Category Archive for 'Miles'

When Will The Other Shoe Drop For AAdvantage?

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

American announced earlier today that pretty much nothing will change for the new combined AAdvantage elite program in Q2 of 2015.   Elites will now be upgraded on sub-500 mile flights where nobody cares about being upgraded anyway. USAirways elites will have to get used to a new upgrade system and will lose their old frequent flyer numbers. And miles from USAirways will be automatically moved to American on a yet to be determined date in Q2. But that’s about it, no major surprises there.

As it stands American is the only of the remaining 3 network carriers to not have a spend requirement to earn elite status. And while United went through a painful devaluation earlier this year and Delta continues to make sure their miles are the worst in the industry, American hasn’t had a devaluation to their sAAver award chart in years.

I still expect to see an AAdvantage devaluation for 2015.  But for now, we’ll continue to hold our breath.

Reminder: Don’t forget that just 3 days remain to use AA miles to book tickets on El Al and that the churnable US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will only be available for a limited time longer before it’s discontinued for good.

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A Last Chance To Fly “Private” On Miles…

Sunday, October 26th, 2014

Brazilian based TAM airlines is finalizing its phase-out of first class service.
It already eliminated first class from JFK and this is the final week for first class from Miami.

First class continues to be eliminated by airlines as there are fewer people and businesses willing to splurge for it as business class continues to improve. American is removing first class from their 777-200 aircraft. All signs are that United is on the path to totally eliminate international first class. Lufthansa has a really neat first class on their 747-400 aircraft where you get a seat and a separate bed but that’s being phased out as well. Cathay Pacific continues to hack away at routes with first class, eliminating the service to Toronto, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Service from Newark to Hong Kong launched without first class as well.

I flew with my wife and kids on TAM First Class on a 777 from Miami to Sao Paulo last week. The entire first class cabin consists of 4 seats and we were able to redeem miles for all 4 seats. It looks and feels like a living room and it’s the closest I’ve ever felt to flying private.  Curtains close off the galley in front and business class in back to give it a truly private feel.  There are even 2 bathrooms just for the 4 first class seats.  The kosher airline food stunk of course, but they had no problem heating up our double wrapped food from a Miami restaurant.  The bed is very large and comfortable.

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Sure, several airlines (Singapore, China Eastern, Etihad, and Emirates come to mind) have walled-in suites for which you can redeem miles for.  But as neat as they are (and they are really neat) they can feel a bit claustrophobic and the seat can be a bit narrow.  The TAM first class cabin feels wide open, the seat is very wide, and when you have all of it to yourself it’s pretty darn cool.

Getting a visa to go to Brazil isn’t easy.  We used Allied Passport and Visa and they expertly took care of the nitty-gritty.  But you can go down to a Brazilian embassy or consulate yourself to figure it out.  Or you can fly TAM first class to Sao Paulo and then connect to another South American country where you can get a free visa or at least an instant paid visa such as Argentina where you don’t have to visit an embassy or consulate.  Dollars are a precious commodity in Argentina and you’ll be able to live like a king in Buenos Aires by trading in your dollars for Pesos on the “blue” market at twice the official rate.

Want to buy out the entire TAM first class cabin for your family?

Here’s what’s left from Miami to Sao Paulo with the first class entire cabin empty and available for miles:
-10/28 TAM 8095 9:05am-7:35pm (B777)
-10/28 TAM 8091 7:25pm-5:40am (B777)
-10/28 TAM 8035 10:35pm-8:50am (A332)
-10/29 TAM 8095 9:05am-7:35pm (B777)
-10/30 TAM 8035 10:35pm-8:50am (A332)

American charges 62.5K miles one-way to South America in first class, British Airways charges 75K one-way, and USAirways charges 125K round-trip. No fuel surcharges apply.

So, any readers crazy enough to jump on a plane to try it out this week?

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American-El Al Partnership Ending 10/31/14

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Update: Just 1 week left to use your AA miles to fly on El Al. Have you booked a trip since this announcement? Hit the comments!

Originally posted on 09/24:

On November 19th I made several predictions about the American-USAirways merger. Several have already come true.

-As referenced in #3 and #4, the American OneWorld round-the-world award chart was killed and USAirways started collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways and has already killed some off-peak awards.

-And I wrote in #9,

“Beware that El Al may decide to sever its relationship with American if they become a competitor and you may no longer be able to use American miles on El Al. Though if El Al would do that they would lose codeshare access to other US cities that they get from American though they can always set one up with an airline like JetBlue.”

And unfortunately that’s come to fruition as well.

“Effective November 1, 2014, flights taken on El Al will not accrue AAdvantage miles due to the discontinuation of American’s frequent flyer relationship with EL AL.

All award travel on EL AL must be booked and ticketed by October 31, 2014. Travel is valid one year after ticket date, and must be completed by October 31, 2015. No changes to the EL AL segments are allowed during that period.”

El Al used to be partners with Delta and that relationship ended when Delta started flights from Atlanta to Tel Aviv. Eventually those flights shifted to JFK.

American’s subsidiary USAirways of course flies to Tel Aviv via Philadelphia. The best way to book that flight is with less than 40K Starpoints round-trip via a transfer to LAN.

As American works out their issues with the former TWA employees who were stiffed in Israel they will surely launch more flights to Israel from JFK and Miami.

Had the United-Continental merger not gone through then I think El Al would be announcing a partnership with United today. Alas it did and United flies to Israel as well thanks to absorbing Continental’s flights. Which means there are no major North American carriers remaining to partner up with. Air Canada, Delta, and United all are competitors and all have a better business class product than El Al.

I still think a JetBlue partnership may occur, but that will likely be a codeshare-only relationship and not a frequent flyer relationship.

If you have AA miles and want to book a trip to Israel do it now before award inventory is completely wiped out by other AA mileage hoarders. Don’t wait for 10/31 to book a trip.

There is still time to transfer Starpoints to American to book flights on El Al, that transfer typically takes a few days.

You’ll need 45K miles in coach and 67.5K miles in business each way to fly nonstop from North America to Israel on El Al. El Al has flights from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.

If you stop in Europe that price can drop to 40K if you fly between 10/15-05/15. There’s a lot more info on hacking that award that in footnote *** at the end of this post.

A flight from Europe to Tel Aviv on El Al is 20K miles in coach and 30K in business.

Asia is a real bargain. Tel Aviv to Asia is just 22.5K miles in coach and business is just 30K. El Al flies nonstop to cities like Bangkok and Hong Kong. Their business class isn’t anything to write home about, but 30K is still a great bargain. In fact I just helped my parents book a trip from the US-Europe-Asia-Israel-US using AA miles with a flight on El Al in business class from the far east to Israel.

And El Al was a good way of getting from Israel to Australia for just 30K in coach and 45K in business as you can route from the Middle East to Australia via Bangkok and Hong Kong. Or you can use a 60K first class award to connect to a Qantas First class flight in Asia. Or you can use 30K AA miles to fly business to Bangkok and 30K United miles to fly Thai Business or 40K United miles to fly Thai First down under.  Thai First even comes with a free hour long massage in their Bangkok lounge.

Here is the rest of the AA award chart. You can always combine flights on El Al with other AA OneWorld and non-alliance partners on the same award.

Note that American agents often can only see 2 El Al awards at a time, so have them grab those 2 seats and then have the agent check for 2 more or just call back.

Some agents don’t know how to properly search for El Al award seats due to their confusing class codes (business on El Al is the same class as coach on other airlines, leave it to the Israelis to come up with the one :D ), so you may need to use some HUCA.

AA.com doesn’t show El Al awards, so you’ll need a Matmid account to research availability online.

Of course earlier this year HAS Advantage points stopped transferring to El Al as well.

Stay tuned for a post on the best remaining ways to use miles to fly on El Al in a post-AA and post-HAS era.

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Changes To Citicard Signup Bonuses

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Back in the good old days you were able to open several Citi American Airlines cards every month via 3BM and get the signup bonus for each one.  I was doing 3BMs when I started this blog in 2004 before the term MBM or 3BM existed.

Up until a few years ago those miles counted towards lifetime elite status, so I racked up millions of miles and lifetime Platinum status.

Then Citi started approving people for just 1 AA card every 18 months. Occasionally a link would surface on DDF that would grant approval without waiting 18 months, but that was the exception to the rule.

The $450/year AA executive card offering 100K miles earlier this year did not have an 18 month waiting period and I’m sure I’m not the only one who took that as a license to print a million AA miles in the first half of this year.

Until now there was one thing you could count on, if you were approved for a Citi card you would get the bonus.
That no longer appears to be the case.

DDF member ari2955 reports that he was approved for the AA executive card, completed the spending, and was denied the bonus.
Normally I’d be suspect and say to wait until the next statement generates but the app has added language that “American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles not available if you have had a Citi Executive® / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard® opened or closed in the past 18 months.”

Now there is language like that on cards from other banks that isn’t enforced, but a Citicards employee who is also a DDF member confirmed that this change has been pushed through on the AA Executive card, the Citi Premier card, and the Citi Expedia card. Indeed all of those cards have the new language that if you have had a card, opened the card, or have closed the card within the past 18 months that there won’t be a bonus.

And he reports that Citi will be adding that language to other cards as well…

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Earn Triple Gas Rewards For Buying Visa Gift Cards At Giant Or Stop & Shop

Monday, October 20th, 2014

Stop & Shop Store Locator Linky

Giant Store Locator Linky

Stop & Shop stores are offering 3 points per dollar towards discounted gas when you buy Visa gift cards through 10/23. Giant stores have the same offer through 10/25.

A $500 Visa costs $505.95. With this promo it will earn 1,500 gas points.

Every 100 gas points saves 10 cents off every gallon of gas at Shell stations. You can redeem up to 2,200 points in a single fillup. Redeeming 1,500 points would get you $1.50 off every gallon of gas that you buy during that fillup (up to 35 gallons of gas max).

1,500 points is worth up to $52.50 of free gas (as each 100 points saves 10 cents per gallon for up to 35 gallons…get those gas canisters ready ;)) Plus of course you get the miles for buying the gift cards on your credit card.

You can buy as many gift cards as you want with triple points, but gas points expire after 30 days.

Don’t forget to scan your Stop & Shop card when buying the gift cards and when redeeming the gas points at Shell.

These are MetaBank issues gift cards just like the ones sold by Staples.  Click here to read more on how to cash out those gift cards here.

HT: Dr Moose, via DDF

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Goodbye Serve With Softcard, Hello REDcard!

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

American Express continues to plow into the prepaid market at full throttle.

-They have their own Serve product.
-They have a co-branded Serve card with Softcard (formerly known as ISIS) that is a super-charged version of Serve.
-They have a partnership with Walmart for the co-branded Bluebird card.
-And they now have a partnership with Target for the co-branded REDcard.

In 2012 I called Bluebird the next dollar coin churn. Indeed it proved highly effective as a method of creating spend for your credit cards. I had lots of fun with Bluebird but this past July I switched to Serve with ISIS.

Serve with ISIS allows $1,500 in credit card funding right from your computer in addition to $5,000 in gift card/debit card funding from WalMart and Family Dollar stores.
However that’s already starting to show cracks. Some banks like BOFA and Citi have caught on and now charge a cash advance for Serve loads. Though Chase and Barclays are still safe for now.

And now there’s REDcard. It’s currently only available in select Target stores, but it will be rolled out nationwide.
Stores in some regions charge $5 for a REDcard while other regions have them for free.

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For now, Target allows you to fund REDcard from a credit card to the tune of $5,000 per month.
Additionally you get 5% off everything from Target, free shipping on everything from Target.com, and an additional 30 days to return items to Target.

Here’s my timeline:

10/14: On Tuesday I went to Target to buy a REDcard. In Cleveland there’s a $5 charge to purchase and load a REDcard. The card you get from Target is just temporary, you need to register it online after purchasing it to be sent a permanent card.

I purchased and loaded a temporary REDcard with $500 and the charge posted as a regular purchase. I tried loading it with more but the system didn’t allow that. The system also didn’t allow me to purchase another REDcard on the same day. You do need a license and SSN to buy a REDcard, though no credit check is done.

Of course I wasn’t able to register the REDcard under my SSN once I got home as I already have Serve with Softcard and AMEX only allows a person to have one flavor of their prepaid cards. I was able to register the card to someone else without any issue though.

10/15: On Wednesday I went back to Target and now that the temporary card was registered and had a pin I was able to load another $1,000 onto the card from my credit card. There was no fee. I tried to load more but it was rejected.

I then went to the Target ATM machine and was able to withdraw $200 twice with no fees before the system stopped allowing further withdrawals.

I was also able to buy another REDcard. You can buy one temporary REDcard per calendar day.

10/18: Of course then came the 3 day hiatus from all things electronic to finish off the Sukkos holiday, but the permanent card already came in the mail over the holiday!

So last night I went back to Target.

I tried loading $1,500 but the register said “amount too small.” The cashier and I got a kick out of that.

Then I went down to $1,000 and it worked fine. I loaded another $1,000 and then another $500 before the system cut me off.

Talk about making spend threshold spending easy!

Loads can be done with any cashier or at customer service.

Unfortunately the Target ATM machine was down. Not that it really matters as money can be transferred from REDcard to pay any bill or to transfer funds directly into your checking account.

10/19: Earlier today I decided to take the plunge and cancel my Serve card.

Of course there are several drawbacks to REDcard:
-You can’t load from a credit card online, while Serve allows me to do $1,500 per month from the comfort of my home.  REDcard does allow $1,000 in monthly funding from a debit card (though not a gift card) online.
-I also have 4 free additional users on my Serve account and Serve cards qualify for Small Business Saturday. REDcard doesn’t appear to be eligible for AMEX Offers promotions.
That hurts, but I’ll just have to add some more additional users on my American Express credit cards to make up for it :D
-Serve with Softcard gives $1 back on up to 50 purchases per month until the end of the year. Which hurts, but it’s a pain to break up your purchases that way anyway.

At any rate, $5,000 in easy credit card spend every month just seemed like something too good to pass up. And I can still use Softcard with other credit cards for promotions like this.

After cancelling Serve and waiting for the account cancellation email I was able to register the 2nd temporary REDcard that I bought last week.

So then it was back to Target today.  The permanent REDcard had been funded with $500 initially, $1,000 on Wednesday after being registered, and $2,500 last night when the permanent version came. Today I was able to load it with another $1,500 in 2 transactions, bringing the total load to $5,500.  The initial load didn’t count towards the $5K monthly limit, but now I’ll have to wait until November to load that card with another $5,000. It will take 2 trips on 2 different days, but I can easily load more than 1 REDcard at a time to make that less onerous.

After that I loaded the temporary card that I just registered to myself before going to the store with another $1,000.

And I bought a 3rd REDcard and loaded it with $500.

Every time with a smile. Without a line. And never being asked for ID (which made meeting my wife’s thresholds for a recent 3BM that muss less painful). Take that WalMart!

Of course Target can always disallow credit card funding, though when that happens I can always switch back to Serve with Softcard if that’s still around at that time.  It’s not really a matter of if but a matter of when, as some things are just too good to be true.

HT: jaywhy, via DDF and FM

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More Free Money From Softcard!

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

Update: I’m in for 16 boxes of cereal on sale at CVS for $1.99 each and hope to get $320 in Amazon gift cards! How about you?

Originally posted on 10/01:
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Related posts:
-Bye Bye Bluebird
-ISIS Wallet To Rebrand As Softcard

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You can get a $20 Amazon gift card for each card that you add to your Softcard (formerly ISIS) wallet and use at least once.

So far between my account and my wife’s account Softcard has:
-Paid us $25 each to signup for free.
-Paid us $20 each for spending $40 on Serve last month for Amazon gift cards.
-Paid us $10 each in Amazon gift cards for using the Softcard app to buy something.
And they pay $1 every time we use Serve in Softcard.
-Most importantly, allow us to upload a total of $36,000 per year on credit cards for free to Serve to pay off credit card bills or transfer into checking account. All from the comfort of my home.  Plus of course we can load another $36,000 from debit cards from home to Serve and another $120,000 of gift cards at WalMart and Family Dollar stores per year.  That all adds up to a lot of miles especially if you’re getting 5 miles per dollar on gift cards…

But now they will give us a $20 Amazon gift card for each credit card that we add to our Softcard wallets and use to make a purchase between today and 10/31/14. I have a feeling that I’m going to have some fun at Walgreens and my local kosher Subway. Who in the world ever said there’s no such thing as a free lunch :D

Gift cards will be sent by email 14 days after using each credit card. There is no minimum spend requirement. There’s no limit to the number of gift cards you can earn, but you can only earn 1 gift card per credit card added to your Softcard wallet.

Gosh I love this company.

HT: mb1, via DDF

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Buy $300 In Visa Gift Cards From Staples And Get A Bonus $20 Visa Gift Card Via Easy Rebate

Sunday, October 19th, 2014

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Staples between 10/19 and 10/25 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Visa gift card.

This is valid in-store only.  Officially there is a limit of 1 rebate per household…

If you were fast and registered your cards for savings at Staples when I posted it last week, then that’s definitely the way to go.

Otherwise if you buy 2 of the $200 gift cards in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. Use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card and get 5 points per dollar spent. That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. In addition if you’re registered at visasavingsedge.com you’ll also get 1% cash back.

