linuxmachine wrote:For hotels, you could consider getting an IHG or Choice privileges card.
IHG (known for its holiday inns) runs an 80K points promo which is good for up to 8 free nights at the lower tier, and you get 1 free night on each anniversary. First year is free but annual is 49/year, which easily offset by the free night. It has no foreign transaction fees. it has 2x categories on gas/groceries/dining, although there are other cards that do much better in gas/groceries (like sallie mae or BCE). This card also gives you elite status for other perks. The also do bi-monthly promos called point breaks, which allows you to redeem nights for selected hotels in the IHG portfolio for 5k points/night, but you must redeem within two months of announcement. no good for people who want to book many months in advance, but they are awesome deals.
Choice is a barclaycard with a 32k point promo good for 4 nights at lower tier. no annual fee, but there is a foreign transaction fee if using this card overseas. I dont stay at the comfort suites / clarions often, so can't really say much more. I just know they have a decent presence in europe.
As for flights, I think some research can help you out. not all economy seats are the same. some seats in certain airlines are business class level in terms of comfort/space on other airlines. I've never flown virgin atlantic, but virgin america has some great seats for coach. if their quality extends to atlantic, that might be worth looking into.
I'm pretty sure I've only ever flown Southwest (which I love for flying somewhere within the county, but something comparable across an ocean might be a different story). So thanks for that, I'll definitely have to look into it. I'll also definitely look into the Choice and IHG cards!
JoDa wrote:Given what you've said about your spend and lifestyle, I'd say cash spends everywhere and just get the max cash back you can muster.
One totally free vacation using miles (not points) and catching everything at super-discount prices cost me a little over 100K miles. Because I fly on the regular, spend a lot in restaurants, and spend some on other rewarded categories (hotels, "travel" such as taxi services, etc.), and have been booking my own travel for long enough to know how to get deals, travel rewards make sense for me and people like me (for example, I achieved base FF status on *personal travel alone* last year). Even then, the equivalent is 3-4% back on a good day (double points plus 1.5 cents/mile (point)+ on redemption).
It works for me, but if you can do better with cash back (remember that if you don't spend much on rewarded categories, you're going to be closer to 2.5% back or maybe even less if you don't work the deals), then you have MONEY to spend on those tickets, hotels, meals, and whatever else your heart desires.
That was kind of my suspicion before I started this: that for my needs, getting a travel card wouldn't be all too beneficial. If I don't get one, we may well use our cash back towards this trip, if nothing else then just in statement credits to offset the spending.