Frequent Flyer Fanatics: Gilbert Ott
The founder of God Save the Points explains why it's sometimes better to hold on to your points rather than spend them.
Gilbert Ott is a travel and rewards enthusiast who owns US website God Save the Points. We spoke to Gilbert about his favourite frequent flyer hacks and why it's sometimes better to pay for your flights with cash rather than points.
Which frequent flyer program(s) do you belong to?
I belong to at least 15 frequent flyer programs. I actually use about six: British Airways, Singapore, American, Japan Airlines, Asiana and Delta, but I've got lots open. You never know when one will present an interesting opportunity and generally you need to already be a member to take advantage.
When did you first become a frequent flyer?
I think at age 10 or 12, I saw on an in-flight napkin that if I signed up for this free program I might earn free flights one day. I instantly became hooked.
What's your current points goal?
I'm an earn and burn person. I earn as many points as I can as quickly as I can and then I use them before the airline has a chance to make things harder. My current goals are definitely Emirates first class around the world via SPG and Japan Airlines Mileage Bank. It's just 125,000 points round trip if you use that method.
What is the best points hack you’ve ever used?
Using Starwood to Asiana to book Lufthansa first class is pretty great. 40,000 Starwood hotel points become 50,000 Asiana Miles (because of the 5,000 point bonus for every 20 you transfer) and Asiana requires just 50,000 points one way to first class between the US and Europe one way. That or using United points for Thai first class suite between Southeast Asia and Australia, just 40,000 one way if booked by October.
Which points mistake that amateur frequent flyers make drives you crazy
Just not booking the ticket with cash sometimes. Just because you have miles doesn't mean you should use them. If a ticket is $250 and you can afford $250, it makes no sense to spend 25,000-50,000 points. That's a bad cents per point value. If I was going to blow 20,000 points, I'd want the ticket to be at least $400, giving me almost 2 cents per point of value.
finder's Frequent Flyer Fanatics series features frequent flyer and rewards experts from Australia and around the world. Check back every Wednesday for our freshest Frequent Flyer Fanatic and the latest points tips.