Travel credit cards

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arensin
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Travel credit cards

Post by arensin » Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:58 am

My wife and I have three credit cards and we greatly appreciate simplicity. We own the Amex blue cash for gas and groceries. The discover it for rotating and miscellaneous. And a Pnc visa which was our initial years ago to build credit. We anticipate buying five round trip flights in the next month for weddings and family events. These will be with assorted airlines.

Would it make sense to apply to the chase sapphire preferred card and quickly use the bonus offer? What’s the turn around time in that? Typically we anticipate 6-8 round trip fights a year going forward if we include her me and my son. I take 2-3 trips a year for work and maybe could purchase these onmy own and get reimbursed.

Alternatively we can stay put and not get an additional card in the interest of simplicity and avoiding another’s credit pull.

dsmclone
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by dsmclone » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:01 am

In your case, I'd actually consider the reserve. Keep in mind that the $450 is deducted by $300 as soon as you spend that much on travel. So many advantages for people that travel a lot.

I went with the Chase Preferred a couple of months ago and spent the $4k within a month and the credits are already showing up. If I was to do it again, I would do the Reserve.
Last edited by dsmclone on Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

sport
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by sport » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:04 am

I use the Costco credit card for travel. It rebates 3% for travel expenses (air fares, car rental, hotels, etc.) and restaurants.

ResearchMed
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:22 am

arensin wrote:
Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:58 am
My wife and I have three credit cards and we greatly appreciate simplicity. We own the Amex blue cash for gas and groceries. The discover it for rotating and miscellaneous. And a Pnc visa which was our initial years ago to build credit. We anticipate buying five round trip flights in the next month for weddings and family events. These will be with assorted airlines.

Would it make sense to apply to the chase sapphire preferred card and quickly use the bonus offer? What’s the turn around time in that? Typically we anticipate 6-8 round trip fights a year going forward if we include her me and my son. I take 2-3 trips a year for work and maybe could purchase these onmy own and get reimbursed.

Alternatively we can stay put and not get an additional card in the interest of simplicity and avoiding another’s credit pull.
Welcome to BH!

What type of air travel do you plan?
The best value for points is international premium cabins.
The least value, usually, is domestic economy.
However, you should check the programs/awards value for the airline(s) you would fly, and compare those with something like one of the better cash-back cards.

However, you wouldn't get too far with all of those trips with the family, with one sign-up bonus plus points on the spend. But if you think you'll be traveling a bit in the future, then starting to accumulate points could make sense (again, depending upon the value of the points vs cash back for what your uses would be).

Flyertalk.com has a *lot* of information on the various airlines' awards programs.
(Note: I found there were a few less than friendly comments to newbies. Try to just ignore those, because the helpful responses are well worth getting.)

There are also a lot of old threads here on BH about this topic, so you might want to search by airline name and "award" or such.

RM
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rich126
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by rich126 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:39 am

It really depends on your needs.

Most likely you both could get the same card and double the bonus depending on your spending ability/needs.

I wouldn't worry about the credit pull unless you got something strange going on (tons of pulls for some reason). I got a ton of cards but have never been denied a loan, card, etc.

Again depending on your needs some cards may provide perks you may find useful:
1. Access to lounges (depends on airport and airlines you fly)
2. Free baggage checking
3. Priority boarding
4. No foreign transaction fees

I'm guessing you don't do international trips but if you do then a Discover card is usually worthless and the American Express card can be limited in its use so you'd be down to one useful card. In that case I'd definitely recommend people having a couple of cards (as well as ATM cards).

The ability to use the miles also greatly depends on schedule flexibility. If you are flexible then usually they can be of good value. I usually take 1 trip to Europe every 18 months with my GF in business or first class and use miles for those trips.

Back to your original question, the miles usually post fairly quickly after you meet the spending requirement (probably shortly after that billing cycle).

I don't usually use the miles for domestic trips but recently my GF had to make a last minute trip from PHX to San Diego and all of the fares were in the $450+ range. We were able to use miles (I think 15,000) for the trip.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by WhiteMaxima » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:50 am

Chase Reserve. $150 annual fee after $300 back. Plus lounge pass, primary rental auto insurance, global pass. Effective 4.5% reward on traveling, eat out.

student
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by student » Tue Jul 10, 2018 11:07 am

I echo the Chase Sapphire Reserve recommendation.

