How 1 Credit Card Can Get 2 People To South America (Almost) Free

I don’t normally blog about credit cards other than my guide on how newbies can get “into the game”.  I did want to point out a deal that’s been going on that has just been given an end date.

This deal is available only to people in the USA who have good FICO scores (at least 750) and at least a small business such as Ebay seller, blog, artisan, childcare worker or whatever.

Chase’s Ink Bold & Ink Plus normally give 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points but until 1 June they are offering 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  Here are the non-affiliate links.

Ink Bold

Ink Plus

One ticket on United Airlines costs 40,000 points round trip in economy.  I used Seattle to Lima as an example but it applies from any North American city to any South American city.  For 2 people you need 80,000 miles and $147.38 for taxes.

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So here are the steps in a very basic form to get the 2 tickets.

1.  Apply for card and make minimum spend of $5000 in 3 months.

2.  Get 60,000 points for card.

3.  Organize your household expenses to be paid by the card using bonus categories.

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4.  Make sure at least $3750 of that $5000 is in a 5x bonus category.  This gets you 18,750 Ultimate Rewards points.  Prepay your internet, phone, cable tv as far ahead as possible.  Go to office supply stores and buy gift cards to grocery stores, department stores or whatever you need.

5.  Remaining $1250 can be in any category.

6.  60,000 + 18, 750 + 1250 = 80,000 Ultimate Rewards which = 2 x tickets to South America!

This is something that comes second nature to me but if you are new to this game and have any questions please ask in the comments.

Chase Sapphire & Freedom Cards

Although I don’t have an affiliate marketing relationship with Chase or any other banks, for a limited time they are allowing current card members to get a bonus by referring friends & family.  Anyone who is interested in eco-tourism and birds is a friend of mine!  This is what the offer you get by email looks like.

* Always check the Chase forum on FlyerTalk to see if any better offers are currently running.

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And here is the email from the Freedom card.

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This promo expires on 31 March so if you want to get the card in time so you can pass on your own referrals to your friends & family you should start pretty quick.  If you would like to help me and this blog by letting me refer you, please send your full name & email privately.

This is what the credit app looks like when it loads.

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Advanced Newbies Guide: Amex Membership Rewards & Foreign Airline Credit Cards

This is the 4th and final post in my newbie’s guide to miles and points credit cards and is most useful to eco-tourists from the USA as these credit cards are only available to Americans.  If you haven’t already, please read the other posts in this series or this one won’t make a lot of sense unless you are already churning credit cards.  If you are involved in the miles and points community, you have probably seen other bloggers offering different ideas for maximizing these cards but I will be discussing them with a view to using the miles for top eco-tourism destinations.

1.  2014 List Of Miles & Points Credit Cards – USA Edition

Consider this more of a menu from which you will be deciding which credit cards suit your needs.  Do not use these links to apply for the card, use the links you find while doing the steps in the Newbie Guide.  You can use the links solely to read the T&Cs from the bank and learn what extra benefits are included such as lounge passes, elite status, checked bags, etc.

2.  Newbie Guide: Using A Credit Card Sign-on Bonus For Eco-tourism

This is a must read as it tells you the proper techniques to decide which credit card is best for your individual situation and how to make sure you are getting the best possible offer on the credit card(s) you need.  You should do all the steps for EACH credit card you are considering and do them on the day you apply.  After awhile, you get used to the principles and will automatically know how to look for the best deal.

3.  Credit Card Sign-on Bonuses – Taking It Up A Notch

This post is a more intermediate level and discusses options such as combining points from more than one credit card to get a more expensive award, boosting points with category bonuses, business credit cards, churning credit cards and fixed value point credit cards.

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AMERICAN EXPRESS MEMBERSHIP REWARDS (USA VERSION)

There is nothing inherently “advanced” about this program.  It’s actually quite simple.  You earn Membership Rewards points which can then be transferred to certain airlines and hotel programs.  The reason I consider it “advanced” is because they don’t transfer to any of the mainstream airlines such as United, American or US Airways.  Delta is a difficult program to work with if you are an infrequent traveler who just wants enough miles for a special trip.

To refresh your memory, here are the main Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points minus the links from the first post.  The offers are the bare minimum you get from the bank.  If you get the timing right and keep an eye on FlyerTalk, you may luck into a 75-100k offer.

Amex Platinum Card – 25,000 sign up – $2000 minimum spend – Annual fee $450, not waived.  Business version also available.

Amex PRG (Premier Rewards Gold) – $25,000 sign up – $2000 minimum spend – Annual fee $175, waived first year.  Business version also available.

Mercedes Benz – 10,000 sign up – $1000 minimum spend – Annual fee $95, not waived

Most people wouldn’t sign up for the next two but downgrade an existing card to avoid the annual fee and keep collecting Membership Rewards.

Amex Gold Card – No sign up bonus/minimum spend – Annual fee $125, waived first year.

Amex Green Card – No sign up bonus/minimum spend – Annual fee $125, waived first year.

Below, you can see the airlines you can transfer your points to.  A case can be made for several of these as useful partners but be careful as most of them have large fuel surcharges.  I have circled the 2 partners which are of greatest interest to eco-tourists.

I am working on an upcoming trip for 2015 to Africa and need one way awards between Mauritius-Madagascar-Kilimanjaro.  Flying Blue is a SkyTeam member and offers one way awards bookable online on airlines flying to top birding destinations such as Kenya Airways and Garuda Indonesia.  Garuda will join SkyTeam in March 2014 but they are already available on the Flying Blue website.  They also partner with the non-allianced Air Mauritius but you have to call them to book it as they aren’t available online.  This is why I have started collecting Amex Membership Rewards, remember in the Newbie Guide I recommended that you should always work towards a goal.  The only other easy way to collect Flying Blue miles is by transferring from SPG, also an Amex card.

Amex Membership Rewards Airline Partners

BRITISH AIRWAYS AVIOS – CHASE, ULTIMATE REWARDS, AMEX, SPG CREDIT CARDS

Ironically this is one of the easiest programs to accumulate miles in.  They have their own credit card issued by Chase which has sign-on bonuses ranging up to 100,000 miles.  BA is a transfer partner of Amex Membership Rewards (above) and they often give transfer bonuses of 15-30%.  They also partner with Chase’s Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio and you can transfer SPG points at 1:1 with a bonus of 5000 miles if you transfer 20,000 SPG points.  The best use of Avios for eco-tourists is redeeming for LAN flights within South America and Qantas flights within Australia.  I will have to do a full review of this program soon.  In a nutshell, since Avios price awards by distance rather than zone, it makes awards of a shorter distance such as Lima-La Paz or Brisbane-Cairns a real bargain.  This means you can visit more than one destination during your trip.  Here is the award chart.