Author Topic: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!  (Read 1722 times)

SNC1829

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Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« on: January 03, 2018, 11:22:16 AM »
Hello All,

I am new to this forum, but not new to MMM.  My first query is if I need to ask my question in a more specific forum on this board...if so I can delete this one and move it over.  It seemed this pertains to several different pool topics (?)

I have read the MMM blog/credit card page (a little outdated), did a brief search on here, did internet research, etc. I feel stuck as to how to proceed in regards to if I should go ahead and try to buy a credit card to earn me points/miles so I can minimize airfare costs when I travel.

My concerns:

1.  I think I am only looking to apply for one card (no churning): As someone who relates with MMM, I don't spend money on a lot of things!  Right now I have a credit card through my credit union that I spend about average $100-150 on each month.  The rest is debit card (maybe $300-400 per month). I do have a big few purchases coming up to help meet spending minimums ($2-$4k max is what I'm looking at), but I don't think the whole "manufactured spending" would be my thing, unless someone has advice stating otherwise?  How did yall meet minimums before bonus kicked in?

2.   Because I am cheap, I many times travel budget airlines where points wouldn't matter.  I wonder if it would even be worth getting a travel credit card or going for something that is cash back. 

I am currently signed up with AA and Delta for their loyalty programs and Delta seems to has a deal on Amex Gold where I can get 50,000 points if I spend $2k in 3 months and I get 75,000 if I spend an extra $1000 within 6 months ($3k total).  It seems like a good deal, but from my internet research most sites point towards Chase or one that is flexible on airlines.  I'm also weary of people touting credit cards only because they are sponsored from that credit card company. 

This would be for international travel.  If there is any other information I need to provide, I can do so! 


I would really appreciate any insights yall may have!


Jules13

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2018, 03:42:01 PM »
I don't really churn cards either, though I have opened more than many in order to get the bonus miles over the years.  I have mostly focused on the American Airlines card because we typically travel on American/Qantas to Australia to visit family.  That worked brilliantly in the past.  We got more than a few tickets with miles when our kids were younger and we weren't subject to school holidays.

Now, however, when only working within school holidays, it's nearly impossible to find award tickets to Australia during those times.  So, I have a ton of miles on American that we are going to use instead to travel to Europe. 

If it's just you traveling, then accumulating enough miles is dead easy.  60k miles/points will get you a return ticket to Europe, 75k to Australia/NZ with American.  Pretty easy to get with the bonus miles if you have some big purchases coming up.  I don't know what Delta's points are like. 

Good luck. 

DrMoney

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2018, 04:17:37 PM »
Travel Miles 101 Facebook group is a great place to go with this question!

I think the best travel card is the chase platinum reserve.

SNC1829

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2018, 05:28:15 PM »
Thanks you two!  I am such a rookie and posted this thread twice, so there was one person who also recommended Chase and the second person mentioned a deal going on with Citi/American for 60k miles on the other identical thread.

Honestly, my biggest issue will be getting the minimum spend.  I think I could swing $2k with the bigger purchases, but honestly with no rent, loan, babies, pets, etc my spending at the moment is low.  Trying not fall for their whole scheme which is to spend just to get the bonus! 

I will look up the facebook group for sure. 

Jules13

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2018, 09:20:00 AM »
There are some people who buy things like gift cards for groceries (pre-buying if you will) in order to meet the minimum spend.  With two kids, I've never had to do this, but some folks get super creative.  You could probably even google something like 'creative ways to meet minimum spend' and find some ideas.  Might not be worth the hassle to do it again, but you could always just try it, as an experiment.  Then, at least you'd know if it was worth it or not.  Good luck!

DarkandStormy

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2018, 09:41:39 AM »
Travel Miles 101 has a great free e-mail course (over maybe 5-6 days).  I would recommend that.

1) I am in 2 Player mode, so my SO and I put all/nearly all of our spending (shared and both of our personal spending) on the card we're working on for the bonus.  It's fairly easy to hit.  You could buy gift cards at Costco or your regular grocery store - you essentially prepay your groceries for a few weeks.

2) That is more a personal decision and one you can hopefully make on your own after you learn about the different options.  With Chase, taking the cash back (a 1:1 ratio) is almost always the worst redemption value.  You can get better bang for your buck (err, points) by transferring to their travel partners directly or using their portal if you have a Sapphire Preferred/Reserve or Ink card.

"Manufactured spending" can be a bit risky, but plenty of people do it.  If you're out to lunch with colleagues, you could offer to pay for the meal on your card if they'll pay you back via cash/paypal/venmo/etc.  Some banks allow you to fund a new bank account with a credit card - you'll probably earn a new sign-up bonus with that bank to boot. 

