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New Contributor
Posts: 67
Registered: ‎05-05-2017
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

With co-branded airline cards, the miles earned are usually worth more than the usual 1 cent per point redemption.  For example, on Delta, depending on when you look, you might be able to book a round trip transatlantic for 50K miles, which would be worth a good bit more than $500.  That plus the lounge access and waived fees might make it a good deal for a $95 AF for somewhat frequent flyers based at a Delta hub.

 

Frequent Contributor
Posts: 308
Registered: ‎07-08-2016
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


Falere wrote:

 I can easily see the value of some higher fee cards, like the Sapphire Reserve.  I am trying to understand the value of cards like the Amex Delta Gold and Citi ThankYou Premier:  midtier travel cards with annual fees (in these cases, both are $95).  With the Delta Gold, it comes with other benefits that I think are useful (e.g., discounted in-flight purchases, priority boarding, etc).  The ThankYou Premier redeems at more than 1 cent per point for airline purchases if you use the ThankYou travel center. 

 

Most of what I heard about the value of travel cards is the use of transfer partners which can yield higher earnings.  Let's assume someone doesn't use transfer partners; other than the additional benefits, why would a Delta Gold be better than a 2% cashback card (for example)?  Are the miles earned worth more than 1 point, like the ThankYou Premier?  Or, am I not being fair by excluding the additional benefits in the card's value?  Is the additional value of ThankYou points worth it to use the ThankYou Premier over a cashback card?

 

I'm pretty open-minded and would consider cards like these if I understood the value - which is not as clear as a cashback.


 

The answer to your question cannot be answered until you place a dollar value on these benefits. So yes, to exclude some of these benefits is unfair but it's also subjective. Perhaps you really do place $0 of value on lounge access, travel insurance, or hotel status. For someone else, they will place value on it. There's a lot of people who fly Delta a lot and have an the AmEx Platinum card for no other reason than its lounge access and other travel benefits. They may spend less on the card each year than the AF.

 

To reiterate what you yourself said, points are not as clear as cashback. Someone people can manage to make a HHonors point worth 1.5 cents while someone else (raises hand) can't pass 0.5 cents on a good day. It's not that I'm doing it wrong or HHonors sucks an egg, it's just that my personal travel habits and locations don't lend themselves to better HHonors redemption values. On the other hand, I can routinely get 4 cents or more of value per United MileagePlus mile, while someone else may not. Compare that to use a TY or UR point on their portal for 1.5 cents and United miles wins out big time.

 

But, I'm not you. Only you can tell you if a Marriott or SPG point is worth more than a TY point or cashback.

Super Contributor
Posts: 5,889
Registered: ‎06-05-2013
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

Mid-tier cards can be good for the signups if you have need of points in certain programs. They can also be of use for people who frequent those travel partners. For example, If someone is always checking luggage and flies Delta all the time the card may be worth it in that case. The premier card can be good for the signup and if you are heavily invested in TY points and want to pair it with the prestige etc.That being said you need to be careful with mid-tier cards. Not everyone will have a use for them and if someone is looking for domestic flight redemptions cash back cards are probably going to be better most of the time. You have to be honest with yourself and your goals. If you do not have high spend and would struggle to make signup spend and would not be able to build up enough points for travel awards then these cards may not be good or if you are going for redemptions that are difficult to secure/require more flexibility than you have etc. I'm sure there are people who go for these cards and get a bunch of points and then don't end up using them or end up getting a horrible rate of return. It requires some discipline when playing this game. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 826 4/16/17, Last App 5/4/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until undecided
Super Contributor
Posts: 5,889
Registered: ‎06-05-2013
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


iced wrote:

Falere wrote:

 I can easily see the value of some higher fee cards, like the Sapphire Reserve.  I am trying to understand the value of cards like the Amex Delta Gold and Citi ThankYou Premier:  midtier travel cards with annual fees (in these cases, both are $95).  With the Delta Gold, it comes with other benefits that I think are useful (e.g., discounted in-flight purchases, priority boarding, etc).  The ThankYou Premier redeems at more than 1 cent per point for airline purchases if you use the ThankYou travel center. 

 

Most of what I heard about the value of travel cards is the use of transfer partners which can yield higher earnings.  Let's assume someone doesn't use transfer partners; other than the additional benefits, why would a Delta Gold be better than a 2% cashback card (for example)?  Are the miles earned worth more than 1 point, like the ThankYou Premier?  Or, am I not being fair by excluding the additional benefits in the card's value?  Is the additional value of ThankYou points worth it to use the ThankYou Premier over a cashback card?

