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October 14, 2012 / oneworld82

Credit Card App-O-Ramas

Have you always dreamed of traveling first class on Cathay Pacific but could never afford it because of its prohibitive cost or because you would never be able to accumulate all those miles necessary for that dream flight? Are you tired of flying economy class every time you cross the Atlantic or the Pacific?

Well, then look no further – the answer lies in here (and in a few other websites, of course).

One of the great realizations I had when I moved to the US is that credit card companies literally FIGHT for your business. There are so many banks out there trying to get that additional customer that will marginally improve their profits that they go out and about in offering pretty enticing promos to potential customers to lure them in. My favorite type of reward? Airline miles, of course.

There is – for US residents at least – a very long list of credit cards offering airline miles or other form of travel awards out there. From US Airways to Delta, offers abound. You just have to pick and choose the ones that fits your needs (and wants) the most. Yet, this isn’t a game everyone can (and should) play: you need a clean credit report above 720 and a credit history 2-3 years long (at least). Also, you have to know that each card comes with attached spending requirements in order to qualify for the bonus (such as spend 3,000USD in 4 months). Hence, applying to 3-4 cards may mean spending 10k or more in 4-5 months JUST to get the bonus.

Yet, if you meet these criteria, a new World of opportunities can open up for you. Take my first “app-o-rama” for example, when I applied for these cards:

1. United CHASE Mileage Plus Explorer Card (60k bonus, will get 55k)
2. US Airways Dividend Miles MasterCard (40k)
3. Citi Business AAdvantage Visa (35k – applied when I was unaware of the 50k offer sigh)
4. Alaska Airlines (40k bonus).

With a mere 10 points-drop in my credit score and 10k in spending that I had to do anyway as some major furniture purchases were coming up, I have now a good amount of miles that can bring me around the US for a while. But I do not like using my miles for economy tickets – that’s a BAD use of your points under ANY circumstance. I like to redeem miles for business or (better) first class tickets, which give you the best bang for your bucks.

This is the reason why credit cards always have to be matched with other airline promos. For instance, by spending a mere 2,300USD (I know, only is relative) in US Airways promos I have now 190,000 Dividend Miles in my account – that’s enough or two round-trip tickets to Asia from North America in business class on any Star Alliance carrier. Pretty sweet if you ask me, especially because if you are strategic about it and redeem your miles for good products like ANA’s business class or Asiana’s Smartium product you can actually get the equivalent of 9,500USD in value. Pretty amazing.
So, what does this teach you? To always look for offers – there are plenty of them out there! At the price of an economy class ticket you may find yourself flying business or first class en route to your next holiday destination.

P.S.

– A good resource where to start is definitely the Million Miles Secrets website.

– Your credit score and report is one of your most important assets. Make sure you keep a good record while applying for credit cards – you never know when it may come handy!

2 Comments

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  1. CTravlr / Apr 6 2013 11:29 pm

    “But I do not like using my miles for economy tickets – that’s a BAD use of your points under ANY circumstance.” —- I absolutely disagree with this statement and I’m sure others do as well. It’s one thing to say that premium awards provide more ‘value’ (which itself is relative), but it’s another thing completely to write off economy awards as bad under ANY circumstance. Believe it or not, for some people travel is more than whether or not they sip champagne on a lie-flat seat.

    • robertocusato / Apr 7 2013 12:07 am

      If you travel many miles every year not paying for your tickets than I can understand. If you go out of your way to accrue miles, than economy class tickets make little economic sense. I am a moderately well-traveled person – I have done my fair share of backpacking across Asia, Africa, and South America – and I enjoy traveling on a shoestring as well. My point was that with miles it makes much more sense redeeming points for premium cabin awards. Otherwise, more often than not you are better off just buying a ticket.
      Of course, this is my opinion and I respect that you disagree with it.

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