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Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-07-2006, 10:56 PM   #1
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Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

I have never used a credit card to get airline miles. I might be going to Hawaii right after Christmas and thought it would be nice to be able to get the ticket for a reduced rate if possible using airline miles. I have had credit card applications sent in the past where they would give you a lot of points, if you signed up for their card. I never paid attention to them, since DD was claustrophobic and we had not flown since 1994. I don't even know if you can get a reduced ticket or if you would have to have enough miles to be able to get a free ticket. I am not really interested in any cards that have an annual premium. Thanks.
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 08:35 AM   #2
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
I don't even know if you can get a reduced ticket or if you would have to have enough miles to be able to get a free ticket.
If you have almost (but not quite) enough frequent flier miles to qualify for a ticket, some airlines will let you "buy" the missing miles. However, these programs come and go, so you will want to check with your airline/alliance. Also note that Hawaii is typically on a different schedule than the contiguous 48 states, so you may need to have substantially more miles to qualify.
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 11:53 AM   #3
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Here's a cautionary tale-- pay the airlines for their FF miles if you must, but don't pay anyone else.

Airlines have officially forbidden the sale of airline miles, but apparently the practice has been flourishing since the principle of free commerce has been upheld in court. However being right is not the same as being able to do it.

A "friend" of ours sold 60K of her miles, her entire account balance, to a Craigslist advertiser for a healthy sum (the airlines typically value their miles at about two cents). The two of them went up to the ticket agent, she declared her desire to transfer miles to this guy's account, and the ticket agent did so without any questions. Her account was duly zeroed out and when they were outside the building the guy handed her $500, which presumably accounted for about half of the money he'd just saved.

Later the guy said that he did this with at least one other person who was much more nervous chatty. This seller asked the agent a lot of questions that flagged some official to conclude that the guy was buying. The transaction was completed without comment but the airline had the last laugh.

When the guy was sitting at the gate waiting for his turn to board the aircraft, he was called to the counter. As the other passengers boarded, a couple of big airline employees in dark suits somberly shared their opinion that he had improperly purchased airline miles in a manner not permitted by their rules and was thus holding an invalid ticket. Said ticket could be made valid by immediately reimbursing the airline $900. The guy was free to dispute their opinion and appeal it with the airline or other authorities but regrettably he would be unable to board the flight with his invalid ticket. He decided that at that particular moment a valid ticket was worth the $900 (plus the $500 and whatever he'd paid the other seller).

A few days after the guy called to share his tale of woe, the airline sent her a letter professing their belief that she had inappropriately sold her miles. To remediate the transgression an additional 60K miles had been deducted from her account. She was free to dispute their opinion and blah blah blah...

So I doubt she'll ever fly with THAT airline again, presuming they survive bankruptcy! In an unexpected benefit, they finally stopped sending their unsolicited offers from their valued affiliates.
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 12:19 PM   #4
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
A "friend" of ours sold 60K of her miles, her entire account balance, to a Craigslist advertiser ...

A few days after the guy called to share his tale of woe, the airline sent her a letter professing their belief that she had inappropriately sold her miles.* To remediate the transgression an additional 60K miles had been deducted from her account.
So does that mean that you "friend"'s frequent flyer miles balance with this company is at around -60,000 now? Talk about incentivizing your customers!*
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 12:48 PM   #5
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

At last something I know something about...

Assuming you're not going to be needing a loan anytime soon and can take the temporary hit to your credit score, it's about the easiest thing in the world to get frequent flyer miles. It depends a bit on your airline of choice, or if you have a lot of miles with one airline or another.

The best deal currently is American/Citibank, where applying for 3 cards will net you 55,000 miles. I don't know how many miles American takes to get to Hawaii, usually its 35K.

Here, here, and here.

You will have to make a purchase on the first two cards, and $250 worth on the last one. Fee free for the first year, so just remember to cancel or switch the cards to a no fee version before the year is out.

United/Chase generally offers 20,000 per signup. I have 4 of these, but you have to space out the applications by a month or so.

For obsessive miles related goodness check out Flyertalk. For the greatest hits version try Free Frequent Flyer Miles
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 02:29 PM   #6
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Scrooge
So does that mean that you "friend"'s frequent flyer miles balance with this company is at around -60,000 now? Talk about incentivizing your customers!*
That's a good question... the letter was clearly boilerplate with no attempt to check her account balance before administering punishment. She's not likely to contact them for a statement or ever fly on their planes again.

How many programmers would design a FF account system to have a negative balance?
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 02:39 PM   #7
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
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How many programmers would design a FF account system to have a negative balance?
All the good ones?
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 02:53 PM   #8
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamer
I have never used a credit card to get airline miles. I might be going to Hawaii right after Christmas and thought it would be nice to be able to get the ticket for a reduced rate if possible using airline miles. I have had credit card applications sent in the past where they would give you a lot of points, if you signed up for their card. I never paid attention to them, since DD was claustrophobic and we had not flown since 1994. I don't even know if you can get a reduced ticket or if you would have to have enough miles to be able to get a free ticket.
I have never heard of getting reduced rate using airline miles.* I have used FF miles to go to Hawaii a few times, but you have to really plan for that because the FF seats open up about 9 to 11 months before the travel date and get filled in about a week (at least if you are a family of 4 flying together).

The best rewards cards are the 5% cash-back cards.* That 5% cash-back can be used to pay for your airline ticket.

If you fly, you should sign up for the FF program of each airline you fly on.* It costs you nothing.* You may think you will never have enough miles to cash in, but maybe 10 years from now you will have enough miles.*

As for a FF rewards credit card, go for the cash-back card first.* *That written, I have a continental-affiliated FF card because I travel Continental alot on business because I live near a Continental hub.* *So get a card for the airline at your local hub if you must.*

Hawaii was recently about $750 round trip.* FF miles cashed-in 11 months ago for Hawaii this month were 35,000 points round-trip. So the FF miles were worth about 2% cash-back.
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 03:30 PM   #9
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Quote:
As for a FF rewards credit card, go for the cash-back card first. That written, I have a continental-affiliated FF card because I travel Continental alot on business because I live near a Continental hub. So get a card for the airline at your local hub if you must.
As far as cards to actually use and buy things with, I agree the 5% cashback cards are the way to go. I think it's smart to take the free miles on offer from the signup bonuses, though. It's not like the FF cards cost anything. I've gotten 80,000 free miles a year from United the past 3 years running just from the credit card signup bonues. 3 free flights in the US per year for filling out a form 4 times is not too shabby.
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?
Old 08-08-2006, 08:44 PM   #10
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Re: Best Credit Card for Airline Ticket Miles?

Thanks guys for all of the info and for the links. I appreciate it.
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