Vanishing air miles
Guess what? I'm already planning the long weekend holiday breaks in December and where the family will go when summer break comes. I know, I know, that’s like four months and eight months away, but planning hammers down costs compared with flying on a whim! Bohol looks promising… Of course, we are Boracay babies so that’s definitely still on the list… However, Pangasinan is closer and very appealing! We could try to be adventurous and bring our growing kids to Batanes! Its romantic, clean and something about its pristine beauty appeals to me. Then again, perhaps we will just go to the province and spend an idle weekend with the kalabaw and catching tutubi… But I'm not telling the hubby as he likes vacations to be spontaneous nyahaha (Wives really have to be creative, huh). (All photos courtesy of Michelle Morelos, as usual. Thanks Michelle!) I wasn’t like this years ago. In fact, I have been a Mabuhay Miles cardholder for ages but I used my miles to purchase a plane ticket only last year! So, guess where all my miles went? Philippine Airlines wiped out a lot of them! There I was, eagerly checking if I could bring the whole family to Bali or at least Palawan with my miles. I only saw points I hoarded for the last three years. For the years before that, none – nada – zip were credited to my account. Ouch! I don’t know if I was the last person on earth who remained clueless that air miles expire. If you don’t know yet, better check out if you have any expiring miles. Remember you’ve got only up to three years to use them. Suresh Nanoo, senior vice-president and deputy head of personal financial services at HSBC, says it is best to transfer rewards points from credit cards to miles once a year, right before they expire. This can buy you some time to enjoy them. If you decide to do this, though, make sure you’re more than OC in updating your calendar. Get all that expensive technology working for you by making sure you’re reminded by your Pocket PC and your mobile phone and your computer and your blackberry . Whatever you do, don’t miss the expiration date. HSBC on Wednesday launched a limited-time promo called FastFlights where Mabuhay Miles Visa cardholders can buy two miles, instead of one, for P1.25. That’s a 50% discount from August 26 to November 30. Suresh explains that the 50% discount is the only one that will end on November 30. FastFlights, this new scheme where cardholders who find that they lack just a little bit more to get that “free” ticket, can continue to buy the remaining miles for P1.25 per mile – charged to their Mabuhay Miles credit card of course. This is the cheapest one I’ve heard so far. Here’s a conversion list (only for Philippine Airlines): HSBC – P45 for one mile (P1.25 per mile for additional miles needed) American Express – P72 per mile Citibank – P90.75 for one mile BDO Platinum – P400 per mile (What's with BDO, huh? Data source: Mabuhay Miles website) East West Bank Mastercard – P55 per mile Diners Club International – P93.90 per mile Metrobank Credit Cards – P50 per mile Whew, just researching this list took me hours! Credit card companies don’t make it easy to compute the conversion rate. Grrr. Citibank has a P45 per mile program, but not for Philippine Airlines. It’s co-branding is with Cathay Pacific Airline. Furthermore, Citibank Gold cardholders who use their credit cards abroad only need P22.50 for every mile. American Express has P45 per mile programs with a long, list of airlines, but you will need to spend at least P45,000 to transfer your reward points to miles. I told Suresh during the interview that I doubt whether people really use their air miles. Suresh said a huge percentage of HSBC cardholders do. The HSBC statement has some figures: the average monthly spend for Mabuhay Miles Gold Visa is P35,000, 11 times more than the industry average. Cardholders redeemed some 187 million bonus points or miles last year, with a total of 334 million bonus points or miles redeemed since the beginning of the co-brand program. There are nearly 450,000 HSBC Mabuhay Miles credit cards out there. Whether these miles were redeemed on time or whether they expired, only PAL can tell, says Patrick Henry A. Carlos, vice-president for cards marketing. Patrick also says that lately, Filipinos go for short flights rather than the grand vacations they used to do in the past. Enticing, eh? Here's something to deflate that excitement a little bit. It's a baaaad idea to shop with your plastic just to get the miles. That’s an absolute recipe for slipping under the debt trap. Rewards, even those that are as tempting as free air miles, should still be treated as icing on the cake, not a reason to spend beyond your means. What am I saying? If you can’t afford the item, whether cash or at least on a three-month installment, don’t buy it even with a credit card. And definitely not for the free miles. But if a free ticket is your icing on the cake, well, go ahead and fly!
TrackBack URL: http://blogs.inquirer.net/cgi/mt/mt-tb.cgi/981