Best Travel Credit Card Strategy

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

Update: This offer for Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days of having the card. Learn more about the special offer here.

For the past few years I’ve compiled a monthly list of the best credit card sign up offers for people interested in maximizing and upgrading their travel. I realize it’s a bit repetitive for long time readers, especially since I’m constantly updating the Best Offers pages on the blog.

I also think the best offers overall might not be the best offers for you, depending on where you are in the hobby.

I pick up 2-3 cards every three months or so, so I’m constantly on the look out for the best sign-up bonuses. I earn upwards of 500,000 points each year from credit card sign-ups alone, so taking advantage of the best offers is key for me.

For other people though, or those just starting out in the hobby, I think it makes sense to pick up some cards more “linearly”. You still want to go after the best bonuses available, but it’s always hard when people come to me having applied for cards because they heard the bonus was good, but don’t know how to use those points, or don’t have enough miles for a single international ticket.

So I’m going to try putting together a few “tiers” of offers based on where you are in the game. There are some cards I think everyone should have, and there are some bonuses that really only make sense if you already have the others (and know what you’re doing).

I’m not suggesting you should apply for all of these cards at once, or even in general, though you certainly can. I have 20+ active credit cards at present, and many people pick up 12-16 cards per year, so it’s certainly possible.

Starting out with miles & points

When starting anything new, it’s nice to have some quick wins. I like these cards for the combination of the sign-up bonuses, and the practicality for everyday spend.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Current offer: 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within the first three months, plus an additional 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you add an authorized user to the card that makes a purchase within the first three months. Also earn 2X points on travel and dining.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year
Foreign transaction fees: none

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®

Current offer: Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®

Current offer: 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first three months of cardmembership
Annual fee: $0 annual fee for the first 12 months, then $95

Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®

Current offer: 40,000 miles after spending $3,000 within first 90 days
Annual fee: $89, waived the first year
Foreign transaction fees: none

Ink Plus® Business Credit Card

Current offer: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
Annual fee: $95
Foreign transaction fees: none

After meeting the minimum spends on these cards you’d have upwards of 100,000 American miles, over 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points that can be used on flights or hotels, plus over $400 from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus. That’s enough right there for two roundtrip business class tickets to Europe, and the Barclaycard points can be used to defray some of the airline-imposed taxes and fees.

So for a temporary hit on your credit score, you can fly to Europe in a premium cabin for less than pennies on the dollar.

Porto-Portugal-3
Portugal and other European countries are within reach using miles

Best of all, you and your spouse can likely be approved for each set of cards separately, which greatly expands your options and reach. If you and your travel partner were to each apply for these cards individually you’d potentially have over half a million usable and practical miles right there.

Seems like a no-brainer to me.

Key travel credit cards

Beyond the above cards (which I think are great starter cards for the signup bonuses and category bonuses), there is another “tier” of cards that are especially useful for travel. Of these, the best sign-up bonuses at present are as follows:

US Airways Premier World MasterCard®

Current offer: 50,000 US Airways Dividend Miles after the first purchase.
Annual fee: $89
Foreign transaction fees: 3%

Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Current offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, 35,000 additional points after spending $2,500 within 90 days
Annual fee: $75 (personal) and $60 (business)
Foreign transaction fees: 3%

Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

Current offer: Two free weekend nights at most Hilton family properties after spending $2,500 within four months of account opening
Annual fee: $95
Foreign transaction fees: $0

British Airways Visa Signature® Card

Current offer: 50,000 bonus Avios after you spend $3,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening (offer is only available to applicants that haven’t had the card in the last 24 months)
Annual fee: $95
Foreign transaction fees: none

Southwest Rapid Rewards® Premier Credit Card

Current offer: Earn 50,000 points after you spend $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months your account is open. Government fees as low as $23 not included.
Annual fee: $99
Foreign transaction fees: none

Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card

Current offer: Get 50,000 points for 2 Roundtrip Flights after you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening your account. Government fees as low as $23 not included.
Annual fee: $99
Foreign transaction fees: none

Note: I’d really only get the Southwest cards as part of a play for the Companion Pass. The sign-up bonus is good otherwise, but it’s the thousands of dollars worth of companion travel that really make this a great deal.

