TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

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VictoriaF
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TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Dec 27, 2014 1:13 pm

In the thread Vacation in France, the poster TradingPlaces has provided excellent suggestions about accumulating and using travel awards.

His information was so good that the discussion veered off from France towards generating rewards for travel in general. Eventually, the thread has returned to its original subject, thus leaving a lot of great general information buried in. I have benefited from that discussion and from attending Frequent Traveler University (FTU) in early December. Now, I am acting on my newly acquired knowledge and looking for sanity checks and suggestions, as well as an opportunity to help others.

My first priority was to find a way to use credit cards to qualify for initial bonuses. After a lot of reading, I decided that the Target reloadable REDCard would work for me the best. I have purchased a temporary card and now waiting for the permanent one. The information about the REDCard is available in the Frequent Miler's blog, The Target Prepaid Redcard.

Now, that I know that I can qualify for a bonus within a relatively short time window, I am ready to start applying for the cards. I have just submitted an application for Chase Ink Plus Business Card. I already have Chase Ink Bold, and so I am wondering if I'd be approved for another Chase Business Card.

In the "France" thread, TradingPlaces made the following suggestion:
TradingPlaces wrote:The best way to quickly accumulate United Points is to get the following cards in somewhat rapid succession: (a) Chase United Mileage Explorer, (b) Chase Sapphire Preferred, (c) Chase Ink Bold Business, (d) Chase Ink Plus Business. Note that (b), (c), (d) give you Chase Ultimate Rewards points, but by holding either of these cards, you can convert Chase UR points to United Miles at 1:1. If you did all 4, you might get close to 200K points in 3-6 months.
My primary questions now are:
- If I am approved for Ink Plus, and considering that I already have Ink Bold, what is a good time to apply for Chase United Mileage Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred?
- If I am denied Ink Plus, when should I apply for other cards offering Ultimate Rewards?

Thank you in advance.
Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by curiouskitty » Sat Dec 27, 2014 2:17 pm

The Ink cards are business cards whereas the Mileage Explorer and Sapphire Preferred are personal cards, so there should be nothing limiting your ability to apply for them around the same time. The business cards will not show up on your personal credit report even if you submitted the application as a sole proprietor.

If they deny you for the Ink Plus, call the reconsideration line and say you want a credit card since the Ink Bold is a charge card.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:08 am

curiouskitty wrote:The Ink cards are business cards whereas the Mileage Explorer and Sapphire Preferred are personal cards, so there should be nothing limiting your ability to apply for them around the same time. The business cards will not show up on your personal credit report even if you submitted the application as a sole proprietor.

If they deny you for the Ink Plus, call the reconsideration line and say you want a credit card since the Ink Bold is a charge card.
Thank you curiouskitty,

I am trying to design a strategy for an optimal use of Ultimate Rewards (UR) that would enable me to open and close Chase cards 2-3 times/year without paying annual fees, while not being banned for my pattern. I am also trying to understand TradingPlaces' words "rapid succession." Can rapid be too rapid? Should I err on being under-rapid?

I opened Chase Ink Bold in late May 2014, and I need to cancel it in March 2015, because I will be traveling for two months and can't rely on my ability to conduct complex transactions remotely.

I am contemplating a following plan:
- Jan 2015: open Ink Plus
- March 2015: transfer UR from Ink Bold to Ink Plus
- March 2015: close Ink Bold
- Dec 2015: open Sapphire Preferred
- Dec 2015: transfer UR from Ink Plus to Sapphire Preferred
- Dec 2015: close Ink Plus
- 2016 - use up all my UR while keeping Sapphire Preferred
- Dec 2016: close Sapphire Preferred
- 2017 - start applying for Chase Business cards again

Does it make sense?

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:09 am

How often yo
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 10:18 am

Regarding
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:30 pm

TradingPlaces,

Thank you so much for a comprehensive response! I will follow your links, wait for the response from Chase Ink Plus, and may return with additional questions.

By the way, Daraius Dubash, the guy who runs the Million Mile Secrets blog, was my favorite presenter at the Frequent Traveler University (FTU). At the conference, I liked the quality of his information, delivery, and responsiveness to questions. But only today, I have realized that it is his blog that you are recommending.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:46 pm

all-time
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:53 pm

hat I me
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 2:55 pm

Victoria, did you learn any special tricks that you thought were particularly valuable?

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Dec 28, 2014 3:58 pm

Victoria,

Thanks for the great info on the Target REDcard. I have a Serve card which allows me to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. It sounds like the REDcard has that same benefit PLUS the benefit of being able to load $5,000 a month from a credit card in-store at Target. Am I missing something?

I am doing the same thing as you in terms of building up United miles with cards. Unfortunately, the Ink Bold is no longer available, but I've already met the spending requirements on the Ink Plus and the Sapphire Preferred. I am now working my way through the United Mileage Plus Explorer card after which I expect to have around 185K miles. My brother is doing the same thing, and we are planning a Fall vacation in Asia via business class with the miles.

It's worth noting that the United card is a 30K miles offer to the general public, but there is a targeted offer of 50K miles that gets mailed to some folks. I got the 50K offer but my brother, who just created a United FF account and has no miles in it, is having to settle for the 30K offer. So I think those who are planning on doing this should open a United FF account immediately and try to get some miles in it just to start a history. You don't have to fly to get miles in the account....one could start by getting the Sapphire Preferred and then moving 1,000 miles over to United once the bonus is earned.