$413.90 (Outlay)
-$4.14 (1% cash rebate)
=$409.76 out of pocket for $400 face value
-As usual with Ink you’ll get 2,070 points (worth $33.12 at a 1.6 cents per point value).
-This week you’ll also get a $20 Bonus Visa gift card via easy rebate just to sweeten the deal even more. That makes your $409.76 cash outlay get $420 worth of gift cards, so the 2,070 points cost you negative $10.24 :D

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can cash out the Visa cards using EvolveMoney to pay bills like your mortgage, property tax, auto loan, health insurance, store charge card (Gap, Macy’s, Target, etc).  There is no fee for this but you can only make 1 payment per biller per month month.
-You can load Visa cards to your Serve card with a Family Dollar cashier for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee.  Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).  Such stores exist even in manufactured spend deserts like NYC.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can swipe the card on an Amazon card reader for a 1.75% fee.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can just use the cards for your everyday spending to earn 5 points per dollar+1% cash back everywhere!
-You can… ;)

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Test Drive A Cadillac And Get 7,500 AA AAdvantage Miles!

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Test Drive A Cadillac And Get 7,500 AA AAdvantage Miles

“Right now, AAdvantage members can earn 7,500 AAdvantage miles when you test drive any Cadillac vehicle…Contact a Cadillac Concierge today at 844-469-2234 to schedule an appointment and take advantage of this exclusive limited time offer.
Please allow 4-6 weeks to receive your AAdvantage miles.”

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A Possible Last Chance To Buy Discounted USAirways Miles And Other Opportunities That Will Go Away Along With USAirways

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Until tonight you can get a 100% bonus when buying USAirways miles.

A purchase of 100,000 miles (a 50K purchase+50K bonus) will set you back $1,881.25 with tax.

Links for your reference:
USAirways Award Chart
USAirways OneWorld Award Chart
USAirways Other Partner Award Chart
USAirways Award Fees
USAirways OneWorld and Non-Alliance Partners

Of course there are far cheaper way of generating miles via credit card signups and manufactured spend, but if you have a specific award in mind and you’re not an expert at generating miles on the cheap, this can make sense.

For example a first class ticket on Cathay Pacific to Asia with no fuel surcharges normally costs $28,000. It can also be had for just 120K USAirways miles.

Plus with USAirways miles you’ll also get a free stopover. People have booked tickets to Hong Kong with a stopover in Asia in first class for 120K miles.

Or you can try booking a 40K award to Israel and South Africa like this (and other) DD readers have done.  Or fly in first class to South America for 60K like DDF member jaywhy…

Otherwise a business class ticket to Israel can be had for 120K miles. USAirways flies nonstop to Israel from Philadelphia (and you can tag on a flight from anywhere in the US for the same rate).  Plus odds are that American will start nonstop service from JFK and/or Miami to Tel Aviv in the near future.

Off-peak coach awards to the Caribbean are just 25K miles (20K for cardholders) and to Europe are just 35K miles (30K for cardholders) round-trip if you fly on USAirways.  Off peak First Class/Envoy awards to the Caribbean are just 50K miles (45K for cardholders) if you fly on USAirways.

A business class ticket to Australia or New Zealand is 110,000 USAirways miles and a first class ticket is 140,000 USAirways miles. Plus you can stopover pretty much anywhere in the world on the way there for as long as you want.

Of course the USAirways mileage program will be merged into American’s program in 2015.  The odds are that before that happens you’ll be able to transfer miles back and forth between American and USAirways.  At some point in 2015 the American and USAirways award charts will likely change for the worse.

But American charges more money for their miles than USAirways does, so if you do want to lock in a trip now for travel over the next year, this can be a decent redemption. And it seems that it may not come back again.

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It’s worth noting that the Barclays US Airways Premier World MasterCard will seemingly be discontinued this year as well.  Even if you have gotten the bonus on that card in the past you can still get the bonus again and best of all, you just need to spend $1 on it to pickup 40,000 miles.

It’s also worth noting that you can transfer Starpoints from anyone’s account to anyone’s USAirways account. American only accepts transfers if the name matches. So if you do want to transfer points to someone else, do that sooner rather than later.

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Amazon Payments As We Know It Will End On 10/13/14

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Update: Today is the last day to take advantage of $1,000 of free spending. Of course that’s per account that you have ;)
Thanks for the years of fun Mr. Bezos!
Was never as lucrative as dollar coins from the mint, but there was a whole lot less shlepping!

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Originally posted on 09/10:

Amazon Payments has been discussed on DansDeals and on the DansDeals Forums (DDF) for more than 4 years.  There were rumors last year of its demise but I quashed those. They started cracking down later last year on abusers, but it’s lived on.

Alas it appears that its time has come.

“Additionally, we have updated the terms and conditions of our User Agreement (https://payments.amazon.com/help/Personal-Accounts/User-Agreement-Policies/User-Agreement) that apply to your use of the products and services provided by Amazon Payments. Our updated User Agreement revises certain terms (including, among other things, the elimination of person-to-person payments). Our new User Agreement will become effective on October 13, 2014, which is more than 30 days from when we first posted our updated User Agreement. By continuing to use our services after October 13, 2014, you are agreeing to be bound by the terms and conditions of our new User Agreement.”

The last day to send person-to-person payments will be 10/12/14. So you can still send $1,000 to a friend in September and another $1,000 in October. However as of 10/13/14 that option will be eliminated, pretty much making the service worthless.

An Amazon Payments phone rep confirmed that 10/12 will be the last day to send money to a friend. After that point you’ll only be able to use Amazon Payments to checkout on websites that accept Amazon Payments as a form of payment.

Luckily we still have many other ways of manufacturing spend. For example ISIS Wallet/Serve allows you to do $1,500 per month in free and easy credit card spend right from your computer. And Amazon Local Register allows you to swipe cards for a 1.75% fee.

HT: txtmax4, via DDF

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30 Awesome Things You Can You Do With 75K-95K Ultimate Rewards Points

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Related post: Chase Ink Plus: 70,000 Point Signup Bonus!
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For a limited time only, the Chase Ink Plus card is offering an unprecedented 70,000 point signup bonus online to the public.

If you have questions about the Ink Plus card you’ll probably find the answer in this post, so read it first!

The card earns between 1 to 5 points per dollar, so once you complete the $5,000 of required spending you’ll have between 75K and 95K points.

What can you do with that amount of points?

Hopefully you know they are most valuable when transferred to airline and hotel programs like United, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, and Amtrak. Chase points transfer to those programs at a 1:1 ratio.

You can redeem them directly for travel without transferring them to a mileage program, but that value will fall between just 1-1.25 cents per point.  You can do so much better transferring them to a miles program.

And sure you probably know that you can burn 75K United miles for 3 domestic coach tickets. But what’s the fun in that?

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I’m still not sure how it’s possible, but late next month I’ll turn 30 (and I’ll have been blogging here for an mind-boggling 10 years, go ahead and scroll through the site archives drop-down menu in the sidebar to see for yourself).  So I’ve compiled 30 great uses of your Ultimate Rewards points and present them to you in no particular order whatsoever:

1. Korean miles: Fly round-trip to Alaska for 20K miles and Hawaii for 25K miles.

You would have enough miles for 3 round-trips tickets to Hawaii in coach or 2 round-trips in first class.

Korean charges just 25,000 to fly Delta coach and 45,000 miles to fly Delta first class round-trip within “Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, and Puerto Rico.”

Of course you’ll have to find Delta saver award space, so search for that on Delta.com by searching for an award, opening the award calendar, and looking for dates in green.  Then call Korean to book and you can instantly transfer the points from Chase to Korean while you’re on the phone with them.

Can’t find Delta availability?

You can also fly round-trip to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian for just 30K Korean miles in coach or 60K Korean miles in first class.  Hawaiian even flies nonstop from JFK to Honolulu.

Additionally you can fly round-trip on Alaska anywhere in the US or Canada, including Alaska, for just 20K Korean miles in coach or 40K Korean miles in first class.  You’re even allowed one free stopover when flying Alaska with Korean miles!

None of these flights have any fuel surcharges.

2. British Airways Avios: Up to 21 free short-haul one-way flights.

You would have more than enough for 21 free short-haul one-way flights using British Airways Avios. Those flights cost just 4.5K Avios each.
Avios have actually gotten more valuable since USAirways joined OneWorld as you can use them on all American and USAirways flights within the Western Hemisphere without any fuel surcharges.  Flights on Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and TAM also have no fuel surcharges.

You can click here for all of the possible nonstop Avios flights you can take from Baltimore/DC, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, NYC, and Philadelphia.

A flight to the Caribbean can be had in coach for as little as 4,500 Avios, or in first class with 3 free checked bags for 9,000 Avios, that’s hard to beat!

Best of all? No close-in ticketing fees and it’s only $5.60 to cancel a flight and get back the miles as long as you cancel 24 hours in advance of the flight.

3. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United in a lie-flat business class bed from JFK to Los Angeles or San Francisco for 40K miles.

The 50K miles that United charges for this route is a pretty good deal.  But Singapore will book you on the same flight for just 40K miles.

Plus Singapore has no close-in booking fees, no phone booking fees, and they charge just $20 for a change and just $30 to cancel and redeposit your miles!

There are no fuel surcharges for using Singapore miles for United flights.

lax3

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Korean: 80K to fly one-way in Korean First Class Suites from Tel Aviv or the USA to or from Asia.

A Korean First Class Kosmo Sleeper Class Suite between North America and Asia or between Tel Aviv and Asia is just 80,000 miles one-way.

Korean has the best first class award availability in the industry.  They serve delicious Hermolis kosher meals out of Asia and have a open self-service bar with top-shelf drinks.

You can read my trip report on flying Korean here.

The fuel surcharge from the USA to South Korea is $150 each way. From Israel to South Korea it’s $190 each way.

IMG_4175a

 

5. Singapore: 57K to fly one-way in Singapore first class suites from JFK to Europe.

You can fly in Singapore suites class from JFK to Frankfurt for just 57,375 miles one-way with the 15% online booking discount that is applied after selecting a flight.  This is truly an aspirational award and Singapore service is second to none.  You’ll even have access to the Virgin Clubhouse in JFK with good kosher meals as well.

A $211 fuel surcharge applies.

You can read my trip report on flying Singapore to Paris here.

There are single and double suites available. This is the double:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Singapore: 74K to fly Singapore first class suites from LAX to Tokyo:

sq

 

 

 

 

 

The fuel surcharge makes up $160 of the fees.

LAX-Tokyo-Singapore would be 91,375 miles.

You can find other rates for Singapore first class in this post.

7. Korean: 60K miles round-trip from the USA to Tahiti on Air France

Air France flies nonstop from Los Angeles to Tahihi. You can fly it round-trip for just 60K Korean miles in coach or 90K in business and then explore the beautiful islands of Moorea and Bora Bora from your own private overwater bungalow which can be had for just 50K IHG points per night.  Sure, IHG points can be had from Chase, but you can get those for pretty cheap via this hack or wait for another sale like this one.

bob

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

S. Regis Bora Bora.

8. British Airways Avios: 25K round-trip from the west coast to Hawaii.

You can fly from the west coast nonstop to Hawaii on AA, Alaska, or USAirways for just 25K Avios round-trip.

From Phoenix you can even use cash and points, it’s just 8,000 Avios plus $201 round-trip to any Hawaiian island!

Alaska flights must be booked over the phone.

There are no fuel surcharges.

9. British Airways Avios: 25K round-trip from Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus.

You can fly nonstop on Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin or Shannon for just 25K Avios round-trip. Best of all there are no fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus.  Plus you can fly to Boston from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington DC for just 9K Avios.

Aer Lingus flights must be booked over the phone.

10. British Airways Avios: 60K round-trip JFK to Tel Aviv on Air Berlin.

60K round-trip plus $91 in fees. There are no fuel surcharges. Or use cash and points with as little as 20K Avios.

You can even make it work for Pesach:

ab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. Hyatt points+cash awards.

The Hyatt award chart is great for high-end hotels.  It caps out at 30K points for real gems like the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Park Hyatt Paris, and the Park Hyatt Zurich that can go for $1,500 per night.  Other hotel chains charge double, triple, or quadruple that amount of points for their high-end properties and they’re not nearly as good as the Park Hyatt chain.

Park Hyatt Sydney

A real sweet spot for Hyatt points are cash and points for category 6 hotels. These include real gems like the Park Hyatt Maldives, Grand Hyatt Kauai, the Andaz Maui, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, and the Andaz 5th Avenue.

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Andaz Maui

The Park Hyatt Maldives can also go for $1,500 per night but it’s just 25K points or you can stretch your points even farther by using just 12,500 points plus $150 per night.  Best of all it’s considered a paid stay, so you qualify for promotions and can use suite upgrade certificates.

You can only book points+cash awards over the phone.

hyatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also incredible uses for lower categories.

Category 3 hotels include the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Honolulu, the Hyatt Place LaGuardia, the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, the Hyatt Palm Springs, CA.

You can stay in a category 4 property for just 15K points or 7.5K points+$100 in hotels like the Andaz Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, the Park Hyatt Toronto, the Hyatt Regency Kowloon, Hong Kong, the Park Hyatt Seoul, the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile, or the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar opening next June in Nassau, Bahamas.

hyatt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rendering of Grand Hyatt Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas.

Category 5 hotels include the Andaz West Hollywood in LA, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort an hour south of LA, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort just north of San Diego, the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Hyatt Place NYC, and 2 of my favorite Hyatt hotels, the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, and the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

12. United: 40K miles to fly one-way in Thai first class from Bangkok to Sydney

Want to get to the Park Hyatt Sydney and see the opera house from your bed?

When Mimi and I flew around the world in 2010 we started off in incredible Thailand and flew down under to tour Australia for a few weeks.

It’s just 40K miles for a 10 hour flight in Thai first class from Thailand to Australia. You’ll even get an hour long massage for free in the Bangkok first class lounge.

There are no fuel surcharges.

13. Korean: 75K miles to fly round-trip from Australia to New Zealand in an Emirates First Class A380…with a shower spa onboard.

While you’re down under, hop from Australia to New Zealand in gilded style on Emirates and brag about taking a shower 39,000 feet in the air:

 

Or take the ice bucket challenge onboard?

An A380 flight from the US to Dubai would run 210K Korean miles.  There are cheaper ways of doing that with miles from Alaska or JAL, though Chase doesn’t transfer to those currencies.

14. British Airways Avios: 10K each way from Tel Aviv to Vienna, Berlin, Dusseldorf, or Munich.

You can fly round-trip nonstop between those cities for just 20K Avios plus $68-80 tax. There are no fuel surcharges.

Or use cash and points from 8,000 Avios plus $228.

15. Southwest points for anything.
There are no aspirational awards with Southwest, but you will get a value of about 1.7 cents per point towards award travel.
Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes or flight cancellations. and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. There are no fuel surcharges.

This flight from Akron, OH (~40 minutes from Cleveland) to NYC is just 7,162 miles round-trip.  And it can be cancelled at any time with no penalty!

WN

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you earn 110,000 Southwest points in a calendar year you also get a free companion pass to bring someone with you for free for the remainder of the year and the following year as well which doubles the value of your points.  While transfers from Chase don’t count for companion pass, transfers from Hyatt do.

It takes 50K Hyatt points to get 30K Southwest points.

Points earned from the Southwest credit cards also count towards the 110K requirement.

16. Virgin Atlantic: 5,000 miles from Tel Aviv to Cyprus round-trip.

Virgin isn’t part of an alliance, but they do have nice rates on partners like Delta. Plus they charge just 5,000 miles from Tel Aviv to Cyprus on Cyprus Air.

17. Virgin Atlantic: Fly round-trip from USA to South America for 45K miles in coach or 90K miles in business class.

Virgin will book you on Delta to South America for much less than Delta charges their own members.  Of course you’ll first have to find Delta saver class availability as described above, but once you do you can go to fantastic Buenos Aires or breathtaking Iguazu Falls, Macchu Picchu, or Rio de Janeiro on the cheap.

There are no fuel surcharges.

18. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US48 and Alaska for 25K miles in coach or 40K in business class.

United charges 35K miles to get to stunning Alaska in coach and 60K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 25K or 40K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Never thought of going to Alaska?  Read Something Fishy’s epic trip report with his trademark stunning pictures and you’ll want to start planning a trip.


Photo credit, Something Fishy, Trip Report part 2.

19. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US49 and Hawaii for 35K miles in coach or 60K in business class.

United charges 45K miles to get to the paradise also known as Hawaii in coach and 80K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 35K or 60K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Need some inspiration for a Hawaii trip? This should keep you busy for a while:

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
-Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
-Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
-Part 3: Maui
-Part 4: Kauai

Trip reports:
-Trip Notes Kauai: Heaven On Earth (2014)
-Trip Notes: Maui No Ka ‘Oi (2014)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
-
The Hawaiian Islands (2011)
-Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)

DDF forum threads:
-Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
-Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread
-Kauai Master Thread
-Maui Master Thread
-Oahu Master Thread

20. Singapore: Fly round-trip on United between the US and Israel for 75K miles in coach or 115K in business class.

Singapore charges fuel surcharges on most airlines, but not on United.  That means you can save 10K miles in coach or 25K miles in business by booking a United ticket to Israel with Singapore miles.

Note that if you want to travel on other airlines you may do better transferring to United, where fuel surcharges are never collected.

