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What's the Best Airline Credit Card Deal?

Discussion in 'General Chat Forum' started by Audrey, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Audrey

    Audrey Member

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    Who's got the best deal for a credit card that gives airline miles? The APR doesn't matter, I just want the card that can earn me four tickets to Hawaii in my lifetime.
     
  2. Brassy

    Brassy Hiyah

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    We fly United a lot, and they continue to send us credit apps. Don't go with them. the interest rate is something like 17 - 21%. not worth it when our main card is 5.9% and earns us cruising points with RCCL!
     
  3. GeauxTigers

    GeauxTigers Member

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    If your goal is just to earn points as fast as possible, then I'd look for any intro specials. Often you'll see 20,000 points just for getting the card. If you and a spouse each open a card, then that will give you a huge jump. I personally use United because I fly them mostly. I agree the APR is not great, but I pay the card each month so that's irrelevant and you stated you don't care about that either.
     
  4. JLC

    JLC Member

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    We have a United Visa and a Delta American Express. The AmEx offers several double point awards: gas, groceries, and the Post Office are a few I can think of off hand.

    United has a couple as well and you can earn even more by shopping at Safeway. They also offer a little more flexibility on buying Award tickets. If they have a seat on the flight available, you can calculate how many points it'll take based on the dollar cost of the seat. It's usually more points that a true award seat, but on some flights it's hard to get that frequent flyer seat.

    For our business, we use a CitiCard which uses the Thank You Network. You can redeem your points through Expedia, which gives you a lot more airline choices. The points per ticket are a little higher, but not that much more.
     
  5. smheese

    smheese New Member

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    be careful, a lot of times you need lots more miles to travel outside the continental US. you're better off getting a low APR card, and sometimes just paying for the flights yourself. you'd have to spend a lot of money on the card in order to earn enough miles. also, not sure if some expire. from what i understand, ff miles expire unless you travel that airline at least once per year. if you're going to go with anything, be sure they don't charge an annual fee. just not worth it to get miles, and most of them will try to charge you one.

    if you are going to get one though, go with united, since their hub is here... more flight options for you.
     
  6. frm

    frm New Member

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    If you use the United card, it keeps your actual flown miles active and they won't expire. Without using the card, miles expire after three years of no activity.

    If you want to earn miles quickly, link all your expenses to the card - i.e. monthly car insurance, cabel/satellite, etc. We have everything paid for with our NCL card which we pay off each month. You're spending the same money - just running it through the card first to accrue the points/miles. We earned a Med. cruise for two in about 1 1/2 years.
     
  7. GeauxTigers

    GeauxTigers Member

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    They changed this to 18 months last year sometime as part of the many annoying changes they've made recently. This one doesn't bother me so much as the $75 fee to book a flight on miles if you are within 7 days of the flight and the increase to 50k miles for a "non-saver" award. Last week we had a family emergency and needed to get to New Orleans right away. It was going to cost us $150 plus 100k miles for my wife and I and an additional $200 to change the return date since we didn't know how long we would be down there. As we needed a car once there and were uncertain how long we'd be, we were already debating on driving so that sealed the deal for us.

    Anyhow I think shmeese's point is fairly valid that just buying the flight may end up costing less in the long run, especially if you have a long advance notice with some flexibility so you can shop for a good deal. If the goal is a trip to Hawaii, I'd expect this to be the case.
     
  8. T8erman

    T8erman Well-Known Member

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    We are flying to Hawaii in April. Roundtrip, 1st Class, ALL points (75K for each person).

    We have a Chase/United CC.
     
  9. frm

    frm New Member

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    Didn't realize that it changed to 18 months. That's not good. We are 4 people flying to Europe for free this summer - plus 2 going on a cruise for free - so it does pay off at times. BUT, I agree that at other times it's not worth it. Plus, sometimes it comes back to bite you in the tush.....

    I'll give you an example. Summer before last we were in Europe. I came home early with my one son - my husband and two other sons happened to be flying home a few days after the security/bomb scare in London (the one that caused them to say no carryons at all for several weeks). They were on frequent flier miles from London to Dulles. We bought a cheap SpanAir ticket from Spain to London - with plenty of time for the connection. The SpanAir plane was 8 hours late so they missed the United flight home. Because you are allowed NO changes on a frequent flier ticket once you start traveling, the ticket was no longer valid. SpanAir wouldn't help because they said it wasn't their fault, it was the London airport delays that caused it. United said not our fault, as it wasn't a United airline flight that arrived late to cause them to miss the plane. They ended up having to pay for a hotel at Heathrow, and after fighting all day (him in London and I was on the phone here for hours) we ended up having to buy 3 one way tickets home. $2,300 later - it certainly wasn't a cheap free ticket.

    That being said - we go every summer with 4 frequent flier tickets - and have never had any other problems. The lesson learned though is to not rely on airlines outside the Star Alliance ever!
     
  10. Pats_fan

    Pats_fan Former Resident

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    If you are eligible to join Navy Federal Credit Union I highly recommend their Flapship Rewards Visa card. You get one "point" per dollar spent, and you can redeem points for airline travel as follows:

    10,000 $150 ticket credit
    15,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $300 value
    20,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $500 value
    30,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $750 value
    40,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $1000 value
    60,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $1500 value
    100,000 Round-trip airline ticket up to $2000 value

    You can book with any airline, and completely control the flight details--you figure out what flight(s) you want to take and are charged points based on the cost of the ticket (so you are not limited to a certain number of "reward tickets" available for a particular flight or other such restrictions). You can also use the points to purchase merchandise or to get cash-back into your savings account. And the interest rate is low, too (about 8% depending on credit history).

