2020 Reflection: The Good and Bad of a (Mostly) Forgettable Year

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We made it! The worst year in recent history (relatively speaking, of course) is over. With hopes that the end of this pandemic is near, and with it an increase in travel, 2021 must be better. It seems impossible that next year won't be better than what we've muddled through over the past 12 months. But before we turn the page, let's look at the good and bad from our 2020.

2020 Goals

As I questioned in our Facebook group on New Year's Day, what were your 2020 goals? Sarah and I had three:

  • Reach Hyatt Globalist status.
  • Earn 3 million or more miles and points.
  • Use miles and  points to book $100,000 or more in travel during the 2020 calendar year.
Our 2020 Goals

Hyatt Globalist

Thanks to our World of Hyatt credit card and several generous Hyatt promotions this summer, Globalist became a reality. The World of Hyatt credit card awards two elite night credits per $5,000 of spend on the card. Without any additional promotions or Hyatt stays, you can earn Globalist status with $140,000 of spend on the World of Hyatt credit card in a calendar year. This summer, Hyatt announced a limited-time promotion where each $5,000 was awarded 3 elite night credits. Based on consistent spend throughout the year, and taking advantage of these promotions, we are finishing the year as Globalist with 70 elite nights. We did this with only 17 actual hotel nights at Hyatt properties. Our World of Hyatt credit card earned the other 53 elite nights, including the five elite nights you receive for having the card. As I shared previously, our first stay as a Globalist resulted in an upgrade to a 1,000+ square foot lake front suite at the Hyatt Regency Lake Washington. We are excited for Globalist status and look forward to using it in 2021 and beyond.

Hyatt Globalist Achieved

Points & Miles Earned

In 2019, I set a goal to earn three million points and miles between Sarah and me. This was quite the jump from prior years, as we had always earned between one and one and a half million each year. By 2019, I was determined to up the ante and really hit it hard. Unfortunately, we lost steam at certain periods throughout the year and ended up agonizingly close to our goal. While we failed to hit three million in 2019, we set a new record and earned over 2.89 million points and miles.

2019 Points & Miles Earned

Fresh off defeat in 2019, I decided to set the same goal and make darn sure we achieved it. I mapped out a credit card strategy. Part of this plan was aggressively opening American Express cards last November and December, as it is the best time of the year to do so AND those welcome bonuses would hit our accounts in 2020. In all, we added a Business Gold, Hilton Aspire and Amex Green in November and December. For good measure, I added the Banco Popular Avianca Vuela Visa on New Year's Eve. Later in 2020, we successfully opened our first Chase Business card, a Chase Ink Business Preferred. In all, Sarah and I had 12 sign-up bonuses hit our accounts in 2020, four business and eight personal. Our list of 2020 cards opened:

While our spending essentially ground to a halt in March, April and May, numerous credit card spending bonuses throughout the summer and fall significantly boosted our earning capabilities. Then came PayPal Key, selling our house, paying off our mortgage, and the rest is history. 2020 was a gold mine for earning boat loads of points and miles! We may never see a year that is better for easy points-earning opportunities.

Overall, we blew our goal out of the water! We earned over 3.5 million points and miles in 2020. Not only did we exceed our personal goal, but we increased our annual record by over 20%. Best of all, over 2.4 Million were transferrable currencies (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Amex Membership Rewards and Citi Thank You Points). While there are many people in our award travel world that earn many millions more than Sarah and I ever could, we are very pleased with our haul. It's difficult for us to burn more than 3 million points and miles in a year, so we're definitely ahead of that pace heading into 2021.

2020 Points & Miles Earned

Booking Travel

Things started off so well. Then, well, you know the rest of the story. What started off with an epic 16 day trip to New Zealand and over $25,000 in free travel booked in the first week of January ended with a worldwide lockdown and borders closed throughout the world. Had COVID not happened, our goal of $100,000 in travel would have been easily obtainable. Even with the COVID cancellations, including our glorious $25,000+ trip to New Zealand, a $4,000+ stay at Ventana Big Sur for New Years and $4,000+ in hotels in Cabo San Lucas, we still have over $71,000 in travel on the books for 2021.

Free Travel Planned for 2021

We've booked trips to the Virgin Islands, Germany, Africa, Sicily and California. All basically free with points and miles. It was disappointing to not hit our 2020 goal. But we're starting 2021 with a lot of exciting travel booked, a huge stash of points & miles and a hope that travel returns in a big way next year. While I don't expect travel will return to 2019 levels any time soon, I do hope and predict that award travelers will have more opportunities for deals, as we are not constantly competing with business travelers on desirable routes.

2021 Goals

I'm not quite ready to share. I'll return on New Year's Day with my goals and ask about yours. I do think goals are important. They help drive your credit card strategy, help make informed decisions on spending and budgeting, and help keep you motivated throughout the year. This was sorely lacking for us in 2019 and, I believe, a major reason we failed to reach our goals that year.

Conclusion

We succeeded on two of our three goals in 2020. The only defeat was booking $100,000+ in travel, and that was upended by an unforeseeable global pandemic. Overall, I am quite satisfied with our year. We kept momentum throughout the year, even during the difficult months of March, April and May. We hit our two big goals of Hyatt Globalist and earning 3 million points and miles in year.

How did you do on your 2020 goals? Come over to our Facebook group, and let us know.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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