We’re continuing our Europe tour and it’s been quite a while since we’ve gotten a credit card and I’m working through my options at the moment. There are a few things at play I’ll discuss, but I thought I would fill you in on my earnings on the blog this time around. I post so much on redeeming points, I figured I would talk about some cards I’m getting that will earn miles.
Each person’s starting point is different
There are so many rewards credit cards out there and even just a few that you maximize regular spending on can lead to enough miles for multiple trips. Of course, the smarter you are about using the miles, the more trips you can get out of it.
But I often hate writing posts about credit cards for a number of reasons, but I will write about what I’m doing. This doesn’t mean that you should get these cards, or get cards at all.
For most people I would recommend something like the Chase Sapphire Preferred (Ink Plus as the business version), the AA card (at 50,000 AA miles)… or any card that waives the annual fee for the first year, and offers at least 40,000 miles (not hotel points).
However, strategies change based on needs and which cards you already have. In the end it’s not a big deal, and you can just go for the card with the biggest bonus now, and you won’t regret getting it later. The only reason to regret getting a card is if you paid money for it, or the bonus is higher later and you got it for the lower bonus. So that’s why I go for bonuses when they are higher than normal.
1) Unfortunately we’re doing a long stint away and won’t be back to the USA until October. At the moment we have been stunted in how much money we can spend while abroad. When we’re back in the US meeting minimum spends is easier, but I prefer to do spending on my cashback cards. Oh well.
2) The other element at play is that I don’t want to apply for a Chase card. They’ve had a lot of big bonuses in the last few years to tempt both of us, and I feel like I have too many cards already with them. The last thing I want is for them to feel like I’m abusing their great offers and stop liking me as much as I like them. Right now all of my spending goes on the Ink Plus.
Well, let me say that I don’t want Caroline applying for another, as she already has gotten one semi-recently. Plus, the two of us, we’ve gotten the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and United Explorer card.
If I am going to get a new Chase card, well either of us could get the British Airways card, Hyatt, or Fairmont. I generally value miles more, which is why I have the CSP, Ink Plus, and United card. If I were to get more cards, I could surely put two free Hyatt or Fairmont nights to use.
Anyways, these problems might be unique to me and deters me from just a few cards.
The Chase Card I’ll actually get
That being said, I might personally get the British Airways as it gives 50,000 Avios with only $2,000 spend in 3 months, and the annual fee is waived for the year year.
Chase points are normally more valuable (from the CSP or Ink Plus) as I can transfer to United, but I have been long depleted of Avios and find myself needing them all the time. For example I used 10,000 AA miles for Helsinki to Dubrovnik when I could have used 10,000 Avios. I really want to save my United and AA miles, and the best way for me to do that right now is to get the British Airways card.
Both get the “Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card = 75,000 Hilton points
This card is a no annual fee Hilton card that typically has a 40,000 point bonus, and it’s currently raised to 75,000 points.
75,000 points could be as many as 18 nights in category 1 Hiltons like the ones on the Red Sea in Egypt. See the Complete Map of Hilton Hotels.
I was considering the Hilton Reserve before the other Citi Hilton card raised its bonus. We have one with two free nights that I could use in French Polynesia (like the Hilton Moorea, or Hilton Bora Bora). The free nights are good for weekends, which is considered to be Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night stays. I figured I could do a three night stay starting Friday and then use the other night somewhere else. However, the opportunity with the other Hilton card seems to be trumping that option.
Citi is very generous about this card and I recommend it for anyone. If you’re starting out a no annual fee card is great. And even pros and existing card holders could benefit.
In short, I’m excited about this offer just because I can get it again and because it’s a no annual fee card with a big bonus.
If it weren’t for the high spend of the Citi Executive AA card I’d go for the 75k AA miles. However, I’m not paying a $450 annual fee but I don’t think I could do all $7,500 in the first month.
BOA Alaska cards = 25,000 Alaska Miles
The Alaska Card perfectly fits my goal of not having to rack up a lot of spend to earn my miles this quarter. You get the 25,000 miles based on approval. And while it does have an annual fee not waived, it does have a $100 credit that more than makes up for the annual fee. Now I just need to make sure I spend at least $100 on the card to get the credit.
We already have more than 50,000 Alaska Miles because of our flight to Oman and the flight to Beijing. Both were mistake fares – Oman trip was $210 and Beijing was $440 for a business class ticket on AA. The AA flight alone brought in 36,000 miles.
However, I’d like the top the account to at least 100k, and would need two cards to do that.