Another way I've read about it buying VGCs - perhaps from a grocery store or office supply store.  You do pay a $4.95 or $5.95 fee (I forget which) - so if you buy a $500 VGC, you're on the hook for ~$505.  You can hold onto that VGC and use it after you get the bonus (and therefore don't need to be spending on that CC for the bonus) OR you can load a money order with that VGC (probably a ~$1 fee or less) and send the MO to yourself.  You're probably out ~$6ish to move $500 back to yourself, but that's $500 closer to your minimum spending goal PLUS you're earning at least 1% in rewards on the $500 purchase.

FenderBender

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2018, 11:35:42 AM »
manufactured spending is mostly dead unless you have a lot of time to stand in line and if you have that time, may as well get a part time job to pay for travel.

i still sign up for bonuses, but i space them out and i coordinate with times when i'm going to make major purchases. 

it is still worth trying to get something cheaper or free so i'll never stop completely, but actively doing it isn't worth my time anymore. 

it seems only opportunity these days is to have places to post referral links.  that's passive so easy. 

to meet spend these days if you aren't a big spender, i think you can still buy store gift cards, stores that you shop regularly so use the gift card until done.  i guess you could also buy store gift certs. 

Zoot Allures

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2018, 01:20:07 PM »
It sounds like flexible points would be more useful to you than miles that are tied to a specific airline. There are several flavors of flexible points (including Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points), but I think for the budget-minded traveler who wants to keep things simple, Chase is the way to go. Chase has an excellent travel portal where you can use your points to book flights, hotels, etc. You'll want to get either the Sapphire Preferred or the Sapphire Reserve. Both currently come with a 50,000 point bonus.

The Reserve has a much higher annual fee ($450), but it's offset by sweet benefits including a $300 annual travel credit, extra points on travel and dining expenses, and a Priority Pass card that gets you into airport lounges. Also, with the Reserve, your points are worth 1.5 cents per point in the travel portal, whereas they are worth 1.25 cents per point with the Preferred card. So, for example, if you find a flight on the Chase portal that would cost $500 cash, it would cost you about 33,000 points with the Reserve and 40,000 points with the Preferred. A lot of people find that the Reserve is worth keeping despite the high annual fee, but it comes down to whether you can make good use of the benefits and the higher-value points.

As for meeting the minimum spending requirement, there are a number of ways to get this done "artificially," including by opening a bank account that allows you to fund it initially with a credit card. You can also load your Amazon balance with a credit card (though you would then be floating the money for a period of time). But I think buying $500 Visa gift cards is the easiest way. You can liquidate these via money order, but this will require a bit of research on your part and is easier in certain areas than others. You could also ask friends or family to help you by buying these cards from you, and they can use them for their regular spending.

If you decide to apply for the Reserve, feel free to PM me if you'd like to use my referral link! I realize this post sounds like a Chase ad, but I seriously love my Reserve card. I do manufactured spending on a Chase business card that keeps Ultimate Rewards points flowing into my account.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2018, 01:21:57 PM by Zoot Allures »

SNC1829

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Re: Travel Credit Card--Concerns and advice needed!
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2018, 08:15:57 PM »
Thanks everyone for the insights.

I did some research on manufactured spending and whoever said it is almost dead is right--it seems that a lot of schemes take a lot of time and energy.  With that being said, gift cards to grocery stores seem like the most obvious, easy, and efficient way to spend money.

I feel like I may get a lot of eye rolls here for my curve ball I'm shyly going to admit:  I ended up getting the American Citi Mastercard that someone suggested for 60,000 miles.  I already have miles built through them and I know from experience points are easy to redeem.  $3k in three months is going to be enough of a challenge for me and I just don't feel spending to spend to be able to meet the $4k minimum for Chase (I don't mind loading $500 on gro sto gift cards, but that will last me months!).  I even was going to try just getting the Citi card where you only have to spend $750 for 25,000 miles but because I need to buy a laptop and may be going on a trip sooner rather than later, figured I could use this card to help.  American isn't the best airline, but they have some decent partners and have a lot of flights out of my city. 

Yall can laugh and say "told ya so"  if it doesn't work out in three months ;)

On another note, I have never applied to a credit card like this before and it amazed me how at the snap of a finger I'm approved for $8k credit :o !!  I don't know why this shocked me so much (My current one is for $2k through credit union and limit was set when I had full time job)  I do have good finances, but it's no wonder people get caught in the spending craze of having one!!!

I just want to thank everyone again.  In the future I will probably have more costs and at that point will definitely swing for the Chase.  Everyone's comments on manufactured spending and how to "churn" really helped me figure out the best personal course for me.