Here’s some of what I’ve been up to with regards to miles/points/travel/gluttony recently.
1) Hammering out the details of my trip to Southeast Asia with my sister at the end of May. We were trying to figure out the best way to get from Hanoi to Siem Reap since one-way flights on Vietnam Airlines were pricing out at over $250 per person. I was thinking to transfer Amex Membership Rewards to Air France Flying Blue to book the flights for 10k points each, but Flying Blue charges fuel surcharges and the flights weren’t showing up online, which means dealing with the call center and paying a call center fee. Ended up finding flights for $170 per person roundtrip, so I booked that and we’ll just throw away the return. $170 is still a lot for such a short flight, but Siem Reap is such a touristy destination so it’s no unexpected. Also, just an example of how roundtrip flights can be cheaper than one-way flights for international itineraries.
2) Because we’re flying Vietnam Airlines, I’m trying to get a status match to a SkyTeam carrier. I’m trying China Airlines, but I haven’t heard anything back from my request. Anyone know of a SkyTeam carrier that will status match from oneworld Emerald?
3) Amex Platinum lost American lounge access on March 22nd, but that was also the date for $200 in additional AA credits for me. So I bought 2 $100 gift cards on March 22nd, saw that they were credited by Monday, and called to cancel my Amex Platinum. The first guy on the phone was perfectly nice, but the retention specialist that he transferred me to was awfully mean. She kept saying that I was getting an additional $200 airline credit so that should offset the annual fee for me since I already had a $200 airline credit from earlier this year. I couldn’t tell if she knew that I had already used up both credits, and she was offering $200 in addition to the $400 that I already had credited, but I didn’t think so. She then offered me 7,500 Membership Rewards points to keep the card, and I declined. I asked about getting the annual fee pro-rated, and she said that I could transfer the credit to my Amex SPG card, so I agreed to that.
Anyway, turns out that they’re not pro-rating the fee and instead are refunding me the full $450 (I have not yet received the check, but this is what I saw on my account). This means that for 1 $450 annual fee that I paid last year, I received 100k MR points as a sign-up bonus, 10k MR points to sign-up for pay over time, Priority Pass and other lounge access (which I used many, many times, as evidenced by the many Priority Pass lounge reviews on this blog), and $600 of airline credits. And I think I charged less than $5k on that card last year. Should I feel bad for Amex?
4) I booked my last US Airways Star Alliance trip. I’m headed to China for a week in July, which may or may not be miserable. 90k miles in business class, and I’ll be flying Air China on the way there and within China and EVA on the way back.
5) Manufactured spending has become much, much harder for me. This is mostly because I don’t own a car, and my office moved away from a CVS that stocked VRs often enough, so there’s no convenient source for me any more (I don’t think it’s worth it to spend 40 minutes to go to a CVS when the chances of it being stocked are maybe 1 in 4). I also think that it’s just much more competitive in a city like San Francisco, and there are no Walmarts within any reasonable distance.