Author Topic: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?  (Read 25306 times)

El_Viajero

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Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« on: January 21, 2015, 07:09:56 PM »
Alright! This is my first post in the MMM forums! I recently discovered that my "save most of your income/ride a bike for transport/don't live in a fancy-ass house/cook my own delicious, nutritious food/buy most things used" mentality does, in fact have a name: mustachianism. Go figure.

Anyhow, I'm wondering if I should get in on the "travel 'hacking' with credit cards" game. Here's my situation:

My wife and I live in the Triangle area of NC. My parents live in Atlanta. Hers live in Dallas, and she has other family in Colorado. Obviously, we will default to air travel for visiting her family. For mine, driving is an option; however, I MUCH prefer flying if I can get a deal. It's a 1.5 hour flight vs. 8 or so hours in the car. Let's say we'd like to go to Atlanta four times per year, Dallas twice per year, and Colorado once per year. That's seven flights.

I'm wondering if it makes sense to start applying for different credit cards just so I can use them for a few months and rack up a bunch of points that I can trade for flights. I obviously wouldn't be doing this if I wasn't a consistently responsible credit card user (I am) and didn't have excellent credit (I do). Given the number of flights and the distances (I realize this is literally zilch compared to what a lot of business travelers cover), is there an opportunity for me to save big time on flights by strategically applying for and acquiring credit cards with travel rewards?

If so, how should I go about such a thing? Should I identify which airlines I would probably fly on most often and figure out which credit cards link to their frequent flyer programs?


innerscorecard

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2015, 07:20:56 PM »
Why not?

johnny847

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2015, 07:25:28 PM »
I'm assuming that when you fly, you will be flying with your wife. Combining that assumption with your intention of trying to get domestic flights, I recommend you try to get a Southwest Companion pass.

There are many details here http://www.doctorofcredit.com/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-the-southwest-companion-pass/

The basic idea is once you get the companion pass, you name your wife as your companion, and when you fly on Southwest (whether it's a paid ticket or even a reward flight booked with points), your wife flies for free (well, she still needs to pay the 9/11 fee, but close enough).

chasesfish

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2015, 07:40:27 PM »
In short, you should start travel hacking cards. 

You can immediately get a nice pop from the Southwest, American Airlines, and Delta Airlines cards.  Those three all serve Dallas from Raleigh, with Delta/Raleigh served by Delta.

There are also a couple of general travel cards you can bonuses for.  Just know you can really only get the bonuses once, then you have to start figuring out what is the highest value CC to carry.

kpd905

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2015, 08:04:57 PM »
I have gotten about $11,000 worth of value from credit card sign up bonuses in the last 2 years.

For starters, you might want to start with the Barclays Arrival card.  You spend $3000 in the first 3 months, and you get $440 worth of credit toward any travel expenses.  So put your flight on that card and you can just use your points to erase that transaction.

After that, figure out the airlines that would be best to use for where you want to go.  It sounds like you are flying to pretty major airports, so many airline cards will work.

For 90,000 United miles you can get the United Mileage Explorer card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

For 100,000 American Airline miles you can grab the US Airways Mastercard and the Citi Aadvantage card.  US Airways and American will merge mileage accounts in a few months.

British Airways can also be used to fly on American/US Airways, and it is distance based, so you could get pretty good value for the flights to Texas.

ambimammular

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2015, 08:58:06 PM »
That companion pass is the bomb!

DH and I only started churning around new years after reading about it on the forum. I was concerned because we're pretty low consumers and I wasn't sure we would spend enough to make it worth it, but with some of those bonuses and point multipliers your airline mile really add up. Being organized helps.

I will say that as someone who didn't have their own a credit card (I've been an authorized user on DH's for years) to suddenly have four as of January seems bizarre.

Totally worth it. Give it a try!

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2015, 10:26:05 AM »
Quote
Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?

Do you travel, or want to?  Then yes.  Otherwise, no.

I started travel hacking last summer.  Had put it off for years because it didn't seem worth the time or hassle to figure out, and it seemed complicated.

Now I wish I had started years ago.  It's quite simple, and the benefits are huge.  I've literally made thousands of dollars (made, not saved, as in they put cash into my bank accounts) on top of saving tens of thousands on travel.

