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Airline travel with credit card points

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  • Airline travel with credit card points

    Hi!

    For anyone who has travelled either business or first class internationally using points, how hard is it to find great deals yourself? There are many sites that will book the travel for you for a fee claiming they can find better value for your points than you can on your own and will look daily or multiple times a day to find a deal.

    I am wondering if there is value in this service or whether this is somewhat akin to a financial advisor trying to convince you to buy whole life insurance or use their services for AUM fee. Thanks.

  • #2
    I just picked the phone to ask a question regarding points too . Saw your thread .

    I haven’t done it yet . But I see there are many posts on net . I think the The points guy writes a lot about it .

    which card and how many points are you planning to use ?

    don’t mean to hijack your thread , but I have a question too. I have close to 300,000 points between chase sapphire preferred and southwest ? Want to close one of these . Which one should I close ? No plans for travel at this time .

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    • #3
      Originally posted by uksho View Post
      don’t mean to hijack your thread , but I have a question too. I have close to 300,000 points between chase sapphire preferred and southwest ? Want to close one of these . Which one should I close ? No plans for travel at this time .
      Which southwest card? I think there are three different ones, each with different annual fees. I think for most people the CSP is more useful. Also if you close the CSP you lose your points, but the southwest miles are yours forever. You could always just downgrade the CSP to some other NAF chase card.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Lithium View Post

        Which southwest card? I think there are three different ones, each with different annual fees. I think for most people the CSP is more useful. Also if you close the CSP you lose your points, but the southwest miles are yours forever. You could always just downgrade the CSP to some other NAF chase card.
        Rapid rewards plus , the fees is less than $100. I thought you could transfer points before closure .

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        • #5
          Originally posted by uksho View Post

          Rapid rewards plus , the fees is less than $100. I thought you could transfer points before closure .
          Yes you could just transfer points to Southwest/United or other partners. Still hard for me to a relative advantage of keeping the SW card over the CSP.

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          • #6
            The stat is something like ⅓ of all people with points don't actually use their points. Meaning, don't get into the game unless you either understand the game or want to understand the game.

            Booking a simple business class trip to Europe isn't too hard to figure out. Just read a few blogs and sign up for a few cards and you can do it. Once you catch on, it isn't uncommon to have conversations saying that you transferred points from Amex to air canada to fly EVA.

            One of the most important things, usually, about booking international business class on points is to book well in advance. It's kind of the opposite of paying with cash. There is only a certain amount of availability that they release per route. So, if you have an idea of where you want to go 9 months in advance, start looking early and see what is going to take points wise.

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            • #7
              Two types of rewards cards

              Affinity Cards:
              United
              Southwest
              American
              Hotel cards
              --points earned get transferred to company's award program monthly to use.
              --If you cancel the card, no further points earned/ no points lost (unless inactive rewards program -- typically 3 years inactive; points void out.


              Company cards
              Chase Sapphire
              Amex Membership Rewards
              Citibank
              --these points remain centrally to the card and transferred to companies or redeemed when needed
              --cancel the card, lost the points. ie transfer or redeem before cancel

              Yes, TPG is great resource. -- very good blog and writings

              OP: depends on destination and carriers and how flexible you want to go. Off peak times relatively easy to get for 1-2 travellers. 4: a bit harder if business+

              We just got back from Hawaii via Companion Pass -- Southwest Airlines points -- 24k points total for 4 people

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              • #8
                You can definitely do it yourself. Do not outsource to some service.

                TPG is a solid resource.

                You’re off to a good start by just knowing the value in the points/miles game is with international business/first class.

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                • #9
                  Yep - there's stretching the dollar/points travel; and there's aspirational travel.

                  We tend to do mostly efficiency bulk travel; when kids are fully launched and semi-retire schedule; aspirational travel will come (business class/first class with Hyatt Park level stays).