21. Marriott: Stay in the Ritz-Carlton Herzliya or the Renaissance Tel Aviv.

The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya is a luxury hotel that opened 10 months ago and has been getting rave reviews. It is a Ritz-Carlton tier 2 hotel which means that it’s 40,000 points per night or 160,000 points for a 5 night stay (32,000 points per night).

The Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel is a Marriott category 7 hotel that goes for 35,000 points per night or 140,000 points for a 5 night stay (28,000 points per night.)

22. United 10K short-haul awards.

United’s short-haul flights are well priced at just 10K miles each way. Best of all and unlike with British Airways, you are allowed to connect and exceed 700 miles as long as the origin and destination cities are within 700.

There are no fuel surcharges.

And if you’ve been to a DansDeals Seminar you know how to have all kinds of fun with that award!

23. Amtrak: Ride a scenic train for just 1,500 points in coach and 2,000 points in business.
Take a ride on select routes like Chicago-Detroit, Los Angeles-San Diego, Chicago-Milwaukee, Chicago-S. Louis, Portland, OR-Vancouver, BC, and Kansas City-S. Louis

24. Amtrak: Ride within the Northeast Corridor for just 4,000 points in coach and 8,000 points in Acela Express business.
Ride within the northeast (including Boston, NYC, Niagara Falls, Montreal, and Washington DC) for just 4,000 points in coach, 6,500 points in business class, 8,000 points in Acela Express business class, or 12,000 points in Acela Express first class.

On some routes that offers an incredible value for your points.

25. Amtrak: A private bedroom and bathroom with kosher meals for 12,500 points per adult.
Amtrak splits the country up into 3 zones. Cities that straddle a zone, like Atlanta, Denver, and Detroit, can count as whichever zone will be cheaper.

Here is the Amtrak award chart.

A coach ticket within one zone, say from NYC to Miami, is 5,500 points. Business is 6,500, a roomette is 15,000, and a bedroom is 25,000 points.
The bedroom rate is valid for 2 adults, so the effective price is 12,500 points per adult. There is a private bathroom and shower in the bedroom.

You can add a child age 2-12 into the bedroom for the cost of a coach ticket, or 5,500 more points.

Meals for all passengers, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, are included. You can even request complimentary kosher meals! Bedrooms have climate control, fresh towels and linens, bottled water, etc.

Want to go farther?
Take a 2 zone award (say NYC to Chicago) and the rate is 40,000 points for a bedroom (20K per adult). Add a child for the cost of a coach 3  zone award of 8,000 points.

Take a 3 zone award (Say NYC to Seattle) and the rate is 60,000 points for a bedroom (30K per adult). Add a child for the cost of a coach 3 zone award of 10,500 points.

Of course you can take a train from NYC to Miami or LA one-way in a bedroom, check that off your bucket list, and then just fly home one-way with British Airways or United miles.

Need more space? Redeem for 2 bedrooms and 2 adjoining bedrooms can be opened up into a suite.

Learn more about Amtrak Bedrooms here.

On to some more obscure stuff…

26. United: NYC to Israel and the Far East and back for 70K miles in coach or 110K in business.

Let’s keep this one on the down-low, shall we?

United allows for a free stopover.

Perhaps you noticed on the interactive award chart that it costs just 70K United miles to fly between the US and Japan?

But did you know that you can stopover in Tel Aviv on the way to Japan and just pay the 70K mileage rate for a ticket to Japan instead of the 85K mileage rate for a ticket between the USA and Tel Aviv.

Just use the Multiple destination award search to piece together awards like these:

tyo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

nrt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

United never collects a fuel surcharge.

27. United: Tel Aviv to NYC to Israel and the Far East for 77.5K miles in coach or 145K in business:

This a one-way United award from Tel Aviv-Newark (42.5K) and a one-way award from Newark-Japan (35K). The fact that you can stop in Tel Aviv for as long as you want? That’s just your free stopover.  And nobody is making you go to Japan if you don’t want to go, but the Park Hyatt Tokyo looks like a pretty awesome base for a really neat city and country to explore.

picture120 067a

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coach:

tlv5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Business:

nrt4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

28. United: NYC to Tel Aviv to NYC with a flight to Hawaii several months later:

87.5K in coach:

hnl2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or fly back in a lie flat bed from Tel Aviv and in a lie-flat bed to Honolulu as well:

hnl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

29. United: NYC to Tel Aviv to NYC with a flight to Los Angeles several months later:

85K in coach:

lax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or fly back in a lie flat bed from Tel Aviv and in a lie-flat bed to LA as well:

lax2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30. United: NYC to Honolulu to NYC with a flight to Miami several months later:

45K in coach:

mia1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

80K in lie-flat business class:

mia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course there are hundreds of other awesome redemptions out there. What’s your favorite?

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Other Chase cards you can apply for at the same time include the Chase British Airways (50K signup points, 1.25 Avios per dollar, and an annual companion award ticket if you spend $30K+ in a  year), and the Chase United Explorer (30K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, and it gives free luggage, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, expanded saver and standard award ticket availability, priority boarding, and more), the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, free primary car rental insurance including in the US and Israel, plus 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), the Chase Marriott (with 50K signup points plus a free night upon signup and a free night every subsequent year upon renewal), the Chase Freedom (which has no annual fee, gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories, and 10% bonus points through 2015 if you have a Chase checking account), and the Chase Ink Cash (which also has no annual fee and gives 5 points per dollar on telecom/office supplies and 2 points per dollar on dining and gas)

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Where Will You Complete Your Freedom Q4 Bonus Spending?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

-Chase Freedom Visa-Earn 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding an additional user.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
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You can activate your Q4 Chase Freedom 5% categories and start spending today.

Although they are called “5% categories” you really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be cashed out for 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending you will earn at least 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points. If you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Singapore, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).  The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card, so if you’re like me and you have downgraded Sapphire Preferred cards into multiple Freedom cards then you can spend $1,500 on each Freedom card.

If you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter. Those points post iun February for the previous year.

1. You can shop from millions of items on Amazon.com

2. You can buy an Amazon.com email gift card or you can buy a physical Amazon.com gift card. Once you have the gift card code you can save it to your Amazon account via this link where it will never expire.

Or give an Amazon gift card as a holiday gift and you can be sure that the recipient will be able to get something they’ll love while you earn 5-5.5 points per dollar spent!

3. You can buy gift cards from Amazon for lots of other stores as well:

-You can buy gift cards for clothing, shoes, and accessory stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for grocery, gourmet, and floral stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for restaurants and coffee shops on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for department stores on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for Southwest Airlines and other travel providers on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for books, music, and movie theaters on Amazon.com

-You can buy gift cards for Home Improvement on Amazon.com

You can’t use Amazon gift cards to buy gift cards to other stores, but you can earn 5-5.5 points per dollar with Freedom!

4. You can shop for shoes and clothing on Zappos.com or you can buy a gift card from Zappos.

5. Shop at department stores such as:

-Bloomingdale’s

-BonTon

-JCPenney

-Kohl’s

-Lord & Taylor

-Macys

-Neiman Marcus

-Nordstrom

-Saks Fifth Avenue

-Saks Off 5th

-Sears

Find more valid department stores here.

Some stores like Kohl’s and Sears also sell gift cards to other stores.

Of course if you have an Ink Plus or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

But Freedom has the advantage of earning 5.5 points per dollar through 12/31/15 if you have a Chase checking account.

So, where will you use your Freedom card this quarter?

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Delta Clarifies New Partner Transfer Limits, Workarounds Exist For Starwood And Membership Rewards Transfers

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Earlier today I covered a couple of American Express downgrades. 

Here are some clarifications from Delta:

1. The change is being made by Delta. “We are increasing the value of miles and reducing the demand for Award Tickets. This in turn will increase the number of lower-priced Awards available to Delta SkyMiles members, especially for our most loyal members who earn the majority of their miles through the SkyMiles program.”

2. The change will apply to all Delta transfer partners. That includes the big 2, Starwood and AMEX Membership Rewards. For Starwood the limit will actually be 200K Starpoints as 200K Starpoints converts into 250K Skymiles.

3. You will be able to receive up to 250K per calendar year from each Delta partner.

4. The 250K limit goes into effect 01/01/15 for all partners. While the original transfer date is used, don’t wait until 12/31 to make a transfer in case they get counted in 2015.

5. The partner loyalty account can only transfer 250K miles per year to Delta, period. It doesn’t matter whether you transfer to one or multiple Delta accounts, the 250K total limit applies.

6. Limits don’t apply to Delta AMEX cards.

As I said in the last post, I still see several workarounds here.

-For Starwood you can transfer Starpoints to other Starwood accounts located in your household. They don’t need a Starwood credit card, anyone can open a free account on SPG.com. While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can transfer Starpoints from your account to a household member’s account and from there to their Delta account. From their Delta account you can book award travel for anyone.

-For Membership Rewards you can have multiple eligible credit cards and you can request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually. While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can add a spouse or child as an additional user on your credit card account and transfer points to their Delta accounts. From their Delta account you can book award travel for anyone.

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American Express PRG And Delta Downgrades; A Possible Delta Workaround?

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

1. Effective 01/01/15 the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card will no longer give a 15K point bonus for spending $30,000 in a year.  It will still give 3 points per dollar spent on airfare and 2 points per dollar spent on gas and groceries.

Annual spend threshold bonuses seem to be a dying breed.  One of the few remaining cards that have an annual spend threshold bonus is the Chase United Explorer card which gives a 10K point bonus for spending $25K in a year.

2. Effective 01/01/15 you will only be able to receive 250K Delta Skymiles per Delta account from Membership Rewards per calendar year.

Additionally you will only be able to spend out 250K points per Membership Rewards account to any number of Delta accounts.

This is a Delta imposed limitation.

In AMEX’s words,

“Beginning January 1, 2015, the maximum number of Membership Rewards® points you will be able to transfer out of a single Membership Rewards account to one or more SkyMiles accounts will be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of Membership Rewards points you will be able to transfer into a single SkyMiles account will also be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year.

You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014″


Workaround?  You are able to request that different American Express cards accumulate points in their own Membership Rewards account. It seems like that should function as a workaround to transferring out more points to Delta as AMEX clearly states that the 250K limit is just from a single Membership Rewards account. 
You can also freely transfer points between each of your Membership Rewards accounts so that each of your Membership Rewards eligible cards can transfer 250K points to Delta annually.

While your personal Delta account would only be able to receive 250K points per year, you can add a spouse or child as an additional user for example and transfer points to their Delta accounts. From there you can book award travel for anyone.

Delta is the only major US airline in the Membership Rewards program, so this is definitely a downgrade.  It’s worth noting that Delta will allow one-way awards starting 01/01/15, so that will help things a bit.

Either way Delta is one of the weaker partners in the Membership Rewards program and their miles are far less valuable than American or United miles.  Plus Membership Rewards charges a fee to transfer points to domestic programs like Delta.

Other international Membership Rewards partners offer a better value. For example:

-Air France can book one-way travel on Delta today and their rates are often less.  A round-trip to Israel is just 50K Air France miles and if you find Delta saver availability there are no fuel surcharges.

-A round-trip to Israel using Alitalia miles is just 80K in business class and fuel surcharges are relatively mild at about $300.

-British Airways Avios offers free travel starting at just 4,500 Avios.  Flights to Europe or Hawaii start at just 12.5K Avios each way with no fuel surcharges on select airlines.

-Air Canada has several award sweet spots. You need just 45K miles to fly to Europe each way in business class and many airlines have no fuel surcharges.

-El Al will soon be the only good way to book travel on El Al starting 11/01.

-ANA offers 38K round-trip tickets from NYC to London and 60K round-trip tickets to Israel with no fuel surcharges on United.  Or fly from NYC to the Caribbean or Central America for just 22K miles with no fuel surcharges.

-Singapore offers a private suite from JFK to Europe for just 57K miles. They also offer good rates to other destinations that United flies to with no fuel surcharges.

So there are plenty of other good options.  Frankly the move is a bit surprising.  AMEX pays cold hard cash for mileage transfers to Delta. A couple of years ago when AMEX points used to transfer to Continental, Delta ran significant point transfer bonuses to get people to send their points to Delta over Continental.

However this isn’t the first chink in the AMEX-Delta relationship.  Earlier this year Delta stopped allowing people who have the Platinum Card® from American Express to bring guests into their lounges. AMEX is responding to harsher airline lounge rules by opening their own network of premium airport Centurion lounges with free access for Platinum cardholders and their family/guests. Those currently can be found domestically in Dallas, Las Vegas, and NYC/LaGuardia. International locations include Buenes Aires, Delhi, Mexico City, Mumbai, and Sao Paulo.  Centurion lounges in Miami, San Francisco, and other domestic airports will open soon. Plus you can bring in your family/guests for free into Airspace lounges which can be found in Baltimore, Cleveland, NYC/JFK, and San Diego. The card also gives a Priorty Club lounge membership, a $200 annual airline fee credit, and SPG Gold status.

Of course you can still earn unlimited amounts of Delta miles on a card like the Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express. which is what Delta wants you to do (though I’m not sure why you would want to). However you would earn 25% more miles by spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and transferring points to Delta.  Unless a limit on Starwood transfers is in the cards as well?

Cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express offer the ability to earn 20% or 50% more miles everywhere. And they can also each be assigned their own Membership Rewards account number, which should work to transfer more points out to Delta.  Note that the Everyday cards are credit cards and AMEX limits you to 4 credit cards per person.  Card like the Gold and Platinum are charge cards which don’t count towards that limit.

HT: miles, via DDF and Gary.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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ISIS Wallet To Rebrand As Softcard

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Update: Today is the final day for Verizon customers to get $20 back for spending $40 on Serve. You can spend on your physical Serve card at a store or online as long as the card is registered in your ISIS/Softcard app.

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Originally posted on 09/03:

In July I wrote about my long overdue journey from Bluebird to ISIS (click here to read more about the differences)

Of course over the past month we’ve read about the horrific beheadings perpetrated by the Islamic State which is also referred to as ISIS, so ISIS wallet has wisely decided to change their name to Softcard.

Regardless, ISIS with Serve has been amazing.
As a Verizon customer the signup bonuses are lucrative. $25 for signing up to ISIS with Serve, $20 off your first $40 Serve purchase, $1 back every time you use the ISIS wallet (up to $50/month through 2014), free coke from select coke machines, along with many other offers.

Similar offers are available with AT&T and T-Mobile. Sprint customers can’t get ISIS.

Plus of course the Serve card is eligible for AMEX offers.
And you can add $1,500 in free monthly credit card funding to your Serve account without having to leave to comfort of your home.   That’s on top of $1,500 of debit card funding online and $5,000 of swiping gift cards in stores like WalMart and Family Dollar where you can add gift cards purchased that earned 5 points per dollar+1% cash back into your Serve account.

It’s all too lucrative to last.  But I’ll keep enjoying it while it does!

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Last Chance To Purchase Cheap LifeMiles

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Update: Sale extended through 10/03!
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Today is the last day to purchase LifeMiles for 1.5 cents each.

-You can buy up to 75,000 miles for 3 cents each and they will double your purchase, making the effective price 1.5 cents per mile.

-Effective next month the rate will be 3.3 cents per mile and the double miles promotion will be over.

-Note that their miles are being devalued, though it’s relatively mild.  Here is a link the current award chart. And here is a link to the new award chart that goes into place on 10/15.

-LifeMiles is famous for their miscategorized cities and generous routing rules.  Alas Guam has been moved from the US48 to the Philippines but other uses that I’ve talked about at DansDeals Seminars still work just fine.

-Use a card like Chase Sapphire Preferred so that you don’t pay a foreign transaction fee and in order to get the 2-2.14 points per dollar on travel spending.

-LifeMiles is the Star Alliance program run by Avianca/TACA.  Miles don’t expire as long as there is activity every 24 months. You can book partner travel online and one-way awards are allowed at half the rate of round-trip awards.

-LifeMiles never charges fuel surcharges, though they don’t sell mixed cabin awards. Their call center customer service is notoriously poor.

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LOT Polish Awards Bookable Once Again On United.com, Availability From NYC To Tel Aviv Is Excellent!

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

LOT Polish awards haven’t been bookable on United.com for quite some time.

For more advanced award hackers that has been a blessing in disguise. It meant that fewer people knew how to book it, which meant better award availability.

But for better or worse you can once again book LOT awards on United.com and availability is excellent.

Searching random dates for 2 award seats came up with LOT award space in coach and in business.  The connection times aren’t great, but you can always leave the airport and explore Warsaw.  You can also get a free stopover to stay in Warsaw for as long as you wish. This itinerary can be booked for 85K United miles in coach or 160K United miles in business:

lot

 

LOT flies from Chicago, JFK, and Toronto to Warsaw on the 787 Dreamliner and they have a pretty decent looking business class seat:

lot1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To help find availability you may want to search for JFK-Warsaw separately from Warsaw-Tel Aviv.  Once you find dates that work you can just search for JFK-Warsaw, or you can use the multiple destination award search to book an award by specifying JFK-Warsaw and then Warsaw-Tel Aviv, or you can call to stitch together an award.

To search for just LOT Polish flights start by searching for the sample date in the picture above where you know there is availability from JFK-WAW and then click nonstop flights only. If you search for a date without nonstop availability then the calendar will show connecting availability instead of nonstop availability only.

lot4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The calendar below is only displaying nonstop award flight availability from JFK to Warsaw for 2 passengers. Scroll through the months to see what’s available. Green dates mean saver coach and business award space is available:

lot2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Same goes for WAW-TLV:

lot3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As always, if you’re willing to spend a night at a connection point it will always be easier to find award availability. Of course the award search engine won’t know you’re willing to do that, so you need to search for each segment separately before attempting to stitch them together onto one itinerary.  You are allowed to stay up to 24 hours as a connection, plus stay as long as you want as a stopover in addition to the destination you’re trying to reach on an award ticket.  That makes for lots of options if you’re willing to make longer connections than the computer would normally price out.

