Dazed and Confused~point valuation & which cc best

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by wanderlust74, Aug 6, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    Where do I begin? Total newbie to the miles and points "game" and I'm overloaded by the wealth of information on this board and blogs! Hoping to find sound advice here!

    My background: Stay at home mom/Substitute teacher, so all cc apps have to be in hubbie's name. (I applied for the Sapphire Preferred on my meager sub income and was denied). Excellent credit score, 794. We began our credit apps nearly a year ago for purpose of accumulating points and miles. Currently have Chase Sapphire Preferred, canceled Chase BA (have 127K Avios), and Citi HiltonHhonors (have 87K points). We recently booked flights for next summer's cruise: BHM to SJU for 87,000 plus $245 for 4 people. That wiped out our UR account. I figured it to be about 1.5 cpm. Also, I've found hotels for $324/nt or 40,000 points, .81 cpm. My first question is, are these good deals? I'm confused as to when to use points vs. pay cash.

    Secondly, there are many airports within a 2 hr. driving distance. Delta, United, Southwest, US Airways are all airlines we could fly. Since we have UR, should I focus on accumulating points in order to transfer to United and Southwest, or should I get one of the airline CCs?

    Third, I would love to boost our UR account and apply for more Chase cards. I'm interested in Ink Bold or Plus, but we don't have a business. However, I've read that even if we sold items on eBay (which we do), we could apply for these cards. Any advice on this?

    Sorry for all the questions. I feel like I'm all over the place with no direction! Someone, please guide me. :)
     
  2. gleff
    Original Member

    gleff Co-founder

    Messages:
    3,616
    Likes Received:
    6,793
    Status Points:
    4,670
    Welcome to Milepoint, wanderlust74!

    The value per point you're getting is a good place to start, it means you're thinking about your miles as a currency, they are an asset that displaces cash.

    And it's good that you're using them, while you can invest cash and earn a rate of return, miles usually tend to become less valuable over time the longer they sit (because airlines and hotels raise the prices of awards).

    You've even got a good start in terms of the mileage currencies you're using. Chase Ultimate Rewards, for instance, are great. On the whole the most valuable uses of those points will be transfers to United miles. You can get good values from Hyatt at times, and for short-distance non-stop flights on American Airlines you can do well with transfers to British Airways Avios.

    Transferring to miles is a way to get much more value than straight buying airline tickets. Chase will let you redeem points at 1.25 cents apiece for travel. But with miles you can get a better return. Put a different way, depending on the trip, you can stretch your points further and get more travel for the same points.

    As far as when to use points versus pay cash it's going to depend a little bit on your reward goals. Personally I'd never burn miles for domestic travel at less than 4 cents a point. But I save my points for premium cabin international awards. I certainly would consider paying cash at less than 2 cents a point, since it sounds like you don't have access to an unlimited supply of points.

    Given that you don't have a specific airline loyalty or constraint, I like flexible points (like Ultimate Rewards that transfer to airline miles, but NOT bank rewards programs that don't transfer to miles). Your Chase points can transfer to Untied and be used to redeem on US Airways. They transfer to Southwest. You really just don't get access to Delta, but Delta is the hardest to get award seats on anyway.

    Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus have good signup bonuses, though of course putting $10k spend on the cards quickly to get the full bonuses could be a challenge. Whether Chase will approve you as a business... well, lots of people have lots of luck with that but it is not guaranteed. It's not a terrible thing though to try and be denied.

    Just stick with it, you'll get the hang of this, you have made great strides already!
     
  3. Jenny & Curt
    Original Member

    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,571
    Likes Received:
    2,379
    Status Points:
    1,270
    I think it would be useful to all of us who would like to weigh in if you were to explain a bit about the nature of your family and its goals: how many adults and kids will be traveling; how much time off do you have and at what times of year; what sort of vacations are on your wish list -- destinations and style of travel (stay in one place on a beach/visit 4 European capitals in a month, etc.)
    I think focusing on the goals, one at a time, is a great way to remove some of that glazed look from your eyes. Then we, as members of Milepoint who may have tried and succeeded or tried and failed in some areas can be of more help, as well.
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  4. MyPoint

    MyPoint Member

    Messages:
    7
    Likes Received:
    6
    Status Points:
    45
    I am also a newbie and am a bit overwhelmed. Slow but sure seems to be the path. And a bit of experimenting.
     
    miles and smiles likes this.
  5. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    Thanks, gleff! Jenny & Curt, more about my family and me:
    We are a family of 4 (hubs, myself, teenaged daughter, pre-teen son). Husband and I can take off at any time (given we find willing relatives to keep the kids!). Kids can join us during summer months and other holidays, when they're out of school.

    We live and Alabama and love to get away to snow ski out west somewhere (CO, WY, UT). It would be nice to fly and stay free at those destinations.

    My husband and I have always dreamed of visiting Germany and Italy. We'd like to take two separate trips, and explore as much of these countries while there (i.e. NOT staying at one place the entire time).

