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Answers (2)

Starting Strategy

Starting Strategy

  1. Ross

    Just starting out here! My job picked up a travel component about a year ago, and I realized recently that I’d missed out on miles for several flights because I didn’t understand the system. I was lucky enough to stumble upon this site, and Ben’s beginner’s guide has been a great help in making sense of the hobby. I’d just like a little advice before I dive in.

    Background: I’ll fly a minimum of about 25,000 miles in the United States next year, possibly more. I live in Washington DC and my most frequent destination in Miami, so sticking with American as much as possible makes sense.

    Goals: Parent number one retires in 2018, and I’d like to fly with her from the US to Germany 1st class, round trip. Parent number two retires in 2020, and I’d like to do the same with him to Scotland. I’ll also hopefully have a honeymoon trip in that time frame, which would be two round trip 1st class tickets to anywhere warm.

    Cards: I currently just have some cash back cards and good credit.

    Questions: Are these goals at all reasonable? No one in my family has ever flown first class, and I didn’t even know that international first class was any different from domestic until I started reading these articles. I have no idea whether I’m biting off more than I can chew.

    What’s a good credit card strategy? Based on the beginner’s guide, I assume that a flexible currency is a good idea, but are there any I should prioritize?

    This is a very beginner question, but is there a difference between “bonus miles” and “elite qualifying miles?” in AAdvantage? Do the bonus miles you get from a card count towards status on an airline? What about the extra miles you earn from flying once you have elite status, or points transferred over from a flexible currency?

  2. Gaurav

    [USER=925]@Ross[/USER] Welcome. Your goals are great, and easily achievable with the caveat that frequent flier programs can change drastically and your planning horizon is long term so no one can guarantee what will happen between now and then. The second caveat is that international first class is not always easy to get so if you you have specific dates in mind you’re going to have a hard time meeting your expectations. However, with a little bit of flexibility you should be able to make this work. As you mention earning flexible miles is the best way to go to provide some buffer against the risk of being all in on one program. Again, look for one that seems like it will give you the partners you might use but know that it might change between now and 2018/20. I might take a serious look at SPG.

    Only Elite qualifying miles will count towards your status. Bonus miles count towards your mileage balance and can be used for mileage redemptions but do not usually count towards elite status. The same goes for credit card earned miles, shopping portal miles, transfer miles etc. For AA, the only non flying miles that can help with status are the ones from the AA Executive card that provides 10k miles after spending 40k in one year. The Barclays Silver AAviator provides a similar boost if you happen to already hold it. However you cannot apply for the card if you don’t have it.

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