The changing face of loyalty has me rethinking the way I do things. Once upon a time, I had an airline program and a hotel program, and that was that. Sure, I had a few miles stashed here and there in multiple programs, but I did everything I could to concentrate my travels and earnings in the fewest programs possible. That’s still true when it comes to elite status, but I have some to appreciate having a healthy amount of award currencies of different stripes. Living in Atlanta, it should be no surprise that I fly Delta more than anyone else. I want to maintain my Platinum Medallion, meet the Amex spend waiver for Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQDs), and generally ensure I’m traveling as well as possible when flying Delta. But beyond that, I’m looking for alternatives.

Case in point – the still available Citi Executive AAdvantage MasterCard offering 100,000 bonus miles after $10,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. While not really wanting to apply for any new cards at the moment, the temptation of 100,000 AAdvantage miles was just too strong. It wasn’t just temptation, but the knowledge that I had some international trips in the future where these miles would be a big help. Sure, I had enough miles on hand to fund my near term needs, but adding these 100K miles to my fairly sizable pile of AA and US miles made sense to me, even if I rarely fly either airline nowadays. Sure, meeting a pretty big minimum spend requirement is taking me away from my mid-term goal of a Delta MQD waiver, I have plenty of time to take care of that, and only 3 months to make sure I add 100,000 reasonably valuable AAdvantage miles to my account.

On the hotel front, nothing really excites me right now. I stay where I stay, and that tends to be with Marriott. The good side of that is that my Marriott Rewards balance is growing, I have some upcoming use for those points, and I’m maintaing elite status where I stay most. As I said in a recent post, “I’ve always viewed hotel programs and hotel elite status differently than my airline programs and status. It’s not that I don’t appreciate hotel points or elite programs, believe me, I do. It’s just that a hotel has a purpose unlike any other in my book – sleeping.”

In the end, loyalty is evolving, and I’m changing my points earning habits in response. Coming soon – why cash back and Arrival Miles are whispering in my ear.

-MJ, March 26, 2014