For those keeping score at home here is the remaining list of United partners that must be booked over the phone:
-Air India
-Brussels Airlines
-Cape Air
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

And here’s the list of partners now bookable on United.com.:
-Adria Airlines
-Aegean Airlines
-Aer Lingus
-Air Canada
-Air China
-Air New Zealand
-ANA
-Asiana Airlines
-Austrian Airlines
-Avianca Airlines
-Azul Brazilian Airlines
-Copa Airlines
-Croatia Airlines
-Egyptair
-Ethiopian Airlines
-EVA Air
-Germanwings
-Hawaiian Airlines
-Island Air
-LOT PolishIsrael)
-Lufthansa
-Scandinavian Airlines
-Shenzhen Airlines
-Silver Airways
-South African Airways
-Swiss International Airlines
-TAP Portugal
-THAI
-Turkish Airlines

Need more United miles? You can earn them on cards like Chase Ink Plus, Chase United Explorer, Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom, and Chase Ink Cash.

HT: KidOOO, via DDF

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24,800 Points…And A Free Slurpee; Last Days To Finish Freedom Q3 Bonus Spending

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

Update: Tuesday is the final day to finish bonus spending for Q3 on your Freedom card. 

You can register for Q4 spending now as well.

Click here to see which department stores qualify for 5 points per dollar in Q4. You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar at Amazon.com and Zappos.com.

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Originally posted on 09/09/14:

-Chase Freedom Visa-Earn 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $500 in 3 months plus 2,500 points for adding an additional user.
There is no annual fee for Chase Freedom!
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I just got back from 7-Eleven where I picked up 9 OneVanilla cards and a slurpee.    Most 7-Eleven’s are categorized as gas stations even if they don’t sell gas, you can confirm each one on the Visa merchant categorization site if you have a Visa card.

$4,500 worth of cards cost me $4,544.55 spread across 3 of my Freedom cards. They had to bring rung up one at a time. When that was all done I reminded the clerk about my slurpee and he said that’s on the house :D

The purchase will earn 24,800 points and liquidating the cards won’t be hard at all.

We’re in the last month of Q3, so you have until the end of the month to earn 5 points per dollar spent at gas stations and Kohl’s.  Other gas stations and Kohl’s also sell gift cards good for other stores.

09/14 will be the last day to activate your Q3 Chase Freedom 5% categories. Although they are called “5% categories” you really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be cashed out for 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending you will earn at least 7,500 Ultimate Rewards points. If you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card you can transfer Freedom points over to one of those cards and then transfer them at a 1:1 ratio into much more valuable airline miles (United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Singapore, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).  The $1,500 quarterly limit is per Freedom card.

Until 2016 if you have a Chase checking account you will also earn a 10% bonus on all points earned.  That means you’ll earn a whopping 5.5 points per dollar in these categories or 8,250 points each quarter. Those points post for the prevous year in February.

On 09/15 you’ll be able to register for Q4 which includes Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

Of course if you have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card you will earn 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent all year round on telecom, cable, internet, as well as everything from office supply stores, which includes gift cards to other stores and prepaid cash cards that can be used anywhere.With the Bold/Plus cards that’s capped at $50,000 per year and with the Cash card that’s capped at $25,000 per year. Plus the Ink Visa cards earn 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar for $200+ purchases at Staples and other stores with Visa Savings Edge.  The cards also earn 2 points per dollar year-round at gas stations and either hotels (Bold/Plus) or dining (Cash).

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Aegean Gold Changes Are Coming And They Won’t Be Pretty

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Update: Here are the changes and they’re not pretty indeed.

In short:
-The new program starts 11/24/14.

-If you currently have Aegean Gold you’ll need to fly 12K miles+4 Aegean flights or 24,000 miles without Aegean flights between 11/24/14-11/23/15 to keep your status.  And you’ll have to keep doing that every 12 months thereafter.
If you don’t do that you will be downgraded to Silver on 11/24/15. You’ll then have a year as Silver to either keep that level, move up to Gold, or fall down to blue status.
-If you have a Gold card with a 2016 or 2017 expiration date the jury is out as to whether you’ll be able to get Star Gold benefits like lounge access when showing the card to another airline.
-There’s little value to be had in the new program if you won’t be flying Aegean.

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Originally posted on 09/22:

DDF member SPLP hails from Greece and let DDF readers know last week that Greek airline Aegean will be severely downgrading their elite program.

Aegean purchased fellow Greek airline Olympic Air last year, and proves once again that mergers are never good for consumers.

For the last several years the Aegean program has been an easy way to get Star Alliance gold status.

Once you flew 20,000 miles and got gold status, the terms and conditions stated it wouldn’t expire as long as you took one Star Alliance flight every 3 years.  Plus Aegean Star Alliance gold status got you and a guest free access to domestic United lounges, something that even top-tier United status does not do.

But the Aegean and Olympic programs are being combined and their terms will be changing. From now on you will need to re-qualify for gold status every year. I called Aegean (+302106261000) up a few times (thanks Google) and all the reps confirm that major changes are coming though they are coy about what exactly they are.

Some people have Aegean gold cards that expire in 2016 or 2017 but they wouldn’t say what will happen to them or if the status will end sooner than that. They just say that emails will go out next month detailing the changes. But one rep confirmed that from now on you’ll need either 4 Aegean/Olympic flights+12,000 miles or 24,000 miles per year to earn gold status.

As discounted economy fares on airlines like United only earn half credit in the Aegean program, it effectively kills the program for most. Though United first class fares do get triple miles in the Aegean program, so perhaps there will be some use for some folks.  United domestic first class does not give lounge access, but flying it with Aegean Gold does of course.

I’ll make an update to this post when the full details come out.

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Buy IHG Points For .575 Cents Each

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

Update: This offer ends today!
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Purchase IHG Points For .575 Cents Each

IHG normally sells points directly for 1.15 cents each. And you can transfer points from Chase, but that’s a criminal use of Chase points. Of course there’s a hack to buy their points at .7 cents each but with the current sale you can buy them directly for less than that without jumping through hoops. And that hack requires that you have points to start with.

You can get the lowest rate with this promotion by buying between 50K-60K points and your point purchase will be doubled.  So 50K points will actually become 100K points for $575.  Or 60K points will become 120K points for $690.

This promotion expires on 09/22.

IHG points never expire.

You can purchase 120K points per member per year, so you can get up to 240K points with this promotion in 2 transactions of 60K each.  You can also buy up to 120K points as a gift for the same member that already purchased, so you can get up to 480K points per member from this promotion in total.

IHG runs PointBreaks which allows you to book rooms at rotating hotels for just 5,000 points per night.   That’s just $28.75 for a room if you buy points at .575 cents each. Those hotels rotate every couple of months and a new list will be out very shortly.

There are also good values to be had at high-end properties.  The highest tier is 50K points.
-An overwater bungalow in Bora Bora can go for as much as $1,000 with tax but costs just 50K points. That’s just $287.50 at .575 cents per point.
-Intercontinental has a heavy presence in French Polynesia with properties on Tahiti and Moorea islands for just 40K points ($230 at .575).

-Bargains can be had for high end Intercontinental hotels in NYC, Hong Kong, Paris, London, etc. thanks to the 50K redemption level.

There are several IHG hotels in Israel:
Holiday Inn Ashkelon: 10K ($57.50 with this promo)
Crowne Plaza Jerusalem: 20K ($115)
Crowne Plaza Dead Sea: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Eilat: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Haifa: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach: 30K ($172.50)
Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv Diamond District: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center: 30K ($172.50)
InterContinental David Tel Aviv: 40K ($230)

Are you a buyer at this price?

HT: Ya’alili, via DDF

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The Dollars And Cents Behind A Hotel Award Stay

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

The hotel points business works a lot differently than the airline mileage business.

Airlines offer distressed inventory at rock-bottom pricing.  When they see that they won’t sell a seat, they offer it for saver mileage rates.  Mileage junkies can get an amazing deal (especially on a last minute, one-way, or premium class award) and the airline gets to recognize revenue against a seat that would have otherwise made them nothing.  The airlines get paid cold hard cash from credit card companies for their miles and many airlines wouldn’t be profitable if not for their mileage sales.  In fact without the mileage programs some airlines like United may have never made it out of bankruptcy last decade.

When you redeem United miles for a seat on a partner airline in business or first class you have to use more miles than when you fly on a United plane.  Which makes sense because United has to pay out of pocket to book you a ticket on another airline. Though United is paying just pennies on the dollar for that distressed inventory.

That’s how British Airways can afford to put someone on a $600 last minute flight for just 4,500 Avios.  They are paying American literally just pennies on the dollar for that seat that would otherwise fly empty.  That’s the reason it’s sustainable.

Now hotels are a very different story. Most hotels are not corporate owned, so the corporate run hotel programs need to compensate the individual hotel for guests using points.

It used to be that hotel awards were capacity controlled, just as awards are in the airline industry.  Starwood introduced hotel award nights without capacity controls for standard rooms and most other hotel programs matched that.

Of course there’s a real cost to that. Hotels with capacity controls can ensure that they only give away rooms that would otherwise have gone unsold.  However that meant that during special events or high season rooms were impossible to find.

Without capacity controls hotel points became far more lucrative.  When rates are high, the amount of points required doesn’t skyrocket to correspond to the price increase.

Most hotels have 2 types of awards, free nights, which are not capacity controlled.  And cash and points which are capacity controlled.

Hotels are divided into categories based roughly on what their average daily rate.  When a hotel is nearly full the corporate hotel point program will reimburse a hotel at the average daily rate for paid rooms.  But when a hotel is not full they get far less, as the cost of servicing that room doesn’t come at a real cost of a lost paying guest.  However that only applies for regular free nights.  As hotels control the cash and points nights they don’t get full reimbursement for those even if they are full.

Le Parker Meridien has hotels in NYC and Palm Springs and a whistle-blower told SPG that they were falsifying records to make it look like they were full so that they would get reimbursed for award nights at their average daily rate rate instead of a far lower rate.  From that lawsuit we learned that the magic number is 95% occupancy.  If an SPG hotel is 95% full then they get full reimbursement for points using guests.  Otherwise they only get a smaller reimbursement based on their hotel category.

Once in a while hotels goof and write what the reimbursement is on your folio.

-Mimi and I stayed in a Holiday Inn Tiberias Israel in 2009 using a 5,000 point PointBreaks award and on the folio it showed that IHG was going to pay them $30 for the night.  The hotel still gave us a great room, 2 bottles of kosher l’mehadrin wine, cookies, and bottles water.

-In 2010 we stayed in the Le Meridien Khao Lak Thailand using 2,800 Starpoints plus $45 per night.  The hotel offers upgrade to a totally private walled in villa without an outdoor shower and pool for 12,000 Starpoints or $300 per night.  I opted for the Starpoints upgrade and noticed on a folio that Starwood would only reimburse the hotel $162.50 for the points.   That’s just 1.35 cents per Starpoint, far less than what they’re really worth.

For reasons I didn’t understand the hotel wouldn’t allow me to pay $162.50 instead of the 12,000 Starpoints though in the end the upgrade points were all refunded as the hotel had issues with hot water and ants while we were there.

-Last month we had 2 rooms at the Park Hyatt Toronto. 1 room was paid for with Hyatt Points+Cash.  Points+Cash is a great award value and it can only be booked over the phone.  Hyatt considers points+cash awards like paid nights, so we got back points and stay credit and we were able to use a suite upgrade and got bumped all the way up to a luxury one bedroom suite.  The awards aren’t a great value for category 1 and 7 properties, but it’s a great value for category 2-6 hotels.

The Park Hyatt Toronto is a category 4 property, so it costs 7,500 points plus $100 per night.  On my folio was the amount that Hyatt corporate paid the hotel for the points, just $51.72 plus tax per night.  That’s under 0.7 cents per point, so in that case the Hyatt Gold Passport program pays a fraction of what their points are worth. Direct bill is the amount the hotel is billing Hyatt Gold Passport:

hyattyyz

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our 2nd room was occupied by 2 of my brothers and was paid for using credit card anniversary nights.  Those nights are not capacity controlled and function just like regular award nights, which in a category 4 property would run 15,000 points per night.

The hotel was sold out the first night of our stay, so it’s not surprising that Hyatt Gold Passport paid the hotel $224.77 plus tax. That’s likely right about the hotel’s average daily rate. It also comes out to about 1.5 cents per point for the same night, which is right about in line for the minimum value you should strive for when using Hyatt points:

hyattyyz2

 

 

 

The last 2 nights were not sold out, though the charge to Hyatt corporate didn’t show up for those nights.  If I had to take a guess though it would probably come in around 0.7 cents per point, so Hyatt Gold Passport would likely cough up $105 per night to the hotel for those nights.

Ever find the corporate reimbursement level stated on one of your hotel folios? Hit the comments!

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Get 50 Free Iberia Avios; Better Award Availability With Lower Fuel Surcharges To Israel

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Update: My 50 Iberia Avios have posted to my account. I am now able to instantly transfer points back and forth between my BA Avios account and my Iberia Avios account.
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Originally posted on 07/15:

British Airways and Iberia both participate in the Avios program.  Most people have points in the British Airways Avios program due to cards like the Chase British Airways Visa , transfers from other Chase cards, and the bonuses that AMEX used to run for transfers to BA, but you can also transfer AMEX points to the Iberia program.

If you have an active Iberia account that is at least 3 months old you can also transfer points from British Airways to Iberia.

Iberia Avios have much better award availability and much lower fuel surcharges for Iberia flights.  An Iberia coach flight to Israel is 65K Avios round-trip. With BA Avios you’ll also be charged $655.42 but with Iberia Avios the charge will be $329.90.   The fuel surcharge difference in business class is even greater.

Of course you can avoid fuel surcharges altogether with Avios by flying on carriers that have no fuel surcharges as covered in this recent post, but Iberia has very good availability and it’s always good to have another option.

So if you don’t have an Iberia account go ahead and open one here to start the 3 month countdown until you can transfer BA Avios to Iberia Avios.

You also need to earn Iberia Avios to activate your account and allow transfers from BA.  You can do that by transferring 1,000 AMEX points to Iberia.

Or you can click here to open the Iberia Newsletter. Scroll 3 pages to the right and you’ll see the Great Avios Conquest.  Click start and provide these answers to the 4 questions, “My Shoes,” “La Panza es Primero,” “All of the above,” and “Cash Card.” Then enter your Iberia Avios number and you’ll get 50 points “shortly.”

Once you have had an Iberia account for 3 months and have earned Iberia Avios you can logon to your BA Avios account, go to Executive Club>Manage my account>Combine my Avios>Transfer to Iberia Plus.

Iberia flies from the following US cities:
Boston
Chicago
Los Angeles
Miami
NYC

HT: yitzf, via HFP

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The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

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

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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This chart below attempts to break down some of the best options for getting to Israel.

The best option for somebody who’s booking an advance purchase round-trip coach flight to Israel without any stopovers is probably going to be the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®. That card gives 2.22% back on everything you buy (2 points per dollar plus 10% of redeemed points are rebated to you), has no foreign exchange fees, and it comes with a $400 signup bonus (more like $440 since 10% of the points will be redeposited after you redeem them.  You just buy a regular ticket (or any other travel expense) and click to receive a check for any amount of the purchase that you can cover with your points.  Then you collect miles for the paid flight and you get a 10% points rebate.

The real value of miles is when you need a last-minute ticket, a one-way ticket, a ticket with a stopover, or a ticket in business or first class.

In those cases you want a transferable mileage currency since that allows you to search for what’s available and then transfer over points as needed.

There are 4 transferable point currencies:

-Starwood points can be earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. 20,000 Starwood points generally transfer into 25,000 miles, though the transfer can take between 1-12 days. Some partners (like USAirways) do not care if you transfer to someone else’s account while others (like AA) are stricter. There are no transfer fees.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from consumer cards like The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express , The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express, the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Points generally transfer instantly (exceptions includes transfers to ANA and Singapore which can take a day or 2) and can be made to anyone over the phone. A fee applies for transfers to domestic carriers like Delta.

-Chase Ultimate Rewards points are earned from cards like Sapphire Preferred , Freedom Visa, Ink Bold , Ink Plus, or Ink Cash.
You or your spouse need to have either a Sapphire Preferred, an Ink Bold, or an Ink Plus to actually transfer points into miles. Points generally transfer instantly with no fees (transfers to Singapore can take up to a day). There are no transfer fees.

