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Travel rewards card worth it?

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Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

For me, my Travel Rewards from BoA is essentially a no AF yes Perks Arrival Plus card. The extra 0.25% , the $100 sign up bonus, and the BoA offers makes it worth it over all other general spending cards out there. But it isn't for everyone, and I get the feeling you weren't asking about the same type of travel card.  Forgot to mention, their Travel Center tacks on an extra 1.5% for purchases through there. Essentially it's a 2.25+1.5 (3.75 for the lazy ones) card for my travel. I guess discover deals beats it sometimes, but mostly that's fantastic.

Message 21 of 30
red259
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@yfan wrote:

@red259 wrote:

I don't think anyone is assuming anything. Not sure why someone would really upgrade to premium on a fiove hour flight anyway as its really better to do so on long hall. Also multiple hotel cards give out free nights as a signup bonus. So you are not using points at all., in which case why not go for the top end property. Also, one person mentioned wanting to go to NYC for the weekend. A quick glance at the marriott website for example shows rooms cost 40k points for a room you can get at $109. So if travelling during a slow time you wouldn't want to use points anyway and that 100k points isn't going to get you more than two nights in a lower level hotel like a fairfield. In that situation cashback is king, but during peak travel times in NYC your not going to have the option of those prices and its going to be either spend a ton of money or use a ton of poiints unless you have free night certs. Hence why I think those free nights are valuable, but this is all based on the time of year someone wants to travel. 


But free nights from credit cards are usually only one night a year, for a standard room, and the length of the validity of the certificate is anywhere from 6 months (Marriott) to a year (IHG). Which is only possibly good for a sigle person or couple's travel. Standard rooms will often restrict occupancy to 2, which means no family travel. And if you are traveling with family - or even by yourself - are you really staying just one night? IHG is also notorious for very limited free nights redemption (or even point redemption) availability at high end properties during busy travel times.

 

Because these redemptions are restricted in this manner, it warrants the quesiton of not simply should you be able to redeem points or a free night, what direct value you got but your opportunity cost as well. I might like to go to New York in the Spring, but I don't have to. There are plenty of other places I can go to that I may like just as well - and probably better since they will be new and I have already been to NY a few times - where rooms are less expensive, and I may well have the option of going at a time that isn't peak season. I go back to the example of family vacations, since if the free night redemptions are usually not available for a whole family anyway (standard room restriction), then it makes sense to make these - and thus the comparison - about single or couple's travel. Which in turn means a great deal more flexibility on the timing and location of a vacation, meaning that a cash deal is pretty much always available at an alternate time and/or location. Judged against this opportunity cost, points lose value even more.

 

At least, this is the way I look at travel. I actually do travel a bit. Mostly domestic, but my bf and I like taking short trips rather than long vacations to see new places and explore new people. There has not been a time when I wasn't able to find a better cash deal given our flexibility on time and location. Which makes my Orbitz Visa - while technically a "travel" card - invaluable because it earns 5% cashback (on top of the Orbitz rewards program's cashback, which is another 3-5% on hotels) on prepaid hotel stays and flights and 2% on everyday spend with the only restriction being that this "cashback" has to be redeemed on a prepaid hotel stay but can be redeemed in any amount.


I don't use IHG so I know next to nothing about their card or product. The hyatt card gives two free nights, the citi hilton card gives two free nights, I believe the ritz carlton gave two free nights or the points to stay two free nights. So there are a number of cards out there which give two free nights as part of the signup. Pair two of those cards together and you have four free nights in a row. The person who posted the question I was responding to didn't mention anything about travelling with a family. In terms of the free nights expiring, you shouldn't be stockpiling stuff like that anyway. You usually pick up cards like this a few months before your trip. Its never a good practice to build up points and to sit on them and that is extra true for free nights. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 828 5/2018, Last App 8/5/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until Sepetember 2019
Message 22 of 30
yfan
Valued Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@red259 wrote:

I don't use IHG so I know next to nothing about their card or product. The hyatt card gives two free nights, the citi hilton card gives two free nights, I believe the ritz carlton gave two free nights or the points to stay two free nights. So there are a number of cards out there which give two free nights as part of the signup. Pair two of those cards together and you have four free nights in a row. The person who posted the question I was responding to didn't mention anything about travelling with a family. In terms of the free nights expiring, you shouldn't be stockpiling stuff like that anyway. You usually pick up cards like this a few months before your trip. Its never a good practice to build up points and to sit on them and that is extra true for free nights. 


I mentioned traveling with family because not having to deal with that offers a level of flexibility that on time and place of trips that make cash discount deals incredibly valuable.

 

Now, with respect to the cards you mention that offer either 2 free nights or enough points for 2 free nights, these are one-time deals and not a yearly thing (as opposed to the anniversary nights on IHG and Marriott cards), which means that for someone who likes to take regular (whether yearly or more frequent) trips, the only way to consisitently take advantage of these offers again and again is to churn, which the banks are wisening up on and shutting down quickly. There are few better ways to catch Chase's ire than to use up the bonus and close a card or close it right before the AF hits, for example.

 

At any rate, for a credit card one wants to keep and grow, we seem to agree that generally hotel cards aren't a good catch.

