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Old 08-06-2010, 01:09 PM   #21
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I already got the first two awards. Did you previously apply for the Citi AA cards in 2009 and early 2010 when they were giving 30k miles each? I did, and these new 75k bonus cards state you cannot have previously applied for Citi AA cards. Did you have any luck? I'd love another 150k miles on AA, as those miles are useful.
No, we didn't have the previous 30K or 35K awards. I hadn't bothered applying for those since I didn't have a specific plan to use the AA miles (and since BA is a partner with AA so I already had a way of getting on AA).

AA is the best program I've used. Continental used to be decent but I've used up all my miles on them. Delta miles on the other hand are worth less than Zimbabwean dollars! We have over 150K on Delta and can never find a domestic US award for less than 50K.

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Recently I got 4 starwood Amex's. 120k starwood points that should get us at least a few weeks of free or very cheap hotels most places in the world.

And we obtained 2 Continental Chase cards. 30k bonus miles each, and $50 statement credit each.
I missed the Starwood deal because I was traveling using my BA miles! I haven't signed up for the Continental deal yet because we don't have an immediate need. We are trying to maximize our AA accounts because we are planning a trip next with expensive plane tickets.

As Fuego said, the annual fee was a small price to pay for us for the BA miles. We paid $150 in annual fees but got 6 tickets (3 international to South America, usually about $1k each and 3 domestic Argentina tickets usually about $500 each) and we still have about 35K miles left! We had to spend $4K on the BA card to get the 200K miles, so that works out to an opportunity cost of $80 if I had used the 2% Schwab card. So, for a total of $230, we saved about $4500.

Also, some people trade in miles for gift cards, so even if you don't plan on traveling, they could be quite beneficial.
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Old 08-06-2010, 01:36 PM   #22
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No, we didn't have the previous 30K or 35K awards. I hadn't bothered applying for those since I didn't have a specific plan to use the AA miles (and since BA is a partner with AA so I already had a way of getting on AA).
I'm going to try for the 75k AA Citi card offer in Oct before it expires. Try my luck to see if I can get them in spite of applying for similar cards at Citi last year.


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As Fuego said, the annual fee was a small price to pay for us for the BA miles. We paid $150 in annual fees but got 6 tickets (3 international to South America, usually about $1k each and 3 domestic Argentina tickets usually about $500 each) and we still have about 35K miles left! We had to spend $4K on the BA card to get the 200K miles, so that works out to an opportunity cost of $80 if I had used the 2% Schwab card. So, for a total of $230, we saved about $4500.
I think using BA or AA miles to South America is one of the best value uses of the miles. 40k points for a round trip to Argentina or Chile that runs at least $1200-1500 from my East Coast USA airport. That is 3-4 cents per mile. I have heard 1.6 cents per mile is the minimum you should aim for when redeeming miles, so I'm getting double the "target value" for savvy milers.

And AA had plenty of availability and flight choices when we booked our trip last fall for spring 2010.
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:11 PM   #23
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I'm going to try for the 75k AA Citi card offer in Oct before it expires. Try my luck to see if I can get them in spite of applying for similar cards at Citi last year.
It might be a good idea applying before Oct. I've seen some offers expire before the posted expiration date.

You could make the case that the 75K AA deal is worth more than the 100K BA deal. The BA miles are limited to traveling in the Americas or possibly Asia, but not to Europe unless you are going Business/First due to BA's exorbitant fees. The AA miles are pretty decent for flying both on AA and its partner airlines.

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I think using BA or AA miles to South America is one of the best value uses of the miles. 40k points for a round trip to Argentina or Chile that runs at least $1200-1500 from my East Coast USA airport. That is 3-4 cents per mile. I have heard 1.6 cents per mile is the minimum you should aim for when redeeming miles, so I'm getting double the "target value" for savvy milers.
I aim for 1.6 as well, but with programs like Delta, I'll take anything!

The absolute best deal I ever saw was a flight to Easter Island from Santiago. Since it's Easter Island, the flight can easily be $800. Using AA/BA miles, they only charge 20K miles because it is a domestic flight! I looked very, very hard and couldn't find any flights open this July, because there was an eclipse and the flights were booked 6 months in advance.
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:22 PM   #24
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I aim for 1.6 as well, but with programs like Delta, I'll take anything!

