Flying To Israel With The Current El Al Promotions

Update: Promo #2 is already dead, but promo #1 for a 20%-30% bonus on transfers to Matmid expires today, 01/10/13.

This was originally posted on 12/10/12:

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Find more articles like this by clicking on the “Mileage Posts” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.

Related posts:
Which Miles To Use To Fly To Israel?
Which Miles To Use To Hawaii? (With info on how to get a free flexible ticket to places like Miami, Los Angeles, Alaska, or even Hawaii when you book your next ticket to Israel)

Other Current AMEX promotions:
-Get A 30% Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into British Airways Avios!
-Transfer Membership Rewards Into 2.7 Hilton Points.
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Update: If you don’t have an El Al account you can signup here for free and receive 25 points (the equivalent of 1,250 AMEX MR points).  Having an account allows you to check award availability (even when using AA miles) on ElAl.com

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I’m not a big fan of El Al points:
-Flight points and bonus points expire after 3 years regardless of activity.
-They charge $350 in taxes and fuel surcharges on award tickets between the US and Israel.
-Award availability can be very scarce and unlike United where you have dozens of other partners to redeem for, El Al doesn’t have any redemption partners.
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 1,400 points in coach, 3,000 points in business, and 5,000 points in first.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 1,800 points in coach, 4,000 points in business, and 5,400 points in first.

To translate those numbers into AMEX points,
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 70,000 MR points in coach, 150,000 MR points in business, and 250,000 MR points in first.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 90,000 MR points in coach, 200,000 MR points in business, and 270,000 MR points in first.
Plus add $350 in fuel surcharges to those rates.

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Other AMEX options besides El Al:

There are generally better ways to get to Israel with AMEX points, such as with Air Canada, British Airways, or Delta miles.  Or possibly even converting Air Canada miles into USAirways miles with a 27% points haircut via points.com to avoid the fuel surcharges that Air Canada collects on some European carriers.

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If you’re sold on El Al:

If you only want to fly El Al, consider AA and Starpoint transfers to AA.  And don’t forget to fully utilize JFK as a free stopover point for up to 2 free bonus award tickets.

-You can book El Al flights via American for as low as 80,000 miles in coach via Europe, 90,000 miles in coach nonstop, or 135,000 miles in business.
-When booked via American you also don’t need to pay any fuel surcharges.
-You can transfer increments of 20,000 Starwood Starpoints into 25,000 American miles. That 25% bonus makes the American booking that much less.
-When booking American you can also add on a free flight at the end to go anywhere in the US for free. In other words If you fly from JFK to TLV on 01/10/13 and back on 01/25/13 you can make JFK the “stopover” on the return and then add a flight from JFK to Los Angeles or Honolulu nonstop at any later date for free. Plus American does not charge anything for date changes.
The same thing works on the return you can book Honolulu or Los Angeles to JFK, use that as a “stopover” and then add a flight from JFK to Tel Aviv nonstop at any later date.
Plus they even allows stopovers like that on one-way tickets, so you can get 2 stopovers for free, effectively a free round-trip to anywhere in the US or Canada.

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First Class:

Wow, I got off on a tangent from what I intended to write about in this post…
At any rate what American can’t do is book you on El Al in first class, which is known to have the best kosher food in the sky even if it falls short of the first class service found on Asian and European carriers.
With the promotion #1 below first class becomes a lot cheaper, and first class availability on El Al is excellent, far better than coach or business (likely because AA can’t book into that class with their miles).

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Current Stackable Promotions:

Promo 1: Convert credit card points (AMEX, Diners, and HAS) to El Al by 01/10/13 and get a bonus:

-Members converting up to 1000 Club points will receive 20% additional free points.
-Members converting 1000 – 2000 Club points will receive 25% additional free points.
-Members converting over 2000 Club points will receive 30% additional free points.

So transfers of less than 50,000 AMEX will earn a 20% bonus, transfers of 50,000-99,999 AMEX will earn a 25% bonus, and transfers of at least 100,000 AMEX will earn a 30% bonus.

