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All things considered, which credit card to get for miles?

All things considered, which credit card to get for miles?

Jun 25th, 2002, 02:48 PM
  #1  
curious
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All things considered, which credit card to get for miles?

It seems that one of the key things to do to be able to afford travelling is to get a frequent flyer credit card. Among things to consider are fees and interest rates. It also seems to me that it would be logical to get a card that that doesn't charge fees for transactions outside the US, unlike Chase and Citibank. What card do you use and why?
Boring, I know. But reply would be much appreciated.
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 04:31 PM
  #2  
Ken
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As far as I know, all of those that accrue frequent flyer miles charge fees. I think the very best card is American Express. We use this 100% of the time and put the points into the Rewards Account ($1 = 1 point) then we transfer them to an airline, or to a hotel or to rental car companies etc. Whatever we are looking for at a given time. This way we have such flexability without limiting ourselves to just one airline, or one hotel program etc. I only had 9,000 Delta Frequent flyer miles so I transferred 71,000 AmEx points and flew first class round trip to Europe (80,000 frequent flyer points required). I also transferred points to the Starwood hotel program to cover my hotel. I'm racking points quickly these days because I charge my daughter's college tuition on the AmEx card. I like the flexability that AmEx offers.
Ken
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 04:32 PM
  #3  
Ann
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We use VISA with Bank of America (travel on US Air) card and they told me today they do not charge any percentage for conversion in Italy when you use ATM.
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 04:37 PM
  #4  
Marcie
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We use American Express and joined their Rewards Program. Go to americanexpress.com and you can read about it. They do not charge any transaction fees when used in Europe. You can also order foreign currency prior to leaving the USA so when you arrive you have pocket money before hitting the ATM's (no charge for this...you order the money by phone and it is mailed to you so you never need to go into one of their offices). We have transferred Reward points towards most everything from hotels, airlines, rental cars etc. It works best for us.
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 04:39 PM
  #5  
Sue
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Ann, my USAirways card is Bank of America Visa, also, and they sure charged me for conversion last year in Italy and just last month in Paris when I charged things. But then you said when you use ATM; do you mean for cash advances? I thought interest started acruing on that immediately, which can really add up in a hurry. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding.
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 06:49 PM
  #6  
Linda
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Another vote for American Express and its Membership Rewards program. We have used the points on airlines, hotels, etc. You don't transfer your points until you have a reservation so it is very flexible.
 
Jun 25th, 2002, 10:03 PM
  #7  
Sue
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A previous poster said that AmEx charges 2% conversion fee (all MC/Visa charge 1% with most banks adding 2%). That would make it cheaper than a Citibank card, but 1% more expensive than MBNA or Capital One. Sounds interesting, though.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 12:16 AM
  #8  
Jason
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Have been an AMEX Gold card holder for many years. On a recent trip thru southern France & Italy, my Amex card was only accepted about 70% of the time whereas my MBNA Visa card was accepted 100% of the time. Amex rejection was especially annoying at toll booths!
Bear in mind that not only is there an annual Amex card fee but you also have an additional fee to be able to earn mileage credits! And yes their currency conversion fee is higher than MBNA.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 03:22 AM
  #9  
Sherry
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I just signed up for an MBNA travel rewards progran. I can't remember the exact name of the card as they have several.
I use my MBNA card in Europe because they do not charge an additional conversion fee. All of Mastercard and Visa cards have the standard 1%.
This card also has no annual fee, which many cards do such as Amex for their travel program.
After the introductory period, there is a standard 9%n annual percentage rate if you do not pay balances monthly.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 06:16 AM
  #10  
Ann
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Sue, in reference to Bank of America card, maybe they gve me wrong advice. They gave me a list of certain banks to get cash ATM withdrawals in Italy for no charge but if you go to other places they said they may charge you. I do not know if it is diffcult to find these but they said to go to: Barclays, BNP Paribo, Deutsche Bank, Scotiabank, Westpak.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 06:25 AM
  #11  
$$
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I would select one that matches the airline you typically fly. Depending on where you live, I'm sure that some airline tends to be more dominant. I live in Chicago, so American and United are your best bets (neither of which participate in AMEX rewards). I do have an AMEX which I use to add to my Starwood Hotels points balance. I also have a Citibank Aadvantage (American) visa (my Company's preferred airline is American).