Also, sometimes Chase offers particularly good bonuses on these cards for a limited time. My brother and I were able to get 70K miles for the Ink Plus card vs the regular 50K offer, though the annual fee was not waived (well worth it for 20K extra miles).

For the cards that offer extra 5K bonuses if you get a card with another authorized user (both the Sapphire Preferred and United MileagePlus Explorer card offer this), definitely take advantage. I just put a friend's name down and got a card in his name. I didn't have to give him the card or even use the card....it has the same account number as the card with my name on it, so I don't think Chase can even tell which card is being used. So they say you have to make 1 purchase with the additional card, but I got the extra 5K from Sapphire Preferred without ever using the additional card.

I've also been continuing to use the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred cards to try and stay in Chase's good graces so I can repeat this process in a couple of years. I use the Ink Plus to pay my phone and Internet bills because it gives me 5x points for those. And I use the Sapphire Preferred for travel and restaurant expenses because it gives 2x points. I will still probably cancel both before the annual fee comes due, though I may keep the Sapphire Preferred (and will definitely keep it if I can get the annual fee waived).

One addition to your plan would be to take advantage of the manufactured spending from the REDcard to sign up for other credit cards with strong introductory offers in between the UR and United cards. The Barclaycard Arrival is an obvious choice, and I'm sure there are many other good ones as well.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:33 pm

TradingPlaces wrote:Victoria, did you learn any special tricks that you thought were particularly valuable?
"Valuable" is related to one's prior knowledge and one's specific travel interests. I came to FTU with very little knowledge, and my interests are somewhat different from the mainstream of the attendees. I don't mind flying Economy, prefer to stay in hostels, and usually don't rent cars. However, I will have at least three international flights every year, and possibly more, and would prefer to use rewards for these flights.

Having said that, here are some things that I highlighted in my notes in red:
1. Booking in advance is different for different airlines, e.g., for Quantus it starts much earlier than for others.
2. There is a smart phone app, http://www.HotelUpgrade.com that gets for you hotel upgrades, points, and confirmed reservations.
3. Daraius's top three credit card recommendations were:
(a) Chase Sapphire Preferred
(b) Barclay Arrival Plus
(c) SouthWest credit card (because of the companion pass)
He recommended to apply for the SouthWest card in December, spend in December, the points would post in January and would be good for 2015-early 2016. One could get 110k points per calendar year, using SouthWest Business card and SouthWest Personal card.
I did not follow up on this, because currently my primary interest is international flights.

4. Earn-and-burn philosophy: don't earn miles unless you are planning to use them within 12 months; don't hoard.
5. You can transit through China, but not transfer through China if you don't have a Chinese visa. A recommendation was to get a 10-year visa to China, so that this would not be an issue.
6. Sites TheFlightDeal.com, ExpertFlyer.com, and Matrix.ItaSoftware.com were recommended for selecting routing and flights, but I have not tried them yet. ExpertFlyer carries an annual fee, which is supposedly worthwhile for frequent flyers; other sites are free (I think). After a route is constructed, book on the airlines' own sites. GCMap.com is good for mapping routes.
7. Recommendation: subscribe to the FlyerTalk thread "Good Deals Premium Fares 2014" and if you see a good deal take it right away.
8. Apparently, there are scripts available on the web that can be used to get approved for credit cards.
9. AvisFirst is free with Chase Ink. I think it would provide 2 free days of rental.
10. Costcotravel.com is a good portal for getting rental cars. One must be a Costco member.
11. For international rentals, go to the country site. For example, Hertz in Jersey, UK, gives better rates than the general Hertz site.
12. A relatively cheap way to travel to Antarctica is to come to Ushuaia, Argentina, and take an unclaimed cabin. A few days ago, I started a separate BH thread discussing this possibility.
13. Alaska Airlines is underappreciated. Their credit cards offer a 25k-30k sign-up bonus, and one can sign up often, up to 4 cards at a time. Alaska partners with Cathway Pacific, Emirates and others, and charges different amounts of points for different partners.
14. AwardWallet keeps track of one's miles. (I still prefer to create my own spreadsheet and keep track of my rewards off-line.)
15. American Airlines has a generous definition of off-season travel, 15 Oct - 15 May, and charges only 20k miles for one-way Economy tickets.
16. KrisFlyer provides booking service and can transfer miles from Chase's Ultimate Rewards. (I have not investigated it yet.)
17. Gary Leff (ViewFromTheWing) and Ben Schlappig (OneMileAtAtime) provide booking services using one's miles. I met both of them at the FTU but have not used their services (yet).
18. Australian Frequent Flyer forum is more user friendly than FlyerTalk, because people don't talk in code.
19. Stefan Krasowski (RapidTravelChai) gave a talk about extreme travel, i.e., remote and dangerous destinations. For getting cash, he recommended a Schwab debit card, because it does not have a foreign exchange fee or ATM reimbursement.
20. Krasowski recommended getting a 3-year Russian tourist visa, 10-year for India and 10-year for China.
21. Those who want to get 70,000 reward miles on opening a Chase Ink Business card should go to a physical branch. Unfortunately, for me this is too far and out of the question.

