What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

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FB01
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by FB01 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:33 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
Barefootgirl wrote:I've never flown Southwest before, but just learned they are my best bet for flights between IAD and ATL. I'll be making several of those flights over the coming year.

Going to look into their points program. Any tips for saving or earning with them, is appreciated.


1) The Chase Sapphire Reserve is still your best bet. You can earn 100K Ultimate Reward points if you open in branch. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Southwest.


Hi Bfwolf,

I have Southwest account where I have around 60K points. Now if I want to transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest account, is it free or they charge something'

Any idea

-FB

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

Post by pennstater2005 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:34 pm

With every Barclay Card that I've applied for I have received the message "you will be notified by mail" for approval or not. I've gotten an email almost every time saying I was approved. I'm not sure why it's not instant but Barclay card has never not approved me or my wife. We each have 3 cards through them.
“Life is short, Break the Rules, Forgive quickly, Kiss slowly, Love truly, Laugh uncontrollably, And never regret anything that made you smile" - Unknown

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

Post by giesen5 » Thu Feb 09, 2017 3:39 pm

pennstater2005 wrote:With every Barclay Card that I've applied for I have received the message "you will be notified by mail" for approval or not. I've gotten an email almost every time saying I was approved. I'm not sure why it's not instant but Barclay card has never not approved me or my wife. We each have 3 cards through them.


I've been getting that message more and more, sometimes with an email telling me "approved" within a few minutes of the "notified by mail" response.

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

Post by BeneIRA » Thu Feb 09, 2017 4:49 pm

FB01 wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
Barefootgirl wrote:I've never flown Southwest before, but just learned they are my best bet for flights between IAD and ATL. I'll be making several of those flights over the coming year.

Going to look into their points program. Any tips for saving or earning with them, is appreciated.


1) The Chase Sapphire Reserve is still your best bet. You can earn 100K Ultimate Reward points if you open in branch. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Southwest.


Hi Bfwolf,

I have Southwest account where I have around 60K points. Now if I want to transfer Ultimate Rewards Points to Southwest account, is it free or they charge something'

Any idea

-FB


It's free.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:12 pm

SRenaeP wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Anyone have any experience with the new Avianca credit card (https://www.lifemilescreditcard.com/WLI ... anca.aspx#!)?

I am looking at a family trip to South America, seems like a good card to get - 60,000 points.


I hadn't heard of this card but just looked it up. Assuming you're based in the US, it seems like it would only be really worthwhile if your home airport is MIA. Otherwise, there are too many connections for my taste.

-Steph


Avianca is Star Alliance. You can use 63K of their points to go one way to Europe in biz class on their partners. So the 60K bonus plus put $3K in spending on the card and you're there. It's a pretty good offer.

https://www.lifemiles.com/eng/inc/starredawards.aspx

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

Post by SRenaeP » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:58 am

Bfwolf wrote:
SRenaeP wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Anyone have any experience with the new Avianca credit card (https://www.lifemilescreditcard.com/WLI ... anca.aspx#!)?

I am looking at a family trip to South America, seems like a good card to get - 60,000 points.


I hadn't heard of this card but just looked it up. Assuming you're based in the US, it seems like it would only be really worthwhile if your home airport is MIA. Otherwise, there are too many connections for my taste.

-Steph


Avianca is Star Alliance. You can use 63K of their points to go one way to Europe in biz class on their partners. So the 60K bonus plus put $3K in spending on the card and you're there. It's a pretty good offer.

https://www.lifemiles.com/eng/inc/starredawards.aspx


My original comment still applies. I checked their website and it wouldn't pull up any flights from my home airport to any of their three European destinations. It did pull up flights from Miami but with a connection. So the free ticket would require me to buy a ticket to Miami then more than double the flight time to Europe by adding a layover in South America. No thanks!

-Steph

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

Post by Drew777 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:36 am

SRenaeP wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
SRenaeP wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Anyone have any experience with the new Avianca credit card (https://www.lifemilescreditcard.com/WLI ... anca.aspx#!)?

I am looking at a family trip to South America, seems like a good card to get - 60,000 points.


I hadn't heard of this card but just looked it up. Assuming you're based in the US, it seems like it would only be really worthwhile if your home airport is MIA. Otherwise, there are too many connections for my taste.

-Steph


Avianca is Star Alliance. You can use 63K of their points to go one way to Europe in biz class on their partners. So the 60K bonus plus put $3K in spending on the card and you're there. It's a pretty good offer.

https://www.lifemiles.com/eng/inc/starredawards.aspx


My original comment still applies. I checked their website and it wouldn't pull up any flights from my home airport to any of their three European destinations. It did pull up flights from Miami but with a connection. So the free ticket would require me to buy a ticket to Miami then more than double the flight time to Europe by adding a layover in South America. No thanks!

-Steph


Just because it doesn't show up on the search engine doesn't mean it isn't bookable. If there is star alliance award availability (say on United's site) from your home airport you can book the flight with the additional leg over the phone.

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

Post by CuppedUp » Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:41 am

semi related question. Are cash back bonuses from a credit card considered taxable income if you are being reimbursed for the expenses cpenses by a client/employer?

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

Post by Drew777 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 12:44 pm

CuppedUp wrote:semi related question. Are cash back bonuses from a credit card considered taxable income if you are being reimbursed for the expenses cpenses by a client/employer?


No

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

Post by SRenaeP » Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:28 pm

Drew777 wrote:
SRenaeP wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
SRenaeP wrote:
giesen5 wrote:Anyone have any experience with the new Avianca credit card (https://www.lifemilescreditcard.com/WLI ... anca.aspx#!)?

I am looking at a family trip to South America, seems like a good card to get - 60,000 points.


I hadn't heard of this card but just looked it up. Assuming you're based in the US, it seems like it would only be really worthwhile if your home airport is MIA. Otherwise, there are too many connections for my taste.

-Steph


Avianca is Star Alliance. You can use 63K of their points to go one way to Europe in biz class on their partners. So the 60K bonus plus put $3K in spending on the card and you're there. It's a pretty good offer.

https://www.lifemiles.com/eng/inc/starredawards.aspx


My original comment still applies. I checked their website and it wouldn't pull up any flights from my home airport to any of their three European destinations. It did pull up flights from Miami but with a connection. So the free ticket would require me to buy a ticket to Miami then more than double the flight time to Europe by adding a layover in South America. No thanks!

-Steph


Just because it doesn't show up on the search engine doesn't mean it isn't bookable. If there is star alliance award availability (say on United's site) from your home airport you can book the flight with the additional leg over the phone.


