Best CC for Travel

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Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:42 pm

VictoriaF wrote:By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I went to the Chicago Seminars this last October. It was my first points/miles/credit card seminar. I found it very interesting and took a boatload of notes, but in practice I'm not really using much of what I learned. The most actionable takeaway I got was when I asked a question during the American Airlines breakout session about using 75K AA miles to fly one way business class on Qatar Air to get to South Africa, and the guy next to me leaned over and whispered "Hey, do you have any Alaska miles? You could fly to Africa for 70K miles one way in FIRST class on Cathay Pacific and stopover in Hong Kong as long as you want on the way." Which I'm planning on doing.

giesen5
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by giesen5 » Tue Jan 31, 2017 11:59 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I don't know exactly which airlines are on the Chase travel portal, but here's a post talking about 4 airlines that aren't on it that you can still book with your Chase URs by calling them. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/10/3 ... ds-points/
Million Mile Secrets is a good blog for beginners. Veteran travelers begrudge the owner Daraius Dubash for explaining everything in great detail and getting revenue from affiliated links, but for me his blog was a good starting point and now it's a checklist for the things other bloggers may have forgotten to mention.

I've met Daraius in person at Frequent Traveler University (FTU) in Washington, D.C. in 2014. Of all presenters he was the nicest and most accommodating. I had many questions and he discussed them with me in detail.

By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I second this. It is a great website to browse every couple of days. I also look at less frequently: Onemileatatime.boardingarea.com, thepointsguy.com and doctorofcredit.com.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:14 am

Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I went to the Chicago Seminars this last October. It was my first points/miles/credit card seminar. I found it very interesting and took a boatload of notes, but in practice I'm not really using much of what I learned. The most actionable takeaway I got was when I asked a question during the American Airlines breakout session about using 75K AA miles to fly one way business class on Qatar Air to get to South Africa, and the guy next to me leaned over and whispered "Hey, do you have any Alaska miles? You could fly to Africa for 70K miles one way in FIRST class on Cathay Pacific and stopover in Hong Kong as long as you want on the way." Which I'm planning on doing.
My first points/miles/credit cards seminar was FTU in December 2014. At that time I did not know anything and was overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the information. Since then I have learned a lot from reading blogs and from experience, but a seminar can open for me new ideas and opportunities. Ideally, FTU would hold another event in D.C., otherwise I'll travel to Chicago.

Thank you,
Victoria
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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VictoriaF
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:19 am

giesen5 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I don't know exactly which airlines are on the Chase travel portal, but here's a post talking about 4 airlines that aren't on it that you can still book with your Chase URs by calling them. http://millionmilesecrets.com/2016/10/3 ... ds-points/
Million Mile Secrets is a good blog for beginners. Veteran travelers begrudge the owner Daraius Dubash for explaining everything in great detail and getting revenue from affiliated links, but for me his blog was a good starting point and now it's a checklist for the things other bloggers may have forgotten to mention.

I've met Daraius in person at Frequent Traveler University (FTU) in Washington, D.C. in 2014. Of all presenters he was the nicest and most accommodating. I had many questions and he discussed them with me in detail.

By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I second this. It is a great website to browse every couple of days. I also look at less frequently: Onemileatatime.boardingarea.com, thepointsguy.com and doctorofcredit.com.
I visit all the sites you've mentioned plus http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/ . My intention is to review these five sites once a week, but in practice, I may go for weeks without checking them and then go there every day or two.

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

toto238
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by toto238 » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:07 am

Southwest CC through Chase has a pretty good offer going for it right now. You get 60,000 bonus points for opening their business card, 50,000 for a personal card (with requirements of spending $3,000 and $2,000 respectively). For 110,000 points you automatically qualify for a companion pass.

