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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: El_Viajero on January 21, 2015, 07:09:56 PM

Title: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: El_Viajero 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?

Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: innerscorecard on January 21, 2015, 07:20:56 PM
Why not?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: johnny847 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/ (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).
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: chasesfish 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: kpd905 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: ambimammular 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!
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: ILoveMyBlondeStache 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? 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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).
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Catbert 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Eric 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?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: charis 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: DoNorth 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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).
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: YK-Phil 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: YTProphet 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.

(https://scontent-2.2914.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/p417x417/10540402_770797222982929_2605340573239683095_n.jpg?oh=3c2b00d04f9af4b966f0ac8d8413f159&oe=555AE4CC)

(Image linked from Travel is Free on Facebook)
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 22, 2015, 02:37:08 PM
holy shit balls
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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.

(https://scontent-2.2914.fna.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xap1/v/t1.0-9/p417x417/10540402_770797222982929_2605340573239683095_n.jpg?oh=3c2b00d04f9af4b966f0ac8d8413f159&oe=555AE4CC)

(Image linked from Travel is Free on Facebook)

and those are all active. or do i have to cancel first then get it
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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. 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 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
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Eric 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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/
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro 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 :)
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Eric 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.  :) 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: kpd905 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.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: El_Viajero 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?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: kpd905 on January 22, 2015, 07:19:56 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?

You can call and tell them you don't want to pay the fee.  They might waive the fee or offer you points/miles to offset the fee.  If they don't, you can downgrade to a no-fee card, or cancel the card.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 23, 2015, 05:46:05 AM
So i think i just goofed and got the Hyatt card too soon ... we are going to maui next year around this time probably feb or march though.  And chase is notorious for not waiving fees and will let you just cancel.  Are the 2 free nights at any level good for just a year or longer?  debating also if its worth holding onto the card to maintain gold status and just get the extra night for the 75 dollar fee if they wont waive it

Thoughts

Info on the expiration on the 2 free nights?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: YTProphet on January 23, 2015, 06:25:21 AM
So i think i just goofed and got the Hyatt card too soon ... we are going to maui next year around this time probably feb or march though.  And chase is notorious for not waiving fees and will let you just cancel.  Are the 2 free nights at any level good for just a year or longer?  debating also if its worth holding onto the card to maintain gold status and just get the extra night for the 75 dollar fee if they wont waive it

Thoughts

Info on the expiration on the 2 free nights?

IIRC, they expire after one year so you probably opened it too soon. However, your significant other could open a card and get the nights. Word of warning with the Hyatt card - the free nights get booked fast at the good properties, so book as soon as possible. Also, they have a fairly limited supply.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: NotJen on January 23, 2015, 08:20:59 AM
So i think i just goofed and got the Hyatt card too soon ... we are going to maui next year around this time probably feb or march though.  And chase is notorious for not waiving fees and will let you just cancel.  Are the 2 free nights at any level good for just a year or longer?  debating also if its worth holding onto the card to maintain gold status and just get the extra night for the 75 dollar fee if they wont waive it

Thoughts

Info on the expiration on the 2 free nights?
Just wait a few months to meet your minimum spend requirement ($1000), and you should be good. I applied for this card in December, and met the minimum spend for the free nights on January 6.  My award nights posted with an expiration date of Jan 31, 2016.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 23, 2015, 08:27:30 AM
So i think i just goofed and got the Hyatt card too soon ... we are going to maui next year around this time probably feb or march though.  And chase is notorious for not waiving fees and will let you just cancel.  Are the 2 free nights at any level good for just a year or longer?  debating also if its worth holding onto the card to maintain gold status and just get the extra night for the 75 dollar fee if they wont waive it

Thoughts

Info on the expiration on the 2 free nights?
Just wait a few months to meet your minimum spend requirement ($1000), and you should be good. I applied for this card in December, and met the minimum spend for the free nights on January 6.  My award nights posted with an expiration date of Jan 31, 2016.

awesome thanks i was hoping it may be something along those lines. 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 26, 2015, 06:14:37 AM
Just an FYI the AA card situation does work.  I got a call from then 2 days after submitting an application to verify my DOB and then i was approved.  ... One question i do have.  Can i cancel these cards at anytime or do they see that when getting you a new card?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 10:23:10 AM
Just an FYI the AA card situation does work.  I got a call from then 2 days after submitting an application to verify my DOB and then i was approved.  ... One question i do have.  Can i cancel these cards at anytime or do they see that when getting you a new card?

