I’ve applied for and gotten two new credit cards this week. In doing so, I joined the hundreds of thousands of people who play a game called “how many points can I collect by signing up for new credit cards?”
There is an entire sub-culture of people who know how to earn frequent flyer or frequent stayer points to make travel exciting, comfortable, and free. Some of these folks frequent Inside Flyer or Milepoint or FlyerTalk. Others provide free advice on blogs at sites like Boarding Area.
I’ve always ensured that I maximize my points. I try to fly the same airline (Delta) as much as possible. I’ve already achieved Delta Platinum Medallion, which won’t expire until February 2014. Because of three trips to Asia in the past two years, the family and I are going to Hawaii over Christmas, all on frequent flyer tickets. But, I hadn’t, until this week, started playing the frequent flyer credit card bonus game.
Mrs. Spidey and I carry very few cards. We’ve got American Express and a Southwest Airlines Visa. We’ve also got a Best Buy card, a Kohl’s card and a Nordstrom card, because of the specific benefits at those stores, and a Hilton American Express, because when you spend a bucket load of money on a bar mitzvah and a bat mitzvah at a Hilton property, getting 5 frequent stayer points per dollar is just awesome. But, in reality, we only really use the AMEX and the Southwest Airlines Visa.
I’ve know about credit card offers for a while. When each of us got the Southwest Airlines Visa, we got 2 round-trip tickets each as a sign-up bonus. However, I never wanted to expand card use. The tipping point for me was realizing that the lowest fare to visit my parents at Thanksgiving is $344 per person and being frustrated at not having points. Even with my travel, I need more points.
So, this week, I applied for and got instant approval for two new cards, which, based on folks at those blogs above, are the two best cards. You should look yourself.
First, I signed up for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card. For signing up and spending $2,000 in the first three months, I get 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer 1:1 to United, Southwest, Hyatt, Marriott and British Airways, among others. The card also gives you a 7% bonus at the end of the year on top of all the points you’ve earned.
Then, I signed up for the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. With this card, I get 10,000 points after my first purchase and another 20,000 if I spend 5,000 in the first five months. The beauty of SPG points is that they aren’t just for rooms, but, like AMEX’s Membership Rewards and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards, you can transfer to airlines programs 1:1 – and SPG has many more airline partners.
As noted, these two cards are routinely cited at the two best cards for travelers to accumulate points. Approval was easy. And, now, our Southwest Visa will be canceled and cut up.
If you go down this route, don’t forget to have your spouse apply for a separate card and get his or her own card and own bonus. You can actually refer your spouse for the Starwood AMEX, and he/she will get 5,000 extra points. The cards don’t care where you transfer points, so you can combine the points into a single account for maximum use.
And, one last thing – this frequent flyer/frequent stayer sub-culture is endless. Dive in deep and make it a game, and you will end up with some amazing free vacations.