I posted about why I’ve kept my Ink Bold card, even though I only use it to pay for a handful of expenses that get 5x points. Basically, I earn enough points for a round trip ticket to Calgary and it’s worth the $95 annual fee.
Just recently, though, I decided to use this card more often – not only for Comcast, Verizon, office supplies and hotels like I currently do. I will continue to use my MileagePlus card for all groceries, dining and home improvement purchases, as they earn 2x miles. I will continue to use my Explorer card for airfare as I get 2x miles on United, free checked bags on United, and travel protection for all air travel. I will continue to use my American Express card for gas as I get a 4% reward check.
But, so long as I know I’m going to earn my bonus miles on my Explorer card, I’m going to use my Ink Bold for purchases that don’t earn extra miles on my other cards. Why?
Because points are more flexible than miles.
Through their Ultimate Rewards program, I can transfer points into a variety of travel partners including United’s MileagePlus program, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards, Hyatt’s Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards and others.
Now, I’m 95% certain to only use United’s program, but here’s the reason why points are more flexible than miles. Through the Ultimate Rewards website I can transfer, for no fee, points to the MileagePlus accounts of others. This comes in handy if you need to create some activity in your spouse’s or kids’ accounts. Or bump them up enough to have enough miles for a trip. I had to do that a couple of years ago to get our son to Chile, but it cost $45 to transfer the miles from my account to his. With Ink Bold’s Ultimate Rewards, however, you can transfer points for free!
Here’s the caveat. Recently, they’ve started making you confirm that you’re transferring points only to a significant other so that people aren’t transferring them to a 3rd party, possibly for profit. And they say that you can be suspended from the program and risk losing your earned points if you violate this policy. So – this is definitely something to keep in mind and, although I don’t consider that I’m “abusing” their program (because I’m not doing this for profit), last month I transferred 7,000 points to my Mom’s account so that she can fly up to Denver to visit us. I sure hope they don’t nail me for it, especially if they hear the circumstances.
Here’s the background. Last time I was in Calgary my Mom showed me an email she got from United warning her that her miles were about to expire. She didn’t even know about the MileagePlus program and wondered what the email was about. (I was pleased and more than a little surprised that she hadn’t just deleted the email.) I did some sleuthing and discovered that she (and, as it turns out, my Dad) each had around 18,000 miles in their accounts – probably from Continental flights they took to Mexico every winter until my Dad was no longer able to make the trip a few years ago. The merger of United and Continental would have created the necessary activity to keep the miles from expiring in 2011. But, with no activity since the merger, all their miles were set to expire at the end of September. With the addition of the 7,000 miles I transferred into her account, Mom had enough miles for me to book flights for her to come visit us later this month.
And that’ll pretty much be it. She doesn’t have a United MileagePlus credit card as they aren’t available in Canada. She doesn’t travel anymore, since my Dad is in a nursing home. So, there won’t be any reason to worry about her miles unless she decides to start visiting more regularly and earns miles that way.
Same thing with my Dad’s miles, except he’s never going to fly again. I bumped his up, too, so they wouldn’t expire. Now someone can use them to fly Denver-Calgary or Calgary-Denver. One of these days all five of us are going to have to fly back to Calgary. Last time it was for a wedding. 🙂 But, more likely, it will be for a funeral next time. 🙁
Hopefully, I won’t get in trouble for this. It’s been a month and, so far, I haven’t. Just to be safe, though, I transferred the rest of my points into my MileagePlus account. After this, I won’t have much cause to ever transfer points again, except to maybe create some activity in my kids’ accounts every 18 months. And I can do that by transferring the minimum number of points (1000). But, I think I’ll use my Ink Bold more frequently now that I’ve seen the benefits of having points. Who knows, maybe one of these days we’ll start jetting off on Southwest or want to stay at some fancy schmancy Hyatt…