Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Miles&Points > MilesBuzz
Reload this Page >

Which plan is best for me?

Which plan is best for me?

Old Sep 29, 11, 4:54 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 33
Which plan is best for me?

Please excuse me if I'm in the wrong forum for this question but I'm brand new to flyertalk and most of this info. is WAY over my head.
Here's what I want to accomplish, if anyone can help advise me.
Background: I live in Seattle and basically take two different kinds of flights.

1) Each year my wife and I like to fly to either Mexico or Hawaii for R&R. Every other year we like to take a major trip to Europe -- often England but sometimes Italy or other places on the continent.

2) We currently use an Alaska Airlines VISA card for all our purchases and normally charge at least $5000/month on it. It works great when we want to fly to Hawaii or Mexico but it very difficult to use for Europe especially for a summer flight since we have to go through their partner desk. I've been calling every day for two months (starting at 330 days before we want to leave - or whatever the earliest date was) and still no luck.

QUESTION: Are more miles available for their own flights compared to partner flights. In other words, if we wanted to cash in on a flight to Europe would we have better luck finding a flight directly through say Delta instead of using Alaska's partner desk to find a Delta flight? Or do they all go through the same pool?

FINAL QUESTION: If it's true that we would have better luck redeeming miles directly from the airline used, then which airline would be the best to use to fly from Seattle to Europe? If I know that, I can apply for their credit card and start saving miles.

Thanks for your help. I've got a lot to learn!!

Bob
Bob Herrington is offline  
Old Sep 29, 11, 6:06 pm
  #2  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: dallas texas usa
Programs: aa plt 4.9MM LTAC
Posts: 14,828
is all your flying personal?....

i have alerted the moderator to review this and see if another forum might be better for your ?s.....if so, it will be moved & when you check back and see it you will be lead to the new forum....

if you look through the miles buzz forum, there is a lot of cc bonus info....good luck...

welcome to ft...
clacko is offline  
Old Sep 29, 11, 9:10 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 33
Yes it's all personal. Is there a place on flyertalk that teaches us how to navigate the site?
Bob Herrington is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 4:20 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 210
it is hard to earn enough loyalty points with that travel profile to make a difference for travel. you might look at a cash back card like chase liberty.
zerafa is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 5:19 am
  #5  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: dallas texas usa
Programs: aa plt 4.9MM LTAC
Posts: 14,828
you do your annual trip w/mi i assume....you earn ~ 12k mi on the europe trips, and get 60k /yr from the cc....

try to decide which carrier is the best choice for the tatl from sea,pdx & vancouver, probably its aa or ua....study the cc bonus offers here & become a churner....w/60k spend, both of you should be able to get 2 sign up bonuses quickly....

good luck....
clacko is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 5:38 am
  #6  
In Memoriam
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: dallas texas usa
Programs: aa plt 4.9MM LTAC
Posts: 14,828
another thought....probably, aa & ua are your choices.....forget about mi's for flying, try to get enough cc mi's for your europe trips....there is a 60k ua deal posted here.....

both aa & ua do 1 way awards, having mi in both from ccs gives more chances for europe....
clacko is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 8:17 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 425
Usually you can only book low level awards on a partner airline, and Delta is pretty stingy about releasing low level awards to Europe in the summer. For example, I've been looking at the nonstop Delta flight Seattle to Amsterdam and it is always 75,000 miles, any time of year, never 60,000. I would suggest looking for flights on Air France, sign up with their Flying Blue program to search for flights, if you can find a Classic award available you should be able to book it with Alaska miles. Availability is hard to find for summer, the airlines don't always release low level awards.

I had good luck finding tickets on AA Seattle to Rome in May. I would sign up for several credit card bonuses, if you have miles in several alliances you have a better chance of finding what you want. Diversify your miles!
birdseye is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 12:39 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 425
I fly out of Seattle. I have only redeemed miles to Europe once, SEA-JFK-FCO (Rome) last May on American, booked 3 months ahead. I also have miles on Delta, Continental/United, and US Airways. I did fly on Alaska in August using Delta miles.

Delta is hard to redeem on because the low level saver awards are hard to find, partly because of their 3 tier redemption chart. They may not release seats at the lowest level 330 days out, they may not release any later, either. I've had my eye on the Air France nonstop flight Seattle to Paris, but Air France releases seats only 10 months out and availability is sporadic during the summer. Delta and KLM fly nonstop to Amsterdam, but I have never seen this route available at less than 75,000 miles. Only the low level awards are available for booking on Alaska miles, and those can be hard to find. You can also redeem on Alitalia using Delta miles.