Otherwise, this group of cards can be pretty a la carte — the best options for you are going to depend on your personal travel style. Some people will find tremendous value in the Southwest cards, for example, while the British Airways visa is more useful for others.

I like the US Airways card because of the high bonus, and because those miles will shortly be combined with those from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard®.

Santiago
South America is a fantastic value with with US Airways or American miles

Picking up hotel credit cards also makes sense to me at this point, and I find the average person gets more value out of the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature® Card and Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card than many of the other hotel-specific cards, particularly given the current sign-up bonuses.

Adding to your mileage portfolio

At this level, you can (and should) be particularly opportunistic. Once you have a baseline number of miles you have more flexibility to take advantage of big bonuses without being as concerned about how you’ll use the points in practice.

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that a beginner pick up some of the big hotel bonuses, for example, though they certainly could. But they’re generally going to get more immediate value out of bonuses that are easily useable for flights, which is why I typically recommend waiting until you have more of a stockpile before going after the hotel-specific bonuses. Some of the great hotel bonuses at present are:

IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card

Current offer:  Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening. Also earn 5 points per $1 spent when you stay at IHG hotels.
Annual fee: $49, waived the first year
Foreign transaction fees: none

Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card

Current offer: 50,000 points after the first purchase, 35,000 additional points after spending $2,500 within 90 days
Annual fee: $75 (personal) and $60 (business)
Foreign transaction fees: 3%

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

Current offer: Receive 140,000 Rewards Points, enough for two complimentary nights at any participating Ritz-Carlton® hotel, after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. This bonus offer is available to you as long as you have not received a new cardmember bonus for this product in the past 24 months.
Annual fee: $395
Foreign transaction fees: none

Ritz-Carlton-Hong-Kong-1
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is probably the best hotel in the city, and has amazing views

Then there are other cards that it makes sense to pick up as they have great offers. Many products will have pulse offers, with double or triple the sign-up bonus, and I try to write about those as they come up.

Sometimes these offers are seasonal, or for a very limited time, so it might even make sense to slow down on the pace of applications so that you have “room” for more applications.

Beyond that, there are other currencies, such as American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints that it makes sense to accrue even though the cards themselves don’t have particularly lucrative sign-up bonuses.

Bottom line

More than anything else, you don’t want to bite off more than you can chew. Meeting minimum spends is likely easier than it sounds, but if you’re not prepared to be organized about your applications and payments, then I’d stick with just a few cards from the first tier to keep life simple.

Otherwise, you can earn a shocking number of miles through strategic spending on the most rewarding travel credit cards.

If you have any questions or other cards you think have great sign-up bonuses, let me know in the comments section!


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Ink Plus® Business Credit Card, US Airways Premier World MasterCard®, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Premier Business Card, Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Card, and  The Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card have been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. wow, not a single non-affiliate offer. I find it hard to believe that you don’t carry any card that don’t pay you a commission.

  2. I always think the Hyatt card is a great card to have, even after the AF. Most people that start off doing this think of cities to visit first and usually you can use the yearly cert to stay at a pretty decent hotel in the city. Obviously you can do this with IHG, too, though I am also partial to Hyatts.
    Just my 2 cents.

  3. I keep my Barclay’s arrival card entirely because of the convenience of the chip and pin. While most of the other cards have a chip now they still won’t work in train and subway ticket kiosks around the world that require a pin. One single visit to the CDG RER station convinced me of that 🙂

  4. Can I apply for a US Credit Card if I live in Egypt and transfer the statement amount to my sister in the US to deposit? Can you see that possibly work?

  5. I have the US Airways MasterCard and CitiBusiness AAdvantage MasterCard now. Does anyone know if I have to sign up for the Citi AAdvantage (personal) card before my US Airways card changes over? I read that would be sometime this year.

  6. @dom You don’t have to sign up for the Citi AA card. Your US Air card is just going to become the Barclay AAviator Red or Silver card. The only thing going on with that right now is if people want the future Barclay AAviator cards, they need a US air card now, as new applicants won’t be allowed.

  7. Great strategy to pump up your links!!

    I literally laughed out loud. You should have just titled the post, “Credit card links that give me $”

  8. Great post, as always.

    One thing I might point out is if one is going to prioritize- I would get the USAirways card first since it’s one we definitively know won’t be around much longer. It’s a great offer on its own (essentially you’re paying $89 for 50,000 miles, and there’s no minimum spend requirement) but particularly valuable as the miles will pool with the AAdvantage miles next year.