You need to read my Best Use of Alaska Miles to see why I’m so excited about Alaska Miles.
Doctor of Credit has a great post on people getting shutdown for more than 1 Alaska card and the rumored shutdowns. My thought on this is that 1 or 2 shutdowns in this community will scare everyone away from something… which is good for me, since I’m not easily scared. But really what I want to say is that most people who get shutdowns “didn’t do anything wrong” and when you probe for a little bit it becomes evident that they didn’t get shutdown for “no reason”. People often don’t see some other thing they were doing as abuse – even when it is – and therefore don’t think to mention it. Then they call and ask about why their abuse methods aren’t working. Which is to say, people who get shutdown, don’t seem to mention all the details. And then what gets overlooked is the other tons of people who weren’t shutdown for doing the only thing thought to be mentioned. In other words, when other people aren’t getting shutdown for the feared method, I question the source of the ones shutdown and proceed with a little more caution for at least a little bit.
Anyways, as DOC mentions, I could get another Virgin card instead of another Alaska card, but the spend requirement isn’t how I want to be using my spend.
It’s funny, Amex used to have all the best travel cards once upon a time. I remember when you could transfer to Continental/United and I remember when they regularly had 75,000 to 100,000 point bonuses. The most points I ever earned from one card bonus was Amex (225,000 British Airways miles after the transfer bonus). But those days are gone it seems, at least for now. They also now make it so that you can only get a personal card once.
So if you had an Amex card years ago and forgot, but then saw it had a bonus or you’re now actually traveling with that company… If you signed up again, you wouldn’t get the bonus, regardless of the circumstances.
Carrie has never had the Hilton Surpass card, so that’s an option. That’s 85,000 Hilton points, but after $3k spend, and after a $75 fee not waived.
I haven’t gotten the SPG card yet, which shocks most people. However, getting the 25,000 point bonus now means I’ll miss out on the 30,000 point bonus later. It also has a $5,000 spend. This card is so crap that it is only now getting rid of foreign transaction fees… on a global hotel chain. And it’s not even happening yet, it will happen. Plus they are adding free wifi. I mean come on. It’s 2015 and this card’s updates are now competitive to 2005. It’s amazing how uncompetitive Amex has gotten in terms of travel benefits in such a short amount of time.
So I might skip Amex all together, but for the opposite reasons I’m skipping Chase. I’m skipping Chase because they are too good and I don’t want to be seen as abusing them by just loving them for their points, and I want to send the message that I love their personality too. But I’m breaking up with Amex. We don’t treat each other right anymore, and even though it hurts, I know walking away is best for both of us.
I normally don’t bother with Discover or cashback portals, but I was convinced otherwise after my conversation with Frequent Miler. See FM’s post “Maximizing the Discover Double Cash promo: Huge rewards via online shopping!“.
The short version is that the Discover It card (and a few others) are doubling all points you earn within your first year. While I wouldn’t use it right away, I’m going to be gone the same amount any year and I might as well pick it up and do as much as I can in October.
Greg mentions that the biggest bonuses can come from going through the Portal and potentially earning 10% cash back, then double dipping it to get 20%. After the first year that would double to 40% cashback. I’m not sure how I’ll time cashback buys… it sounds like a bad idea given our nomadic lifestyle, but it will be a good learning experience. I likely won’t double dip and take a lower earning for more ease.
This card has no bonus and I don’t recommend it for newbies. Even with the 5% categories (capped at $1,500) you’d have to spend $5,000 to earn $500, which is otherwise a typical signup bonus, and that’s after the first year when it’s doubled to 10%. Although, now that I put it like that… $5k isn’t a lot. But the strategies are 201, not 101.
I hope to net 50,000 Alaska Miles each, and 85,000 Hilton points each. Then Caroline will get the Discover card, and I’ll get the British Airways 50,000 Avios.
I hope this not only explains what cards I’m getting, but a little bit of why. I’ve always wanted to have a blog that has the “teach a man to fish” kind of motto. This way I don’t have to “push” anything, and the reader is ultimately better off. Sure, maybe not as clickable as the “one trick” or the “top credit cards” kind of posts, but I hope it offers a lot of value.
I’ll end with sharing these posts:
- 40 Best Uses of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
- Best Use of Alaska Miles
- Complete Map of Hilton Hotels
- 15 Credit Cards that Earn Hilton Points
- Best Use of British Airways Avios
I think those posts will help you make a decision in what you want to do with your next set of applications, especially considering that the current Hilton bonus is higher than normal.