Have you ever experienced points and miles angst?
I almost hit the panic button recently when trying to book a flight home for our daughter.
Delta Airlines runs a nonstop route to Reagan National Airport (DCA) which is optimal for our travel needs. I am trying to spend down our modest stash of Delta Skymiles because our travel priorities will be changing come September.
I have 11,000 Skymiles in my account.
The preferred roundtrip flight was available for 40,000 miles.
I have some Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Starpoints available, which can be transferred to Delta Skymiles. For each 20,000 Starpoints you transfer to Delta, SPG gives you a 5,000 point bonus. 25,000 additional Skymiles, still wasn’t enough to book the trip. I’d need to move 24,000 Starpoints over to Delta to cash in. (11K Skymiles + 20K Starpoints + 5K bonus points + 4K Starpoints = 40k points needed for a ticket).
This left me with 13,000 Starwood points — enough for 1-night stay at a mid-range hotel. As a mentioned in an earlier post, I am considering whether to retain or to close my Amex Starwood credit card.
Weighing the Options
The rub is that Starpoints do not transfer to airlines immediately. Starwood does not specify how long the transfer might take — beyond advising that it could be several weeks. If I transferred the points to Delta and they did not post for a while, I would have to consider alternate arrangements for this trip, and I would be left with 40,000 points in my Delta account which I might or might or might not be enough to book a future flight. I admit it’s a bit ridiculous to obsess over something this minor — but that is what was going through my mind.
When I started to book the Delta flights using Skymiles, the reservation system noticed that I did not have an adequate balance of Skymiles in my account. It offered me the option putting a two-day hold on the reservation. The flights I was interested in looked pretty full. I put a hold on the reservation and I requested that SPG transfer the points over to Delta.
Fortunately, it only took two days for the transfer from SPG to go through and I was able to book the preferred flights for 40,000 Skymiles and a $5.00 fee. What’s more, I had emptied my Delta Skymiles account without leaving any orphan miles to stew. However, had it taken three or more days, I would have lost the seats and there would be no way to reverse the points transfer.
Some miles and points gurus might view transfers to Delta as the poorest possible use for Starpoints. In my view, points are not worth anything unless you can use them, and this use met our immediate need. Indeed, it netted us a $495 ticket essentially for free! All the points in question were earned by opening travel reward credit cards, and meeting the minimum spend requirement on the cards.
This story illustrates is what a juggling contest the world of miles and points can be. If you are not careful, you could end up leaving points or miles on the table.
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