Introduction

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by PHLFlyer, Feb 23, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Hello MP community!

    I wanted to start this thread by introducing myself. My name is Louis, and I just recently got turned on to the world of travel hacking/point collecting. I have a ton of questions and a bit of a general plan of attack, which I'll share after I get a couple of responses. Basically, my goals are to try and get free flights to Hawaii/Caribbean, maybe eventually Europe/Asia, in business/first class, and simultaneously maybe not have to worry about paying for hotels either. I've learned a lot by lurking around here for a bit and reading several blogs (view from the wing, one mile at a time, and thepointsguy, among others), so thanks very much already for everything. Looking forward to meeting some of you in this thread, and I'll get up my (extensive) list of questions shortly.

    Cheers
     
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  2. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Hey everyone,

    No responses yet, but figured it can't hurt to get going on some questions. I'll start with a question I had about rewards tickets and FF programs. Essentially, I am a member of all the major FF programs (Delta, United, USAir, AA), and realize that with Star Alliance and oneworld and whatnot, I can use my miles to book award travel on partner airlines. So my question is: is it worth it to sign up for a ton of other FF programs right now, or should I simply wait until I might need that partner airline for award travel? I think I am able to book travel on a partner airline by calling one of the 4 airlines listed above, true? I understand that with ANA, for example, having some FF miles in the account will let you use their award tool (though I've seen workarounds), but in my current situation, will being a member of just the major FF programs be enough? Thanks in advance, and looking forward to continuing the conversation.

    P.S. If there is a thread/wiki that has a list of all the acronyms, that would be great if someone could link me to that. Cheers!
     
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  3. 1. you must book through the airline you have the points with. That's how it works on *A. If your points are with UA they will handle the booking on other *A carriers.
    2. signing up for more than on FF program depends on your flying and collecting patterns. If you get your points from non travel and don't spend hundreds of thousands each year you are probably better off with one program.Same goes for hotels.

    You will probably get differing opinions on the above but that's how I see it.
     
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  4. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

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    One of the first things I had to (and am still) sorting out is how to gain the RDMs for awards flights. Credit card churning, bis flying mileage runs, manufactured spending.....all viable ways to earn lots of points but you need to start small and focus/learn. Then expand. You say you have mileage in all major programs so I would begin by looking at who you have the most points with currently(alliance wise too) and how you can maximize points earnings for that program as those points will be useable first. If you feel confident in some of the stuff you have learned you could try building in two programs initially.

    For myself, when I started I had the most mileage in a DL account and, unlike some, I quite like flying on DL. I am not so comfortable with high volume cc churning so I got the DL branded platinum AE card only and booked DL for all my flying. I managed to earn Silver Medallion in a few months. Not much, but it's something. I believe I started with around 30k sky miles and now have over 98k in around 6 months time. Not too bad for a cautious newbie.

    Milepoint does have a list of all the acronyms here but the really nice thing is if you highlight the acronym the meaning shows up in the up right hand portion of the page. I love this feature!
     
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  5. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Guinness, thanks very much for the reply. In regards to your comments:

    1. Okay, makes sense. So as you say, if I have a ton of UA miles, but wanted to book a flight on USAir, I would call United and have them book the ticket for the USAir flights that I want (which I guess is the reason why everyone says to have all of your segments planned out beforehand).

    2. As to my flying and collecting patterns, for work (and pleasure for that matter) for the last several years, I've just been trying to find what is cheapest, so I have miles scattered about. However, I'm about to change jobs, where I think I will be much more consistent in with who I fly and where I stay. That being said, I'm going to focus likely on USAir, as I have the most miles with them (and Delta and American are close behind in 2nd and 3rd). As for hotels, I don't really have any history with any program, but from what I've read, Hyatt and Starwood seem like the two best options.

    Feel free to comment back on anything I've said here, and I'm going to have some other questions related to credit cards and stuff that I'll post a bit later on. Thanks again!
     
  6. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    TravelBear, thanks very much for the reply.

    I think that ultimately I will be using card churning and business flights to help accrue miles, but as I mentioned in the other post, I have the most miles currently with USAir, with Delta and American as the next two most plentiful. I think that my goal will be, starting out, to try and build with USAir, and then whichever hotel program I end up going with.

    Sounds good about your experience with DL. I am going to write more about CC related stuff in a later post, but do you earn MQMs for using the DL AE card? And definitely great job building up your account to around 100k miles in just 6 months. I'm hoping to follow in those footsteps.

    Amazing feature with the highlighting and showing the acronyms on the right hand side of the page. Incredibly useful, so thanks for that! Looking forward to continuing the conversation.
     