So actually, let me change my first answer.  Yes, you should.  Even if you don't want to travel, you should get the cards that can redeem for cash.  Get ~$400-500/card you sign up for, make a few thousand bucks, even if you never travel.
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ILoveMyBlondeStache

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2015, 11:02:33 AM »
Quote
Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?

Do you travel, or want to?  Then yes.  Otherwise, no.

I started travel hacking last summer.  Had put it off for years because it didn't seem worth the time or hassle to figure out, and it seemed complicated.

Now I wish I had started years ago.  It's quite simple, and the benefits are huge. I've literally made thousands of dollars (made, not saved, as in they put cash into my bank accounts) on top of saving tens of thousands on travel.

So actually, let me change my first answer.  Yes, you should.  Even if you don't want to travel, you should get the cards that can redeem for cash.  Get ~$400-500/card you sign up for, make a few thousand bucks, even if you never travel.

Can you share more about how this is possible? 

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2015, 11:08:00 AM »
Some rewards points let you use statement credits rather than miles (like chase ultimate rewards and amex member points).
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Catbert

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2015, 11:36:17 AM »
Well I just started this month so I guess I think it's a good idea.  I got a Southwest Rapid Rewards card which will get me 50,000 miles/points for a $99 annual fee and minimal "minimum purchases" in 3 months.  That's more than enough to get 2 round trip tickets anywhere Southwest flies in CONUS. 

I would suggest starting slowly because you'll want to ensure that you can make enough purchases to get the bonus.  If you find a great on-going deal (i.e., Southwest )your DW can get one a few months later.

Read all the fine print to ensure that you don't mess up the requirements.

Eric

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2015, 11:36:47 AM »
I should probably know this, but don't, so I'll jump in here too.  I spend about $25K/yr excluding rent.  Some of that is cash, like farmers markets, so let's say $20K is available for CC charges.  The best programs out there seem to have at a max 2% cash back.  That's $400.  How do you all make so much money back?  Am I just not spending enough money?  boo hoo :(

Or are the rewards a lot higher than that if you get miles instead of cash?  What's the general plan of attack?

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2015, 11:43:50 AM »
I should probably know this, but don't, so I'll jump in here too.  I spend about $25K/yr excluding rent.  Some of that is cash, like farmers markets, so let's say $20K is available for CC charges.  The best programs out there seem to have at a max 2% cash back.  That's $400.  How do you all make so much money back?  Am I just not spending enough money?  boo hoo :(

Or are the rewards a lot higher than that if you get miles instead of cash?  What's the general plan of attack?

The best returns (both cash and miles) come from maximizing signup bonuses, so the people making the most are regularly acquiring new cards, completing their initial spend, and when necessary, negotiating to avoid annual fees under threat of canceling older cards.

Some people make/earn money using manufactured spend (essentially moving money around by spending on a card to buy instruments that can with minimal difficulty be converted back to cash, such as VISA gift cards, or funding an Amex Serve card, but I find this to be more effort than it's worth for me locally.  The ROI per hour spent doesn't make it worth my while.

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2015, 11:49:38 AM »
I should probably know this, but don't, so I'll jump in here too.  I spend about $25K/yr excluding rent.  Some of that is cash, like farmers markets, so let's say $20K is available for CC charges.  The best programs out there seem to have at a max 2% cash back.  That's $400.  How do you all make so much money back?  Am I just not spending enough money?  boo hoo :(

Or are the rewards a lot higher than that if you get miles instead of cash?  What's the general plan of attack?

Signup bonuses.  You sign up for a card like a Chase Ink that gets you 50,000 points that can be redeemed as $500 statement credit (or put to higher "value" if you use it for travel, and were planning to travel anyways).  I make almost nothing on the tiny % cash back.  But signup bonuses get you a ton when you first start.
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charis

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2015, 11:57:57 AM »
Some people make/earn money using manufactured spend (essentially moving money around by spending on a card to buy instruments that can with minimal difficulty be converted back to cash, such as VISA gift cards, or funding an Amex Serve card, but I find this to be more effort than it's worth for me locally.  The ROI per hour spent doesn't make it worth my while.

