One of the highlights of my “travel year” in 2017 was the opportunity to accrue points, airmiles, cash and other freebies as I travelled around the world. Even if spend massively outweighed the value of the freebies, I got a kick out of bagging the loyalty points and still have the chance to use some of them.
A big frustration was not bagging c30,000 Avios from the Qatar flights to Australia that I had to cancel. But given that I’d cashed in all the Avios to fund first class flights to New England it’s something of a shock to start 2018 with 145,000 Avios. Enough to fund a return trip back to a West Coast USA destination in business class. Now I just heed the health to make the trip!
Avios die with you. Although there are stories of a solicitor letter to British Airways being enough to transfer them to a family member. Chris might yet benefit from them. Or Rachel might get 108 bottles of red wine. Santiago, Easter Island and Las Vegas have earned well for me. I’m not sure I’ll benefit though if I can’t fly long haul again.
Elsewhere I paid £450 (well, three quarters of that after refund) for an AMEX Platinum Chargecard. This triggered 33,000 of those Avios, but more importantly provided numerous free breakfasts in Hilton hotels. Oh, and free lounge access for me and a guest in the multitude of airports I travelled out of through the year when not travelling in business class. Except Reykjavik, where I suspect the Priority Pass people chose not to offer the facility when told a passenger having a bag of crisps would bankrupt them . It’s a card that definitely paid for itself while I had it. Even if I never tested the free travel insurance. And I’ll never forget the upgrade to a suite at the Hilton in Park Lane, or the hooker outside. A free night from a credit card loyalty scheme upgraded to a £2,000 a night suite with its own steam room. Just wow!
I have just over 30,000 Hilton points left to use. That’s three nights in Sheffield. Or a night at a more interesting spa hotel in Chester. My Holiday Inn account has 10,000 points. A freebie in Rotherham or more likely a discount off a room anywhere. And Hotels.com have two free nights of £100+ waiting for me. I think they need to be used by August.
And then there’s good old Topcashback. This has accrued £543 during the year and I’ve just withdrawn that from the account. I usually wait for an incentive to convert to Avios or Amazon. This time I’ve gone for cold hard cash. I’d hate to leave it unclaimed and leave this mortal coil, so adding it to my bank balance now seems a sensible approach. Airlines and hotels have provided most of that money. Although £55 from match.com was the best value refund.
What is becoming clear as my body deteriorates is that the decision to allocate the year to travel after getting my diagnosis was absolutely the right one to make. It’s been brilliant. If you get similar devastating news that allows you a time window of reasonabily good health I strongly recommend doing what I did. And still want to continue doing. I’m lucky I had the means to fund it all.