Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Best credit card to use to receive air miles?

Best credit card to use to receive air miles?

Mar 31st, 2006, 06:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 7
Best credit card to use to receive air miles?

Good morning everyone,
Have always travelled with work but we are retired now and are looking for ways to defray the cost of tickets. We are rehabing our house and will be spending some money and am wondering about charging everything to get miles. Question is - which credit card to use and what to be aware of. Thanks for sharing any advice. It is appreciated. Marilyn
MCS is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 241
I have an Amagamated bank of Chicago card (www.aboc.com). The website says nothing about their program "amalgamiles" but for each $50,000 charged you get $700 off any international ticket-and they will book it for you. It is even better deal for US flights, but I tend to get them through my ff miles. Works for any airline. I tried other programs but they were all airline specific and if I wanted to go to Italy this year or Poland next time-were not as flexible. We have actually had 4 or 5 trips now thanks to Amalgamated and a part time hobby of renovating houses.I did a lot of research and set up a United card also- then found out they raised the number of miles from 50,000 to 80,000 for a European trip. I was so annoyed. Amalgamated also has very good interest rates.
Italyagain is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 07:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,600
There are two kinds of reward cards nowadays - those that are essentially "cash back" cards where the credit card company simply buys a ticket at a discounted rate, thus you can use miles for any ticket at any time, and airline-specific mileage plans, where miles are earned at some multiple per $1 charged to the card. These awards only apply to certain airlines (or their partners) and are subject to blackouts, etc.

Generally airline cards can also offer bonus miles, matching miles, and can be used for upgrades on cheaper tickets, etc. As a rule the "money back" awards are less flexible and cannot be used for premium-cabin travel as easily as the airline cards.

Affinity credit cards and their ilk are a much larger industry than most people know. Have a look at this site for example - http://www.freefrequentflyermiles.com/index.htm
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 15,131
>>United card also- then found out they raised the number of miles from 50,000 to 80,000 for a European trip<<

Good grief - I didn't know that. United doesn't even fly to Italy, and no longer has a non-stop from SFO (where we live) to Paris.

I have airline cards (United & Delta), and I have been trying for 4 trips to use my Delta miles. Even when I call at 12:05AM Atlanta time the day flights first become available for booking - all the seats were sold out!!!

I would recommend that you do not get a card with a specific Airline - get one that gives you "cash" or a cash discount, and then you can book a flight without restrictions, blackouts, or "sorry - no FF seats available"

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 08:19 AM
Posts: n/a
Of course the bottom line is you need to decide if there is a particular airline that will serve you well, or if you want to be able to use the miles for a variety of airline choices.

I swear by sticking to AA miles and their Citibank Aadvantage card for getting miles. I am happy sticking with AA for free business class trips to Europe (and also Asia and Australia so far).
This summer we each cashed in 90,000 AA miles (many of them from Citibank purchases) for a pair of tickets each worth over $7500 with two stopovers in Europe --all business class. Let's see someone match that with only $90,000 of purchases from one of the more generic cards.
Mar 31st, 2006, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 3,291
I agree with Stu that most airlines are doubling the number of miles needed for travel. Delta, Northwest and Continental all want 100,000 for Europe during the summer.

Unless you are retired and can travel on the dates that the airline wants you to travel on, I would talk to your bank about a type of rewards card.
wally34949 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 09:42 AM
Posts: n/a
"I agree with Stu that most airlines are doubling the number of miles needed for travel."

Another reason I'm sticking with American. Not so for them.
Mar 31st, 2006, 09:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,600
There's actually a bit of revisionist history at work here.

The "double the miles" awards (so-called "anytime" tickets) are, in most cases, actually the former "basic" awards. "Mile saver" awards, by whatever marketing name an airline uses, i.e., what we think are the "basic" awards, were originally "discount" awards, or "half-off" awards used by the airlines to fill empty seats on low load-factor routes and flight times. We've come to believe that the 50% awards are the norm, and that the 100% awards are "double."

Not so.
Gardyloo is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
I can't say for all airlines, but it's absolutely FALSE that you can't get standard CO awards to Europe in the summer. Sure, seats are limited, but doesn't mean they don't exist.
rkkwan is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
Unfortunately, ALL airlines have made it known that they are being forced to cut back on the number of seats available to frequent flyers and this story was well-documented in the travel section of the 26 March 2006 "Washington Post."

