Leveraging Travel Award Points for Enhanced Portfolio Longevity: A Strategic Approach for Investors & Advisors

Written by: Aaron W. Clarke, CFP®, AIF® 

Investors continually seek strategies to extend the lifespan of their portfolios, particularly during periods of market volatility, bear markets, or low excess cash flow. This article explores the utilization of travel award points to cover travel expenses as a strategic method to achieve this goal. By strategically employing the following points, investors can retain a higher portion of funds invested, leading to increased dividends, interest, and capital gains over the long term. This approach is especially beneficial during retirement as it will also help reduce the sequence of returns risk in a portfolio, as it will increase the length of time portfolios will last.

I. The Impact of Market Volatility and Bear Markets:

During times of market volatility and bear markets, cash preservation becomes crucial for investors. By using travel award points to cover travel expenses, individuals can avoid tapping into their investment portfolios and potentially selling assets at unfavorable prices. This preservation of invested funds enables investors to weather market downturns and participate in potential recoveries. Ultimately, this strategy enhances the longevity of the portfolio by keeping more funds invested, generating returns over time.

II. Low Excess Cash Flow and the Importance of Preserving Investments:

In situations characterized by limited excess cash flow, leveraging travel award points presents an opportunity to preserve investments. Allocating funds for leisure activities, such as travel, becomes challenging when disposable income is constrained. However, by utilizing accumulated travel award points, investors can offset travel costs without depleting their investment capital. This strategy ensures that a higher proportion of funds remains invested, compounding returns over time. By preserving investments during periods of restricted cash flow, investors strengthen the longevity of their portfolios and maintain the potential for long-term growth.

III. Potentially Increasing Returns: Dividends, Interest, and Capital Gains:

One of the primary advantages of using travel award points to cover travel costs is the ability to keep more funds invested and diversified. Dividends, interest, and capital gains significantly contribute to portfolio growth, particularly during retirement when income streams are crucial. By minimizing the need to sell investments for travel expenses, investors can ensure that their portfolios continue to generate these income components. The cumulative effect of reinvesting income over an extended period substantially enhances portfolio longevity, allowing investors to strategically tap into their investments during years of market outperformance.

IV. Mitigating Sequence-of-Returns Risk:

Sequence-of-returns risk refers to the potential negative impact of experiencing poor investment returns in the early years of retirement, jeopardizing the sustainability of a portfolio. By utilizing travel award points in the initial retirement years, investors can minimize the need to withdraw funds from their portfolios. This approach safeguards the compounding effect of investment returns, thereby enhancing the portfolio's longevity. By mitigating sequence-of-returns risk, investors increase the likelihood of maintaining a portfolio to support their needs throughout their retirement years.

V. Diversification: Beyond Traditional Investments:

Integrating travel award points into an investor's overall strategy introduces diversification beyond traditional asset classes or income streams. Diversification is a key risk management technique that helps reduce the impact of volatility on a portfolio. By leveraging travel award points, investors diversify their travel-related expenses, providing greater flexibility and control over spending patterns. This diversified approach bolsters the stability of the portfolio by reducing reliance on a single source of funding for travel costs. Consequently, investors can adapt their spending without compromising the longevity of their portfolio.

Financial Advisors: Guiding Clients towards Long-Term Success:

Financial advisors play a pivotal role in helping clients understand the benefits of leveraging travel award points for portfolio longevity. By incorporating this concept into their practices, advisors can provide valuable guidance while benefiting their businesses and potentially their revenue.

a) Enhancing Client Relationships and Trust:

By proactively educating clients about the advantages of travel award points, financial advisors demonstrate their expertise and commitment to their clients' financial and personal well-being. This approach strengthens client-advisor relationships and fosters trust, as clients perceive their advisors as valuable sources of information and guidance on various financial strategies, including the utilization of travel award points.

b) Holistic Financial Planning:

Financial advisors can integrate travel award points into their clients' overall financial planning. By understanding clients' travel preferences, goals, and the potential impact on their portfolios, advisors can provide tailored recommendations aligned with their clients' financial objectives. This comprehensive planning approach helps clients see the bigger picture and reinforces the value of working with a financial advisor who considers all aspects of their financial life.

c) Differentiation and Competitive Advantage:

By offering specialized expertise in maximizing travel rewards, financial advisors can differentiate themselves in the market. This distinction positions them as innovative and forward-thinking professionals who go beyond conventional investment advice. The ability to integrate travel award points into their practice can attract new clients seeking advisors knowledgeable about optimizing their finances through non-traditional strategies.

d) Increased Revenue Opportunities:

Financial advisors incorporating travel award points into their practice can potentially unlock additional revenue streams. While asset management fees are the primary revenue source for many advisors, introducing clients to travel award optimization strategies opens doors to additional opportunities.

e) Long-Term Client Retention:

By helping clients understand and implement travel award point strategies, financial advisors foster long-term client retention. Assisting clients in preserving their investment portfolios and optimizing travel expenses contributes to their financial success and overall satisfaction. As clients experience the benefits of utilizing travel award points, they are more likely to remain loyal to their advisor's services, even during challenging market conditions. This long-term retention contributes to a stable client base, consistent revenue, and the overall valuation for the advisor's business.


Integrating the concept of leveraging travel award points into portfolio management is a strategic approach that enhances longevity for investors. Financial advisors who educate clients about this strategy and incorporate it into their practices provide added value to their clients while benefiting their own businesses. By fostering client relationships, differentiating themselves in the market, and unlocking additional revenue streams, advisors solidify their positions as trusted experts who go beyond traditional investment advice. As clients understand the advantages of utilizing travel award points, they can optimize their portfolios and achieve long-term financial success while enjoying the benefits of travel. This holistic approach ensures that both clients and advisors reap the rewards of a well-planned and sustainable financial journey.

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