How my points game pays off big!

I have been "churning" credit cards lately and have raked in a lot of points. I have used those points for lots of fun trips in premium airline seats that I could never afford to actually pay for! 2011 was a great point earning year for me. Here are some rough numbers of what I gained:

  • United+Continental: ~115,000 miles
  • Delta: ~100,000 miles
  • British Airways: ~104,000 miles
  • American Airlines: ~85,000 miles
  • US Airways: ~41,000 miles
  • Hilton: ~44,000 points
  • Club Carlson: ~54,000 points
  • Chase Sapphire: ~66,000 points
  • AMEX Membership Rewards: 75,000 points
That is a lot of points! I didn't realize how much it truly was until I sat down and calculated my "earnings" from the relatively small amount of work. I have redeemed a lot of those points already since I use an "earn and burn" strategy so I am not as prone to devaluation. My girlfriend and I have some great memories from this hobby :]

It is only day 10 of 2012 and I am still on the prowl for more offers and bonuses. I am trying to piece together enough offers to have another worthy churn. I am being more selective so I don't get reg flagged by credit card companies by becoming too greedy. Pair that with the fact that I simply don't get enough time off to use them all!

I still have more travel goals in mind in the future that I need to build up some points for. I want to do the world cup in 2014 in Brazil and also would like to do Asia again possibly in 2013. I am hoping work travel can offset some of that but I will still need a good offer or two if I want to do those in business/first class.

As I do this more I learn all the neat little tricks to getting the most for my money/points so I can stretch them further. Admittedly my weak spot now is hotels since I rarely stay in pricey rooms for pleasure or work. I tend to prefer the mom and pop hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. They are much cheaper and more local. I need to utilize hotel points in a way that I can get more miles for travel.

It is all a constant game of earning, learning, and burning to what works best for me. Rules and programs change all of the time, mergers happen, and of course devaluations occur. Just have to adapt and make the best of it. It is a lot to keep track of but in the end the payoff is huge!