Consult with Cards: Solo travel to Peru, Australia and beyond
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Editor’s note: Consult with Cards is a weekly series where the TPG cards team helps our readers decide what their next card should be. If you would like to be a part of this series and receive a personalized consultation, email us.
The pandemic has upended many of our plans to travel far and wide. To make up for lost time, TPG reader Theresa Thimmick is already setting her sights high with ambitions to travel solo to Peru and Europe in the next year and Australia and New Zealand in 2023.
In this week’s Consult with Cards story, we help Theresa strategize a way to visit these new destinations by racking up the right credit card rewards.
Theresa is 56 years old and lives in Tampa, Fla. She currently works full-time and has an excellent credit score above 800.
She has started to dabble into the world of credit cards and points and miles and is eagerly on the hunt for killer deals. With two international and several domestic trips per year, there are many opportunities to maximize her travel spend and rack up enough miles for her future award bookings.
Travel style and aspirations
On Theresa’s current travels, she tends to fly budget carriers to outsize her travel dollars, though she’s looking to fly business class for long-haul and red-eye flights. As a solo traveler, she has a bit more flexibility since she only has to find award availability for one.
In order for Theresa to fly business on her international trips, now is a great time to start strategizing and apply for cards now that will help her achieve these redemptions later.
Current credit cards
Theresa has already got some great cards in her wallet, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Freedom Flex, American Express® Gold Card, World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Citi Rewards+® Card. Still, she has two open slots in her Chase 5/24 status, as she’s opened these cards incrementally over the years.
Likewise, she has a healthy points balance with top transferable rewards programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards. In the next section, we’ll discuss our thoughts and best recommendations.
Card recommendations for Theresa
Like many of us, Theresa is enticed by the many great introductory offers on the market, making it challenging to pick just one card to apply for. For instance, the welcome bonus on The Platinum Card® from American Express is 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of account opening, worth $2,000 according to TPG’s valuations. But Theresa doesn’t know if she can justify the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), especially since many of the annual statement credits may not be useful to her — ahem, the Equinox credit or the (way too narrow) digital entertainment credit.
Switching gears, a card that Theresa has been considering is the Citi Premier® Card. With a historically high sign-up bonus of 80,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, she’d be looking at $1,360 in value. Since Theresa already has a stash of Citi ThankYou points from her Citi Rewards+, she can combine her rewards for even greater redemption possibilities.
When Australia opens, she could save up to fly business class on Qantas to Australia. Theresa could go ahead and transfer her Citi ThankYou points to American Airlines AAdvantage, a temporary transfer partner, until Nov. 13, 2021. Although we discourage speculative transfers (and hoarding your points and miles for this long), another option would be to use these Citi ThankYou points for a flight to Lima, Peru. Theresa could transfer her miles to American Airlines AAdvantage to snag business class round-trip for just 60,000 miles.
To double down on AAdvantage miles, another card worth opening would be the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®. There’s an annual fee of $99, but it’s waived for the first 12 months. With a sign-up bonus of 50,000 American AAdvantage miles after you spend $2,500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, that’s worth $700, helping her book award travel on the Oneworld alliance. The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Plus, when she flies American on domestic itineraries, she’ll enjoy benefits such as a free checked bag and a $125 flight discount after spending $20,000 or more on the card during her membership year and when she renews the card.
Finally, another card that she could add to her wallet is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. With an unlimited 2x earning rate, this card is ideal for earning big on those non-bonus purchases. There’s a sign-up bonus of 60,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening — worth $1,020 for travel.
Since Capital One added new transfer partners earlier this year, the value of this card has only increased. Plus, many overlap with other transferable programs (such as Air Canada Aeroplan and Avianca LifeMiles), with some other enticing options (Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles).
There are many sweet spots with the Turkish Miles & Smiles program; for under 34,000 miles, she could fly lie-flat on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, for instance.
Ultimately, Theresa already has some excellent credit cards in her portfolio. Rather than opening new credit cards, another option for Theresa would be to focus on consolidating her rewards so that she amasses enough points and miles within her favorite loyalty programs. Here at TPG, the name of the game is earn, burn, reevaluate and repeat.
When it comes to award travel, it’s always a good idea to have a specific goal in mind. We recommend that Theresa focus on earning and burning her first international trip to Peru or Europe, slowly saving for Australia and New Zealand, and redeeming when the time is right.
Thanks for reaching out, Theresa! If you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a consultation of your own, feel free to email us for a chance to be featured in this weekly series.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here
Featured photo by jimfeng/Getty Images
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