Why I’m Refocusing On Earning Flexible Points

Over the last six to twelve months, I’ve become annoyed with the travel rewards world as a whole. This is mostly based on the fact I haven’t seen any exciting new offers to sign up for. But it’s also because some of my favorite cards and programs have lost their luster. For example:

  • The Hilton Aspire credit card’s $250 airline fee credit no longer works for gift cards, so I plan to cancel this card when it renews next year. I loved this card up until now, so I’m not happy about this new change.
  • American Airlines still posts an award chart, but they’re rumored to go to dynamic award pricing soon. However, I personally think their availability is already changing. I have several hundred thousand American miles and I have been struggling to find a good way to use them the last few months. I am finding less award availability, crazy flight options with multiple layovers, and higher award pricing overall.
  • SPG and Marriott programs completed their merger, and I personally don’t like Marriott Bonvoy. I don’t plan to sign up for any of their credit cards even though I could probably qualify at this point.

These are just a few reasons why I am currently funneling all my spending onto a handful of credit cards—my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard, my Chase Sapphire Reserve, my Ink Preferred Business Card, and my Ink Business Unlimited Card.

Why There’s Always Value in Flexible Rewards

If you’re feeling pessimistic about the rewards world or simply want to hang on until another really good offer comes along, focusing on flexible points can help. For starters, I love by Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard because I earn 2x points for each dollar I spend and I can redeem my points for any travel expense over $100 at a rate of one cent per point. I have personally used Barclays credit to cover cruises, hotels, campgrounds and more. I even paid off the mortgage on my house by using my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and funneling all my payments through Plastiq.com.

Then there’s Chase Ultimate Rewards, which is my personal favorite program of all time. I like using three specific Chase credit cards for all my purchases because I can consolidate all my points in my Chase Sapphire Reserve account to get 50% more travel when I book with points. And yes, I really do use the Chase portal for all kinds of travel. I occasionally book flights through the portal, but I also book rental condos, hotels, and excursions.

Obviously, the biggest benefit of Chase Ultimate Rewards is the fact that you can transfer points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners like World of Hyatt, Southwest Rapid Rewards, British Airways, and JetBlue. Also, note that you are not tied down to using your points in a specific way—or even for travel. You can redeem Chase points for gift cards, merchandise, or even statement credits to your account.

The Bottom Line

If you’re irritated with your favorite hotel or airline programs, don’t forget that flexible travel rewards will never let you down. With so many ways to redeem your rewards, you will never be stuck with points you can’t use. Until things change with my favorite loyalty programs, this is where I’m focusing the bulk of my spending.

Do you prefer earning flexible points? Why or why not?

 

[Image: Shutterstock]

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