  7. TravelBear

    TravelBear Gold Member

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    The DL AE has MQMs on signup after spend, then if you spend 25/50k on the card you get an additional 10k MQMS at each tier. There are two cards you can look at, the platinum and the reserve. I don't know much about the Reserve other than the annual fee is quite high. These are the DL branded ones only.

    Just to make sure, you are aware that USAir and AA are merging, right? So there is a lot of speculation out as to what will happen with their two programs, though I think most feel the USAir points will become AA points, point for point. So you could either use your USAir points up on *A or let them merge sometime in the future and use them on OW.

    It sounds like you are interested in status but with the fact you fly for work you shouldn't have too much problem getting status as those points are harder to come by. Then when you do hit status you will earn RDMs at a higher rate, generally.

    (Holy cow I did NOT know any of this stuff 6 months ago!)

    Hope this helps.
     
  8. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    TravelBear, thanks again for the post.

    Makes sense in regard to the DL AE and MQMs. I am someone who will not get anywhere close to that kind of spend on a card, whether it be for Delta or anyone else (unless business expenses somehow mounted that high, which I'm unsure of at this time). All these posts are seemingly a good transition to some questions I have about CCs, which I'll get to in my next post, which I'll make tonight or tomorrow.

    I am indeed aware that AA and USAir are merging. And I agree, from what I've read as well USAir miles will become AA miles, which I can use on OW eventually. I guess then I'll have to start accumulating UA miles to fly different *A airlines, but I can worry about that when the time comes.

    I'm not so much concerned with status as I am with free rewards, but status would definitely be a nice perk if I happened to get there with my anticipated business travel. And I am aware also that elites can get bonus miles for their travel as well.

    I appreciate the help, and I'll be sure to post some of my CC and hotel questions later tonight or tomorrow. Thanks again!
     
  9. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I wanted to include here some of my thoughts on credit cards (and maybe some hotel related stuff), and get your opinion on how to go about racking up miles.

    The two cards that seem to be the most highly regarded currently are the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the SPG AMEX card. I am thinking about applying for these in the near future, but wanted to ask some questions about the process of churning, acquiring cards in general, and racking up miles.

    First, my credit score is excellent, so I foresee no problem in getting approved for either of these cards, but I generally don't spend that much per month, probably between 500 and 1000 dollars. This may change as I start a new career, but the low monthly spend means I will only be able to apply for a single card every 3-6 months. Is this a strategy that people take? Obviously it will take longer to accrue miles, but I'm not that concerned about it if it lets me rack up a ton of miles at any single time. Additionally, as I will probably be on the market for a house within the next 5 years (but not the next 2), I guess only applying for a few cards a year will be better from a credit standpoint.

    Next, how do people decide which cards to go about getting? For example, maybe it's a good idea to get a USAir card now before the merger? But in a year's time, should I just be on the lookout for any particular sign up bonus that is extremely lucrative?

    Along the same lines, let's say that lucrative sign up is for an airline that I don't fly very often or at all. Clearly it makes sense to open a FF account with them, get the miles deposited, and then discontinue using the card while at a later point using the miles on a partner airline for reward travel, correct?

    In regard to discontinuing use of any single card, what are the strategies that people typically use? For example, it seems like with the relatively low fees on the Sapphire Preferred and SPG AMEX, people hang on to these cards for the benefits even with the fee. I know also that some hotel cards (Citi Hilton, I think) have a fee but that is essentially wiped out because you get 2 free nights in any Hilton with the card (plus Gold status, for whatever that is worth). Next, what about airline specific branded cards? Let's say I get a United card with a fee. I know these airline-branded cards can have hefty fees, and as I currently do not travel a ton, is it in my interest to just get the sign up bonus, and at the end of the year cancel the card?

    For cards that are not airline-branded (maybe AMEX Gold, for example), should I get the membership rewards points and then move on at the end of the year? How long after canceling a card are you allowed to apply for a card again and receive the sign up bonus again? Does it vary on a card by card basis, or are there are general rules you can tell me about? Obviously, if a card issuer offered points to keep the card open that exceeded the value of the annual fee, I should clearly be taking them up on that, correct?

    In regard to the hotel branded cards, what are people's thoughts? If I likely won't stay at the particular hotel ever again, and I only have enough points for a couple nights of free stay (maybe extending that with cash and points if available), is it still worth it to apply for these cards given the points are non-transferable? Similarly, I know that when you are a member of a rewards program at any particular hotel, you can opt for points, and sometimes points and miles. If the hotel I am staying at is not my primary hotel, should I simply change my status to collect airline miles on my airline of choice? Or is accruing points and nights/stays with the random hotel better/fine?

    I think that's everything I have for now, but as we continue the discussion, if I have more questions, I'll be sure to post them. Sorry for the long post, and thanks so much for the help!
     
  10. PHLFlyer

    PHLFlyer Active Member

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    Just wanted to bump my last post. Any comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks!
     

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