Confessions of a points hoarder: Why I’m using up all of my loyalty points

Nov 18, 2019

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I have a confession to make: I’m a points hoarder.

Like most points and miles addicts, I think about points every single time I make a purchase, take a flight or stay in a hotel — from something as simple as purchasing a coffee through to a premium cabin fare. I have my favourite loyalty programmes I focus on. For example, I love the flexibility of American Express U.K. Membership Rewards and for Oneworld flights, I credit the points to the British Airways Executive Club. And I hate the idea of missing out on points by not crediting a particular flight or hotel stay somewhere.

As a result, I have points in lots of different programmes. Some have big balances, while others have barely enough for a short-haul flight.

They can be hard to keep track of, so I use the Award Wallet app where I can view the balances of each programme all at once and also check the expiry date of any miles. I aim to use points wherever I can but always check I’m receiving a good value for any redemptions using the monthly TPG U.K. points valuations. Often, I’ll look to use Avios for a Reward Flight Saver flight to mainland Europe, though if a low-cost flight is only £20 versus paying £60 of Avios and fees and taxes, I’ll usually just book the cheap cash fare and save the points for a better use given I’m not receiving a great value.

This has led to my hoarding problem. I keep saving up my points for the rainy day that never actually comes.

About one month ago on a Sunday afternoon in London, I decided to do something about it. I checked the balance of every single point currency I currently own across multiple programmes and allocated a use for each of them. I have two weddings abroad to attend next year: one in Australia and the other in Bali.

Family on vacations looking at view of coastline with cliffs, Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia (Image by Konstantin Trubavin / Aurora Photos / Getty Images)
Nusa Penida, Bali, Indonesia. (Photo by Konstantin Trubavin / Aurora Photos / Getty Images)

With firm dates for these weddings already, I knew where I had to be and when, so I was comfortable biting the bullet and liquidating my accounts. I started with a British Airways Companion Voucher redemption and built the trips around that, using points wherever possible and practical. There was the odd flight that wasn’t available with points at the time, but I was confident it would still open up at the last minute, as I was flexible with my dates and routing. So I allocated enough points from my accounts for that redemption and have set up Expert Flyer alerts, so as soon as that seat opens up, I’ll use those points for it.

It was a weird feeling seeing some balances go from six figures down to three figures, but I’m happy with the value I managed to obtain and now every personal long-haul flight I have planned for the next nine months is booked using points. Loyalty points and miles are only valuable if you can use them, and it’s likely through devaluations that they will never be worth more than they are right now. As we like to say, points and miles are not a good long-term investment.

While my account balances are currently low, I’m earning more points all the time, so I know they will increase again over time. I’m not suggesting you spend every single point you own right this second, but I would say you should always have a plan for redeeming your points — even if it’s a goal in the future that you are saving up for.

As comforting as it is to see a healthy points balance in your account, I think it’s even more comforting knowing you received a great value from them.

Featured image by Gettys Images

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