Are points useless or it is an “international currency” ?

I just heard a comment from a well known business analyst on a tv show : “lots of people go crazy collecting points, i don’t. I do not see the need or value in it”

Humm.. What is the definition of a currency?

Is bitcoin a currency? Yet many compared the similarity of points to currency: it allow you to buy things, services, and trade for even cold hard cash.

And if you use a flexible points like hotels points, or transferable credit card points, you can “buy”, trade goods and services all over the world: you can get hotels rooms anywhere, transfer and redeem for mechandise reward at almost any country.. Etc

That tv business analyst seems to forget that the “market” for points is huge! Billions and billions.

He is right that because of the variable nature of the redeemed value of each points, it is hard to put an exact value on it. Most people will not be able to get good value from the reward points.

But he forgot that The exact lack of transparency of the points value system can actually favor few savvy “collectors” and “redeemers”. The tax free nature, and “international” transferable nature of the points can be sometimes worth more than his cold hard cash.

It is ironic that he would spend lots of energy and effort to chase a slight higher return of 1-2 percent on his stocks, all while he could have easily get MINIMUM guarantee return of 2 percent (and up to 20%) value back TAX free for just carefully and easily funnel credit card spending

Supposed he have a 1 millions porfolio, 2 percent return : $20000, then minus the TAX on it : (supposed fixed interest income, at max maginal income tax) : $10000. (How hard it is to get net 2 % return after expenses!!)

supposed he go out and buy or trade things with that cash (example hotel rooms) : he does have to pay 5-15% sale or hotel tax !

If the hotels cost $500 per night, he would have 20 nights if he paid cash ,(with the $10000 return) plus he have to pay sales and hotel tax.

What if he has a business where he spends $1 millions, charged on credit cards = min $20000, 2% min value as cash equivalent back tax free. ( but Usually 5-15%).

If he spent 1 millions dollars, he woud have get min 1 millions spg points. And if he used those points to book hotels rooms, NO tax, no sales tax (usually no hotels tax too) = min 50 nights free at top hotel (IF cost 20000 spg points per night).

Then Why are the points not as valued as hard currency, for example as “retirement” or “investments” currency? It is because points issuers can easily change the equation anytime and devalue the value of the points, by asking more points for the same goods, room, flight, or service.

MDs doctors make more or ups drivers? Process of Thinking outside the box

I like to have debates about this subject with different people: MDs make more or ups driver?

Or, who do you think is “richer”? The doctors, or the rcmp police agent? At 30 years old, 45, 50, 60… Etc…

That er usa doctor would have flipped in his chair if he learned:
1. Most doctors in canada make more money now than usa doctors

2. The canadian doctors graduate with much less debt, or very minimal debt, as MD education is subsidized. While usa doctors have massive student debt, sometimes totalling -$200 000 or even half a million for dentists.

3. If he compares usa MDs lifetime earnings and a canadian federal rcmp police agent, because of the pensions guarantees and cost of living adjustments guarantee, the rcmp agent would already retire after 25 years of service, average at 50 years old, with a pension worth around 2 millions dollars at 45 years old.

How hard it is to save 2 millions dollars for retirement ONLY at 45 years old? That is 2 Mil outside the value of the home, cars, etc.. Only for retirement!

So at 45 – 50 years old, the rcmp agent is a lot “richer” than an usa MD, considering that :

A. The MD dr usually only start practising after 7-10 university years, at around 28-33 years old

B. So the DR would need to save lots of money, and he only have 15 years to save (especially even more so if the usa MD start with massive student loans debt.)

C. What is the likelihood that that MD dr CAN actually save 2 millions dollars , ONLY for retirement at the age of 45? (Do not forget that since he spent soo much time in school, got in soo much debt, work soo much hours, that he will usually feel the need to reward himself with expensive cars, big trips, and big home, all while worrying about saving for retirement or bad days)

D. while the rcmp agent can actually spend 100 % of his take home after tax expenses, without really worrying about the need to save for retirement.

4. MDs : stock market crash? Or massive inflation? The MD lose a lot of his retirement account value.
Rcmp or federal workers: stock market crash? No problem, no change, same amount indexed for inflation for life.

MDs: no pension, so if he live until 90 or longer, he need more money saved.
RCMP: if he live much longer, no worries, same pension same amount indexed for life.

