What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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Bustoff
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bustoff » Fri Oct 07, 2016 7:30 am

curmudgeon wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


Spend some time with the Google Flights tool to see what would be convenient flight options from your area. Learn which airlines are in which alliances. Alitalia partners with Delta (Skyteam), but it might turn out that the United/Lufthansa (Star Alliance), or AA/BA (OneWorld) would actually make better connections. United has pretty flexible policies to do open-jaw and stopover with FF tickets, others aren't quite as flexible.

See if you can find out something about actual mileage ticket availability for the time of year you would be travelling. If you can go off-peak, not only is it less crowded at your destination, but ticket availability at the lowest levels is much better (tue-thu flying days are usually more available as well). If you have the miles but can't get a seat (or have to get it at a 2x mile cost), it doesn't help much.

The big mileage bonuses are usually at the card signup time, so make those a priority.

Pay attention to miles expiration policies, often you need to at least have some activity in the account to keep from losing them.

Expect that the miles may devalue over time (more miles required for a ticket). It doesn't happen every year, but the trend is clear over longer periods of time.

Thanks curmudgeon!
We have @ 200K AA frequent flier miles earned from travel years ago. Is it generally better to use old FF miles first before accumulating new card miles?

Bfwolf
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:51 am

Bustoff wrote:Thanks curmudgeon!
We have @ 200K AA frequent flier miles earned from travel years ago. Is it generally better to use old FF miles first before accumulating new card miles?


This is a bit like asking whether it's better to use old dollars first before accumulating new dollars. Frequent flyer miles do devalue pretty fast and without any activity AA miles will expire, but it's not like the oldest miles you have will expire first. They'll all expire at the same time if you have no activity in your account for 18 months. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2013/01/0 ... xpiration/

In general, it's a pretty good strategy to spend your miles whenever you can get good value for them.

dbr
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by dbr » Fri Oct 07, 2016 9:56 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Thanks curmudgeon!
We have @ 200K AA frequent flier miles earned from travel years ago. Is it generally better to use old FF miles first before accumulating new card miles?


This is a bit like asking whether it's better to use old dollars first before accumulating new dollars. Frequent flyer miles do devalue pretty fast and without any activity AA miles will expire, but it's not like the oldest miles you have will expire first. They'll all expire at the same time if you have no activity in your account for 18 months. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2013/01/0 ... xpiration/

In general, it's a pretty good strategy to spend your miles whenever you can get good value for them.


It might be a good idea to verify that those miles have not expired. If there has been no qualifying activity on the account for long enough they are gone.

The devaluation referred to does not mean that old miles redeem differently than new miles today but rather to the fact that airlines have been continually increasing the cost of redemptions, possibly reducing the availability, and possibly imposing other obstacles to the use of miles.

giesen5
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Fri Oct 07, 2016 11:20 am

Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?

Bfwolf
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:37 pm

giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?


As a beginner heading to Europe, I would agree with the recommendation to go on Star Alliance with United points. With OneWorld flying on American points, it's hard to avoid flying on British Airways through London where you'll get slammed with fuel surcharges. And Delta is just a difficult program to get good value with. With United, your taxes/fees when you buy your ticket will be reasonable, and it's easy to collect a whole bunch of miles between cards that earn United miles directly and cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are transferrable to United.

Top cards to get would be the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Ink Plus. Then maybe the United branded cards assuming you can get at least a 50K mile signup bonus (never accept 30K).

giesen5
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Fri Oct 07, 2016 5:54 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?


As a beginner heading to Europe, I would agree with the recommendation to go on Star Alliance with United points. With OneWorld flying on American points, it's hard to avoid flying on British Airways through London where you'll get slammed with fuel surcharges. And Delta is just a difficult program to get good value with. With United, your taxes/fees when you buy your ticket will be reasonable, and it's easy to collect a whole bunch of miles between cards that earn United miles directly and cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are transferrable to United.

Top cards to get would be the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and Chase Ink Plus. Then maybe the United branded cards assuming you can get at least a 50K mile signup bonus (never accept 30K).


Ended up paying about $600 total for the taxes and such for the 4 tickets.

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Bustoff
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bustoff » Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:31 am

giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?

We were thinking of going early next summer.

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Bustoff
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bustoff » Sat Oct 08, 2016 9:35 am

dbr wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Thanks curmudgeon!
We have @ 200K AA frequent flier miles earned from travel years ago. Is it generally better to use old FF miles first before accumulating new card miles?


This is a bit like asking whether it's better to use old dollars first before accumulating new dollars. Frequent flyer miles do devalue pretty fast and without any activity AA miles will expire, but it's not like the oldest miles you have will expire first. They'll all expire at the same time if you have no activity in your account for 18 months. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2013/01/0 ... xpiration/

In general, it's a pretty good strategy to spend your miles whenever you can get good value for them.


