Author Topic: Help with airline mile bonuses  (Read 3208 times)

by_1008

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Help with airline mile bonuses
« on: April 30, 2015, 11:19:45 AM »
Iím new to the world of airline miles, so I would appreciate any help with my ideas below.

Need: 2 round-trip tickets from RDU to Paris (CDG) in December currently selling for $1200 each.

American offers flights to CDG for 20k miles each way (Economy MileSAAver), as opposed to 30k miles for United (Saver Award). So it seems like the Citi AAdvantage card (40,000 miles after $3,000 spend) is better than the United MileagePlus Card (50,000 miles)

My considerations: We probably spend $1200-$1500 month on CC so we can reach these spend limits. We have good credit, and all of our CCs are geared currently towards cash back. We donít fly all that often, so Iím mostly just focused on this Paris trip as opposed to long-term points accumulation. We will be flying to St. Louis in the fall though (either via Southwest, United, or American)--tickets not yet purchased.

My questions:
  • If I have to do the spending, and then wait 8-10 weeks for points to reach my account, am I risking not having any seats available on which I can use miles? I donít know the time-frame on which these seats get taken up.
  • Does either AA or United offer additional flexibility that I should be aware of should I need to move my flights up or back a day (which there is a not insignificant chance I will need).
  • Can we both sign up for a card (assuming we can reach the spend limit on each)?
  • How can I make this flight to St. Louis also fit into this plan?
  • Are there other offers that I should be considering instead?
Thanks!

JoJo

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 02:45:18 PM »
Just from my experience with trying to redeem, those economy milesavers get snapped up pretty quick, especially around holidays, weekends, and summer.    Best to book those WAY ahead of time.

Catbert

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2015, 07:05:11 PM »
Since you're not getting much of a response, you might try some of the travel websites.  Many will help you with a card strategy as long as you use their affiliate links to get the cards.  There are tons of these sites.  Two that I know of:

www.frugaltravelguy.com

www.clubthrifty.com   (If you click her link next the upper right corner titled something like "travel free" you can contact her for specific strategies)

With regard to availability changing while you acquire points:  Yep.  Just like paying for cheap airfare you can run out of availability or cost can change over time.  Last minute changes are likely to be problematic. 

Eric

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 07:42:08 PM »
I'm a little new too, but I'll try to answer some of your questions.

Iím new to the world of airline miles, so I would appreciate any help with my ideas below.

Need: 2 round-trip tickets from RDU to Paris (CDG) in December currently selling for $1200 each.

American offers flights to CDG for 20k miles each way (Economy MileSAAver), as opposed to 30k miles for United (Saver Award). So it seems like the Citi AAdvantage card (40,000 miles after $3,000 spend) is better than the United MileagePlus Card (50,000 miles)

That's kind of a tough call.  As mentioned above, those 20k mile tickets on AA are very hard to come by.  And you have a bit of a timing problem, as they won't credit your account with these miles until sometime after you've met your minimum spend amount.  So if it takes you two months to spend, and then a month or more for them to credit, you're now 4 months or less out from your trip date and I would be surprised if any 20k mile seats are left.  More likely they'll be 30k miles each way.  You can always pay for extra miles, so that could work out as a discounted flight (better than full price!) but I think it's going to be hard to hit it.

I'm less familiar with United's program, but I assume it works about the same way.


My questions:
  • If I have to do the spending, and then wait 8-10 weeks for points to reach my account, am I risking not having any seats available on which I can use miles? I donít know the time-frame on which these seats get taken up.
This is a definitely a concern
  • Does either AA or United offer additional flexibility that I should be aware of should I need to move my flights up or back a day (which there is a not insignificant chance I will need).
I don't know the answer to this, sorry
  • Can we both sign up for a card (assuming we can reach the spend limit on each)?
Yes, absolutely.  Each of you can get a card and bonus
  • How can I make this flight to St. Louis also fit into this plan?
Not sure
  • Are there other offers that I should be considering instead?
You just missed the sweet spot where both AA and US Air were offering sign up bonuses before their merger.  They've now merged their rewards programs, so there's one less option out there.  See link below
[/list]
Thanks!

The Flyer Talk forum is pretty much the place to keep up to date on this stuff.  Here's a link to their updated master list of current sign up bonuses on all cards:
http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/credit-card-programs/1177334-special-credit-card-offers-master-thread-subscription.html



NotJen

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 08:08:43 PM »
Definitely check out Flyertalk first (link to AA-specific thread).  You should be able to get a Platinum Citi AAdvantage card with a 50k bonus (instead of 40k) using one of their links.  And if you're lucky like I was, you'll get a targeted offer for a Gold card, too, for another 30k bonus points.

I agree, you do run the risk of the award tickets not being available by the time the points post to your account (it usually takes a day or two after the statement closes where you met the minimum spending requirement).

by_1008

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2015, 10:26:25 AM »
Thanks, NotJen for that link to the 50k bonus. I'll give it a shot and see if I can make it work. Those other links were helpful too, this stuff is real complicated.

mjb

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Re: Help with airline mile bonuses
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2015, 11:54:55 AM »
My questions:
  • If I have to do the spending, and then wait 8-10 weeks for points to reach my account, am I risking not having any seats available on which I can use miles? I donít know the time-frame on which these seats get taken up.

I would definitely not expect to have those RDU-CDG tickets available at 20k AA miles by the time your bonus clears, especially at that spending level. (I frequently make big spending bonuses as I have a lot of reimbursable business expenses...)

Quote
  • Does either AA or United offer additional flexibility that I should be aware of should I need to move my flights up or back a day (which there is a not insignificant chance I will need).

Generally, both airlines are actually more flexible when it comes to mileage tickets -- provided that seats are available at the price you paid.

Quote
  • Can we both sign up for a card (assuming we can reach the spend limit on each)?

Yes, and you should. You should start reading the Frugal Travel Guy blog -- they talk often about situations just like yours.

You can start reading some others, like the Points Guy or Frequent Miler, as well the Flyertalk forums if you want to go deep. By then, you're getting into hobby territory (where I am at).

Quote
  • How can I make this flight to St. Louis also fit into this plan?

If your plans are mostly to fly domestic and you're based out of RDU, look into getting the Southwest cards as well. Much like starting investing, you should think about your goals FIRST -- i.e. domestic travel, international first class luxury travel, etc -- and make decisions based on those goals.

The best course of action, in my opinion, is to start accumulating points/miles NOW so that when an opportunity comes up you'll be able to pounce on it. I don't hoard points, but I accumulate as many as possible all the time so that I can, say, fly to Montreal next weekend with 2 friends for $10 a piece. Or make last-minute trips to visit my mom back in Texas, etc.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2015, 11:57:22 AM by mjb »

mjb

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