Category Archives: Credit Cards

Cheap East/West Coast Fares and Southwest 50K Sign-up Bonus

The Points Guy has a post today about real cheap fares ($137 round-trip) between LAX/SFO and Pittsburgh.  The flights connect through various cities.  If you’re looking for a one-way ticket to places like Minneappolis, Detroit, Cinninati or NYC, you could book a one-way ticket and get off in the connecting city.  Of course, that’s not technically allowed and you cannot check any luggage if you do it.

Also on Slickdeals today, there’s a post about new Southwest offers with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus after you spend $1,000 on the card within the first 3 months.  These points do count toward getting the free companion ticket for a year.  You need to get 110,000 points in one year to get the free companion ticket.  So if you get both a personal and a business card, you’ll already have 112,000 points (from the sign-up bonuses and your minimum spend).  These are Chase cards so make sure you prioritize which Chase cards you want to apply for – since so many travel credit cards are issued by Chase.

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Card – $69 annual fee – 3K bonus points on your anniversary
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premiere Card – $99 annual fee – 6K bonus points on your anniversary Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Plus Business Card – $69 annual fee – 3k points on your anniversary
Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card – $99 annual fee – 6K points on your anniversary

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My First Churn

One of the first questions that someone in the travel hacking game will have is what is a churn?  A credit card churn is when you apply for a credit card you’ve already had to get another sign-up bonus.  Most credit cards are not churnable.

Some of the first cards that I got when I started this game two and a half years ago were the American Airlines personal cards.  I’ve heard of people having success re-applying for these cards after about 18 months and I was reminded of that on yesterday’s Million Mile Secret’s post.  (Check out the post, it has some great information in it.)

I’ve been trying to figure out which card to apply for next and the 50,000 mile American Airlines sign-up bonus is one of the best ones out there (there is are Visa, Amex and Business versions of the card).  After confirming that I believe we can meet the spending requirements of the 2 cards (one Visa, one Amex), I decided to apply for both of them.  I could have used the 2-browser trick that Daraius talks about in his post.  But instead, I just used 2 computers and submitted the applications at the same time.  And I’m happy to say that I was approved for both cards!

After spending $3,000 on the card within 4 months, you get 50,000 miles, 1 Companion Pass for paid tickets and $100 statement credit for an eligible American Airlines purchase (e.g. a food purchase on the plane, baggage fee, etc).  Here are the links for the Citicard Visa and the Citicard American Express. I’m taking American Airlines down to North Carolina near the end of the month, so I’ll be able to meet the eligible American Airlines purchase part of the deal too and get the $100 statement credit!

We’re on our way to another 100,000 American Airlines miles!  And it’s great to see that I was able to get a bonus from a card that I’ve had before. 

The further you get in this game, the less cards are available to you because you’ve already had them.  I try to reserve my applications to the best deals.  As a result, I’m applying for far fewer than a lot of bloggers.  But I don’t want to miss out on an amazing deal in the future because I’ve already had the card that has the amazing deal.

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British Airways Offer

Bummed that you missed out on the British Airways 100,000 mile offer back in 2009/2010?  If so, this may be for you.  There is an offer floating around for 50,000 miles after first purchase, another 25,000 after you spend $10,000 on the card in the first year and another 25,000 after you spend another $10,000 on the card in the first year.  This is the card that many frequent flyer bloggers have been touting because they get a referral bonus for it.  I won’t even put a link for it because there’s an even better offer out there.  I give credit to Darius from Million Mile Secrets for actually talking about this offer.

The other offer you can get is 50,000 miles after first purchase and another 50,000 miles on your first anniversary.  You will have to spend 2 annual fees (total of $150), but I think that’s well worth it to get 100,000 miles.  You can read about how to get the offer in this Flyertalk thread.  Essentially, you have to pretend like you’re going to purchase a ticket on British Airways web site.  A credit card offer link will come up when you’re going to the payment options.  It will have buttons that say you’re going to purchase with the new card, but you don’t actually have purchase the flights after doing the credit card application. 

I can’t personally verify that this works because I’ve already had the British Airways card.  I could verify that the offer came up, but I can’t apply for the card because I’ll get denied for already having it.