I will revise my original comment to say a Star Alliance hub vs just MIA. Given that I *don't* live near an SA hub, it's not worth it for me. I would much rather take one 8-9 hour nonstop flight than significantly increase my flight time by adding connections, even if it is 'free'.

-Steph

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

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:30 pm

FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

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

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

Post by mcblum » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:36 pm

Nothing. Stay out of debt. Use cards as little as possible. Pay of immediately.

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

Post by giesen5 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:56 pm

mcblum wrote:Nothing. Stay out of debt. Use cards as little as possible. Pay of immediately.


Well, you might want to actually read this thread. You are missing out!

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

Post by Bfwolf » Fri Feb 10, 2017 5:54 pm

SRenaeP wrote:I will revise my original comment to say a Star Alliance hub vs just MIA. Given that I *don't* live near an SA hub, it's not worth it for me. I would much rather take one 8-9 hour nonstop flight than significantly increase my flight time by adding connections, even if it is 'free'.

-Steph


Your same objection would apply to collecting the very popular United miles as well.

One doesn't have to live near a Star Alliance hub to enjoy a nonstop flight if one's destination is a Star Alliance hub. I don't collect Delta points. The primary reason isn't because I live in a non-Skyteam hub city (Chicago). It's because Skymiles are hard/expensive to use. If I did collect them, I could still get nonstop flights to Europe on their partners like KLM and Air France. While I *do* collect United points, I have little desire to use the points to fly across the ocean on United's mediocre business class product. Instead, I've flown on their partners like ANA, SAS, and Lufthansa. So the fact that Chicago is a United hub isn't really the determining factor in why I like collecting their points. Though to be fair, I probably do get more flights into/out of O'Hare from non-United Star Alliance partners BECAUSE it's a United hub, which adds value for me.

If you're using your miles domestically, I guess that's a different story. You'd want to load up on the airlines that uses your home city as a hub. But there's generally not great value in using points for domestic flights.

And lots of people's home city is not a hub for any of the Big 3 airlines. If you live in San Diego or Oklahoma City or Jacksonville, dealing with connections is just a way of life.

I maintain that for lots of people (not just a very limited swath), the Avianca card looks like a pretty good deal. It's not the first one I'd get, but if you're pretty deep down the rabbit's hole and have gotten lots and lots of cards like I have, it starts looking very attractive.

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

Post by gvsucavie03 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 8:27 pm

giesen5 wrote:
mcblum wrote:Nothing. Stay out of debt. Use cards as little as possible. Pay of immediately.


Well, you might want to actually read this thread. You are missing out!


Ours end up being rebate cards... Paid in full every month, 5% back for gas, 6% back for groceries, 3% for Penny's and Kohl's and 2% for other major purchases and all utilities automatically linked. Between this and our 3% checking, we get $75-100 back a month.
Last edited by gvsucavie03 on Sat Feb 11, 2017 4:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

DiMAn0684
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by DiMAn0684 » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:01 pm

VictoriaF wrote:FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

Victoria


To me it makes 0 sense to use this card for pretty much anything, including IHG properties (I'd take 3xUR with CSR or 3x TY Pts with Citi Premier over 5x IHG pts any day), but if you already have it Plat Elite status + free night is worth way more than $49. I am hostel / Airbnb kind of traveler most of the time, but in 1.5 yrs of card membership I've already gotten room upgrade twice,was able to use Platinum Elite status for status match with few other programs and got a free night reservation at a fancy Intercontinental hotel with nightly rates of $300+. Those $49/yr are well spent for sure.

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

Post by sharpjm » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:57 am

DiMAn0684 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

Victoria


To me it makes 0 sense to use this card for pretty much anything, including IHG properties (I'd take 3xUR with CSR or 3x TY Pts with Citi Premier over 5x IHG pts any day), but if you already have it Plat Elite status + free night is worth way more than $49. I am hostel / Airbnb kind of traveler most of the time, but in 1.5 yrs of card membership I've already gotten room upgrade twice,was able to use Platinum Elite status for status match with few other programs and got a free night reservation at a fancy Intercontinental hotel with nightly rates of $300+. Those $49/yr are well spent for sure.

Almost every accelerate offer I have seen includes spending on your IHG card which, for 1 stay, can bump you from 5pts to 15+ pts per dollar. The one exception to your comment about CSR being better.

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

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Feb 11, 2017 9:20 am

sharpjm wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

Victoria


To me it makes 0 sense to use this card for pretty much anything, including IHG properties (I'd take 3xUR with CSR or 3x TY Pts with Citi Premier over 5x IHG pts any day), but if you already have it Plat Elite status + free night is worth way more than $49. I am hostel / Airbnb kind of traveler most of the time, but in 1.5 yrs of card membership I've already gotten room upgrade twice,was able to use Platinum Elite status for status match with few other programs and got a free night reservation at a fancy Intercontinental hotel with nightly rates of $300+. Those $49/yr are well spent for sure.

Almost every accelerate offer I have seen includes spending on your IHG card which, for 1 stay, can bump you from 5pts to 15+ pts per dollar. The one exception to your comment about CSR being better.


I cancelled the card because when I make my own travel plans I stay at hostels or no-star no-chain hotels, and when I travel to conferences I stay at conference hotels at conference rates. I got the card because I had an upcoming conference taking place at an IHG hotel. Once I decided not to go to that particular conference the card became superfluous.

I do not seek an Elite hotel status because I spend very little time in my room and need very little apart from a bed and privacy (unless it's a hostel). Nevertheless, I found a way to use the free night. Later this year, I will be flying out of CDG and want to spend a night near-by. Normally, I book Ibis directly reachable by CDGVAL. This time, I will stay at a Holiday Inn which will require a shuttle.

I will still have the IHG account and points even without the Chase IHG card. Every 3 months I review their PointBreaks, in case something fits my travel plans; so far nothing did. Eventually, I may transfer my remaining points to an airline. However poor the transfer rate may be, I do use airline miles and don't use hotel points. Right now, transfers to British Airways come with a 35% bonus. I am thinking if I should just get rid of all my hotel points this way.

I acknowledge that my approach is different from everyone else. But the question is "What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?" and I am providing a different perspective. My 80/20 solution is to focus on airline miles, fly economy, and occasionally save on hotels when it fits my travel plans.

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

DiMAn0684
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by DiMAn0684 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 12:46 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
sharpjm wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

Victoria


To me it makes 0 sense to use this card for pretty much anything, including IHG properties (I'd take 3xUR with CSR or 3x TY Pts with Citi Premier over 5x IHG pts any day), but if you already have it Plat Elite status + free night is worth way more than $49. I am hostel / Airbnb kind of traveler most of the time, but in 1.5 yrs of card membership I've already gotten room upgrade twice,was able to use Platinum Elite status for status match with few other programs and got a free night reservation at a fancy Intercontinental hotel with nightly rates of $300+. Those $49/yr are well spent for sure.

