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Best credit card

Discussion in 'questions. answers. conversations.' started by Rohit Deshpande, Dec 27, 2016.

  1. Rohit Deshpande

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    hey guys, so I have an Alaska mileage plan account with around 2k miles for now and a UA mileage plus account with around 63K miles. I'll be creating accounts in some other US-based FF programs if its better in the long run. I have a few questions for this now:

    1. Which is the best transfer program in terms of getting points as quickly as possible, diversity of partner transfer airlines, etc (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood rewards, AMEX rewards, etc.) of course to use to redeem for premium cabin travel. My thoughts were spg because of the number of partners and the 5k bonus for every 20k transferred to a program even though they have a 79,999 cap per transfer. But thats just my thought and im sure many of you know more.

    2. Based on the answer to one, which credit card will be best to supplement the program chosen in one? Like the spg card or chase sapphire preferred, etc. Thanks for your help guys!!!
     
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  2. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    As you note, SPG has the most airline transfer partners and the nice 5K bonus. And the 79,999 limit is just per day. You can transfer more than that over a period of days. I don't think Ben's done a comparison of how long it takes to transfer points to all the various partners but the folks at TPG did one earlier this year and here are their results: http://thepointsguy.com/2016/04/starpoint-transfer-times/ Looks like some were within a day while others took 10 days or more.

    Chase Ultimate Rewards points have transferred in near real-time when I've transferred them to Hyatt and United and within the hour to Singapore Airlines.

    Amex Membership Rewards transferred to Delta and BA within an hour.

    As for which points to accrue you may want to check the spreadsheet referenced in this post from Frequent Miler: http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2014/06/24/transfer-partner-master-list/ (Post is old, spreadsheet is up-to-date.) That's a handy reference of which points can be transferred to which partners. Then determine which partners you're more likely to use and let that drive what card you select.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that for the SPG card there are no bonus categories except for SPG/Marriott hotels, so they're harder to accrue. UR & MR-earning cards typically have bonus categories to help rack up the miles faster. Also, Amex is not as widely accepted as Visa.

    If you don't have a UR-earning card yet, I think I'd start there because it will be subject to the 5/24 rule so as long as you're under that you're more likely to be approved.

    If you have more questions, just let us know!
     
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  3. Rohit Deshpande

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    Hi
    Firstly I would like to thank you for your comprehensive and thorough response I really appreciate it and it helped. My apologies for being ambiguous. When I meant "which programs give points the fastest" I didn't mean transfer time from points to FF program miles. I meant which programs have the most categories where they offer bonus miles where if you shop at a restaurant you get 2x points/miles or at certain branded stores you get 3x-20x points......something like that for fastest way to acquire miles. Thanks again for your reply, and therefore might I ask again which program and corresponding card gives the most benefit in that sense. And then of course from there to transfer to many frequent flyer programs. Thanks again for your help in advance.
     
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  4. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    Ah, ok, sorry to have misunderstood.

    @Lucky did a post last year on this topic: http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2015/03/19/best-credit-card-category-bonuses-2/

    But that was before the Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched, so it's not included. (Hey Ben, time for a refresh on that post! ;))

    Also, the Chase Freedom and Discover cards have rotating categories each quarter that earn 5x points/5% cash back so that's usually superior to anything else for that quarter. You do need to register for those categories each quarter.

    US Bank has a card that earns 5% cash back in rotating categories as well and you can select from their list as to which categories work best for you.

    So that should get you started but feel free to ask if you have further questions.
     
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  5. Rohit Deshpande

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    So what I'm seeing here based on your response here and your response to the comment I made on the other question, it appears that the Superior ones to choose from to use are SPG, AMEX, and UR based on categorical bonuses even thought spg doesn't offer too much of that but they have the most airline partners.
     
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  6. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    That's correct. If you look at Lucky's valuations (click Start Here at the top of the page, then click on Value of Miles & Points) you'll see how he values SPG over URs & MRs. But since there are no bonus categories for the SPG Amex (except SPG/Marriott hotels) they're also harder to come by. URs and MRs each have good bonus categories and can be transferred to a number of partners.

    But again, if you don't have any of these cards, I'd start with one of the UR-earning cards since Chase has the 5/24 rule so if you're under those thresholds you're more likely to be approved.
     
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  7. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    I find that it's easiest to think of SPG as an everyday spending card that offers 1.25miles per $ and flexibility.
     
