If you told me 5 years ago that I would be running a website about saving money through air miles, and that I would move to The Netherlands, I wouldn't have bet a penny that it would happen.
Fast forward 3 years and I'm tell friends and family how using credit cards is a key part of the air miles weaponry, but then my situation changed and I had to move from UK to The Netherlands (NL) where talking about credit cards is seen as bad personal debt, shameful money management etc. and most people here don't own one. I even wrote a mini rant about how I couldn't even use my UK debit card to buy train tickets. One reader couldn't identify with my frustrations and bluntly commented, “what a stupid post”.
Let's be clear on something – don't even think of using credit cards for air miles if you cannot pay it off interest-free every month!
But life moves in funny ways, and last week I had a moment when I found out that Jumbo, one of NL's largest supermarket chains, started to accept American Express cards.
Unless you have been outside the major cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam, you probably would not have realised how you can only use Maestro debit cards to pay for groceries. Having lived here for 2 and a half years and probably spent €45 per week, that's around 6000 air miles due to groceries alone that I've missed out on. That's before I add on all the other thousands of euros over the years!
Dutch AMEX Membership Reward points are rounded to the nearest euro per transaction. So spending €7.50 would give 8 points, the same as if you were spending €8.49. At least this is better than the UK system (as I last knew it) where it gives points only on full pounds per transaction. Therefore spending £8.99 would only give you the same points as if you were spending £8.00.
So while our friends over in the North American plateaus are churning tens of points per dollars plus double/triple points for supermarket spend, do take a step back and think of us in this humble agricultural land earning 1MR per €1, which still only converts as 1MR= 0.8 air miles for most programmes.
It's a step in the right direction for NL-based air miles addicts at least.
If you are based in NL, are new to the air miles game and/or wish to get the Amex Gold card (pictured above), you can use this link to get one with 10 000 Membership Reward points (=8000 air miles with KLM, British Airways, Iberia etc.) as a sign up bonus and the first year free. Normally the year's membership fee is €150 which you would have to pay if you were not referred by anyone. In return I get a little bonus for which I'm extremely grateful!