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Your thoughts please, "Best" Airline CC card to redeem miles- worldwide.

Your thoughts please, "Best" Airline CC card to redeem miles- worldwide.

Dec 29th, 2010, 02:21 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
Your thoughts please, "Best" Airline CC card to redeem miles- worldwide.

Hello All-
My first post in the Air Travel forum, so apologies for my newbie questions.
Have been reading on flyertalk and would love to hear from Fodorites.
Hope I am asking these questions correctly.

Leaving USAIR after next HI award trip and want to be able to spread our own wings.
Your experience with AA & One OneWorld partners ?
CO ? UA ?

Does carrier loyalty truly have an advantage
over best Bank CC for any airline/anytime ?
Looking at both. Capital One no worse than B of A World Points ?

Am jumping back into the to this after a few years, and appreciate any
'Newbie" help where my restaurant/groceries/concert tickets/gas,etc.
purchases will be rewarded.

Thanks very much,
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 03:19 PM
  #2  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,583
I've been a member of AA's club for a long time and I've always had good luck. I must warn you that Honolulu is a very popular destination and hard to get on a freebie. However they do fly to some of the other islands so if you can't get the island you want, you could fly to another and buy a cheap ticket for an island hop.

I joined CO a few years ago when they had a good promotion and I had good luck with them too. However they have since changed their alliance so maybe someone else can address that.

In my experience the worst is British Airways. They give away points like crazy but they make it very hard to use them. Additionally their fees and fuel surcharges are so high those "freebies" are pretty expensive. I'll give you an example. I'm looking at a ticket to central Europe this year. Using my BA points the freebie will cost me ~$450 in taxes and fees. With AA it's less than $100. I will probably go w/AA and use my BA tix for domestic travel with their partner AA.
P_M is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 03:49 PM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
Why, thank you P-M !
I will be looking out for good promotions on AA & CO.
B of A keeps "bugging" me about a AA Visa Sig cards.
And AA has good flights to St. John,USVI, not to mention
the rest of the world.

(It takes us longer to get to St. John from SFO than it
does to get to Europe!)

As for HI, nearly any island would be fine
with me.

Sorry to hear about BA their current promo was
tempting. I will keep all of your comments in mind.

Thanks again !
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 04:02 PM
  #4  
P_M
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 22,583
You are most welcome, I am happy to help.

I joined BA's club in 1997 and back then it was great. I eventually switched to AA because BA just wasn't what it used to be. I stayed away from BA for several years until last year when they were offering a promotion for 100K points if you get their visa card. I jumped right on it and got the 100K points. Since then I have tried twice to book trips using BA points and I have had no success, whereas I did get what I needed through AA. A few problems I have encountered with BA are:

1. Web site isn't working
2. Web site works but still tells me to call BA
3. I call BA and the hold time is over an hour.

If you click my name you will find a thread entitled, "Your estimated wait time is 151 minutes." That is about a recent experience I had with BA. I'm sure I'll use my BA points sooner or later, they just don't make it easy or cheap to use freebies.
P_M is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 04:16 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,048
Your profile says you're in northern California. That being the case, I would suggest you look at the Alaska Airlines mileage plan and Alaska-branded credit cards.

The B of A (you've heard of them I presume) has a debit card that earns miles on Alaska. You'd be amazed how many miles you can accumulate buying groceries and gas.

B of A also has an Alaska Visa card that provides you with an annual $99 companion certificate good for any published Alaska fare - for example to Hawaii in first class, or Florida...

Alaska is partners with most of the Oneworld carriers (BA, AA, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Lan...) but also with a number of Skyteam members including Delta, Air France/KLM, Korean, and with Icelandic and a couple of independents. Alaska's "earn/burn" ratios are generally in line with American's, i.e. not as stringent as Delta's.

AA would be my fallback choice; I've found good award availability on AA and its Oneworld partners; the new anti-trust exemption with BA and Iberia has opened up numerous new award channels for US members.

In either the Alaska or AA case, would you be flying on paid tickets enough to make elite status? If so, then the mileage earning opportunities expand considerably.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 29th, 2010, 05:23 PM
  #6  
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
Many thanks, Gardyloo !
Had not considered Alaska - so must check them out.
I think for HI we would need to have San Jose as our base, or from SFO have to fly up to Seattle first, so that makes for a long-ish trip VS the 5 or so hours we are used to-yet we could fly out of STS (30 mins up the road)
to LAX and go, well, just about anywhere.