5. “Job guarantee”:
MDs can get fired, lose insurance or hospital access.
Canadian police rcmp ? Usually, once you’re in, you’re IN. May be moved around…

Which jobs “pays” more at 46-50 years old? Which jobs is more secure?

It is intereresting to see through those “debates” that most people is too focused on the short term, the IN: how much money the MD make, how much they can potentially save with that big income; instead of focusing on the OUT value: what is the final value? What is the retirement value? What is the opportunity costs?

It is interesting to see the way people think and argue depending on their preconceptions, past experiences, or on society labels.

It is the same about spending money, time. People usually spends resources according to certain preconceptions, or outside influence without consciously aware of those influences.

People like to reject ideas, say no to new things especially if those ideas challenge their comfort zone, their preconceptions, or their decisions.

They are usually quick to Label certain advanced travel thinking as : too complicated, or i do not not want to spend time connecting, or i prefer cash back, i do not use features on that cards, too time consumming, etc..

Instead of asking the question: HOW to make it work? they usually will say it will not work for them, focusing only on the problems. Instead of enjoying the journey, the learning process, they usually only want to “arrive” at the destination asap. People usually like to get the fish, instead of learning how to fish.

It takes a lot of energy to view things from a different angle, to question the status quo.

It is always harder to try to think outside the box, but the learning process to think outside the box is more valuable. It brings value and sometimes….First class tickets :-)

Get another $15 off when spend min $60 at participating merchants = almost free groceries for us! Or 25% off gas stations

Amex just send a mass marketing email to us :

Enroll at

Get $15 off when spending $60 at some gas stations, some restaurants, and … Safeway! (Limit of max $45 rebate per card enrolled)

Combined with the 200 airmiles ( that my local safeway give for spending $100, it is just like early xmas, almost free groceries!

Only the first 20000 people registering for the promo can enter. So enroll asap! You do not lose anything.

Btw, one card : one enrollment. So if you have 3 amex, you can enroll 3 times and get more than $45!

3x $45 !

For just buying things that you normally would buy anyway, gas, groceries, food.

Why i love the prepaid visa cards, despite their high fees

i really like the prepaid visa cards that you can buy at your local groceries store. It is pre loaded, and the spending limit is fixed.

they have a LOT of hidden fees, and for most of the time, it is not worth it to buy it.

BUT, if used properly, it can create values:

for example, i just bought some scuba gadgets at : the foldable snorkel, diving socks. ( the foldable snorkel from aqualung looks great : it can be rolled into a small round tube container, and you can carry it in your BCB pocket and take it out when needed. They said snorkel saves lives! but who really want to carry it on their face while diving? that’s why the foldable snorkel is great)

at check out, after paying, they have a promo if you fill their survey, you get $100 worth of magazines!

of course there is a “catch”, you have to enter your visa so then to pay $2 for shipping per year, and after the initial free period over, then they will automatically charge the visa for full price. (and who really have the time and energy to remember to cancel before next year?

enter the prepaid visa card, with a limit of… $10 (or what ever the rest of my previous limit on prepaid visa, as long as it is under $10)!!! how can they charge the visa next year if there is no more funds??

free magazines to send to families in USA, then all i need is the shipping label to be able to view the magazines online on my ipad as well. Everybody in the family wins.

Worst case scenario: we only receive a few issues intead if the whole year : we can still access the issues online with the shipping label codes.

You can also use the prepaid visa in case of foreign weird sites, or site where they may automatically have a recurrent charge that you do not want.

in the past, in USA, for some promo from some airlines, people have also been buying prepaid visa or debit cards strategically, as they earn so many extra bonus points, worth a lot more than the value of the points even when buying straight from the airlines ! They essentially get free money to spend, while buying the points for business or first class travel, traveling in style while costing less than paying cash for economy tickets…

There is even one person that buy $5000 worth of pudding to get 1 million points. (1 million air points = normally 4-5 first class tickets), while donating the pudding away.

(i did buy $300 worth of pudding for “charity” before :-) )

usually those promos are not well advertised or promoted in the blogs, even by the bloggers. Too many people, and the promo may not be honored, or pulled out too soon.

That is why it pays to READ.




