What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:37 pm

Drew777 wrote:It's pretty much impossible to use them for flights to Australia, or to Europe without flying BA and paying huge fuel surcharges. Well, not impossible, but for the average person who doesn't know all the tricks it's essentially impossible. There is plenty of availability to Asia though, and South America is decent. If you book far enough in advance domestic flights are usually possible as well.


I think the other strong award with them is for use on Qatar. For instance, biz class to Middle East or India for 70K miles, to Africa for 75K miles (including all the way down to Jo'berg). Qatar Air flies to Doha from a bunch of US cities, and their biz class product is supposed to be very good, especially on the A350s, which fly out of Boston, JFK, and Philly. Starting this Summer, they're going to start rolling out a new biz class product which is supposed to be industry leading.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/grantmarti ... 5ac75066ab

But still, I generally concur that AA miles stink. Star Alliance really seems to be where it's at these days.

jh-1391
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jh-1391 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:57 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Drew777 wrote:It's pretty much impossible to use them for flights to Australia, or to Europe without flying BA and paying huge fuel surcharges. Well, not impossible, but for the average person who doesn't know all the tricks it's essentially impossible. There is plenty of availability to Asia though, and South America is decent. If you book far enough in advance domestic flights are usually possible as well.


I think the other strong award with them is for use on Qatar. For instance, biz class to Middle East or India for 70K miles, to Africa for 75K miles (including all the way down to Jo'berg). Qatar Air flies to Doha from a bunch of US cities, and their biz class product is supposed to be very good, especially on the A350s, which fly out of Boston, JFK, and Philly. Starting this Summer, they're going to start rolling out a new biz class product which is supposed to be industry leading.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/grantmarti ... 5ac75066ab

But still, I generally concur that AA miles stink. Star Alliance really seems to be where it's at these days.


I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.

Star Alliance (United) has been eh for me lately. Economy availability is fine, but business/first anywhere has been subpar.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:02 am

jh-1391 wrote:Star Alliance (United) has been eh for me lately. Economy availability is fine, but business/first anywhere has been subpar.


Huh....I've had good success with Star Alliance international award availability. I also really like Aeroplan's 55K award price for biz between the US and Western Europe. Significantly cheaper than the 70K I'd pay for United partner awards, and I really have no way of getting more United miles at this point since I'm way over 5/24, but I can still get more Amex points to transfer to Aeroplan.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:21 am

jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?

jh-1391
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jh-1391 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:56 am

Bfwolf wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


I just booked business class to Italy and the worst I paid for fuel surcharges was $280. Which is completely reasonable in my opinion for a decent business/first itinerary. I haven't looked a ton at other routes at other times, so it could be an issue, but the few times I've wanted to book with them I've been pleased with the value I've been able to get.

jh-1391
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jh-1391 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:57 am

Bfwolf wrote:Huh....I've had good success with Star Alliance international award availability. I also really like Aeroplan's 55K award price for biz between the US and Western Europe. Significantly cheaper than the 70K I'd pay for United partner awards, and I really have no way of getting more United miles at this point since I'm way over 5/24, but I can still get more Amex points to transfer to Aeroplan.


I'll take a look at Aeroplan again. I tend to default to United since I have plenty of URs, but I always forget about Amex and Aeroplan.

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 6:45 am

Bfwolf wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


Not if you fly on Delta metal. I'm flying to Munich for Oktoberfest and returning from Dublin, both legs in business class, and only paid about $80 in taxes and fees.

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

Post by guitarguy » Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:18 am

Drew777 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


Not if you fly on Delta metal. I'm flying to Munich for Oktoberfest and returning from Dublin, both legs in business class, and only paid about $80 in taxes and fees.


What miles/points did you cash in for this trip?

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

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:35 am

jh-1391 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:Huh....I've had good success with Star Alliance international award availability. I also really like Aeroplan's 55K award price for biz between the US and Western Europe. Significantly cheaper than the 70K I'd pay for United partner awards, and I really have no way of getting more United miles at this point since I'm way over 5/24, but I can still get more Amex points to transfer to Aeroplan.


I'll take a look at Aeroplan again. I tend to default to United since I have plenty of URs, but I always forget about Amex and Aeroplan.


Well, Aeroplan is not going to find more Star Alliance availability if that is your problem. In fact, it has LESS availability than United when going to Europe because United has a partnership with Aer Lingus (for now) outside of Star Alliance. And Aeroplan charges fuel surcharges on some airlines but not others...when going to Europe you really have to avoid Lufthansa and Air Canada but can still go with United, SAS, Swiss, Austrian, Turkish. United of course charges no fuel surcharges period. But the 55K Aeroplan vs 70K United price is definitely in Aeroplan's favor.

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:25 pm

guitarguy wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


Not if you fly on Delta metal. I'm flying to Munich for Oktoberfest and returning from Dublin, both legs in business class, and only paid about $80 in taxes and fees.


What miles/points did you cash in for this trip?