The companion pass is super valuable because basically your companion flies free. So if you usually travel with your spouse or other partner, it's basically like getting 50% off. The $1100 worth of free flights on SouthWest ain't bad either.

misterno
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by misterno » Wed Feb 01, 2017 11:41 am

I think there is a confusion here

We are not talking about sign up bonuses here

We are talking about which credit card gives back the most while traveling

rjbraun
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Wed Feb 01, 2017 12:13 pm

VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I went to the Chicago Seminars this last October. It was my first points/miles/credit card seminar. I found it very interesting and took a boatload of notes, but in practice I'm not really using much of what I learned. The most actionable takeaway I got was when I asked a question during the American Airlines breakout session about using 75K AA miles to fly one way business class on Qatar Air to get to South Africa, and the guy next to me leaned over and whispered "Hey, do you have any Alaska miles? You could fly to Africa for 70K miles one way in FIRST class on Cathay Pacific and stopover in Hong Kong as long as you want on the way." Which I'm planning on doing.
My first points/miles/credit cards seminar was FTU in December 2014. At that time I did not know anything and was overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the information. Since then I have learned a lot from reading blogs and from experience, but a seminar can open for me new ideas and opportunities. Ideally, FTU would hold another event in D.C., otherwise I'll travel to Chicago.

Thank you,
Victoria
Victoria, are you saying that you would be interested to repeat the FTU course if it were held again in DC? In that case, I assume that the course is updated and there's little if any repetition by attending twice within a couple or so years - is that right?

All I see shown on the FTU site now is the upcoming Seattle course. How much in advance do they announce new classes? I would have thought that FTU had upcoming classes posted for other cities but was kind of surprised not to find any.

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VictoriaF
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Wed Feb 01, 2017 9:33 pm

rjbraun wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:By the way, I am thinking of attending the FlyerTalk Seminar in Chicago in October. If any Bogleheads have been there (or are planning to), I'm interested in your take on the event.

Victoria
I went to the Chicago Seminars this last October. It was my first points/miles/credit card seminar. I found it very interesting and took a boatload of notes, but in practice I'm not really using much of what I learned. The most actionable takeaway I got was when I asked a question during the American Airlines breakout session about using 75K AA miles to fly one way business class on Qatar Air to get to South Africa, and the guy next to me leaned over and whispered "Hey, do you have any Alaska miles? You could fly to Africa for 70K miles one way in FIRST class on Cathay Pacific and stopover in Hong Kong as long as you want on the way." Which I'm planning on doing.
My first points/miles/credit cards seminar was FTU in December 2014. At that time I did not know anything and was overwhelmed by the breadth and depth of the information. Since then I have learned a lot from reading blogs and from experience, but a seminar can open for me new ideas and opportunities. Ideally, FTU would hold another event in D.C., otherwise I'll travel to Chicago.

Thank you,
Victoria
Victoria, are you saying that you would be interested to repeat the FTU course if it were held again in DC? In that case, I assume that the course is updated and there's little if any repetition by attending twice within a couple or so years - is that right?

All I see shown on the FTU site now is the upcoming Seattle course. How much in advance do they announce new classes? I would have thought that FTU had upcoming classes posted for other cities but was kind of surprised not to find any.
Yes, i would be interested to repeat Frequent Traveler University (FTU) if it were held again in D.C. I would also attend it if it were held at another location that I could combine with another event or a visit.

The FTU and FlyerTalk (FT) courses change as the airline and hotel programs change, as credit cards change their bonus and approval policies, and as manufactured spending techniques appear and disappear. Some speakers come to these events consistently, others intermittently. The audience asks different questions. And importantly, *I* am paying attention to different things. At my first FTU in 2014, I was asking people for recommendations to outsource my travel planning, i.e., authorize experts to use my miles and points to book travel for me for a nominal fee. Now, I would not consider this; now, I like to figure it out myself.

Furthermore, I may come to an event with specific questions and have them answered by other attendees, as it happened to Bfwolf in his message above. Or I may had not have a question but someone's comment has triggered a new train of thought. By reading blogs and FT one can find answers to practically any question. But that takes a lot of time, and some concepts are risky to implement. By contrast, when you are talking to people they provide you with more comprehensive information than what you ask for and alleviate your fears. Or they confirm your fears and advise you against doing something.

Some people fly to FTU and FT events based on their time availability rather than location, because they have millions of miles and hotel points to burn. The organizers try to diversify among the coasts, the middle of the country, and some international locations. I am certain that FTU will announce more events this year. And if nothing suits me, I'll go to Chicago.