American is rumored to have the best availability, even to Europe, and they have coach seats available to Europe at only 40,000 miles off peak. AA miles are easy to get, see this post. The downside is you have to connect in Chicago or New York, unless you pay the extremely high fuel surcharges to fly on BA SEA-LHR. AA miles are also excellent for traveling to South America on LAN.

I have not redeemed miles on a Star Alliance carrier yet (United, Continental, Us Airways). I like that there are multiple cards to earn bonuses on (Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire and Ink Bold cards can be transferred to Continental miles, and rumor is United will be a transfer partner later). I also like that the US Airways Visa lets you redeem tickets to Europe for 5,000 less miles (in January and February you can book a coach ticket for 35,000 miles to Europe). Lufthansa is a partner, and they fly nonstop from Seattle to Frankfurt. I understand it is easier to redeem tickets on Continental than on United, so once Continental is gone it may be harder to get awards.

AA miles may be the easiest to accumulate and redeem as long as you don't mind connecting in Chicago or New York. But you can find nonstop flights to Europe with Delta and United miles, even if you make a connection in Europe you'll save on travel time.
birdseye is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 12:44 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1P, AS MVP, WN CP; MR Ti, IHG Plat, BW Dia, HH Au, RR Au
Posts: 4,921
Might be best to first focus on the signup bonuses hinted in the other responses here. Even with your spending level, you could earn far more from signup bonuses for the next year or two than from actual spending.

Between the two of you, it should be easy to accumulate 468k miles in AA within 6 months, using $18000 of spend. With AA, if you redeem in coach, it could be as low as:

Mexico - 25k round trip
Hawaii - 35k round trip
Europe - 40k round trip

In other words, if you redeem in off-peak times to Europe, just the CC signup bonuses could be enough for 5 trips for two people. There is a thread in MilesBuzz! about the AA CC bonuses.

As far as a day-to-day spending card, you would probably do better with one of the airlines that offers category bonuses (like 2 miles/$ in groceries) or perhaps a 2% cash back card. But that difference is minuscule compared to signup bonuses available.

To answer your general questions:

- It's usually easier to redeem on a partner airline NOT based in the US. For example, if you have Delta miles, it's usually much easier to find availability with Air France. Just have to make sure you pay attention to the taxes/fees, since some routings will impose a hefty fuel surcharge.

- Partners usually show the same availability that they show directly to their own members, but usually only "saver" awards, not highest-mileage "standard" awards. One notable exception is United, which sometimes artificially blocks availability it shows its members from its partners.

- If you want to get serious about finding seats, you should look into the KVS Availability Tool. It has a bit of a learning curve but there's no better/faster way to identify availability on a variety of airlines.
MDtR-Chicago is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 1:41 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: By the landing strip.
Programs: UA, DL, AA, SPG
Posts: 1,609
Originally Posted by MDtR-Chicago View Post
Between the two of you, it should be easy to accumulate 468k miles in AA within 6 months, using $18000 of spend. With AA, if you redeem in coach, it could be as low as:

Mexico - 25k round trip
Hawaii - 35k round trip
Europe - 40k round trip

Bob, what MDtR is referring to are:

1) Personal AA Citibank Visa
2) Personal AA Citibank Amex
3) Business AA Citibank Visa.

Each of these cards has a 75k bonus with a $1500, $4000, and $4000 spending requirement for the first 6 months, respectively. If you and your wife each got one of these cards, you'd spend $19,000 [is my math wrong? not sure how he got $18,000] and get 225,000 miles each. Since you also earn one mile per dollar, you'd earn a total of (225,000x2) + 19,000 = 469,000 AA miles. There is a bit of an art to doing this, and it's all explained here: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...t-2-first.html I just did this a week or so ago and got an Amex and Visa for my wife and me. (I didn't apply for a business card, so I only have two cards.)
crimson12 is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 1:50 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 33
Thanks for the info - It looks like AA is the way to go - maybe add others later after I figure this out better. - I'm confused about one thing you said: "Between the two of you, it should be easy to accumulate 468k miles in AA within 6 months, using $18000 of spend." What does the $18k refer to?
Also --- do you know of a post in here (or anywhere) that explains the basics of CC sign up bonuses? Most of you guys are talking at graduate level and I'm still a freshman.
I have tons of basic questions and I hate to bother you with them all. For example, I am the sole owner of two LLCs for some real estate holdings. Can I sign up for a credit card in each? (That way I could have 3 AA credit cards.) If so, when it comes time to redeem the miles, can they all be put into one?
Another question: When do the points expire? What makes a mileage account "active"? Do you have to fly on that airline once a year or is simply credit card activity enough to qualify? Since most of the CC's give you the first year free, it makes sense to cancel them at the end of the first year if you only got them for the bonuses and aren't using them.
Finally, assuming the miles go away after a year, would it be foolish to go on a CC acquiring spree right now and end up "blowing my wad" by having more miles then I can use in a year and having not enough the second or third year?
Bob Herrington is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 2:06 pm
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: SFO
Programs: UA 1P, AS MVP, WN CP; MR Ti, IHG Plat, BW Dia, HH Au, RR Au
Posts: 4,921
Originally Posted by crimson12 View Post
If you and your wife each got one of these cards, you'd spend $19,000 [is my math wrong? not sure how he got $18,000] and get 225,000 miles each.
Nah, I'm bad at math, apparently.