Would need to test them out for East Coast, Caribbean and Europe.
I do recall hearing good things about them.

Very well may be flying enough paid tickets in the future
so will look into that as well. Don't want to count
those chickens...quite yet.

Thanks again,
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 05:49 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 803
I've had good luck with AA over the years and was able to use miles for ORD-HNL in '09, but if I lived in San Fran, I would probably lean toward going with United/Continental just because it's a hub.
andrews98682 is offline  
Dec 29th, 2010, 07:39 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,491
Just to give you another side to the BA story: I joined the Executive Club over 15 years ago and still use BA as my main airline partner. I've always had very good luck using miles and using the BA website to book tickets, reward flights as well as upgrades and revenue tickets. I haven't booked thru a telephone agent in many years.

I typically fly to Europe and beyond 4-6 times a year, at least once or twice each year with my husband or daughter and the other trips on my own. I almost always use miles to upgrade to Club (business). When traveling with a family member, I usually use miles for upgrade for myself (so I can collect tier points plus miles) and a reward ticket in Club for my companion.

I too jumped on the BA 100,000 mile promotion with Chase last year and also signed up my husband and daughter as well. After the promotion we had over 600,000 miles in our household account.

Last January I received the BA/Chase voucher for a free companion reward ticket anywhere BA flies, in any class of service, for 2009 purchases. I used the voucher plus 360,000 miles for our next trip, which is Seattle to Bangkok for our son's wedding next month, First Class all the way. I recently received a second voucher for another free companion reward ticket anywhere BA flies, in any class of service, for 2010 purchases. Don't have any plans for it yet, but the voucher is good for two years so we will surely find a use for it.

Over the past few years I've used BA miles for flights and/or upgrades to Rome, Pisa, Milan, Naples, Paris, Nice, Istanbul, Athens, Dubrovnik, Prague, Budapest, Oslo, Stockholm, Malta, Marrakech, Dubai, Cochin (India), Johannesburg, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Bangkok and many, many other places, too numerous to remember. Only once, returning from Rome in June last year, was I unable to get the dates I wanted. In that case I used miles for outbound and bought a ticket for the return. Of course, it helps that I can be somewhat flexible with dates and destinations.

In addition to BA, I also collect AA miles. My tier status on BA gives me status with AA's Advantage club so I get preferential seating, check-in and boarding as well as admission to AA Admiral's Club, etc, which is useful for domestic travel. I use my AA miles mainly for emergency travel within the US - with aging family members in the midwest and Florida, I've found it very useful to be able to book a last-minute reward ticket on AA's FlyAnytime basis, which I've done twice just this year alone.
julia1 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 12:44 PM
  #9  
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
Thank you andrews98682 and julia1 for your comments !
andrews98682-is your advice about the hub city because of
award travel ? As in we would need to fly to a hub city
to redeem award travel ?

julia1-always good to hear many sides of an airline story !
Your travel log is impressive-I'll bet you have some interesting tales to tell !~

Thanks again to all !
R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 04:00 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 803
I would be more inclined to go with the airline that has a hub at my home airport figuring I would be more likely to get a nonstop flight with my reward.

"andrews98682-is your advice about the hub city because of
award travel ? As in we would need to fly to a hub city
to redeem award travel ?"
andrews98682 is offline  
Dec 30th, 2010, 04:38 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,048
Why would you need to be in a hub city to use redemption tickets? Many redemption tickets (I don't like the term "award" tickets as you've paid for the points one way or another) use partner airlines, e.g. for AA miles the OP could use AA or Hawaiian Airlines to go to Hawaii nonstop from SFO; with Alaska miles they could use AA or Delta from SFO, or Alaska from Oakland to Kona.
Gardyloo is online now  
Dec 30th, 2010, 04:50 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
We live near Houston but prefer AA's FF program because we find it easier to book "redemption" tickets with them than CO.

We can fly out of Hobby or IAH to DFW or ORD for our overseas connection. We've also had good luck getting Biz Class upgrades on AA overseas flights if we fly Tuesday's thru Thursday's.
bettyk is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 09:55 AM
  #13  
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 3,854
I think we are on the same page, andrews -there is some merit in what you say, as with USAir, we must fly to PHX to go back west to HNL. Not so bad, but not ideal. USAir does not offer
HNL awards with it's partner UA-where we could get a
direct flight from SFO.