While the 20% bonus will post within a day, the extra 5% or 10% bonus (to make it 25% or 30% in total) won’t post until January.

With AMEX points if you go for the 30% bonus this means,
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 54,000 MR points in coach, 116,000 MR points in business, and 193,000 MR points in first.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 70,000 MR points in coach, 154,000 MR points in business, and 208,000 MR points in first.
Plus add $350 in fuel surcharges to those rates.

Beware that the 30% bonus points are subject to the 3 year expiration policy.

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Promo #2: Points and Cash awards (Book by 12/31/12, depart between January 8 and March 9, 2013, returns until March 15, 2013)
This promotion is not good in first class unfortunately.
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 900 points plus $200 in coach or 2,000 points plus $250 in business.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 1,200 points plus $200 in coach or 2,500 points plus $250 in business.
Plus add $350 in fuel surcharges to those rates.

If you use AMEX points and you go for the 30% bonus this means,
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 35,000 MR points plus $200 in coach or 77,000 MR points plus $250 in business.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 47,000 MR points plus $200 in coach or 97,000 MR points plus $250 in business.
Plus add $350 in fuel surcharges to those rates.

Update: A commenter pointed out that only 20% of the bonus will post in December (the other 10% will post in January). Thus, if you use AMEX points and you only factor the immediate 20% bonus this means:
-For NYC or Toronto to Tel Aviv you need 37,500 MR points plus $200 in coach or 84,000 MR points plus $250 in business.
-For Los Angeles to Tel Aviv you need 50,000 MR points plus $200 in coach or 105,000 MR points plus $250 in business.
Plus add $350 in fuel surcharges to those rates.
Of course you can also get a 10% bonus in January to use for next time that makes the effective transfer rate better than these numbers.
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Need some Membership Rewards points now? You can always call American Express to borrow some if you are a cardholder!

-The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card comes with 25,000 points for spending $2,000 and the first year is free.  That will net you some 70,000 Hilton points.

-The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 25K points as well and now is a great time to signup as you can get $200 of airline fee credits (or airline gift cards in $100 increments) in December of 2012 and another $200 in January of 2013. It also comes with a $100 global entry expedited customs (5 year membership) refund, platinum card airline club access (American, Delta, and USAirways) for you and your entire family for 4 years, priority pass worldwide unlimited lounge membership, Regus Office Club Membership with worldwide locations, Starwood gold elite status, car rental perks at Avis, Hertz, and National, lost item (up to $10,000/item) refund protection, checked baggage protection, Open Savings automatic cash rebates on top of points, 3 additional Platinum users (with 4 years of free platinum card lounge access, priority pass membership, and global entry refund) for just $58 each, no foreign exchange fees, and many more free benefits.  There is a $450 annual fee.  As with all annual fees they are refundable if cancelled within 60 days, they are pro-rated if cancelled after 60 days and have another American Express card (i.e. if you have the card for 3 months and then cancel you would get a $337.50 refund), and they are pro-rated if you downgrade the card even if you have no other American Express card.

HT: Drago and freemymiles, via DDF

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57 Responses to “Flying To Israel With The Current El Al Promotions”

  1. Manganator Says:
    1

    @Dan
    hi, i live in ny and have a $400 delta voucher expiring soon, i was wondering if u knew the rules behind those, like can they be used for cruises booked through the Delta website or which vacation place i can go to within that amount

    ReplyReply
  2. Dan Says:
    2

    DDF exists for all questions not related to the content of the post:
    http://forums.dansdeals.com/

    ReplyReply
  3. Manganator Says:
    3

    sorry about that, thank u

    ReplyReply
  4. Confused Says:
    4

    I currently have the reg starwood amex acct opened thru your link. SHould I switch and get the platnum card or just stick with what I have?

    ReplyReply
  5. arye Says:
    5

    your numbers for stacking are off. only the %20 promo posts right away, the last %5/%10 posts after the promo ends in january… won’t help you for the points/cash sale

    ReplyReply
  6. ih Says:
    6

    how much does elal charge for taxes?

    ReplyReply
  7. Dan Says:
    7

    @Confused:
    Starpoints are generally more valuable than AMEX MR points, but it depends on your individual usage.

