It seems crazy that a year ago I had no idea that distance/region-based miles even existed. For most of my early adult life, I had a hard enough time holding down a job and a place to live, so earning miles was a distant concern. Then, when I did start putting effort into flying the same airlines in order to accumulate points, my airlines of choice were Southwest and Virgin – both of which have fixed-value points. As a result, I always just assumed that all airline miles were like this, and I never put much thought into which loyalty program I used. I got a Chase Sapphire card, but I didn’t see the point in transferring points to United when I could just use Chase to get 1.25 cents per point. In other words, I was the rube that most credit card companies market to. This is probably why I was targeted for a 100,000 point sign-up bonus on the American Express Platinum card, and it’s also why I threw the application away thinking, “What the hell would I do with 100,000 American Express points?”
Finally, a friend of mine sent me a link to United’s redemption chart, and I realized that most carriers do indeed assign award prices based on either distance or regions… then all hell broke loose. This was right after United’s devaluation, but I wasn’t savvy enough at that point to be pissed, since 110,000 miles for a business class ticket to Europe at least made business class attainable to me when it previously wasn’t. See, I’ve been obsessed with long haul business class products for years, and I always thought that maybe I’d splurge on two seats for my wife and I on our 20th anniversary or something. I simply had no idea you could get these seats by accruing miles.
So, step one was to kick myself for how many Ultimate Rewards Points I had pissed away using Chase’s travel portal. Step two was to start hoarding points with an eye on an eventual United business class redemption. I realized it would take at least two years to get the 230,000 points we’d need for two round-trip tickets, but at least it would no longer be a one-time extravagance. However, once I got into it, I really got into it, and as I read travel reviews on sites like One Mile at a Time, I also started to pick up tips on other credit cards and faster ways to earn award tickets. Fast forward to today… I just got approved for my seventh card of 2015, and I’m already looking past our next trip, since I have all the miles we’ll need for that one.
Requisite question designed to spur a flurry of responses in the comments section: How did YOU get involved in the points/miles game, and did you used to be as clueless as me?