Gardyloo-I will try a few scenarios on AS as though I was
redeeming miles and see where it routes me.

bettyk-Oh, I'm laughing about the Better upgrades
when you fly Tues-Thurs. I have found this to be true
for USAir. The Fri-Mon miles are not given up so easily.
We refer to this as the "airlines weekend".
Thanks got your input !

Happy New Year, and many thanks, to all !

R5
razzledazzle is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 12:35 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
I think it all boils down to supply and demand, R5. More people travel on Fri-Mon, including biz travellers, so more demand for upgrades. Since we are retired, we usually try to fly on the days less travelled.
bettyk is offline  
Dec 31st, 2010, 07:24 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 803
Gardyloo,
I'm not saying you have to be in a hub city or even go with the airline that has a hub in your city, necessarily. I definitely see your point. I'm just saying if it were me, I would be more inclined to go with the airline with nonstops to the most places from my hometown. In the Bay Area, I'm pretty sure that's United.

That said, my credit cards are with American and I've had good like redeeming miles with them over the years.

"#
Gardyloo on Dec 31, 10 at 1:38am

Why would you need to be in a hub city to use redemption tickets? Many redemption tickets (I don't like the term "award" tickets as you've paid for the points one way or another) use partner airlines, e.g. for AA miles the OP could use AA or Hawaiian Airlines to go to Hawaii nonstop from SFO; with Alaska miles they could use AA or Delta from SFO, or Alaska from Oakland to Kona."
andrews98682 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2011, 04:40 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 636
I used to be a slave to BA, back when I flew them a lot for business. Now I'm more loyal to hotel programs and hotel credit cards, because I find that it's easier to redeem points for rooms and there are few, if any, added fees. I save money on hotel rooms and buy plane tickets instead.

If you expect to/want to travel a lot with a single alliance, then it can be worth building up miles and status with that airline. Some credit cards give you some of the benefits of elite status, too. For example, my company's preferred carrier is CO, but I had no status with them last year and I knew I'd be flying in economy with them at least 5-6 times. So I decided to pay for the fairly expensive Chase Presidential Plus Card because, for no more than the cost of a PC club membership, I got PC club membership, elite privileges for checking in and clearing security in the US, one mile per $ spent and 1000 flex elite qualifying miles for each $5000 spent (so that helps me earn or maintain elite status some year when I'm close but not quite at the elite threshold).

If you'd prefer to have the flexibility to fly different airlines, you might look at a card that allows you to redeem points for flights on a lot of different airlines and essentially treats your points as having a "value" (e.g., $400) that can be credited toward a flight cost. Or you could get a card that earns points that can be converted into airline miles: the regular Amex and the SPG Amex are both popular. (SPG points can be earned and redeemed at Starwood hotels but also can be converted into airline miles, and there's a 5,000 mile bonus if you convert 20,000 points in one go.) The one disadvantage of an SPG Amex is that there are limited options for earning points: use your credit card or stay in Starwood hotels. Other credit cards (like the regular Amex), for example allow you to earn points by clicking through their internet portals to online retailers.
frogoutofwater is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 12:17 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,008
With $350 and 25k miles, I can get an upgrade to Biz Class on an AA flight to Frankfurt. My coach ticket usually costs me anywhere from $600 to $800 round trip. So for an add'l $700 and 50k miles, it is possible to fly Biz Class round trip.

From what I have seen of cards that allow you to accumuulate points for use towards the cost of a flight, it looks like you are limited to a very small dollar amount.

That wouldn't be of much use to me if I wanted to fly Biz Class.
bettyk is offline  
Jan 7th, 2011, 12:43 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 1,491
bettyk, I'm with you on that. The opportunity for a confirmed international upgrade to Biz Class for an additional relatively small amount of money plus a low number of miles is for me the major reason I participate in BA and AA mileage programs.

I'm simply past the stage of enduring long overnight flights in coach anymore. With BA I purchase a seat in Traveller Plus and upgrade for 25,000 miles round-trip. With AA I do as you note above.
julia1 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2011, 07:57 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 24,124
Might be a bit late, but here are my thoughts:

1) If you tend to fly one particular airline, then it might be worthwhile to look at that airline's co-branded card, as they may come with other benefits (free checked bags, lounge access, etc).

2) Look out for any current sign-up bonuses. A 50k mile sign-up bonus goes a long way.

3) Consider a card not tied to a particular airline, like Amex, Diners, or the SPG card.

We use the SPG card exclusively and I struggle to think of any card that offers a better value proposition.
travelgourmet is online now  

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