Maximize Travel Programs in Austin, Texas

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by sandratravels, Aug 7, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. sandratravels

    sandratravels Member

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    Good Morning,
    My name is Sandra and I am fairly new to milepoint. A little bit of background about myself and travel plans for the coming year or two.

    This is my situation:
    My husband and I are looking to secure another house (investment property) this year or early next year. We currently have one rental house (almost paid off). We have our primarily house (bought in 2009; plan to stay in it for 15 plus years and we make extra payments to principle).

    Current credit card status:
    I am the primary person obtaining points on my credit cards, but husband uses my credit cards for purchases too. I currently have four credit cards (two dormant, one through Capital One (longest owned card, which I plan to keep the account, but I want to transfer to 0 annual fee credit card) and one rewards card through local credit union, I also plan to keep and has a 0 annual fee). I have an AMEX Green card (I have had this card since 2007) and recently received Southwest Premier Visa card (in April 2013). I have been focusing my spends on the SW card, as I want to earn a Companion Pass for my husband. I have approximately 40,000 points to go.

    Our travel departs:
    We are a family of three living in Austin, Texas. Our primary airport is AUS, but we can travel to Dallas (DFW) and Houston (IHA & Hobby), if needed for cheaper fair and/or less points used.

    Our travel pattern:
    We do not travel for work, so all travel will be leisure. We plan to go to Hong Kong every year and our planning two domestic locations (considering Las Vegas in February and Lake Tahoe in June).

    Airline Programs:
    I am looking for focus all airline use of Southwest for domestic travel, particularly after Companion Pass is obtained. We will focus all international travel (Southeast Asia and Europe) on United, since it is our preferred airline and the higher redemption value.

    Hotel Programs:
    Since I work for the government, I get hotel discounts with major chains. I am looking to focus most of our stays within Hilton properties. I choose Hilton because of their vast network of hotels, plus we would like to participate in free breakfast, manager social hour(s), airport shuttle (if needed), pool (for child) and etc. I am considering using Best Western for locations that do not have a Hilton property near by, like in South Lake Tahoe.

    Here goes the questions:
    1. I have strong solid credit and I have never been turned down for card or loan. I was interested in obtaining the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (have it for one year, then transfer to the Chase Sapphire card with no annual fee), I do not have access to Ultimate Rewards points yet. I would like to add this to my card portfolio. I would like to obtain the Citi HiltonHonors Visa card. I thought about obtaining both cards this year or beginning of next year.

    - Is it wise to request these cards, since we are looking to obtain another house?
    - When is the best time of year to get the best points and bonus offers on cards?
    - Is there another card you suggest would mix well in my card portfolio, if so, which one and why.

    Thank you in advance for reviewing my post and I appreciate all feedback.
    -Sandra Travels
     
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  2. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    If you're that close to Southwest you should watch for the Southwest business card and get it / use those points to hit CP if you think you'll need them. Sounds like CP is very worth it for you.

    If you're free tomorrow you should join us for the semi-regular Thursday BBQ lunch that spans some Milepoint, Flyertalk and BoardingArea folks. PM me for more info

    I have markedly different opinions on how to purchase rental properties and generally don't subscribe to going in to debt for rental properties while you still owe on your primary residence. It's not doctrine, though, and I'm not religious about it. I listen to Dave Ramsey to get his advice, but I'm also a Clark Howard guy and obviously am not anti-credit-card or anti-loan when the economics warrant it.

    Disclosure: We have a rental property as a result of a marriage so we're landlords by default. We also still owe on our primary residence. I'd get rid of my personal rental in a heartbeat if it weren't slightly upside-down.

    In any case you've come to a great place. Keep asking questions and several others will join here, too.
     
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  3. sandratravels

    sandratravels Member

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    Mike,
    Thank you for your input. The rental house investment, we would look to purchase in the future would not put us into debit as we do not over spend and save regularly. So far, all of our expenses are below our earnings. The rental house investment will be apart of our daughter's future college fund, in addition to her current college funds we contribute too.

    I will not quality for Southwest business card as I do not own or operate a business. I am attempting to earn the points through spend, dining program and online shopping mall bonuses and etc. I think I may be able to make it. If you know of away to transfer AMEX points to another program, then I can transfer them to Southwest, I would like to hear your and other people's ideas on this.

