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Interesting article on The Points Guy

There's an interesting article in the January 10 issue of the New York Times Magazine, "Points of No Return," describing how points and miles work, the difference between them, and where they came from. The "Points Guy" is featured, but the article is more wide-ranging than that.

It's worth taking a look at. I've learned a lot from it, and I suspect even people who successfully use points and miles will find something new.

I know NYT has a paywall, but most public libraries subscribe.

Posted by
2159 posts

I thought about posting that article myself, but I have gotten scolded for posting NYT articles because of the paywall, and for saying something nice about the The Points Guy. I really enjoyed reading it myself.

One time, we were able to go to Europe 2 years in a row instead of every other year by one of us getting a new credit card with a huge bonus in AA miles if you reached a fairly low level of spending.

Posted by
11972 posts

The Times has historically provided access to one article for free. When it locks me out of the next one I'd like to read, I can usually get to it by scrubbing the stored website data/cache for the Times from my tracking history. That works for some other paywall websites as well but not the ones which don't let you access one or more freebies at all.

It's sort of a pain if there's a LOT you want to get to but works fine for the occasional article.

Posted by
6512 posts

The e-subscription to the New York Times is the best $4 per month I've spent on anything. I wonder what newspapers people on this forum read. Most of the stuff I read I pay for because decent journalism and sending people out to do first-hand reporting is not free.

I'm going to post the link anyway just in case some folks can access it, nothing to lose. Most people can access a few free articles just by switching their device (at least that used to be the case)
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/05/magazine/points-guy-travel-rewards.html

Posted by
17872 posts

I'm currently paying for the NYTimes so I don't know how it works now. As of about 2 years ago you got 10 free articles per month, and switching browsers, even on the same device, got you 10 more. They may have closed that loophole by now.

Posted by
617 posts

They haven’t stopped the free articles. 10 free articles per month so if you find a great article-please post it and ignore the whiners. You can also get a starter e subscription for $1 a week (they bill your credit card $4 every 4 weeks. So your upfront investment is $4). Goes for a year at that rate, stop it at any time without penalty. I swear at times the Rick Steves’ Forums need to be renamed the Jack Benny Society.

Posted by
2159 posts

I swear at times the Rick Steves’ Forums need to be renamed the Jack Benny Society.

Good one, Onefastbob! I recall a forumeer saying that s/he wouldn't mind flying to Europe sitting on an inverted bucket as long as the price was right.

Posted by
617 posts

Thank you Estimated Prophet. I fully understand that Everyone has economic limits. I try to stay out of most Jack Benny threads (chill folks-said in jest) on how to save money while traveling. This thread in which a forum member had to address the paywall issue just got to me.

Posted by
4382 posts

We actually have a subscription to the print edition of the Sunday Times. That gives us access to all their online stuff, as well. I only know about the paywall because folks here have mentioned it.

But I enjoyed the Jack Benny reference. A number of years ago there was a Jack Benny tribute show on PBS that had me laughing until I hurt. They don't make 'em like that any more.

Posted by
20901 posts

Ya, we have home delivery of the Sunday Times. Takes about a week to read it.

Posted by
4382 posts

Frank, you are so right! We never lack for something to read - there's always yet another section of the TImes.

Posted by
1190 posts

And I have subscribed to the free headlines e-version of the times,, it gives a couple of paragraphs synopsis on about 6 topics per day. Sometime last week it referenced that usually they have sent out crews to photograph and write about 52 places each year, this year they had invited readers to contribute their favorite spots. I didn't read it (paywall) and thought posting it here (all above issues made me hesitant) and I was curious if all 52 places were already on our Alphabet list. Anyway, those of you who have a different relationship with the Times might check it out.

Posted by
11972 posts

This thread in which a forum member had to address the paywall issue
just got to me.

In my defense, I buy Times printed issues from newsstands just often enough that I don't feel too badly about occasionally getting around the paywall. We also subscribe to our share of other online and printed materials.

Posted by
1480 posts

Here's the dirty little secret, which ironically I shouldn't need since I actually subscribe to the Sunday dead tree version.

They put cookies on your computer and you get one, maybe two bites of the free article apple before you are blocked. If you're trying to read more than that, you really should do an online subscription (they're on sale all the time).

So .... if they block you, erase your cookies and the free clock starts again.

There used to be a way to use Google search to get into WSJ articles for free but they plugged that hole in their firewall.

And the article starts with the Points Guy but strays far, far away into the history of frequent flyer programs and the corresponding efforts to game them (e.g., manufactured spend). There are entire websites devoted to this.

Speaking of cookies, there's a longstanding internet rumor that when you visit a travel site like E---dia, they put a cookie on your computer. If you go away and come back, that fantastic fare that caught your eye that no one else could match ... will never reappear. The reasoning being, they know you're hooked so they don't have to be nice anymore.

Posted by
3 posts

Not sure if anyone has listened to Rick's 1.5 hour interview on NPR "How I Built This" but there is an interesting tidbit toward the end where he basically says he doesn't fool with points - ever.

I never jumped in points programs to begin with, but that alone would have saved me hours of research right there : )

We all need to take a critical eye at all these monetized blogger types who say they're living champagne wishes and caviar dreams for in the riviera for free.

Posted by
1480 posts

There are in fact people who've gamed the points system and won, but they are a certain type. As in, highly organized and motivated and treat it as a second job. Spreadsheets, calendar reminders, manufactured spend, buying gift cards to pay off credit cards, flying odd flights for no reason other than to accumulate miles, etc. It often seems to be more about the thrill of the hunt vs. the joy of travel.

The way Rick works, he can't really be beholden to certain flights at certain times on certain airlines. But he should still have been racking up points to use in other ways. His call.

Posted by
1501 posts

I can’t imagine not taking free money. That’s what points are to me.

Posted by
9070 posts

I do none of the things Phred mentions in his post and I utilize points quite often. 75% of my flights to Europe over the last five years have been on points. All have been in business class. Many hotels stays, especially in expensive cities, have been on points.

It's not that difficult and you don't have to travel a great deal to accumulate points. I utilize credit card sign up bonuses and usage specials.

Remember, also, that Rick doesn't really need to worry about points. All his trips to Europe are for work and are paid for by his business. The business, in turn, can deduct his trip expenses from their taxable income.

I also have to wonder how much does he get free. I can imagine that most of his hotel stays and many of his flights are gratis.

Posted by
1501 posts

Even if his business pays for the flights, he could still benefit from points. My boss one year was president of a big national association. It was a full time job that required him to fly back and forth each week from the west coast to D.C. plus other flights during the week.

I talked to him a few months after this. He had enough miles to send all his family first class to Sweden and all the male members to Hawaii for a fishing trip. He still had a half million miles in the account.