2016 Points roundup

Looking back on 2016, the travels we got to take were truly the bright spots in an otherwise dismal year. But it also makes me grateful for the health and prosperity that allows us to travel. I started this blog in 2013 largely because I wanted to share the knowledge I'd gained about traveling for less. Travel opens your eyes to the world and ergo to yourself, and I think it generally makes the world a better place when we see how others live. 

That said, the most common question I've gotten in 2016 is "love the blog, but how are you making all of those miles?" And to that question, I decided to compile a list of 2016's point earnings and churnings.

Earnings: ≈ 550,000 points across six programs

Korean Airlines Credit Card targeted signup bonus – 40,000. This came in super handy paying for our flights to and from Japan...

Chase Sapphire Reserve signup bonus – 100,000. I think half of the United States got this card this year! I recently read that Chase is spending several hundred million dollars just to pay for all of the perks that come with this card.

Chase Sapphire spending – 90,000. Chase has bonuses in Dining and travel so those helped me boost my earning on everyday spend here. I also had the Boracay trip in mind and knew they had tons of award space yielding well above 2¢ per mile so I chose to put one of my company's estimated quarterly tax payments on my card. With Payusatax.com you pay a 2% convenience fee, so as long as you know you can redeem above 2¢ in the near future it can be worth it.

Amex Offers Bottega Veneta – 20,000. What can I say, I was grief shopping after the election...

Amex spending – 100,000. Looking over the year the biggest "pop" I get on monthly spend is buying paid airfare through the Amex travel portal so I get 4 Amex points per dollar spent in addition to whatever I earn from the airline for the flight. Some tips for using their portal.

The second-biggest item is the shipping charges for my company (I have a personal and a work Amex). FedEx earns a 3x bonus and that also adds up.

LOL the only United pic I have on this blog is my "goodbye United" shoe pic
United – 11,000. I didn't fly United at all this year! I despise flying out of Newark so United starts off at a "-3" rating even before I get off the AirTrain. Once they pulled their PS planes from JFK, there was no escaping it. Even our normal Puerto Vallarta flight ended up being on Delta this year. Still, they have some great partner redemptions with their miles and many have super reasonable co-pay prices. I use the United Mileage Dining program to earn bonus miles at select restaurants, and I use their shopping portal to take advantage of bonuses at places I'm going to buy holiday presents at anyway.

Earning Delta miles on a China Airlines flight
Delta – 6000. Our flight to Vallarta was paid on Delta, as was our flight to Kalibo from Taipei on their partner, China Airlines.

JetBlue – a lot :)

This one is too hard to calculate. My husband flies a lot for work and we have a family account so that complicates the math. He used to fly United for work, but then they did this at the end of 2014 and he decided to jump over to Mint for work travel. On top of his flying:
JetBlue.com shows the two of us accruing a total of 180,000 points, including all of those bonuses. Oddly, though, we didn't redeem JetBlue points for any of our flights this year. Since "earn and burn" is the mantra I'm guessing we'll try to burn some of these points in 2017. Given that their points are fixed-rate (around 1.4¢) and that they only have one redemption partner (Hawaiian Airlines for 1¢ each), the miles aren't the best to have, but they're free. 


  • Closed my Chase Sapphire Preferred card (in favor of the Reserve Card)
  • Closed my Barclays Arrival card in favor of the new JetBlue Plus card (they both offer Chip + PIN backup, so your card will work in foreign train ticket machines)
  • Closed my JetBlue Amex/Mastercard in favor of the new JetBlue Plus card
  • Closed my Chase Ink Business in favor of Amex Business Gold
  • Looking ahead to 2017, I might get the Chase United card again if I'm eligible for the 60k signup bonus (Chase got grumpy about churners and instituted a "5/24" rule)


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