What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Non-investing personal finance issues including insurance, credit, real estate, taxes, employment and legal issues such as trusts and wills
User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Mon Sep 19, 2016 10:49 pm

rjbraun wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Public announcement: You can now activate Freedom 5x rewards for 4Q2016.

Victoria

Amazon wasn't an option when I looked, though my understanding is that Amazon was among the 5x rewards participants in 4Q2015. I don't have a Freedom card (yet), but I vaguely recall that Amazon may have only been announced in the middle of Q4 last year. Am I right? Regardless, if Amazon is not currently participating, barring some outlier event is the assumption that Amazon won't be in the program for the quarter?


In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

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

patrick
Posts: 1424
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 3:39 am
Location: Mega-City One

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby patrick » Tue Sep 20, 2016 1:33 am

BeneIRA wrote:I have been reading far too much on the Chase Sapphire Reserve since I am considering it myself:

* Ultimate Rewards Points will be rewarded on the UR Portal: 1.5 points = 1 point as opposed to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is 1.25 points = 1 point when using points.
* 3% back on Dining and Travel as opposed to 2% on each with the Sapphire Preferred.


Note that, because the 1.5x redemption only applies to redemptions in the UR portal, redeeming this way will limit you to the what is available there. From my brief checks, it seems that many flights are available (and at regular prices), but not all -- for instance, Norwegian isn't included.

Da5id
Posts: 1175
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:20 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Tue Sep 20, 2016 7:56 am

VictoriaF wrote:Washington, DC, data points: I added some money to my WMATA SmarTrip card, and CSP coded it as a travel expense. CSP also codes my courses at DC Improv as restaurant expenses.

Victoria


Similar deal in Boston area. MBTA commuter rail ticket purchase with mobile app and also loading Charlie Card (subway pass) at T station got the travel bonus...

SRenaeP
Posts: 582
Joined: Tue Jan 19, 2010 9:05 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby SRenaeP » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:01 am

madbrain wrote: Most of my FF accounts have close to 0 miles as they tend to expire every 12 months. In recent years, I have gotten wiser and been ordering magazines with miles to keep the mileage accounts active. This is not possible for every program though, but it is for at least Delta and United. As a result, I have a bunch of magazines coming in every week that I don't have time to read. When the pile gets too big, they go to the recycling bin. Frankly, I think the FF mile expiration rules are silly and this wastes a lot of trees. I think the airlines should charge some reasonable inactivity fees, and 100% of your balance as an inactivity penalty is not reasonable.


While 100% of your balance certainly isn't reasonable, I understand why program have implemented expiration dates. If the points/miles don't expire, they will continue to accrue liabilities on their books which is bad for business.

That said, most of the major airlines have shopping portals where you get miles for purchasing through their portal. You may want to consider that in the future in order to keep your account active rather than using your miles for magazines.

-Steph

2stepsbehind
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:03 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby 2stepsbehind » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:47 am

madbrain wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
madbrain wrote:
guitarguy wrote:Just booked a flight to CA on United for Jul 2017 for the week of the 4th for the wife and I.

2.204 cpp.

Optimal times for us to leave/arrive, and nonstop flights. 8-) 8-) 8-)


Can you give more specifics ? Was it economy or business//first class ?
And what cities ?


DTW to SFO. Economy class. Flights were $551 and we paid 25k miles.

Have booked several flights from DTW to DAL on SW and each were at just about 1.8 cpp.

These are trips we would be taking to visit friends and family regardless of rewards/points...but certainly our experience has been a much better value to transfer the points to partners. Certainly better than 1 or even 1.25/1.5 cpp.

YMMV.

I'm sure there are instances where the 1.5% bonus to book travel through UR with the CSR might come out ahead, but I have yet to come across it when booking our stuff.


Thanks. Yes, it looks like you got a good point value for this route. Delta also flies this route nonstop and costs $475 next July which is less than with United. The cheapest award costs 22,000 miles + $11.20 . While that would be a a lower 2.10 cpp value than your 2.2cpp, if I'm transferring Chase UR points, I would rather transfer only 22,000 of them to fly Delta than transfer 25,000 to fly United.. Chase UR points can't be transferred to Delta, only Korean or Flying Blue on skyteam.

I wonder if the lack of value for points I have found I'm seeing is related to the fact that I do almost zero domestic air travel. Whenever I fly internationally, I try to take a nonstop flight. If there is no nonstop flight for the route I'm flying, then I make sure the layover on the return is outside the US, so that I don't have to get the luggage out at customs during the layover.

The problem seems to be not just the value per point, but availability of award flights for the routes I want to fly.

The only flight that I found better point value than 1.5cpp was the 1-way SFO-CDG nonstop on Air France. And that was only because Chase allows direct transfer to Flying Blue. Even though the AF83 flight is a code share with Delta DL8599, there are only awards available for this flight on Air France, and none on Delta, regardless of booking class, and regardless of dates that I checked - the entire month of November, which is low season.
I checked with Korean air also - no award flights for this nonstop route at all either. First the web site says that it will route me through Korea (kind of silly!) but then actually finds no flights.

My second most frequent destination besides with Paris is Saigon. I have flown many times SFO-SGN with a 1hr30 layover in Taipei, with China Airlines on the first leg, and Vietnam Airlines on the second leg. No nonstop flight exists for this route. This currently costs only $454 as a cash flight best case for one-way, and there is usually plenty of availability. Even if I wanted to fly just 2 days from now, it would still be that price.

China Airlines allows booking SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight, but for 66,000 miles + $24, which is a value of 0.6cpm. And also, it is not a transfer partner of Chase UR. And all my miles on China have expired as I fly less than every 12 months with them.

Vietnam Airlines allows booking SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight, but for 80,000 miles, which is an even worse value. Their web site won't even quote me the taxes due on the award because I don't have enough miles, so I can't calculate actual cpm. But assuming taxes are $24, this is 0.53cpm. And also, Vietnam Airlines is not a transfer partner of Chase UR. And all my miles on Vietnam have expired as I fly less than every 12 months with them.

Delta just won't let me book SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight at all. The shortest flight offered has a 4h30 layover, but I would never actually book that option, so the mile value for me on Delta is 0cpm. Also, one can't transfer Chase UR points to Delta.

Situation is slightly better with Korean airlines, another Skyteam partner. Korean won't allow routing through Taipei, just like Delta. But it offers routing through Seoul instead, with 1h30 layover, which is the same flight time, and something I might actually book. The cash cost is $459 which is basically the same as the SFO-SGN option through Taipei. However, the award flight costs 42500 miles + $68 tax. That is 0.92cpm. This is the best value I could find in miles for this route, and I can actually transfer Chase UR points 1:1 to Korean. But I would much rather pay for this flight directly through Chase UR for 1.5cpp with the CSR and spend only 30,600 UR points and have taxes covered too.


Why wouldn't you look at United?

2stepsbehind
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:03 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby 2stepsbehind » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:52 am

madbrain wrote:[ Most of my FF accounts have close to 0 miles as they tend to expire every 12 months. In recent years, I have gotten wiser and been ordering magazines with miles to keep the mileage accounts active. This is not possible for every program though, but it is for at least Delta and United.


Delta miles no longer expire.

Independent George
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:13 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Independent George » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:49 am

VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?

Regardless, I also spent a lot on Amazon gift cards at the end of 2015 to take advantage of that bonus, and was sorely disappointed to see that they don't get the 5% this year... so I immediately applied for an Amazon Rewards card (3% all year, plus $70 up front).

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:02 pm

Independent George wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?


They do. But in the 4th quarter of 2015, they did something different. Initially, it was a regular 5x for up to $1,500 in spending on Amazon. Some time in the middle of the 4th quarter I've read on a blog that Chase has extended the bonus to 10x for up to $1,500 in spending, AND, the best part, one could get both bonuses by spending the first $1.5k before a certain date, and the second $1.5k between that date and the end of the year.

I used up my first $1.5k before the date to buy Amazon gift cards, essentially Amazon credit. After the date, I purchased a small credit to test how it works, got 10x and loaded the rest of it up to $1.5k. Thus, I got $3,000 in Amazon credit and 22,500 of UR.

------------

In 2Q 2016, I used Freedom for $1,500 in Costco cash cards and 7,500 in UR. Now, I am trying to decide if I should spend another $1,500 for the 3Q 2016 bonus. And then, of course, I will have to decide about Costco and the 4Q 2016 bonus. I don't seem to be spending as much at Costco as I do on Amazon, but I might buy a new computer within the next year, which would make a large Costco credit justified.

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

rjbraun
Posts: 862
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby rjbraun » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:39 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Independent George wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?


They do. But in the 4th quarter of 2015, they did something different. Initially, it was a regular 5x for up to $1,500 in spending on Amazon. Some time in the middle of the 4th quarter I've read on a blog that Chase has extended the bonus to 10x for up to $1,500 in spending, AND, the best part, one could get both bonuses by spending the first $1.5k before a certain date, and the second $1.5k between that date and the end of the year.

I used up my first $1.5k before the date to buy Amazon gift cards, essentially Amazon credit. After the date, I purchased a small credit to test how it works, got 10x and loaded the rest of it up to $1.5k. Thus, I got $3,000 in Amazon credit and 22,500 of UR.

Ah, so that explains why you used a rate of 7.5% to calculate the amount of UR points. I was going to ask earlier but figured you just did a blended rate, for whatever reason.

rjbraun
Posts: 862
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby rjbraun » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:43 pm

Independent George wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?

Regardless, I also spent a lot on Amazon gift cards at the end of 2015 to take advantage of that bonus, and was sorely disappointed to see that they don't get the 5% this year... so I immediately applied for an Amazon Rewards card (3% all year, plus $70 up front).

I too am disappointed that Amazon doesn't appear on the Q4 vendor list. I've kind of been waiting to downgrade my CSP to Chase Freedom, just so I could cash in on a 10% UR deal. (My "old" SallieMae card already offers 5% rebate on Amazon purchases). I guess a tiny part of me is still hoping for a "surprise" 10% UR Amazon deal with Chase Freedom later this year. Of course, I fully realize that one doesn't always get what one hopes for.

