I get daily emails from 3 different points and miles travel sites, subscribe to monthly updates from a couple more, and follow an even greater number on Twitter. Some provide helpful and/or interesting info from time to time, but the bulk of the time it is just the same regurgitated stuff over and over, or else it is some completely useless information that I will never, ever use (not will the bulk of readers).
Take this blog post, for example, on the fact that you can now pair a private jet with a $32,000 ultra-luxurious, uber-first-class “The Residence” Etihad booking. Yeah….now I’ll spend $40 grand to get from Chicago to Dubai instead of $32k to get from New York to Dubai. Sounds like a good use of over half my annual wages. So helpful for the everyday reader.
Then there were the articles on “the residence” experience itself. It’s funny to me that the “The Points Guy” can drop $32k on a seat, just for the experience. He should really be “That Wealthy Luxury Travel Guy”. Don’t get me wrong, the site he runs gives some useful tips and info on credit cards, loyalty programs, industry news and the like. That’s why I subscribe. But most of the time I browse the topics in the daily email and then promptly file it away in a folder. I then remind myself that thepointsguy.com is owned by a finance company, and they don’t really need the points to pay for all that travel. I then remember the far better resources available, such as this and this, from real bloggers.
The last set of blog articles that I find less than helpful are those focus on using shopping portals to increase mileage earnings (more on this some other time). Maybe I’ve just been more annoyed lately since it is the season of American materialism, and the the sales emails just seem to keep flying. Or maybe it is that I really don’t like companies marketing to me in general. I just find that an inordinate amount of time is given to this topic by some travel sites. I chuckle when they talk about spending $1,500 on their holiday shopping to get the greatest number of bonus miles. Even on a good year, my wife and I wouldn’t spend anything near $1,500 on Christmas shopping. Say we spend $500 instead, ending up 20,000 miles “poorer” and not $1,000 poorer. I’d rather have the grand.
Think about it, though. It doesn’t matter how many extra miles you earned shopping through a portal that gets 8x miles, if you could have either found the item cheaper somewhere else, or, worse, if you wouldn’t have bought it altogether. You’re falling into a spending trap. Trust me, I have done it myself several times. If it makes sense to buy through a shopping portal, do it. Otherwise, just move on. Getting thousands of bonus miles for spending $500 through a shopping portal still leaves you $500 poorer. Don’t buy stuff you don’t need. You can go broke “saving” money (or gaining miles/points).
These are my main knocks against a lot of the travel blogs. I reiterate once again why I like the Macombers so much. The have a wealth of resources they have put together, and they are all free. Not to mention Carrie documents the experience of their travels extremely well.
If you are into free travel, remember the game you are playing. Skip the posts trying to sell you stuff or snag you with “deals” when you’re really playing for free or mostly free. I am definitely not saying putting cash down to travel is bad. Just keep your finances and goals in mind.