The above is based on a quick review of my notes. At some point, I will go through them in a greater detail to uncover additional gems.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:46 pm

Bfwolf wrote:Thanks for the great info on the Target REDcard. I have a Serve card which allows me to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. It sounds like the REDcard has that same benefit PLUS the benefit of being able to load $5,000 a month from a credit card in-store at Target. Am I missing something?
I don't think you are missing anything. Once I get the permanent REDCard, I am planning on loading it for $5,000 a month. The other limits are $2,500 per day and $1,000 per load, i.e., in one visit to Target you would have to go through a cash register 3 times. I will probably make five separate visits per month.

I loaded my temporary card with $500 at the opening, and can add another $1,000 before the end of December. In January I will start using the permanent card.

WARNING: I have not had any rechargeable cards before, and so for me, it's not an issue, but you would have to cancel Serve in order to register REDCard. From my reading comments, some people had a problem when they used the same email address to sign for these cards.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:48 pm

Victoria: thank you for sharing your lessons from the FTU!
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:55 pm

TradingPlaces wrote:I was not a US citizen until recently, so I read visa regulations like my life depended on it. However, the number of bad stories I have heard from acquaintances about transfer through China or India have been mind boggling. I don't have any plans or desire to visit China or India, and Russia would be just to see family.
Now, this is interesting. I have immigrated to the U.S. from the USSR many years ago. My first language is Russian. At FTU, I asked about flights to Russia. The answers were that Aeroflot partners with Delta, and S7 is a OneWorld partner with British Airways. I have not followed up on these, yet.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 5:22 pm

VictoriaF wrote: I have just submitted an application for Chase Ink Plus Business Card. I already have Chase Ink Bold, and so I am wondering if I'd be approved for another Chase Business Card.
I applied for Chase Ink Plus yesterday, 27 December. Today, I received an alert from my credit monitoring service; Chase did a hard pull of my credit information yesterday, on the same day I applied. I am impressed with how quickly Chase acts, particularly considering that it's a weekend during the holiday season.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by ChrisC » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:31 pm

I find this thread very interesting and for many years I've been a points junkie with affinity credit cards and lots of manufactured spend. (I started a long time ago with a Northwest Airlines FF Credit Card that got me and my family on a number of coast-to-coast trips during the early 1990's.) I really admire the enthusiasm of many who hunt down great travel deals and I've been a DIY guy for so many years. Sometimes the chase is more exciting than actually capturing the prizes, for many. I'm sitting on a loads of points and FF miles and I'm a Lifetime Platinum Elite Member with Marriott for lodging, but next year I'm actually planning to do something contrary to my past efforts when it comes to using my points and miles. I'm going to use a travel agent for the first time and turn over my points and miles for my agent to book air travel and lodging for me. Accumulation of points and frequent flyer miles is fairly easy to do, once you get the hang of things, but I think using and booking FF miles has become extremely difficult, tedious, and frequently frustrating (even if, like me, you're a student of the travel internet bloggers and forums). Moreover, I intend to use my travel agent for obtaining private guides for places I would tour abroad, and there are deals which only agents can get especially for cruises, a big part of my retirement travel. I think my agent will actually do a better job than I would in hunting down the most appropriate travel deals for me at this stage of my life.
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:31 pm

At FTU-DC, I attended Stefan Krasowski's (RapidTravelChai) presentations on Rental Cars and Extreme Travel. As I was composing my earlier message with the FTU take-aways, I sent an email to Stefan asking for a copy of his slides. Stefan has responded with a link to all his presentations: http://www.slideshare.net/rapidtravelchai/presentations and allowed me to post the link here.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by TradingPlaces » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:32 pm

Instead of using a travel agent, use one of the Miles and Points experts who offer to do the bookings for a fee.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:37 pm

ChrisC wrote:I find this thread very interesting and for many years I've been a points junkie with affinity credit cards and lots of manufactured spend. (I started a long time ago with a Northwest Airlines FF Credit Card that got me and my family on a number of coast-to-coast trips during the early 1990's.) I really admire the enthusiasm of many who hunt down great travel deals and I've been a DIY guy for so many years. Sometimes the chase is more exciting than actually capturing the prizes, for many. I'm sitting on a loads of points and FF miles and I'm a Lifetime Platinum Elite Member with Marriott for lodging, but this year I'm actually planning to do something contrary to my past efforts when it comes to using my points and miles. I'm going to use a travel agent for the first time and turn over my points and miles for my agent to book air travel and lodging for me. Accumulation of points and frequent flyer miles is fairly easy to do, once you get the hang of things, but I think using and booking FF miles has become extremely difficult, tedious, and frequently frustrating (even if, like me, you're a student of the travel internet bloggers and forums). Moreover, I intend to use my travel agent for obtaining private guides for places I would tour abroad, and there are deals which only agents can get especially for cruises, a big part of my retirement travel. I think my agent will actually do a better job than I would in hunting down the most appropriate travel deals for me at this stage of my life.
Chris,

In my notes above, item-6 provides a list of sites recommended to be uses when planning your travel. At least one of these sites is not free: ExpertFlyer.com is $99/year. Item-17 provides names of two people who can do booking for you, for a fee. I have not used either item-6 or item-17, but I met both of these people recommended in item-17 at FTU and they seem trustworthy.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:39 pm

TradingPlaces wrote:Instead of using a travel agent, use one of the Miles and Points experts who offer to do the bookings for a fee.
I think our recommendations are consistent. Gary Leff (ViewFromTheWing) and Ben Schlappig (OneMileAtAtime) are such experts.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by ChrisC » Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:57 pm

TradingPlaces wrote:Instead of using a travel agent, use one of the Miles and Points experts who offer to do the bookings for a fee.
I can use a Virtuoso ($100 fee) or a Signature (free) travel agent and have the agent book everything for me. I can also book my own rental cars abroad using Costco (which I did last year for a week in Mallorca, ES), Avis or Hertz, with lots of different promotions, but why should I in the future, when an agent will likely get me a better deal on car rentals and if something goes awry at the rental car desk abroad an agent will likely handle it better than I could? I can also book cruises on my own directly with the cruise line or through Costco, Vacations-to-Go or other discount places, but I really get better prices and rebates from an agent.