I have say that Serve is the easiest and quickest thing I have used.  It initially involves setting up the account and the monthly reoccurring, automatic transactions online.  After this, all you have to do is one monthly online transaction.  That takes seconds.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2015, 12:02:11 PM »
Some people make/earn money using manufactured spend (essentially moving money around by spending on a card to buy instruments that can with minimal difficulty be converted back to cash, such as VISA gift cards, or funding an Amex Serve card, but I find this to be more effort than it's worth for me locally.  The ROI per hour spent doesn't make it worth my while.

I have say that Serve is the easiest and quickest thing I have used.  It initially involves setting up the account and the monthly reoccurring, automatic transactions online.  After this, all you have to do is one monthly online transaction.  That takes seconds.

Is Serve not still limited to $1500 in debit loads and $1500 in credit card loads per month (And even that's only if you use ISIS/Softcard, it's $1000 each if not)?  So we're talking 2000/3000 points max per month, plus the time spent getting the money back *out* of serve (either by doing billpay or ATM withdrawals a few hundred bucks per day), plus any time spent making sure your billpays actually arrive, and it's not *personally* worth it to me for $20/30 in credit per month.

Edit to add: I'm aware that the best way to do this is to buy debit gift cards someplace with a 5X bonus, such as Staples on and Ink card, and make your points from the purchase of the debit cards.  However, I'm in a high population area where finding the cards, and then dealing with getting them loaded onto Serve at Wal-mart, where managers are actively watching and trying to limit Serve loads, is a huge time suck and my time is much better spent using those hours actually working.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 12:04:57 PM by iamlindoro »

DoNorth

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2015, 12:11:24 PM »
definitely.  Follow "The Points Guy" on facebook and check out the audio book by Brad Wilson from Brad's Deals ("Do More, Spend Less")  Churning/travel hacking is fine as long as you don't mind taking temporary hits to your credit score.  If you're going to buy a house or some other purchase, you want to do it very carefully to ensure you don't raise any red flags.  My favorite strategy-- Open four of the same card; you (personal), you (business), your wife (personal), your wife (business).  This could easily net you 160,000 to 200,000 points in a short period of time depending on your spending habits.  If you're flying the right airlines, you can really get good values.  For domestic travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards is good.  consider a $200 domestic ticket;   Chase gives you a 20% discount if you book through the ultimate rewards site. so it would only cost 16,000 points in contrast to the best saver fare on most airlines which would  be 25,000 points.

So, you could sign up for the personal card (45,000 points with spousal card and $3000 spend in the first month + 1 spouse card transaction).  Do the same with the business card.  She does the same with both and you have 180,000 points or enough for ~11 round trip tickets (@$200 each) for a value of over $2000.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2015, 12:20:37 PM »
For domestic travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards is good.  consider a $200 domestic ticket;   Chase gives you a 20% discount if you book through the ultimate rewards site. so it would only cost 16,000 points in contrast to the best saver fare on most airlines which would  be 25,000 points.

Quick note to suggest that a better use of points on a short haul domestic flight (which is what a $200 ticket would be) in many cases may be transferring Ultimate Rewards points to BA Avios, where flights < 650 miles per leg will be 9000 points round trip, and flights < 1151 miles per leg will be 15,000 points round trip.  In *most* cases (there are no absolutes) the Avios will be a more effective use of points.

For those wondering, British Airways Avios can be used to fly on their partners, so in the US they would generally be booked on the BA site, and you'd end up flying on American Airlines.

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2015, 12:23:01 PM »
Some people make/earn money using manufactured spend (essentially moving money around by spending on a card to buy instruments that can with minimal difficulty be converted back to cash, such as VISA gift cards, or funding an Amex Serve card, but I find this to be more effort than it's worth for me locally.  The ROI per hour spent doesn't make it worth my while.

I have say that Serve is the easiest and quickest thing I have used.  It initially involves setting up the account and the monthly reoccurring, automatic transactions online.  After this, all you have to do is one monthly online transaction.  That takes seconds.

Is Serve not still limited to $1500 in debit loads and $1500 in credit card loads per month (And even that's only if you use ISIS/Softcard, it's $1000 each if not)?  So we're talking 2000/3000 points max per month, plus the time spent getting the money back *out* of serve (either by doing billpay or ATM withdrawals a few hundred bucks per day), plus any time spent making sure your billpays actually arrive, and it's not *personally* worth it to me for $20/30 in credit per month.

