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-   -   Help with frequent flier card (https://www.fodors.com/community/united-states/help-with-frequent-flier-card-303244/)

4Janet Feb 12th, 2008 09:59 AM

Help with frequent flier card
 
I have nerver used frequent flier miles or had a card for it am starting to travel more and need help. I've looked at everything and I am going to concentrate on American Airlines. The cards I'm trying to choose between is the one at American Airlines or Citibank card(which has citibank american express) or Capitol one no hassel??? Want to get miles for Europe with American Aurlines. Any advice???

gail Feb 12th, 2008 10:14 AM

Airline cards and Capital One work slightly differently. The traditional airline-affinity credit card gives you one point per dollar spent (sometimes there are specials where you get more) plus usually a sign-on bonus of around 25,000 miles after your first few purchases. Then you go on-line and try to find flights for these points.

Capital One works in dollar amounts - almost like a regular reqard card. You get dollars off an airfare - up to the total amount - based on what you charge. While their selling point is no blackout dates, airfare on those heavy travel days may be expensive, so your dollars may be worth less.

Rules change all the time with airlines. While it is fun to collect miles towards a trip, there have been many posts here about people who feel robbed because flights were not available, price was too high, points expired - just make sure you understand the rules.

Also check if there is a mileage accruing limit on the credit card. One we have had a 10,000 miles/year limit until we upgraded (of course at higher fee) to a different card.

If you do not pay off balance each month, you are not getting anything since the interest will cost you more than any benefit you get from the card. But if you can be disciplined enough to do that, charge everything. We were able to charge our son's college costs each year, and that alone got him a free ticket home each year. Some colleges will not allow you to charge beyond a certain amount though. Same with when we bought a car - they would only let us charge $5000 of total cost on the card.

Hotel stays can also earn you miles - or you may prefer to keep a separate "frequent sleeper" account with a major hotel chain.

clarkgriswold Feb 12th, 2008 10:33 AM

Don't get the card if they're not offering you some hefty bonus miles. Join the American Airlines frequent flier program and the card offers will start coming. Only when they offer you a 20 or 25,000 mile bonus should you accept the credit card offer!

Marginal Feb 12th, 2008 11:04 AM

You do realize that you pay a much heftier interest rate for these ff cards? Citicard was at about 18% but has now come down to under 16%. If you can't pay off the balance, you end up paying for those miles. Citibank is far easier to use if you are going to accumulate American Airlines miles.

And yes, clarkgriswold has a great point about signing up as as American Airline ff program first.

4Janet Feb 12th, 2008 11:12 AM

I will pay the balance off each month and I see the citi card is 25,000 bonus miles. I noticed one of the cards said they would give you points for charging a flight and the miles plus if you charged for other people you would get points for their ticket and their miles???? Thanks

gail Feb 12th, 2008 11:23 AM

It is a good way to "double dip" - you charge a flight and get both the miles and the cost of the ticket. Have never heard that if you charge other people you get their points and miles - but there is lots I have not heard of.

All reward cards I have heard of have a fee - once we got ours waived by asking. Laziness and forgetfulness have been the reason we have not asked again - don't know if this is still possible.

jewelhawg Feb 12th, 2008 11:23 AM

If you shop online, you can earn lots of American Airline miles as well. Shop through www.aadvantageeshopping.com It will show you a list of all the online stores you can order from and earn anywhere from 1 mile per dollar spent to 5 or even 10 miles per dollar spent. Many of the online stores offer free shipping, too, with a minimum purchase. Or, some shops will allow you to order online, then pick up the merchandise at the store.

Just be sure to read the rules so you always get credited the miles for your purchases.

Like everyone else has stated, pay off that balance every month or you could have purchased an airline ticket with the interest you'll be charged. $-)

GoAway Feb 12th, 2008 12:21 PM

I think the 'double dip' for buying tickets is this: My FF affinity card is in my name and gives me FF miles for purchases.

If I buy tickets for that airline for both my husband and me, I get double miles for the cost of the tickets. When we fly, I get the actual miles I flew on my FF account, and he gets the actual miles that he flew on his FF account. So I get to 'double dip', he doesn't.

(I know that USAir used to do this, haven't checked lately, and in addition, I think the bonus miles may have varied based on whether the credit card was a 'regular' card vs. a 'platinum' or 'signature' card.)

Also note that the annual fee for some of these cards is pretty hefty. I don't have any idea what the interest rate is for my card - I don't carry a balance forward so it doesn't much matter.

gail Feb 12th, 2008 12:41 PM

The key here is that you each get FF miles in your own account for the actual flight (credit card charges go to whoever has elected the card to be theirs in terms of miles). But remember that mileage from 2 different accounts can rarely be combined. So if one person has 10,000 and the other 15,000 miles it is essentially worthless.

Gardyloo Feb 12th, 2008 01:04 PM

The AA credit card (the one issued by AA, not the Citi cards) isn't any screaming deal. One good thing about the Citi AA cards (the MC, not sure about the AX) is that Citibank offers quarterly reduced-mileage requirement awards, e.g. a domestic first class ticket costing 45K miles goes for 37.5K, or a Europe business class 90K mi. ticket goes for 82.5K miles, etc.

If you are stout of heart, this website has a ton of really useful information: http://www.freefrequentflyermiles.com/index.htm

jtrandolph Feb 12th, 2008 02:56 PM

4Janet,

We have had a Citibank AAdvantage card for years. We charge EVERYTHING on it. Even property taxes. I write maybe three checks a month.

