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Best Credit Card for Earning Miles?

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elrohwen

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Hello everyone! I'm currently looking for a new credit card as I don't really like the rewards offered on mine. I want something that earns frequent flier miles and I'm currently torn. Here are my options so far:

Continental Card: I currently collect Continental points when I travel for work, so it seems natural to get a card specific to that airline. My issue is that it seems so limiting to get a card for only one airline. I live near JFK, Laguardia, and Newark, so I have plenty of airlines to choose from so it seems even more limiting (if I only lived near one airport and they were a Continental hub, it would be an easier decision). I believe it's 1 mile per dollar spent which seems like a great rate.

Capital One: Their card offers as many miles per dollar as the Continental card. Anybody have experience with them? I think I heard something bad about how the way they report things does not help your credit score as much as other cards. And that their customer service is poor.

American Express: They seem to charge a fee on all of their travel cards and I'm pretty against paying a fee (for the $450 fee I could just buy a plane ticket!)

Bank of American with WorldPoints Rewards: Gives 1 point per dollar and 25,000 points are required for a flight (not sure if that's round trip or one way?). Continental is usually 25,000 miles for round trip tickets, so that would be comparable. Anyone have experience with this card?

I don't care about interest rates as we pay off our card every month.

So, what should I do? What other card suggestions do you have? Do you have experience with any of these cards?

Thanks for your help!
 

AmberGretchen

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I don''t know if this helps, but I''m about to start a job that requires a TON of travel, and it was suggested to me to get a Starwood credit card as the best way to earn points for travel. But I think that includes hotel points as well, so it may not be what you are looking for, its just what was suggested to me so I thought I''d pass it on.
 

scarleta

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It depends where you travel mostly.
Check out Alaska Air Visa as they give you $50 companion ticket yearly ( of course you add taxes to it) Their miles program is great too.
 

elrohwen

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Thanks for the idea, AmberGretchen! I'm going to avoid the Starwood because I'm a loyal Hilton points girl
Haha. I could potentially get a Hilton Honors credit card, but I think I want to stick with something that will give me airline miles. (P.S. If you need any tips for travel, just ask! I've been doing it every week for a few years now, so I've picked up some things the hard way. Unfortunately I didn't get to pick my credit card like you do ... I know that makes a huge difference! I don't get a single point from my work card and I spound thousands every month on it. It's too bad. We used to have AmEx, but the company thought it was too expensive I guess.
)

Scarlata, you don't have any issues only getting miles for one airline? I don't think Alaska would work for me, since I only fly out of LGA, JFK, and Newark and none of those fly Alaska (at least not enough for it to be worth it). Like I said, I could certainly go for Continental (I collect points for them currently when I fly for work), but I'm afraid to be tied down to one airline. Let me know your thoughts on that and whether it's been inconvenient for you at all.
 

scarleta

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ETA: yes sometimes it can be inconvenient, but I think its worth checking it out to see if any other airlines affiliated with Alaska Air would help you out.
 

AmberGretchen

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elrohwen - I don''t want to threadjack but I''d LOVE any tips you have on regular business travel. I, too, will be traveling every week a lot of the time, and I''d love any wisdom you have to share, as I''m sure it will be a huge adjustment.
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/8/2009 11:39:18 AM
Author: AmberGretchen
elrohwen - I don''t want to threadjack but I''d LOVE any tips you have on regular business travel. I, too, will be traveling every week a lot of the time, and I''d love any wisdom you have to share, as I''m sure it will be a huge adjustment.
I''m sure it will be a huge adjustment ... I know it was for me! And still is some days.

Do you know where you''ll be going? I tend to go to the same places over and over again, so I get a routine. If you''ll be going to all different places, I think it would be a little more stressful. Also, rural locations can be low stress, but also lack hotels and restaurants. Where will you be most often?

My first tip would be to pick one airline and stick to it (or to its affiliates). I started out flying any airline and picking up the frequent flier miles, but I realized that I wasn''t even going to get a free flight doing it that way. Now I stick with Continental and between that and Delta (their affiliate) I can get anywhere. I''ll have to figure out a new game plan when Continental switches over to another group of airlines this fall since I don''t know where any of those new airlines fly. I''m to the point where I have elite status on Continental and often get upgraded to first class. It''s pretty sweet! I also get faster check in times, so it''s definitely worth while sticking with one airline to get the perks.