I transferred American Express Membership Rewards to Flying Blue.

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

Post by guitarguy » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:45 pm

Drew777 wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I have actually had decent luck with redemptions and availability on SkyTeam. Some of their itineraries aren't the greatest, but the points are easy to earn and availability has been good.


Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


Not if you fly on Delta metal. I'm flying to Munich for Oktoberfest and returning from Dublin, both legs in business class, and only paid about $80 in taxes and fees.


What miles/points did you cash in for this trip?


I transferred American Express Membership Rewards to Flying Blue.


Flying Blue seems like a nice option if you live near a Delta hub. About how many miles does it cost for business class on delta via FB?

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

Post by giesen5 » Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:36 pm

Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.

Drew777
Posts: 594
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:48 am

guitarguy wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
Don't the fuel surcharges on Skyteam get in the way of good redemption value frequently?


Not if you fly on Delta metal. I'm flying to Munich for Oktoberfest and returning from Dublin, both legs in business class, and only paid about $80 in taxes and fees.


What miles/points did you cash in for this trip?


I transferred American Express Membership Rewards to Flying Blue.


Flying Blue seems like a nice option if you live near a Delta hub. About how many miles does it cost for business class on delta via FB?


It was 125k roundtrip in business class.

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

Post by protagonist » Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:06 pm

giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.


Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?

giesen5
Posts: 262
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Location: Bellingham, WA

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:18 pm

protagonist wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.

Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?


Biggest advantage is that it is not a Chase card for those over 5/24.

SRenaeP
Posts: 610
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by SRenaeP » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:20 pm

protagonist wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.


Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?


I wouldn't think people would get this in lieu of the CSR but after the CSR. I don't plan to keep the CSR long enough to get hit with a second annual fee.

-Steph

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

Post by rjbraun » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:33 pm

jh-1391 wrote:I just booked business class to Italy and the worst I paid for fuel surcharges was $280. Which is completely reasonable in my opinion for a decent business/first itinerary. I haven't looked a ton at other routes at other times, so it could be an issue, but the few times I've wanted to book with them I've been pleased with the value I've been able to get.

Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.

Doom&Gloom
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Apr 20, 2017 3:41 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
protagonist wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.


Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?


I wouldn't think people would get this in lieu of the CSR but after the CSR. I don't plan to keep the CSR long enough to get hit with a second annual fee.

-Steph


That will probably be the optimal strategy with this card as well. I got the Cash+ card from USBank when it was a "great" card. Not long afterwards they began nerfing the benefits. I still have it but only use it for a few, select merchants.

USBank doesn't appear to want to offer something that might turn out to be "too good." That's fine, and I don't blame them. Likewise, I don't want cards that are of less benefit to me than other cards.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:49 am

rjbraun wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:I just booked business class to Italy and the worst I paid for fuel surcharges was $280. Which is completely reasonable in my opinion for a decent business/first itinerary. I haven't looked a ton at other routes at other times, so it could be an issue, but the few times I've wanted to book with them I've been pleased with the value I've been able to get.

Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


He was flying Skyteam, presumably with Delta miles. Not on United. United doesn't charge fuel surcharges for themselves or any of their partners.

jh-1391
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by jh-1391 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:25 am

rjbraun wrote:Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


I was able to find 70,000 one way on delta metal for $5.60 in taxes from SAT to Rome in January, then 67,500 and $280 from Florence to SAT on flying blue. I transferred from Amex MRs and Citi TYPs (to FB...I had 60,000 to burn which was the main motivation for this trip), which cost about $50 to transfer to Delta with MRs. So, all in all, 137,500 and $320 for business class.

I had trouble finding award availability from the US to Italy on Flying Blue, but no issue on delta. Coming back on Flying Blue there was a ton of availability.

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

Post by guitarguy » Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:57 am

jh-1391 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


I was able to find 70,000 one way on delta metal for $5.60 in taxes from SAT to Rome in January, then 67,500 and $280 from Florence to SAT on flying blue. I transferred from Amex MRs and Citi TYPs (to FB...I had 60,000 to burn which was the main motivation for this trip), which cost about $50 to transfer to Delta with MRs. So, all in all, 137,500 and $320 for business class.

I had trouble finding award availability from the US to Italy on Flying Blue, but no issue on delta. Coming back on Flying Blue there was a ton of availability.


With all these business class rewards, all seems good when you're looking for single tickets. 130k points isn't that bad. Seems like the prices (miles needed) becomes pretty steep though when you're always booking tickets in pairs.

I guess I just need to stock pile more miles if we ever want to fly somewhere business class.

Gustie13
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Gustie13 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:19 am

giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.


I'm pretty Meh about this card.
- It's essentially a brand new type of point separate from URs, MRs, TYPs, FlexPerks etc that would need to be accumulated (although you can transfer FlexPerks TO it, you can't transfer these points TO FlexPerks, which is weird to me).
- 50K points is average at best for a signup bonus (with some exceptions, like the FlexPerks and Starwood cards), and frankly not very good for a premium card.
- I personally find the US Bank travel booking site to be pretty non-user-friendly.