Almost every accelerate offer I have seen includes spending on your IHG card which, for 1 stay, can bump you from 5pts to 15+ pts per dollar. The one exception to your comment about CSR being better.


I cancelled the card because when I make my own travel plans I stay at hostels or no-star no-chain hotels, and when I travel to conferences I stay at conference hotels at conference rates. I got the card because I had an upcoming conference taking place at an IHG hotel. Once I decided not to go to that particular conference the card became superfluous.

I do not seek an Elite hotel status because I spend very little time in my room and need very little apart from a bed and privacy (unless it's a hostel). Nevertheless, I found a way to use the free night. Later this year, I will be flying out of CDG and want to spend a night near-by. Normally, I book Ibis directly reachable by CDGVAL. This time, I will stay at a Holiday Inn which will require a shuttle.

I will still have the IHG account and points even without the Chase IHG card. Every 3 months I review their PointBreaks, in case something fits my travel plans; so far nothing did. Eventually, I may transfer my remaining points to an airline. However poor the transfer rate may be, I do use airline miles and don't use hotel points. Right now, transfers to British Airways come with a 35% bonus. I am thinking if I should just get rid of all my hotel points this way.

I acknowledge that my approach is different from everyone else. But the question is "What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?" and I am providing a different perspective. My 80/20 solution is to focus on airline miles, fly economy, and occasionally save on hotels when it fits my travel plans.

Victoria


sharpjm - Agreed, thought about it as well, but didn't feel like editing my post :)

VictoriaF - I don't think your approach is different from everyone else, at least not from me. For the most part I collect AA / UA / DL / MR / UR / TY pts, not hotel points. I use those points for economy flights and 80% of my stays are in hostels and Airbnb. I was just pointing out that even a budget traveler like myself can get more than $49 in value from the card per year and if one has the card I'd think twice before closing it. Funny thing - I also redeemed my free night for a stay in Paris, except since I'll be in the city I booked IC Le Grand. I don't look at this as saving $400 as I'd not book that hotel with $, but I certainly feel like that stay covers the AF for next year and will keep the card for as long as the annual free night offer stays in place.

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

Post by VictoriaF » Sat Feb 11, 2017 1:18 pm

DiMAn0684 wrote:VictoriaF - I don't think your approach is different from everyone else, at least not from me. For the most part I collect AA / UA / DL / MR / UR / TY pts, not hotel points. I use those points for economy flights and 80% of my stays are in hostels and Airbnb. I was just pointing out that even a budget traveler like myself can get more than $49 in value from the card per year and if one has the card I'd think twice before closing it. Funny thing - I also redeemed my free night for a stay in Paris, except since I'll be in the city I booked IC Le Grand. I don't look at this as saving $400 as I'd not book that hotel with $, but I certainly feel like that stay covers the AF for next year and will keep the card for as long as the annual free night offer stays in place.


I insist on being different! {Twisted Evil}

Your approach is similar to mine; both of us are different from Travel/Credit Card bloggers who use their points and miles for First Class flights and top category hotels. Many Bogleheads would not fly Economy or stay at hostels.

More to the point, I had a Chase IHG card for a year and cancelled it without paying an annual fee. I still got a free night at CDG. This thread has prompted me to review my other travel plans for 2017, and I booked a night at the Prague airport Holiday Inn using 15,000 IHG points. My remaining points will provide me with a few more airport stays as needed. In a couple years, if I feel IHG-deprived I will re-apply for this card and then keep it. My top priority, though, is to get a CSR as soon as I qualify.

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

ResearchMed
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Airport LOUNGE info - Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Sat Feb 11, 2017 11:26 pm

I just came across this

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/06/trav ... dline&te=1

in the NYTimes, about quite a few premium airport lounges, including some that have day passes.

Some of the passes are available by using awards, but for anyone who is using awards for premium travel, that will get you in these, also.

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

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

Post by SRenaeP » Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:51 am

Bfwolf wrote:
SRenaeP wrote:I will revise my original comment to say a Star Alliance hub vs just MIA. Given that I *don't* live near an SA hub, it's not worth it for me. I would much rather take one 8-9 hour nonstop flight than significantly increase my flight time by adding connections, even if it is 'free'.

-Steph


Your same objection would apply to collecting the very popular United miles as well.


You're right about that. :happy I recently flew United internationally and having to tack on that extra leg made an already long travel day even longer. I returned vowing to never do that again regardless of the savings.

One doesn't have to live near a Star Alliance hub to enjoy a nonstop flight if one's destination is a Star Alliance hub. I don't collect Delta points. The primary reason isn't because I live in a non-Skyteam hub city (Chicago). It's because Skymiles are hard/expensive to use. If I did collect them, I could still get nonstop flights to Europe on their partners like KLM and Air France. While I *do* collect United points, I have little desire to use the points to fly across the ocean on United's mediocre business class product. Instead, I've flown on their partners like ANA, SAS, and Lufthansa. So the fact that Chicago is a United hub isn't really the determining factor in why I like collecting their points. Though to be fair, I probably do get more flights into/out of O'Hare from non-United Star Alliance partners BECAUSE it's a United hub, which adds value for me.

Bfwolf wrote:If you're using your miles domestically, I guess that's a different story. You'd want to load up on the airlines that uses your home city as a hub. But there's generally not great value in using points for domestic flights.


I typically *don't* use miles domestically with the exception of Hawaii. However, these days, there are so many flight deals to be had that I'd rather pay a few hundred dollars to take the quickest route from my home city vs fly extra connections just to get it free.

Bfwolf wrote:And lots of people's home city is not a hub for any of the Big 3 airlines. If you live in San Diego or Oklahoma City or Jacksonville, dealing with connections is just a way of life.


You're right about that too. I suspect I've been spoiled by living near a hub or having multiple airports in close vicinity for the majority of my flying days.

Bfwolf wrote:I maintain that for lots of people (not just a very limited swath), the Avianca card looks like a pretty good deal. It's not the first one I'd get, but if you're pretty deep down the rabbit's hole and have gotten lots and lots of cards like I have, it starts looking very attractive.


As with most things, YMMV so I urge people to carefully review/consider their situation before grabbing every reward card they can left and right.

-Steph

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

Post by Drew777 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:36 am

VictoriaF wrote:
sharpjm wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:FYI:

A year ago I got a Chase IHG card because I was planning to attend a conference taking place at an IHG hotel. However, my travel plans have changed, and I will not be staying at that hotel. Several days before the anniversary, I've cancelled the card to avoid paying the annual fee of $45. I immediately regretted it, because I thought I would miss on a free night granted on the card anniversary. I could have waited a few days and cancelled the card after the free anniversary night had posted.