Why it is waste not to funnel money through credit card spending?

Why it is waste not to funnel money through credit card spending?

Well, as a retailer or merchant, you are not allowed to charge customers extra if they pay with some credit cards. Everybody pay the same price for the same product. For reference and example $100. It does not matter if you pay cash, debit, check, credit, all customers pay the same price :$100

Yet the cost to the retailer is greater if you pay with premiums credit cards (the ones where max value for customers : amex spg, amex rewards, premium visa etc). For example, if you pay with amex, it cost the merchant min 2-4 percent as transaction fee, (3% usually) so the $100 product is only a sale of $97 for the merchant.

While visa and mastercards cost are lower, at 1-2 %. You pay with visa, merchant get a sale of $98.5

You pay cash for the products? Merchant get a sale of $100.

So indirectly, if you are not using the most valued credit cards to pay for the purchase, if you pay with cash debit, even visa, you are indirectly subsidizing the customer that pay with expensive amex or premium visa cards.

And that amex or premium visa customer get an indirect minimum rebate of 2% to 10% (if properly redeem points), all thanks to all other customers paying cash or with cards costing less!

Is it fair to the merchant? Is it fair to the customer paying cash? It is fair to the amex customer?

Depends on which type of customer you are… :-)

That is why in some countries, like australia, merchants and goverment are moving to alllow to charge customers that pay with premiums cards.

Of course luxemiles assume that you will pay your credit card in full and on time, avoiding bank fees.

Are you a business owner? Or self employed? If yes, you should act like luxemiles

Are you a business owner? Or a tennis star? Or an althlete? Or anything where you are self employed?

If yes, then You should be aware that:

Since you are spending money anyway for your business or travel, or supplies, you should get some value back as points. You should “funnel” all spending on the credits cards that offer the most value back. Why?

Because it would be a waste not to. And because you can indirectly get minimum 2% value out TAX FREE!

Tax free : would you like it if you can automatically earn 2 percent tax free, ie equivalent to withdrawing money from business tax free?

Supposed these following options:

A. Supposed If you had paid business supplies with your company check, and did not get rebates for not using credit cards from suppliers,

B. or even if you get rebate from suppliers at a usual rate of 2% for not paying with credit cards, pay with check.

C. Or Pay business spend with credit cards cash rewards (with cash back rewards)

D. Or if you had paid those supplies with a credit card earning frequent points reward, especially the amex rewards or spg rewards,

which one bring the most value?

It is D. Pay with credit cards earning strategic points. Why? Rewards points are not taxable.

While option C. cash back rewards for business credit cards spending may be taxable, (as the reward is Cold hard cash, or cash equivalent, it can be taxable) !!

Option A. Is obviously not the best, no cash back, no value back for spending. Option B. Sounds good, but 2 percent back in a company, taxable is worth less than the same amount out of the company, tax free.

Option C. The cash back is usually capped at maximum 2%, while smart travelers can usually get MORE than 2 percent value back with strategice redeemed points.

Not all credit cards offer the same value. Even in different frequent traveler reward points, not all points are the same. (Future post)

The minimum value that you can get through points should be 2%, but if you use the points properly, it can be much more.

How would you like to feel if your normal business spending pays for either yours or your staff luxurious vacations and trips… Tax free??!!

It is always funny to see people of all backgrounds, rich to poor, to dismiss the points collection scheme. For them, they are too “rich” or too busy to focus on minor details intangible like points reward maximization. But yet, the same peopke would do anything to gain 1-2 extra percentage points return on their stock porfolio… All while they could have consistenly gain min 2% value back for just spending or funneling on credit cards.

There is one person that managed to get each year, 20 MILLIONS spg points.. Apparently rumours are that he is in NBA… So when he spend to book the players rooms, parties, supplies etc, he made sure to get lots of value back, even if obviously he could have said he is too “rich” or too “busy” to collect points.

What is 20 millions spg points? Well even at the max rate (there are ways to lower) 30000 points spg get you one free night at one of the TOP hotels in paris ie : prince de galles, or top hotels in maldives, tokyo etc.

For around 200 k spg points, you can go around the world in first class.

But you need to pay your credit card balance in full.

Popular finance phrase: it is not how much money you make, it’s how you save it… Luxemiles says: Wrong!! It is HOW you spend it

It makes me smile whenever i read blogs or articles about personal finances.

