Frequent Flyer Credit Cards Worthwhile?

Feb 10th, 2004, 06:20 PM
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Frequent Flyer Credit Cards Worthwhile?

I'm debating whether or not to acquire a United Airlines Mileage Plus Visa Card. There's a 60 dollar annual fee. There's no question I will accumulate the miles for award travel to Europe. But will I acually get a ticket when the time comes? Or will I hear them say "sorry...capacity seats...blah...blah...blah"?
platzman is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:24 PM
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Believe me, if you charge a lot to your credit cards, the $60 annual fee is well worth it. Especially if you sign up for the card when they're giving their bonus miles. The miles earned from credit cards are no different than miles earned from air travel (except that credit card mileage doesn't count towards elite status) and so qualifying and finding award travel will be the same as always.
gottabee is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:26 PM
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I wouldn't pay anyone $60 to use their credit card myself, but I know some people do. I have had a lot of trouble getting seats on United flights using my FF miles, just like some other airlines. Yes, they do have very limited seats they allow for FF usage.
Christina is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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Gottabee's got a point. I, too, thought $60/yr. is quite high. But if you will earn thousands of points especially when airlines give bonus points, then it'll be worth it.
francophile03 is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:28 PM
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If you're going to spend 20,000 dollars a year or more...

and you're going to use some other card which has no benefits...

and you don't know any other affiliate card that would serve you just as well at a lower (or no) fee...

then I would say, sure, why not give it a try.

I have 160,000 miles on USAirways that I often fear I will never get to use - - even though they are now affiliated with United, and thereby double our choices.

But our daughter in Los Angeles called this past weekend and wants/needs to come home fo Presidents' Day weekend, with no good low cost options (short notice). Pop. Easily got her a good ticket for 20,000 of those miles with four days notice. So it is hardly impossible.

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:31 PM
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For what it's worth I've earned and used thousands and thousands of miles on my CitibankAAdvantage Card (American Airlines). When I first got it I think there was maybe a $50 fee, but when it came time for renewal I called them, pointed out I had charged well over $10,000 on it in a year, and they've waived the annual fee ever since.
Realize that to use FF miles you have to play the game. Plan ahead, know when you can first book award tickets and follow that schedule to avoid any disappointments.
Patrick is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:34 PM
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Yes you should get it. Also see if your bank offers airline debit cards as well. Miles for groceries, gas, burgers. We've upgraded a number of times on miles earned through daily purchases of ordinary things. You'd be amazed how fast they add up.
Gardyloo is online now  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:40 PM
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i do not like paying for credit cards either but we have a couple which we do pay for---we have northwest at about $30 a year---we each have one (seperate accounts) and we each have a delta american express card....we pay about $85 each for these....we charge all our groceries on them and use them overseas....we do not use the northwest cards overseas as they charge a large conversion charge....mbna is the best for low conversion fees along with capital one....but i don't think either has airline miles...

i get huge airline miles by continually changing my long distance carriers for our two telephone really adds up...

in short i use them as much as i can to get ff tickets....the secret to ff tickets is plan way in advance....for instance you can book on northwest 352 days in advance.....the tickets can be returned for about a $50 fee if you need to change them for another time...

this year we are going to venice and to bangkok on ff miles mainly through grocery purchases, telephone service points and a few flights segments, but not many, plus some regular shopping,....we do not travel for business either...
rhkkmk is online now  
Feb 10th, 2004, 06:51 PM
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There is no question that you can more than compensate the cost of the annual fee with miles, promotions and the occasional spiff. I value miles at 1.5 cents each, which is conservative. That means that if you can run $4,000 annually in basic charges, you will come out even on the fee. (There should also be a sign-up bonus that will put you ahead of the game for the first year or more.) I have mine set up to draw the entire balance from my checking account on the same day each month and I run about $20,000 a year through the account. (You do not want to carry a balance on these types of cards.) I also get discount coupons for airfare and "miles off" coupons for awards. Work it and it will pay off in spades for you. My card was worth around 35,000 miles to me last year (and that got me a free ticket to Rio.)
Flyboy is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 07:53 PM
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You can get a Capital One credit card that gives you air miles and has NO FEE. I would never pay a fee for a credit card.

