Is it time to ditch your airline credit card?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Credit Cards' started by Kalboz, Sep 30, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    A recent CSM article about the subject discusses the pros and cons of having loyalty CC versus those that pays cash back, and the verdict was to obtain the latter. Any thoughts?
     
  2. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Could this possibly be a false choice? These days, people have more than one CC, which they use depending on the occasion. I have airline cards, hotel cards and one outstanding cash-back card (Discover It), which I use as appropriate or as needed to ensure that I do not leave any miles, points, or cash on the table. It works great for me...;)
     
  3. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    I believe for the sign up bonuses the credit/hotel loyalty cards are always the better deal. But for everyday spend after the initial bonus, the cash-back cards on the most part offer the better rebate. The Chase Ink and other cards are an exception to this rule with the huge earnings/rebate on the daily spend.
     
  4. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I don't know, Kalboz. My sense is that it would have been tough to remain in the hotel loyalty business following the wave of "devaluation" that hit the industry without the co-branded hotel cards. Without the HHonors AMEX Surpass (12 points/$) or the HHonors Citi Reserve visa (10 points/$), it would have been nearly impossible for me to keep up. And yet, I am on track to raking in a record number of HH points this year, while spending about the same amount of cash, and that is thanks to the added points from the co-branded cards, which I did not start using in earnest until late last year...
     
  5. bigx0

    bigx0 Gold Member

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    I think different people have different priorities. Some of the Delta cards which give you a bunch of extra qualification miles for a certain spend as well as other bennies might be great for a DL fan but horrible for the next guy. I dislike articles which try to lump everyone into the same class.
     
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  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Bingo! Such articles invariably create a false dichotomy. Different strokes for different folks!
     
  7. Kalboz
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    Kalboz Gold Member

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    Yea, that's the spend while staying at the brand hotel ... we are talking here about every day spend. I guess you are one of the few that have not boycotted the Hilton program ;)

    Most new apps that offers the best mile/point bang for your purchase, you will almost always get the cash-back cards for usage.
     
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  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    For me there is no difference because I treat loyalty points or miles as currency, which they are because one can use them to book hotel stays or purchase plane tickets. As for my being one of the few who have not boycotted Hilton, you'd be surprised. I threw a tantrum at Hilton Cardiff in Wales a couple of weeks ago because it was the first time ever that I was not upgraded to the executive floor as a HH Diamond, and the reason was that the property was too packed with elite or paying guests. It does not seem like much of a boycott, does it?!;) A boycott, in fact, would free up more upgrades, including suite upgrades, for the "few" of us who opted to stick with Hilton (my sense is that most people stayed put).
    Again, there is no difference in my book between loyalty points or miles and cash. Later this year, I will be traveling in 4-5 Asian countries, flying exclusively in business or first class cabins, all paid for with miles; and redeeming points for stays at high-end properties like W=A or Conrad. The only cash involved might be to book cash+points rewards, which may be more affordable these days. If I paid with hard cold cash, there is no way I could afford such a luxurious trip. That is why we play the mile/point game, ain't it? The sudden advocacy of cash-back baffles me...:confused:
     
  9. Bay Pisco Shark
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    Bay Pisco Shark Gold Member

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    It shouldn't, for the "I earn a single Y trip every three years" subset. Then, it is almost a sucker bet, trying to redeem limited award space when one could have earned enough cash back for a revenue fare. For those of us redeeming $5 to $10K fares, the cash back wouldn't put a dent.
     
  10. Counsellor
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    Counsellor Gold Member

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    For what it's worth: General rules (in my opinion, but YMMV):

    - The mileage/points bonus (coupled with no fee the first year or a free hotel night) can make getting the card worthwhile.

    - Thereafter, judicious use of the card (e.g., using the airline card only when buying tickets on that carrier or taking advantage of special offers for bonus miles with certain types of charges) can add value over the monetary rebate.

    - Actually, my "go-to" card is the Starwood AMEX. I consider the Starpoints to be about 3 cents apiece with many opportunities for even higher redemption value, so that beats the 2% monetary rebate.

    However, for someone who is not a points/miles spending expert, cash is very versatile and probably a better deal.
     
  11. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Agreed; however for anyone who is a n00b; but wants to get a better value. I think the CSP/Freedom/(Ink if possible) is probably one the best. If you don't know what you're doing you still get 1 - 1.25cpm w/o even thinking. Then if you read, explore, etc you can possibly get 5cpm+ easily.
     
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  12. SuperKirby

    SuperKirby Gold Member

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    Exactly. The CSP/Freedom/possible Ink combo is the best combo for having both miles and a cash back program.
     
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  13. othermike27

    othermike27 Silver Member

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    +1 The question oversimplifies the situation, perhaps to satisfy journalistic need, but really does little to help someone make an informed decision. As noted on blogs, FT threads and elsewhere, there are three primary values to each card: (1) the signup/re-up bonus, (2) benefits from spend on the card, and (3) perks granted by the card. There are also some other considerations like EMV Chip+Sig or Chip+PIN that may be important for international travelers, depending on where they go and how they travel.