It might be a good idea to verify that those miles have not expired. If there has been no qualifying activity on the account for long enough they are gone.

The devaluation referred to does not mean that old miles redeem differently than new miles today but rather to the fact that airlines have been continually increasing the cost of redemptions, possibly reducing the availability, and possibly imposing other obstacles to the use of miles.

Whew, the FF miles are still good.

ResearchMed
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:04 am

Hi bustoff,

Are you flying coach or trying for premium? The business and first class tickets are usually (there are probably always some exceptions somewhere, in this funny business!) the best use of award miles/points.

I haven't looked into buying coach/economy and using awards for upgrades, but everyone says (yeah, that great savant, "everyone" :confused ) that's not a good use. Also, I think you need to purchase full fare economy, which usually isn't much "economy". And we wouldn't want to pay for the economy and then hope for upgrade availability, etc.

Did you catch my post about the "value" we got using AAdvantage awards, but for JAL and Cathay Pacific?
Far fewer miles/points than the exact same class of service, same route on AA. That's in general, by the way, not a quirk.

For 80k points, we each got first class seats, one way, that cost - in cash - ~$13,000.00. Yes, EACH, one way. GASP.
Note that points can be PURCHASED for approximately 2 cents per mile/point (or a bit more). I had no idea. I never checked, assuming they'd cost a fortune. So do the math... 80,000 points x 2 cents each.
The "catch" is availability. We delayed our Japan trip next May by 2 weeks to get these seats/beds, and delayed our return by one day (drat! an extra day in Japan :D ).
So if one isn't flexible, not so good.

And business class needs fewer points, of course. I'm forgetting, but say approx 50k points, times 2 cents... That's approximately what premium economy would cost.

We are stunned. DH kept disbelieving me, so I checked with AA International Awards desk, and with PointsPros, who find these flights for a modest (modest being in minds of beholder, etc.) fee.
Again, they all stressed the need for flexibility in dates, or chance of not getting those classes at all.
Then we'd need to decide to pay for non-refundable business class or change our plans entirely. (At our ages, we finally found we can NOT fly sitting up in economy for long hours. Even premium economy transatlantic last time ended with me with back agony. And then we need to spend an extra day - and hotel costs - trying to catch up and rest, etc. No longer a good bargain for us. When we were younger, that was different. BUT... IF we'd realized about all of this, we would have at least made some good use. At least, we stockpiled points, and only used one of our accounts for our honeymoon, first class. But that was AA points on American, so we still were clueless about if we had used a different airline. BTW, we got married late in life; I'm not claiming all of these awards existed back in the stone age :wink: )

I think AA is the best for this, when used on partner airlines, at least on some routes (?).
So we'll try to use those airlines when possible.
We've got Amex Rewards for another partner network.
And do try to avoid the BA fees in/out of London.
Our "cost" in dollars was $5.60 each, each way, but we weren't ticketed round trip. But $5 isn't a deal breaker, obviously.

Good luck, and enjoy your travels!

Let me know if I can help. Others helped us, including two here on BH (who have not [yet?] chimed in on the current threads).

RM

Bustoff wrote:
ResearchMed wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


For starters, use this website to see which airlines fly from where you are to where you want to go in Italy.

http://matrix.itasoftware.com/

Alitalia is a good guess, but domestic airlines also fly there.

Then using Google, see which awards points are used by or transfer to that airline (or those airlines if a good choice).

Then look for a card that gives those points.

In general, there are two big partner networks, but there is some overlap.

IF American Airlines is in that group, we've found that using their miles/points on a partner can (sometimes? often?) use *fewer* points than the same class of service on an American flight. But look into that also, to maximize use.

This is a bit tedious at first. Once we got used to it, the simple travel is very straightforward.
It can get tricky if one needs to transfer points to use on yet a different airline, etc.

RM

Thanks RM!
Sounds like a bit of a learning curve but the savings are well worth the time.
:sharebeer
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

travellight
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by travellight » Sat Oct 08, 2016 10:32 am

"I haven't looked into buying coach/economy and using awards for upgrades, but everyone says (yeah, that great savant, "everyone" :confused ) that's not a good use. Also, I think you need to purchase full fare economy, which usually isn't much "economy". And we wouldn't want to pay for the economy and then hope for upgrade availability, etc."

I agree, RM. I have never been able to use the upgrade awards well.

giesen5
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Sat Oct 08, 2016 6:12 pm

I wouldn't get too caught up in getting the "greatest value". I read that on all the sites - only use for international, only use for business class, etc. That is great, but I decided to get points in order to get my family to Italy. I guess if you are single, or a couple, it is great to get business class tickets. But for a family of four it cost 240,000 points for round trip tickets.

And, gasp, i used 80,000 Hilton points to book a hotel in Seattle for the family - not in Dubai or the Maldives or Tokyo.

