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

Help me pick a credit card that awards FF miles...

Help me pick a credit card that awards FF miles...

Old Nov 11th, 2003, 01:09 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,344
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Help me pick a credit card that awards FF miles...

Hi everyone,
My fiance and I are headed to Hawaii in August for our honeymoon, and I want this to be the first of many wonderful travel experiences we have together. However, my fiance is, shall we say, a bit frugal when it comes to spending money while I am hoping to travel as much as possible in our lives together! Anyways, I am hoping to sign us up for a credit card that awards FF miles, so that at some point, we can earn free tickets for another nice vacation. How do these cards work and which do you recommend? How does the "cashing in" of miles work -- how many miles are needed for specific places? Thanks for your expertise!
beachgirl86 is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 02:39 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,126
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Smarterliving.com has an excellent series of articles called the Joy of Miles. Included in this series is an article on various types of mileage earning credit cards and their pros and cons. Go to this link http://www.smarterliving.com/columns/joy/index.php and choose #5 for the info on credit cards. If you're new to FF programs in general, I would recommend reading the entire series for a good overview.
Patty is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 03:02 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
In addition, you can go to the search function at the top of this page, enter Frequent Flyer Miles and you will get lots and lots of posts, including a very long, very recent thread on this same topic.
Patrick is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 06:27 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 23
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I personally like the American Express Delta Airline card. 25,000 mile/dollars spent gets you a ticket or 10,000 for an upgrade.
navislonga is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 06:31 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 81
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Signing up for the FF program of the airline you are flying to HI is a good start. If it is on an airline that doesn't seem very practical (Aloha Air, for instance) see if that airline has a partnership with a mainland based airline and sign up for that program. I would say that the program (And credit card) you want to get depends a lot on geography. Living in Phoenix, America West makes sense for me but probably wouldn't for someone on the east coast. Check the airline's websites and look at their routes. Also look at their partners and see if they serve destinations you want to visit. Another reason I like AW is their thresholds are usually a little lower than other airlines for free tickets and other bennies. A round trip domestic coach ticket (Continental US) starts at 20K miles. Hawaii 35K, International usually starts at around 40K and goes up from there. If you don't fly much, don't fret. You can earn miles these days through airline partners such as the phone company, internet providers, dining clubs, ordering flowers, even mortgage companies. Charge as many of the above purchases to the FF Credit Card and earn trips that much faster. Just do your research - you'll find the airline FF program that best suits your needs and lifestyle.
bonesaz is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 06:31 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 599
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Try flyertalk.com for some folks who take the FF idea to the next level. They are great about advice as well!
panhandle is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 07:05 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,885
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with BONESAZ,

First, pick the airline/airline alliance that will be the best for you. The decision should be based on where you will be living, what kind of traveling will you like to do, etc...

Southwest has one of the easiest FF programs, but they can't take you to Australia. AA, UA are the most generous with miles and since they are part of airline alliances, the miles could take you just about everywhere in the world. CO, DL altered their programs so drastically recently that even the most loyal customers are thinking about moving on. Besides CO and DL are kown in the FF community to have the most difficult redemption options. Anyway, my point is that first you should pick an airline and only then look into the partner credit card company as an addition. One word of warning. Don't charge and leave balances on these cards. If you are paying interest, it would be cheaper just to buy a ticket. They are great when used properly, very costly if not.
As somebody said, checkout www.flyertalk.com for inside info on the frequent flyer community and everything associated with it.

