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Do you think travel reward programs are worth the effort?

Do you think travel reward programs are worth the effort?

Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:37 PM
  #41  
 
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I am partial to Delta SkyMiles. I went to Alaska last year, and two of the legs were on Alaska Airlines, and you can elect to earn Delta SkyMiles for Alaska flights.

http://www.delta.com/skymiles/ways_t...ners/index.jsp

You may be able to earn other miles on Alaska, but I was only interested in Delta SkyMiles. So, its also important to know that even though you fly on Airline A you can earn miles on Airline B.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:44 PM
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There is no "fuss" with the Starwood Am Ex, which I use religiously and love. I just charge everything to it like I would any other credit card, even my daily diet coke at McDonald's. $1.39 a day adds up!!

My husband and I don't even stay at Starwood properties, but just through the day to day expenses we incur, we've amassed close to 200,000 AA miles in two years. (Transfer 20,000 Starwood points into AA miles and get a 5000 mile bonus). Of course this isn't just cash that we've spent, but also new card bonuses and promotions like an additional 25% point bonus that Starwood was offering last year.

I have friends who don't have a reward card and I'm constantly berating them. Even if they don't get the same one as me they need to get something!! It really doesn't make any sense if you are not taking advantage of the cash back or mileage cards that are out there.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:46 PM
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If you spend more than $50,000 a year on credit cards or travel alot for your job, then they are worth it. For the rest of us, it's mostly just dangling a carrot in front of your noses that you can never capture.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:50 PM
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I wanted to add that we flew business class to Zurich and out of Nice last year for 160,000 miles and then this year we are flying into Munich and out of Frankfurt for another 160,000 miles (on AA and its Oneworld affiliates).
My husband can never fly coach to Europe now; he is spoiled!!

The only problem with using this many miles all at once is you definitely don't want to go just for a week, since it took you so long and you spent so much money to earn them!!!
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:52 PM
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"You may be able to earn other miles on Alaska"

Actually, Alaska is a great program for the casual mileage hunter, as you can earn/redeem Alaska miles for flights on AA, Alaska, Delta, Northwest, Continental, KLM, Air France, BA, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and LAN. No other airline I can think of has such a broad number of partners, spanning two different alliances, and covering 4 of the 5 biggest US airlines.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:53 PM
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I think there are arguments against these programs, as well as for them, and what may be suited for one type of traveler may be unsuited for another.

First, I think a lot of people don't notice the fees associated with some programs. If you have to pay $85 a year for one card, but another that doesn't provide miles is free, you are paying for the privilege of earning miles. Also, the cards I have seen give a choice between earning points (often not explaining what the points are worth) or receiving a cash rebate, so if you can earn 50,000 miles by charging a lot, or get $500 cash, which is a better deal.

Invariably with the cards you give up a certain amount of flexibility, whether by being restricted to using certain airlines, or having to purchase reward tickets through a designated agent. If you like to shop for the lowest fare, you can usually save over someone who has to always fly on X airline to earn miles, and you are not limited to destinations served by X airline.

As to using miles, I think usually you are limited to flying well in the future, or at the last minute.

I am a frequent flyer member because the trips we make often are available from our favored airline, and there are certain relatively minor benefits to having status, such as early boarding and a larger baggage allowance, but we do give up some flexibility. When I wanted to fly from Cleveland to San Diego with a stopover in Las Vegas, our airline wanted to route us through Seattle on the Las Vegas/San Diego leg, at a cost far higher than I found on Southwest, so we took Southwest for that leg and didn't earn miles. I also don't like the idea of getting a flight to Rome 11 months in advance; who knows what will change in those 11 months. And similarly, I don't want to look today and find I can get free tickets in three days, as it takes me longer than that to find an apartment, etc. But we did, last October, grab some upgrades to Amsterdam in April (tulip season) and have been able to make excellent arrangements on where to stay and what to see, although it will apparently be costlier than planned because the dollar is losing value. Still, to pay a tourist fare and a few miles, and ride in first class and earn even more miles (on our airline, tickets bought with miles don't earn miles, but upgrades bought with miles do earn miles), is a sweet deal.

Also a disadvantage is that on some airlines, miles expire if you don't remain active, which would be a disadvantage to the infrequent flyer.

I keep getting offers for credit cards that earn miles, but most don't give as full an explanation as I would want before giving up my rebate earning cards, and in any event, I don't charge enough to make many miles with one of those cards.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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We're amex w/ delta folks, just started last year. We charge EVERYTHING to the crd and pay the bill in full every month. We already have almost 100,000 miles and expect/hope to travel first/business class to somewhere for vacation next year. Can't wait. I'm sure I'll need some help booking the best deal and plan to talk directly with the agent as many on this board have advised.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:02 PM
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Over the past few years I reckon my redemptions (AA and Alaska) have had a street value of around $25,000 - $40,000. That's for discretionary travel, which I probably <i>wouldn't</i> have undertaken absent the redemption seats.

So while I'm not <i>in love</i> with my FF plans (I reserve that expression for other things) I sure am grateful for them.

Travelgourmet, any Star Alliance FF plan offers more partners than Alaska's. Plus, you can use multiple airlines in a single itinerary, something which you can't do using Alaska (aside from Alaska plus one partner.)
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:07 PM
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I haven't read all of the above, just telling you my limited experience. I'm not a savvy points person. I have one credit card and I collect travel points on it.

I used to use Visa CIBC Aerogold but it was horrible. The website was impossible, the people on the phone were even worse, and travel was incredibly limited.

