Stepping Up My Game

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by family4travel, Oct 7, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. family4travel

    family4travel New Member

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    I have been a very casual points earner for several years, but I am ready to start stepping it up with a better strategy. My goals are pretty strait forward. I have a young family, so easy domestic travel is the most appealing. We take a road trip twice a year to grandparents and stay at an Embassy Suites. Also, my wife and I like to splurge on one night in a 5 star hotel for our anniversary each year. She loves the Mandarin Oriental, but I know others may fit better into a points strategy.

    Goals:
    1) 4 nights at at Hilton property each year
    2) One night at a 5 Star each year
    3) Domestic family vacations as we can earn the points

    We do not spend a ton of cash on travel or eating out. Our main expenses are grocery, gas and bills. I currently have a Hilton AMEX and AMEX Every Day Preferred. The sign up bonuses for these were earned several years ago and my points accounts are pretty depleted.

    I would like to take advantage of some sign up bonuses to re stock points, and consider gaining points it other programs. For a while, I considered going with cash back cards, but now I am thinking about grabbing the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the bonus and $300 credits which I am spending every year anyway.

    There you have it! Any thoughts on matching the best programs to my goals?
     
  2. Wandering Aramean
    Original Member

    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    CSR is great if you spend on travel/dining (and the bonus, of course). But if your spend is in "normal" categories I'd consider a cheaper cash-back card based on your description of your spending habits. And keep spending on the HH card, too, for covering your visit to grandma's house.
     
  3. family4travel

    family4travel New Member

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    So are you saying that I would get more value out of a strait cash back card in the grocery/gas categories that I would out of a rewards program card? That was my initial plan, but all the travel blogs made me feel like I would be missing out.
     
  4. Canarsie
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    Canarsie Gold Member

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    Of course they would. That is by design, as most of them earn commissions on those credit cards if you apply through one of their links and are accepted.

    Don’t fall into that trap. Choose the credit card which fits best with your strategy. Do not overextend yourself or be enticed by benefits which you might not otherwise use.
     
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  5. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    For what you've described as your spend and travel patterns I think you very well might. The 1.5% back for travel redemption paying your bill from CSR is a pretty good deal but if that's your main redemption then it is an expensive 1.5% cash back card. Even with the $300 travel credit bringing the annual fee down.

    Your desired redemption doesn't really fit with traditional loyalty programs so it doesn't matter if those are "better" cards as they won't necessarily work for you. Grab a new hotel card once a year (cycle through the programs) and get the sign-on bonus for your one fun night away. But wait until closer to the redemption point so you don't have a ton of applications all at once or too much minimum spend or risk points expiry.

    Remember that most of the travel blogs get paid by getting you to sign up for more cards so that's always going to be the default recommendation.
     
    family4travel likes this.
  6. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Another benefit of fee free cash back (and there are some that give 2% back directly - like Fidelity) cards is that you don't have to worry that the "currency" will suddenly be devalued by 50 or 100 % :)
    Another advantage is that you are not tied to a particular hotel program and could even use your "points" (eg cash back) to stay anywhere you want even (heaven forbid ;) ) even airbnb which could be a greater value for a family.
    The one thing about Sapphire, though, is that if you get it now you could get $600 credit (300 this year, 300 next) which would cover the cost - but only for 1 year.
     
  7. Zomby Woof

    Zomby Woof Silver Member

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    You could grab 40K Hilton points with the sign up bonus for the no-fee Citi Hilton card.
     
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  8. satman40

    satman40 Gold Member

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    We received 100,000 k from Amex, $95.00 fee,

    I have the Citi also gives you 8, and the Amex 12, but we only use them at Hilton properties,

    I have a free night a Hilton from Citi, and 75,00 sign up bonus. $95.00 fee.

    I think the new offer no fee is 50k

    The game keeps changing..SPG gives me more bank for my buck..and INK.
     
  9. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Your goals are clearly defined. You know what you have been spending, and to a large extent want more of the same. Figure out how much money spending points would save, and compare (including acquisition costs) vs cash back alternatives. For a lot of what you are mentioning cash is very attractive.
     
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