I’m a big fan of British Airways points for shorter haul trips when redeeming on partner airlines.  We are traveling to Ireland next Spring using British Airways miles (redeemed on Aer Lingus).  We’ve also used British Airways miles on American Airlines to go to Hawaii (before they changed their award chart).

So if you haven’t already gotten the British Airways credit card, this is definitely something to consider.


Hotel Points

This post is dedicated to my sister who has recently joined the travel hacking family.  As the Frugal Travel Guy talked about today, networking is one of the best things you can do in this game.  And I’m so happy to have another family member joining this game.  One thing that she said she wished she knew more about was how to earn and maximize use of hotel points.  I do not profess to be an expert in this arena, but it did get me thinking.

I love the Starwood Amex credit card.  I’m sure you’ve heard many travel blogger touting this card and there’s a reason why.  You get a point for every dollar you spend.  When you transfer 20,000 points to an airline program, you get an extra 5,000 points transfer, essentially making your earn rate 1.25 per dollar spent.  But the feature I like best with Starwood points is the cash and points option for hotel redemption.  For example, if you wanted to stay at one of their category 5 hotels, it would cost 12,000 – 16,000 points OR 4,800 points and $90.  The cash and points option allows you to stretch your points further which is important for those of us who don’t have as many points.

You could also get one of the other hotel credit cards if you don’t want to stay at a Starwood hotel.  The one that I like the most right now is the Chase Hyatt Visa.  It comes with 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt (you get the first one after your first purchase and the second one after you spend $1,000 on the card within 3 months).

Another option is to get a non-hotel credit card that allows you to transfer points to hotel programs.  There are many credit cards that fall into this category.  My favorite all around use card that allows this is the Chase Sapphire Visa.  It is now my go to card.  However, there is a great offer out there for the Bank of American Virgin Atlantic American Express card.  You get 20,000 miles after first purchase and another 25,000 miles after you spend $2,500 on the card within the first 3 months.  (You can also get another 5,000 miles if you add 2 authorized users to the account.)  Virgin Atlantic miles transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 rate.  So this deal will yield you nearly 100,000 Hilton points!

Now 100,000 points means very different things in different programs.  So how do you know if 100,000 points is any good?  My suggestion would be to check out the Million Mile Secrets web site.  One of the top tabs on the site is called Miles & Points Resources.  This gives you a drop down Airline Award Charts, Airline Frequent Flyer Program Sign-up, Hotel Reward Night Charts, and Hotel Reward Program Sign-up.  It’s a quick and easy way to navigate to each program’s chart (so you don’t have to hunt and peck around each site).  In Hilton’s case, 100,000 points will get you 4 nights at a category 3 hotel, about 3 nights at a category 4 – 5 hotel or 2 nights at a category 6 – 7 hotel (you could get quite a bit more at a category 1 – 2 hotel, but personally I wouldn’t stay at a category 1 – 2 hotel).  Hilton also has a cash and money option, so you could stretch your points even further.

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Wow – it’s been awhile

I apologize for my sabbatical.  I didn’t realize how long it’s been.  Honestly, I haven’t seen a whole lot in the travel hacking world to write about.  Most of the credit card offers have been lackluster.  There are a few things that I have thought were pretty good. 

The first one I must thank my sister for pointing it out to me.  The Points Guy posted about 2 weeks ago about how you can get $50 Mastercard gift card for every 2 days you stay at an IHG (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crown Plaza, etc) until August 2 (for Monday – Thursday nights).  The maximum you can receive is $200.  You can find a full description of the program at the post that I linked to at the beginning of the paragraph.

The second item is the Virgin Atlantic credit card.  It now has a 45,000 – 50,000 mile sign-up bonus.  You get 20,000 miles after first purchase, another 25,000 after you spend $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days and another 5,000 if you add an authorized user to the card.  The $90 annual fee is NOT waived the first year.

And the last item is the US Airways credit card.  It has a 40,000 mile sign-up bonus after first purchase!  The $89 annual fee is waived the first year.  You can also get up to 2 $99 companion tickets each year.

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