As said before, I've been a DIY guy for most of my life when it comes to travel, but now that I'm retired and I'm not under a strict budget, I think it's more efficient to use an agent for booking airline travel and arranging lodging for complicated foreign travel. It's like using a tax accountant for preparing complicated personal tax returns. I could do my own complicated tax returns but for a few hundred bucks, I'll turn that over to a tax accountant, who will also find something that I overlooked and will save me more than I spent on her fee.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:03 pm

ChrisC wrote:As said before, I've been a DIY guy for most of my life when it comes to travel, but now that I'm retired and I'm not under a strict budget, I think it's more efficient to use an agent for booking airline travel and arranging lodging for complicated foreign travel. It's like using a tax accountant for preparing complicated personal tax returns. I could do my own complicated tax returns but for a few hundred bucks, I'll turn that over to a tax accountant, who will also find something that I overlooked and will save me more than I spent on her fee.
Fair enough.

My logic is opposite. When I was working, I did not have time to get into the travel DIY. In retirement, I have more time, and as travel is now my major expense category, it makes sense to achieve some savings. Or may be it's not opposite. I will be earning points and miles on my own, but may use experts to apply these rewards to my travel itineraries.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by ChrisC » Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:42 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
ChrisC wrote:As said before, I've been a DIY guy for most of my life when it comes to travel, but now that I'm retired and I'm not under a strict budget, I think it's more efficient to use an agent for booking airline travel and arranging lodging for complicated foreign travel. It's like using a tax accountant for preparing complicated personal tax returns. I could do my own complicated tax returns but for a few hundred bucks, I'll turn that over to a tax accountant, who will also find something that I overlooked and will save me more than I spent on her fee.
Fair enough.

My logic is opposite. When I was working, I did not have time to get into the travel DIY. Now, in retirement, I have more time, and as travel is now my major expense category, it makes sense to achieve some savings. Or may be it's not opposite. I will be earning points and miles on my own, but may use experts to apply these rewards to my travel itineraries.

Victoria
I don't think we're on opposite sides here. I'm just turning over points or miles to an "expert" (in my case, a travel agent on the Virtuoso or Signature travel network) to book my flights and hotel/lodging along with other stuff such as car rentals, finding me private tour guides, recommending restaurants or providing me with a better lay of the foreign land, or even holding my hand if things go awry. In the end, I think it would be less of a hassle for me. For example, I could get a subscription to Expertflyer for a $99 annual fee; this would make it easier for me to get first class or business class upgrades on travel using miles, if I were DIY. On the other hand, I could let a travel agent, with access to Expertflyer or other data bases, do the same and I don't have to patiently wait for Expertflyer to send me alerts or monitor data bases.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 7:46 pm

ChrisC wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
ChrisC wrote:As said before, I've been a DIY guy for most of my life when it comes to travel, but now that I'm retired and I'm not under a strict budget, I think it's more efficient to use an agent for booking airline travel and arranging lodging for complicated foreign travel. It's like using a tax accountant for preparing complicated personal tax returns. I could do my own complicated tax returns but for a few hundred bucks, I'll turn that over to a tax accountant, who will also find something that I overlooked and will save me more than I spent on her fee.
Fair enough.

My logic is opposite. When I was working, I did not have time to get into the travel DIY. Now, in retirement, I have more time, and as travel is now my major expense category, it makes sense to achieve some savings. Or may be it's not opposite. I will be earning points and miles on my own, but may use experts to apply these rewards to my travel itineraries.

Victoria
I don't think we're on opposite sides here. I'm just turning over points or miles to an "expert" (in my case, a travel agent on the Virtuoso or Signature travel network) to book my flights and hotel/lodging along with other stuff such as car rentals, finding me private tour guides, recommending restaurants or providing me with a better lay of the foreign land, or even holding my hand if things go awry. In the end, I think it would be less of a hassle for me. For example, I could get a subscription to Expertflyer for a $99 annual fee; this would make it easier for me to get first class or business class upgrades on travel using miles, if I were DIY. On the other hand, I could let a travel agent, with access to Expertflyer or other data bases, do the same and I don't have to patiently wait for Expertflyer to send me alerts or monitor data bases.
I agree. Eventually, I may come to the same conclusions as you have. Now, I am excited to explore the new for me world of the DIY travel. I might to sign for ExpertFlyer for the fun of it. At FTU, they offered to the attendees 50% off the first year subscription, but I don't have time to do it now.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:06 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:Thanks for the great info on the Target REDcard. I have a Serve card which allows me to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. It sounds like the REDcard has that same benefit PLUS the benefit of being able to load $5,000 a month from a credit card in-store at Target. Am I missing something?
I don't think you are missing anything. Once I get the permanent REDCard, I am planning on loading it for $5,000 a month. The other limits are $2,500 per day and $1,000 per load, i.e., in one visit to Target you would have to go through a cash register 3 times. I will probably make five separate visits per month.