The absolute best deal I ever saw was a flight to Easter Island from Santiago. Since it's Easter Island, the flight can easily be $800. Using AA/BA miles, they only charge 20K miles because it is a domestic flight! I looked very, very hard and couldn't find any flights open this July, because there was an eclipse and the flights were booked 6 months in advance.
I saw some decent flight options from delta but they are VERY sparse. Like maybe only one reasonable flight pair over the course of 3 months. Advance planning required needless to say.

Easter Island - a neat out of the way place to visit. I'll have to keep that in mind next time we are down south. We just saw one of the heads from there at the Smithsonian in DC this weekend.
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Old 08-06-2010, 02:48 PM   #25
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I saw some decent flight options from delta but they are VERY sparse. Like maybe only one reasonable flight pair over the course of 3 months. Advance planning required needless to say.
Being willing to depart at 6 AM or arrive at midnight is also helpful unless you want to pay out the nose.
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Old 08-06-2010, 03:09 PM   #26
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Being willing to depart at 6 AM or arrive at midnight is also helpful unless you want to pay out the nose.
Yes, I should say that flexibility as to layovers and arrival/departure times and connecting airports is a must as well. I think I actually found some decent flights to Europe at their lowest point level. But even those were early morning/late night and connected through midwest or Texan cities (very out of the way from my East Coast airport). But hey, free is free!

I just need to figure out how to do all these multi leg multi layover flights on one ticket like the hard core airline miles users do.
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Old 08-06-2010, 04:49 PM   #27
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I can't see the 75k AA offer on the Citibank website. They provide the link to the application on FT, but that went straight to the application rather than providing details about the program. Best I can see is 30k which doesn't really interest me. If I could get the 75k I would do that as you could use those points to go to Australia, because even though flights are on Qantas metal, they codeshare with AA.

I'm a bit annoyed I missed out on the Starwood Amex as that would have been a nice bonus. We usually use the Starwood points on a points plus cash basis. Think last month when we were in Sydney it was 8,000 points plus $50 to stay at the Westin which is a really nice hotel.

We are kind of holding out for the new Chase Hyatt card to come out as that is our main hotel program that we use. Hopefully they will have a good offer when it is introduced.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:21 PM   #28
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We use DiscoverCards fairly exclusively. We charge everything we can for both tracking purposes and the cashback bonus. We charge 10s of thousands of dollars/year between our purchases and a little side business we have going on. That's a lot of rewards dollars. Especially since we try to maximize the rewards on our purchases, signing up for the various seasonal rewards plans, and especially with the business using the ShopDiscover option which gives fairly hefty rewards (up to 20% some places, usually 5%). But it's really hard to know how much you are getting vs. how much you think you're getting.

I have a recent purchase where I bought some big dollar items from BestBuy through ShopDiscover. I haven't received the expected bug bucks reward. So I called and worked my way through the Help Desk, and finally got someone who had some authority. She pretty much admitted that the ShopDiscover system doesn't work right. Her explanation is that if you time out on the Discover site before you complete the purchase you don't always get credit. And there are other problems too. So I've escalated my issue, we'll see if they get it right. She also said they are implementing a system where you'll get an email after successfully using ShopDiscover. That would be helpful. But I wish they would implement a process where your statement would show your purchase and your corresponding rewards. Then I'd have a warm fuzzy feeling about what I was getting without having to become obsessive about tracking them. Life's too short, both to obsess over rewards points of to be pissed off because you think you're getting ripped off.

Just in case anybody else tries to keep track of these rewards.
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Old 08-06-2010, 08:42 PM   #29
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I can't see the 75k AA offer on the Citibank website. They provide the link to the application on FT, but that went straight to the application rather than providing details about the program.
Folks on there are saying "trust us it is the right link". One reason I'm holding off for a month or two till October is to see what result people are getting. I want to make sure I'll be getting the 75k offer if I'm spending time applying for it.

