There are a few programs that are perpetually running sales on point purchases. The big culprits are US Airways and Avianca Lifemiles, though recently Club Carlson has jumped on the bandwagon, offering a 75% bonus on purchased points. The sale goes on until June 24 at 8:59 AM (ET). This makes me nervous because last time they gave away points this freely (via the Big Night Giveaways), a devaluation followed. I just read Angelina’s reasons for why she doesn’t buy points and many of them are in line with why I’m skipping this promotion.
The reason I’m mimicking the activities of a criminal to earn lots of points and miles is so I don’t have to pay for travel. To turn around and pay for points is hypocritical and a sign I’m slacking off on the manufactured spending front. I’d much rather put the cash I save by not buying points or paying for travel towards buying extra lives on Candy Crush Saga, reloading my Starbucks card before somebody else does, and maybe even respond to that pesky notification from my cell phone carrier asking for money. There are lots of other things I’d spend money on before investing in a currency that could devalue before I have a chance to use it. Plus, did I mention I have 600,000 Club Carlson points I need to burn through before the inevitable next round of devaluations?
With this promotion, you can buy up to 70,000 points (the maximum 40,000 per calendar year, plus 30,000 bonus points) for $280. A better alternative is to pick up the Club Carlson Premier Visa Signature card, pay just $75 (annual fee) and rake in 97,500 points after meeting minimum spend. I like that alternative better.
If manufactured spending is your game, it takes just $14,000 in manufactured spending on the Club Carlson Premier Visa Signature card to earn 70,000 points. The total cost? $82.60 if you’re buying Simon Mall gift cards. You can also generate the points at a profit if you’re churning American Express gift cards via Visa gift cards. With the current 2.5% cash back rate via BeFrugal, you would earn $350 cash back. Even factoring shipping or card fees and the cost of unloading gift cards, you’d easily come away with at least a 50% profit. Compare that to spending $280 to earn the same amount of points. It takes longer, since you can only order $5,000 worth of Amex gift cards every two weeks. Not to mention liquidating gift cards and shopping bonus payouts take time, but you’re doing it at a profit.
If you’re headed to a Club Carlson hotel in the next few weeks and buying points really does work out to be cheaper than paying out of pocket (even when factoring in the points you’re giving up by not paying out of pocket), then by all means go ahead and buy points. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother. My goal is to earn points (rather than buy them) so I don’t have to spend cash on travel. Yours may be different.
What are your thoughts on Club Carlson’s buy points promotion? Or these buy points promotions in general?
Disclosure: I will earn a $5 referral bonus if you sign up with my BeFrugal link and make a purchase.
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