    Lucky, for the IHG card, is the annual free night at any hotel of your choosing? and is it based on standard availability or is it a special category?

    looking forward to the A350 inaugural review!

  9. Hi Ben,

    Great post. Really appreciate your blog for giving such useful info. I don’t want to sound like a complete moron but I had a couple quick questions.

    1.) when signing up for credit cards, specifically the us airways 50k bonus card, how soon do the miles usually post to your account?

    2.) for the cards with minimum spend requirements, like the chase cards, does one accrue points right away or only after earning the bonus after making the minimum spend. In other words, would have 55,000 points on the chase ink card after meeting the spend? I.e spend $5k=5k points+50k bonus points.

    3.) any tips for strategic spending for achieving these minimum requirements?

    Thanks so much!!

  10. It is unclear how you can get 500000 points a year from sign up bonuses when most of these cards can’t be churned anymore. I mean, there’s only a finite number of credit cards with sign up bonuses, and I’ve maxed them out in about four years, and that’s including a couple of churns. Care to share?

  11. I still cannot belive how it is possible to get so many credit cards approved (in the US). Isn’t there any control from the banks, when you already have like 5 cards, so they won’ give it to you?
    I have 3 CC (Germany) and people think I am crazy and stupid because it hurts my “financial score for banks” (don’t know how to say this…SCHUFA).

  12. Pardon the stupid question.

    So after spending roughly $18,000.00 in minimum spend, I can get two business class tickets to Europe? Why don’t just buy them outright?

  13. Its not that hard. There is no trick. 500,000 a year from CC INCLUDES spending / Manufactured Spend. Keep in mind all these miles he buys is a business expense since he is reviewing them 😉 And to the fact he knows all the secret mileage run deals no one shares on FT anymore due to The Flight Deal and other blogs ruining the secrets.

  14. @Hes buying them

    He wrote explicitly: “I earn upwards of 500,000 points each year from credit card sign-ups alone, so taking advantage of the best offers is key for me.” No mention of manufactured spend or any other strategy.

    (Unless, of course, he means he gets 500,000 points each year from other people’s credit card sign ups alone, via referrals. That I would be believe. [But that would be misleading, wouldn’t it?])

  15. lucky, how do I know which citi aa cards I might be eligible for bonuses for as I have had several business and personal cards with them, but don’t remember exactly which ones? Thank you

  16. hey lucky

    So do you cancel every few months certain credit cards and then renew them in order to get again the bonus miles for signing up to them?

  17. I’m also trying to figure out how to meet the minimum spend. Are you doing manufactured spend? Any tips for someone living out of country 10 months a year on hitting minimum spend?

    Thanks!

  18. @ Poo Bottoms @ Hes buying them — This part of your answer “Its not that hard. There is no trick.” nails it.

    My husband and I accrued well over a million miles from credit card sign ups last year, as we have for the past few years.

  19. How do you get lenders like Chase to extend you multiple CC’s with the same sign-up bonus? I’m having enough trouble getting them to extend me one per sign-up bonus even though I use the cards regularly, have a six-figure income, and have a >800 FICO score. I nearly always have to call and ‘verify some information.’

  20. @ John,

    So what? What is your problem with that? He is the owner of his blog and he is putting offers out there for affiliate cards. This is a business for him. It’s up to you to consider whether the offer is good for you or not. Leave the guy alone and if you don’t like it, create your own blog with all the cards you want. Troll.

  21. I read this blog mostly as a source of humor, but I want to comment on something.

    If Lucky really just sits in planes and hotels / lounges all the time, I truly feel sorry for him. Judging from the last 3 years of reading this blog, I haven’t read a single post where he truly goes out and explores some destination. This isn’t really travel.

    Lucky, why don’t you do some real traveling, you know, the kind without the glamour of a 5-star hotel and first class that doesn’t necessarily just pimp credit card offers. Go to Australian outback, go to New Zealand, Patagonia, Machu Picchu….etc. Anything outside a 10mile radius of a Hyatt / Hilton / Starwood hotel.

