US Airways Grand Slam Recap: Preparations for 2012

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It’s only been a month since the US Airways Grand Slam officially ended, but it somehow already seems like ages ago to me.  Before any more time gets away from me, I wanted to do one final post on the 2011 Grand Slam.  Essentially, I want to recap lessons learned from this year and lay out a few things that can be done in order to be in a good position for when Grand Slam 2012 comes around.  Assuming that there is one next year, fingers crossed….. If you didn’t participate in the Grand Slam in 2011, briefly look over this post that shows how I earned 120,000 US Airways miles for less than $400 out of pocket without stepping on an airplane.

Since 2011 was my first year playing the Grand Slam, I definitely learned a few lessons along the way.  Here are a few of those lessons:

  • Set a goal for how many miles you want to earn and how much money (and time) you are willing to put into the Grand Slam.  I started with moderate goal.  As time went on I revised my goal and that is totally fine, but just always know what you are striving for and how much you are willing to pay to achieve that goal.
  • Do the free, cheap, or easy hits at the beginning of the promotion.  Some of the free, cheap, or easy hits got more expensive or more complicated as the promotion went on.  In some cases I think the stock of some cheap items dwindled.  In other cases I think the retailers just realized they could make a little more money off some of the cheaper items.  Also, some of the free or “loop hole” hits got a lot of publicity about half-way through the promo and the loop hole closed, so don’t wait until late in the promo for a free, cheap, or easy hit.  Just get it over and done with within the first couple of days before it potentially disappears.
  • Follow the threads on Milepoint and Flyertalk about the Grand Slam.  Naturally you should follow the blogs too, but nothing can beat the detailed information that can be found in the Grand Slam threads and forums on those message boards.
  • Listen to what Grand Slam veterans are saying.  If they say wait on a hit, wait on it (I’m talking to you broken Office Max website).  If they say the hit will post 6 weeks later (hello, Network Solutions), then be patient.  Of course some things change year to year, but for the most part many things seem to stay the same, so listen to those who played before you.
  • Be ready to become obsessed invest some time.  If you are going to go for a decent number of hits, be ready to invest a fair bit of time.  I saw someone suggest taking a day off from work towards the beginning of the promo.  Honestly, if you are playing multiple accounts and you have the vacation day (or sick day, cough, cough) to spare, it isn’t a horrible idea.  I didn’t even get around to playing C’s account because I just didn’t have enough time.
  • Speaking of multiple accounts, if you are going to play multiple accounts, I would play them all at the same time.  This year I focused on mine and then later on focused on my husband’s.  It worked okay, but it would have been easier to just play them at the same time.
  • Make friends with the car rental manager.  The Hertz manager became a BFF for a few weeks.  Once she understood what we were doing (well, sort of understood), we no longer had to show-up just to rent a car we weren’t going to drive.  Everyone was a winner once we all got on the same page.
  • I hate e-Rewards.  After a few weeks of rocking and rolling they never sent me another survey.  They aren’t on my Christmas list.
  • If they have an easy hit at the beginning of the promo (like this year’s Twitter contest), do it!  Below is a picture and tweet that earned me a free and easy hit!

Okay, those were a few basic lessons learned from this year that I will take into next year.  Now let’s get to the good part, things you can do over the next nine months to position yourself for a successful Grand Slam 2012.