Freefun
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Freefun » Tue Jul 10, 2018 12:35 pm

I echo the echo. Unless you enjoy delving into more research for specific needs, the chase cards are pretty easy to use.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

batpot
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by batpot » Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:54 pm

The real advantage of the CSR is redemption at the Chase Portal.
We were able to net about 6-7% cash back by redeeming the points for rental cars and Hyatt Hotels.
I never bothered to keep records, but estimate saving roughly $5k with that card over 1.5 years.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:09 pm

I echo the recommendations of Chase Sapphire Reserve. It's an excellent card for those who travel a lot.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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car733
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by car733 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:43 pm

Chase Sapphire Reserve for everything except Amazon. No regrets.

arensin
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by arensin » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:22 am

Great. Sounds like csr it is. Our flights are irregular with a 2 yr old to boot. But I figure even with 5 or 6 round trip flights a year this would be the best deal. Especially if I can buy my work trips (2/year) on the card to amass points. Thanks everyone

ResearchMed
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:25 am

arensin wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:22 am
Great. Sounds like csr it is. Our flights are irregular with a 2 yr old to boot. But I figure even with 5 or 6 round trip flights a year this would be the best deal. Especially if I can buy my work trips (2/year) on the card to amass points. Thanks everyone
Yes, DH tries whenever possible to pay for his work travel on our cards, and then get reimbursed.
It all adds up :happy

RM
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MichCPA
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by MichCPA » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:53 am

The CSR is the way to go if you travel a lot. If you find it isn't providing you good value, you can always product change to CSP and save $350.

rj49
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by rj49 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:22 pm

You can check prioritypass.com to see what lounges are available where you travel, since it’s included under the CSR. The credit for TSA precheck/global entry can also save you lots of time and hassle.

The AMEX platinum is also an option, although it’s $200 travel credit is tied to expenses on one airline. At the same time, they offer access to more lounges and offer 5x points. They also offer a monthly Uber credit. If you want in-depth reviews of the card, check out thepointsguy.com, which explores strategies, points portals, recent cutbacks in the CSR benefits.

If you want to keep it simple, there are no-fee travel cash back cards where you don’t have to bother with points. I use an Uber VISA that gives 3% back on flights and hotels and a 2.5% on everything USAA card. Most of my travel is on Alaska so I prefer their card for free bags, and my other travel is on Norwegian Air and cruises, neither which can be booked through points portals. I have a NEXUS card, which gets me TSA/Global Entry, and I found that some priority pass lounges are turning into zoos, due to premium card popularity and the ability to bring friends and family—I prefer finding a quiet gate area or friendly USO.

As with any card, the bonuses and points and extras and shiny metal card are there to get you to spend more than you normally would in order to chase points, and loyalty to a portal or airline means you can miss out on cheaper options.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:51 pm

rj49 wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:22 pm
As with any card, the bonuses and points and extras and shiny metal card are there to get you to spend more than you normally would in order to chase points, and loyalty to a portal or airline means you can miss out on cheaper options.
You cut to the chase.

When I make travel decisions, I favor the programs I have. And when I make purchase decisions, I favor the credit cards that give me more points. While I admit to these decision making biases, I believe that overall I am coming out ahead. I try to keep my spending prudent by using several strategies:
1. When I am booking flights, I start with Google flights. If I find an inexpensive flight on a strange airline, I book it instead of trying to use award miles.
2. When I am looking for lodging, I rarely use my hotel points. My preference is for single rooms at hostels. I accumulate hotel points by staying at event hotels that I can't avoid. My primary goal for these points is transfers to airlines. But recently, I started staying at airport hotels on the nights before morning flights. Airport Marriotts and Holiday Inns require relatively few points, and if they don't, I use Accor or other inexpensive airport hotels.
3. When I need to meet minimum spend on a new credit card, I pay estimated taxes with it. This removes the pressure to make frivolous purchases.

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

WhyNotUs
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by WhyNotUs » Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:55 pm

I got the CSR when the bonus was 100k and expected to dump it after receiving the second year credit and before the second year $450 fee. In the end we kept it as the benefits actually came in handy. The Priority Pass lounge access has proven worthwhile and now they are even offering restaurant credits. Never thought anyone could talk me into a $450 a year cc but it happened....
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

Whakamole
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Whakamole » Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:16 pm

WhyNotUs wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:55 pm
I got the CSR when the bonus was 100k and expected to dump it after receiving the second year credit and before the second year $450 fee. In the end we kept it as the benefits actually came in handy. The Priority Pass lounge access has proven worthwhile and now they are even offering restaurant credits. Never thought anyone could talk me into a $450 a year cc but it happened....
It's really $150 with the $300 travel credit - and "travel" is a very generous category, as I've been reimbursed for paid parking garages and Uber rides, even at home. I also intended on dumping the card as soon as I received my 100K miles and yet I still use the card regularly.