Jags4186
Posts: 946
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:12 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Jags4186 » Tue Sep 20, 2016 12:55 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Independent George wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?

Regardless, I also spent a lot on Amazon gift cards at the end of 2015 to take advantage of that bonus, and was sorely disappointed to see that they don't get the 5% this year... so I immediately applied for an Amazon Rewards card (3% all year, plus $70 up front).

I too am disappointed that Amazon doesn't appear on the Q4 vendor list. I've kind of been waiting to downgrade my CSP to Chase Freedom, just so I could cash in on a 10% UR deal. (My "old" SallieMae card already offers 5% rebate on Amazon purchases). I guess a tiny part of me is still hoping for a "surprise" 10% UR Amazon deal with Chase Freedom later this year. Of course, I fully realize that one doesn't always get what one hopes for.


Don't hold your breathe.

Independent George
Posts: 162
Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:13 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Independent George » Tue Sep 20, 2016 2:35 pm

VictoriaF wrote:They do. But in the 4th quarter of 2015, they did something different. Initially, it was a regular 5x for up to $1,500 in spending on Amazon. Some time in the middle of the 4th quarter I've read on a blog that Chase has extended the bonus to 10x for up to $1,500 in spending, AND, the best part, one could get both bonuses by spending the first $1.5k before a certain date, and the second $1.5k between that date and the end of the year.


Dang. I wish I'd have known about that last year - I thought the original $1,500 limit applied to the 10%. I deliberately put off several large-ticket purchases until Q4 last year just so I could take advantage of the 5% reward, so I only had a few hundred left when the 10% bonus was announced. Otherwise, I'd have done the same as you.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:00 pm

2stepsbehind wrote:Why wouldn't you look at United?


Good question. I was just looking for the least expensive cash fares first, and using the baseline of 1.5cpp with Chase to book for these flights as cash fares, not award flights. Then, I tried to price the awards for those flights to see if I could get a better point value.
The United flights always had so much higher cash fares that I didn't even bother pricing the awards; I thought it would cost me more in UR points for those awards. I just tried pricing them now - turns out I was right.

For CDG-SFO, once I found the deal on AF at 18,750 Flying Blue miles + $79.56, I just didn't think it was going to get better than that, so I stopped looking.

Interesting to see that United started flying CDG-SFO nonstop again, after they stopped flying that route for over 10 years. Not sure when they started doing it again.

I just checked award costs. The cheapest 1-way saver award costs 30,000 miles + $5.60 in taxes
IMO, this is not as good as the 18,750 Flying blue I got + $79.56 in taxes with Air France.
Even if I redeemed UR points at 1 cpp to pay for the taxes, it would still cost fewer UR points to fly Air France than United, though it would be close - about 27,000 UR points for AF, vs 30,500 for United. I would rather fly Air France than United for the food, though.

For SFO-SGN, United does offer saver awards with a connection in Taipei with Eva with a very good connection time. I just priced the saver award, and it is is 40,000 miles + $5.60, again for 1-way . This is arguably better than the deal I found with Korean. The lowest cash fare is $682 .
So, that gives a value of 1.69cpp which is better than booking with Chase at 1.5cpp for the same flight.

However, if I was paying cash, I would choose the lowest cash fare, and that is not on United. I can fly the exact same SFO-SGN route on China/Vietnam airlines through Taipei for $454 cash price as as I mentioned above - which is much less than $682. I can book that $454 flight as cash fare at 1.5cpp with Chase UR, and thus it costs only about 30,300 UR points to book it. Whereas the United award flight would cost 40,000 UR points to transfer to United to book.

Also, if booking roundtrip, the cash fare is often somewhat less than twice the one-way. Whereas the lowest awards flights to Asia seem to always exactly be twice the cost in miles + taxes (but don't get me started on 1-way flights to Europe that cost 4x the roundtrip cost). What that means is that awards are often going to provide better value for one-way flights, and not as good value for round-trips.
I priced one-way because I have sometimes been making different stopovers on the way back in order to visit another city. But using a roundtrip with an open-jaw in this case can still end up with a better cash fare, assuming they are within the same continent. For my next strip, I am going to Paris first, and then Saigon. Open-jaw are not possible in those cases (or bring up ticket cost to $4k+), and it makes much more sense to book flights segments individually.

Another thing to point out is that booking cash fares and using UR points at 1.5cpp will earn some miles, which is not insignificant on those long distance flights. I will be flying 5583 miles SFO-CDG, 6286 miles CDG-SGN, 1708 miles SGN-PVG, and 6151 miles PVG-SFO . Almost 20,000 miles on one trip. But the first leg was booked as award so it won't earn miles. All others were booked as cash fares. So, I should earn about 14,000 miles. Ideally, I would credit all of them to Flying blue, but I'm not sure if the low cash fares I got with Vietnam Airlines and China Eastern will allow crediting the miles to FB or not ...

Lastly, if my travel gets cancelled for medical reasons, and I booked an award flight after transferring UR points, Chase travel insurance will only reimburse 1 cent per point transferred. Whereas with a cash fare, they will reimburse the listed value of the cash fare - ie. 1.5cpp. This may not matter to most people, but a lot of my travels have been cancelled in the past for medical reasons. Getting only 1cpp back from travel insurance would not be a good value.
Last edited by madbrain on Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:06 pm

patrick wrote:
BeneIRA wrote:I have been reading far too much on the Chase Sapphire Reserve since I am considering it myself:

* Ultimate Rewards Points will be rewarded on the UR Portal: 1.5 points = 1 point as opposed to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which is 1.25 points = 1 point when using points.
* 3% back on Dining and Travel as opposed to 2% on each with the Sapphire Preferred.


Note that, because the 1.5x redemption only applies to redemptions in the UR portal, redeeming this way will limit you to the what is available there. From my brief checks, it seems that many flights are available (and at regular prices), but not all -- for instance, Norwegian isn't included.


Chase travel appears to use Orbitz for their travel backend. If you can book the flight on Orbitz, you can probably book it through Chase too.
Small discount carriers often cannot be booked through Orbitz. In fact, for many of them, you can only book directly with the airline. If that is the case, indeed, you won't be able to get the 1.5cpp from Chase UR, unfortunately.

I have found the same problem with many discount carriers in Asia like Air Asia, Vietjet, HK Express. All had to be booked directly on the airline site on previous trips.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 4:08 pm

SRenaeP wrote:That said, most of the major airlines have shopping portals where you get miles for purchasing through their portal. You may want to consider that in the future in order to keep your account active rather than using your miles for magazines.


I will look into the portal option. I don't think it's the case for many of the airlines in Asia, though, unfortunately, even major ones.

BeneIRA
Posts: 254
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:43 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby BeneIRA » Tue Sep 20, 2016 5:24 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Independent George wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:In 4Q2016, Freedom 5x categories include Wholesale clubs, department stores and drug stores.

In 4Q2015, Freedom 5x for Amazon was from the beginning of the quarter, but then they added 10x. It became possible to get 22.5k UR by spending $3k on Amazon. I used Freedom to purchase Amazon credit, which I am still using.

Victoria


Don't they cap your rewards to the first $1,500 of spending?


They do. But in the 4th quarter of 2015, they did something different. Initially, it was a regular 5x for up to $1,500 in spending on Amazon. Some time in the middle of the 4th quarter I've read on a blog that Chase has extended the bonus to 10x for up to $1,500 in spending, AND, the best part, one could get both bonuses by spending the first $1.5k before a certain date, and the second $1.5k between that date and the end of the year.

I used up my first $1.5k before the date to buy Amazon gift cards, essentially Amazon credit. After the date, I purchased a small credit to test how it works, got 10x and loaded the rest of it up to $1.5k. Thus, I got $3,000 in Amazon credit and 22,500 of UR.

------------

In 2Q 2016, I used Freedom for $1,500 in Costco cash cards and 7,500 in UR. Now, I am trying to decide if I should spend another $1,500 for the 3Q 2016 bonus. And then, of course, I will have to decide about Costco and the 4Q 2016 bonus. I don't seem to be spending as much at Costco as I do on Amazon, but I might buy a new computer within the next year, which would make a large Costco credit justified.

Victoria


Could you not just go to your local drugstore and buy the gift cards you really want and still get the 5%? My local one has quite the gift card selection.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Sep 20, 2016 6:35 pm

BeneIRA wrote:Could you not just go to your local drugstore and buy the gift cards you really want and still get the 5%? My local one has quite the gift card selection.


I will check out my CVS in 4Q 2016, when drugstores are covered at 5x. However, there are very few gift cards I am interested in, except perhaps Amazon. And I think drugstores now have a policy of not accepting credit cards to buy loadable debit cards.

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

protagonist
Posts: 4684
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Tue Sep 20, 2016 8:14 pm

madbrain wrote:My second most frequent destination besides with Paris is Saigon. I have flown many times SFO-SGN with a 1hr30 layover in Taipei, with China Airlines on the first leg, and Vietnam Airlines on the second leg. No nonstop flight exists for this route. This currently costs only $454 as a cash flight best case for one-way, and there is usually plenty of availability. Even if I wanted to fly just 2 days from now, it would still be that price.

China Airlines allows booking SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight, but for 66,000 miles + $24, which is a value of 0.6cpm. And also, it is not a transfer partner of Chase UR. And all my miles on China have expired as I fly less than every 12 months with them.

Vietnam Airlines allows booking SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight, but for 80,000 miles, which is an even worse value. Their web site won't even quote me the taxes due on the award because I don't have enough miles, so I can't calculate actual cpm. But assuming taxes are $24, this is 0.53cpm. And also, Vietnam Airlines is not a transfer partner of Chase UR. And all my miles on Vietnam have expired as I fly less than every 12 months with them.

Delta just won't let me book SFO-SGN through TPE as an award flight at all. The shortest flight offered has a 4h30 layover, but I would never actually book that option, so the mile value for me on Delta is 0cpm. Also, one can't transfer Chase UR points to Delta.