We put everything on our card. It adds up very quickly and is certainly worth it, but don't pay $60 a year for the privilege. Get a free card.
SalB is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 08:30 PM
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Totally agree with the Capital one credit card. I charge everything possible, pay the balance off monthly. Mileage adds up quickly and you can use the mileage on ANY airline with NO blackout dates and NO limited seating. 21 days notice needed
John is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 08:48 PM
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I also use Citibank/AA at no fee, but watch it -- interest rate is higher. Be sure you pay on time.
I am going to Sweden on my FF miles from that card this summer. Yes, it is worth it.
joramrose is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 08:49 PM
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Yes, but don't you need 30,000 miles to go anywhere with Capital One? On United, you only need 20,000 to go domestic.
laurelt is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 08:55 PM
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Capital One is 20,000 miles domestic . . . if you're interested in domestic.
SalB is offline  
Feb 10th, 2004, 09:04 PM
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I used to have a United card but the interest was incredibly high in addition to the annual fee. If you can pay it off every month and not get hit with interest charges it might pay to have it.

We had problems booking with United with FF miles. Ended up being routed on Canadian Airlines through Toronto with plane change and on to Zurich. Our destination was Rome and we got to pay for the fare between Zurich and Rome. We were pretty green re European travel at the time, but that was enough for us. We quit the card and quit United Airlines too. Have been flying with Brit Air since and our FF trip with them went like clockwork.

The only mileage cards we have now are Capital Ones and as yet we have not used them to a FF flight.
Giovanna is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 02:31 AM
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I have the card you're thinking about and have been satisfied with it. Many years I've been able to have them waive the annual fee by threatening (nicely, of course) to cancel the card. So I charge nearly everything and pay it off every month. This year I'm taking my 2nd (maybe 3rd) European trip in 3 years thanks to the miles.

Regarding seats: maybe I've just been lucky, but I've had no problems -- e.g., in October I booked a free NY-London R/T that leaves this month (Feb.). Maybe I'm lucky due to off-season dates, I don't know, but I also used it for a July trip to Brussels/Paris (open jaw), with similar lead time.

Good luck!
scottvan is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 03:42 AM
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I have a UAL Visa Card and think it's a great deal. If you are disciplined enough to pay the card off every month, it can be a great value.

I put both my kids college tuition on the card. I bought 2 cars using the card. I've taken advantage of large sign up bonuses for opening accounts with UAL Visa Card partners.

It can really add up, I figure that by using the miles for international first class tickets , I got over $30,000 in "free tix" in the last 5 years.

However, if you have to pay monthly interest, it probably doesn't make sense to depend on this card.

Dick is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 05:06 AM
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Just got 4 tickets to Colorado in high ski season using FF miles. Made the arrangements only a couple of weeks ago. It is the luck of the draw and the destination.
Gretchen is online now  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:22 PM
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Thanks everyone for the info. I think I'm going ahead with either a UAL or Capitol One card. United and its partners (esp. Austrian Airlines and Lufthansa) are the carriers I'm most likely to use.
platzman is offline  
Feb 11th, 2004, 04:39 PM
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I'm doing a kitchen and 2 bath remodeling and putting everything on my Amex card for double miles..but then I have a lovely contractor who gets me his discount price . I've paid for 2 cars, paid off the bill with a check from my equity account at a very low interest..and make an appropriate car payment every month!

I switch my long distance whenver I get a great deal, use idine and do anything I can to get miles. We get at least 2 trips to Europe every year. I have had the same 5 dollar bill in my wallet for 5 months, at least...CHARGE!

But pay it off every month!
jody is offline  

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