My brother did something awful recently. No, he didn’t push a bunch of immigrants off a boat or join ISIS, but he did manage to frustrate the hell out of me. It’s not entirely his fault – as the Keeper of the Miles I sometimes do a bad job of being transparent and explaining this hobby to my family. I’d rather just handle it all myself. Well that practice bit me in the a** recently when I found out my brother is going on a trip to D.C. Very soon. Is he driving there, because how come he hasn’t asked me about booking his ticket and hotel yet? It turns out he’s going to tour several med school campuses in the area and staying with different students. That explains the lack of hotel booking, but it turns out he also paid for his own ticket…using his Chase Ink Bold card!
I confronted him about his lapse in judgment. At $380 RT it would have made a perfect Arrival miles redemption. It turns out he was clueless about the powers of the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard (to be fair, I’m holding onto it for him to rack up manufactured spending via Amex gift card orders) and since he’s always hearing about my gift card buying and Target-hopping, he assumed there was a mileage shortage and earning more would be too much of a hassle for me. So I guess it’s actually a thoughtful thing he did, but I wish he’d at least talked to me so I could have saved him money, told him we’ve got plenty of miles and that my frequent trips to Target are just me being greedy.
Anyway, this incident has made me reconsider the way I micro-manage everyone’s mileage accounts and credit cards. While I’ll continue to do it, I recognize the need for transparency. Otherwise, misunderstandings happen and people end up putting airfare charges on the wrong credit card. I’ve also made it clear to everyone that we have millions of points and miles to spare and to please check with me before making any more travel bookings. I clarified that while buying $50,000 worth of gift cards and unloading them at Target looks like a hassle (and it is, sometimes), I really do get a kick out of it so no one should see it as a strenuous activity. There are people working difficult jobs year-round who still can’t afford to travel – me hopping around Target stores is a cakewalk in comparison.
Going forward, I’m going to make an effort to explain the different rewards programs and what purpose each of them serves in my travel hacking strategy. This will hopefully prevent similar situations from happening in the future and make everyone feel more involved.
Are you managing your family’s frequent flyer accounts? Have you ever had a similar situation come up because of a lack of transparency?
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