A popular point of pride for new people to the points and miles world is how many they have. “I have over 500,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points!” is proudly shouted.
I understand why that is a point of pride for so many. Those point balances you’ve built up represent a tremendous amount of free travel that you can have. However, what I see is miles that aren’t being used. Flights that aren’t being taken. And memories you’re not making.
That’s why I consider hoarding points and miles one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Because hoarding points and miles means you’re missing out on the travel you could be taking.
Unfortunately, missing travel isn’t the only reason hoarding points and miles is a mistake. Let’s look at the top 5 reasons you need to stop hoarding points and miles.
Devaluations happen when an airline or hotel loyalty program tells you that your next flight or hotel stay will cost more points or miles than before. It is rare that prices ever actually decrease.
Devaluations aren’t always announced. Alaska Airlines notoriously devalued flights on Emirates shortly after it had a sale on miles with no announcement before it happened.
Hoarding your miles over an extended period of time only has one predictable outcome: they will become less valuable. The flight that cost 50,000 miles now may cost 75,000 in six months.
2. Points Can Expire
Did you know that your airline or hotel loyalty points can expire? If you don’t have any activity on your account for an extended period of time, you can kiss them goodbye.
Although the time limit is generally reasonable, 18-24 months with no activity, that isn’t the case for all of them. Points and miles in some programs expire within a set period of time from when they were earned and cannot be extended.
By hoarding points and miles, you risk forgetting about them and having them expire.
3. Award Availability Can Change
Hoarding points and miles for a future trip may leave you missing out altogether. There are multiple airlines that don’t allow points for first class bookings, and partnerships change all the time.
Some airlines are under significant financial stress and may not be around in 12 months. A major hotel chain may stop making all rooms available with points.
Changes are happening to loyalty programs all the time, so you can’t count on them staying the same for long periods of time. By hoarding points and miles, you’re taking a risk that the trip you want will be available later.
4. You Can Keep Earning More Miles
The past few are examples that you can’t control, but this one you can. You should stop hoarding points and miles because you can keep earning more.
The longer you are in this game, the easier it becomes. You begin developing your strategy for applications, meeting minimum spends, and balancing credit inquiries. You know which cards you should use on your daily spend at the gas station or the grocery store (and you may even make some labels to print on them so you don’t forget!).
Of course, it does get harder over time. Banks implement more rules like the Chase 5/24 rule. But even with these restrictions in place, many people still find it possible to earn hundreds of thousands of miles every year from sign-up bonuses. There’s no reason you should be hoarding your points and miles when you can simply keep earning more.
5. Prices Are Low, Point Values Are High
I know what many of you are thinking – these are all good reasons not to be hoarding points and miles from airline or hotel loyalty programs, but bank programs are fine. Chase says an Ultimate Reward point is worth 1-1.5 cents. That’s a fixed value, they don’t expire, they aren’t subject to award availability, and the bonuses are hard to keep earning due to the 5/24 rule.
Well.. I’m here to tell you you’re wrong. Although they have a fixed value, that is all the more reason to use them right now. Flights are cheaper than they have been in a long time. I’m seeing flights to Hawaii or Europe for under $400 almost monthly. Earlier this month there were business class tickets to Southeast Asia for under $700! With prices this low, your points will go further when you’re redeeming them in a travel portal.
The One Exception…
After all this, I have a confession to make. I have been hoarding some points and miles. I always do. Why? Because points and miles are great to have in case of an emergency.
I live in Houston, which is prone to hurricanes. Having points and miles can be a great way to get out of the way of the storm fast! I used British Airways Avios last year for this purpose when I flew to Dallas to avoid Hurricane Harvey.
Last minute flights can be expensive, but if you’re in the unfortunate situation of needing to travel for a family emergency time isn’t on your side. Having a small stash of points and miles can really help in these situations.
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