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Confused about which credit card to get
After reading through the beginner’s guide to credit cards, I’m still confused as to which I should get. I’m a single person and don’t put a lot of money on my credit cards, though I’m willing to put my monthly bills onto a credit card, that would amount to maybe $500 per month at most (is there any way to pay rent with a credit card without involvement from the landlord? that would be ideal to get lots of points at once). I’m aiming to use reward travel for travel from the US to Europe or Asia, preferably business class of course but economy or economy plus would be great too. I’m confused between the American Express membership rewards and Starwood membership rewards. Starwood has more options, but I don’t know if that’s better. Also, which credit cards are involved in those programs specifically?
On another note, how do you find the cheapest reward tickets?
Thanks for any help!!
Hi Ashley, it can be a bit overwhelming, you’re right.
First, [URL=’http://asklucky.onemileatatime.com/threads/use-credit-card-to-pay-mortgage.5948/’]check out this thread[/URL] here in the Ask Lucky forum about using Plastiq to pay bills, including rent. Hopefully that will help.
And maybe I can help clear up the difference in the points earned by the two Amex cards you mention. Several different Amex cards earn Membership Rewards (MR) points. Different cards have different bonus categories including grocery stores and travel purchases. There are over 15 airline transfer partners for MRs, as well as a few hotels.
The Amex SPG card earns Starpoints. This card does not have any bonus categories except for Starwood hotels and you can also redeem them for rooms at those hotels. But Starpoints’ value is in their transfer power. Starpoints can be transferred to over 30 airline partners, most at a rate of 1:1. And the kicker is, when you transfer 20K points at one time you get a 5K bonus. So transfer 20K miles, end up with 25K airline miles.
Some of the partners overlap between the two types of currencies.
So MRs are easier to accumulate but not quite as valuable as Starpoints due to the number of transfer partners. A great resource to keep all the partners straight is [URL=’http://frequentmiler.boardingarea.com/2014/06/24/transfer-partner-master-list/’]this post from Frequent Miler[/URL]. It’s old but it has a link to a Google document that is kept up-to-date.
Next you’ll need to determine your destinations. Wanting to fly “to Europe” is great, but it will help if you can narrow that down a bit and here’s why: not all frequent flyer programs are created equal. If, for example, the destination you select is only served (or by far the most convenient flights) by British Airways (part of the oneworld alliance), you need to be aware that you’ll have to pay fuel surcharges (which can be hundreds of dollars for premium cabin seats) for those flights. Now, there are ways to ease those fees but it’s something to keep in mind. So maybe you need to look into flights within Star Alliance to miss the fuel surcharges.
For flights to Asia, again Star Alliance has good choices but so does oneworld and SkyTeam – it all depends on your final destination and routing.
It’s a lot to take in, this hobby of ours. Please feel free to ask questions as I may have overloaded you with info. We’re generally a pretty friendly bunch around here with lots of folks willing to jump in and help.
It could make sense to start small – get a cash back card like the Citi Double cash. 2% on everything so you can use the rewards to offset any travel expenses.
Chase Freedom, Freedom Unlimited is also a great pair – 5x points on rotating categories every quarter (via Freedom) and 1.5x on everything else (via Freedom Unlimited) Points can be redeemed for cash back but if you hold on to them, you can apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred sometime down the line, especially if your spend per month increases. You can combine all points into the Sapphire account and redeem for travel or transfer to partners for flights!
Same applies for the AMEX Everyday/Everyday Preferred & PRG cards, as well as the Citi ThankYou Preferred, Premier and Prestige cards
Barclay Arrival+ and Capital One Venture cards are also worth mentioning if you can meet the minimum spend for the bonus. After getting the bonus, neither card is especially compelling.