Same goes for hotels. Just pick one and stick to it. I like Hilton because I can typically find a Hampton Inn anywhere and since their remodel they all tend to be decent inside. You said you were getting Starwood, so I''m sure you''ll be able to find some of their hotels wherever you go. If you travel to cities, it''s much easier than going to really rural areas and trying to find a specific hotel. I end up driving 45 min each way just to stay at a Hampton sometimes.

Which airports will you be using most often? I remember you being in Cali, so I probably can''t be much help with airport info. I do know that every airport has some tricks about best places to park and best airlines to fly with etc (if it''s a hub, that airline tends to be really busy, while the others can have a really short line). I''m sure you''ll figure it out for your particular airport!

Let me know if you have any specific questions and I''ll try to help.
 

violet02

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We have the American Express Blue card that does the following.

•Points good on any airline, hotel, cruise and more.
•Travel anytime: no blackout dates or restrictions.
•Unlimited rewards: no point caps or expiration dates.

No annual fee. We put most of the wedding on there for points. And so far we''ve used them to pay for alitalia tix from paris to athens and two aegean air tix. They reimbursed for the tickets with no issues or restrictions.
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 3/8/2009 11:48:03 AM
Author: elrohwen
Date: 3/8/2009 11:39:18 AM

Author: AmberGretchen

elrohwen - I don''t want to threadjack but I''d LOVE any tips you have on regular business travel. I, too, will be traveling every week a lot of the time, and I''d love any wisdom you have to share, as I''m sure it will be a huge adjustment.

I''m sure it will be a huge adjustment ... I know it was for me! And still is some days.


Do you know where you''ll be going? I tend to go to the same places over and over again, so I get a routine. If you''ll be going to all different places, I think it would be a little more stressful. Also, rural locations can be low stress, but also lack hotels and restaurants. Where will you be most often?


My first tip would be to pick one airline and stick to it (or to its affiliates). I started out flying any airline and picking up the frequent flier miles, but I realized that I wasn''t even going to get a free flight doing it that way. Now I stick with Continental and between that and Delta (their affiliate) I can get anywhere. I''ll have to figure out a new game plan when Continental switches over to another group of airlines this fall since I don''t know where any of those new airlines fly. I''m to the point where I have elite status on Continental and often get upgraded to first class. It''s pretty sweet! I also get faster check in times, so it''s definitely worth while sticking with one airline to get the perks.


Same goes for hotels. Just pick one and stick to it. I like Hilton because I can typically find a Hampton Inn anywhere and since their remodel they all tend to be decent inside. You said you were getting Starwood, so I''m sure you''ll be able to find some of their hotels wherever you go. If you travel to cities, it''s much easier than going to really rural areas and trying to find a specific hotel. I end up driving 45 min each way just to stay at a Hampton sometimes.


Which airports will you be using most often? I remember you being in Cali, so I probably can''t be much help with airport info. I do know that every airport has some tricks about best places to park and best airlines to fly with etc (if it''s a hub, that airline tends to be really busy, while the others can have a really short line). I''m sure you''ll figure it out for your particular airport!


Let me know if you have any specific questions and I''ll try to help.
Wow, thank you so much for all the tips.

In terms of the hotels and airlines, I''m not totally sure how much say I get in that. My company that I''ll be working for, people travel A LOT (usually at least 1X/week for most people), and I think they have deals with certain hotels in certain cities, and also I think for airlines, they book using Amex Business Travel and just use whatever''s the cheapest.

I''ve talked to people from the company about it a bit, and they all said they pretty much always had elite status after their first 6 months of work on every airline they used regularly, which was most major ones. They are also the ones who recommended Starwood as being the most widely useful if you want a card to earn points on. You are right I''m in Cali now, but I''ll be relocating to Houston for this job. I know IAH is a big Continental hub, so I''m already signed up with them and guessing I''ll be flying them a lot. I may also be on Southwest a fair bit going between Houston and Dallas.

As for where I''ll be going, its hard to say - some of my work may be local, some could be in locations as diverse as Wisconson, Washington state, North Carolina, and London (there are clients in all these places, as well as many more). I''m guessing it will be more urban than rural most of the time, and more likely to be in major cities than not, but there will likely be some exceptions even to that. Its impossible to know for sure which areas I''ll be spending most of my time in personally until I actually start working. I''ll also be traveling a lot for recruiting and training events.