Situation is slightly better with Korean airlines, another Skyteam partner. Korean won't allow routing through Taipei, just like Delta. But it offers routing through Seoul instead, with 1h30 layover, which is the same flight time, and something I might actually book. The cash cost is $459 which is basically the same as the SFO-SGN option through Taipei. However, the award flight costs 42500 miles + $68 tax. That is 0.92cpm. This is the best value I could find in miles for this route, and I can actually transfer Chase UR points 1:1 to Korean. But I would much rather pay for this flight directly through Chase UR for 1.5cpp with the CSR and spend only 30,600 UR points and have taxes covered too.



This is all very interesting to me, Madbrain.

I have owned property in a lovely village on a Venezuelan island for the past 23 years, where I spend my winters windsurfing.

Given the current situation in Venezuela, I probably will not go there this winter, and am looking forward to trying something new for a change.

My preliminary research (today) has led me to Mui Ne, Vietnam, which is supposedly quite beautiful and also a windsurfing destination. I was astounded to find flights from NYC in the $500-700 range RT! I also imagine Vietnam to be a fascinating and beautiful country- when I was backpacking in SE Asia in my younger days it was strictly off limits for Americans. (Another supposedly great windsurfing spot in SE Asia, and another possibility, is Boracay, Philippines- also a cheap flight and supposedly a gorgeous island- but from what I read I expect it to be way over-developed and mobbed with partying tourists).

I am looking for a place I can go for at least 2-3 months.

I just got the CSR card (as did you- congrats!) It makes NO sense to me to use points when I can get $300 off my $500 or $600 ticket from NYC with CSR if I pay with cash and collect loads of points on the flight.

Plus, I avoid using points at any less than .02/point.

Do you go to Vietnam as a tourist? Do you know anything about Mui Ne? Any other tidbits you can share re: traveling to, or in, Vietnam?

(If posting here seems to derail the thread please do not hesitate to send a PM. I responded here since I think the way we strategize with points and cash may be of general interest within the context of this thread).

Thanks!

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:11 pm

protagonist wrote:I have owned property in a lovely village on a Venezuelan island for the past 23 years, where I spend my winters windsurfing.

Given the current situation in Venezuela, I probably will not go there this winter, and am looking forward to trying something new for a change.


Australia in winter would be obvious choice, no?

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

protagonist
Posts: 4684
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Tue Sep 20, 2016 9:52 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
protagonist wrote:I have owned property in a lovely village on a Venezuelan island for the past 23 years, where I spend my winters windsurfing.

Given the current situation in Venezuela, I probably will not go there this winter, and am looking forward to trying something new for a change.


Australia in winter would be obvious choice, no?

Victoria


I would certainly consider Australia...even more New Zealand....but I have yet to come across a good place to rent windsurfing equipment on the beach with reliable wind Jan-Mar. I also expect they would be a lot more expensive, which does not rule them out, but it can get pricey if renting equipment for months. All of my gear is still in my Venezuelan apartment.

Though I know there is good windsurfing Down Under, oddly, I have yet to hear about a "windsurfing destination" in NZ or Aus with rental of good equipment on the beach for northern winters.

Other locations I am considering are Bonaire (close and windy but I fear possibly very boring), and some spots in Brazil (though most get their best wind in the fall).

I would consider returning to Venezuela as well, where my equipment and friends are, but I need a visa, and my gf is afraid I will die. (laughing) I want to keep her happy.

I may give up on windsurfing completely and just go to Cuba for the winter to study music. I have some musician friends in Havana. That seems like a great alternate plan if I can make it work.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:08 pm

protagonist wrote:I have owned property in a lovely village on a Venezuelan island for the past 23 years, where I spend my winters windsurfing.

Given the current situation in Venezuela, I probably will not go there this winter, and am looking forward to trying something new for a change.


Yeah, I have not really considered owning vacation property because even though I may to some countries twice, I often want to visit different cities.

My preliminary research (today) has led me to Mui Ne, Vietnam, which is supposedly quite beautiful and also a windsurfing destination. I was astounded to find flights from NYC in the $500-700 range RT! I also imagine Vietnam to be a fascinating and beautiful country- when I was backpacking in SE Asia in my younger days it was strictly off limits for Americans. (Another supposedly great windsurfing spot in SE Asia, and another possibility, is Boracay, Philippines- also a cheap flight and supposedly a gorgeous island- but from what I read I expect it to be way over-developed and mobbed with partying tourists).


I have not heard of or been to Mui Ne. I will ask my husband later tonight.
The fares you found are good - I assume these are not at Xmas time when airfares double or triple.
I booked airfare for my husband on China Eastern last week for only $572 roundtrip. I used Chase UR 38000 Chase UR points to pay for it. This is SFO-PVG-SGN, then 2 weeks later SGN-PVG, then another week later, PVG-SFO . The airfare cost is unreal, I have never seen fares this low. Probably because it's in November and that is not peak season.
I won't fly exactly the same route myself - I will go to Paris first for a week. So I booked the SFO-CDG 1-way as an Award flight on Flying blue.
Then, I will fly CDG-SGN nonstop and join my husband in Vietnam.
And finally, we'll fly together for the last part of the trip on China Eastern , ie. SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO.
Funny thing is that my China Eastern ticket for SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO cost me $738. But my husband's fare for one more flight (SFO-SGN added as first flight) is only $572 . Unfortunately, I couldn't book the same cheaper ticket as him, because the entire itinerary would be cancelled if I "missed" the first leg. I booked my ticket with Chase UR points at 1.5cpp also. We have already selected seats next to each other for the last 2 flights on which we'll be together.

I just got the CSR card (as did you- congrats!)


Yes, and now we got 2 of them :) The second one should arrive in a few days.

It makes NO sense to me to use points when I can get $300 off my $500 or $600 ticket from NYC with CSR if I pay with cash and collect loads of points on the flight.


Well, if that's the totality of the airfares you have, I agree. But the Chase $300 travel credit is not only good for the base airfares. You can use it for baggage fees as well. It's good towards hotels too, and a few other transportation charges that are not necessarily travel-related, like tolls or local train or bus tickets.

I already used my CSR $300 credit for a short trip to Vegas around Labor day. But I have two other credits left to use before year's end:
- the $300 credit on my husband's new CSR which will arrive in a few days . This is fairly flexible so I'm not really worried about how to spend it.
- the $250 credit on my Citi prestige that I got on saturday. This is only valid for airfare apparently, no other travel charges.

For my CDG-SGN flight, I paid using the Barclay Arrival + I received last week. It was $504. The 40,000 points I will earn soon will be redeemed as a $400 credit towards that flight.

We'll likely have a couple more destinations and additional flights. We have 7 days together in Vietnam and will not spend them all in Saigon. We'll probably take a (very short and cheap!) flight to Phu Quoc. Then we'll have another week in Shanghai, and that's too much to spend just in that city. We may visit Hangzhou by land. Or we might fly to another city. I have looked at cheap flights from China on english.ctrip.com which are not found anywhere else on regular travel engines like Orbitz, Expedia, etc. Looks like we could fly to Hong Kong for very cheap for a few days. However, the stay surely won't be cheap (we were there last year). My camera got lost in Hong Kong on january 1st so I don't have any pics from there; and that may be reason to go again. And stay in a better hotel/neighborhood.

I have not booked any hotel yet. Not quite sure what makes the most sense to book first. We have so many different options to pay for them !
- the use-it-or-lose-it $300 travel credit from the 2nd CSR
- or use the Citi Prestige which gives the 4th night free on consecutive 4 night stays. Unfortunately, this won't work well with 7 days in Vietnam and 7 days in Shanghai if we add one more destination for each week - we may just not have 4 consecutive nights.
But my husband will be in Saigon from 11/11 through 11/28 so that's a lot of hotel nights. He can use the Prestige card to redeem 4th night free, as long as he changes hotel every 4 nights ;). But he wasn't planning on being in an expensive place by himself. Most likely he will check in to a nice hotel the day before I fly from Paris, then we spend the next 3 nights together at that hotel, so we get the 4th night free. But we still have to pay cash for 3 nights, when could just redeem UR points and pay for all nights for zero cash, and maybe stay there only 3 nights instead of 4 ;)
- redeem UR points at 1.5cpp . Right now, we only have 24000 points left after booking the flights. But I should get another 100,000 after my next CSR statement closes. And my husband will get his 200,000 too after we are done with the spending. Probably not in time for this next trip in November, though, unless I get much better at MS ;).
Decisions, decisions. We are literally drowning in travel rewards, lol. I'm inclined to spend the points sooner rather than later, as points tend not to be a particularly stable currency in the long run. They tend to get devalued, expire, etc. I have had one rewards card cancelled unilaterally in the past (Barclay, in 2008) and had to forfeit about $300 worth of rewards.

Plus, I avoid using points at any less than .02/point.


I assume you must be flying something more than the base economy fare at least occasionally - I just haven't found any useful option beyond the 1.5cpp redemption that Chase offers, except the 1-way SFO-CDG on Air France. And believe me, I have certainly been looking as far as airfares go ! When transferring to redeem award flights to Asia, the value is usually < 1cpp as you can see from above posts.

For some of the flights we'll take on discount carriers, we won't get 1.5cpp, though, as those flights can't be booked through Chase UR at all. We'll probably just pay cash price.

Do you go to Vietnam as a tourist? Do you know anything about Mui Ne? Any other tidbits you can share re: traveling to, or in, Vietnam?

(If posting here seems to derail the thread please do not hesitate to send a PM. I responded here since I think the way we strategize with points and cash may be of general interest within the context of this thread).

Thanks!


I go as tourist, my husband sometimes has other additional reasons to be there. He is Vietnam-born and raised, but naturalized US citizen. Most of his immediate family has moved to the US, but he still has some more distant family members there. A few years ago, he attended a school reunion in Saigon.
We have not visited Mui Ne. We have been to Saigon, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Vung Tau . Saigon is my favorite, but all those places are great. I may be forgetting some cities. This will be our 5th visit to Vietnam.

I could see myself early retiring in Vietnam if it wasn't for the sorry state of healthcare there. My husband isn't so keen on going back to live there, however. Even though he would now have a legal opportunity to re-acquire his (renounced) Vietnamese citizenship without losing his US citizenship, his distrust of the Vietnamese government is such that he does not want to do so. And it would still not grant me the right to permanently reside in Vietnam, unfortunately, as we are a same-sex couple and I could not legally reside permanently there.