Edit to add: I'm aware that the best way to do this is to buy debit gift cards someplace with a 5X bonus, such as Staples on and Ink card, and make your points from the purchase of the debit cards.  However, I'm in a high population area where finding the cards, and then dealing with getting them loaded onto Serve at Wal-mart, where managers are actively watching and trying to limit Serve loads, is a huge time suck and my time is much better spent using those hours actually working.

Serve is max load of $2500/day, max of 5k/mo for debit gift cards in person, plus 1k directly online.  Target redbird is better if they're available near you.

I used to think the same thing re: not worth the time, but then found out how simple it was.  Managers aren't out to get you.

I don't bother for the small percent back though, just the signup bonuses.  I'd estimate I've made in around $1,140 per hour in total perks, including travel I'd spend anyways, or about $600/hour counting just cash made.

That doesn't scale as well though.
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arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2015, 12:24:26 PM »
For domestic travel, Chase Ultimate Rewards is good.  consider a $200 domestic ticket;   Chase gives you a 20% discount if you book through the ultimate rewards site. so it would only cost 16,000 points in contrast to the best saver fare on most airlines which would  be 25,000 points.

Quick note to suggest that a better use of points on a short haul domestic flight (which is what a $200 ticket would be) in many cases may be transferring Ultimate Rewards points to BA Avios, where flights < 650 miles per leg will be 9000 points round trip, and flights < 1151 miles per leg will be 15,000 points round trip.  In *most* cases (there are no absolutes) the Avios will be a more effective use of points.

For those wondering, British Airways Avios can be used to fly on their partners, so in the US they would generally be booked on the BA site, and you'd end up flying on American Airlines.

+1.  Avios is awesome.  I use them to fly Alaska for super cheap (15k round trip from Vegas to WA, where I'm from).

Right now Amex has a deal where if you transfer Amex membership points to Avios you get a 40% bonus (though Jan 31) - pretty awesome if you fly shorter domestic (or CA->HI, for example).
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #19 on: January 22, 2015, 12:27:54 PM »
I used to think the same thing re: not worth the time, but then found out how simple it was.  Managers aren't out to get you.

Generally that may be true, but that was before I experienced two managers at two separate Wal-marts following me from line to line when I tried to load Serve more than once in a day, and jump in to tell me that I couldn't do that, and that I had to leave.  I know it's not against Wal-mart corporate policy, but locally they seem to consider repeated loading of Serve to be indicative of fraud.

I also got kicked off of KATE for loading three debit cards.

Point being that it may work well for others, I just didn't experience it to be anything but a time suck in my local Walmarts.  Whatever works for everyone :)

Redbird does sound cool, no access locally unfortunately.

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #20 on: January 22, 2015, 12:29:41 PM »
I used to think the same thing re: not worth the time, but then found out how simple it was.  Managers aren't out to get you.

Generally that may be true, but that was before I experienced two managers at two separate Wal-marts following me from line to line when I tried to load Serve more than once in a day, and jump in to tell me that I couldn't do that, and that I had to leave.  I know it's not against Wal-mart corporate policy, but locally they seem to consider repeated loading of Serve to be indicative of fraud.

You may want to reflect on what you're doing.  :)

And why are you trying to load more than once per day?  That seems odd.
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iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #21 on: January 22, 2015, 12:35:32 PM »
I used to think the same thing re: not worth the time, but then found out how simple it was.  Managers aren't out to get you.

Generally that may be true, but that was before I experienced two managers at two separate Wal-marts following me from line to line when I tried to load Serve more than once in a day, and jump in to tell me that I couldn't do that, and that I had to leave.  I know it's not against Wal-mart corporate policy, but locally they seem to consider repeated loading of Serve to be indicative of fraud.

You may want to reflect on what you're doing.  :)

And why are you trying to load more than once per day?  That seems odd.

5x points buying $200 Visa Gift cards at Staples with Ink.  $200 per Visa debit card, so to max daily load you must do it across multiple transactions.  Only loading $200 per day would make it an even worse waste of time.

