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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, 02:28 PM
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I don't know if I'm in love with it, but we're going steady and things look like a mutual commitment at this point in time.

I live just outside a city that is a hub for NWA. I've been a FF with them for a few years now, so I have some miles racked up. In October I obtained a NWA VISA card. I use it for "personal expenses" as opposed to "household expenses". (For example, if I'm traveling for "fun", I might use it to book my flight.) I did almost all my Christmas shopping through a link to an online "mall" that NWA has, so I got bonus miles for using places like Teleflora online, Eddie Bauer, Boden, etc. I pay off the card totally when the statement comes in. Of course I got several thousand FF miles just for getting the card. So far I've used it for upgrades and will be going to Rome in April in first-class, thanks to those FF miles.

When I was really sick last year and things weren't looking too good I contemplated what I regretted and among my thoughts were "What the **** an I saving those FF miles for??" Well, now I'm not saving them!

NWA also just notified me that I became a Silver Elite member, so I enjoy certain "perks" by having that, and although I haven't used my Silver Elite status yet, it could just come in handy one of these days.

For hotels, though, it depends on the situation. One of my favorite hotels in MA used to give me FF miles, but they were recently taken over by a different corporation, so that hotel no longer issues FF miles through NWA. I still like staying there, though, but now book myself into that hotel via Priceline. In Rome, I always stay at the same hotel and get a discount there simply because I've patronized them so much. So basically hotels are on a case-by-case basis with me.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 03:45 PM
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We don't have a rewards card, just pay for our tickets the old fashioned way - with no-points plastic. So, in general, how does a rewards card work? You get a mile or point for every dollar you spend? And how many miles/points do you have to accumulate before they are worth a ticket to somewhere, let's say a trip between the east and west coasts of the US? (Sorry, I know this is the Europe board...)
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:03 PM
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<i>So, in general, how does a rewards card work? You get a mile or point for every dollar you spend? And how many miles/points do you have to accumulate before they are worth a ticket to somewhere, let's say a trip between the east and west coasts of the US?</i>

Yes, typically a mile/point per dollar, but numerous chances for bonus miles, especially at initial sign-up (10,000-mi or more sign-up bonuses are often available.)

Redemption rates vary by airline, but typically it's 20,000 - 30,000 for domestic coach tickets, 40-50,000 for domestic first class or international coach, and 80-100,000+ for international business class.

Some cards (those that require an annual fee) also offer 2-for-$1 deals when you buy travel on the sponsor airline, or offer 2-for-1 coupons for air travel, etc. If you're scrupulous about paying off balances, you can accumulate a fair number of miles pretty quickly, and they will pay for themselves with the bonus deals.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:08 PM
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I have the Capital One card. I know their points redemption formula is not the best, but I got an offer where I get 2 points for every $1 charged. So after my husband retired and stopped traveling for business, it became a better option to use the Capital One card to charge EVERYTHING. Like a previous poster said, even my $1.49 coke at McDonalds gets charged!
I'm always looking for things I can charge. Cable co , doctor's copays, dentist, landscaper, groceries, etc. I have stopped using the individual stores credit cards and consolidate all my charges through capital one. It's amazing with the 2 for 1 deal how fast the points accumulate.

It's also a no fee card.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:12 PM
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I think the rewards program is a great idea. We have an American Airlines Mastercard &amp; we put everything on it &amp; make sure to pay the full bill off every month. It costs $85/year but we've been to Greece business class, Ireland &amp; other places. It's like flying for almost free (there are some small charges).
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:35 PM
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We charge everything possible to our CapitalOne cc and pay it off every month. We just used miles to buy a ticket to Paris. We almost had enough for 2. Two years ago, we used miles for a ticket to Paris.

My in-laws have USAA and do pretty much the same thing. They are in their 90s and no longer travel. So, my MIL used their miles and gave us a ticket for our upcoming trip to Paris.

We also have Marriott rewards and try to stay at one of their hotels when we travel domestically.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 04:56 PM
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I have an Alaskan Air mileage rewards card, and currently I am sitting on enough miles for 2 round trips to Euruope in coach, as one of my options.

While it does take me a while to gather the points, this gives me two more opportunities to travel that I might not afford otherwise.

I've had the card for 10 years, so on average every 5 years I get a &quot;free&quot; ticket to Europe (my preferred destination). This certainly gives me the option of staying longer while traveling, because I'm not having to shell out airfare.

And though they charge an annual fee, every year I call them up and politely ask them to waive the fee, and every year so far they've done so.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 05:57 PM
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Add another vote for Amex Delta Skymiles! We have 2 separate accounts, with 2 cards on each account. We do it this way so that when each account is renewed, we get 10,000 Base miles toward Medallion status, and a companion certificate for domestic travel for each card. Although the companion deals vary each year, we always use them for trips that would have cost more than the price of renewing the card.

We put EVERYTHING on these cards, spending $25,000 on one account each year to get to the additional 10,000 mile bonus, then switching to the other account for the rest of the year.

We get double miles for Delta purchases, gasoline, groceries, home centers, and post office. Also, frequent bonus periods are announced that double or triple all points spent!