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

Post by heartwood » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:29 am

I currently have an AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card paying 3% at supermarkets and lesser amounts for other categories. The card has no fee.

There's currently an offer to switch to their Blue Cash Preferred card for $95 a year and receive 10% on restaurants for up to $2000 in purchases or 6 months whichever comes first, plus $150 in a sign up bonus after spending $1000 in 3 months, total up to $350. This card rebates supermarkets at 6% on up to $6000 in purchases per year as a statement credit. The offer expires May 3.

Have there been better offers for this card in the past?

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

Post by Gadget » Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:54 pm

I use an old American Express blue cash that you can't get anymore that is 5 percent on gas groceries and drug stores after spending 6500 for the year. 1 percent otherwise. Then I have the Amazon prime visa card for 5 percent on all Amazon purchases. Then a citi double cash card at 2 percent for everything else.

I prefer the cash back route for added flexibility. Even though I know you can technically get more back on some of the travel cards when used for travel.

giesen5
Posts: 262
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Location: Bellingham, WA

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by giesen5 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:33 pm

heartwood wrote:I currently have an AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card paying 3% at supermarkets and lesser amounts for other categories. The card has no fee.

There's currently an offer to switch to their Blue Cash Preferred card for $95 a year and receive 10% on restaurants for up to $2000 in purchases or 6 months whichever comes first, plus $150 in a sign up bonus after spending $1000 in 3 months, total up to $350. This card rebates supermarkets at 6% on up to $6000 in purchases per year as a statement credit. The offer expires May 3.

Have there been better offers for this card in the past?


This is a good offer. I use this as an everyday card (if not meeting spend on another card and if for some reason I can't hit 30 transactions I load up my amazon gift card at .50 a pop. Pretty easy.

sharpjm
Posts: 653
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:41 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by sharpjm » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:46 pm

protagonist wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.


Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?


It is $75 cheaper because the travel credit is $25 higher + $50 less AF.

The biggest benefit is 3x through mobile payments (apple pay, android pay, samsung pay, etc). Basically anywhere that accepts those payments you'll get 3x points (4.5%) back. It has all of the same benefits as CSR except capability to transfer points to parters and a very robust travel insurance program.

sharpjm
Posts: 653
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2015 2:41 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by sharpjm » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:48 pm

giesen5 wrote:
protagonist wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Ohhhhhhh, exciting news, rumor of a new card from US Bank: http://www.doctorofcredit.com/confirmed ... uirements/

Cliff notes:
From US Bank, annual fee $400
$325 annual travel credits, so really a $75 card if you use the travel credits
3x on mobile payments (NFC transactions)
3x on travel
1x on everything else
50,000 points for $4500 in 3 months (no travel partners)

Supposed to be available, only in branch, starting May 2nd. Also word that you need to have an account with them to get the card, but YMMV.

Strikes me as being quite inferior to Chase Sapphire Reserve and only $50 cheaper. What are advantages?


Biggest advantage is that it is not a Chase card for those over 5/24.

US Bank is extremely stingy with CC approvals and there's a decent chance that many folks over 5/24 will be denied for this card also.

guitarguy
Posts: 1651
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by guitarguy » Fri Apr 21, 2017 1:58 pm

giesen5 wrote:
heartwood wrote:I currently have an AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card paying 3% at supermarkets and lesser amounts for other categories. The card has no fee.

There's currently an offer to switch to their Blue Cash Preferred card for $95 a year and receive 10% on restaurants for up to $2000 in purchases or 6 months whichever comes first, plus $150 in a sign up bonus after spending $1000 in 3 months, total up to $350. This card rebates supermarkets at 6% on up to $6000 in purchases per year as a statement credit. The offer expires May 3.

Have there been better offers for this card in the past?


This is a good offer. I use this as an everyday card (if not meeting spend on another card and if for some reason I can't hit 30 transactions I load up my amazon gift card at .50 a pop. Pretty easy.


I don't think the BCP card gives any sort of bonus for hitting minimum number of transactions.

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

Post by giesen5 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 2:13 pm

guitarguy wrote:
giesen5 wrote:
heartwood wrote:I currently have an AMEX Blue Cash Everyday card paying 3% at supermarkets and lesser amounts for other categories. The card has no fee.

There's currently an offer to switch to their Blue Cash Preferred card for $95 a year and receive 10% on restaurants for up to $2000 in purchases or 6 months whichever comes first, plus $150 in a sign up bonus after spending $1000 in 3 months, total up to $350. This card rebates supermarkets at 6% on up to $6000 in purchases per year as a statement credit. The offer expires May 3.

Have there been better offers for this card in the past?


This is a good offer. I use this as an everyday card (if not meeting spend on another card and if for some reason I can't hit 30 transactions I load up my amazon gift card at .50 a pop. Pretty easy.


I don't think the BCP card gives any sort of bonus for hitting minimum number of transactions.


