In the world of travel hacking, the big three ruling bank issuers are: Chase, American Express and Citi. Barclays is trying to become the fourth one, but it’s not quite there yet. Mostly, because it doesn’t have a product that earns flexible points. Come on, Barclays, you can do it!
Unfortunately, once you’ve been at this hobby for a few years, you start to run out of the most lucrative options. Banks are getting smarter and are making it more and more difficult for the savvy credit card enthusiasts. Chase has its infamous 5/24 rule, Citi now makes you wait 24 months between closing the card and limits bonuses to one per family. Amex is the most ruthless of all: it’s one bonus/per lifetime, period.
What is a seasoned travel hacker to do? Look at the less exciting options. Let’s assume you are a hub-captive United flyer. It’s the most convenient, if not the only airline option for your home airport. You can’t get any Chase, Citi or Amex cards at the moment, and you desperately need some miles redeemable on United-operated flights.
Let me give you two credit card examples that can potentially get you several one-way tickets within United States (including Hawaii and Alaska). Neither card pays me commission at the moment.
TD Aeroplan Visa Signature
Details on the offer:
Why you should care about this offer:
1) Aeroplan miles are redeemable on United-operated flights.
2) One-way redemptions are permitted. Those 25,000 miles are enough for two one-way tickets within Continental US (including Alaska) and one-way ticket to Hawaii (it costs 22,500 miles). One-way ticket from Florida to Alaska can cost as much as $300, and Hawaii will set you back as much as $400.
Economy flights to Mexico, Caribbean and Central America run at 20,000 miles one way. If you happen to have a good stash of Membership Rewards or SPG points, there is always an option to top off your account for a roundtrip award.
3) Minimum spending requirements are fairly low, so both spouses can double dip.
4) First annual fee is waived.
5) TD Bank is an obscure credit issuer, so you are not foregoing lucrative offers from other well-known banks. Of course, you’ll still get a hit on your credit, so I recommend you look at juicier offers first. But for someone who is running out of options, this can be a decent alternative.
Do keep in mind that in order for you to book tickets at quoted mileage prices you’ll need to find “low” availability on United.com If you happen to have a co-branded Chase United card, you’ll have to log out because the site will display extra award seats. Those are not bookable via Aeroplan. Of course, you can just perform search on Aeroplan website to begin with.
Bank of America Asiana Visa Signature
- Get 30,000 Bonus Miles after you make $3,000 or more in purchases within the first 90 days of account opening
- 3 miles for every $1 spent on purchases with Asiana Airlines
- 2 miles for every $1 spent on gas and at grocery stores
- 1 mile for every $1 spent on all other purchases
- 10,000 Bonus Miles Certificate awarded annually
- Automatic $100 annual rebate on Asiana Airlines ticket purchases
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- $99 annual fee is NOT waived.
- Direct link to offer
I’ve mentioned this card last Friday, and I definitely think under the right circumstances it can be a great deal. Just a reminder, here is the redemption chart:
Why you should care about this offer:
1) The card is offered through Bank of America, which is a more “relaxed” credit issuer (but don’t abuse it by applying for three or more cards at one time!)
2) Bank of America has a lower version of sign-up bonus on certain cards, like Alaska Air co-branded offer. That doesn’t appear to be the case here. According to terms, if you are approved, you’ll get 30,000 miles.
3) One-ways are permitted at half the cost.
4) Even though the annual fee of $99 is not waived, roundtrip award tickets to Hawaii run at 35K miles roundtrip. That’s 10K miles cheaper than Aeroplan program. If you put $5,000 on this card (less if you use it for groceries and gas), you’ll have enough miles for two one-way tickets to Hawaii. Not bad.
5) Asiana has very reasonable rates on business and first-class award tickets to Latin America and Europe. Notice how you can fly to countries like Brazil and all of Europe for 100K miles roundtrip in first class? That’s very cheap compared to other award charts. So, this credit card bonus could come in handy if you want to splurge your SPG points (the only transfer partner) on a fancy seat. By already having 33K miles in your Asiana account, you’ll preserve 28K SPG points, which you can, in turn, use for something else.
This advice is not meant for new readers
As I’ve said at the beginning, these are good choices for those who are running out of options. I have always been of the opinion that you need to exhaust the most lucrative offers first before going after second-tier bonuses. Try to make each application count.
Remember, even if you can get approved for two bonuses from the same issuer and your inquiries are combined, the cards will still show up on your credit report. Who knows, other banks may follow Chase 5/24 rule and those cards will bite you in the behind someday. There are consequences to each credit card application.
For all of you grizzled hobbyists, it’s time to look outside of the usual box of Chase/Amex/Citi. #HobbyIsAlive
Leana is the 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.