Depending on the card, if you cancel too close to when you get the card, they may be able to "claw back" signup bonus points.  The general rule of thumb is to cancel a card no more than 3 months before the renewal/annual fee hits.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Eric on January 26, 2015, 12:07:16 PM
I took the initial plunge this weekend and opened up a Citi American Airlines CC with a 50,000 mile sign up bonus after $2000 in spending.  Seems like a sweet deal.  I'm planning on having my wife do the same thing shortly.  My question now is, how do you keep track of everything?  Or more specifically, what categories/information do you need to track?

I'm thinking Mileage/Points, Annual Fee, Spending amount, Timeframe for spend, & date opened.  What else should I track?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: johnny847 on January 26, 2015, 12:11:14 PM
I took the initial plunge this weekend and opened up a Citi American Airlines CC with a 50,000 mile sign up bonus after $2000 in spending.  Seems like a sweet deal.  I'm planning on having my wife do the same thing shortly.  My question now is, how do you keep track of everything?  Or more specifically, what categories/information do you need to track?

I'm thinking Mileage/Points, Annual Fee, Spending amount, Timeframe for spend, & date opened.  What else should I track?
If you plan to meet the minimum spend through manufactured spending techniques, you might want to consider tracking the fees incurred by manufactured spending (ie, when I buy a $500 Visa gift card to meet the minimum spend, I keep track of the fact that the gift card had a $4.95 fee). I like doing this to keep track of my true cost of these award flights. It's not that critical I guess, just interesting.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: charis on January 26, 2015, 12:30:01 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.
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.
It doesn't take any more than a few seconds to get the money back out of serve - one billpay transaction to send the money back to the credit card whence it came.  If you and your SO (or other family member) each have Barclaycards that's a 4K points/month minimum with 10% back.  That's an extra $500+ in travel.

Edited to add that I only do it online - I have NO time to go anywhere.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 26, 2015, 12:42:22 PM
my post was wrong you have to buy gift cards with serve its REDcard that works a much better way.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 01:20:17 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.
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.
It doesn't take any more than a few seconds to get the money back out of serve - one billpay transaction to send the money back to the credit card whence it came.  If you and your SO (or other family member) each have Barclaycards that's a 4K points/month minimum with 10% back.  That's an extra $500+ in travel.

Believe you're off by a factor of 10 here.  4K points (5K effective) is $40/$50, not $400/$500.

Anyway, prevailing logic is that paying the card that you funded serve with with Serve billpay is a big red flag for them.  I know that some people get away with it, but many have not.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 01:29:10 PM
You shouldnt have to buy giftcards under the serve system If i understand properly i just go to walmart and "load" my serve card using a credit card and there is no fee charged for this. i can do 2500 a day and 5k a month.  then i just use the serve account to pay off the CC.

You cannot load Serve with a credit card at Walmart.  You *can* load it with a debit card.  Thus what people do is purchase Visa Debit gift cards and load at Walmart with those.  People take advantage of category bonuses and buy them at places like office supply stores, grocery stores, etc. to get more points.

Example:  Chase Ink Bold/Plus have a 5x category at office supply stores.  Churner buys $1000 in Visa debit gift cards at Staples, getting 5000 ultimate rewards points.  That person then takes the visa debit cards to Walmart and asks to load Serve at the register.  Churner needs to prevent the walmart employee from seeing the card because technically their policy is to only take debit cards with someone's name on them.  Some employees know this, some don't. 

Some places, that churner can load Serve up all in one split transaction.  In my area, one cannot and must do them as separate transactions, but the managers in my area *also* attempt to prevent multiple loads in a single day-- so you're limited to the max of a single visa debit gift card per day unless you can sneak through the line multiple times.

If you load Serve by credit card online, also note that some cards load serve as cash advance, so you'd be charged cash advance fees and interest.  Make sure you research your card on Flyertalk FIRST to make sure you don't incur those fees.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: charis on January 26, 2015, 01:51:19 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.
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.
It doesn't take any more than a few seconds to get the money back out of serve - one billpay transaction to send the money back to the credit card whence it came.  If you and your SO (or other family member) each have Barclaycards that's a 4K points/month minimum with 10% back.  That's an extra $500+ in travel.