    @arye:
    Missed that, I’ve updated the numbers with that info.

    @ih:
    About $350 as I wrote numerous times.

    ReplyReply
  8. ag Says:
    8

    “Plus they even allows stopovers like that on one-way tickets, so you can get 2 stopovers for free, effectively a free round-trip to anywhere in the US or Canada”
    Could you explain how that works

    ReplyReply
  9. Dan Says:
    9

    @ag:
    Let’s say you’re flying home to JFK from TLV after your sem/yeshiva year in Israel.

    You can book a ticket from TLV to JFK on El Al on 06/15/13 for say 45K AA miles.

    Or you can book a ticket from TLV to Honolulu with a stop in JFK. The TLV to JFK flight can be 06/15/13 and then you can stopover in JFK for 4 months and fly JFK-Honolulu nonstop on Hawaiian on 10/15/13. All for the same 45K. Now just pay 17.5K miles for a one-way ticket back home from Honolulu.

    Or if you want to return to Israel on 12/15/13. You can book JFK-TLV for 45K.
    Or you can book Honolulu-TLV as your return trip with a stop in JFK. So Honolulu-JFK on 10/25/13 and then JFK-TLV on 12/15/13.

    And with free date changes it’s all flexible so you can change that JFK-Honolulu or JFK-TLV ticket to anytime you want for free!

    ReplyReply
  10. Ornit Says:
    10

    Hey Dan. I was able to book round trip tickets on American ORD- FCO for 60K miles RT. Then last week I was able to book FCO – TLV for $260 rt, non stop on El Al in July during peak travel season. Couldn’t find this fare online, but got it when I called American inquiring about mileage tickets. Not worth even using miles.

    ReplyReply
  11. Rrt Says:
    11

    You should make a note that the 30% is only added after the 2,000 point threshhold so for jfk tlv business it would be more then 77000 but then youl be left with some extra miles

    ReplyReply
  12. Dan Says:
    12

    @Rrt:
    I did note that.

    ReplyReply
  13. ag Says:
    13

    So it will only work for spaced out travel?

    ReplyReply
  14. Dan Says:
    14

    @ag:
    No, I was just giving an example for how it could be used for “spaced out travel”

    If you want to go to Israel and Hawaii (or any other US/Canada city) back to back you can do that as well.

    ReplyReply
  15. ag Says:
    15

    Sorry, I don’t quite get it yet. If I were to make 2 one way tickets, each with a stopover – for example MIA-JFK-TLV & then the reverse…Is there an order in which I have to use the tickets. For example, do I have to use the outbound domestic flight first (MIA-JFK), before the JFK-TLV. Also, could I possibly use the JFK-MIA before the MIA-JFK?

    ReplyReply
  16. Elliot Says:
    16

    What can I do with 281,000 Chase Freedom points instead of Amex points?

    ReplyReply
  17. Moshe F Says:
    17

    How do I book/search a Elal flight with Amercan Airline points? Can I search aa.com or do I have to call aa?

    ReplyReply
  18. David Says:
    18

    I saw on Elal.com that you can use 300 matmid points to pay $150 of the fuel surcharge fees for TLV-JFK. maybe not the best use of points, but if you already have them tied up in matmid points it is helpful.

    ReplyReply
  19. Anonymous Says:
    19

    i just booked a one way business and return economy for 100,000 united points. wld this b a better deal if i wanna add ppl to our trip?

    ReplyReply
  20. RZaroff Says:
    20

    Dan,

    Are you certain that the bonus applies for US based card holders? There is no mention of the transfer bonus on the AMEX rewards page. Do I need to register somewhere for it?

    Thank you

    ReplyReply
  21. Dan Says:
    21

    @ag:
    Of course it needs to be in order.

    @Elliot:
    Transfer them to United.

    @Moshe F:
    You can search on ElAl.com for award space but you must call AA to book.

    @RZaroff:
    Yes. The bonus is not from AMEX, it is from El Al.
    No registration is necessary. Read the link for the full terms.

