This post was inspired by the announcement from Hyatt about on and off-peak point redemption for free nights. More and more airline and hotel reward programs are moving towards dynamic reward pricing. Basically, during what is considered high-season, you will notice that it will cost more miles or points to redeem for a free flight or night. While, during low-season, the same hotel room or airline flight will cost less rewards. In some cases, you will also see standard pricing, which is neither high nor low. Conversely, it used to cost the same number of points for a free hotel room regardless of the day of the year.
No doubt that this announcement is a blow to members who booked free nights using a fixed price during high season. This moves takes that deal away and it makes our points more like money. If we want something during high demand, it will cost us more, but pay less during a low demand period.
That brings us to the topic of that day. As one door closes, usually another door opens. So today, I’d like to share my top 5 tips and tricks in the miles and points world. There will also be some logic in the flow of my tips as well, so that they are not randomised.
1) Earn and burn
This first tip is more of a mental state. Keep it in mind that you want to earn and burn (i.e. use/redemption your rewards).
This one probably sounds like a broken record for some of you. But anyone who is new the miles and points game, this is my golden rule. We never know when programs will change their terms and conditions. It can be immediate without notice. So for this reason, after earning your miles and points, you will want to redeem to extract value as soon as possible.
NOTE (to help clarify a confusion based on comment section): extracting value does not necessarily mean use points ASAP to avoid a devaluation, but more about finding a deal (see point 4) and going for it (i.e. burn, see point 5).
2) Set a goal
Now that we have established the mindset of earning and burning, before you go burning, you want to set a goal of what reward you would like. This way, you are intentional when earning your rewards. Lots of times, people tell me that they earn a bunch of points but do not know what to do with them. So it is actually the reverse, you want to know what you want to do first, and then earn towards that goal. This way, you know exactly what you are earning and why!
This makes the miles and points world more like a video game. You are earning points to reach the next level to achieve something. There is a lot more satisfaction this way too.
Back to my first point, about how terms and conditions can change overnight while we are sleeping. It’s one thing today, but we wake up to something else without notice. So keeping our portfolio diversified prevents us from being caught off guard. I know this sounds contradictory to item number 2 about setting a goal.
So to expand on point number 2, you will want to set multiple goals at once. Here is an analogy for you. I am a huge fan of a 1963 war movie called: “The Great Escape“. Not to giveaway too much of the plot, basically they are prisoners of war trying to escape a prison. They built 3 tunnels simultaneously just in case one of them was discovered by the prison guards.
The same through process applies here. For example, let’s say you want to earn a free hotel night and it costs 20,000 points per night. What you will want to do is earn 20,000 points times 3. So you are simultaneously earning 20,000 points on 3 different hotel programs each. Yes that is triple the work, but it keeps your diversified in case one program flips on you.
Furthermore, even if you did your research ahead of time to book a free night at a specific hotel, you may not have enough points ready to book your free night when you want to. By the time you do, the free room may no longer be available or the hotel shut down, that is why you have 2 other hotel chain options.
4) Stay up to date
This is probably the tip that most people get turned off by the miles and points world. Staying up to date is crucial to maximising rewards. If not, then chances are you will be paying regular price or a premium, which is not an issue if it does not bother you.
But if you are like me and always looking out for a deal, then you will definitely want to stay up to date with all the resources available to you, such as bloggers, forums, etc.
5) If you see a good deal, go for it while it lasts
Which brings me to my final point. While staying up to date, if you see a good deal, try not to spend too much time thinking about whether it is too good to be true. still do the necessary research you need to determine how legit it is, and then move on it. It will not last as long as you want.
A better deal may come along later (one door closes, another one opens), but this specific deal might not last. So have your cake and eat it too. Have points ready for the current deal and get points ready for that future deal too!
So there you have it! My top 5 tips and tricks. Basically, the more work you put in, the more value you get. If you feel like I should have added or changed any of them, please let us know in the comment section below!