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The 10 Commandments of the Miles & Points Game

The 10 Commandments of the Miles & Points Game

So I’ve flown on 25+ business class flights on five star airlines, stayed at 3 different private villa hotels and have accumulated over 2 million airline miles and hotel points. All in the last 4 years alone! Oh and I make less than $40,000 a year… And no I’m not in debt.

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve figured out how to use the credit card points the system to my benefit.

Can anyone do this? Yes. But it’s not for everyone. For real.

So you know when you buy something that has a mail in rebate to convince you that you’re actually paying less? Only about 15% of people actually go through the hassle to send in the paperwork. And even those who do, 99% forget all about it after they put in the mail. So now the company can claim they never got it and the chance of you following up are about 0-1%.

You get the gist. Credit card companies, airlines and hotels are exactly the same way. They entice you with loads of points, miles and dream vacation. But secretly they expect you not to maximize their value.

Case in point: Did you ever get a catalog of electronics from an airline excitingly telling you how you can “use” your miles for a brand new tablet? For like 120,000 miles you can buy a tablet that’s worth $175. Meanwhile those same miles can buy you an experience of a lifetime that usually costs close to $10,000.

So here are my 10 Commandments of the Mileage Game.
(If you can’t follow these, than this game is NOT for you.)

 

  1. Know the value of points you accumulate and how to get the most of them. Say you blow 50,000 United miles on a domestic first class standard award, this game is not for you. My brother actually did that a couple years ago and it still hurts me to think about it.
  2. Ignore all advertisements for credit card sign up bonuses with taglines like “miles you can use” or “that’s more than enough miles for a free roundtrip ticket” etc. (Yes, I’m talking to you Capital One!)
  3. Pay all your credit card bills in full EVERY month. The moment you start paying interest or late fees due to negligence or overspending, you cut up all your credit cards immediately. This rule is non negotiable!!
  4. Know what’s in your wallet. Every credit card has different benefits and bonuses, know when to use them and for what.
  5. DO NOT let miles or points expire. AwardWallet.com is a great tool to help you with that. Also before you cancel a card, be sure you aren’t going to lose the miles or points that card has earned you.
  6. Do not pay any credit card annual fee without getting some sort of incentive from the Credit Card issuer or if the benefits outweigh the annual fee. (You should still call for an incentive though.)
  7. Actively look for ways to get the most out of your miles and points. Promos, loopholes, and even mistakes. Also be sure to be on the lookout of devaluations from the airlines and make your plans before they go into effect.
  8. Do not jump on every offer or opportunity. Only zero in the offers that help you plan that dream vacation or give you the miles you need.
  9. The simple way is not always the best way! Like using 30,000 British Airways to fly British Airways Across the Atlantic is a terrible idea (once you notice the $500+ fuel surcharges)
  10. Don’t give away miles and free tickets to people who don’t value miles and points. They will disappoint you. (Yes it happened to me.)

Geeking Destination: Koh Samui, Thailand

Geeking Destination: Koh Samui, Thailand

Let’s restart our Geeking Destination! Each week, we’ll be sharing an awesome, under-rated, vacation destination!

This week: Conrad Koh Samui

This hotel is the perfect escape for those who like swimming in private! That’s right, each room (well, Villa really) has it’s own Private Pool! And not a small little plunge pool, we’re talking a whopping10-meter infinity-edge pool! Besides, the villa itself, deck, daybed, hot tub are all stunning.

The best part of this hotel? You can stay here from Free! As low as 80,000 Hilton Honor Points Per Night! Plus if you stay for five nights. the 5th night is Free! This Credit Card Can Earn You 85,000 Points! Plus you’ll get Instant Hilton Gold Status (Think upgrades dude!)

Room tip: Every room has its own Private Pool! Get one of the lower rooms to be closer to the beach.

How to get there: Airport code USM about a 50 minute taxi ride to hotel. Thai Airways (United and Star Alliance Partner) has two daily flights from Bangkok as does Bangkok Airways (Japan Airlines & Air France Partner) as well as non-stops from Hong Kong & Kuala Lumpur. Singapore Airlines has two daily (morning) flights from Singapore as well. The Koh Samui Airport is hands down the cutest airport you’ll ever fly to. I’m itching to go back just to see it again 🙂

From the USA, consider Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong (Alaska Airlines Partner.) Business Class on Cathay Pacific will run you 50K Miles each way or in First Class for 70,000 Alaska Airlines Miles.

Singapore Airlines (Transfer Partner from Chase or American Express) is my favorite option from JFK, Houston or San Fransisco.

How to book: Support us by using our Cheap0Air Link. Or you can sign up for the super awesome Amex Business Platinum (We’ll earn 15k points if you sign up) and use your points to book the hotel using American Express Travel.

