Taking Flight

(This is NOT a sales pitch / associate link article)

I’m back to trying the travel hacking again. I started rotating credit cards and banking miles before the pandemic interrupted everything, but quit when everything shut down. A few friends suggested I start again, and I just signed up for a new Delta/American Express Reserve Card.

This is the first card I’ve had where I had to pay an annual fee. It’s expensive … $550/year, but I figure I can write that off as a business expense, which cuts the net cost in half. The benefits seemed worth it, too …

⁃ 90K miles

⁃ 1 Free Companion Flight

⁃ World Club Membership

⁃ Free Checked Bags

⁃ Priority Seating

The annual companion certificate alone is a huge value given the price of airline tickets lately. It allows me to bring a friend or family member on a flight with me for just the cost of taxes and fees. I’ve never tried that with a card before. All together, I think the benefits are worth more than the $275/year it will cost me in the end.

Buying this card is also a bit of a “confidence vote” in Delta Airlines. They were terrific getting us home and back to Florida when my wife’s father passed away unexpectedly last month. They have also been great in bringing our dog with us.

Compared with the poor experiences we had on recent trips with Sun Country & Frontier, I’m happy to pay a bit more to be loyal to Delta to see if they can live up to their price tag.

My next step is to go through my wallet and see which cards I can cancel and if there are other cards that are offering big sign up bonuses. Maybe I can collect enough points for some big trips in 2024.

Are you doing any interesting credit card hacking right now?

Image Credit: (c) MrFireStation.com

6 thoughts on “Taking Flight

  1. I have read some real horror stories about dogs not ending up where they are supposed to be recently. Does Riley ride on board in a carryon crate?

    Spirit Airline used to be pretty good. They had direct flights between LA and Minneapolis and you could buy first class seats at reasonable cost. We flew them recently and they aren’t the same.

    My family had to make an emergency flight back to the Omaha in December. When I was checking out flights, the only direct flights were on American Airlines’ regional carrier. We were able to have slightly over a two hour flight versus six hours with flight change in either Denver or Chicago. I was able to purchase first class seats at for a couple hundred more per person.

    This is my travel hack, some of the regional carriers are flying Embraer Jets that are bigger than the old Regional Jets a couple years back, yet they are small enough to offer direct flights to secondary cities. They also had plenty of room for carryon luggage. Pay attention to the layout of the plane and get to know your models. Do they offer first class? We were able to get our family to were we wanted to go in about a third of the time while sitting in comfortable seats with food and beverage service.

    Back to the subject of Credit Cards, one of my important criteria is how they handle disputes. Chase has been flawless for me since 1984. They also have very good security. I am only earning 1% cash back every month, but having them on side for every single dispute since 1984 can be worth hundreds of dollars per incident.

    My Costco Visa from Citigroup has some some nice rebates including 4% on gasoline purchases, 3% on restaurants, and 2% at Costco. I was already buying gas with my Costco card, but recently switched to paying for Restaurants, Costco with it. This year I got a $320 Costco rebate check. Next year, I bet I double this year.

    I also recommend reviewing your cards’ benefits fine print. I found that my cards offer extended warranties beyond the manufacturer’s, travel disruption coverage to cover hotels, food, and lost clothes, accident waiver insurance for rental cars, and 5% rebates if you book travel through them.


    1. Riley flies very well. We’ve taken him on Delta & Sun Country so far. We have a carrier that fits under the seat. He’s only 16-17 pounds, so he’s well under the 20# limit. We also have him registered with the DOT / Delta as a service animal – we’ve trained him to sit nicely in my wife’s lap.

      I take a small jet from MSP to GRR (Grand Rapids MI) 3-4x a year for board meetings. I haven’t paid attention to the type of jet that Delta uses, but I usually get myself Comfort+. It’s a pretty short flight – maybe 90 minutes at most. This fall, we are going to do one of our board meetings in Mexico. I’ll have to look into the best way to go there – although, if I’m lucky, they may send the company jet for me here in Mpls. We’ll see.

      I haven’t had too many issues with credit card disputes in the past. On our recent trip to Florida, I got double-charged by the airport rolling cart vending machine. To my surprise, before I even contacted them, Capital One sent me an alert that I’d been double-charged and immediately asked me if I wanted to file a dispute. I just clicked one button and 30 minutes later I had a notification that it had been reversed. Very nice, I thought!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have both – AmEx card with those benefits and the Costco card (good for rental card discounts).

    As for switching cards, that’s not something I engage in – prefer to spend time on other activities vs finding the best deal of the day.

    I’ve found good dependability with NW air and Costco is convenient.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I find that most of my flying is short trips on Southwest making a frequent flier arrangement meaningless. The few times that we look into redeeming flights with points there are too few seats or the routing is terrible with multiple stops. I still use my American aaadvantage card originally picked up 35 years ago. We redeem miles with hotel stays at nice historical properties where we normally would not stay. I don’t see the benefit from a $400 plus annual fee……unless you travel a lot as in weekly or 2-3 trips per month, I did that when I was in my twenties and single, no thank you today

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s been VERY hard to redeem miles recently. The issue has been that the airlines “held” everyone’s status during the pandemic, whether they were traveling or not. As of 2/1/23, Delta swept those folks off the status list. Now it should be easier to get upgrades & the airline clubs should be less crowded.


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