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Best cards for points toward travel

disdreamin
Established Contributor

Best cards for points toward travel

My SO and I have been talking about a trip to Japan in a two years and I want to get started accruing points that can be used to help offset the cost of the trip. I've done a bunch of reading and see that there are two primary ecosystems I'm interested in, Chase UR and AmEx MR. I'm actually wondering if it is worthwhile to do both, assuming I open a few new cards in the next couple of years.

 

Right now I have CFU and just opened a new CSP for the 80k SUB as a start (I've only got like 3k UR as I have never put much spend on the CFU). I'm looking at possibly opening an AmEx gold card in the not-too-distant future, once the Chase card is up and running and the SUB spend nearly complete, and possibly a Platinum card not too long before the trip since the perks of that card will pay off for that year. I'm also eyeing some hotel cards for points toward stays while traveling as well.

 

Does accruing points in both ecosystems make sense if I can take advantage of decent SUB's and use the points for airfare/upgrades? And would hotel points be worthwhile to offset a few nights here or there while in major cities? I'm also wondering about having my SO try for a card or two in a year for more points, once his new card that was just opened has aged and his report looks a little prettier for having a years history on that card.

 

I'd love suggestions and links - I've read SO many things about airfare/points that frankly I'm overwhelmed and having a hard time figuring out my best move. We are in the northeast and open to flying out of NY, Philly, Boston or Toronto, and the timing of the trip is flexible, but it would probably be in the summer (not ideal, but it's the easiest time for us to go).

Message 1 of 17
16 REPLIES 16
notmyrealname23
Established Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@disdreamin wrote:

 

Does accruing points in both ecosystems make sense if I can take advantage of decent SUB's and use the points for airfare/upgrades? And would hotel points be worthwhile to offset a few nights here or there while in major cities?


It can, but you want award redemptions. With very few exceptions, award miles for upgrades on trans-Atlantic/trans-Pacific flights are a bad deal (the fares required will be expensive and it's just better to get the award redemption flight in the cabin you want to fly in).

You probably want to prioritize any Chase cards (CSP, Hyatt, IHG, United, British Airways)

 

Go look at Flyertalk. Be cautious of travel bloggers who are hawking credit cards (credit card referrals are how they get paid), but there's good information out there as well (just realize that they're getting paid by credit card companies). There are reddit subreddits out there as well, but I've gotten into trouble posting those links here, and I am not really sure what is allowed/forbidden, so some of this is going to be Googling... good luck!

First Tech FCU Choice Rewards World MC 35k
Fidelity VISA Signature 11.5k
Capital One Quicksilver 11k
Amex Gold NPSL
Amex Green NPSL
SoFi MC World Elite 8k
PayPal Synchrony MC 6.4k
Citi AA Mileup 6.9k
Petal2 VISA 6k
AMEX Hilton Aspire 6.2k
DiscoverIt Cashback 5k
Amazon/Synchrony 5k
Hotels.com 5k
AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 3.1k
Apple Card 3k
Cathay Pacific/Synchrony 2.5k
AMEX Delta Gold 2.2k
Target 800
Ch 13 filed 12/13 discharged as paid 1/19
Message 2 of 17
disdreamin
Established Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@notmyrealname23 wrote:

@disdreamin wrote:

 

Does accruing points in both ecosystems make sense if I can take advantage of decent SUB's and use the points for airfare/upgrades? And would hotel points be worthwhile to offset a few nights here or there while in major cities?


It can, but you want award redemptions. With very few exceptions, award miles for upgrades on trans-Atlantic/trans-Pacific flights are a bad deal (the fares required will be expensive and it's just better to get the award redemption flight in the cabin you want to fly in).

You probably want to prioritize any Chase cards (CSP, Hyatt, IHG, United, British Airways)

 

Go look at Flyertalk. Be cautious of travel bloggers who are hawking credit cards (credit card referrals are how they get paid), but there's good information out there as well (just realize that they're getting paid by credit card companies). There are reddit subreddits out there as well, but I've gotten into trouble posting those links here, and I am not really sure what is allowed/forbidden, so some of this is going to be Googling... good luck!


Many thanks, will go give Flyertalk a try!

 

I was reading the travel blogger posts and trying to dig through that and parse what was reasonable and what was hyperbole was interesting. I'm thinking the best thing to do is focus on trying to accrue enough points for two business class RT seats. The hard thing is not knowing what two years from now will look like, but I'm just going to move forward with the backup plan of just flying economy and paying cash if I need to. It would really make the trip special if we were able to fly more comfortably though! Thanks again for the suggestion!

Message 3 of 17
jcooks
New Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel

First step determine what airlines are available from your local airport to your destination.  Once that's determined, cross reference to what partners each is associated with.  Generally you may be able to find flights with either, but from what I researched, Amex has more affiliates for international flights and Chase has more affiliates with domestic flights.  I don't believe that going for both ecosystems would be a good idea for this specific trip.  

