Strategy to get 1 free Intl 1st class a year??

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by walke219, Sep 3, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    Hello all.. the site is great. Lots of excellent advice.

    First off, I do not travel for business. I am looking to make the most of my travel points to get roughly one international trip a year for me and my financee. We are avid travelers and would love to turn rewards into about one week long international trip a year. First class flight would be a huge plus, and the big priority. Hotels are less of a priority, but if we can't get first class each, coach with hotels for the week would be great..

    We are not big spenders yearly in any particular category, we spend roughly a couple grand a month. We will be looking to buy a home in 4 - 5 years, so I dont want to hurt our credit with over churning for a few trips. I don't mind getting a couple new ones a year though. We both do have >700 scores.

    My thought was to start with a Chase Sapphire each. so that gets us 80.000 miles.
    We are getting married in Hawaii in February, so we can get some pretty good points from that. We will be spending around 14k on that. so I am going to try to figure how to make the most out of those points. We have flights, a large dinner (sapphire 2x) and various other rentals and expenses.


    Then the first trip we would like to take is in June, 2013 to Santorini, Greece. So we have almost a year to get points. No real hotel chains there, so for the purposes of the next year, airline miles are what we want.

    Any suggestions on maximizing points to get a free flight for us or hopefully first class??
     
  2. michael21

    michael21 Silver Member

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    If you or anyone you know has ultimate rewards points, I would open a united mileage account and have then send you 1000 points. You should then see an offer for 50-65k points with only $1000 spend!
     
  3. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    So I haven't gotten the Sapphire yet, but I have had a Chase Freedom for years. I have had Ultimate Rewards for years also. So If I open a United account, I send points to it, then what is the 50k points offer? Is it another credit card? United?
     
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  4. olmangsr

    olmangsr Silver Member

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    If you wanna be careful with your credit score just apply for two chase cars(spahire/united) one the SAME day.thats only one hard pull plus if you get denied for one of them you can call the reconsideration line and easly explan why you need both since they are very different cards as for reward earnings...If you don't mind another pull maybe go for an SPG card of course only if you can meet the spending requirement in time for the honeymoon.
    It's hard to get round trip first class tickets plus hotel with only 2-3 cards for a week European vacay(or actiolly with the bonuses right now closer to impossible) so you'd have to compromise...
    In my opionon just be realistic,go for business class tickets and pay for your hotel!

    As for the united card yes open a mileage plus account,top it up with up with a couple of miles and you should see a way better offer than the 40k(25 for first use and 15 after whatever). I got mine with 50 k for first use and some extra for additional cards...
     
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  5. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    I believe what michael21 is talking about is the United MPExploer card. Its another Chase credit card but you need to have some miles in your UA account to get this offer which is.
    • 50k after $1,000 in 3M
    • 5k after adding an authorized user.
    • 10k after spending $25k (most ppl ignore this one)
    The way to quickly have miles in your UA account is to transfer them via the UR mall, but that can only be done via Saphire Preferred or Ink Bold(Plus too maybe?). And since UR points can be freely transfered between UR account he's suggesting that if you know someone with a CSP or an Ink; that you send them 1000UR points and then that person transfer's that to your UA account.


    F to Europe via UA is 270k UA miles for 2 ppl. AA is 250k for 2 ppl (both via saver) That's quite a bit of miles ... but I think the quick way is for each of you to do the 2 Citi AA trick. That'll pull in 200k (which happens to be enough for Bus Class FYI) and then either fly a bit or put all your spending on the AA cards to get to 50k.
    Or get the SPG card with 25k bonus and transfer all those SPG into AA miles. 25k SPG = 30k AA miles.
    Thus with 2 hard pulls (but 3 credit cards) each you can get F to Europe.
     