Obviously, everyone would say this, but: I am just getting in line and politely asking to load the card.  No obvious nervous or strange behavior that I'm aware of.  In the Kate case, Kate is very loud, and speaks what you're doing out loud, and the customer service area was empty, so there were Walmart employees with nothing better to do than listen to Kate say repeatedly that I am loading $200.  After three reps, they said that multiple transactions weren't allowed.

If I were only loading direct from credit cards, there'd be no reason to go to Walmart at all.

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #22 on: January 22, 2015, 12:43:44 PM »
They can do multiple cards in one transaction.

Serve is capped at 1k/transaction, and I typically do 2.5k, so I walk up, tell them I want to do 2.5k as 1000, 1000, 500.  Each of the 1000 are two swipes (one from each card of $500).  Takes about 3-5 minutes for them to run through them all.  I get 3 receipts.

For you, you could load 1k with 5 $200 cards in a single transaction on a single receipt.  Just tell them it'll be $200 each swipe.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
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yyc-phil

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #23 on: January 22, 2015, 12:44:42 PM »
You should, absolutely.

I started in October 2013 with 5 credit cards, reaped the rewards and welcome bonuses, then canceled 4 of the cards before the annual fee kicked in. I kept one card I felt was the best for me. After taking a few months off -it can be a bit stressful at first to do a good follow up, I decided to start again this month and just re-applied for one card which I just received, on time to cancel the card I had planned to keep before the renewal fee next month. I originally thought churning and canceling cards after one year would affect my ability to apply for new cards for some time, but it does not seem to be the case.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #24 on: January 22, 2015, 12:46:06 PM »
They can do multiple cards in one transaction.

Serve is capped at 1k/transaction, and I typically do 2.5k, so I walk up, tell them I want to do 2.5k as 1000, 1000, 500.  Each of the 1000 are two swipes (one from each card of $500).  Takes about 3-5 minutes for them to run through them all.  I get 3 receipts.

For you, you could load 1k with 5 $200 cards in a single transaction on a single receipt.  Just tell them it'll be $200 each swipe.

Yeah, they refuse to do this locally.  This is the reason for passing through multiple lines to do loads in the first place.  I promise I'm not just ignoring conventional advice.  Flyertalk is littered with people whose experience matches my own.  I'm pleased for the people who are have more permissive Walmarts, but that just doesn't match my experience, or the experience of some others.

YTProphet

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #25 on: January 22, 2015, 12:47:40 PM »
Travel hacking used to be WAYYYYYY easier when CVS and other stores allowed you to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card. Now that they've stopped that, it's a lot bigger hassle. I made a few thousand over the past few years as well, but have kinda given up on the practice since it takes so much effort with no Vanilla Reloads.

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2015, 02:08:07 PM »
They can do multiple cards in one transaction.

Serve is capped at 1k/transaction, and I typically do 2.5k, so I walk up, tell them I want to do 2.5k as 1000, 1000, 500.  Each of the 1000 are two swipes (one from each card of $500).  Takes about 3-5 minutes for them to run through them all.  I get 3 receipts.

For you, you could load 1k with 5 $200 cards in a single transaction on a single receipt.  Just tell them it'll be $200 each swipe.

how long do you have to have a card closed for before you can sign up and get the bonus's again?

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #27 on: January 22, 2015, 02:25:13 PM »
how long do you have to have a card closed for before you can sign up and get the bonus's again?

Depends on the company.  For Chase, you must close the card and wait two years.  For Amex, you can only get the bonus for a specific card once, lifetime (this is a relatively new development).  Some cards are "infinitely churnable" like the Alaska Airlines cards and Citi American Airlines cards-- you can have multiple of them at any time and all of them will produce their bonus if you can get approved for it.

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #28 on: January 22, 2015, 02:32:50 PM »
how long do you have to have a card closed for before you can sign up and get the bonus's again?

Depends on the company.  For Chase, you must close the card and wait two years.  For Amex, you can only get the bonus for a specific card once, lifetime (this is a relatively new development).  Some cards are "infinitely churnable" like the Alaska Airlines cards and Citi American Airlines cards-- you can have multiple of them at any time and all of them will produce their bonus if you can get approved for it.

wait so i dont have to close my citi card to get another premier card?  and get another 50k points
why does anyone ever pay to fly anywhere.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #29 on: January 22, 2015, 02:36:26 PM »
wait so i dont have to close my citi card to get another premier card?  and get another 50k points
why does anyone ever pay to fly anywhere.