And so I had a pleasant surprise when I checked my IHG account and saw that I am still eligible for a free night.

Victoria


To me it makes 0 sense to use this card for pretty much anything, including IHG properties (I'd take 3xUR with CSR or 3x TY Pts with Citi Premier over 5x IHG pts any day), but if you already have it Plat Elite status + free night is worth way more than $49. I am hostel / Airbnb kind of traveler most of the time, but in 1.5 yrs of card membership I've already gotten room upgrade twice,was able to use Platinum Elite status for status match with few other programs and got a free night reservation at a fancy Intercontinental hotel with nightly rates of $300+. Those $49/yr are well spent for sure.

Almost every accelerate offer I have seen includes spending on your IHG card which, for 1 stay, can bump you from 5pts to 15+ pts per dollar. The one exception to your comment about CSR being better.


I cancelled the card because when I make my own travel plans I stay at hostels or no-star no-chain hotels, and when I travel to conferences I stay at conference hotels at conference rates. I got the card because I had an upcoming conference taking place at an IHG hotel. Once I decided not to go to that particular conference the card became superfluous.

I do not seek an Elite hotel status because I spend very little time in my room and need very little apart from a bed and privacy (unless it's a hostel). Nevertheless, I found a way to use the free night. Later this year, I will be flying out of CDG and want to spend a night near-by. Normally, I book Ibis directly reachable by CDGVAL. This time, I will stay at a Holiday Inn which will require a shuttle.

I will still have the IHG account and points even without the Chase IHG card. Every 3 months I review their PointBreaks, in case something fits my travel plans; so far nothing did. Eventually, I may transfer my remaining points to an airline. However poor the transfer rate may be, I do use airline miles and don't use hotel points. Right now, transfers to British Airways come with a 35% bonus. I am thinking if I should just get rid of all my hotel points this way.

I acknowledge that my approach is different from everyone else. But the question is "What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?" and I am providing a different perspective. My 80/20 solution is to focus on airline miles, fly economy, and occasionally save on hotels when it fits my travel plans.

Victoria


Victoria, I'd recommend checking out this post by Drew at Travel is Free.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/10/18/how- ... dit-cards/

He travels year round and averages $19 a night staying mostly in 4 star hotels with status. Even though you don't "need" all that, it may actually be cheaper than hostels if you follow a similar strategy.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Accrual » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:23 am

Just received the 50,000 bonus miles from spending $4k in the first three months on Chase Sapphire Preferred.

For someone who is relatively young and does not travel that often, I am having a difficult time deciding what to do with the bonus. Do I take the bank account credit or save the bonus (which is valued 25% more) on travel?

I have an emergency fund that would last me 5 months or so; I was thinking of taking the credit and put off a vacation until my emergency fund is at a suitable level.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:35 am

Accrual wrote:Just received the 50,000 bonus miles from spending $4k in the first three months on Chase Sapphire Preferred.

For someone who is relatively young and does not travel that often, I am having a difficult time deciding what to do with the bonus. Do I take the bank account credit or save the bonus (which is valued 25% more) on travel?

I have an emergency fund that would last me 5 months or so; I was thinking of taking the credit and put off a vacation until my emergency fund is at a suitable level.


If you are going to not renew the card, and not going to travel in the year, maybe take the cash. Transferring it to an airline rewards program if you have no travel in mind is kind of speculative for my taste.

If you are going to travel, points are a big win, generally for transferring to travel partners. e.g. I've recently used the points on Southwest and got 3 Boston -> Portland Oregon round trips for about ~65K points. I'm not a big travel hacker, but am happy with having used points from Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred on that flight and on a Hyatt...

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by DiMAn0684 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:49 am

Accrual wrote:Just received the 50,000 bonus miles from spending $4k in the first three months on Chase Sapphire Preferred.

For someone who is relatively young and does not travel that often, I am having a difficult time deciding what to do with the bonus. Do I take the bank account credit or save the bonus (which is valued 25% more) on travel?

I have an emergency fund that would last me 5 months or so; I was thinking of taking the credit and put off a vacation until my emergency fund is at a suitable level.


If you don't have any urgent need in $ I'd keep points for now. Even if you'll get to the point where you want to get rid of the card and still have the points you can ask Chase to have your card downgraded to another Ultimate Rewards card like Freedom. Freedom will still allow you to convert pts to cash at 1pt:1cent ratio, you'll just not be able to transfer the points to the airline partners. Once you are comfortable with your emergency fund you can always consider opening another Chase premium travel card and your 50,000 bonus from your Preffered card will become transferable again.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:45 pm

Drew777 wrote:Victoria, I'd recommend checking out this post by Drew at Travel is Free.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/10/18/how- ... dit-cards/

He travels year round and averages $19 a night staying mostly in 4 star hotels with status. Even though you don't "need" all that, it may actually be cheaper than hostels if you follow a similar strategy.


Thank you, Drew,

This is a fantastic reference. I've read it once and will get back to it again. My primary thoughts now are about my giving up the Chase IHG card, and so I went straight to Drew's IHG links. One practical consequence is that I've signed for the IHG sweepstakes. I wish I knew about them back in December.

ADDED LATER:
As for bypassing hostels, it may work for me sometimes but not as a rule. For example, I have just created a spreadsheet for my planned 2017 travel. Here is hotel-related information:
1. Czech Republic -- I will stay in Prague for two weeks taking a Czech language course. I booked a private room at a hostel next door to my language school. There are plenty of hotels in Prague, but I don't have points for a 15-night stay, and I don't want to wake up earlier than necessary to get to classes.
2. Czech Republic -- I will spend 5 nights at an upscale hotel-spa in Luhačovice. There are much cheaper options in the town, but I specifically want to get a spa experience. I have not found any brand-name hotels in Luhačovice.
3. Czech Republic -- After the spa, I will spend 4 nights in a budget hotel in Luhačovice for a meeting taking place in that hotel.
5. Prague airport -- Holiday Inn for 15k IHG points to spend a night before my flight back to the U.S.
5. Florida -- A week at a Hilton at a highly discounted group rate for a meeting taking place in that hotel. I will accumulate some points there.
6. France -- A few days in Metz staying with friends.
7. Spain -- A week in Barcelona at a private room in a hostel a block away from the conference. Most brand-name hotels are either too far or I don't have enough points for a week-long stay. In the hostel, I will have privacy and access to the kitchen that will cut down my meals cost.
8. Spain -- A week traveling around with a group I belong to, staying in whatever places they will book.
9. CDG -- Holiday Inn as a free IHG night granted at my 1-year anniversary, to spend a night before my flight back to the U.S.
10. Washington D.C. -- I will stay 3 nights at the conference hotel which is Hilton. I will use my Hilton points.
11. Williamsburg, VA. -- Last year I stayed at Days Inn for $60/night. This year Days Inn is closing for good and I have to find another place within walking distance to William & Mary, Amtrak station, and town center.
12. Bogleheads Conference -- I will stay at the conference hotel.
13. Banff Film Festival -- I will try to stay at the Banff Centre where the films will be screened. If that's not possible, I will look for the closest hotel within walking distance. I have not found any brand name hotels in Banff.
14/15. Two Retreats -- I will stay at the Retreat hotels. Both hotels are Marriott; I can accumulate Marriott points but I can't use points to pay for the hotels. But this is OK, because I use Marriott and SPG points to convert into United miles.
16, etc. -- Family visits, staying with the family.

