Playing the Airline Credit Card game

Old Nov 7th, 2008, 04:58 AM
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Playing the Airline Credit Card game

Ok, first of all, I do not "use" credit cards. In fact, I have a hatred of all debt. With that said, we have managed to use the US Airways credit card system to our advantage.

1 ) We converted our regular bank debit card to a US Air card. Same bank, BOA. Cost per year is $35. We got 5,000 miles to start with. We get 1 mile for every $2 spent.

2) We got the US Airways Visa, bonus of 25,000 miles. $1 mile for every $1 spent. Cost per year is $79

3) We got the US Airways MC, bonus of 25,000 miles. $1 mile for every $1 spent. Cost per year is $75. Transferred our Visa balance to MC, another 5,000 miles. We will keep the card for 1 year then cancel. No penalty other than the $75 fee.

So, we pay for every single thing we can with the Visa. We pay off the Visa with the debit card every 2 weeks. We essentially get 3 miles for every $2 spent and pay no interest.

In less than 3 months we have racked up almost 80,000 miles, costing less than $200 total. With our other miles, we now have our FF trip to Europe for the summer and enough left over for kids flights to Florida for Christmas and for a star alliance flight (if needed) inside Europe.

Anyone else have any great ideas for mileage?
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 05:08 AM
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In the spring, I received an offer from American Express for their gold card. The offer was 50,000 points for charging $500 by a certain date (you had about 1 1/2 months to charge that much). No fee the first year. So just for signing up, I got enough points for a flight to Europe. Yay!
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 05:43 AM
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Ky, you got me thinking so I looked up AmEx. Seems that the green card (maybe the others too) allows you to transfer points, at no charge, between various airline partners. Unfortunately, while I have miles scattered across multiple accts, none of mine will work for the transfer.

But, for folks that have miles in several of the partner lines, that could also work out well.

Keep the ideas coming, we can travel for less, yes we can!!!
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 06:03 AM
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Actually, you have paid at least $40,000 to $50,000 REAL dollars for those miles so they are not "free"
in any way, shape, or form.

We use our USAirways Visa for purchases and also pay it off monthly. We spend an average of $150,000+ every year using the credit card.

The miles are not cheap and that is one reason i will not spend THOUSANDS of miles for an airline trip which only costs me a couple hundred in real money.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 07:50 AM
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allows you to transfer points, at no charge, between various airline partners.

This isn't the way it works. With Amex, you earn Membership Rewards points. Among other things, you can choose to transfer those points to one of their airline partners. Once transfered, however, those points become miles in that airline program.

You cannot transfer any (or at least any that I know of) miles from a frequent flyer program to Amex. So, it will not help you consolidate scattered miles. Indeed, there is no good way to consolidate miles at all - just use them for magazines.

Personally, I find the best card to be the Starwood Amex. One point per dollar, and you can either use the points for hotel stays (often better value than for flights) or transfer them to various airlines - most at 1:1, and with a 5k mile bonus when you transfer 20k points.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 08:22 AM
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The AmEx 50,000 point offer is by mail invitation only AFAIK. Most of their mail offers are only for 25,000 which is why I couldn't resist this 50,000.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 08:31 AM
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I'm sure you are like me because I pay my AA card off every month. I use it for EVERYTHING possible. I am not using it as a credit card. When I get my statement, all of it are things I would have written a check or paid cash for. I'm not going around buying a bunch of things just to rack up miles. It's amazing how fast they add up.

So, besides the yearly fee, they are free miles. A friend and I both went to Europe last summer on airline miles. We had a large choice of dates and times to choose from. Another friend did not have miles and went about the same time. He spent $1500 for his tickets. My $50 yearly fee is a pretty good trade off.

As far as how to rack up more miles, if I go somewhere with a group, I pay with the card and they all give me cash. If I order things for work, I pay for it and turn it in to get reimbursed. Several times I've made travel reservations for someone, paid for it with my card and they paid me back. This doesn't always work because some places make you present that card when you get there but that hasn't been very often.A lot of people don't feel very competent making reservations and know I'm a frequent traveler and ask me to help them. Getting those miles is a bonus for me.
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Old Nov 7th, 2008, 08:52 AM
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daveesl: I'm confused, is the US Air card also a debit card?

And forgive my stupidity but how do you pay your visa with a debit card?

I regularly use my Hilton Honors card to build up points. I have a bofa debit card, so I'm intrigued.
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Old Nov 8th, 2008, 04:41 PM
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Yes, US Airways (and also many other airlines)has a BOA debit and Visa. There is also a MC from Barclays.

