Best Credit Cards

Miles and Points, Pretty Card

1. Last call for 40% bonus on transfers from Membership Rewards to BA Avios program. If I had any MR points, I would do it, but it depends on your upcoming plans.

2. Normally, I don’t comment on aviation news, but this is kind of important. It appears that Aer Lingus airline will be bought out by British Airways. Why does it matter to you? Well, it may mean that BA will add fuel surcharges to Aer Lingus redemptions.

Currently, they are very mild (around $100 roundtrip), but that could potentially change. If you’ve been thinking about redeeming Avios for Dublin-Boston route (25K miles roundtrip in economy, 50K miles in business), keep this development in mind.

Incidentally, on April 27th, there will be a devaluation for some Avios business class awards, and Boston-Dublin route will go up from 25K to 37.5K miles one-way. Economy award redemptions (for partner airlines in US) are untouched for now. Read DansDeals post where he provides a good summary of the upcoming changes 

3. US Bank has issued a new US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards American Express. It’s similar to their Visa version which I’ve written about in this post However, bonus categories are a bit different. FlexPerks Visa  is one of my picks of best long-term cards for some (not all) families.

The sign-bonus on new Amex version is 20,000 points after you spend $3,500 in 4 months. This offer pays me referral, but keep in mind that it may go up around the time of Olympics. Million Mile Secrets blog has a good overview of this card

4. A working link for business version of Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer card Comes with 50K miles sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 in 3 months, annual fee waived. Pays no referral. (h/t Slickdeals)

5. Check my Wednesday post for an update on Fairmont Visa sign-up bonus. Apparently, the Premier status comes with 1 complimentary night and an upgrade. I thought it wasn’t valid on certificates, but  I was wrong! Bloggers don’t know everything, even brilliant gals such as myself (self-deprecating humor). Plus, the way this offer is worded is extremely confusing.

Still, keep in mind that availability is not guaranteed, and if the hotel is sold out, you’ll be out of luck. The certs are also capacity-controlled, so, basically, you are at the mercy of the hotel. However, with some flexibility, you can certainly get tremendous value out of your sign-up bonus. See this page for 2015 blackout dates for Fairmont properties.

On my mind

I’ve always been amazed as to how much effort banks put into design of their credit cards. Surely, people don’t choose to renew them based on their appearance. Wrong.

A few months back, my sister-in-law got Chase Southwest Premier Visa that comes with $99 annual fee. Currently, it offers 50,000 points bonus (pays me). It’s  worth the inquiry, but what do you do at the end of the first year? After all, it does give 6,000 Rapid Rewards points upon renewal.

Well, the card is most certainly “weak sauce” for regular families. You earn 2 points on Southwest flights and on their partner hotels and car rentals, 1 point on everything else. Considering the fact that you’ll get around  1.61 cents per point toward Southwest airfare (factoring in taxes), it’s a very poor value card for everyday expenses. You are not even getting 2 cents per dollar, a threshold everyone should measure against when collecting credit  card rewards.

The renewal bonus points won’t even make up for the annual fee (see my post on cards that could be worth renewing). Not to mention, you are collecting a highly inflexible currency redeemable on only one airline. I honestly can’t think of a scenario where this card could make sense for a normal family.

That’s why my advice is to cancel it before renewal fee hits. And that’s exactly what I told my sister-in-law to do. Her response? She plans to renew and keep using  it because she likes the look of a plane on the card, plus she is a  fan of Southwest. Say what??! She is a highly intelligent gal who runs her own accounting business.

Of course, getting 1 Rapid Rewards point is better than 1 cent, but still. This is so irrational. Brilliant marketing, though. Well done, Chase!

happy

What the heck? There is that lady again! How did she end up in this post?

Anyway, that’s how banks get people to keep their products. They send glossy brochures with beautiful, successful people on the front, who are showing off their cards while traveling to far flung places of the globe.

Bank: If you choose to renew your card, you’ll instantly lose 20 pounds and look like a model, while flying all over the world via reward points… for free. Oh, and don’t forget that you’ll get to hang out (for free) in airport lounges with equally beautiful, successful individuals, away from the riff ruff.

You: But wait,  how can this be free if I could have earned cash back with a no-fee card instead? Besides, is this really possible if I only put $24K on cards each year? And do I really need  lounge access if I only fly occasionally?

Bank: Don’t worry about the details, our highly valued friend/customer. All you have to do is believe.

I’m sure that’t why people hang on to their Chase Sapphire Preferred. It’s a looker, no question about it. When I had it in the past, I got all kinds of comments on it. In fact, my husband started to enjoy it and felt sad (!) when I cancelled it.

However, just like you wouldn’t pick a spouse based on their appearance or status (I hope), you shouldn’t get or keep credit cards because they are pretty or make you feel important.  The banks and  advertisers try to appeal to your vanity.  Don’t let them! As long as the card offers the right rewards, it can be mustard yellow with purple pocadots, for all I care.

I’ve said before that I don’t get mad at banks. However, I don’t feel bad for them either. Emotion has no place in this hobby. So if the card is not the right fit for your family in the long run, divorce it.

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Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

6 thoughts on “Miles and Points, Pretty Card

  1. Speaking of card appearances…..my husband is embarrassed to carry his Disney card because it has a group of characters on it. I told him that at least I didn’t get him the one with Cinderella’s castle on it!

  2. Ha, ha. Ok, I shall confess here…. I always liked the priceline guy, you know, that older big guy, the “consolidator” that makes funny moves while he’s looking for the best deal for you. So…. when I got a priceline card I chose the design that has him on the card. Mmmmm…. wouldn’t pay a fee to have the guy’s picture on my wallet though.

    • Shoesinks, I can kind of understand your husband! 😉 Mine would absolutely refuse to do it. There are some things he won’t budge on. He did like that CSP card, though. Good thing I plan to apply for it in a few months. But it will be cancelled, without doubt.

    • Leticia, you mean William Shatner who played on the old “Star Trek” show? You know, I always thought he was an odd choice for Priceline ads. But, clearly, I was wrong! Apparently, I wouldn’t cut it as a marketer, so sad…
      As long as there is no fee involved, why not? I would like to have a photo of Chris Pine (captain Kirk on the new “Star Trek”) on one of my cards. 🙂

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