It is usually the same ideas and ideology repeated differently… From the rich dad poor dad, millionaire next door, to the wealthy barber… Etc… all the same concepts being preached… Yawn..

Now it seems there is a proliferation of blogs and books showing people how to save:

Or which cash back credit cards they should get:

While the traditional personal finance concepts are time tested and applies to everyone, rich to poor : spend less than you earn, save min 10%, save on costs, invest in asset producing passive income etc…

It is still traditional thinking, They do not push the thinking further enough, the luxemiles way should be:

It is not how much you make, it is not how much you save, nor how much you spend, it is HOW you spend it.

Every body have to spend resources, money, time, health energy. If you have to spend it anyway, then why not maximize it the luxemiles way?

There are some college kids and stay at home moms that travel for free and luxuriously in first class, they travel like a millionaire while earning minimum salary. And there are millionaire, even billionaires, that travel the same way as the college kids while spending the same amount as them….

Notorious examples: there is a blogger, ben, at one mile at a time, that use points accumulated from just credit cards applications, and other travel hacks, to often travel in first class around the world while still in college.

Then there is the story of newly minted billionaires, founder of whatsapp text messaging services, that refused to pay cash full price for a first class tickets, instead redeeming his points for a lufthansa first class tickets, costing him less than economy prices…

Especially in usa, where one credit card application produce enough bonus points (100k points for some cards) to go first class across the ocean, one does not need cash or money, or to be rich or wealthy to travel like a wealthy person.

Most people will spend countless hours and energy to save on small items, for example on groceries… They may compare prices across merchants, actually drive to differents store just to save $10, while the gas cost alone may be already $5 ! They forget to factor in ancilliary costs, like gas, parking, and opportunity costs like time and energy.

While it is important to save on costs, you need to factor in all variables (time, energy, gas, AND rewards points !!)

Points is an elusive system. Most people will not have any concepts of value and opportunities of points. Like how much each points is worth (IN) and how much value can you get from the points (out).

Points system also count on the fact that human are usually not patient enough, and want rewards right away. Most will not have the patience to wait for their points balance to reach a critical amount where the value is maximized, and most will not know how to maximize the points value when redeemed.

FIRST, back to the grocery cost debate: luxemiles thinking is why would you waste time and energy to save a few bucks on groceries, while you can easily shop at one store, and save min 20-40 per cent off on already low prices? How?

Learn how it works. Know how managements think. Become either an extreme couponers (yes those people deserve praises, as they READ all the small details on the coupons, understand the system, and come up with a plan), OR just be “lazy” the luxemiles way: efficiently :

Shop at newly opened safeway store that are not busy. We shop at windermere safeway, and because it is dead, because of the competition nearby from big retailers like walmart, the prices are already lower. PLUS each time we go, we wait until we can aim for a min spent of $100, and a maximum spend of… $100 exactly. ( we go around the store with a calculator). More than $100? Drop the extra items and come back later.

From what we see from that safeway store, Most people will not wait until they need to buy $100 worth of groceries, and most will come in whenever they WANT something. And most will keep on spending above $100, usually if they buy groceries above $100, most likely it will be $150-$200 range. Exactly what the retailer wants, that you spend more (while getting the same amount of rewards back)

Why? For spending $100, you get 200 air miles reward miles ( It is different from amex points, or airlines points.

What is the value of 200 air miles? You can redeem right away for 90 miles = 10$ off, or you can stash it to redeem for golf (250 miles: free golf : $90), or wait until you redeem for flights etc… So min of 20% off to 40% value later. It is all how to maximize the OUT value: redemptions, while minimizing the cost (IN)

SECOND, Back to the credit card debate: cash back is great for most people as most want to see the cash and reward right away. They prefer to see the MAXIMUM 2% cash back when they spend. And 2 per cent is and will be always the maximum value that they can get. They cannot get more than that.

While the smart travelers like the college kid, or the billionaire, when they spend money, they will use the credit card that will bring them the most value when redeemed, as they always think about the value proposition, the exit (out). And usually the most value comes from redemptions for travel in expensive business or first class, or expensive hotels. For Worst case scenario, They know they can always get min 2 percent value back. But usually they will get 10-20 percent value back when it is properly redeemed.

if you are a business owner and have to pay for expenses, you should get some value back just for spending money! You should focus on HOW to spend it.