I have my payments set to where I use the debit card to pay for all bills. With the Visa, I just send in payments every couple of weeks, often getting ahead of the game. So, for every $1 on the Visa, I get a mile. For every $2 on the debit I get a mile. If I pay off $2 on the Visa with the debit, I essentially get 3 miles for every $2 spent.

As to "costs", yes there is the annual fee, but like has been said by others, if you pay off the entire balance then you pay no interest. It is fairly easy to rack up substantial payments in a year, equating to miles.

So, for the 3 cards, the annual cost is about $180. I can't buy RT tickets for 2 to almost anywhere for that kind of money. Since we go to Europe a couple of times a year on vacation, it works out.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 04:14 AM
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We have Alaska Airlines BOA Visa cards that we use for everything. The card is $75/year and comes with one $50 "buddy pass" for any Alaska Air destination per year. Combining the miles I get for actual frequent flying with our purchases over the past ten months, we had enough to recently book tickets for a European trip in the spring. My best "get" was putting a car purchase on the card - paid off immediately, of course.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 05:56 AM
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Do you mean that you've actually been able using your miles to book a trip to Europe next summer? Then you are to be congratulated since the availability of frequent flyer seats is very limited, much more so that a few years ago. i gave up on air mileage cards last year after trying unsuccessfully to use my copious milage for a Europe trip. Now I use cash back cards. Much more reliable.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 06:16 AM
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I have never been able to book a flight with my USAir miles to get a free trip. We always travel in off or shoulder season. The best I could do once was to use them to upgrade to business class.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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Funny, DH and were were just having this discussion this morning. Like RDJ, we decided to stick with the cash rebate card as our primary CC. We just got a business class saver award ticket to Europe with Lufthansa for milage we had been accumulating (forever), but did have to make a concession on our flights in order to do so. Decided we could take the cash rebate, put it in our "travel acct" (yes we have a separate savings designated for just that)save it for travel and then get the schedule we really want in the future.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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As to getting the trip, we had multiple options, if we were willing to be flexible. We could have flown in/out Frankfurt with almost no problem. Paris,Rome,Milan were forget its. Amsterdam, London and Munich were not a big problem.

So, we chose to fly into Amsterdam and to fly out of Munich. Now that we are going to rent an RV, RT from Munich, well it would have been a bit smarter to do the Munich RT with the plane, but we didn't consider the RV until after we booked the flights.

I will say that flights have been disappearing quickly. Last week I had a lot more options and cities than this week.

So we booked on United through USAir.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 07:47 AM
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How did you do your booking to get the United flight with USAir? I have also tried to do that in the past without success. Both airlines gave me the runaround, so I would love to know the secret for future planning.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 07:52 AM
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We use a Midwest Airlines card and charge absolutely everything and then pay it when the bill arrives. It costs $70 a year. We have never paid a penny in interest.

So far we've gone to Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas twice, and Europe on their dime. In six years, we paid $420 in dues. I figure we received about $6,500 in free flights---not bad in my book!
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 08:35 AM
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Absolutely. The airfare for our trip, using the United site would have been almost $3,000. Granted, we always find cheapo flights and would never pay that much, but for our $180 in fees plus the $200 in booking costs, that isn't a bad deal.

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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 08:49 AM
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My Capital One card costs $19 per year. When I first got it (maybe 10 years ago), you could only use it on an American-based airline and the miles expired in five years. A couple of years ago, it changed. Now it can be used on any airline, no blackout dates, and the miles never expire.

The only thing that is worse with the new plan is that it used to be 50,000 miles for a European ticket, no matter what the price of the ticket was. Then it went up to 60,000. Now, it's based on the price of the ticket. Anything over $600, just multiply the price of the ticket by 100, and that's how many miles you need.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 09:12 AM
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Don't forget all the shopping you can do through the airlines sites, on top of the miles on the card you can earn 2-10 more miles for regular purchases through the airline website's shopping portals or http://www.skymilesshopping.com/

I buy almost everything online that is humanly possible and bank 8 international flights a year on FF miles, granted it helps to live in a hub city.

Also, try points.com, you may be able to transfer you miles from one program to another to consolidate, there are restrictions and of course fees, though it may be worth it for you.
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Old Nov 9th, 2008, 10:40 AM
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Hi Susan, are you saying that Cap One makes you pay a multiple of miles compared to price?

In Star Alliance the present rate is 50,000 miles to Europe, 60,000 for N Asia, 25,000 in US. That rate is for the super saver flights and will go up by 5,000 at the end of either November or December. Normal miles is double that.

USAir also has off-peak dates that are half of the normal number, which is a super deal, if you can take the time off on those dates.
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