Anyway, I''m planning to put some serious thought and time into devising systems of coping with the travel over the summer before I start. I''ve already started to experiment with different ways of packing things and will probably keep toiletry kits and similar items pre-packed and just rotate them when one gets low and refill on the weekends. I know I''m the kind of person that the more I travel, the more super-organized I get about it, so I''m sure that will kick in as well.

I think its just intimidating the thought of learning to cope with the travel as well as my first "real" job, and having to actually dress and look professional all the time (as opposed to my grad school uniform of t-shirts and jeans), etc...it will just be a big adjustment.
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/8/2009 11:55:52 AM
Author: violet02
We have the American Express Blue card that does the following.

•Points good on any airline, hotel, cruise and more.
•Travel anytime: no blackout dates or restrictions.
•Unlimited rewards: no point caps or expiration dates.

No annual fee. We put most of the wedding on there for points. And so far we''ve used them to pay for alitalia tix from paris to athens and two aegean air tix. They reimbursed for the tickets with no issues or restrictions.
Violet02, that sounds great. How many points do you earn per dollar and how many points is it for, say, a flight in the US?
 

elrohwen

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Date: 3/8/2009 7:10:31 PM
Author: AmberGretchen

Wow, thank you so much for all the tips.

In terms of the hotels and airlines, I''m not totally sure how much say I get in that. My company that I''ll be working for, people travel A LOT (usually at least 1X/week for most people), and I think they have deals with certain hotels in certain cities, and also I think for airlines, they book using Amex Business Travel and just use whatever''s the cheapest.

I''ve talked to people from the company about it a bit, and they all said they pretty much always had elite status after their first 6 months of work on every airline they used regularly, which was most major ones. They are also the ones who recommended Starwood as being the most widely useful if you want a card to earn points on. You are right I''m in Cali now, but I''ll be relocating to Houston for this job. I know IAH is a big Continental hub, so I''m already signed up with them and guessing I''ll be flying them a lot. I may also be on Southwest a fair bit going between Houston and Dallas.

As for where I''ll be going, its hard to say - some of my work may be local, some could be in locations as diverse as Wisconson, Washington state, North Carolina, and London (there are clients in all these places, as well as many more). I''m guessing it will be more urban than rural most of the time, and more likely to be in major cities than not, but there will likely be some exceptions even to that. Its impossible to know for sure which areas I''ll be spending most of my time in personally until I actually start working. I''ll also be traveling a lot for recruiting and training events.

Anyway, I''m planning to put some serious thought and time into devising systems of coping with the travel over the summer before I start. I''ve already started to experiment with different ways of packing things and will probably keep toiletry kits and similar items pre-packed and just rotate them when one gets low and refill on the weekends. I know I''m the kind of person that the more I travel, the more super-organized I get about it, so I''m sure that will kick in as well.

I think its just intimidating the thought of learning to cope with the travel as well as my first ''real'' job, and having to actually dress and look professional all the time (as opposed to my grad school uniform of t-shirts and jeans), etc...it will just be a big adjustment.
I didn''t even think about the packing element! Haha. That''s a huge one. I''m to the point where I can pack for a week''s vacation in less than 10 minutes. FI always gets mad because he''s running around packing for an hour while I''m watching tv with my suitcase at the door. Lol. I absolutely keep all of my toiletries pre-packed. I like to have re-fillable bottles for shampoo and conditioner, but I tend to just use the stuff in the hotel (especially in nicer hotels) and I buy mini versions of toothpaste, etc. Though don''t buy the super mini ones! The really little things of toothpaste will run out in a week or two.

Then there''s the all important question of checking bags vs carrying on. Most people I work with like to carry on, but I usually take my chances with checking. I have a computer bag and a purse, so dragging a suitcase around is over my 2 bag limit and something has to get cut. Plus, I like taking my regular make up case, a bottle of hairspray, moisturizer, etc, and none of those will go through security. The only times I carry my bag on is if I have connecting flights and really really need my stuff to get there on time (like when I went to Germany). In general, if I can fly direct, I don''t really see the point in going to the trouble of carrying on since it takes about 5 min to pick up luggage. They lost it once during a direct flight, but it was returned to me later that night, so not a big deal. You''ll quickly figure out which method works best for you and whether it''s worth it to check your bag so that you can bring your actual hair products, moisturizer, makeup, etc (I find that it is worth it when you travel so much)