 

I'm pretty open-minded and would consider cards like these if I understood the value - which is not as clear as a cashback.


 

The answer to your question cannot be answered until you place a dollar value on these benefits. So yes, to exclude some of these benefits is unfair but it's also subjective. Perhaps you really do place $0 of value on lounge access, travel insurance, or hotel status. For someone else, they will place value on it. There's a lot of people who fly Delta a lot and have an the AmEx Platinum card for no other reason than its lounge access and other travel benefits. They may spend less on the card each year than the AF.

 

To reiterate what you yourself said, points are not as clear as cashback. Someone people can manage to make a HHonors point worth 1.5 cents while someone else (raises hand) can't pass 0.5 cents on a good day. It's not that I'm doing it wrong or HHonors sucks an egg, it's just that my personal travel habits and locations don't lend themselves to better HHonors redemption values. On the other hand, I can routinely get 4 cents or more of value per United MileagePlus mile, while someone else may not. Compare that to use a TY or UR point on their portal for 1.5 cents and United miles wins out big time.

 

But, I'm not you. Only you can tell you if a Marriott or SPG point is worth more than a TY point or cashback.


Not only do you need to consider destinations where you will be doing redemptions and what you would pay at said destinations but you need to factor in benefits of the cards on these redemptions as well. For example, the citi reserve for me is good for the signup but the perk of gold status can really pay off with some of my international travel when I stay at higher end properties. If I'm only staying at a domestic hampton inn then that gold status is not nearly as useful. I kept the Chase Hyatt card for an extra year because having the card gave me a reduced cost on a bunch of redemptions I was making in China when I was staying at a number of Hyatts. That benefit really paid off for me and basically ended up saving me enough points for an additional free night. For other people who do not have as many redemptions that benefit does not make the card worth keeping. The point being is you should factor in what you would have to pay in cash but also other benefits cards offer and see how they fit with your travel patterns/goals. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 826 4/16/17, Last App 5/4/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until undecided
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 308
Registered: ‎07-08-2016
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


red259 wrote:

Mid-tier cards can be good for the signups if you have need of points in certain programs. They can also be of use for people who frequent those travel partners. For example, If someone is always checking luggage and flies Delta all the time the card may be worth it in that case. The premier card can be good for the signup and if you are heavily invested in TY points and want to pair it with the prestige etc.That being said you need to be careful with mid-tier cards. Not everyone will have a use for them and if someone is looking for domestic flight redemptions cash back cards are probably going to be better most of the time. You have to be honest with yourself and your goals. If you do not have high spend and would struggle to make signup spend and would not be able to build up enough points for travel awards then these cards may not be good or if you are going for redemptions that are difficult to secure/require more flexibility than you have etc. I'm sure there are people who go for these cards and get a bunch of points and then don't end up using them or end up getting a horrible rate of return. It requires some discipline when playing this game. 


It's actually a bit of a paradox with the benefits on most mid-tier airline cards in that the more you travel, the less useful they become. The reason for this is that most of the benefits a CC will give you are on par with the lowest level of elite status on an airline. That is, if I fly Delta all the time and check luggage, I'm already getting more than one checked bag for free by virtue of being a Diamond Medallion. I'm also already in an even better boarding group than the "priority" boarding cards give, and some airlines were even reimbursing Global Entry membership for a while to their top tier flyers. By the time you hit even the 50,000 mile tier on the big 3 airlines, you've already exceeded any benefit the mid-tier card confers with that airline. This also applies to hotels. If you're already staying 50+ nights a year at a Marriott or Hilton, their respective cards bring nothing to the table aside from earning more points or the elite credits/upgrades. The free night certificates are a bit of an anomaly in that they're equally valuable to a casual or frequent traveler, but that's the exception rather than the norm.

 

The people who travel frequently will get more value from the top-tier travel cards with things like lounge membership and statement credits for travel.

Super Contributor
Posts: 5,889
Registered: ‎06-05-2013
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


iced wrote:

red259 wrote:

Mid-tier cards can be good for the signups if you have need of points in certain programs. They can also be of use for people who frequent those travel partners. For example, If someone is always checking luggage and flies Delta all the time the card may be worth it in that case. The premier card can be good for the signup and if you are heavily invested in TY points and want to pair it with the prestige etc.That being said you need to be careful with mid-tier cards. Not everyone will have a use for them and if someone is looking for domestic flight redemptions cash back cards are probably going to be better most of the time. You have to be honest with yourself and your goals. If you do not have high spend and would struggle to make signup spend and would not be able to build up enough points for travel awards then these cards may not be good or if you are going for redemptions that are difficult to secure/require more flexibility than you have etc. I'm sure there are people who go for these cards and get a bunch of points and then don't end up using them or end up getting a horrible rate of return. It requires some discipline when playing this game. 


