Time to diversify your flight points!
My last post I did was “Free Flights take work” and they do.
When I first started accumulating points over 5 years ago I had been reading blogs for a couple years and decided that British Airways “Avios” was going to be my points of choice for flying.
At the time you could get a round trip flight to New York City from Toronto or Detroit for only 9000 Avios compared to 20,000 points plus in other programs!
I looked at where I wanted to fly and decided Avios was going to be where I put my spending points.
Now, Avios are great don’t get me wrong and the biggest thing about collecting Avios is that you can use them not only for flights, but for hotels and car rentals as well at about 1 cent per point.
Like if a hotel booking would cost you say $500 on Expedia it will probably cost you around 50,000 Avios when you sign into BA.com and check the same hotel.
Same for car rentals – but they tend to use Avis so it could be higher amounts of Avios in that case.
Point is – Avios points are very versatile – and that’s good in the travel world.
So…5 years ago I had enough points in Avios to get free flights to Miami from Detroit at March break – 20,000 per flight x 4 flights = 80,000 Avios.
At that time, that was the extent of my flight points. (always keep hotel points handy but that is another story)
Then, through another credit card sign up and a referral or 2 you build up more points for next years free flights.
Then, you find another card or two and more people want advice and you pick up a few more referrals and so on…
So then you get to a nice place where you actually have a ‘bank’ of Amex points or SPG points – and those points can be transferred to different airline partners!
Which brings us to a time where you might consider to “diversify” your points into different programs.
Now, those flights to Miami I mentioned earlier aren’t ideal – we don’t stay near Miami at all – it is a 4+ hour drive to the Tampa area for us where we like to stay.
So, with those Miami flights we essentially lose a day driving back and forth to Tampa.
That brings me to my point about diversifying – who does fly to Tampa so we don’t need to waste a day driving?
Well, you can use Avios but since AA doesn’t fly there direct you need a stopover in say Charlotte or Philly and the flights end up being 30,000 Avios now.
Ok, not horrible but that is more points than I wanted to spend – also worth at least $300 in other travel.
Aeroplan? that is an option – 25,000 points + $15 in taxes and stopover out of Detroit.
American? similar/ Delta? similar
Southwest? those points vary more but 20,000 – 25,000 points is reasonable.
So by doing this you are not stuck in one particular program looking for flights that may never come up as available.
I try to have about 4 round trip flight points at least in each program so to be ready if some “free” flights all of a sudden are available.
Lastly, I do keep some points as Amex MR points as sometimes you can just use your points to pay for flights straight up like we did for Disney in August – $600 CDN for 4 round trip flights to Orlando – uses up 60,000 MR points – pretty sweet!
That was through Spirit Airlines where you can always find a deal – not everyone’s favourite airline though!