  22. @Stephanie, although I do appreciate the self-awareness, you truly are testing the old platitude that there’s no such thing as a stupid question. The difference between buying two tickets for $18,000 and using points that were accumulated through spending $18,000 on credit cards is that, in the latter case, YOU RECEIVED $18,000 WORTH OF GOODS AND SERVICES THROUGH YOUR SPENDING. Good lord. And good luck.

  23. @Stephanie,

    The point is you’re going to be spending that $18,000 anyways on gas, groceries, utilities, etc. Why not put it on a credit card that earns miles/points and fly for “free?” Sure you could buy the flights outright and not get the cards, but your everyday bills are still going to be there.

  24. (Long time lurker and supporter of this blog)

    Lucky – you have a great blog and I really appreciate your dedication and content.

    I know that you are not obliged to share everything about your life/business, but seems like you burn a _lot_ more points that you appear to generate. I have not attempted to properly estimate this, but I’d guess that at the low end you would burn at least 2M points per year. In this post you mention earning 500K+ points per year – let’s call it 750K – with CC churning. I don’t think you are able to do much manufactured spend or reselling given your travel schedule – so how do you generate the remaining points? I assume you buy some points – even when they are priced high near 2c per point because it is still good value for a first class ticket, but that probably doesn’t explain it all. Maybe your credit card referral fees get paid in points but I have not heard of this practice.

    Anyway – just curious – even a hint of how you do it would suffice – keep up the good work,
    Tim.

  25. @Tim I remember reading somewhere/some point on his blog that only half of his flying is done with miles. The other half he actually pays for. I am 90% sure that was Lucky’s blog that said that.

    I think he even mentions in some of his posts that it was an expensive ticket to pay for, or he didn’t really want to pay that much for a ticket. Doesn’t always spell it out, but you can pick it up from the wordage.

  26. @Tim It’s not just earning and burning miles. He also has elite status with several hotels and airlines. So on paid flights he’s earning a greater return on miles traveled than someone (like me) who has no status and doesn’t fly daily/weekly/monthly.

  27. can Lucky or anyone else in here help me with this question?
    i don’t travel to europe but quite a lot to asia. (my standard for “quite a lot” is only 2 to 3 times a year)
    if i were to get citi aadvantage card, which asian partner airline can i use?
    and will the cost of ticket be based on AA’s chart or that of partner?
    i have never done award transfer before.

  28. So the first six cards require an expenditure of $17,000 in the first 6 months. Therefore using the card for my spouse and I will cost $34,000 in order of the signup bonuses. This is just insane .

  29. At Matt S.– Thank you for the reply.

    It seems a bit overly ambitious or even unimaginable to me to spend $18k in groceries, gas and utilities in a three months period. Even for a family of five! I don’t come even close to that amount.

    And to David, no need to be rude. However, thanks for the attempt of clarification.

  30. @Lucky – this is the one of the better posts I’ve seen on Boarding Area and hope you’ll do more on the subject of “tiers” or perhaps plateaus in terms of how involved people are and what strategies make sense at those levels.

    I’m about three years into the hobby and primarily an AA flyer, so I’ve spent most of my time building up American and more recently USAir (3x Barclay cards in past 24 months) and Starwood points. Also got the CSP, Ink and PRG to jumpstart my balances in UR and MR points. I don’t do a lot of hotel staying and when I do it tends to be hyatt so I have their card too.

    Now I’m assessing my 2015 strategy and still looking to diversify a bit and build up multiple balances but also what the “second tier” is for me overall now that I feel like I have the bases covered on what the entry level points spread should look like. I’m looking at the British Airways visa and perhaps the Amex Everyday as my next moves, but when it comes to contemplating if I should try to build up United, Delta or etc points as a way to make my UR and MR points go further I’m still undecided on which is the priority. And when it comes to hotels, I’m not feeling strongly about any of them among IHG, or etc. I might want to jump on the Marriott if it comes in at 70k again anytime soon, but overall I feel like I’m at a decision point and more likely to concentrate first on airlines and not so much on hotels for now.

    I’m also always considering all my trips to be ideally in premium cabins and with wife and child in tow, so I need enough in the account to cover 3x roundtrip business class. We are thinking of a Europe trip in 2016, so I have an eye on a strategy that can get us to Italy or Switzerland or back to Spain and/or a mix of the three.

    I’d love it if you continue doing these deep dive posts that explore different ways the intermediate churner can maximize his spend throughout the coming year.