    Thank you for the invitation to lunch, but I may not be able to make it. Maybe one in the future.

    Thank you once again for the feedback.
    -Sandra
     
  4. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Sandra -

    If you're a landlord you own a business. Southwest doesn't require you to be incorporated or even have a separate EIN/TIN - you can be a sole proprietor. You can even get the card in your own name, using your name as the business name. I wouldn't recommend it right now as the 50K bonus just ended but is likely to come back this year.

    As far as additional earning: Rapid Rewards Dining is a great way to pick up extra points, as is the Southwest shopping mall for online purchases. Several rental car companies give Southwest points as credit, too. I typically try to find Dining Rewards restaurants that are also OpenTable restaurants and double-dip.


    There are some ways to manufacture spend but it's definitely a process and requires hoops to jump through. There are good threads on here if you're interested in that - I'm personally not into it (but I did participate in the Dollar Coin spend when that was around as it was simply simple).

    Lastly, when you fly, pay for Business Select. More points per ticket, but higher fare.
     
  5. sandratravels

    sandratravels Member

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    Mike,
    Thank you for the feedback to acquire more Southwest points. I have been engaged in the dining program, but I was not aware of Open Table. I will need to check this out. I have been making some purchases (early Christmas and birthday gifts) for items I plan to buy anyways, as Southwest is running a Back to School special as part of their shopping portal.

    What are your ideas about obtaining a Chase Sapphire card? I am interested in the Sapphire Preferred, but I do not want to continue to pay annual fees. Does the regular Chase Sapphire card have the same benefits as the Sapphire Preferred card for their Ultimate Rewards portal? It is hard for me to tell.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback. Everyone enjoy your weekend.
    -Sandra
     
  6. iolaire
    Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

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    This is the quickest method to pick up the next 40,000 points. Even if the sign up offer dropped to 30,000 then you would only have 10,000 to go. Keep in mind that the companion pass is good for the year you earn it, plus the next year, so if you rush the points you will get some free flights in this year.

    RE Chase and Business Cards: you have no business as Mike said you are a small business contributing to the US economy with your rental home, you personally need a business card so you can isolate any expenses from that business from your personal spend.

    That being said, once you have a business card Chase will do nothing to control how you spend on the card – it is bad business practice but you can put lots of personal charges on the card to meet the spend requirements.

    My recommendation is to start applying for cards when the bonus points spike up for a time (remember you can cancel a card prior to the end of the first year to prevent the fee the next year), for example if you watch the blogs, say http://boardingarea.com/, you will see a huge spike in posts if a card ever increases its point payout. This week it was the SPG American Express, which increased to 30,000 points after $5,000.

    You should wait for the sapphire until the point offer is in the 50,000 point range, if it is not there now it will be at some time this year. All these cards have some sort of marketing schedule, they bump up the bonus, their affiliates (bloggers) promote that offer and the credit card company gets a huge spike in applications – because of that the bonus bumps are regular throughout the year.
     
  7. sandratravels

    sandratravels Member

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    iolaire,
    Thank you for the recommendation and information. I will look into them as they come about.

    -Sandra
     
  8. Mirror74

    Mirror74 Gold Member

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    You will now have BA direct flight to London from Austin TX, first with 5 weekly flights, later in 2013 with daily flights...
     
  9. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Which is a horrible option for anyone other than the business traveler, primarily due to the incredibly high fuel surcharges BA adds to the price of every ticket - revenue and award tickets. OP indicated their international travel would be on StarAlliance, anyway.
     
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  10. Mirror74

    Mirror74 Gold Member

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    Tuche... :eek:
     
  11. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    Don't get me wrong - BA will likely do well on the route. The amount of destination traffic will likely be high, and origin traffic will pretty good both in terms of people heading to LON proper and connecting past Heathrow. The time for the departure from Austin is rather nice. The kicker will be those who have policies allowing for the higher non-stop fare, but with Apple, AMD, Motorola, Samsung and a bevy of others filling out the gap, I'd expect to see a lot of use. You have to know that BA did their homework to ensure there were enough passengers to make it worthwhile, else they'd have started it 3x/weekly.
     

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