Earning, Churning & Burning: Quarter 3 Update

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Earning, Churning & Burning: Quarter 3 Update

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As the third quarter of 2016 comes to a close, I wanted to share with you all my progress in the past three months; some hiccups and my strategy going forward.  You can read Quarter 1’s update here and Quarter 2’s update here.

Q3 Earned

Let’s start off by taking a look at 2015 and then move on down to 2016.

2015
Bank Card Bonus
Chase Marriott 80,000
Citi Reserve 2 Nights
Total  2 cards 80,000 + 2 Nights
 YTD     895,000 + 2 Nights
  2016  
Bank Card Bonus
Barclays Arrival + 40,000
Citi Prestige 50,000
Chase Fairmont 2 Nights
BOFA Alaska 30,000
Citi Hilton Reserve 2 Nights
AMEX Mercedes-Benz 50,000
AMEX Personal Gold 40,000
AMEX Delta Platinum Business 60,000
Citi AA Executive 60,000
Citi AAdvantage Gold 25,000
Barclays Miles & More 50,000
Total  11 Cards 405,000 + 4 Nights

Year-to-Date: So far in three quarters, I’ve earned 1,495,000 points + 6 Nights, as opposed to almost 900,000 and 2 nights at the same point in 2015.

Where’s the Difference?

Q3 of 2015 was very, very slow for me. Only two cards, as opposed to 11 of this year’s Q3.

Because of all the changes in churning rules from Chase, AMEX and Citi, I’ve had to be strategic in this quarter to really maximize sign-up bonuses. You’ll notice there are a lot of cards from Citi (but that will soon cease) and two from Barclays.

In particular, I was able to net 85,000 AAdvantage miles from the two AA cards I’ve never had – the Executive and Gold – from Citi before their new rules went into affect on August 28, 2016.

What’s next?

Having focused so much on cards from the big banks, I’m slowly moving in the direction of looking at offers from other lenders – US Bank, Bank of America, TD Bank, etc.

  • I will hit my two year anniversary in a few weeks from earning the sign-up bonus on the Hyatt card and I will be eligible to earn the sign-up again. These aren’t points, they are nights, but they’re very valuable if used wisely.
  • There are rumors swirling around about changes coming to the American Express Platinum card in order to compete with the popularity of Chase’s newest premium card, the Sapphire Reserve. I’ve never had the Platinum card, but if they’re looking to compete with sign-up bonuses, I’m all there!
  • The AMEX Delta cards have increased sign-up bonuses so there are a few my wife has never got before.
  • I’ll look to apply for a card from TD or US Bank, as I’ve never had products from them.

Q3 Burned

As fun as it is to read about churning and earning, what about burning?

Redemption* Points Used Taxes / Cash Paid Cash Value
New York – Rome, Business Class 125,000 Delta SkyMiles $11.20 $5,500
Various AA Flights 45,000 ThankYou Points None $650
Chicago – Phoenix – Chicago
Chicago – New York
New York – Chicago 9,400 Southwest** $11.20 $316
Chicago – New York None $116 N/A
New York – Chicago None $115 N/A
New York – Chicago 26,000 Southwest $11.20 N/A
Ritz-Carlton Herzilya, 1 Night 26,000 Marriott $170 $450
1 Fairmont Night Certificate Monte Carlo None None $500
Conrad London 80,000 HHonors None $465
Total  311,600 + 1 Night $434.60 $7,881

* All redemptions are for one-way for two passengers unless stated otherwise

**Companion Pass Used

What this means:

  • I’ve burned significantly less than last quarter as I’m not sure what I’d like to do next summer (my travel is booked through New Years of 2016/2017). I typically slow down travels in that winter/early-spring shoulder season.
  • I’ve spent more on actual travel because of good, cheap deals on flights. As talked about here, I’m working to conserve miles on some redemptions which are cheaper to use cash than points.
Helpful and Related Links:

– The Miner


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