|by Jason Steele|
Pretty much the whole point of being a reward card guru is trying to get the most value out of your miles. In the past I have written about how I once recommended that someone use Membership Rewards miles to transfer to Al Nippon Airways to redeem a flight award on South African airlines. The point is that there is often a very convoluted way to get the most miles out of your credit card.
Maximizing Your Starwood Points
The American Express Starwood card is the favorite of myself and many other reward card fans out there. It’s points are very flexible and the Starwood customer service is second to none. My fellow reward card aficionado over at Dan’s Deals has found out an interesting reward transfer opportunity.
The gist of it is that Starwood points are transferred to LAN Chile’s Kilometers at a rate of 1:2. As usual, there is a bonus when you redeem 20,000 Starpoints. Then, LAN reward table shows the redemption for it’s OneWorld partners in kilometers. The rewards are one way, and they are per segment, so they work best for non-stop flights. A good way to figure out the mileage between your origin and destination is to check the Great Circle Mapper web site. Be sure to use the kilometer option.
Once you have done the math, like Dan has, you will find that the best deals are short haul flights. He lists New York to Montreal (one way) as being possible for 3,200 Starpoints! Better yet, LAN is famous for not charging many fees or surcharges on it’s awards, unlike many other airlines. To maximize you value, choose shorter non-stop flights that are otherwise very expensive, like flights from the US to Canada or the Caribbean.
Minimizing Your Junk
I mentioned last week that I do not get much junk mail from credit card companies or other solicitations for that matter. Years ago, I found a site called JunkBusters that makes it somewhat easy for you to “opt out” of most solicitations. There is a form that you can print out and mail to get off of most lists. You will need to mail about 10 of them to be effective. There are the three major credit bureaus, the Direct Marketing Association, and five or six of the largest database companies. While some of them might have online ways to opt out, they all try to make it somewhat challenging to get off their lists under the guise of security.
In reality, you already are put at a lot of risk by these companies sending out unsolicited junk mail. A “pre-approved” credit card application that falls into the wrong hands is probably the quickest path towards identity theft. All it takes is it being lost, stolen, or even delivered to the wrong address for that to happen. Even when you do receive it, it is then up to you to properly shred the thing so it doesn’t get taken from your trash.
By far the safest way to go is to opt out of all offers, minimizing your risk. These days, we get to see plenty of offers on the internet, and advertisements on TV, the last thing I need is someone physically sending me junk in the mail. If the security risks don’t scare you, just think of all of the paper waste you will be preventing by opting 0ut.