O crap, I misread. I was thinking it was going from Preferred to Everyday. My bad!

MikeG62
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by MikeG62 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:08 am

guitarguy wrote:...
5. Chase Freedom Visa
  • 5% back on quarterly rotating categories up to $1500 per quarter, 1% on everything else
  • $0 annual fee
  • Used for the 5% rotating categories only. The categories are typically some form of gas, grocery, restaurants, and holiday shopping. We skip the gas quarter and just use PenFed as always. Typically we max the out the $1500 limit on Home Depot or other gift cards (for things we will buy anyways) at the grocery store during that quarter, and we use it when we eat at restaurants during that quarter (but we never hit $1500...that would be un-Boglehead-like I suppose :mrgreen: ). For holiday shopping we use it as applicable, and if Amazon is included we use this instead of the Amazon Visa during that timeframe.


I use many of the same cards as you. And like you, I typically use my pen fed card for gas purchases. However, it recently occurred to me (now that I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve as well as the Chase Freedom) that if I charge gas to the Chase Freedom in the quarters when Chase is offering the 5% cash back on gas and monetize the points through the UR portal, I am going to get 7.5% in value for each dollar charged. Seems like a better deal to charge gas to the Freedom card in those quarters vs using the Pen Fed card. Also, am doing this with grocery store charges this quarter - 5% is 7.5% through UR which beats the 6% on Amex preferred. We will hit the $6,000 6% cap on groceries in about 7 months, so we are not leaving money on the table with this strategy.

One other comment, Amazon Prime store card pays 5% on all Amazon purchases. Signed up for that one when it first came out. Better than the Amazon Visa you are using for Amazon purchases as long as you are a prime member.

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

Post by gvsucavie03 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:52 am

MikeG62 wrote:I use many of the same cards as you. And like you, I typically use my pen fed card for gas purchases. However, it recently occurred to me (now that I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve as well as the Chase Freedom) that if I charge gas to the Chase Freedom in the quarters when Chase is offering the 5% cash back on gas and monetize the points through the UR portal, I am going to get 7.5% in value for each dollar charged. Seems like a better deal to charge gas to the Freedom card in those quarters vs using the Pen Fed card. Also, am doing this with grocery store charges this quarter - 5% is 7.5% through UR which beats the 6% on Amex preferred. We will hit the $6,000 6% cap on groceries in about 7 months, so we are not leaving money on the table with this strategy.


Similarly, we are using the Chase Freedom 5% grocery category this quarter instead of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred 6% grocery card. Chase has a $150 bonus for $500 spent in the first 3 months, but since we will spend well over $6,000 per year in groceries, we are taking advantage of the 5% category now and will go back to the Amex after we've met the $1,500 limit on the 5%.

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

Post by OffTheGrid » Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:26 am

Posting here to get some advice on our cash back strategy...

Goal: Primary goal is cash back, but because we live far away from friends and family we keep a travel card on hand for flights.

Cards:

  • CapOne Quicksilver -- 1.5% cash back on everything + no fee. We use this for basically everything (that isn't a flight or hotel purchase).
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred -- 2x on travel purchases. We use this for flights and hotels, mostly. Signed up originally to get the 50,000 miles bonus and we'll be using our rewards on a big international trip at the end of the year.

Rewards: Redeem cash back monthly in the form of statement credits. Chase rewards are saved up for flights.

I realize our cash-back strategy isn't very "aggressive." Partly, this is because I don't like having a lot of cards (and I also just feel really good about having "0 inquiries" on our credit report and haven't applied for new ones in ages). But also because its been hard to find a card that actually works for us... So I'm wondering if anyone here has some advice/input on our situation. Specifically, does anyone have a strategy for dealing with grocery purchases that end up NOT getting "counted" as grocery purchases (because the bank doesn't categorize it that way)? My strategy has been to just put everything on our CapOne Quicksilver because I *know* I'm getting 1.5% back no matter what, but I'm certainly tempted by some better cash-back card offers.. especially the Blue Cash Everyday AmEx or the Chase Freedom. We have a tight budget, and the bulk of our monthly purchases are simply groceries, some fuel, and cell phone bill -- plus a very little bit of dining and shopping. So a good grocery/fuel perks card would be ideal for us... However we live in a VERY rural area, so rural we don't even live near a WalMart (yeah...) -- I'm under the impression some of these small stores and gas stations are often not categorized as grocery or fuel purchases by the banks. Not to mention not everyone takes AmEx or Discover... so I stick with MC and Visa. On top of this, most of our actual purchases are online and I know online groceries are often not counted. For example: Thrive Market is one place we consistently buy from, but I've heard it isn't counted as a grocery store by AmEx. While we used to make lots of Amazon purchases, we've really scaled down on this and it no longer makes up a significant percentage of our purchases.

So what would you do? Is there a better "all-in" cash back card I should look at? Has anyone else dealt with problems getting banks to categorize their local supermarkets or online retailers correctly?

