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Old Sep 27th 2012, 4:32 pm   #76
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

I don't know if there is a name for this, but for the cards with annual fees (but none in the first year), can you change cards every 11 months? For example, I have a Delta Skymiles AMEX which will start charging next April. If I dumped that and went with AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card instead, for example, is that even allowed - and more to the point, would I get the offer points?
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Old Sep 27th 2012, 5:53 pm   #77
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

If anybody is planning a trip across the pond between now and Jan 31st 2013, BA is offering extra miles...... you have to pre register for this offer.

"Reward yourself with bonus Avios when you fly to London and beyond. Simply register, then book a qualifying, round-trip, transatlantic flight in any cabin* and fly as an Executive Club member between now and January 31, 2013. For your first round-trip flight, you'll earn a bonus of 15,000 Avios. Your next round-trip? You'll receive 35,000 bonus Avios. And on your third round-trip and beyond? 50,000 bonus Avios. The best part? There's no limit to the total bonus you can earn on qualifying travel—100,000 on three round-trips, 150,000 on four, or 200,000 on five. It's up to you! "

Bit annoying really as I booked a 10 day Xmas trip about a month ago, so I don't qualify
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Old Sep 27th 2012, 6:50 pm   #78
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Originally Posted by coastieexpat View Post
If anybody is planning a trip across the pond between now and Jan 31st 2013, BA is offering extra miles...... you have to pre register for this offer.

"Reward yourself with bonus Avios when you fly to London and beyond. Simply register, then book a qualifying, round-trip, transatlantic flight in any cabin* and fly as an Executive Club member between now and January 31, 2013. For your first round-trip flight, you'll earn a bonus of 15,000 Avios. Your next round-trip? You'll receive 35,000 bonus Avios. And on your third round-trip and beyond? 50,000 bonus Avios. The best part? There's no limit to the total bonus you can earn on qualifying travel—100,000 on three round-trips, 150,000 on four, or 200,000 on five. It's up to you! "

Bit annoying really as I booked a 10 day Xmas trip about a month ago, so I don't qualify
Goddammit, I knew I should have waited to have booked my flights...! I booked mine recently and am going end of November.
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Old Sep 28th 2012, 12:09 am   #79
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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I don't know if there is a name for this, but for the cards with annual fees (but none in the first year), can you change cards every 11 months? For example, I have a Delta Skymiles AMEX which will start charging next April. If I dumped that and went with AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass card instead, for example, is that even allowed - and more to the point, would I get the offer points?
This is exactly what you do. Depending on your credit rating you can have multiple cards from each issuer. I average about 3-5 AMEX cards, 5-7 Chase cards and a couple each from Citi, Barclays and Bank of America at any one time.

The trick is to apply for a new card and, if they decline you, phone their reconsideration line and ask to trade the new card for one of your existing ones, either by closing the old card altogether or having some of the old credit limit reallocated to the new card.

The only reason to keep old cards if they have an annual fee due is if the card itself offers some kind of an annual bonus the value of which outweighs the annual fee. For example the Chase Priority Club card has a $49 annual fee but gives an annual free night to use at any of their hotels worldwide - these include Intercontinental hotels, so well worth $49. I wouldn't usually keep a card just as a way to stop points or miles in a articular programme from expiring - there are usually other, cheaper ways of achieving that.

You will qualify for a bonus if the particular card you are applying for is a product that you have not held before. Your example of the AMEX Delta and AMEX Hilton Honors are definitely different products - even the AMEX Hilton Honors and the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass are two different products. Chase only provides one bonus per card type per lifetime, Citi is more generous depending on the card (it varies for some reason). AMEX used to be once per lifetime, but recently updated their terms on their personal cards that says you can get the bonus if you have not held a card of the same type for the last 12 months. I tested this recently by applying for an AMEX Starwood roughly 14 months after I'd canceled my old one - and sure enough I got the bonus again. Then there are some cards that, if you're lucky, they'll grant you a new one a few times each year - giving you a fresh bonus each time!
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Old Sep 28th 2012, 12:11 am   #80
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

Quote:
Originally Posted by coastieexpat View Post
If anybody is planning a trip across the pond between now and Jan 31st 2013, BA is offering extra miles...... you have to pre register for this offer.