Congratulations and good luck!
AAFrequentFlyer is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 09:00 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,558
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think the whole point of the FF flyer program in the first place was to secure customer loyalty. It makes sense to find an airline that has many flights in and out of the airport you frequent most often, and stick to that airline. In our case the airline was Northwest. We flew to Hawaii on FF last year and have tickets to return in August, this time flying first class using FF miles. We don't fly very often. Most of the miles were obtained by following Northwest's promotions for cell phone, MCI, etc. Also, I charge EVERYTHING on my NW Visa Card. AAFrequentFlyer is so right, though. Don't charge more than you can pay off each month!
Maggi is offline  
Old Nov 11th, 2003, 10:34 PM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,348
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I've been using frequent flyer programs for years - mainly AA but also other airlines (couldn't always fly AA). I've had several airline credit cards and still use my AA card mainly. But most airlines have severely curtailed their frequent flyer programs, adding new fees and restrictions and raising mileage needed to get a ticket.

For years I used my AA miles to travel at the holidays for 25K miles. Not this year - there were no seats available. And there are change fees and booking fees now that there never were. This all makes the miles much less valuable in my view. I kept the AA credit card ($60/year) one more year in hopes I can make the 45K needed for a first class ticket, but after that, I think I'm done with mileage credit cards. Miles are just money, after all - I'm going to look for a cash-back card or something similar that is worth more.

Andrew
Andrew is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 04:31 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22,617
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
This is a good forum to benefit from other more frugal traveling tips - not just FF miles. If either of you travel for business, obviously you should seriously consider that airline as you loyalty airline. Remember that miles can not be combined between different people (for example - if you have 20,000 miles and he has 20,000 that does not equal one ticket at 25,000) So consolidating what FF account miles get dumped into is useful.

Many airlines used to require just 25,000 for a continental US RT ticket - some have raised that or added other restrictions such as Saturday night stay. Also look into "frequent sleeper" programs at major chain hotels such as Marriot or Sheraton if you do any traveling - perhaps your Hawaii hotel is a participant in some hotel program. That way you can either start a hotel account or have it dumped into an airline FF account.

gail is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 05:36 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,749
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I have a different feeling about the AA miles than Andrew. While I agree that booking is difficult and they have increased numbers of miles needed, they have also added lots more ways to get the miles. I've gotten thousands of free miles through their IDine program for example, getting tons of miles for eating at restaurants that I'd eat at anyway.

And while they may just seem like "cash", I have learned to save mine for the biggies. I usually use mine to do International business class tickets and include the maximum number of stopovers. My 90,000 mile ticket I got last summer would have cost nearly $10,000. That's a LOT of cash.

I stand by AA being one of the best. But I agree with others than it has to be an airline that will be convenient for you to use.
Patrick is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 05:55 AM
  #12  
MileKing
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I post very frequently over at FlyerTalk and have accumulated around 3 million miles in various airline programs, not including hotel program points. In general, I agree with those who note that you have to decide what airline is best for you before picking the most useful credit card. Your "best" airline should be tied to which carriers serve your local airport, where you typically fly to (or would like to fly to), overall award levels, and ease in redeeming the miles for awards. From my experience across most of the major US airlines, American and United offer the best award availability, while Continental is the most difficult to claim awards on. Delta is closer to the bottom too, with Northwest and US Air in the middle of the pack.

Having said that, I will tell you that my credit card of choice is the Starwood American Express card. Tied to the Starwood Hotels Preferred Guest Program, the card offers 1 Starpoint per dollar spent. What is nice about the card is that it offers 1 to 1 transfers of points to miles with most major airline programs (2 to 1 with United so I wouldn't recommend this card if that is your choice of airline). When you transfer 20K points to 20K miles, Starwood kicks in an extra 5K bonus. Annual fee is only $30 per year compared to $50+ on most airline linked credit cards. You can also use the starpoints for free stays at Starwood hotels (Westin, W, Sheraton, St. Regis, etc.). I also have a VISA card that I use as a back-up where AMEX is not accepted. You probably should be charging at least $4000 per year to the card, maybe more, for it to make sense (to cover the annual fee).

On most airlines, it takes 25K miles for a free coach ticket within the continental US and 35K to Hawaii. For first class, it is usually 45K in the continental US and 75K to Hawaii. International travel typically starts at about 50K for coach and 90K for business class. And remember, award seats are capacity controlled. If you can't plan your trips well in advance (9 months+ for popular destinations), you may have trouble securing award tickets on dates you want. You do need to be flexible.