    ReplyReply
  22. Deal Guy Says:
    22

    Does anyone have the actual elal link which breaks down the 350 fuel surcharge, ie how much is it one way nyc-tlv, and tlv-nyc?

    ReplyReply
  23. dave Says:
    23

    Dan, if I go ewr to tlv on united and I can get HI can I get anywhere else as well like bahamas too? Or specific HI ? Thanks

    ReplyReply
  24. Dan Says:
    24

    @dave:
    Yup, the Bahamas would work as well.

    ReplyReply
  25. ih Says:
    25

    If the card is in my wifes name can the AMEX MR points be transferred to MY OWN Matmid account which already has some points?

    Or I have to open a brand new Matmid account for her specifically?

    ReplyReply
  26. ih Says:
    26

    i SEE YOU COMMENTED THAT YOU CAN SEARCH AVAILABILITY FOR aa REWARDS ON ELAL.COM but you need to call AA to book.

    How do you see the award availibility on ELAL.COM which can be used with AA miles?

    ReplyReply
  27. majer Says:
    27

    How is points.com working please explain
    example you writhe i could exchange Aeroplan to us-airways
    thanks

    ReplyReply
  28. Dan Says:
    28

    @ih:
    MR points transfer to anyone.

    @ih:
    They can book the same coach and business awards that El Al points can book.

    @majer:
    Make an account there and see for yourself.
    Last I checked 1,000 Air Canada Aeroplan=730 USAirways miles.

    ReplyReply
  29. majer Says:
    29

    its a free exchange ?
    thanks

    ReplyReply
  30. ih Says:
    30

    I have found the availibility using AA to be limited-

    Is there more availibility when you use the points 700 matmid & cash $250 or $300 I cannot remember?

    Also if you do the cash & points 700 & $250 or $300 is the taxes then half, $175.

    I am looking to go in the summer.

    thanks for your help

    ReplyReply
  31. Dan Says:
    31

    @majer:
    Yes.

    @ih:
    AA doesn’t control the availability, El Al does.
    And like I said in the post, besides for first class, it generally is lousy.

    I would assume cash and points availability will be the same as regular availability.

    ReplyReply
  32. Becky Says:
    32

    I’m sitting on 114K+ HAS Advantage points, which I had in mind for Israel tickets (this was from before I learned better ways to get to earn points for Israel travel). Assuming I’m ok paying the fuel charges (under $500/ticket OOP to Israel is fine with me), would you say this is the way to go?

    Also, is there a way to take advantage of the free domestic stopover when going from HAS -> Matmid?

    (last question, promise): Any flights originating at ORD in this deal?

    ReplyReply
  33. miles Says:
    33

    1)i just did a elal NYC-TLV one way J return Y and YQ was $409
    2) points from amex dont expire ?
    3) points.com also charge a fee ?

    ReplyReply
  34. Zev Says:
    34

    I don’t understand about receiving “4 years” of lounge access – isn’t it just as long as you have the Platinum card?

    ReplyReply
  35. Dan Says:
    35

    @Becky:
    I’m not a HAS expert, sorry.

    @Zev:
    Works until the card expires even if cancelled.

    ReplyReply
  36. Zev Says:
    36

    Dan – thanks. So if I downgrade my Platinum card I can still use it for lounge access? Is that an official perk or just that the lounge staff doesn’t run the card?

    ReplyReply
  37. Moshe Says:
    37

    Is the 30%promotion also if imtransfer from has advantage?

    ReplyReply
  38. JCC Says:
    38

    if I transfer 100k miles from 1 Acc. And 20k from another acc. To 1 Matmid Acc. Would I get 30% Bonus on the 20k or only 20% Bonus ?

    ReplyReply
  39. Jack Levo Says:
    39

    I have never posted before. I have about 30,000 world points from MasterCard. Is there any way I can transfer them for Matmid points?

    ReplyReply
  40. Elizabeth Says:
    40

    im signing up to matmid el al club
    it askd me who is refering me
    i put down club member since i went through ur link

    its asking me:
    Details of the person who recommended registering in the Matmid Club

    Identify number(Member number, employee or IATA code):
    Name:

    so i wanted to know if i can get ur identify# n name so i can put u down.
    if u dont earn anythin for refering ppl to this el al club, let me know an il skip this step.