Believe you're off by a factor of 10 here.  4K points (5K effective) is $40/$50, not $400/$500.

Anyway, prevailing logic is that paying the card that you funded serve with with Serve billpay is a big red flag for them.  I know that some people get away with it, but many have not.

I was referring to an extra $500+/year in travel based on the 4K points/month. Sorry, I didn't think that would need explaining.

Who is it a red flag for? Server or the credit card company?  I haven't read anything about Serve accounts being shut down, but maybe I am not looking in the right places.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 01:56:16 PM

Who is it a red flag for? Server or the credit card company?  I haven't read anything about Serve accounts being shut down, but maybe I am not looking in the right places.

Serve.  The thing is, Amex doesn't explain themselves to you when they shut down your Serve, but there have been a number of stories on the Flyertalk Serve thread where Serve got shut down for someone and the most conspicuously "wrong" thing they were doing was this.  Thus, the general advice is to avoid doing so.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 26, 2015, 08:04:31 PM
Who is paying for all these points? Your fellow travellers, I assume. It sure isn't the credit card companies.

There are more meaningful things with your time, that actually contribute something to the world, and that don't ride on other people's backs. Fewer bragging rights, I admit.



Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 08:28:07 PM
Who is paying for all these points? Your fellow travellers, I assume. It sure isn't the credit card companies.

This is a logical fallacy.  If someone uses a coupon to get a jar of peanut butter for free, is that person ethically compromised because they are getting their peanut butter at the expense of a paying customer?  No.  Just like coupons, signup bonuses and category bonuses are a cost borne by the credit card company (a small percentage out of their preposterously large profits mostly earned screwing people who *can't* pay their bills) to try to win new customers.  When I find a card I like in the course of travel hacking, I use it for everyday spending too.  The company has won me as a customer, and their investment in me has paid off.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Travel hacking and credit card churning exist in a totally legitimate space where we maximize the benefit within the system.  The credit card companies are well aware of churning and are capable of taking steps to stop it if they are so inclined.  The reason they have specific language about how often you can earn a signup bonus is because they are trying to entice exactly this demographic. 

I definitely don't feel sorry for the credit card companies.  No.

There are more meaningful things with your time, that actually contribute something to the world, and that don't ride on other people's backs. Fewer bragging rights, I admit.

Sure, and that's what I do with the other 99.999% of my time.  Do I have to apply this same logic every time I turn on the TV too?  Should I feel bad because I spend some time doing something totally legitimate to improve my quality of life? 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 26, 2015, 08:39:48 PM
Who is paying for all these points? Your fellow travellers, I assume. It sure isn't the credit card companies.

Why do you assume that?

The credit card companies, who make billions, use it as an incentive to gather more business.

Whether or not I sign up for credit cards, they'll make those billions from people who use credit cards poorly.  Me not signing up for bonuses doesn't make other people smarter at using credit cards.  It just makes the credit card companies slightly less profit.

That's my honest belief, not a justification.  If I'm wrong, I'd love an explanation as to why.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 26, 2015, 09:11:35 PM
If you use the card for everyday spending and you are open to the card as a customer, then you have completed the contract. Just like buying peanut butter with a coupon sells that jar of peanut butter and maybe leads you to keep buying peanut butter. But that isn't what many of the posters here are doing. They are getting sign-up bonuses and they are moving on. The costs of those bonuses are paid by other customers -- if not in cc charges to them, through what the merchants are paying the cc companies. The merchants' customers are footing the bill.  I don't feel sorry for any cc company either. But I do think this churning is on the backs of other people, not companies. Maybe the people can "afford" the cost. But it is unnecessary waste.

I don't think its harmless.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 26, 2015, 09:17:50 PM
Just like buying peanut butter with a coupon sells that jar of peanut butter and maybe leads you to keep buying peanut butter.

Maybe.  And maybe someone will use that CC more.  But plenty of people use coupons for stuff and don't buy that brand otherwise.

And I still don't see how it affects other people and not the company - if I don't sign up for the CC and get the bonus, people still will pay the same in interest, the company will just have more profit at the end of the day.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: iamlindoro on January 26, 2015, 09:53:39 PM
If you use the card for everyday spending and you are open to the card as a customer, then you have completed the contract.

