Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Money for Nothing?

Yesterday, I promised to tell you how I got my camera without any out of pocket expense. Today, I'm going to give you the lowdown. First and foremost this is predicated on the idea that you payoff your credit card in full every month. If this is not the case for you, it is probably better to stop reading now and tune back in for the next edition of Philip's Corner.

For those still reading I offer reward/incentive credit. We use an American Express card for our primary purchases that is tied to Hilton HHonors. Now you may be thinking how does a hotel program translate into a camera? I certainly am glad that you asked me that.

Loyalty programs such as Hilton HHonors initially let you earn points/miles/credits/etc. that could only be used toward what the sponsoring company offered - in this case a night at a Hilton Brand hotel. However people like me who earn at a faster rate than I redeem build up quite a balance - many of you have over a million air miles for example. For the companies this is a bad thing as they have to treat outstanding points/miles/etc. as liability from a financial standpoint.

To help with this dilemma, companies began to form partnerships for redemption. It was through this feature that I converted 200,000 Hilton HHonors points into $400 in Best Buy gift cards. That was enough for the Canon SX100 IS, a camera bag, a 1 Gb memory card, rechargeable AA batteries, and the Corel Paint Shop Photo Pro X2. I also took advantage of the fact that Best Buy is (at least currently) doing price matching. So the Office Depot add saved me an additional $60 - enough to pay for the software when it was on sale last week.

You may already have something similar that you use in terms of a loyalty program sponsored credit card. If not I would encourage you to look into it. I would only choose the ones that don't have an annual fee. The things to consider are how useful the program is to you, and what redemption options does the program provide outside of the sponsoring company.

I'll leave you with a picture that I took at a park over by the Fort Worth Zoo this afternoon. I thought it was interesting.

Until next time...

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