  31. @ Fred @ Stephanie — I’m not sure what others do, but my husband and I stagger our applications so we’re not needing to spend tens of thousands at a time.

    You’d also be surprised by how many things you can pay for with credit cards (cell phones, utilities, insurance, pet expenses, taxes, etc.), and it all adds up. If we’re getting close to a deadline, we’ll buy gift cards for things we know we’ll need in the next month or so anyways (particularly for gas stations).

  32. Lucky, new to the game. Thanks for this. After the Beginner’s Guide To Miles And Points, I needed a ‘Getting Started’ post. Quick question-to keep things simple, can my wife and I have separate cards and post miles/points to one mileage account (mine)? Trying to keep it simple and clean as possible.

    Thanks again for the post.

  33. Good post Lucky! it does look like you have a lot of newer readers to your blog, and some more details and explanations would be beneficial for some of these more basic posts.
    I was able to get 3 Citi AA 100k bonuses after $10k spend each last spring. This was spread out over about 5 months. I paid all my normal expenses, plus my taxes, my mortgage and extra principle, and donated my yearly pledge to my church in those months. so while it was tough doing that $30k of spend, it was well worth it for 330k miles, and my out of pocket cost was just under $300 in transactional fees, plus the $250 ($450-$200 credit that was offered) annual fee per card. (which that are ways to get around)

  34. @Tim….yeah it does seem like he spends alot more miles than he earns. I would love an explanation. Are you just wealthy and can afford to earn enough of a living of this site with the commissions?

  35. @Trup, how are you paying your mortgage with a credit card? Or are you (were you) doing vanilla reload spending, etc?

  36. Many need to just take a big step back here. Lucky is young kid who is living this travel blog. There’s no other secret income, lotto winnings or trust fund. Just a young man who lives out of suitcases and tries to pass on travel information. Sure he’s learned to make a few industry connections to help defray costs. If he makes a few points by pointing out links – bully for him. There’s no requirement to use his links. The key point many are missing is the only major route right now to mega points is via credit cards. It’s a lucrative market and for now the banks/travel industry are using points to lure customers. Let’s all focus on the information and not beat up on the guy. Remember other views are available –there are many other travel blogs out there, so let’s focus on the strategy and tactics.

  37. @rick b

    Man, I’m with you. When he posted the round-the-worldl trip review with his dad, I was struck by the fact that they spend almost all their time in the air and didn’t spend enough time on the ground in any one place to do anything. I thought: wow, that’s a pretty depressing trip. Flying first and biz class is nice and all, but it’s also like being in a tiny hotel room with a dozen strangers of far too long. But that’s alright, that’s his thing, and I come for the credit card pimping, not the trip reports.

    Still, no responses form the man about his 500,000 mile a year habit. Misrepresentation? Misleading? The greatest scandal in American history? Possibly! The worst thing he’s ever done since the Kickstarter for Etihad? Maybe!

  38. @Stephanie: Look at your entire family budget for the year. Anything that can be paid by credit card without an additional fee should be paid that way. Insurance (if fee-free), utilities (home heating oil is a biggie for us), summer camp for the kids, car repairs, building repairs. You might be surprised. 18K in three months might be a stretch (although we’ve done it in our family) but the point is that whatever rate you’re able to accrue at, the points you earn from the bonus and the spend are free since you’re only spending the money you have to spend anyway — as long as you don’t buy extra stuff of pay fees to use a credit card instead of a check (and if you’re going for a big bonus, it can be worth it to pay the few to hit the minimum spend).

  39. @aaron Yep. Was doing Vanillas/bluebird till that went dry and then Evolve until they put a $$$ limit on that.

  40. Hey alcw…you may be too mature for this blog comment section!

    Some day soon we may all look back and wish the days of free travel via credit card signup points were still with us.

  41. @1K: Which cards listed are not affiliates? Hovering over each indicates a OMAAT or Boarding Area specific link for each one. Just curious; it doesn’t bother me that Ben is hawking the cards.

  42. @ Dom — We don’t know yet when that will happen, though I’d definitely consider signing up sooner rather than later.