    I suppose what makes me feel chaotic is the many CC sign up bonuses being offered right now. I don't know whether to bite on the Ink Plus, Starwood Amex, or Hilton Reserve. I've also considered Chase Freedom as a companion card to my Sapphire Preferred.
     
    tommy777 likes this.
  6. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    516
    Status Points:
    595
    As others said the real value of using miles is when flying internationally in premium cabin - but that takes a lot of miles. As you are somewhat limited because you cannot apply for two credit cards at a time (because of your lack of income), accommodating those miles via credit cards might be problematic.
    I also will use miles for domestic flights only when the prices are extremely high (your ski vacation might fit that bill). Unfortunately you don't have easy access to AA flights as the use of BA Avios for short hall (and expensive) flights is one of the best deals and exception to the rule of not using miles on domestic flights.
    Chase Freedom is a very good card, especially if you have a Chase checking account as those little 10+10 benefits do add up quickly.
    I would recommend the Amex fee free Hilton card to start with - it is the card you can keep forever, it has no fees, and while the bonus points are not great, the AXON awards are worth having the card. 6 points/$ for phone, TV and gas can add up pretty quickly. I am looking at the Hilton Reserve card, but for me the timing is all wrong. I will probably get the card sometime toward 2014.
    The hotel price in point (324$ for 40,000) seems to be high for me (assuming it is UR points). The best Hyatts could be used with 22,000 UR points (and that for $1,000 and more a night). So it is not such a good deal after all. I assume you are looking at the IC in SJU - this is probably not a great deal, as without status the benefits you will get will be close to nothing.
     
  7. paladin87
    Original Member

    paladin87 Silver Member

    Messages:
    532
    Likes Received:
    778
    Status Points:
    770
    There are many levels of engagement for this game. I mean, some people are obsessive over it...harvesting points by getting the best CC deal/offer, then searching for items to buy at bonus reward levels, reselling them to minimize outlay but maximize points etc. Then you have people like me, who calculate the value of points, monetize every transaction, spend hours pouring over deals and offers etc. I personally only use points for aspirational things...tickets and hotels I would never afford otherwise (2 business tickets to Male on Qatar for 240k UA points comes to mind). Some people spend 25k points on a coach ticket in the US (heretics!). Then you have the people are either not engaged at all, or who just make sure they input a FFN when they fly and thats about it. They are largely oblivious to the maximizing of benefits/points, either because they don't understand them or don't care enough to spend the time.

    You have to look at what card gives you what value for what spend. Its all about what you value points at. For example, I value Hyatt points at about 1.5 cents per dollar, so the Hyatt CC gives me effectively 1.5% cash back for normal spend, since it gives 1 Hyatt point per dollar. Now, I value IHG points at about .7 cents per dollar, so a 1 ppd return is worth about .7% cash back to me. Personally, for example, I use my Amex for restaurants and gas, since it gives 3% cash back, which exceeds the value of any point return I get through any other card. However, for say Hyatt, I use it for other conventional purchases where I cannot get any higher rate of return through another card (i.e. gas, restaurants, utilities, etc.).
     
  8. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    MDDCFlyer~thanks for the advice. Just a couple of points/clarifications:
    I failed to mention AA~yes, we have access to that airline (it's American Eagle).

    I agree, I don't feel as though our SJU hotel is a good deal. Here are the details: I booked our hotel in SJU with Hhonors points at the 4* Condado. As of right now, that program is the only one I have points available for hotel stays, so I was limited to Hilton properties. $324 for 40,000 was the best redemption rate available for any of the Hiltons in San Juan. My husband just wants me to use the points anyway so that we can use the cash for cruise excursions. I'm the one always looking for the best deal! ;)

    I also should add that my husband travels sporadically throughout the year. He has little control over travel plans; must fly Delta, only stays in Marriott, Hilton, and IHG properties. He's not allowed to use his personal CC, so the only way to accrue points is through loyalty programs. It's not much, but something for our family.
     
  9. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    516
    Status Points:
    595
    For Hilton - 40,000 points for $324 is not great but not bad either. If you stay 4 days (and have at least Silver status) you could get a VIP award that would reduce the cost per night (and if you'll get the AMEX, you could use AXON which will reduce the cost even further) [GLON - 136,000, AXON - 125,000, regular - 160,000]. Hilton points become useful for longer stays.You might look at cash + points as well.
    I would have use points with this price, if I stay long enough and can use AXON.
     
  10. Jenny & Curt
    Original Member

    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,571
    Likes Received:
    2,379
    Status Points:
    1,270
    Is a Chase checking account an option for you? It's a way (with the Chase Freedom, mentioned above) to maximize those Ultimate Rewards earnings without additional charging.
     
  11. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    Unfortunately, this account is not available in my area.
     
  12. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    516
    Status Points:
    595
    It was not in my area (and still not) as well. So on a trip to New York I've spent an hour at a Chase brunch and open an account without a problem. If you are visiting in an area that has Chase branches just open an account. It was quick and painless.
     
    wanderlust74 likes this.
  13. mrredskin
    Original Member

    mrredskin Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    1,701
    Status Points:
    1,095
    No offense to her, but I don't think she's to this level of point hoarding, yet. Hell, even that Chase deal is almost too big of an inconvenience for me.