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Mon Oct 10, 2016 6:38 am

giesen5 wrote:I wouldn't get too caught up in getting the "greatest value". I read that on all the sites - only use for international, only use for business class, etc. That is great, but I decided to get points in order to get my family to Italy. I guess if you are single, or a couple, it is great to get business class tickets. But for a family of four it cost 240,000 points for round trip tickets.

And, gasp, i used 80,000 Hilton points to book a hotel in Seattle for the family - not in Dubai or the Maldives or Tokyo.


I'm on the same page here...I get good enough value (about 2 cpp on average) from just booking reward flights and what not for trips we'd be taking anyway. Getting 8 cpp flying from Singapore to Dubai or whatever has no use to me.

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mikestorm
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by mikestorm » Mon Oct 10, 2016 7:17 am

Amex BlueCash Preferred
6% back on groceries ($6k limit), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
$75 annual fee
Used for groceries only except for the first grocery trip of the month

Sallie Mae Barclaycard (Discontinued)
5% back on gas ($250 max/month), 5% back on books (including Amazon.com for $750 max/month), 5% back on Grocery ($250 max/month)
$0 annual fee
Used for gas, Amazon, and first grocery shopping trip of every month to stretch the $6K limit on the AMEX card

Citi Double Rewards
2% back on everything (1% when you purchase / 1% when you pay)
$0 annual fee
Base Card

I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable. I'd do the math every month and what I earned vs. what I got didn't jive, so I ditched it in favor of what arguably is a better deal (Sallie Mae card). Unfortunately, this card is no longer accepting applications as of a little over a year ago.

Gemini
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Gemini » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:31 am

mikestorm wrote:Amex BlueCash Preferred
6% back on groceries ($6k limit), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
$75 annual fee
Used for groceries only except for the first grocery trip of the month

Sallie Mae Barclaycard (Discontinued)
5% back on gas ($250 max/month), 5% back on books (including Amazon.com for $750 max/month), 5% back on Grocery ($250 max/month)
$0 annual fee
Used for gas, Amazon, and first grocery shopping trip of every month to stretch the $6K limit on the AMEX card

Citi Double Rewards
2% back on everything (1% when you purchase / 1% when you pay)
$0 annual fee
Base Card

I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable. I'd do the math every month and what I earned vs. what I got didn't jive, so I ditched it in favor of what arguably is a better deal (Sallie Mae card). Unfortunately, this card is no longer accepting applications as of a little over a year ago.


Can you comment more on this? I have this card, but have not used as I have just been lazy. Looking to get it going again for gas.

Carl53
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Carl53 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:51 am

Gemini wrote:
mikestorm wrote:Amex BlueCash Preferred
6% back on groceries ($6k limit), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
$75 annual fee
Used for groceries only except for the first grocery trip of the month

Sallie Mae Barclaycard (Discontinued)
5% back on gas ($250 max/month), 5% back on books (including Amazon.com for $750 max/month), 5% back on Grocery ($250 max/month)
$0 annual fee
Used for gas, Amazon, and first grocery shopping trip of every month to stretch the $6K limit on the AMEX card

Citi Double Rewards
2% back on everything (1% when you purchase / 1% when you pay)
$0 annual fee
Base Card

I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable. I'd do the math every month and what I earned vs. what I got didn't jive, so I ditched it in favor of what arguably is a better deal (Sallie Mae card). Unfortunately, this card is no longer accepting applications as of a little over a year ago.


Can you comment more on this? I have this card, but have not used as I have just been lazy. Looking to get it going again for gas.


The penfed gas card is 5% on gas, but not sure if it is still available. The penfed signature Visa card issues points,rather than cash back directly. It gives 5x points for gas, but a few years ago it bumped up the points required for cash back gift cards. The degradation is not uniform, depending on the value of the gift card the redemption is for, but is roughly 15%.

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mikestorm
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by mikestorm » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:58 am

Gemini wrote:
mikestorm wrote:I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable.


Can you comment more on this? I have this card, but have not used as I have just been lazy. Looking to get it going again for gas.


I had the 5% cash Gas card. For a year or so it worked as advertised. Then I noticed the cash back was actually averaging closer to 3%. I remember around the time there was talk of discontinuing the 5% card, and I suspected I was downgraded to the 3% card, but when I called, they assured me I was in the 5% card and I should be getting full rewards. I was going to continue the effort to get it addressed when I came across the Sallie Mae card. Rather than continue to fight the good fight, I threw in the towel, switched cards, and never looked back.

protagonist
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by protagonist » Mon Oct 10, 2016 8:12 pm

My gf just booked us a couple of tickets on Delta to FL, cheap enough that we paid in cash (I would not waste 30K points on a $137 RT).