We currently have a Bank of America USAirways Visa and a Capital One Visa; the latter can be used to purchase airline tickets at any price and at any time but the "cost" is a multiple of 80 times the price of the ticket=the number of miles required.

I can often get either an upgrade or a regular ticket using the USAirways miles a somewhat 'cheaper' but as has been pointed out above, these are subject to blackout dates and, more importantly, non-availability.

Regardless of any of this if you aren't searching for tickets using consolidator and aggregator sites in the first place you may be paying too much that way also.

Intrepid1 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 09:59 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 87
I've had good luck with the Citibank AA card also. Just cashed in 300,000 miles for two of us to fly roundtrip in business class to Nairobi. It helps that we are self employed and very flexible with dates.
Chiquita is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 10:06 AM
Posts: n/a
I am an AA faithful and therefore a citicard faithful.

Our family of 4 has flown to the Hawaiian Islands 4 summers in a row on Miles at peak times (you have to book way in advance, but it is possible. A friend is going to Maui for thanksgiving on miles)

We booked a trip on miles to Vail this February at the last minute 15k each!

I also use my miles on AAVacations for the land portion. Although worth less, you get to use them anytime and earn more miles for paying for the airfare. I've started using miles for my kids airfares...and buy our tickets so we continue our status and earn miles.

I can't imagine a better choice, especially if you have flexibility.

Mar 31st, 2006, 10:08 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,716
I used to use a United card, but recently switched to the Capitol One "No Hassles" Visa as my primary card of choice. I'm willing to burn more miles for the flexibility of no blackout dates and the flights of my choice.

Have nearly 100K miles w/United, and enough miles for one domestic r/t each with Delta and AA. Also about 20K miles w/British Airways, which will expire if I don't earn more in the next few months....

Am currently trying to decide if I'm willing to pay the "convienience" fee to charge my taxes on my United card, since they are offering double miles for that.
Lesli is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 10:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 862
It won't get you to Europe, but I feel the Southwest Airline credit card is the best.

At least it's easy to get free trips within the states.
Jim_Tardio is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 11:12 AM
Posts: n/a
Jim, that may be true, but since Southwest flights are usually so darn cheap anyway, I'd never think of that as a very rewarding use of miles.
That's why I never use my miles for domestic flights -- they just don't seem good value when with a little planning you can get cheap flights anyway.

25,000 miles for a free $ 280 US flight in coach or 90,000 miles for a free $7500 multi destination flight to Europe in Business? No decision for me.
Mar 31st, 2006, 11:55 AM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 241
By the way- have tried to use my US Air miles for 4 years now- have not been able to get summer flights to anywhere I want to go. Royally annoys me.
Italyagain is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 12:28 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 60
Re: AA ff points - when did you book? They are even requiring anytime miles (100,000 to Europe) to NY in July. This was a real disappointment. We haven't used the points in years - it's always cheaper to do a package deal to Hawaii
janey47 is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 12:41 PM
Posts: n/a
I always book the outward bound of my free business flights with AA miles the first day allowed -- approximately eleven months ahead. I get my choice of flights, connections, and times. They hold them until it is eleven months before my return which I then book, and then they ticket the whole thing.

I know that isn't for everyone, but I like to know when and where I'm going a year before I go anyway. As a result I've never had a problem getting my tickets.
Mar 31st, 2006, 12:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,763

United miles can get you to Italy.
I have used UAL miles twice to get to Italy on combination of UAL and Lufthansa (their partner airline).

Which type of card you get may depend on how much you spend and/or fly. If you can accumulate enough miles, you get more bang for your buck by using miles for first or biz class tix.
Dick is offline  
Mar 31st, 2006, 12:58 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 5,579
There are many good choices today.

The AT&T Universal Cash Rewards Card (from CITI) pays in cash 5% of gas, grocery and drugstore purchases and 1% on everything else. The limit per year is $300. My Mom tells me I could earn $300 if I spent $6,000 in those categories.

The Chase Cashbuilder Platinum is the same.

Emigrantdirect.com offers a credit card which just recently offered a CC with 1.4% cash credit - no limit and paid semiannually - but you have to average $10,000 in the six month period in their savings account which is currently earning 4.5%. Otherwise the credit is 0.5%.
jsmith is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:17 AM.