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

rjbraun
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Wed Feb 01, 2017 10:31 pm

^^^ Victoria, many thanks for your thorough and informative reply. It makes me think that maybe FTU or an FT conference doesn't make sense for me, yet. As I am still working full-time, I just don't know that I have the flexibility and time to make use of the various strategies and such. I suppose at a minimum I should just try to read regularly the various sites mentioned a few posts earlier.

I think I read that the FTU program assumes participants arrive with a good understanding of the basics of frequent-flyer miles and similar. In that case, it seems that it might not hurt for me to be well-versed in things before attending FTU / FT, as I imagine a lot of ground is covered at a good clip.

giesen5
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by giesen5 » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:07 am

Is there ever a conference for newbies?

Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:50 am

I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people. At the Chicago Seminars I was 50th percentile at best. They have multiple speakers/break-outs going on at most times so you can choose a session that fits best with your level of expertise and what you're interested in, and some of them were definitely aimed at people who are a little less well versed in the ins and outs of these programs, but I would not recommend the Seminars for a true newbie who knows very little. I think it would be overwhelming.

rjbraun
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Thu Feb 02, 2017 11:56 am

Bfwolf wrote:I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people.
Interesting. How long have you been studying / learning about credit cards/ points, if you don't mind saying? And at what intensity? Just wondering how much time I should expect to dedicate if I'm going to really pursue this.

Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:11 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people.
Interesting. How long have you been studying / learning about credit cards/ points, if you don't mind saying? And at what intensity? Just wondering how much time I should expect to dedicate if I'm going to really pursue this.
I got into it in Summer of 2014. My brother and I were planning to go to Japan and SE Asia in 2015 and I realized from looking at blogs that we could fly business class for free with the right credit cards. As I kept reading more, I realized we could get our hotels for free too. And so I got dragged down the rabbit's hole. :) The learning curve is steep. You should certainly expect dozens of hours dedicated to it to get up to even a modestly reasonable level of knowledge.

rjbraun
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Thu Feb 02, 2017 1:43 pm

Bfwolf wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people.
Interesting. How long have you been studying / learning about credit cards/ points, if you don't mind saying? And at what intensity? Just wondering how much time I should expect to dedicate if I'm going to really pursue this.
I got into it in Summer of 2014. My brother and I were planning to go to Japan and SE Asia in 2015 and I realized from looking at blogs that we could fly business class for free with the right credit cards. As I kept reading more, I realized we could get our hotels for free too. And so I got dragged down the rabbit's hole. :) The learning curve is steep. You should certainly expect dozens of hours dedicated to it to get up to even a modestly reasonable level of knowledge.
Thanks, that's helpful. I'm pretty sure my personality, etc. would enable me to get dragged into that rabbit's hole as well, though I'm not sure I want to be even though it sounds as if I could get some satisfaction and even enjoyment going in. :confused

Is paying someone, i.e., outsourcing, a viable option? IIrc, it sounds as if Victoria opted in the end to forego this route and DIY ("do it yourself" or DIH). Not sure if that was because you need to know enough to be able to outsource, in which case you might as well just do it yourself. Or maybe it's so much fun that you'd just as soon DIY. Or maybe something else entirely, I suppose.

ResearchMed
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ResearchMed » Thu Feb 02, 2017 2:22 pm

rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people.
Interesting. How long have you been studying / learning about credit cards/ points, if you don't mind saying? And at what intensity? Just wondering how much time I should expect to dedicate if I'm going to really pursue this.
I got into it in Summer of 2014. My brother and I were planning to go to Japan and SE Asia in 2015 and I realized from looking at blogs that we could fly business class for free with the right credit cards. As I kept reading more, I realized we could get our hotels for free too. And so I got dragged down the rabbit's hole. :) The learning curve is steep. You should certainly expect dozens of hours dedicated to it to get up to even a modestly reasonable level of knowledge.
Thanks, that's helpful. I'm pretty sure my personality, etc. would enable me to get dragged into that rabbit's hole as well, though I'm not sure I want to be even though it sounds as if I could get some satisfaction and even enjoyment going in. :confused

Is paying someone, i.e., outsourcing, a viable option? IIrc, it sounds as if Victoria opted in the end to forego this route and DIY ("do it yourself" or DIH). Not sure if that was because you need to know enough to be able to outsource, in which case you might as well just do it yourself. Or maybe it's so much fun that you'd just as soon DIY. Or maybe something else entirely, I suppose.
We had learned a small bit at first, probably about average for anyone halfway paying attention... which means, as it turned out, not understanding much at all about the actual possibilities.