I loaded my temporary card with $500 at the opening, and can add another $1,000 before the end of December. In January I will start using the permanent card.

WARNING: I have not had any rechargeable cards before, and so for me, it's not an issue, but you would have to cancel Serve in order to register REDCard. From my reading comments, some people had a problem when they used the same email address to sign for these cards.

Victoria
As I read more, I am realizing I was wrong when I said it was the same as the Serve card in terms of being able to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. That is only possible with a debit card for the REDcard, which is far less useful than Serve's credit card allowance. Nevertheless, REDcard's $5,000/month in-store limit still makes it a winner vs Serve.

Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one! They're not sold in Illinois.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:13 pm

Bfwolf wrote:As I read more, I am realizing I was wrong when I said it was the same as the Serve card in terms of being able to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. That is only possible with a debit card for the REDcard, which is far less useful than Serve's credit card allowance. Nevertheless, REDcard's $5,000/month in-store limit still makes it a winner vs Serve.

Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one! They're not sold in Illinois.
I loaded my temporary REDCard using a credit card, and from reading the FrequentMiler blog, I expect to make all my reloads with credit cards.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by ieee488 » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:32 pm

Once there is money in the REDcard, how does one "unload" it?
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 8:48 pm

ieee488 wrote:Once there is money in the REDcard, how does one "unload" it?
One can transfer money to one's bank account, which is what I am planning to do. Other options include paying bills, including credit cards bills.

The above is based on my reading of the FrequentMiler blog. Once I get my own permanent card, I will be referring to my own experience.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:05 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:As I read more, I am realizing I was wrong when I said it was the same as the Serve card in terms of being able to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. That is only possible with a debit card for the REDcard, which is far less useful than Serve's credit card allowance. Nevertheless, REDcard's $5,000/month in-store limit still makes it a winner vs Serve.

Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one! They're not sold in Illinois.
I loaded my temporary REDCard using a credit card, and from reading the FrequentMiler blog, I expect to make all my reloads with credit cards.

Victoria
Yes, in store you can use a credit card. But online, I'm reading you can only use a debit card. Are you getting different results? With the Serve card, you can load online with a credit card, but only $1,000 a month.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:06 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
ieee488 wrote:Once there is money in the REDcard, how does one "unload" it?
One can transfer money to one's bank account, which is what I am planning to do. Other options include paying bills, including credit cards bills.

The above is based on my reading of the FrequentMiler blog. Once I get my own permanent card, I will be referring to my own experience.

Victoria
With my Serve card, I just immediately send a payment to the credit card I just charged it to!

So if I added $200 from my Sapphire Preferred card to my Serve card, I then immediately turn around and have the Serve card send a $200 payment to Chase to pay off my Sapphire Preferred card. It's incredibly easy.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:09 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:As I read more, I am realizing I was wrong when I said it was the same as the Serve card in terms of being able to load $1,000 a month online from a credit card. That is only possible with a debit card for the REDcard, which is far less useful than Serve's credit card allowance. Nevertheless, REDcard's $5,000/month in-store limit still makes it a winner vs Serve.

Now if I can just figure out how to get my hands on one! They're not sold in Illinois.
I loaded my temporary REDCard using a credit card, and from reading the FrequentMiler blog, I expect to make all my reloads with credit cards.

Victoria
Yes, in store you can use a credit card. But online, I'm reading you can only use a debit card. Are you getting different results? With the Serve card, you can load online with a credit card, but only $1,000 a month.
Sorry, I don't have Serve and thus misunderstood your comment. My plan is to physically visit a Target store to make reloads with credit cards. At this time, I don't have points-earning debit cards and have not considered the online loading option (yet).

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:12 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
ieee488 wrote:Once there is money in the REDcard, how does one "unload" it?
One can transfer money to one's bank account, which is what I am planning to do. Other options include paying bills, including credit cards bills.

The above is based on my reading of the FrequentMiler blog. Once I get my own permanent card, I will be referring to my own experience.

Victoria
With my Serve card, I just immediately send a payment to the credit card I just charged it to!

So if I added $200 from my Sapphire Preferred card to my Serve card, I then immediately turn around and have the Serve card send a $200 payment to Chase to pay off my Sapphire Preferred card. It's incredibly easy.
As I understand it, you can do the same with REDCard.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by curmudgeon » Sun Dec 28, 2014 9:29 pm

It has been interesting to read more of the details of working the award system. In the past I haven't done too much to squeeze more miles out. I don't have a small business or a large business travel spend, so I mostly just did some basic stuff and let the rest go by. I kept the free United card; while it had a poor reward rate, it lets me avoid having my miles expire by occasionally purchasing with it. In general, though, I've tried to avoid complicating my life just to earn some extra miles. We did the Southwest card, but just got the mileage bonus; no real shot at hitting the companion pass status. We dropped it before the fee came up.