Priority Pass can be nice, it's worth looking up the airport(s) that you travel to/from to see what kind of value you can get. Sometimes the covered lounges are nice, sometimes they at inconvenient locations (end of a terminal, or a terminal you don't fly from), sometimes they are closed to PP members during the busy parts of the day. Smaller airports like Love Field in Dallas or Houston Hobby may not have a lounge at all. Loungebuddy.com and Yelp have lounge reviews if you have a long layover and want to know where to get some decent grub and plenty of space.

Maybe the biggest downside to CSR - one I haven't had to deal with yet - is that Chase cards are not chip and PIN, which means you may have problems using them in Europe to buy train tickets from automated stations and the like. There are alternatives for that.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu Jul 12, 2018 9:54 am

FWIW, I used my CSR recently in Spain and Portugal including for transit passes without incident.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

Cruz
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Cruz » Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:59 pm

how much does one need to travel or purchase in general for the Chase sapphire (reserved or preferred) card to be of value? I was thinking of getting the Amex blue cash preferred for gas/groceries and possibly the Citi Double Cash (2% on everything), and thus would probably only use the Chase sapphire on travel and dining. Would this amount of use be worth it if I travel once or twice for pleasure a year and a handful of times for work, and dine out probably the average amount?

or would I be better off with a card like the Uber visa (4% at all restaurants/bars. 3% on all hotel/airfare. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee)?

thewizzer
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by thewizzer » Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:21 pm

CSR is easily the best travel card out there. Additionally, if you’re looking for simplicity, you could ditch your other cards and also pick up the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom unlimited cards as well. That trio of cards could cover pretty much all your spending and funnel all the rewards to a single ‘currency’ (Chase Ultimate Rewards points).

CSR for triple points in dining and travel. Freedom for five points per dollar spent in quarterly rotating categories (such as grocery stores or gas stations). And finally Freedom Unlimited for all other spend at 1.5 points per dollar. You can combine all points together under the CSR and get 1.5 cents per point in redemption.

All three cards can be paid with a single phone app or website. No annual fee on the Freedom and FU to boot.

xb7
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by xb7 » Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:59 pm

Based on some analysis I had decided to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card recently. Tried calling my local branch to ask a basic question --- how to apply given that I had frozen my credit (after Equifax breach). Seems like this should be something they deal with all the time. Was referred to an 800 number (so what good are all of those branch offices ...), then got such an extensive runaround until I finally got connected to someone who actually understood me and could speak to the issue in a way that I believed.
I have friends who have Amex Platinum cards that said their customer service is great --- so I went that way instead.

Another concern about the Chase card: I don't know where I read this, but I saw something that talked about how much more that Chase is paying out in expenses for it's generous credit card rewards program, both relative to what they spent last year, and to competitors. Makes me wonder if at some point they might not do something(s) to try to cut back on those expenses --- and hence make the cards less valuable to their users. Just speculation there, of course!

My analysis showed that the Chase card really was a better fit for me, so at some point I might grit my teeth and switch. For now, just learning the ins-and-outs of the Amex card is enough!

Jags4186
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Jags4186 » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:36 pm

xb7 wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 4:59 pm
Based on some analysis I had decided to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card recently. Tried calling my local branch to ask a basic question --- how to apply given that I had frozen my credit (after Equifax breach). Seems like this should be something they deal with all the time. Was referred to an 800 number (so what good are all of those branch offices ...), then got such an extensive runaround until I finally got connected to someone who actually understood me and could speak to the issue in a way that I believed.
I have friends who have Amex Platinum cards that said their customer service is great --- so I went that way instead.

Another concern about the Chase card: I don't know where I read this, but I saw something that talked about how much more that Chase is paying out in expenses for it's generous credit card rewards program, both relative to what they spent last year, and to competitors. Makes me wonder if at some point they might not do something(s) to try to cut back on those expenses --- and hence make the cards less valuable to their users. Just speculation there, of course!

My analysis showed that the Chase card really was a better fit for me, so at some point I might grit my teeth and switch. For now, just learning the ins-and-outs of the Amex card is enough!
They already have significantly cut back on benefits.

100k bonus to 50k bonus
$300 travel credit went from calendar year to card member year
Charges eligible for the $300 travel credit are no longer eligible for rewards
Priority Pass unlimited guests to 2 guests
All travel websites removed from Ultimate Rewards Mall
Price protection benefit removed

I’m sure others I am not thinking of.

Cruz
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Cruz » Sun Sep 09, 2018 10:07 pm

The chase "trifecta" signs intriguing...but are travel rewards as good as or equal to straight cash back for someone who travels infrequently?

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit- ... rds-study/

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grabiner
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by grabiner » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:33 pm

Cruz wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 10:07 pm
The chase "trifecta" signs intriguing...but are travel rewards as good as or equal to straight cash back for someone who travels infrequently?