Because we (that would be "me", mostly) were having difficulty trying to figure out a way to use points to travel to Europe where small airports were involved, we turned to one of those other companies.
We happened to use PointsPros.com, somewhat arbitrarily, but also because there was no charge whatsoever if they didn't find an itinerary/airline/schedule/etc., that we ended up selecting. So that seemed pretty risk free, other than my time.

Well... that was a real eye-opener!

I kept my ears open (and also followed along online myself, to a small extent) as the rep searched, asked questions about preferences, and (very importantly) offered some comparisons.
We did end up using what they found, and the savings in points probably ended up with a net plus, and we got terrific itinerary/seats/etc.
This was for first class international, and we learned a LOT about using points from one airline on a partner airline, and also about transferring Amex points to one airline and again using the points on yet a different airline. Far more choices than we had any idea would be possible.

We've since done one on our own, and then for the big trip to Japan coming up, I got terrific tix using AA points on JAL outbound, but I was not having much luck with the return.
So I called the same folks (got a different rep who was just as helpful), and he got us something much better than we had been able to arrange.... and for *fewer* points! We got superb suite beds on Cathay Pacific, something I had hoped to be able to try "some day".
Again, I learned a lot.

The cost was modest given the value of the first class travel.
For domestic economy or such, it probably wouldn't be cost effective, but I'm not familiar with using points that way.

I'm not doing any manufactured spending, and a lot of what I used to read about isn't really available now - and much of what is seems to be extremely tedious, and perhaps risky (?).

But we do use our 2 charge cards for almost everthing. So we get one network of airlines/partners with AA, and a different set with Amex. That pretty much gets us wherever we'd want to go, especially with transferring points to Airline A to then use (not transfer to) on Airline B.

And we also recently learned (mostly by accident) that *buying* points, when used for premium international travel, can be very cost effective.
Buy points for 1.7 - 2 cents per point/mile/etc., and get "value" of 5 cents, 8 cents, or more, depending upon itinerary/carrier.
We wouldn't "buy" first class international, but we WOULD need to buy business class for long haul, so that comparison is indeed fair.
(If we had to buy for cash, we'd do these types of trips much, much less frequently. Now we can plan several. Nice discovery!)

I'll watch for a nearby FTU or such, and if there is one, then I'll look into it more carefully. It would probably be worth trying once.

And thanks, Victoria - we've been following some of your posts from some time ago, and it really helped.
(As did a few PM's from a couple of very helpful BH members. "You know who you are", etc. :wink: )

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

Bfwolf
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by Bfwolf » Thu Feb 02, 2017 3:04 pm

ResearchMed wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:
rjbraun wrote:
Bfwolf wrote:I consider my knowledge level about credit cards/points to be 99.99th percentile among regular people.
Interesting. How long have you been studying / learning about credit cards/ points, if you don't mind saying? And at what intensity? Just wondering how much time I should expect to dedicate if I'm going to really pursue this.
I got into it in Summer of 2014. My brother and I were planning to go to Japan and SE Asia in 2015 and I realized from looking at blogs that we could fly business class for free with the right credit cards. As I kept reading more, I realized we could get our hotels for free too. And so I got dragged down the rabbit's hole. :) The learning curve is steep. You should certainly expect dozens of hours dedicated to it to get up to even a modestly reasonable level of knowledge.
Thanks, that's helpful. I'm pretty sure my personality, etc. would enable me to get dragged into that rabbit's hole as well, though I'm not sure I want to be even though it sounds as if I could get some satisfaction and even enjoyment going in. :confused

Is paying someone, i.e., outsourcing, a viable option? IIrc, it sounds as if Victoria opted in the end to forego this route and DIY ("do it yourself" or DIH). Not sure if that was because you need to know enough to be able to outsource, in which case you might as well just do it yourself. Or maybe it's so much fun that you'd just as soon DIY. Or maybe something else entirely, I suppose.
We had learned a small bit at first, probably about average for anyone halfway paying attention... which means, as it turned out, not understanding much at all about the actual possibilities.

