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Old Sep 19, 11, 6:46 am   #1
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 8
New Traveler Needing Suggestions

Hey Everyone at Flyertalk!

This is my first post and I am really hoping to become a regular here before too long. I am 24 years old, living in Chicago with my first real job. I have always wanted to travel, but never thought it to be realistic yet because of funding.

I recently came across Chris Guillebeau's 'Frequent Flyer Master', which I decided to purchase and read. This was a great tool, but it is still beyond me right now as I am a complete Newby! I know it will take a lot of time to learn the ropes, but I like reading and doing some research.

What I am asking for here is help on how to get started. My credit card situation stands as having a Chase Freedom card, which isn't currently getting me miles. I have good credit and would like to start building miles. After reading Chris' book, I understand there are cards and methods to gaining extreme amounts of miles in minimal amounts of time.

As I am younger and reletively new to credit cards, I need a little understanding on gaining points, credit card fees, and canceling cards. I've always been told not to cancel cards when I was younger, but lately I have been hearing this isn't the worst thing in the world. I read about churning cards, and this sounds interesting, I just would need to know exactly how this works. I'd really like help on putting together a strategy for a new person in my position to get my traveling life going!

In case you need to know how much I can spend... I can put $750-$1,200 on a card per month. I am used to putting everything on my card to gain points, it just wasn't for miles

Please let me know any additional information you may need to give me some solid advise. I'm single, 24, rent an apartment (can't pay rent by cc), have no car payments. I'm just looking to put together a game plan to start traveling sometime next year (I'm a planner, I love excel).

In case you are curious of my game plan... Find out how to earn miles and start earning as much as I can. Pick a destination and start planning a trip. Research the different ways to use my miles to minimize hotel and other fees (aka become a flyertalk junkie). Go on the trip and repeat!

In advance, I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and I look forward to all our future conversations!

Best,

Brad Arnold
Chicago, IL
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Old Sep 19, 11, 11:23 am   #2
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 424
The first thing I would recommend is to read this article about how Chase Freedom points can be combined with Ultimate Rewards points, which can be transferred into Continental, British Airways, or Korean miles. Then read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and apply for that. Continental miles will become United miles on January 1st, and can be transferred to United now. Continental/United would be a good choice for someone based in Chicago. You could later get a United credit card for another bonus to add to your stash of miles. Keep in mind that if you apply for more than one Chase card in a 30 day period, you will have to talk to someone at Chase to explain why you need 2 cards. Read more on The Points Guy's blog and look at his links to other blogs.

Here is a thread about the current American sign up bonuses. You might even want to apply for this before the Sapphire as the deal could be pulled at any time. American also has lots of flights out of Chicago.

Try to keep a couple credit cards open long term to increase the age of your credit lines and it will help your credit score. Many of us cancel credit cards after about 11 months before the annual fee comes due, but we all keep a couple accounts open long term (mine are no annual fee Hilton cards).
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Old Sep 19, 11, 1:01 pm   #3
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 8
Thanks for the information Birdseye. I plan on keeping probably 2 full time credit cards open, but wouldn't want much more than that (except for temporarily building points and cancelling after 11 months). I will read up on the information you provided and come back with any questions about that.

One initial question I have is about the whole airline alliance topic. The first time I heard about this was yesterday. If you choose Continental/United or American, which airlines can you use their points for. I guess if I were to use my miles for more international travel, would there be one better than the other?

Again, thanks for the info!

Brad
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Old Sep 19, 11, 2:39 pm   #4
 
Join Date: May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArnoldBradleyJ View Post
In case you are curious of my game plan... Find out how to earn miles and start earning as much as I can. Pick a destination and start planning a trip. Research the different ways to use my miles to minimize hotel and other fees (aka become a flyertalk junkie). Go on the trip and repeat!
Brad,

Welcome to FlyerTalk - that's exactly what I do!

My main source of miles is via credit card sign up bonuses. To start, I'd recommend signing up for Credit Karma and Credit Sesame (both are free) to get your proxy credit score.

Then consider applying for a few credit cards making sure that you pick banks which use different credit bureaus. I've written on post on that in my blog.

I would suggest applying for the most lucrative bonuses first. Here are a few which come to mind.

1) 2 Citi AA 75K miles cards - apply for both at the same time and you'll likely get approved for both. That's 150K miles for you (It's the most popular post on my blog!)

2) Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. Not only will you get a 50K point bonus, but you'll also be able to transfer the Ultimate Reward points from your Freedom card to hotel and air partners (you get more bang for your buck that way).

3) 65+ days from when you are approved for the Citi AA personal cards, apply for the Citi AA Business card for another 75K miles.

That should get you traveling pretty quick!
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Old Sep 19, 11, 2:50 pm   #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Thank you for such a concise answer! This sounds very reasonable to do and will get me started quickly. The only questions I would have is.... When to cancel and how much will it hurt my credit score (no big purchases/loans coming up)? And now that this covers miles, what should I use/do to stay at hotels for cheap/free... this may be merging with another section, sorry about that.

Thanks again, I'll check out your blog too!

Brad
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Old Sep 19, 11, 2:54 pm   #6
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 929
Hi Brad -

One pitfall many have fallen into is to sign up for too many cards and not be able to make the spending limits.

Million Mile Secrets suggested some excellent cards, however based on your spending habits there's no way you'd hit the spending on all those cards at once.

Personally I'd apply for the two AA cards first (based on your spending limits I believe you could hit both of those), and once you hit the spending limits apply for the Sapphire if it's still available.
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Old Sep 19, 11, 3:33 pm   #7
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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That sounds like a solid plan. I will do a little research on that and get back to you. I went to the AA site briefly and didn't see a 75k card, but it was briefly. When I get a few minutes, I will dig deeper. How much is your credit affected by cancelling credit cards, or is it better to let them expire by not using them? I'm going to ask my accountant friend, but I am sure you guys are familiar with churning cards!

Brad

Sent from my iPad
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Old Sep 19, 11, 3:38 pm   #8
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 424
American is part of the One World Alliance. Here and here are articles on redeeming miles for awards in this alliance. Check out American's website, look for route maps and charts for how many miles it takes to get there. British Airways is a partner but charges large fuel surcharges. LAN has lots of routes to South America and has lower fees on award tickets. I flew to Rome on AA for 40,000 miles and $50 in May (off peak award).

United is part of the Star Alliance. Here and here are articles on using miles on Star Alliance carriers. United's biggest partners are US Airways and Lufthansa.

Here and here are articles on the best hotel credit cards. Which one is best for you will depend on where you want to go and what hotels are there.

Last edited by birdseye; Sep 19, 11 at 3:44 pm.
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Old Sep 19, 11, 3:42 pm   #9
mia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArnoldBradleyJ View Post
...I went to the AA site briefly and didn't see a 75k card
Correct. Follow the link the second paragraph of post #2 of this thread.
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Old Sep 19, 11, 3:50 pm   #10
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
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You won't find a link to the 75k cards on the American website, the publicly available offers are much lower. You will find information (and links to apply) here and here.
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Old Sep 19, 11, 6:17 pm   #11
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
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Thanks for all the responses guys. This is helping me out so much and I am very excited to get planning for the upcoming year!

I will look through the links you both sent me and figure out which cards work best for me to start. I may have more questions for you, but that is TBD until I do a little research.

Thanks again!

Brad Arnold
Chicago, IL
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