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When I speak to my friends about booking trips using their credit card points or frequent flyer points - they always seem to leave it to the last minute. Even booking a holiday with cash which majority of people do - they do the same thing - book last minute. Why?

I believe it is because they fail to plan early. By giving yourself plenty of time to book ahead – I personally like to do it 12 months ahead – the opportunities and award seats available are much greater than the last few weeks before departure.

Booking with points or miles for award seats are best done months away before you decide you want to fly. Yes you need to be flexible especially in terms of booking the award seat – but there are many more options available and if you know the airlines which have a good number of seats available – then you can time it just about right.

For example I was able to book my family of four to go to the Maldives in January on Singapore Airlines Business Class flying out of Sydney. It was quite easy because I knew Singapore Airlines released seats about 350 days out. Knowing the routing rules always helps – booking in advance lets you research your options that the frequent flyer program you wish to fly on with a better chance of securing the seat. I’ll bet you now there is no chance you can get 4 Business class seats all on the same flights because the time I booked it was peak time and the award seats would have been picked up already.…

One of the best ways to use your Qantas points is with an around the world business trip. This in my mind is one of the most aspirational options to utilise your Qantas frequent flyer points - which unfortunately I still rate as one of the worst in the airline industry. You need a high number of points to travel and the number of award seats for premium seats is getting really rare - especially going directly to North America.

To fly around the world on business class for Qantas requires 288,000 points (144,000 for economy). To pay for this yourself without using points would cost you at least $10,000 AUD depending on which season you go. So saving this many points is definitely worth it.

Qantas is part of the One World Alliance – so to construct your itinerary you can use these code share partners as well. This includes Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Japan Airlines and American Airlines.

Since I have travelled quite a bit in premium cabins – I know which cabins that I should aim on getting. You are allowed 5 stops around the world. Imagine if you are able to take 2 months off – then you would try to fly to the different continents. Once you are in London for example – you could take the Budget airlines to fly to the other cities for cheap. But the international flights are all on Business – this is important as these are the longest legs of the journey.

It was a nice surprise last week when I was helping a friend out with their travel plans that I stumbled on my American Platinum Charge Card account now providing complimentary Shangri-La Jade Membership. They have taken out the Intercontinental (IHG) Gold Membership over the last 2 months which is definitely a real plus.

I have found that after having the IHG Gold membership for a few years (even without it linking to my Amex account) – that it has provided with very limited benefits. The only thing I got out of it was 10% more points when staying at the hotel. My free breakfast or executive lounge access – no upgrades – really as a hotel customer – it did not provide me with any incentives to stay at IHG hotels. These include Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn. They do though have one of the easiest programs to earn a heap of points by applying for multiple points promotions. Then also combining them with Point Break nights where every couple of points rooms only go for 5000 points – then you really have a great deal.

But over the last year – there have not been any desirable properties to redeem the 5000 points for – so really has been a big disappointment.…

Pointshogger-Logo-Full

Recently during my trip to Dallas to attend Frequent Traveller University I met a couple of great Canadian bloggers known as Pointshogger (http://pointshogger.boardingarea.com/). 

They kindly shared some of their insights into the way that they accumulate and then burn points. For you Canadians out there - I highly recommend you visit their site as they provide the most up to date and informative articles in regards to anything points and miles related.

 

Below is an interview to understand what Pointshogger do and how it can help everyday Canadians travel better for less:

 

1. Can you explain what Pointshogger do and the philosophy in points and travel?

 

Pointshogger is a Canadian-centric blog that teaches people who want to learn how to maximize the rewards they earn when spending their money. We like to think of ourselves as the "one-stop shop" for our readers to learn about anything points-related. We hope our blog will one day serve as a database about every major loyalty program offered in Canada so that any people can get the best return possible for every dollar that they spend.

What I would like to talk about in this post is that your success in accumulating the points and miles to receiving that great business or first class for yourself or your family comes down to if you believe you can do or not.

I see this very similar to financial goals that I have put on myself. I've given myself a goal of being financially independent which is that I don't have to rely on a job. My goal is to achieve this goal within 10 years – this is using investment techniques and planning. I am able to do this as I constantly educate myself in regards to finances – being financially literate.

In terms of points and miles – this is very similar. I've met many people who would love to fly business or first for their family but haven't the faintest idea how to do it. Most people think about how people can even afford business or first class?

Even after explaining to them how I do it – they are fascinated by the concept – but I don't believe that they themselves believe they can do it. So next thing I know when I speak to them in a few months time – they've booked a trip by themselves – probably paying more than what I would have paid – but also flying in coach and staying in 3 star hotels.

It just astounds me that people know I can help them improve their holidaying experience for free because they are my friends – but just cannot be bothered picking up the phone and have a talk on how to do it.

It comes down to the mindset and the will of a person I believe. My mindset is that every time I spend money – I want to get the best bang for my money in terms of cash back, discounts and points maximization. My mind is thinking everyday of how I can obtain more business and first class flights for my family.

Over the last 8 years my family has been able to fly business class overseas every year due to my due diligence in understanding how to maximize the points and also understanding that every dollar I spend is an opportunity for me to increase my points.

The difference between myself and the next person in terms of accumulating and then redeeming the points for the best value product (i.e. business or first class) – is that I can extract more than 100x value.

I remember my friend who was with me shopping one day said not to worry about how much points I can get when buying an item. Are you kidding me! That's what irritates the heck out of me – people who don't use their mind (the greatest leverage in the world) to extract the best value.

By having the right credit cards, shopping at places which provides you the most points, understanding what your ultimate goal is and using your mind as the greatest leverage tool that God has given you – you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.…

At the moment till end of June 2015 – Qantas is having a Quadruple points with the Hilton hotels. That means if for your Hilton account – you have set your account to earning points and miles when staying at a Hilton branded hotel – then you will receive for every US dollar – you get one Qantas Frequent Flyer point – then multiple that by four times.

I recently stayed at the Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel with my family. To give you a run down on how this Triple whammy of points came about let me document it below.

As I stayed with Hilton and also a Gold Member – I receive 25% more base points. So I paid $1500 AUD. So approximately that is $1300 USD. I received 1300 x 10 = 13,000 Hilton Points. Currently till end of April there is a Double points promotion with Hilton. So therefore I received 26,000 points. Now add on top of that the 25% more points I receive from the base points which is 3250 Hilton Points. So I received 29,250 Hilton points.

Now as I have set my Hilton account to double-dipping which means I can earn Qantas points as well – I originally get 1300 QFF. As there is a Quadruple points promotion – I received 5200 QFF points.…