A common theme of my past and upcoming travel is that I trade nice hotels and hotels booked with points for the proximity to my events. When I travel I don't rent cars, use public transportation as necessary but prefer to walk. I like to be in the center of things, to be out, and to do things. The hotel room is just a place to spend a night. A room (or a bed) in a hostel comes with access to a kitchen which cuts my meal costs.

Victoria
Last edited by VictoriaF on Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:16 pm, edited 13 times in total.
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:14 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Drew777 wrote:Victoria, I'd recommend checking out this post by Drew at Travel is Free.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/10/18/how- ... dit-cards/

He travels year round and averages $19 a night staying mostly in 4 star hotels with status. Even though you don't "need" all that, it may actually be cheaper than hostels if you follow a similar strategy.


Thank you, Drew,

This is a fantastic reference. I've read it once and will get back to it again. My primary thoughts now are about my giving up the Chase IHG card, and so I went straight to Drew's IHG links. One practical consequence is that I've signed for the IHG sweepstakes. I wish I knew about them back in December.

Victoria


Really the only consequence of closing the card is the loss of the status and annual free night for $49. If you travel enough you'll get the status back anyway (I know you don't really need it though). You can always get the card again after two years along with another bonus. You'll get more use out of other cards anyway, even paying for IHG stays (CSP, CSR, etc).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:01 pm

Drew777 wrote:Really the only consequence of closing the card is the loss of the status and annual free night for $49. If you travel enough you'll get the status back anyway (I know you don't really need it though). You can always get the card again after two years along with another bonus. You'll get more use out of other cards anyway, even paying for IHG stays (CSP, CSR, etc).


I am paying annual fees for two cards: CSP and Chase MileagePlus Explorer. CSP is a great card on its own, and it's necessary for UR transfers. MPE gives me more options for booking United reward flights. I churn Citi AAdvantage cards to get access to priority boarding and so far was able to close them before the annual fee was due. I did not want to have another card with an annual fee. But I agree with you that IHG is an excellent program, and in the future I may reconsider and get the card again.

I don't qualify for a CSR due to the 24/5 rule and my earliest eligibility will be about a year from now. Until then I will not be opening new cards.

Thank you for your suggestions,
Victoria
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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by travellight » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:49 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:VictoriaF - I don't think your approach is different from everyone else, at least not from me. For the most part I collect AA / UA / DL / MR / UR / TY pts, not hotel points. I use those points for economy flights and 80% of my stays are in hostels and Airbnb. I was just pointing out that even a budget traveler like myself can get more than $49 in value from the card per year and if one has the card I'd think twice before closing it. Funny thing - I also redeemed my free night for a stay in Paris, except since I'll be in the city I booked IC Le Grand. I don't look at this as saving $400 as I'd not book that hotel with $, but I certainly feel like that stay covers the AF for next year and will keep the card for as long as the annual free night offer stays in place.


I insist on being different! {Twisted Evil}

Your approach is similar to mine; both of us are different from Travel/Credit Card bloggers who use their points and miles for First Class flights and top category hotels. Many Bogleheads would not fly Economy or stay at hostels.

More to the point, I had a Chase IHG card for a year and cancelled it without paying an annual fee. I still got a free night at CDG. This thread has prompted me to review my other travel plans for 2017, and I booked a night at the Prague airport Holiday Inn using 15,000 IHG points. My remaining points will provide me with a few more airport stays as needed. In a couple years, if I feel IHG-deprived I will re-apply for this card and then keep it. My top priority, though, is to get a CSR as soon as I qualify.

Victoria


Haha, and my version of being different (twisted evil) is that I may stay anywhere from a hostel near Columbia University in NY (where we are the only two Bogleheads I know of that frequent that place) to a future trip at the Plaza hotel due to churning the Fairmont card, and anywhere in between. I, however, am succumbing to business class for flights beyond 5-6 hours... so anywhere to Europe or Asia, or beyond.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:13 pm

VictoriaF wrote:I don't qualify for a CSR due to the 24/5 rule and my earliest eligibility will be about a year from now. Until then I will not be opening new cards.


The CSR 100K in-branch bonus is ending in March and going down to 50K. Maybe it will return in the future, maybe not.

For about 6 months at one point I held off getting new CCs in an attempt to get below 5/24 in the future. When I attended the Chicago Seminars, it jarred in me the realization that the benefits I'm giving up in not getting new CCs for a long period of time were worth too much to sacrifice just to get 4 great Chase CCs in the future.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:29 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I don't qualify for a CSR due to the 24/5 rule and my earliest eligibility will be about a year from now. Until then I will not be opening new cards.


The CSR 100K in-branch bonus is ending in March and going down to 50K. Maybe it will return in the future, maybe not.

For about 6 months at one point I held off getting new CCs in an attempt to get below 5/24 in the future. When I attended the Chicago Seminars, it jarred in me the realization that the benefits I'm giving up in not getting new CCs for a long period of time were worth too much to sacrifice just to get 4 great Chase CCs in the future.


I agree that there is a trade-off between chasing Chase and giving up give-aways.

I don't have a Chase branch within hundreds of miles from the D.C. area. And even if I were willing to travel to NYC to open a CSR, it most likely would not work according to the latest reports. When I become eligible for a new Chase card, I will see what's available at that time. Even at 50k points and 3x earnings the CSR may be worth it for me. A large part of my annual expenses is on travel, and 3x will make (some) difference.

I am not completely abstaining from new cards. In the past few months I got a Citi Hilton Honors and a Citi AAdvantage. I may also apply for a USAA 2.5% cash-back card if it becomes available here. But that would push me into a dangerous territory of dealing with the Chase Recon.

