Travel Pros: Best tips to maximize my miles/points, and your general best advice?

Psypher1000

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Hi folks,

I’m going to be traveling for work a fair bit - maybe 20 trips per year - and was wondering what you do to maximize your travel benefits. What is worth purchasing? What isn’t? Preferred car rental companies? Hotel chains? Airlines?

Thanks in advance for any insights you can provide!
 

rowlin

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Is there a particular hotel chain and/or airline that you expect to be using or do you have some discretion about those things?
 

KBNYY

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Stick with an airline carrier and hotel chain. My recommendations are Delta and Marriott, but I’d caution you to choose the airline that has the best flight times out of your local airport. If traveling in the US, Marriott is king, but EVERYONE has Marriott status, so upgrades won’t be as frequent as they’d be traveling abroad. Alternative is Hyatt.

If using an AmEx corporate card to pay for everything, sign up for the points ($90 annual fee). It is worth it if you anticipate charging over $9,000/yr. If not, look into getting a premium card (CSR/AmEx Plat/Delta AmEx, etc).

Make sure you have a good carry-on luggage and check the sizes against the airline you’ll be using. Checking a bag as a frequent traveler is a massive waste of time.

FWIW, I travel for work M-Thurs, 3 weeks a month. Finding normalcy is key.
 

slisk250

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I use an Envoy AMEX. Linked to Marriot...was Starwood. I buy everything I can with the card and use it for free hotels.
 

rowlin

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I find the MyFICO forums to be a great resource for travel-related credit card and rewards min/maxing.

With the amount of travel it sounds like you will be doing, one of the high annual fee AMEX or Chase options might be best. I travel far less than anyone else in my family, so I’ll leave specific recommendations to the pros.

Best of luck to you!
 

Highli99

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My work colleagues have the southwest card and use it to get companion pass. I have to use a company card so no perks for me.
 

BNM

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Which chains are best is probably pretty subjective, but the key to maximizing points and status is to stay with a particular brand and use them whenever possible. 20 flights with a single airline may be enough to garner you status that means something. 20 flights across 3-5 different carriers won’t get you any status and it’ll take you awhile to earn enough miles for flights.

So, from the frequency perspective, it makes sense to see what chains service your common routes and destinations and focus on those.
 

pltrgyst

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My work colleagues have the southwest card and use it to get companion pass.

Requires $110K in charges per year unless there's a promo running. But we sure milked it last year!

I'm not a business traveler any more, but everything I read rates the Chase Sapphire Reserve as tops. $450/year, but that includes a $300 /yr travel credit. That's my general-purpose card.

For domestic use, I keep an Amex Blue as well,specifically to get 6% back on groceries. :cool

And a Cap One Savor card gets me 3% on all restaurants -- hard to beat.

The Points Guy is my Goo of Roo...
 

Psypher1000

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I'm not a business traveler any more, but everything I read rates the Chase Sapphire Reserve as tops. $450/year, but that includes a $300 /yr travel credit. That's my general-purpose card.
So far this is where my research and many anecdotal reports are leading to as well.
 

Payback

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Follow these blogs for great tips on maximizing points/miles.

Million Mile Secrets
The Points Guy
One Mile at a Time


Puuulease. Follow the best points and miles blogger out there:

https://pointmetotheplane.boardingarea.com/author/shuman/

^^^
That's me in case you couldn't figure it out. I cover tons of casino stuff which might help some of the poker players here out.

As @inca911 said, I know things, but it's always hard to just give a general recommendation. I've redemed probably close to a million miles/points every year for the last few and gotten 10-20k vacations for pennies. However, my travel goals are different than yours and the next person's so I try to figure out what you want before throwing out general stuff. Your at an advantage with work trips built in accumulating status should be a piece of cake along with earning miles to burn.

Where do you travel for work? What carriers for flights and what hotels do you stay at? Do you have any current status? Do you pay for those expenses and get reimbursed?

Travel goals might be locations, specific properties, how much offsetting cash expenses do you want to have, do you need suites for hotels, first class tickets or you good in economy? That type of stuff makes a huge difference here.
 

CantSpellPoker

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CSR is now up to $550/yr, but it’s still the premium card I carry. Pair it with a card that can earn you more than 1x on non-travel/non-dining purchases. Chase Freedom Unlimited gives 1.5x Chase points (if you have a CSR or CSP card to pair it with, otherwise it’s just cash back) on unlimited purchases. With consistent spend and the sign up bonuses, you’ll have a nice pile to start yourself off.

As others have said, brand loyalty is also important. Figure out whatever airline and hotel chain works best for your situation and stick with them as best you can. For me, it’s United and Marriott, which is why I mostly use Chase credit cards. If you go the Delta/Hilton route, for example, you’ll end up with multiple American Express cards.

And as @Payback has wisely mentioned, it’s highly dependent on your end goals, i.e. maximizing value vs cashing in on extravagant flights/hotels/etc.
 

Leonard

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Requires $110K in charges per year unless there's a promo running. But we sure milked it last year!

I'm not a business traveler any more, but everything I read rates the Chase Sapphire Reserve as tops. $450/year, but that includes a $300 /yr travel credit. That's my general-purpose card.

For domestic use, I keep an Amex Blue as well,specifically to get 6% back on groceries. :cool

And a Cap One Savor card gets me 3% on all restaurants -- hard to beat.

The Points Guy is my Goo of Roo...

Sapphire Reserve is going up to $550 a year in the immediate future. This hurts it relative to other excellent cards. I have one now, but I also have a reminder in my phone to do some math before it renews. If you have the credit and spend enough $$ on your card(s) there is easy money to be had. The best deals change all the time.

Agree The Points Guy is great info.
 

johnjohn

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1. What do you want to do with the points?

2. Then points guy.

3. Credit card and air, hotel, rental car points syncing.

4. Keep spouse away from accumulated points.

PS.Depending on CC and airlines, the right card helps get into the right lounges for relaxing at the airports.
 
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