My Annual State of the Credit Address Part 2 — The Silver Lining New Year Style!

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Citi Chase American Express

Am I the only one sitting in front of my laptop at New Year’s racing against the clock?

Well, no biggie. There is nothing else I’d rather be doing. 🙂

If this is the last thing you read today — Happy New Year!

And if you read it tomorrow, or … whenever, that’s cool, too.

Anyhow …

In my previous post I attempted to sum up the things that have gone wrong for the mile-and-point junkies community on the credit card front.

My Annual State of the Credit Address Part 1 — The Whining

And I didn’t even touch on other unsavory things that have happened this year; and there were plenty of those, too. Like devaluations “churned” by Delta with such intensity and disdain for its members that you’re not even mad anymore. You just shrug it off and move on.

We can focus on the bad all we want. We can declare it (for the umpteenth time) the “end of the game,” the “death of the hobby,” or come up with a dozen other metaphors to express our displeasure. OR we could toss the bad programs and players aside and — pardon the bad cliché — look at the bright side. And call me an optimist (or an idiot if you want), but there is a bright side indeed. End of the game — it ain’t!

There Are Great Earning Opportunities for Newbies

For those who are just entering the “hobby,” life couldn’t be better! No, seriously, how much better can it be with all the options lying wide open right in front of you? I’m not going to list all of them here — just kindly refer to the two databases that I’ve just updated especially for you.

Best Credit Cards for Miles — Free Flights

Best Credit Cards for Points — Free Stays

But here are some goodies you can get from JUST one of our “business partners.” LOL!

And for those who are prepared to “exit” the hobby — well, I hope you’ll reconsider.

This is not a hobby for the inflexible

Look, if you must fly a particular airline, use a particular hotel brand, and go to a particular beach, club or restaurant, guess what — this hobby has never been for you to begin with.

I’ll go as far as to say that nothing should be set in stone, including destinations. Yes, I know how it sounds. In the end, it’s all about your dream trips. Your bucket list. Your travel goals. Right?

Wrong! Because have you been everywhere else in the world? Have you seen everything else on the planet?

I absolutely love this quote from Dia.

Focus on the experience, not the destination. Think “Beach” not “Hawaii”- think “Ski” not “Vail” and you’ll find an alternate destination that fills your needs and is both less expensive and less crowded.

I love it because it resonates with my own thoughts. I’ve never been to Prague, but I haven’t been to Budapest either, and I hear they’re both fascinating places. So if it’s harder, or more expensive, or takes more miles to get to Prague — I’ll happily go with Budapest. And vice-versa, of course.

Don’t get me wrong. I research my destinations and won’t waste my time on a place that doesn’t hold any interest for me. But I’m very flexible, and when you are flexible by nature, chips tend to fall into place!

Of course, it doesn’t mean that you can’t visit your bucket list destinations. Just don’t sweat it too much when things don’t go your way. Maybe find a better time when it’s easier and cheaper, and maybe it might require an extra work, a convoluted routing, or even a bus trip or a car share ride, but it’s all part of an adventure.

Everyone wants to go to Rome or Paris or other 10-15 of the most popular places in the world. So what do you do when you can’t get a ticket to Paris on a saver award?

You fly wherever you can, that’s what! Fly to Brussels, Berlin, or London, and hitch a ride from there.  All major cities in Europe are close and linked by air, rail, and bus lines. Everything is close.

I apply the same approach to credit cards. Just get what you can. You’ll find out later what to do with it. You already know it won’t ruin your credit score if it’s done right.

Can’t apply for another Chase United card? Get 60,000 miles from Avianca. IHG devaluations are getting you down? Get 85,000 points from Club Carlson. And 45,000 from Wyndham. And 120,000 points from Best Western. Although I would and did keep the IHG card, if only for the free annual night.

Can’t get another 50,000-mile AAdvantage bonus from Citi?

Wait! May I ask why?  😎

Think We Are Addicted? The Banks Are Too!

That Citi offer without the restrictive 24-month language is still working — 4 days after appearing on Reddit and every other blog out there. If you’ve been procrastinating all this time, you can still grab it (at the time of writing).

Citi American Airlines 50,000-Mile Offer

Just think about it! A month ago, there was another Citi “loose” link — for 75,000 HHonor points. It died fairly quickly, though.

But the fact that this AA offer is still alive tells me something. It tells me that they have a lot to GIVE, and with all the new rules, they can’t make us TAKE quickly enough.

Citi seems conflicted. It’s like George Costanza — divided against itself. But, unlike George, Citi is a master of ghost links. Always has been.  It’s like … it’s there … but not officially. Yet you can get it … but only if you read between the lines. Citi just leaves the links hanging up there on the Internet, as if just by accident, well knowing they will be “discovered.”