I wouldn't get too hung up on the foreign transaction fee as this is only an issue on vacation (typically not more than once or twice a year). It's like planning a vacation based upon the dollar's strength or weakness. It's nice when the dollar is strong, but I've never planned, canceled or altered a vacation because of it.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 06:34 AM
  #12  
Sue
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Ann, I use only my debit card (which takes $$ directly from my checking acc't in bank back home) to get money at ATMs. Perhaps there is no conversion fee when using Bank of Am. card, but I am certain that that's an expensive way to get cash because of the interest rate. I would only use it in an emergency for cash. I do use it overseas for purchases.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 06:54 AM
  #13  
Alice
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We have an American Express and also a Mastercard. We just returned from Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Czech Republic where we used the AmEx exclusively (never not accepted). We prefer the flexability of the AmEx Rewards Program. We still have our mastercard which gives us points on American Airlines but usually don't use it much. The following participate in the Rewards Program: TWA, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air, Delta, US Airways, Continental, Southwest, AeroMexico El Al Israel, Mexicana, LatinPass, All Nippon Airways. All the major hotel chains participate. We use our ATM (with pin always required/not a debit card) for all our cash withdrawls. We've never received a cash advance so don't know about that. We are never charged a transaction fee on our American Express.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 08:24 AM
  #14  
Ed
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Any Mastercard or Visa has a minimum 1% fee built into the currency conversion rate.
Many Mastercard and Visa issuers add an additional 2% to the currency conversion rate.
American Express and Diner's club have a 2% fee built into their currency conversion rate.
It makes the most sense to get a ff credit card with the airline you are most likely to use based on your home airport. American Express is great for some but doesn't include United or American. If you generally use one of those two airlines, you should get a card affiliated with them. Since both have the extra 2% conversion fee, don't use them while traveling outside the U.S.
Getting cash with an ATM card makes a lot of sense. However, there is still a 1% fee built into the conversion rate. Also, some banks, either the issuing bank or the ATM bank charge an additional fee for using the ATM.
Traveler's checks cost a lot to use. When you attempt to use them, you generally will be charged a commission/fee anywhere from 4-10% for the currency conversion.
Credit card cash advances are also very expensive. Generally, you are charged a 2% cash advance fee, interest starts immediately on the cash advance, and you are still stuck with the additional 1-3% fee built into the cash advance.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 08:35 AM
  #15  
xxx
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A number of US bank/airline partnerships now offer miles on your ATM/debit card, not just the ordinary credit card. My bank (B of A) awards 1 mile (Alaska AL) for every $2 in purchases (not cash withdrawals) on the debit card. If you're like me and use the debit card for food, gas, and lots of other purchases, it really adds up. I still get 1 mile per $1 on the credit card (same airline) if I want to use it. For overseas travel, the combination is fine. However, I think the banks are going to reduce the benefit of ATM cards for overseas use pretty dramatically if they keep adding conversion fees and other hidden charges to the deal.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 09:48 AM
  #16  
curious
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Thanks all for your responses. I am in LA and I never seem to use the same airline twice when going anywhere. I will be going on extensive trip soon, that's why I inquired about transaction fees. AmEx seems to be the popular choice, but they charge 2% conversion fees. I am not positive about B of A but I am inclined to think that they will DEFINITELY charge - they charge for EVERYTHING, so they are not on my list for sure. I will inquire about MBNA ff program - thanks, Sherry. Somebody mentioned Capital has good ff program, but I also heard they charge extra conversion fees? I also heard thet Diners Club has the best dollars-to-miles ratio, but they charge a steep annual fee and are not as widely accepted. Any comments on that one?
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 10:48 AM
  #17  
Ty
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We have a Gold AmEx card that we use all over Europe. We've never been charged the 2% fee that you're referring to...or have we?? I'm not aware of this fee...I'd love to hear more. Tyler

P.S. I wouldn't own a debit card even if it did offer miles. You're so much safer just using an ATM for obtaining cash. Many articles written this past year about the downside of ANY debit card.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 12:22 PM
  #18  
Ed
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Tyler
The AmEx 2% fee is built into the conversion rate they use.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 01:02 PM
  #19  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
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I hate to get into these credit card and money threads, but today it is timely. I just cashed in 100k points for $2000 dollars worth of tickets to venice in Oct. It made no difference which airline---it is just money to be spent on any itinerary. It is the CMA Visa rewards program thru my Merrill Lynch acct. The best I have seen.
 
Jun 26th, 2002, 01:15 PM
  #20  
cl9
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Why is a debit card worse than an ATM card? or a regular credit card for that matter?

The rules (at least on mine) for paying any unauthorized charges are the same, and I never keep all my money in my checking account, so I can't be completely wiped out. I use my debit card for everything and would love to get ff miles for it. Is there a drawback I haven't considered?
 

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