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

Post by giesen5 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:08 pm

gvsucavie03 wrote:
MikeG62 wrote:I use many of the same cards as you. And like you, I typically use my pen fed card for gas purchases. However, it recently occurred to me (now that I have the Chase Sapphire Reserve as well as the Chase Freedom) that if I charge gas to the Chase Freedom in the quarters when Chase is offering the 5% cash back on gas and monetize the points through the UR portal, I am going to get 7.5% in value for each dollar charged. Seems like a better deal to charge gas to the Freedom card in those quarters vs using the Pen Fed card. Also, am doing this with grocery store charges this quarter - 5% is 7.5% through UR which beats the 6% on Amex preferred. We will hit the $6,000 6% cap on groceries in about 7 months, so we are not leaving money on the table with this strategy.


Similarly, we are using the Chase Freedom 5% grocery category this quarter instead of the Amex Blue Cash Preferred 6% grocery card. Chase has a $150 bonus for $500 spent in the first 3 months, but since we will spend well over $6,000 per year in groceries, we are taking advantage of the 5% category now and will go back to the Amex after we've met the $1,500 limit on the 5%.


I use a similar strategy.

Groceries: my Freedom (5x), then my wife's Freedom (5x) and then Amex EDP (4.5x)
Restaurants: Amex Blue for business (10x for $2000 in first 6 months) and then Sapphire Preferred (2x)
Gas: Amex EDP (3x)
Everything else: Amex EDP (2x for first year), Freedom Unlimited (1.5x) where Amex not accepted.

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

Post by FedGuy » Sat Apr 22, 2017 1:03 pm

OffTheGrid wrote:Is there a better "all-in" cash back card I should look at? Has anyone else dealt with problems getting banks to categorize their local supermarkets or online retailers correctly?

I'm aware of two no-annual fee cards that offer 2% cash back across the board. Specifically:

1) The Citi Double Cash card. They make this a bit more complicated than it needs to be, but essentially it's a 2% cash back card that, to my knowledge, doesn't require any other relationship with Citi (just don't redeem your cash back for statement credit, because then you end up with slightly less than 2% cash back because of the way they structure it, which I don't even want to go into because it sounds a lot more complicated than it is). This is a Mastercard.
2)The Fidelity Rewards Visa Signature card. This is a straight 2% cash back card. The cash must be redeemed into a Fidelity account; you can set up a "Cash Management Account," which is pretty much just a checking account, with minimal fuss, though I understand that some people don't like to have to open another account just to deal with something like this.

I'd strongly encourage you to consider getting one of the above. Why earn 1.5% cash back when you can earn 2.0% cash back?

(Having said that, you should keep the QuickSilver card, and use it a couple of times a year to keep it active, since QuickSilver charges no foreign exchange fee. I believe the two cards above both do, so you might want to hang on to QuickSilver in the event that works out better for foreign travel. I understand that the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn't charge a foreign exchange fee either, so disregard if you're sure you'll hang on to the Preferred card, but if there's any chance you'll cancel it in the future you might want to keep QuickSilver as a backup.)

Regarding your question about supermarkets, that's the frustrating part about cards like this. I'd suggest you consider getting the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card, which has no annual fee, and make small purchases at the various stores (both online and brick & mortar) from which you buy groceries. Then wait until you get your statement and see if the various purchases were categorized as 3% or 1% cash back. Amex doesn't make it easy in the sense that they don't give you a store-by-store breakdown of how much cash you got back, but you can always call and ask the customer service representatives to tell you how much cash back you got for each purchase. Sometimes you can even figure it out for yourself by working backwards from how much cash back you got, but that depends on how many purchases you make and whether or not you charge similar amounts at each.

Good luck!

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

Post by OffTheGrid » Sat Apr 22, 2017 4:42 pm

Thanks FedGuy -- I had heard of (but was confused by) the Citi Double Cash card... I just don't understand why it isn't a straight 2% cash back. Seems so weird. I wasn't actually aware of the Fidelity Visa, so thanks for the tip! I'll look into both of these a little more, while considering the Amex BCE.

Also, since I've posted last, I've heard that Thrive Market purchases *do* count as grocery purchases with Chase Freedom (which, as I understand, are getting 5% back now through June). I know this is especially specific, but if anyone can confirm this or knows if Thrive is categorized correctly with any other banks that would be great to know.

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

Post by FedGuy » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:33 pm

Yeah, Citi markets it as a "simple" card, which it's really not, with their "You get 1% cash back when you buy, and another 1% cash back when you pay!" nonsense. But it does, with one exception, work out to be a 2% card (assuming you pay all your bills in full and on time). If you charge $100, you earn $1 cash back, and then when you pay your $100 bill, you earn another $1 cash back. The end result is that you earn $2 cash back, or 2%.