Mudpuppy
Posts: 4986
Joined: Sat Aug 27, 2011 2:26 am
Location: Sunny California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Mudpuppy » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:21 pm

rjbraun wrote:I too am disappointed that Amazon doesn't appear on the Q4 vendor list. I've kind of been waiting to downgrade my CSP to Chase Freedom, just so I could cash in on a 10% UR deal. (My "old" SallieMae card already offers 5% rebate on Amazon purchases). I guess a tiny part of me is still hoping for a "surprise" 10% UR Amazon deal with Chase Freedom later this year. Of course, I fully realize that one doesn't always get what one hopes for.

Amazon is in the 3rd and 4th quarters of Discover's rotating 5% categories. For those that snagged the "double the rewards" bonus offer that Discover had floating about earlier in the year, it's basically 10%.

protagonist
Posts: 4684
Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 12:47 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby protagonist » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:42 pm

madbrain wrote:
protagonist wrote:I have owned property in a lovely village on a Venezuelan island for the past 23 years, where I spend my winters windsurfing.

Given the current situation in Venezuela, I probably will not go there this winter, and am looking forward to trying something new for a change.


Yeah, I have not really considered owning vacation property because even though I may to some countries twice, I often want to visit different cities.

My preliminary research (today) has led me to Mui Ne, Vietnam, which is supposedly quite beautiful and also a windsurfing destination. I was astounded to find flights from NYC in the $500-700 range RT! I also imagine Vietnam to be a fascinating and beautiful country- when I was backpacking in SE Asia in my younger days it was strictly off limits for Americans. (Another supposedly great windsurfing spot in SE Asia, and another possibility, is Boracay, Philippines- also a cheap flight and supposedly a gorgeous island- but from what I read I expect it to be way over-developed and mobbed with partying tourists).


I have not heard of or been to Mui Ne. I will ask my husband later tonight.

Thanks.

The fares you found are good - I assume these are not at Xmas time when airfares double or triple.

I randomly chose a departure in January and a return in February.

I booked airfare for my husband on China Eastern last week for only $572 roundtrip. I used Chase UR 38000 Chase UR points to pay for it. This is SFO-PVG-SGN, then 2 weeks later SGN-PVG, then another week later, PVG-SFO . The airfare cost is unreal, I have never seen fares this low. Probably because it's in November and that is not peak season.

Do you get an optional stopover in Shanghai if you pay cash?
Have you flown that airline before, and if so are you happy with it?



I just got the CSR card (as did you- congrats!)


Yes, and now we got 2 of them :) The second one should arrive in a few days.

It makes NO sense to me to use points when I can get $300 off my $500 or $600 ticket from NYC with CSR if I pay with cash and collect loads of points on the flight.


Well, if that's the totality of the airfares you have, I agree. But the Chase $300 travel credit is not only good for the base airfares. You can use it for baggage fees as well. It's good towards hotels too, and a few other transportation charges that are not necessarily travel-related, like tolls or local train or bus tickets.

True....but even if I had other use for the $300 credit (I probably do), if I can really book the flight for under $700 RT I would prefer saving the points for a more valuable redemption in the future (and collecting the additional points on the journey).


- the $250 credit on my Citi prestige that I got on saturday. This is only valid for airfare apparently, no other travel charges.

Correct. I just canceled my Prestige card when I got CSR. Most of the benefits duplicate, so Prestige seems superfluous after the first year- not worth the additional $150/yr expense.



Decisions, decisions. We are literally drowning in travel rewards, lol. I'm inclined to spend the points sooner rather than later, as points tend not to be a particularly stable currency in the long run. They tend to get devalued, expire, etc. I have had one rewards card cancelled unilaterally in the past (Barclay, in 2008) and had to forfeit about $300 worth of rewards.

That may make sense. On the other hand it is also getting harder to get new cards, and all the real bang for the buck is in the promotions, so my strategy is somewhat different. Only time will tell which is better.


I assume you must be flying something more than the base economy fare at least occasionally - I just haven't found any useful option beyond the 1.5cpp redemption that Chase offers, except the 1-way SFO-CDG on Air France. And believe me, I have certainly been looking as far as airfares go ! When transferring to redeem award flights to Asia, the value is usually < 1cpp as you can see from above posts.

I only fly economy. But I usually fly to Venezuela in the winter and France during peak summer months....both flights are quite expensive if paying cash and I have always found great deals with points. Venezuela is typically 30K RT



I go as tourist, my husband sometimes has other additional reasons to be there. He is Vietnam-born and raised, but naturalized US citizen. Most of his immediate family has moved to the US, but he still has some more distant family members there. A few years ago, he attended a school reunion in Saigon.
We have not visited Mui Ne. We have been to Saigon, Nha Trang, Da Nang, Hoi An, Hanoi, Vung Tau . Saigon is my favorite, but all those places are great. I may be forgetting some cities. This will be our 5th visit to Vietnam.

Great! If I wind up going I would love to pick your brain more about your Vietnam experiences.

I could see myself early retiring in Vietnam if it wasn't for the sorry state of healthcare there. My husband isn't so keen on going back to live there, however. Even though he would now have a legal opportunity to re-acquire his (renounced) Vietnamese citizenship without losing his US citizenship, his distrust of the Vietnamese government is such that he does not want to do so. And it would still not grant me the right to permanently reside in Vietnam, unfortunately, as we are a same-sex couple and I could not legally reside permanently there.


Interesting. I can understand his trepidation, given the history. And, as per my Venezuelan experience, there is always political risk in owning property abroad- even Brits in France are nervous. You must love the country if you would consider retiring there. I grew up as a protester against the war in Vietnam. As an American who lived through that era it would be fascinating for me to experience the country now. I also love the food...or at least what passes for it here in the USA.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 10:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:And I think drugstores now have a policy of not accepting credit cards to buy loadable debit cards.
Victoria


It depends on which drugstore chain, which specific store, as well as which type of card you buy. I suggest reading
https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/ and http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufact ... nding-719/ .

I think it's very likely you'll be able to find a store that will sell them to you, if you look. It depends how much your time is worth.

Overall, the biggest issue that most people run into when doing manufactured spending is not how to buy the cards, but how to liquidate the cards, so that they can pay back the credit card bills.

There are many available mechanisms for liquidating, but most people on those forums end up getting shutdown after doing too much volume.
If you are only buying a relatively small amount, and don't liquidate the prepaid cards immediately to pay the credit card bill, then it's really quite a good bet that you will be successful. At that point, you would be really doing "prepaid spending" and not "manufactured spending".

The main risks of not liquidating your gift cards immediately is losing them or having them stolen, or fees that can accrue after certain periods of inactivity.

But if you are just buying, say, $1500 of Costco cash cards this quarter, and $1500 of OneVanilla prepaid VISA cards the next quarter, and keep them in a safe place and use them before fees start to accrue, I think you will be completely fine. There are no purchase fees on the Costco cash cards, and no inactivity fee that I'm aware. There are activation fees on the OneVanilla cards that amount to about 1%. So, for purposes of prepaid spending, you are probably better off buying Costco cash cards from Costco or Costco.com than going to drugstores to buy other types of prepaid cards.

I have started tipping my toes in MS. Not in large volume. I bought a single $500 OneVanilla VISA about 3 weeks ago on my CSR, with a $4.95 fee. It took several trips to find a CVS store that would sell it to me.
I then found a way to electronically liquidate it and deposit it into a bank account for zero additional fee (and no, I won't tell, this will get shut down - anyway, it's widely known, and everybody who did this in volume has gotten shutdown).
Today, I bought two more $500 OneVanilla at the same CVS store with my Barclay Arrival+. Cashier was new and it was a huge pain to complete the transaction. I then went to Walgreen and bought a single $500 OneVanilla there with my Citi Prestige.
I am now very close to having satisfied the $5k requirement on my Prestige - and I got that card only on Saturday; also very close for the $3k requirement on my Barclay Arrival+ that I got last Wednesday. To be fair, we did quite a bit of actual furniture spending at Ikea this weekend. I think about 1500 pounds worth of Billy and Besta to cover all the sides of our 3 car garage, and extensions for the high ceiling. This was long overdue. For the first time in 6 years, our garage will be organized. It had become a completely unwalkable jungle.

I hope I will be able to liquidate these three $500 OneVanilla cards tonight with the same method I used last time. I won't be doing any more transactions of this kind on the Prestige and Arrival. I know my method would get shut down. And my husband's CSR is coming later this week with another $4k minimum to satisfy ;)

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:32 pm

protagonist wrote:I randomly chose a departure in January and a return in February.


Usually I start by looking at google flights, which shows prices for different dates on either one-way or round-trips. And then I look year long to see when the fares are lowest. Of course, it's not just the travel date that matters, but the booking date too. But you can usually get a pretty good idea of what the normal lowest economy fare is by doing that. Except that google flights doesn't include any small discount airlines. A few additional airlines can be found on Expedia, but many are still missing.

Do you get an optional stopover in Shanghai if you pay cash?
Have you flown that airline before, and if so are you happy with it?


No, this will be our first time flying with China eastern.

As far as China Eastern not only do you get a free stopover, the fare is lower than roundtrip when you add the Saigon stopover.

One-way SFO-PVG : $577
https://www.google.com/flights/#search; ... KYTEAM;s=0

SFO-PVG roundtrip : $584
https://www.google.com/flights/#search; ... KYTEAM;s=0

SFO-PVG-SGN + SGN-PVG + PVG-SFO : $572
https://www.google.com/flights/#search; ... tt=m;s=1,0
This is the actual itinerary I booked for my husband, on the actual dates. Fare is still the same $572 as it was last week.

