Need Help Getting Started

Discussion in 'Other Credit Card Programs' started by juukx, Oct 20, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. Hi,

    I'm completely new to the mileage game. I'm looking for a good combination of cards to start using. I'm going to Israel with Continental this New Year's Eve so I want to maximize my situation. I was wondering if anyone could give me feedback on what I've come up with so far. I'm interested in Miles. I would like the maximum amount of miles from 2 credit cards to use for a future international flight.

    The Continental Onepass Plus card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card seem to be a good combination. The 30k bonus miles I'll get from continental and the 50k bonus from sapphire preferred, from my understanding, can combine for 80k in miles. On top of that, the Sapphire's fee is waived the first year and it has no foreign transaction fees. The bonuses seem to make it worth it.

    I'm interested in suggestions of cards, whether the two cards I found have any compatibility issues (ie transferring miles across to the onepass account, or the fact that they are both Chase), and any other tips/advice/suggestions that a newbie needs. I only picked the Continental Onepass Plus because of my upcoming flight that can be added to it.
     
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  2. wombat18
    Original Member

    wombat18 Silver Member

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    Welcome aboard! I think you've got two good choices there, although others may have different recommendations, too.

    You've got the right idea - thinking about maximizing your initial bonus, thinking about what will work with your travel plans (eg. do you value free first bag checking on CO, do you value no foreign transaction fees, etc.), as well as thinking about how you want to spend those miles (eg. international flights ... but where: cross - pacific or cross- atlantic?).

    I might also suggest you investigate an American Express Platinum card - it is expensive annually, but you get $200 rebated on airline expenses (not airfares) for one airline (eg. Continental - ticket change fees, baggage fees, onboard purchases, lounge daypasses, etc.) I like the lounge access features of the Platinum card, as well as the optional medical insurance policy they offer. Plus, they are pretty inventive for features that frequent fliers like (eg. TripIt Pro).

    Happy travels - it only gets better!
     
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  3. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint juukx!

    I'd recommend you sign up for the citi AA amex and citi AA visa cards with the 50k bonuses right now (down from 75k each or even 100k each at one point, but still good). You can't apply for 2 chase cards within the same day (or at least it very unlikely) so I'd say go for the 50k Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink...I'd say the preferred because of the 2 points per dollar on travel and dining and no foreign transaction fees. Then I'd add in a starwood preferred at their current 25k point bonus level ($5000 in spend, not $15k like in the past).

    Also, start following frugaltravelguy's blog, who gives some really good credit card advice and check out some of my other favorites viewfromthewing, onemileatatime, and thepointsguy as well

    Good luck and enjoy your stay!
     
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  4. Espan

    Espan Silver Member

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    if you tend to use Marriott or Hilton or Hyatt brands, there are also very good branded cards w/ big sign-up bonuses for each of the three. Chase Marriott w/ 70,000 points, a free night a year, no foreign fee and fee waived for first year is pretty good...
     
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  5. The most likely trip I will be using these miles for is to Japan. It's coming up in the relatively near future and by far the most expensive one. I should be going to Ireland within a year but the costs aren't nearly as high.

    That's another question I had but I didn't know if I should ask here. I have traditionally used employee standby(when available)/trip advisor selections for flights. Picking one long-term airline comes off daunting and potentially regretful. Also, I've only flown CO once and it was a short flight. The main reasons I picked them is because they are my upcoming international flight airline and they seem to have the best flexibility when it came to options (Sapphire preferred card 1:1, Star Alliance, etc). Are there better airlines I should invest my miles with or is CO right up there with Frontier, AA, etc?

    Thanks for the suggestions. I have some questions though. The citi AA cards each say 30k in bonus instead of 50k. That would equal 60k in miles while I could still get 80k from Continental. The one-way award redemption is the same amount for both airlines so that would make it less value. Am I missing how to get 50k from each or did I just miss out on a great deal?

    I was thinking that I could apply for the Sapphire Preferred now, then apply for the Continental in December. I know that I probably won't receive the physical card before my trip on the 26th but I was planning on only using the Sapphire anyway. The Onepass plus would only be fore the initial 25k bonus. Would that still work with chase or does it need to be longer than 1 month? I keep hearing about the starwood preferred. I understand the 5k bonus and that it is highly versatile. I also heard that there is a diluted 2:1 transfer of their points to United/Continental. I could use this with the citi AA card offers but I am wary of immediately starting off with 3 reward cards. If I were to do that, I would need to delay obtaining one of them to become used to the first two and keeping track. Any thoughts or advice on the starwood in relation to AA/CO?

    Thanks for the suggestion Espan! I don't know if I want to collect hotel points just yet, but it sounds tempting with the 70k point bonus and no foreign transaction fee. How does that translate into nights?

