Author Topic: Run expenses through CC for travel points?  (Read 5862 times)

highwayskies

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Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« on: April 08, 2014, 02:45:15 PM »
I want to understand how to use CC points towards travel, especially the more I read.

It seems my wife and I always end up traveling on US Air.  It takes us to family in NC, and our favorite getaway point, Brazil.  Am I doing it right if I get a US Airways Premier World MasterCard for an annual $89 fee, and run our expenses through it?  Or is it not that simple, and there's a better way (or better card) to do this?

From US Airways literature on this particular card:

Benefits:
 Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles
 Earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways purchases and 1 mile for every $1 you spend everywhere else
 Annual companion ticket good for up to 2 companion tickets at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
 Zone 2 boarding and First Class check-in

Miles redemption table: http://www.usairways.com/pv_obj_cache/pv_obj_id_2AF908624E81DDC618E6793ECB7E3C7865D60000/filename/oneworldawardtravel.pdf
(25,000 miles to travel to continental US and 60,000 miles to travel to South America)

Fees:

Call center award ticketing fee*   $30 domestic U.S/Canada, $40 all other regions
Award travel reissue/redeposit fee*   $150
Quick ticketing fee**
(applies to award tickets booked within 21 days of departure)   $75
Paper ticket   $50
Mileage preservation fee   $9
Reactivation fee   $10 - $400 depending on the number of miles
Award processing fee**   $25 U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada, $35 Mexico and the Caribbean, $50 Hawaii and all other destinations

*Fee does not apply to Chairman's Preferred members.
**Fee does not apply to Gold, Platinum and Chairman's Preferred members.

nawhite

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 03:55:57 PM »
I don't follow the US Air cards personally because there are better deals out there for me.

That being said, there are a couple things to keep in mind.

1.) The best bang for your buck are almost always with sign up bonuses. Get the cards that give you 40,000+ miles as a sign up bonus when you spend $X,000 in the first Y Months. Look for the cards that get you those bonuses.

2.) If you are going to be traveling a lot, I'm a big fan of the BarclayCard World Arrival Mastercard. It gives you 2.2% cash back on Everything you Ever buy on it. Then you can redeem that cash to reimburse you for flights or cars or hotels or whatever. Much better than the "1 mile per dollar you spend everywhere else" you get with this card.

3.) The airline specific cards get you airline specific perks like the "Zone 2 boarding and First Class check-in." If that is important to you, I like to think of the Annual fee as paying for that perk. So is that boarding and checking bonus and the $50/flight discount on miles per flight worth the $89/year. Your choice but sounds like it might be. If it is, get this card for those perks and don't use it for anything else (because there are better options).

Gerard

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 03:58:41 PM »
I guess it's not whether it's a good idea, but whether it's a better idea than your other options. I sign up for a new Amex and/or Visa card every year for Aeroplan points (Air Canada's points programme), but:
(a) I wait until promotions, where there's a huge sign-up bonus and/or no fee to join;
(b) I run my work travel through the card(s);
(c) Canadian domestic travel is expensive enough that points travel is worth it; and
(d) Canada doesn't have great cash-back cards.

Even then I'm not sure it's a wise idea; a smaller cash-back award would put actual money in my pocket, rather than points I feel obliged to use for another vacation. In the US, with more card options, the particular card you talk about doesn't seem like the best deal.

Presumably other points whores will chime in soon...

AlanStache

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 04:03:09 PM »
@nawhite yep

And be sure you are running plenty of purchases through the card.  Normal groceries and gas may not be enough to justify the annual fee, costco amex will give cash (folding money) back + costo membership this might be a better bottom line deal if you dont spend lots each year.  I travel for work so the dollars can really pile on (hell am in an airport lounge right now...) and Deltas card is a no brainer.

Sign up bonus can be huge, get them.

Scandium

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2014, 03:32:44 PM »
Just looking at those numbers:
So you have to spend $25,000 to get one domestic flight? Any normal cash back card with 1% would give you $250 for that, which will buy a round trip flight with south west to many places. Not to mention 3% or even 5-6% cash back on some cards. So doesn't seem like a great deal to me.
(And you'd be forced to fly US air which are awful)

highwayskies

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #5 on: April 10, 2014, 08:56:33 AM »
Nawhite, you're saying a cash-back card is a better deal, and cash can be used for flights anyway?  Makes sense! 

Two questions (for nawhite or everyone):
1. How do you know when specials are on for these cards?
2. Can I run literally everything through the cards?  I have 3 properties, two of which I cover all utilities for, as well as a business (which I assume I'd have to have a separate card for, but could also get a rewards card there).  This could mean lots of $ running through the card, yes?!

Thanks for all the help!

nawhite

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #6 on: April 10, 2014, 11:00:59 AM »
Nawhite, you're saying a cash-back card is a better deal, and cash can be used for flights anyway?  Makes sense! 

Two questions (for nawhite or everyone):
1. How do you know when specials are on for these cards?
2. Can I run literally everything through the cards?  I have 3 properties, two of which I cover all utilities for, as well as a business (which I assume I'd have to have a separate card for, but could also get a rewards card there).  This could mean lots of $ running through the card, yes?!

Thanks for all the help!

1) I really like http://millionmilesecrets.com/hot-deals/ for fairly up to date lists of deals (http://thepointsguy.com/top-deals-3/ is good too). I learned about the deal to get 2 southwest cards to get "Companion Pass" status on there (4-5 round trip flights and spouse flies free whenever you fly for $150 in annual fees).

