Asia - Thailand

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by spookysco, Dec 3, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. spookysco

    spookysco Silver Member

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    We go to Thailand once a year. We are in Colorado so it's convenient to leave from Denver and arrive in Bangkok. I am a member of UA AA ff programs and I think Frontier also, maybe Delta. I really only have about 50k miles on UA, less on the others. I am also a member of Hilton Priority Club and Starwood programs.

    Unfortunately business travel is infrequent and unpredictable, so the Asia trip is really the only "sure thing" each year.

    I don't need free places to stay when I am there, I am more concerned about discount / free air fare for 2, or upgrades on air travel because of the long flights.

    I have been lurking here and on other forums for some time and spent a lot of time reading threads.

    I currently spend about 2 - 4 K / month on a Chase card but it is on the choosemyrewards.com program, not the ultimate rewards program.

    I have attached the program I am in along with the "top end" travel award option, 85K points for $1500 off any fare.

    I have not seen this program mentioned much in the forums, probably because it isn't so great.

    I am not opposed to getting new card(s) and going in a different direction for spending / point accumulation if that makes sense for my situation as I have described it.

    I don't have an airline preference, I just know generally speaking coach seems to really suck, and UA's economy plus isn't much better either. I have tried Lufthansa, Thai, Cathay, and they seemed great, but those were within the last 20 year time period on trips to Asia, so service may be drastically different on them now.

    I think DIA (Denver) is a hub for UA.

    Please let me know which program(s) you feel I should be participating in for FF program(s) and credit card(s). Thank you all in advance!
     

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  2. FlyingFree
    Original Member

    FlyingFree Gold Member

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    From my experience, UA / Star Alliance has good availability to Bangkok out of Denver, whether on UA via Narita, or on Thai via LAX (I will be flying DEN-LAX-BKK this week). I have also seen reward availability on Lufthansa thru Frankfurt and on Air Canada via Toronto and London, connecting to Thai for LHR-BKK.

    IMHO, a lot of these choices depend on how complicated you want to make this, and how much time you want to devote to it. The simplest choice for being DEN based is to stick with UA and *A flights whenever possible, using the UZ credit card whenever possible, and booking as far in advance as you can (I booked my DEN-LAX-BKK in January).

    FWIW, I have had much better luck over the years by using the Continental website and agents rather than UA. Look at several websites to see if the flights you want are available. Sometimes you may not find what you want online, but will have to call, and it always helps to have several optional dates and routings at your disposal.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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    You can buy US Airways between now and December 31, 2011 and get DOUBLE the number of miles up to 40,000 miles. Meaning you can get up to 90K before the end of the year. They do extend this offer many times a year, so next year get another 90 or 100K miles. Or, you can participate in their Grand Slam promo which was, I believe, for up to 110K bonus US Dividend miles this year (this is an annual promo and has concluded for 2011). That's more than enough to get two people from the USA to Thailand in business class on many Star Alliance options.
     
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  4. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP spookysco!
     
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  5. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint.

    Your earning is as follows:
    So that's 5 points at Intuit.com, 2 points on gas, drugs, office supplies, and dining, and 1 point on everything else. When you get to 85K, you get $1500 off airfare. That's not a bad return, in that every point is valued at 1.77 cents.

    But a round-trip in coach from North America to SE Asia is only 65,000 points per person using MileagePlus or OnePass miles. In booking award tickets, you do have a little less flexibility in setting your itinerary, but you get a better return if the DEN-LAX-BKK (and back) flight is over $1500. You can also have one stop-over and an open-jaw itinerary for the same 65,000 MP points. As FlyingFree notes, use the CO search engine to see the best *A routings.

    People on this board often swear off flying intl. in coach because you can book business or first-class tickets that cost tens of thousands of dollars for only twice as many (or less) points.

    And the fastest way to free flights isn't everyday spending, but instead taking advantage of credit card sign-up bonuses. Now, if you got a Chase Sapphire Preferred card (and one for your partner) and spent $3,000 in the first three months, you'd get a 50,000 point bonus that can be transferred to United MileagePlus miles instantly. That's almost 5/6ths of the way to a coach award ticket, for about 2-3 pts off your credit score.

    The Sapphire Preferred earns two points per dollar on airfare, hotels, and dining, and one point on everything else. You would be bumped down to only one point per dollar on office supplies, Intuit.com, gas, and drugs. If you spend a lot in those categories, maybe you're okay as is.

    That's probably the best offer currently available for your goal of once-annual RT flights to SE Asia (or, as Kalboz notes above, you can simply buy the miles). There were/are rumors that with advances in the United/Continental merger, new larger sign-up bonuses from United may be forthcoming in early 2012. At this point, they're just rumors.
     
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  6. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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    BINGO!
    And for a limited time, you can get up to 40K US Airways bonus miles from Barclays
     
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  7. spookysco

    spookysco Silver Member

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    Thanks for the welcomes and explanations everyone. Full disclosure here I should mention my Quicken program only allows use of points in their closed program, I can't transfer points to any other program. They do sometimes have double point offers but this isn't very efficient from what I have learned here. I can now see how taking advantage of other cards promotional offers will be the way to boost points the best. Now my only issue is identifying the cards that offer the best point promotions that can be used in the UA or *A programs, if I understand this correctly?

    I have read - A LOT - on this forum and others about cards, credit, etc. My concern is not the spending to qualify, I have that down. My issue is with how long to keep cards after the promotions are used, when to close them out, etc. As far as I know my credit is near 800 from what I was told, haven't ran it lately. I don't plan on making purchases that need a credit check but if I get the Sapphire for example, get the 50k points, it doesn't seem that would be the best card to continue using. So; the question is then do I just leave it open and cancel before the yearly fee is due or what are others doing?
     
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  8. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    We do buy miles to supplement accounts and top them for a particular award objective. We don't buy miles from the get go unless they are a really good bargain and make financial sense. We churn CC, follow up on the blogs and take advantage of many offers, and then buy miles. Playing the points/miles accumulation game is a minor daily effort and we have fun doing it ... it never gets old! :)

    As for the US Airways 100% bonus offer for buying miles, one has to admit that it is a great bargain. You can RT from US to Asia in business for a mere $1,500 per ticket.
     
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  9. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    That's pretty much what people do, yes. It requires some patience.

    Whether you keep the card or cancel it is when the fee comes due is up to you. Maybe you'll find that it fits your spending patterns and you like the perks, maybe not. People seem to hold onto the Amex Platinum, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and SPG Amex as long-term cards.

    The usual caveat is that you shouldn't cancel too quickly for fear that the company will revoke your points. Though your credit score is near 800, it will only take 2 or so points off your record. Read Frugal Travel Guy's guidance about protecting your credit score.

    Cancelling cards will have the effect of raising the percentage of credit used (used/available to you) and shortening slightly your average account life. Usually you can convert the card to a no-fee version and not have it affect your credit score further, then tuck the no-fee card into the drawer and use it only in emergencies. You do have to stay on top of this, however, and people have spreadsheets that they'll loan you to track all your cards.

    Finally, thank you for using the noun "spending" and not the verb "spend" as a noun. That's a pet peeve of mine.
     
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