This post is also available in: FR
Regularly, I receive testimonials from members of the facebook group “Travel for free (or almost…!) with your points & miles – milesopedia” about THEIR journey in this points & miles world. Today it is Sandra’s.
Points & miles: from dream to reality
Let’s not hide it. Articles like the one recently published in the Journal Métro make you dream:
With the same plane ticket that costs 75,000 miles in economy class, I did Montreal-Zurich, Zurich-Nice, and then stayed a week with my family. Then I flew from Nice to Istanbul, with a 24-hour stopover in Istanbul. Then, Istanbul-Hong Kong, and I stopped there. I did all of Vietnam and came back through San Francisco. All this cost me 150,000 miles, in business class. And I did it with my whole family. For $500.
These statements are true.
As always, my number one rule is to set a goal and give yourself the means to achieve it:
- Don’t go into debt for points
- Understand the subtleties of loyalty programs
- Have a game plan for credit card underwriting
Sandra and her reality before starting
My adventure began with the purchase of discounted flights. Being always on the lookout for the best deals on the market, different travel blogs started to catch my attention.
One day in January, milesopedia came into my life and nothing was ever going to be the same. (I promise, I’m not sponsored!)
The reflection period
I devoured the articles day and night (literally), going through all the topics, trying to familiarize myself with this brand new continent. It all seemed too good to be true, so I hesitated for a long time before taking the first step: ordering my first credit card for points accumulation.
Historically, credit was not an ally in my life. Too often associated with situations of last resort and certainly not a common payment method. I had just regained full control of my finances and felt I was finally on the right track. I last applied for a card several years ago and was turned down. I was therefore not very confident and convinced that these miraculous stories could never be mine.
The choice of the first cards
As I scrolled through all the comments in the Facebook group, the name of one card came up again and again: COBALT. Supposedly aimed at millennials, accessible, I had no choice but to dive in…and hope. Following the advice of the bundled applications, I applied for the Scotiabank Gold American Express® Card as well.
To my surprise, my requests were accepted. I automatically became a pain in the ass with my friends. Several months later, I have to make a colossal effort to avoid talking about points continually to anyone who will (or won’t) listen! The door was now wide open, for better or for worse.
I launched myself headlong, not suspecting that several walls would meet my path: mon story about Scotia ends here. I never got to hold the card in my hands, my file was closed for some reason I still don’t know and as a bonus two hard hits from their institution mark my credit report.
The hunt for points begins
With the American Express Cobalt Card in my pocket, I convinced several friends and family of its benefits. I quickly earn several referral points. I take pleasure in paying for groceries for my friends, it quickly becomes out of the question to pay otherwise than with this magic card. I limit my purchases at businesses that offer gift cards to the Couche-tard. Soon, the desire to move up a gear is felt.
I apply for the American Express Small Business Gold Rewards Card after a long hesitation in February. Its yield on Plastiq (2 points / dollar) and the – then – free subscription for the first year seduce me. Verdict: Accepted.
With the wind in my sails, I quickly move on:
Too many cards in a short time
I receive the American Express Platinum Card in its beautiful wrapping and begin my spending to unlock my bonus. Suddenly, it is impossible to pay. A message appears: contact American Express customer service. After an interminable wait, I was transferred from one department to another to be told that all my American Express cards were blocked for verification purposes.
As a victim of my ambition, I could only blame myself and collaborate. American Express asked me to provide proof of my business, bank statements of all my accounts for the last three months, and my employment records. The verification process took over two weeks.
I was furious, convinced I had ruined everything. After an interminable wait, countless calls, the decision was made: all my cards were unblocked, the payment cards restricted to $1500 for a period of 6 months to a year.
In retrospect and from an outside perspective, it was clearly a suicide waiting to happen. I want to share my story for those like me who are just starting out and are thirsty for points. An advice: patience.
Results since January 2018
Here, in spite of everything, is what my frantic quest has yielded since January 2018
Via the American Express Cobalt card: a grand total of over 160,000 points to date. I was able to use some of these points as a credit on travel expenses to pay off:
- a low-cost plane ticket for a trip to Cuba with friends
- a hotel package for an improvised weekend
- a low-cost ticket to Italy
Via the 3 American Express Membership Rewards cards, Amazon promotions and various survey platforms giving aeroplan miles: about 175,000 aeroplan miles!
Via RBC: Approximately 30,000 points converted into a $300 hotels.com gift card.
I can only wish I had learned my lesson. My journey is littered with mistakes, I am living proof that the path to points can be fraught with pitfalls, but I am also proof that anyone can succeed!
Are you a beginner? A few articles to get you started:
- Opening and closing credit cards: the strategy
- Which credit cards to apply for?
- How to collect points and miles quickly?
- Earn AIR MILES miles like a pro !
- The best credit cards in Canada
This post is also available in: FRCome to discuss that topic in our Facebook Group!