However, questioning my judgement, when she was about to pay and a link popped up with an application for "$100 credit and 50K points with a Delta Visa card"- spending requirement only $2K in 3 months- I encouraged her to go for it. I don't think Delta gives a lot of bang for the buck, but the promo was in our faces and it seemed too good to pass up (we both have some Delta SkyMiles but neither of us have that card). Besides which we both just got CSR cards, and piggybacking that easy spending requirement seemed do-able.

It's all about the promotions. The day-to-day stuff is relatively trivial- at 2% back you have to spend $50K to save $1K.
Last edited by protagonist on Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

gvsucavie03
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Mon Oct 10, 2016 9:44 pm

mikestorm wrote:Amex BlueCash Preferred
6% back on groceries ($6k limit), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
$75 annual fee
Used for groceries only except for the first grocery trip of the month

Sallie Mae Barclaycard (Discontinued)
5% back on gas ($250 max/month), 5% back on books (including Amazon.com for $750 max/month), 5% back on Grocery ($250 max/month)
$0 annual fee
Used for gas, Amazon, and first grocery shopping trip of every month to stretch the $6K limit on the AMEX card

Citi Double Rewards
2% back on everything (1% when you purchase / 1% when you pay)
$0 annual fee
Base Card

I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable. I'd do the math every month and what I earned vs. what I got didn't jive, so I ditched it in favor of what arguably is a better deal (Sallie Mae card). Unfortunately, this card is no longer accepting applications as of a little over a year ago.


Your Amex card is now $95/year...

Bfwolf
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Oct 11, 2016 11:07 am

Bustoff wrote:
giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?

We were thinking of going early next summer.


Since you already have 200K AA miles, I decided to take a peek at availability early next Summer. I did a search for 2 people in coach leaving from my home airport of O'Hare on Saturday June 3 headed to Rome and returning on June 10. One of the nice things with the AA search engine is once the options come up for the dates you've selected, you can then choose which airlines to include/exclude. I excluded British Airways due to their high fuel surcharges. One excellent result came up, and that was flying on FinnAir through Helsinki both ways. Total travel time each way was about 14 hours, which is very reasonable considering you have to make a stop (each layover was between 1.5 and 2 hours). Each roundtrip ticket was 60K points and about $75 in fees which is quite low.

So you may want to do a search with your home airport and the dates you're interested in and see what's available. Now is a great time to search because availability will get much worse as we get closer to your travel dates.

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:29 am

gvsucavie03 wrote:
mikestorm wrote:Amex BlueCash Preferred
6% back on groceries ($6k limit), 3% at dept stores, 1% on everything else
$75 annual fee
Used for groceries only except for the first grocery trip of the month

Sallie Mae Barclaycard (Discontinued)
5% back on gas ($250 max/month), 5% back on books (including Amazon.com for $750 max/month), 5% back on Grocery ($250 max/month)
$0 annual fee
Used for gas, Amazon, and first grocery shopping trip of every month to stretch the $6K limit on the AMEX card

Citi Double Rewards
2% back on everything (1% when you purchase / 1% when you pay)
$0 annual fee
Base Card

I had the PenFed Visa, but rewards became unreliable. I'd do the math every month and what I earned vs. what I got didn't jive, so I ditched it in favor of what arguably is a better deal (Sallie Mae card). Unfortunately, this card is no longer accepting applications as of a little over a year ago.


Your Amex card is now $95/year...


No it's not. That fee increase is only for new applicants.

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Bustoff
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bustoff » Wed Oct 12, 2016 8:23 am

Bfwolf wrote:
Bustoff wrote:
giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?

We were thinking of going early next summer.


Since you already have 200K AA miles, I decided to take a peek at availability early next Summer. I did a search for 2 people in coach leaving from my home airport of O'Hare on Saturday June 3 headed to Rome and returning on June 10. One of the nice things with the AA search engine is once the options come up for the dates you've selected, you can then choose which airlines to include/exclude. I excluded British Airways due to their high fuel surcharges. One excellent result came up, and that was flying on FinnAir through Helsinki both ways. Total travel time each way was about 14 hours, which is very reasonable considering you have to make a stop (each layover was between 1.5 and 2 hours). Each roundtrip ticket was 60K points and about $75 in fees which is quite low.

So you may want to do a search with your home airport and the dates you're interested in and see what's available. Now is a great time to search because availability will get much worse as we get closer to your travel dates.

Thank you very much for scouting report! That's really encouraging. I better get on the ball.
I'll let you know what I find.

ft2010
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ft2010 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 3:03 pm

Bustoff,

Just wanted to add that there might be a lot more airline partner flight options that one can redeem AA miles for award travel, that are not shown at AA's customer online search engine. Typically, one can research using other search engine (e.g., BA online search tool) then call up AA mileage desk to book the flights.

gvsucavie03
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Joined: Sat Feb 16, 2013 8:30 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:18 pm

No it's not. That fee increase is only for new applicants.


