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Old Dec 17, 12, 9:58 pm   #1
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Card Recommendation for 10k Spend Per Month

I am a sophomore in college and I feel that I may not be maximizing the rewards that I could be getting.

My first (and only) card is the Citi Platinum Select AAdvantage Card which I got near the end of 2010. At the time, my credit score was nonexistent so I had to have my mother apply for me and I am an authorized user (and the sole user) on the card. Through this, I have been able to build my credit to the 725-750 range.

I spend on average $10,000 per month for my small business and I always pay the balance in full each month. I have racked up about 340k AAdvantage miles so far with the card. I do not travel often and I have only ever redeemed one domestic flight. I certainly would like to travel more (which is why I originally got the card), but I have not gotten around to it yet.

I definitely am not against continuing to earn AAdvantage miles, but I am wondering if anyone has a suggestion for a better way to capitalize on my spending?

Thank you in advance!
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Old Dec 18, 12, 12:33 am   #2
  
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Please tell us more about what "travel" plans you have for the future. Lots of different currencies out there, depending where you want to go/stay.

Without any other details, one thing to note is: If you want AA miles, the SPG Amex is a better choice, since there's a 5000 mile bonus when you transfer 20k over. (Thus it is effectively 1.25 miles/$)

Another note: You have plenty of spend to meet any requirements for a signup bonus. Or many signup bonuses.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 1:13 am   #3
  
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Mdtr is right. Without knowing any other information, spg amex would be a better daily driver for you. Higher earn rate for aa and flexibility to use for non aa redemptions.

If you share more info about where your spend goes (e.g. what types of merchants) we can give more tailored input.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 7:14 am   #4
  
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Assuming your credit is study enough to handle it, which it sounds like it is, your best strategy is to apply for a number of cards and use your spending to get the signup bonuses.

There's some question of how often you can "churn" these cards, but you could get cards like USAir, Delta, Amex Preferred Rewards Gold and Open Gold, United, Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold, and hit the spending targets on them all.

Up to a point it's best to have points on a single airline, but diversification is also good. You may find a time when you want to go someplace and seats are only available on some airlines/alliances but not others.

Don't feel shy about getting cards, taking the fee-free year, getting the signup bonus, and cancelling them.

Realistically you probably need a long-term card, that you'll pay the fee on each year, possibly more than one (if you get Amex and Chase points, you need to keep one card active in each program to keep your points). For that you might look at the categories you spend money on and see which cards are best.

I am NOT an expert on credit scores, but I think the only things you can do to improve your credit score are to pay on time and make sure you have one account that you get and never cancel, to get a higher value for "Age of oldest account." It might even be useful to get a few no-fee cards with low credit limits and just put them in a drawer, maybe something like a Capital One no-fee card and a Chase Slate. These will also help to build an average age of account as you churn the other cards.

My personal feeling is that as long as you make sure you don't lose points (in most cases you have to have some activity every 18 months, but there are ways to generate a single transaction that aren't that complicated) even points you don't have an immediate use for are "nice to have." You never know when those 200K points you accumulated on (say) USAir will turn into a couple of biz class tickets to take your best girl to Paris or Rome.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 8:23 am   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
Please tell us more about what "travel" plans you have for the future. Lots of different currencies out there, depending where you want to go/stay.

Without any other details, one thing to note is: If you want AA miles, the SPG Amex is a better choice, since there's a 5000 mile bonus when you transfer 20k over. (Thus it is effectively 1.25 miles/$)

Another note: You have plenty of spend to meet any requirements for a signup bonus. Or many signup bonuses.
I don't really have any specific plans at the moment. I would definitely like to do a big European trip within the next couple years. I will probably also do a consulting program through my university in China for which I will have to arrange my own travel. Other than that, I am mainly keeping points on hand in case anything comes up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sk8uno View Post
Mdtr is right. Without knowing any other information, spg amex would be a better daily driver for you. Higher earn rate for aa and flexibility to use for non aa redemptions.

If you share more info about where your spend goes (e.g. what types of merchants) we can give more tailored input.
My biggest spend by far is online retailers (Amazon, eBay, various auction houses, big box stores' websites). Other than that it's mainly entertainment and dining but that's only to the tune of a few hundred dollars per month.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 8:37 am   #6
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Any recommendation that does not include both Chase Ink cards should be summarily discarded
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Old Dec 18, 12, 9:23 am   #7
  
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Get the United MileagePlus Club Business (or Personal) card. 1.5 miles for every dollar spent. You would be getting about 15,000 miles a month. Also, obtaining rewards on United and its Star Alliance partners at the cheapest reward amount is by far far away easier than on AA or DL.

