Reader Melanie emailed me the following question:
I’m brand new to the hobby and am starting to think about my honeymoon to Thailand and Vietnam in early 2017. For the flight from DC there would you recommend the AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® (I don’t otherwise fly AA frequently so probably wouldn’t be spending more than the minimum) or getting the Citi Premier℠ Card and Citi Prestige® Card?
I already have around 25k AA miles, the DiscoverIt Miles card, and just got the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card.
First of all, congrats to Melanie on the upcoming honeymoon! Now let’s see if we help point her in the right direction to make the most of the trip.
Now is the perfect time to start planning the honeymoon
Generally speaking airlines open up their schedules around 11 months out, so now is the perfect time to start applying for credit cards in preparation for the honeymoon. That gives you a few months to complete the minimum spend and get the miles to post, well before the schedule actually opens.
Actually I’d argue this is even the ideal time to start planning. If you were trying to develop a credit card strategy much further out, there’s a decent chance you’d face award chart devaluations, changes in partnerships, etc. I’d say 3-6 months before you actually need the points is the perfect time to start applying for cards.
Maximize miles by having your spouse apply for cards as well
One of the best things about being in a relationship is that you can apply for double as many credit cards… or something like that. 😉
Keep in mind that while you can add your spouse as an authorized user, he wouldn’t earn the sign-up bonus that way. Instead if you each apply for cards, you can earn double the bonuses. With that in mind, which of the above cards would I recommend for Melanie?
Pros of getting the AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
As it stands, American AAdvantage miles are one of the most valuable mileage currencies out there, and this card offers a nice bonus after completing minimum spend.
Upon completing the minimum spend, you’re well on your way to a one-way first or business class ticket between the US and Asia on Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific. Do note you’ll probably have a hard time locking in two seats in Cathay Pacific first class in advance, though finding business class seats on Cathay Pacific, or either first or business class seats on Japan Airlines, should be much more realistic. All of those are great options.
What about the Citi ThankYou® Premier and Citi Prestige® Card?
These are two of the most compelling cards out there, though I’ve written extensively about the benefits of both cards.
The question in this context is how the sign-up bonus would benefit Melanie in getting to Southeast Asia.
While a great use of Citi ThankYou points is for paid travel on American (each point can be redeemed for 1.6 cents towards the cost of a paid ticket), that’s not especially useful if Melanie wants to travel in a premium cabin to Southeast Asia.
But Citi ThankYou also partners with Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, which is a fantastic option for travel to Asia. With advance planning, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find two first or business class seats on one of their routes out of the US.
How many Citi cards can you apply for?
Is it possible to pick up three Citi cards over such a short period? It is, actually. Citi’s rules when it comes to applying for new cards is as follows:
- You can only apply for one Citi card every eight days
- You can apply for no more than two Citi cards every 65 days
So in theory you can apply for two cards within 65 days, and then a little over two months later you could apply for a third card. Given Melanie’s timeframe, it should potentially be possible to pick up three cards.
With three credit cards you should have more than enough miles for roundtrip premium cabin tickets to Asia.
In this instance if I could only get one card, I’d probably select the AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, as American miles are among the most useful mileage currency for travel to Asia. However, it’s feasible to get all three cards, and that would allow Melanie to fairly easily get a roundtrip premium cabin award to Asia.
What approach would you take in Melanie’s shoes?