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Old Sep 10th 2012, 6:14 pm   #16
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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will offer blitz deals for 75,000 or even 100,000 2 or 3 times a year.
[*]Many card issuers only seem to report applications to the credit agencies once a day, so a strategy of applying for multiple cards in one day seems to be quite effective. I built up slowly, one at a time then two at a time, but now apply for 4 or 5 in one hit, usually every 3 months or so.[/LIST]
Thanks for the thread - very interesting. As regards the hits to your credit rating I don't follow the above bullet point. How do you apply for so many without it massively decreasing your credit score due to being seen as 'high risk'?

My understanding is that if you have more than 5 hard enquiries on your credit history (where each hit stays for 2 years) it has a big affect on your credit score.

I would like to add a couple of points benficial cards, but don't want to damage my credit score for up to 2 years by doing so as I'm already at 4 hard enquiries (due to trying to build up credit in the first place!).

Are you saying that you apply for multiple cards from the same companies on the same day and that each of those companies only reports one application to the credit bureaus?

Thanks!
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Old Sep 10th 2012, 6:28 pm   #17
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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I did the exact same thing, but in hindsight not sure if I'd do it this way again.

I'm currently sat on a pile of BA miles (can't bear to call them Avios) of 800,000, many of which were acquired through AMEX Membership Rewards transfer promos. Assuming I continue earning 2-4-1 vouchers by spending $30,000 on Mrs tonrob's Chase BA card every year then this is the equivalent of 1,600,000 BA miles - far more than I will need for many a year.

I also did all of this while having close to 500,000 AA miles in the bank due to some (long-expired) excellent Citi card promotions, but with both airlines in one alliance - One World - it made me realize that I wasn't diversifying enough, as when coming to try to use the miles I was at the mercy of the award availability of just a handful of airlines.

It was at that point that I became determined to collect more miles to use on Star Alliance carriers and (heaven forbid) Sky Team.

I'm sticking by my principles too - despite the 40% AMEX to BA transfer promo on now, Mrs tonrob and I are sitting on our 300,000 Memebership Rewards points rather than converting them to another 420,000 BA miles that will take us years to use.

Great job on your first class redemption, by the way - that's they way to burn those miles!


Footnote: I'll try to insert useful links when I post so that those less familiar with the mileage scene can click around and read up on the background to come of the conversations on this thread.
I am quite new to the Amex card and the rewards points scheme. I did notice you can transfer them to a variety of Programmes so I could see why you would hold onto them.

I have also opened a Avios UK account, I have yet make a redemption through them but you can transfer your BA miles back and forth quite easily. You can take the Eurostar for 9,000 Avios , ( if booked well in advance ), or Theatre tickets ect......
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Old Sep 10th 2012, 6:56 pm   #18
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

Thanks for doing this thread.

As a new immigrant with virtually no credit history, I can't get most of the offers already described. So I'll offer my own little piece of advice for people about to head to the US which people mention anyway: get an AMEX card in the UK, maybe a BA Miles (Avios, whatever) AMEX, so you can build up miles just by spending. Use it for everything you can possibly use it for - most big retailers take them but smaller shops and restaurants might baulk at the AMEX card costs and refuse to take it, or only grudgingly. Pay it off every month so you don't get interest charges. A year of that and you might have enough for your first upgrade like me - double baggage allowance was the main pull, only £90 for an extra 30kg, and that was mostly everything I needed for the first few months in the US, for very little more than the price of an economy class ticket.

Then, do a global transfer to a US AMEX card. I chose a gold Delta Skymiles card, and that was 10,000 miles straight in the vault just for signing up. Same for the wife. It's certainly in the "little league" as far as tonrob's earning potential goes! But it's a start for us "nobodys" without a credit history, a stepping stone to better deals in the future.
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Old Sep 10th 2012, 8:00 pm   #19
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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I didn't take the little one - just me, a friend, and a shedload of beer. That said we did see other families on the train, including one with a small baby.

