Author Topic: dipping a toe into milage cards  (Read 891 times)

Eilonwy

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dipping a toe into milage cards
« on: September 12, 2017, 06:37:48 PM »
My husband and I  have excellent credit. We usually use a straightforward cashback card. But I want to do a big trip within the next year, so I'm thinking about getting a mileage card, preferably one with the annual fee waved the first year.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred seems to be the most recommended, but I'm leaning towards the simplicity of the Barclay Arrival Plus, because you can use your miles for any form of travel expense and redeem them as a statement credit. But I'm a little perplexed by it because it isn't *really* dealing in miles. This is the offer:

"Earn an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. Each mile is worth 1 cent when redeemed for travel or 0.5 cent when redeemed for cash back. Whenever you redeem miles, you get 5% of those miles back toward your next redemption. You can start redeeming for travel with 10,000 miles, or 5,000 miles for cash back."

Assuming you redeem everything for travel, this doesn't seem any different than 2% cashback, other than the extra 5% back. Am I missing something? Would I get more value for a card in which miles actually means miles? Or am I being too literal and they all work this way?

Any advice appreciated.

bacchi

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2017, 07:11:43 PM »
Yes, the Arrival+ is a 2.1% cash back card. Remember, though -- it's the $500 signup bonus that matters. It can be used for airline or hotel or airbnb purchases.

The Chase Sapphire is important because the UR points can transfer to several airlines including United. That's often a better deal than using it for the Chase travel portal.

You can then get the United card for an additional 50k miles and then you're flying across the pond for free.

letired

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2017, 07:15:12 PM »
The travel cards are all about the sign-on/new account bonus, not the regular earn rate. So for the Barclays card, it's spend $3k in 90 days = 50,000 bonus + 6,000 points = 56,000 points @1 cent per mile = $560 in travel expenses or ~18.6% """cash back""".

People who are better at the game than I am have a 'cash value of points' metric that they keep track of for various kinds of points/miles/whatever. Various blogs will talk about it. Part of the issue is that the cash value fluctuates a lot based on the redemption, so if you're working toward a specific trip, figuring out who has the best points for getting where you are going is a thing that you can do (but is not something I have enough experience to really talk about sensibly).

cchrissyy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2017, 08:23:44 PM »
unless you have huge spending patterns, like a card that is for major business use, the miles/points game is all about the signup bonuses. Get a card, make the minimum spending, go on to the next card. Have your husband do it too, separate accounts so you get it twice, as opposed to being authorized users on one shared account.

Vertical Mode

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2017, 09:56:54 PM »
Usually, I will sign up for either a cash bonus or miles/points bonus when I anticipate a big expense coming, so I do not have to manufacture spending to meet the minimum to receive the signup bonus. As others have mentioned, there are 2 factors in play:

1) The signup bonus. This is where the real value of these things lies, since you can accumulate a LOT of points/miles very quickly in addition to the regular earn rate.
2) The "family" the rewards program belongs to (other rewards currencies you can convert the points into, travel partners, etc.)

I have had good luck with the Chase family (Chase, Hyatt, IHG, etc.). Do not have the Sapphire Preferred because I simply don't have the spending bandwidth to meet the minimum on it, but it looks like a great card and would allow you to convert points to the hotels mentioned above seamlessly.

In terms of value, I've had really good luck with the Chase IHG Mastercard. The $49 annual fee is more than covered by the annual bonus night, as long as you use a hotel once a year it pays for itself. Also, the Hyatt one, except that I find their hotels can sometimes be too fancy for regular old me ;-)

I'd recommend taking a look at The Points Guy, they can offer so much more detail about this and related topics. They'll also have links to the rewards cards themselves if you find you're ready to take the leap.

Hope this helps!
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Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2017, 11:34:23 PM »
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm still kind of puzzled, but will check out the points guy.

We use a credit card for just about everything (paid off every month) so I think we can meet the bonus minimums -- though whether we can do it on three cards before the trip, I don't know. :-) Probably at least two.

danakado

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2017, 08:51:49 AM »
I highly recommend this course to really understand how it all works..... 
http://www.travelmiles101.com/travel-miles-101-course-index/?ppt=282572b095697f4a7c383cafa26a6aa0

I started about a year ago and haven't gone hard core but have had some great savings so far.....  I read about this course somewhere on this site:) 

Rubic

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2017, 09:44:53 AM »
... I'm leaning towards the simplicity of the Barclay Arrival Plus ...

I've successfully churned the Arrival+ twice (and will make a third
attempt in 6 months), but I'd definitely recommend you start with
the Chase CSR while you're still under the 5/24 rule.  You and your
husband can work Chase in "2-player mode" to maximize your
sign-up bonuses and minimize your annual fees.

Catbert

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2017, 11:03:36 AM »
If you're going to get it, get it soon since the rumor is that the 50,000 point bonus is about to be reduced:

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/barclay-arrival-now-50000-point-bonus-worth-525-travel/

It's a great card and very easy to "erase" travel charges with your points.

Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2017, 11:17:03 AM »
Thanks, have applied.