  43. @ poooooooooooooo,
    i can only speak for myself but ever since my first visit last september or october of previous year, i visit this blog regularly and often because i gain tremendous amount of useful information from lucky and his readers.
    i believe most readers benefit from lucky’s posts including myself, so we keep coming back to him.
    we want lucky to profit nicely from his blog so he can keep relaying useful info to us.
    i am sure lucky gets compensated for us using his links which then will be used to offset his travels. and i am glad to be of help and will do so whenever possible.

    we all win here unless you are a rival blogger.

  44. @ Adi-T — Any property, so you can even redeem it at the InterContinental Bora Bora. Should be the same as award availability.

  45. @ New Guy —

    1) Typically the miles post after the statement closes where you complete minimum spend. Sometimes they miles post one statement after that.
    2) You start earning points right away, so you earn standard points in addition to the sign-up bonus.
    3) I would say stagger out applications as much as possible so that you can realistically meet minimum spend each time. Also, if minimum spend is challenging, focus mostly on the cards which have lower minimum spend requirements, as they can vary substantially.

  46. @ Poo Bottoms — There are always new cards, new products, many cards can be applied for every 12-24 months, sometimes we see mega-sign up bonuses (like the Citi Executive AAdvantage last year), etc.

  47. @ Thomas — Well in the US we have credit scores, and the idea is that they help determine who is “worthy” of applying for another card. As long as you pay your bills on-time and don’t utilize all your credit, your score will generally be quite good.

  48. Thanks for the tips Lucky. I’m a newbie without near the points requirements that you have, but every little bit of knowledge helps…

    and ITA with alcw!!!

  49. Idk if this question has been answered yet (or sounds completely stupid), but for the Citi Business for American and the Chase Ink cards, do you have to own a business or can it be an regular person get the cards?
    Also, is it wise to get the US Airways card now before AAdvantage and Dividend Miles combine?

    Thank you so much!

  50. @ Andrew — With Citi it’s tricky, as it seems to be on a “Your Mileage May Vary” basis at times. Which cards do you have?

  51. @ Daniel — I generally don’t since most cards aren’t churnable. Once the first year’s annual fee is due I decide whether I’m getting more value out of the annual fee than the card is costing me or not. If I’m not getting more value out of it I cancel it.

  52. @ rick b — What I write about on the blog isn’t 100% of what I do in my life. I only have so many hours in the day to write, and the focus of my blog is on the journey as opposed to the destination. Why? Because I think that’s where I can add the most value, and because there are much better destination bloggers out there.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t do other stuff, though…

  53. @ steven k — You can fly Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, etc. You’d be charged per American’s partner award chart, which is very attractively priced.

  54. @ Steve — You do have to have separate frequent flyer accounts, though some programs will let you pool points. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you transfer points to a spouse, while British Airways lets you create “household accounts.” So I don’t think which account your points are in is any sort of a barrier to entry here.

  55. @ Poo Bottoms — We spent four days in Dubai, two days in Singapore, two days in Melbourne, and four days in Sydney. You’re not a very good traveler if you don’t think that’s enough time on the ground to do ” anything.” 😉

    And my dad and I had the time of our lives, and I think that’s what matters.

  56. @rick b: not that Lucky needs me or anyone else to defend him, but everyone has different ways of traveling. I’d rather walk across hot coals than eat most “ethnic” foods, but I love to travel. Lucky likes exotic food. Good for him. I share his love of a fine suite with a good club room and nice view. I’m not interested in roughing it in any way shape or form. To each his own. Why is yours the only way to travel? Some people want to live like a native and others would prefer never to meet one. Most people are somewhere in between, but all are legitimate choices.

  57. @ LarryinNYC — I use redirects for all credit card links, affiliate or not. The reason is because the banks often change the URLs for offers, and that way I can centrally update the links to the best offers. Otherwise I’d have to go back and literally change hundreds of links. Hope that makes sense.

  58. @ Omar — Yes, definitely makes sense to get a US card before the programs merge. You don’t need a corporation, though you do need at least a sole proprietorship to have a business card.

  59. In most English as a first language countries, I find written and oral “comprehension” has had a dramatic decline. Reading some of the comments makes me wonder if I read the same article. Then again laziness seems to be increasing maybe their related if time were spent reading a bit more then again would you understand it? I have read some of Lucky’s articles several times as reading the comments I wonder if I had read a different article! 2 cents worth⏰

  60. I have a US social number, but I currently live/work outside of the US. Can I apply for a new credit card? Do they require a mailing address in the US?