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

Post by DiMAn0684 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:26 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:I don't qualify for a CSR due to the 24/5 rule and my earliest eligibility will be about a year from now. Until then I will not be opening new cards.


The CSR 100K in-branch bonus is ending in March and going down to 50K. Maybe it will return in the future, maybe not.

For about 6 months at one point I held off getting new CCs in an attempt to get below 5/24 in the future. When I attended the Chicago Seminars, it jarred in me the realization that the benefits I'm giving up in not getting new CCs for a long period of time were worth too much to sacrifice just to get 4 great Chase CCs in the future.


+1. I've briefly considered slowing down to get somewhere close to 5/24, but realized that I'd have to give up way too many pts to qualify for that 100k UR bonus promo with CSR (if it comes back that is). Ended up getting my Priority Pass membership @$50/yr as an add-on user on my friend's Prestige, get 3x pts for travel with TY Premier and hitting card issuers as hard as I can. If I feel that I really want that CSR card I can always see if Chase would be willing to convert one of my other UR cards into one.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 5:29 pm

DiMAn0684 wrote:If I feel that I really want that CSR card I can always see if Chase would be willing to convert one of my other UR cards into one.


I did not think about this option. Thank you for bringing it up!

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

Post by Barefootgirl » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:53 pm


Booking awards efficiently takes a lot of research, it's almost a science. If you don't thoroughly understand the program then there's a lot you're missing out on.


Hi Drew, I assume that's why so many offer this as a service? How would you suggest going about learning the science for yourself?

I am wondering about the tradeoffs of the time it would take a person to become basically proficient, versus what they pay others to do it for them.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:23 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:If I feel that I really want that CSR card I can always see if Chase would be willing to convert one of my other UR cards into one.


I did not think about this option. Thank you for bringing it up!

Victoria


If you convert, you don't get the sign up bonus, seems like a big loss?

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:30 pm

Barefootgirl wrote:
Booking awards efficiently takes a lot of research, it's almost a science. If you don't thoroughly understand the program then there's a lot you're missing out on.


Hi Drew, I assume that's why so many offer this as a service? How would you suggest going about learning the science for yourself?

I am wondering about the tradeoffs of the time it would take a person to become basically proficient, versus what they pay others to do it for them.

BFG


Not Drew, but...

First, if it is airlines, the check not only the points needed for the airline whose points you have, but also all "airline partners".
Search also for "<x airline> partner awards chart", as that might be different than the points used for that own airline flights.

Then what we did, quite by accident (meaning, not specifically in order to "learn", but that's what happened), we did use one of those services (PointsPros.com - there are others, but this one seemed the best from a modest search, and there was no charge unless we actually accepted a routing/points/schedule/etc., that they found).
Rather than have them call us back, I stayed on the line so it was more interactive ("how about X airline, via Y city, connecting to... and you can use your A points if you transfer them to B - yeah, it's really felt even much more complicated than that at first).
That is when I realized how much there was to learn.

We will probably use them in the future IF we can't reasonably quickly get awards travel/schedule/etc., that we *like*.

For top premium international, the very modest $ cost is worth it, vs. getting a second choice routing or airline/lesser comfort.
For domestic, probably this is not going to be worth much, in value or in what you could do yourself. (I might be wrong there; we aren't using points for domestic at this point.)

And the other thing we learned (and I wish we had known sooner, years sooner) was - at least for AA - the low cost of purchasing points.
(We could have flown business class to Europe for the approximately price of premium economy. For travel to Asia, for both business and first, the cost/value is even better, e.g., $1.6k pp one way USA to Japan, FIRST class in top/wide beds; $1k - might be 1.2k now - for business class in beds better than most domestic airlines first class. The rack rate would be $4-9k pp for business; $>20k pp for first. NO WAY would we pay that first class fare, but we would have needed to pay the best possible business rate or not take that long haul flight.)

Try finding one itinerary using an airline/points you are likely to use, and see if you can find ONE good routing.
If so, then you should be able to "elaborate" by searching partners.
It did take quite a bit of reading (and a few PM's from some very helpful BH'ers - thanks again!!).

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:35 pm

Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:If I feel that I really want that CSR card I can always see if Chase would be willing to convert one of my other UR cards into one.


I did not think about this option. Thank you for bringing it up!

Victoria


If you convert, you don't get the sign up bonus, seems like a big loss?


Until recently, the loss was of the CSR 100k bonus. Now, CSR comes with only 50k, and the potential loss is a half. The trade-off is between opening several other cards and ignoring Chase, and foregoing other cards for a long time to qualify for a CSR. DiMAn0684 and the people running Chicago seminars open enough cards to compensate for the loss of the CSR bonus. In my case it's less clear, it depends on what other cards will be available between now the end of my 24/5 exile.

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

Post by Da5id » Mon Feb 13, 2017 9:42 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Da5id wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
DiMAn0684 wrote:If I feel that I really want that CSR card I can always see if Chase would be willing to convert one of my other UR cards into one.


I did not think about this option. Thank you for bringing it up!

Victoria


If you convert, you don't get the sign up bonus, seems like a big loss?


Until recently, the loss was of the CSR 100k bonus. Now, CSR comes with only 50k, and the potential loss is a half. The trade-off is between opening several other cards and ignoring Chase, and foregoing other cards for a long time to qualify for a CSR. DiMAn0684 and the people running Chicago seminars open enough cards to compensate for the loss of the CSR bonus. In my case it's less clear, it depends what other cards will be available between now the end of my 24/5 exile.

Victoria


Folks say you can get CSR 100K reward in branches still (generally if you have 5/24 issue you can't). I like CSR, just not sure without the 100K miles I'd have gone for it compared to CSP that's all. I have both, will drop one at some point this year. Anyway, there is always something new to do in the game...

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by DiMAn0684 » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:01 pm

VictoriaF wrote:DiMAn0684 and the people running Chicago seminars open enough cards to compensate for the loss of the CSR bonus. In my case it's less clear, it depends what other cards will be available between now the end of my 24/5 exile.

Victoria


Appreciate being put in the same category as the folks running the seminar in Chicago :) While the CSR bonus is (was?) one if the best sign up bonuses ever available (perhaps the best non-invite offer), once I realized that two AA Plat cards @60k a pop would yield 120k AA pts, and saw a pretty clear path to getting those two bonuses, it was clear to me that waiting for CSR didn't make much sense. Over the past two years the rules tightened up significantly with all the major card issuers and I expect things getting more and more restrictive. I'd not be surprised if in several years I'd be able to 'organically' meet 5/24 requirement. For now, have to strike the iron while it is hot.

