Will a zillion credit card miles get you anywhere?
By Detroit Free Press
Published: Saturday, May 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Cool cars. Cool trips. Cool $150 shades. Summer is a great time to be rolling in cash — or at least stacked in airline miles.
So as many consumers are planning vacations for July or August, they may be tempted to say, “Hey, why not grab 30,000 or 40,000 free bonus miles and sign up for that airline credit card?”
Here's why not: “Two years later, I haven't been able to redeem those miles,” said Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of CardHub.com., adding, “I do this for a living.”
Papadimitriou's CardHub.com offers a search engine to help people find and compare credit card deals. But he admitted that he signed up for a British Airways credit card offer because the upfront miles were incredible and the offer looked too good to pass up. But he's had a hard time finding the right flight to use those miles.
Still, Papadimitriou said, there are some solid offers for free air travel and hotel rooms. He suggests that consumers consider spending and travel habits, though, before opting for any card.
Some of the better upfront bonuses include:
• Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. Spend at least $3,000 during the first three months the account is open and you'd trigger a 40,000-point bonus that can be redeemed for a $400 statement credit or $500 in travel if booked through Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. No annual fee the first year; $95 annual fee after that.
• Hilton HHonors Surpass Credit Card through American Express. Make just one purchase and receive 40,000 bonus points and another 20,000 points after charging $3,000 or more in the first three months of membership. The card has a $75 annual fee.
•Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard. Spend $1,000 during the first 90 days to receive a 40,000-mile rewards bonus. That bonus is redeemable for a $400 statement credit attributable to travel-related charges. The $89 annual fee takes effect the second year.
But again, pick up a pattern here: While bonus miles are attractive, consumers need to follow some potentially tricky rules to qualify for bonus miles. For some consumers, it may be better to pick a travel-related credit card for an airline that they use regularly anyway, no matter the bonus.
“The number that gets everybody's attention is the ability to earn 30,000 miles,” said Greg McBride, senior financial analyst for Bankrate.com.
But “typically there's a spending requirement,” McBride said.
So you must spend $1,000 or $2,000 or $3,000 within a given window, typically the first few months, to qualify for the free miles.
But are you going to be able to pay off the $1,000 to $3,000 on that new balance? Or will you start owing interest on the new credit card debt?
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Consol Energy transitions as leadership changes hands
- Fed Beige Book survey: Growth picks up across most of U.S. but not in Pittsburgh region
- Region’s largest bank PNC posts 7% rise in 1Q profit
- Higher fuel costs help established airlines, hinder startups
- Heinz offers Pittsburgh workers a buyout if they are unhappy
- Programs help to nudge unemployment among veterans downward
- GlaxoSmithKline discloses bribery inquiries
- Yellen stresses need for Fed to be flexible
- Gap outlines growth plans for China
- Factory output extends solid gains in March
- Mt. Gox bankruptcy protection rejected