I recently received some questions from a reader. You might have some of the same questions in your mind. Hopefully I can answer them for you..
1. Generally speaking, what would you say is the best approach for accumulating significant ultimate rewards points? In my opinion, the fastest way to accumulate significant UR miles is through credit card churning BUT only if you can do the minimum spend in the allotted time and be able to pay your bill off entirely each month and you are not going to be making a major purchase in the next two years as hard inquiries stay on your credit report for two years. Remember, in doing this you want to protect your credit. Last year I applied for and was approved for the Sapphire card (50,000 points), Explorer card (40,000 points), Ink Bold (50,000 points) and Chase Freedom (10,000 points). Right there is 150,000 points just from the sign-up and not including the points earned while doing the minimum spend. Add in the cards that my husband opened, and we have over 300,000 points from the credit cards. We have begun to close a few of our cards – something you should do if you do not want to pay the fee and don’t care about the extra perks, in 8-11 months after opening. The Chase Mileage Plus Explorer card gives you one free checked bag and two passes to the United Lounge each year.
2. My takeaways from your blog are to: use the card on everyday expenses, use the card especially through the rewards mall and especially with stores that offer the highest points, and booking travel through the ultimate rewards site (although I am not clear how to do this) When you go to your Chase credit card site, click on the right side to go to Ultimate Rewards. When you get to this page you will see a blue box on the left side. You want to click on “Book a Trip”. Follow the directions and you can then book a trip using miles.
3. Are there other methods for accumulating a lot of miles in a relatively short time span? As I wrote about in an earlier blog, Vanilla Reloads are a way that I use to pump up my monthly totals. Read this post to find out how to use it. Another way is to have one of the Chase business credit cards where you get 5X points in office supply stores. You can go in, purchase a $500 VISA gift card and use that for your spend in places where you are only getting 1X points – you’ve just bumped up your total points you would have earned. Additionally if you have the business credit card, pay for internet, landline and wireless phone bill since you’ll also earn 5X points.
4. Is there a way to link actual miles flown to the ultimate rewards account…or would you have to fly on a star alliance carrier as the way to be able to eventually pool those miles flown with the miles you would get by converting ultimate reward points? Your actual miles flown would stay with the airline that you’ve flown with. You would pool your points with an airline of the alliance you want to fly. Let’s say you have UAL miles, you could transfer your UR points to your UAL account when you want to fly on Star Alliance booking through UAL. You can only transfer your UR points to one of its transfer partners and then you can use their alliance. UR points can transfer to Korean Air. Go to Korean Air and see what alliance they are in (SkyTeam) and who you can transfer to within their alliance.
5. On hotels, what is the best way to begin getting free hotel stays…would you recommend just joining the hotel loyalty programs, signing up for a hotel rewards credit card, or both? I would join the hotel loyalty program so you can learn about all their promotions. Generally they have 3-4 promos a year geared toward the season “The new Fall promotion…” To jump start, get the hotel credit card and many times you’ll get points right off the bat and then when you stay with them you’ll get 5x or 10x points per dollar spent at the hotel. Last year we stayed at a Marriott for a function that we were going to. There was a cash bar in our function room so I couldn’t charge my drink to my room. I walked down the hallway to the hotel bar, charged my drinks and got 5x points for each dollar that I spent at the bar. I believe Marriott now has a promo that you have to register for that after two stays (remember the difference between a stay and a night) , you get one night free.
More questions and answers coming next week. Keep them coming.