I almost always fly short flights that earn me little to no miles, so I''m jealous that you''ll have so many! It took me years to work up to elite status with 500 mile flights to Ohio every week
I absolutely love flying Delta and Continental together and putting all of the miles towards one airline, but it sounds like you can maybe pick two major airlines, then fly those and their partners. I wouldn''t spread it out much more than that though or you''ll have a bunch of useless miles (like I do). I do have freedom to choose my flights, however. I''m encouraged to pick the cheapest one, but often I need to be somewhere at a certain time, so I pick what works for me. We also have discounted rates with certain hotels we visit a lot, but those are all Hilton brand hotels because they know we all prefer to stay in those. I don''t get many free flights from my miles, but I''ve had numerous free hotel stays and rental car days, which is nice.

You mentioned professional clothes: do you have to dress professionally for flights so you''re ready to go when you arrive? I''m lucky that I travel to manufacturing plants, so nobody''s going to complain if I wear jeans in for a meeting immediately after getting off my flight. The rest of the trip I never wear anything nicer than khakis and a company tshirt (under a lab coat) so packing is fairly easy. I can imagine that packing nicer clothes (plus shoes) would be far more work. And I''ll admit that I like to dress casually on flights. I love sitting in first class with guys in suits and I''m wearing jeans and a sweater. Haha.

I really hope you enjoy your job! Travel is not for everyone, but I know many people who have been doing it for 30 years and still enjoy it (admittedly, most of them are men ... the women end up leaving to have kids). I''m definitely at the burning out stage, but then again I''ve been doing it for 3 years ... I really hope that you enjoy it! It sounds like you''ll get to visit lots of exciting places and I definitely recommend trying new and interesting local restaurants while you''re there. That''s the best part!
 

AmberGretchen

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elrohwen - its so nice to get so many insights and so much advice about business travel from someone who has done so much of it.

I think I''ll probably fall into the non-checking bag category, but I think I''ll have to wait and see how that goes and figure it out as I go along. I am very attached to my hair and makeup products...


I think one nice thing that my company does have that can help minimize burnout on the travel over the long term is that you do get some say in terms of how much traveling you do - i.e. if you really need a break from travel, you can push to get put on a project much closer to home, but the tradeoff is it might not be in your area of greatest interest or with the people you''d most like to work with, so its a balancing act.

In terms of business clothes, I''m not entirely sure what my dress code will be all of the time, but I''m guessing business casual or slightly dressier most of the time, with semi-regular need for business formal (i.e. suits). I will have casual Fridays, but those are usually back in your home office anyway, and when I was in the office on a Friday about 1/2 the people were wearing jeans, so I''ll get to wear my jeans then. But probably not on the plane for the most part - I will have to explore options for good travel outfits that will be reasonably comfortable to wear on the plane but will still look professional when I arrive.

I''ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff - another thing on my mind lately is good ways to stay healthy on the road. I''m really into working out regularly and eating healthy, and I''m guessing these will be tough to keep up on the road. I''m less worried about the eating, because I''ve gotten decent at strategies for that (traveling with healthy trail mix and dry cereal, drinking lots of water, etc...) from the travelling I''ve done already in my life, but the working out concerns me - both finding time for it and making time to do it.
 

elrohwen

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The health concerns are huge for me! Last year I went from traveling 2-3 times a month to being gone every single week and I gained 5-10lbs because of it. I''m not good about eating healthy on the road because I''m always at restaurants (and if you''re working with clients, would you be expected to go to dinner with them as well? I find this a very hard environment to stay healthy in). After 6 hours on a plane and 4 hours at work I''d like to say that I''ll eat a salad, but I probably don''t have the will power at that point. And working out? Forget it
I typically work 12 hour days on my feet when I travel, so I have no energy to work out (and lots of energy to eat a big dinner
)

I''ve also had a lot of issues with getting sick. I know there''s a direct correlation between how often I travel and how sick I am with colds and sinus infections. I tend to put off treatment too because I''m never around and I can''t plan my schedule more than a week in advance. I''ve finally learned to put my health first. If I''m in the office one week, I''ll schedule a doctor''s appointment whenever I can, even if the only one open is at 1pm. If I didn''t travel I could schedule this stuff at more convenient times, but I think my boss understands that I have to do it whenever I can. It took me 3 years to learn this


You''re lucky that you have some say in how often you travel! Mine is totally random and totally out of my control which sometimes means travel on weekends if that''s the only time it can get done. Ugh. It would make my job so much nicer if I could have some sort of control over my schedule.
 

