Can We Talk About Credit Cards and Travel Rewards? (1 Viewer)

MTDB1983

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I just recently paid off all my debt outside of the house and student loans, and I have been planning to convert bill and food pay into rewards because my wife and I want to start traveling.

With that said, tell me some of your experiences with using credit cards to gain travel rewards.

Which cards have you guys had luck with?

Which cards do you all prefer? High annual fee vs low annual fee? Tricks of the trade?

Go!
 

Twyst

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As for building materials and the like, it's a wash with my amex so what I've done is use Chase for any dining, air fare and hotels while still using Amex for anything else.
If you buy airline tickets directly from the airline you should use your Amex Plat. If you use expedia or something use your chase. Airline tickets direct from airline are 5x on Amex plat.
 

TheRealJRad

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My everyday spend (non bonus) is usualy going on some card Im just trying to hit the minimum spend on to get a welome bonus before ditching the card.
Slight tangent - I’m interested in this line. Does applying for new cards like this not have a negative effect on your score? Between the inquiry and decrease in age of accounts, it doesn’t seem like the bump from the increase in overall credit would counter that out.
 

Twyst

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Slight tangent - I’m interested in this line. Does applying for new cards like this not have a negative effect on your score? Between the inquiry and decrease in age of accounts, it doesn’t seem like the bump from the increase in overall credit would counter that out.
Inquiries will lower your score, but its a very very small dip. As for credit age, I've had an Amex for over 20 years and a couple of other cards open for a decade so they bring the average up and I close the new cards once I hit the sign up bonus so they dont effect the age of accouts once they are closed, so a couple of new accounts vs vs 4-5 old accounts balances out well. I dont think Ive ever dipped below 790 even when churning a lot of cards in a single year. If you have no late payments and low usage your credit will be great. Carrying balances on a bunch of cards is not good for your credit though.
 

FL_Saint

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Inquiries will lower your score, but its a very very small dip. As for credit age, I've had an Amex for over 20 years and a couple of other cards open for a decade so they bring the average up and I close the new cards once I hit the sign up bonus so they dont effect the age of accouts once they are closed, so a couple of new accounts vs vs 4-5 old accounts balances out well. I dont think Ive ever dipped below 790 even when churning a lot of cards in a single year. If you have no late payments and low usage your credit will be great. Carrying balances on a bunch of cards is not good for your credit though.
Thanks, I was going to ask this. I have looked at the cards with bonuses, but have worried about my credit score taking a dip from opening and then closing a lot. I worked pretty hard to get mine to 800, although we just bought a car, so it took a dip which will come back up eventually.

Seems like a lot to keep up with. I am/was happy with my 2.5% across the board cash back from my USAA, but it looks like I could do better.
 

Craigj

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If you want to get free trips fast, churning is the way to go. You usually have to spend 3-5K in 3 months and will get $500-$1000 in reward bonus. Plus you get the the regular rewards from the purchases. You must have good credit and keep records of your cards so you don't pay an annual fee.
 

superchuck500

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I have had an AMEX platinum for 20 years or so and used it exclusively until about 2 years ago when I got the Chase Saphire.

Besides the initial sign up bonus points, it gives me a much higher return on travel and dining which adds up to a bunch. As for building materials and the like, it's a wash with my amex so what I've done is use Chase for any dining, air fare and hotels while still using Amex for anything else.
Another nice perk on the AmEx platinum is the double warranty on hardware purchases.

I recently picked up the United Club black card. It’s got a high annual (comparable to the platinum) but they waived most of it for the first year. It gets you United club membership (you can use even if not flying United), two free bags and priority security/boarding on any United flight purchased with the card. I don’t know if I’m gonna keep it, I don’t fly United all that much. But it was worth it with the fee waiver to try for a year.

We flew United to go skiing in February and I purchased same-day class upgrades for the four of us (UAL does that and sometimes they’re not pricey at all). I did it all on this card and I noticed the next day that the upgrade costs were credited back - effectively a free first-class upgrade using the card. That’s not a posted benefit but I’ll take it!
 

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If you buy airline tickets directly from the airline you should use your Amex Plat. If you use expedia or something use your chase. Airline tickets direct from airline are 5x on Amex plat.
I usually do try to buy direct, but didn't know about the 5x. I put so much on amex that I don't ever really track the miles just know they build up enough for a couple trips per year.

Do you know if I purchase the tickets with amex if I can then choose to pay with points and still get the credit?
 