-Citi Thank You points require either a Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, or Citi Chairman card to transfer points.  Transfer options are more limited than with the other point currencies. There are no transfer fees.
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Tips for finding saver award availability:

Award tickets to Israel are always tough, though that’s a function of it being an expensive route to fly compared to the distance of the flight.
1. Check availability at least daily (if not more often) as award seats can come and go quickly.
2. Be willing to connect in Europe for much better availability. Flights on low cost carriers from Europe to Israel can also be dirt cheap and it can make sense to use miles to get to Europe and then buy a flight to Israel from there.
3. If you are ready to fly on a whim airlines often open up saver awards the day of or the day before a flight. Otherwise a month in advance is a typical sweet spot.
4. Realize that not all partners will be displayed online and you need to do your own research on partner sites and/or call to find partner availability. For example AA.com won’t show El Al flights, BA.com won’t show Aer Lingus flights, United.com won’t show Brussels or LOT flights, etc.
5. Airline search engines are only so powerful. Use free stopovers and open-jaws to your advantage. If you are flying from somewhere besides NYC just search from NYC-Tel Aviv instead of from Los Angeles to Tel Aviv. You can always piece together an award by searching for Los Angeles-NYC separately then NYC-Tel Aviv, especially if you are willing to have a long connection, change airports in NYC, or are willing to stay overnight in NYC.
6. The same goes for tickets from NYC. Search from other gateways like Toronto and Philadelphia and piece together the flights to get there afterward. For example be willing to use Avios to get to Toronto and then use United miles to fly from Toronto-Tel Aviv, etc. Consider searching from NYC to European cities and piece together an award from Europe to Israel. You may find availability from NYC to London and then from Paris to Tel Aviv but a computer would never put that open jaw ticket together. Instead you can check out London and Paris on the way to Tel Aviv. Maybe you’ll also get to check out Venice and Rome on the way home. Sometimes you can even save miles by doing that!
7. Don’t forget to book a free domestic trailing flight anytime in the year after you arrive back to your destination. Delta, United, and USAirways will allow you to fly NYC-Tel Aviv-NYC and then stopover in NYC for up to a year before continuing on to say, Los Angeles, for no extra miles.
8. Find award availability before transferring miles. Once they’re transferred they can’t be reversed!
9. Need help? You can post your travel dates and which miles you have in this DDF thread and ask for help. Consider offering a monetary or mileage reward to the forum member that can come up with the best award ticket to meet your needs and you may find that suggestions will come flooding in!
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Airlines that fly nonstop from North America to Israel:
-Air Canada from Toronto (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance airlines)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam airlines)
-El Al from JFK, Los Angeles, Newark, and Toronto. (bookable via AA, connections to Eilat for the same mileage available)
-USAirways from Philadelphia (bookable via OneWorld airlines)
None of these carriers offer First Class seating to Israel for miles on nonstop flights. (El Al does offer First Class, but you can only use AA miles to redeem for Coach or Business Class on El Al).

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Alliances:

Star Alliance:
Nonstop flights from North America include Air Canada from Toronto and United from Newark. These flights all have lie-flat business class seating and have no first class. Air Canada flies the 787 dreamliner to Israel with one of the best business classes between North America and Israel.

Star Alliance offers the best availability for flights to Israel by leaps and bounds. Besides for the nonstop flights from North America there are many options via Europe in coach, business, and first class worth looking into including Swiss via Zurich, Lufthansa via Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, and Munich, Brussels via Brussels, Austrian via Vienna, Turkish via Istanbul, SAS via Copenhagen, Singapore via Frankfurt, Aegean via Athens, LOT via Warsaw, or a mix of carriers like United from Newark to one of dozens of European cities and a European carrier to Tel Aviv.
By utilizing free stopovers and open jaws the possibilities are endless if you take the time to research your options leg by leg.

You can search for Star Alliance award availability on sites like United.com and Aeroplan.com. ANA also offers a powerful Star Alliance search tool though you’ll need to have 100 miles in your account to use their Star Alliance search. However if you perform an ANA-only search on a route they serve (like JFK-Tokyo) the site will then allow you to search Star Alliance airlines on different routes as well (just remember to click on connecting flights to expand the selection).

OneWorld:
Oneworld finally has a nonstop option between North America and Israel thanks to USAirways flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. Other flights to Israel include Air Berlin via Berlin and Dusseldorf, BA via London, Iberia via Madrid, and Royal Jordanian via Amman. BA availability is good, but has high fuel surcharges.

El Al is not part of OneWorld (and therefore can’t be booked with miles from other airlines like BA) but they are non-alliance partners with AA.

It’s more advantageous to book El Al travel with AA miles than it is with El Al miles because El Al adds $350 in fuel surcharges onto their own tickets, but you do not pay any fuel surcharges for booking El Al tickets with AA miles. However you can only book coach or business on El Al when using AA miles, first class must be booked with El Al points. El Al has nonstop flights from JFK, Newark, Los Angeles, and Toronto to Tel Aviv.
Note that American agents may only be able to see 2 El Al awards at a time, so grab those 2 seats and then have the agent book 2 more, etc. Some agents don’t know how to properly search for El Al award seats due to their confusing class codes, so you may need to use some HUCA.

You can check OneWorld availability on incomplete sites such as AA.com, BA.com, and Qantas.com. (BA or Qantas frequent flyer account required) You can check El Al availability on elal.com (Matmid account required).
Remember to search for flights from all of El Al’s cities in North America and in Europe as you can use other American and partner flights to reach any of those El Al cities.

Skyteam:
Skyteam generally has the worst award availability. You can try searching some Skyteam availability on Delta.com and AirFrance.com. Options to Israel besides Delta’s nonstop JFK flight are on Czech via Prague, KLM via Amsterdam, Air France via Nice or Paris, Aeroflot via Moscow, and Alitalia via Rome.

Skyteam’s redeeming factor is that both Alitalia and Flying Blue consider Israel to be part of Europe, making travel there a bargain.  However both programs have draconian expiration policies, so transfer there only as needed.

 

Miles required are for round-trip travel. Close-in fees apply for tickets booked within 3 weeks of departure. Rates are for NYC-TLV unless stated otherwise.

Airline:
Alliance, partners, and fuel surcharges, and close-in fees.
Miles required for round-trip:
Notes:
Transfer partners and change fees:
ANAStar Alliance.

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines except for United.

No close-in fee.
Coach: 60K

Business: 90K

First: 140K
One-way officially not allowed but there are "workarounds."

3 stopovers allowed.

ANA has the lowest mileage rates without fuel surcharges for travel on United
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Date change: Free.
Other changes: Not allowed.
Cancellation: 3,000 mile penalty.
Air CanadaStar Alliance.

Fuel surcharges apply on some airlines, see * below.

No close-in fee.
Coach: 80K

Business: 165K

First: 230K
One-way allowed.

2 stopovers or 1 stopover and 1 open jaw allowed on a round-trip.

Infants cost just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.

Air Canada is the best AMEX transfer option for the Star Alliance airlines without a fuel surcharge.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes or cancellation: $90.

Cancellations aren't allowed within 21 days of departure but you can change to a flight outside of 21 days and then cancel.
Air France/KLM Flying BlueSkyteam

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines except Delta.

No close-in fee.
Coach promo: 25-37.5K

Coach: 50K

Business promo: 62.5K-93.75K

Business: 125K
One-way allowed.

1 stopover allowed on a round-trip

Lowest rates to Israel from any program during promo periods where a round-trip can cost as little as 25K, though fuel surcharges apply.
Best program for Delta travel thanks to low mileage rates, one-way awards, and no fuel surcharges.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Citi TY: 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes or cancellation: $70.
Promo awards can't be changed/cancelled.
AlitaliaSkyteam

Fuel surcharges apply.

No close-in fee.
Coach: 50K

Business: 80K
Round-trip required.

1 stopover allowed.

Book awards during business hours in Italy to reach competent reps.

The 80K business award on Delta has $300 in fuel surcharges, but is still a bargain.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Date changes: Free.
Other changes: 5,000 mile or 55 Euro penalty.
Cancellation: Not allowed.
AmericanOneWorld, El Al.

Fuel surcharges apply for flights on British Airways.

$75 close-in fee for non-elites plus mandatory $35 phone fee even for flights that can't be booked online like El Al.
Coach: 80K via Europe between 10/15-05/15.

Coach: 90K via Europe between 05/16-10/14.

Coach: 90K nonstop.

Business: 135K

First: 180K
One-way allowed.

Stopovers are officially not allowed but can be had for free on flights to Tel Aviv. See *** below.

Best program for El Al travel.
Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Date changes: Free.
Other changes: $150
Cancellation: $150 for 1 ticket, $25 for additional tickets cancelled at the same time.
British AirwaysOneWorld, Aer Lingus

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines, see ** below.

No close-in fee.
Coach: 60K on Air Berlin and USAirways, 65K on other carriers.

Business: 100K on Air Berlin, 120K on USAirways, 130K on other carriers.

First: 195K
One-way allowed.

Unlimited stopovers as each flight segment incurs an additional mileage charge.

Infant travel: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.

Best program for surcharge free travel on Air Berlin.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Chase UR: 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes: $55
Cancellation: The lower of taxes paid or $55
DeltaSkyteam

Fuel surcharges apply to select airlines.

No close-in fee.
Coach: 85K

Business: 140K
Round-trip required.

1 stopover and 1 open jaw allowed.

Delta's online calendar is full of bugs.

Best program for travel on other Skyteam carriers without fuel surcharges.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes/Cancellation: $150


No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of a flight.
El AlUnaligned.

Fuel surcharges apply on all flights.

No close-in fee.
AMEX MR rates:

Coach EWR, JFK, or YYZ: 70K

Coach LAX: 90K

Business EWR, JFK, or YYZ: 150K

Business LAX: 200K

First EWR or JFK: 250K

First LAX: 270K
One-way allowed.

El Al First class can only be booked with El Al points.
AMEX MR 1K:1K. See **** below.

Date change: $60
Other changes: $75 ($125 within 3 days).
Cancellation: $125
JAL OneWorld

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines.

No-close in fee.
Coach: 50K

Business: 80K

First: 115K
One-way allowed.

2 stopovers allowed.

Very low OneWorld award rates, though fuel surcharges sting.
Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Date changes: Free.
Other changes/cancellations: ¥3,100 (About $29 USD) or 3,100 mile penalty.
LANOneWorld

No fuel surcharges.

No-close in fee.
Coach PHL-TLV: 70K

Business PHL-TLV: 200K

Coach JFK-AMM-TLV: 82K

Business JFK-AMM-TLV: 224K

Coach JFK-LHR-TLV: 124K

Business JFK-LHR-TLV: 308K

First JFK-LHR-TLV: 384K
Round-trip required.

Unlimited stopovers as each flight segment incurs an additional mileage charge.

40K Starpoints becomes 75K LAN, more than enough for a round-trip on USAirways with no fuel surcharges.

LAN is the only program with no fuel surcharges for BA flights.
Starwood 1K:1.5K or 20K:37.5K

Changes: $75 ($150 within 21 days)
Cancellation: $125 ($300 within 21 days)
LufthansaStar Alliance.

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines.

No-close in fee.
Coach from US: 80K nonstop

Coach from US: 100K via Europe

Coach from Israel: 60K nonstop or via Europe.

Business from US: 135K nonstop

Business from US: 185K via Europe

Business from Israel: 105K nonstop or via Europe.

First from US: 290K via Europe

First from Israel: 170K nonstop or via Europe.
One-way allowed.

2 stopovers and 2 open jaws allowed on a round-trip.

No infant charges except for airport departure tax.

Use Lufthansa miles for expanded Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class availability.

Discounted Israel rates require an Israeli address on the account.
Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes/Cancellation: $60
Singapore Star Alliance.

Fuel surcharges apply for most airlines except for United.

No-close in fee.
Coach: 75K

Business: 115K

First: 150K
One-way allowed.

1 stopover allowed on a round-trip.

Use Singapore to book Singapore Suites and business class.

Awards on United are a real bargain and have low change/cancel fees.
AMEX MR 1K:1K

Citi TY: 1K:1K

Chase UR: 1K:1K

Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes: $20
Cancellation: $30
UnitedStar Alliance.

No fuel surcharges.

$75 close-in fee, waived for United Club cardholders
Coach: 85K

Business on United: 140K

Business on partner airlines: 160K

First on United via Europe: 180K

First on partner airlines: 280K
One-way allowed.

1 stopover and 2 open-jaws allowed on a round-trip.

United cardholders
get expanded availability.

Don't be afraid of trying a Plan B award.

Best program for Star Alliance travel without ever paying a fuel surcharge.
Chase UR 1K:1K

Date change more than 21 days in advance: $75.
Other changes: $100
Cancellation: $200
USAirways OneWorld

Fuel surcharges apply for flights on British Airways.

$75 close-in fee plus $25-$50 award processing fee whether you book online or over the phone.
Coach: 80K

Business: 120K

First: 180K
Round-trip required.

1 stopover or 1 open jaw allowed.

No changes are allowed on tickets that include partner airlines once travel has begun.

USAirways cardholders get a 5,000 mile discount on USAirways flights.

Low rates to Israel and no fuel surcharges on most airlines.

This program will be merged into AA in 2015.
Starwood 1K:1K or 20K:25K

Changes/Cancellation: $150.

*Air Canada charges a fuel surcharge to fly on Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI. They do not charge a fuel surcharges if you fly on Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Brussels, COPA, Croatia, EVA, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Turkish, and United. Minimal fuel surcharges for LOT.

**British Airways does not charge a fuel surcharge when you fly on Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and TAM. There are also no fuel surcharges for American and USAirways flights within the western hemisphere, for JAL flights within Japan, and for Qantas flights within Australia. Fuel surcharges for intra-Europe flights are also typically quite low. Fuel surcharges for travel on Cathay Pacific aren’t too bad while fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways border on the criminal.
You can also transfer BA Avios to Iberia to save on fuel surcharges on Iberia flights.

***While American got rid of stopovers on awards, due to quirky pricing you can still take AAdvantage of stopovers when flying to Israel.  This is especially helpful as El Al has lots of flights from Europe to Israel.

A nonstop flight from the US to Tel Aviv is 45K AA miles each way all year round.

Winter: A flight from the US to Europe between 10/15-05/15 is just 20K each way and a flight from Europe to Tel Aviv is 20K year-round. So you can stopover for as long as you want in any European city, even on a one-way ticket, for just 40K in that timeframe.  Whether you just connect in Europe or whether you stopover for 6 months, you’ll save 5K miles each way over the 45K nonstop option in the wintertime.

Summer: A flight from the US to Europe between 05/16-10/14 is 30K each way and a flight from Europe to Tel Aviv is 20K year-round. So you can stopover for as long as you want in any European city, even on a one-way ticket, for 50K in that timeframe. That’s a 5K premium over just connecting in Europe for less than 24 hours or flying nonstop to Israel in the summertime.

****For simplification sake, all El Al rates in this chart have been multiplied by 50.  In the real world 1K AMEX MR converts into 20 El Al “points” and a ticket from JFK to TLV in coach is 1,400 “points”.  I’ve multiplied everything by 50 to make the numbers comparable to the miles used by every other airline in this chart. Frankly El Al ought to do the same.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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United Plan B: Pretty Much The Most Awesome, Underutilized, And Underappreciated Thing Ever.

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Update: A commenter says he was told by an agent that they will no longer do this process.

Luckily I can confirm that isn’t true as can several DDF’ers.  I recently helped a couple of family members setup a Plan B award to Israel.  They were able to get saver awards on United thanks to having expanded saver class award availability as they had a Chase United Explorer card.

We held the 85K coach saver award online and used the callback line to setup the 140K business saver award with all segments waitlisted for business class.

Their return trip from Tel Aviv cleared into BusinessFirst automatically. 

They were nervous about their outbound trip to Tel Aviv as the domestic portion of the flight cleared into first class in advance while the Newark-Tel Aviv segment was still in coach. United.com was showing that BusinessFirst was completely full with several passengers standing by. Luckily United.com is explicit that if the domestic first class portion clears but the BusinessFirst portion doesn’t clear you can still get a full refund after the flight.

They had the agent waitlist them for BusinessFirst at their departing airport but I noticed that the United.com flight status page showed them at the bottom of the BusinessFirst waitlist.  So in Newark I told them to go to find another agent and explain clearly that they paid for BusinessFirst and were displaced business class passengers and therefore they deserved top priority “PR-1″ status.  They referenced the GG code listed below as well.

They found a competent agent, 3 people in business no-showed for the flight, and they both got their lie-flat business class seats to Israel!

Truly the hidden gem of United miles.
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Note that as the article below was written prior to the 02/01 devaluation, the rates and examples listed were with pre-devaluation numbers that I haven’t updated.

Originally posted on 12/12/13:

I’ve been booking Continental and United award tickets using Plan B for years. I blogged about in passing here in 2009 and here in 2011. I blogged about it still working with United last year as well.  Several DDF members have used it over the years and they have flown in business class every time!

Business class award tickets are typically a sweet spot in award redemption charts.  While you can fly to Israel for $1,000 in coach you would have to shell out 5 times that to fly in business.  Whereas with miles the difference is much smaller, United currently charges 40K miles for a one-way coach ticket or 60K miles for a one-way business ticket.  (Note that for awards booked after 01/31 those rates will go up to 42.5K in coach and 70K in United business.)

Of course that creates a lot of competition for business class award seats which is why they’re harder to find than coach award seats.  Nonstop business class awards to Tel Aviv are among the most challenging award tickets out there.  Not that it’s impossible, I recently booked a friend who is in the air right now on a USAirways business saver award to Tel Aviv and is returning in 2 weeks on a United business saver award.  But it means constantly checking to see if award seats have opened up and possibly waiting until the last minute to book.

And that’s where Plan B comes in handy.  It works as long as there is United saver coach award availability.  I find that I have the best luck booking a Plan B using this web support callback link. Ex-Continental agents staff that line and some are still familiar with this procedure that survived the merger.