2) Short answer: YES, ABSOLUTELY! Long answer, yes, but make sure you can pay off 100% of your bill every month and watch your credit utilization (how much of your credit limit you put on the cards at once). Generally you don't want to use more than about 30% of your credit limit at any time (more starts creating little dings on your credit score). So lets say you add up the credit limit on all of your cards and get $20,000, you don't want to have more than about $6,000 in spending on the cards per month (remember you are paying them off in full every month).

Personally I run all of my utilities and all purchases through the cards and then get an extra $700/month paying for private health insurance and an extra $8000/year paying my wife's grad school tuition with it (they charge 1% fees but I get 2.2-4% back depending on which cards I'm using at the time so its worth it). So yes, if you can manage it and never miss a payment, run all your expenses through the cards and get a free discount.

« Last Edit: April 10, 2014, 11:03:24 AM by nawhite »

MissPeach

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #7 on: April 10, 2014, 01:43:26 PM »
Most of the time I found cash back cards a better deal. The exception is the airline cards sometimes have good sign up promos (especially on a flight) for 50,000+ miles or something like that. That's the only time I would consider them.

highwayskies

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2014, 08:09:40 PM »
Can money orders be bought with a credit card?  (I could pay my mortgage with a money order, I believe, but not my CC)

AlanStache

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2014, 12:44:10 AM »
Quote
Can money orders be bought with a credit card?  (I could pay my mortgage with a money order, I believe, but not my CC)

Just checked Western Union and a 2k$ wire transfer paid with CC would have 160$ in fees where other forms of payment would be around 20$ or less.  If you needed that to get to a reward level maybe but otherwise I have trouble seeing an 8% fee coming out ahead. 

Saverocity

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2014, 06:17:15 AM »
Just looking at those numbers:
So you have to spend $25,000 to get one domestic flight? Any normal cash back card with 1% would give you $250 for that, which will buy a round trip flight with south west to many places. Not to mention 3% or even 5-6% cash back on some cards. So doesn't seem like a great deal to me.
(And you'd be forced to fly US air which are awful)

Nobody would actually spend $25K in a race to earn 25,000 pts to use them domestically (one would hope) these cards are for capturing signup bonuses.  After which there are few cards that offer 5% cash back and none that offer 6%, the ones that offer 5% are on a timed term or only in categories, they are very powerful tools and I certainly encourage people to use them, but they aren't going to be used for everything.

Last up, are Mustacians really allowed to be snobby about the type of aircraft they fly for free on? Sounds a little outta whack with the whole concept of being frugal, but anyways, US are actually a part of one world so you wouldn't be forced into flying them, but they might be a good solution.

Saverocity

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2014, 06:27:18 AM »
I want to understand how to use CC points towards travel, especially the more I read.

It seems my wife and I always end up traveling on US Air.  It takes us to family in NC, and our favorite getaway point, Brazil.  Am I doing it right if I get a US Airways Premier World MasterCard for an annual $89 fee, and run our expenses through it?  Or is it not that simple, and there's a better way (or better card) to do this?

From US Airways literature on this particular card:

Benefits:
Redeem flights for 5,000 fewer miles
Earn 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways purchases and 1 mile for every $1 you spend everywhere else
Annual companion ticket good for up to 2 companion tickets at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
Zone 2 boarding and First Class check-in

Miles redemption table: http://www.usairways.com/pv_obj_cache/pv_obj_id_2AF908624E81DDC618E6793ECB7E3C7865D60000/filename/oneworldawardtravel.pdf
(25,000 miles to travel to continental US and 60,000 miles to travel to South America)

Fees:

Call center award ticketing fee*   $30 domestic U.S/Canada, $40 all other regions
Award travel reissue/redeposit fee*   $150
Quick ticketing fee**
(applies to award tickets booked within 21 days of departure)   $75
Paper ticket   $50
Mileage preservation fee   $9
Reactivation fee   $10 - $400 depending on the number of miles
Award processing fee**   $25 U.S. (excluding Hawaii) and Canada, $35 Mexico and the Caribbean, $50 Hawaii and all other destinations

*Fee does not apply to Chairman's Preferred members.
**Fee does not apply to Gold, Platinum and Chairman's Preferred members.


**PARTNER AIRLINES**
US Air recently left Star Alliance and joined OneWorld, meaning that you can book their flights using other points currency.

One of the most powerful domestic/South america currencies is British Airways Avios, you can earn these by the Chase card, or by Amex Membership rewards that transfer to British Air.  The amazing value that this points currency offers occurs on a distance based award chart, so if you miss the cut off it isn't so good, but if you get it right then there are massive savings to be had.

For example, CLT-Brasil is 60,000 Avios in Coach (one way) because it pushes a distance tier, however RDU-Brasil is 27.5K one way.... and only $22 in taxes/fees which is great value.

Additionally, with some frequency Amex offers a transfer bonus of up to 40% for transferring miles from Amex-BA which is great.

You could also look at AA, that is only 20K one way to Brasil from NC one way.

Either AA or BA would allow you to fly on US Air

The real value in the BA program is in the super small hops, for example I am flying down from NYC to CLT for 4500 miles and $2 next month.

Saverocity

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Re: Run expenses through CC for travel points?
« Reply #12 on: April 11, 2014, 06:29:17 AM »
Can money orders be bought with a credit card?  (I could pay my mortgage with a money order, I believe, but not my CC)

Some mortgage companies are on the Evolve Money bill pay list, if yours is you could load gift cards onto evolve and then pay your mortgage, it takes a few steps to do but some people find it very lucrative.