Thank you for clarifying.

Jags4186
Posts: 1457
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Jags4186 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 6:20 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Bustoff wrote:
giesen5 wrote:
Bustoff wrote:Beginner question.
For travel to Italy, should we focus on any particular airline or credit card to begin accumulating points?


I started collecting miles in January of this year for a trip to Italy summer of 2017. Since I had not started the mile collection business, I got all of the Chase cards that I could, so I collected UR points. By July I had enough to buy 4 round trip tickets. I used United, 60,000 miles round-trip each. Not sure that was the cheapest, but it was for the miles that I had earned.

When are you heading to Italy?

We were thinking of going early next summer.


Since you already have 200K AA miles, I decided to take a peek at availability early next Summer. I did a search for 2 people in coach leaving from my home airport of O'Hare on Saturday June 3 headed to Rome and returning on June 10. One of the nice things with the AA search engine is once the options come up for the dates you've selected, you can then choose which airlines to include/exclude. I excluded British Airways due to their high fuel surcharges. One excellent result came up, and that was flying on FinnAir through Helsinki both ways. Total travel time each way was about 14 hours, which is very reasonable considering you have to make a stop (each layover was between 1.5 and 2 hours). Each roundtrip ticket was 60K points and about $75 in fees which is quite low.

So you may want to do a search with your home airport and the dates you're interested in and see what's available. Now is a great time to search because availability will get much worse as we get closer to your travel dates.


Another thing to keep in mind is that AA's website does not include all of it's available partners. You can search for partner award space on their websites, identify the flight # and exact date and time, and call AA to book the flight.

hoops777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by hoops777 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 7:41 pm

Just received the Chase Sapphire Reserve.It completes my card strategy.I think it is worth the 450 annual fee which is actually 150 because of the 300 travel credit.The benefits are outstanding along with the 100,000 point bonus.I like that it is primary insurance for rental cars along with the other upgraded benefits.
Last edited by hoops777 on Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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rjbraun
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by rjbraun » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:31 pm

Jags4186 wrote:Another thing to keep in mind is that AA's website does not include all of it's available partners. You can search for partner award space on their websites, identify the flight # and exact date and time, and call AA to book the flight.

I have typically just called the AAdvantage desk to inquire about partner award flights. I think AA charged something like $75 for non-website bookings that involved phone assistance. If you do the legwork yourself and simply give the AA rep the flight details, do they still charge a fee for phone bookings?

ResearchMed
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Oct 12, 2016 9:38 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Jags4186 wrote:Another thing to keep in mind is that AA's website does not include all of it's available partners. You can search for partner award space on their websites, identify the flight # and exact date and time, and call AA to book the flight.

I have typically just called the AAdvantage desk to inquire about partner award flights. I think AA charged something like $75 for non-website bookings that involved phone assistance. If you do the legwork yourself and simply give the AA rep the flight details, do they still charge a fee for phone bookings?


I don't think we were charged by AA when we specified the flights/class of service we wanted.
However, they helped us find a date that worked for two seats, and we had to go out 2 weeks later than our first thought (and we also checked backwards a few days, but we didn't have that much flexibility there).

We made some changes on the return, so they charged us because we had to change the reservation, and it was a different category, given the connecting flight within the USA.

Also, the number of points we needed for *partner* travel was sooooo much less than what is shown on the AA awards chart.
There is a second chart, for partners, that is more difficult to find.

And yes, not all of the partners are listed clearly.
We are still learning...

RM
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bphaedrus
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by bphaedrus » Wed Oct 12, 2016 10:36 pm

TheGipper wrote:GOALS: Cash back with minimal hastle. This means for us no churning, and prefer automatic statement credit redemptions. Don't travel much, so stick to cash back for now.

CARDS:
1) BoA Travel Rewards VISA. Our workhouse card. 2.625% cash back unlimited as Platinum preferred bonus. Quick 1 click (though not automatic) statement credit on broadly defined travel spending.
2) BoA Cash rewards VISA: 5.25% on gas, 3.5% groceries up to $1500 quarterly. We blow by this two months into quarter which is annoying, have to realize and stop using until next quarter.
3) Amazon Prime Store Card: 5% on all Amazon Spend. Auto statement credit.
4) Amex Simply Cash Business: 3% on chosen category (for us restaurants) and 5% on Cell phone and office supply stores (we spend quite a bit on local Staples including 5% off gift cards towards other big purchases).
5) Fidelity FIA Amex soon to be Elon Fidelity VISA: No longer used, replaced by BoA Travel Rewards as general workhorse card.

