OK, I really wanted to title this post If You are Shopping for Vanilla Make Sure You Buy Gelato and not Just Ice Cream (Life Lessons in the Love of Points or Why You Should Aim Before you Fire). I put all that in the title box, and decided there was no way it would all fit, so it is what it is, and I think it describes the purpose of this post perfectly.
This blog is a lot more about travel and doing so in comfort than it is about X number of points per dollar, mistake fares, and flipping credit cards. That’s not to say that I never participate in any of those things since they help me (and hopefully you) travel in comfort, but the truth is that I am not a prolific credit card flipper, mileage runner, or person who would ever buy 20,000 boxes of graham crackers for miles or points. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! It’s just not my scene or at least it’s not something that I’m going to routinely do. However, that did not stop my intrigue with Vanilla reload and Bluebird. The idea of earning up to 5 points per dollar for paying my mortgage was just a little too much for me to ignore, so I began to study the idea. I approached this like I do most every other financial decision I make, methodically, and with care.
I read posts from great blogs with lots of good information on these matters. I dutifully opened a Bluebird account. I read more. And then, my Delta Amex statement arrived. I did my usual scan, and at the end, I discovered something I hadn’t really planned on. I was very close to $25,000 dollars in annual spending and a 10,000 MQM boost. I even wrote a blog post about my little dilemma. And then a confluence of events, self-inflicted and otherwise came together that led me to throw every ounce of common sense and planning out the window. I ran out of time, and I had to pull the trigger. I literally ran to the nearest CVS, bought the first thing I saw that said “Vanilla” on it, and then left town for a few days. Then I returned home, and began to look at what I had done.
I had a pile of gift cards (given to me as gifts) that said “Vanilla” on the front from the holidays, and I began to think that this Vanilla thing might be more complicated than I thought. And I had these things I bought in a rush called My Vanilla Prepaid Debit cards, not the Vanilla Reloadable cards that I really wanted. Stop laughing. Yes, I am aware that there is a plethora of content out there reminding me not to do this. Now, this isn’t the end of the world, but it did result in some inconvenience for me. I withdrew the cash from My Vanilla Prepaids and deposited it into my checking account, and in the end I was just out a few bucks in ATM fees that I need not have paid, and a little time visiting the bank to make a cash deposit.
The life lessons in this:
- Don’t try to play a game you don’t yet understand
- Arm yourself with information
- Make a game plan
- Then and only then, act
In other words, aim then fire. I’ll take my own advice next time. Have any of you ever made stupid mistakes like me when trying to up your miles and points game?
- MJ, January 26, 2013