Chase steals the Joy of Free, extra sweetness with Etihad and more


Did Chase steal our Joy of Free? That was a key question during this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air episode as we discussed the real reason some of us are hesitant to use points for groceries even though it makes sense. There’s no doubt that the game is more fun when we’re playing it with Monopoly money. We also talk about what makes that Aeroplan-Etihad partnership so sweet and why a new IHG card might be right for some folks thanks to dynamic pricing. Watch, listen or read our Frequent Miler week in review.

FM on the Air Podcast

For those who would rather listen than watch, the audio of our weekly broadcast is available on all popular podcast platforms, including:

iTunes Google Play Spotify

You can even listen right here in this browser:

If you can’t find the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, send us a message and let us know what you’d like us to add.

This week at Frequent Miler:

In points & miles news

Aeroplan / Etihad first class sweet spot: US to Australia & how to do…

a couch in a plane

Greg broke the news this week when Air Canada announced its partnership with Etihad and he noted some of the sweet spot opportunities, but this post goes into a bit more depth on the sweet spots that are worth your attention. With some possibilities for very attractive pricing, Aeroplan is offering a great option for those looking to get to Australia in luxury.

Chase “Pay Yourself Back”. Awesome new Sapphire feature!

a black credit card on top of money

Chase has launched its tool to be able to pay yourself back for grocery, home improvement, or dining purchases at a value of 1.5c per point with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (or 1.25c with the Sapphire Preferred) and it works well. You don’t even give up the points earned on the purchase, which is nice news for those looking to maximize the current grocery store spending bonus but also redeem points at increased value.

Is it now irrational to hold Ultimate Rewards points? (on Nick’s mind)

a cartoon character carrying a calculator

As Greg notes in Frequent Miler on the Air, Chase has ironically reduced the joy of free by giving us a great way to redeem points for a good cash value. The new pay yourself back feature makes it clear that when points are more like Monopoly money, it’s both easier and more fun to redeem for travel than it is when there is a valuable cash offer for the points. In this post, I offer my take on why I think many of us should consider using points toward groceries. At the very least, I’ll think a little harder about my next redemption in terms of the cash it cost me to keep the points.

In credit cards

Is it time to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

a person holding a card

With my argument for cashing out Ultimate Rewards points, you might expect me to be in favor of getting the Sapphire Reserve ASAP. In actuality, I think that only makes sense if you have a lot of URs and want to cash them out. In this post, Greg explains which benefits increase the value of the CSR for now and which are less significant in the overall scheme of things.

How to get all 5 Marriott Bonvoy cards

a man pointing at a computer screen

Do you need 5 Marriott Bonvoy cards? Probably not. But could you get them? That’s the question Greg set out to answer and he demonstrates how it could be done. Given that you’d have to forgo so many welcome bonuses, you probably wouldn’t want to do this, but on the other hand the five annual certs could be used for enough value to justify it in the right scenarios. Using those certs to great value isn’t a shoe-in, but neither is it hard to save yourself a nice chunk on a 5-night vacation (or 10-night in 2-player mode) every year without having to worry about earning a single hotel point.

New IHG Sweet Spot: Dynamic Pricing + 4th Night Free For Huge Savings

a view of a beach from a balcony

Stephen shows how the IHG 4th night free gets a potential big boost in value thanks to dynamic pricing. I talked during Frequent Miler on the Air about how one could leverage cheap point sales and this benefit to save a bunch on stays in the right situations. Time will tell how easy it is to find those spots where the 4th night spikes in price, but it’s certainly possible that this could be great for special events that only last a day.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for our week in review around the web and this week’s last chance deals.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

[…] 105K or 145K certainly sound like a lot of miles, Greg and I spoke on this past weekend’s Frequent Miler on the Air about how Amex issues quite a number of cards that earn Membership Rewards, which produces a lot of […]


1. What was the third feedback? Worse than absolute garbage? Ouch.

2. One little discussed aspect of points valuation that you guys have hit the edges of with the discussion of 1.5 cent redemption is that it matters what your existing balances are. Amex versus Chase is different for a person with a balance of 400,000 Hyatt than a person with zero. If there is first class space on ANA on your exact dates and you have an existing balance of Virgin Atlantic of 105,000 miles, how much are 15,000 Amex points to you right now? On that day? Kind of the same with redeeming chase for 1.5 cents at this given moment in time. Greg says he has enough chase already for rewards he is dreaming of and so the question becomes a more relative marginal one about the value of each new point he is earning.


Yeah, I agree with much of what you are saying. I actually tried to write a longish partly incoherent comment to your post that played it out a bit in a world of needing positioning flights and disappearing outsized value. Though, Ricardo’s romantic vision of this game is compelling too. Nobody on the internet does better than you guys of trying to unpackage the question of the value of a mile or point and digging deeper on questions that other blogs resolve simply by declaring “1.7” or “.9” cents per point. I have your post from a couple days ago — and the great discussion it has led to in comments, the Facebook group, and the podcast — as the post of the year so far.


You guys are so adorable in the video, especially Greg’s tentative Spanish lol…thanks so much for these weekly cheerful episodes! Such a nice lighthearted break in these heavy times. So nice to see smiles : )