The exception is if you get a statement credit. In the above example, if you charge $100, earn $1 cash back, and take it as a statement credit,* then your bill will come to $99. When you pay it, you'll only earn $0.99 cash back. You lose a penny because the statement credit reduced the amount you pay, so you only get 1.99% cash back in total. The solution is to take your cash back in another form, such as having them mail you a check. I have a Citi account and have them deposit the cash back in my savings account rather than giving it to me as a statement credit.

* Taking a $1 statement credit isn't actually possible because cash back is subject to a minimum--I forget whether it's $25 or $50--but this example is intended to illustrate how the math works.

I've been surveyed by Citi and have told them that I think this card is more complicated than it should be, but I guess they don't much care about what I have to say. Or they're worried that they'll have to change the name of the card if they change the reward structure.

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

Post by gvsucavie03 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:55 pm

FedGuy wrote:Yeah, Citi markets it as a "simple" card, which it's really not, with their "You get 1% cash back when you buy, and another 1% cash back when you pay!" nonsense. But it does, with one exception, work out to be a 2% card (assuming you pay all your bills in full and on time). If you charge $100, you earn $1 cash back, and then when you pay your $100 bill, you earn another $1 cash back. The end result is that you earn $2 cash back, or 2%.

The exception is if you get a statement credit. In the above example, if you charge $100, earn $1 cash back, and take it as a statement credit,* then your bill will come to $99. When you pay it, you'll only earn $0.99 cash back. You lose a penny because the statement credit reduced the amount you pay, so you only get 1.99% cash back in total. The solution is to take your cash back in another form, such as having them mail you a check. I have a Citi account and have them deposit the cash back in my savings account rather than giving it to me as a statement credit.

* Taking a $1 statement credit isn't actually possible because cash back is subject to a minimum--I forget whether it's $25 or $50--but this example is intended to illustrate how the math works.

I've been surveyed by Citi and have told them that I think this card is more complicated than it should be, but I guess they don't much care about what I have to say. Or they're worried that they'll have to change the name of the card if they change the reward structure.


Still better than 1.5%. This is my catch-all card of it isn't groceries or gas.

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

Post by Hat » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:17 am

FedGuy wrote:I'm aware of two no-annual fee cards that offer 2% cash back across the board.


Pentagon Federal Credit Union has a straight 2% cash back card if you have their checking account.

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

Post by Hat » Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:27 am

OffTheGrid wrote:Is there a better "all-in" cash back card I should look at?


Alliant Credit Union has a $59 annual fee straight 2.5% cash back card. The break even annual spend compared to a 2% no-fee card is $11800.

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

Post by SimonJester » Sun Apr 23, 2017 2:44 pm

SimonJester wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:Just finished the Wells Fargo $150 bonus with 1k spend.


How long did it take them to payout the bonus? They are telling me you have to wait until the 90 days is up then one more statement cycle before the bonus will hit...



Just in case anyone is wondering, my bonus on the Wells Cash Wise Visa payed out exactly 1 day after the 3 month mark...
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

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

Post by madbrain » Sun Apr 23, 2017 6:30 pm

sharpjm wrote:US Bank is extremely stingy with CC approvals and there's a decent chance that many folks over 5/24 will be denied for this card also.


It indeed took 2.5 weeks after application going through underwriting and speaking to them on the phone, but I was ultimately able to get approved for a US Bank Cash+ VISA just 5 days ago. I have gotten at least 12 new cards in the last year. Not sure if I will try for the Altitude or not when it comes out.

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pennstater2005
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by pennstater2005 » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:28 pm

SimonJester wrote:
SimonJester wrote:
pennstater2005 wrote:Just finished the Wells Fargo $150 bonus with 1k spend.


How long did it take them to payout the bonus? They are telling me you have to wait until the 90 days is up then one more statement cycle before the bonus will hit...



Just in case anyone is wondering, my bonus on the Wells Cash Wise Visa payed out exactly 1 day after the 3 month mark...


Same here. It was a long wait. I almost forgot about it. I met the spend requirement very quickly as I made a large purchase with it. Got some Lowes gift cards. There was a nice feature where I could buy out the remaining points to get an additional gift card otherwise I would have left $15 on the reward account
unredeemed.
“Life is short, Break the Rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile" - Unknown

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

Post by rjbraun » Sun Apr 23, 2017 10:16 pm

Hat wrote:
FedGuy wrote:I'm aware of two no-annual fee cards that offer 2% cash back across the board.


Pentagon Federal Credit Union has a straight 2% cash back card if you have their checking account.

Capital One Spark offers 2% back, but it's a business card. I applied at a branch and the card has no annual fee. I think if you apply online there's an annual fee ($59?), but you also stand to get something like $500 cash back with some minimum spend. Like other Cap One cards, Spark doesn't have fx fees on foreign transactions.

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:36 am

guitarguy wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


I was able to find 70,000 one way on delta metal for $5.60 in taxes from SAT to Rome in January, then 67,500 and $280 from Florence to SAT on flying blue. I transferred from Amex MRs and Citi TYPs (to FB...I had 60,000 to burn which was the main motivation for this trip), which cost about $50 to transfer to Delta with MRs. So, all in all, 137,500 and $320 for business class.

