Author Topic: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles  (Read 8235 times)

James!

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Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« on: March 16, 2015, 12:20:21 PM »
Hi All,

So, I'm looking for some guidance on use of credit cards (churning?) for mileage. Normally I'd spend a bunch of time reading here and elsewhere and take my time figuring it out, but I have a few time sensitive constraints so I'm looking for some more specific guidance.

Goal:
Travel from Portland to Boston in late June as cheap as possible. Two people.

Inputs:
I currently have 45k miles with Alaska and 30k with United from business travel.
I have a work trip to NYC in May, and I can purchase that flight on a personal card if that helps.
Typically monthly CC spend is ~$1500
I (we) have great credit and only debt is mortgage and a student loan. Credit scores both over 800.

I'm up for applying for whatever card(s) make the most sense.

Also, does it make sense to use miles for both, or use a companion pass for one?


Please help! I need to book the NYC trip in the next few weeks. As for the trip to June, does the "price" of a flight with miles vary over time like it does with actual money? Or is a 30k miles flight always 30k miles. I don't know how soon I need to book that trip.


Cheers,
James

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #1 on: March 16, 2015, 06:49:51 PM »
The easiest way if you need to book right away is apply for the Barclay Arrival+, get it, and just pay for the flight on that, and they reimburse you travel costs ($500 IIRC?), once you've hit the minimum spend amount, even travel expenses up to 90 days in the past.  So you can get the card, book the ticket, then after your trip hit the minimum spend and get reimbursed.

The Capital One Venture card is similar in how it works, but only gives you $460, IIRC.

There are other ways to get the miles, but if you're on a tight timeframe, that's the way to go.. then start earning the miles ahead of when you need them (cause typically you need to apply for the card, receive it, hit the minimum spend, wait for the statement to close, then the bonus to post, THEN you can use it.. takes at least 1-2 months).
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James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2015, 09:51:47 PM »
Thanks for the detailed reply!

I have some follow up questions.

First... at the risk of sounding dumb. Am I on a tight schedule? I need to travel in three months. What I don't know is if flights bought on points change value like cash prices? If not, then I'd have no problem getting the card and hitting the max spend in two months and then booking with points.

So if that gives me better options and the price doesn't change, I'm up for that.

Second, how do all these points transfer between each other, if at all? Can I combine points from different airlines or do I need a full balance in one place?

Final question (for now) is it worth focusing on something with a companion pass, or just doing them both on miles (or travel credit) ?


I'd love a list of suggested cards for now, and then soon. My family is on the east coast so I travel there often, so it'd be great to also be planning ahead for the next trip.

I've started reading around here, blogs, flyertalk, but this stuff is dense. Most of the info seems to be geared towards those who are deep in it!


Cheers,
James

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2015, 10:10:27 PM »
First... at the risk of sounding dumb. Am I on a tight schedule? I need to travel in three months. What I don't know is if flights bought on points change value like cash prices? If not, then I'd have no problem getting the card and hitting the max spend in two months and then booking with points.

It depends.  Southwest books them based on the value of the ticket.  Most don't, and have a flat rate.  Some are distance based (Avios).  So some do, some don't.  But what you risk is no awards seats being available the later you book.


Second, how do all these points transfer between each other, if at all? Can I combine points from different airlines or do I need a full balance in one place?

They typically don't transfer.  That's why Amex points, chase ultimate reward points, and spg points are quite valuable - they transfer to almost anything.  Chase UR are particularly easy to earn and useful.

Final question (for now) is it worth focusing on something with a companion pass, or just doing them both on miles (or travel credit) ?

Depends on what airlines are best for your airport.  What airport will you typically fly out of?

I'd love a list of suggested cards for now, and then soon. My family is on the east coast so I travel there often, so it'd be great to also be planning ahead for the next trip.

Are you on the east coast as well?  If it's a short trip (650 miles or less) British Airways Avios only charges 4500/way (9000 round trip), and they partner with a bunch of major US airlines (alaska, american, etc).

Chase Ink, Chase Bold (I think it was discontinued though), Chase Sapphire Preferred, Any Amex that get you 50k+, Starwood preferred guest (SPG), barclay arrival+, capital one venture, and then ones for individual airlines.

I've started reading around here, blogs, flyertalk, but this stuff is dense. Most of the info seems to be geared towards those who are deep in it!

Yeah, thus my suggestion above of rather than diving into research, start following some blogs and just read new posts, and listen to podcasts, and you'll start to pick it up.  Then it won't be so overwhelming.  :)
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mxt0133

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2015, 12:07:56 AM »
Two forum members have started a course on this very subject.  I was a newbie and after registering and following their course, I'm already planning a trip to Hawaii for a family of 5 and I don't expect to spend more than $100-$150 in taxes and fees by using their strategies.  I highly recommend the course, Brad and Alexi are good guys and give a lot of feedback on strategies.

