Tag Archives: credit card sign-ups

Credit Cards primer..a useful tool for free travel

For those that are already into the game of credit card churning, you will not need to read this post…..skip it and come back another day.  For those of you that have just one or two credit cards, would like to travel for free, travel in Business or First Class or use your points for upgrades, then please read on.  This is how we were able to travel to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore for almost free.

Most all credit cards give something back to you -points, miles, cash back or a travel allowance.  I do not have any cards that give me cash back, I would rather have the points/miles for free travel.  Since I don’t have any of the cash back cards, I won’t address them at this time.

I have some credit cards that will give me points, miles or a travel allowance.  Many of the really good cards do charge an annual fee and most of those credit card companies waive the fee for the first year.

In my mind, credit cards are divided into three main categories.  There are some that are revenue based (like Capital One Venture card) and others that are miles based (United Mileage Plus Explorer) and other that are points based (hotels, Sapphire Preferred).

A revenue based credit card, in my opinion, is not worth it.  Generally speaking, one cent equals one point.  When the Venture card first came out, they offered to match the miles you would have in another credit card reward program up to 100,000 miles.  I did sign up, got my 100,000 points.  That 100,000 points was equal to $1,000 that I could apply to travel.  I would apply this to an airplane ticket purchased through their website powered by Travelocity.  The good thing about this program is that there are no blackout dates – if a seat was available I could “purchase” it.  In my scenario,  I want to fly from Washington Dulles to Honolulu in Business Class.  A business class ticket would cost me $3518 which means that I would need 351,800 points with my Venture card from Capital One in order to purchase this ticket.  That’s a lot of points to accumulate.

If instead I chose to use my miles that I have earned with the United Mileage Plus Explorer card with United  then I would use 80,000 miles roundtrip and pay $5 in taxes and fees.  The 80,000 miles translates into $800.00.  Who is getting the better deal?   When using miles you do have to have some flexibility with your travel dates as your preferred dates may not be available in the preferred cabin choice.

Finally, I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card and it gives me Ultimate Reward points. These points are transferable to 5 different airlines (and it gets you into their alliances) as well as AMTRAK and 4 different hotels.  I find on the United Airline Award Booking Chart that I need 80,000 miles to book that trip to Honolulu.  I call up the number on the back of my Sapphire card and ask them to transfer 80,000 points to my United Frequent Flier account.  It transfers at a 1:1 ratio and is instantaneous.  I  can then book online for my award travel or call up the United and get transferred to the award booking department.  They will help you for $25 per person.

  For the Capital One Venture card,they will give you 10,000 points when you spend $1000 in 3 months and the points you earned in making that spend as well as no foreign transaction fees.   Your first year fee is waived.

The United Mileage Plus Explorer card through Chase would give you 30,000 after you spend $1000 in the first three months plus the points you earned is meeting that spend, your first checked bag free when you fly United, and no foreign transaction fees.  The first year fee is waived.United MileagePlus(Registered Trademark) Explorer Card

If you are interested in signing up for a Chase Sapphire credit card, as of today you will earn 40,000 Ultimate Reward points when you spend $3000 in three months.  You will also earn points from the spending that you do with this credit card and an annual 7% bonus points based on all purchases you made with the card.  You are then effectively earning 2.14 miles per dollar spent.  The first year fee is waived and finally, no foreign transaction fees.

Post image for Chase Sapphire Preferred Review: Turn 40,000 Points into $500

 NOTE:  These bonus sign up points were correct at the time this blog was written.  They have probably changed by the time you read this.
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Travel can be Affordable

Before Blogger Hubby and I made our last BIG trip – the kind of trip where you go to a different hemisphere AND below the equator – we knew  that because of the length of the flight we did not want to travel in coach.  I wanted to us to fly in Business Class or First Class.  To fly this way, for us,  is cost prohibitive.  We had decided years ago (yes, it has been on my bucket list this long) to use frequent flier miles and had been religiously saving them since 2006 through our United Airline Visa credit card.  This was a trip that probably wouldn’t be repeated and I wanted to do it in comfort and be well rested so I could hit the pavement when we landed in Sydney, Australia.

 We quickly found out that we didn’t have sufficient miles even though we had close to 200,000 miles with United Airline.  I was going to do my best not to settle for coach for this long of a journey from the East Coast to Sydney.
I quickly did what any modern woman would do – I googled frequent flier  – and a whole new wonderful world opened up in front of my eyes.  There were so many blogs out there with so much information and terminology that I had never heard before.  Apparently there is this whole underground culture about frequent flier miles, how to get more, how to spend them and new promotions.  Oh, I was in blogger heaven as I dreamt about my future travel plans actually coming to fruition.
I began following Frugal Travel Guy (www.frugaltravelguy.com) when it was being written by Rick Ingersoll (he occasionally still posts there).  I would read his blog and actually email him with questions.  He was very patient with me and gave me lots of good advice.  He recognized that we needed more miles quickly and suggested that both Blogger Hubby and myself apply for the Chase Sapphire Credit Card, do the minimum spend ($3000 in four months) and get the 50,000 Ultimate Reward points that we could transfer over to our United Airline Mileage account.  For us getting  instant approval was easy since we only had about 2 credit cards at that time and we always paid them off in full each month.  We also had excellent credit scores because we did pay them off in full each month.  We did not add each other as co-signers on the credit cards but instead we each had our own card and that allowed us to get 100,000 miles in total. Since we were going on a cruise from Sydney to Auckland, we used our new credit cards to pay down our cruise and within 30 days we had our points.

Below are the Three Main Rules when signing up for credit cards:

1) know your credit score.  You can get some FAKO scores (similar to FICO scores) for free by going to http://www.quizzle.com, http://www.creditsesame.com or http://www.creditkarma.com

2) Always pay your credit card bills in full each month

3) Do not plan on purchasing a home or having a large expense within the next two year if you plan on opening more than a couple of credit cards

When you open a new credit card your credit score will take a dip, generally about 3-5 points per card but it will come up quickly, more quickly than you think.  In fact, many hard core credit card churners apply for 3-4 new cards every 91 days and then close these cards within 8-11 months so they won’t have to pay the credit card fee which is generally waived the first year.

Having many credit cards does not hurt your score as long as you pay off your cards in full every month on time. Your new credit is only about 5% of your total credit score.   I have opened ten new cards this year and my score is still in the Excellent range.  After two years these credit card hard “pulls” on your credit history drop off.  Through my credit card sign ups and after using miles to fly Business Class to Australia, New Zealand and Singapore, using points for our hotel stays in Sydney (4 nights), Auckland (1 night) and Singapore (4 nights) as well as using miles to book summer flights for Blogger Hubby I still have over 1.1 million miles.  In future posts I’ll show you how to get more than one mile per dollar spent as well as manufactured spending.

Are you interested in how much money we paid for our flights?  We flew First Class from Washington Dulles to San Francisco on United, Business Class on Asiana Airline to Seoul, Business Class again on Asiana to Sydney, Auckland to Bribane on Air New Zealand in Business Class, Brisbane to Singapore on Singapore Air in Business Class, Singapore to Beijing in economy on Singapore Air and finally Beijing to Washington Dulles in Business Class on United.  When flying Business Class have a separate line going through security, separate boarding, able to use the airline lounges for food, drink, showers and many more perks. We paid a total of $110 each for taxes.

When I sit and think of all the miles and points that I have,  I am reminded of this book:

oh the places