Having it Both Ways

      No Comments on Having it Both Ways

In the spirit of buying into The System just about as much as I can while archly posturing as being somehow above it, I offer to you Gang of Four’s splendid 1981 funk-bass screed against credit cards, Capital (It Fails Us Now):

This is the story of my struggle.

The moment I was born, I opened my eyes.
I reached out…for my credit card.
Oh no! I left it in my other suit!

Continue reading

Status Seeker

      No Comments on Status Seeker

American Express used to say, or maybe they still do, that membership has its privileges. It turns out that’s only half true in their lame rewards program. But it’s very true when it comes to airline elite status.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but being at the airport is an enormous fucking pain in the ass. Elite status is awesome because it makes everything faster and easier and more tolerable, even at the lowest tier. I don’t know if that’s true on every airline, but it’s certainly true on United, as I learned when I became Premier Silver. (United calls elite status “Premier.”)

What I get by being Premier Silver is the following fanfuckingtastic perks. I’ve put in brackets what you can also get by holding the appropriate Chase United card, or other alternative methods. Continue reading

Bonus Round

      No Comments on Bonus Round

Everything I’ve written until now is all about how to get free travel points by just spending on the shit you’d be spending on anyway. This post is now the effort round, where you can earn extra Chase Ultimate Rewards points and United Miles proactively, as opposed to passively charging away like a goddamn lemming hurtling off the cliffs of capitalism. (If you’re not a Chase/United person, there are probably equivalents for whatever crap you prefer. This is America.) Continue reading

Something Ventured, At Most 2% Gained

      No Comments on Something Ventured, At Most 2% Gained

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