    ReplyReply
  41. Cheri Says:
    41

    I just transfered over 90,000 points from AMEX to ELAL. I thought I get the ratio of 29 to 1, I got much less than I expected. What is the actual change ratio and why is it so misleading on the ELAL website?

    ReplyReply
  42. DealsSeeker Says:
    42

    So you say that one still gets the lounge access with the Amex Platinum card until the card expires even if you cancel, what about SPG Gold Status, do you get to keep that and for how long? Thanks!

    ReplyReply
  43. Shaya M Says:
    43

    When I booked with American they and asked to go from Miami to tlv with stop over in JFK , and asked if I don’t use the Miami leg they said will cancel the whole trip. I asked to just put Miami only on return they Said can only do if you leave from Miami
    So how do you get the 2 bonus flights

    ReplyReply
  44. yisraeli Says:
    44

    Just signed up from the Matmid club link posted! (I tried to do this before, but they wanted money– I don’t know how you do it).

    If I just flew El Al last week, can I add these miles to the matmid club?

    ReplyReply
  45. Mark Says:
    45

    Dan,

    I cant seem to get tweets and followed your steps.

    Under Mobile Setting I checked off the following, Please advise if i am missing something.

    Tweets from people you’ve enabled for mobile notifications.
    Direct messages.
    Mentions and replies.
    Only from people I follow.

    ReplyReply
  46. Az Says:
    46

    Dan, I know you have individual trip reports.. but do you have a compilation of what business and first class look like on each airline/airplane you have flown ?

    ReplyReply
  47. Chana Says:
    47

    Platnum card club access: The club card seems to be only for the card holder. All others must pay $27 each to get in. a) For $175 I can add 3 AU to the cc and get 3 more lounge passes. correct? b)any way to get the whole family in?

    ReplyReply
  48. mayer Says:
    48

    i have 30,000 mr points and my wife has around 27.000 mrpoints please guide me how to use it for elal in plain english
    thanking you
    mayer

    ReplyReply
  49. mendy Says:
    49

    DAN hi thanks for your posts
    what could i do with my $200 gift cards from an airline ?
    i wanna get $200 reimborstment but dont need the $200 in ticlkets?
    please answer me thanks for your time

    ReplyReply
  50. Deal Guy Says:
    50

    Ends in a half hour 5pm est

    ReplyReply
  51. Dan Says:
    51

    @DealsSeeker:
    Good question.

    @Chana:
    With the Plat card access 1 card gets your whole family in.

    ReplyReply
  52. Deal Guy Says:
    52

    Dan, im pretty sure they just pulled the offer. The link that was working 10 minutes ago, now reroutes to another page. Also when I called a elal rep a half hour ago, she put me on hold and then told me to hurry because it ends at 12am Israel time. I think you should update that its dead, so that people dont rush to transfer expecting the bonus. I put my order in 3 minutes before the deadline. Hope it works

    ReplyReply
  53. Dave Says:
    53

    I got the price mistake tickets on ElAl and I changed the ticket for $75 to go direct each way. Anyone have any idea if I would be able to earn American Airline points with this ticket. I am a member with Matmid but would rather receive AA miles. Thanks!

    ReplyReply
  54. Metziah Says:
    54

    If I have an Amex platinum does it include spg platinum or does it just upgrade an existing regular spg account?

    ReplyReply
  55. Cookie Schaffel Says:
    55

    Is it too early to look for tickets to Israel for Succot?

    ReplyReply
  56. IMH Says:
    56

    I am interested in hacking ORD-EWR-TLV and back in mid December. Could you clarify how this can be done? It seems that the cheaper departure dates are all on Friday and Shabbos.

    ReplyReply
  57. sarah g Says:
    57

    Thank you for sharing your smarts with the rest. I have 170K amex points. How can I best use them for travel LA-TLV roundtrip for 2 adults. Seeking no extra charges. What do you advise?

    ReplyReply

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