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Credit Cards & United Airlines MileagePlus

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cssaus

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Interested in getting other people's opinions on the most effective way of getting points into UA's MileagePlus using credit cards.
 

QF WP

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The most effective way is to find an Australian CC that will post points to your UA MP account. Having said that, I'm not aware of any cards where that can be done (but I don't know about all CC's issued here in Aust, only the ones I've experienced - Amex, CB, NAB, ANZ). They may be ones that you can find (Diner's??)...perhaps Amex Aust wuold do it (I've only ever transferred to QFF).

The easiest option (to be able to arrange the transfer) is being able to access a US-based card - but if you are Australian, then no luck there, as no US-Bank would issue you with a CC (as you have no Social Security number, being a non-US resident, no credit history, etc).

One option that may be available (where you only have access to an Aust CC) is transferring the points to Starwood's SPG program, from where I believe you can transfer the points to UA MP. The only question would be the value lost in doing the transfer (if it wasn't a 1:1:1 transfer rate).

My 2c worth...
 

cssaus

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Thanks.

I'm interesting in finding out with which Australian CC can I do points transfer with the least loss in value when they reach UA's MP.
 

NM

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Lindsay Wilson said:
The easiest option (to be able to arrange the transfer) is being able to access a US-based card - but if you are Australian, then no luck there, as no US-Bank would issue you with a CC (as you have no Social Security number, being a non-US resident, no credit history, etc).
Even with a SSN and US residency, its the no US-based credit history that will stop this. I have a collegue who has moved from the UK to USA, has a green card and SSN, and has even purchased a house there. The bank was willing to lend him money to purchase the house since he had a significant deposit after selling his place in the UK.

But since he has no other credit history in the USA, he could not get a credit card - at all - for the first year of living there. He has a secure income of over US100K, significant assets and has spotless UK-based credit history. But the US banks would not even consider that when he applied for credit cards.

He is married to a US citizen who has good credit rating and she can get credit cards without a problem, and assign him a secondary card. But no card in his name.

Eventually, after 12 months of holding a Bank of America savings account and showing a regular saving pattern in that account for 12 months, they relented and issued him a credit card - with a US$500 credit limit! He was told that after 6 months he can apply to have the credit limit increased.

He can't even get a Corporate Diners Club card for use on company travel, even though he has held a UK-based Corporate Diners Club card for the last 5 years and never missed a payment!

Now, to get back on topic (who ever said I could not do that??), an Australian based Amex Membership Rewards card will allow points transfer to QF, Air NZ, Malaysian airline programs, Hilton Honors, Priority Club and Starwood hotel programs. Transfer to Hilton is 1:1, while transfer to Starwood is 1000 MR points = 330 Starwood points. Remember you can earn Amex points at 1.5 per A$ with the Amex Rewards Maximiser card.

Air NZ will allow redemptions on UA flights, but not tranfer of points into UA. Hilton Honors permist transfer to many airlines, but strangely UA is not one of them (AA, CO, DL, AS, NW are all available). But the rate is typically 10,000 HH points -> 1500 miles, so not good value.

I don't know about going from Starwood to UA, but that may be one option. Still, its going to be significantly devalued on the way through. If Starwood to UA is 1:1, then you have almost 2:1 transfer from A$ spend on Amex Rewards Maximiser card to UA MP miles via Starwood.

An Australian Diners Club card can redeem points for UA MP points at 2:1. But earning is 1 point per A$. Some people have been offered 1.5 points or even double points for a short period as an incentive to retain the card.