Because we (that would be "me", mostly) were having difficulty trying to figure out a way to use points to travel to Europe where small airports were involved, we turned to one of those other companies.
We happened to use PointsPros.com, somewhat arbitrarily, but also because there was no charge whatsoever if they didn't find an itinerary/airline/schedule/etc., that we ended up selecting. So that seemed pretty risk free, other than my time.

Well... that was a real eye-opener!

I kept my ears open (and also followed along online myself, to a small extent) as the rep searched, asked questions about preferences, and (very importantly) offered some comparisons.
We did end up using what they found, and the savings in points probably ended up with a net plus, and we got terrific itinerary/seats/etc.
This was for first class international, and we learned a LOT about using points from one airline on a partner airline, and also about transferring Amex points to one airline and again using the points on yet a different airline. Far more choices than we had any idea would be possible.

We've since done one on our own, and then for the big trip to Japan coming up, I got terrific tix using AA points on JAL outbound, but I was not having much luck with the return.
So I called the same folks (got a different rep who was just as helpful), and he got us something much better than we had been able to arrange.... and for *fewer* points! We got superb suite beds on Cathay Pacific, something I had hoped to be able to try "some day".
Again, I learned a lot.

The cost was modest given the value of the first class travel.
For domestic economy or such, it probably wouldn't be cost effective, but I'm not familiar with using points that way.

I'm not doing any manufactured spending, and a lot of what I used to read about isn't really available now - and much of what is seems to be extremely tedious, and perhaps risky (?).

But we do use our 2 charge cards for almost everthing. So we get one network of airlines/partners with AA, and a different set with Amex. That pretty much gets us wherever we'd want to go, especially with transferring points to Airline A to then use (not transfer to) on Airline B.

And we also recently learned (mostly by accident) that *buying* points, when used for premium international travel, can be very cost effective.
Buy points for 1.7 - 2 cents per point/mile/etc., and get "value" of 5 cents, 8 cents, or more, depending upon itinerary/carrier.
We wouldn't "buy" first class international, but we WOULD need to buy business class for long haul, so that comparison is indeed fair.
(If we had to buy for cash, we'd do these types of trips much, much less frequently. Now we can plan several. Nice discovery!)

I'll watch for a nearby FTU or such, and if there is one, then I'll look into it more carefully. It would probably be worth trying once.

And thanks, Victoria - we've been following some of your posts from some time ago, and it really helped.
(As did a few PM's from a couple of very helpful BH members. "You know who you are", etc. :wink: )

RM
Great perspective, RM. I've never used pointspros or similar, and at this point I know too much for that to be worthwhile, but for a newbie planning a big international trip with a lot of lead time it's probably a great option not just to get good value but also to learn.

traveltoomuch
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by traveltoomuch » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:33 pm

misterno wrote: When you say travel, say I travel to Mexico and used Costco credit card all the time. Will the 3% applied to EVERYTHING in Mexico or only to rental car, hotel and airplane?
The 3% rebate only applies to "travel" purchases, like the ones you named.

Be warned, though, that the Costco card has a 3% foreign transaction fee!!

Citi DoubleCash also has a 3% FTF. The Fidelity card is only 1%, and both Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred are 0%.

traveltoomuch
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by traveltoomuch » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:44 pm

rjbraun wrote: I think I read that the FTU program assumes participants arrive with a good understanding of the basics of frequent-flyer miles and similar. In that case, it seems that it might not hurt for me to be well-versed in things before attending FTU / FT, as I imagine a lot of ground is covered at a good clip.
I've been to two FTUs, and my impression was that they would useful to a relative newcomer. At least when I went, there were multiple tracks, and most of the presentations were stand-alone - they were not part of a coherent curriculum that built on itself - so you could pick things that were most suited to your level of knowledge. With that said, I am not a relative newcomer, so my opinion is suspect.

