I am challenging Gary Leff!

That’s right, I am going after the high priest ! Next up, Randy Petersen. Well, actually this time its not so much of a challenge, but rather a different perspective. First, I really like his blog “View from the wing”. Its one of the best if not the best for a reason.

The energy of that guy is unreal. He has  a full-time job, a side business and writes 10 posts per day. And all of them are good! Its beyond me. Even though I don’t relate to his business traveler perspective, I still enjoy reading his take on things.

Anyway, back to my point. In his post  he claimed how its wrong to redeem  Ultimate Rewards for travel expenses. LINK to post. Chase has an option where you can get   1.25 cents per point towards a purchase of airfare, hotels and cruises.

He said it would be better to focus on cash back cards, if that is your goal. I don’t disagree with that part. I have long maintained, that for a middle class family it makes more sense, when it comes to non-bonus spending. Read more about it HERE 

But what if you got a Chase Sapphire Preferred or one of the business cards, like Ink plus or Ink bold just for bonus? That is indeed the case with me, since I got CSP card in January solely for the points. In fact I plan to cancel it   very soon. And I won’t have any Ultimate Rewards earning cards from now on, maybe ever.

Yes, they are extremely valuable and all and the program has some very lucrative transfer partners. But  like it goes in the song by Jose Gonzalez, called “Heartbeats”: “Wouldn’t be good enough? For me, no!”   I focus on sign-up bonuses at this time and will not pay a fee of 95 dollars just for the privilege of an occasional transfer.

But back to my point. Lets say you have 40000 Ultimate Rewards points and not sure what to do with them. You can transfer to United or Hyatt, the holy duo. If you are looking for a business class  seat or a fancy hotel, that may be what you should do. United provides some fantastic opportunities for redemption on Star partners. And Hyatt has some really impressive hotels, that “only” cost 22000 Ultimate Rewards per night through transfer. Those places retail for 800-1000 dollars per night.

But would you ever pay that much to begin with? Who cares, what the rates are. You can rent a condo for a week in many places for that amount of money. Lets say, like me you are looking to decide what to do with your Ultimate Rewards. You have to transfer or spend the points, before canceling the card. Here are the options I am considering at this time : Rapid Rewards, British Airways Avios, or spend on travel at a rate of 1.25  per point.

I have a good stash of Avios at the moment so I will pass on that one. Besides, I like to get them through transfer from Membership Rewards, when there is a bonus. So its a toss up between Rapid Rewards and  just cashing out for travel. I need to book some paid flights for my parents in December just before canceling the card, so I will use part of the stash for that. It makes no sense to redeem miles for that particular situation. I probably will transfer the rest to Southwest, unless something else comes up.

So if I have firm plans, whether  cruise or airfare,  I  absolutely will not hesitate to use them at a rate of 1.25 cents per point. Especially with the upcoming Rapid Rewards devaluation, where 1 point will be worth 1.4 cents toward flights after March 31st 2014. A bird in the hand  is worth two in the bush. If you are like me, your savings are somewhat low. So instead of making a speculative transfer, perhaps its worth it to just go for the sure thing.

I suggest you read the blogs, take the advice, but then make your own decisions, when it comes to your points. Its like some guy tweeted the other day: they are YOUR miles and points, do what YOU want with them. I think I have heard that one before.  So what I’m really trying to say is, read “View from the wing”, then come back and apply through my site! Don’t worry, he will still be staying at Hyatt.

Photo credit goes to adrenalist.com

13 thoughts on “I am challenging Gary Leff!

  1. You should value an award based on what you would otherwise pay if you weren’t using points. And you should use points for the things you value. We’re on the same page there.

    But you should still get better than a penny and a quarter per value out of points with Ultimate Rewards points you just happen to have.

    Even post-devaluation you should do better with Southwest transfers than 1.25 cents.

    And you may think you’ve got plenty of Avios but you’re schlepping a whole family, those points go fast!

    Airfares are pretty high these days, you should do better even on a United MileagePlus domestic coach award!

    And forget the Park Hyatt Vendome, even at a run of the mill Hyatt say you just need lodging in New York, someplace to sleep, it’s hard to do worse than 1.5 cents a point.

    Finally, surely if you’re looking at 1.25 cents per point redemptions you can improve things a bit by working with a trusted friend who has more aspirational needs.

    Even if you just happen to have a stash of Ultimate Rewards and aren’t looking for any top end uses, you can easily easily easily get better value than ‘pay with points’. So you’re leaving value on the table (and ultimately costing yourself more out of pocket) if you don’t.



  2. Oh my goodness, I just hit a jackpot! I thought I have “arrived” after Matt’s comment. That is until now. Thanks so much for taking the time, that means a lot. I do agree, that you can do better with Southwest and most likely Avios. But here is the thing. I already have a good stash in both programs. And we don’t travel that often.
    My biggest concern as always, is devaluation. BA can add fuel surcharges, raise redemption rates and so forth. Southwest is probably done raising rates for awhile, but as I said, I already have a good stash in the program. Probably enough for next two years worth of vacations. That’s just my take on things, though. Thanks for stopping by. Now I have officially arrived!


  3. Can you be more specific about the airline tickets for your parents that you feel will be a better deal to book at 1.25 cents per point versus using a point transfer to buy? That should really be your only consideration…which method allows you to get the tickets you want with the least amount of points spent?


  4. @Michael Thanks so much for stopping by. The tickets I was looking at are one-way from Buffalo to New York on Delta and priced at around 75 dollars each. Last time I checked, Southwest or AA ( where I would use Avios) do not fly that route. So at that price it really only makes sense to just pay cash. Thats why I might use Ultimate rewards. As I said, I prefer to have a sure thing. But the rest of my Ultimate Rewards will go to Southwest.


  5. “The tenacity and energy of that guy is unreal. The “the” before “energy” is implicitly redundant too. Couldn’t get past that line, so don’t know what this blog post was about and I do get the pot stirring part.
    Grammar and punctuation are fun. Long live grammar police of the interwebs.


  6. @clmolvNoName All fair points! The “are” was a typo. As far as “the”, yeah, you got me there. English is my second language, so I do still get confused, when it comes to “the” and “a”. The blog doesn’t make enough to hire an (correct?) editor at this point. Maybe someday. Thats why I asked people to apply through my site at the end of the post! But you didn’t get to the punchline, sadly. 😦 Anyway, I took tenacity out of the (?) sentence. In all honesty, thanks for stopping by. Long live grammar police of the interwebs!


  7. @ Randy Petersen OK, I thought I have arrived before… What is happening? Is this a dream, are you real? The email looks legit. Thank you so much for stopping by! I wasn’t actually going to challenge you, but will have to come up with something now. Oh, and I read your interview with Delta Points. I was also told to pack up and go home with this blog. But now I might stick around for a little while.


    • Pack up and go home? That’s for the others, not you. I have proudly encouraged bloggers for many years and will do so here and now. I’m interested in knowing how you are doing with this Gary Leff guy. I agree with your assessment “Its one of the best if not the best for a reason.” but take him on. Quick question: in your picture above, are you in the red or the blue? Just wondering ….. keep blogging.


  8. @Randy Petersen Thank you so much for your encouraging words, sir! I’m not sure which color knight I represent. But I know, its the one, that’s winning! How is that? And I’ll keep on blogging for now. When I run out of things to say, then I will pack up and go home.


  9. Pingback: If you don’t cruise, you lose! But you can still win with IHG promo. | Miles For Family

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