Of course, I’ve yet to receive the bonuses from Hilton as well as American Airlines — although they’ve been confirmed and I’m not worried. Well, not yet …

And guess what — even when this no-24 months-language link stops working — there will be 40,000 AA miles from the Barclaycard Red Aviator Card. And later next year Silver, although we don’t know the terms yet.

One path shuts down — others open up. Any which way you look at it, banks still need able bodies with FICO scores to match. Remember that it’s not just about the customers — they have shareholders to answer to.

My Next App-o-Rama

I’m still in favor of app-o-Ramas, although there are fewer reasons to use them nowadays, and I’ve found myself applying for credit right and left lately instead of doing 5-6 cards at a time.

But there is one advantage of an app-o-Rama approach that still holds. Doing it once every 3-4 months doesn’t test your organizational skills to the limit. It’s just easier, so I still recommend this approach, unless an offer comes around that is both “oh so good!” and time sensitive.

So here is what I’m thinking for my and my wife’s next round.

  • Alaska: 30K +$100 credit, spend $1K/3mths.
  • Alaska Business: 30K, spend $1K/3mths.
  • Best Western: 70K, spend $1K/3mths for 50,000 points and $5K in 12 months for another 20,000 points.
  • Best Western Business: 48K: $1K/3mths
  • Whyndam: 45K, spend $1K/3mths
  • JetBlue Business: 30K, spend $1K/3 mths (will get their personal card in the next round)

It’s not set in stone. I can still get Chase British Avios, Hyatt, Fairmont, and Marriott Business. But tomorrow is another day.

What I’ve been trying to say in this unnecessarily lengthy post is this:

The hobby isn’t dead!

AND

We shall prevail.  😀

And if you’ve made it to this point  – HAPPY NEW YEAR! HAPPY NEW TRAVELS!

And get drunk today!

Photo by: geralt / Pixabay,

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5 Responses to My Annual State of the Credit Address Part 2 — The Silver Lining New Year Style!

  1. […] Traveler‘s second part of his annual state of the credit address. Must read in my […]

  2. Mser says:

    So the “good news” is bloggers can still shill credit cards to unsuspecting noobs while posing as travel experts! Hooray!!!

    It’s just the haters who harp on the many MS avenues that have been killed (of course the bloggers claim to a person they had nothing to do with it – the Sgt Shutltz defense “I know nothing!”)

    And we need not mention the incessant devaluations nor that for the majority of people, a 2% cashback card is probably their best option (no need to learn arcane redemption rules or find that no award seat is available no matter how many points you want to blow). Why? Because the marketing of fictional “free” travel (and hence the excuse to provide affiliate links) is hard to do otherwise…

    Sickening to read this marketing palaver year after year.

    • Andy Shuman says:

      No, the good news is that today, 17 years after I “joined” the hobby, we can still travel the world for very close to free.

      While a 2% cashback card may very well be the best solution for the majority of people, I don’t write for the majority. I write for travel nuts, like myself. I’m sure there are enough bloggers out there who cover 2% cards. That’s perfectly fine by me.

      And although I love a good rant myself, I find it interesting that you chose to lash out at my “marketing” of whatever, when in fact, I installed my affiliate links (and with much more disclosure language than required by law) only a couple of months ago. After running this blog for zero compensation for the last 4 years.

      But that’s cool. Thank you for your comment.

      • Dear Andy,

        Happy New Year to you! Some of the perspectives you express in this article are similar to mine. With a specific example, let me explain why.

        Between the holidays, with plenty of free time at work, I was able to ponder and examine the feasibility of multiple miles-and-points redemption combinations. At last, I booked a trip for myself and a friend: we’ll be spending a little over two weeks, mid-summer, in Poland and Germany. I’m treating my friend to my MileagePlus FF miles, and he’ll be reimbursing me for the redemption fees. What bargains we’ve got!

        My flights: JFK to WAW (Warsaw); the return is from MUC (Munich). 60K FF miles plus $95.66 in fees; lowest retail value for this specific itinerary (based on pricing on Google Flights): $3,243

        My friend’s flights: His departure city, here in the States, is SFO (San Francisco): 60K FF miles plus $110.6 in fees; lowest retail value for his specific itinerary (based on pricing on Google Flights): $5,329.

        But why Warsaw? Why not? It offers much in the realm of sightseeing and free classical music performances. . . and the splendid, 5-star Westin where we’ll be staying for 6 nights is only a Category 2 property in the SPG program! (I’ve booked the Cash & Points rate.)

        From Warsaw, we’ll proceed by train to Leipzig and thence to Munich, staying 5 nights for free in nice hotels in each city. And because I’ve got the AmEx SPG Biz card, at the Sheraton Munich Arabellapark Hotel, we’ll have complimentary access to the Sheraton Club — nice!

        Coordinating itineraries that would commence from cities on opposite sides of the country required an open-to-all-possibilities attitude if were going to be able to afford the trip at all. So I agree with you, Andy: keep an open mind, and, yes, wonderful trips at extremely low cost *are* feasible!

        Cheers,

        Peter

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