I’ve been saying for years: Cash in your points – they keep getting depreciated: I recently got back from a two week holiday trip in which I had a total of $1180 in airline tickets. That total butt-time on airplanes accumulated me 12,000 Aeroplan miles. Generally, the best redemption is for gift cards and not overpriced toasters and stuff you can often get for half the money in a store. Those 12,000 miles can get me two $50 Esso gift cards. So I spent $1180 to get $100. That’s less than one percent – and miles get you on average 1.2 cents per dollar that you charge. But there’s a tiny bit of good news as of this mornig: Aeroplan has discontinued their expiry of your points after seven years. As long as you do one activity a year, they’ll stay alive. But you should still go in there and cash them out, no matter what – sooner rather than later.
So please stop thinking you’ll get rich or fund your retirement from whatever points program you’re in. Air Canada has now rolled back their frequent flyer program where my 40,000 miles a year essentially make me a nobody. And rumour from a reliable source at United Airlines is that there’s another cut-back coming! To add insult to injury, the value of your points is also getting cut back all the time or how many it takes to redeem keeps increasing. They’re not going up in value – cash out what you have and enjoy the little of whatever you’re going to get. American Airlines, as one example, sells over one billion miles to retailers a year. They get the cash up front to sell them – when you want to redeem them, you’ll probably be in for a rude awakening.
Oh boy. We’ve talked about the dangers of overdrafts before. They’re very addictive and sold under the pretense of giving you peace of mind that a charge or cheque won’t bounce.
But Ron Page of Detroit doesn’t even have the peace of mind these days. Page had an account at Bank of America averaging around $100 balance. But he did have an overdraft – for better or worse – it turned out to be for worse. When Page found himself in some Michigan casinos he ran short of money – gee – surprise. His luck (if you want to call it that) started at the Greektown Casino when the ATM let him withdraw $312,000. Hmmm, you’d think he’d have clued in by then. Then he got $51,000 of withdrawals at the Detroit MGM. In total he withdrew $1,543,000 from his $100 balance account.
Ooppss: According to Bank of America his account was incorrectly coded as “pay all” with the overdraft. Pay all – as in: keep giving him what he wants. Right now, Page has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing.