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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


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Jetset - 09-25-2019

Some changes in American Express world:

https://thepointsguy.com/news/amex-trip-delay-purchase-benefits/

To compete with Chase, the Platinum card and some of their co-brands are getting trip delay insurance coverage. Not just cancellation, but delay, so if you're stranded due to weather, you can make a claim for meals, etc.

They're also reducing their extended warranty and purchase protection coverage, but those are still pretty generous benefits.

The Green Card has due for an update for a while. It seems to have been pulled off the AmEx website, which might mean the rollout is coming soon. Rumored perks included bonus points on gas, streaming services, and an Amazon Prime credit, which would make it kind of a niche card but interesting for somebody who puts in a lot of miles behind the wheel.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - ChicagoFire - 09-25-2019

My 2c on this:

* One benefit to working for a company is accumulating rewards through hotels and air miles.
* Generally speaking you're better off taking advantage of sign up bonus miles and then canceling the card. I currently have a Cathay Pacific card and once I get the bonus miles I cancel. Unless someone can convince me otherwise staying loyal to a card doesn't reward you miles too much. I don't remember which card it was but the Delta $500 annual card I used to have had really good perks if you fly a lot. Stuff like using their lounges was cool but unfortunately I'm not at that lifestyle yet.

Anybody that is in any exclusive airline clubs please chime in. I've heard rumors of tarmac transport, priority customer service, and luxury gifts.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - zatara - 09-25-2019

(09-25-2019, 04:08 PM)ChicagoFire Wrote: My 2c on this:

* One benefit to working for a company is accumulating rewards through hotels and air miles.
* Generally speaking you're better off taking advantage of sign up bonus miles and then canceling the card. I currently have a Cathay Pacific card and once I get the bonus miles I cancel. Unless someone can convince me otherwise staying loyal to a card doesn't reward you miles too much. I don't remember which card it was but the Delta $500 annual card I used to have had really good perks if you fly a lot. Stuff like using their lounges was cool but unfortunately I'm not at that lifestyle yet.

Anybody that is in any exclusive airline clubs please chime in. I've heard rumors of tarmac transport, priority customer service, and luxury gifts.

Just a heads-up here - Cathay are really, really struggling at the moment with the Hong Kong political shenanigans. If the protests go on for a few more months you might want to start looking at transferring any Cathay points you have to somewhere else, because theres a real risk of them going bust.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - ChicagoFire - 09-25-2019

^^
Thanks for the heads up, totally wasn't thinking Hong Kong would affect them....I will look at another credit card lol.

Cathay better not screw me out of my air miles. Also forgot to mention Delta's loyalty program is pretty bad. They change rules, sometimes cut benefits, and there's no hard guidelines to getting invited into their exclusive 360 program.

Edit:
Thanks for bringing up the Kong Kong protests, just searched "cathay pacific hong kong protest" and there's news like the chairman resigning and all kinds of publicity that could drive the airline out of business. WOW!


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - ChicagoFire - 10-01-2019

I'm going to stop using my Cathay Pacific card. I already got the initial bonus and they have a secondary incentive of more mileage but I'm not playing around with the possibility of my benefits being cut off. Referring to the Hong Kong protests and that possibility of Cathay going bust. Thanks once again zatara.

Currently applying for a Costco card. Costco has vacation packages to certain areas I want to visit so might as well take advantage of that.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Nulled - 10-02-2019

Okay, right now in 2019 this is the best and cheapest place for flights. 

Skiplagged

https://skiplagged.com/

Basically how it works: 

"As an example, a traveler who wants to go to San Francisco from New York would book a flight that is ticketed for NYC -> San Fran -> Seattle and end their travel once they arrive in San Fran and skip the leg to Seattle. This results in savings of up to 80% using Skiplagged"

So you choose your airport and destination (obviously), and then you will get a super cheap flight, because you are skipping a certain leg of the flight (They call it Hidden City).  "Hidden-city flights refer to itineraries with multiple legs where the traveler exits prior to the final destination."