In 10 years time, we have redeemed miles for business class on Singapore Airlines to Asia 4 trips x 2 tix valued at a total of about $48000, 1 business class roundtrip to Europe for 2, valued at about $7000, 1 roundtrip for 2 coach to Europe valued at $2000, and we have enough points for 2 more tix to Asia @$12000 for 2.

So by using this point system to our advantage, we have gained close to $70,000 in free airfares on 1,200,000 skymiles from spending of about
$350,000 over 10 years! Definitely worth keeping up with and since we live in Atlanta, 99% of our travel is on Delta anyway.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 06:50 PM
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I have been fortunate to redeem FF miles on every trip I have taken(more than a dozen I can recall)and feel it is definitely worth the effort.

3000 more hours until Afreekah!!!! &lt
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:01 PM
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We pretty much work off of the AA program, but I have a few other miles here and there. We do the CC thing, etc for miles.

Just wanted to say that if you do have issues with booking award flights, try looking into your carrier's alliance programs (not just codeshares and direct partner arrangements). For instance, wWe attempted to use our AA miles for a flight to Australia over this past thanksgiving. Would have had to have been AA and Qantas to make the entire trip, but nothing was available.

However, we used a OneWorld award to get there. In our case, the deal we used required the use of two OneWorld airlines in addition to your own carrier. So... twist our arms, we added a few days stopover in Hong Kong in order to include Cathay Pacific AND Qantas in the itinerary. And that worked (And was a lot of fun).
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:12 PM
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Katie - For the nitty gritty details on &quot;rewards&quot;, check out the Flyertalk &quot;miles and points&quot; forum. The name of the game is status (how to make it with the various airlines or hotels) and maximizing the use of miles. Check out the milage run (flying somewhere just to make status or earn points/miles) thread. You will notice next to every poster's screen name their status (silver, gold, platinum,diamond, etc.) with the various programs they belong to.

I'm currently plotting a trip to Italy for May using points/rewards for air (yes, there are still tickets available), hotels, and either train pass or car rental.

If you join an FF program with one of the airlines, all you have to do to keep your points &quot;active&quot; is have some activity every year. You don't have to get their credit card to do that although it's usually to your benefit to get one. Just purchase something from one of their partners (car rental,hotel night, flowers, etc.)and credit the points to your ff account.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:13 PM
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Feeling a bit ripped off reading this thread, because here in Canada we don't have a lot of choice for reward programs. I use an RBC classic 2 Visa, but the points go towards a dollar value in purchasing tickets on any airline - I've made about $300 towards air tickets in the 6-7 years I've had the card, and I charge everything I can on it and pay the balance off every month. From what I've heard, the Capital One card isn't much better. I'd go for an Aeroplan card (Air Canada's rewards program) but my husband hates to fly Air Canada. Anyone out there know of a better program available to Canadians? I like to fly Continental and AA out of Calgary through the States, but I do not know of any Canadians banks who offer cards for them.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:23 PM
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abby,
please read my 5:07 post above.

I was very unhappy with aeroplan and I've just been crazy about TD Gold Travel.

gtg
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:25 PM
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Well, save the points like putting coins in your piggy bank....then count them after a year. Charge everything you can, keep a watch on your spending online and the points will up quickly. I just redeemed mine for 5 tickets to England/Scotland. Makes family travel more affordable!!
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:31 PM
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This is an interesting thread, and something I've often wondered about. But from what I'm reading, it seems that you would have to charge a lot more than what we ordinarily do for a mileage program to be effective. Johnnyman 7 says you have to charge more than $50K per year for the programs to be effective, is that true? We have opted for the cash back programs on both our Amex/Costco card and our Capital One Visa, but there's no way we could charge more than about $35K per year. Possibly this could work for us if we could put EVERYTHING on an Amex card, but some places we shop and eat don't accept American Express.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:37 PM
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abby, look at the cards offered by Citi from this link:

https://www.citicards.com/cards/wv/home.do

they have several cards with bonuses for American Airlines.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:41 PM
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gtg, can I ask what kind of bank account you have that saves you paying the annual fee? My husband and I currently do all of our banking through ScotiaBank, except I have an inactive account at RBC leftover from before we got married, which is attached to my Classic 2 Visa. We pay my blance monthly through an online transfer from our ScotiaBank account. This card looks much better, but if I could avoid paying the annual fee by signing up for an account as well that would be super.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:44 PM
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abby,
I don't pay any bank fees at all, including the gold card. I bank at TD and it's their most expensive account but if you keep a minimum balance of $5K in it all fees are waived. If you go under $5K, you start to pay fees but if you bring your balance up, the fees are waived again.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:44 PM
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azzure, I have a Capital One that I mainly use for overseas charges and get cash back. Right now I'm trying to accumulate miles on American because it works better in my area. That's why I'm using my Citi/Advantage card for most purchases. As Gardyloo mentioned in an earlier post, you can get domestic tickets for 20-25K miles and Europe for 50K. You just need to plan ahead to be able to use miles for airline tickets.
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Old Feb 26th, 2008, 07:47 PM
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esm I believe you have to live in the USA to get those cards. There is one Citibank in Toronto but that is a long way from me...
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