Amtrak sleeping compartments come in various sizes - see here. They're priced using fare buckets and can be eye-wateringly expensive during the more popular months. Luckily for me - Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer 1:1 to Amtrak, are very easy to obtain in quantities so I used these to pay for my trip in its entirety: 35,000 points (I think it was) for two people in a sleeping compartment all the way from here to Seattle. Billy bargain.

Regarding your second question - some points can be converted to other types of points and some cannot. Generally speaking, airline miles can be converted to hotel points and vice versa, but airline miles can't be converted directly to other airline miles and the same applies to hotel points. There are also generic programmes such as AMEX Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards, which can both be transferred to a number of different airline and hotel partners as and when you need them, making the very flexible indeed. Note that exchange rates between programmes can sometimes be quite unfavourable, and at other times bonuses are offered meaning you get more points or miles from the deal than you otherwise would have.

This site is quite good for working out exchanges.
I kind of figured it wouldn't work with (young) kids. Darn it, should have done it before they arrived.

I tried contacting Chase to find out what their BA card sign up bonus was right now and the customer services guy told me he didnt know!?? Said I had to go on line and find "partner cards" on their website. Suffice to say was a bit miffed.
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Old Sep 10th 2012, 11:02 pm   #20
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

Credit Karma is an excellent tool to monitor your credit score, and it's free

The site also has a lot of tips and advice on retaining or improving your score.

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Old Sep 11th 2012, 12:15 am   #21
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Thanks for doing this thread.

As a new immigrant with virtually no credit history, I can't get most of the offers already described. So I'll offer my own little piece of advice for people about to head to the US which people mention anyway: get an AMEX card in the UK, maybe a BA Miles (Avios, whatever) AMEX, so you can build up miles just by spending. Use it for everything you can possibly use it for - most big retailers take them but smaller shops and restaurants might baulk at the AMEX card costs and refuse to take it, or only grudgingly. Pay it off every month so you don't get interest charges. A year of that and you might have enough for your first upgrade like me - double baggage allowance was the main pull, only £90 for an extra 30kg, and that was mostly everything I needed for the first few months in the US, for very little more than the price of an economy class ticket.

Then, do a global transfer to a US AMEX card. I chose a gold Delta Skymiles card, and that was 10,000 miles straight in the vault just for signing up. Same for the wife. It's certainly in the "little league" as far as tonrob's earning potential goes! But it's a start for us "nobodys" without a credit history, a stepping stone to better deals in the future.

Will this work in reverse ? i.e. from the US to the UK.
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Old Sep 11th 2012, 12:26 am   #22
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Will this work in reverse ? i.e. from the US to the UK.
Website says you can. (Link looks personalised - just search for amex global transfer)

• Your American Express Card number
• UK home address
• UK home phone number
• UK bank account details

Whether the sign up bonuses apply I don't know.
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Old Sep 11th 2012, 12:54 am   #23
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Cheers !!
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Old Sep 11th 2012, 1:06 am   #24
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Thanks for the thread - very interesting. As regards the hits to your credit rating I don't follow the above bullet point. How do you apply for so many without it massively decreasing your credit score due to being seen as 'high risk'?

My understanding is that if you have more than 5 hard enquiries on your credit history (where each hit stays for 2 years) it has a big affect on your credit score.
The trick, just like with checking insurance etc, is to bang them all in at the same time, that way only the first ding counts as a hard check and the rest are soft checks which disappear pretty much straight away. Just as long as you do them within a few days of each other.
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Old Sep 11th 2012, 1:06 am   #25
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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I kind of figured it wouldn't work with (young) kids. Darn it, should have done it before they arrived.

I tried contacting Chase to find out what their BA card sign up bonus was right now and the customer services guy told me he didnt know!?? Said I had to go on line and find "partner cards" on their website. Suffice to say was a bit miffed.
Here's a link to the offer, right now the bonus is 50,000 miles

https://www.britishairways.com/trave...s/public/en_us

You also get 10% off when booking a flight with BA.
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Old Sep 11th 2012, 5:39 pm   #26
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Originally Posted by Bink View Post
Thanks for the thread - very interesting. As regards the hits to your credit rating I don't follow the above bullet point. How do you apply for so many without it massively decreasing your credit score due to being seen as 'high risk'?