I've recently picked up on pushing the miles game a little harder. We may have more time for overseas travel (and the exchange rates are getting better). I went for the 50K miles from Fidelity, as we've got some long-term stuff in a taxable account in another brokerage which can just as easily sit at Fidelity (I already had work accounts there). I also went for the fee United card since the first year fee is waived. United is pretty good for international connections from my area, though I'm not thrilled with their service in general. I'm leaning towards splitting our mileage systems, with my wife focusing on a different airline group; that way when we don't have miles for two free tickets, the one earning miles can get credit for the paid flight.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Feb 06, 2015 1:40 am

Quick update: I bought a temporary Redcard off Ebay about a month ago, registered it, and got my permanent card a couple of months later. I have since charged the $5,000 max to it in January and February, so $10,000 total. With a good 2% cash back credit card, that's been worth $200 to me so far. I've found it incredibly easy to load the card...just go to customer service and say you want to load the card with $1,000! Then do another $1,000. Then $500. I did run into some of these transactions being rejected at first due to concerns from my credit card companies that they were fraudulent. But once I assured the credit card companies they were legit, it was no issue. My Barclaycard Arrival + was the most annoying of these, as I charged $1,000 on it the first time, but then it wouldn't let me charge another $1,000. So I used other cards, and then when I got home, I called Barclays and straightened things out. But then when I went back for my 2nd visit, the same thing happened (first $1,000 went through, but not second). After that, though, the fraud alert was "trained" enough to let all my transactions through. Chase just sent me an email right away that allowed me to instantly indicate the transaction was not fraudulent. And Citi did the same but with a text message.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 06, 2015 5:28 pm

Bfwolf wrote:My Barclaycard Arrival + was the most annoying of these, as I charged $1,000 on it the first time, but then it wouldn't let me charge another $1,000. So I used other cards, and then when I got home, I called Barclays and straightened things out. But then when I went back for my 2nd visit, the same thing happened (first $1,000 went through, but not second). After that, though, the fraud alert was "trained" enough to let all my transactions through. Chase just sent me an email right away that allowed me to instantly indicate the transaction was not fraudulent. And Citi did the same but with a text message.
Today, I started my February loading. I have two Citi cards, one business and one personal. The second $1,000 charge on the personal Citi card was rejected, and so I tried the business Citi card. It was rejected right away. I guess Citi has a cross-check system between personal and business accounts. This was not obvious, because they did not allow me to merge the two accounts.

For me, the main value of REDcard is to qualify for credit card sign-up bonuses. I don't spend enough to get them otherwise.

A word of warning. I tried to use REDcard to pay my February rent. I requested the payment on 19 January, and received a confirmation message that it will be paid on 23 January. On 27 January, my apartment manager still has not received it and I started worrying about any recourse I would have. Eventually, the check came on Saturday, 1 February.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VesperLynd » Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:54 pm

Hi Victoria,

I am interested in your strategy of using the Redbird card to pay your rent.

In my case, I walk the check over to my landlord's house each month.

Do you see any reason why I couldn't have the check, still made out in his name, but sent back to my address, so that I can still get it in time to walk the check
over to him?

Thanks! Vesper

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:25 am

VesperLynd wrote:Hi Victoria,

I am interested in your strategy of using the Redbird card to pay your rent.

In my case, I walk the check over to my landlord's house each month.

Do you see any reason why I couldn't have the check, still made out in his name, but sent back to my address, so that I can still get it in time to walk the check
over to him?

Thanks! Vesper
Hi VesperLynd,

My strategy was to try different ways to use REDcard and then to settle on those that work the best. I paid rent with it one time and probably won't do it again. It worked, but it took a long time for my apartment manager to receive the check, and until the last moment I did not know if I should write another check and how to reclaim the initial check if it were lost.

In my experience, the best way to un-load REDcard is to pay credit card bills. After I have initially entered the banks and account numbers into REDcard, I made small payments of $1-$2 to each credit card to test that REDcard had accurate information about my accounts. Once these small transactions were confirmed by receiving banks, I started using REDcard to pay my credit card bills in full.

Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sat Feb 14, 2015 9:30 pm

VesperLynd wrote:Hi Victoria,

I am interested in your strategy of using the Redbird card to pay your rent.

In my case, I walk the check over to my landlord's house each month.

Do you see any reason why I couldn't have the check, still made out in his name, but sent back to my address, so that I can still get it in time to walk the check
over to him?

Thanks! Vesper
VesperLynd,

I think there's a misconception that one needs to find creative ways to unload a Redcard. You don't.

There are 2 incredibly easy to ways to unload your Redcard. One is what Victoria said: just use the Redcard to pay off the credit card you loaded the Redcard from. The other is to link your checking account up to the Redcard and just withdraw the funds from your Redcard to your checking account. That's what I do--it gives me the benefit of the additional interest I earn in my checking account before I use the money to pay off the credit card I loaded the Redcard from.

Don't bother getting creative. There's no benefit in it.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by stevemed » Sat Feb 14, 2015 11:49 pm

Hi all,

I think I understand the red card strategy but just want to check.If I have a points earning credit card, I max it out every month by charging $5000 from my points credit card onto my red card and then turn around and use the $5000 put on my red card to pay off the point credit card.Does this make sense? Thanks

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:34 am

Bfwolf wrote:VesperLynd,

I think there's a misconception that one needs to find creative ways to unload a Redcard. You don't.

There are 2 incredibly easy to ways to unload your Redcard. One is what Victoria said: just use the Redcard to pay off the credit card you loaded the Redcard from. The other is to link your checking account up to the Redcard and just withdraw the funds from your Redcard to your checking account. That's what I do--it gives me the benefit of the additional interest I earn in my checking account before I use the money to pay off the credit card I loaded the Redcard from.

