Towards the end of every year, I always start to look at the balances of my point accounts and start also looking at what I plan to do for traveling over the next year or two. Yes, I really do mean year or two. (Check out our post on our plan for our next Hawaii vacation.) I have found that using flexible points gives us the most travel options.
When I had started to look at the first trip to Hawaii for our family, I planned it out over 2-3 years to make sure I could do as much with points as possible. There are always risks planning that far out such as points needed for the flights or hotels go up or airline carriers changing flight options. We were fortunate that the choices we did gave us some flexibility in case of those changes.
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Over the last two years, I have moved to keep points in a program such as Chase Ultimate Rewards. This way my points aren’t locked up with Southwest, Delta, or Marriott. Using this program let us keep our flexible points in one place until we need them.
Using Flexible Points
For the trip to Hawaii we recently went on, I was short the miles needed for all the flights using United. They had nonstop flights that were worth us spending a little more on. By not having my points locked in, I was able to transfer from Chase to United to complete that booking.
Additionally, I was then low on points to finish the hotel booking through Marriott for the travel package for the boutique hotel. I was able to top off the account with Marriott with the points from Chase.
Benefits of Flexible Points – When things Change
During those two years, a lot of changes happened in regards to the points hobby.
- Alaska Airlines lost the ability to book Delta fights.
- Alaska gave the flexibility to book American, Alaska or Delta flights.
Starwoods/SPG was a considerable hotel favorite in the points hobby. Starwoods/SPG was purchased by Marriott and changed redemption rates. Additionally, they cut the ability to earn points by 1/3rd the price per dollar than previously. Rumors of other airlines being purchased, hotel groups consolidating, would force many to try to stay ahead of the game. Where having the flexible miles in something like Chase Ultimate Rewards allows transfer partners for hotels as needed with IHG (Holiday Inn), Marriott, or Hyatt (my personal favorite).
For airlines, you have many options including Southwest and United. You can always cash in Points through the travel portal at 1.25 cents per point or penny per point in statement credit. Another example of how flexibility is beneficial. Southwest recently began booking flight options to Hawaii. This gives more options besides United and Delta, and will likely continue to make travel there competitive.
The more flexibility you have, the better.