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rodeosweetheart
11-25-15, 10:03am
Catherine's response to my post about airline miles and credit cards was really interesting, and I wanted to move it to a new thread to give Catherine and others space to discuss this topic in general. Are credit cards for airline miles a good idea, and how exactly do they work? Are points equal to miles flown? Does anyone have one they really like?

I have heard Southwestern has a good one, but I think of the places I fly, only one might be served by that airline. I tend to fly South to visit parents and other relatives, south to Indiana to visit son, east to Maine to visit other son, and west to Oregon to visit other son.

It would be great to have some of these flights paid for by a credit card mileage point system, but I'm leery of getting into this just to get airline miles. My DIL was trying to tell me what agreat deal it was, but then it seemed they found they it wasn't as great a deal as they thought?

Any suggestions on how this works or if this works?

catherine
11-25-15, 10:23am
If I didn't travel for business, I don't think I would bother with airline miles. Takes too long to accrue them if you're only traveling now and then. But since I travel between 30k-80k miles per year, I like taking advantage of the miles I accrue. I have been able to take my entire family (7 of us) to Scotland for vacation, I sent my son to India (1st class), I've given points to other family members for domestic travel, and points have gotten my VT family down for holidays on numerous occasions. I even gave points to a woman I met on jury duty because our trial went longer than we expected and she was in danger of missing her horse show in VA unless she flew. And I've taken the occasional trip myself.

(Before I retire I want to achieve 1,000,000 miles. I have 67,000 to go)

As for using credit cards for the miles, if you can use credit responsibly and you like to travel, why not? Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity) has made a science of, and written an ebook about, travel hacking. http://chrisguillebeau.com/travel-hacking-resources

rodeosweetheart
11-25-15, 10:28am
Thanks, I will process this and look at the Guillebeau link on travel hacking!

shadowmoss
11-25-15, 10:57am
http://www.travelmiles101.com/

This is a couple of the guys from MrMoneyMustache.com who have a site dedicated to travel hacking. They have a free month-long email based course on it, which I've done (read). They also have a forum. Anything you need to know about the 'best' cards and how to work them. Most of us won't do the full on hacking that one of them does, but I'm finding that there are other ways to use the techniques.

I discovered through them this week that Kroger (and their other names in other geographical areas) were giving 4X fuel points for gift cards, and normally give 2X. Use a card that gives 2X points to buy them with and you make out twice. None of my cards give 2X points right now, but I'm thinking of getting the gift cards and using them myself.

They talk about using your reward point card to buy Visa/MC debit cards, and there is a whole roundabout way to put the money back in your account. What I learned from the discussion is that Walmart and AMEX have a thing called a BlueBird card that can work like a checking account, and you can add cash on at a kiosk in WalMart. I'm going to check this out. The advantage is that I can put money from my Southwest card on the BlueBird debit card, then use it at Costco, I hope. I need tires, and I want that large-ish outgo to get me airline points, but Costco doesn't take credit cards.

And so forth. Take what works, figure out twists that fit your life, and have fun with it.

rodeosweetheart
11-25-15, 2:28pm
Thanks, Shadowmoss, I will so look into this--very cool!

SteveinMN
11-25-15, 8:17pm
DW came into our marriage with an American Airlines Mastercard that awards FF miles based on purchases. Between purchase and actual travel, we're very close to one free lower-48 trip, but that's better than nothing considering it really didn't cost us anything to get it and that card has some other perks (purchase-price protections, etc.). Anyone investigating might want to check out the frequent-flyer program fed by the card (or use one that's universal). American just announced that their changing the way air miles apply to FF, so it's unlikely we'll ever get to an award based on miles in the future.

rodeosweetheart
11-26-15, 10:14am
DW came into our marriage with an American Airlines Mastercard that awards FF miles based on purchases. Between purchase and actual travel, we're very close to one free lower-48 trip, but that's better than nothing considering it really didn't cost us anything to get it and that card has some other perks (purchase-price protections, etc.). Anyone investigating might want to check out the frequent-flyer program fed by the card (or use one that's universal). American just announced that their changing the way air miles apply to FF, so it's unlikely we'll ever get to an award based on miles in the future.

Gosh, that doesn't sound too promising for a lot of free trips to my kids. Hmm.

catherine
11-26-15, 10:50am
Gosh, that doesn't sound too promising for a lot of free trips to my kids. Hmm.

That's what I was saying. If you are just depending on the miles you accrue from flying, it's not worth it. 1 mile=1 point. Generally speaking you would have to fly at least 25k miles to get one RT domestic flight. That's 5 RT coast-to-coast trips. The miles/points don't start accruing faster until you have reached status where then you might get 1.25 points for every 1 mile or 1.5 points, but again, that takes a lot of flying.

So the credit card points are really the only option if you're going to be a serious travel hacker. Or get a job that entails a lot of business travel.

rodeosweetheart
11-26-15, 11:25am
That's what I was saying. If you are just depending on the miles you accrue from flying, it's not worth it. 1 mile=1 point. Generally speaking you would have to fly at least 25k miles to get one RT domestic flight. That's 5 RT coast-to-coast trips. The miles/points don't start accruing faster until you have reached status where then you might get 1.25 points for every 1 mile or 1.5 points, but again, that takes a lot of flying.

So the credit card points are really the only option if you're going to be a serious travel hacker. Or get a job that entails a lot of business travel.

Okay, I think I finally get what you saying. Yeah, it's really helpful to hear how this really works. ON the other hand, if you don't have to accumulate them by the end of the year, and you were making say 5 trips a year ANYWAY--have to do the math, and thank you!

Gardnr
11-26-15, 2:40pm
We have Capital One CC. We acrue points. We can use them for flights (no blackout dates), for hotels, can "cash in" if desired or we can get merchandise. We've had this card for decades. We use it for all purchases possible. We use it for monthly utilities that will take a CC. We use it for all charitable donations. We use it for insurance bills. We use it for daily living. I don't have a P-card at work, so I use it for work and get reimbursed (maybe $1000/yr but heck, it's points!)

We are responsible spenders. We don't spend more because it's not cash (even though I've been told that's not possible-whatever). We pay the balance monthly and have for 23years (or has it been longer?)

Points don't expire.

Results: sent my Mom to Europe for $27 (there is an international fee that cannot be covered by points) for the last time she visited her family. We've flown to Hawaii twice. We've taken a week's vacation in Atlanta twice-free hotel/airfare and a variety of other airfares.

We don't fly enough to get anything from airline miles.

I dont' want the hassle of playing the airline games nor what I call credit card roulette. We played that game once. Then all the 'deals' were for companies/stores we don't use. Carrying a 2nd CC was not worth the hassle factor. I think we may have netted $300 in 2years-no thanks for the headaches.

YMMV.