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Best Everyday Use Credit Card for UA redemptions

Best Everyday Use Credit Card for UA redemptions

Old Nov 28, 2017, 7:21 am
  #1  
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Best Everyday Use Credit Card for UA redemptions

I am lost in a sea of math attempting to determine which credit card would be best for everyday use when my primary target is redemption for UA flights. I have about 100k in annual spend (20k of which is dining and travel). I currently have Silver status on United.

Options:
Saphire Reserve (1x points, 3x on travel and dining)
United Club Card (1.5x miles)
Two cards of American Express Blue Business (2x points and each capped at 50k) combined with American Express Platinum (35% bonus on selected United AIrlines)
Something else?

Thanks!
e4west is offline  
Old Nov 28, 2017, 7:54 am
  #2  
 
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I think the answer is the Sapphire Reserve plus perhaps the Chase Freedom (or is it Freedom Unlimited?) which offers 1.5x back on all spend, and that can be converted to Chase UR points as long as you hold the Reserve. Then you get 3x on travel and 1.5x on everything else.

Personally, I use the United Club Card for the 1.5x on everything else because I value the Club membership.
bmr12 is offline  
Old Nov 28, 2017, 8:09 am
  #3  
 
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Chase Saphire Reserve is x1 on all spend outside of Travel and Restaurants, so I wouldn't be using that for Misc spend.

I use Chase United Club for everyday purchases which gets x1.5 United Miles. Funny thing is I use Chase Sapphire Reserve to purchase United tickets (and restaurants) as that gets x3.
AirMiles2001 is offline  
Old Nov 28, 2017, 8:30 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Programs: DL Gold, UA nothing (ex-GS), Marriott lifetime Plat, Hyatt Globalist
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Travel and Dining - CSR
Everything else - Freedom Unlimited or 2% cash back card

If youre into short term bonuses, the current Marriott credit card 120k bonus points promo might be worth looking at. Its 10 points/$1 on everyday purchases, or 3.33 SPG points, which transfers to United at 1:1. But thats only for your first $12k of spend
getagb is offline  
Old Nov 28, 2017, 8:52 am
  #5  
 
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Another vote for CSR for travel/food, and freedom unlimited for everything else.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 9:01 am
  #6  
 
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The 35% points back perk is only part of the AMEX Business Platinum, not the personal version btw.

I use the CSR for 3x travel/dining, AMEX plat for 5x on airfare, AMEX Blue for Business for 2x on everything else.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 10:21 am
  #7  
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Chase UR points are way more valuable than UA miles. So I second the CSR (or CSP) recommendations.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 10:22 am
  #8  
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Originally Posted by e4west
my primary target is redemption for UA flights.
Economy of premium? Short-haul or long-haul?

If your goal is long-haul Y travel I'd seriously be looking at cash-back cards. I just booked a 60k trip to SE Asia without worrying about award inventory or inconvenient flight times. Compared to the 80k + $100 UA wanted that was a very nice deal.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 10:56 am
  #9  
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Originally Posted by sbm12
Economy of premium? Short-haul or long-haul?

If your goal is long-haul Y travel I'd seriously be looking at cash-back cards. I just booked a 60k trip to SE Asia without worrying about award inventory or inconvenient flight times. Compared to the 80k + $100 UA wanted that was a very nice deal.
you can effectively accomplish this via MP choices and a UA Visa. Though how does a cash back card yield a 60k trip? What does "60k trip" even mean?

i currently use the Club card as 1.5% for all can usually be converted to 2% or more on redemptions. And using that card makes the $25k PQD waiver attainable.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 11:09 am
  #10  
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer
you can effectively accomplish this via MP choices and a UA Visa.
Sure, if you're willing to be tied to only UA redemption. But that's a poor choice IMO.

Originally Posted by uastarflyer
Though how does a cash back card yield a 60k trip? What does "60k trip" even mean?
In this case it was really under $30k in CC charges to yield 60k points that covered the cost of the revenue ticket.

