Have a travel related question? Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.
While anyone can comment on regular blog post, registration is required in order to post a question in this space. Creating your account is free, and you'll be able to see when your question is answered, as well as like comments from other users. And of course, you'll earn status points for offering helpful answers!
This space is intended to be more of a community as well, so please jump in and share tips!
Too Many cards
My question is on how to think about the problem of having too many cards such that you dilute your point-earning potential in any single one of them. Since the point of this game is *not* to spend extra on certain cards because you want more points/rewards (bc then you’d be (over)paying for those points rather than getting them for free based on your regular spend), isn’t there a limit to how many cards you can effectively have based on your natural spending and thus you can only earn a solid amount of points in 1-2 cards? If so, how can I justify applying for multiple cards? Is it just for the sign-up bonuses? Thanks for your help.
(Background: I’m somewhat new to the points game; do not have a job that requires travel and would give me that mile-earning option; and I currently have BofA Cash Back Card, BofA Travel Rewards, Citi AA Card, and USAir Mastercard. I ask all this to inform myself on how to think about my next few application rounds.)
Great question, francisco. There are a few ways to look at this.
First of all, some cards are worth “trying out” thanks to the sign-up bonuses alone, in my opinion.
As far as the decision making process after that goes, it really does depend on your spending patterns, because it is important to account for the annual fee in your valuation of various cards. So there are people that spend millions a year on credit cards, in which case it’s more justifiable to have more cards which maximize the bonuses in each category. Meanwhile if you’re an “average” spender, I totally agree that having only a few cards could make sense.
That being said, there are some cards which offer huge anniversary bonuses, which are worth hanging onto even without much spend. I shared some of them here:
Thanks so much for the thoughtful and quick response! Yeah, that’s the sense I have been getting from a lot of these blogs that I have been reading on points that there is a bit of a bias towards the person that travels for work or is running a business and can use their cards for a lot more. If I’m 25 and single and making $100k, there’s only so many miles I can rack up and only so many cards it makes sense to hold. Thanks a lot for confirming this because it would have otherwise led me, as the impressionable beginner, down an entirely wrong path.
Follow-up questions would then be:
1) what’s your philosophy on closing cards (or do you always just convert to no fee)?
2) how long is best to wait between multi-card application rounds? I’ve been told 6 months but I see some of you guys doing 90 days
Hah, happy to help — it can be tough to start down the wrong path in this hobby. To answer your questions:
1) Generally when the annual fee comes due I decide if it makes sense to keep a card or not. If the card has anniversary bonuses or is worth keeping for everyday spend, I hold onto it. Otherwise I just cancel it.
2) There’s not really a limit, and you don’t really have to apply for multiple cards at once, necessarily. Just monitor your credit. Applying for one card a month, three cards every three months, etc., all should be fine.
So, first I continue to thank you for the service you’re providing in sharing this knowledge, and in helping me with the above as it is helping shape my thinking on all this.
I have a new question on point valuations – basically, how do I do it? I am currently trying to create a spreadsheet with my typical spend and what points I could typically earn per year. By doing this, i can see which cards would be most lucrative to go for next. However, my value for each point – or the year-end “rebate” – obviously changes a lot if I assume that Chase UR points, for example, are worth 1.25c (which is the travel redemption rate) or closer to 2c, which is what several of you guys have those particular points at. So, in general, how should I think about this?
Thanks again very, very much! 🙂
I suggest you include a column in which you value your time.
Question on BA surcharges. I’m trying to book my AA miles for a flight to Europe with my younger sister. The issue is that I am being asked to pay $1000 on top of using 120k miles, which is absolutely absurd. How in the world do I avoid these surcharges/BA entirely?!
Thanks so much as always!
If you fly BA, you will have to pay surcharges. Try looking for space on Iberia (smaller charges) or AA, Finnair, or AirBerlin metal.
So, the problem I’m having is that I don’t have Avios but only AA miles. So, when I go onto aadvantage.com, I am only getting BA as the alternative option to fly to London. Should I be looking at another entry city into Europe or is it that not all partner airlines for award redemptions are on the site?
[USER=143]@Francisco[/USER] — You can still use the BA site to search, and then call to book. The AA website won’t show you extra connections in Europe, given how plentiful BA space is, but you can look at Madrid, Paris, Frankfurt, Dusseldorf, etc. There should be easy connections to London from there.