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  8. Rohit Deshpande

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    Alright that makes sense. help me out here, Im feeling biased towards spg at the moment simply because i have a good amount of UA (63K) and some alaska (2K) miles and spg is the only transfer that does both with 1:1.25 ratio assuming over 20k per transfer where UR is the only other one that transfers to UA and none other transfer to Alaska. But FF programs like Alaska are the key to first/bus class on EK and many other rare award tickets. AMEX also looks attractive i just looked at their partners and they have some good transfer deals (except to starpoints 3:1) but like Alitalia is 1000:1400 which is pretty neat and had many others similar. You were also saying amex has a lot of categorial bonuses as well right? So I'm leaning towards SPG card or AMEX travel rewards or every day but I have not forgotten what you said about UR having 5/24 rule, so I am down to those 3 for sure now to choose from.
     
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  9. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    If you're trying to build up Alaska miles then check out the BOA Alaska card. I believe you can churn this card and have more than one card open at a time (someone please correct me if that's changed).

    And there's nothing that says you can't have more than one of these cards. You can stagger opening them so that you can easily make the spending thresholds to receive the bonuses.
     
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  10. Rohit Deshpande

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    Having more than one card at this time seems ideal but my dad is only trying to stick to one for the whole family at the moment so we can all rack points towards that usage. Ideally he would be asking these questions, but he doesn't know as much about airlines,alliances, and the mileage system, so here I am. To provide further details, this is a card a family of 4 would be using to rack points to a single account. My reason for having so many Alaska and unified miles is because I travel a lot for certain projects and India every summer. And my dad is global services status with United. So this is why we were trying to find a single card that makes the best of both worlds. We have decided that it's ok if it's a program that doesn't transfer to UA, like Amex, but we are just trying to find a solid card and program that racks up points fast through various categories and is overall good. This is so that eventually it can all be traded in for premium cabin travel whether It would be booked as an award through UA or Alaska or any airline at all whichever has the best award value. As I said I am willing to create accounts with different freaking flyer program so that I can transfer points to those if needed but I'm just trying to find a base program of the big three that we decided which gives the best value for points and the quickest. Thanks again for your help. I know I'm being very particular and demanding, apologies for that, it's just that I'm trying to get the right tips from the experts.
     
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  11. MidSouth Skier

    MidSouth Skier Well-Known Member

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    OK, so there's another wrinkle: you want to be able to combine these points. Combining URs is pretty easy as long as you all live at the same address. See @Tiffany's post from September: http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/09/06/combine-ultimate-rewards-points/

    To share Amex MR points, you can only share with someone who is an authorized user on the card. So if all the bills are going to Dad anyway, he could make you all authorized users and that would make the sharing easier. Or he could just transfer all the points to his FF accounts and use his points to get tickets for everyone else. MMS has a post from last year about this: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2015/...ewards-citi-thankyou-points-with-your-spouse/

    Per Ben's post from May, Starpoints can be transferred among household members in 1000 point increments but that also counts towards the "purchase" limit of Starpoints for that year. http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/05/31/transferring-starpoints-between-accounts/

    The name on the SPG card must match the name on the frequent flyer account per the SPG site:
    Both the SPG Member and transfer partner program accounts must have identical member names in order to complete a requested transfer; different names will cause the transfer to be rejected.

    Hope that helps.
     
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  12. Rohit Deshpande

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    That really does help thank you so much. From what I'm seeing here, SPG is really restrictive in that sense because in a calendar year our family easily spends more than $30,000 but the next question I have is that if it's saying 30,000 points limit per year transfer does that refer to each individual member of the household or the entire household as a whole? This Is of course assuming one star point per dollar? Because if it applies to the entire household and then it's very restrictive but if it is applicable to each member of the household then that's not going to be an issue because all 4 of us don't spend $30k each.

    Secondly, for the spg card where the name on the card must match the spg account name, Do I interpret that literally? What I mean is that right now the whole family has chase UA MileagePlus cards. Of course the credit card account is under my dad's name but, each card that each family member uses has each family member's name on it, so is that what is meant. Therefore we each would have to create our own SPG account?

    Once again sorry for being such a nuisance haha. And thank you so much for your continued and persistent help, I genuinely appreciate it.
     
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  13. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    Lets take a quick step back--the SPG card is not a good way to earn UA miles (that is the only transfer partner with an inferior transfer rate). That is not to say that there are no other ways of booking UA tickets such as transferring to a star alliance partner like aeroplan and using that to book UA seats. However, in order to make full advantage of your father's status you'd likely want miles that transfer directly to his UA account.