Originally Posted by uastarflyer
i currently use the Club card as 1.5% for all can usually be converted to 2% or more on redemptions. And using that card makes the $25k PQD waiver attainable.
I challenge the 2% return for long-haul Y travel. A UA r/t award US-SEAsia is 80k points + ~$75-100. That's $1700+ revenue ticket to hit 2%. Even if you earn at 1.5% that's roughly $50-60k in charges. I don't see that as competitive with real cash-back options.

If travel expenses are higher then CSR makes more sense given the ~4.5% yield of those purchases (3x on earn, 1.5x on redeem).
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 11:12 am
  #11  
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I find United miles increasingly difficult to use and would therefore recommend a transferable currency which can be used across multiple programs (or for straight up purchases, as per sbm12's example).
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 12:06 pm
  #12  
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Originally Posted by sbm12
Sure, if you're willing to be tied to only UA redemption. But that's a poor choice IMO.
. But that was the question posed by the OP - how best to redeem primarily for UA travel.

In this case it was really under $30k in CC charges to yield 60k points that covered the cost of the revenue ticket.
. Say more. If you are getting cash back how does "60k" equate to the cost of a revenue ticket?


I challenge the 2% return for long-haul Y travel. A UA r/t award US-SEAsia is 80k points + ~$75-100. That's $1700+ revenue ticket to hit 2%. Even if you earn at 1.5% that's roughly $50-60k in charges. I don't see that as competitive with real cash-back options.
. In that scenario you can buy the $1k ticket and choice 80k miles. Or save for a better value. You highlighted a big devalue in UA award charts v in the past. I cashed in 2 saver awards to NZ over Christmas/NY - I got the value big time. I just wish I had more miles as there were more seats. 85k RT to India can also be a good value depending on dates and cities.



If travel expenses are higher then CSR makes more sense given the ~4.5% yield of those purchases (3x on earn, 1.5x on redeem).
Again look at the OP - question is about everyday spending. Think monthly bills, department stores and the like. The miles I used for NZ came from that kind of spend.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 12:54 pm
  #13  
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Originally Posted by uastarflyer
. But that was the question posed by the OP - how best to redeem primarily for UA travel.
Something that may be worth reconsidering, hence the reason I asked more questions in my initial reply. :-:
Originally Posted by uastarflyer
Say more. If you are getting cash back how does "60k" equate to the cost of a revenue ticket?
On a straight 2% card (Barclay's Arrival Plus) that's $600 in airfare. Far from unheard of these days to SE Asia.

Originally Posted by uastarflyer
85k RT to India can also be a good value depending on dates and cities.
Assuming everyday CC spend that's $85k in charges, right? Even at 1% back there are way too many options in the <$1000 range with much broader availability and flexibility of cities and dates for me to think this is a good deal.

Originally Posted by uastarflyer
Again look at the OP - question is about everyday spending. Think monthly bills, department stores and the like. The miles I used for NZ came from that kind of spend.
That's the type of spend that could earn 2% on Barclays A+ though. I very clearly understand the difference between that spend and the 4.5% I get on my CSR.

There will always be stories of the spectacular redemption deal with massive CPP valuations. I've had plenty of good ones myself. But for someone starting today that's less likely to be the case and I think it appropriate to set proper expectations.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 1:01 pm
  #14  
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I don't really think there's much comparison to the CSR + Freedom Unlimited combo.

For non-categorizing bulk spend, that's 2.25% cash for revenue travel or 1.5x UA miles, and you don't have to choose until you redeem. Plus 4.5% cash or 3x miles on travel and restaurants; about the only thing I can imagine beating that is the Amex Plat if you're running a large number on airfare. The only other card in my wallet that does significant volume is because I have a card which earns 3% cash back on everything.
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Old Nov 28, 2017, 1:33 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by findark
I don't really think there's much comparison to the CSR + Freedom Unlimited combo.
Agreed. And those points can be transferred straight up for UA miles, or used elsewhere.

CSP + Amex Plat is a good combo if you spend lots on airfare and will use the lounge access (DL, Amex, and PP). Though your points wind up in separate programs.
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