Something Ventured, At Most 2% Gained

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So what about those cards which earn “double miles, any airline, any time” like the Capital One Venture? Sounds awesome. Are they any fucking good, like Alec Baldwin says in the ads? Kinda: they’re simple and flexible as promised, but not super rewarding. They pay off a little better than Chase or Amex cards for cheap and moderately priced tickets, but they pay off quite badly for expensive tickets. The “miles” these cards earn are really points, which can be used as currency, pinned to the cash price of a ticket. The “miles” (points) can’t be transferred to actual frequent flyer miles with any airline, like Chase and Amex and Citi and SPG points can, so you miss out on kick-ass award tickets. Continue reading

Ok, Fine, I’ll Look at Amex and Citi and Other Crap Too

I think I’ve made my case that you want a points-based rewards card rather than a frequent flyer miles card, because the points are more flexible, and are worth more, and can be combined with family members, and you can earn them faster. And you know I think Chase Ultimate Rewards are full of win and rule the Pointsdom. But here’s a quick rundown of what else is out there, which you can contemplate if you aren’t well served by United, or Chase disses you because you’ve opened more than five cards in two years. Continue reading

Cutting to the Chase

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What makes Chase Ultimate Rewards so fucking great? Thought you’d never ask. These reasons (updated July 2017):

  • If I’ve got both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Freedom Unlimited cards, I can earn close to 2 points for every dollar I spend, which I can transfer to United frequent flyer miles (versus about 1.1 mile per dollar spent on my United MileagePlus card).
  • If I don’t feel like flying United, I can transfer the points to six other airline programs and four hotel programs.
  • If none of those programs do it for me, or redeeming United miles doesn’t pay off, I can buy tickets with points, for whatever airline I want to, at a very advantageous rate (67 points per cash price dollar).
  • Caroline and I can freely consolidate our points.
  • I can just claim the points as cash, at a better rate than other points cards offer (100 points per dollar back) if there’s some travel thing I can’t book through Chase or a frequent flyer program.

Since math hurts, let me put this all another way: We’re now getting at least twice as much bang for our buck from our credit cards without having to do anything or pay significantly more. That means business class instead of economy, or two trips instead of one. And if United doesn’t cut it, we can fly someone else. Because I can always convert the Ultimate Rewards points to United miles anyway, there is no downside. And there ain’t no other rewards program that provides all of the above as favorably. It’s like my MileagePlus or Amex card on roids.

If you just want to know what you need in order to earn Ultimate Rewards points, because you’re too lazy and impatient to read the rest of this: Continue reading

Points Are Better Than Miles, Dammit

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On this Independence Day, I’m going to celebrate living in a free country by planning to exercise my right to travel to other ones. It’s a pretty good way to appreciate what we’ve got here, especially after you’ve been to truly fucked up places like North Korea.

In the interest of not burying the lede, this post is about how you don’t want to earn miles on a United card, or any other airline card. You do want to earn points in the right credit card rewards program, which, if you sometimes fly United, is Chase Ultimate Rewards. Hear me now, believe me later. Continue reading

United We Stand

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I live downtown, near Union Square. This means is that Newark is no more or less difficult to get to than JFK. This is not true if, say, you live on the Upper East Side.

And so, just as living near Union Square gives you access to pretty much every subway line, it also gives you access to pretty much every airline. I have made my choice, and it is: United. Why United? You ask. Or maybe you didn’t. I’ll tell you anyway. Continue reading