My year in bonuses

I figured I might as well go back and look at all the bonuses I received this year, since it would be nice to benchmark future years against this one. I have a feeling the next years won’t be nearly as good as these last two, given the tightening we’re seeing from issuers. Anyway, this is everything I raked in this year in roughly chronological order, excepting bonuses from normal spending (including Amex offers).

  • 50,000 Amex points from the Premier Rewards Gold
  • 60,000 Chase points from the Ink+, which I applied for before it went under the 5/24 rule. I eventually had this matched to 70,000 by being really charming.
  • 20,000 Chase points from referrals on the Sapphire Preferred and Ink+
  • 35,000 SPG points from the increased bonus on the Starwood Amex.
  • 20,000 Citi points from the ThankYou Preferred.
  • 6,000 Citi points from a retention offer to downgrade my Citi Premier to a Preferred
  • 75,000 Amex points from the increased bonus on the Mercedes Benz Platinum
  • 60,000 SkyMiles from the increased bonus on the Platinum SkyMiles card
  • 50,000 SkyMiles from the increased bonus on the Gold SkyMiles card
  • 75,000 JetBlue miles from their ridiculous points match promotion with Virgin
  • 100,000 Chase points from the Sapphire Reserve
  • 15,000 Amex points from a retention offer on my Platinum card
  • 30,000 Alaska miles from the BofA Alaska card
  • 10,000 Amex points from the Blue for Business
  • 40,000 AAdvantage miles from the Barclay Aviator Red

I’m earning points faster than I can use them right now, especially in programs like Delta, American, and Alaska. I even bought 30,000 SPG points in order to convert them to Alaska miles, which (when combined with the 10,000 SPG points I already had and funneled through Virgin America) will generate 65,000 Alaska miles at a cost per mile of around .8 cents. I’m especially concerned about the Delta miles, since a massive devaluation to SkyMiles seems to be right around the corner. Still, should they go through with the devaluation and lock SkyMiles in at $.01 apiece, I will have earned $1100 in bonuses against $195 spending. Not as good as using them for long haul business class, but not worthless either. Earn and burn is the gospel, but for someone like me who can really only do one or two long-haul trips in a year, I’m bound to end up with more points than I can use, unless I take my foot off the gas on the earning side. In my case, I’d rather focus on earning as many points as possible while the banks still allow it, and hopefully those points will retain most of their value by the time I do get around to spending them.

(A good example of this is the AAdvantage miles I got from the Aviator Red – I pretty much ignore AAdvantage completely, since their Europe awards mostly suck, and American has been terrible about availability lately. I was curious about them until they devalued once the merger was complete, and now it’s even harder to earn miles through sign-up bonuses given Citi’s new 24 month restrictions on bonuses within the same family of cards. Having said all that, Barclay is offering 40,000 miles after paying the annual fee, which is around 0.24 cents per mile – good enough of a deal in my mind to take aadvantage of, even if I have no idea how I’ll use the miles. Plus, I had around 8,000 miles that will expire in a couple months, so at the very least, this will keep those alive. At some point next year, I’ll probably open a Citi card and get 40-50k additional miles, which will give me enough to actually have some fun with.)

What’s up for next year? With Justine’s permission, I want to get her in the game with some more cards. Reddit refers to this as “two player mode,” which is a great term. She has a couple cards right now, but 90% of our churning happens on my Social Security number. I’m especially interested in getting her an SPG Amex before those go away, hopefully taking advantage of the 5000 point referral bonus. For myself, I have my eye on the JetBlue cards, since I have a bunch of miles there now, and I need around 100,000 for a round-trip SFO-JFK in Mint. After that, I need to decide whether I want to get rid of my personal Amex Platinum and get the Business version. I certainly won’t be able to spend enough to get the full 100,000 point bonus, but 50,000 points is still pretty good. I don’t want to keep both Platinum cards, though, so I need to weigh how much I care about earning 5 points per dollar on airfare vs. getting 2 cents per point on first class airfare. Finally, I’m not ignoring Amex’s Delta cards, since I have one personal and one business card and thus have bonuses on the opposite version of each still available to me. I know, I know… racking up even MORE SkyMiles with no use in mind is probably dumb. We’ll see – if they offer elevated bonuses again, I’ll probably jump on them just cuz. The only other thing on my radar is another Alaska card, since I’m convinced BofA is going to impose a restriction on the 30,000 point bonus at some point. I’m hoping to see some exciting new stuff – probably nothing like what happened with Chase this year, but it would be nice to mine some new bonuses now that I’ve already claimed most of the biggies.

What about you, blog readers? What does your 2017 churning landscape look like? And why are you reading this blog on Christmas anyway – are you Jewish or something? (I’m Jewish, so I can say that.)

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