Best Travel Combo

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MrMosby
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Best Travel Combo

Postby MrMosby » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:09 pm

What right now is the best travel card combo (I think with my work travel and a nice signup bonus I could pay for a good portion of a nice vacation)?

It seems like there are some points Islands being formed -

  • AMEX+Delta+SPG
  • Chase+Marriot+United
  • City+American+Hilton

Are more general reward cards like CSP/Freedom or PRG a better combination because of their flexibility, or are you better off with co-branded cards?
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samhradh
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Postby samhradh » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:44 pm

...Depends on the person/what one wants out of cards. There is literally no such thing as the "Best travel card combo."

It helps to start with a destination in mind and go from there. IE: maybe your destination is only served by XX airline and only has XX hotels.

Keep in mind even some co-branded cards offer point transfers/flexibility. IE: Marriott lets you use their points to buy airline tickets. SPG can be used for flights or hotels.
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MrMosby
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Postby MrMosby » Mon Feb 03, 2014 9:54 pm

How good is the rate for buying tickets with Marriott?

Ultimately I travel a fair amount for work, so I want to be comfortable in my hotel choice AND want to get a good number fop points. As far as destinations, we've tossed around The Cayman Islands, European Tour, Panama which have a pretty wide range of hotel choices.

I'm really trying to determine if I'll get more value out of focusing on Hilton/SPG/Delta with Amex. Or continue to try to build up Marriott points and just buy my Delta tickets out right. (Delta is the primary carrier here)
Everyday Preferred $45K | Amex Platinum NPSL | Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve $45K | Delta Platinum $30K | Chase Sapphire Preferred $64K | Citi Hilton HHonors $45K | Discover IT $25K

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djrez4
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Postby djrez4 » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:01 am

Re: Flights -

If Delta is your primary carrier, you're best off accumulating points for Skyteam airlines. Korean is an Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Quite a few are SPG partners. If you accumulate points and transfer them to a Skyteam partner, you'll have a decent change of finding an itinerary that originates from your home airport on Delta.

And, to be blunt, Delta has a POS award chart. You're often better off redeeming on partners anyway.

As samhradh said, the best way to approach an award redemption, if you have a destination in mind, is to start with the destination. Figure out who flies there and accumulate and redeem points in the best program for your destination. Star Alliance is awesome for Asia and Europe. Oneworld is great for the Middle East and Australia. Skyteam isn't particularly attractive for any regions, but has a few hot spots like Korea. Don't worry about the specific airline so much. You can always combine partner flights into a single itinerary (although there are different rules for different carriers). By way of example, this summer, we're flying United, All Nippon, Air China, Asiana, Turkish, and Air Canada using US Airways miles. Last year, we flew United, US Airways, Swiss, and Air Canada using United Miles.

Marriott points aren't great for airline transfers. It takes 112,000 Marriott points to get 50,000 United Miles. All other airlines require 140,000 points for the same.

Finally, if you find an awesome redemption that originates at a different airport - EWR/JFK or SFO, for example - and you can find a cheap flight to get you there, don't be afraid to pay for the cheap flight and start your trip somewhere else.

Re: Hotels -

You're lucky enough to travel for business. That's a great opportunity to collect points and status. I suggest trying to stick to a single hotel chain on your business trips. Stock up as many points as you can and redeem them for your hotel stay on your vacation. Elite status also helps - Marriott Gold comes with room upgrades so you can redeem points for a normal room and get a suite. Don't forget to double up on your hotel stays. Big chains offer airline miles for stays in addition to hotel points.

Also, if you want to go somewhere interesting, don't count on large chain hotels. You can hack Priceline to get some killer deals on local joints.


tl;dr - start with your destination, figure out what points you need for the trip you want, stock up on those points.
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MrMosby
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Postby MrMosby » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:06 am

djrez4 wrote:Re: Flights -

If Delta is your primary carrier, you're best off accumulating points for Skyteam airlines.


This was EXTREMELY helpful. Right now it looks like we are shooting for Grand Cayman. So US Airways/Delta are my main options for flights. Hotels I could do Ritz which may not be a bad deal because I get 4+1, upgrades, and can focus on earning points for their chain.
Everyday Preferred $45K | Amex Platinum NPSL | Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve $45K | Delta Platinum $30K | Chase Sapphire Preferred $64K | Citi Hilton HHonors $45K | Discover IT $25K

Traveler_of_the_world
 
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Miles

Postby Traveler_of_the_world » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:35 pm

Hi there, always too complicated to me to swap between programs... I discovered lately a website (GIIFT) where you can turn any points of loyalty programs into miles, helped a lot to get prime tickets!

takeshi
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Postby takeshi » Fri Mar 07, 2014 8:48 am

samhradh wrote:...Depends on the person/what one wants out of cards. There is literally no such thing as the "Best travel card combo."

^ This. Best is always highly subjective, regardless of topic. MR is a nonstarter for me since 99% of my travel is on United. UR is a United partner so that's why I have several UR cards. YMMV.

MrMosby wrote:Are more general reward cards like CSP/Freedom or PRG a better combination because of their flexibility, or are you better off with co-branded cards?

Again, depends on needs/wants/priorities etc. While I accumulate points with my UR cards for transfer to United I do have a cobranded United card for its benefits as well. I don't have a whole lot of need for a cobranded hotel card though.

linuxmachine
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Postby linuxmachine » Fri Mar 07, 2014 12:29 pm

^ For domestic US/Hawaii, MR is actually nice if you redeem via KrisFlyer miles. You can fly business/first for pretty cheap. Business RT for 60k points between US/Hawaii is pretty nice, and you can still redeem off United since they're a star alliance partner.



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