I had trouble finding award availability from the US to Italy on Flying Blue, but no issue on delta. Coming back on Flying Blue there was a ton of availability.


With all these business class rewards, all seems good when you're looking for single tickets. 130k points isn't that bad. Seems like the prices (miles needed) becomes pretty steep though when you're always booking tickets in pairs.

I guess I just need to stock pile more miles if we ever want to fly somewhere business class.


I remember feeling like that when I first started travel hacking. We flew economy at first, but now I have more miles than we even have time to use, so we fly business class on international trips now. If you're aggressive you'll end up with some pretty big point balances. If you're just doing one or two signups a year or something then you're not going to be flying business class with miles most likely.

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 5:45 am

OffTheGrid wrote:Posting here to get some advice on our cash back strategy...

Goal: Primary goal is cash back, but because we live far away from friends and family we keep a travel card on hand for flights.

Cards:

  • CapOne Quicksilver -- 1.5% cash back on everything + no fee. We use this for basically everything (that isn't a flight or hotel purchase).
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred -- 2x on travel purchases. We use this for flights and hotels, mostly. Signed up originally to get the 50,000 miles bonus and we'll be using our rewards on a big international trip at the end of the year.

Rewards: Redeem cash back monthly in the form of statement credits. Chase rewards are saved up for flights.

I realize our cash-back strategy isn't very "aggressive." Partly, this is because I don't like having a lot of cards (and I also just feel really good about having "0 inquiries" on our credit report and haven't applied for new ones in ages). But also because its been hard to find a card that actually works for us... So I'm wondering if anyone here has some advice/input on our situation. Specifically, does anyone have a strategy for dealing with grocery purchases that end up NOT getting "counted" as grocery purchases (because the bank doesn't categorize it that way)? My strategy has been to just put everything on our CapOne Quicksilver because I *know* I'm getting 1.5% back no matter what, but I'm certainly tempted by some better cash-back card offers.. especially the Blue Cash Everyday AmEx or the Chase Freedom. We have a tight budget, and the bulk of our monthly purchases are simply groceries, some fuel, and cell phone bill -- plus a very little bit of dining and shopping. So a good grocery/fuel perks card would be ideal for us... However we live in a VERY rural area, so rural we don't even live near a WalMart (yeah...) -- I'm under the impression some of these small stores and gas stations are often not categorized as grocery or fuel purchases by the banks. Not to mention not everyone takes AmEx or Discover... so I stick with MC and Visa. On top of this, most of our actual purchases are online and I know online groceries are often not counted. For example: Thrive Market is one place we consistently buy from, but I've heard it isn't counted as a grocery store by AmEx. While we used to make lots of Amazon purchases, we've really scaled down on this and it no longer makes up a significant percentage of our purchases.

So what would you do? Is there a better "all-in" cash back card I should look at? Has anyone else dealt with problems getting banks to categorize their local supermarkets or online retailers correctly?


The Alliant Cashback Visa Signature is 3% cashback for the first year and 2.5% after that. There is a $59 annual fee, but it is waived the first year. If you spend more than $11,800 a year you're better off with this card than with a 2% cashback card. If you're eligible for USAA, they're limitless card is unlimited 2.5% cashback with no annual fee.

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

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 25, 2017 10:13 am

Drew777 wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


I was able to find 70,000 one way on delta metal for $5.60 in taxes from SAT to Rome in January, then 67,500 and $280 from Florence to SAT on flying blue. I transferred from Amex MRs and Citi TYPs (to FB...I had 60,000 to burn which was the main motivation for this trip), which cost about $50 to transfer to Delta with MRs. So, all in all, 137,500 and $320 for business class.

I had trouble finding award availability from the US to Italy on Flying Blue, but no issue on delta. Coming back on Flying Blue there was a ton of availability.


With all these business class rewards, all seems good when you're looking for single tickets. 130k points isn't that bad. Seems like the prices (miles needed) becomes pretty steep though when you're always booking tickets in pairs.

I guess I just need to stock pile more miles if we ever want to fly somewhere business class.


I remember feeling like that when I first started travel hacking. We flew economy at first, but now I have more miles than we even have time to use, so we fly business class on international trips now. If you're aggressive you'll end up with some pretty big point balances. If you're just doing one or two signups a year or something then you're not going to be flying business class with miles most likely.

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?

Drew777
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:01 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
guitarguy wrote:
jh-1391 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:Just to make sure I follow, you booked business class on United for 70k miles and $280 fuel surcharges, one-way -- is that right? And that's non-stop to where in Italy?

Just trying to get a sense of what the market is for business class to Italy. Personally, I'd be looking to start from NYC. In my experience Venice and then Rome tend to be pricier routes than flying into Milan (at least for coach fares). Thanks in advance.