One example: Scott Mackenzie gave a presentation titled "Hidden Gem of the Emerald City: Alaska’s Mileage Plan", which I thought would be pretty useful to a newcomer.

traveltoomuch
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by traveltoomuch » Thu Feb 02, 2017 5:53 pm

rjbraun wrote: How much in advance do they announce new classes? I would have thought that FTU had upcoming classes posted for other cities but was kind of surprised not to find any.
You might not be seeing more because the presenters are volunteers. This is not (directly) a money-making enterprise. Some probably go to enhance their blog traffic and revenue, but I have the impression that it's just a continuation of the hobby for most.

Unlike some conferences I've seen (*ahem* Bogleheads), they do at least comp registrations and cover travel costs for their presenters, but no one is getting rich from running FTU.

adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:16 am

Thanks for all the insight! She ended up getting the CSR at the branch to get the 100k pts. Also the 3% back on travel and food seems hard to beat!
She and I are traveling to the Carribean in March so we will book our trip when we receive the card. That will get us close to the amount we need to spend in the first 3 months. Also she already has to fly for a night the next 2 weeks. We will have a free summer vacation almost! Thanks again for all the help.

OT- what sites do you use for travel? It seems as though Applevactions.com is the cheapest one I can find. I looked at Costco travel, Expedia, and doing the flight and at the hotel's website separate, and Apple is the cheapest. Thanks!

traveltoomuch
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by traveltoomuch » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:32 am

adaml30 wrote: OT- what sites do you use for travel?
For flights: http://matrix.itasoftware.com/ (ITA will not sell tickets; I generally buy directly from the airline.) I do award searches on each airline's site individually; I don't use expertflyer.

For hotels it's more complicated and variable. Usually I'll use kayak for initial research on paid rates then I'll move to the brand's own site to look for discounted rates (e.g. AAA/AARP). If nothing else, I might find a viable "best rate guarantee" claim that way and end up with an even lower final price. Priceline's name-your-own-price is a favorite tool. Because of loyalty program rules, I usually book either directly with the hotel or via priceline's name-your-own-price. http://wandr.me/Hotel-Tools/Hotel-Hustle/ is good for award searches. Alternatives for getting that first pass at paid rates include google and booking.com, but anything will do - remember, I'm not booking through these sites, just scoping out the territory.

Far cars I use Costco travel (which covers Avis) plus a separate search at Hertz. If rates look grim, I might use kayak, expedia, or the like. I have occasionally used hotwire and/or priceline. I've heard good things about booking cars through Chase's site, but I have not used it myself.

10YearPlan
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by 10YearPlan » Fri Feb 03, 2017 8:41 am

gunn_show wrote:
adaml30 wrote:The CSR kind of scares me with it having a 450 annual fee. I know many of you are high on it at BH. We have 3 kids and like to travel, but not sure we would be able to use the points for travel well enough. We live in Central IL and use regional airports, with Chicago, STL, and Indy all being 2.5-3 hours away.

Any cards where u get a high % on flying/hotel back as cash back?

Our personal CC is chase freedom, and after reading the last post about CC I thought about switching but I think we will just keep our CC as chase freedom.
Watty wrote:If she will be frequently flying the same airline or staying in the same hotel chain then you can often get double miles or more for paying with their credit card.
Watty's response is really the key to strategy for work travel, which I do a lot of. If possible, you need to pick 1 airline and 1 hotel chain to use at least 75% of the time or more if possible (some regional travel you don't have a choice, you take whatever you can get). That is how you rack up mega points, and also start climbing the status ladder (ie Marriott Gold, gets you free wifi, free breakfast, concierge lounge access, free parking, etc). Thus, the answer on what additional CC's to get depends on the chain/carrier she will use. For me, I have the Chase Southwest CC for flights and Chase Marriott (and Ritz) CC for my hotel, and I have high six figure points for both thanks to double dipping (as Watty pointed out) thanks to getting points for staying and points on the CC spend.

I also have the CSR as many others mention, because you get $300 back no matter what, and the 100k signup was worth 5x that anyway. I use that card for all other travel related items like food, uber or lyft rides, or any flights or hotels that are not SW or Marriott branded (ie Vegas conferences where most hotels have no related rewards program). Between using the CSP and CSR and spend I am already over 215k miles in chase points in one year.

