Author Topic: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...  (Read 3302 times)

positronic

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Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« on: October 07, 2014, 04:44:51 PM »
Hello everyone.
I usually take 2-3 domestic flights per year by myself, and another 2 with my husband, so about 7 flights per year, plus 10 or fewer nights at miscellaneous hotels. Though we don't travel a ton, most of our flights are coast-to-coast and pretty expensive. We're looking into a travel reward card to try and get something back on all those travel purchases, and better rewards for other purchases than my current sad BoA rewards card.

We've got it narrowed down to Chase Sapphire Preferred card, the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard (what a name!), and the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX.

I'm about ready to rule out the SPG AMEX, but I keep reading that their points are "really valuable." What is it that makes them valuable? Are they all that valuable if you have no intentions of staying at a Starwood property ever? We rarely stay at hotels. When we do, we usually don't have a choice of where to stay, and when we do have the choice we usually try to find a Holiday Inn Express or sometimes something cheaper. Not really interested in luxury rooms unless the points bring them down to around $100/night. Or is it the fact that they convert to airline miles what makes them valuable? I have read that miles can turn out to be worth more than points, but is that just if you're getting upgrades and things like that? We never do any airline upgrades/perks. I also don't like the SPG policy of not having authorized users on an account.

The Sapphire is the next on the chopping block, as I've read the Ultimate Rewards marketplace is best if you can be flexible with your travel. We only travel for holidays or specific events, so little to no flexibility.

Basically, I'm really leaning toward the Barclaycard since it seems like the happy medium between the three, flexible (not airline-specific), with good rewards and perhaps most suited to our personal needs. But since this is all really new to us, I wanted to see if I'm missing anything with the SPG or Sapphire.

Thanks!

trailrated

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2014, 05:18:06 PM »
I just got the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier one, I got 50,000 bonus points for signing up. They say it comes out to two round trip tickets but I have not looked into it yet but the points just posted in my account. You had to put $2,000 on it in the first three months I think. I got to expense some work stuff so it worked out well for me.

arebelspy

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2014, 08:40:07 PM »
Sounds like the Barclay makes sense for you.  You can get 2 of those (one each per adult), then go with the Chase Venture, which also does the "reimburse travel cost" stuff, then the Ultimate Rewards later.  Chase UR points go pretty far, and can be transferred to a number of different frequent flyer programs.

SPG is valuable because it transfers to many other airlines.

There's no need to pick one only, also.  If you want all of that travel to be free, you'll want to end up doing multiple cards.
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positronic

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2014, 06:38:14 PM »
@arebelspy, I think the idea of "churning" turns us off a bit for some reason, it seems so strange! We will probably just stick with one card to get better rewards on our normal spending and not try to chase after lots of sign-up bonuses.

arebelspy

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2014, 06:49:45 PM »
@arebelspy, I think the idea of "churning" turns us off a bit for some reason, it seems so strange! We will probably just stick with one card to get better rewards on our normal spending and not try to chase after lots of sign-up bonuses.

How do you define churning (such that it fits what I said), and what about it (using your definition) bothers you?
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.

positronic

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2014, 08:32:46 PM »
I suppose I would define it as opening multiple cards that you don't intend to use for making purchases/earning rewards, but just want for the sign-up bonuses. I guess the real definition of churning also involves doing this process more than once and going through a cycle of cards that you open and close.

It bothers me that you need to keep track of paying the fees for them and using them often enough to keep them active. It feels like a hassle, and a little risky. The hassle is the biggest factor for my husband. It seems like it would be a fairly stressful thing to do, and the stress/time/energy involved doesn't seem worth the extra cash.

I also have a lot of "closing credit cards hurts your credit score" anxiety, so the thought of opening a whole bunch scares me. I don't know any true facts about closing cards and credit scores, maybe it's not that big of a deal.

arebelspy

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Re: Narrowing down travel rewards cards...
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2014, 08:41:40 PM »
Fair enough.

I disagree with the accuracy of most of those, but to each his/her own.  Do what you are comfortable with.  :)
We are two former teachers who accumulated a bunch of real estate, retired at 29, spent some time traveling the world full time and are now settled with two kids.
If you want to know more about us, or how we did that, or see lots of pictures, this Business Insider profile tells our story pretty well.
We (rarely) blog at AdventuringAlong.com. Check out our Now page to see what we're up to currently.