A Casual, Friendly Conversation

I had a friend of mine facebook message me yesterday. He had some questions about my upcoming trip and how I was able to put it all together. He also had some specific questions about some cards he has and wanted some details about whether or not he was utilizing them properly (he was not). Please excuse grammar, spelling, etc. If there’s anything you need more information on, you can Google just about all of it.

Again, this was a casual conversation. Before you make any decisions about your own credit, cards to apply for, programs to use, etc you should do your own research. Here is the conversation below. CMZ is my friend and I’m me (obviously).

CMZ – hey man curious about how you got the miles. I assume you signed up for credit cards that gave miles bonus but which ones?

Seth Meyerowitz – the biggest cards are American airlines cards. I found ones with 40K mile sign up bonus. I have 2, one personal and one business, the minimum spends are around 1K for personal, 3K for bizz.

I also would HIGHLY recommend the Hyatt card from chase. All the bloggers are talk about it. It gives you TWO FREE NIGHTS at any Hyatt in the WORLD. Legit. Think that one was a 1K required spend.

Take a look at thepointsguy.com, frugaltravelguy.com and millionmilesecrets.com. I use all of them everyday. And they all have lists of their TOP CARD suggestions and the benefits and requirements for each.

If you have a plan in mind of somewhere you want to go that is a good start, you can then plan accordingly and open the right cards for the most efficient use.

CMZ – great stuff

Seth Meyerowitz – you have a trip or destination in mind?

Seth Meyerowitz – also, if you are married or have a GF you guys should open cards together to double your points. If you have a business even better. Just make sure that you can meet your minimum spends in the required time (otherwise it’s a waste)

Just transfer ALL of your spending to a card until you hit your minimum.

You’d be surprised by how much stuff you can pay for with a CC

CMZ – yea the spending is never a problem.  And yea we have each individually done AA and chase but we got to get our miles game tighter. There’s lots of perks out there and we are spending the money anyway so might as well get some perks

Seth Meyerowitz – is it the chase Hyatt card? And which AA cards. (Different cards from different banks are eligible for different rewards)

CMZ – chase united

Seth Meyerowitz – if you want to let me know all the cards you currently have and how long you’ve had them I could maybe give you some more info

CMZ – AA was an Amex, 40k miles. I also got an offer to open a citigold account and they give me another 50k miles. Problem is I HATE AA! Worst airline ever

Seth Meyerowitz – 50K American?

CMZ – yea. A citigold has to have a minimum of 50k in it. And then you have to pay 2 monthly bills for two months and you get the miles

Seth Meyerowitz – domestically they’re not that great. But they do fly just about everywhere and their alliance is really large

CMZ – (it’s a bank account not a cc)

Seth Meyerowitz – that’s A LOT. O… interesting

CMZ – yea u have to carry a 50k balance in the account

Seth Meyerowitz – re: AA… internationally

CMZ – do the miles cross over w their partnership?

Seth Meyerowitz – o, ok… so you’ve got 1 AA Amex and 1 chase united?

Yes of course! That’s the major benefit.

CMZ – o no sir. I have 2 AA mileage cards. 2 thank you cards

Seth Meyerowitz – my flights were booked through AA but I’m flying Air Berlin (to Berlin over to Madrid), Finn air (Paris to Helsinki over to Singapore) and then AA (Tokyo -JFK direct)

CMZ – 2 capital ones w 1.5% cash back. A chase continental. A chase Amazon. And my wife has several as well. But looking at that pointsguy website I’m doing it all wrong. Do u mind me asking how many miles it cost u?

Seth Meyerowitz – 2 AA (Amex and what else). 2 (citi?) thank you cards. 2 cap ones (id put those in a drawer, you’d getter better cash back on a chase sapphire (for example)). 2 chase (one continental [only use when booking continental flights (which is basically pointless at this point), Amazon [put this in drawer too])

Seth Meyerowitz – sure, cost me 20K to Madrid, 35K paris-singapore, 25K Tokyo-home. 80K total, which I got over the summer from opening 2 AA cards from citi (one personal, one biz) and fulfilling $4500ish in total spend (which was super easy because I was able to pay my apartment rent on them)

CMZ – yea I had to cap ones to repair my credit so I really should get rid of them.  but they have low limits of like 2k so I use them in shady places and online figuring if they get stolen they cant cause too much damage

Seth Meyerowitz – I also transferred some AMEX points (these points are really ‘valuable’ because they can transfer to TONS of partners) over to AVIOS for 4 flights around Spain/France.

CMZ – dude u really did some great planning

Seth Meyerowitz – don’t close them just yet. If you’ve had them for a while, don’t plan on opening a new cap one card, and have good payment history/standing, you can keep them open.

really the only reason to close a card is 1) if you are paying a fee on it and cant convince them to waive the fee or give you some kind of incentive to keep it (miles, points, etc) . 2) you’re trying to open another card with that bank and they told you you’ve reached their card “maximum” (Amex told me that when I hit 5 with them, so I closed a JetBlue personal and a Starwood’s personal so I could open 2 delta cards).. Those are the main 2 reasons you would close

CMZ – yea the cap ones have a 50 $ a year fee and interest rate is horrible. 20%

Seth Meyerowitz – thanks, after everything I’ve learned I realize I could have done it for even LESS as far as the flight costs where concerned… there’s this whole concept of open legs (flight segments) which I don’t totally understand. Do you spend a couple K a year on them?

