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Answering a recent frequent flyer credit card question and highlighting the newest addition to Big Story Living
Hello, Travel Friends! Where do your dreams want to take you next?
I often get questions from friends about how to enter the frequent flyer credit card game. It’s not always easy to know where to start, but here’s a little sneak peek into the consulting process I thought would be fun to share.
Below is the paraphrase of a question I received this week and how I answered. In most cases, my first answer just leads to more and more questions, as it is with the answer you’ll see. There really is no blanket explanation for everyone, no matter how many people want to tell you there’s one perfect card or perfect way to plan for your next journey. Frequent Flyer and budget travel world is literally changing ALL the time. The good news is, I kind of nerd out on this stuff and love a good challenge when it comes to helping people save tons of money on their travel dreams.
So…enjoy this taste of how one of my consulting sessions could begin, and know I would be so happy to help you in the future.
QUESTION(S): I’m hoping to travel to Europe with my husband for our anniversary in March of 2024. We don’t have any frequent flyer miles at this time. How can I get enough miles for two tickets in time to book a reasonable flight? What card should I choose? What criteria do you follow to decide if a card bonus is worth signing up for?
ANSWER: Ok, I’ll start out with this bit of sad news to get it over with…there’s not a great deal out there right now for two people hoping to gain enough miles to travel to Europe by March 2024 if you’re starting at zero. Companies are being stingy right now while at the same time, upping the miles and fees they charge. That being said, cards tend to post new offers the first of each month, so something really great might come along in July. You never know.
I can tell you what I would do if I wanted to travel in March 2023 to Europe with my husband and we didn’t have a current bank of frequent flyer miles.
1. I’d want to get tickets as soon as possible, therefore, I would want to obtain those bonus points fast. Playing the long game of gathering enough miles with my monthly spend probably won’t get my mileage bank filled fast enough to get a good deal for two travelers for March 2024.
2. I would choose to travel on American Airlines with a return date no later than March 14. This would keep me in the “off-peak” travel calendar for AA, making it possible to travel for 22,500 each way instead of 30,000 each way. I would then need 90,000 AA miles to get the two of us to Europe instead of the minimum 120,000 AA miles I would need to travel beyond March 15 throughout peak season
3. How would I get those miles? With today’s bonus offers I would apply for the American Airlines Aviator Red card. I would apply both for myself and for my husband…two separate cards. (I understand this might feel extreme at first) This would give me 120,000 miles total if we are both able to meet the spend in the first 90 days….$2000 on each card. There is a $99 annual fee per card, but when you consider the free luggage and $99 anniversary companion certificate you get in return, it’s worth it. See the current Aviator Red bonus deal here.
Then, as soon as I got the 120,000 miles total deposited into our accounts, I would quickly purchase my tickets. I’m happy to help you with this process, as it’s a bit of a game, but not hard.
4. All of this should provide you with tickets that are 45,000 miles round trip and $150-$200 (possibly less) in taxes and fees. That being said, taxes and fees have been soaring recently, so there’s no guarantee they won’t be more. Still, there are tricky ways to find cheaper taxes and fees that I can teach you. You just have to be willing to be flexible and creative.
Final thoughts…it’s challenging to find any one card that will give you enough miles for two to Europe by March 2024, but American Airlines has the best off-peak deals on miles by far. If you happen to be in a space of having large monthly spend, the math might prove to you that you can get 90,000 miles quickly on one card. If that’s the case, great.
If you use two separate cards, know that sharing points will cost a big fee, so you will need to purchase your ticket with your card/miles and your husbands ticket with his card/miles if you go the multiple AA aviator cards route. Again, I can help you find your way through this.
5. Apart from the AA card and to specifically answer your initial question…in general, I typically grab a card when the bonus rises to at least 75,000 miles, and unless I’m desperate, I wait until there is a 90,000 mile or point offer. Those are harder to come by recently. Chase Sapphire Preferred is probably the most solid bank travel card out there…far better than Capital One, in my opinion. That being said, United is a big partner with Chase Sapphire and they just devalued their miles a ton last week, so you need lots more miles to fly on United across the board now…which stinks.
I’m also happy to teach you a bit about how you can use those Chase Sapphire Points for more than airfare, which can be a huge help with lodging and in-country travel.
See what I mean? You get lots of goodness, and yet there are so many important questions still to answer. Are you ready to learn more? I’m ready to personalize the best guidance I can offer to your specific travel need or dream.
New to Big Story Living - Personalized Travel Consultation
It’s a thrill to help others get started with their “almost free” travel lifestyle, so it’s my joy to be starting to consult more and more these days. If I can help you with further travel planning details, frequent flyer credit card questions, booking the best flights, budget lodging or planning a fun-filled Point A to B to C in-country itinerary, I am pleased to help.
Your first session is always FREE!
Do you need help understanding the frequent flyer credit card game?
Do you have a specific travel dream and need assistance imagining how to make it happen?
Do you have a budget you MUST stay within?
Let me assist you! I’ll teach you the skills or even plan all the details so you can simply enjoy.
Whatever your need, I’ll do my very best to save you big bucks!
Personalized travel consulting sessions with Amy begin at $30/hour. We'll plan the getaway of your dreams at a price that will leave you smiling.
Comment below with questions or to begin your first consulting session TODAY.
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