FUTURE/QUESTIONS:
1) May add Amex BlueCash Preferred for 6% groceries. If I do, we'll just use BoA Cash for gas only. We spend about $5000/yr on groceries, so hopefully this will work well, and we won't go over.
2) Not sure if should cancel Elon Fidelity Visa. Hate just keeping a card in the drawer and not using. Occasionally fraud happens, and don't want to monitor the statement. Credit is excellent, but this is my 2nd longest held card with large credit limit. If we cancel, I would be tempted to add the AmexBlue to keep my and spouse's utilization rate below 30%.
3) In future, when we start to travel, I will look more heavily into travel cards rather than cash back.


How do you have both a BoA travel and BoA Cash card? I thought you had to pick one?

Spirit Rider
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Spirit Rider » Wed Oct 12, 2016 11:09 pm

guitarguy wrote:
gvsucavie03 wrote:Your Amex card is now $95/year...

No it's not. That fee increase is only for new applicants.

Actually it is. While the new fee was only charged to new applicants immediately, it will apply to every card holder on their next anniversary date. There is no grandfathering.

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:25 am

Spirit Rider wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
gvsucavie03 wrote:Your Amex card is now $95/year...

No it's not. That fee increase is only for new applicants.

Actually it is. While the new fee was only charged to new applicants immediately, it will apply to every card holder on their next anniversary date. There is no grandfathering.


Seems you're right. That sucks...especially considering I haven't been notified of this whatsoever.

I will press Amex hard to offset that fee increase or I'll dump the card altogether out of principle.

Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Thu Oct 13, 2016 6:57 am

guitarguy wrote:Seems you're right. That sucks...especially considering I haven't been notified of this whatsoever.

I will press Amex hard to offset that fee increase or I'll dump the card altogether out of principle.


I think there was some notice I got in the mail actually for this.

Regardless, I'm likely to downgrade my card to the free Blue Cash Everyday version when my fee is due in 2 months. I buy quite a bit more at Costco these days and corresponding less at the supermarket. I'm close to the break even ($3200 for a 6% + $95 vs 3%), and don't want to work hard to make the 6% profitable (e.g. buying lots of gift cards at the supermarket).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:17 am

Da5id wrote:
guitarguy wrote:Seems you're right. That sucks...especially considering I haven't been notified of this whatsoever.

I will press Amex hard to offset that fee increase or I'll dump the card altogether out of principle.


I think there was some notice I got in the mail actually for this.

Regardless, I'm likely to downgrade my card to the free Blue Cash Everyday version when my fee is due in 2 months. I buy quite a bit more at Costco these days and corresponding less at the supermarket. I'm close to the break even ($3200 for a 6% + $95 vs 3%), and don't want to work hard to make the 6% profitable (e.g. buying lots of gift cards at the supermarket).


I didn't get any notice whatsoever, by email or regular mail.

Does anyone know how the rewards work if I downgrade the card? Will the reward dollars transfer over? Will the $6k limit reset?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jh-1391 » Thu Oct 13, 2016 7:20 am

giesen5 wrote:I wouldn't get too caught up in getting the "greatest value". I read that on all the sites - only use for international, only use for business class, etc. That is great, but I decided to get points in order to get my family to Italy. I guess if you are single, or a couple, it is great to get business class tickets. But for a family of four it cost 240,000 points for round trip tickets.

And, gasp, i used 80,000 Hilton points to book a hotel in Seattle for the family - not in Dubai or the Maldives or Tokyo.


I agree with you, but there are times where a redemption just isn't worth it to me. I TRY to get the best value out of my CC rewards, but not to the point where I turn my nose up at certain redemptions or go out of my way to make my trip more complicated. But there are sometimes where I think something is just a terrible use of points and I don't want to "waste" them.

For example - my sister and I are taking a last minute trip to a college football game. I could fly into the nearest airport for free on SWA, but it would use up every single point and it would be a crappy itinerary. But I could fly into a larger airport 3 hours away for half the price of points (and airfare), nonstop, but now I need a rental car. The car is cheap after splitting it, and the convenience of nonstop PLUS the benefit of having enough points for another SWA trip is worth it to me.

I try to stretch my points as much as I can in terms of being able to take more trips rather than achieving a 4 cpp redemption or something like that. That is why I avoid business/premium cabins...because it drops my ability to use the points for more free flights.

giesen5
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Mon Oct 24, 2016 4:21 pm

I'm tapped out on Chase cards due to 5/24. I'm looking ahead to a family trip to South America in 2019. Thinking of beginning to collect AmEx points while still collecting UR points with Freedom/sapphire card.

Any advice on how AmEx points have worked for you?

BeneIRA
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by BeneIRA » Mon Oct 24, 2016 7:42 pm

guitarguy wrote:
Da5id wrote:
guitarguy wrote:Seems you're right. That sucks...especially considering I haven't been notified of this whatsoever.