    Thanks everyone for the replies. I've really needed to hear from people that know what they're doing.
     
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  6. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    Citi 50k cards: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/milesbuzz/1262549-citi-aa-100-off-50k-companion-cert-targeted.html
    Onepass plus card: it's highly YMMV but I've had no problem doing them 30-60 days between eachother. In some cases you may have to call back to get credit shifted around. I'd actually hold out for the 60k United card if/when it finally comes out instead.
    Starwood: Here's a list of all of starwood's transfer partners (http://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/account/starpoints/transfer/airline_partner_list.html)

    What's your spending like...will you have any trouble meeting the spend limits to get the bonus miles?
     
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  7. yaychemistry

    yaychemistry Silver Member

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    For international trips it's best to have airline branded cards (such as CO or AA). Or a card which can transfer points into airline miles (The Chase Sapphire Preferred is great for this, and it's 50k sign-up bonus is great). For a flight to Japan on United/Continental you're going to need 65k miles in economy (on CO/UA or a *A partner).
    If you're flying CO to Israel on a mileage-earning ticket round trip that should give you in the neighborhood of 10k miles or more (I assume that you're flying out of the US). So between that and the Chase Sapphire bonus you will be fairly close to that Japan award.

    It's worth checking out the bonus for the Citibank AA cards. You can do the two-browser trick to sign up for the Visa and the MC at the same time and get both bonuses. I'm not sure about AA's redemption levels, but I would guess that will get you enough miles to fly to Japan on AA or a oneworld partner.

    CO is a good airline with a fairly decent mileage program. In case you're not already aware, they have merged with United (UA) and sometime in 2012 the CO brandname will disappear. IMHO it's just as good as the other mileage programs (DL, AA). I'm not sure about Frontier, but from what I remember they don't have international awards.

    Normally I would hang on to the card until right before the annual fee is due instead of canceling right away (just make sure you don't forget). I've heard stories of the credit card companies taking back miles if you cancel too soon.

    I like your strategy of getting the 50k with the Sapphire Preferred. Keep in mind that it requires you to spend $3,000 within the first 3 months of opening the card to qualify for the bonus (and thus it will probably take 4 months for the bonus to show up on your statement).

    As JohnDeere19 noted, there are rumors that a higher bonus will appear for United card. So when you're ready to apply for the OnePass Plus card I would check to make sure that the United card doesn't have a better sign-up bonus.
     
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  8. Thanks for the tip on the 60k. It sounds worth holding out. 25k + my israel miles does not equal 60k. It said the transfer on there is 2:1.. That stinks in relation to United/CO since I hear such good things about that card.

    I wouldn't have a problem with one of the citi/chase cards but having two would be a problem. Does it change anything if I'm doing this in conjunction with my girlfriend, since we have similar finances and live together? We are both going to get a card combination and aim for that trip to Japan.

    I appreciate your input on this. In respect to the Citi AA cards, I am concerned that I wouldn't be able to spend 6k in 4 months. I would end up searching for items to buy since I live a relatively frugal life. I checked the mileage comparison, with the help of people on here, and found that AA and CO have near identical redemption charts. Thanks for the tip on cancellation. I was wondering whether it mattered how soon after the bonus miles you cancel.

    So if I have this straight,

    Citi AA/SPG - 130k total miles, $6k over 4 months, then 5k over 6months. It'd take one year. The main drawback is spending 6k in 4 months. Also, it's three cards. I could do it but I would have to pay for family and friends purchases.

    Chase SP/United or CO - 80k-110k total miles, $3k over 3 months, then first purchase with airline card. The biggest drawback with this is the 60k bonus never coming out. Is there any knowledge on the likelihood? Is there a third card connected to CO/United that is worth looking into? If I am to compare 3 cards with AA, I might as well do the same with CO. I know that United and CO each have their own card right now but that would make three chase cards, which i know chase doesn't like.
     
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  9. JohnDeere19
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    JohnDeere19 Gold Member

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    There are ways to spend that 6k. Pull forward purchases that you'd normally pay off monthly, buy restaurant and other gift certificates that you plan on using anyway, etc. I'd highly recommend that if you choose to do citi cards, you do both because if you only do 1, then you won't be eligible for a bonus on the other for 18+ months (YMMV on the length of time you'll be eligible for another bonus/be considered a "new customer"). If you're doing it with your girlfriend, just ensure that you clear cookies, use the two browser trick, and possibly even use 2 different computers to ensure you each get 2x citi cards. Otherwise, there shouldn't be any issues that I can think of.

    The Starwood card isn't good for transferring to CO/UA but it is for US and AA (who often times will have transfer bonuses as well).
     
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