BUT....we pay if off in full every month and do not pay any interest. In fact, the balance each month is automatically deducted from our bank account.

With AA we have never had a problem claiming an award. However, we can be flexible. And I always pay the extra $10, or whatever it is, to speak to an agent rather than trying do do it online. For example, I will ask for first class tickets to Lima in (whatever month) or coach tickets to Sydney (in whatever month). We have never been turned down. The agents have gone out of their way to make us happy.

Do some research and see what is best for you.

1JAR Feb 12th, 2008 07:39 PM

There are lots of options: this could almost be a hobby...in fact there is a website flyertalk and another webflyer that has regular info.

We use AmeEX for almost everything including paying groceries, IRS and large purchases such as car.. have never had a problem getting ff tickets. (Amex does restrict the airline partners but with the airlines themselves having airline partners and code shares..almost any airline is available if you ask)..& Amex gives you generous float days between bill close and late date due..good for travel so you don't have to be home to pay the bill...also I have always had 4 star customer servcie with Amex for charge disputes, card replacements and other travel assit.

One thing I found out about Airline affinity cards (US AIR etc) is they have very tight billing/paymnet cycles. FYI USAIR closed the bill on 2/4 and it is OVERDUE WITH HUGE LATE FEE and credit mark on 12/14. That is 10 days for them to mail to me and me to mail back: they do offer internet pay options but frankly personal finacaes on internet are to unsafe for me...

1JAR Feb 12th, 2008 07:47 PM

Forgot to add with AMEX our points never expire: American as well as almost all other airlines now have ff expirations..my husband lost 300,000. miles on one airline..they changed teh rules and he wasn't paying atentions ..ouch

DebitNM Feb 13th, 2008 06:26 AM

You may not want to bother trying to rack up miles as it is getting more and more difficult to get seats:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16486761/

These programs are run by and for airlines benefit, not for the consumer. They will never enable all those Billions of miles to be redeemed.


Perhaps it is better to get a card without an annual fee and save $$ for a ticket.

I also put everything on my AMEX Platinum Delta card and while I have gotten ticetks recently, it was a huge struggle.

Also, it was my experience that you need to call and deal with a person and be willing to be very flexible with dates, routes etc. Both agents that worked with me [one for more than an hour!] were great.

One last note - hats off to AMEX. After we finally found seats, I was 10,000 miles short. AMEX agreed to "loan" me the miles [based on my regular monthly expenditures]. I guess using the card for everything did pay off.

Deb
Deb

Dukey Feb 13th, 2008 06:33 AM

I have among others a Cap One card which I never use for airline points (as opposed to my specific airline-related other Visa card).

Why?

Because I have found that I need fewer points (figuring one point..sometimes two/dollar spent) than the equivalent ticket price multiplied by a factor of 80 for Cap One.

It USED to be that Cap One wanted you to make the airline reservations using THEIR specific travel service and the one time I did that I got a real hassle and was pressured to take an earlier flight "because it is cheaper."

That may have changed.

gail Feb 13th, 2008 06:54 AM

The only way to keep sane in these programs is to view it as a nice perk, with no guarantees, not something one works at to earn. My husband travels anyway and we pay for stuff anyway - so why not do something that costs us only an annual fee and maybe get some sort of reward.

We just booked 4 free tickets for trip to Alaska this summer - in and out of different airports. Would have cost us close to $1000 per ticket otherwise. But we would have gone anyway and did not plan our spending and travel for the last few years to capture these tickets.

Sort of like using coupons at the supermarket - you are going to buy laundry detergent anyway, so why not get $1 off.

NeoPatrick Feb 13th, 2008 07:28 AM

I've been a big user of AA Citibank Card for over 12 years now, and the points (miles) we've earned have taken us on many wonderful international trips.

I usually use my miles for 90,000 mile awards -- free business class ticket to Europe including two stopovers. Buying the same ticket would normally cost about $7000. To get that with Capital One's card would mean I'd have to spend 700,000 dollars. That AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN!

The best part of the AA Citibank card is that the miles you earn spending dollars can be combined with dozens of other earning possibilites, from actual miles gained flying, to buying flower and gifts on line, to dining out -- you name it. I'm amazed how quickly my miles add up when I'm not even flying anywhere!

cruisin_tigger Feb 13th, 2008 08:32 AM

"So if one person has 10,000 and the other 15,000 miles it is essentially worthless."

Not necessarily true. You can 'share' miles for a fee. Could still be cheaper than purchasing two tickets.

And don't forget to sign up for the AA dining program. Just register your CC and get extra miles just for eating out.


GoTravel Feb 13th, 2008 09:14 AM

Tried to cash in Capitol One miles for an airline ticket to Tortola. Capitol One told me they cap out at $700 for airfare.

NeoPatrick Feb 13th, 2008 09:44 AM

By the way, just today I received a "preapproved" Citibank American Express card notice in the mail. I was about to toss it, then started reading. I only keep an American Express Card for use at Costco (and the rare place I go that will only accept American Express). If I take the Citibank one, I not only get AA miles for it (and a 5000 mile bonus for signing up), but I get 1.2 miles per dollar for the first year. And as long as I keep my Citibank MasterCard (which of course I will do) then there will never be an annual fee for the American Express one. Seems like a win/win situation to me. I registered, was instantly approved, and called and cancelled my other American Express Card -- the one that supposedly gives me a Costco rebate, but I just got notice of that being $4.50 for the past year, despite my spending about $3000 on it. I've never understood that rebate thing with them, apparently a lot of things (including pharmacy, maybe) aren't included.


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