CMZ – o yea. Probably 50k a year. On all the BS. So the spending is never a problem. A friend of mine has a hook in jet blue. He flies anywhere in the us for 150$. and anywhere jetblue flies internationally for 150$ and tax. problem is u have to go stand by which I think is not very convenient. but my boy does it. like all the time. He’s in Aruba now on it.

Seth Meyerowitz – first of all!! Lol. Move your spending away from the cap one cards and over to a chase sapphire like I suggested earlier. Or, use it towards hitting minimums on other cards.

Second, call cap one and tell them you’re not paying the annual fee. I know its only 50/card but it’s a nice little “win” to get you started in the game.

Third, start working on a mileage building plan. Figure out which alliance you want to build in (star or one world) and get cards that are offering rewards for that alliance.

Seth Meyerowitz – FYI, sapphire miles are considered as valuable as Amex miles (and Starwood’s miles) because they can transfer all over the place to tons of airline and hotel partners.

CMZ – yea I called them. They shot me down. Problem w Amex is u have to pay the balance monthly on most of their cards no?

Seth Meyerowitz – fourth, do yourself a favor and you and your wife pick up the chase Hyatt cards. They are good for TWO FREE NIGHTS (each) at ANY Hyatt in the world. ANY HYATT IN THE WORLD!!

Its one of the most talked about cards and the reward is sick. I’m using it in Paris at the park Hyatt Vendome… room is 975 PER NIGHT. That’s almost $2000 for doing nothing but opening the card. If you open two, you’ll have 4 nights. My next suggestion, find a card or two on points guy for airlines that can get you a couple of roundtrips worth of miles to Hawaii or Europe

Take a nice vacation.

CMZ – unreal. Brilliant. I love having a wife. Double up baby. I knew marriage would be worth it for something. Hey what’s the deal with cancelling and reopening a card? Do they let u do that and get that big sign up bonus?

Seth Meyerowitz – then I would close the cards. Fuck them! (Get your sapphire card first so you’re not loosing the cash back)

There are MANY Amex cards that don’t need balances paid off. The ones that do are technically CHARGE CARDS and not credit cards. (They also report differently to the credit agencies). My Starwood’s card(s), delta card(s), JetBlue card(s) all are from Amex and ALL let me carry a balance.

HOWEVER, you really shouldn’t be carrying balances. Pay them off right away. They’ll get away from you and you’ll end up paying interest which eats away at all these benefits were talking about

Seth Meyerowitz – “churning” (opening and closing) is tricky. Point’s guy, millionmilesecrets, etc. have more info on that. Usually it’s a year between closing and opening (sometimes even 18 months). I don’t have a wife, but I do have my business. Which is good for the card game but my business isn’t very good in bed… sooo.

CMZ – nice!

Seth Meyerowitz – but generally when you fulfill the time frame yes, you can get the bonuses again

CMZ – yea I have to be more diligent about paying it off.  I just always find “better” uses for the money. It’s the trap they want you to fall into

Seth Meyerowitz – no no.

CMZ – I know I know.  It’s seriously fucking retarded of me

Seth Meyerowitz – sure is. Worst case scenario, I have a chase SLATE card. Got a good offer on it. Something likes 0% apr for 18 months. 0% on balance transfers and NO FEE for 12(?) months. That’s great because I was able to transfer a couple of grand to that card and get my regular (interest bearing cards) paid off in full

CMZ – I’ve come up w a pay down plan that isn’t too painful. Yea I did that w chase united. I’m half way paid off now

Seth Meyerowitz – if you’re at the point where you’re on a “plan”, and you’re paying interest to that card or cards, you gotta get it onto a no interest

CMZ – u r def right. Been too lazy about it all

Seth Meyerowitz – btw, if you don’t want to close the cap one cards (it IS only 50) I would ask them to raise your limits. The more available, unused credit you have it helps raise your score. “Debt utilization”. So the higher your available debt on all your cards, and the lower your usage, the better

Seth Meyerowitz – pushing over to slate is a pretty easy fix for that. Id highly recommends.

CMZ – ash really?  Someone told me it lowers because they don’t like to see too much empty credit out there for a person

Seth Meyerowitz – from the points guy….  Utilization of your credit is the number one factor in determining your FICO score at 35%, so if you’ve got tons of available credit on your personal credit line and you’re using 0% or a minimal amount, your score is going to shoot up.

CMZ – nice

Seth Meyerowitz – you don’t want to be any higher than 15% (in my opinion) some other blogs say 20-30 is ideal.. But I don’t think so.

CMZ- yea I want to be at zero. What sort of interest rates are you getting on these cards?  My score is over 700 and still I’m getting 15% cards??

Seth Meyerowitz – 2 more suggestions for you. If you are going to be serious about this there are two (really 3) sites I recommend you get set up with ASAP.

awardwallet.com (lets you track pretty much ALLL of your airline clubs/members, hotel memberships, rental cars, etc. its GREAT to know where you are at with your balances, expiring points, etc). creditkarma.com (GREAT for monitoring all your credit cards, spending, due dates, balances, etc. [pulls from transunion. I use creditsesame.com also while not using it to its full potential because I don’t need it. However sesame pulls Experian so it’s good to see both credit unions])

Seth Meyerowitz – I was at 725 before a bit of a drop (I’ve opened about 6 cards in the past 3 months. each one dings you about 3-5 points but those come back fairly quickly (couple months)). I don’t really concern myself all that much with the interest rates because, again, I’m not holding balances. Credit karma – you’ll give the site all your login credentials.. It seems a little scary but all the main bloggers use it so I trust it. Once you’ve given them all your bank/cc info it will continually track all those.

Award wallet… basically works the same way.

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