rjbraun wrote:Interesting. Can you provide some general guidelines for how much spending one should be prepared to do to rack up sizable point balances to fly business class internationally, let's say, twice a year.
I realize that a bunch of factors will influence the answer, but, back of the envelope, if a round-trip business class ticket to Europe is, on average, 200,000 points (that's a guess, I don't really know), then maybe one would need 3-4 sign-up bonuses (assuming 50k to 70k sign-up bonus) with a required minimum average spend of $4000 per card. So, one would need to spend ~$30,000 for two round-trip tickets each year. And double that if we're talking about two people traveling together. And then even more if one of the trips were to Asia.
Does this sound reasonable?
Biz class award tickets to Europe are, at worst, 140K miles roundtrip on saver awards. And you can do better than that. For instance, with Air Canada's Aeroplan program (Amex MR transfer partner), you can fly to Western Europe for 110K miles roundtrip.
Asia is not substantially more. You can fly anywhere in the world biz class roundtrip with 160K United or AA miles. And it can be substantially less. You can use Alaska miles to fly to Asia for 100K roundtrip biz class on either Cathay Pacific or American Airlines.
So just as an example, let's say you wanted to plan a trip to Europe and a trip to Asia for 2 people. Asia with Alaska Air is easy: each of you gets 2 cards (cards are very churnable), each card gives you 30K miles with $1K spend, so you've got enough to get to Asia with $4K spend. There is a $99 annual fee with this card so you'd be in for $396 in cash as well.
For Europe, you could go with Chase URs transferred to United--each get the Chase Ink Business Preferred (80K bonus) as well as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (50K bonus plus 5K for adding authorized user) and that's 135K miles plus the miles you'd get for spending on the intro bonuses would take you well over 140K. The Ink card has a $5K intro spend and the Preferred has a $4K intro spend, so that's another $18K in spend there. Ink has a $95 annual fee so you'd be in for another $190 in cash too.
So there you go: $22K in spend and $586 in annual fees can get 2 people to Europe and Asia in biz class.
The Europe stuff is not repeatable as you won't be able to get those cards a second time. But as you get more into the points game, you'll figure out how to keep collecting points to facilitate what you want to do. Also, I don't think it's worth it to fly biz class from Europe to the US, as those flights are during the day and I am happy in Economy watching movies on my tablet. If you feel the same, that's an easy way to save a lot of miles--biz class to Europe and economy return.