AmberGretchen

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Wow, sounds like I''ll have to really be proactive and stay on top of my health for this new job. Like I said, I think the eating will be tough but do-able. I''m definitely motivated to be careful about it - I lost a ton of weight a couple of years ago (approximately 50 lbs) and I''m really motivated to keep it off and I know I have to be careful to do that.

But I''ll definitely have to look into making sure I''m getting plenty of vitamins and also rest while on the road. I may see if I can schedule some time with a personal trainer between now and August, to see if they can help me figure out quick and easy ways to stay active on the road - I always seem to stay healthier if I can find a way to do that, and it helps me sleep better, which is key.

So much to think about...
 

elrohwen

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Yeah, there's a lot to think about ... but you'll figure out most of it as you go. I hope I've been a little helpful! I wish I had someone to tell me all about travel when I first started, but I was kind of thrown out on the road by myself since we were short staffed. At this point, I go to the same places so often that I'm a regular at the hotels and restaurants
Keep me updated on your new job! I'm excited to hear about where you get to go and what your experiences are. I've found that those who travel a lot are in kind of a club together
Travelers feel an automatic connection to me when they find out that I'm on the road a lot too. I don't know if it's a club I necessarily wanted to join, but it's nice to feel like you're in it together with a lot of other people.

And if you can eat well and work out while on the road, you'll be my hero! Maybe that'll be my inspiration to not gorge myself at restaurants next time I'm on the road
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 3/9/2009 8:50:57 PM
Author: elrohwen
Yeah, there''s a lot to think about ... but you''ll figure out most of it as you go. I hope I''ve been a little helpful! I wish I had someone to tell me all about travel when I first started, but I was kind of thrown out on the road by myself since we were short staffed. At this point, I go to the same places so often that I''m a regular at the hotels and restaurants
Keep me updated on your new job! I''m excited to hear about where you get to go and what your experiences are. I''ve found that those who travel a lot are in kind of a club together
Travelers feel an automatic connection to me when they find out that I''m on the road a lot too. I don''t know if it''s a club I necessarily wanted to join, but it''s nice to feel like you''re in it together with a lot of other people.


And if you can eat well and work out while on the road, you''ll be my hero! Maybe that''ll be my inspiration to not gorge myself at restaurants next time I''m on the road
LOL - you''re so funny. I''m definitely planning to grill my new co-workers to get their tips for success with all the travel. They are amazing and super nice so I''m sure they''ll be willing to share. And all the ones I''ve met so far seem like they are gorgeous and skinny, so I feel like I''ll be extra-motivated to not let myself go with the travel
 

elrohwen

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Gorgeous and skinny co-workers? I work at a food company (cookies no less) so I don''t have many of those
Oh, and most are 40+, so I''m probably the gorgeous skinny one if you ask them! Haha
 

ChargerGrrl

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Elrohwen: Check out this story that features a handy chart comparing FF CC''s vs Cash-back CC''s. It makes an interesting point!

AG: I used to travel for biz quite a bit until last year. My #1 piece of advice? get yourself a Bose noise-cancelling headset. It kept me sane on the road!
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 3/9/2009 9:15:24 PM
Author: elrohwen
Gorgeous and skinny co-workers? I work at a food company (cookies no less) so I don''t have many of those
Oh, and most are 40+, so I''m probably the gorgeous skinny one if you ask them! Haha
LOL I think most of my new co-workers are probably within 10 years of my age (27 in a few weeks). Its funny, when my friends and I were applying for jobs this year, there are three top companies in my field, and each one has a distinct personality. And we used to joke that the company where I''ll be working only hired skinny, attractive people, because that''s all we ever met at recruiting events, etc...

Now that I''m actually going to work for them I feel like I have to live up to all the jokes for next year''s recruits
 

AmberGretchen

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Date: 3/10/2009 5:20:13 PM
Author: ChargerGrrl
Elrohwen: Check out this story that features a handy chart comparing FF CC''s vs Cash-back CC''s. It makes an interesting point!


AG: I used to travel for biz quite a bit until last year. My #1 piece of advice? get yourself a Bose noise-cancelling headset. It kept me sane on the road!
Can''t seem to find the story?

But noise-cancelling headsets sound like an awesome idea - I do NOT do well with screaming infants on airplanes...
 
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