earn points and even elite status by doing things I wasn’t going to otherwise do such as check-in for a hotel stay I didn’t need, or take a flight to just turn around at the airport on the next flight home, etc. I did those sort of things much more a few years ago before my second daughter was born, and when the promotions and earnings were more lucrative for those type of activities than they generally are today.
So while I have dabbled in that world of “mileage and mattress running”, and fully appreciate that sometimes the math can work in your favor to say spend $70 for one night at a hotel you don’t need when it triggers 50,000 bonus points you can use for multiple nights elsewhere, I am rarely in that world today.
In some ways that probably makes me a ‘worse’ miles and points blogger because I am not pushing the envelope or walking onto as many planes and hotel rooms as I would be if I was mileage running, but that’s just not where I am in life. Frankly, it’s not where I recommend other busy parents to focus their time and energy either. It’s like a casino, you may have some wins over the house here and there, but the hotel and airline loyalty programs aren’t stupid, and spending more (in terms of both money and time) to earn more can become a game of diminishing returns.
An additional flight or two, or an extra hotel check-in to get you over the hump for a big promotion payout or the next elite status level can be one thing, but convincing yourself of wishy washy math at best to justify lots of flights and hotel stays you don’t really need or want is another thing entirely…especially if it comes at the expense of time away from your family and friends. I have seen this in action, and I agree with the post that Andy’s Travel Blog recently shared today there is a dark side of the miles and points game, and that travel itself, even in the name of miles and points, can become an escape, and not in a healthy way.
There are plenty of ways to get points and travel perks without spending your weekends off away from home traveling in circles. Mid-tier hotel elite status, priority boarding, checked bag waivers, etc. comes easily via lots of different credit cards, you can get 50,000 – 100,000+ miles and points from various credit card sign-up bonuses, and airline elite status, while nice, is not the end all and be all of life. I’ve personally taken to just buying up to first class on a select few flights when I want to splurge (and when the price differential is reasonable) instead of flying around the world multiple times to earn potential upgrades.
I share this both because I really enjoyed Andy’s post and think it is worth a read, and because the end of the calendar year is a popular time for people to consider doing some very out of the way things to keep their spot on the elite status hamster wheel. I’m not saying don’t do it, just be very sure it’s really in you and your family’s best interest before devoting precious time or money in the pursuit of miles or elite status.
Have you ever been tempted to do things that really didn’t make sense in the name of miles and points?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.