I will press Amex hard to offset that fee increase or I'll dump the card altogether out of principle.


I think there was some notice I got in the mail actually for this.

Regardless, I'm likely to downgrade my card to the free Blue Cash Everyday version when my fee is due in 2 months. I buy quite a bit more at Costco these days and corresponding less at the supermarket. I'm close to the break even ($3200 for a 6% + $95 vs 3%), and don't want to work hard to make the 6% profitable (e.g. buying lots of gift cards at the supermarket).


I didn't get any notice whatsoever, by email or regular mail.

Does anyone know how the rewards work if I downgrade the card? Will the reward dollars transfer over? Will the $6k limit reset?


I did it the other way, Blue Cash Everyday to Preferred. Everything stayed the same. They sent a new card but the credit bureaus just saw it as my same card. Even the number stayed the same. Limit was the same. I have heard it works the same the other way. I am with you. If Amex doesn't offset some of the fee, I will downgrade back to what I originally had.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:13 am

giesen5 wrote:I'm tapped out on Chase cards due to 5/24. I'm looking ahead to a family trip to South America in 2019. Thinking of beginning to collect AmEx points while still collecting UR points with Freedom/sapphire card.

Any advice on how AmEx points have worked for you?


I'd say Amex MR points are close behind UR points. They have plenty of airline transfer partners, and if you have the Business Platinum you can essentially get 2 cents per point booking flights through their portal. The Business Platinum also currently has a 100,000 point signup bonus, although there is a $15,000 minimum spend requirement. I used 100k MR points for 2 roundtrip economy flights to Europe with Flying Blue. Taxes and surcharges were minimal - I can't remember the exact amount.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by abuss368 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 9:18 am

We opened a Wells Fargo Cash Back Credit Card. The rewards are transferred to the kids 529 College Investment Portfolios.
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:20 am

giesen5 wrote:I'm tapped out on Chase cards due to 5/24. I'm looking ahead to a family trip to South America in 2019. Thinking of beginning to collect AmEx points while still collecting UR points with Freedom/sapphire card.

Any advice on how AmEx points have worked for you?


Although a lot can change between now and 2019 in terms of award charts, it may be worth a look at some of the award chart sweet spots to South America to decide what to collect. https://www.milevalue.com/how-to-book-a ... the-world/

Here's the relevant excerpt:

To Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador

with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

with 20,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30
with 20,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30
with 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip on Delta flights
in Business Class with 35,000 Asiana miles on United flights
in Business Class with 45,000 Alaska miles on AeroMexico flights, try to fly the Dreamliner (has not been bookable since October 2015)
in First Class with 45,000 Asiana miles on United flights
in Business Class with 50,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights
in Business Class with 50,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights

Both Etihad and Virgin Atlantic are Amex MR transfer partners. I believe that VA typically offers transfer bonuses of 25% or 30% a couple of times a year from Amex MR. VA is also a Chase UR transfer partner.

ResearchMed
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:43 am

Bfwolf wrote:
giesen5 wrote:I'm tapped out on Chase cards due to 5/24. I'm looking ahead to a family trip to South America in 2019. Thinking of beginning to collect AmEx points while still collecting UR points with Freedom/sapphire card.

Any advice on how AmEx points have worked for you?


Although a lot can change between now and 2019 in terms of award charts, it may be worth a look at some of the award chart sweet spots to South America to decide what to collect. https://www.milevalue.com/how-to-book-a ... the-world/

Here's the relevant excerpt:

To Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador

with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

with 20,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30
with 20,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights from March 1 – May 31 or August 16 – November 30
with 45,000 Virgin Atlantic miles roundtrip on Delta flights
in Business Class with 35,000 Asiana miles on United flights
in Business Class with 45,000 Alaska miles on AeroMexico flights, try to fly the Dreamliner (has not been bookable since October 2015)
in First Class with 45,000 Asiana miles on United flights
in Business Class with 50,000 Etihad miles on American Airlines flights
in Business Class with 50,000 Alaska miles on American Airlines flights

Both Etihad and Virgin Atlantic are Amex MR transfer partners. I believe that VA typically offers transfer bonuses of 25% or 30% a couple of times a year from Amex MR. VA is also a Chase UR transfer partner.


It may not be relevant for South America (or maybe it is), but don't forget that one can transfer the Amex Rewards points to another airline, such as Air Canada, and from there, use the points for yet another airline that might *not* be on the plain "Amex Rewards partners" list.

We've done this with a couple of airlines, starting with Amex points, to Air Canada, and then using the Air Canada points to get awards travel on other airlines.

RM
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gvsucavie03
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 4:59 pm

Gave in and got the Amex Blue Cash Preferred. $150 bonus and better rewards for groceries even with the annual fee.

