This is a review of my credit card, airline miles and deals strategy in the last year.
2018 was a very eventful year for me. After spending a few months in Dubai, I could finally apply for any credit card I wanted to! There were a lot of sign-up bonuses going around and after careful consideration, I applied for 3 credit cards in 2018.
- ADCB World Elite Mastercard
- American Express Platinum Credit Card
- NBAD (now FAB) Etihad Guest Infinite Card (benefits not redeemed yet)
My airline strategy was simple. Miles earned on Emirates and Etihad flights went to their respective programs. For other airlines, I specifically chose Star Alliance flights and credited my miles to Lifemiles by Avianca. This was, irrespective of the fact that I was an Air India Silver member. Star alliance redemption through Air India is extremely challenging and very poor value for money in most cases.
And most of all, I tried to make sure that every possible spend, however low, was directed through credit cards. At the same time, I did not go beyond my means (or at least I would like to think so).
So what did I gain from this plan? Read below to find out
American Express Platinum Credit Card
Through a mix of sign-up bonus, referrals and spending, I earned 100,000 MR points. I had converted these to 25,000 SPG points which eventually got converted to 75,000 Marriott points. I used 70,000 points to book two nights at HUUS Gstaad during Christmas. It was one of the best hotels I have stayed it. Magnificent!
What did I pay? Nothing. My fee was waived by Amex upon crossing a minimum spend threshold
What did I get? The two night stay in HUUS GStaad was worth $1,350 (AED 5,000) + taxes
Net savings: AED 5,000
ADCB World Elite Mastercard
This card has two unique features – 20% discount on Hotels booked through Hotels.com and no forex charges. I maximized both through 2018. All my forex spending was done through this card and so were all my hotel bookings.
What did I pay? AED 50 / $15 (net) as the annual fee of AED 1,050 was covered by AED 1,000 discount voucher on hotels.com
What did I get? I saved about AED 2,000 ($540) on hotels and AED 500 on forex spending
Net savings: AED 2,450
I did not redeem Etihad and Emirates miles in 2018.
However, I made a killing with Lifemiles for our trip to Switzerland.
I bought 51,000 Lifemiles which included a bonus of 120% i.e. 61,200. This, combined with the miles I already had in my Lifemiles account, was enough for 2 tickets to Zurich in the configuration I was looking for (DXB-ZRH in business and ZRH-DXB in economy). The total cost was $1,867.
What did I pay? $1,867 / AED 6,850 for buying the miles
What did I get? The tickets were worth AED 15,000 / $4,000.
Net savings: AED 8,150
My total savings in 2018 added to AED 15,600 ($4,250). And it wasn’t rocket science.
I just had direct my spends carefully and be on the lookout. All these rewards and benefits were easy to attain and in public domain.
By the way, this blog is a great way to find some of those , so keep visiting!
What was your miles and points strategy in 2018?