So in this case, adding a stopver in Saigon reduces the fare by $12 vs the $584 roundtrip ;) And it's also $5 less than one-way SFO-PVG ;)

As you can see, sometimes, the more stopovers you add to an itinerary, the cheaper the fare gets.
I haven't found any pattern that makes sense for fares. Look at this and then tell me if the prices make any sense !
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/informat ... c-nrt.html
SJC-NRT : $1073 .
Add NRT-SGN : $777
Add SGN-SFO : $711 (looks like this last one is no longer the case now, it goes up to $805, but it was $711 last week).

rue....but even if I had other use for the $300 credit (I probably do), if I can really book the flight for under $700 RT I would prefer saving the points for a more valuable redemption in the future (and collecting the additional points on the journey).


When I redeem the CSR points at 1.5cpp, it is booked as a cash fare, and I will collect frequent flyer miles on the airline. But not credit card points.

Correct. I just canceled my Prestige card when I got CSR. Most of the benefits duplicate, so Prestige seems superfluous after the first year- not worth the additional $150/yr expense.



Yes, many benefits duplicate.

My experience with the CSR and PriorityPass was a poor one. PP or Chase still won't give me the PP number over the phone. It may be 2 more weeks until I receive the actual physical PP card. And I got my CSR the first week it was launched. I used the PP lounge at LAS, paid with the CSR for 2 passes. Had a lot of trouble getting Chase to reimburse for those 2 passes. They finally did. I think the PP membership with Chase renews every year, so this may be an annual ordeal. I hope not. Also, the Chase PP membership does not work with the smartphone PP app. I would say this benefit is very difficult to use as a new cardholder. Citi says they have already mailed the 2 PP cards and we should get them soon. And I already got both our PP numbers and pins from PP. Had a nice chat in French with a guy in the South Africa PP call center over the weekend. PP app was already setup the very first day I received the Prestige. Definitely a win for the Prestige here.

The Prestige and Reserve travel partners are different. And for non-award fares, there is 1.6cpp redemption on AA, which is better than 1.5cpp with Chase.

I haven't decided what we'll do one year from now when our 2 CSRs , 1 Prestige, and Barclay arrival become due for renewal all around the same time. Pretty sure we'll keep at least one of the two CSRs. The AU fee on the Prestige is only $50 vs $75 on the CSR. So we are not adding each other to the CSR. But I added my husband as AU on the Prestige so he could use lounges when we travel separately. The CSR gives free guest access, but only if we're traveling together, and there are several flights that he will be traveling without me. Of course, now, he has his own CSR and will have his own Chase PP membership (though maybe in another 1 month or 2!), so this is moot :)

It's too early to know, but we will probably renew one of the CSRs and the Prestige. Depends if Citi will renew me at the base $350 AF or $450 AF.

The Barclay Arrival+ really doesn't seem to offer much extra that the CSR and Prestige don't, so it's not looking good for that card in the long run . I will probably downgrade it to the no-fee version.

That may make sense. On the other hand it is also getting harder to get new cards, and all the real bang for the buck is in the promotions, so my strategy is somewhat different. Only time will tell which is better.



Yes. I have other reasons to prefer booking cash fares vs award fares (travel insurance refund at unfavorable rate, not earning miles on awards, and general low value <1cpp for award flights that I found).

I only fly economy. But I usually fly to Venezuela in the winter and France during peak summer months....both flights are quite expensive if paying cash and I have always found great deals with points. Venezuela is typically 30K RT


France does look like it will be cheaper with awards indeed, at least with the AF Promo awards - not completely clear for a regular roundtrip award if there is value better than 1.5cpp.
And 1-ways to France can really only be realistically be booked as awards (price goes up 4x for 1-way from roundtrip fare).
Never been to Venezuela.

Workinghard
Posts: 368
Joined: Fri Apr 04, 2014 4:56 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Workinghard » Tue Sep 20, 2016 11:42 pm

@ madbrain, I would be careful about holding onto GCs for any length of time. There are too many DPs of people who went to use them only to find they were drained. Obviously if you have your receipt there is recourse available. Not sure how well that would work 6-12 months later plus the need to float the money. Course anyone doing MS should be able to float the money in case of an issue or not do it at all.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Sep 21, 2016 12:53 am

Workinghard wrote:@ madbrain, I would be careful about holding onto GCs for any length of time. There are too many DPs of people who went to use them only to find they were drained. Obviously if you have your receipt there is recourse available. Not sure how well that would work 6-12 months later plus the need to float the money. Course anyone doing MS should be able to float the money in case of an issue or not do it at all.


Personally, I intend to liquidate them ASAP, not wait 6-12 months. And keep the receipts of course. Yes, I can float those $1500 of OVGC I purchased today, but don't think I will have to.

EDIT: already liquidated 1 of them electronically successfully - $500 have been added to a bank account and are shown as available.
2nd and 3rd not liquidated yet ...

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Sep 21, 2016 6:58 am

madbrain wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:And I think drugstores now have a policy of not accepting credit cards to buy loadable debit cards.
Victoria


It depends on which drugstore chain, which specific store, as well as which type of card you buy. I suggest reading
https://www.reddit.com/r/churning/ and http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufact ... nding-719/ .


Excellent links. Thank you, Madbrain!

As I was browsing various threads, I noticed that China has approved Marriott's acquisition of Starwood hotels. It may be inconsequential, but I feel better about my recent cashing of 20k SPG points for 30k American Airlines miles.

madbrain wrote:But if you are just buying, say, $1500 of Costco cash cards this quarter, and $1500 of OneVanilla prepaid VISA cards the next quarter, and keep them in a safe place and use them before fees start to accrue, I think you will be completely fine. There are no purchase fees on the Costco cash cards, and no inactivity fee that I'm aware. There are activation fees on the OneVanilla cards that amount to about 1%. So, for purposes of prepaid spending, you are probably better off buying Costco cash cards from Costco or Costco.com than going to drugstores to buy other types of prepaid cards.


The easiest thing for me to do is to buy Costco cash cards. I have bought $1,5k worth of Costco cards in 2Q 2016, and still have some money left on them. I can buy additional $1.5k before the end of September and then again in 4Q 2016. But spending $4k in Costco will take me a couple years. On the other hand, I can wait, and possibly buy a computer or other more expensive things at Costco.

I am thinking about it. Thank you,
Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

Generator515
Posts: 75
Joined: Sun Mar 08, 2015 5:33 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Generator515 » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:00 am

madbrain wrote:
protagonist wrote:[color=#FF80FF]

The Prestige and Reserve travel partners are different. And for non-award fares, there is 1.6cpp redemption on AA, which is better than 1.5cpp with Chase.




Believe I read the Prestige is changing the redemption for AA (and all airlines) to be a flat 1.25 redemption rate

2stepsbehind
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:03 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby 2stepsbehind » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:27 am

madbrain wrote:
2stepsbehind wrote:Why wouldn't you look at United?


Good question. I was just looking for the least expensive cash fares first, and using the baseline of 1.5cpp with Chase to book for these flights as cash fares, not award flights. Then, I tried to price the awards for those flights to see if I could get a better point value.
The United flights always had so much higher cash fares that I didn't even bother pricing the awards; I thought it would cost me more in UR points for those awards. I just tried pricing them now - turns out I was right.

For CDG-SFO, once I found the deal on AF at 18,750 Flying Blue miles + $79.56, I just didn't think it was going to get better than that, so I stopped looking.

Interesting to see that United started flying CDG-SFO nonstop again, after they stopped flying that route for over 10 years. Not sure when they started doing it again.

I just checked award costs. The cheapest 1-way saver award costs 30,000 miles + $5.60 in taxes
IMO, this is not as good as the 18,750 Flying blue I got + $79.56 in taxes with Air France.

Even if I redeemed UR points at 1 cpp to pay for the taxes, it would still cost fewer UR points to fly Air France than United, though it would be close - about 27,000 UR points for AF, vs 30,500 for United. I would rather fly Air France than United for the food, though.

For SFO-SGN, United does offer saver awards with a connection in Taipei with Eva with a very good connection time. I just priced the saver award, and it is is 40,000 miles + $5.60, again for 1-way . This is arguably better than the deal I found with Korean. The lowest cash fare is $682 .
So, that gives a value of 1.69cpp which is better than booking with Chase at 1.5cpp for the same flight.

However, if I was paying cash, I would choose the lowest cash fare, and that is not on United. I can fly the exact same SFO-SGN route on China/Vietnam airlines through Taipei for $454 cash price as as I mentioned above - which is much less than $682. I can book that $454 flight as cash fare at 1.5cpp with Chase UR, and thus it costs only about 30,300 UR points to book it. Whereas the United award flight would cost 40,000 UR points to transfer to United to book.

Also, if booking roundtrip, the cash fare is often somewhat less than twice the one-way. Whereas the lowest awards flights to Asia seem to always exactly be twice the cost in miles + taxes (but don't get me started on 1-way flights to Europe that cost 4x the roundtrip cost). What that means is that awards are often going to provide better value for one-way flights, and not as good value for round-trips.
I priced one-way because I have sometimes been making different stopovers on the way back in order to visit another city. But using a roundtrip with an open-jaw in this case can still end up with a better cash fare, assuming they are within the same continent. For my next strip, I am going to Paris first, and then Saigon. Open-jaw are not possible in those cases (or bring up ticket cost to $4k+), and it makes much more sense to book flights segments individually.

Another thing to point out is that booking cash fares and using UR points at 1.5cpp will earn some miles, which is not insignificant on those long distance flights. I will be flying 5583 miles SFO-CDG, 6286 miles CDG-SGN, 1708 miles SGN-PVG, and 6151 miles PVG-SFO . Almost 20,000 miles on one trip. But the first leg was booked as award so it won't earn miles. All others were booked as cash fares. So, I should earn about 14,000 miles. Ideally, I would credit all of them to Flying blue, but I'm not sure if the low cash fares I got with Vietnam Airlines and China Eastern will allow crediting the miles to FB or not ...

Lastly, if my travel gets cancelled for medical reasons, and I booked an award flight after transferring UR points, Chase travel insurance will only reimburse 1 cent per point transferred. Whereas with a cash fare, they will reimburse the listed value of the cash fare - ie. 1.5cpp. This may not matter to most people, but a lot of my travels have been cancelled in the past for medical reasons. Getting only 1cpp back from travel insurance would not be a good value.


That's because of the promo on AF and you missed the promo United had on trips to Europe.

