If you didn’t know yet, I’m big on statistics and tracking the ins and outs of whatever I’m involved in. Keeping track of the costs and benefits of just about anything makes it 100 times easier to make decisions such as whether or not you should keep doing that thing in the future. The first major thing I keep track of is our day to day finances, a habit I started not long after graduating college. Knowing exactly how much we spend per year (and on what) makes it easy to make budgeting decisions, allocate money to the right accounts, and even plan well into the future. In fact, tracking expenses is probably the single most beneficial thing someone can do to improve their financial situation, knowledge is power after all.
The second big thing I started tracking ever since starting this travel hacking hobby has been our miles, points, and award redemptions. Knowing how much we’re earning as well as spending is important to keep our efficiency up and make sure we’re getting the most value for our time, money, and effort. By looking at our yearly earning and burning rates, it’s easy to determine whether or next credit card application should be hotel, airline, or even cash based to meet our needs best. Having all of the various application dates makes it very easy to determine which signup bonuses we qualify for and which we’re better off avoiding. More important than that, there is often various fees associated with both earning and burning miles and points, so it’s always nice to know we’re making up all of those costs (and more) at any given time.
Sometimes I see people get excited for a deal or opportunity and wonder if they even check whether or not it’s going to pay off before diving in. To each his own, but I’m not one that is going to chase a deal (and spend money) without first calculating the potential benefit of doing so.
Anyway, all of this is to say I made a new page tracking our award redemption history! Check out our lifetime stats so far and more below.
New Personal Award Redemption History Page
I set up this page to track all of the flights, hotels, and more we’ve booked with our points, miles, and other benefits since starting this hobby back in August of 2014. My goal is to capture the high level overview of each trip booked and the costs associated with each. Links are included to any relevant posts that talk about the specific trip, but there are many that I’ve never written a specific post about. Hopefully you will learn something new or be inspired to start earning for your next trip based on what we’ve been able to do with our points and miles.
Don’t Get Too Caught Up in “Retail Cost” or “Value”
I included the “Retail Cost” of each booking to give some sense of what that redemption might have been worth (and for a little WOW factor). Those that have been around the travel hacking hobby for a while know that putting a value on a trip is a bit controversial. “You wouldn’t have paid cash for that!” is a common statement that comes to mind on the subject, and if we’re being honest I probably wouldn’t have taken most of these trips in the first place without miles and points.
For that reason, I decided to simply look up the cash cost for the cheapest equivalent flight or exact hotel when I booked each reward and recorded the price. Am I going out of my way to “buy” miles at or below the “value” I’m redeeming for. Absolutely Not! (and I suggest you don’t either) At the end of the day though, I am curious what kind of “value” I’m getting from my miles and points even if that “value” doesn’t have a very solid basis in the real world.
Not to mention, this page will be a great place to reference when I get interviewed for one of those big name articles about how you can “travel the world for free”! Ha!
The Page Is Evolving
As you can see on the page, I not only included trips taken in the past, but also booked trips that have yet to take place! For that reason, it’s always possible something comes up before we actually make the trip and everything could end up changing. Hotels may be shifted around and flights might be rescheduled or cancelled, but I’ll try to keep this page up to date on a semi-regular basis.
A good example is our upcoming Cancun trip that I previously posted about. Everything was booked and ready to go before Southwest decided to change their flight schedule to Cancun and bump our flight out there up an entire day! I had enough Hyatt points to add another night at the all-inclusive Zilara, but they were unfortunately sold out for that extra night. Luckily the extra day did work with our schedules and we were able to make use of the IHG free night from paying the $49 annual fee on their credit card to check out the Intercontinental property down in Cancun.
Needless to say, until we make it all the back to Seattle at the end of a trip almost everything is subject to change.
Plus, I think I want to add pictures from some of the trips to the page as well. Of course that will make it even longer than it already is… I’ll figure it out.
Publishing More Info
Redemptions are only half of the total equation and I want to eventually publish how exactly we’re earning all of these miles and points in the first place. Explaining that we saved thousands of dollars by using points is great, but not exactly useful information (to most) unless you also understand how to go about obtaining those points for yourself.
To save you the wait, the overwhelming majority of miles/points are from credit card signup bonuses, but we’ve also taken advantage of a few promotions along the way. All the information needed to compile an outline of where all the miles/points came from and how much we spent for the privilege of earning them is available, but I just need to take the time to organize it in a readable way.
Stay tuned for all of the earning information at a later date and let me know if there’s any other stats you want to know.
Do you track all of your earning and burning or just wing it?