Category Archives: Frugal Travel Guy

Recent credit card posts – Time to Get in the Game!

There’s been a plethora of posts by various people over the past few days.  This seems like a natural time to assess the past year if you’ve been in the game, and to plan out next year’s strategy (or in some of your cases, first plunge).  Generally, everyone has focused on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, AMEX Premier Rewards Gold card, and the AMEX SPG card as part of their past and future strategies.  Enjoy the links below, they all contain very useful and valuable information!  As always, with any of these promotions and/or credit cards, do your research, and feel free to send me questions or post on flyertalk/milepoint in the appropriate places.

 

Wow I think that’s it…I didn’t quite realize how many links there would be to post.  I think with all the information being generated, the main message is to review all of the credit cards and spending strategies that are popular now, and then to start applying and get in the game!  It’s a New Year’s resolution for all of you without one thus far 🙂

Posts about predictions for 2012

There’s been a couple of posts by other bloggers about 2012 predictions.  They’re interesting reads, so I wanted to link them here.

Lucky of One Mile At a Time has posted his predictions…interesting stuff, particularly about what AA might do in bankruptcy with their systemwide upgrades (rats, just as I am planning to go for EXP) and hotel promotions.

Frugal Travel Guy also offers some predictions for the new year.  Some of them are serious and some lighthearted.

My Travel Year in Review

I’m a little bit late, but the new year is only a few days old.  I wanted to review my travels of the past year and how I did with collecting frequent flyer miles.

Travels

In 2011, I probably traveled the most distance-wise that I ever have (although I don’t think it’s the most new places I’ve visited).  The year started out pretty routinely (my memory of it is not completely clear) and not too heavy on travel.  I started out living in southern California, and had a couple of business trips to the east coast.  I also made several trips to visit my parents at the beginning of the year.

Everything was routine until I had to make a week long business trip to Afghanistan over the summer.  That trip was actually my first time out of the country in a few years, and it was probably one of the most unique places I’ve ever been, to say the least.  Also I made that trip via Germany, which marked the first time I’ve ever set foot in Europe (albeit only a day on the way in and another day on the way back).  I found it a bit hard to believe that it’d been so long since I made an international trip, since I’d enjoyed my first long international trip a few years prior, but hopefully I don’t repeat that dry spell any time soon.

Later in the summer, I ended up accepting a new job on the east coast and moved at the end of the summer.  Before moving, I went on a family vacation to Banff, Alberta, Canada, in the Canadian Rockies.   It was pretty nice to get out to an outdoorsy place, and to see the mountains and glaciers there.

Chicago Seminars

After moving, I seemed to travel quite a bit over weekends…one of the highlights was attending the 2011 Flyertalk Chicago Seminars.  Attending this event put the icing on the cake for the mile collecting hobby that I started over the last year.  I met a lot of other people interested in this hobby (including all the bloggers that I’d begun to follow), heard many great stories, and found out about more bloggers to follow.  It’s been pretty motivating to see so many people interested in this.

While we’re on the topic of Chicago Seminars, Rick of Frugral Travel Guy announced today announced in a blog post the dates and hotel for the 2012 Chicago Seminars.  I highly recommend that everyone attend this event.  You will meet many people with their own interesting stories, and undoubtedly learn a thing or two (or more) that you didn’t know.  I am a bit disappointed that the event is still at the Holiday Inn, as it did not seem quite large enough to handle the crowd we had back in October (and my guess is this event is only going to get larger this year).

Anyway, the information I learned from the Seminars gave me more ideas to gain elite status in various programs, as well as showed me new ways to use the status I already had…

Elite Status Progress

The large majority of my travel this year was on United.  Most of my work trips were on United, which motivated me to use United (or other Star Alliance carriers like Continental and US Airways) as much as possible for personal trips.  By the end of the year, I was able to make Premier Executive status on United, which is the 2nd/mid-level tier in the Mileage Plus program, requiring 50,000 EQM.

