Author Topic: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use  (Read 10677 times)

mountaintown

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IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« on: September 14, 2019, 10:29:01 AM »
Well unfortunately we are going down the IVF road. We will be spending $10k to $20k pretty easy in the next 3-6 months. I would like to leverage the racking of travel cards as much as I can....I am pretty new to the game and slightly conservative but like I said since we are spending so much on flights, medicine, and doctor bills...would love to get some bonuses. Here are the options I am toiling with and here is what I have used already.

Delta Gold. Already have. We mostly fly delta so both my wife used/maximized this. I will be downgrading both soon.

Marriott. Both wife/I have used. Will be downgrading or cancelling soon.


Here are my best options as I can see:

1.) Alaska Air. Wife used. I haven't. She could refer me and I could get bonus.....or I got an email to have the annual fee waived.

2.) Chase Sapphire Preferred. My wife just got this for a big car repair we had. We already got the bonus. Option would be for me to go the Chase route--perhaps from a referral from her? The only thing I don't love about this is I prefer to stagger the annual fees a bit more...like I would have rather waited 6 months on this one. Also I noticed that the miles disappear if you lose the credit card--not 100% sure I will have the chance to use the miles within the year as we have yet to use her miles(or chase points or whatever).

3.) Capital One Venture. This seems like a good card and I do like that the annual fee is waived. Neither of us have done this one yet.



Any help would be appreciated!! Thanks. If you want to let me know about any more advanced strategies I can try to follow but like I said I am kinda new to the game and mostly just have been trying to get bonuses twice a year between my wife/I.

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2019, 07:01:11 AM »
Good luck with IVF! I like how you are thinking about how to maximize points for the big expense.

There are a couple of ways to think about this... you can try to just get points at whatever has the highest potential value, or you can focus on a specific trip or destination.

I almost always do the latter, which means the destination decides the cards for me. I'll look at flights and hotels for an upcoming trip (e.g. Japan) and then apply for credit cards that help me get there (e.g. the Marriott card because 100k Bonvoy points got us 5 free nights in an expensive ski area) and points that can get me ANA flights because we can fly directly from downtown Taipei to downtown Tokyo (Amex for booking on ANA, or any program except Capital One for booking via Virgin Atlantic.)

A key reason to go this route is to help prioritize. I don't want a bunch of random cards and then need a lot of Chase UR points but am unable to do so because of 5/24. If you don't have a specific destination in mind, then going for a flexible point program (vs say Alaska points) is going to give you the most options when it comes time to redeem.

So, with that idea, some possible cards that I would apply for probably in this order:
- if you have any business, like a blog or you sell used books once in awhile on amazon - Ink business preferred (80k UR points)
- his/her CSPs - paying an annual fee to get $600+ worth of points is worth it. You can transfer points to your spouse, so you only need to have one card open to avoid points expiring. (3k min spend)
- if you use Uber, the Amex Platinum has a 60k MR point offer - $550 annual fee, BUT $200 airline credit and $200 uber credit, so in practice fee is $150 if you use Uber (even just for the airport)
- his/her CapOne Venture (same card you mentioned)
- his/her IHG rewards club ($89 annual fee) - great bonus now of 125k points, worth $625+ - good for US travel with Holiday Inn/Express. We stayed 5 nights in NYC with free breakfast this way for something around 100k points (I forget.)

if you have room in your card portfolio someday
- only 1 Chase Freedom - the bonus isn't high ($150), but it does have great 5% back categories every quarter and no annual fee. Keep forever.


If it works for you, using the GCC credit card referral links is always appreciated!
https://www.gocurrycracker.com/credit-card-rewards/

mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2019, 06:53:52 PM »
Thanks Jeremy. I think I like your approach of finding the card for the destination...seems the most practical. I guess we intuitively followed this by getting the Alaska air card recently (because we wanted to do a trip to Hawaii and live in the west).

Unfortunately other than AA and going west...it seems like we are really locked into Delta. I did have my wife sign up for CSP and the UR points seem okay for a redemption east...but definitely it would be more ideal if United was a great way to fly east for us.

Any suggestions there? We have already done the delta gold cards and so do have some points. But honestly I hate to use them because I am not finding any saver seats. As you might understand we can't really be flexible with our IVF treatment.

The delta redemptions I am getting are bad, 1 for 1...and UR is about what you'd expect--maybe 25% off at the most. I do still have the delta gold so I prefer to book through them if possible to get the free bags.

Any insight is appreciated...maybe I will just have to suck it up on this one! We did get my wife a saver seat for 23,000 miles which was about 1 point for 2 dollars so I was happy with that. I am visiting her a little later though and those flights are looking brutal now.

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2019, 08:26:44 PM »
The Alaska card is a good one, I've had it multiple times. They are pretty liberal in dishing them out, so it is something good to apply for when you already have all the other cards imho.

Consider: you can fly to Hawaii using Alaska points for about 40k points. Or you can fly on the same exact airplane using 23k Singapore Air Krisflyer points, which you can get via transfer from any of the points programs.

80k Alaska points for the 2 of you to fly to Hawaii might be a good redemption. But it might be better to pay cash and use the Alaska card companion fare and then use the Alaska points for a flight to Fiji.

