I recently received a question from a reader on credit cards. I offered my advice. Feel free to comment if you would have offered different advice.
Reader: “I am new to the apporama game and would like to do my first one. I am planning a trip in november with my wife and 3 kids to Europe. I would like to pay with points for as much as possible. Do you have any suggestions for me on what cards to get? I have a Amex Gold bz card that I got in Nov of last year and have about 220000 points on it. I also have a Citi AAdvantage Platinum MasterCard that I applied for in early March of 2012 with a balance of 60000 miles. I have a decent credit score with my lowest being 730. I also live in New Orleans so I have pretty good airport to fly from. Another thing you might want to know is that I own a small biz with about $30000 month spend that I currently put on my Amex.”
MJonTravel: “Well, there are a few ways to do this. You could transfer your Membership Rewards points to either FlyingBlue or SkyMiles and book travel on either Air France or Delta. I found some availability at the 75,000 mile level in Economy on random dates in November using delta.com on either Delta or Delta and Air France (connecting in Atlanta) between New Orleans and Paris. You’ll collect enough Membership Rewards points at your current charge rate to get most of your family to Europe. Granted, we didn’t discuss where you would like to go in Europe.
Now, you mentioned applying for some other cards. I have 2 cards in mind and I think they will allow you to leverage the bonuses you might earn from them and the Membership Rewards points you already have in a better way. I would consider applying for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card for your personal card, and the Chase Ink Card for business expenses. Key benefits: With the Sapphire Preferred Card, you will receive 40,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points if you spend $3,000 dollars in the first 3 months after account opening. You earn 2x UR points for travel and dining charges, 1x points for everything else. The Ink card offers a 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point bonus. You get 25,000 bonus points with your first charge and 25,000 more points if you spend $10,000 dollars in the first 3 months. Based on your business charges, that won’t be a problem for you. Further, you earn 5x bonus points for Ink card charges at office supply stores, cell phone charges, landline phone,internet and cable TV service. You get 2x points for gas station and hotel charges.
The beauty of Ultimate Rewards points is that they can transfer to British Airways 1 for 1…..and so can your Membership Rewards points. Let’s assume for a second that you get the full bonus for Ink…and you get a Sapphire Preferred Card…. That’s 90,000 UR points right away, not counting what you earn from your routine charging. Perhaps your spouse could even obtain a Sapphire Preferred Card too…..another 40,000 points. You could transfer your points to British Airways and book travel on BA or their Oneworld partner American Airlines, both of which tend to have pretty good award availability, though be advised that BA does charge fuel surcharges on award travel which can amount to several hundred dollars per ticket.
This is probably what I would do if I were in your situation…..but I have to advise that I’m not a banker or financial planner, and only you can know what you can handle with credit cards. I’m going to include links to the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, and the Chase Ink card with Ultimate Rewards. Please be advised that if you apply for and receive a credit card through these links, I will receive a commission. You are absolutely under no obligation to use these links, and if you have received a better offer for the same cards through another method, please use the offer that provides the most benefits to you.”
What do you think of my advice, and what would you have said differently? Comments welcome.
Disclosure: If you apply for and receive a credit card through the links above, I will receive a commission.