I also have family on the east coast and will no longer be paying for 4 tickets twice a year.

[MOD EDIT: Link removed.  PM poster if you are interested in this offer.]
« Last Edit: March 17, 2015, 08:09:32 AM by arebelspy »

James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2015, 08:47:31 AM »
Awesome! Thanks for all the info.

I live in Portland so I'm always flying out of PDX. Alaska seems to be most common, then perhaps United?

The typical flight I'd be focused on is PDX -> BOS. I have an 8wk old son, so ideally non-stop. There's a perfect flight on Alaska, but it's 50k miles. As I mentioned I already have 45k, so if there were any way to get another 55k Alaska miles quickly that would definitely be preferred.

I'll spend some time digesting all you've shared for sure.

Cheers,
James

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2015, 09:38:03 AM »
Sign up for the BofA Alaska Credit card and you'll get 25k miles upon your first purchase and qualify for a companion ticket. There is a $75 annual fee you'll pay right up front though.



arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2015, 09:43:56 AM »
Awesome! Thanks for all the info.

I live in Portland so I'm always flying out of PDX. Alaska seems to be most common, then perhaps United?

The typical flight I'd be focused on is PDX -> BOS. I have an 8wk old son, so ideally non-stop. There's a perfect flight on Alaska, but it's 50k miles. As I mentioned I already have 45k, so if there were any way to get another 55k Alaska miles quickly that would definitely be preferred.

Sign up for an Alaska card is an easy way.

Also British Airways partners with United, so you can book through them.  It's distance based, so you get the best bang for your buck going short routes, but PDX>BOS is 2530 miles, which falls under their category 4 -12,500 miles each way (25k round trip) - so it's basically the standard fare -- when you do shorter the deals get better.  But it's an easy way you could earn those miles.

Also any of the Chase ones I mentioned you can transfer to British Airways and book through Alaska.
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James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2015, 11:50:05 AM »
Awesome! Thanks for all the info.

I live in Portland so I'm always flying out of PDX. Alaska seems to be most common, then perhaps United?

The typical flight I'd be focused on is PDX -> BOS. I have an 8wk old son, so ideally non-stop. There's a perfect flight on Alaska, but it's 50k miles. As I mentioned I already have 45k, so if there were any way to get another 55k Alaska miles quickly that would definitely be preferred.

Sign up for an Alaska card is an easy way.

Also British Airways partners with United, so you can book through them.  It's distance based, so you get the best bang for your buck going short routes, but PDX>BOS is 2530 miles, which falls under their category 4 -12,500 miles each way (25k round trip) - so it's basically the standard fare -- when you do shorter the deals get better.  But it's an easy way you could earn those miles.

Also any of the Chase ones I mentioned you can transfer to British Airways and book through Alaska.

Thanks thanks thanks.

I signed up for the Alaska Signature Visa. The bonus miles and companion cert will get me there and I can book soon, so that'll handle my current trip. In the mean time I'll try to figure it all out and go for a spree in a few months.

I did get a message at the end saying that they couldn't give me a decision at the time and I'd get something in the mail. I have perfect credit and plenty of income.

Do I just sit and wait, or try to follow up somehow?

-J

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2015, 11:52:44 AM »
Also British Airways partners with United, so you can book through them.  It's distance based, so you get the best bang for your buck going short routes, but PDX>BOS is 2530 miles, which falls under their category 4 -12,500 miles each way (25k round trip) - so it's basically the standard fare -- when you do shorter the deals get better.  But it's an easy way you could earn those miles.

Also any of the Chase ones I mentioned you can transfer to British Airways and book through Alaska.

Nope. British Airways partners with AA and US Airways (though they will become one very soon). British Airways is part of oneworld. United is part of the Star Alliance.

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2015, 12:05:14 PM »
I did get a message at the end saying that they couldn't give me a decision at the time and I'd get something in the mail. I have perfect credit and plenty of income.

Do I just sit and wait, or try to follow up somehow?

Call and talk to a rep, they can probably approve it. Sometimes it's something simple/silly.


Also British Airways partners with United, so you can book through them.  It's distance based, so you get the best bang for your buck going short routes, but PDX>BOS is 2530 miles, which falls under their category 4 -12,500 miles each way (25k round trip) - so it's basically the standard fare -- when you do shorter the deals get better.  But it's an easy way you could earn those miles.

Also any of the Chase ones I mentioned you can transfer to British Airways and book through Alaska.

Nope. British Airways partners with AA and US Airways (though they will become one very soon). British Airways is part of oneworld. United is part of the Star Alliance.

Duh, don't know why I typed united.. meant to type alaska there (since that's the main airline out of OP's airport), but AA is also true.  Thanks for the correction.
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James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2015, 01:19:52 PM »
So I'm approved for the Alaska card (yay!)

