The great card purge part 2: annual fee cards

Like I was saying here, the time has come for me to evaluate the many cards I’ve picked up in the last year, and dump a bunch of the fuckers before I have to pay the annual fee on them. (There’s no reason to close cards that don’t have an annual fee.) Most of these have an annual fee of around $95, but if I ain’t getting $95 of value out of keeping it, well…

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The great card purge part 1: Premium cards

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It’s been a bit over a year since I started this whole insane fucking endeavor, and a rich and rewarding year it has been. We have flown business class to Lisbon; will be doing so to Paris in October; Caroline flew all the way to Bali on the top deck of an Airbus 380, which was entirely business class; I’ve even flown first class to places like Minneapolis; I’ve flown back and forth to California in business several times; and when I’ve flown coach, I haven’t paid for it. So, it was worth opening 25 cards.

But most of these cards were only free their first year, if that; and I’ve already collected their signup bonuses. That means it’s time for me to start sizing up what I’m keeping, and what I’m dropping, over the next six months. Here’s my play by play:

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Want to bump up a whole United Premier status level in a single roundtrip in their swank new Polaris business class seats? Fly Newark to Tel Aviv.

Yes, it’s true: if you are fucking insane — which I might be — United’s roundtrip flight from EWR to TLV in business class, if you make sure you’re on a 777-300ER, is in United’s fancy new Polaris seats. And the cost and miles earned just about in the sweet spot for a whole Premier status level bump.

Each level of Premier status requires another 25,000 Premier qualifying miles (PQM), and another $3,000 Premier Qualifying Dollars (PQD). The roundtrip to Tel Aviv from Newark costs $3,549, and it earns 22,768 PQM and 3,462 PQD. I fly enough UA otherwise that I can easily make up the 2,232 missing PQM.

The trick is making sure to be on a 777-300ER — those have the new Polaris seats. Otherwise you’re in a lame-ass 777-200 with 8 seats across in business where everyone faces each other.

I can’t do this. But I kind of want to do this. If I rack up enough points…

Did I get new cards? Of course I got new cards.

A couple of swell offers popped up, so…I just had to get some more cards. Sue me.

  • Barclay Aviator Red: American Airlines is weird in that they have two different banks that issue their credit cards (Barclay, and Citi). The bonus just got bumped to 50K AAdvantage miles for signing up, and there’s no minimum amount to spend — just the $95 annual fee to pay. Even though AA miles have become dramatically less useful in the last year, I still get lucky with them sometimes, so I jumpted on this one.
  • Amex Blue Business Plus: This shiny new card from Amex offers 2X on everything up to $50,000, and offers 20K Membership Rewards points (if you get it through an affiliate link, like at The Frequent Miler) after spending $3,000 in three months, and has no annual fee, so…I got it. It was obvious. I’m not a dumb idiot. Usually.

I like United Airlines and I don’t care if they beat me to a pulp

Having been to various travel points conferences, I have found that, of the domestic airlines, travelers seem most enthused about Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue, Alaska and Southwest, probably in that order. No one is ever enthused about American (because they blow), or United — except me, and Matthew Klint, the classiest travel blogger in the biz. Go read his blog, and use his award booking services!

I guess Delta must really kiss the asses of elite level members to inspire that kind of loyalty, so yay for them. And I’ve certainly flown Delta flights and have found them to be good. But I do not care. I love United, despite that every flight I take with them seems to incur some kind of delay, and some of their customer service is terrible, and I can’t spend towards elite status, and blah blah blah. Some of it is just irrational — humans are tribal, and we assemble ourselves into nonsensical group identities all the time.

But even beyond my ape brain, United sucked me in with their Economy Plus subscription, and the fact that I became Premier Silver by accident just by flying their vast route network, and that being Silver gave me a much faster and easier airport experience, including priority baggage claim, which you don’t get on Delta or American. Do you like sitting around with your thumb up your ass waiting to collect your bag? I do not. And in a week, I’ll make Gold, and keep it through the end of 2018, so I can have all the Economy Plus I want, and change my flights same day willy-nilly. Continue reading

Various nonsense

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I don’t have a single topic for this post. Deal with it. I’m sitting in Central Park and it’s pretty much the most glorious fucking day in the history of days. If you can’t be in a good mood on a day like today, your life is not worth living.

Here’s what’s happening in the world of cards and miles and points and whatnot that’s interesting to me: Continue reading