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Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Printable Version

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Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Jetset - 06-05-2019

Decided to kick this off, figured an open discussion is valuable. These things add up fast and can completely change what options are within reach for regular travelers.

Today's news is that the American Express Gold's dining bonus, 4x Membership Rewards points, now applies worldwide - not just in the United States. American Express acceptance is hit-and-miss internationally, but with the $25,000 supermarket bonus which can be used to buy gift cards at 4x and the Ebates partnership allowing you to generate Membership Rewards points from your other purchases, this is probably one of the best deals going in terms of the fee-to-points ratio on a premium card.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - shemp - 06-05-2019

Suppose I fly 1 US to Europe open-jaw round trip ($633 retail in 2019), and 2 one-way flights within Europe ($138 and $133 in 2019) and spend maybe $5000 on credit card total during year, since most payments in cash. Are these travel rewards cards worth the effort in a situation like mine?

Another issue is that I constantly have issues wth card verification. For example, my BankOfAmerica visa wants to send an SMS to my USA mobile number to verify usage of the card in Ukraine (to buy ticket wth Ukrainian International Airlines at their website). But my current SIM is Ukrainian. My phone number on file with BofA is a google voice number, so not sure why they are still using the old USA number. Help desk can't help me. Also had problems with Ally Bank debit card. Finally my Schwab debit card allowed the purchase to go through. I would hate to get one of these fancy rewards cards and then find out it's blocked all over the place.

BTW Incredible how hostile American financial institutions are to Ukraine. Ally, for example, initially refused to set a travel notice for Ukraine because the Treasury has sanctions on Crimea region of Ukraine. Idiot didn't read that the sanctions only apply to Crimea. Saw the word Ukraine and said no. Took me several hours to resolve this so debirlt card can be used at ATMs in Ukraine. Vanguard blocked access to their website from Ukraine for several years, though finally this year they allow it. On and on it goes. I have total of 5 bank accounts because of bad experiences in the past with ATM usage blocked for some arbitrary reason.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Jetset - 06-05-2019

(06-05-2019, 03:36 PM)shemp Wrote: Suppose I fly 1 US to Europe open-jaw round trip ($633 retail in 2019), and 2 one-way flights within Europe ($138 and $133 in 2019) and spend maybe $5000 on credit card total during year, since most payments in cash. Are these travel rewards cards worth the effort in a situation like mine?

I know back in the day Ukraine was always on the red flag list for credit card fraud, but I assume it's a little less crazy now than it was back then. I also know I used to bank with Bank of America and hated them. Chase, Schwab, nearly everybody is better to deal with.

So, if you're keeping your credit card spend low it obviously doesn't make the math better, but I'm assuming you're eligible for U.S. credit cards based off what you said. Here's an example:

Capital One QuickSilver has no annual fee and pays 1.5% cashback on all transactions. Seventy-five bucks is seventy-five bucks. That's a good baseline.

Chase Sapphire Preferred has a $95 annual fee, and pays 2x on all travel and dining expenses, 1x on everything else, with a 25% bonus if you use them in the Chase travel portal. So you've got $900 of airfare ($22.50), plus $4,100 in other spend ($51.25). Depending on how much you're spending on restaurants, bars, and coffee shops in there, you might break even, but you get some pretty good free travel insurance built in: baggage delay/damage, trip interruption/cancellation/delay, car rental primary.

If you go the next step up, Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee, but rebates your first $300 in travel expenses. Pays 3x on travel and dining, and a 50% bonus through the portal. So if you have some dining spend in there, you might still be close to breaking even, but you also get emergency medical, dental, and evacuation insurance and free Priority Pass airport lounge access. They're not the fanciest, but it probably means a big comfy chair in a quiet room with coffee and snacks at Lviv, Kharkiv, and Kiev, instead of waiting at your gate. It looks like the ones at KBP and LWO even have showers.

So I think you're close to the point where any of these could make sense, depending on which perks you would actually use. I got caught with my dick out in a winter storm this year and was extremely pissed that I didn't use my CSR and didn't have trip delay insurance, ended up losing a night at a mountain resort and spending $200 out-of-pocket on an airport hotel. Worse, I was traveling with a woman so I couldn't even try to bag a flight attendant.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Jnx - 06-05-2019

Any cool tips for manufactured spend?

One time I was able to buy about $2k worth of silver with a credit card and resell it a few days later for the same value in cash. Cool way to get more points