Newbie Looking for Strategy Help

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by 42levels, Aug 11, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. 42levels

    42levels New Member

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    Hi All,

    Newbie here! I have been lurking around here now for over a week but unable to find any situations kind of like mine so I thought its time to go to the pros. I’m hoping to get kind of a strategy for earning miles and points for someone who doesn’t have that excellent credit that I keep seeing on so many posts.

    I have a modest goal of maybe traveling overseas a couple of times a year, as I don’t work for myself, so only get a few weeks a year off. I would like to make it business or first class and hotels can be middle of the road or less. I am very flexible when it comes to traveling. My Current status, so you know what I’m working with is Single, live inU.S.Have a credit score average of 700 as of 8/12, so I don’t think I can qualify for the bonus CCs (just got shot down by Citi AA). I do however have a Discover Escape card which will earn me double miles on everything I buy (annual fee $60). CC churning and bonus cards won’t be an option for me unfortunately. I’m looking for a strategy for maximizing my escape card.Readingon here, I know I can pay most bills (about $1300 if I can swing the mortgage on there) on the card to get mileage and of course pay for everything else with the card (another $400 to $500) as well as pay my card in full monthly. Also read about signing up to dinning programs and using my card to get the double dip affect. I am signed up with at least 1 airline FFM on the 3 alliances and signed up with one SPG program. Given this scenario, are a couple of trips a year doable in style (at least on the plane)? I welcome any and all suggestions, including the ones saying am smoking crack cause it can’t be done lol.
     
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  2. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    A credit score of 700 while not ideal is doable.

    I would try to get something that could get your foot in the door of some of the credit card issuers. Chase freedom and/or Amex prepaid. Usually non annual fee cards have less stringent credit requirement. of course do not churn and just work off of them until your credit score increases. Then you can apply for sapphire to use those UR points you got from the freedom more effectively.

    Then of course look for the promos that they run to get some mileage. However not getting any of the big return credit cards might put a damper on your Dreams of b/f class trips, at least for a while.
     
  3. christinekenny

    christinekenny Member

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    700 may have a chance but you can always start with prepaid as edekba suggested. I need to get one more credit card. What is The credit card now?
     
  4. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    note that the amex prepaid does not work with people w/bad credit who messed up w/Amex. But more for people who has no/little credit history & has never had an Amex Card before. It was called Make Your Move ... but I cant find the official web page anymore.
     
  5. FrugalAsianMan

    FrugalAsianMan Silver Member

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    Hi 42levels,

    Welcome to the MP community! I'm pretty new here myself, but it's always good (with any forums) to see a lurker become a posting member. :)

    There's already been a solid suggestion of going the prepaid card route to build up your credit. But I think I can shed a little bit more hope for you.

    First, let's take a look at the facts that you've given us thus far:
    1. Based in the U.S., single
    2. Currently own and not renting (you mentioned a mortgage)
    3. Employed
    4. Credit score of 700 (updated 8/12)
    5. Just applied for Citi American Airlines Card but got declined
    6. Currently only have a Discover Escape Card
    7. Your normal monthly expenditure (that can be put on credit cards) is up to $1,800
    8. Your goal: a roundtrip ticket oversees to another continent along with hotel room stays, all by burning miles and paying the least amount possible
    Correct me if any of this is wrong.

    #1: Reconsideration line for Citi AA
    My first question for you would be: Have you tried calling the reconsideration line for the Citi AA card you just got declined for? Often times if you have a decent credit score, stable income, and a credit history that isn't tarnished by late payments or other red flags, you generally can call the reconsideration line and try charming your way into a CC that you may have gotten declined for initially. If you haven't tried this, I would highly recommend you start off with this option. Once you talk to the reconsideration department, you can calmly ask why you were declined. Then respond with logical reasons for each one. For example, if it's because your overall credit history is too young or because your overall credit lines are too low, then you usually can explain that you currently work full time and make $XX,XXX annually, that you've had a Discover Escape credit card for X years and that you've never made a late payment on it. Explain calmly and charismatically that you're a reliable, on-time paying consumer, and that you would very much like to become a customer of Citi.

