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Any credit card deal to earn points 4 ski trips, etc.

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I need to get a credit card that will earn points, exchanged for ski trips, fly miles, ski lift tickets, ski vacation packages, or anything related.

Up till now, I had some American Airlines points, with which each dollar spent earns you a flying mile (which is -- I think -- what they were saying). But I found out that for $2000 spent, you don't get a free ticket for 2000 flying miles. It's more like that you have to spent $20000, or some other gimmick.

P.S. if the card has annual fee, then at least it's got to be worth keeping it, if it'll eventually give me a good ski trip deal.

Thanks.
post #2 of 21
The experts on this subject are located at Flyertalk.com, start with the credit card forums (http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=390).

But, the way you phrase the question is a bit vague for those guys, they'll ask you to be more specific. Such as, figure out what kind of rewards you want to accumulate, airline miles, free hotel stays, rental car rewards, etc.

Airline rewards are probably the best deal, primarily because you don't limit your choices when you cash them in. Hotel stays are lower on the list of usefulness, primarily because the big name hotel chains with the frequent-guest programs (Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, etc.) have limited choices of hotels at or near ski areas. And, the downside to general credit card programs in that accumulated points have a lesser value when used to cash in for airplane tickets (i.e., you'll have to spend more with the credit card than with an airline to get the same flight).

I think there are few, if any, programs that get you plain-old free lift tickets with your accumulated points. Packages may be the exception.

The wise use of airline and hotel reward points is to use them when their value gets you more than paying cash. So, hotel points are generally valued in the range 0.5¢ to .75¢, and airline miles are valued at one to two cents per mile. Those numbers are from Flyertalk.

One more thing that might be of interest. There's this famous Mileage Converter from WebFlyer that shows exchange rates between various programs, so if you wanted to convert American Express points to Delta airline miles, it knows the current exchange rates. Beware, you always lose some value in the conversion.
post #3 of 21
Chase Bank has an "Edge Ski Visa" (used to be FirstUSA, then BankOne, then Chase bought them) that earns points towards $10 discount coupons for American Skiing Company. No fee, and if you pay it off each month you're not paying any interest. When I used to ski Sunday River frequently, I made a lot of use of these coupons - they are good for lift tickets and passes, lodging packages, or even in the cafeteria. However the coupons are only good at ASC resorts (though of course the card can be used anywhere that takes Visa.)

Several months ago I wrote an article about maximizing your frequent flyer miles:
http://www.finetuning.com/articles/8...-programs.html

One of the points I make in that article is that you will never get a truly free ticket from an airline-affiliated credit card. If you're not regularly flying that airline and its partners, and using other partners (hotels, car rentals, etc.) then by the time you earn enough miles for the airline's lowest limited reward - 25,000 frequent flyer miles, you've either spent one heck of a lot in one year, or you've probably paid three or four years' worth of $85 card fees. So your ticket cost you about what you could have bought it for.

Airline-affiliated cards make lots of sense, if you use them to "top off" your other activity with that airline. So they're not at all any kind of a scam. However they don't make sense for people who are not at least a relatively frequent traveler anyway (as in at least a couple of paid tickets on that airline each year).

It sounds like you haven't really read the rules of the airline's frequent flyer program, and are under the common misconception that you only need enough "Miles" (as in the frequent flyer "points" or "currency") as the actual mileage of the flight you want to take. That has never been the case with any airline's program, and the reward levels are quite clearly listed in the reward charts at each airline's site and in the material they mail to you. You should think of the "miles" as just some kind of arbitrary "points". You earn one of these points for each mile you fly, plus from various other activities. At minimum (for almost all US-based airlines) you need 25,000 of these "points" for a restricted-availabilty domestic/Canada trip. You need 35,000 of them usually for Hawaii or the Caribbean, and you need 50,000 of them for Europe or South America.

These are the "restricted-availability" tickets - on any given flight there may be zero to a small handful of seats made available at this reward level. Most airlines also have a "Standard" or "EAAsypass" (American's term) or "SkyChoice" (Delta) or similar reward level for double the number of points. If you are willing to spend 50,000 of your earned "points" they will give you a coach seat on any domestic/Canada flight that they have any empty seat to sell. For periods like around the holidays, or peak travel times to Europe, there's a very good chance that you've got to use this higher level of reward points.

As I note in the linked article, once you get a miles-earning credit card, a big part of the game is to use it for everything - everything, that is, that you can pay off each month, so you don't run up interest on that rewards card. Pay your utilities bill on it, buy all your groceries and gas with it, put all your everyday spending that would have been in cash on it. Then write one check per month to pay that off in full, with the money you did not take out of your checking account at the ATM during the month.
post #4 of 21
I'd add one caution to the above strategy of using a miles credit card to pay for everything you buy. There's a downside if you plan to get a mortgage, or refinance an existing mortgage in the future. Carrying high balances negatively affects your credit score. This happens even if you pay the entire balance every month.