Don't bother getting creative. There's no benefit in it.
Bfwolf,

My reading of the REDcard rules is that you can't transfer more than $2,500/month to your checking account. If you load $5,000/month, at least a half of it should be used to pay bills. I have not tested transferring more than $2,500 to checking. It might work one or more times and then trigger closing of REDcard, which I don't want to risk.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:36 am

stevemed wrote:Hi all,

I think I understand the red card strategy but just want to check.If I have a points earning credit card, I max it [REDcard] out every month by charging $5000 from my points credit card onto my red card and then turn around and use the $5000 put on my red card to pay off the point credit card.Does this make sense? Thanks
Yes, that's it.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by protagonist » Sun Feb 15, 2015 10:54 am

VictoriaF wrote:
My primary questions now are:
- If I am approved for Ink Plus, and considering that I already have Ink Bold, what is a good time to apply for Chase United Mileage Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred?
- If I am denied Ink Plus, when should I apply for other cards offering Ultimate Rewards?

Thank you in advance.
Victoria
Hi, Victoria.

First, a HUGE thank you for posting all the valuable info you got from your conference.

I received the Chase Ink Bold sometime in 2013....I'm not sure when since I cancelled it but I think around autumn 2014.
I got Chase Ink Plus in 5/14.
I got Chase Sapphire in 7/14.
I got Chase Freedom (a nice card to have once you get the three above...no annual fee and easy spending requirement) about the same time I got Chase Sapphire.
I also received the following Chase cards all in 2014: United business, Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont Visa, IHG. And I renewed my Chase Hyatt card in 2014.
I got some other cards as well during 2014 (4 US Airways cards, a second Club Carlson card, and maybe some others I left out.

My credit rating was in the high 700s....probably closer to 760 or so now because of several hard pulls, but I am guessing about that. It will recover when I stop churning for awhile.

Not all of them were automatic, especially some of the more desirable business cards. At times I had to argue my case....usually offering to shift credit around works. It is very rare that I am ultimately denied, and I am retired without much income. Without saying more, I will leave it at I don't think they check your stated income or investigate your business very often. Also , your mileage may vary. I don't know why I have been so lucky....others have not always had the same results. As you know, flyertalk.com is a good place to ask questions or find out via others' experiences.

I've been doing this for a long time. I go to Europe and S America every year and I have not paid for a flight in probably about a decade. I also get to stay in nice hotels from time to time for free.

I do want to make a very important point for those considering this....if you don't easily pay your credit card bills in full every month, don't even consider this strategy. The reason it is so easy and legal is because most Americans run 12K credit card debt or some such number. The hook is getting your business with a free flight on a seat that would normally be unoccupied anyway, and then collecting 21% interest payments on unpaid debt from you for the rest of your life. Clearly that happens often enough that they are more than willing to give these fantastic gifts to those of us who know how to profit from the system, and they still make a bundle off their promotions.

I don't know anything about Redcard, Victoria, but I will check it out. Thanks. The beauty of being retired. But I don't know if I have the desire to kick this up to another level. It is a bit addictive.

ps...of the Chase cards, I plan to renew the Sapphire and the Freedom , cancel the Ink cards. Also I will continue renewing my Carlson cards (there is a third I have yet to apply for), my Hyatt card and my IHG card and cancel all the others above by the time renewal comes up. I have other cards I am dealing with (I am surprised they didn't recommend American Airlines cards- fantastic for Caribbean and Latin America) as well. I downloaded Award Wallet but uninstalled it immediately....it just seemed potentially very invasive to me though I don't recall why. I track this stuff myself. It's way easier than working for a living.
Last edited by protagonist on Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by protagonist » Sun Feb 15, 2015 4:34 pm

I should add.....I am not sure if US Air cards are still available (they are merging with AA supposedly in the spring and all USAir miles will be converted into AA miles), but if they are, they are a gift horse that is about to go away. When I signed up I got the personal card (50K miles) and the business card (25K miles)- no spending requirement beyond one purchase each (could be for $1), but the annual fee (I think maybe $79 or 89?) is not waived. The beautiful thing is that as soon as the miles posted I canceled both cards and was able to re-apply and got accepted for both again. So 150K miles for about $350 convertible to AA miles, only one purchase per card necessary, that will never again be available. For me that means 5 RT tickets from Boston to Venezuela (30K each), or 2.5 RTs to Europe. I don't know if the rapid churn option is still good. If interested this is time-sensitive and thus worth jumping on.
Last edited by protagonist on Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by VictoriaF » Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:53 pm

Hi protagonist,

Your experience is very useful as a benchmark for what is possible. Thank you for sharing it.

Right now I have a burning question, and I wonder if you could help me with it. I have over 100k Ultimate Rewards (UR) miles in my Chase accounts. I want to use UR for an Economy round trip ticket from Washington, DC (WAS) to Madrid, Spain (MAD). I found some suitable United flights and I know that I could use UR with United.

- Should I transfer miles from UR to United first, and then book reward flights?
- Should I find reward flights and then transfer UR miles?
- How quickly do the UR miles get transferred?
- How likely is United to run out of the reward seats while I am transferring UR?

Thank you,
Victoria
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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by protagonist » Sun Feb 15, 2015 7:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Hi protagonist,

Your experience is very useful as a benchmark for what is possible. Thank you for sharing it.

