Being home on the weekend without fixed appointments and obligations can be one of the simple pleasures. There’s a feeling of getting caught up, of moving slowly but ticking things off of a list, feeling productive even if you’re only doing things that themselves will allow you to be productive like buying paper products and doing the laundry.
Several years ago I moved within walking distance of my office. I saved myself an hour and a half a day in commuting time. And it means that when I’m not flying, I’m always pretty close to home. I rarely drive. So my life exists around the world or within one mile radius of my front door (plus, occasionally, wherever DC’s metro will take me).
Yesterday was a great ‘catching up day’. I set off on my errands, and I realized that while many of them probably fit a typical pattern mine fit a typical pattern… for a miles and points obsessed frequent flyer.
Sure, the first stop was the dry cleaners to drop some things off. Got to have clean pressed suits! (Well, I do.) The cleaner’s is just around the corner, an doesn’t take American Express. It’s owned by a Korean family and they travel home and have visitors from abroad often, and we connect with discussions about travel to Asia.
On to the Suntrust bank, I had a check to deposit. My primary checking account has been with BankDirect for the past decade, and I’ve earned a ton of American Airlines miles as a result. I also have a Suntrust checking account because they offer a Delta mileage-earning debit card which offers one mile per dollar spent.
Now, it makes no sense to offer one mile per dollar on all spending, since that’s clearly being offered at a loss (interchange on debit cards no longer pays enough to cover the cost of the miles). And there are some rumors that Suntrust is looking at changing the terms and conditions of the card to limit the ability to earn miles for churning money orders and for tax payments since those are driving up the bank’s costs.
My own use for the card is tax payments — PayUSATax.com charges a flat $3.49 per tax payment, regardless of the amount. So I earn 1 Delta mile per dollar when paying my taxes at a very low cost. And since I have income in addition to my job (such as from my award booking practice) I have to make deposits quarterly.
I went inside the branch instead of depositing through the ATM. Right behind the tellers is a big banner advertising the Delta debit card, with a 10,000 mile first use bonus. Apparently through June 30th the offer is bumped up from the usual 5000 miles after first purchase to also include 5000 additional miles $1,000 in purchases within 90 days of account opening.
From the Suntrust it was over to the mall. Since a bunch of folks at Frequent Traveler University last weekend figured out what my “home” CVS was, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that they were pretty much cleaned out of Vanilla Reload cards. There weren’t even any hidden behind the XBoxLive cards. Fortunately I did find a couple.
It’s just a short walk from the CVS over to Staples. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved office supplies, and I still do. I used to love spending time in the campus bookstore. I’m very particular about my pens (and haven’t ever found any I prefer over Pilot’s Better Retractable Medium Point in both black and blue). Only now it’s even better. Office supply stores don’t just have pens, note pads, and paper clips. They have everything. Big electronics sections. Home appliances (for those of us, like me, who stock their offices like home to make those long days more comfortable). And big mileage earning, with credit cards that bonus office supply spend with quintuple points.
The office supply store near me ain’t pretty, but it is lucrative.
First stop is always the gift card section since I have to stock up on the cards that store and spend like cash, and are purchased at no fee. My favorites are Amazon, iTunes, and Starbucks.
But the rack also has Shell, Southwest Airlines, Hulu Plus, Google Play, and others.
The only problem is — and this is actually important and a lesson not to be underemphasized — earning miles and points for credit card spend is great but you have to take care not to spend more than you otherwise would in the process. It’s tempting to justify spend based on the miles, but then you’ll no longer be earning an outsized return through those miles. And a 5x, it can be pretty tempting. There are several things I kind of want, but managed to resist impulse buying.
(I love my coffee machine at home, don’t much like the coffee at work, and it’s so temping to buy an easy to use machine…)
There so much there.
I accomplished a bit, headed back home to put a load of wash into the dryer. I still have to go get my haircut, though…
What are your miles and points ‘errands’?