UA MileagePlus and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Visa: The Loyalty Game’s One-Stop Shop

Discussion in 'United Airlines | MileagePlus' started by NYCUA1K, Sep 30, 2016.  |  Print Topic

  1. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Prior to my applying for the new and exciting Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) visa, I had only applied for 1 credit card in 24 months, and even then the application was a trade of sort because I had canceled the HH Citi Reserve visa due to some shenanigans to acquire the no-fee HH Citi visa instead. This means that I am generally immune to getting excited about loyalty cards no matter how much they are hyped (viz. the much touted Citi Prestige card, which elicited only a big yawn)…that is until the CSR was launched!

    The reason I was excited by the CSR more than I have ever been by any loyalty card is that it immediately dawned on me that the CSR and UA MileagePlus in combination would make playing the loyalty game for me a one-stop shop, and the thinking went something like this:
    • I would purchase all my tickets with the CSR at united.com and get 3 URs/$, which would go into my CSR account.
    • In addition, all my everyday spend would be charged to the CSR [* see addendum below for a caveat], which would earn me yearly loads of additional URs, especial since “travel” and “dining”, which earn 3URs/$, were broadly defined (**see footnotes). For instance, all my many, many taxicab rides in NYC would now be considered “travel” and would thus earn me 3 URs/$. I know this because here’s an entry in my CSR account for a taxi ride:
    Rewards earned with this transaction
    + 3 Points per $1 earned on travel: 35.28
    Also, I purchase a metro card for unlimited rides each month for $117.50, which is also payroll tax-deferred as a “commuter tax”! This will contribute $117.50 *3 = 353 URs/month or 4230 URs/yr, steadily by simply doing what I would have done anyway.

    [*] Addendum: another way the CSR and UA MileagePlus in combination can really rock is for those who also carry the Chase United Club card, which earns 1.5 UA miles/$ on general spend, to pair it with the CSR! That the UC card earns 1.5 UA miles/$ on all non-UA purchases had skipped my mind until a poster asked below why I would not get a card that earns more than 1point/$ on general spend to avoid leaving points on the table. To me that was not a good enough reason to get yet another card because my non-bonused spend amounts to chump change. However, since I already had the UC card, why not pair it with the CSR to have it "mop up" my chump change and convert it to UA miles at 1.5/$, without having to get another card?
    upload_2016-10-20_22-24-41.png
    • At the same time, the airline tickets that I would purchase with the CSR, which would already have earned me 3 URs/$, would lead to actual flights, mainly on UA and mostly to intl destinations, which would earn me loads of UA flight (redeemable) miles, just like I am earning now.
    • On the redemption side, I would continue to redeem most my flights using only UA miles as I do now, leaving my URs to build up and accumulate in my CSR account for a whole year.
    • Because I would have loads of URs when I get ready to redeem, and URs transfer to, among other programs, Marriott Rewards points and HGP points, I would be able to top off those accounts to redeem stays where previously I have had to purchase points! Some may ask: “How about your #1 program, Hilton HHonors?” I don’t care about that. HH points are so easy to earn loads of, I have never needed to top off that account as I have my MR or HGP account, in which I do not earn significant points, but like to redeem points for stays at their hotels when that would give me better monetary value than HH or I travel to a city that does not have a Hilton presence (e.g. there are no Hilton hotels in Ho Chi Minh City or in Siem Reap, one of my favorite destinations, but there is a great Park Hyatt in each of those cities).
    • And, la piece de resistance is that for some of my travel within Asia, I would be able to redeem premium tickets on SQ with my URs as a Krisflyer member [just signed up after getting the CSR!], completely bypassing UA, through which getting award tickets on SQ has become so useless I have not flown with this great *A carrier in the last 2-3 years while in SE Asia. TG, which ain’t bad, has been it!
    • Of course, there will also be the option to redeem UR points directly for airline tickets (UA, SQ, etc) or hotel stays as "cash", which may even be better because I would get a redemption value of 1.5 cents/point, and because it is a "cash" transaction, I would also earn both elite-qualifying and redeemable hotel loyalty points or airline miles!!!
    Because of the preceding, I've dropped the number of credit cards in my wallet from 11 [all of which I once memorably left and lost in a cab at HKG] to just 3, after being approved for the CSR: [1] The CSR for virtually everything but paying for stays at HH or MR hotels; [2] my Chase ATM card for quick cash; and [3] the Business Platinum Card from American Express just in case I need, e.g. facetiously, to purchase a “Dutch Master” painting at an auction and I need more dough than I would have in any of my visa accounts ;) [the AMEX Biz Plat has no set spending limit, although I am sure there is one that’s known only to AMEX.]