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boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #30 on: January 22, 2015, 02:37:08 PM »
holy shit balls

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #31 on: January 22, 2015, 02:37:52 PM »
wait so i dont have to close my citi card to get another premier card?  and get another 50k points
why does anyone ever pay to fly anywhere.



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and those are all active. or do i have to cancel first then get it

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #32 on: January 22, 2015, 02:39:51 PM »
and those are all active. or do i have to cancel first then get it

Correct.  You're responsible for annuals fees on all, and you might or might not have to call reconsideration lines if you're not immediately approved, but when Citi did the 100K miles promotion on the AAdvantage cards last year, people were getting 3 cards every 38 days (day 1, day 8, day 38).  Some people got 600-700K miles PER PERSON (x2 spouse) while that promotion was going.

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #33 on: January 22, 2015, 02:44:19 PM »
and those are all active. or do i have to cancel first then get it

Correct.  You're responsible for annuals fees on all, and you might or might not have to call reconsideration lines if you're not immediately approved, but when Citi did the 100K miles promotion on the AAdvantage cards last year, people were getting 3 cards every 38 days (day 1, day 8, day 38).  Some people got 600-700K miles PER PERSON (x2 spouse) while that promotion was going.

so is it worth waiting for that promo or can i just take the 50k offer i have now and get another one... annual fees are waived the first 12 months.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #34 on: January 22, 2015, 02:51:09 PM »
so is it worth waiting for that promo or can i just take the 50k offer i have now and get another one... annual fees are waived the first 12 months.

I don't know which specific card you are trying to churn, but if it's the Citi AAdvantage card, there's not currently any indication of a higher bonus than 50K, so you can probably safely apply.  Really it comes down to your own personal situation, credit score, willingness to take the credit inquiry, etc.  I can't advise anything specific to your situation.  I *can* say that churning citi cards has been pretty profitable for me.

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #35 on: January 22, 2015, 02:57:01 PM »
sweet just switched from blue bird to serve.  gonna apply and go do the serve thing at walmart to get 50k more points... business class to hawaii ... thank you... unless there is a better way?

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #36 on: January 22, 2015, 03:09:45 PM »
so is it worth waiting for that promo or can i just take the 50k offer i have now and get another one... annual fees are waived the first 12 months.

I don't know which specific card you are trying to churn, but if it's the Citi AAdvantage card, there's not currently any indication of a higher bonus than 50K, so you can probably safely apply.  Really it comes down to your own personal situation, credit score, willingness to take the credit inquiry, etc.  I can't advise anything specific to your situation.  I *can* say that churning citi cards has been pretty profitable for me.

are there any hotel cards that work this way

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #37 on: January 22, 2015, 03:10:51 PM »
sweet just switched from blue bird to serve.  gonna apply and go do the serve thing at walmart to get 50k more points... business class to hawaii ... thank you... unless there is a better way?

Depends where you're coming from.  LAX -> HNL is 2556 actual miles, thus w/ Avios (which you can get by transferring Amex MR or Chase Ultimate Rewards, among others) the round trip is 25K Economy, 50K Business Class.  Tough to beat that.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/08/12/cheapest-ways-to-get-to-hawaii-using-miles/
http://themilesprofessor.com/2013/05/16/british-airways-avios-hawaii-12500-american/

Regarding churnable hotel cards, sure.  Citi Hilton cards are "infinitely" churnble.

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #38 on: January 22, 2015, 03:13:53 PM »
sweet just switched from blue bird to serve.  gonna apply and go do the serve thing at walmart to get 50k more points... business class to hawaii ... thank you... unless there is a better way?

Depends where you're coming from.  LAX -> HNL is 2556 actual miles, thus w/ Avios (which you can get by transferring Amex MR or Chase Ultimate Rewards, among others) the round trip is 25K Economy, 50K Business Class.  Tough to beat that.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/08/12/cheapest-ways-to-get-to-hawaii-using-miles/
http://themilesprofessor.com/2013/05/16/british-airways-avios-hawaii-12500-american/

Regarding churnable hotel cards, sure.  Citi Hilton cards are "infinitely" churnble.

i'm coming from KC so i'd have to get to LAX first but have 300k southwest points and a companion pass

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #39 on: January 22, 2015, 03:16:39 PM »
i'm coming from KC so i'd have to get to LAX first but have 300k southwest points and a companion pass

Yeah, so a nice use of points might be Southwest for positioning, then UR or MR transferred to Avios to do the Hawaii leg.

