Flying for free takes points: FLEXIBLE points

I fly nearly all of my vacation travel using the points I earn from my fun game of promotions and credit card offers. And of course my work travel that earns me points with a few programs. Now that I have been in the game for a while I have my overall strategy figured out: Do not put all my points into one program!

A lot of programs lately have "devalued" their points by changing the rules. These changes make the rewards I want take a lot more points to redeem. Delta was the worst and fell way down my list. British Airways switched to a distance based approach with removed some great redemptions but added others. Half of the battle is to keep up with the rules and tricks to get what you want for the least amount of points.

The only way to stay a step ahead of the game is to earn points that you can transfer to multiple programs. As it stands today my top 3 are American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Hotels Group. Each of these allows me to transfer their points to a long list of programs. I can move to where I find the best deal and am not married to a single program.

My current favorite is Chase Ultimate Rewards since they transfer to United. I am most interested in international business/first class. United has lots of great partners in Star Alliance and availability. I can first find the seats I want, transfer to United instantly, and book the ticket. Fantastic!

My main problem is earning points fast enough. With promotions and credit card offers slowing down I will eventually run out if this trend continues. I know this game is not going to be sustainable forever so I need to make the most of what I can get today.