It results in cheap prices. I found a one way ticket from where I am (ATL) to Tokyo for only 578$. Not bad at all. 

Not sure how the Hotels work, but the prices are cheap too. I only have experience with the flights. 

The app is good on Android and iOS and right now I haven't found better airfare anywhere else.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - ChicagoFire - 10-02-2019

If the airlines catch you using skiplagged you could potentially lose your air miles and get banned from their services. I personally use skyscanner.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - churros - 10-02-2019

I never managed to find any decent deals on skiplagged. It's a major headache when travelling with luggage. Wouldn't worry about the airlines catching you, personally.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - zatara - 10-02-2019

(10-02-2019, 01:51 AM)ChicagoFire Wrote: If the airlines catch you using skiplagged you could potentially lose your air miles and get banned from their services. I personally use skyscanner.

Its possible to make savings through hidden city ticketing/skiplagging but this is important to note. Its a very fast way to get your frequent flyer accounts banned.

Also, if you skip one leg of your itinerary on your outbound journey the airline will regularly cancel all subsequent (ie, return) flights on the booking.

And obviously if you've checked bags they're going to go all the way through to your final destination, you can't ask the airline for them to come out halfway.

So caveat emptor.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - churros - 10-02-2019

How "regularly"? Do you have personal experience of this, or is it hearsay?


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - zatara - 10-02-2019

(10-02-2019, 01:20 PM)churros Wrote: How "regularly"? Do you have personal experience of this, or is it hearsay?

I've had personal experience of it happening to one of my friends. And its a very well known policy, that many airlines state publicly.

https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/holidays/article-7003117/No-way-airlines-cancel-return-ticket-miss-flight-out.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/skip-leg-return-flight-2012-1?r=US&IR=T

etc

A few minutes on Google and you can find out plenty more about it.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - churros - 10-02-2019

Just because they state it publicly doesn't mean they will catch you, especially if the connection is through another airline.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - zatara - 10-02-2019

(10-02-2019, 07:30 PM)churros Wrote: Just because they state it publicly doesn't mean they will catch you, especially if the connection is through another airline.

Its not a matter of "being caught", there are no humans doing manual investigations on this. If you're booked onto the one ticket, ie through an interline booking, it doesn't matter how many airlines you're flying on - its one single ticket reference. And if you miss a leg of the journey on that ticket reference then the airline's booking system will automatically cancel the remainder of your flights (including any return ones) on that ticket - if thats what their system is set up to do. Which, in most airline's cases, it is.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Nulled - 10-02-2019

I don't travel that much or use a credit card for airline points, so things like Skiplagged are good for me. Maybe if you have ran up all these points and are already locked in, sure.

Honestly, which point systems and miles for airlines are actually worth it? The only reason I haven't started is because I don't use a credit card.

And yeah, you can't take checked luggage out half way to the destination. A good thing to point out.


For regular flights I have been using Google Flights.


RE: Travel Rewards, Points, and Perks Lounge - Jetset - 10-03-2019

(10-02-2019, 11:19 PM)Nulled Wrote: Honestly, which point systems and miles for airlines are actually worth it? The only reason I haven't started is because I don't use a credit card.

In my opinion, the best beginner system for a U.S.-based traveler is to bypass the airline miles and focus on Chase points.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $300 travel credit and gives you 50% bonus to redeem the points for airfare, so with Chase Freedom Unlimited and Chase Sapphire Reserve, you're effectively getting 2.25% on all transactions and 4.5% on all dining and travel worldwide for $150/year. Unless you just don't actually spend enough on travel to come out ahead, that's pretty hard to argue with and easy to keep track of. You can usually book whatever you find on Google Flights through Chase pretty easily.

There are a couple of fee-free cards out there with no international transaction fees and dining/travel bonuses that might be better deals depending on your spend.