Hope this helps. Feel free to post additional questions here.
 
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:08 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 599
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Out of curiosity MileKing,Patrick , and others which card DO you recommend for United?
I currently use AMEX Gold for all purchases (groceries,gas,dining, and everything else I can) I really like the pay it off every month and use it like cash idea. I also have a Bank of America Debt card that offers 2:1 miles for purchases that I cant use Amex.
I use United as much as possible as they are really the easiest to use from my local airport.
I am not a business traveler and accumulate my miles from travel and domestic type purchases if that makes any difference.
Thanks for any advice!
panhandle is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:52 AM
  #14  
MileKing
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Panhandle, since United does not participate in AMEX Membership Rewards, your only real option is the United Mileage Plus VISA card offered thru Bank One (formerly FirstUSA). The basic card runs $60 per year, I think, for the annual fee and earns one mile per dollar charged. In my view, $60 is a lot for an annual fee and only worth it if you plan to charge at least $6000 per year. However, you should be able to get about 15K bonus miles for signing up for the card. Check the United website for details.
 
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:55 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 11
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I use the Northwest Visa. NW partners include KLM, Continental, and Delta, so the miles you accrue are interchangeable for use w/these airlines.
cp415260 is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 06:58 AM
  #16  
MileKing
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Correction to the above. To get the 15K bonus miles, you need to get the United MileagePlus Gold card which carries an $85 annual fee. My suggestion would be to take that card and pay the fee the first year to get the 15K miles. Before your second year annual fee is charged, downgrade to the regular card ($60 annual fee).
 
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 07:16 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,763
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Charging large purchase on your FF card can really rack up the miles.

I bought 2 cars and put college tuition for 2 kids on the cards.

Also look for promotions. One time while flying, I read about a double miles promotion on UAL , but you had to register first. At a layover, I called in and registered and got double miles for the Hawaii trip that I was taking.

I have earned a copule of hundred thousand miles just by taking advantage of double mileage and other promotions. For example, E*Trade was giving out miles if you opened up an account. I just transferred some stocks that I owned to their account...and , voila, more miles.

I too, prefer using my award for the big ticket like international first class tickets with a street value of 8-10,000 each.
Dick is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:05 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,715
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
One thing to consider for whatever card you choose is to have one credit card account for both of you. That way you CAN combine miles from both your purchases which will add up faster. It also saves $ if there's an annual fee. While you may not have enough for 2 free tickets, you may have enough for one.

Also, many of your monthly expenses that you may pay separately like long distance phone bills, cable tv, cell phone etc. can be payed on your credit card so you get more points.
mclaurie is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:09 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 482
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another card to consider (I don't speak from personal experience) is a cash back one. I think Amex has one that gives 3% back (5% if you carry a balance), but I'm not sure of the specifics. Considering that it takes 25,000 miles to earn a domestic ticket, 3% of 25k would be $750 back. Probably more than that domestic ticket. However, FF credit cards often have specials for double miles, etc. which could make it easier to get a free ticket.

That said, I still use FF cards. I have a Chase Continental I mostly use for work travel and expenses and a Delta Amex that both my wife I use. Amex is nice that they give double miles at grocery stores, gas stations, etc. They have other promotions too.

I'm not saying a cash-back card is better, just giving something else to consider. Perhaps someone else has more experience with them.
puddy is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2003, 08:20 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
personally, i like Citibank AAdvantage. you collect miles in many ways and since it is part of the oneworld program, there are so many airlines that you can earn miles on (even if it isn't American that you are flying). American is affiliated with so many airlines, you get a wider chance of earning miles.

also, beware of hotwire and priceline tickets. those are cheapies and airlines will not award miles for those flights.

good luck! go to maui--it's the best.
nevertiredoftravel is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:51 AM.