What contract?  What legal contract is *not* being fulfilled in the case of card churning?

But that isn't what many of the posters here are doing. They are getting sign-up bonuses and they are moving on.

Correction: They are signing up, completing the mandatory initial spend, and in some cases moving on.  If anything is a completion of a "contract" (real or imagined), this is.  People are agreeing to become cardmembers with the understanding that the company agrees to furnish them with the offered number of points when they complete a certain amount of spending, which they do.  There is no obligation, legal or otherwise, to continue to use the card.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 26, 2015, 09:56:29 PM
Just like buying peanut butter with a coupon sells that jar of peanut butter and maybe leads you to keep buying peanut butter.

Maybe.  And maybe someone will use that CC more.  But plenty of people use coupons for stuff and don't buy that brand otherwise.

And I still don't see how it affects other people and not the company - if I don't sign up for the CC and get the bonus, people still will pay the same in interest, the company will just have more profit at the end of the day.

The bonus points are a useless cost to the cc company if they are not used in good faith by the person signing on. That useless cost is passed on to the customer -- not just through optional costs like interest, but through the percentage merchants pay to take payments using a cc. It is like shrinkage -- when product disappears or is destroyed, someone pays for it, and that's all the paying customers. Maybe the companies would keep some of the difference in profit, but more likely it would be split with customers, to stay competitive. And just because companies allow for shrinkage, doesn't mean it is OK to deliberately go in and help product disappear or damage it. I don't see how getting bonus points is any different if you intend to take the points and run fly.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Eric on January 26, 2015, 09:58:25 PM
If you use the card for everyday spending and you are open to the card as a customer, then you have completed the contract. Just like buying peanut butter with a coupon sells that jar of peanut butter and maybe leads you to keep buying peanut butter. But that isn't what many of the posters here are doing. They are getting sign-up bonuses and they are moving on. The costs of those bonuses are paid by other customers -- if not in cc charges to them, through what the merchants are paying the cc companies. The merchants' customers are footing the bill.  I don't feel sorry for any cc company either. But I do think this churning is on the backs of other people, not companies. Maybe the people can "afford" the cost. But it is unnecessary waste.

I don't think its harmless.

So you don't ever use credit or debit cards to make purchases?  Because if you do, you're part of the "problem" as you've outlined it.  Your CC transaction costs the merchant ~2% more than cash.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: johnny847 on January 26, 2015, 11:09:22 PM
Oh dear.

Guys, try not to feed the troll. I know, I know, it's hard sometimes.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: johnny847 on January 26, 2015, 11:14:00 PM
Getting back on topic....yes you should start travel hacking. I just booked a flight on Delta (ATL -> ICN, NRT -> ATL, still need to book the SEL -> OSA leg sometime later) using points from my Amex signup bonuses. Total out of pocket cost for the flight: $100.08, plus two credit inquiries. Cash price of the flights themselves: $3763.69 (but this got skewed because of a mishap at booking).

If you want the details, you can read about it on my blog post: https://fiby40.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/my-april-vacation-to-korea-and-japan-booked-with-miles/ (https://fiby40.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/my-april-vacation-to-korea-and-japan-booked-with-miles/)
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 27, 2015, 07:05:25 AM
So you don't ever use credit or debit cards to make purchases?  Because if you do, you're part of the "problem" as you've outlined it.  Your CC transaction costs the merchant ~2% more than cash.
[/quote]

I haven't used credit cards in at least 10 years. I use a debit card when it makes sense for the transaction, but I am oriented to cash and direct electronic payments. I'm not completely against the service of credit or debit cards, or even paying for it. What I have a problem with is unnecessary activities by a few people that drive the cost of the those services that we all end up paying for.

I also still get and use frequent flyer points -- though most of the points come through my pharmacy, electronic transactions on my bank account, specials at the grocery store and bad service from airlines. (I don't seek out the bad service to get extra points, but I accept them when offered!) But I see the points as being part of a loyalty deal. I give my business, and I get points for continuing to do business. It is the churning that I have a problem with. And the time and energy going to it.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 27, 2015, 07:08:49 AM
how can you in good faith take these miles from your pharmacy your bank or your grocery store.  and from what you would call bad service from the airlines.  dont you realize that you accepting miles for all these things drives up the costs of goods and services at those locations for the rest of us. 

i cant believe you would hurt the rest of the country in this way and your fellow man by accepting these perks and driving up my cost. 

basically you are picking and choosing what rewards you deem acceptable. 