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                  • #10
                    Can Airline points accumulated either via travel or airline cards ever be transferred to a credit card like CSR or another airline or they live and die with the airline. Most of my small airline miles have died this way since we never accumulate much in one airline in regular intervals and after 18 months they died. I think I only have sufficient miles in United that have not expired.

                    Can credit card points be transferred to another credit card. I have CSR and might apply for Capital Venture X. If after a few years I find the Capital is better for my needs can I transfer the points from CSR to Capital X or an airline. Or CSR points can only remain in a Chase card.

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                    • #11
                      That's the benefit of card points...they can be transferred when ready to use to a buffet of partners or booked on their own travel site.

                      Unable to transfer between card companies. Amex stays amex. Chase stays chase. Capital one stays capital one. They will allow combining multie same company cards. Chase sapphire with freedom with the reserve to gather multiple bonus accumulation.

                      Fyi one can keep accounts active by donation or magazine or revive points expired with rental car backdating trick if recent expiring points...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by StarTrekDoc View Post
                        Fyi one can keep accounts active by donation or magazine or revive points expired with rental car backdating trick if recent expiring points...
                        Also, most airlines have a shopping portal you can sign up for; when you buy stuff through that portal, your purchase earns miles. If you buy one item you need every year on the shopping portal for each airline you earn points on by flying, your miles will never expire. Then, as StarTrekDoc said, you can transfer over points from a bank-affiliated program to the airline when you want to book a ticket using miles.

                        Also - don't credit miles to an airline you don't fly regularly. Most airlines are members of one of the big three airline alliances (Star Alliance, Oneworld, or Sky Team). Credit that flight to the airline in the alliance you DO fly with instead. For instance, I am probably going to end up booking flights with TAP Portugal for my fall trip. TAP Portugal is a member of Star Alliance, and so is United Airlines; I can therefore credit the miles flown on TAP Portugal to my United Airlines mileage account, as they are in the same alliance and are thus partners.

                        If you are serious about learning to take advantage of miles and points, I highly recommend spending some time browsing the forums over at Flyertalk. It's hands-down the best place to find information on the programs and to ask questions.

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                        • #13
                          We used points accumulated via Chase to book United Polaris Class lay-flat seats from Denver to London. The actual redemption was much better than the estimated value that various sites apply to each point and a substantial deal compared to the cash price.

                          I believe that more recently the portals have changed, but it counted as a paid fare towards our status levels.

                          I try to avoid accumulating too many points with hotels or airlines as it seems like more commonly they adjust the redemption rates in their favor. I have enough on hand for a last minute, emergency purchase but prefer to maximize cash back opportunities.

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                          • #14
                            I have just over 100k chase points, 179k united points, 24k southwest points, and 105k BA Avios (which would most likely be transferred to AA). Then there's 28k Merrill Visa Signature points I've had for several years I can't figure out how to use. Just took out one of the SW cards to get another 100k miles. After that I'll probably take out a few business cards and then finish 5/24 with the CSR. I keep hearing that international business class is where the sweet spot is, but I still want to stretch my points as far as possible, and quite honestly with Omicron I'm pretty pessimistic about being able to travel internationally in the next 6-12 months. I'll have to look into it to see how much more the international business class costs compared to international domestic. I'm skeptical that the value is really that mind blowing.

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                            • #15
                              points get routine 1.7-2% for domestic travel. Cashback in many cases will match that so not real benefit there.

                              Southwest comes in very handy for two reasons: one Companion Pass at 110k. eg: that 100k card, get that in JAN and top over 110k with the spend will get you CP for 2022 through Dec 31, 2023. - that's 2 for 1 travel; so domestic just went to 3.5-4% -- 2nd; no close in cancelation penalties. Cancel 1hour prior to flight-- all points back to account - no status needed. -- super sweet for college kid plans that changes every 48 hours it seems.

                              International business IS the sweet spot. We just don't fly that-- for now. Steerage for us still. If you routinely want that and don't have status for upgrades, yes, points really drive benefit especially when you play the signup bonus game -- United+Chase cards is really easy to load up for q2-3 year travel for 2.

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