"Reward yourself with bonus Avios when you fly to London and beyond. Simply register, then book a qualifying, round-trip, transatlantic flight in any cabin* and fly as an Executive Club member between now and January 31, 2013. For your first round-trip flight, you'll earn a bonus of 15,000 Avios. Your next round-trip? You'll receive 35,000 bonus Avios. And on your third round-trip and beyond? 50,000 bonus Avios. The best part? There's no limit to the total bonus you can earn on qualifying travel—100,000 on three round-trips, 150,000 on four, or 200,000 on five. It's up to you! "

Bit annoying really as I booked a 10 day Xmas trip about a month ago, so I don't qualify
Bollocks. I just booked a trip this afternoon - but my account is still domiciled in Italy to get the lower thresholds for Silver status renewal. This (a US-only offer) is the third such offer I've sacrificed in order to keep my Silver status, and I'm wondering whether this is worth it anymore.

That said, I'm swimming in bloody BA miles, but it's the principle of the thing that annoys me.
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Old Sep 29th 2012, 2:49 am   #81
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Bollocks. I just booked a trip this afternoon - but my account is still domiciled in Italy to get the lower thresholds for Silver status renewal. This (a US-only offer) is the third such offer I've sacrificed in order to keep my Silver status, and I'm wondering whether this is worth it anymore.

That said, I'm swimming in bloody BA miles, but it's the principle of the thing that annoys me.
I know plus living on the West Coast is a bit more difficult, I mulled over using Avios to fly to the East Coast and then just taking back to back Transatlantic flights in Economy a few times. ( flying in the back of the bus is just too much from SFO.), then I realized this was crazy and just how much of a miles junkie I have become

I have had Silver status for a few years now, this year I am considering going for Gold, not really for the perks so much, but more for the soft landing to Silver the following year. I figure that way I can use up my BA Miles enjoying gold status, ( no cancellation fees and being able to use the lounges on any flight is a big plus too). I also wouldn't have to chase tier points for a year.

So I expect I will make one of those tier point runs to Central America soon !

I am not sure how available they are in your part of the world, but I can fly SFO -LAX - MIA - ( MGA, BZE, SJO ) return, In First class for about 1000-1200 dollars , and get 620 Tier Points. You still need 4 BA flights, but a Manchester to Paris return would take care of that.

Can you still earn miles on your U.S. BA Chase card if your BA account is based in Europe ?
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Old Sep 29th 2012, 9:09 am   #82
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Originally Posted by coastieexpat View Post
Can you still earn miles on your U.S. BA Chase card if your BA account is based in Europe ?
No you can't. I canceled my BA card when the first annual fee became due, but we kept Mrs tonrob's.

I fly the most (mostly for work) and am the one with status. Mrs tonrob is the main miles receptacle, with the ability to get 241s.

It's worked out quite well (apart from missing those promotions, but then there's plenty more BA miles in the sea of BA miles.)
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Old Sep 30th 2012, 11:34 pm   #83
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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This is exactly what you do. Depending on your credit rating you can have multiple cards from each issuer. I average about 3-5 AMEX cards, 5-7 Chase cards and a couple each from Citi, Barclays and Bank of America at any one time.

The trick is to apply for a new card and, if they decline you, phone their reconsideration line and ask to trade the new card for one of your existing ones, either by closing the old card altogether or having some of the old credit limit reallocated to the new card.

The only reason to keep old cards if they have an annual fee due is if the card itself offers some kind of an annual bonus the value of which outweighs the annual fee. For example the Chase Priority Club card has a $49 annual fee but gives an annual free night to use at any of their hotels worldwide - these include Intercontinental hotels, so well worth $49. I wouldn't usually keep a card just as a way to stop points or miles in a articular programme from expiring - there are usually other, cheaper ways of achieving that.

You will qualify for a bonus if the particular card you are applying for is a product that you have not held before. Your example of the AMEX Delta and AMEX Hilton Honors are definitely different products - even the AMEX Hilton Honors and the AMEX Hilton Honors Surpass are two different products. Chase only provides one bonus per card type per lifetime, Citi is more generous depending on the card (it varies for some reason). AMEX used to be once per lifetime, but recently updated their terms on their personal cards that says you can get the bonus if you have not held a card of the same type for the last 12 months. I tested this recently by applying for an AMEX Starwood roughly 14 months after I'd canceled my old one - and sure enough I got the bonus again. Then there are some cards that, if you're lucky, they'll grant you a new one a few times each year - giving you a fresh bonus each time!
You don't want to be closing credit card accounts frequently. History is part of your credit rating too.
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Old Oct 1st 2012, 4:24 pm   #84
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

5x points today only through Delta Skymiles' shopping portal.
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Old Oct 6th 2012, 12:27 pm   #85
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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You don't want to be closing credit card accounts frequently. History is part of your credit rating too.
It's a good point. I've tried to shy a little bit away from offering any kind of credit-related advice on this thread as it's not an area I have any expertise in (at least not in the US - I was a banker in my former UK life). I know enough to keep myself out of trouble but wouldn't want others to rely on what I say in that department, and goodness knows there are plenty of other credit-related threads on BE.

