Guide me to become a pro, please
I've been playing around with credit card churning and doing my best to earn well, but I haven't even started redeeming. Well, that changes now.
I'd love your help in two ways:
1) I have a specific PHL->SFO trip I'd like to book (9/14-9/16) and
2) I'd like to get a better understanding of your processes and tools so I can start to plan out 2019 reward travel options.
Here's what I have:
[*]Airlines (have cards for all 3 for baggage)
[*]Credit Card Programs
[*]Amex: 153k (from Amex Plat)
[*]Chase UR: 51k (from Sapphire preferred)
[*]Citi Thank You: 56k (from Citi Thank You premier)
I have a handful of hotel and other points, but nothing to write about.
I travel regularly for work - about 6-10 times a year, all domestic straightforward stuff, like PHL to DEN.
For my #1 question, the best deal I see is simply 25k on United or American - or pay $450. 25k for $450 seems pretty good to me (making points act as 1.8 cents) but wondering if there's anything hack-y or interesting I should be doing here for a simple trip like that.
As to #2...
What the hell do I do with all this stuff? What would you do if you were me?
My wife and I like international travel - we have been to Asia and Central American, and now we've discussed vaguely going to Africa or South America or Europe or who knows where else.
Where the heck do I start? I'd like to get good mileage (ha) out of my point/miles, but I don't understand where to look for leverage.
Also, how do you track all this stuff? I tried out points.com briefly but was not happy that some of it doesn't sync/track well.
Well, I don't know about a pro, but hopefully these suggestions will help or at least give you some food for thought. Other responders, bear with me, as these suggestions will seem very basic, and are only reflective of my opinion:
IMO Douglas you are in kind of a "tweener" position on your points-- you're just a bit short of the redemptions you are seeking.
#1-- First, you might want to consider using the Delta or United points in lieu of the AA points. Since you have more AA, you are that much closer to a business class redemption to Europe, for example, so you may want to burn the others for domestic trips. Something else to consider if possible is the act that the cash fares from EWR instead of PHL are as low as $257 on UA or $304 on AA round trip for your dates.
#2 (a?)-- Right now, you have enough AA points for the two of you to go RT to Europe in coach (120K), Central America (60K) or South America (40-60K depending on zone). Availability can be tough, but you might want to consider building up those points to go in Business Class to Europe (230K). Just be sure to fly on AA metal; don't take a flight operated by BA, which will charge you hundreds in surcharges in addition to your AA points, especially flying into LHR....
As to the MR points-- In my personal opinion, you should consider a Round-the-World flight using ANA miles. This should cost 200-230K points in Business Class and you can custom-tailor what should be a dream trip for the two of you. Obviously, you need more points, but you can use referrals and other techniques to gain those. 6 months is probably realistic...
Regarding the UR and Citi points-- Both are transfer partners of Virgin Atlantic, as is AMEX. Your combined total of 260K points is enough for (2) First Class RT tix to Japan/ Asia on ANA or others.
Remember, don't transfer points out of your cc accounts until you have a specific redemption in mind and are VERY confident of availability, as points cannot be transferred back and can take a few days to transfer into the airline account(s).
#2 (b)-- I would start by reading Flyertalk and all the points blogs you can. Pointsbuzz.com is a decent place to start. It lists most of the major blogs and you can scan the headlines. Just beware of all the credit card selling on these blogs...
Now having said that, I WOULD sign up for a hotel credit card to use for your travels. Others will disagree, but I'm a Hilton guy and have earned lots of points thru my Ascend/ Surpass card, but there are lots of options out there...
#2 (c)--I use a simple spreadsheet for my accounts (I have 8). I update it every 15-30 days or after major transactions. I think this is manageable for the number of accounts mentioned above...
Hopefully this helps. There are many things to consider, but I hope this at least gives you a few ideas....