As you've seen for each itinerary you have to compare the cash vs. miles option. The beauty of using miles as opposed to cash at least up until October you could probably get Paris and Saigon all on one awards ticket. The other good thing about miles is if you have to change travel for non-medical reasons you can get your points back with relatively modest cost.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:42 am

2stepsbehind wrote:The other good thing about miles is if you have to change travel for non-medical reasons you can get your points back with relatively modest cost.


I seldom change my travel plans. However, last year I purchased a domestic flight using Delta frequent flyer miles and they did not allow me to cancel it. Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

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

dbr
Posts: 22254
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby dbr » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:46 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

Victoria


Yes. Were you inside 72 hours before flying?

"Delta charges an award ticket redeposit fee of $150, which is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Award tickets not canceled at least 72 hours prior to the originating flight departure time are nonrefundable; however, Delta representatives have been known to grant exceptions.Apr 1, 2015"

Da5id
Posts: 1175
Joined: Fri Feb 26, 2016 8:20 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby Da5id » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:47 am

VictoriaF wrote:The easiest thing for me to do is to buy Costco cash cards. I have bought $1,5k worth of Costco cards in 2Q 2016, and still have some money left on them. I can buy additional $1.5k before the end of September and then again in 4Q 2016. But spending $4k in Costco will take me a couple years. On the other hand, I can wait, and possibly buy a computer or other more expensive things at Costco.

I am thinking about it. Thank you,
Victoria


I wonder if buying vacation/insurance/other things through Costco works out to a good deal? They are excluded the 5% benefit from direct purchases with the Freedom card. But far as I can see you can buy a Costco card with Freedom, get the 5%, use the Costco card to pay for the other excluded purchases. I also found I could pay for expensive prescriptions at Costco, get the 5%, then reimburse myself with from my HSA rather than directly use the HSA debit card. Glasses same deal.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Sep 21, 2016 7:54 am

dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

Victoria


Yes. Were you inside 72 hours before flying?

"Delta charges an award ticket redeposit fee of $150, which is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Award tickets not canceled at least 72 hours prior to the originating flight departure time are nonrefundable; however, Delta representatives have been known to grant exceptions.Apr 1, 2015"


I was trying to cancel my flight several months in advance, because I found cheap cash tickets to the same destination. The $150 redeposit fee would have wiped out any merits of my plan.

Are United reward ticket cancellations always free, or one must have an elite status?

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

dbr
Posts: 22254
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby dbr » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:00 am

VictoriaF wrote:
dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

Victoria


Yes. Were you inside 72 hours before flying?

"Delta charges an award ticket redeposit fee of $150, which is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Award tickets not canceled at least 72 hours prior to the originating flight departure time are nonrefundable; however, Delta representatives have been known to grant exceptions.Apr 1, 2015"


I was trying to cancel my flight several months in advance, because I found cheap cash tickets to the same destination. The $150 redeposit fee would have wiped out any merits of my plan.

Are United reward ticket cancellations always free, or one must have an elite status?

Victoria


I suspect the only airline that allows cost free redeposit of frequent flyer awards for everyone is Southwest, but I don't have my hands on a comprehensive list.

I have changed award tickets on Delta after flying the first half and they didn't charge me anything, but that is not the same as cancelling ahead of time.

User avatar
VictoriaF
Posts: 16641
Joined: Tue Feb 27, 2007 7:27 am
Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby VictoriaF » Wed Sep 21, 2016 8:00 am

Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:The easiest thing for me to do is to buy Costco cash cards. I have bought $1,5k worth of Costco cards in 2Q 2016, and still have some money left on them. I can buy additional $1.5k before the end of September and then again in 4Q 2016. But spending $4k in Costco will take me a couple years. On the other hand, I can wait, and possibly buy a computer or other more expensive things at Costco.

I am thinking about it. Thank you,
Victoria


I wonder if buying vacation/insurance/other things through Costco works out to a good deal? They are excluded the 5% benefit from direct purchases with the Freedom card. But far as I can see you can buy a Costco card with Freedom, get the 5%, use the Costco card to pay for the other excluded purchases. I also found I could pay for expensive prescriptions at Costco, get the 5%, then reimburse myself with from my HSA rather than directly use the HSA debit card. Glasses same deal.


When I have first bought Costco cash cards in 2Q, I checked how I could use them apart from my regular purchases. Costco vacations are very different from how I vacation; I don't go on cruises and packaged trips. I don't use any prescription drugs and hope not to need them in the near future. I thought I might buy new tires for my car, but Costco does not carry right ones (according to their web site).

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

rjbraun
Posts: 862
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby rjbraun » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:39 am

dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

Victoria


Yes. Were you inside 72 hours before flying?

"Delta charges an award ticket redeposit fee of $150, which is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Award tickets not canceled at least 72 hours prior to the originating flight departure time are nonrefundable; however, Delta representatives have been known to grant exceptions.Apr 1, 2015"


I was trying to cancel my flight several months in advance, because I found cheap cash tickets to the same destination. The $150 redeposit fee would have wiped out any merits of my plan.

Are United reward ticket cancellations always free, or one must have an elite status?

Victoria


I suspect the only airline that allows cost free redeposit of frequent flyer awards for everyone is Southwest, but I don't have my hands on a comprehensive list.

I have changed award tickets on Delta after flying the first half and they didn't charge me anything, but that is not the same as cancelling ahead of time.

I was pleasantly surprised when AA did not charge me the cancellation fee to redeposit points last year. I don't recall the exact details, but AA modified the flight schedule slightly on a flight to Europe. I had booked about 330 days prior, so I wasn't so surprised that the schedule could get tweaked slightly closer to the departure date. Still, it went from, say, an early afternoon departure to an 8 a.m. or so departure. In addition to not wanting the stress of rushing to the airport first thing in the day, I also knew that another carrier had a decent fare on a non-stop flight (the AA one was not). Especially as we were more confident about our plans, with the closer departure date, we readily paid cash for the non-stop flight and were happy to have AA redeposit in full our AAdvantage points.

bnes
Posts: 363
Joined: Thu May 22, 2014 12:29 am
Contact:

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby bnes » Wed Sep 21, 2016 11:50 am

My primary goal is simplicity, so I use the Amazon card for Amazon and maybe a restaurant or two, and Citi Double Cash for everything else.
I maintain separate cards for general, work and homowner expenses ( a percentage of which are home office deductible).

dbr
Posts: 22254
Joined: Sun Mar 04, 2007 9:50 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby dbr » Wed Sep 21, 2016 1:18 pm

rjbraun wrote:
dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
dbr wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Are reward cancellation policies airline specific?

Victoria


Yes. Were you inside 72 hours before flying?

"Delta charges an award ticket redeposit fee of $150, which is waived for Diamond and Platinum Medallion members. Award tickets not canceled at least 72 hours prior to the originating flight departure time are nonrefundable; however, Delta representatives have been known to grant exceptions.Apr 1, 2015"


I was trying to cancel my flight several months in advance, because I found cheap cash tickets to the same destination. The $150 redeposit fee would have wiped out any merits of my plan.

Are United reward ticket cancellations always free, or one must have an elite status?

Victoria


I suspect the only airline that allows cost free redeposit of frequent flyer awards for everyone is Southwest, but I don't have my hands on a comprehensive list.

I have changed award tickets on Delta after flying the first half and they didn't charge me anything, but that is not the same as cancelling ahead of time.

I was pleasantly surprised when AA did not charge me the cancellation fee to redeposit points last year. I don't recall the exact details, but AA modified the flight schedule slightly on a flight to Europe. I had booked about 330 days prior, so I wasn't so surprised that the schedule could get tweaked slightly closer to the departure date. Still, it went from, say, an early afternoon departure to an 8 a.m. or so departure. In addition to not wanting the stress of rushing to the airport first thing in the day, I also knew that another carrier had a decent fare on a non-stop flight (the AA one was not). Especially as we were more confident about our plans, with the closer departure date, we readily paid cash for the non-stop flight and were happy to have AA redeposit in full our AAdvantage points.


Yes, one of the tricks with cancellations is to wait and see of there is a schedule change that kicks off a policy of fee free cancellation or change of flights. I think a shift of one or two hours at least will do it as will hitting less than the MCT for a connection.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Sep 21, 2016 4:50 pm

Generator515 wrote:Believe I read the Prestige is changing the redemption for AA (and all airlines) to be a flat 1.25 redemption rate


Well, I guess that will make me question my renewal for Prestige, then.It looks like the Citi Prestige was introduced in 2012, so it was about 4 years before they did this downgrade. Not sure of the whole history of the card.

This is not all that surprising - as I mentioned before, points tend not to be a very stable currency. I suspect Chase will end up taking some benefits away from the CSR as well ultimately, but it's just been introduced, so it will probably be a while.

I wonder what I will redeem my 50k ThankYou points for after they post to my account. I most likely won't have them in time for this upcoming trip in November, and in any case, most other expenses will be covered from other reward cards. I'm also using almost all my vacation time since it's 3 weeks (including 4 weekends). So probably won't be doing that much traveling next year, at least not before Citi change their airfare redemption rate next July.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:22 pm

2stepsbehind wrote:That's because of the promo on AF and you missed the promo United had on trips to Europe.


Yes, I didn't see any promo on United. Do you know how many miles they were for 1-way SFO-CDG ?

As you've seen for each itinerary you have to compare the cash vs. miles option. The beauty of using miles as opposed to cash at least up until October you could probably get Paris and Saigon all on one awards ticket.


Getting all my flights on a single award ticket would have cost over $7000 cash fare.

https://www.google.com/flights/?f=0#sea ... ;s=0,0,0,0

I booked separately and spent as follows on 3 separate tickets :
1) SFO-CDG on AF : 18,750 FB miles + $79.56 taxes
2) CDG-SGN on VN : $504.94
3) SGN-PVG + PVG-SFO on China eastern : $737.27
Total : $1321.77 + 19,000 Chase UR points
But I paid for booking #3 with Chase UR points at 1.5cpp - 49150 to be exact.
So, the total cost is $584.5 + 68,150 Chase UR points.