    upload_2016-9-30_18-20-17.png

    Already, I have accumulated 120K UR points in my CSR account [I never before had a card that earned UR points], which include the 100K signup bonus and the spend that I have charged to it so far. And to meet the CSR’s minimum spend, I purchased for just under $4k, a United GlobalFirst ticket [LGA-ORD-PVG/HKG-ORD-LGA] for my upcoming Year-end Asian Escapade(tm) [click to see the "anatomy" of that now annual event], which will not only get me the PQMs and PQDs I need to requalify my 1K status, but will also earn me 47,311 United flight or redeemable miles. So, in support of my model, I have ALREADY earned for the same spend on the CSR about 20K URs and 47K UA flight miles…in one month!

    Who needs multiple loyalty cards when one can accomplish so much with just one card, a transferable points currency and the "right" loyalty programs?!

    **Spend Categories that earn 3x URs/$ as defined by Chase:
    Travel - Merchants in the travel category include airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges and highways, and parking lots and garages. Exclusions: Please note that some merchants that provide transportation and travel-related services are not included in this category; for example, real estate agents, websites or owners that rent vacation properties, in-flight goods and services, on-board cruise line goods and services, sightseeing activities, tourist attractions, merchants within airports, and merchants that rent vehicles for the purpose of hauling. In addition, the purchasing of points or miles does not qualify in this category.

    Dining - Merchants in the restaurants category are merchants whose primary business is sit-down or eat-in dining, including fast food restaurants as well as fine dining establishments. Exclusions: Please note that some merchants that sell food and drinks located within larger merchants such as sports stadiums, hotels and casinos, theme parks, grocery and department stores will not be included in this category unless the merchant has set up such purchases to be classified in a restaurant category.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016 at 9:50 PM
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  2. PaulOnion

    PaulOnion Silver Member

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    Lol. You folks are so nuts. The Epitome of a Bygone Era. WTF are you talking about? How did any of you ever even get a passing grade in any Econ class that was ever required for your degrees?

    As far as picking a team and staying with THAT team, yes I agree. All the other stuff about how this is easy and that is easy. Just Lip Service. Truth is the "game" has become so corrupt to even call it a "game" at this point is ludicrous. Be happy if you get any return whatsoever. Sort of like Savings rates under Obama.

    Why would we need Capital Warren? Don't you have all the corn syrup we'd ever need?
     
  3. PaulOnion

    PaulOnion Silver Member

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    Clintonian Economist " Yes we understand the construct and behavior of markets built upon supply side theories. Wait a second is that Kanye over there? I hear he and Kato Kaelan are thinking about doing a remake of West Side story with Kim's right butt cheek starring as Maria and her left as Officer Cupcake. What was the question?
     
  4. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Awesome contributions, PaulOnion. Make InsideFlyer Great Again!

    NYCUA1K - I got the CSR as well, and it will likely see the bulk of my spend going forward. Groceries and Home Improvement charges will go on the UA Select card for 2X but I need to evaluate whether it is worth keeping it. I suppose the 5k RDM pay for the annual fee.
     
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  5. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Paul Onion, explains your cynicism, for which I have only one answer: This is WTF I am talking about, which has gotten rewarding and more sophisticated as we've gotten more skilled at playing "the game." I am betting that what I outlined in this thread will make it even better. Stay tuned. I will report how it all works out right here, rather than in the Onion, to preserve the dignity of the "game.";)
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
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  6. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    LOL. Can't say he's not trying!

    There are folks who got denied the CSR by Chase due to being over "5/24", who would say "What? Is he nuts" if they hear that someone is actually not sure whether they should keep the CSR. ;)

    I suspect that you'll be pleased in the end and decide to keep it because, first of all the steep annual fee begins to pay for itself after one gets the $300 Annual Travel Credit, and then there will be the high return in URs from spend on "travel" and "dining", which are so broadly defined most stuff that you do everyday would bring in points. You won't have to really do much. Just put all the "dining" and "travel" spend on the CSR and forget about it until you are ready to redeem, for which you'll have many options considering how many partner currencies URs transfer 1:1 to or you could use them just like cash. It is an even better strategy if you put all the unbonused spend on another card that earns more points as you are planning.