    The UR family of cards that MSS has mentioned are still the best way to earn a currency that transfers to UA besides being the first cards you should apply for because of 5/24. They do not have the transfer bonus but they have an upfront bonus when you earn instead! The Freedom Unlimited for example will earn you 1.5UR points for every dollar that you spend. You will need one of the premium cards to allow transfers to FF programs so you'll have to pick between the Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and Ink Preferred. I'm not sure what strategy you plan to put in place--will each member of your family apply for and have their own cards or will someone apply for the cards and make everyone else authorized users? Obviously the first strategy will lead to more points but you'll also have to do more planning to meet spending targets. As MSS mentions you'll want to make sure to have everyone on the same address if people apply individually as this will make sharing points later a breeze. Leave the address be even if you move IRL. If only one person applies then that particular problem doesn't arise as everyone's points are already in the same account.
     
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  14. Rohit Deshpande

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    Oh wow I did not know that United had an inferior transfer ratio through SPG. Now to make life easier my dad was saying that it is ok if The program chosen does not transfer to United because he is going to be getting sufficient amount of United points anyways because he travels basically every week and the points that he gains from company paying for his flights gets him all the miles he needs, and the UA card we currently all use on top of that. Now to answer your question he was going to make an account and make us all authorized users. but all in all the program that you guys think best… It is OK if UA is not included we're just trying to find a program which transfers to a good variety of airlines and gets us the most amount of points to throw into any FF program. I'm trying to build my mileage plan account because lately I've been seeing some AMAZING award flights to Mumbai India in first class for only 80K miles which is pretty good to me and I get 3 first class segments out of it (not that I'll be achieveing 80k anytime soon) But I'm working on that through many of Alaska's program so that does not need worry. Overall we are just trying to find the best program for transfers to multiple airlines and programs. Does not have to be UA or Alaska.Now based on what I'm hearing from you guys, I can throw out SPG even though it has the most transfer partners and leave it down to chase UR and AMEX. Also to answer your question to help pick a better program, here's how we will be spending for the time being:

    Dad- work items, household appliances and grocery and lots of sports gear(training for February Mt Kilimanjaro climb with friends, actually flying Ethiopian business from LAX through JRO), restaurant when we go out as a family(I pick restaurants that give me bonus miles on Alaska Mileage Plan Dining

    Mom- grocery(LOTS OF IT), occasional food, clothes, etc

    Sister (Med student)- House appliances, food, lots of flying to home and back on UA or SW, grocery, lots of clothes

    Me-Not much besides occasional stationery for school, basketball items, food every now and then, AP books :).

    But the most important thing is that all this money used is feeding off my dad's card account, but we each have UA cards with our names on it. So based on that which program fits best?

    Once again, thank you for your help very much! Thanks for the immense time you put in reading my response and giving good feedback I really appreciate it.
     
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  15. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    @Rohit Deshpande at this point I'm going to give you the generic but true answer that there is no one program that transfers to all airlines and gives you everything you want. Each bank has different varieties of cards and bonus structures and this is where you really need to buckle down and take a close hard look at spending patterns in your household and see which programs would allow you to best leverage that. There is no substitute for doing the work yourself. I would again echo MSS's advice that you lead with the Chase UR program because a) this option disappears once your dad runs afoul of 5/24 and b) it allows your family to have the option to transfer to UA but also many other partners. Good luck in your decision making.
     
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  16. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    Also, you should have your father take a look at the Chase UR cards, especially the Preferred or Reserve if he does a ton of travel. The UA card is OK for a few perks (not sure if it adds anything since he's already GS) but the UR cards will typically offer better/more flexible returns on his spend. If he doesn't want to pay two annual fees, he can always downgrade the UA card to the no fee version if he doesn't need the spend exemption.
     
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  17. Rohit Deshpande

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    Sorry Gaurav for the trouble, thanks again for your help. We will look at the Chase cards for that. I would like to thank you and MidSouth Skier for your continuous help and providing thorough responses.
     
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  18. Gaurav

    Gaurav Well-Known Member

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    No trouble @Rohit Deshpande, happy to help. Please ask if you have any specific questions! It's impossible for us to factor in every detail for someone else's particular situation. In the long term knowledge really is your best friend!
     
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