SSF556

Travel Rewards via Credit Cards

31 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

Glad to see a discussion of miles/points on these boards. Looks like we may have one or two SafariTalkers who are also FlyerTalkers. ;)

 

I'm a big fan of this method, when used responsibly, to knock out a large amount of a travel budget. To be honest, it's the only way that my wife and I can travel like we do. As a pair of teachers, we have good vacation time, but not loads of discretionary income. To support our travel habit, I've learned lots of tips and tricks to maximize travel rewards. This takes careful and advanced planning, but it can yield amazing results.

 

For example, the trip we are taking this summer:

 

Flight from US to China in biz class

6 Nights in China

Flight from China to South Africa in biz

6 nights in Cape Town

Flight to Kruger

6 Nights on Safari

Flight to US in biz

 

Notes:

 

1) Why is a trip to China glued on to the front of our safari? Because, when using United miles, one gets a free stopover. For the same amount of miles it takes to get to Africa, one can go to Africa with a stopover in Europe or Asia. My wife wanted to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and The Great Wall, so we chose a stop-over in China.

 

2) Our business class flights (US-China-Africa-US) cost us 160k United miles each for a total of 320k United miles. That's a lot. That's why we had to plan in advance. We achieved this total by signing up for a United card (55k miles), an Ink card (60k miles) and a Sapphire card (45k miles). That got us half-way there.

 

3) We got the rest of our United miles through manufactured spending. This is a pain to accomplish, but worth it in our view. One buys visa gift cards at an office supply store (Staples, etc) with the Ink card. This card pays 5X the points for office supply purchases. By picking up a few thousand dollars of gift cards each month, we made up the rest of our needed miles. The cards can be used for your monthly spending, or they can be liquidated by depositing them to with a Wal-Mart "Bluebird" card. Again, this is a pain, but it enables us to travel. This method could certainly be used to meet the minimum spending requirements on cards.

 

4)Our hotels in China, the Westin Xi'an and Park Plaza Beijing, are covered by our Starwood points (from the Amex Starwood card) and Club Carlson points (from the US Bank Club Carlson card) respectively.

 

5) Our hotels in Cape Town are also covered by the Club Carlson points.

 

6) Most safaris can't be covered with hotel points (there is a Fairmont Masai Mara). However, a great cashback card like the Barclays Arrival Plus card (2.2% back on each dollar spent, when redeemed for travel rewards) can help defray big ticket items.

 

As @@SSF556 noted, caution must be taken. This is not worth the time or money if one does not commit to always pay balances in full. One must also be careful to space credit inquiries out over time and between banks. I will note, however, that since getting involved in this hobby, both my wife's and my credit scores have risen steadily.

 

There is a wealth of information on FlyerTalk and similar sites regarding how to maximize these rewards. I consider myself merely and advanced amateur. However, I am more than willing to discuss these ideas and tactics with other SafariTalkers who have an interest.

 

Also, I have no affiliation with any banks or websites. I just do this to help pay for our travels.

 

Wow, one day I want to sit down and figure this out. Because we are NOT big spenders, really at mid 60's what does one need! So we pay REAL money for biz and it is a killer. I always thought collecting credit cards was a big no no but you are impressing it is not.

 

We need to chat! LOL

 

But good for you; as educators in the US, you are way underpaid, but as educators you have the intelligence to figure all this out; which as a AARP member I do not. Maybe this old dog can be taught a few tricks! I could have bought a car - a great car - with the biz class tickets in this family we have purchased. :angry:

 

I did upgrade once from Va to California..I had a few points from something; but never to Africa!

 

But, does this plan require you make your reservations a year in advance? That is ONE thing we just cannot do..I know its crazy, but we are last minute - at least 6 months; usually four. Can you use points that close?

Edited by graceland

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Posted (edited)

@ graceland....what is your home airport? IAD?

Edited by SSF556

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But, does this plan require you make your reservations a year in advance? That is ONE thing we just cannot do..I know its crazy, but we are last minute - at least 6 months; usually four. Can you use points that close?

 

 

@@graceland, We do plan very far in advance in order to get the dates we want/need. However, if you are willing to be flexible with your dates, you can certainly wait until the last minute. In fact, some of the best availability occurs last-minute. We could definitely make a plan to pay for some of your airfare.

 

I look forward to chatting more!

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For example...there is a flight from IAD-JNB available 6 months from now. Business class.

 

post-48032-0-81124400-1433119213_thumb.png

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Posted (edited)

@ graceland....what is your home airport? IAD?

 

Sorry @SSF566, I did not see this....my home airport is Washington, DC IAD...though I could do Baltimore or Atlanta,but refuse to go anyway near NY

 

If you put a space between @ and my name I do not get a notification, so i was Not ignoring you.

 

Do you fly out of Atlanta; i know Delta does. IaD is easy for us and with Emirates they will pick me up 60miles away with a car- and deliver me to the door, and return the same....quick and easy. I like that service :P since i most probably paid for it!! i also do GLOBAL ENTRY so I essentially get off the plane,siwpe my passport and in five minutes I am out - yes!

 

Got to get on ALL those Cards.....yeech.....spending spending to fly.....need a secret for one wit no house payments, debt, etc to pay off. I've never been on the best dressed list so that is out. Perhaps a new car; LOL not happening!

Edited by graceland

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For example...there is a flight from IAD-JNB available 6 months from now. Business class.

 

attachicon.gifUnited.png

@@TravelinTeacherAU, I really appreciate you showing me the options. I have to admit....as former cabin crew on an airline, I am also picky about what "metal" I fly.

 

I know,I know, what difference does it make?....To Me, quite a bit on a long haul. I've looked at EK's requirements for Biz as I prefer them over United (though I did fly United - Swiss to Tanzania an it was not bad - Swiss was great) so....unless I do points - which you will eventually teach me I am sure, I am preferring European and Middle Eastern Airlines to spend my money.....and right now Emirates is winning it. We'll see after the next.one coming up Sept... ....United demanded $7K; Emirates is around the $4K price and stomps United in the ground with their service. I just tend to look at it as a very expensive two day vacation - but waited on 24/7! Amenities I cans sneak into Africa! Last one the F/a filled a huge bag of about 20 blue gins, 20 vodkas (airline size) and french wine as she was worried I'd have none in Zimbabwe...What service!! Our guides eyes it up!

 

However, I am open to learning the point system but if I am paying hard cold cash a metal 330-200 won't get it. OK. I admit a plane snob...but thats because I pay cash for them! Maybe I could loosen up if I accumulated points and paid less than hallf...we will work on that won't we?

 

or even better, met someone with a private plane to take me anywhere. :rolleyes: with all I wanted!

 

 

NONTHE LESS< lets chat when you finish this summers holiday. it will truly be fun to meet!

 

 

Thanks again for taking the time to show me - though i wonder if I could bog through it myself; overwhelming B)

 

We NEED to meet sooner than later!

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