    The $150 credit option is great because if you are taking a cheap flight from, e.g., Southwest that only costs $200 or so you can use the credit and avoid burning the extra miles. The other great thing is that if you find a ticket that costs, say, $325 you can use 15k points and pay the $25 difference and save yourself the extra points.

    We use this card for just about everything and earn at least 3-4 "$300" tickets per year. Since most of the flights we take are in the $300 +/- $50 range we basically fly free 3-4 times a year with this card. Annual fee is $49 but well-worth it considering what we get out of it. Details are at http://www.navyfcu.org/credit_cards/flagship.html
     
  11. tyger31

    tyger31 Member

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    Also with apital One Miles credit card you can use with any airline and no black outs.
     
  12. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    the capital one cash back is a better deal. The miles card essentially pays the same amount of 'points' but instead of only spending what the ticket costs, you must spend in tiers.. and the tiers are set to be more expensive then the cash value.
     
  13. tyger31

    tyger31 Member

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    I've had great luck with using Cap One for free trips...I like the fact that there are no black out dates. To each his own.
     
  14. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    Of course there is no blackout dates.. all they are doing is crediting your account.. its basically a rebate. But the rebate is limited to only airline ticket use.

    The 'miles' part of it is purely marketing. Just look at the details

    The miles card pays you 1.25 miles per dollar spent or a cash value of 1.25%

    The miles rewards are
    Up to $150 15,000 miles
    $150.01 to $350 35,000 miles
    $350.01 to $600 60,000 miles
    $600.01 and greater the price of the ticket x 100

    So to get a $200 ticket you need 35,000 points. So you'd have to spend 35,000/1.25 = $24,000 dollars

    Compare that to simple cash back rewards
    The cash rebate is 1% and a .25% percent bonus annually or 1.25% total

    Notice that's the same 'payout' as the miles card

    But now if you look at that $200 ticket you wanted, you'd only have to spend $16,000 to be able to pay for the ticket.

    The 'miles' card actually screws you in that the reward 'cost' is the TOP of the tiers.. and the rebates are limited to airline miles.

    Compare that to cash back where you can use the same exact rebate amount for your actual ticket cost, not the most expensive ticket in your ticket's cost tier, and you can use the cash back for anything.

    Most of these 'no blackout date' cards are simply masked cash back programs but with more restrictions. The Capital One cards miles and cash back cards both have the exact same rebate values - but the airline one limits what you can spend your rebates on.

    It's purely marketing
     
  15. Audrey

    Audrey Member

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    Maybe marketing, but I get cash back and never notice it, while my friends get miles and went on a vacation to Greece with free tickets that they would not have otherwise purchased. Your calculations are compelling though...maybe a BUDGET is the thing.
     
  16. Baywatch68

    Baywatch68 New Member

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    I got a Citi AA card. They gave me 25,000 for spending $750 in the first 4 months. 25,000miles (points) gets you one roundtrip domestic flight, but they do run specials (right now it's 20,000 from L.A. to Dulles). You get a mile per $ spent, but some places (listed on their site) give multiple miles per $. I use the card for about 90% of my purchases and the miles are slowly adding up.
     
  17. frm

    frm New Member

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    If you use it for money you are spending anyways (gas, food, utilities, insurance, etc) it's a good thing. If you are spending money needlessly just to accumulate miles, then you're a fool. But, if I can get free things for nothing (no annual fee, pay card off each month) why not do it? The only question is which card is best.
     
  18. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    No, its just important to compare and see what value you are actually being offered.

    - Compare the amount of 'reward' you get per spending
    - Compare if the amount varies, and if so, when (spending with partner companies vs general, etc)
    - Compare what you can exchange rewards for. Is it limited to certain partners?
    - Compare the 'cost' of exchange rewards - how much do you have to spend to get a similar reward elsewhere
    - Compare any limitations on rewards (blackout dates, must book through XYZ company, etc)


    The general scheme is typically 1-1.x% cash value is pretty common with little or no strings attached. When it gets beyond that, the 'partner' limitations may come into play.

    I think most of the cards that dump right into an existing airline account give the best return if you actually fly regularly. But they all also carry pretty high annual fees. But they are going to pump into your account and usually at a higher rate then non-affiliated cards.

    Non-affiliated cards that offer 'no blackouts', etc are generally just cash back cards in sheep's clothing. Stick to a cash back or points card with more flexibility and probably the same payout rate.
     
  19. WesGurney

    WesGurney New Member

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    A really good site to use to compare different types of credit cards is http://www.creditcard.com

    I have American Express Blue Cash which offers the cashback at the end of the year. Here are some of the details of how it works (I just took this from the application website).

    Your Rebate is awarded annually for each Rebate Year (12 consecutive billing periods). Rebate percentages for each Rebate Year are as follows:

    Year to Date Purchases $0 - $6,500 --> 1.0% on Everyday Purchases* and 0.5% on All Other Purchases
    Year to Date Purchases $6,500.01 or more --> 5.0% on Everyday Purchases* and 1.5% on All Other Purchases

    *"Everyday Purchases" are Eligible Purchases made at U.S. supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores, in each case that are not departments of superstores or warehouse clubs. "Eligible Purchases" are charges to your account for goods or services that have not been returned or otherwise credited to your account. Eligible Purchases do not include Finance Charges, fees, Cash Advances or other means of accessing your account, convenience checks, Balance Transfers, or the purchase of American Express® Travelers Cheques and American Express® Gift Cheques or other cash equivalents. Additional terms and conditions apply.
     
  20. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member Forum Staff

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    that's a pretty good deal wes... considering grocery is our #1 expense outside of loans and 1.5% is pretty good.
     

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