I was able to find 70,000 one way on delta metal for $5.60 in taxes from SAT to Rome in January, then 67,500 and $280 from Florence to SAT on flying blue. I transferred from Amex MRs and Citi TYPs (to FB...I had 60,000 to burn which was the main motivation for this trip), which cost about $50 to transfer to Delta with MRs. So, all in all, 137,500 and $320 for business class.

I had trouble finding award availability from the US to Italy on Flying Blue, but no issue on delta. Coming back on Flying Blue there was a ton of availability.


With all these business class rewards, all seems good when you're looking for single tickets. 130k points isn't that bad. Seems like the prices (miles needed) becomes pretty steep though when you're always booking tickets in pairs.

I guess I just need to stock pile more miles if we ever want to fly somewhere business class.


I remember feeling like that when I first started travel hacking. We flew economy at first, but now I have more miles than we even have time to use, so we fly business class on international trips now. If you're aggressive you'll end up with some pretty big point balances. If you're just doing one or two signups a year or something then you're not going to be flying business class with miles most likely.

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?


I'd say 125k would be a decent redemption for a roundtrip business class flight to Europe. So 250k for two people. Then again with two people you should be able to get twice as many signup bonuses. So 500k miles for two trips a year, you're looking at 10 signup bonuses of 50k at $3k spend each. That's pretty conservative in the travel hacking world. That would be $30k spend. A lot of people here are probably spending more than that every year on a credit card anyway, but there are plenty of other ways to meet the minimum. There are services that allow you to pay rent/mortgage with a CC for a small fee, pay taxes with a CC, etc. That's not even getting into things like manufactured spending, gift card reselling, etc.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:23 pm

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.

rjbraun
Posts: 972
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by rjbraun » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:31 pm

Drew777 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Drew777 wrote:I remember feeling like that when I first started travel hacking. We flew economy at first, but now I have more miles than we even have time to use, so we fly business class on international trips now. If you're aggressive you'll end up with some pretty big point balances. If you're just doing one or two signups a year or something then you're not going to be flying business class with miles most likely.

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?


I'd say 125k would be a decent redemption for a roundtrip business class flight to Europe. So 250k for two people. Then again with two people you should be able to get twice as many signup bonuses. So 500k miles for two trips a year, you're looking at 10 signup bonuses of 50k at $3k spend each. That's pretty conservative in the travel hacking world. That would be $30k spend. A lot of people here are probably spending more than that every year on a credit card anyway, but there are plenty of other ways to meet the minimum. There are services that allow you to pay rent/mortgage with a CC for a small fee, pay taxes with a CC, etc. That's not even getting into things like manufactured spending, gift card reselling, etc.

Okay, my appetite has been whetted! Thank you.:D

I just checked American for non-stop to London (from NYC) but didn't find anything close. I will take a closer look again later. London has the ridiculously steep taxes, so maybe this approach will work better for other destinations.

I agree, I could easily meet $30,000-plus annual spend (unfortunately) by paying rent, etc. with a CC. So far, I've held off on incurring charges via a service to do so, but if I have a clear link to business class tickets that I know I will use, I would be more receptive to that approach.

Thanks again for the input, Drew

Drew777
Posts: 594
Joined: Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:53 pm

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Apr 25, 2017 12:40 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Drew777 wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Drew777 wrote:I remember feeling like that when I first started travel hacking. We flew economy at first, but now I have more miles than we even have time to use, so we fly business class on international trips now. If you're aggressive you'll end up with some pretty big point balances. If you're just doing one or two signups a year or something then you're not going to be flying business class with miles most likely.

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?


I'd say 125k would be a decent redemption for a roundtrip business class flight to Europe. So 250k for two people. Then again with two people you should be able to get twice as many signup bonuses. So 500k miles for two trips a year, you're looking at 10 signup bonuses of 50k at $3k spend each. That's pretty conservative in the travel hacking world. That would be $30k spend. A lot of people here are probably spending more than that every year on a credit card anyway, but there are plenty of other ways to meet the minimum. There are services that allow you to pay rent/mortgage with a CC for a small fee, pay taxes with a CC, etc. That's not even getting into things like manufactured spending, gift card reselling, etc.

Okay, my appetite has been whetted! Thank you.:D

I just checked American for non-stop to London (from NYC) but didn't find anything close. I will take a closer look again later. London has the ridiculously steep taxes, so maybe this approach will work better for other destinations.

I agree, I could easily meet $30,000-plus annual spend (unfortunately) by paying rent, etc. with a CC. So far, I've held off on incurring charges via a service to do so, but if I have a clear link to business class tickets that I know I will use, I would be more receptive to that approach.

Thanks again for the input, Drew


Using American to London isn't the best bet unless you can find flights on American metal. Most flights are going to be on British Airways, and they pass on huge fuel surcharges. If you want to use American miles look for flights on American metal, AirBerlin, or Iberia.

Skyteam and Star Alliance generally have better availability to Europe than OneWorld (excluding BA).

I would recommend focusing on United/Chase Ultimate Rewards first due to the 5/24 rule.

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