Tidy Up Your Points And Miles By Using The Marie Kondo Method

by joeheg

If you haven’t heard about Marie Kondo, where have you been? She’s the super nice Japanese “tidying expert,” author of the #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and star of her own show on Netflix called “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” If you’ve seen pictures of your friends on Facebook with piles of clothes in their house, spending their weekends off sorting out what they want to keep or discard, you have Marie Kondo to thank. Her KonMari Method of tidying up has a set of rules to follow which will supposedly lead to the goal of getting your house and items in order and leading a life that sparks joy every day.

Now, I have no plans for cleaning up our house and going through all of the things we’ve accumulated over the years. It’s a big enough job for us to clean out the garage every few years. As you can see, we have a lot of Christmas decorations and we’re keeping them because they spark joy in us.


However, the whole tidying up craze did make me think about the thing I spend the most time on: collecting points and miles. Maybe I’d be able to apply the same principles to the points and miles I have scattered around to make my travel planning easier. Here’s what I found out:

The KonMari Method has six rules to follow in order:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category, not by location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

We can look at each of these and see how to apply them to points and miles.

Commit Yourself To Tidying Up

This goes for any project you’re going to undertake. Being serious about your project means you’re willing to devote the time and effort needed to complete the task at hand.

If you haven’t already done so, signing up for a program like AwardWallet and entering all of your accounts would be a first step to proving that you’re serious about getting everything in order.

Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

I’d compare this rule to the advice I give to anyone getting started in collecting points, Have A Goal. Imagine the trip you want to take, where you want to travel, how you want to get there, where you want to stay. All these things will make you focus on what you’re doing and keep you from wasting time.

Finish Discarding First

I’m a huge believer in not letting any miles go to waste. One way to prevent that is to only collect miles and points you have a need for. However, there will eventually be a program you have points in that you have no way to use. Keeping these points alive takes time and effort. This is the time to figure out if you’re ever going to use them. For example, we have miles in Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic and Alaska that I have no idea what they’re worth, what I can use them for or if they fit into our travel plans. When we received the miles, I thought they could be useful, but now I’m not so sure. Should I discard them (maybe by donating them or using the points for something besides travel) or might there be a use for them that I don’t know?

Tidy By Category

I’ll take this advice by sticking to one type of points at a time. Start with the easiest – rental car points. From there you can go to hotel points since they’re the next easiest to understand. Then you can tackle the airline points, which means you have a good idea about the airline alliances and what the miles in each program are good for. The last programs to look at would be the ones with transferrable points, like American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou Points.

It doesn’t make sense to try and look at all your Chase accounts at the same time because you may have cards that offer cash back (Freedom and Ink Business Cash), airline miles (Southwest, United, British Airways), hotel points (Hyatt & Marriott) and Ultimate Rewards (Sapphire Preferred and Reserve and the Ink Business Preferred), Instead look at all of your hotel or airline points at once to see what you have.

Follow The Right Order

This step is there to make sure you keep moving forward. If tidying your house, you want to start with the easiest thing to get rid of, clothes (and more importantly clothes that don’t fit, are out of style or you just don’t like anymore) and work your way up to items with more sentimental value.

For miles and points, I’d think it would be easier to admit that you’re not going to use those 1,000 Choice Hotel points than it is to realize that you’re not taking advantage of the 80,000 ThankYou points in your account and don’t know what to do with them.

Does It Spark Joy?

This concept is central to the whole KonMari Method. Everything that you keep should spark joy when you think about it. Those are the things you need to keep. Everything else should be discarded, even if it has brought you joy in the past.

I’ll put it like this, can you imagine yourself flying to London on Virgin Atlantic with your Delta SkyMiles? What about staying in the Maldives with all of your Marriott Bonvoy points? Maybe those Southwest points will take your family on a vacation to Walt Disney World. If that brings you joy, keep those points and earn more until you achieve that goal. Even if you don’t know exactly what you will do with the points, if you know what you could do and that makes you happy, you’re still OK. But if you look at those Hawaiian Miles and wonder what you’ll do with them since you’re not going back to Hawaii for at least three years and even then you only take island hopper flights on Hawaiian? I don’t feel any joy having them. Maybe I can find a use for them, but I’ll have to look.

Final Thoughts

On the surface, Marie Kondo seems to be suggesting that everyone go through their house and throw away everything but the bare essentials. However, you need to take another look at the process. It forces you to look at what you’ve collected over the years. Even if something had value at a time, it may no longer hold that value. Realize this and if necessary, thank the item for its service and then discard it. The process isn’t about deciding what to throw away but more deciding which items you want to keep. And whether it’s ill-fitting clothes, stacks of books you’ll never read or random points in programs you don’t use anymore, we all can do for a bit of tidying up.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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