    Curious to know how you decide!
     
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  7. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    Pretty sure I will keep the CSR as long as the benefits don't change materially, which they won't in the near term. Need to think about the role of the Select card in my "fleet", however. It will no longer get my UA. Not a urgent decision, though.
     
  8. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    I think that's a sound caveat about how long the CSR perks are likely to continue being offered. The benefits are too "lucrative" for them to last or be sustainable. A recent example of what is likely to happen is the Citi Prestige card, which has discontinued so many of the perks it originally offered it's become a $450 dud in the wallets of those who got it. I just hope that the CSR perks will last a bit longer than did the Citi Prestige's.
     
    Last edited: Oct 4, 2016
  9. theBOAT
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    theBOAT Silver Member

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    I'm struggling with this decision, too. The only reason it's still around is the annual bonus & ability to earn EQM's (up to 5k/year per cardmember) on UA.com spend... Of course, as I type this, I bought a ticket for UA travel on my CSR yesterday...
     
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  10. Misplaced Texan
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    Misplaced Texan Gold Member

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    Did you mean to post this to your blog?

    Or is this some kind of audition piece to get hired to write for Boarding Area?

    If so, top marks!


    Sent from my iPad using InsideFlyer mobile app
     
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  11. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Wow! That's an awfully nice thing to say. Thank you! :)

    I have no blog. IF is it!

    As for this being "some kind of audition piece to get hired to write for Boarding Area", I am not looking for such a gig, and I doubt that I would fit in because I disagree with practically everything that now collectively passes for established travel/loyalty blogosphere dogma or wisdom. I prefer to remain a "rebel with a cause", which is to offer different perspectives as I just did here, or perspectives that would spur (putting euphemistically) "reexamination" of much of the wisdom or dogma that has permeated the travel blogosphere echo chamber. ;)

    Cheers, mate!
     
  12. qofmiwok

    qofmiwok Active Member

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    I still don't get why you're putting non-bonused spend on it for 1x when you could be getting 1.5UR with a no-fee Freedom Unlimited. Makes no sense.
     
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  13. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Maybe it makes no sense for your circumstances, but it makes plenty for mine and the reason are the broadly defined categories of travel and dining [look at the footnotes in the op], which include a wealth of activities I engage in substantially. I am not much of a general shopper otherwise. The alternative that makes sense to you, namely, to get yet another Chase card that earns 1.5 UR/$ on general spend is thus a bit silly for me because my non-bonused spend does not amount to much, so that it would earn me mostly small change anyway. Fortunately the Chase UR account has a helpful display that makes my point:

    upload_2016-10-20_17-23-34.png

    I earned nearly 90% of my UR points since the last statement [a couple of weeks ago] at the rate of 3/$, and that's with limited spend on dining and the largest spend being on items that would earn no bonus on any card (e.g., $465 transferred by MoneyGram). The display above would therefore not have changed much even if I had that other card. For the prior statement period when I booked my last travels of the year, my UR points earned through un-bonused spend amounted to less than 3% of total. Why bother with another card? Things will work out great for me because in the past I did very well when the most I earned on any card were 2 miles/$ and only at united.com on Chase UA cards! With the CSR, I get to earn 3 UR points/$ on Travel or Dining, with capital T and D because of just how broadly Chase defines those categories, which overwhelmingly represent spend activities that I engage in.

    In short, I cannot justify getting another card just to earn chump change.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  14. NYCUA1K

    NYCUA1K Gold Member

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    Actually, you might just have saved my Chase United Club card from oblivion! Rather than getting another card, I will just add a fourth card to my wallet: the Chase United Club card, which earns 1.5 UA miles/$ on all general, non-UA spend! I had forgotten all about that, but the pairing makes the CSR and UA MileagePlus an even more rewarding one-stop shop for many, not all, loyalty game players! The UC card would just "mop up" the chump change and convert it to UA miles at 1.5/$. This keeps me from having to apply for yet another card, while maximizing the rate of converting my chump change in hard currency to miles!

    4-CARD-WALLET-small.jpg

    Thank you for the question ("criticism")!
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
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