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Breakfast Buffet at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

Buffet Breakfast at Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur

The Reserve Bank of Australia have recently imposed changes in regards to Interchange Fees for Credit Cards. What does this mean? In basic terms – the majority of credit cards will earn you less points, less benefits and less value. So what are you going to do from these changes? Are you going to give up and say everything is too hard? Might as well pay full cash for holidays?

To myself – these changes present extremely exciting new opportunities! What you can’t earn on the credit cards you used to be able to earn makes my mind formulate other strategies of multipying my points.

American Express Direct Credit Cards are not affected by these changes – so for any points Enthusiast here in Australia – if you haven’t got a card from Amex direct – you are missing out on accumulating points effectively. Plus, Amex have “Offers” regularly on purchases made at department stores, groceries etc – which are essentially discounts to reduce what you usually have to pay for items or services.

With Shopping Portals, Restaurant Bookings, Credit Card sign-up bonuses and other ongoing promotions that are very lucrative in earning you points – there really is no reason for your points stash to slow down.

By spending your money as you regularly do and sticking to a normal budget – by changing the way you shop – you could be exponentially be earning more points to that trip in 1 years time. Don’t listen to the naysayers that say the points game is dead.

Without leveraging points/airline miles tactics – there is no way I could provide once in a lifetime holidays for my family – and I do this once a year now! My family holidays usually cost $20K for full price or more – it can even cost more than $60K! Like our previous Maldives trip or our 3 week holiday to the US on First Class. But I usually use my points to book all our flights and hotels – which leaves just the taxes I need to pay and the everyday spending in the locations we visit. Keeping in mind the hotels we stay at provide Breakfast and Executive Lounge access which allows us to reduce our cost even further.

At the end of the day – we all need an income from either our jobs, businesses, property, shares etc to fund our lifestyle – but by implementing strategies to pay your bills more effectively and by shopping more smartly with online shopping portals and promotions – you too can be travelling for a fraction of the cost of what your peers are paying. You could also be flying Business class and staying in 5-Star Hotels for cheaper than other people who are paying full “cash” with low budget economy airlines and 3 star Motels.

Ala Carte Sushi Breakfast at Conrad Maldives 1

Ala Carte Sushi Breakfast at Conrad Maldives

Below are my 6 Basic Tips for Playing the Points Game:

  1. Never-ever redeem your hard-earned credit card points or Airline miles for Gift Cards! This is perhaps the biggest Sin that anyone could commit! No matter how you justify it in your minds – you are essentially telling someone to rip you off! In this case it is either the banks or the Frequent Flyer program that are “stealing” off you! The number of times I hear people redeeming their points for gift cards or toasters after giving them a simple education of what points can do. It is not just cringe-worthy and frustrating – but to know how lazy people are to not put more value on what essentially is their money. Points are worth money at the end of the day.
  2. American Express Credit Card direct from Amex to accumulate points. Note I am not a financial advisor – but seriously if your only reason why you use your bank-issued credit card is because you have a home loan with them because it is “packaged” – then you are doing a disservice to yourself. The benefits and points that Amex have provided back to me in the 10+ years has been astronomical. While you are staying in an average Hilton hotel in Bali or Hawaii, flying low-budget airlines and eating barely edible food and “think” you got a great deal from those coupon sites – you would have given up the oppportunity to live a more luxurious travel experience by being smarter with how you spend money.
  3. Understanding Promotions and Sign up for EVERY PROGRAM! Every now and then – there is a promotion either from credit cards, frequent flyer programs, shopping portals, restaurant booking websites etc that essentially blast your points total to the next level. It’s about taking advantage of these promotions that can be the difference between an economy flight to Hong Kong or a First Class flight to Europe. The number of points I’ve earned in the last year through promotions, sign-up bonuses, life insurances, credit card referrals has pretty much guaranteed at this stage my next 3 family holidays over the next 3 years is going to be quite comfortable and extravagant.
  4. Do not use your points to upgrade from Economy to Business. Some people would like to disagree with me on this one. Well my reasoning is this. For Qantas for example – I need approximately 50,000 Qantas points to upgrade from a PAID economy fair to Business Class if I wanted to fly to Hong Kong. Plus there is no guarantee – you are on a waitlist. They will only let you know within the last few days (or even hours) if you have been upgraded or not. For a Full Business Class Award seat (Saver) – it only requires 60,000 points! Plus I am guaranteed the seat without having to waitlist! That present a much better proposition to me.
  5. Do not redeem your points for Economy Award Seats. Now this is all about how much something you think is valued. Personally I think business class seats are on average at least 5 times the value of economy seats in terms of cash value. But it only requires at worse double or at best 25% more points than economy to fly on Business!!!!! So why would you want to be stuck in cattle class when you could be sipping Champagne and have direct aisle access and so glad you didn’t have to be stuck in the middle seat in Economy with no aisle access?
  6. Plan in advance to redeem Award Seats! Your best change is between 11-12 months when the award seats have been released. Most frequent flyer programs release their award seats 330 days to 365 days ahead. So if you know where you want to fly in around 12 months’ time – then it makes sense to aim to accumulate the required number of points to make it happen. As I have a family of 4 to cater to – this is extremely important. For an award seat which requires only 1-2 people – there is more leniency. Some friends come to me about getting them an award seat in a months’ time. It may or may not work. Cathay Pacific for example release their seats a few days before departure so that could be an option.

Singapore Airlines Business Class

Singapore Airlines Busines Class Seat

I hope I’ve given you enough sense and reasoning to earn and redeem your airline miles and credit cards more wisely. But this all requires some action on your part. Should you choose to actively immerse yourself in this – then the sky is your limit with your travel adventures. Should you disregard any or all these tips – then expect full price holidays that may or may not deliver up to your expectations. Don’t kid yourself – the coupon sites aren’t that great no matter what anyone tells you.

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