Help The New Guy

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by goldfinchs1, Sep 6, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Guys, I just joined this site. Looks like lots of helpful info on here. My question is this...I have an AMEX Blue; the one with the blue square in the middle. I use this card primarily as a business card, to purchase supplies, etc... Supposedly, when I applied the sales woman explained that this would be the most advantageous card for me. I travel to Southern Africa about twice a year, usually connecting through DC to Joburg. I have been multiple times now and have yet to accumulate one mile through a program of any sort. I am a skymiles member, but I don't think that helps me much since I HATE Delta and will avoid ATL at all costs. I'm also a member of a miles club with my bank card, called Bank Miles, which essentially gives me a $100.00 gift certificate for air redemption, to use for every $1,000.00 I spend on the card. This is my personal card and I primarily use this to discount my tickets where ever I go. I would really like to figure out how to upgrade to business, or to substantially reduce the cost of my international tickets (Southern Africa) when I travel to africa. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Stephen Goldfinch
     
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  2. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    [screeching car tires sound...]

    Wait, you get a 10% return on BankMiles? How/when did you do that? The current offer I can find is a $100 certificate for 7,000 pts ($) in spending, only a 1.4% return.

    Welcome to Milepoint. Someone more knowledgeable than I will be around shortly with more extensive recommendations. As of now, my only recommendation is to sign-up for the Continental Presidential Plus credit card, which will automatically make you CO/Star Alliance silver and put you on the list for EUA (automatic upgrades) on CO/UA flights. (Though at a very low priority.) If you achieve Silver status by BIS miles, it will bump you up to Gold. It will also give you lounge access in Jo'burg and DC, and 2-for-1 business tickets if you buy them. The annnual fee, however, is $395 and the first-year-free offer appears to be gone.

    However... it depends which airline you fly most often, what your spending patterns are, and how frequently you fly.

    EDIT: One point of clarification: are you looking for status (to get upgrades to business class seats on a regular basis) or one-time/occasional business seats (which you can do by using bonus miles from sign-ups and spending to redeem business award tickets)?
     
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  3. Sorry, I was having a moment. It's 1 point for every dollar spent. I need 6,000 points for a $100.00 certificate. I get one of these certificates about once a month.
     
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  4. sobore
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    sobore Gold Member

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    United and South African Airways both offer non-stop flights from DC to Johannesburg. Both are members of the Star Alliance. By crediting all your flying to Star Alliance members you should at least obtain premier status with United.
    By charging travel expenses to the United credit card you can aquire upgrade miles to apply to future trips.
     
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  5. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    Why not sign up for the AMEX Gold Business card and put 50k of points in your pocket immediately?
     
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  6. I dont really know the answer to that question. I would assume that getting regular upgrades is better than not, but what are the downsides. Not to be negative, since this is my first post, but the first 3 responders have all recommended I get 3 different cards than the one I already have. If my AMEX blue isn't sufficient, I can always get another card, but I'm not really in the business of having 3 or 4 different cards. Maybe I should refine my question more...with what I have, how do I get regular upgrades/cheaper flights to southern africa? Thanks for everyone's advice.
     
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  7. kellio
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    kellio Gold Member

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    1. Which airline are you flying to JNB?
    2. Are you only a member of DL skymiles or do you have other airline frequent flyer numbers?
    3. Are you making sure your frequent flyer number is in your reservation each time?
    4. Have you signed up for membership rewards w/your blue card? If not, go to manage your account and on the right hand side you will see a link that says - rewards, enroll now.
     
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  8. Gary Steiger
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    Gary Steiger Silver Member

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    [quote="goldfinchs] I have been multiple times now and have yet to accumulate one mile through a program of any sort.[/quote]

    This is sacrilege! The first step is to sign up with the U.S. Airline miles program that is in the alliance of the airline you are using. Then credit all of your flight miles to that account.

    I agree with you about Delta and Atlanta. But Delta miles can be used for some very Air France flights.Do they fly to Jberg?

    For whatever program you use, be sure to look at its super credit card offers. The banks are giving away the store with their up front mega bonuses . I suggest you take a look at all of the credit card offers in the Credit Card section of my website below. You will find a great many much better than the ones you have, and many are not listed on the airlines' websites.I believe I list the very best offers available. If you seek miles on a Star Alliance carrier, go for the Continental Airlines offers before that airline merges into United. You can find brief descriptions and links to my full descriptions of all of these on my What's New page on date 8/24/201.
     
  9. Scott S
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    Scott S Silver Member

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    The reason that the first three responders have suggested three different cards is because the best method for accumulating large numbers of frequent flyer miles is to sign up for cards, meet the minimum spend to achieve bonus miles and then move onto the next card. Many of us have been doing it for years and have frequent flyer balances in the millions (or tens of millions of miles, in some cases.)

    It takes effort, but it's well worth it: I once had goal of visiting every country in the world -- one I felt would ultimately be unobtainable. In the past five years alone, I've visited in excess of 50 countries, for a minimal amount of cash, using frequent flyer miles -- oftentimes in Business Class. Listen to the people on this website and others and you'll be pleasantly surprised with the results. I know I am.
     
  10. Scott S
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    Scott S Silver Member

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    I'll also give an example of a recent redemption I made to Southern Africa (and back from East Africa), to show you just how excellent it is to follow the advice above and start collecting miles in every way possible:

    PHL-FRA
    FRA-JNB
    JNB-CPT (destination)
    KGL-BRU
    BRU-FRA (stopover)
    FRA-PHL

    All for 120K miles in Business Class using United miles on Star Alliance.
     
