On the train from NYC -> Lancaster, PA I overheard a peculiar conversation. "I only used my debit card twice, but they got my number and wiped out my account." Up to that point, I ONLY used a debit card. Although I had credit cards, the concept of borrowing money really scared me. I don't like owing anyone, anything.
What if my checking account got hijacked and wiped out? I started to rethink my use of debit.
For my credit cards, I never wanted miles. Miles are a scam: a subtle but insanely effective method of getting people to spend more. As my friend T said, "There were times I would end up buying someone lunch basically just to get the miles."
Since a debit card could lead to my checking account getting stolen and since I love to travel, I should concentrate my firepower and get a travel credit card and ditch my American Express Blue.
I asked my brother and I asked my friend Stu who are both experienced travelers. They both recommended the United Mileage Plus Visa. With a sign-on bonus of 30,000 miles, that's almost half a ticket to Thailand, which normally costs at least $1000. Just for signing up they were giving me $500.
United miles can be used on any Star Alliance airline, which is hands down the best global airline alliance. I could visit Asia on Singapore Airways or jet set to Europe on Lufthansa. So far the card works great. I get 1 mile for each dollar spent and the annual fee is a reasonable $60.
As a bonus, they gave my brother 15,000 miles for the referral. I called 1-877-858-5188, mentioned offer code C7G4, and gave my brother's United frequent flier #, and effectively got him $250 worth of miles for free.
All in all, I'm very happy. If you're interested in signing up, let me know and I can give you my frequent flier #. I would definitely take and appreciate a referral bonus. Sign up, get 30,000 miles, and you're already half way to Venice for free.