 

One youtube channel that I found to be very informative is AskSebby (if you can get past his very akward dialogue).  Just search how to maximize MR points or something like that on youtube.

Message 4 of 17
Remedios
Moderator

Re: Best cards for points toward travel

I'd rather ask Tea Leaves and tarot cards than Sebby if accuracy was important.

When someone asks you *What's wrong*, and you're not sure if you want to start listing it in alphabetical or in order of importance.
Message 5 of 17
longtimelurker
Mega Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@Remedios wrote:

I'd rather ask Tea Leaves and tarot cards than Sebby if accuracy was important.


Really?   I would guess that Sebby is at least 20% accurate, whereas, IME, tarot and tea leaves are more like 17%.   But maybe it depends on the reader.

 

Oh, wait, was that the hyperbole stuff I was reading about?

Message 6 of 17
jcooks
New Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel

I really thought he wasn't that bad, just really dislike how he sounds.

Message 7 of 17
Remedios
Moderator

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@longtimelurker wrote:

@Remedios wrote:

I'd rather ask Tea Leaves and tarot cards than Sebby if accuracy was important.


Really?   I would guess that Sebby is at least 20% accurate, whereas, IME, tarot and tea leaves are more like 17%.   But maybe it depends on the reader.

 

Oh, wait, was that the hyperbole stuff I was reading about?


Depends on tea, I guess. One gets what one pays for.

I'm frugal, so I take them out of the little bag, whereas you probably sip on Yellow Gold Tea Buds. 

 

 

 

When someone asks you *What's wrong*, and you're not sure if you want to start listing it in alphabetical or in order of importance.
Message 8 of 17
K-in-Boston
Moderator

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@jcooks wrote:

I really thought he wasn't that bad, just really dislike how he sounds.


He has made a lot of authoritative-sounding statements and writings that were completely misinformed.  I haven't watched his videos, but a few blog articles I can recall:

 

"Chase Marriott cards can't be product changed to other Marriott cards.  Here is my referral link." - Except for the numerous current and other cards not offered to new applicants that they could be changed to.

 

"If you an authorized user on Chase Sapphire Preferred you are not eligible for a SUB if you apply.  Here is my referral link."  LOLWUT?

 

"You can obtain Delta Diamond status without even flying by getting both the personal and business versions of the Delta Platinum and Reserve cards to get all of the MQM bonuses.  Here is my referral link."  Great, except Amex and Delta's terms only allow for one Platinum and/or one Reserve card, either business or personal, to receive Miles Boost (now called Status Boost without the bonus SkyMiles bit with more opportunities to get MQMs at higher spending) so thanks to Sebby you just dropped like $110,000 in spending on the wrong cards and unless you had some extra MQMs earned the old fashioned way, congrats on your Platinum Medallion status!

Message 9 of 17
notmyrealname23
Established Contributor

Re: Best cards for points toward travel


@jcooks wrote:

 Amex has more affiliates for international flights and Chase has more affiliates with domestic flights.  

 


This is probably not a big deal unless one simply MUST book some awards on Southwest. United can be booked on any Star Alliance partner. American and Alaska can be booked on any oneworld partner. Delta can be booked on any SkyTeam partner. Jet Blue allows transfers from AMEX, Chase and Citi. The exception is Southwest, which is Chase only

 

Frankly if OP can get more transferrable points into a program by using both AMEX and Chase (for that matter, Citibank as well), and potential card overlap in terms of # of annual fees vs. efficient spend (CSP/Citi Premier/AMEX Platinum/Gold, etc.) is simply the cost of an extra few hundred in annual fees for a year, versus not having to pay four or five figures for a business class ticket, there's very little downside, in my opinion (especially if there's downgrade paths to no annual fee cards, which is very much the case with Citi and Chase, less so with AMEX). The end state of "these are the cards I want to keep long term" does not have to be the initial state of "I'm going to load up on as many points as I can for my spend".

It's going to be important to manage Chase 5/24 as well as target cards that are "I think I would like this as a long term keeper" vs. "I'm getting this for a sign up bonus". Also, AMEX can get a little miffed/unwilling to issue SUBs if they think you're fickle. This is a good reason to mix in other cards and issuers into the mix if the goal is some mega-trip.

 

First Tech FCU Choice Rewards World MC 35k
Fidelity VISA Signature 11.5k
Capital One Quicksilver 11k
Amex Gold NPSL
Amex Green NPSL
SoFi MC World Elite 8k
PayPal Synchrony MC 6.4k
Citi AA Mileup 6.9k
Petal2 VISA 6k
AMEX Hilton Aspire 6.2k
DiscoverIt Cashback 5k
Amazon/Synchrony 5k
Hotels.com 5k
AMEX Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant 3.1k
Apple Card 3k
Cathay Pacific/Synchrony 2.5k
AMEX Delta Gold 2.2k
Target 800
Ch 13 filed 12/13 discharged as paid 1/19
Message 10 of 17
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