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit- ... rds-study/
It really depends on the type of rewards. Rewards that can be used on any type of travel are as good as cash; you can use them for your once-a-year vacation or trip to a friend's wedding. Restricted rewards are only good if you will be able to use them; if you live in a United hub, you can usually use United miles for most of your air travel. (This is my own situation; I have a United card because I can usually get 1.5 cents per mile when flying out of Dulles Airport.)
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dsmclone
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by dsmclone » Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:50 am

Whakamole wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:16 pm
WhyNotUs wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:55 pm
I got the CSR when the bonus was 100k and expected to dump it after receiving the second year credit and before the second year $450 fee. In the end we kept it as the benefits actually came in handy. The Priority Pass lounge access has proven worthwhile and now they are even offering restaurant credits. Never thought anyone could talk me into a $450 a year cc but it happened....
It's really $150 with the $300 travel credit - and "travel" is a very generous category, as I've been reimbursed for paid parking garages and Uber rides, even at home. I also intended on dumping the card as soon as I received my 100K miles and yet I still use the card regularly.

Priority Pass can be nice, it's worth looking up the airport(s) that you travel to/from to see what kind of value you can get. Sometimes the covered lounges are nice, sometimes they at inconvenient locations (end of a terminal, or a terminal you don't fly from), sometimes they are closed to PP members during the busy parts of the day. Smaller airports like Love Field in Dallas or Houston Hobby may not have a lounge at all. Loungebuddy.com and Yelp have lounge reviews if you have a long layover and want to know where to get some decent grub and plenty of space.

Maybe the biggest downside to CSR - one I haven't had to deal with yet - is that Chase cards are not chip and PIN, which means you may have problems using them in Europe to buy train tickets from automated stations and the like. There are alternatives for that.
Interesting that you mention Chip and Pin. Just got back from 12 days in France and Amsterdam. My wife was carrying a CSR with no pin and I was carrying a Barclay AA card w/chip and Pin. We used the Barclay card probably 15 times and only one time did it ask for a pin. The other 14 times they just had me sign the receipt. On a side note, I used Google Pay a TON and it worked great/fast.

Whakamole
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by Whakamole » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:04 pm

dsmclone wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:50 am
Interesting that you mention Chip and Pin. Just got back from 12 days in France and Amsterdam. My wife was carrying a CSR with no pin and I was carrying a Barclay AA card w/chip and Pin. We used the Barclay card probably 15 times and only one time did it ask for a pin. The other 14 times they just had me sign the receipt. On a side note, I used Google Pay a TON and it worked great/fast.
Thanks, this is very interesting. I've heard some stories about chip + PIN sometimes being required at something like a ticket kiosk where they may not be much of an alternative. If Google Pay (and probably Apple Pay) are viable alternatives, that's very useful.

dsmclone
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by dsmclone » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:13 pm

Whakamole wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:04 pm
dsmclone wrote:
Mon Sep 17, 2018 9:50 am
Interesting that you mention Chip and Pin. Just got back from 12 days in France and Amsterdam. My wife was carrying a CSR with no pin and I was carrying a Barclay AA card w/chip and Pin. We used the Barclay card probably 15 times and only one time did it ask for a pin. The other 14 times they just had me sign the receipt. On a side note, I used Google Pay a TON and it worked great/fast.
Thanks, this is very interesting. I've heard some stories about chip + PIN sometimes being required at something like a ticket kiosk where they may not be much of an alternative. If Google Pay (and probably Apple Pay) are viable alternatives, that's very useful.

We pre-bought most of our train tickets via trainline and that worked well. For the others, I used the kiosk's and they all took google pay. I'm not sure if Apple pay would work or not, I didn't see one apple pay sign the whole time. From my experience, the NFC emblem doesn't always mean Apple pay will work.

TravelGeek
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Re: Travel credit cards

Post by TravelGeek » Mon Sep 17, 2018 12:38 pm

Cruz wrote:
Sun Sep 09, 2018 3:59 pm
how much does one need to travel or purchase in general for the Chase sapphire (reserved or preferred) card to be of value? I was thinking of getting the Amex blue cash preferred for gas/groceries and possibly the Citi Double Cash (2% on everything), and thus would probably only use the Chase sapphire on travel and dining. Would this amount of use be worth it if I travel once or twice for pleasure a year and a handful of times for work, and dine out probably the average amount?

or would I be better off with a card like the Uber visa (4% at all restaurants/bars. 3% on all hotel/airfare. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee)?
Not sure what "average amount" means. You can only determine what is financially best if you use concrete spend numbers. But you can do the math for yourself. You basically need to recoup the annual fee first from the points earnings and then compare the net earnings to what a fee free card would cost. But you also need to determine how much you value other benefits such as lounge access, rental car insurance, travel insurance etc.

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