  61. @Lucky
    Hot damn, my friend. You sure get a lot of crap from a bunch of people who pay a monthly subscription rate of zero dollars for your blog’s information.

    My personal opinion: you’re living the dream and you’re an incredible writer, and your knowledge of the points and travel world helps people live out some of their crazy dreams.

    I’m excited to depart on the honeymoon of a lifetime in a few months, and your blog has helped me secure a round the world itinerary in business class. I’m super grateful, and I’m happy to use your affiliate links every time I churn and burn.

    Next time you fly CX first, go nuts on the Johnnie Walker Blue Label for me!

    God bless you, man.

  62. @Jake Pearring

    I will never understand people who will defend Lucky, or any other blogger, from critics because their content is “free.” Free content does not absolve you from praise or criticism. Fox News is free, people criticize it. Most TV is free, people criticize it. (Some people even make a living from criticism! AMAZING!)

    Like those other free things, Lucky makes his money from advertising and that’s fine. But that doesn’t mean I can’t make fun of him.

    @ Lucky

    You flew around the ENTIRE WORLD and you spent 12 days on the ground in corporate hotels. I admit, I find that pretty bleak.

  63. Lucky,

    Can you write a post about which cards can be applied for every 12-24 months? Or at least, historically what has been the case? That would be very helpful.

    Additionally, are you going to write a “How Many Miles Did I Earn In 2014?” post?

  64. @Poo Bottoms,

    Fox News isn’t actually free; it’s apart of cable packages which has a monthly cost. The only “free” channels as you decribe are typically limited to what you can get via over the air (bunny ears) and last I checked, Fox News wasn’t one of the channels. If you’re going to be critical, expect it back.

    Why does it matter that he chooses (because he can) to stay in the corporate-environment hotel chains? Sorry that Mom and Pop Motel doesn’t have a points currency to help reduce cost of stays or don’t have the same ammenities or perks of a Hyatt. If you are trying to trying to obtain the most comfort, I think Lucky is taking the proper route. It was a gift for his father for crying out loud. If I ever had the opprotunity to take a parent of mine on a trip, I can assure it I would make efforts to provide the most comfort, physically and mentally.

    Not everyone finds enjoyment in the ways you do (or anyone else). Some people like being a beach bum for vacations. Others actually like “stay”vactions. Some prefer to explore cities on foot. Others like hiking the outdoors. Just because someone enjoyed their vacation different than how you would doesn’t mean theirs was useless and bleak.

  65. @Poo Bottoms

    Are you sleepy or just making a useless and bleak reply?

    Last note – People choose to defend bloggers, athletes, and people in general because they add some type of value. Lucky for me and many others provide informational and entertainment value (and clearly you must agree since you chose to read this blog and clearly continue to come back since you read my reply).

    So either goodnight or have another cup of coffee. 😉

  66. Well, it is nighttime where I am, but mostly I’m all just zzzzzzz cos you’re boring and pedantic.

    People can defend Lucky because they like his stuff, fine, whatever, but the “because it’s free” argument is limp.

    And I do read the blog because I’m a credit card whore like the rest of you, but I don’t dig his trip reports or his histrionics, anymore than I read View From the Wing because I’m into Gary Leff’s insightful social commentary (gag, barf). I ENDURE these blogs despite the fact that both Lucky and Gary and the Million Miles guy are all enormous douchebags.

  67. @poo bottoms
    Your responses are so cynical and narcissistic. I welcome criticism of public blogs, as I’m sure Lucky does.

    The primary reason you’re being called out is because your attitude is toxic to other people enjoying the blog.

    Post criticism, sure. Keep your pissy pants attitude about not getting what you want to your self.

  68. @Chip – I have the same problem. For example, for the Sapphire Preferred, there’s no way I could charge $4K in 3 months, unless I had one or two major purchases, and even then it’d be tough. There are good cards out there that have lower spending requirements (and usually, but not always, lower sign-up bonuses), you just have to look a little harder for them.

  69. Ben,
    How do you apply for credit cards when you don’t have a permanent us address? Cause I’m facing the same situation, not sure where to ask them to mail my new cards to!
    Thanks
    Joe

  70. @ Joe — You do need a permanent address as far as I know. Even though I live in hotels I have a permanent address, so not an issue I face.

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