    If they still turn you down, be sure to ask "Okay. Well, do you think there's any way I can somehow get this card? What would you advise I do?" The agent might give you options or might suggest other Citi credit cards for you to apply for. At that point, you can always thank the agent and think about any offers later on if they aren't ones that get you the card you want. Sometimes it just takes an understanding agent to change your status. The bottom line is: it never hurts to ask. And if you still get rejected, then you will at least have a stronger sense of how your current credit rating stands out for credit card companies.

    #2: Other CCs
    If the Citi AA reconsideration goes well, you may want to consider applying for two to three more credit cards in the near future. There are a number of different promotions out there for CCs that would be very viable for what your goal is. If you go this route (if #1 goes successfully), then keep in mind that the best way to get by this is to apply for the cards you want on the same day. It takes roughly 24 hours for your credit score to update, so if you apply for 2-3 cards on the same day, none of the other cards you're applying for will know you're applying for multiple cards. (Unless it's with the same cardholding company, of course. In that case, it still makes sense to apply for them all at the same time since it would count as only one inquiry on your credit score.) This option is something you can have elaborated on later if #1 goes well. I'm sure the community can suggest to you some good cards. (Or just send me a message.)


    #3: Helpful story
    One of my very close friends was recently in a very similar situation to you. Her score was roughly 700 and she only had a Bank of America credit card in her arsenal. She's simply just had a really young credit history (no late payments or any red flags), and didn't have it built up. She applied for the United Explorer Card recently (Chase actually sent targeted offers to her for the 65k bonus, even after it closed to the general public), and was initially declined. She was pretty bummed, but I convinced her to call reconsideration and talk to them. After a couple of calls, she was able to get her card approved. She just had to update them with her current salary/income and explain why her current credit lines were so small. Moral of the story: sometimes it pays to ask...and especially if you end up playing the credit card game, you'll get familiar with the whole reconsideration process.


    #4: Getting Miles other ways
    There are definitely dozens to hundreds of other ways to maximize the amount of miles and hotel points you earn. Start by looking into the Topguest program. Checking you into a Hilton Hotel with that program will get you 18,250 Hilton Honors points in a calendar year (50pts/day x 365 days). Similarly, Virgin America and Priority Club (Holiday Inn, etc.) are programs with Topguest you can get points for. It may not necessarily be enough for a full hotel night stay in a year (depends on the property you're going to), but it will definitely help top off or add to whatever you're currently doing. Also take a look at the credit card malls and also other points systems online where you can earn miles/points for purchasing through their referral links at places you may normally shop at, like walmart.com or staples.com. This part can get a little crazy as some junkies (I'll admit I've done this a few times) go completely out of their way to purchase items at sites they probably wouldn't normally use, just to score extra points. If you think it's worth it, then go for it. It's a personal judgement choice at that point.

    And of course, look into other offers like signing up for Netflix and paying only a month ($about 8) and getting 2,000 or more miles for it, depending on the program you're using it with. There are plenty of other promotional offers like this one where you don't actually have to set foot inside a hotel or airline to earn and maximize miles/points.


    I hope some of that helps you! Good luck! I'm sure some other folks here can suggest some more great ways. :)
     
  6. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    What FAM said is very true; but keep in mind Citi Reconsider dept is a stupid *** of ****.

    From my own exp and from what I've read... they're all worthless.

    Best best is to write to them and explain why you should be reconsidered and attach a credit report.
    CitiBank Executive Review Department,
    P.O. Box 6000, Sioux Falls, SD 57117.
     
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  7. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    I'm new also, and I looked into paying my rent (around $1,200) via Williampaid.com, but with the fees they charge to process the payments, it didn't seem to be a long term, financially sound way of acquiring miles on a fixed percentage card (1-2% back kinda thing). Where those things DO come in handy though, is when you've just been approved for a card and need to meet a minimum spending limit in a 3+ month period where your normal spending doesn't add up to the requirement. If you're gaining 50,000 miles by paying $35 in fees per month for the rent, then it's significantly more beneficial.

    Good luck, and don't give up. If you've got a 700 score and your debt to income isn't way out of whack, then you might have just had one bad luck app.
     