Message 23 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

I'm sorry but how is it not good to stack your points? People who don't churn and keep cards long term are generally stacking points. Not everyone wants to churn travel cards. You can't stack free nights, they expire. I'm going to stay at a Marriott in 2 weeks and I didn't use my points from my bonus because I got a better deal with using cash. Therefore, stacking points makes sense. If people were coll
Message 24 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@yfan wrote:

@red259 wrote:

I don't think anyone is assuming anything. Not sure why someone would really upgrade to premium on a fiove hour flight anyway as its really better to do so on long hall. Also multiple hotel cards give out free nights as a signup bonus. So you are not using points at all., in which case why not go for the top end property. Also, one person mentioned wanting to go to NYC for the weekend. A quick glance at the marriott website for example shows rooms cost 40k points for a room you can get at $109. So if travelling during a slow time you wouldn't want to use points anyway and that 100k points isn't going to get you more than two nights in a lower level hotel like a fairfield. In that situation cashback is king, but during peak travel times in NYC your not going to have the option of those prices and its going to be either spend a ton of money or use a ton of poiints unless you have free night certs. Hence why I think those free nights are valuable, but this is all based on the time of year someone wants to travel. 


But free nights from credit cards are usually only one night a year, for a standard room, and the length of the validity of the certificate is anywhere from 6 months (Marriott) to a year (IHG). Which is only possibly good for a sigle person or couple's travel. Standard rooms will often restrict occupancy to 2, which means no family travel. And if you are traveling with family - or even by yourself - are you really staying just one night? IHG is also notorious for very limited free nights redemption (or even point redemption) availability at high end properties during busy travel times.

 

Because these redemptions are restricted in this manner, it warrants the quesiton of not simply should you be able to redeem points or a free night, what direct value you got but your opportunity cost as well. I might like to go to New York in the Spring, but I don't have to. There are plenty of other places I can go to that I may like just as well - and probably better since they will be new and I have already been to NY a few times - where rooms are less expensive, and I may well have the option of going at a time that isn't peak season. I go back to the example of family vacations, since if the free night redemptions are usually not available for a whole family anyway (standard room restriction), then it makes sense to make these - and thus the comparison - about single or couple's travel. Which in turn means a great deal more flexibility on the timing and location of a vacation, meaning that a cash deal is pretty much always available at an alternate time and/or location. Judged against this opportunity cost, points lose value even more.

 

At least, this is the way I look at travel. I actually do travel a bit. Mostly domestic, but my bf and I like taking short trips rather than long vacations to see new places and explore new people. There has not been a time when I wasn't able to find a better cash deal given our flexibility on time and location. Which makes my Orbitz Visa - while technically a "travel" card - invaluable because it earns 5% cashback (on top of the Orbitz rewards program's cashback, which is another 3-5% on hotels) on prepaid hotel stays and flights and 2% on everyday spend with the only restriction being that this "cashback" has to be redeemed on a prepaid hotel stay but can be redeemed in any amount.


Great info. I was not aware of the extra 5% or the orbitz visa. Will have to look into this.

Message 25 of 30
red259
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@Anonymous wrote:
I'm sorry but how is it not good to stack your points? People who don't churn and keep cards long term are generally stacking points. Not everyone wants to churn travel cards. You can't stack free nights, they expire. I'm going to stay at a Marriott in 2 weeks and I didn't use my points from my bonus because I got a better deal with using cash. Therefore, stacking points makes sense. If people were coll

Because points are subject to devaluations and the value will inevitably drop over time as hotels raise the hotel categories etc. Has nothing to do with churning. If you stock pile your points over a long period of time you run the risk of a loyalty program changing the redemption cost. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 828 5/2018, Last App 8/5/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until Sepetember 2019
Message 26 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

I'm sure the majority of people who actually use credit cards like they are intended don't think about these things. If they get devalued, sucks to be me. I go with whatever is the better deal.?
Message 27 of 30
kdm31091
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

Points can be devalued on an issuers whim. Cash back cards can be nerfed. Your cards can be shutdown at any point if the issuer chooses. You could also walk outside and be hit by a bus.

Choose the cards that benefit you and if they get nerfed thats life, you move on to something else. Enjoy it for what it is while it lasts. Its just a card and there are always tons of options.
Message 28 of 30
Anonymous
Not applicable

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?

Right. I'm not going to book my vacation 6 months early because I'm worried about my points being devalued. Life goes on.
Message 29 of 30
red259
Super Contributor

Re: Travel rewards card worth it?


@Anonymous wrote:
I'm sure the majority of people who actually use credit cards like they are intended don't think about these things. If they get devalued, sucks to be me. I go with whatever is the better deal.?

Not sure what you mean by use credit cards as they are supposed to. Its just common sense to use points before a loyalty program devalues them and then you get less of a return. Has absolutely nothing to do about using credit cards as it is really talking about various loyalty program and redemptions. Yoiu should always check the cash price first of course. because sometimes its better to pay for the room than spend the points especially if you can get a discount rate etc. For each program I tend to come up with a minimum return rate per point I want to see. If my return is below the threshold then I pay for the room. If it is over the threshold then I book with points. 

;
Starting Score: EQ: 714, TU 684
Current Score: EQ: 725 7/30/13, TU 684 6/2013, Exp 828 5/2018, Last App 8/5/17
Goal Score: 800 (Achieved!) In garden until Sepetember 2019
Message 30 of 30
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