I switched to Visa TD Gold Travel and I love it for these reasons:

1. You deal with an actual human being at their own travel agency. They're knowledgeable and helpful and make great suggestions. Plus, if you have to call back for some reason or other (as I once did), you can get the same person on the phone and she remembers you!

2. Most plans deal with points. That is, it might for example cost you 40,000 for a ticket to Rome. My plan deals with money. I can't remember the exact formula but let's just say that 500 points equals $75. That means if there's a seat sale, I save points.

3. No restrictions, no blackout dates.

4. Because of the nature of my bank account, I don't pay a fee for my travel card.

Now there may be better plans out there but they're probably more complicated and I don't want to pay that much attention to this process.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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&lt;&lt;I also don't like the idea of getting a flight to Rome 11 months in advance; who knows what will change in those 11 months.&gt;&gt;

At least with tickets purchased with frequent flyer miles, if things change, for a small fee you can re-deposit the miles back into your account -- typically the fee is $50, although for some elite tiers, you can re-deposit for free (I have not had to re-deposit, but I am platinum on Delta, so I can book tickets 11 months in advance risk free).

As I wrote, so long as you're willing to plan and learn the rules, the miles (as many have indicated) can have tremendous value.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:08 PM
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Oh, and since I pay my credit card balance every month, I pay no interest.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:11 PM
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Alaska is good. I just today used Alaska iles for a business class ticket on American from Portland to Buenos Aires. I had a choice of American, Continental, Delta and Lan. Between my business class ticket and a 3 night Marriott stay, I got $5,300 worth of travel. Since I didn't buy anything I wouldn't have to get the miles, it seems like a good deal. It also lets me fly business which I probably couldn't afford in cash.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:24 PM
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I used to fly AA for business, and I've had an AA Citibank Mastercard for years ($50/year fee). I've used every mile I've ever earned except the ones in my account that I plan to use in the fall.

My best deals have been two round-the-world trips in business class using One World awards - they would have cost me 90,000 miles in economy, and were only 130,000 in business class. The first was RDU-Hong Kong, Chennai-London-RDU, the second RDU-Glasgow, and BKK-Jakarta-Sydney-Hawaii-Dallas-RDU (I did the rest overland). I'm flying round trip to Naples with stopovers in London in April, returning May 15th for 40,000 miles (economy, alas!)

I now have a Capital One card for foreign travel, since Citibank is charging a 3% conversion fee, but I got that card with 1% cash back instead of points, since the points wouldn't combine with my Citibank miles.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:41 PM
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&quot;Travelgourmet, any Star Alliance FF plan offers more partners than Alaska's. Plus, you can use multiple airlines in a single itinerary, something which you can't do using Alaska (aside from Alaska plus one partner.)&quot;

Of course, Lufthansa, in particular has a lot of partners. What I really should have said is that it has probably has the broadest coverage for a US-centric flier, as their partners cover so many of the US market, as well as quite a few heavy hitters in the foreign market.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:49 PM
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yes, we luv em!!

We have AA frequent flyer and have not paid for any international plane tickets in God knows when and we travel ALOT!

And I luvluv, my Starwood Amex; everything goes on it!

I have my own business and we also travel in luxury so we spend a ton of money( but it all gets paid off)

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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 01:57 PM
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I'm all for travel rewards programs:

In terms of FF programs, I work AA, United and Delta. Delta is great for free domestic trips. I've gone to Europe for free several times with AA. With United I tend to use my miles for east-coast/west coast upgrades.

I've recently joined Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott programs. With Marriott they gave me instant room upgrades -- even with not a lot of points. No opinion yet on SPG.

For rental cars I use Hertz #1 Club -- great for quick getaways from the airport -- straight to the car, no counter. And I do get a 10% discount on bookings.

It's a bit to manage all these programs, but the perks -- which sometimes are unexpected - are worth it.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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Absolutely worth it. We have an Amex/Delta card and, like most people, put everything on it and don't ever carry a balance. Free trips are great!
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 02:04 PM
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I'm a member of a number of airline mileage clubs, and I've taken a lot of great free trips. I just went to Peru first class from New York, booking only about two or three months before hand. I have trouble keeping track of hotel rewards and I don't find them as interesting. I just cancelled my account with US Air because they cancelled my miles. It seems to me that their flights are not as competitive as they once were out of NYC, hence my inactivity. They were unpersuaded that I fly a lot in general, so they have lost a customer for life.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 02:11 PM
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We rack up tons of points, frequent flyer miles, etc., but can seldom use them, as they are so restrictive, or not going where we wanna go, etc., don't have connections we need, etc. We could probably fly around the world twice, if we didn't mind all the innconvience.

But we do use our American Express card when we travel, and get 'award' points that we can use for merchandise...and that has worked out for us...also &quot;Marriott' points have worked, from time to time.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 02:17 PM
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We have traveled for free on several occasions and yes I think the Marriott Rewards program is one of the best.

We to have the Amex card and it is truly a big saver. We flew first class to Puerto Rico and Bermuda, free tickets to Florida, Free tickets to California first class and yes I would say we love the rewards program.

This year when we decided we already had our first class tickets and our free hotel we thought well lets use the Amex Reward Program for Gift Cards for Christmas. We already paid for them so why not. You can get all kinds of rewards-Spa Finder, Restaurants, Hotels, etc.

If you travel you should definitely take advantage of it. Now I have to say we do not have the Marriott credit card but I understand that it is gives you lots of perks as well.
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