Of my current 18 US credit card accounts, roughly half are ones that either have no annual fee or have a fee that's outweighed by the ongoing benefits the card brings to me - so these are the ones that are keeping my average age of credit up. The others are ones that I will churn through, either cancelling just as the year is up (and the next fee becomes due) or 'sacrificing' them by agreeing to closure in order to get another card approved by the same issuer. These latter cards I tend to hold for a minimum of 6 months but more usually 9-12 months.
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Old Oct 6th 2012, 12:30 pm   #86
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Default 5,000 estra free United miles for Chase United cardholders?

I found this link for a promo - 5K if you spend $1K by end of October. It may have been targeted - so may not work for everyone (including me) but no harm in registering if you have the card and were going to spend the money on it anyway. It's also not clear whether past spending since the promo began (in August) qualifies towards the $1K limit.
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Old Oct 6th 2012, 1:48 pm   #87
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Default Hello from sunny California!

I haven't posted much lately as I'm enjoying a rather nice holiday in southern California that I didn't pay much for. Mrs tonrob, the tonrobette and I flew first class on AA nonstop from JFK to LAX, rented a car and are spending two weeks in suites at different hotels all for an out of pocket cost of around $1,000 (plus meals and petrol), so not bad at all. In keeping with the theme of this thread I'm going to tell you how we did it (or, at least part of it - I'll save the remainder of the story until when I get home).

Getting to JFK

We opted to fly from JFK (a 2.5 hour drive for us) rather than a closer, local airport as I wanted to try out AA's Flagship First Class service non-stop to LAX. On researching parking options I could see that we'd spend around $200. I briefly experimented to see if we could avoid that by doing two one-way car rentals with Hertz using Hertz points I'd picked up by doing consumer surveys at eRewards, but I quickly realized that my local Hertz outlet was closed on Sundays meaning I'd need t two-day rental on the way back which was a waste of my points - so we decided to drive our own car and park instead.

As our flight left early in the morning we opted to stay in a hotel nearby the night before, and as I had a Marriott category 1-5 free night certificate that was due to expire (this being the one I get annually with my Chase Marriott card) then we opted for a 1-bedroom suite at the Residence Inn New Rochelle, where we had quite a nice night's stay and a short, half hour drive along quiet roads to JFK in the morning.

Flights

Having experienced the garbage that is AA "first class" service on mid-con flights, I wanted to see what their best game was (domestically) by trying our their "Flagship First Class" service on a true transcon service, AA1 non-stop from JFK to LAX.

Citi provides AA-branded credit cards in different varieties: Visa (personal), AMEX (personal) and Visa (business) - and a couple of years ago you could sign up for all three, and decide for each whether you wanted to go for a bonus of 75,000 miles for spending $1,500 or 100,000 miles for spending $10,000. Between us we raked in an easy half-million AA miles that had been burning a hole in our mileage pocket ever since. Citi AA offers are still available on a regular basis, but I think the recent best offer has been 50,000. While these offers are supposed to be once-per-lifetime per card type, reports on the interwebs are that Citi sometimes approves applications after a period of about 2 years since your last approval of the same card, so I may give these another go sometime soon.

I'm not intending this thread to be a travel review thread, but suffice to say that although we had lounge access and flew at the very front of the plane in huge, reclining seats - the crappy, tired old 767 interior and penny-pinching service made this experience a far cry from even BA business class on a trans-Atlantic route.

AA's domestic taxes and fees are minimal, so we forked over the princely sum of $2.50 each for this.

Car rental


This was another potential opportunity to use my Hertz points, but instead I found another smaller outfit that had good reviews and offered a cash rate far better than the majors (we paid $350 for a full size for two weeks vs. around $500+ quoted by the others), so again I chose to save my points for the future when such a good deal couldn't be had (I'm thinking two free weeks with Hertz in Orlando next spring when we go and visit my parents).