Originally Posted by Bob Herrington View Post
"Between the two of you, it should be easy to accumulate 468k miles in AA within 6 months, using $18000 of spend." What does the $18k refer to?
As crimson12 noted, if you take all three credit cards, the minimum spend requirements add up to $9500 per person.

Also --- do you know of a post in here (or anywhere) that explains the basics of CC sign up bonuses? Most of you guys are talking at graduate level and I'm still a freshman.
Post #2 on the AA card thread in this forum (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/miles...t-2-first.html) is a great introduction. Step by step, how to get the bonuses. If you read, say, the last 100 pages of that thread, it might take you a few hours, but that's a great education.

I have tons of basic questions and I hate to bother you with them all. For example, I am the sole owner of two LLCs for some real estate holdings. Can I sign up for a credit card in each? (That way I could have 3 AA credit cards.) If so, when it comes time to redeem the miles, can they all be put into one?
Citi will let you sign up for two personal cards at once, then 2 months later, one business card. The best way to handle the situation might be to use one of the LLCs for you, then have your wife apply as a sole proprietor with $0 income. There are examples in the AA thread of people who do things like this.

Another question: When do the points expire? What makes a mileage account "active"? Do you have to fly on that airline once a year or is simply credit card activity enough to qualify? Since most of the CC's give you the first year free, it makes sense to cancel them at the end of the first year if you only got them for the bonuses and aren't using them.
The expiration is specific to each program. For AA, you have to have a "qualifying activity" every 18 months - almost anything that earns or uses miles. You might want to cancel the CCs before the annual fees hit or talk to Citi's retention department about a bonus. (There's a citi retention reports thread in the "Other Credit Cards" forum.)

Finally, assuming the miles go away after a year, would it be foolish to go on a CC acquiring spree right now and end up "blowing my wad" by having more miles then I can use in a year and having not enough the second or third year?
Just make sure you understand the expiration rules of each program you use. Most of them are trivial to get around.
MDtR-Chicago is offline  
Old Sep 30, 11, 3:42 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: By the landing strip.
Programs: UA, DL, AA, SPG
Posts: 1,609
A couple of points to add...

First, even if you cancel the credit cards, you'll keep the miles. (The AA account you will have (or start) will be separate from the Citi account.)

I actually think you could do even better than most, by doing the following:

1) Personal Visa & Amex for you (150k)
2) Business Visa for one LLC (75k)
3) Business Visa for another LLC (75k)
4) Personal Visa & Amex for your wife (150k)

You seem to have actual businesses, which makes this easier. The above gets you to 450k. What MDtR referred to is the following: open a business account in your own name. Put down an income of $0. If challenged, you say that you run a sole proprietorship in your own name. This is dicey, and for that reason I didn't do it, but as you see on the thread many people have had success (and others, with legitimate businesses, have not had success -- YMMV ("your mileage may vary"), as they say). If you went that route, you'd have 600k miles, which is probably more than enough for all of the travel you have planned in the near future.

When you sign up for the cards, Citi will ask you for your AA account number. For your cards and the business card(s), put down your number. For your wife's cards(s), put down her number. If you don't have a number, you can leave it blank and they'll create one for you. If you are like me and don't trust them, you can go to AA's website and create an account; it's trivially easy. Then just put in that number when you sign up. My two cards are linked to my AA account and my wife's cards are linked to hers.

One caveat: because you have two pre-existing LLCs, I'm assuming you are transacting business from those companies. But if you have these LLCs as holding companies or something similar, that doesn't transact business, it might seem odd to your auditors (if you have auditors) that you're spending money at restaurants and stores all of a sudden to meet the $4000 spending requirement. I don't know the details of your personal situation, but just a heads up.

Be sure to read the AA thread. You don't have to read all of it, but make sure you read post #2. There are very specific things to do, in a very specific order, to ensure that you get the bonus(es). Then read the last few (dozen, if you have time) pages to get a flavor for the issues people are having recently.
crimson12 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: