What are these Points Engines in the Top Menu?

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The credit card engines at the top of the page are basically rules engines that take and apply inputs to currently existing credit card offers, award charts and conversions that I have coded in.  Based on inputs they spit out the order from which to apply for cards from most to least generous that get points for a program.  I originally created this as a couple of friends asked me for tips on how to acquire and use credit card points to go on business class honeymoons to Europe and Africa.  It took some time to come up with a strategy, but now this engine will just spit out that strategy.  With no goal in mind it is simply an engine that shows with currently available offers how much points can be acquired as well.

There are currently two engines – and if they are popular I may build some more.

Companion Pass Engine

This engine recommends the shortest path to the very valuable Southwest Companion Pass.  Simply enter your YTD qualifying miles in your Southwest account for the year thus far and kick it off.  It assumes you converted any other points ahead of time (For example, Chase points to Hyatt to Southwest) to start with the most accurate number.  Once the Southwest Points column turns into a bold number, the goal (currently 110,000 qualifying miles) has been achieved.  Apply for the recommended accounts and upon completion 110,000 miles (or more) plus the Companion Pass will be achieved.

United/American Engine

This engine takes various inputs, for both United and AA, and at the same time shows optimal paths for points attainment and award redemption.  Select North America to Europe in both inputs, choose 2 people, and it will advise which cards and in what order to follow for getting enough points to go via economy, business or first class.  Note: multiple people is always much easier if all are applying for cards – as each can take advantage of the most generous offers when paying their own way to their tickets.

Some Notes on Conversions

The engines correctly handle incremental conversions, ie. SPG points transfer 1:1 to American Airlines but if done in a 20k interval yields a 25% bonus; although it only does this per card.  What does this mean?  It means that it understands a SPG personal card will give you 30k SPG points currently (25k bonus + 5k spend) and that these points are transferred to AA not simply 1:1.  It assumes a transfer of 20k + 5% and a separate transfer of 10k yielding 35k AA points.  It does not however combine cards on different line items, like if one was to get the personal and business version of this card.

Some conversions are also naive, as the calculation is trickier than above.  For instance, different rates whether 10k, 20k, 30k etc. points are transferred – I took something fair and in the middle for this.  Note just because points can be converted does not always mean they should – while Chase UR to United Airlines isn’t “lossy” (1:1 transfer), Hilton Honors also can transfer to United albeit at a much lower rate – the Hilton points are likely much better spent on hotel reservations.

Depending on the card, and if I ever get a referral account set up, I will also get a small referral when someone uses any of my links to sign up.  The support is much appreciated.  These took time to build and require maintenance as cards, conversions and award charts change over time, so please advise if you find any bugs or incorrect data as well.

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