HYPOCRITE   
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 27, 2015, 07:11:29 AM
Getting back on topic....yes you should start travel hacking. I just booked a flight on Delta (ATL -> ICN, NRT -> ATL, still need to book the SEL -> OSA leg sometime later) using points from my Amex signup bonuses. Total out of pocket cost for the flight: $100.08, plus two credit inquiries. Cash price of the flights themselves: $3763.69 (but this got skewed because of a mishap at booking).

We're not off-topic. The questions was "Should I start travel hacking" and my response was "No" and we're discussing that point of view the same way the people who say "Yes" are giving examples and ideas that support their point of view. 

Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 27, 2015, 07:20:41 AM
from what you would call bad service from the airlines.   

You can trust me on this: when an airline spontaneously offers you points to compensate for bad service, there has been bad service.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: charis on January 27, 2015, 07:28:30 AM
The bonus points are a useless cost to the cc company if they are not used in good faith by the person signing on. That useless cost is passed on to the customer -- not just through optional costs like interest, but through the percentage merchants pay to take payments using a cc. It is like shrinkage -- when product disappears or is destroyed, someone pays for it, and that's all the paying customers. Maybe the companies would keep some of the difference in profit, but more likely it would be split with customers, to stay competitive. And just because companies allow for shrinkage, doesn't mean it is OK to deliberately go in and help product disappear or damage it. I don't see how getting bonus points is any different if you intend to take the points and run fly.

Anyone who uses a credit card and pays the balance in full every month costs the CC company money, because they make money on users who carry a balance over.  The whole business model for signing bonuses is sales tactic to entice people to sign up for the card.  It's like any other gimmick.  A certain percentage of those people will continue to use the card after they get the bonus and start paying interest on their minimum spending.  That is where it is profitable, and that is why the companies do it.  They are casting a line to catch the financially weakest fish.  It is way more lucrative for the CC companies to offer signing bonuses than not, even taking churning into account.   

The cost of which services are being driven up, exactly?  You sound like you have more of a moral objection, rather than a logical one.  Well, that's your prerogative.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 27, 2015, 07:57:42 AM
the only reason CC companies have signing bonus's and offer points based on spending is in hopes you will end up in debt.  thats where they make the real money.  not in the fees charged to the vendors.   

so if you want to take a moral stand against that more power to ya.  i'll continue to churn and burn and travel the world for 1/100th the price of the avg. consumer
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 27, 2015, 09:17:53 AM
The credit card companies choose to offer this, because they've calculated it makes them more money.  If it didn't, they wouldn't do so.  If they are offering it of their own free will, why would I not take advantage of it?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 27, 2015, 12:53:05 PM
the only reason CC companies have signing bonus's and offer points based on spending is in hopes you will end up in debt.  thats where they make the real money.  not in the fees charged to the vendors.   

so if you want to take a moral stand against that more power to ya.  i'll continue to churn and burn and travel the world for 1/100th the price of the avg. consumer

And other people will pay more for their travel (or whatever they get points on) to pay the cost of your travel.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 27, 2015, 01:04:52 PM
the only reason CC companies have signing bonus's and offer points based on spending is in hopes you will end up in debt.  thats where they make the real money.  not in the fees charged to the vendors.   

so if you want to take a moral stand against that more power to ya.  i'll continue to churn and burn and travel the world for 1/100th the price of the avg. consumer

And other people will pay more for their travel (or whatever they get points on) to pay the cost of your travel.

I don't follow.  Explain.

If I don't get the CC, you think they will be charged less interest by the CC company? 

Or do you think the CC company will charge the same interest, and just end up with more profit?

I think the latter.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 27, 2015, 01:07:04 PM
as will they due to your debit card bonus etc. so you must be holy than all of us here to decide what makes moral sense. 

i think the CC company funds most if not all of these point bonus's. 

but since you believe its coming from the end source, then you're in direct violation of your own views and are causing the cost of whatever your "loyalty" rewards come from to rise and therefore are a huge hypocrite.

as stated many times on here most hold to the belief that the CC company is the one fronting these rewards.  as can be seen by some CC companies policies on rewards being different based on the CC company NOT the end brand.