Of course the problem with Amex and Diners is acceptance for payment. They are fine for travel related expenses (airfares, hotels, car rental, most restaurants etc), supermarkets, fuel etc, but many small businesses and an increasing number of larger ones and utilities and services will only take Visa, Mastercard and Bank Card. The Duty-free shop in Cairns Airport told me there would be a surcharge for using Amex to purchase two bottles of scotch (in the end it was not in the bill and not charged, so I didn't complain).
 

dajop

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NM said:
An Australian Diners Club card can redeem points for UA MP points at 2:1. But earning is 1 point per A$.
This ain't all bad, depending on intended flight. Take a UA flight to east coast US in J class - requires 90,000 pts or a spend of $180,000 AUD. After May 05 - on a certain Australian airline - it will require 256,000 pts - a spend of $256,000 AUD.
 

NM

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dajop said:
This ain't all bad, depending on intended flight. Take a UA flight to east coast US in J class - requires 90,000 pts or a spend of $180,000 AUD. After May 05 - on a certain Australian airline - it will require 256,000 pts - a spend of $256,000 AUD.
Too true. And by this, I can only assume that the certain Australian you reference is trying to put such rewards out of the reach of CC points earners and only in the domain of their own loyal customers (read: big spenders).
 

cssaus

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Thanks to all those who have so far responded to this topic but it seems to be drifting a little off-subject.

What I'm trying to determine is the most effective way to get points into a UA MP account with Australian credit cards either directly or indirectly.
 

NM

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cssaus said:
Thanks to all those who have so far responded to this topic but it seems to be drifting a little off-subject.
Off topic?? Mio?? Never :p

cssaus said:
What I'm trying to determine is the most effective way to get points into a UA MP account with Australian credit cards either directly or indirectly.
Ok, if you insist ....

Looks like Diners will do 2:1 directly to UA MP, but suffers from poor acceptance.

Amex is an option with Rewards Maximiser getting 1.5 points/A$, but losing out in transfer via a third party program such as Starwood.

I am not aware of any Australian Visa or MC options for getting points into UA.
 
G

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we can hope for a card that takes advantage of the *alliance and points in this country... perhaps virgin might work something in to their cc ??

on a side note NM, 2 banks I know of will issue credit cards if you have a history of banking with them.
bank of america: i had a significant balance with them for over 12 months straight and enquired many many times about credit cards - i managed to get a platinum check visa debit card which is OKAY (no points), - was told by the bank manager if I had a SSN, then based on previous banking it would "most likely" be approved.

Second bank is wells fargo, same deal as BOA. I have a partner card of my girlfriends account and I dont even have SSN.

Doubt this helps him... but eh.. might serve handy for someone using that search function in 5 years :p
 

arun

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As for converting points to a *A program-
Westpac Altitude allows you to convert the Altitude points to Air NZ AirDollars. The Visa card gets you 1 altitude point for every $1 spent. The Westpac Altitude AMEX gets you 2 altitude point for every $1 spent.

After the changes to the AirNZ program, I do not know the conversion rate for Altitude points to AirNZ AirDollars. I could not find that in the WP website.

Regards
Arun
 

NM

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d00t said:
on a side note NM, 2 banks I know of will issue credit cards if you have a history of banking with them.
bank of america: i had a significant balance with them for over 12 months straight and enquired many many times about credit cards - i managed to get a platinum check visa debit card which is OKAY (no points), - was told by the bank manager if I had a SSN, then based on previous banking it would "most likely" be approved.
Yes, it was BoM that eventually gave him a CC with $500 limit - after he held an account for 12 months showing significant savings ability. But that meant that for his first 12 months in the USA, the only CC's he was able to use were his UK cards and after he was married he got a secondary card on his wife's acconut. But none of those were able to earn him AA miles on his spending (see, there had to a FF/points/mile link here somewhere :wink: ).

Debit cards again not a problem, but no AA points earning ability.
 

yanknperth

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I'm ready to give my UA Mileage Plus CC the flick - they charge approx 2% 'exchange rate' as the CC bill comes as US dollar total.

Was hoping that Virgin CC would team with UAL, but I just received a note from Virgin saying in no uncertain terms that they do not, and will not in the forseeable (yes, that's spelled correctly - I checked) start any FF programs with anyone. Leaves us isolated West Aussies in a bit of a lurch as far as in-country FF choices (read Qantas).