I see in the T&C that the companion pass cannot be used with rewards travel. Is that true? If so that puts a damper on my plans. I'll have 70k miles which won't be enough for 2x of the flight we need. I was planning on using 50k miles for the flight and a companion pass...

thoughts?

-J

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2015, 01:33:53 PM »
So I'm approved for the Alaska card (yay!)

I see in the T&C that the companion pass cannot be used with rewards travel. Is that true? If so that puts a damper on my plans. I'll have 70k miles which won't be enough for 2x of the flight we need. I was planning on using 50k miles for the flight and a companion pass...

thoughts?

-J

How about this: get the barclays card, pay for one flight, have barclay's reimburse the cost (so it's free), and use the companion pass to make the other one free.  Then you still have all your alaska miles saved too, and can work on earning more.

Also.. 50k for the flight?  That's a lot of miles.. Like I said earlier, British Airways ("Avios" points) can book you a roundtrip flight on Alaska for 25k (total) to Boston, so you may want to start looking into earning those Avios points.
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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2015, 01:38:48 PM »
Arebalspy

we need a whole forum here dedicated to mustachian travel hacking etc. there are at least 4-5 people asking very similar questions right now that a couple sticky's could take care of .

James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 01:43:10 PM »
So I'm approved for the Alaska card (yay!)

I see in the T&C that the companion pass cannot be used with rewards travel. Is that true? If so that puts a damper on my plans. I'll have 70k miles which won't be enough for 2x of the flight we need. I was planning on using 50k miles for the flight and a companion pass...

thoughts?

-J

How about this: get the barclays card, pay for one flight, have barclay's reimburse the cost (so it's free), and use the companion pass to make the other one free.  Then you still have all your alaska miles saved too, and can work on earning more.

Also.. 50k for the flight?  That's a lot of miles.. Like I said earlier, British Airways ("Avios" points) can book you a roundtrip flight on Alaska for 25k (total) to Boston, so you may want to start looking into earning those Avios points.

I just looked again and it's actually 60k for the flight! There are in theory flights for 25k, but they are redeyes with stops. I will be traveling with a 5m old, so I am opting for the non-stop flights. Hence the 60k round trip.

It seems I may not do this all perfectly the first time around, but even if I just get the companion pass, that's a start. I'm also working on all the AA cards so our next flights can be there instead.

I think I have spazzed out enough on this for one day!

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 01:48:34 PM »
Arebalspy

we need a whole forum here dedicated to mustachian travel hacking etc. there are at least 4-5 people asking very similar questions right now that a couple sticky's could take care of .

There are plenty of those already around the internet.

Anytime anyone wants to write a sticky on any topic, they're more than welcome, I'm glad to sticky something.  :)
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James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2015, 02:10:23 PM »
Ok last question then I'm really done talking about this for a bit.

So based on this info and the info in the Hawaii thread, I did the following:

Alaska Air 25k card - approved ($18k limit)
US Air 50k card - approved ($22k limit)
Citi AA 50k card - rejected?!

I called and the woman on the phone just said it was "due to information in your credit report" but said she had very little info at this time, and to call back once I receive the letter in the mail.

Thoughts on this? Was that too many applications in a day? How long do I wait before applying again, for either this or future offers? For those who described accumulating 1MM miles in a year, how do you spread out those 10 cards? I should've asked this before applying, I know. I got caught up in the fever.

-J

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2015, 02:13:24 PM »
Ok last question then I'm really done talking about this for a bit.

So based on this info and the info in the Hawaii thread, I did the following:

Alaska Air 25k card - approved ($18k limit)
US Air 50k card - approved ($22k limit)
Citi AA 50k card - rejected?!

I called and the woman on the phone just said it was "due to information in your credit report" but said she had very little info at this time, and to call back once I receive the letter in the mail.

Thoughts on this? Was that too many applications in a day? How long do I wait before applying again, for either this or future offers? For those who described accumulating 1MM miles in a year, how do you spread out those 10 cards? I should've asked this before applying, I know. I got caught up in the fever.

I wouldn't let that deter you.  I did multiple in a day many times over the course of a few months.  It's also helpful to apply for several from the same institution (i.e. a few different chase ones).

The credit limits they're giving you indicate you should be good to go applying for cards - you obviously have good credit.
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.
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James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2015, 02:25:51 PM »
Ok last question then I'm really done talking about this for a bit.

So based on this info and the info in the Hawaii thread, I did the following:

Alaska Air 25k card - approved ($18k limit)
US Air 50k card - approved ($22k limit)
Citi AA 50k card - rejected?!

I called and the woman on the phone just said it was "due to information in your credit report" but said she had very little info at this time, and to call back once I receive the letter in the mail.

Thoughts on this? Was that too many applications in a day? How long do I wait before applying again, for either this or future offers? For those who described accumulating 1MM miles in a year, how do you spread out those 10 cards? I should've asked this before applying, I know. I got caught up in the fever.