THIRD, if you have to spend resources anyway, then luxemiles way is you should spend ONLY to get value back somehow. But It is not always about cash or points.

Luxemiles Value is defined as:

1. Usage, Pleasure or satisfaction from services or products. If you are happy with what you got, even if it cost more than usual, you get personal value from it.

2. Time value : if it save you time, or make you more efficient, you get more value

3. Health value: if what you get brings you mental or physical joy or happiness, then you get value from it. If you need to spend to stay healthy, at the dentist or the medical doctor, or the eye doctor, you get tremendous maximum value from it, because luxemiles rule number one is: no health no wealth.

4. Timeframe value: if what you spend is something that you will enjoy for a long time, and will bring you either happiness or health over that long timeframe, then it is worth it. Remember that resources like Your time on this earth is limited, as well as money and health, so you need to use it efficiently.

5. Efficiency value: if it can reduce your waste in resources like time, money, health, then it brings value. If it maximize usage of resources like time, money and health, it brings value.

6. Improvement value: if what you do or buy improve your knowledge, thinking, health, or help other people, it brings value

But luxemiles value is NOT defined as : spending for show or outside status. You should have No need or reasons to buy that expensive purse or car for show. You will save more resources if you do not need to spend for show.

It is better to spend a little more to buy something that you will personally use or enjoy for a long time. It is not OK to buy something else just because you use it to show social status.

It is better to spend money for that regular eye exam or health check up, on that medication that you need, then spending on that expensive purse or cars

My pharmacist friends tell me stories where patients will come in, yell at them, refuse to pay for a $25 dollars antibotic medications that they need, all while carrying luis vuitton purses and drive a bmw…

Or stories where people drive around with old expired glasses or prescriptions, seeing nothing or not clearly, all while getting new expensive bmw lexus cars every 3 years. For them it is a “necessity” as it is for “safety reasons” with the latest gadgets, all while their risk of potentially causing accidents greatly increases because they cannot see anything …

Or stories of competitive moms and dad spending tons of money to put their kids through special schools or programs, while neglecting the kids’ teeth or eyes. If the kids cannot see clearly at school first and foremost, what is the point of spending time money and energy on special programs?

That is where the HOW you spend is more important.

And of course, luxemiles assumes that you are already doing the basics: spend less than you earn, save min 10%, save on costs, pay your credit cards in full, invest in asset producing passive income etc…

How to get cheap rates at fancy hawaii condos, cheaper than hotels!

I wrote before about svo cheap rates for hawaii :

For $750 you get 5 nights in a fancy hotel condo, normally worth $500 each each night, + $180 off for avis car rental, + 5000 spg points.

How do you get those rates ?

1. Random mail from spg

2. Get a referal from an owner at the property. Send a private message (pm) to one of the owners and ask for a referal. It does not cost them anything, and if you actually end up buying, they get bonus referals.

How to ask for referals? Ask one of your friends owners, or pm these guys:

For kaui hawai :

For maui westin referals: click here


How to get cheap rates at spg hotel properties

Every wednesday, spg post last minute deals at

You can get great rates at expensives properties overseas, like in paris, maldives etc… If you do see a room available, book asap as inventory is limited.

Only for the next 6 weeks.

So we usually never book any prepaid rates, (unless min 50% off) and kept on checking on last minute deals.

How to get maximum value from one credit card, american express platinum card

How to maximize amex platinum card value with the calendar year hack

The amex platinum card cost $700 per year, but it is especially worth it when amex give huge bonus points for applying:

50000 Amex points when spend min $1000 in first 3 months

Or get a referral by another amex platinum member and get 60000 points instead of 50000.

What can you do with 50k points? When transfered to aeroplan, you can book return tickets anywhere in NA for 2 in economy : worth value min $1000. Or one return biz class in na : value $2000. So the points are worth min $1000 alone!

Or keep it until you reach 100k for return europe biz class. As usual, the points are always worth more if redeemed in biz or first class international long haul.

How to get referral for more bonus points? 60 k instead? You can send me your email address and i can refer you. All i need is your email address.

What else you get with amex platinum?