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #40 on: January 22, 2015, 03:18:01 PM »
i'm coming from KC so i'd have to get to LAX first but have 300k southwest points and a companion pass

Yeah, so a nice use of points might be Southwest for positioning, then UR or MR transferred to Avios to do the Hawaii leg.

is there a good chase or MR card to get to obtain 100k points. 

boarder42

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #41 on: January 22, 2015, 03:25:18 PM »
i have the sapphire Preferred from chase its my longest held card i cannot get rid of it anytime soon

Eric

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #42 on: January 22, 2015, 03:26:44 PM »
Can I knock this discussion down about 8 levels?  :)

So most of these cards offer miles/points.  And those miles/points transfer to actual usage at varying rates, correct?  Or a mile is a mile is a mile?

In the interest of brevity, let's just consider flight rewards cards.  Do you have to research which cards not only have the most miles/points, but also at what ratio they redeem those for free flights?  Or is this a pretty universal ratio of 25k miles (or whatever) for a domestic flight across airlines?

Reading about this stuff feels like reading Daley's Communication Superguide.  There is so much great information, but in order to take advantage of it you almost have to learn a foreign language.  Although so far the acronym count for CC hacking seems lower than cell phone hacking.

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #43 on: January 22, 2015, 03:32:01 PM »
Yeah, they reward at different levels and different flights cost different amounts.  But there's also fairly standard ones.  Chase and Amex and SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) tend to transfer 1:1 to their airlines, so 1 point = 1 mile.  Typically domestic flights are 25k round trip on economy.  That's fairly "standard" though you'll start to learn to look for deals.

Check this out, posted today, for example:
http://www.milevalue.com/singapore-krisflyer-cancun-panama-buenos-aires-montevideo-stopover/
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iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #44 on: January 22, 2015, 03:40:56 PM »
So most of these cards offer miles/points.  And those miles/points transfer to actual usage at varying rates, correct?  Or a mile is a mile is a mile?

A mile is not a mile, neither in earning nor in spending.  It's probably best to think of ALL the programs as abstract "points" for simplicity.  They are arbitrary credits which can be exchanged for arbitrary levels of services and distances during arbitrary periods.  Fun, right?  :)

In the interest of brevity, let's just consider flight rewards cards.  Do you have to research which cards not only have the most miles/points, but also at what ratio they redeem those for free flights?  Or is this a pretty universal ratio of 25k miles (or whatever) for a domestic flight across airlines?

There isn't exactly a ratio-- it's actually a set of charts, and many of the charts don't have a particular rhyme or reason.  The best source to see all of the charts in one place is from Travel is Free.  I cannot overestimate how much this guy's content rocks.  He's also one of the few guys producing original content, unlike a lot of the Travel hacking bloggers who shamelessly plagiarize one another.

http://travelisfree.com/2014/12/15/complete-list-of-airline-award-charts/

Some award charts are really generous, some are really shit, and sometime you can fly on an airline whose chart is shit by booking through a partner.

Reading about this stuff feels like reading Daley's Communication Superguide.  There is so much great information, but in order to take advantage of it you almost have to learn a foreign language.  Although so far the acronym count for CC hacking seems lower than cell phone hacking.

I feel you.  I was exactly there at about this time last year.  My recommendation, for what it's worth, is twofold:

1) Find the thread on here where Brad from Richmond Savers is offering travel hacking coaching to mustachians.  I (and arebelspy) among others took advantage of some private free coaching from Brad earlier this year.  He is very generous and a mustachian himself.  He can help you start to target cards and charts that match up with your own goals.  You can contact him via his web site, too:  www.richmondsavers.com

2) Read through the Travel is Free site over a few weeks.  The content is the easiest to understand, the guy is mustachian (even if he doesn't know it-- he and his wife have traveled the last three years straight on something absurd, like $30K), and he often posts some of the best and most fleeting deals.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 03:46:03 PM by iamlindoro »

arebelspy

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #45 on: January 22, 2015, 04:05:43 PM »
1) Find the thread on here where Brad from Richmond Savers is offering travel hacking coaching to mustachians.  I (and arebelspy) among others took advantage of some private free coaching from Brad earlier this year.  He is very generous and a mustachian himself.  He can help you start to target cards and charts that match up with your own goals.  You can contact him via his web site, too:  www.richmondsavers.com

That thread was removed, but you can contact him directly and he can add you to the March or April class, I'm sure.