It's a game, and if done right with some effort, can result in a lot of free points and travel.
I totally agree with the above and, frankly, was late to this particular party. When I started traveling for business, I used whatever airline the corporate travel site offered me, as well as the hotels our corporate office prefers. All charges were on Amex. Now, I do love my Amex but several years in, I noticed colleagues getting upgrades on flights due to status and perks upon check-in to rooms that I was not getting. This is because even though I participated in the loyalty programs, I was not optimizing usage. I currently have a Marriott Visa because we use Marriott for personal vacations and some corporate and the points add up so quickly and now enjoy many upgrades/freebies. I also try to get all my flights on the same carrier if I can, which has resulted in a significant acceleration of miles/status.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:29 am

rjbraun wrote:Is paying someone, i.e., outsourcing, a viable option? IIrc, it sounds as if Victoria opted in the end to forego this route and DIY ("do it yourself" or DIH). Not sure if that was because you need to know enough to be able to outsource, in which case you might as well just do it yourself. Or maybe it's so much fun that you'd just as soon DIY. Or maybe something else entirely, I suppose.
For me, it's a combination of reasons:
1. Similarly to the Bogleheads philosophy: if you know enough to hire a reasonable financial adviser you don't need a financial adviser.
2. I learned that some prominent bloggers hire less experienced people to do booking for their clients. Some of these helpers may not know more than the clients and not provide any value added benefit in comparison to what a client could do herself.
3. Outsourcing is justified for complex bookings, e.g., multiple family members traveling on the same itinerary, a complex itinerary across multiple regions with stop-overs and open jaws, higher class tickets during peak season, combining miles and points from several programs, and combinations of these. I have not had these constraints, and when I wanted to fly U.S.-Frankfurt-Seoul-U.S. on a reward ticket I managed to book it myself.
4. Making reservations yourself is a learning experience. The first time it's difficult and error-prone, but future bookings are getting simpler. And so the issue is not a one-off case for outsourcing but building expertise that saves you money and effort in the long run.
5. I travel a lot, and for me the effort of learning is justified.
6. When I book a particularly good itinerary, I have the sense of accomplishment which lasts for a day. When I repeatedly check fares for a planned trip it becomes frustrating. And so the average value of the fun factor is neutral.

Victoria
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: Best CC for Travel

Post by dots45 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:51 pm

The answer, well it depends. Just to note, I’ve been a Flyertalk member a lot longer than Boglehead member, and highly recommend the forum if wanting to get involved in more airline stuff. My first questions to ask (looks like some of this may of been mentioned on the first page of thread) would be what are your wife goals in terms of having points to spend, and what airline and hotels would she be staying at most often? Does she want hotel points, airline miles, cash back, flexible points? Someone flying AA and staying in only Hyatt properties might want to use a different card compared to someone flying Southwest and staying at Holiday Inn’s.

Without knowing all the specifics, Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve are both solid choices unless she doesn’t qualify based on the 5/24 rule, with having too many accounts opened in the last 24 months. I did notice something about having a Chase Freedom card already. With a CSP/CSR card as well you'd be able to transfer points you have accumulated from the freedom over to the CSP/CSR for better redemption options.

Another route to go, I will mention one of my favorite cards is the Starwood Preferred card. I would say they are some of the most valuable points around and have really good transfer options with it. It is an Amex card, however, so depending on your destination you could run into acceptance issues compared to a Chase Visa card. Also, I don’t know how long it will be around given the SPG/Marriott merger, but for now this would be a great choice. Lots of flexibility with the 1:3 conversion ratio from SPG to Marriott points, plus a lot of airline partners where you can transfer 20,000 SPG into 25,000 airline miles.

Most of the blogs mentioned are fine for beginners into the miles and points arena. Some of them don’t highlight the best offers and will promote lesser ones that have their referral links attached. I will give a shout out, however, to my favorite doctorofcredit. Always my go to source for the best offers and no-nonsense advice along with the flyertalk forum. Though from the replies I see there are also some educated members here too on this subject.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Fri Feb 03, 2017 2:59 pm

dots45 wrote:Most of the blogs mentioned are fine for beginners into the miles and points arena. Some of them don’t highlight the best offers and will promote lesser ones that have their referral links attached. I will give a shout out, however, to my favorite doctorofcredit. Always my go to source for the best offers and no-nonsense advice along with the flyertalk forum.
That's true. One prominent blogger mentioned earlier in this thread was not recommending CSR, because Chase was marketing it directly and was not paying bloggers to promote it. Other bloggers, on the other hand, have described the value of CSR in great detail and criticized the "prominent blogger." Thus, it makes sense to read several blogs, and not one.