    Five years ago, I held three cards - a cash-back Discover, a no-fee VISA, and a UA MP card that I was thinking of dumping because of the $85 annual fee. Then we started doing international leisure travel, which raised the question of how best to manage money, how to buy cheap tickets but fly in F or J or at least E+, then looking into EMV cards, no FTF cards, then the light bulbs started going on about proactively choosing cards to support travel. I now hold 10 card accounts, each for specific purpose(s). That includes airline and hotel program cards, as well as CSP and AMEX/SPG for transfer capability. Six of these carry annual fees that I view as one of the costs of traveling the way I want to.

    So over five years, I went from preferring a minimal number of general-purpose (and no-fee) cards to a strategy of using a mix of fee and free cards specifically for travel. Some had nice sign-ups, and a couple I pay for only for the perks included. The original Discover and no-fee VISA now sit on the shelf to maintain credit history and overall limit. If our leisure travel "house of cards" (sorry, I mostly try to avoid cheap puns) collapses in future, maybe the original two will be the only cards I keep.

    YMPMV :) (Your Miles & Points May Vary)
     
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  14. iolaire
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    iolaire Gold Member

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    Thats the key, even with cash back many of us don't spend enough to value the cash rebate, but do spend enough to experience high value travel via our credit card spend, combined with lucrative bonus opportunities. I doubt I could fly to asia in Coach via cash back, but I can with miles and points.
     
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  15. tommy777
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    tommy777 Co-founder

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    Hotels, like airlines, has much higher occupancy these days and prices are rising. I think more paying customers is the reason, not too many Elites
     
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  16. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    The possibilities are not mutually exclusive since "more paying customers" can easily translate to "more elites", unless those paying customers are totally clueless...
     
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  17. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Maybe some people can't take a week or two off for an intl adventure or don't have the need to travel. In that case cash back would help them buy a new TV, diapers, or a trip to Grandma etc.
     
  18. Espan

    Espan Silver Member

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    with a family of 3 and regular need for international flights (to visit family), I find the points/miles indispensable and far better value than cashback. As mentioned, CSP/Ink provide great bang for buck and flexibility, while judicious use of branded airline cards does add a few helpful perks...
     
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  19. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

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    I have both with Amex PGR and AARP Chase. I have been going back and forth. But I haven't been paying much attention over the years and now will take note. I have lost accumulated points on various programs and have signed up for tickets from third party cheap air (which didn't save me much if anything) so no elite miles. I see from this site I have given up a lot of miles over the years. But cash back is easy and brainless and you can apply it anytime. It has helped. The mileage accumulation takes some time and thought. Because my wants have changed I need to think about other things now. I cannot physically handle the discomfort of air travel on long flights any more so I do need to think about upgrades and such that I didn't need to care about before. So I guess I have been clueless. But no more thanks to this site.
     
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  20. Dovster
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    Dovster Gold Member

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    I think my HHonors Amex is a good deal for me when I am in the US or spending dollars on the internet.

    When I am outside of the country (as I usually am because I live in Israel), the forex charge is extremely high. I have recently gotten the BoA Travel Rewards VISA -- it has no forex charge and that, by itself, makes it better for me overseas. (It also provides CDW/LDW when I am renting a car, which Amex does not because I don't have a US address.)
     
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  21. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

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    For me the answer is yes, it is time. I just got the Starwood Amex to replace the Amex gold and I am about to get the Chase Ink plus visa to replace the old AARP chase visa. BofA is my bank and has been pushing me to go with their card but I believe the chase is quite a bit better for my needs.
     
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  22. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

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    Need some help here. I am probably getting out of my amex pgr card and need to distribute my miles. After modeling some trips on Delta and United, I see that I probably want to fill in my miles on Delta for a particular trip I have in mind and then put the rest in Aeroplan. But here is a big but easily answered question I think. What restrictions are there on the various airlines for getting economy seats with miles but paying cash for upgrades to economy comfort or economy plus etc.? Should I be asking this on another thread?
     
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  23. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

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    Hi, I ended up just calling and asking Delta and United if I could get economy seats with miles/points and pay cash to upgrade to comfort economy and both said yes.
     
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  24. adventuress

    adventuress Silver Member

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    Whoa! So now I am REALLY angry. I had no idea that my card, the Amex PRG gets 15000 bonus points yearly for spending $30000 yearly. If I had dedicated spending to that card I would have had 60000 extra points by now. Together with the expirations etc. I have lost 100000 over the last several years. Nuts. This insanity could have gone on for another several years if I hadn't joined this site though. I guess I will be keeping this card after all now that I know what the benefits are that I wasn't even using. I guess it is the Visa card that I will switch out for a Chase Ink or something.
     
  25. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I am a bit confused. Aren't the bonus points (15K) supposed to be deposited automatically once one reaches the preset threshold spend ($30K)? I have the Chase UA Explorer visa that awards 10K miles after a $25K spend. I have not had to do anything to get the 10K miles other than to spend $25K. The 10K miles are automatically deposited, I believe as soon as the next statement after one hits the spend threshold.

    Also, if you were not aware of the 15K bonus on the AMEX PRG, what good was the card for? Why did you get it?
     

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