It's actually a bit of a paradox with the benefits on most mid-tier airline cards in that the more you travel, the less useful they become. The reason for this is that most of the benefits a CC will give you are on par with the lowest level of elite status on an airline. That is, if I fly Delta all the time and check luggage, I'm already getting more than one checked bag for free by virtue of being a Diamond Medallion. I'm also already in an even better boarding group than the "priority" boarding cards give, and some airlines were even reimbursing Global Entry membership for a while to their top tier flyers. By the time you hit even the 50,000 mile tier on the big 3 airlines, you've already exceeded any benefit the mid-tier card confers with that airline. This also applies to hotels. If you're already staying 50+ nights a year at a Marriott or Hilton, their respective cards bring nothing to the table aside from earning more points or the elite credits/upgrades. The free night certificates are a bit of an anomaly in that they're equally valuable to a casual or frequent traveler, but that's the exception rather than the norm.

 

The people who travel frequently will get more value from the top-tier travel cards with things like lounge membership and statement credits for travel.


Yea when I said always use Delta etc I should have clarified I did not mean some status member, but just someone who when they do fly they always or usually select Delta vs going with a different airline every trip. Clearly a status member is going to have different needs, but if OP was flying that much or staying at hotels that often to have status from stays then they would already have known the answer to their own questions. Smiley Happy

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 826 4/16/17, Last App 5/4/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until undecided
Senior Contributor
Posts: 3,770
Registered: ‎05-24-2015
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards

I don't know but I am certainly glad I was able to get the 35k bonus on both amex SPG cards.  Have a hotel I frequent that is only 4k points....as well as ability to transfer to amtrak!!!

 

The arrival plus stinks.  They can be really wonky as a bank, and they nitpick the heck out of cashing out the points.  I would highly encourage anyone who doesn't travel often, and doesn't want the burden of the $100 increment...to PC to the no AF verison after 1 yr.  Dont forget to google barclay arrival plus redemption math....It is insane...

EQ 730, TU 730, EX 729. INQs EQ-2, TU-13, EX-11 AAOA 3yrs Util 3% Inspiration: Themanwhocan's Cash Back Charts
Super Contributor
Posts: 5,889
Registered: ‎06-05-2013
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Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


jfriend33 wrote:

I don't know but I am certainly glad I was able to get the 35k bonus on both amex SPG cards.  Have a hotel I frequent that is only 4k points....as well as ability to transfer to amtrak!!!

 

The arrival plus stinks.  They can be really wonky as a bank, and they nitpick the heck out of cashing out the points.  I would highly encourage anyone who doesn't travel often, and doesn't want the burden of the $100 increment...to PC to the no AF verison after 1 yr.  Dont forget to google barclay arrival plus redemption math....It is insane...


$100 increment? Did they change the card or something? Wasn't that way when I had arrival+ and with the no AF version its definetly not that way. $100 increment is an absurd policy. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 826 4/16/17, Last App 5/4/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until undecided
Senior Contributor
Posts: 3,770
Registered: ‎05-24-2015
0

Re: Someone help me understand midtier travel cards


red259 wrote:

jfriend33 wrote:

I don't know but I am certainly glad I was able to get the 35k bonus on both amex SPG cards.  Have a hotel I frequent that is only 4k points....as well as ability to transfer to amtrak!!!

 

The arrival plus stinks.  They can be really wonky as a bank, and they nitpick the heck out of cashing out the points.  I would highly encourage anyone who doesn't travel often, and doesn't want the burden of the $100 increment...to PC to the no AF verison after 1 yr.  Dont forget to google barclay arrival plus redemption math....It is insane...


$100 increment? Did they change the card or something? Wasn't that way when I had arrival+ and with the no AF version its definetly not that way. $100 increment is an absurd policy. 


oh yeah.... the no af version is 25 increments...but you lose the dividend...hence the need for arrival redemption math................ tripit pro also gone......ideally i think you should spend like 380, then that way you only have to spend a small amount to cash out the rest of your captive points, assuming you have the a+...

EQ 730, TU 730, EX 729. INQs EQ-2, TU-13, EX-11 AAOA 3yrs Util 3% Inspiration: Themanwhocan's Cash Back Charts

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