Right now I have a burning question, and I wonder if you could help me with it. I have over 100k Ultimate Rewards (UR) miles in my Chase accounts. I want to use UR for an Economy round trip ticket from Washington, DC (WAS) to Madrid, Spain (MAD). I found some suitable United flights and I know that I could use UR with United.
- Should I transfer miles from UR to United first, and then book reward flights?
Yes, but I would wait until you find the flights you want. Make sure you check their partner airlines....often you can find a better deal.
- Should I find reward flights and then transfer UR miles?
Yes as above. You cannot transfer miles back to UR, so you want to make sure you have what you want before transferring. If I recall you may have the option of booking online and putting your flight on brief hold. UR points tend to transfer quickly. If you think it may take a bit longer, you can do what I did last year....call UA, explain predicament, and they have the option of extending the hold period for you . AA by the way allows a 5 day hold.
- How quickly do the UR miles get transferred?
I don't recall exactly but it is very quick. Not like Starwood points which can take quite a while. I think it happened for me within hours at best, but you could call
Chase and ask if you are concerned..
- How likely is United to run out of the reward seats while I am transferring UR?
It's a crap shoot. Try to put your reservation on hold. I think they will give you at least 24 hours. By the way there are also 2 UA cards you can get via Chase. I got I think 50K miles each, so if you don't need them right away and if they are only offering 30K now, you might wait and see if the better promo returns.
Thank you,
Victoria
You are welcome.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:43 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:VesperLynd,

I think there's a misconception that one needs to find creative ways to unload a Redcard. You don't.

There are 2 incredibly easy to ways to unload your Redcard. One is what Victoria said: just use the Redcard to pay off the credit card you loaded the Redcard from. The other is to link your checking account up to the Redcard and just withdraw the funds from your Redcard to your checking account. That's what I do--it gives me the benefit of the additional interest I earn in my checking account before I use the money to pay off the credit card I loaded the Redcard from.

Don't bother getting creative. There's no benefit in it.
Bfwolf,

My reading of the REDcard rules is that you can't transfer more than $2,500/month to your checking account. If you load $5,000/month, at least a half of it should be used to pay bills. I have not tested transferring more than $2,500 to checking. It might work one or more times and then trigger closing of REDcard, which I don't want to risk.

Victoria
Hi Victoria,

Where did you read this? I have been transferring $5000/month with no restrictions and am curious if I'm actually breaking a rule, in which case I would go back to paying off the credit cards directly from the Redcard.

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:48 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Hi protagonist,

Your experience is very useful as a benchmark for what is possible. Thank you for sharing it.

Right now I have a burning question, and I wonder if you could help me with it. I have over 100k Ultimate Rewards (UR) miles in my Chase accounts. I want to use UR for an Economy round trip ticket from Washington, DC (WAS) to Madrid, Spain (MAD). I found some suitable United flights and I know that I could use UR with United.

- Should I transfer miles from UR to United first, and then book reward flights?
- Should I find reward flights and then transfer UR miles?
- How quickly do the UR miles get transferred?
- How likely is United to run out of the reward seats while I am transferring UR?

Thank you,
Victoria
Victoria,

If you don't need to use miles already in your United account, consider booking it directly through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Isn't there a point bonus for doing so?

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by saverocity » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:55 pm

VictoriaF wrote:Hi protagonist,

Your experience is very useful as a benchmark for what is possible. Thank you for sharing it.

Right now I have a burning question, and I wonder if you could help me with it. I have over 100k Ultimate Rewards (UR) miles in my Chase accounts. I want to use UR for an Economy round trip ticket from Washington, DC (WAS) to Madrid, Spain (MAD). I found some suitable United flights and I know that I could use UR with United.

- Should I transfer miles from UR to United first, and then book reward flights?
- Should I find reward flights and then transfer UR miles?
- How quickly do the UR miles get transferred?
- How likely is United to run out of the reward seats while I am transferring UR?

Thank you,
Victoria
1. You have to transfer then book.
2. You have already found the flights.
3. Instantly, but could be up to 48hrs.
4. 42

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Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Gustie13 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 12:03 am

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:VesperLynd,

I think there's a misconception that one needs to find creative ways to unload a Redcard. You don't.

There are 2 incredibly easy to ways to unload your Redcard. One is what Victoria said: just use the Redcard to pay off the credit card you loaded the Redcard from. The other is to link your checking account up to the Redcard and just withdraw the funds from your Redcard to your checking account. That's what I do--it gives me the benefit of the additional interest I earn in my checking account before I use the money to pay off the credit card I loaded the Redcard from.

Don't bother getting creative. There's no benefit in it.
Bfwolf,Blu

My reading of the REDcard rules is that you can't transfer more than $2,500/month to your checking account. If you load $5,000/month, at least a half of it should be used to pay bills. I have not tested transferring more than $2,500 to checking. It might work one or more times and then trigger closing of REDcard, which I don't want to risk.

Victoria
Hi Victoria,

Where did you read this? I have been transferring $5000/month with no restrictions and am curious if I'm actually breaking a rule, in which case I would go back to paying off the credit cards directly from the Redcard.
I've managed 3 Redbirds for a few months and 3 Bluebirds before that and never had problems withdrawing all funds directly to my bank account.

Bfwolf
Posts: 1739
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: TradingPlaces' advice on travel awards

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:01 am

VictoriaF wrote: - How quickly do the UR miles get transferred?
I transferred UR points to United tonight. It took about a minute to show up in the account.

I transferred UR points to Southwest a few months ago. That took several hours.

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