If you can't get good redemption with the existing Delta points I would personally wait and pay cash for the flights I need. Points are best used when you can be flexible for maximum redemption. Why fly to a nearby state when you could fly to London or beyond in Europe (70k Skymiles roundtrip economy on Virgin Atlantic.)


mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2019, 09:04:09 PM »
Thanks I was having the same thoughts...on paying cash. I was thinking though that perhaps the capital one venture might be good in that case. At least it would "erase" the cash purchase of the flight and maybe the rental car we have to get. Luckily our lodging is with family.

On Hawaii: Thanks for the tip....I actually have been hearing about that trick with Alaska. Honestly this is the part of travel hacking I am still a little timid about. I feel like I have spent enough time already trying to figure this out so transferring to travel partners seems like another big investment in time. Idk maybe that's just me but yea that redemption does sound sweet...

The UR points redemption is about $100 off from cash so not a great redemption as I said. I have to say one thing that's odd though is that the UR search made available a more ideal flight than was actually available on delta with paying cash. So with the UR portal I can get one less stop and travel one less hour...but when I try to find it on delta it is either just not there on mileage chart or it is sold out

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2019, 09:56:56 PM »
You can also "erase" with UR points. It's just trading 1 point for 1 cent. The Venture card is a good one, you get at least $500 in welcome bonus which I would happily accept any day of the week.

Transfers are a simple process - you just click on a button and suddenly instead of Amex Membership Rewards Points you have Delta Skymiles, for example.

With the Venture card, if you find a good redemption option for a transfer, you might get an extra $150-$200 in value out of the 50k points. The keyword there is might... Winnie was just approved for this card and we'll most likely just take the $500 in cash. We can always get more points later.

With the UR portal, afair you don't need to use points if you don't want to. You could purchase that more ideal flight directly through their portal on your Chase credit card, just change the points used to zero. (You'll get 1.25 cpp if you use points with the CSP, 1.5cpp with the CSR.)

mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2019, 10:05:15 PM »
Wow thanks Jeremy...I didn't think about paying cash through UR portal ::Slaps head::

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #7 on: September 16, 2019, 11:04:15 PM »
No worries, this hobby is a bit like chess... nothing is obvious at first glance, and you never stop learning

mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2019, 08:32:57 PM »
Ok well after I said all that I didn't realize that the cash cost was actually the same....I was just looking at the points value.

So here's a question, would you use the CSP over a Delta card to buy? Both I will get the baggage. Both I get 2x miles....

I know ppl tend to value chase points higher and I see why with the portal....however mostly I am concerned with purchasing flights and I have to say Delta is really what we are forced to use most of the time. United, AA, have flights out but the are never as convenient. Alaska air is good but only to the west.

So then I am left with your original statement....start with the end in mind. So if the end is about delta flights perhaps I should be valuing them higher and placing more charges there (besides bonuses for intros or like a CSR 3x)?

Just a thought. I know there is travel insurance for the CSP...this almost tipped me to that side but then again the travel insurances...pretty much someone has to die or lose a limb. I've actually been able to get out of most delta flights in the case of death in the family anyways(even on economy).

So to wrap it up...what are your thoughts on placing higher value on delta miles if trapped in midwest/mountain states? I have heard other people say the same thing about delta. Unless we all got it wrong and are missing a ton of transfer partners out of here.

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2019, 09:59:17 PM »
I'd probably go the Amex route over Delta, which can be transferred 1:1 to Delta but has more options/flexibility (For US Airlines, Amex charges transfer taxes of $0.0006 per point ($99 max.) 10,000 points = $6.)
https://www.gocurrycracker.com/american-express-membership-rewards-transfer-partners/


In a head to head choice between Delta and Chase, I would lean towards Chase but I think it would depend on how many points you have and when you plan to use them. Airlines are always devaluing their points programs, so sitting on a bunch of Skymiles that suddenly drop in value is a risk. So I might get some of both.

Is Southwest an option for you at all?


edit: just to highlight the options with the Amex Platinum I mentioned... it has the $550 annual fee, but you get $200 airline credit and $200 uber credit, plus Centurion Lounge access or Delta Sky Club access when you?re flying Delta. It earns 5x points when you book directly with the airline (e.g. Delta, more than the 2x you get now or with the CSP.) Also currently has a 60k Amex MR points welcome bonus which can be transferred 1:1 to Delta if you so choose.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2019, 11:41:12 PM by gocurrycracker »

mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2019, 11:58:28 AM »
Thanks Jeremy. Just to clarify...I haven't done chase myself yet(My wife just got the CSP and we already hit that minimum).

Shouldn't I do that before any Amex options due to 5/24? I haven't quite figured out how to maximize anything with them yet but certainly the travel portal can get me at least one round trip home and maybe if I time it right and get savers seats, two.

If so, how do you feel about the CSR over the CSP now that the points are only 50k for the CSR? Right now I am anticipating a $200 rental fee, possibly another $200 rental fee, and at least $1000 in flights this year that we could charge to the CSR. There could be more but that leaves about $1400 in anticipated travel costs. The ticket to hawaii we have planned has to be on the Alaska air. Do you think the $1400 in anticipated travel makes the CSR worth it? If the first round of IVF is not successful of course there may be a lot more travel.