IE hyatt and southwest are both chase cards thus they have a 2 year turn around on rewards.
Hilton and AA are both Citi cards thus they can be churned til your credit is rubble if you so choose.

so with your loyalty points at the bank you're taking money directly from others at your bank who have loans so youre a very bad person by your standards. 
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 27, 2015, 01:12:04 PM
the only reason CC companies have signing bonus's and offer points based on spending is in hopes you will end up in debt.  thats where they make the real money.  not in the fees charged to the vendors.   

so if you want to take a moral stand against that more power to ya.  i'll continue to churn and burn and travel the world for 1/100th the price of the avg. consumer

And other people will pay more for their travel (or whatever they get points on) to pay the cost of your travel.

I don't follow.  Explain.

If I don't get the CC, you think they will be charged less interest by the CC company? 

Or do you think the CC company will charge the same interest, and just end up with more profit?

I think the latter.

he thinks it raises the rates of the airfare for the avg consumer.  at least thats how i understand it.  which by his own statement that he gets debit rewards should violate his own moral philosophy on this.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 27, 2015, 01:14:58 PM
Weird.  The credit card companies may pass on the charges (and will pass whatever they can to maximize the profits), but its to people using the CCs, not other travelers, and the CC companies will charge what they can get away with anyways, so me using the bonus just means less profit for them.  And they clearly still think it's worth it for them, so who am I to argue?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: choppingwood on January 27, 2015, 04:37:09 PM
One last statement (at least from me) on the issue:

It is not earning travel points in return for reasonable use of the system that is the issue to me, any more than it is an issue for me or anyone else to buy things at a sale price or use a coupon to something at a lower price.

It is the excess that other posters were describing that bothers me, the same way that the excess of extreme couponing bothers me. There is a real cost to someone from that excess and it ultimately isn't to the cc company or to the grocery store. Its to the consumer. I take a system view of the decisions I make and balance it with my self-interest. You don't have to do that.

It is a different answer to the question asked.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: FarmerPete on January 28, 2015, 09:33:56 AM
One last statement (at least from me) on the issue:

It is not earning travel points in return for reasonable use of the system that is the issue to me, any more than it is an issue for me or anyone else to buy things at a sale price or use a coupon to something at a lower price.

It is the excess that other posters were describing that bothers me, the same way that the excess of extreme couponing bothers me. There is a real cost to someone from that excess and it ultimately isn't to the cc company or to the grocery store. Its to the consumer. I take a system view of the decisions I make and balance it with my self-interest. You don't have to do that.

It is a different answer to the question asked.

Well, from that argument you shouldn't use a debit card or credit card on anything...ever.  No excuses.  Stores pay a 2-3% fee on every purchase made with a credit card.  Since so many people use a credit card now, most places have raised their prices by 2-3% to compensate.  That means that if everyone went back to paying with cash, they could cut the cost of all of those goods and services by 2-3%.  Of course, then there would be so much cash that large stores would have to hire people to process the cash.  Armed cars would have to be employed to do regular pickups of the cash.  Grocery stores wouldn't be able to check people out as fast, as all of the cash counting would take up time, so they would have to hire more cashiers.  We'd all have to drive to the banks more to get cash, so we'd spend more on gas and car W&T.  I'm sure all of these costs would be passed on to the consumer ultimately, and I bet you'd find that the end result would be a net $0 change in cost.

Credit card companies are greedy.  I have a credit card that gives me 6% cash back on all grocery purchases.  Even though Amex charges the highest transaction fees, I have to imagine that they are losing money on me every time I buy groceries.  Should I stop using the credit card to buy my weekly groceries?  Or should I just accept that Amex is trying to lure the average slacker into using their balance carrying credit card on groceries so that the customer get's 6% cash back on a purchase that they are paying Amex 24% interest on.  My hope and dream is that eventually no one in the USA has any debt, least of which CC debt.  If that happened, I assure you, the rewards points system will change.  Until then, I will continue to be rewarded for showing my loyalty to Amex/Chase/Fidelity etc.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: Ricky on January 28, 2015, 10:48:59 AM
One last statement (at least from me) on the issue:

It is not earning travel points in return for reasonable use of the system that is the issue to me, any more than it is an issue for me or anyone else to buy things at a sale price or use a coupon to something at a lower price.