My understanding is that if you have more than 5 hard enquiries on your credit history (where each hit stays for 2 years) it has a big affect on your credit score.

I would like to add a couple of points benficial cards, but don't want to damage my credit score for up to 2 years by doing so as I'm already at 4 hard enquiries (due to trying to build up credit in the first place!).

Are you saying that you apply for multiple cards from the same companies on the same day and that each of those companies only reports one application to the credit bureaus?

Thanks!
This 'apply on the same day' strategy isn't so much about how many inquiries get posted altogether as it is about maximizing the chance of getting all the applications approved because the copmpanies don't seem to be able to see each others' enquiries at the time they are approving your cards.

When I do one of these application stints my score typically dips for a few months but then builds back up to where it started, sometimes even slightly higher (remember your utilization will go down if your total available credit goes up - assuming spending stays the same).

On the latter note if you have applications you want to make, get into the habit of paying off some or all of your balances just before the statement dates hit, thus reducing the amount the card companies report to the agencies.


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As a new immigrant with virtually no credit history, I can't get most of the offers already described.
It's true a lot of the offers are are based around credit cards, but even without these there are other options. Some people do quite nicely from bonuses offered on shopping portals (I mentioned these briefly in post #9 along with a few links) and - to a lesser extent - dining portals. I'll write more about these when I have the time as there are some interesting and profitable twists here (e.g. I acquired around 115,000 BA miles at an out of pocket cost of around $250 via a Nordstrom offer on the BA portal earlier in the year).

There are also miles oppoprtunities in banking not linked to credit, e.g. BankDirect who basically pays your interest in AA miles, SunTrust who has a debit card that earns Delta miles, and brokerage companies like Fidelity and TD Ameritrade who have frequently offered decent mileage bonuses for adding or transferring funds/stocks to them.

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I tried contacting Chase to find out what their BA card sign up bonus was right now and the customer services guy told me he didnt know!?? Said I had to go on line and find "partner cards" on their website. Suffice to say was a bit miffed.
Sad to say but often the company selling the product is the last place to find decent information about offers they're peddling. Credit card companies in particular are experts at segmenting their marketing of offers, so there is frequently no 'standard' offer they'll tell you over the phone (or if there is one they'll tell you about, it won't be the best one available).

The best offers are sometime targeted via mailing lists (you'll get an e-mail or a flyer in the post) or sometimes offered to (potentially) anyone but only publicized via a certain channel (e.g. affiliated travel blogs). This can vary offers dramatically, e.g. AMEX who might offer 100,000 points to a targeted audience via mailing, 50,000 via a link on a few blogs but zero if you just went straight to their website to apply. Other times the blogs will alert you to an offer that has technically expired, but the company forgot to take down the landing page (Citi was doling out AA miles by the 100,000 for around 9 months after this bumper offer expired due to lax controls at their end).

The travel blogs I linked to above are among the best of the bunch in terms of consolidating what's available in the marketplace at any given time, so they are usually my first port of call when I'm deciding what to apply for next.

Chase offers, in particular, are usually once-per-lifetime, so it pays to make sure you're applying for the right card(s) at the right time.
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Old Sep 12th 2012, 2:00 am   #27
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

View From The Wing talks about his top 10 current credit card sign-up deals here.
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Old Sep 12th 2012, 6:21 am   #28
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

This offer is only available for one day..... Sept 12th.

Amazing Deal Alert: 75,000 Points for Amex Business Gold Rewards Card.

http://thepointsguy.com/2012/09/amaz...ntent=FaceBook

Only problem is you have to spend $10,000 in 3 months, whereas with the 50,000 mile offer the spend is Only $3,000.

You also get 2 points on gas and 3 points on travel per $1 spent , you can also convert the points to various programmes, which makes it pretty flexible.
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Old Sep 12th 2012, 3:07 pm   #29
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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This offer is only available for one day..... Sept 12th.

