Getting started ideas

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by schwallie4, Aug 6, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. schwallie4

    schwallie4 New Member

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    Hey guys,

    So first I'll go through my situation then go into my plans, which I hope you can help to improve!

    We are a young couple(24-25) who would love to book more vacations. Located out of Chicago. We like to fly Southwest home a couple times a year(Just to Kentucky), but we also drive to domestic destinations often because of our dogs. We want to check out a couple domestic spots soon(LA,Charleston,SC,Miami,New York) along with probably 10+ international ideas we want to eventually do(Oktoberfest, World Cup, Aruba, Maldives, multiple European trips). I spend $1500 a month in restaurants, $500 in groceries. She just pays me monthly for rent, but she could switch that to spending on restaurants instead but that just seems like us splitting what we already could have on my cards and only useful for a couple of the cards with low spend bonuses. I only have 2 cards, and she doesn't have any. I own our home and have relatively good credit(~775). I'm not sure of her credit but let's assume it is relatively lower, maybe ~700. She hasn't ever had debt or built up bills of any kind though.


    So some of the research/ideas I've come up with:

    1. Signed up for Rewards Network with Southwest. We know we will use Southwest so thought I would start there. She could sign up with ..??
    2. Looking at the Starwood Preferred for myself only since my expenses are high enough to get the $5k spending bonuses
    3. Looking at doing X amount of cards(AOR) for us both in addition. Barclay Arrival for me possibly with a higher credit score(~775) and probably only no-fee or first-year waived for her, as she will be skeptical at first. Any suggestions here? We are open to doing Amazon Payments/Bluebird type things if we need to! Should we be looking at doing a big amount of cards each? What's a good number?
    So I guess my questions are: What type of cards should we look at, and how can I then value out the rewards we are getting from doing them? And, is there anything else I'm missing that we should be doing?
     
  2. schwallie4

    schwallie4 New Member

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    Also I am considering doing the two Southwest 50k offers that end today. I would love the companion pass, but would want to work on it starting next year.

    Has anyone tried getting them now(In case the offer is no longer available later) and waiting to activate them in January? I feel like they will end up denying one of the 50k offers if I do this. I also may be just putting too much into Southwest at that point because other than a couple cheap flights home I really don't see more than 3-4 trips using Southwest within the next 5yrs, as we would rather save for the more exotic locations.

    Thoughts?
     
  3. particlemn

    particlemn Silver Member

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    first you need to know your partners credit not just assume it. this iwll help in long term planning,
    being mid 20's neither of your credit is very long but you can get a few cards that can help you on your way,
    southwest cards are great for domestic travel but worthless for exotic loations,

    my first thought is since you are young and dont mind coach travel(all southwest offers) is i would consider cutting back 1k per month on resteraunts and using that 12k per year to see the world. often times a really inexpensive fare to a fab destination can make a great trip, (oh year make sure you both have passports, like now, if not and the opertunity comes up you scamble and worry )

    if you do want credit cards i would recommend getting both yourself and your partner the current aa visa card with the 50k bonus for 3k spend in 3 months, it seems you can get the card a second time 8 days later, (i currently have 3 just since may)

    as for your domestic travel i would look into the best western credit card, many best westerns are pet friendly, some of the major chains, hilton, hyatt, spg are not as pet friendly or have large nonrefundable deposits

    if your partner wants to go slow you can get the no cost chase freedom card, collect points and later she can get the chase sapphire prefered and combine the points and send them to united/british air/ hyatt/ marriott
     
  4. schwallie4

    schwallie4 New Member

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    Thanks for the reply. I'm kind of worried about getting the Southwest because the companion pass is super valuable to me and I kind of want it for the full 2 years, thus waiting until January? If I did that then in the meantime I could hit the spending needed for maybe 2-3 others.

    Thing is I'm just absurdly open to any ideas currently. I have the U.S. Bank Cash+ where I'm getting $60 a month from restaurant spending alone. But from there I just kind of want to find the best bonuses and then I can plan my travel around those. We have a million places we want to go, and will go eventually, and I just want to switch from getting money back(and keeping it) to getting bonus miles and points that I will have to use for vacations.

    So I guess my main question here is:

    1. If you could recommend 2-3 cards for myself to get the best sign-up bonuses for, what would you recommend? I use cars, planes, and hotels, but I actually do care about things like hotel location and rental cars(for my dogs), so I think free flights may be the way to go
    2. What do you guys think about my plan to hold off on Southwest Chase cards? I'll be accruing some points from my absurd Restaurant/bar spending on the dining rewards site, but am considering holding out for companion pass until January and hoping for a new offer so I can get 2014/2015
    3. I've gotten one recommendation for the partner, does anyone disagree?
    4. Are there any other programs I'm missing out on other than the Dining Rewards that give you Southwest/AA/etc?
    5. What's the goto cheap option for international flight rewards programs? Flight plans would include: Munich, Venice, Aruba, Maldives, Brazil, multiple other Europe stops. Domestic I'll stick with Southwest
     
  5. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    One thing I'll recommend is to think about the cards you want to keep long term. To keep your credit score high you want to have some cards that you have the longest history with, and NOT cancel them. So what cards do you think you'll keep forever? Usual advice would be maybe a Chase Sapphire preferred since that will give you ultimate reward points, maybe an Amex SPG Personal, maybe an Amex Membership Rewards Gold card? The Sapphire you can apply for any time since they generally don't goose the signup bonus, so you might think about that. The SPG Personal has a 30k bonus going on right now through early September (happens about once a year, usual bonus is 25k). The Amex PRG often has special bonuses and doesn't currently so you might hold off on that until something pops up. But hey, maybe you'd want to churn the PRG so YMMV.

    The Southwest cards had 50k miles offers until yesterday I think, but those are expired now. No reason not to hold off. Remember that the thing with the companion pass is to earn 110k miles in the year you want to get the pass. So you could actually apply for them say in November and hit the minimum spend on January 3rd or whatever, and that would be fine. Just make sure you don't hit it before January! You can also transfer some points in from say UR to hit the 110k if you're short a few. One more reason to have that Sapphire card...

    Free flights are generally more valuable than hotels, so no issue with that priority. SPG points are useful since they transfer to almost anybody 1:1. Just be prepared for it to take the 5 business days they claim.

    PRG points also transfer but only to a limited set of partners so make sure one of them is in your roundhouse before you bother with them.

    Seems like out of Chicago you'd have your pick of airline alliances. But you'll want to focus on just one presumably. Chase UR points transfer to United, but not American. American Airlines cards are easier to churn and issued by Citi which doesn't handle the Southwest cards (most of the best cards are from Chase), and its generally easier to earn American miles than United. Depends what you want. Can't comment on the alliances and who goes where in particular. Maldives you should research.
     

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