I usually review blogs headlines, read full blog posts if they are relevant to my interests or the programs I participate in, and read all reader comments before I act. FlyerTalk is great for specific questions and related data points. For example, I recently wanted to know how strict is Citi with re-issuing American Airlines cards and discovered a link on FT that allowed me to apply immediately.

Victoria
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: Best CC for Travel

Post by VictoriaF » Mon Feb 06, 2017 2:20 pm

Fresh from the press:
FTU wrote:FTU Advanced is our most popular event, and we're thrilled to announce it is coming to Minneapolis for the first time on June 9-11, 2017.

FTU Advanced Minneapolis will be held at the Marriott Minneapolis Airport that is offering a $105 per night group rate for single/double occupancy. You can book your hotel room for the event here.

There are a limited number of FTU Advanced Minneapolis tickets available for public sale at $249 for an all-access weekend pass, as well as a Saturday-only option for $149.
Those planning to attend should book it soon. From my observation, FTU Advanced fills up faster than FTU Beginners.

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

adaml30
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by adaml30 » Mon Feb 06, 2017 9:50 pm

So, I am liking the perks of CSR and we just got the cc. I was looking at the lounges and see she gets free access. If I am traveling with her, do I get in free also, or since I don't have a card, am I SOL!? I noticed its 75 more for me to be added to the card, and I can't find the info now of course. Is that annually, or one time? Thanks!

Also, if I look at an airports lounges, does she get into any of them listed? Like Ohare has something like 5 or 6 listed, can she get in any of those?

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by am » Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:26 pm

My understanding is all immediate family get in with primary reserve cardholder into any lounge listed on priority pass website.

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by auggiedoggies » Tue Feb 07, 2017 1:12 pm

adaml30 wrote:So, I am liking the perks of CSR and we just got the cc. I was looking at the lounges and see she gets free access. If I am traveling with her, do I get in free also, or since I don't have a card, am I SOL!? I noticed its 75 more for me to be added to the card, and I can't find the info now of course. Is that annually, or one time? Thanks!

Also, if I look at an airports lounges, does she get into any of them listed? Like Ohare has something like 5 or 6 listed, can she get in any of those?

The Priority Pass cardholder can bring in unlimited (in theory) guests, so you will be fine.

These are the lounges she can access:

https://www.prioritypass.com/en/airport ... Alnv8P8HAQ

am
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by am » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:10 pm

Is there usually food in the lounges? Are drinks free?

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by ResearchMed » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:23 pm

am wrote:Is there usually food in the lounges? Are drinks free?
Yes, there is usually food and drink in these lounges, although the type/amount/quality can vary quite a bit, even within one "brand" of lounge (e.g., Priority Pass, or a specific airline club, etc.).

In at least some clubs/lounges, there is no charge for beverages, including alcohol.

If you are in an airport with more than one lounge where you have access, it might be worth checking both/all of them, unless the first one has great ambiance and goodies.

RM
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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by am » Tue Feb 07, 2017 9:25 pm

Food for a meal or snack? Have you been to ohare or London heathrow lounges? Any you recommend?

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Re: Best CC for Travel

Post by rjbraun » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:06 pm

am wrote:Food for a meal or snack? Have you been to ohare or London heathrow lounges? Any you recommend?
While I've only visited a couple of Priority Pass (PP) lounges, I believe the extent of the food and drink offerings will vary by lounge. That would be consistent with my experience visiting other airport lounges outside the PP network. Larger airports, such as O'Hare or Heathrow, will typically have a number of lounges (I'm speaking in general, not necessarily specific to PP lounges). The one you visit will presumably depend not only on access privileges but also on proximity to your departure gate.

The link to the thread below on PP lounges may be of interest:

viewtopic.php?t=205993

Separately, thanks to RM and others for the helpful comments on the pros / cons of outsourcing to book flights, hotels, etc.

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