The limits at which point you start negatively affecting your credit scores are well known. If your maximum balance in any month (even if paid off), summed for all credit cards, exceeds 1% of the sum of all available credit you have (one CC gives you $5000 available credit, another CC gives you $3000, ... add all of them up), you start to get affected. The negative effect increases as you use more of the available credit you have.
post #5 of 21
Also American Express rewards program offers American Ski lift tickets. I just got two for Steamboat.

Mark- Great article. Lots of things I never knew.
post #6 of 21

American Express Membership Rewards

For the past two years, I have been able to obtain lift tickets for Heavenly and Vail through the American Express Membership Rewards program. 6000 points are needed for a one day lift ticket.
post #7 of 21
Yes, Membership Rewards is a good deal - there are a lot of different options for using the points you earn from Amex purchases. Ski rewards at ASC as folks have mentioned, discounts paid for by points at a lot of online merchants through Amex's site, travel certificates on various airlines and Amtrak, ability to use points as partial or full payment for flights booked through Amex. And they still have their original benefit of transferring points (usually at a 1-point equals 1-mile credit) in several airline frequent flyer programs.

They've recently added JetBlue and Southwest, so in addition to most of the major legacy airlines, these two large popular discount airlines' frequent flyer programs can be topped off with transfers from Amex. JetBlue and Southwest both use a "points" rather than "miles" system, but the concept is the same.

Amex MR doesn't have direct transfers into American AAdvantage nor to United Mileage Plus. But they have 2 or 3 other Star Alliance airlines in the program, including Air Canada. So if you plan to fly United or US Airways (which is leaving Amex MR in January) for free, you could join the Air Canada Aeroplan program instead, credit all your paid travel on United or US to the Air Canada program, and transfer Amex miles into the Air Canada program to get enough miles for a ticket on United or US (or several other airlines.) You could do something similar for American Airlines, I believe, by joining the Mexicana or Quantas programs and crediting your AA travel into that program, then transferring miles into that for award travel on AA.
post #8 of 21
I'll second the Amex Membership Rewards. I buy my Vail tickets that way, and it actually comes out to be a good deal, relatively. It seems that the rewards usually come out somewhere near 100 points per dollar (a $400 hotel room costs 40,000 pts, etc), but the Vail tickets at 6,000 points are good for an $80 ticket. Not a huge deal, but better than paying for them ...
post #9 of 21
My credit union (Whatcom Educational Credit Union) gives me 1% back on my card once yearly on January 1 for everything I charged during the previous year. I always use the credit on a ski trip. After my lodging and ski tickets I spent a grand total of $8 on my last trip to Sun Peaks. The advantage is that you can use the money for whatever you want. No fees.
post #10 of 21
Thread Starter 

Am. Express rewards

Thanks to all.

Since I don't spend a whole lot on CC, then it might not be good deal to shoot for earning significant sky miles, nor hotel stay.

It seems Priceline's deals on vac. packages fly+hotel are very good. In the last several weeks I've been checking for ski trip packages; the deals at Heavenly and Squaw that give you Stay Free Day and Ski Free Day still come up to more expensive than if I bought the trip from Priceline air+hotel and paid the shuttle + full price for lift tickets. So, once I have the air+hotel secured -- cheap -- (now and in the future) I'll be left to figure out how to save on ski lift tickets. So, for now, I'm centering on the American express cards. 6000 points for one ski lift ticket!? How much do I have to spend to get 6000 points? Also, I believe there is annual fee for Am Ex cards, isn't there?

Thanks.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesX521
THow much do I have to spend to get 6000 points?
Also, I believe there is annual fee for Am Ex cards, isn't there?
Thanks.
Spend $6000 and you get 6000 points.

Typically AMEX cards have an annual fee. There are easy ways to get a no annual fee AMEX card, the biggest is through your employer for business travel (but this usually doesn't include the MR benefit). And one of the best no fee deals for an AMEX card is via Costco, it's a no annual fee and you get the MR benefits.
post #12 of 21

Amex Card

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesX521
So, for now, I'm centering on the American express cards. 6000 points for one ski lift ticket!? How much do I have to spend to get 6000 points? Also, I believe there is annual fee for Am Ex cards, isn't there?

Thanks.
I use my American Express Blue Card. There is no annual fee and $1 spent = 1 point. Sometimes they run promotions for double points.
post #13 of 21
Thread Starter 

Am Ex. offers only 5 ski resorts for free lift tickets

Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown
I'll second the Amex Membership Rewards. I buy my Vail tickets that way, and it actually comes out to be a good deal, relatively. It seems that the rewards usually come out somewhere near 100 points per dollar (a $400 hotel room costs 40,000 pts, etc), but the Vail tickets at 6,000 points are good for an $80 ticket. Not a huge deal, but better than paying for them ...
http://www.membershiprewards.com/Pro...=105&aid=59534

Is there a way to get the reward for a resort of my choice? I see they offer only 5 ski resorts, and they have increased the needed points from 6000 to 7500 points, which means I have to spend $7500, which might be too much for me.