Now we have Citi Double Cash for utilities/big purchases, Penfed 5% gas and the Amex. Rest of the $ is sitting in a 3% checking account. Bank bonuses round it off.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by hoops777 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:05 pm

What is a 3 pct checking account
K.I.S.S........so easy to say so difficult to do.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Tue Oct 25, 2016 5:24 pm

hoops777 wrote:What is a 3 pct checking account


LMCU Max Checking. 3% interest on balance up to $15,000 If you do 10 debit transactions, direct deposit, estatements and 4 online logins.

guitarguy
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:33 pm

Drew777 wrote:
giesen5 wrote:I'm tapped out on Chase cards due to 5/24. I'm looking ahead to a family trip to South America in 2019. Thinking of beginning to collect AmEx points while still collecting UR points with Freedom/sapphire card.

Any advice on how AmEx points have worked for you?


I'd say Amex MR points are close behind UR points. They have plenty of airline transfer partners, and if you have the Business Platinum you can essentially get 2 cents per point booking flights through their portal. The Business Platinum also currently has a 100,000 point signup bonus, although there is a $15,000 minimum spend requirement. I used 100k MR points for 2 roundtrip economy flights to Europe with Flying Blue. Taxes and surcharges were minimal - I can't remember the exact amount.


One thing I don't like is the fee to transfer MR points to partners. That kinda sucks. :annoyed

But that said, my best friend is getting married in Hawaii in fall 2018...and I'm on a quest to rack up a ton of Delta miles by this time next year so we can fly free. My plan is:

1. Amex Delta Skymiles Platinum Business (just got this one) for 70k miles with $5k spend - 75k miles total
2. Amex Delta Skymiles Gold Business (will get in spring) for another 30-50k miles with $1-2k spend - 106-127k miles total
3. Amex Business Gold Charge (will get summer) for 25k MR points to transfer to Delta - 131-152k miles total

Getting these 3 will rack me up a ton of Delta miles - hopefully more than enough to ensure free Hawaii flights in fall 2018. I'm seeing 90k miles for 2 best fare round trip tickets right now. A little more if we can't nab a saver rate.

EDIT: I'm sticking with business versions of these cards so I can open up a chase 5/24 slot in Fall 2017 for the CSR...hoping that bonus is still 100k or at least pretty hefty if the 100k doesn't stick around.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 12:49 pm

Thanks for all of the responses. I decided to open up the AmEx Everday Preferred card. I have a British Airlines Chase card, so I am going to go for points in that direction. Also applied for the SPG card, can't believe I never looked at that option closely. Was not immediately approved, applied same time as the Everyday card, getting ready to call them now to see what is up.

I've never opened a business card before. Any hints on how to get one without a business?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Wed Oct 26, 2016 1:31 pm

giesen5 wrote:Thanks for all of the responses. I decided to open up the AmEx Everday Preferred card. I have a British Airlines Chase card, so I am going to go for points in that direction. Also applied for the SPG card, can't believe I never looked at that option closely. Was not immediately approved, applied same time as the Everyday card, getting ready to call them now to see what is up.

I've never opened a business card before. Any hints on how to get one without a business?


I think Amex will delay your second app by 24 hours...don't think they approve 2 cards in the same day.

Can't help on th business card front. I actually do own my own business.

What I can say is the process to get approved for the Amex business card was effortless and instant approval online. Chase Ink+ was MUCH more stringent...they verified tons of info, had me submit my DBA license, looked at our website, etc. They seemed to care much more about the legitimacy of my having a business to approved for that card.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 2:03 pm

Called AmEx, they said hold tight and will hear back in a couple of days.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by lostdog » Wed Oct 26, 2016 4:48 pm

Dave Ramsey on Credit Card point strategies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1usdOW4RyI
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Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Wed Oct 26, 2016 7:02 pm

lostdog wrote:Dave Ramsey on Credit Card point strategies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1usdOW4RyI


Very funny... Hope you are not serious?!?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by gvsucavie03 » Wed Oct 26, 2016 9:01 pm

Da5id wrote:
lostdog wrote:Dave Ramsey on Credit Card point strategies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1usdOW4RyI


Very funny... Hope you are not serious?!?


Yeah, according to Dave none of us use credit card rewards and we are deeply in credit card debt.... :annoyed

Da5id
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Thu Oct 27, 2016 7:07 am

gvsucavie03 wrote:
Da5id wrote:
lostdog wrote:Dave Ramsey on Credit Card point strategies:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1usdOW4RyI


Very funny... Hope you are not serious?!?


Yeah, according to Dave none of us use credit card rewards and we are deeply in credit card debt.... :annoyed


I've never actually seen or heard him before (sheltered life I live). He seemed rather over-the-top for my taste. I've heard some folks say his debt advice has helped them. And clearly, people who can't/don't pay off their credit cards in full should not be playing the credit card rewards games, they are losing regardless...

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