Unfortunately Plan B is just the internet name for this type of ticket, there’s no easy way to describe what you want to an agent. You need to tell the agent that you found United coach saver award availability but would like to purchase and be issued a business class saver award, be seated in coach, and waitlisted for a business class seat.  I often tell the agent that I have done this in the past over the phone and was wondering if they know how to set it up.

At this point most agents will think you’re nuts and say that no such thing exists.

Indeed in preparation for this post I had the web support desk call me and the first agent just laughed at my suggestion.  She told me to book the ticket online and call in to waitlist for a business class seat. However that is NOT what I wanted as that would not have the benefits of a Plan B booking, as I’ll soon explain.

Then I called the 1K Premier line and the agent was more courteous but couldn’t help me.  Afterward I used the web support callback link again (I always take note of an agent’s name when I play HUCA (Hang up, Call again) so that I don’t bother the same incompetent agent again) and got Gary H, who turned out to be fantastic.

At first Gary said he recalled such a thing being possible in the Continental days but he hadn’t heard of it being done in years and he wouldn’t even know how to go about doing it.

Then he asked me to hang on while he was looking up documentation.  He found the exact procedure and proceeded to book my Plan B award!

He correctly debited my account the 60,000 miles needed for a one-way business class seat to Tel Aviv while he seated me in coach.  He said that I would need to call back in after the itinerary had ticketed (United itineraries can take anywhere from a minute to an hour to be ticketed with an eticket number) in order to waitlist for the business class seat.  However just 2 minutes later I actually got a call back from Gary letting me know that my reservation had ticketed and that he had waitlisted me for a business class seat!  Now that’s great customer service!

I asked him if there was anything I could tell an agent in the future so that they don’t think I have mushrooms growing out of my head.  He said they have a documentation system called CORE.  In there an agent can lookup the procedure for award waitlist guidelines and it will tell them how to manually issue a business class saver award when there is only coach saver available. If you have to refer an agent to look there I’d tell them that a previous agent who booked such a ticket for you told you to reference that system in case you have any problems in the future.

If you have correctly setup your ticket it will look something like this online:

ua1

 

Notice how I was charged the full 60,000 miles, the business class rate.  However my fare class is Economy.  The letter code for a coach saver award is either X or XN.  X refers to saver coach award space for general members. XN is expanded saver coach award space for logged-in elites and people who have the Chase United Explorer credit card. (That’s an incredibly valuable benefit of having the card, especially for a Plan B award as you’ll have expanded coach, business, and first class saver award space as well.  The card also gets you free baggage, priority boarding, and it might just be the only credit card in the world that gives free primary car rental insurance in every country in the world-even in your home country and Israel.  Almost every other card only gives weak secondary coverage in your home country).

Then notice how IN class is requested.  I class refers to saver business class award space. IN is expanded saver business class award space for Platinums/1Ks/Global Services.

If you have I or IN class requested AND you were debited the miles for a business class saver award then you’ve properly setup a Plan B award!

If business saver award space opens then you may be automatically moved into business or there may be a message to call in to clear you from the waitlist.  It’s important to keep checking as it may or may not automatically clear you and when you see that it says the space is available you should call in right away.

But what happens if that space never opens up?  The system will stop checking at 24 hours before your flight for that space you need.

Because you paid for a business class seat you are considered a displaced business class passenger.  Thus you should be prioritized ahead of all upgraders trying to nab business seats on the day of departure.

Unfortunately the system is not setup to automatically give you that priority, only an airport agent can do that.  So show up at the airport as early as possible for your flight (or if possible you can go to the airport 24 hours before your flight) and explain to the agent that you are not upgrading with miles but you paid for a business class ticket and are only seated in coach.  This is true as you have paid the full business class rate already.  If the agent doesn’t understand this you should ask for a supervisor, it’s crucial they understand that you’re not a coach passenger trying to upgrade with miles but a displaced business class passenger.

The agent should give you “PR-1 status” which gives you top-priority status and moves you to the very top of the upgrade standby list, ahead of employees and everyone else trying to upgrade with miles+cash.  If one agent won’t put you on the list as a displaced Business class passenger with PR-1 status then find another one who will.  With this status the odds of you getting a business class are very high if there are still open seats (or if anybody no-shows).

If the agents in the airport are all clueless you should direct them to look up “gg onestandby” in their system (they’ll know exactly what this is) and look around lines 85-89 which spell out the details of the procedure for this award. (Parenthetically, when trying to get a gate pass to access a club as a United Club cardholder when I’m not flying I sometimes need to tell an agent to look up “gg checkpoint line 53″ which instructs agents to give you a security pass for you and your guests to access post-security United and USAirways clubs even if you aren’t flying.)

If they don’t believe that you really paid the business class award rate then have them call up the reward desk.  Like I said, it’s good to leave plenty of time at the airport for Plan B tickets.

I can’t stress enough how imperative it is to have this setup correctly: If you don’t get an airport agent to properly give you top-priority status then there is very little chance that you will be flying in business class.

With the United app or on United.com you can search for the upgrade standby list for any flight by searching under flight status.  You will see how many business class seats are still open and you should see your name at the very top of that list.  If you’re on a Plan B ticket and are at the bottom of the business class upgrade list then the agent didn’t give you the right priority status as a displaced business class passenger.

Everyone I know who has properly setup and followed through on a Plan B ticket had flown in business class.  But what if you don’t clear?  Just contact United after the flight (Again, I’d use the web support callback link) and they will refund the extra miles you paid for business class.  For EWR-TLV this means a refund of the extra 20,000 miles each way they charge to fly in business saver over coach saver.

Of course this also works on connecting flights.  If you are on a connecting flight you should be sure to be waitlisted for First Class on all of your flights.  Say you are coming from Los Angeles, even if you clear into first class on the LAX-EWR flight, as long as you don’t clear on the international EWR-TLV flight you will still get the 20,000 miles each way refund!

All of this only works with United flights, it won’t work for partner flights (partner flights can be on the same itinerary, you just can’t use Plan B for them).

This Plan B process would also work for routes with global first class that has only coach or business saver awards available (Tel Aviv does not have Global First class).

Happy flying!  And when you’re flying in a lie-flat business class seat you’re guaranteed to be a whole lot happier, especially when you’re just using the miles you got from opening a single credit card :D

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New Flying Blue Promo Awards Now Bookable: JFK To Tel Aviv For 18,750 Miles, Detroit To Tel Aviv For 12.5K Miles, Washington DC To Tel Aviv In Premium Economy For 25K Miles

Monday, September 1st, 2014

Update: The current list of Promo Awards must be booked by 09/30.

Originally posted on 09/01:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Flying Blue Promo Awards (Click here to view worldwide promo awards)

Air France Flying Blue Award Search (Login required to search for award flights)

Flying Blue is the joint program of SkyTeam member Air France and KLM.
They consider Tel Aviv to be part of Europe which can make for some decent deals.

Flying Blue does charge fuel surcharges on their own flights but not on Delta flights. However availability is much better on their own flights than on Delta flights. When there is Delta availability though it’s significantly cheaper to book the Delta flights with Flying Blue miles than with Delta Skypesos.

-They normally charge 25,000 miles each way in coach, 50,000 miles each way in premium economy, and 62,500 miles each way in business to Israel but they run rotating promo awards valid for select cities.

Currently for North America that includes flights from JFK, Detroit, Or Washington DC.  There are no business class awards this month.

-Promo awards are only valid on Air France or KLM.

-Travel is valid in either direction and is valid for one-way or round-trip travel.

-You need to book the current promo awards by 09/30.

-Promo awards are nonrefundable and non-changeable.

-You can travel between Detroit and Tel Aviv anytime in November or December for 12.5K miles each way.

-You can travel between JFK and Tel Aviv between 11/05-12/18 for 18,750 miles each way.

-You can travel between Washington DC and Tel Aviv in premium economy anytime in November or December for 25K miles each way.

-You can transfer AMEX points to Flying Blue at a 1K:1K ratio or Starpoints to Flying Blue at a 20K:25K ratio.

-For example on 11/17-11/25 you can fly from JFK to Tel Aviv nonstop on Delta for 50,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip plus $84.92 or with a stop on KLM or Air France for 37,500 Flying Blue miles round-trip plus $258.76.

In that case I’d definitely go with Delta.  However Flying Blue can only book Delta saver availability which is much more limited that Air France and KLM saver availability. The easiest way to search for Delta saver availability is to do an award search on Delta.com, click on “View award calendar” and look for the dates in green.  Then plugin those dates on the Air France site and it should pull up the Delta option.

-From Detroit to Tel Aviv for example a flight from 11/24-12/02 is 25,000 miles round-trip plus $299.58.

-From Washington DC to Tel Aviv for example a flight from 11/24-12/02 in premium economy is 50,000 miles round-trip plus $457.90.

Air France premium economy gives a more comfortable seat with a leg rest, 20% more legroom, a 20% wider seat thanks to a 2-3-2 configuration rather than 2-4-2, gives 2 free checked bags, an amenity kit, and more.  It’s a whole lot better  than the sad “premium economy” offerings from the US carriers.

Want to pickup some Flying Blue miles?
AMEX MR points transfer to Flying Blue at a 1:1 ratio, Citi Thank You points from the Premier, Prestige, or Chairman cards transfer at a 1:1 ratio, and Starpoints transfer at a 20:25 ratio so 20K Starwood becomes enough for a round-trip ticket.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express awards 25K signup points with no fee for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Flying Blue with the permanent 25% transfer bonus.  Transfers can take a few days.

-American Express Membership Rewards points transfer instantly at a 1K:1K ratio to Flying Blue and can be earned from new cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express.

The Preferred card awards 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere, 3 miles per dollar on Uber and gas, and 4.5 miles per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month.

The EveryDay card awards 1.2 miles per dollar everywhere and 2.4 miles per dollar on Uber and groceries if you make 20 transactions per month.

You can also earn Membership Rewards points from cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.

-You can see the miles and fees for one-way tickets in the images below:

 

FBa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FBb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FBc

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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This One Little Trick Saved My Friend’s Expired Miles…

Monday, September 1st, 2014

-Find more articles like this by clicking on the “Mileage Posts” tab on top of the DansDeals banner at the top of this site.
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I’ve written articles in the past about when miles from various credit card, airline, and hotel programs expire and a really easy and free way to keep them alive.

And several times last September I reminded folks that their old Continental miles would expire on October 1st. Previously Continental miles dating back all the way to the 80s had never expired.

A good buddy of mine told me on Friday that his old Continental miles expired on 10/01/13.  After chastising him for not being more organized (the only way to get ahead in the mileage and credit card game is to be very organized) I went digging through my emails for car rental receipts.

You see, I’ve been through this before.  A few years ago I rescued my mother’s and another friend’s United miles and a few months ago I rescued my brother’s American miles as well this way.  I intentionally don’t collect miles for some of my car rentals just for these situations.

Typically you can earn 50 airline miles a day when you rent a car, though there are promotions at times to earn thousands of miles when you rent a car. If you have a car rental that never received airline miles and the rental took place before the expiration date of your airline mileage account you can call to have the car rental miles credited to your airline mileage account.  Typically that can be done for up to a year after the rental.  The miles post to your airline mileage account retroactive to the time of the car rental.  It can take a few weeks for those miles to post, but when they do it will reactivate your entire mileage account if the car rental was made before your miles expired.

Another reason to ask for credit afterward: When you give your mileage number before the rental you’ll be charged 75 cents a day for those miles.  When you ask for miles after the rental there is no charge.

I’ve never run into any issues having the miles credited to someone else’s account. In fact I’ve never even been asked for the name of the mileage account holder, I just ask for airline mileage account number XYZ to be credited for the rental.

So I went digging this past Friday, 08/29/14, for an old car rental and found I had one uncredited rental in August and September 2013. I had picked up the rental on 08/29/13 and returned it 08/30/13.  The first agent said it was too late to get credit for the rental and refused to even try as the pickup had been “more than a year ago.” However after a quick HUCA another agent was happy to process the request and I expect that all of his miles should reappear later this month.

Though he won’t be able to just sit on his laurels.  His account will be subject to expiration in just 6 months as the last activity will the car rental from 12 months ago.

If he gets a United credit card his miles will never expire as long as the card is active. Otherwise redeeming a few hundred miles for a magazine subscription is a quick, easy, and free way to generate activity to extend mileage expiration out another 18 months.  Or if you have transferable points you can move any amount of points from Chase, AMEX, or Starwood to an airline to keep your entire account alive.

With Starwood a simple transfer from you to your spouse or someone else living at your address will keep both of your accounts alive for another 18 months.

There are other options to reactive expired miles.  United, American, and USAirways are happy to let you pay to reactivate them.

American also has a unique challenge that I wrote about over 5 years ago that allows you to reactivate miles by completing tasks like opening a credit card or flying on a paid AA flight. Since then they’ve added a small fee to take that challenge, but it should be much cheaper than paying to reactivate the miles outright.

A commenter on the recent airline credit card post notes that he also had his old Continental miles expire on 10/01 and I’m guessing many more ignored my calls last September as well.  Sorry folks, I don’t have any more uncredited car rentals from last September, but if you’re in the same boat be sure to check with your family and friends if they rented a car last September!

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Evolve Has Devolved

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Effective 09/01 Evolve Money will only allow you to make 1 payment per biller per month.

“Due to changes in our risk and regulatory compliance policies, Evolve Money will be implementing a limit of one payment per biller account per month. This change takes effect September 1, 2014. There are no limits on the number of cash payments made with a Reloadit pack or Evolve Pay Bucks.

We realize that some of our users have taken advantage of the multiple payments per month to pay off larger expenses such as mortgages. We are currently working on ways to improve the bill paying experience for you and expect to announce details soon.”

Originally Evolve allowed you to make unlimited payments from a credit card to a biller. Then they stopped allowing credit card (though they still allowd gift cards) and then limited it to 4 payments per biller per month.

Was fun while it lasted!

HT: cozmohoot, via DDF

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Breathe Easy Folks, The Reports Of The Death Of British Airways Avios Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Earlier today I took the blogosphere to task for at least half a dozen sensationalist headlines and blog posts about the sky falling for the British Airways Avios program, my favorite mileage currencies for short-haul flights.

I outlined my rationale for why the supposed Iberia Avios changes didn’t have to mean anything for the British Airways program.

Gary commented on that post that the Iberia changes signaled a real risk for British Airways Avios as the Iberia changes were huge.

Only problem is that there were no changes.

Turns out that Iberia’s little explored Avios program has never allowed the cheap short-haul rates that we love so much on partner airlines, except for travel Iberia, British Airways, and Vueling.  So nothing has changed at all.  You can still use Iberia Avios to fly on Iberia with low fuel surcharges and you still cannot use Iberia for cheap OneWorld tickets as you were never able to.

Google Cache only takes us back to July 28, but even then you can see the same overpriced OneWorld award chart when using Iberia Avios.

FT member Travellair also sent me this link to the Iberia chart from before the Avios program launched in November 2011.  Turns out all they did when Avios launched was multiply all of the awards by 15.  They never did have the 4.5K awards on most OneWorld partner airlines, those were only offered systemwide via British Airways Avios and Avios.com.

The only thing that I can see that might have changed is that you can now book partner awards on airlines like American on Iberia.com instead of having to call them up. Not that you would want to considering that a LGA-MIA flight would cost 36K Iberia Avios round-trip (as it always has) versus 15K British Airways Avios round-trip.

And so after a bizarre day of blog posts about changes to the Iberia Avios program that never actually happened, British Airways Avios goes on to live another day.

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Citi Thank You Points Now Transferable To Select Airlines

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Update: Citi has now added Flying Blue as an airline transfer partner.
Flying Blue typically charges heavy fuel surcharges but they don’t on Delta. Additionally they consider Israel to be part of Europe, so a one-way award on Delta to Israel is just 25K miles (when Delta has saver award space) and promo awards to Israel are 12.5K miles each way plus fuel surcharges.
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Originally posted on 07/21:

Over 2 years ago I wrote that Citi was in the process of making their points transferable to airlines.

It’s taken some time, but it’s finally been implemented.

However the current transfer selection is very weak when compared to the 3 powerhouse transferable currencies, AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Starwood Starpoints.

Citi Transfer Partners:
-Cathay Pacific
-Etihad
-EVA
-Garuda Indonesia
-Malaysia Airlines
-Qatar
-Singapore
-Thai
-Hilton

-You must have a Citi ThankYou Premier, Citi Prestige, or Citi Chairman card to make a transfer.
-Points earned from checking accounts can’t be transferred.
-It may take up to fourteen days for the ThankYou Points to post to your participating travel loyalty program member account.
-The first and last names on both the ThankYou Member Account and the participating travel loyalty program member’s account must match in order to transfer points using the Points Transfer feature.

HT: AsherO, via DDF

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Do Iberia Changes Forebode British Airways Changes Or Is It Much Ado About Nothing?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Iberia has changed their partner award chart, significantly raising the miles required to fly on partner airlines. Gary thinks that means that British Airways changes are about to be announced as well.

He says,

“Of course, it makes no sense for Iberia to have this chart and not British Airways. Otherwise, you just transfer your Iberia points over to British Airways Avios and redeem on partners from there. In order to effectively charge so much for partners, you’d expect that both programs would have to more or less move in tandem.”