  11. peteropny
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    peteropny Milepoint Guide

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    So you spend around $72k a year on your credit card. That combined with your actual flights to South Africa should earn you enough miles for a free Business class roundtrip at least every 3rd trip (more likely every 2nd trip). You need to consolidate your credit card spend to miles on your preferred alliance (South African is part of Star Alliance - domestic US Star Alliance members are United (UA), Continental (CO) and USAirways (US)). As you know UA & CO are merging and their programs are supposed to merge later this year (you could get a head start on miles by getting both the UA and CO credit cards for their signup bonuses). Once you've done that, make sure that you fly on the airline of your choice (along with other Star Alliance members) enough so that you earn Elite status (which gives you even more redeemable miles - UA/CO program is a bit unclear at this point though) - you need to watch this pretty carefully since you don't want to end up with 24,000 EQMs (Elite Qualifying Miles) in one calendar year (especially if 25,000 will get you to the First Elite tier which gives you bonus miles every time you fly - and a small chance at a complimentary upgrade at least domestically and internationally if an operational upgrade situation occurs). Note that you do not earn miles when flying on award flights. Unfortunately, alliance wide upgrades using miles have not been implemented yet with a few exceptions (eg you won't be able to upgrade your South African flights with UA/CO miles).
     
  12. Great information guys. Thanks. So, just to be clear; many of you are suggesting I get the UA credit card and the CO credit cards, simply for their sign-up bonuses.? Correct? But then what? I really don't want multiple lines of credit floating around. And I've heard that closing cards is not great on credit either. How do you guys manage this? Do you sign up for the cards, get the miles, close the card and transfer the miles? Or do you all have 7 credit cards a piece, that you have to spend some amount of money on each month?
     
  13. travelinmike33
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    travelinmike33 Silver Member

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    Credit cards are certainly the fastest and most lucrative way to accumulate miles/points, but if that's not something you want to tackle, it is worth noting that the Membership Rewards program that goes with your AMEX is one of the better rewards programs. As kellio noted above, be sure you're enrolled in the Membership Rewards program. These points can be transferred to many airlines or can be used to book travel directly (though the transfers generally give you a better value). Member The Points Guy had a good series of posts about how to best use Membership Rewards points for travel, which can be found here http://thepointsguy.com/2011/04/maximizing-amex-post-1-understanding-the-card-offering/.

    As many people have stated, the main thing you want to do is consolidate your miles into one place so that you can accumulate a useable sum. The best way to do this is to find out which alliance your preferred airlines are part of and who their partners are. As mentioned, South African Airways is part of Star Alliance, so if they are your main carrier, Star Alliance probably makes sense for you. You would then want to decide which program to join within Star Alliance since the different airlines within the alliance each have their own frequent flier programs with their own unique quirks. If you fly United/Continental most of the time, then it probably makes sense to join their program so you can take advantage of the elite benefits if you qualify.

    The other two main alliances are SkyTeam (Delta being the main US-based member) and OneWorld (American).

    There are several MilePoint members who run consulting businesses that provide services around accumulating and spending frequent flier miles. It might be worth it to you to enlist their services to set up a personalized plan for you to take advantage of your spending and travel patterns. You can certainly get free information here that will lead you to build your own plan, but if you feel like you need help filtering through the wealth of information, these consultants are an option.

    Good luck and happy travels!
     
  14. harvson3

    harvson3 Silver Member

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    As Gary said, the very, very first thing you should do is a) open a OnePass or Mileage Plus or Dividend Miles account, and b) open an AAdvantage account. If you get too deep into the "game," you'll find it advantageous to have all of these accounts, with your primary accumulation on your favorite airline.

    You can get the UA and CO credit cards for their sign-up bonuses if Star Alliance carriers are your primary carriers for travel. If you normally travel on British Airways or Iberia to JNB, or on Air France/KLM, look for other alliances' cards. (In the former case, look for the 75,000/150,000/225,000 sign-up for the Citi AAdvantage cards.) And don't be afraid to wait for good sign-up bonus deals to pop up; there were recent 100,000 mile offers that had people swooning.

    After that, you can use them as your primary cards to accumulate miles. For example, if you get a 50,000 bonus from opening the One Pass Plus CO card, and spend 72,000 in a year (with the first year fee waived), and don't fly at all, you'll still have enough miles to travel business class to central and southern Africa from the US for only the costs of taxes and fees after one year.

    If you keep your AMEX and accumulate Membership Rewards points, then be on the lookout for ways to transfer them to airline programs. Airline programs run bonuses of 25-50% for transfers. There are also sign-up bonuses for switching to Starwood Preferred or other versions of AMEX.

    When it comes time to renew and pay an annual fee, it's up to you whether you'll pay or drop the card in favor of another (and another sign-up bonus). Many of the authors you see here and at Flyertalk (aka TOBB) will drop their credit cards or try for retention bonuses once the annual fees come due. Others will get the bonus and then drop the card (or drop/rearrange their credit limits) in order to get more cards. And still others hold onto cards like the SPG Amex for a long time because they feel the benefits are worth the annual fees. Yes, they have many open lines of credit, yes, they do have to keep organized and on-top of their cards, and yes, they probably have very good credit scores and incomes to begin with. Closing and opening cards, as long as you always pay the full monthly bill, has only mild effects on your credit score; how much one can "churn" is subject to debate on various blogs. One constant piece of advice is to keep a no-fee backup card like the Blue you have now for a long time, even if it gathers dust in your drawer; having long, old credit lines helps your score.
     
  15. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    UA does not fly their own metal to South Africa. SA only flies via DKR to/from IAD; the JFK flight is non-stop now, I believe.
     

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