Sorry for not posting the starwoods offer on here. I still haven't explored the options very much, but I recall I was toying with staying somewhere in Europe and I think 30k points redeemed on the "cash plus points" offer would get a category 4 hotel for $420 a week for one week. There were plenty of Cat 4s in the central downtown area of at least a few cities I checked in Paris, London, and Germany. Basically $60/nt all included for a really nice hotel in a good location that usually runs $300 euros or $400 USD (maybe before tax??) a night.
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:18 PM   #30
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We use Navy Federal's Travel Rewards card. We have had about 10 round trips for 2 in the US so far and are saving up for international travel. They have lots of different rewards, including cash back, the airline tickets are for any airline with no restrictions. The membership requirements are tighter than PFCU, but, if you are eligible, it's a very nice rewards card.
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Old 08-06-2010, 10:58 PM   #31
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Check out #7 here: https://www.penfed.org/howToJoin

For a one-time fee of $20 to join the National Military Family Association (a legit group doing good stuff) you can become a Penfed member for life...
I did this and it worked well. Well, sort of. I payed the fee using a credit card and they treated it like a cash advance. And I found out if you take a cash advance on a credit card, it starts accruing interest immediately. I called the credit card company, complained, and they waived the interest charges. Something to keep in mind if you decide to go this route.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:28 AM   #32
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Folks on there are saying "trust us it is the right link". One reason I'm holding off for a month or two till October is to see what result people are getting. I want to make sure I'll be getting the 75k offer if I'm spending time applying for it.
I was able to verify with the CSR that 75K was going to be awarded and that they there was no annual fee for the first year. It felt like a crap shoot when I first applied for it, but this made me feel better about it. Additionally, I read on FT that Citi frequently doesn't have a lot of the bonus offers listed on the application page.
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Old 08-07-2010, 08:36 AM   #33
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I managed to finagle a free membership by telling them all about my father's four years of honorable service in the AF 40 years ago somewhere in the midwest (to avoid being drafted into the army and getting shipped off to 'Nam).
I did the same thing 40 years ago. However, after two years stationed CONUS, I was sent to Nam. Your father wasn’t smart - just lucky (been there, done that )...
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:11 AM   #34
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I did this and it worked well. Well, sort of. I payed the fee using a credit card and they treated it like a cash advance. And I found out if you take a cash advance on a credit card, it starts accruing interest immediately. I called the credit card company, complained, and they waived the interest charges. Something to keep in mind if you decide to go this route.
Yes, that's what I was talking about in post #12

I remember someone posting a hint to be sure to do that transaction as an ACH from a bank, not a charge card as a charge card transaction will be a cash advance. Anyone else remember that, do I have that correct?

I'm glad someone else remembers that.
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Old 08-07-2010, 09:22 AM   #35
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Check out #7 here: https://www.penfed.org/howToJoin

For a one-time fee of $20 to join the National Military Family Association (a legit group doing good stuff) you can become a Penfed member for life...
Good advice. Thanks.
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Old 08-07-2010, 10:28 AM   #36
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Everyone faithfully declares all these rewards on each year's tax return, no?

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Old 08-07-2010, 10:35 AM   #37
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Everyone faithfully declares all these rewards on each year's tax return, no?

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No, because it's not defined by the IRS as income.
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:07 PM   #38
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I was able to verify with the CSR that 75K was going to be awarded and that they there was no annual fee for the first year. It felt like a crap shoot when I first applied for it, but this made me feel better about it. Additionally, I read on FT that Citi frequently doesn't have a lot of the bonus offers listed on the application page.
Thanks for that, I might do the Citi AMEX and CC because that wud mean 150k points which would definitely get me somewhere international. I don't bother with anything that offers 30k miles on any airline because I don't really go anywhere domestic. I might pop into Citi next week and verify.
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Old 08-07-2010, 02:40 PM   #39
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Everyone faithfully declares all these rewards on each year's tax return, no?

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Hey! Don't give 'em any ideas! My taxes are tough enough to do!

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No, because it's not defined by the IRS as income.
That's better .

It would be like saying you owe taxes for buying something on sale. 20% off this week - Uncle Sam gets his share of the 20%? I don't think so.

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Old 08-07-2010, 04:59 PM   #40
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I did the same thing 40 years ago. However, after two years stationed CONUS, I was sent to Nam. Your father wasn’t smart - just lucky (been there, done that )...
I guess it comes down to "least bad". 2 years in CONUS then 2 more in Nam to finish out the 4 year hitch is better than 4 years of Nam. Well, from a life-preservation standpoint. Maybe not so much from a heroism standpoint...
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