It is the excess that other posters were describing that bothers me, the same way that the excess of extreme couponing bothers me. There is a real cost to someone from that excess and it ultimately isn't to the cc company or to the grocery store. Its to the consumer. I take a system view of the decisions I make and balance it with my self-interest. You don't have to do that.

It is a different answer to the question asked.

There's one fundamental flaw in your logic. You assume that credit card companies will sacrifice all to keep sign up bonuses going. I don't think this is true at all. Companies are segmented and if offering customers free money in hopes they will eventually make money on those customers becomes unprofitable, then they will cease doing that. And yes, they will run opportunity costs. They aren't going to raise merchant fees and convince airlines and hotels to raise their fares and rates (I'm still puzzled how you find any correlation between credit cards companies "losing" money and the overall cost of travel) just to keep an unprofitable marketing tactic afloat.

Trust me, if credit companies do the research (and they do, I assure you) and they find they are losing money by offering sign up incentives, then they will cease to continue doing so. I guarantee it. You literally have no idea just how many people take advantage of credit card companies' generosity, so you can't make a profound statement that says that by people doing so the overall costs of doing business go up. The way I see it, they are just passing their already insane profits down to those who know how to take advantage of a good offer.

And I'll re-iterate: travel does NOT cost more as a result of anyone receiving a sign up bonus. Money is money (it doesn't matter if it's airline miles or cold hard cash) but because corporations are greedy, they try to save money by negotiating. Hence, they buy $490 worth of airfare from some airline and "reward" you with $500 worth as a sign up incentive. They buy so much that it makes sense for the airlines to give a discount. The only party here losing money is the credit card company, not the travel industry. But they obviously aren't losing money overall, else they would quit offering incentives.

Ultimately, your logic that "it ultimately hurts everyone" is flawed.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: drtownhouse on January 29, 2015, 04:25:00 AM
I took the initial plunge this weekend and opened up a Citi American Airlines CC with a 50,000 mile sign up bonus after $2000 in spending.  Seems like a sweet deal.  I'm planning on having my wife do the same thing shortly.  My question now is, how do you keep track of everything?  Or more specifically, what categories/information do you need to track?

I'm thinking Mileage/Points, Annual Fee, Spending amount, Timeframe for spend, & date opened.  What else should I track?
If you plan to meet the minimum spend through manufactured spending techniques, you might want to consider tracking the fees incurred by manufactured spending (ie, when I buy a $500 Visa gift card to meet the minimum spend, I keep track of the fact that the gift card had a $4.95 fee). I like doing this to keep track of my true cost of these award flights. It's not that critical I guess, just interesting.

I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

There is one possible issue I could see, however. Since the max you can load onto Serve is $1,000 per month, what happens if my mortgage is $1,500 per month? Will the mortgage company allow me to pay $1,000 with Serve and then pull the rest as it normally would through electronic checking? Would the system flag it if my normal $1,500 payment was now $500 because I "prepaid" $1,000?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: johnny847 on January 29, 2015, 07:20:37 AM
I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

There is one possible issue I could see, however. Since the max you can load onto Serve is $1,000 per month, what happens if my mortgage is $1,500 per month? Will the mortgage company allow me to pay $1,000 with Serve and then pull the rest as it normally would through electronic checking? Would the system flag it if my normal $1,500 payment was now $500 because I "prepaid" $1,000?
Some cards are charged a cash advance fee when you load your Serve online with them. Hence you don't meet minimum spend this way, and get charged cash advance fees + interest. For some details, check out this Flyertalk thread: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending/1644834-serve-another-paypal-amazon-payments-2015-a-19.html (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending/1644834-serve-another-paypal-amazon-payments-2015-a-19.html).

Also, for some credit cards, you could get up to say 5x rewards by buying something at a store in a bonused category (such as the Chase Freedom currently giving 5x points at grocery stores this quarter). So buying it in store can be far more advantageous than using it to load Serve online, even if that particular credit card would not be charged a cash advance fee for it.

As for your mortgage situation, I have no idea.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 29, 2015, 09:49:41 AM
I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

Cause you can only load 1k?  And in store you can load another 5k of gift cards?  The wife and I needed to spend ~70k in 3 months.  1k/mo each wasn't gonna cut it.