Waymer

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If you don't have brand loyalty, then churning is the ultimately 1-2 trips a year plan. Open, meet the minimum spend, get the points, cash in the points. You could do this with any hotel card, or airline card essentially. Obviously it's a touch more than that, but not that much more. You just have to know your general plans.
 

TheRealJRad

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Inquiries will lower your score, but its a very very small dip. As for credit age, I've had an Amex for over 20 years and a couple of other cards open for a decade so they bring the average up and I close the new cards once I hit the sign up bonus so they dont effect the age of accouts once they are closed, so a couple of new accounts vs vs 4-5 old accounts balances out well. I dont think Ive ever dipped below 790 even when churning a lot of cards in a single year. If you have no late payments and low usage your credit will be great. Carrying balances on a bunch of cards is not good for your credit though.
Do you use any particular source to find new cards to churn?
 

Waymer

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Do you use any particular source to find new cards to churn?
There's literally dozens of blogs and the reddit.

For Reddit, go to r/churning.

For other general websites you can consider for the points and miles and churning game(s): One Mile at a Time, The Points Guy, Frugal Travel Guy, NerdWallet, MillionMileSercrets, Anything in the Boarding Area group, etc, etc.
 

TheRealJRad

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There's literally dozens of blogs and the reddit.

For Reddit, go to r/churning.

For other general websites you can consider for the points and miles and churning game(s): One Mile at a Time, The Points Guy, Frugal Travel Guy, NerdWallet, MillionMileSercrets, Anything in the Boarding Area group, etc, etc.
Right, I just like getting opinions more "from the horse's mouth" - what appears to be a decent site at first glance may be just bad for someone who has experience.
 

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Do you know if I purchase the tickets with amex if I can then choose to pay with points and still get the credit?
You should never just "pay with points" directly from american express. Transfer your ,miles to an airlines rewards program and use their program, you get much better valuation that way (dont transfer into delta or united anymore as they arent good values there anymore)

There are some surprising frequent flyer programs that allow you to get the best values because of the ways alliances work. Avianca Lifemiles for star alliance etc

Onemileatatime and thepointsguy are usually the first couple of sites people go to to get their feet wet in the travel points game but they are a great resource, The points guy probably overhypes marriott and is more forgiving of how badly last years merger was for frequent travelers, but other than that most of the advice is solid.
 

nolaswede

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My goals are to take 1-2 trips per year, and have my airfare paid for. I would also be interested in building points for anything travel related. The whole point of delving into this is strictly to travel cheaply. I have no brand loyalty. I just want to start traveling more and doing it cheaper than I would if I wasn’t taking this route.

Domestically, i feel like Southwest cc has a good value. I signed up for both of them, and got over 100k points. Think I have taken 5-6 trips and have about 10k points left. Can also get a free companion flights for a year.
 

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Anyone have any experience with the Capital One Venture Card?
Yes, it's my go to, and I don't even travel that much.

They call the points miles, but they're selling it short. It's 2% cash back on everything. Technically you're getting "reimbursed" for travel purchases, which is why they market it like a travel card.
 
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MTDB1983

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Alright, I made the plunge. I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserved card. $450 annual fee (+ $75 for my wife to be an authorized user), but $300 is automatically credited back on travel. And since I spend $400/mo on gas, that’ll happen quickly. So the fee essentially becomes $225. Then the points are: 3x on dining and gas, 1x on everything else. 50k point sign up bonus is nice, and the reward points are worth 1.5x when used through the portal, so essentially it’s a $750 sign up bonus.

I believe I did the math correctly. Maybe someone can check my math.

$225 fee basically. Spend minimum $1600/mo on dining and gas, and reward points are worth 1.5.

I come out ahead by $639 annually just on food and gas alone.

Someone check my math if possible please.
 

Waymer

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Alright, I made the plunge. I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Reserved card. $450 annual fee (+ $75 for my wife to be an authorized user), but $300 is automatically credited back on travel. And since I spend $400/mo on gas, that’ll happen quickly. So the fee essentially becomes $225. Then the points are: 3x on dining and gas, 1x on everything else. 50k point sign up bonus is nice, and the reward points are worth 1.5x when used through the portal, so essentially it’s a $750 sign up bonus.

I believe I did the math correctly. Maybe someone can check my math.

$225 fee basically. Spend minimum $1600/mo on dining and gas, and reward points are worth 1.5.

I come out ahead by $639 annually just on food and gas alone.

Someone check my math if possible please.
Actually travel does not include gas for the CSR. That is your only error. Most people get a different card for gas.
 

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