What to do?
Honestly most of the famous Thai activities are better, cheaper and more authentic in Chaing Mai. Koh Samui is all about beautiful beaches, private pools and other worldly views.  

Recommended amount of time to stay in Koh Samui? 3-5 days.

Have questions? Need assistance? We’d love to hear your comments and help you reach this awesome destination.

Meet the World’s Nicest Pilot

Meet the World’s Nicest Pilot

Ok so maybe one of the nicest, but for sure the top 5. Meet Reid Worrel. He’s been an airplane enthusiast since he’ was 11 years old. He talks about flying like artists talk about colors. He’s just an overall pleasure to be around.

ZJ caught up with Reid last week and posed the following four questions:

Question 1. What made you want to become a pilot? I’ve always loved flying. It’s been such a passion of mine since I was young.

Question 2: What’s the largest airplane you’ve ever flown? American Airlines shiny new CRJ 900

Question 3: What was the most spectacular thing you’ve ever seen while flying? I got to see the Eclipse!

Question 4: What is your dream airplane you’d like to fly? The 757 is all time favorite. It also happens to be fuel efficient.

 

 

Ok so maybe one of the nicest, but for sure the top 5. Meet Reid Worrel, He’s been an airplane enthusiast since he’s been 11 years old.

Four Questions for A Navy Fighter Pilot

Four Questions for A Navy Fighter Pilot

See Also: What It’s Like to be a Pilot

Meet an American hero Fighter Pilot named Ron Townsend. From his innocent demeanor, you wouldn’t believe he’s flown F18 fighter jets at 900 MPH just a couple inches away from other fighter jets doing the same thing.  As a navy Pilot he’s landed on aircraft carriers in total darkness and in some very questionable weather conditions.

For our aviation enthusiasts, landing in middle of the open sea on a ship is just about the hardest thing you can ask a pilot to do.

ZJ caught up with Ron at a coffee shop and asked him Four Simple Questions. We like to keep it short n’ sweet. Enjoy 😉

Question 1: What was the most dangerous flight maneuver you preformed?

Flying very closely to other fighter jets at 900 MPH! We make it look easy, but one tiny mistake and you’re in BIG trouble. Also approaching the aircraft carrier at night without the visual aids is quite dangerous.

Question 2: What was the coolest fighter that you’ve ever flown?

F18 & The Mirage 2000

Question 3: What is highest amount of Gs you’ve preformed?

F18 7.5 Gs Mirage 9.0s (Mind you, most human beings can’t handle more than 6 Gs before they pass out or worse.)

Question 4: What made you want to become a pilot?

The Apollo and thunderbird show over Charlotte was just mesmerizing. I knew I had to fly one of those. I’ve been an airplane enthusiast ever since.

Is Paying Less for Basic Economy Worth It?

Is Paying Less for Basic Economy Worth It?

Did you ever hear of a Basic Economy fare?
See Also: How to Book Airline Tickets like a Pro 

Low fare airlines have been popping up all over the world. Hence the amazing deals by the legacy airlines who we’ve been jacking up the prices and reducing the services for the last 20 years. Now they have to reckon with the likes of Frontier, Allegiant and Spirit AIr.

Now while flying in 28″ legroom, hard as hell seats is highly unrecommended for flights over 45 minutes. Not to mention the nickel and diming for every conceivable convenience. However, it’s becoming more of an option for frequent fliers who are just looking for the cheapest way to get from point A-B.

So… the airlines figured they’d compete by offering a new reduced service phenomenon to our disadvantage called “Basic Economy.”  You may have seen it mentioned when trying to book a super low fare you were excited to book. Like this one:

Now for those of us who want to select seats in advance or have a chance at an upgrade, Delta figured out how to squeeze an extra $15 out of us.

So now for the question “Is it worth the extra $15 to fly in “Regular” economy? If you have status with one of the Legacy Airlines then I say yes. But if not, it may actually be worth it. Because if you have no status, you’re kinda flying Basic Economy either way.

Here’s a sample of American Airlines Basic Economy Restrictions compared to “Regular Economy.”

American Airlines Basic Economy

Now here’s the comparison of the different airlines that offer Basic Economy: (Courtesy of Point Me to The Plane.)

American Airlines Delta Air Lines United Airlines
Boarding Last Group Last Group Last Group
Carry-On Personal Item Only* Regular Rules Apply Personal Item Only*
Elite-Qualifying Credits Reduced (Half EQM/EQS) Regular Rates None
Changes/Refunds None Permitted None Permitted None Permitted
Seat Assignment Extra Fee, or at check-in At Check-in At Check-in
Elite Upgrades None Offered None Offered None Offered

*Passengers with elite statuses and co-branded credit cards will still be able to bring a full-size carry-on onboard with both American and United.