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  8. 42levels

    42levels New Member

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    Hi All again,

    Thanks so far for all the great advice and welcoming me to MP. I understand the whole thing about raising credit score but that will take time, prepaid cards won’t work because you don’t get the bonus miles which is the main reason for getting airline cards but no worries. I guess what I’m really looking for are the other ways of earning miles and points that do not include getting more cc’s and flying, at least for now until I get my score up higher. FAM, you mentioned some of the other ways and I would like to know where I can find more information on them? The FFM programs I’m currently signed up on are United, AA and Delta, one from each alliance and signed up with Starwood Preferred Guest. Thanks again for all the help.
     
  9. servo

    servo Silver Member

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    You've got to be on the hunt for deals that are outside of the airlines typically. I fly maybe 6 times a year, so I try to maximize miles by signing up for everything I can, outside of a few credit cards. For example, this was posted this morning by MLW20: 25k miles on AA for signing up with Directv. http://milepoint.com/forums/threads/earn-25-000-aadvantage-miles-with-directv.42761/

    If you're not going to be flying much and not going to sign up for cards, then you can't really afford to be picky when it comes to other bonus mile opportunities if you really want to accrue for a trip in the next few years. Be on the hunt, follow this board (I'm new to MP, and somewhat new to the "game" of flying for points/miles, but I feel like I get it more after reading this board), and a few blogs (you do need to read a bunch of them, in my opinion, and find the ones that sound as similar or offers advice that is more geared towards your situation), and you'll see the offers to take advantage of as soon as they come out. Looking back at the blog history, it looks like I missed out on a lot of good mileage deals, even without having to apply for cards.

    Also, there are some checking account offers that give you bonus miles (BankDirect - AA and SunTrust - DL). However, in order to get the hefty bonuses, you have to really use them as your main checking account, and it also helps to carry a pretty decent sized balance. This is one offer I wish I could take advantage of, but I'm pretty loyal to USAA bank.
     
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  10. IkeEsq

    IkeEsq Gold Member

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    #1 - Work on improving your credit score. I am not sure what you did or did not do for your score to be 700 but it should be your first priority to get it higher. Check out creditboards.com for lots of info on fixing your score. Your credit score can be worth a great deal, far more than some short-term mileage promotions or a trip or two to Europe.

    #2 - There are a number of non-credit card promotions out there, like US Airways Grand Slam and Radisson BigNightGiveaway. Also, many partners have promotions, be it FTD, NetFlix, DirecTV, or various insurance and energy companies.

    If you are looking at US-Europe in Business a couple of times a year, that is 200K+ miles a person. You are going to have to work pretty hard to get that kind of mileage without flying or credit cards, especially on an ongoing basis.

    Welcome to MP!

    Ike
     
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  11. sharris503

    sharris503 Silver Member

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    I think IkeEsq is spot on. The hard reality is that I don't think a couple of trips to Europe a year in business class is a realistic goal for you. Without churning credit cards or flying a lot it is hard to earn the number of miles needed. With a credit score of 700 you are right on the cusp of being able to dive in to churning. Try to bring your score up to 720 and then apply for 1 or 2 cards at a time and see what happens with your score. At 700 I'm guessing there are probably some small things you can do to raise your score. Aside from that I think the Grand Slam is probably your best bet assuming US Airways will continue to do that annually. Lucky for you I think it should be coming up soon. Check out mommypoints.com and her posts on the grand slam. You could earn enough points doing that for at least one trip in business class or two trips in coach.
     
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  12. Lufthansa Flyer
    Original Member

    Lufthansa Flyer Gold Member

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    I dont this has been mentioned, but pay attention to airline miles sales. US usually will have a couple of 50% off the cost of miles sales during the year and you can easily load up miles at 1.5 cents per mile (CPM) with 3 cpm being the border line between good and bad CPM. US is also decent for award redemption on LH, LX, AC.
     
  13. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Amex is likely to give a charge card to someone with a 650-700 credit score so long as you're at least 2 years out from any boo-boos. With a year of a charge card (green, gold, platinum), you could then get one of their other cards that suited your travel plans, of which the Starwood is possibly the best.
     
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  14. 42levels

    42levels New Member

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    Hey Ike,
    Thanks for the great link for boosting my credit score and all the great suggestions. It was at 720 but bought a house 10 months ago. I have learned a lot in my short time since I decided to get into the earn and burn travel game, thanks to all here. I’ve signed up for a few blogs to keep my eye out for the deals.
     
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  15. cennas
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    cennas Gold Member

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    Welcome to MP 42levels!
     

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