Yesterday, I met with a group of local Portland bloggers to plan for world domination. Over the past year, we’ve met regularly to organize an upcoming conference for readers of Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity. Usually our conversation is focused on gift bags and tour groups and the absolute racket that is event catering. ($15 cups of coffee? Give me that job, please. I could get rich quickly.)

Somehow last night, the discussion turned to credit cards. More specifically, it turned to a rewards card for British Airways. For most of the conversation, I wasn’t paying attention. I don’t play the credit-card game. Some people like that sort of fussy financial stuff when managing their money, but I don’t. (I like the psychology of money, not the micro-management.)

But the rest of the group was so enthusiastic about this card that I started listening more carefully.

Note: Other people at this meeting included Chris Guillebeau (obviously), Jolie Guillebeau, Tsilli Pines, Tammy Strobel, Sean Ogle, and Tyler Tervooren. Each of these folks has been mentioned at GRS before, and several have shared guest posts. Fun note: During the World Domination Summit, Adam Baker (“the Babe Ruth of blogging”) will be parking his RV on my front lawn! I’m excited to see him again. Maybe we can get into some mischief together.

About the time I started paying attention, I started taking notes:

“This card is amazing,” Sean said. “I signed up and now I’ve got 100,000 miles.”

“I have no idea what that means,” I said. Because I don’t. Frequent-flyer miles are a mystery to me. I have 25,080 United miles from our Africa trip, but I only know that because I looked it up for this article. And I don’t know what to do with them.

“It means he can get a free business-class ticket to anywhere in western Europe,” Chris said.

“Oh,” I said. But I wasn’t really impressed. “What if you don’t want to fly business class? What if you want to fly coach?”

“That’s two tickets,” Chris said.

“Oh,” I said. “Just one way?”

“No,” said Sean. “Round trip.”

“Oh,” I said. And then something clicked in my head. Free plane tickets to Europe? Suddenly, I was more interested. “How much does this cost?” I asked.

“Just $95 a year,” chimed in Tyler.

“And I think the APR is 14%,” said Sean.

I waved my hand dismissively (sorry, Sean). “APR doesn’t matter to me,” I said. I wouldn’t carry a balance, so the card’s interest rate is irrelevant. “But $95? For two round-trip tickets to western Europe?”

YES!” my friends said in unison. “And probably other places, too.”

“Oh,” I said. “That sounds like a pretty good deal.”

“Yeah,” said Chris. “But you have to hurry.”

“Why?” I said.

“Because I think it’s ending soon,” he said. “Like next week.”

“Here,” Sean said. “I’ll send you a link. This page will let you see how many miles it takes to travel to different places.”

From there, the conversation moved back to more mundane matters, like where to find a venue to host a party for a few hundred bloggers on a Sunday night in June.

This morning, I did a bit more research on the British Airways card. Here’s what I found:

  • The APR is currently 14.24%. (It’s set at Prime + 3.25%.) Again, this doesn’t matter to me.
  • There’s a $95 annual fee.
  • After the first time you use the card, you receive 50,000 British Airways miles.
  • If you charge $2500 in the first three months of having the card, you receive another 50,000 British Airways miles. This might be a stretch for me, but if I use the card to pay some bills, I should be able to do it.
  • You receive 1.25 British Airways miles for each dollar you spend. (Well, you get 2.5 miles for every $1 you spend on British Airways, but those are going to be few and far between, right?)
  • If you use the card to spend $30,000 in any given year, you get a free companion travel ticket. That’s nice, but…$30,000!!! That’s $2500 a month. That’s like twice my normal spending level. Not gonna happen.

I didn’t find anything about this being a limited-time offer, but that’s what Chris said last night. This offer is slated to expire on the sixth of May. Rather than risk missing out, I signed up just now. Because I’m not eager to pay the $95 annual fee, I plan to cancel the card before my one-year anniversary.

Since I returned to the world of credit four years ago, I’ve been adamant that I’m only going to have one personal credit card. I don’t want to be one of those folks who has tons of cards, and I don’t want to be worrying about all sorts of fees. But you know what? I’m willing to make an exception in this case. $95 for two round-trip trans-Atlantic tickets is too good to pass up. (Can you see the visions of another trip to Venice dancing in my eyes?)

So — gulp — I applied for this credit card. I’m confident that I’ll use it wisely, just as I have with my current personal credit card. Meanwhile, I wonder what other travel deals I’ve been missing out on by being ignorant of rewards programs. Mr. Guillebeau just wrote more about travel hacking last week (and he mentioned this card!). Maybe I should be paying closer attention.

Note: it’s been nine months since I asked you for your favorite credit cards. I’d meant to compile the data and share it last summer — but it still hasn’t been done. I still hope to do this, but it’s a low priority, I’m afraid. Though I do think credit cards are useful tools, I’m just not ready to be a cheerleader for them.

This article is about Credit Cards, Travel