In addition, when you do travel, you would have access a very large number of lounges/clubs to relax. On top of that, the Club card gives you 2 free checked bags, not just one like most cards.

Hands down one of the best cards to use for that amount of spend every month.
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Old Dec 18, 12, 10:00 am   #8
  
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Originally Posted by cslovacek View Post
You would be getting about 15,000 miles a month. Also, obtaining rewards on United and its Star Alliance partners at the cheapest reward amount is by far far away easier than on AA or DL.
And I've found AA to be just as good. Really depends on the exact destination, I think.

The OP here has so much spend he could viably take a few parallel paths:

(1) Accumulate on AA. Sign up for 2x Citi AA cards and meet the spend. Then take an SPG Amex and use it for regular spending.

(2) Accumulate on UA. Take an Explorer and any of the Ultimate Rewards cards, for the signup bonuses. Then take a UA Club Card for regular spending.

(3) For purchases directly from Amazon and dining, use a Citi Forward card for either 5% back directly or with a Premier ThankYou card for ~7% toward cash flights.

Then the OP would be able to redeem on UA, AA, or via cheap cash tickets, as is best for the situation.

The limiting factor in all of this will likely be the short credit history. But these are the kind of strategies that can be slow played as the credit report catches up.

One note on credit scores: Don't ever let your mother close the card your'e using now. She should convert it to a no-annual-fee card once you don't need it any more. Letting it age on your report is one of the best things you can do right now. (Along with picking up a nice card with no annual fee under your own name that you can also let age.)
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Old Dec 18, 12, 5:52 pm   #9
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Thank you everyone for the advice. I'll look into the cards that people mentioned to see if I qualify. Happy holidays all!
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Old Dec 19, 12, 8:57 am   #10
  
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No, don't go for the AA miles. They are worthless.

I tried searching about 7 different destinations a couple days ago for flexible days within 1 week periods for several different weeks next year and only 1, I repeat 1 had award redemption available at the lowest mileage rate. And with that, you had to make 2 inconvenient stops and overnight in ATL to get there.

You will not find that with UA. 80%+ of the time, you will be able to find the a reward at the lowest redemption level.

AA reward system is unacceptable and nearly impossible to use. If only 1 out of 7 destinations on multiple dates qualifies for the lowest mileage redemption, there is a problem.

Second, don't even try booking to Europe. I haven't managed to find 1 ticket yet that doesn't route you on BA, which rapes you in fees. The reward ticket will cost between $500-700.

So, yes, United does have the best reward availability by far of the USA Legacy carriers.

I'd like to fly AA more and accumulate more miles, but with an inferior card and award redemption's, I simply will not be changing programs.

Thanks!
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Old Dec 19, 12, 9:27 am   #11
mia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cslovacek View Post
Second, don't even try booking to Europe. I haven't managed to find 1 ticket yet that doesn't route you on BA...
This is an overstatement. You can configure the aa.com search to exclude BA flights. Just yesterday I booked MIA-LHR-MIA for July on AA operated flights in First and Business class. No fuel surcharge, only the UK APD which UA will also collect.
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Old Dec 19, 12, 12:20 pm   #12
  
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Originally Posted by cslovacek View Post
No, don't go for the AA miles. They are worthless.
That is one of the most ridiculous blanket statements I've ever seen on FT.

There is plenty of availability, on many dates, to great destinations in Asia, including Cathay business class. In fact, right now, if you wanted to spend Christmas somewhere warm, it would be trivial to book it.

And, while it can be tricky to find availability, it is definitely possible to book off-peak awards to Europe for 40k round trip. 36k after the AA credit card rebate. Where else can you do that?

UA miles might be easier to use but AA miles are far, far from worthless.

AA's award search engine itself isn't great but luckily we have BA and JL to supplement that. And with a cheap subscription to KVS it's simple to run the searches.
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Old Dec 19, 12, 2:13 pm   #13
  
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If you don't like to travel....and since you already have a decent amount of aa miles..why not do a flexible pts card or even a straight up cashback card...2% cashback on 10k aint all that bad...if i were u either PRG, Ink or spg
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Old Dec 19, 12, 3:36 pm   #14
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apparently some posters do not know the difference between 2% or 4% (net)
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