  • Priority access, lounge access to canada lounges, to amex centurion lounges, and plaza premium lounges. Plaza premium lounges access are also for family members! Plus unlimited free access to almost most of lounges internationally with free priority pass membership (free access for one person only).
  • Priority pass unlimited lounge card alone are worth $400 annually
  • Usual insurances, car rental, travel delay cancelation insurances.
  • Get spg gold membership for free. Spg gold : rooms upgrages, more spg points, late check out.

Before, last year, you also have free gold cathay one world card: normally reserved when you actually fly 50k mikes with cathay or one world airlines : priority access, lounges, luggages allowances etc.. Not this year.

The best part is the fast track to fairmont platinum status: stay 5 nights, get fpc platinum.

How to maximize fpc platinum?

Apply for amex plat before calendar year end, like now in october. Stay 5 nights at cheaper fpc properties (cities) for around $130 per night with special rates (caa ama, great rates great dates etc..). You have to stay before year end, or asap… Why? Keep reading.

Total spent in fpc hotel after 5 nights : 5 x 130 = $680

But as soon as you stay 5 nights, you get platinum fpc status right away (normally reserved if you stay 10 stays or 30 room nights, in a calendar year), which you can and should use before calendar year end :

  • get a free nights : worth $500 if redeemed in maui, new york, london (harder to redeem) or other expensive properties
  • Get $200 in either dining or spa in fairmont properties.
  • Get 2 free suites upgrades, which you can confirm for suites upgrades for 5 nights each certificate. For example, you can redeem fpc suite for banff, lake louise, or hawaii for 10 nights! Worth : min $500 to $3000 for price difference between normal room and suites. Fairmont suites are really nice, especially overseas (hawaii, china, egypt, singapre etc)

Total value for fairmont fpc platinum status : $ 1500

So if you stay and attain fpc platinum status now, before year end, you have min $1500 in fpc platinum value alone. AND the best part is that you also get automatic fpc platinum status for next year, starting in march! No need for another 5 nights stay. Another $1500 value for next year! Fpc platinum status are valid until feb 2016 if you become fpc platinum before december 2014.

Also, now amex is promoting fairmont hotel by giving you another $100 statement credit when you spend min $500 before december 2014!! You have to register for this promo at their website

BUT amex plat also give you each CALENDAR year $200 off any travel booked though their platinum site. So you can book a hotel or flight worth $200 before december 31, and get $200 statement credit. AND Starting in january, you get another $200 credit !!

So if you apply amex plat before calendar year end, and keep the amex plat card for one year or less, (before next october), and IF you decide to cancel before they charged you another $700 annual dues, here is what you get:

So you have Spent $700 for amex platinum + $680 (5 nights hotel fairmont) = $1380 (Invest IN)

You Get back: value out :

  • 2 x $200 amex travel credit
  • 2 year worth of fairmont platinum status : 2 free rooms, 4 suites upgrades, $400 dining spa credit : value min $3000
  • Priority pass membership for this year and next : $400 x2 :$800
  • 60000 amex points ( if referred) worth min $1200
  • Plus other benefits, (spg gold, lounges access, priority access, insurances).
  • $100 statement credit for staying at fairmont hotel (and for spending $500)

Total value back : $400 + $3000 + $800 + $1200 +$100 = $5500 MINIMUM value back.

Is it worth it for $700? You get to experience up to 20 nights at suites at fairmont hotels, free dining or massages, bypass wait lines at airport, wait comfortably in lounges all over the world, points for flying biz class later… Etc etc…

This value proposition is ONLY worth it if you get min 50000 amex points, and if you apply and get fpc platinum before CALENDAR year end.

Enjoy the benefits with the CALENDAR travel hack.

P.s as soon as you receive your amex platinum, call fairmont and said you want to fast track to platinum with the special code that amex plat will send you. THEN book the cheapest 5 night “escapade” at fairmont hotels before calendar year end.

How to get cheap fairmont rates? Search with ama, corporate, caa, or great rates great dates… (

In our family, we get lifetime fpc platinum status already for one (through the bank) so we just apply and keep only one amex platinum card.

And of course, you need to pay the credit card balance in full, avoiding any bank fees, otherwise you will just “buy” points in a extremely expensive way.