Since the launch of Avios in November of 2011 it’s been ridiculously cheap to fly on short-haul flights thanks to British Airways Avios. Just 4,500 Avios is enough to fly on partner airlines like American and USAirways without fuel surcharges. It’s quickly become the best way to book domestic flights thanks to the ridiculously low rates, the lack of last-minute booking fees, and the dirt cheap cancellation rates.

There’s always been the feeling that it’s too good to be true even though partner airlines are known to pay very small amounts of cash for partner mileage awards.

But I’m not convinced that the Iberia change means that a devaluation is imminent.

-The Iberia partner award chart has been the same for at least 2 weeks. If British Airways was going to devalue imminently or in tandem, wouldn’t we have heard something by now?

-Iberia eliminated reward saver flights within Europe over a year ago. British Airways still has the program which heavily reduces fuel surcharges when you fly within Europe.

-Iberia Avios have never been the same as British Airways Avios for partner flights. You can’t change or refund a OneWorld ticket booked via Iberia while you can refund a British Airways booked ticket for just the forfeiture of taxes paid ($5.60 for a domestic ticket).

-Iberia has always tried to push their own flights over partner flights. They offer a huge discount on fuel surcharges for booking Iberia flights with Iberia Avios. British Airways charges much higher fuel surcharges for Iberia flights.

Those differences have meant that there have always been arbitrage opportunities and plenty of reasons to convert Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios and vice versa. Saying that the allowance of conversion of Avios in both directions means that they have to move in tandem with this devaluation is dubious logic at best. It’s never been applied until now after all.

The British Airways and Iberia programs have many unique nuances and have different non-alliance partner airlines to earn and redeem miles with.

Additionally British Airways Avios program is run as an independent profit center from the Iberia Avios program and British Airways continues to partner with more American banks and credit cards than Iberia.
Those credit card companies will likely push back against a British Airways devaluation. At the very least they would have to announce that a devaluation is coming or else face the wrath of the banks and the people accumulating their miles. And risk losing the millions of dollars those partner provide.

Gary notes that the Avios program was launched in November 2011 without providing details in advance and that means they have a poor track record. Technically that’s true but they did announce in advance that major changes were coming and when they were coming, well in advance of the Avios launch. I wouldn’t consider that to mean that they have a track record of making unannounced changes.

Even if significant amounts of people start converting their Iberia Avios to British Airways (unlikely as it’s not a very well known feature) they can always turn off the conversion process with more ease than aligning the programs.

Might we see an upcoming British Airways devaluation? Sure. After all as flights get more expensive and the value of a dollar goes down there is mileage inflation as well. Airline consolidation also gives even more ability to devalue miles. That doesn’t mean airlines will kill the golden goose that has provided billions of dollars in income from selling miles to the banks and other partners, but they do have more flexibility to devalue up to a point.

However I don’t think that the Iberia changes prove that imminent changes are inevitable, nor am I running to burn my stash of 500K British Airways Avios for flights I don’t need. If you have flights you want to book anyway, then there’s no reason not to book those now. But otherwise, I’m not panicking at all.

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JetBlue TrueBlue Stackable Promotions: JFK-Fort Lauderdale Round-Trip For 10K AMEX Points, JFK-Puerto Rico For 11K, JFK-LAX In Mint Suites For 52.4K

Monday, August 18th, 2014

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

JetBlue’s TrueBlue is normally one of the least valuable mileage programs around.

But 2 promotions have converged to make for some nice values.

1. Normally you need 1,250 AMEX Membership Rewards points to get 1,000 JetBlue points but until 09/15 you can trade at parity, 1,000 AMEX points transfers into 1,000 JetBlue points.

You can earn AMEX MR points on cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Point transfers are instant.

2. Additionally you can save 25% on all award bookings made today and tomorrow.
The 25% discount is valid for flights from 09/02-11/20 but excludes flights on Sundays and Fridays.
This is valid everywhere that JetBlue flies.

With both promotion combined a flight that normally would require 30,000 JetBlue points and would thus normally need 37,500 AMEX points would now cost 22,500 JetBlue points or now only 22,500 AMEX Points.

Sample deals, round-trip in coach:
-JFK to Fort Lauderdale, 11/12-11/18, a paid flight is $207.98.
Thanks to both promotions you can use just 10,000 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 1.97 cents per point.

-JFK to Chicago, 11/05-11/12, a paid flight is $230.20.
Thanks to both promotions you can use just 11,400 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 1.92 cents per point.

-JFK to San Juan, 11/03-11/11, a paid flight is $253.20.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 11,000 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 2.2 cents per point.

-JFK to Bermuda, 09/01-09/08, a paid flight is $329.90
Thanks to both promotions you can use 14,600 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $60.90 for the same flights, a value of 1.84 cents per point.

-JFK to San Francisco, 11/04-11/11, a paid flight is $336.20.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 17,200 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 1.89 cents per point.

-JFK to Burbank, CA, 11/05-11/11, a paid flight is $317.98.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 16,200 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 1.89 cents per point.

-JFK to Nassau, 11/11-11/19, a paid flight is $346.60.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 11,600 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $93.60 for the same flights, a value of 2.18 cents per point.

-JFK to Los Angeles, 11/04-11/10, a paid flight is $404.20.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 21,000 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 1.87 cents per point.

-JFK to Liberia, Costa Rica, 11/11-11/18, a paid flight is $477.42.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 22,400 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $41.42 for the same flights, a value of 1.95 cents per point.

Sample deals, round-trip in Mint Suites Class:

JetBlue’s Mint Class operates on flights between JFK-Los Angeles and JFK-San Francisco.
Rows 1, 3, and 5 have a 2-2 seat configuration for a total of 12 lie-flat seats.
Rows 2 and 4 are Mint suites with a 1-1 seat configuration. Those 4 seats per plane are the only seats on intra-North America flights where you can close the doors for privacy.

For the time being JetBlue sells allows people who purchase Mint seats to select Mint Suites when available for no additional cost. When purchasing a flight just fill in your person into to get to the seat selection page to check if seats in row 2 or 4 are available.

Mint seats booked with TrueBlue points get free cancellation/changes, free onboard movies, free enhanced food and beverages, 2 free checked bags, and priority checkin, security, and boarding.

-JFK to Los Angeles, 11/04-11/10, a paid flight is $1,197.98.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 52,400 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 2.26 cents per point.

-JFK to San Francisco, 11/04-11/11, a paid flight is $1,197.98.
Thanks to both promotions you can use 52,400 AMEX or JetBlue points plus $11.20 for the same flights, a value of 2.26 cents per point.

HT: AJK, via DDF

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Fly From LaGuardia To Seattle In First Class For $762, Get Star Alliance Gold For Life

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

United has a great first class fare from LaGuardia to Seattle.  You need to book 3 weeks in advance and seats aren’t available on all dates.  You can stay in Seattle for a while or catch a flight right back, as shown below:

 

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Mileage Running:

Why would you want to catch a flight right back?

It’s called a mileage run, though that’s a dying art as the airlines have made getting elite status on the cheap progressively harder.

I’ve had my fun with mileage runs. In 2003 I took AAdvantage of American’s AVNYC promotion to fly twice between NYC and Florida or California on $69 tickets for a free systemwide ticket.  I used the systemwide ticket to fly from Sao Paulo-Dallas-JFK-Tokyo-Los Angeles-Miami-Sao Paulo.

In 2006 I spent 36 hours flying on 14 short-hops earning elite status and over 10,000 miles for each leg for less than $200.

United now requires US residents to fly 50,000 miles and spend at least $5,000 on United flights (if you spend $25,000 annually on the United Explorer card then you don’t have to spend $5,000 on flights) to earn Star Alliance Gold status for just 1 year.

And United blocks their own elites from using United Clubs when flying domestically.

Lazy? Take the Greek route to status:

Aegean, a Greek airline, is one of the 27 airlines that make up the Star Alliance.  If you signup for an Aegean account here you will get 1,000 redeemable and elite qualifying miles for free.

Aegean only requires 19,000 elite qualifying miles to get Star Alliance Gold status.

Technically you have 1 year from when you signup to the program to get at least 3,000 more flight miles to reach Silver status at 4,000 total miles.  You then have 1 year from when you earn Blue/Silver status to get up to 20,000 total miles and earn Gold status.

Once you have the Gold status it’s yours to keep.  You just need to credit a single Star Alliance flight to your Aegean account once every every 36 months to extend your Star Alliance Gold status for another 36 months.

The terms of the program can change, but lots of folks have had Aegean Gold since 2010 and continue to enjoy the benefits by just crediting 1 United flight to the account every 36 months.

Mileage Calculation:
Aegean uses a complicated table where mileage earned is based on the fare class.

Most United coach tickets only earn half the flown miles. However United First Class tickets in F or A class earn triple the miles flown.

In the LGA-SEA flight example above you’ll notice that I selected flights that connect in Houston.  By connecting there the total flight miles are 3,290 each way or 6,580 round-trip.  When you credit that flight to your Aegean account (just enter your Aegean number on United.com or give it to an airport agent) you’ll earn triple miles because the ticket is a first class ticket in A class, so you’ll have 19,740 miles.  Add that to the 1,000 miles you get at signup and you’ll have Star Alliance Gold status after the single round-trip flight!

Plus you’ll have 20,740 miles that you can use for Star Alliance award flights.

Star Alliance Gold Benefits:

-You and a companion can access over 1,000 Star Alliance lounges when departing from the airport on any Star Alliance airline.  When you have Star Alliance Gold status from United you can’t access any of their lounges when traveling domestically, but when you have Star Alliance Gold status from a foreign carrier like Aegean you can access United lounges when flying domestically.

And yes, with Star Alliance Gold status you’ll have access to the Dan lounge in Tel Aviv even if you’re flying United coach.

-You get at least 1 additional free bag over the baggage allowance for non-elites.  On Air Canada and United that even extends to each of your travel companions.  On United in coach a 2nd bag to Israel for example would be free, a value of $200 round-trip per person. On United in business or first class you and your companions will get 3 free 70 pound bags. On Air Canada in any class you and your companions will get 3 free bags, a value of $650 round-trip per person.

-Star Alliance Gold status also gets you priority baggage handling, priority checkin, priority security, priority boarding, priority waitlisting, etc.

-When flying on United having Star Alliance Gold status will allow you to make the free same-day confirmed changes to your flight when done in the online check-in process.

Caveats:
-Aegean miles aren’t worth as much as United miles, so once you get the status you want you will want to switch back to earning miles from United. You can check your bags with your Aegean Gold card and then switch your number to accumulate United miles for the flight.
-You won’t get upgrades on United like you would if you earned elite status in their program.
-You won’t get bonus miles on United like you would if you earned elite status in their programs.
-You won’t get Economy Plus seating like you would if you you earned elite status in their own program, though some gate agents and an occasional phone agent may move you there for free.
-You won’t get expanded elite award availability on United like you would if you earned elite status in their own program, however anyone who has a United Explorer card gets expanded coach saver award seats and last seat coach, business, and first class standard awards.  And United requires at least Platinum status (75K miles/year) to get expanded business/first class saver awards.  Besides once there is coach saver award space you can always do a Plan B award to sit in the front of the bus.

HT: EJB, via DDF, for finding the excellent LGA-SEA first class airfare.

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29 Direct Flights From Boston That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

7th in a series.
Related:
-Chase British Airways Visa: Earn 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000, that’s enough for 11 one-way flights to NYC or 4 one-way flights to Europe with no fuel surcharges.
-Click to view 94 Direct Avios Flights From Baltimore/Washington DC
-Click to view 126 Direct Avios Flights From Chicago
-Click to view 77 Direct Avios Flights From Los Angeles
-Click to view 120 Direct Avios Flights From Miami
-Click to view 102 Direct Avios Flights From NYC
-Click to view 123 Direct Avios Flights From Philadelphia
—————————————————————–

British Airways Avios can’t be beat for short-haul nonstop flights thanks to ultra-low award rates, no expedite/close-in fees, and dirt cheap award cancellations.  Below are all of the direct flights from Boston that can be booked with Avios.

Be sure to read the British Airways knowledgebase and the 22 Things To Keep In Mind When Using Avios for everything you NEED to know about the BA program and how to best search for BA award availability with tips like always booking one-way awards.  If you have a question it’s probably already been answered there!

Notes:
1. Rates in the chart are for one-way flights. Generally speaking it’s a good idea to book BA flights as one-ways to give you maximum flexibility.
2. Routes that are displayed in bold are subject to fuel surcharges.
3. There are no fuel surcharges for flights on: Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and TAM. There are also no fuel surcharges for American and USAirways flights within the western hemisphere, for JAL flights within Japan, and for Qantas flights within Australia. Fuel surcharges for intra-Europe flights are also typically quite low. Fuel surcharges for travel on Cathay Pacific aren’t too bad while fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways border on the criminal.
You can save on the fuel surcharges imposed on Iberia flights by transferring British Airways Avios into Iberia Avios.
4. In the charts below I’ve only included direct flights as BA charges Avios for each flight segment. For example Maui isn’t on the chart as BA does not have any partners that fly nonstop from Boston-Maui.  Though you can always fly to Maui via Los Angeles, Portland, San Diego, or Seattle, for 12.5K for the Boston-west coast segment and 12.5K for the West coast-Maui segment with no fuel surcharges. Plus you can stopover in the connecting city for as long or short as you want.
5. BA.com does not display availability for all airlines! If you want to book travel on airlines like Alaska, Aer Lingus, and LAN you’ll need to pick up the phone and call BA! You can search Alaska award availability on AA.com before calling BA to book it.
6. In rare cases connecting flights can be cheaper than nonstop flights when using Avios and I’ve noted that in the chart.
7. Cities in the chart may only have seasonal nonstop service.
8. A dash means that class of service isn’t offered on that route.
9. If you are originating in NYC and don’t want to drive to BOS to pickup a flight you’ll probably be better off searching for and booking the NYC-BOS leg for 4.5K separately from the BOS-XYZ leg. First of all that will pull up more flight results. Second, that will stop you from being priced into the much more expensive multi-partner chart. For example a flight from NYC-Boston on American and from Boston-Ireland on Aer Lingus would price out a 35K Avios when booked as 1 ticket or 17K Avios when the Boston-NYC flight is booked separately (for 4.5K Avios) from the Boston-Ireland flight (for 12.5K Avios with no fuel surcharges).
————————————————————————

Want to pickup Avios? You’re in luck as you can transfer points from all over the place to BA.

-The Chase British Airways Visa Signature offers 50,000 Avios for spending $2K, 1.25 Avios per dollar spent, and a companion ticket for spending $30K in a year.

-Chase Ultimate Rewards points are earned from consumer cards like Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Non-Preferred, Chase Freedom and business cards like Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Cash. These points also can transfer instantly 1:1 to Avios.

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX each award 25K signup points with no fee for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus. Note that Starwood point transfers are not instant.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from cards like the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold. These points can transfer instantly 1:1 to Avios.

—————————————————————-
View the complete 29 route chart after the jump:

Click here to keep reading this post!

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Complain About An Airline, Get A Free Subscription To Time, Fortune, The Economist, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, And More!

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Update 2: My free magazines have already started coming!  Even if you haven’t signed up yet it seems that the promotion is still alive, so complain and get yourself some free magazines!

Update: My 8,000 miles just posted. I ordered The Economist, Time, Fortune, and Money for 8,000 miles on the nose.
Thanks Spirit!
—————————————————
Originally posted on 07/08:

Spirit is offering 8,000 miles for complaining about an airline. Any short complaint will do.

At first I ignored this. After all getting free Spirit miles is sort of like winning a contest for a trip on Greyhound to Pittsburgh where the grand prize winner gets 1 free trip and the 2nd prize winner get 2 free trips ;)
And frankly I think going Greyhound may just be preferable to Spirit…

However DDF member springles correctly points out that the best use of these miles isn’t to save up for what’s sure to be a torturous flight, but for using for free magazines!

-Click here to view the free magazines you can get with your Spirit miles.
-Here is an alternate link with some other redemption options.
Sample redemptions:
Conde Nast Traveler: 12 issues, 900 Miles
Entrepreneur: 12 issues, 900 Miles
ESPN The Magazine: 26 issues, 800 Miles
Fortune: 20 issues, 1,700 Miles
Money: 12 issues, 1,200 Miles (I’m partial to the June cover issue they show…I’m in it :) )
People: 26 issues, 3,300 Miles
Sports Illustrated: 56 issues, 2,100 Miles
Sports Illustrated KIDS: 12 issues, 1,500 Miles
TIME: 52 issues, 1,800 Miles
TIME + Fortune: 52 issues+20 issues, 2,000 Miles
The Economist: 51 issues, 4,800 Miles
The Wall Street Journal: 228 issues, 4,100 Miles

Bear in mind that Spirit’s industry-worst miles expire in just 90 days and it will take 10 days to get your 8,000 free miles, so be ready to attack the magazine offers as soon as your miles post.

HT: wayfe and springles, via DDF

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New Flying Blue Promo Awards Now Bookable: Chicago, Houston, Or Washington DC To Tel Aviv For 12.5K Miles

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Flying Blue Promo Awards (Click here to view worldwide promo awards)

Air France Flying Blue Award Search (Login required to search for award flights)

Flying Blue is the joint program of SkyTeam member Air France and KLM.
They consider Tel Aviv to be part of Europe which can make for some decent deals.

Flying Blue does charge fuel surcharges on their own flights but not on Delta flights. However availability is much better on their own flights than on Delta flights. When there is Delta availability though it’s significantly cheaper to book the Delta flights with Flying Blue miles than with Delta Skypesos.