Hotel #1

We stayed for the first 5 nights in a fully-fitted 2-bedroom villa at Marriott Newport Coastal Villas, perched above the sea on a hillside midway between Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. This turned out to be a lovely property. I paid with Marriott points so total cost zero here.

I'd love to tell you tricks on how to acquire Marriott points (in significant numbers) easily - but I can't, as there is no ideal way to do so that's (a) greater than fairly meagre credit card bonuses and (b) good value (compared to other redemption offers). These were points I'd earned the hard way through actual hotel stays (mostly business). I do know a few ways to make Marriott stays cheaper, but I'll come back to these in another post sometime.
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Old Oct 8th 2012, 1:17 am   #88
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

Quick question..... I would like to build up some Amtrak points , what would be the best way to do this and how many do you need to go across the country ?

Thanks
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Old Oct 8th 2012, 1:10 pm   #89
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Quick question..... I would like to build up some Amtrak points , what would be the best way to do this and how many do you need to go across the country ?

Thanks
Amtrak splits up the country into 3 zones - Eastern, Central and Western, and prices its redemptions based on how many zones you travel in and also what type of accommodation you require. I went from Springfield, MA to Seattle, WA in July in a roomette - so 3 zones - which was 35,000 points. Note that as roomettes sleep 2, this was the price whether 1 or 2 people were traveling (so I ended up taking a friend along).

The one exception to the above is when you travel on what Amtrak calls "Special routes", where lower pricing applies for (typically) shorter journeys. We did San Diego to Santa Barbara in business class a few years back for 1,500 points (although I think that's gone up slightly since).

Details are on Amtrak's website here.

Chase does an Amtrak credit card, the usual sign-up deal being 32,000 points. I don't have this one though, for a couple of reasons.

1. Chase has more co-branded cards than any of the other issuers, and there are (in theory) only so many different cards that they'll let you hold at any one time (I have 7 at the moment, but have reached a point where they like to close one of my existing accounts in order to grant a new one). Amtrak simply isn't important enough to me to occupy one of my valuable Chase 'slots'.

2. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Amtrak, so this is a far more flexible and lucrative way to earn (especially as UR also transfer to other programmes I like, such as United and Hyatt. I therefore tend to keep UR and only transfer them as and when I want to redeem). There are sign-up bonuses for a few (of the several) UR-earning cards that are greater than the Amtrak card bonus. I particularly enjoy the INK series of business cards that earn you 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores...
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Old Oct 8th 2012, 3:26 pm   #90
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Default Re: Traveling cheaply and well using miles and points

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Amtrak splits up the country into 3 zones - Eastern, Central and Western, and prices its redemptions based on how many zones you travel in and also what type of accommodation you require. I went from Springfield, MA to Seattle, WA in July in a roomette - so 3 zones - which was 35,000 points. Note that as roomettes sleep 2, this was the price whether 1 or 2 people were traveling (so I ended up taking a friend along).

The one exception to the above is when you travel on what Amtrak calls "Special routes", where lower pricing applies for (typically) shorter journeys. We did San Diego to Santa Barbara in business class a few years back for 1,500 points (although I think that's gone up slightly since).

Details are on Amtrak's website here.

Chase does an Amtrak credit card, the usual sign-up deal being 32,000 points. I don't have this one though, for a couple of reasons.

1. Chase has more co-branded cards than any of the other issuers, and there are (in theory) only so many different cards that they'll let you hold at any one time (I have 7 at the moment, but have reached a point where they like to close one of my existing accounts in order to grant a new one). Amtrak simply isn't important enough to me to occupy one of my valuable Chase 'slots'.

2. Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to Amtrak, so this is a far more flexible and lucrative way to earn (especially as UR also transfer to other programmes I like, such as United and Hyatt. I therefore tend to keep UR and only transfer them as and when I want to redeem). There are sign-up bonuses for a few (of the several) UR-earning cards that are greater than the Amtrak card bonus. I particularly enjoy the INK series of business cards that earn you 5 points per dollar spent at office supply stores...
I was looking at the roomette , I didn't realize the 35,000 pts would work for 2 people though ! That's a great deal

I just received my Ink Bold card with the 50,000 bonus, and you are right, the Ultimate rewards points are pretty flexible. I thought the shopping portal on Amtrak looked pretty lucrative also.

Thanks for the advice !
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