Thanks.
post #14 of 21
I have an Orbitz Mastercard, no annual fee. Every $7500 (7500 points) gets you $100 off any plane ticket purchased on Orbitz. Every 20 000 points, gets you a round-trip fare in the continental US. Airline purchases on Orbitz earn you double points. The nice think is that you are not tied down to any specific airline...
post #15 of 21

Lift Ticket and Rental

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamesX521
http://www.membershiprewards.com/Pro...=105&aid=59534

Is there a way to get the reward for a resort of my choice? I see they offer only 5 ski resorts, and they have increased the needed points from 6000 to 7500 points, which means I have to spend $7500, which might be too much for me.

Thanks.
Your link brings to the the award for lift ticket and rental. I believe is it still 6000 points for a one day lift ticket at Vail Resorts, Intrawest (minus Whistler), Aspen, or American Ski Company.

http://www.membershiprewards.com/Sea...s.aspx?clgid=1
post #16 of 21
I've always thought that cards that offered cash back were the best deals. With the price of domestic airline tickets these days, airline miles as rewards are usually in the 1%-2% range as a rebate on purchases.

With something like the Citi Dividend cards (one now gives you 5% cash back on all gas grocery and drug store charges to a max of $6k per year, 1% back on everything, and 3-10% back on purchases from the Citi merchant network with no annual limit (ie, 4% cash back from REI.com, 4% back at overstock.com, others)), you will be getting much more value than 1% back in the form of miles.

Even if you only get 1%-2% cash back (though the above Citi card will likely yield anywhere from 2-4% back depending on what and where you spend), cash is always better than airline miles due to its versatility, lack of restrictions or blackout dates, etc etc.
post #17 of 21
Thread Starter 

Conclusion

I am developing my opinions very slow... I think this topic was started many months ago and by now, I could've had a card already. Well, from:
https://www124.americanexpress.com/c...EWARDS_CHOOSER
I've decided that I'll get either the AmEx Blue,
https://www124.americanexpress.com/cards/loyalty.do?page=blue&Card_name=Blue&link=CARD_SELE CTOR
or AmEx Blue Cash
https://www124.americanexpress.com/cards/loyalty.do?page=bluecash&Card_name=BlueCash&link=C ARD_SELECTOR
Blue -- gives me the rewards for the free day lift ticket (6000pt = $6000) (only for specific locations though I see. It's not like you can go to any ski resort, right?)
BlueCash -- doesn't give me free lift ticket, but gives me CashBack "on virtually everything you buy" as they say.

So, I live a primitive, non-consumerish lifestyle, yet I do spend money once in a while and I definately want to go skiing at least once a year. Is it Blue, or BlueCash that will be better for me?

Thanks.

-jms
post #18 of 21
Kelly
I believe Orbitz Mastercard canged to 10,000 points now = $100 off any ticket purchased on Orbitz. I used to use my Orbitz
Mastercard for everything but I know they changed my rewards so that I have to spend $40,000 to get a $400 ticket!!! I switched to Amex blue card.
post #19 of 21
i think you are better off with the cash back card, just because you don't have redemption troubles. BUT there is a very BIG BUT! with Delta, I know the FREE miles they give you to sign up, plus more free miles for using it, plus upgrade offers can make the Delta card indeed a very good buy, esp if you are going to Utah! I have tons of miles from getting both business and home Delta cards, redemption can be difficult, however when they are giving you miles to sign up then bonus miles, your in the green.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kelly001
I have an Orbitz Mastercard, no annual fee. Every $7500 (7500 points) gets you $100 off any plane ticket purchased on Orbitz. Every 20 000 points, gets you a round-trip fare in the continental US. Airline purchases on Orbitz earn you double points. The nice think is that you are not tied down to any specific airline...
By the way, we just got screwed by Orbitz! When I went to book our last trip thinking my wife and I had enough for a roundtrip fare (up to a $400 value), I found out they had changed the value of the reward points without any notice and now 10000 points was worth $100 off, and 20000 was worth $200 off. No more free-round trip up to $400... So I'd stay clear from this card. Not a good value anymore.
post #21 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimM
Kelly
I believe Orbitz Mastercard canged to 10,000 points now = $100 off any ticket purchased on Orbitz. I used to use my Orbitz
Mastercard for everything but I know they changed my rewards so that I have to spend $40,000 to get a $400 ticket!!! I switched to Amex blue card.
Oups, didn't see your post... Yes, I found out the hard way. Did you ever get a notice about this change in policy? Neither one of us got anything in the mail...
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