  • Build up your hotel point balances in hotel transfer partners.  While some hotel points are just too valuable for me to want to transfer, some of them I am more than happy to part with.  For example, there are tons of Club Carlson promos going on right now.  Stock up on those points so you will have some to burn as a hotel transfer during the next Grand Slam.  Pay attention to all hotel transfer partner points promos over the next nine months, even if you don’t normally stay at those brands so that you will have the points ready come September 2012!
  • Work on e-Rewards and/or e-Miles throughout the year because they can be time intensive and especially with e-Rewards it may take a while to build up enough credit to transfer to US Airways.  Just be aware that technically all e-Rewards currency earned during a a membership year must be redeemed within 30 days of the end of that membership year.  For example: A Member who enrolls on August 21, 2010 is assigned a Membership Year ending on September 30, 2011 and must redeem Currency earned during the Membership Year.   Following the end of the thirty (30) day period, seventy-five percent (75%) of any unused e-Rewards Currency remaining in a Member’s account (that was earned during the just-ended Membership Year) will expire, and will be removed from the Member’s account. The remaining twenty-five percent (25%) of the e-Rewards Currency earned by the Member during the past Membership Year shall be automatically transferred into such Member’s account balance for the next Membership Year.  Reports are that it is possible to get the expiration waived, but no guarantees.
  • Plan your fall 2012 trips (both business and pleasure) with the Grand Slam in mind.  What I mean is give preference to hotel and car rental companies that are US Airways Grand Slam partners.  I was able to earn a lot of “free” hits (meaning no additional out-of-pocket cost) by being strategic about the trips I was going to make anyway.

Those are the main lessons and tips that I got out of the Grand Slam this year.  Please feel free to chime in with yours!  It really was so much fun and I can’t wait to use all the miles that we earned to go to Europe in the Envoy suites.  😉

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  1. Great recap! This was my first year playing thanks to your encouragement. It was so much fun and I can’t wait for next year! Thanks Mommy Points!

  2. Great post (once again!). A very good one to recap.

    This is my first year playing the grand slam.
    I would like to add my 2 cents here:
    1. As mentioned about the partners for hits, irrespective of the discussion going on, please do not buy “sale” items and extremely reduced prices. 1800 flowers is an example for me. Every one got hits for the sale item and I was little lazy to do the purchase immediately. By the time I got the product 1800 flowers stopped awarding miles and eventually my hit got down the tube.

    2. If you forgot to mention the partner airline mileage gain during the hotel reservation you can later call the hotel points program and ask them to transfer. DO NOT ASK THEM TO TRANSFER MULTIPLE STAYS IN A SINGLE TRANSACTION. CALL THEM MULTIPLE TIMES TO INITIATE THE TRANSFER PROCESS.
    I happened to call Marriott and asked them to transfer points for two stays (each stay of for 4 nights). Marriott posted two transactions on the same day. When they went to US AIRWAYS, they consolidated them and posted them in my DM account as ONE SINGLE transaction, where I eventually lost 1 valuable HIT.

    3. Do not use the same email account or credit card for a netflix promo, which have been associated with their website in the past 1 year (whether you have that account active or not). I was on the brink of burning my hands for losing one more HIT when I came to know this. I immediately cancelled that account and registered a new email account and used a brand new card number (of course US Airways BOA Debit Card).

    So far I am at 35 hits and have been working really hard with to get my 36th one. Initially I planned for 24 hits then moved to 36 because of my travel plans to India next year and then thought 2 safe hits would be nice. I think my safe hits have turned out to be really really SAFE in my GS Promo.

    I really learned my lesson being a first timer. Now having lost my GS Virginity I am planning to bounce back. Mommy points has been my bible for this promo. Her posts saved lot of money (especially on the car rental hits) and made life lot easier for me.

  3. e-rewards isn’t all that bad. At least they offer you a few coins even if you don’t qualify for a survey. Most other survey sites give you nothing in return once they’ve determined you don’t qualify (and this is after you’ve already spent 5+ minutes on the “qualifying” questions!).

  4. One way to plan ahead is to keep in mind is that places like Best Buy will zero out your balance at the end of every calendar year if you don’t have enough points to get a rewards certificate. In order to avoid losing anything, you can go on to and flip your Reward Zone points in to a hotel account. Then, when the Grand Slam comes around, you can flip the hotel points to USAiways.

  5. Great blog, thanks for the thorough information. Do you remember when is the earliest date we can cancel last year’s subscriptions without losing our miles, the Vinesse wine and Sharebuilder for example? I think it is May 2012.

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