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Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

Established Contributor

Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

I don't currently travel as much as I would like. Nearly no travel for work even though I am a consultant. I would like to get a travel rewards card to begin long term accruing of rewards to apply to leisure travel or a possible far-off honeymoon, etc. I've thought about getting the Citi AA card and the Amex SPG (if I can be approved.) I live near a major AA hub. Since my primary means to accrew points will be 2-3 grand a month in spend, would I be better off getting a general travel rewards card? Should I skip the whole AA FF and SPG programs all together? It would be quite nice to be in these programs upper tiers, but I don't think monthly spend alone is going to put me there. Can I please have thoughts and suggestions on travel CCs and programs I should focus on to maximize my benefits?  I've tried searching flyer talk, nerd wallet and other similar sites, but after months of general searching I feel like I am no where closer to having a solid understanding or general approach laid out.

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7 REPLIES
Valued Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

A lot of it depends on what your spend is (what categories you are spending on)

Starting a whole new chapter
Message 2 of 8
Established Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

Well, of the 2-3 grand a month in spend above - mostly gas, groceries, restaurants, utilities/bills, apparel, furniture, etc. 

Message 3 of 8
Senior Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC


bahbahd wrote:

Since my primary means to accrew points will be 2-3 grand a month in spend, would I be better off getting a general travel rewards card?


Your call to make based on your projected spend and your priorities and preference.  I'd go for something like the CSP (but I already have one).

 


bahbahd wrote:

Well, of the 2-3 grand a month in spend above - mostly gas, groceries, restaurants, utilities/bills, apparel, furniture, etc. 


You can get better rewards on gas and groceries with some non-travel cards but it's your call as to whether you want to maximize rewards overall or to focus on getting travel rewards.  I tend to focus on getting better rewards so the CSP is used for travel and dining purchases.  BCP for groceries.  PenFed for gas.

 

My wife uses an entirely different apporach as her goal is to just accrue as many miles on her MileagePlus Explorer card and she's not interested in dealing with multiple cards to maximise rewards.

 


bahbahd wrote:

I've tried searching flyer talk, nerd wallet and other similar sites, but after months of general searching I feel like I am no where closer to having a solid understanding or general approach laid out.


You aren't going to find one-size-fits-all laid out plans if that's what you're after.  You have to determine what you want and where you want to go.  Once you have that sorted out it should be clear what you need to do.  If you don't have that focus then you'll end up feeling lost like you are right now.

 

If you want to accrue travel rewards a general travel card may be better in that it offers more versatility than being locked to a specific airline or hotel.

Message 4 of 8
Valued Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC


bahbahd wrote:

Well, of the 2-3 grand a month in spend above - mostly gas, groceries, restaurants, utilities/bills, apparel, furniture, etc. 


At that spend level, I generally recommend the appropriate cash back cards.

 

Think of it this way, in a year, you accumulate 24-36k miles/points whatever.  Domestic round trip economy is around 30k with lots of hassles to use.  Less hassle will cost you closer to 50k for domestic round trip economy.  Basically you are getting a ticket once every 1 to 2 years.  Problem is miles/points seem to be deflating.  As you are saving up, they have likelihood of deflating in value.  You can do the math of the value of those miles/points by using for tickets to likely destinations vs. cash back.

 

Assuming you want to do travel, I would recommend more generic miles/points vs. airline specific. Chase has good cards, but probably not good for you being near AA hub.  Amex SPG is basically like generic miles since they have so many transfer partners at good exchange rates including AA.  Amex MR points are okay but I've seen the value drop from 1 penny a point to closer than half a penny a point.  There are a ton of other travel cards which are basically like cash back cards in that you can use points/miles to discount/pay for a ticket through card's reservation system at around 1 penny a point/mile value.  Not really the same as using miles where, assuming the right tickets, you can get 2 pennies per mile or higher.

 

Personally, if I was you, I would go for either cash back cards or travel card with nice bonus.  Starwood SPG seems like it would work for you.  It does not have any bonus categories but its points are valuable.  With the current 30k signup/spend bonus, you are basically getting a free year of points at your spending level.

               LIMITS IN CARD DESCRIPTIONS
Message 5 of 8
Established Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

I appreciate the feed back. I've seen much frustration with card programs where you are forced to redeem through the card issuer's program site to get the discount or apply the rewards. I thought this is how most of the general travel cards worked. This is partially why I was trying to focus on a program specific card that would pair with a hotel/air program hoping that the card perks (priority access, reduced fees, etc.) would be nice value adds. I do need to do more research after I've laid out my specific goals.

Message 6 of 8
Super Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC


Crashem wrote:

bahbahd wrote:

Well, of the 2-3 grand a month in spend above - mostly gas, groceries, restaurants, utilities/bills, apparel, furniture, etc. 


At that spend level, I generally recommend the appropriate cash back cards.

 

Think of it this way, in a year, you accumulate 24-36k miles/points whatever.  Domestic round trip economy is around 30k with lots of hassles to use.  Less hassle will cost you closer to 50k for domestic round trip economy.  Basically you are getting a ticket once every 1 to 2 years.  Problem is miles/points seem to be deflating.  As you are saving up, they have likelihood of deflating in value.  You can do the math of the value of those miles/points by using for tickets to likely destinations vs. cash back.


+1

 

At the level of spending, you're better off with maximizing potential cashback and poach sign-up bonuses.  With that level of spend, unless you utilize some bonsues, it'll take a very long time to accrue enough miles for any significant redemptions.

 

In my estimation, a better strategy would be to allocate your spending towards sign-up bonuses along with the highest rotating cashback cards.  

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Highlighted
Valued Contributor

Re: Suggest a hotel, airlines or general travel CC

csp you get 40k bonus points after 3000 spent in 3 months and 20 percent off through there travel page so you get a free $500. and then if you get the freedom you can also earn even more UR points on different categories. right now its 5% on gas and other stuff. then you can transfer those points to csp.
CHASE FREEDOM | AMEX BCE | | BOFA REWARDS | CITI TYP | Quicksilver | DISCOVER IT | Sallie Mae | CHASE CSP
--------$32,000-------------$30,000-----------$30,000-----------$30,000-----$13,000---------$18,200----------$15,000---------$6,500----

FICO - TU: 780 EX: 784 EQ: 781
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