- I'm based in YVR and my main annual travel is to HKG on CX. However, for our other trips AC is frequently the most convenient for direct flights so accumulating Aeroplan also makes sense.
- I typically fly PE with cash fares on long haul flights, Y for short haul
- I typically travel with mrs. arnel, so our original plan was to buy 1 business class ticket on sale and get the companion fare award for the HKG trip
- we don't travel enough to get significant status with hotels - at best if we focus we'd make mid-tier (25-30 nights/year) on a large footprint chain like Marriott/SPG and Hilton. We wouldn't get that far with Hyatt.
- a mini-RTW is also unrealistic for us given how much vacation time we have left over after HKG. A side trip from HKG, however, is a different story.
- a portion of our spending goes to places that don't take AMEX (asian groceries, some of the restaurants we like)
- this includes Costco, so we need a MasterCard anyway. The Costco MC is a great card except for shopping at Costco (0.5% cashback, blech). Not a ton - but we do make back the difference on our Executive membership fee vs the base membership.
Previously we had decided to go with RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege because we got a lot of value from the Fairmont President's Club Gold membership, Priority Pass, and the 25% bonus on points. We paid extra for the supplementary card since it got us a second set of Fairmont certs and lounge passes.
What's changed since the beginning of this year:
- We got the AMEX Cobalt, with its 5x MR on dining and groceries. Right now doing the conversion to SPG for 2.5 Starpoints/CAD.
- Fairmont President's Club is gone, so that benefit is toast
- CX has devalued AsiaMiles, and the companion fares went from 75k to 105k AM for a roundtrip ticket. Redeeming for business class tickets went from 120k to 140k.
- Air Canada and Aeroplan are divorcing in 2020, so accumulating Aeroplan becomes less desirable.
- I also got an AMEX Bus Plat for the benefits (lounge access, SPG status, FHR/concierge) and the generous welcome bonus
Without the Fairmont benefit I can't justify the annual fee on the Avion Visa Infinite Privilege, and the rest of it is duplicated by the Amex Plat.
The current plan:
- AMEX Cobalt for the 5x categories (hard to beat 5% return for straight up travel credit even with a premium flight award)
- Alaska MC for everything else; this is also churnable
- Redeem CX via Alaska
- downgrade the Avion from VIP to regular until we can dispose of the points via AP or AM redemption (don't know when that will be...)
- self-refer myself to the AMEX Plat for the benefits next year and cancel the Bus Plat
Other options I've thought about, maybe I should reconsider?
- RBC has an AM Visa
- Downgrade to Avion but continue to use it as our primary card and convert to AsiaMiles or Aeroplan as needed
- Switch to Avios as my primary currency (is this a realistic option for a YVR-HKG redemption?)
Given that we currently prefer CX, do you have any suggestions on how to improve this plan? The problem of course is that I'm tying myself to Alaska, and who knows when they'll devalue CX redemptions. Right now 100k points on Alaska vs 140k on Asia Miles is a big difference. We're content to book our trips at 330 days out, assuming that the CX award availability is sorted out by the time we try to book our 2019 trip. The Alaska redemption also gives us that side trip for free with the stopover rules, and Iceland is on my bucket list.