    I'm assuming you have decent access to BHM. It's a little late in the year, but you/he could try the Chase Southwest cards. Get 110k miles from credit card signup bonuses (50k each) and 10k in expense and you get the Companion Pass. Buy one get one free airfare whether it be paid for by points or $. You might want to wait til late Dec or Jan to do this, tho, assuming it's still around.

    I don't know enough about western ski cities to comment on that. I do tout the Priority Club card with the 80k signup for families, tho. Holiday Inns are very family friendly and with PointBreaks and last minute weekend awards, you can stretch those points tremendously.
     
    Horse and wrxmom like this.
  14. MDDCFlyer

    MDDCFlyer Silver Member

    Messages:
    363
    Likes Received:
    516
    Status Points:
    595
    It all depends on what your aspirations are. I do have the PC card - mainly for the free night and 10% rebate on point redemption. The redemption in NYC is still one of the best values around (even after the point devaluation). The Staybridge in Time Square is the place I usually stay in NYC - for 70$ and 12,500 points (after the 10% off) it is a great value considering it regularly go for 400-500 dollars a night. Free breakfast (well OK, Staybridge breakfast), free internet, fridge and microwave in the room, smack in the middle of Manhattan. Pretty good deal.
     
  15. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    Great idea, but you're right, mrredskin, not quite there yet! Even if I were, I'm quite fond of my local bank. I'm glad it worked out for MDDCFlyer.

    We'll have a 3 hr. drive to BHM. Didn't have enough points and prices were outrageous from other nearby airports (some double/triple that of BHM). Our closest airport is 20 min away, but only flies Delta (which I don't enjoy). Our favorite airport is 1.5 hours away. Southwest flies out of there and we LOVE flying Southwest to Denver. For some reason I just haven't pulled the trigger on the Southwest card, but now that I've learned I can also transfer UR points to the RR program, I may have to jump on it. Any reason why I should wait til this winter?
     
  16. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    none; get it now & the business for the CP before the end of the year so that you get it for the rest of this year + next year.
     
  17. mrredskin
    Original Member

    mrredskin Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    1,701
    Status Points:
    1,095
    Because of what i recommended in my previous post: companion pass. Not just this winter, but next year. If you get it in early '13, you'll get nearly 2 years of use out of it. If you apply now, you have to hope you get both cards and then, still, put $10k on it to get the 110k point requirement for companion pass. Plus, that's most of this year that will is already behind you that you haven't been able to use the pass.
     
    Horse and edekba like this.
  18. mrredskin
    Original Member

    mrredskin Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    1,701
    Status Points:
    1,095
    well, except for what I've already said...
     
    Horse likes this.
  19. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    But that's only if the 50k offer is still there in Jan '13 ?
     
  20. mrredskin
    Original Member

    mrredskin Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,422
    Likes Received:
    1,701
    Status Points:
    1,095
    Yes, that is the only risk I really see. Or, if they change the terms.
     
    Horse likes this.
  21. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

    Messages:
    3,462
    Likes Received:
    3,783
    Status Points:
    2,145
    I got in on the 50k after first purchase in march; then they took it away and brought it back recently but with a minimum spend req. Thus who knows what will happen next
     
  22. cennas
    Original Member

    cennas Gold Member

    Messages:
    1,765
    Likes Received:
    5,047
    Status Points:
    3,970
    Welcome to MP wanderlust74!
     
    wanderlust74 likes this.
  23. wanderlust74

    wanderlust74 Silver Member

    Messages:
    42
    Likes Received:
    41
    Status Points:
    120
    OK, I'm with ya now...thx for clarifying for me!
     
  24. booyaa
    Original Member

    booyaa Silver Member

    Messages:
    270
    Likes Received:
    422
    Status Points:
    500
    If you decide to go that route, remember that you can go through the Southwest Shopping Portal to make normal online purchases to help with the remainder 10k. Of course, that 10k will need to post in the same calendar year as the rest of the 100k, but something to keep in mind.
     
  25. miles and smiles
    Original Member

    miles and smiles Gold Member

    Messages:
    17,531
    Likes Received:
    61,942
    Status Points:
    20,020
    Personally I believe that flexibility is important for leisure travelers who don't fly out of big city airports. What I mean by flexibility here is having miles in a variety of airlines. This way you can fly for free (or nearly free) to a variety of destinations from a variety of airports. I fly out of two (AVL and CLT), and I have miles in 4 different airlines. This has allowed me to book every one of my flights on miles the past 3 years.
    So, you should definitely look at the USAir card because it gives 40,000 miles after the first purchase, and it's with Barclay's Bank.
    Also, it's fairly easy to acquire 100,000 miles with AA by getting two AA cards at the same time with Citibank.
    The other advice I feel is important is BE PATIENT.
    There is a lot to learn, a lot of opportunities to explore, a lot of possibilities await you and your family. You've made a great start. Keep accumulating knowledge and miles and in a year or two you will find yourself flying for free to many places. It takes time to learn the mile/point game and it takes time to accumulate enough miles to take your family on trips.
     

Share This Page