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  6. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

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    Not really. F seats tend to be in high demand during the summer. Many people try and book many months out (up to 11) in order to get flights. Even then, the flights may not be available. For example, I am trying to get a return flight from CDG to LAX for the later part of July. On AA, the problem is that you basically need to go through LHR. BA has not released ANY award seats for CDG - LHR for any date after 18 July. The AA "direct" flights, for the few days they are available, from CDG have a unique routing: CDG - MIA - JFK - LAX. UA is no better. Very spotty availability at best (and forget about LH until a week or two before the flight).

    Yes, the airlines will, at some point in time, open up more seats.........but you never know when.
     
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  7. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Exactly. You might have to spend more time on airplanes to get where you want, how you want.

    For example I'm trying to get to BKK/SGN this xmas/ny & most routes i've found HAVE to go through Europe to get B class else I'm in a 12+h layover in china.
     
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  8. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    Ok. So I am pretty naive about this all but all I know is what I see online from pictures.

    It looks like most business class (including united) has bigger seats that recline fully and then the services (food) the same as first class where first has the pod type setup. Other than this is there any difference between first and business?

    What is the point difference on the flights you guys mentioned? Is it way easier to get a couple business class tickets with some points left over?

    I would agree. I would rather get the flights free or highly reduced in cost and pay for the hotel. It's because we dot travel frequently enough to really get both. We can afford most trips we want to take but it would be nice to get a business/first we otherwise wouldnt get.

    Thoughts??

    How many points am I looking at for a couple business tickets to Europe? And is there an airline that has the best business class?

    You guys are a whole lot of help!

    Also I'm out of Detroit dtw.
     
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  9. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    What flights?


    Here are links to the award charts, so that you can see the difference in the amount of points needed.
    AA - http://www.aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/redeemMiles/main.jsp?from=Nav
    UA - http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/mileageplus/awards/travel/awardTravel.aspx
    DL - http://dmn.delta.com/skymiles/direct/charts/index.shtml


    And I think asking what airline has the best B class is kinda like asking which NBA/NFL team is best. It is highly dependent upon who you are, where you're going, where you're from etc. That being said, from what i've read/seen SQ & Emirates flights are highly sought after.

    I think you should really focus on finding avialability to get where you want, when you want; instead of finding the "best" bus class.
     
  10. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    Welcome to Milepoint. Most airlines first class seats are bigger and are more comfortable than business. There is also a considerable difference in food and amenities from business to first. I personally like British Airways to Europe. Chase has a BA credit card that sometimes has a 100,000 mile bonus after sign up and a certain amount of spend. I don't know if it is available now. One great benefit of the card is that if you spend $30,000 or more within a year, you get to redeem points in any class of service and you will get a second ticket in that same class of service for free. American Express is also a transfer partner to BA and sometimes they run specials offering bonus miles upon transfer. There is a fuel surcharge using BA miles, but if you do the two for one it is well worth it for business or first.
     
  11. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    I just googled Santorini and it look like you HAVE to use UA to get there.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santorini_(Thira)_National_Airport

    Looking at that list *A looks to have the only award flights with.
    • Aegean
    • Scandinavian Airlines
    • Edwelweiss (via Swiss)
    I dont see any OW
     
  12. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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    This simply isn't true:
    • You can connect through Finland on Finnair
    • You can connect through Spain on Iberia
    • You can connect through Germany on airberlin
    • You can connect through Jordan on Royal Jordanian
    • You can connect through multiple countries on American Airlines
    or, you can connect through London on British Airways.

    Many choices.

    Another option is to buy economy, then use miles+copay (or sometimes just miles) for the upgrade. Depending on the flight it can be less than buying up to the class of service you want, even if you have to buy the miles (this was the case for us to Hawaii).
     
  13. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    I guess when I said Santorini I should have just used Athens. I would want the flight to Athens, then I can handle whatever connection from there (we would like to stay in Athens at least a night anyways).

    It seems that the business is much more attainable at a "1 per year for each of us" clip. I just don't see us being able to muster 250,000 miles a year (UA) on only a couple cards each.

    Any insight on what the "saver" vs "standard" award is on UA? Also what is the "Add xx,xxx miles for first class when both are available" mean?