Also, I will get a $400 travel credit from Barclay due to the signup bonus, which will cover most of the cost of booking #2 . I could not redeem that credit if I did not make at least one cash fare booking. Barclay changed its signup bonus to $500 travel credit last week, just a few days after I applied for the card - but unfortunately too late for me, and they wouldn't match it. That would have covered a sweet 99% of booking #2 ...

Please tell me how I could have done better - ie. with fewer Chase UR points + dollars - for the same itinerary with all 4 nonstop flights. I won't insist that you find award seats on the exact same airlines and on the same dates, but I do only want to fly nonstop.

In this case, my husband is flying the last two flights SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO also; so it was important that we both fly on the same airline on the same date so we can travel together. We are both on China Eastern and have already selected our seats next to each other for those flights.
For his travel, there is only a single booking.

The other good thing about miles is if you have to change travel for non-medical reasons you can get your points back with relatively modest cost.


That's certainly not the case for my Air France SFO-CDG award flight. There are no refunds and no changes allowed on Air France Promo awards. They would refund the taxes in case of cancellation, but not the miles. In case of medical cancellation, Chase travel insurance would reimburse the cost of the 19,000 UR points transferred to FB at 1 cent per mile. Chase will not redeposit the UR points. So, I would only get back $190 + $79.56 or $269.56 if my SFO-CDG departure award flight has to be rescheduled or cancelled.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Wed Sep 21, 2016 5:36 pm

Da5id wrote:I wonder if buying vacation/insurance/other things through Costco works out to a good deal? They are excluded the 5% benefit from direct purchases with the Freedom card. But far as I can see you can buy a Costco card with Freedom, get the 5%, use the Costco card to pay for the other excluded purchases.


Nice try, but no. You can't use a Costco cash card to pay for Costco travel. I just checked this by creating a Costco travel account.
I don't think you can use it to pay for insurance either.

I also found I could pay for expensive prescriptions at Costco, get the 5%, then reimburse myself with from my HSA rather than directly use the HSA debit card. Glasses same deal.


Yes. I never carry my FSA debit card either. I have expensive prescriptions, but I'm with an HMO and I can only buy from the HMO pharmacy - otherwise the insurance won't pay. If I was with another insurer, I would have a cool $60,000 a year of prescription spending to charge on credit cards. Would certainly not need to figure out any MS after that, that would be enough for all the signup bonuses we could possibly want. However, I am with my doctor for 15 years. If I switch insurer at the next open enrollment, I will no longer be able to see him at all. The HMO will not allow non-members to book appointments with him, even if wanting to pay in full.

guitarguy
Posts: 1542
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 4:10 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby guitarguy » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:01 am

madbrain wrote:I have started tipping my toes in MS. Not in large volume. I bought a single $500 OneVanilla VISA about 3 weeks ago on my CSR, with a $4.95 fee. It took several trips to find a CVS store that would sell it to me.
Today, I bought two more $500 OneVanilla at the same CVS store with my Barclay Arrival+. Cashier was new and it was a huge pain to complete the transaction.


This kinda stuff leads me to the "I'm out" decision on MS. It just sounds like such a huge PITA to me...especially for the minor benefits of doing it in such small amounts. I'm out.

Rather I'll correlate getting a new card to a big purchase we have lined up...wife's tuition bill, big home improvement, taxes, etc.

2stepsbehind
Posts: 859
Joined: Wed Jun 20, 2007 10:03 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby 2stepsbehind » Thu Sep 22, 2016 6:45 am

madbrain wrote:
2stepsbehind wrote:That's because of the promo on AF and you missed the promo United had on trips to Europe.


Yes, I didn't see any promo on United. Do you know how many miles they were for 1-way SFO-CDG ?

As you've seen for each itinerary you have to compare the cash vs. miles option. The beauty of using miles as opposed to cash at least up until October you could probably get Paris and Saigon all on one awards ticket.


Getting all my flights on a single award ticket would have cost over $7000 cash fare.

https://www.google.com/flights/?f=0#sea ... ;s=0,0,0,0

I booked separately and spent as follows on 3 separate tickets :
1) SFO-CDG on AF : 18,750 FB miles + $79.56 taxes
2) CDG-SGN on VN : $504.94
3) SGN-PVG + PVG-SFO on China eastern : $737.27
Total : $1321.77 + 19,000 Chase UR points
But I paid for booking #3 with Chase UR points at 1.5cpp - 49150 to be exact.
So, the total cost is $584.5 + 68,150 Chase UR points.

Also, I will get a $400 travel credit from Barclay due to the signup bonus, which will cover most of the cost of booking #2 . I could not redeem that credit if I did not make at least one cash fare booking. Barclay changed its signup bonus to $500 travel credit last week, just a few days after I applied for the card - but unfortunately too late for me, and they wouldn't match it. That would have covered a sweet 99% of booking #2 ...

Please tell me how I could have done better - ie. with fewer Chase UR points + dollars - for the same itinerary with all 4 nonstop flights. I won't insist that you find award seats on the exact same airlines and on the same dates, but I do only want to fly nonstop.

In this case, my husband is flying the last two flights SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO also; so it was important that we both fly on the same airline on the same date so we can travel together. We are both on China Eastern and have already selected our seats next to each other for those flights.
For his travel, there is only a single booking.

The other good thing about miles is if you have to change travel for non-medical reasons you can get your points back with relatively modest cost.


That's certainly not the case for my Air France SFO-CDG award flight. There are no refunds and no changes allowed on Air France Promo awards. They would refund the taxes in case of cancellation, but not the miles. In case of medical cancellation, Chase travel insurance would reimburse the cost of the 19,000 UR points transferred to FB at 1 cent per mile. Chase will not redeposit the UR points. So, I would only get back $190 + $79.56 or $269.56 if my SFO-CDG departure award flight has to be rescheduled or cancelled.


It was ~22,000 miles.

As for the bolded, that's not going to happen. Last I checked you weren't paying me to be your travel agent and to be clear all I've ever suggested on this thread is that people make sure they compare apples to apples. Some would argue that there is a reason that Chinese Eastern is so cheap as compared to the other options. Let us know of your experience.

I was speaking in the context of United when I referenced getting miles back with relatively modest cost (or for free in the event of a schedule change). Hence the suggestion of getting both Paris and Saigon on one award trip before the award chart change. How much would you get back on a paid ticket for non-medical cancellations?

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:36 pm

2stepsbehind wrote:It was ~22,000 miles.


Thanks - that would indeed probably be lower, considering most of the taxes on United awards are usually paid with miles rather than separately.

Edit: not sure if this was the promotion you were referring to. But this one applied only to round-trips, not one way.
https://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/m ... ode=A16231
Anyway, I had 0 Chase UR points by the latest date to book this.

Last I checked you weren't paying me to be your travel agent and to be clear all I've ever suggested on this thread is that people make sure they compare apples to apples.


Well, that's not all you said - you made the claim that I could have done better by booking everything as award, and probably on one ticket. I'm just not seeing how. For all the award fares I have looked, there is no discount for having multiple flight segments on one booking.
Ie. if flight A costs X miles + X' taxes, and flight B costs Y miles + Y' taxes, booking C with both flights A and B on it will costs Z miles = X+Y, and Z' = X' + Y' in taxes. That rule seems to apply regardless of whether the flight segments are for the same route (round-trip) or different routes.
Have you ever found exceptions to that rule ?

The award for SFO-CDG cost 18,750 FB miles + $79.56 . This is the one I booked as there was no other reasonable option for 1-way to Europe.

The award for CDG-SGN was 40,000 FB miles + 173.09 € . I booked this cash instead for 447.52 € on expedia.fr . The award flight only values the miles at 0.68 €, or about $0.76 , so I think I made the right call for this flight.

The award for SGN-PVG is 20,000 FB miles + $85.48 .
The award for PVG-SFO is 40,000 FB miles + $216.69 .

I booked one ticket with the last 2 as cash fare for $738.09 . That values the FB miles at $0.72 .

If I booked all the flights as individual awards, the cost would be 118,750 FB miles + $575.
That is far more than the 68,150 Chase UR points + $584.50 that I paid.

In any case, it's simply not possible to book more than one of these award flights on one ticket.
On Flygingblue, if I try to book a multi-destination award flight, and try with SFO-CDG, it won't let me select CDG-SGN as the second leg. It forces SFO as the return city for that leg. Ie. I can only book a round-trip.

I tried the last 2 legs as award also. No go either. Same problem : if I select SGN-PVG as the first leg, it won't let me select PVG-SFO as the second leg. It forces SGN as the return city for that leg. Ie. I can only book a round-trip.

Basically, it doesn't seem to really be possible to truly book a multi-destination award on Flyingblue. That may be an issue with the web site. It won't let me add a 3rd or 4th leg either, it only allows 2 legs.

Some would argue that there is a reason that Chinese Eastern is so cheap as compared to the other options. Let us know of your experience


I will. I have read that some of their flights tend to be delayed. I am flying SGN-PVG and PVG-SFO on different days, so a delay shouldn't caused too much grief as there is no connection to miss. My husband will fly SFO-PVG and PVG-SGN consecutively, but the layover is about 5 hours, so I think he should be OK too even if the first flight is delayed.

I was speaking in the context of United when I referenced getting miles back with relatively modest cost (or for free in the event of a schedule change). Hence the suggestion of getting both Paris and Saigon on one award trip before the award chart change.


If flying United, it simply would not be possible for me to get both Paris and Saigon on one award ticket. That is because United does not fly nonstop between Paris and Saigon, nor does anyone else in Star Alliance. The only nonstop CDG-SGN flight available in VN10, which is Skyteam, and code share with Air France.

United.com also does not show any nonstop award flight for SGN-PVG .

United does have awards for PVG-SFO, and it is more favorable than the award on Flyingblue for this route :
35k miles + $29.96 as saver award. 80k miles + $29.96 as standard award.

I could purchase SGN-PVG as Flyingblue award flight for 20,000 FB miles + $85.48, and PVG-SFO as United award flight for 35,000 United miles + $29.96.
For these 2 legs, that would cost a total of 55,000 Chase UR points + $115.44 in taxes.
Whereas I booked SGN-PVG + PVG-SFO on China eastern as a cash fare of $738, and total of only 49,000 Chase UR points, and no cash.