I am trying to figure it out without valuing anything but the $300 credit. I know we will spend that anyways. However the TSA credit, the lounge access, etc are not really priorities for us. They will be nice perks but we aren't even in an airport long enough to use the lounges (at least that's usually my attempt).

Thanks, I'll probably sign up for the CSR or CSP today per your recommendation. We have a ton of expenses this month already so trying to make those dollars count for bonuses not just points!

Again just to clarify I haven't done any chase cards yet...I have only two credit cards opened in the last 2 years so I probably should prioritize chase at some point here to avoid the 5/24 block.

Southwest: No not really. We only have delta, allegiant, frontier, united, and alaska. I have really never seen much for frontier go out of here so not sure what that's for. Allegiant is pretty unique to certain cities and times of the year (summer).

gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2019, 11:41:43 PM »
From 2/24 you have 3 cards remaining before Chase may start to decline you on new applications... (although no guarantees either way.)

So you get the CSP/CSR as one of those for sure.

The main differences between the 2 are:
CSP has 10k higher point signup bonus
CSP has lower effective annual fee ($95 vs $150)
CSP has lower earning rate (2 pts/$ vs 3 pts/$ on dining/travel)
CSP has lower redemption value on portal purchases (1.25cpp vs 1.5 cpp)
CSP has lower minimum spend ($3k vs $4k)

If you get either card and spend $10,000 on it completely on food/travel, you end up with the same number of points:
CSP = 60k + $10k*2pt/$ = 80k points
CSR = 50k + $10k*3pt/$ = 80k points

On Redemption, if you just purchase travel via the Chase portal and don't try to get better via transfer to airline partners, then:
CSP: 80k points * 1.25 cpp = $1,000
CSR: 80k points * 1.5  cpp = $1,200
(or, only need 66,667 points to yield same $1,000, or 70,333 to yield $1,055 to also offset higher annual fee)

Conveniently, that is roughly equal to the 10,000 point difference in signup bonus (the accountants at Chase know what they are doing)

Which is better? It depends on a bunch of things...

If you'll just be paying IVF on these cards (not a lot of travel/dining spend) and are highly likely to transfer the points to an airline vs redeem for travel in the Chase portal, then the CSP comes out ahead (more overall points after 1 year.)

If you will be spending a bunch on travel/dining, already have a lot of UR points (via your wife's CSP, etc...), and you are highly likely to redeem points at 1.5cpp in the Chase portal, then the CSR comes out ahead.

Based on what you've shared so far, the CSP is probably your best bet.


So now you are at 3/24. Do you want any other Chase cards?
Southwest air: No
IHG: maybe
Freedom: maybe (5 pts/$ on department store spending in Q4 which could be good for Xmas.)

And then you are on to Platinum Amex and Venture card.


mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2019, 12:47:49 PM »
Wow thanks again for the wealth of information.

I was actually surprised to read that you had to spend $10k to break even on the CSR over the CSP. If I had been able to book the last two flights on the CSR maybe we would come close...but honestly I would guess our flights/travel being more at $5000 this year and maybe another $1000 for dining so $6000 to $7000 total. Sounds like CSP is the best move then?

One more note I do think we will be using the travel portal, if anything as I haven't quite figured out how to utilize any of the transfer partners in my area. From what I can see is united is it and so far, alaska air is superior to go west and delta is superior to go east. Rarely has United made sense for us.

So that was where a part of me was leaning towards CSR. Thanks for the breakdown on the rest of the cards. I'll look into the freedom after I make the call on the CSP/CSR. Given what I just said above...would you still lean towards CSP?


gocurrycracker

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2019, 07:49:47 PM »
I could go either way on this one, but given your initial aversion to (higher) annual fees, a plan to get as many signup bonuses as possible in the near future, not having a specific trip planned, a plan to spend a ton of IVF $ in the near future, and minimal interest in airport lounges, I'd probably go for the CSP.

I guess technically we could say the CSP/CSR break even at day 1 for portal redemptions, but you have to meet the minimum spend somehow.
60k * 1.25 cpp = $750
50k * 1.5  cpp = $750

It will tilt in favor of CSR as you spend more on food/dining/travel, redeem only at 1.5cpp via the portal, and if you have a lot of existing UR points.

But you will be better off putting that food/dining/travel spend on new cards (and you could always try to "upgrade" to the CSR before redeeming in a year+.)

Portal redemptions are easy, and you do earn points for the actual flight when doing so, but it is always worth looking at transfers. To fly on Delta metal, you can transfer UR points to Virgin Atlantic and sometimes get better redemption through the partner than with Delta directly, as one example.

mountaintown

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Re: IVF coming up, which credit cards should I use
« Reply #14 on: September 19, 2019, 08:13:52 PM »
Thanks again Jeremy. I went with the CSP and thanks for recommendations on the next steps...with these IVF costs my biggest problem will be not dinging my credit too much with new cards in the next few months.

Take care!