I don't want to give up on Star Alliance however, because it gets me to California easily. This year travelling via ANZ all the way - costing $117 in taxes.

I'm going to Westpac today to get info on their 'Westpac Altitude' program. I couldn't figure out their exchange either, but the website says that you can use the Altitude miles on ANY airline for ANY seat... We'll see... I'll let you know what I find out.

Here's a question for you travelers.. My flight to SFO via ANZ involves a 13 HOUR layover in Aukland. Guess that's the payback for the $117 flight. Anyway, can anyone who is familiar with Aukland airport and surrounding city please give me some recommendations as to how to kill half a day? I considered joining their 'Lounge', but $250 was a bit much for the trip. The Aukland airport website offers showers, but not much in the way of places to 'park' for an extended period. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Replies here or yanknperth@westnet.com.au. Thanks very much. Cheers
 

serfty

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yanknperth said:
Here's a question for you travelers.. My flight to SFO via ANZ involves a 13 HOUR layover in Aukland. Guess that's the payback for the $117 flight. Anyway, can anyone who is familiar with Aukland airport and surrounding city please give me some recommendations as to how to kill half a day? I considered joining their 'Lounge', but $250 was a bit much for the trip. The Aukland airport website offers showers, but not much in the way of places to 'park' for an extended period. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Replies here or yanknperth@westnet.com.au. Thanks very much. Cheers
AKL also has "dayrooms" with a TV and Bed, catch up on the 4 hour time zone change from Perth. Check their website.
 

yanknperth

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AKL Day Room

Great info serfty. I'll sleep soundly knowing that I won't be doubled up and snoring in the departure lounge the better part of 13 hours. Thank you. Cheers
 

infoworks

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I tried for years to get a US-based card to accumulate UA points, especially when I was travelling there a third of the year, but even with then employer support, they wouldn't do it.

I haven't tried since.
 

Kiwi Flyer

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For a 13 hour layover (that happens to be all daytime) I would definitely visit the city and not spend the time at the airport. Get a departure tax exemption sticker (for those transitting less than 24 hours) from one of the BNZ outlets. Saves paying a needless NZ$25.

Get a return ticket to the city on the airbus (NZ$22) - leaves about every 20 minutes and the GPS system means you know roughly how long a wait it will be.

Visit sky city (there's an airbus stop there) - casino, tower incl restaurant, stand on the glass floor overlooking the city. If into thrills, jump off the tower or maybe climb up to the crows nest.

Something more sedate but worthwhile (as long as weather isnt cr@p) is to take a ferry to Waiheke (leaves from the bottom of Albert Street - if taking airbus the stop is on Quay Street just about opposite) and spend a few hours visiting wineries (Mudbrick also has nice restaurant), craft shops &/or beach.
 

infoworks

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This is probably being cheeky to Kiwi (sorry in advance), but I would recommend the ferry to Devenport. It's closer, easier to get around on, nice views back to the city, bridge, etc and a nice little town. Walk thru it and up the hill to the lookout. As much as I like Wiheke, I also find it much harder to get around, less frequent ferries. If push came to shove, a taxi back into the city would not be difficult.

Also Cin Cin at the ferry building (in AKL) is a great place to dine.
 

yanknperth

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Spending time in AKL

Thanks everyone for the great travel tips... did someone say CASINO??? All the best.
 

RTWFF

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I got a Mileage Plus Credit Card

I'm an Australian on a work visa to the US and I'm a member of Mileage plus. I got my Social Security number in February. I immediately applied for a MP Visa card - and got rejected. No surprises there. However when I qualified for Premier Executive status 4 months later I got a letter "you have been pre-approved". Yippee. I confirmed my interest on line and with a few days got a "send a photocopy of your SSN and a utility bill confirming your address" letter. I complied. A month later and I'm now the proud bearer of a MP Visa card with a limit of (drum roll) USD2,500
 
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