Da5id wrote:Folks say you can get CSR 100K reward in branches still (generally if you have 5/24 issue you can't). I like CSR, just not sure without the 100K miles I'd have gone for it compared to CSP that's all. I have both, will drop one at some point this year. Anyway, there is always something new to do in the game...


IMO CSR > CSP as a product (disregarding the bonus). Assuming you value $300 credit at $300, your annual fee with CSR is $150 over $95 for CSP. For extra $55/yr you get Priority Pass, Global Entry fee reimbursement every 4-5 yrs, 3x on travel and restaurants and some other benefits. Well worth it.

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Da5id » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:12 pm

DiMAn0684 wrote:IMO CSR > CSP as a product (disregarding the bonus). Assuming you value $300 credit at $300, your annual fee with CSR is $150 over $95 for CSP. For extra $55/yr you get Priority Pass, Global Entry fee reimbursement every 4-5 yrs, 3x on travel and restaurants and some other benefits. Well worth it.


I think it is murky for me. I'm not a huge traveler (1 big trip per year, maybe a few smaller). I can get 3% on restaurants and travel on my Costco card. I don't value Priority pass that highly. I have CSP as well to transfer points to partners. I'll keep one of CSP or CSR, not entirely sold on keeping CSR though. I'm leaning towards CSR though...

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Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 13, 2017 10:21 pm

DiMAn0684 wrote:IMO CSR > CSP as a product (disregarding the bonus). Assuming you value $300 credit at $300, your annual fee with CSR is $150 over $95 for CSP. For extra $55/yr you get Priority Pass, Global Entry fee reimbursement every 4-5 yrs, 3x on travel and restaurants and some other benefits. Well worth it.


In the past two years, I was spending about $13k/year on travel. These were out of packet expenses in addition to any miles and points I used. Some of these expenses were not coded as travel, e.g., fees for events or traveling in a group. On the other hand, restaurant meals are travel expenses regardless of the location. Let's assume that I can charge $10k in travel expenses to either CSP or CSR. The annual difference between 2x and 3x is 100 UR points, or about $180/year based on my point values. The difference in the annual fee reduces CSR's advantage to $125/year. Global Entry is $100, or $20/year, which brings up the CSR advantage to $145/year. I get priority passes from Chase MPE and have not had a chance to use them yet. Thus, for me:
CSR - CSP =~ $145/year.

If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

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

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Feb 14, 2017 3:08 am

VictoriaF wrote:If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

Victoria


But man, there are some pretty good deals out there you are passing on with this belt tightening.

I think the Merrill+ card is awesome. $3K intro spend and you get enough points to purchase two tickets up to $500 in value each. You can even go over $500 and just pay the difference in cash. I got the card recently and just used half the points to cover a $400 ticket. I think I have a ~$600 ticket cost coming up that I'll use the rest of the points for and just pay a little cash out of pocket to make the up the difference. No annual fee on this bad boy too.

If you like AA miles, there's plenty of good offers out there to pick them up, and now there are links that avoid the "you can't get the bonus if you've had the card in the last 2 years" problem. I don't care much for AA miles but some people like them.

Alaska miles are pretty sweet and you can churn their credit card pretty hard. Seems lots of folks get 1 every quarter. 30K miles plus a $100 statement credit that offsets the annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival+ is another one that's churnable....I believe every 6 months or so. It's currently got a 50K bonus which is easily redeemed against $500 in travel expenses you make normally on the card.

Even if you don't like hotel cards, how can you pass all that stuff up just to get a couple of good Chase cards in a year?

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VictoriaF
Posts: 17167
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Location: Black Swan Lake

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by VictoriaF » Tue Feb 14, 2017 7:28 am

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

Victoria


But man, there are some pretty good deals out there you are passing on with this belt tightening.

I think the Merrill+ card is awesome. $3K intro spend and you get enough points to purchase two tickets up to $500 in value each. You can even go over $500 and just pay the difference in cash. I got the card recently and just used half the points to cover a $400 ticket. I think I have a ~$600 ticket cost coming up that I'll use the rest of the points for and just pay a little cash out of pocket to make the up the difference. No annual fee on this bad boy too.

If you like AA miles, there's plenty of good offers out there to pick them up, and now there are links that avoid the "you can't get the bonus if you've had the card in the last 2 years" problem. I don't care much for AA miles but some people like them.

Alaska miles are pretty sweet and you can churn their credit card pretty hard. Seems lots of folks get 1 every quarter. 30K miles plus a $100 statement credit that offsets the annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival+ is another one that's churnable....I believe every 6 months or so. It's currently got a 50K bonus which is easily redeemed against $500 in travel expenses you make normally on the card.

Even if you don't like hotel cards, how can you pass all that stuff up just to get a couple of good Chase cards in a year?


I don't give it up forever, just for a year {laughing}

I got an AA card recently, in less than 2 years since closing the last one. But I prefer flying United, they have a much better reward flight selection especially as I own the MPE card.

Depending on the bonus offers, next winter I will get a Bold card and a bit later a CSR. After that's done I will expand my game.

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

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

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:59 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Drew777 wrote:Really the only consequence of closing the card is the loss of the status and annual free night for $49. If you travel enough you'll get the status back anyway (I know you don't really need it though). You can always get the card again after two years along with another bonus. You'll get more use out of other cards anyway, even paying for IHG stays (CSP, CSR, etc).


I am paying annual fees for two cards: CSP and Chase MileagePlus Explorer. CSP is a great card on its own, and it's necessary for UR transfers. MPE gives me more options for booking United reward flights. I churn Citi AAdvantage cards to get access to priority boarding and so far was able to close them before the annual fee was due. I did not want to have another card with an annual fee. But I agree with you that IHG is an excellent program, and in the future I may reconsider and get the card again.

I don't qualify for a CSR due to the 24/5 rule and my earliest eligibility will be about a year from now. Until then I will not be opening new cards.

Thank you for your suggestions,
Victoria


I keep the CSP as well, between UR transfers, primary rental car insurance, travel insurance, and bonus categories I think it's well worth the annual fee. I'm nowhere near eligible for a CSR and don't plan on bothering. I could get 20+ signup bonuses in the time it would take me to become eligible for the CSR. However, I may upgrade my CSP to a CSR at the end of the year so I can quickly get two $300 travel credits. I should have done it in December but didn't really think about it.

Also, keep in mind you can still apply for business cards from most banks without affecting your 5/24 status. Capital One is the only major bank that reports business cards on your personal credit report.

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

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:14 am

Barefootgirl wrote:
Booking awards efficiently takes a lot of research, it's almost a science. If you don't thoroughly understand the program then there's a lot you're missing out on.


Hi Drew, I assume that's why so many offer this as a service? How would you suggest going about learning the science for yourself?