My advice for learning about it is go slow, add a few travel blogs to your RSS feed or travel podcasts to your podcast app, and just listen to an episode or read an article or two a day.  Within a month you'll have stuff clicking and will understand a lot more.  No need to understand it all at first, just start learning slowly.
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

iamlindoro

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #46 on: January 22, 2015, 04:09:56 PM »
1) Find the thread on here where Brad from Richmond Savers is offering travel hacking coaching to mustachians.  I (and arebelspy) among others took advantage of some private free coaching from Brad earlier this year.  He is very generous and a mustachian himself.  He can help you start to target cards and charts that match up with your own goals.  You can contact him via his web site, too:  www.richmondsavers.com

That thread was removed, but you can contact him directly and he can add you to the March or April class, I'm sure.

My advice for learning about it is go slow, add a few travel blogs to your RSS feed or travel podcasts to your podcast app, and just listen to an episode or read an article or two a day.  Within a month you'll have stuff clicking and will understand a lot more.  No need to understand it all at first, just start learning slowly.

Ah, bummer.  Well, Brad is a great guy regardless :)  Well worth taking the class if you can make it work.

Totally agree with the advice, too-- and for what it's worth Eric, I would subjectively say that travel hacking has wayyyy more acronyms.  Once you dive into Flyertalk, your head may explode :)

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #47 on: January 22, 2015, 04:37:25 PM »
1) Find the thread on here where Brad from Richmond Savers is offering travel hacking coaching to mustachians.  I (and arebelspy) among others took advantage of some private free coaching from Brad earlier this year.  He is very generous and a mustachian himself.  He can help you start to target cards and charts that match up with your own goals.  You can contact him via his web site, too:  www.richmondsavers.com

2) Read through the Travel is Free site over a few weeks.  The content is the easiest to understand, the guy is mustachian (even if he doesn't know it-- he and his wife have traveled the last three years straight on something absurd, like $30K), and he often posts some of the best and most fleeting deals.

Thanks, I'll take a look.

Totally agree with the advice, too-- and for what it's worth Eric, I would subjectively say that travel hacking has wayyyy more acronyms.  Once you dive into Flyertalk, your head may explode :)

I don't even see how that's possible.  :) 

kpd905

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #48 on: January 22, 2015, 05:14:13 PM »
I should probably know this, but don't, so I'll jump in here too.  I spend about $25K/yr excluding rent.  Some of that is cash, like farmers markets, so let's say $20K is available for CC charges.  The best programs out there seem to have at a max 2% cash back.  That's $400.  How do you all make so much money back?  Am I just not spending enough money?  boo hoo :(

Or are the rewards a lot higher than that if you get miles instead of cash?  What's the general plan of attack?

$20k of spending might let you hit 10 sign up bonuses, which would be worth somewhere around $3000-4000.


are there any hotel cards that work this way

Citi Hilton cards can be churned like crazy.  Same timeline as the American Airlines cards used to be.  Some people on Flyertalk have claimed to get one a month.  So you'd end up with 600,000 hilton points after a year, not counting the Amex Hilton card, Hilton Surpass or Hilton Reserve.

While Hilton points aren't worth as much as a lot of points, that would still probably be around $3000 worth of value.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2015, 05:17:50 PM by kpd905 »

El_Viajero

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Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
« Reply #49 on: January 22, 2015, 07:04:43 PM »
Fantastic information, folks! I'm so glad my first post generated such healthy and informative discussion!

A follow-up question: How does one deal with the annual fees that kick in with these cards after year 1? It looks like some of you are saying you just cancel the cards before then and it doesn't seem to affect your credit to the extent that you can't keep the churn going is that right? Or is there another way to mitigate the annual fee issue?