Amazing Deal Alert: 75,000 Points for Amex Business Gold Rewards Card.

http://thepointsguy.com/2012/09/amaz...ntent=FaceBook

Only problem is you have to spend $10,000 in 3 months, whereas with the 50,000 mile offer the spend is Only $3,000.

You also get 2 points on gas and 3 points on travel per $1 spent , you can also convert the points to various programmes, which makes it pretty flexible.

This is a great deal. While AMEX has offered 75,000 before for Gold cards (both business and personal) AFAIK they have never gone higher. The spend requirement is a bit steep, but nontheless Mrs tonrob jumped on this one when they did an equivalent short-term offer recently (within the last couple of months).

75,000 Membership Rewards points gets you a minimum of 75,000 miles on your choice of BA, Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines and a few others - even more if you manage to snag a transfer bonus.

There's no annual fee for the first year (it's $175 after that so we'll be canceling ours at that time), and AMEX also offers some amazing deals along the way to their cardholders. Last week I got 10% off an iPad at Best Buy via an AMEX Facebook/twitter deal.

For the last few years, the last Saturday in November has been "Small Business Saturday", where AMEX offers a $25 statement credit if you spend $25+ at a small business that accepts AMEX. This offer is per card, not per account, so you can order additional cards (at no fee) for as many family members etc. as you like (a SSN is required but does not lead to a credit check) and get $25 of free shopping using each card on that day!

Mrs tonrob and I have been frantically ordering additional cards on all of our AMEX accounts and are looking forward to a $500+ haul of free goodies this year (nearly doubling last year's take).

Overall I feel this is a better offer (if you can meet the spend requirement) than the current Chase BA offer - but luckily it doesn't have to be an either/or scenario!
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Old Sep 12th 2012, 3:34 pm   #30
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Default More on shopping portals

Shopping portals are great. There is no reason whatsoever that you should ever buy anything online without earning miles or points for it - the question is simply how many. In fact you can "double-dip", because if you navigate to your choice of retailer via a portal to earn miles, you can then use a point or mileage earning credit (or debit) card to check out, thus earning even more miles!

Some retailers even allow you to "triple-dip" - you do this by first navigating to the retailer's site via your portal of choice and buy a gift card in the amount that you want to spend. (An electronic gift card that's e-mailed to you is the quickest method - these often arrive within the hour). Once the gift card is received, you then navigate back to the retailer's site (once again via the portal) to make your pruchse using the gift card. You therefore earn your miles three times - once from the credit card you used to buy the gift card, and twice from the portal through which you went to make the purchases!

Now this doesn't work with every retailer and every portal. Some explicitly state in their terms and conditions that miles are not provided of gift card purchases, for example. Others however state things like this in their terms but then go ahead and award the miles anyway. Sears is one store that is currently very reliable in awarding miles in the "triple-dip" scenario I mentioned above.

So how many miles do portals provide when you spend? The very minimum would be 1 mile per $ spent - giving you a total 2 miles per $ if you're using a miles-earning card to buy with. Many portals offer more than 1 miles per $, however, and also a common feature of every portal I've ever used is to have rotating bonuses every month for certain retailers. For instance Sears was recently 10 points per $ at Chase's Ultimate Rewards portal. This means that using the triple-dip, people were earning 20 points per $ in addition to whatever they were earning using their payment card! Chase Ultimate Rewrads transfer 1:1 to many mileage programmes including BA, United and more.

Back in February Nordstrom was offering a crazy 36 miles per $ at the BA portal. I value my BA miles highly and always use them in conjunction with a 2-4-1 certificate I gain through Mrs tonrob's Chase BA card, so for me this was more like 72 miles per $! At this value if I'd bought stuff from Nordstrom and simply thrown it in the bin when it arrived I'd have broken even!

Many mileage collectors look out for these big bonus offers and then scour the retailers site to look for items that they think will have a good re-sale value on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist. They then purchase items to earn many, many miles (often 100,000 and up, sometimes 500,000 or more) and then sell those items to beak even or at as small a loss as possible. In doing this they can book long-haul business and first class tickets for just a few hundred dollars a pop (often just 10% of the normal price of such tickets).
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