Even if flying United for the last leg was cheaper, I would be flying on a different United flight than my husband for PVG-SFO who is on China eastern due to the very cheap fare. But the United award flight is more anyway, so it's moot.

So, I'm still not seeing any other award flight option that could have cost me fewer UR points or cash ;)

How much would you get back on a paid ticket for non-medical cancellations?


As far as non-medical cancellation, how much I would get back would depend on the reason, and whether it's covered by travel insurance or not. If travel insurance does not apply to the situation, I would typically not get anything back if the paid ticket is purchased through an agency. If purchased directly from the airline, I might get be able to get back the taxes.
I'm not really sure why this question matters, anyway. Nearly all the cancellations I have ever had were for medical reasons. But travel insurance also applies to some other situations, though not all. The Chase Sapphire Reserve provides travel insurance for all paid tickets, including tickets booked through Chase UR and redeemed at 1.5cpp.
Last edited by madbrain on Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:54 pm, edited 2 times in total.

ResearchMed
Posts: 4434
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby ResearchMed » Thu Sep 22, 2016 9:52 pm

madbrain...

Have you tried to book a multi-leg routing by calling the airline, not online?
I'm referring to connections for a one-way trip, not a return.

What we had to do was to call the airline whose points we were using, not the airline we were flying.
For one "direction", we've got one connection; for the return, we have two connections (we are flying into Tokyo, but flying home from Osaka).

We've had the same thing earlier this year, including changing airlines (among partners, of course).
That was something like using Amex points, transferring them to Air Canada, and then booking Lufthansa for the first leg out by calling Air Canada.
We then needed to connect for the last leg outbound on a different airline.

My understanding is that there are some awards tickets that do allow stopovers (not merely extended connections) for no additional points, but we've not done that yet.

Some of what we've done could *not* be done online.

By the way, we get third-party travel insurance, and it covers the cost of re-banking the points if we need to cancel. And the taxes/fees are refunded, so there's no loss there.
(But with Amex points, they cannot be re-banked with Amex. They'd need to be re-banked with Air Canada for example.)

Good luck!

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:25 pm

ResearchMed wrote:madbrain...
Have you tried to book a multi-leg routing by calling the airline, not online?
I'm referring to connections for a one-way trip, not a return.


No, I have not.

What we had to do was to call the airline whose points we were using, not the airline we were flying.
For one "direction", we've got one connection; for the return, we have two connections (we are flying into Tokyo, but flying home from Osaka).

We've had the same thing earlier this year, including changing airlines (among partners, of course).
That was something like using Amex points, transferring them to Air Canada, and then booking Lufthansa for the first leg out by calling Air Canada.
We then needed to connect for the last leg outbound on a different airline.

My understanding is that there are some awards tickets that do allow stopovers (not merely extended connections) for no additional points, but we've not done that yet.

Some of what we've done could *not* be done online.


I can certainly believe that the web sites have limitations for award booking - that is certainly frustrating when trying to price a trip.
Did you book multiple award flights on a single ticket ? It sounds like it.

All 4 of my flights can be booked individually as awards, but the FlyingBlue web site won't allow me to book more than 1 at a time for my itinerary - basically, the multi-destination option is broken. I can easily believe that this is a web site issue. I'm just not sure that booking on one ticket would benefit me.
It might make sense to do it if it costs fewer miles + taxes to book all 4 awards on one ticket, as opposed to make separate bookings for each award.
There may be a downside to a single ticket, too, though. For example, if I'm sick on the day of flight #1, it would cancel all the flights afterwards, and if I get better, say, a week later, and want to leave then I have to rebook the whole itinerary, at possibly higher prices if the dates are close.

In any case, I priced the 4 award flights at 118,750 FB miles (which would cost 118,750 Chase UR points) + $575 taxes.

Whereas, by booking only one award flight, and booking the others as cash fares, I ended up with a cost of only 68,150 Chase UR points + $584.

The discount for having 4 award flights on a single ticket would have to be quite high to drop the mileage requirements from 118,750 to somewhere below 68,150 . It would be a 43% discount for grouping the flights. I don't know how likely that is.

By the way, we get third-party travel insurance, and it covers the cost of re-banking the points if we need to cancel. And the taxes/fees are refunded, so there's no loss there.
(But with Amex points, they cannot be re-banked with Amex. They'd need to be re-banked with Air Canada for example.)


I chose not to go with a 3rd party travel insurance for this trip. All the flights were booked on cards that provide trip cancellation, either through Chase UR travel redeeming at 1.5cpp, or on my Barclay Arrival+. For SFO-CDG, though, I transferred 19,000 points from Chase to Flyingblue to pay for the award, and paid the $79.56 of taxes with my Barclay Arrival+. Probably not the wisest decision I made, but I had just received the Arrival+ and had a $3000 spending requirement to meet. This was my first charge on the card.

If that award flight got cancelled, Air France would just refund the taxes, so Barclay Arrival+ trip cancellation coverage wouldn't apply.
In theory, Chase would be responsible for refunding me the 19,000 points at 1 cent/point, ie. $190. Or $187.50, since the flight only cost 18,750 FB miles, and I still have 250 miles left over. I'm not sure if Chase actually would, since I paid the taxes with a different card. I'm not looking forward to making that claim ;)

ResearchMed
Posts: 4434
Joined: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:25 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby ResearchMed » Thu Sep 22, 2016 10:46 pm

madbrain wrote:
<snip>

Did you book multiple award flights on a single ticket ? It sounds like it.

<snip>


I'm not quite sure if we are referring to the same type of ticketing.

By "multiple award flights", are you referring to several legs en route from A to B (such as A - C - D - B)?
That's what I'm trying to describe first (with a reference to full stopovers being allowed with no extra points, but we haven't tried that... yet).
But it's a "single award" for all of the flights, regardless of the routing.

It's not really different (in my mind, anyway; there may be technicalities) than going from JFK to LAX non-stop or going JFK-ORD-LAX, on the "same ticket".

We are definitely looking forward to exploring the free stopover at some point. It's "supposed" to work in some cases... We'll see.

One other thing. We wanted to try Cathay Pacific, but by routing through Hong Kong before Tokyo, we would have been touching down in both "Asia region 1" and "Asia region 2". In that case, apparently we would have needed two separate awards. But I'm still not quite clear on that.
Lots still to learn about all of this.

If you do call in the future for similar awards travel, it might help to start by asking for "International Awards Travel". That seemed to cut through the string of phone reps I encountered at first. Despite telling each one exactly what I was asking for, each of them took way to long to decide they couldn't handle it, and pass me along to someone else, also not in the right section. (There wasn't a separate phone number, which was unfortunate.)

RM
This signature is a placebo. You are in the control group.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Thu Sep 22, 2016 11:28 pm

ResearchMed wrote:By "multiple award flights", are you referring to several legs en route from A to B (such as A - C - D - B)?


Yes. When trying to book multi-destination award, on most airline web sites, you have to select the flights for each leg, and are then quoted a separate price in miles + taxes/fees for each one. At the end, as far as I can see, the miles and taxes are just added up. I have seen no benefit from trying to book multiple legs at once as awards. And in fact, airline web sites tend to disallow many multi-destination routes for award. It seems to be a lot of trouble. The same is true with cash fare - sometimes you just cannot book all the flights from different airline on one ticket, or the price jumps extraordinarily high when you do - for example, my 4 flights, if booked as cash fare on one ticket, cost over $7000 .

That's what I'm trying to describe first (with a reference to full stopovers being allowed with no extra points, but we haven't tried that... yet).
But it's a "single award" for all of the flights, regardless of the routing.


As far as "free stopover", you would have to put different dates for each leg, and compare with the same routing as layover, to find out if the stopover is really free. It certainly seems that stopovers are often free for cash fares, and in fact, sometimes even reduce the ticket cost ! But I have found just the opposite to be true for award flights so far.

It's not really different (in my mind, anyway; there may be technicalities) than going from JFK to LAX non-stop or going JFK-ORD-LAX, on the "same ticket".


Well, JFK to LAX nonstop cannot be split between 2 dates, obviously :)
Whereas a single ticket for JFK-ORD-LAX is really 2 consecutive flights . Sometimes, it does not change the cost whether the interval between those flights is 1h or 7 days. That is often true for cash fares.

We are definitely looking forward to exploring the free stopover at some point. It's "supposed" to work in some cases... We'll see.


Definitely works for cash fares. Have yet to see it work for any award :)

One other thing. We wanted to try Cathay Pacific, but by routing through Hong Kong before Tokyo, we would have been touching down in both "Asia region 1" and "Asia region 2". In that case, apparently we would have needed two separate awards. But I'm still not quite clear on that.
Lots still to learn about all of this.


I plead complete ignorance of those airline rules and the various regions.

If you do call in the future for similar awards travel, it might help to start by asking for "International Awards Travel". That seemed to cut through the string of phone reps I encountered at first. Despite telling each one exactly what I was asking for, each of them took way to long to decide they couldn't handle it, and pass me along to someone else, also not in the right section. (There wasn't a separate phone number, which was unfortunate.)


I might do it some day, probably not soon, since all my vacation days are getting used for this upcoming 3 week trip in November. I understand Air France only has web support during US hours, but for complex award bookings I probably would need to call their office in France, at night for me, which is fine.

madbrain
Posts: 4303
Joined: Thu Jun 09, 2011 5:06 pm
Location: San Jose, California

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Postby madbrain » Fri Sep 23, 2016 12:18 am

madbrain wrote:
protagonist wrote:My preliminary research (today) has led me to Mui Ne, Vietnam, which is supposedly quite beautiful and also a windsurfing destination.


I have not heard of or been to Mui Ne. I will ask my husband later tonight.


So, I asked. He has never been himself. He heard it's very nice, some of his family members have been.
It looks like it's a 4hr drive to the west from Saigon. We are likely going to see Phu Quoc island this year, which is a short flight to the east. And cheap too : $31 roundtrip on Vietjet.


Return to “Personal Finance (Not Investing)”