    Im assuming it means that all the quotes are for business class, then you must add on the extra miles to upgrade to first.

    IE 100,000 miles for a saver award (business) , 135,000 for a saver (first)

    100.000 each per year seems very do able with only opening two cards a year and not having any spending issues to gain more miles...
     
  14. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Saver = capacity controlled, limited availability.
    Stnd = Normal, more inventory therefore a lot easier to get.

    And yes exactly. Some airlines only have 2 classes, but some have 3. Thus if you want in on F class; you take B + the upcharge.
     
  15. Singapore Flyer

    Singapore Flyer Silver Member

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    As for Hotels, there is a gorgeous Starwood property : http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=1288 that is a Cat 6. If you sign up for two SPG cards and hit the spends, you'll have 3-3.5 nights in the bag from the beginning. If you can earn enough for a 4th night, then the 5th night is free within the SPG program. There is always a cat 7 one too. http://www.starwoodhotels.com/luxury/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=3022
     
  16. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    Well this is another angle that may be promising... what SPG card(s) are you quoting I saw 30,000 from an AMEX? I am seeing that there is a 20,000-25,000 per night points for the Cat 6. On the high end, 75,000 for 3 nights. So with 2 we would only have 60,000.

    Why this route may be the best is because if we don't care about 1st or business class:

    Each open Sapphire: 40,000 pts x 2 = 80,000 then we may be able to get to 110,000 total (effective 1 free ticket)
    Each open SPG and get 30,000 pts x 2 = 60,000 then spend enough to get to 100,000.

    It seems like that way we run the risk of getting neither free.

    Given that there are two of us, I think making sure our points work together is key. The other issue is that we would like to get the most for our combined spending too. SPG doesn't seem to give you much. 1 for 1.... and at 60,000 we would need to spend $40,000 to make it happen.
     
  17. Mike Reed

    Mike Reed Gold Member

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  18. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    From other reading, the cash and points option does have limited availability and "blackouts", correct? If that is the case it seems like we could get a couple nights then pay 8,000 +$150 and still get the 5th night free?
     
  19. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    put in my dates and it said "points+$$" not available for dates selected
     
  20. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    To me, ultimate rewards mall seems like the best way to get points, given that they have things like 30x gift cards now and then...

    We don't use cards for business, just personal expenses, and being young we don't spend all that much. The only way this works, I think, is by a good bonus to sign up (not exceeding 1-2 new cards each) and having something like the UR mall to get heavy bonuses on purchases.
     
  21. Singapore Flyer

    Singapore Flyer Silver Member

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    Be careful on the 30x stuff. Not all gift card purchases are created equal. Definitely check out Frequent Miler's blog for the latest and greatest deals. You need multiple Chase cards to leverage that to the fullest, but a Freedom and CSP, is good enough.

     
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  22. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    Today is hte last day to get the 30k SPG bonus & you have to spend $5,000 to get the 30k. Thus if both of you get it; you'll get 70k SPG. So that's almost 3 nights free.


    no 5th night free is for using points on 4 nights, then 5th is free. & you're correct in terms of blackouts.

    On another note; since you say Athens would be where you want; each doing the 2 Citi card trick will get you bus to Athens. I saw quite a few dates available in June for AA bus class.
     
  23. deant
    Original Member

    deant Milepoint Guide

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    One other point that others have not mentioned is your credit score. You say it is ">700". Does that mean 710 or 790? It makes a big difference relative to how much / if you can play the CC game. If the credit scores are in the low 700 range, I could concentrate on getting my credit score up before I got into credit cards.
     
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  24. walke219

    walke219 Member

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    At last check 769 and 787 for us. I think that's decent, but like I said, in a few years we will be looking into buying a home (4-5) so I don't want to get too heavy into the credit cards yet.
     
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  25. edekba

    edekba Gold Member

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    4 - 5 years is plenty of time to get new credit cards w/o hurting your score; in fact it might increase it via increased CL.
     
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