I wouldn't let that deter you.  I did multiple in a day many times over the course of a few months.  It's also helpful to apply for several from the same institution (i.e. a few different chase ones).

The credit limits they're giving you indicate you should be good to go applying for cards - you obviously have good credit.

I'm not deterred, emotionally, I'm just not sure how to respond. Should I try to press them on that one, and/or apply again soon, or do I need to wait any particular amount of time?

Since she didn't give me any specifics I'm not sure what behavior to avoid.


arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2015, 03:03:48 PM »
Ok last question then I'm really done talking about this for a bit.

So based on this info and the info in the Hawaii thread, I did the following:

Alaska Air 25k card - approved ($18k limit)
US Air 50k card - approved ($22k limit)
Citi AA 50k card - rejected?!

I called and the woman on the phone just said it was "due to information in your credit report" but said she had very little info at this time, and to call back once I receive the letter in the mail.

Thoughts on this? Was that too many applications in a day? How long do I wait before applying again, for either this or future offers? For those who described accumulating 1MM miles in a year, how do you spread out those 10 cards? I should've asked this before applying, I know. I got caught up in the fever.

I wouldn't let that deter you.  I did multiple in a day many times over the course of a few months.  It's also helpful to apply for several from the same institution (i.e. a few different chase ones).

The credit limits they're giving you indicate you should be good to go applying for cards - you obviously have good credit.

I'm not deterred, emotionally, I'm just not sure how to respond. Should I try to press them on that one, and/or apply again soon, or do I need to wait any particular amount of time?

Since she didn't give me any specifics I'm not sure what behavior to avoid.

Call back and talk to a different rep to see if you can get it approved.
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.
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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2015, 07:02:53 PM »
we need a whole forum here dedicated to mustachian travel hacking etc. there are at least 4-5 people asking very similar questions right now that a couple sticky's could take care of .

reddit churning has a lot of good info, and has a good guide for people new to travel hacking.

James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2015, 08:34:24 AM »
we need a whole forum here dedicated to mustachian travel hacking etc. there are at least 4-5 people asking very similar questions right now that a couple sticky's could take care of .

reddit churning has a lot of good info, and has a good guide for people new to travel hacking.

Amazing!

Thanks.

James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2015, 02:23:12 PM »
Call back and talk to a different rep to see if you can get it approved.

Called back, as soon as he had my info dude said "please hold" and came back 3 minutes later and said "ok you're approved now" I didn't even have to argue/beg. Weird, but I'll take it!

-J

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2015, 02:24:18 PM »
That happens more than you'd think. Shrug, and move on.

Congrats, and onward!  :)
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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #24 on: March 18, 2015, 11:57:58 PM »
Have your wife apply for the same cards as well to double the points, but it will double your spending and you might have to start manufactured spending.

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #25 on: March 19, 2015, 06:58:28 AM »
Have your wife apply for the same cards as well to double the points, but it will double your spending and you might have to start manufactured spending.

+1 (assuming her credit is good).  Well worth it.
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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #26 on: March 19, 2015, 09:27:11 AM »
Have your wife apply for the same cards as well to double the points, but it will double your spending and you might have to start manufactured spending.

+1 (assuming her credit is good).  Well worth it.

i'm working on my wife's credit right now.  anyone have tips for getting it up. 

She has - one account that was in collections and still open though she paid it off back in 2011 i disputed and got it closed and now she is up 10 points. 

She has 2 30 day late payments that show up i think i can call the CC company and get one removed. 

any other advice she is around 680... i havent ever had credit issues i'm over 800 and have over 200k in CC spend available as well as applying for 7 cards in the last month which havent really affected it at all.

James!

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #27 on: March 19, 2015, 01:44:57 PM »
Have your wife apply for the same cards as well to double the points, but it will double your spending and you might have to start manufactured spending.

+1 (assuming her credit is good).  Well worth it.

Her credit is ~800 as well. I got her the US Airways one since it's expiring. I'm not ready to do any MS just yet, so I didn't sign her up for the Citi AA 50k. I'll get through the minimum spend with real spend on mine first, then perhaps do it for her. I may sign her up for the alaska as well since PDX is an alaska hub, and we have family in alaska so they are the logical choice there. It's too bad they don't have any better deals.

Cheers,
James

arebelspy

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Re: Need help with Credit Cards / Reward Miles
« Reply #28 on: March 19, 2015, 01:53:26 PM »
I may sign her up for the alaska as well since PDX is an alaska hub, and we have family in alaska so they are the logical choice there. It's too bad they don't have any better deals.

As I mentioned, British Airways can book on Alaska.  I use Avios all the time to fly to Seattle on Alaska.  And all the Amex, Chase UR, etc.  can transfer to that.  There's a ton of options.   :)
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