I am wondering about the tradeoffs of the time it would take a person to become basically proficient, versus what they pay others to do it for them.

BFG


Yeah, it can get really complicated when you start looking for premium cabin international flights, adding multiple destinations, etc. There are a lot of tricks to each program, and if you have a variety of miles/points you need to understand all of them. If you have Amex MR points don't just transfer them to Delta assuming that's the best option. And don't just automatically assume United is the best UR option. Sometimes the foreign programs offer the best value, so you need to understand those as well to get the most out of your miles. There is still a lot I don't know myself. Sometimes the specific flight you want may just not be available with the particular program you're trying to use. For example, I couldn't find any availability on Qantas or Fiji to Australia using Alaska miles. I tried hiring a booking service and they couldn't find it either. So I think I've learned enough to become pretty efficient, even if I don't know ALL the tricks. There are some good tools that can really help. The award.flights Chrome extension is great for searching availability. Expertflyer is good as well. You have to know which airlines show up on which sites. For example, Fiji Airways flights show up on Alaska but not American, even though you can book them with American miles. You can also build itineraries yourself that may not be bookable online, so you'll have to call and book them. You need to know where all the airline hubs and their partners hubs are so you can search availability - sometimes you have to search each leg separately. You need to know the program's routing rules, stopover rules, etc. It's doable on your own, but it takes time. It's something you gradually pick up. It's more of a hobby for me, so I don't consider it "work". That's why many people just hire someone to do it. I'd be happy to help search for an award flight if there are any particular flights you're looking for though.

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

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 10:24 am

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

Victoria


But man, there are some pretty good deals out there you are passing on with this belt tightening.

I think the Merrill+ card is awesome. $3K intro spend and you get enough points to purchase two tickets up to $500 in value each. You can even go over $500 and just pay the difference in cash. I got the card recently and just used half the points to cover a $400 ticket. I think I have a ~$600 ticket cost coming up that I'll use the rest of the points for and just pay a little cash out of pocket to make the up the difference. No annual fee on this bad boy too.

If you like AA miles, there's plenty of good offers out there to pick them up, and now there are links that avoid the "you can't get the bonus if you've had the card in the last 2 years" problem. I don't care much for AA miles but some people like them.

Alaska miles are pretty sweet and you can churn their credit card pretty hard. Seems lots of folks get 1 every quarter. 30K miles plus a $100 statement credit that offsets the annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival+ is another one that's churnable....I believe every 6 months or so. It's currently got a 50K bonus which is easily redeemed against $500 in travel expenses you make normally on the card.

Even if you don't like hotel cards, how can you pass all that stuff up just to get a couple of good Chase cards in a year?


I don't give it up forever, just for a year {laughing}

I got an AA card recently, in less than 2 years since closing the last one. But I prefer flying United, they have a much better reward flight selection especially as I own the MPE card.

Depending on the bonus offers, next winter I will get a Bold card and a bit later a CSR. After that's done I will expand my game.

Victoria


You could always accumulate Air Canada miles to fly United - they're much easier to earn given Chase's 5/24 rule. You can transfer points from both Amex MR and SPG. That gives you a lot of options - there are tons of MR cards, two SPG cards, the Marriott business card, etc. With Amex EDP you can earn 1.5x on everything plus the bonus categories.

travellight
Posts: 2607
Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 5:52 pm
Location: San Diego

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by travellight » Tue Feb 14, 2017 12:43 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

Victoria


But man, there are some pretty good deals out there you are passing on with this belt tightening.

I think the Merrill+ card is awesome. $3K intro spend and you get enough points to purchase two tickets up to $500 in value each. You can even go over $500 and just pay the difference in cash. I got the card recently and just used half the points to cover a $400 ticket. I think I have a ~$600 ticket cost coming up that I'll use the rest of the points for and just pay a little cash out of pocket to make the up the difference. No annual fee on this bad boy too.

If you like AA miles, there's plenty of good offers out there to pick them up, and now there are links that avoid the "you can't get the bonus if you've had the card in the last 2 years" problem. I don't care much for AA miles but some people like them.

Alaska miles are pretty sweet and you can churn their credit card pretty hard. Seems lots of folks get 1 every quarter. 30K miles plus a $100 statement credit that offsets the annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival+ is another one that's churnable....I believe every 6 months or so. It's currently got a 50K bonus which is easily redeemed against $500 in travel expenses you make normally on the card.

Even if you don't like hotel cards, how can you pass all that stuff up just to get a couple of good Chase cards in a year?


Thanks for sharing this great info, btwolf! How do you get the $100 statement credit on Alaska? I didn't realize that was possible and just ate the cost.

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

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Drew777 » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:23 pm

travellight wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:If I wait a year and get a 50k CSR bonus, it will be equivalent to ~$900. Thus, I am now inclined to tighten the belt and wait for the CSR eligibility.

Victoria


But man, there are some pretty good deals out there you are passing on with this belt tightening.

I think the Merrill+ card is awesome. $3K intro spend and you get enough points to purchase two tickets up to $500 in value each. You can even go over $500 and just pay the difference in cash. I got the card recently and just used half the points to cover a $400 ticket. I think I have a ~$600 ticket cost coming up that I'll use the rest of the points for and just pay a little cash out of pocket to make the up the difference. No annual fee on this bad boy too.

If you like AA miles, there's plenty of good offers out there to pick them up, and now there are links that avoid the "you can't get the bonus if you've had the card in the last 2 years" problem. I don't care much for AA miles but some people like them.

Alaska miles are pretty sweet and you can churn their credit card pretty hard. Seems lots of folks get 1 every quarter. 30K miles plus a $100 statement credit that offsets the annual fee.

Barclaycard Arrival+ is another one that's churnable....I believe every 6 months or so. It's currently got a 50K bonus which is easily redeemed against $500 in travel expenses you make normally on the card.

Even if you don't like hotel cards, how can you pass all that stuff up just to get a couple of good Chase cards in a year?


Thanks for sharing this great info, btwolf! How do you get the $100 statement credit on Alaska? I didn't realize that was possible and just ate the cost.


It's a separate signup bonus offer. The standard public offer on the BOA site does not include the statement credit.

Bfwolf
Posts: 1584
Joined: Thu Oct 14, 2010 11:19 am

Re: What's Your Credit Card Rewards Strategy?

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Feb 14, 2017 1:47 pm

travellight wrote:Thanks for sharing this great info, btwolf! How do you get the $100 statement credit on Alaska? I didn't realize that was possible and just ate the cost.


The Frequent Miler has a good list of best offers available. You can find the Alaska deal there.

http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/b ... up-offers/

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