So... if these rewards aren't actually that much better than a free cashback card, why do people pay large fees to have these cards?

Rubic

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2017, 11:37:24 AM »
If you're going to get it, get it soon since the rumor is that the 50,000 point bonus is about to be reduced:

https://www.doctorofcredit.com/barclay-arrival-now-50000-point-bonus-worth-525-travel/

It's a great card and very easy to "erase" travel charges with your points.

Good catch from yesterday's DoC site update.  Well, I'm sad I won't get a chance
to churn it a third time, but can't complain as I got $1500 worth of benefit from the
cards.

Catbert

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2017, 12:03:16 PM »
Thanks, have applied.

So... if these rewards aren't actually that much better than a free cashback card, why do people pay large fees to have these cards?

Many people churn them, i.e., wait until annual fee is up and cancel.  Others who have used a card a lot during the year, call up and threaten to cancel in hopes of getting a retention bonus.  Still others find the fee worth paying for other benefits:  Many have purchase protection, extended warrenties, free rental car insurance, roadside assistance, etc.  Specific brand cards often have free checked baggage, priority boarding, upgraded rooms, etc.  This could be worth it if you travel a lot.

Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2017, 12:27:42 PM »
When I applied, there was a section about not abusing or gaming the system, though I'm not sure what measures they can take against people that do.

I'm not really into doing a lot of churning... too complicated, and it annoys my husband to have to frequently change what he's doing. If I can use a couple of cards and get a chunk of my ticket paid for, I'll be pretty happy.

Car Jack

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2017, 12:53:37 PM »
You might want to consider skipping the airline games and get a citi double cash card.  I use it as my go to card.  I don't have to fly a certain airline to use....cash.  I've done the airline thing in the past (when treasury direct sold US Savings bonds online with no fee for credit card, we bought $120k worth every year, bought tickets to Aruba and used the points to upgrade to first class) but that's way harder and more expensive now.  I use the double cash for everything with the exception of the big cash back (freedom and discover) or when I churn in a new card and need the spend for the bonus.


kpd905

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2017, 07:00:58 PM »
Thanks, have applied.

So... if these rewards aren't actually that much better than a free cashback card, why do people pay large fees to have these cards?

Because there is a $500 sign up bonus.  You end up with $560 toward travel after spending $3k on this card, where a regular 2% back card would take $28,000 of spending to get you the same.
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Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #15 on: September 13, 2017, 08:24:03 PM »
That's a reason to sign up -- especially if the fee is waived for the first year. That's not a reason to keep the card.

N

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #16 on: September 16, 2017, 12:17:01 AM »
I also highly recommend doing the free online travelmiles101 course.

You need to know how many cc accounts you already have, and when they were opened. You can use CreditKarma to view this info, (free).

Then you can plan a strategy of which cards you might want to get. My husband isnt into churning, but he lets me get him a few cards per year, and then I manage my own. Some of the Chase cards have great bonuses, and Chase has strict rules about how many cards you can already have when you apply for theirs. So, consider Chase cards first. Then some of the other cash rewards cards. Barclay, Capital One, Discover IT. Travelmiles101 also has a page with the best offers and lots of info on each card.

Last year was our first year, and we earned lots of great perks and rewards. Some of those cards I cancelled, some I will keep, some I will downgrade to a no annual fee card from the same issuer.

kpd905

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #17 on: September 16, 2017, 06:09:17 PM »
That's a reason to sign up -- especially if the fee is waived for the first year. That's not a reason to keep the card.

Nobody said you need to keep the card.  You can downgrade to a no fee card or ask to have the annual fee waived.  If they won't waive it, then cancel.
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elaine amj

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2017, 07:12:21 PM »
First up - I would suggest figuring out what u need for your trip. Then figure out what cards will get u what u need. You don't necessarily want 4 cards in 4 different point systems that cannot be consolidated to give u enough points to do what u want.

Eg I knew I wanted to fly my brother and his family from the UK to the US for a family reunion. I took a look and figured out that the only program where I could earn the massive chunk of miles necessary (within a year) was American Airlines. So I figured out how many miles I needed and planned out my strategy.

It involved signing up for the Starwood Amex, an Amex that earned Amex Membership Rewards, and two American Airlines credit cards. I then transferred everything to AA miles and had enough to do what I wanted.

Yes British Airways had a better promo - but I would only have enough for 1+ tickets, not the 3 I needed. So going with AA worked better for me.

And like everyone else said, go for Chase cards first. We have been locked out of those cards since the 5/24 rule and I sure miss them!!


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Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #19 on: September 18, 2017, 12:18:46 AM »
That's a reason to sign up -- especially if the fee is waived for the first year. That's not a reason to keep the card.

Nobody said you need to keep the card.  You can downgrade to a no fee card or ask to have the annual fee waived.  If they won't waive it, then cancel.

But that was *exactly* my question -- why does anybody pay the fees.

N

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #20 on: September 18, 2017, 12:25:46 AM »
Why would you keep a card and pay fees?