You should be able to send two separate payments.  You can also load your serve in other ways (including transferring from your bank acct to serve) so that you can just send the one payment from serve.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: boarder42 on January 29, 2015, 11:14:55 AM
I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

Cause you can only load 1k?  And in store you can load another 5k of gift cards?  The wife and I needed to spend ~70k in 3 months.  1k/mo each wasn't gonna cut it.

You should be able to send two separate payments.  You can also load your serve in other ways (including transferring from your bank acct to serve) so that you can just send the one payment from serve.

so ARS what Visa debit cards do you buy and where.  also how are you getting your 70k out i assume you're not paying off the CCs you just put in?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 29, 2015, 11:29:45 AM
I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

Cause you can only load 1k?  And in store you can load another 5k of gift cards?  The wife and I needed to spend ~70k in 3 months.  1k/mo each wasn't gonna cut it.

You should be able to send two separate payments.  You can also load your serve in other ways (including transferring from your bank acct to serve) so that you can just send the one payment from serve.

so ARS what Visa debit cards do you buy and where.  also how are you getting your 70k out i assume you're not paying off the CCs you just put in?

The mall.  They were $2.95 for $500, they recently went up to 3.95, but I'm done for now.

Yes, I paid off the CCs with it.  The money I put in came mainly from one time use gift cards.  Then it pays off a CC.  Serve doesn't know the CC originally bought those gift cards.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: drtownhouse on January 29, 2015, 04:40:47 PM
I don't fully understand why people buy the cash cards. It seems like more work than just loading $1,000 onto Serve online, without the hassle of going into a store.

Cause you can only load 1k?  And in store you can load another 5k of gift cards?  The wife and I needed to spend ~70k in 3 months.  1k/mo each wasn't gonna cut it.

You should be able to send two separate payments.  You can also load your serve in other ways (including transferring from your bank acct to serve) so that you can just send the one payment from serve.

so ARS what Visa debit cards do you buy and where.  also how are you getting your 70k out i assume you're not paying off the CCs you just put in?

The mall.  They were $2.95 for $500, they recently went up to 3.95, but I'm done for now.

Yes, I paid off the CCs with it.  The money I put in came mainly from one time use gift cards.  Then it pays off a CC.  Serve doesn't know the CC originally bought those gift cards.

I keep reading abbreviated versions of this process and getting mixed up. So to be clear, you go to the mall and use your credit card to buy and loan up a Visa debit (gift) card. The next step is to take that loaded gift card to a Wal-Mart (or maybe somewhere else?) and use the loaded gift card to load the Serve card. Lastly, you pay your credit card bill using the Serve card?
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 29, 2015, 04:44:43 PM
That's all correct.

That's not the only way to do it, so thus why you hear different versions, but that was the most efficient way for me to quickly do that without much work.  I was willing to pay a little more to reduce the hassle factor (i.e. not doing specific 5x promotions at office supply stores, hunting for CVSs or 7-11s that have certain cards, etc.) cause otherwise I wouldn't be doing MS, and it was lucrative enough that I should.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: drtownhouse on January 29, 2015, 06:52:02 PM
Appreciate the clarification. Like so many things here, I wish I found this one sooner. Rushing to get these cards rolling with the hope of traveling in May (wife has much less flexible schedule). I guess if we can't meet all the reward requirements we can at least start building up points when we buy tickets.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: kpd905 on January 29, 2015, 08:08:41 PM
Appreciate the clarification. Like so many things here, I wish I found this one sooner. Rushing to get these cards rolling with the hope of traveling in May (wife has much less flexible schedule). I guess if we can't meet all the reward requirements we can at least start building up points when we buy tickets.

A couple Barclays Arrival cards would probably be your best bet for short notice.  Put $3000 on each card (including your travel expenses) and then erase $440 of travel expenses from each card.
Title: Re: Should I start "travel hacking" with credit cards?
Post by: arebelspy on January 29, 2015, 09:11:09 PM
There's time for May.  Sign up now, spend in Feb, statement close and earn points in March, and book right away.

Or use the Barclay's Arrival like kpd says or the chase venture.. get it now, and book on it, and then once you hit the min spend in a few months you can redeem it towards that past travel.