-They normally charge 25,000 miles each way in coach to Israel but they run rotating promo awards valid for select cities. Currently for North America that includes half priced flights from Chicago, Houston, Or Washington DC.

-Promo awards are only valid on Air France or KLM.

-Travel is valid in either direction and is valid for one-way or round-trip travel.

-You need to book the current promo awards by 08/31.

-You can travel between Houston or Washington DC and Tel Aviv in October or November or between Chicago and Tel Aviv in November.

-In some cases it may make sense to use BA Avios to get to Chicago, Houston, or Washington DC.

-You can transfer AMEX points to Flying Blue at a 1K:1K ratio or Starpoints to Flying Blue at a 20K:25K ratio.

-You can see the miles and fees for one-way tickets in the images below:

 

ord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

was

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

iah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Reminder: Triple Points Per Dollar With Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants And Caterers Today

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Today and on every first Friday of every month you will earn triple points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card on all dining purchases. Normally you earn double points per dollar on airfare, hotel stays, car rentals, restaurants, catering, fast food, coffee shops, bars, lounges, cafes, taxis, Uber, parking, limos, buses, trains, EZPass, bridges, ferries, timeshares, etc.

If you opened your card before 07/20 you’ll also get a 7% annual dividend that means 3.21 points per dollar. For example if you spend $100 in any restaurant you’ll get 300 points on your next statement plus 21 additional points as part of your annual dividend.

Dining on the Sapphire Preferred card includes all sit-down restaurants, fast food, coffee shops, catering, bars, lounges, and more.

Don’t want to eat out today? Ask your favorite eatery if they sell gift cards or will allow you to have a credit balance in your name and lock bonus points by purchasing them today!

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket all those extra miles!

Are you outside of the USA? Not to worry, the Sapphire Preferred card does not charge any foreign transaction fees. (Which also makes it the best card for car rentals in every country in the world: Double points for car rentals, free primary CDW insurance with no deductible, and no foreign exchange fees).

Sapphire Preferred comes with a 40,000 point signup bonus and another 5,000 point bonus for opening a free additional user card. The $95 fee is waived for the first year. Having a Sapphire Preferred card allows you to transfers all of your Chase points (including points earned on Chase Freedom) to lucrative currencies like United (Star Alliance), Singapore (Star Alliance), British Airways (OneWorld), Korean (Skyteam), Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak.

Read more about the Sapphire card’s benefits in this post.

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Bye Bye Bluebird

Monday, July 28th, 2014

I finally did it. I closed my Bluebird. And I joined ISIS.

No, not that ISIS. And no, DansDeals hasn’t been hacked Domino’s Pizza style by Islamic terrorists (though I love the person that made the Ninja Turtle connection).

I got an NFC SIM card from Verizon (you can get one in-store or order one over the phone for free) which allowed me to finally signup for the (unfortunately named) ISIS wallet app.

The ISIS wallet is a method of paying for items via NFC technology.  You can add your credit card to it to make payments with your phone. And you can signup for an AMEX Serve prepaid card in the app.

If you have Verizon and signup for ISIS and apply for an AMEX Serve card in the app by 07/31 you’ll get $25.  MY $25 credit showed up within minutes of opening a Serve card in the ISIS app. If you have AT&T you’ll get $15.  If you have T-Mobile there is no signup bonus. If you have Sprint you’re out of luck, ISIS doesn’t work with Sprint.

iPhones don’t have NFC and will require a special NFC case that you can buy from your carrier to work with ISIS.

You will also get $1 back every time you buy something $1 or more with your Serve card via the ISIS wallet. That offer is valid up to 50 times per month until 12/31/14, so a potential $300 can be had like that.

Serve vs. Bluebird:

Serve is a prepaid card from AMEX that is awfully similar to Bluebird. So similar that AMEX only allows you to have one of them.  If you have a Bluebird card you’ll have to first have a zero balance and then call to have it closed before you can get a Serve card.

Both Bluebird and Serve can be loaded at Walmart with gift cards like the ones sold by Staples. The limits are the same, $2,500 per day and $5,000 of loading per month in-store.

But Serve can also be loaded at Family Dollar with $500 of Vanilla gift cards per day. Vanilla gift cards are sold at CVS with a credit card. Some 7-Eleven’s allow credit cards to buy Vanilla gift or debit cards as well and they qualify for 5.5 points per dollar with Chase Freedom this quarter.

And Serve can be loaded online directly with your credit card and debit card as long as your name is on them.  More on the limits for that below, but that’s easy free miles there!

Just like with Bluebird, loading gift cards online is a big no-no. You have to do that in stores.

Serve has a 2.7% foreign exchange fee. Bluebird has no foreign exchange fees.

Note that while Bluebird gives free checks that you can use to cash out your account balance, Serve has no checks. Instead you can pay off your bills and credit cards with your account balance.

However Serve allows you to withdraw cash ($750 per day and $2,000 per month) from a MoneyPass ATM for free. With Bluebird that would incur a $2 charge unless you have a direct deposit going to your Bluebird card.

You don’t need ISIS to signup for Serve but there are several advantage to doing that:
1. While Bluebird has no fees, Serve has a $1/month fee. That fee doesn’t apply if you live in NY, TX, or VT. It doesn’t apply if you have direct deposit. It doesn’t apply if you load $500 to it that month.
But for everyone else there’s also no fee for Serve as long as you keep a virtual Serve card in your ISIS wallet.

2. The regular Serve card allows you to load $200 per day online from a debit card and $200 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,000 per month of loading.
However Serve with ISIS allows you to load $500 per day online from a debit card and $500 per day online from a credit card. Those are both capped at $1,500 per month of loading.
Don’t load Serve with an AMEX online as you won’t earn points for that.

I don’t have a physical Serve card yet, I just have the virtual card in my app now. It let me load $400 on the first day with my credit card and another $100 on the second day with a credit card. Once I activate my physical Serve card I’ll be able to load the full amounts.

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07/27 Snapshot Of Saver Level Awards Between The US And Israel Through October

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

For obvious reasons, saver award tickets to Israel have never been easier to obtain than right now.  United miles are great for Israel but I’ve never seen anywhere near amount of United nonstop award space.

For people redeeming round-trip coach saver awards to Israel in advance you are probably better off accumulating points on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus rather than traditional miles as the 2.22% cash back will probably be easier to use and require fewer points.

Saver awards typically open up within a month of the flight.  Here is a look at some of the nonstop options from North America to Tel Aviv.

I didn’t include El Al in this snapshot as their industry trailing website makes it too time intensive to search for lots of award space, but their nonstop coach award can be booked by American for 45K miles each way and their nonstop business award can be booked by American for 67.5K miles each way.

I also didn’t include Delta in this snapshot as their award calendar and the Air France award calendar have ridiculous amounts of false positives.    You can book a Delta coach award one-way with 25K Air France Flying Blue/AMEX miles with no fuel surcharges or a round-trip for 85K Delta miles.  You can book business class one-way with 62.5K Air France Flying Blue/AMEX miles or round-trip with 140K Delta miles.

Note that if you’re willing to fly with connections that there’s much more availability, but this post is just looking at nonstop flights.  Of course if you’ve been to a DansDeals seminar hopefully you know of even more ways to find award space.

United: Newark-Tel Aviv nonstop saver award space
-A coach round-trip with ANA/AMEX miles is 60K or a one-way “workaround” ANA coach award is 38K. A business round-trip is 90K or a one-way “workaround” ANA business award is 63K. No fuel surcharges for United flights
-Bookable in coach one-way with 40K Air Canada/AMEX miles. Business would be 82.5K one-way. No fuel surcharges for United flights
-Bookable in coach one-way with 42,500 United/Chase miles. Business would be 70K one-way. No fuel surcharges for any flights

Notes:
-You can also redeem 70K United miles for business class even when there is only coach available. Read this post for how to do that.
-The Chase United Explorer card gives expanded saver and standard award space. Read more about the unique benefits of the Chase United card in this post.
-Read about how to use and decrypt United’s powerful expert mode here.

07/27: UA84, 9+ coach and 7 business saver awards.
07/27: UA90, 9+ coach and 9+ business saver awards.
07/28: UA84, 9+ coach and 9+ business saver awards.
07/28: UA90, 9+ coach and 8 business saver awards.
07/29: UA84, 9+ coach and 9+ business saver awards.
07/29: UA90, 9+ coach and 9+ business saver awards.
08/02: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/03: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/03: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/04: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/04: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/05: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/05: UA90, 9+ coach and 7 business saver awards.
08/06: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/06: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/07: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/07: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/09: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/10: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/10: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/11: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/11: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/12: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/12: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/13: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/13: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/14: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/14: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/16: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/17: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/17: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/18: UA90, 2 coach saver awards.
08/19: UA84, 3 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 2 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/26: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/26: UA90, 5 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 1 seat for non cardholders/elites.
08/27: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/27: UA90, 8 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 4 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/28: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/28: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/30: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/31: UA84, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/31: UA90, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/27: UA90, 3 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 0 seats for non cardholders/elites.
09/29: UA84, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 5 seats for non cardholders/elites.

United: Tel Aviv-Newark nonstop saver award space
08/03: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/03: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/04: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 4 business saver awards.
08/04: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/05: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 9+ business saver awards.
08/05: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/06: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/06: UA91, 4 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 3 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/07: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 9+ business saver awards.
08/08: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 9+ business saver awards.
08/09: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/10: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/10: UA91, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 7 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/11: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 6 business saver awards.
08/11: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/12: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/12: UA91, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 7 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/13: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/13: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/14: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/14: UA91, 8 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 6 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/15: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/16: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/17: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/17: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/18: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/18: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/19: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/19: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/20: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/20: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/21: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/21: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/22: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/23: UA91, 8 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 5 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/24: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/24: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/25: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards and 8 business saver awards.
08/25: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/26: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/26: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/27: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/27: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/28: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/28: UA91, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 6 seats for non cardholders/elites.
08/29: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/30: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/31: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
08/31: UA91, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 6 seats for non cardholders/elites.
09/01: UA85, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 5 seats for non cardholders/elites.
09/01: UA85, 8 business saver awards.
09/04: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/05: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/07: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/07: UA91, 9+ coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 5 seats for non cardholders/elites.
09/08: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/08: UA91, 8 coach seats for credit cardholders or elites, 4 seats for non cardholders/elites.
09/09: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
09/09: UA91, 9+ coach saver awards.
10/13: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
10/14: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.
10/15: UA85, 9+ coach saver awards.

Air Canada, Toronto-Tel Aviv coach nonstop saver award space
-Bookable one-way with 42,500 United/Chase miles. No fuel surcharges for any flights.
07/27: 8+ saver award seats
07/28: 1 saver award seat
07/29: 8+ saver award seats
07/30: 8+ saver award seats
08/03: 6 saver award seats
08/04: 8+ saver award seats
08/05: 8+ saver award seats
08/06: 2 saver award seats
08/07: 8+ saver award seats
08/10: 8+ saver award seats
08/12: 8+ saver award seats
08/13: 7 saver award seats
08/14: 8+ saver award seats
08/17: 8+ saver award seats
08/18: 4 saver award seats
08/21: 3 saver award seats
08/28: 8+ saver award seats
09/01: 8+ saver award seats
09/02: 8+ saver award seats
09/07: 1 saver award seat
09/08: 1 saver award seat
09/10: 1 saver award seat
09/11: 7 saver award seats
09/14: 8+ saver award seats
09/15: 8+ saver award seats
09/17: 7 saver award seats
09/18: 7 saver award seats
09/21: 8+ saver award seats
09/22: 5 saver award seats
09/28: 8+ saver award seats
09/29: 8+ saver award seats
09/30: 3 saver award seats
10/12: 2 saver award seats
10/13: 2 saver award seats
10/20: 7 saver award seats
10/26: 8+ saver award seats
10/29: 4 saver award seats

Air Canada, Tel Aviv-Toronto coach nonstop saver award space
08/04: 8+ saver award seats
08/07: 8+ saver award seats
08/10: 8+ saver award seats
08/11: 3 saver award seats
08/12: 4 saver award seats
08/13: 8+ saver award seats
08/14: 8+ saver award seats
08/17: 8+ saver award seats
08/18: 8+ saver award seats
08/19: 8+ saver award seats
08/20: 8+ saver award seats
08/21: 2 saver award seats
08/24: 1 saver award seat
08/25: 4 saver award seats
08/26: 8+ saver award seats
08/27: 8+ saver award seats
08/28: 8+ saver award seats
08/31: 1 saver award seat
09/01: 2 saver award seats
09/02: 6 saver award seats
09/03: 6 saver award seats
09/04: 8+ saver award seats
09/07: 6 saver award seats
09/08: 8+ saver award seats
09/09: 8+ saver award seats
09/11: 6 saver award seats
09/14: 8+ saver award seats
09/15: 1 saver award seat
09/16: 2 saver award seats
09/18: 8+ saver award seats
09/21: 8+ saver award seats
09/28: 8+ saver award seats
09/29: 5 saver award seats
09/30: 8+ saver award seats
10/01: 5 saver award seats
10/02: 3 saver award seats
10/05: 6 saver award seats
10/06: 8+ saver award seats
10/07: 6 saver award seats
10/12: 8+ saver award seats
10/13: 8+ saver award seats
10/14: 8+ saver award seats
10/23: 6 saver award seats
10/26: 8+ saver award seats
10/27: 8+ saver award seats
10/30: 8+ saver award seats

USAirways, Philadelphia-Tel Aviv nonstop saver award space
Coach, Bookable one-way with 45K AA miles with no fuel surcharges or 30K BA miles plus fuel surcharges.
Business, Bookable one-way with 67.5K AA miles with no fuel surcharges or 60K BA miles with fuel surcharges.
07/27: 6 coach saver award seats, 9+ business saver award seats.
07/28: 9+ coach saver award seats, 2 business saver award seats.
07/29: 9+ coach saver award seats, 8 business saver award seats.
07/31: 5 coach saver award seats
08/03: 2 coach saver award seats, 1 business saver award seat.
08/05: 1 coach saver award seat, 2 business saver award seats.
08/07: 6 coach saver award seats.
08/11: 1 business saver award seat.
08/17: 9+ coach saver award seats.
09/01: 1 coach saver award seat
09/03: 1 coach saver award seat
09/18: 1 coach saver award seat
09/23: 2 coach saver award seats

USAirways, Tel Aviv-Philadelphia nonstop saver award space
07/29: 1 business saver award seat.
07/31: 6 coach saver award seats.
08/03: 9+ coach saver award seats.
08/07: 2 coach saver award seats
08/17: 1 coach saver award seat
08/18: 3 coach saver award seats
08/19: 1 coach saver award seat, 1 business saver award seat.
08/20: 3 coach saver award seats
08/21: 2 business saver award seats.
08/26: 2 coach saver award seats
08/27: 9+ coach saver award seats, 2 business saver award seats.
08/28: 6 coach saver award seats.
08/31: 4 coach saver award seats
09/01: 9+ coach saver award seats, 1 business saver award seat.
09/02: 7 coach saver award seats, 3 business saver award seats.
09/03: 9+ coach saver award seats, 4 business saver award seats.
09/04: 9+ coach saver award seats, 3 business saver award seats.
09/06: 1 coach saver award seat
09/07: 8 coach saver award seats
09/08: 7 coach saver award seats, 1 business saver award seat.
09/09: 1 coach saver award seat
09/10: 2 coach saver award seats
09/21: 2 coach saver award seats
09/27: 4 coach saver award seats
09/28: 4 coach saver award seats
09/29: 2 coach saver award seats
10/13: 1 coach saver award seat
10/14: 9+ coach saver award seats

It’s important to stress that award availability is very fluid. What’s available now may not be available in a few minutes. What’s unavailable now may become available later today, so you just need to keep checking!

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HOT! $25 Off $100 At Staples.com With Visa Checkout Works For Visa Gift Cards!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Visa Checkout Offer Linky

Checkout on Staples.com with Visa Checkout and you’ll automatically save $25 on $100+ orders.  You can use any credit card type with Visa Checkout.

A $200 Visa gift card sells for $206.95 and a $100 gift card sells for $106.95 on Staples.com

If you buy a $100 gift card you’ll pay $81.95 and if you buy a $200 gift card you’ll pay just $181.95 shipped. Use your Chase Ink Plus, Chase Ink Bold, or Chase Ink Cash cards and get 5 points per dollar spent. If you’re registered at visasavingsedge.com and you spend $200+ from Staples in a single order you’ll also get 1% cash back.

Visa gift cards from Office Max (and Staples) are issued by MetaBank which still work at WalMart (Vanilla gift cards no longer work well at WalMart).

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can cash out the Visa cards using EvolveMoney to pay bills like your mortgage, property tax, auto loan, insurance, store charge card (Gap, Macy’s, Target, etc).  There is no fee for this. As of June 1st there is a limit of 4 payments per bill per month.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service.  Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card. (Note that some Visa cards like Vanilla branded ones don’t load at Walmart but the Visa cards from Office Max or Staples should still be easy to load).
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).  Such stores exist even in manufactured spend deserts like NYC.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can send the funds from the Visa card to a friend via Amazon Payments.
-You can load Visa cards to your Serve card at Family Dollar.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can just use the cards for your everyday spending to earn 5 points per dollar everywhere!

HT: menachem_m, via DDF

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