Note that to earn that status, I didn’t actually fly 50,000 miles.  I previously had Premier status (25k level) on United, and because of that, I earned bonus miles whenever I flew.  On a full fare coach (Y class ticket), those bonus miles are all elite qualifying, and it just so happens the trips I made for work were generally all on Y class fares…so that definitely helped a lot.

In addition, I managed to get to Gold Medallion status on Delta.  I pretty much lucked out on this one, and it involved only one flight on Delta.  I earned a large chunk of my miles through signing up for the American Express Platinum card (link is courtesy of The Points Guy, and does pay him a commission if you apply through it).  Earlier this year, AMEX was running a 50k Membership Rewards (MR) points signup bonus, which some were able to bump to 100k by simply asking, including yours truly.  I converted the initial 50k that I received into Delta miles, and at the time, there was a 50% bonus on AMEX MR points converted to Delta miles, with up to 25k of those elite qualifying.  Thus, I turned the 50k signup bonus into 75k Delta Medallion miles, with 25k MQM, giving me the lowest elite status on Delta.

A couple of months later, I received a mailing from Delta offering me Delta Gold Medallion status if I completed one international trip or two domestic trips on Delta.  As luck would have it, I just happened to already have a trip booked to Canada on Delta a couple of weeks after I received the mailing.  Thus, with a single DL flight, I was able to earn Gold Medallion 🙂

On the hotel front, I was able to earn Hilton Gold status through a 4 stays or 9 nights promotion (if that wasn’t easy enough, Hilton was/is also giving away Gold status these days.  In addition to that, with some inspiration from Lucky from a Chicago Seminars talk on Starwood, I was motivated to secure Starwood Platinum status by doing mattress runs by paying for cheap stays near where I live.  I had already stayed at Starwood a number of times last year, so I decided to go for Platinum.  Hopefully, I am able to take advantage of that status this year (and requalify again).

That’s all for me this year!  I hope to make a post about my credit card bonuses for the year, at least to the best of my memory and records, and I am also going to have one linking to various other bloggers’ posts regarding credit card strategies for the new year.

 

In case you didn’t get enough about credit cards…

Today’s Friday Rookie Travel Trips post at Frugal Travel Guy covers some credit card basics.  It discusses what factors affect your credit card score and gives a sample credit card churn and what you can net from it in terms of points and miles.  Enjoy!

Also, hot off the press, in the non-rookie section of Frugal Travel Guy, is a post that illustrates, first of all, some of the crazy lengths we go to to get our miles and status, and also the value (in business class trips) you can get out of all this.

Are you in the 1%??

No, I’m not referring to the Occupy movement.  You’ll have to go somewhere else to read about them (they can’t really earn you free travel, so I don’t know why you’d bother :)).

I’m referring to a recent post by Rick @ Frugal Travel Guy.  Flyertalk recently held a seminar over a weekend in Chicago, organized by Rick and a few others, where we all heard various presentations about a wide variety of reward and loyalty programs, as well as some of the more famous exploits of certain members.

Anyway, Nightline did a story on frequent flier miles and the “hacking” we do (see the full video at the link).  The report features Rick from Frugal Travel Guy, so after the story aired just before Thanksgiving, Rick tracked how the traffic changed after the Nightline report.  In the post linked above, he estimates (not with the most scientific methods, but close enough) that about 1% of the people that visited his site after the story aired actually reading the blog.  The common held belief in the frequent flyer collecting / travel hacking community is that maybe 1% of people are actually willing to invest the time and effort and dedication to this game.

So are you in the 1%? 🙂

An award trip booked with AA miles

Frugal Travel Guy’s, Sunday Success Stories series has an article today about a trip that someone was able to book with a relatively small amount of AAdvantage Miles.  Check out the story here!

Considering how easy it is to earn 150,000 AA miles with 3 credit card sign up bonuses (acknowledgment to Daraius at Million Mile Secrets for the post about signing up for AA cards), booking a trip like the one above is well within anyone’s reach!