Your benefits outweigh the annual fee.
You practice "manufactured spend" and earn thousands and thousands of points a month.
You use the card to sell Authorized User spots
To increase the age of your credit
Some cards offer annual bonus nights free or points.
Sometimes you can have the fee waived.

Eilonwy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #21 on: September 18, 2017, 12:26:36 AM »
I only need one ticket, which makes it considerably simpler. 50,000 "miles" will almost cover it...

letired

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #22 on: September 18, 2017, 06:47:04 PM »

Jaguar Paw

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #23 on: September 18, 2017, 08:37:42 PM »
That's a reason to sign up -- especially if the fee is waived for the first year. That's not a reason to keep the card.

Nobody said you need to keep the card.  You can downgrade to a no fee card or ask to have the annual fee waived.  If they won't waive it, then cancel.

But that was *exactly* my question -- why does anybody pay the fees.

I pay the fee because the signup bonus far outweighs the fee. Last year my wife and I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was 100K points, which was good for 1,500 dollars of travel. The card also came with a $300 travel credit, in relation to calendar year, so we got two of them in one year of paying for the card. That equates to $2,100 of travel for $450 or $4,200 of travel for $900 because we both did it. We also did the Chase Sapphire Preferred which had no fee for 50K points, good for $625 of travel. So far this year, we have both gotten the Chase Business card which has $800 of travel for 80 bucks. We then cancel all cards before the next year kicks in. paying $450 for $2,100 of travel, or $80 for $800 is a no brainer and makes the fees well worth it.

Anette

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #24 on: Today at 12:40:56 AM »
Does anyone have any information on cards to use in Germany ( meaning being resident in Germany)?
This all sounds very interesting to me, but I am not seeing any offers here. The best I can see is no annual fee ( for the first year) and 1 cash back point for every two Euros spent and that does not seem worth it.
Any pointers would be appreciated.

elaine amj

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #25 on: Today at 10:10:22 AM »
That's a reason to sign up -- especially if the fee is waived for the first year. That's not a reason to keep the card.

Nobody said you need to keep the card.  You can downgrade to a no fee card or ask to have the annual fee waived.  If they won't waive it, then cancel.

But that was *exactly* my question -- why does anybody pay the fees.
I keep a couple of fee cards for their annual bonus - the Hyatt Visa ($75/yr) and the IHG MC ($49). Both give me an annual free night that I enjoy using in nice hotels and I generally feel they are worth it.

Once in a while I will keep another if it works out but usually only for an extra 1-2 years. Those are the two that I have kept for several years now.

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researcher1

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #26 on: Today at 10:46:50 AM »
Last year my wife and I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was 100K points, which was good for 1,500 dollars of travel. The card also came with a $300 travel credit...
Paying $450 for $2,100 of travel makes the fees well worth it...

Could you explain what exactly you mean by the points being "good for $2100 of travel"?

How and where do you redeem these points?  Through a Chase travel portal I assume?
What can these points be used for?  Hotel, airfare, rental car?  Are you limited to which airline/chain you use?
What are the prices in this travel portal?  The same as you would get if you booked yourself?

Say you book a weekend trip to Vegas, in which you used points for "$2100 of travel."
Say I book a similar vacation myself...flight with Frontier/Allegiant/Southwest for $200 + nice hotel room on the strip for $300.

Your cost when using your points might have been $2100.
But an equivalent vacation booked separately from the points may only cost $500.
If so, you certainly couldn't claim your points are "good for $2100 of travel."

DarkandStormy

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Re: dipping a toe into milage cards
« Reply #27 on: Today at 11:46:47 AM »
Last year my wife and I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it was 100K points, which was good for 1,500 dollars of travel. The card also came with a $300 travel credit...
Paying $450 for $2,100 of travel makes the fees well worth it...

Could you explain what exactly you mean by the points being "good for $2100 of travel"?

How and where do you redeem these points?  Through a Chase travel portal I assume?
What can these points be used for?  Hotel, airfare, rental car?  Are you limited to which airline/chain you use?
What are the prices in this travel portal?  The same as you would get if you booked yourself?

Say you book a weekend trip to Vegas, in which you used points for "$2100 of travel."
Say I book a similar vacation myself...flight with Frontier/Allegiant/Southwest for $200 + nice hotel room on the strip for $300.

Your cost when using your points might have been $2100.
But an equivalent vacation booked separately from the points may only cost $500.
If so, you certainly couldn't claim your points are "good for $2100 of travel."

Chase has their own travel portal, like Expedia or Orbitz, which aggregates the results of what you search.  You can redeem 1 Ultimate Reward point for 1.25 cents if you have a Preferred card and for 1.5 cents if you have a Reserve card (or Ink Preferred Biz card).  So you get more money out of your points than a 1-for-1 cash back or statement credit.

The real key though is to transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to their travel partners - they have 11 (Southwest, United, British Airways, IHG, Hyatt, etc.).  They transfer 1-to-1.  So I could transfer over 25,000 points to my Southwest account and use those to book my Southwest flight if it costs 25,000 miles.  You can typically hit 2 cents/point that way as long as you aren't booking flights during the big holiday travel days.
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