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Which other programs should I focus on?

Which other programs should I focus on?

Old Jul 9, 19, 7:56 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Programs: Southwest, SPG, AA, IHG, Club Carlson
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Which other programs should I focus on?

I am trying to figure out which airline (and hotel) programs I should focus on.

I used to travel every week for work till 2014. At that time I used to have all kinds of elite status that I have since lost. As of now, We (I and Wifey) primarily use Credit Card bonuses to rack up miles/points.

Our Use Case
1. Domestic travel within USA.
Air Travel (example: Family trip from JFK to Oralndo, FL) 1x per year 4 people.
Numerous driving trips within north east US or Canada.

2. International Travel.
1X per year, 2 people (parents) from US to India. Parents live in India and come over for visit every year.
1X every 3 to 4 years, a trip involving 4 people. We go for a trip back to India (where I and Wifey grew up in) every 3 to 4 years.

We are US GC holders. In another couple of years we will become eligible for US Citizenship. If we become citizens, a lot of other countries will open up for visa-free travel. At that point we will likely make more international trips to more countries.

Airline Programs
AA
This is our mainstay. We can churn once every 24 months for the citi and aviator cards. That is what we are doing.
Very useful program for numerous partner awards on Middle East airlines that go to India.

Alaska
BofA has clamped down on churning of late, and I have not quite figured out how to properly rack up points in this. Any tips?

Southwest
I used to use this for domestic travel. I racked up a lot of points with them when I used to travel for work. I've recently run out of them and will need to figure out the Chase CC game with them.

Hotel Programs

IHG
Our mainstay for domestic travel. I mostly use them on pointbreaks and the annual anniversary night (which was recently devalued).

Starwood/Marriott
I have 300k+ Marriott points in my account. Not really accumulating any more.

Club Carlson
I got the credit cards back when it used to have the one night free thing with award redemption. I have kept it around for the 40000 points per year. Hopefully we can use these points for a Europe trip someday.

Question
Are there any other airline/hotel programs that we should focus on? Anything where it is possible to rack up points using CC churning (using biz cards if necessary), and has good redemption potential within my use case.
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Old Jul 9, 19, 8:18 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Jan 2005
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Originally Posted by baburai View Post
Airline Programs
AA
This is our mainstay. We can churn once every 24 months for the citi and aviator cards. That is what we are doing.
Well, you need to keep up with the news:

Citi Moving from 24-Month Signup Bonus Restriction to 48-Month Restriction (DoC)


(It's changing at Barclays too but Barclay isn't publishing the rules like Cit is, so it's harder to tell what the newest restrictions are at Barclays.)

And that's the general problem with your plan too. Churning rules are constantly changing,so you could pick a program based on today's churning rules and next month the churning rules at the bank for that program could completely change.

Theoretically Hilton has 4 different credit card with Amex, each of which has a "once in a lifetime" policy, but Amex doesn't like people only singing up for bonuses, doesn't like people cancelling cards, and has a 4-to-5-card limit on credit cards (so you'd be able to have no other Amex card if you were stacking up these Hilton cards). You may or may not be able to get upgrade offers for two of those cards after starting out with the lowest-end card; that would be the path. But nothing is guaranteed, and you need study up a lot on these cards and how to stay in Amex's good graces before diving in.

Meanwhile, any program that partners with Chase is out of consideration for you (if you don't already have the card) because you will be denied for all Chase cards if you've opened 5 or more new accounts (whether theyy're now open or closed) in the past 24 months. And just what you described about AA would already have put over 5/24.

Last edited by sdsearch; Jul 9, 19 at 8:24 am
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