Best credit card for frequent flier miles?

Old Mar 24th, 2004, 03:04 AM
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Best credit card for frequent flier miles?

We're interested in going to the Caribbean as a family in a few years. As we'll have to purchase 4 airline tickets, we are looking into obtaining a credit card which can give us FF miles. Any suggestions?
cindyloo is offline  
Old Mar 24th, 2004, 03:58 AM
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I like American Express. I have made six trips to the Caribbean, four of which been first class, using their Rewards program. Their program allows you to transfer points to a variety of their 'partner' airlines, instead of just one. They have recently installed a rewards plus program, where you can fly without blackout dates. There are many opportunities to earn bonus points, including at gas stations, grocery stores and home improvement centers. However, my sister and I have had problems with their Delta (only) card, since obtaining a FF seat is extremely difficult.

Capitol One awards tickets withoutblackout dates, but it requires 10,000 more points.
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 04:40 AM
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Many posts here about which FF program/which card, etc. The "in a few years" part is the hard part - with the health of so many airlines in question and with FF programs stating in your initial agreement that they can change the rules whenever they want with or without notice - as evidenced by tightening rules, increasing mileage needed for awards over the past years - I would do some research but prepare yourself for possible disappointment at the end.

One of the things to check in your research is whether or not there is a limit to dollars charged to convert to FF miles - some cards at lower (cheaper) levels place limits so that even if you charge absolutely everything to the card, you may not get that many miles. Also, some merchants will not let you charge the entire big-ticket purchase (some car dealers, for example) since it costs them.

While non-airline affiliated cards may give you more flexibility in airline choice, I have heard that it is sometimes harder to get them converted to tickets. Also, for desirable locations such as Caribbean, you may collect all those miles and find it difficult to use them when you want to go.

Also, evaluate how much the annual fee credit card fee will actually cost you over the years it takes to collect miles - you may not save as much as you think on Caribbean airfare since there are frequently sales to some of these locations.

Not telling you NOT to do this - just what to look out for. If you fly at all now, one good strategy is to pick a card affiliated with the airline you normally fly - so you get a "double hit" at collecting miles.
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 07:43 AM
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American Express Platinum card is one of the best, I think. Points do not expire/no blackouts and when you buy a 1st or buss class ticket your companion's is free - 2 for 1. You can also use you points ofr coach seats as well. You have to book thru AmEx travel and use their partner airlines (Delta, Continental, etc..)They add/change airline partners all the time too! You can either purchase it or use points. Sometimes it works out to be less or the same to fly 1st with a free companion ticket than to buy 2 coach tickets.

Also on AmEx Plat Rewards, you can use your points for resorts/cruises/vacations as well go to the Am Ex website and check it out. If you are planning a trip a few years from now, you have the opprotunity to rack up a lot of points as $1 = 1 point and it could pay for your hotel (depending on where you wish to go and stay) as well as your air.
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 09:43 AM
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Because American flies to the most Caribbean islands, we use the CitiBank platinum.
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 10:32 AM
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Can you tell us where you would be flying from and which island you're interested in visiting? Is there an airline that you regularly fly so that you can pool your miles earned from flying with miles from credit card spending? How much would you be charging a year and how much would you be willing to pay in annual fees?

Without knowing your specific requirements, I can only say that American Airlines has the most extensive Caribbean network of the U.S. majors. In my experience, it's also easier to redeem FF awards on American vs. Delta or Continental, although 4 award seats on any airline is never easy. So my initial suggestion would be to obtain a credit card that's affiliated with AA.

Gail has raised some excellent points as well. Consider the annual fees and how long it would take you the earn the necessary miles to see if it's worthwhile. Check to see if there are any caps on the maximum amount of miles you can earn in a year. Some cards limit you to 60,000 miles per year at the basic level. And since you won't be redeeming these awards for a few years, be prepared for any mileage devaluation that may occur. Currently AA has one of the lowest redemption levels for Caribbean awards but that could change. Hope this helps.
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 10:40 AM
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Another thing to consider is that most airlines only have a limited number of "Award Seats" available on each flight and they get booked up pretty quickly (for certain destinations as much as 300 days in advance)so you might not be able to get 4 award tickets on the same flight. You can increase your chances by being flexible with your dates and/or days of departure and return. You may be better off watching for rock bottom fares and using your miles for upgrades to business or first class.
 
Old Mar 24th, 2004, 11:22 AM
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I like my USAirways Dividend Miles Card
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Old Mar 24th, 2004, 11:49 AM
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Another vote for Amex (gold membership rewards card). We have used Amex points to help bring us up to award level on USAir, United, Continental and Northwest, very easy, once your ff accounts are registered with Amex you can do online transfer. All four of my family have ff accounts on every airline we fly so we maximize every mile. Just got four ff tickets to Aruba this way. (you've got to plan way ahead, but it is possible)
eileen is offline  
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