Category Archive for 'Miles'

Visa Gift Card Special At Staples Stores This Week

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Been meaning to write about this since last week but haven’t got around to it between traveling with the family and Passover festivities that run through next week.

Through 04/19 you can get a bonus $20 Visa gift card via Easy Rebate when you buy $300 in Visa gift cards in Staples stores.  Officially there’s a rebate limit of 1 per address.

Lots of ways to play this one.  A $100 Visa card sells for $105.95 and a $200 Visa card sells for $206.95.

If you registered your AMEX cards for $20 off $100 at Staples then that’s definitely the way to go.  If you registered 3 AMEX cards for example then buy a $100 and $200 card in one transaction and have them split the transaction payment between the 3 AMEX cards.

Total cost would be $312.90 less $60 from AMEX less $20 Easy Rebate=$232.90 for $300 in cards. Plus the points of course!

If you have an Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash Visa card then you can get 5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar plus 1% cash back with Visa SavingsEdge cash back.

Even without the $20 rebate it’s worth buying Visa gift cards at Staples thanks to 5 points per dollar plus 1% cash back, but with the $20 rebate it’s a bargain.

There are lots of ways to unload Visa gift cards. The PIN is just the last 4 digits of the card number:
-Upload them to your Bluebird card at a WalMart ATM machine.
-Upload them to your Bluebird 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…
-Buy a money order at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).
-Pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-Send funds to a friend via Amazon Payments.
-Pay all kinds of bills like your mortgage, rent, student loans, store credit card, and more using Evolve Money with no fees. Through 04/21 you can even get $5 free on your next bill pay with Evolve Money with code: Save5april

Or just use them for everyday purchases knowing that you already got the cards below face value and that you earned lots of points!

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Get A 100% Mileage Bonus When You Share USAirways Miles!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

Update: It’s painful to bump this after the wholesale changes AA/USAirways made last week without any prior warning. I no longer trust the program, but at the end of the day it’s still a bargain to purchase their miles at just 1.135 cents each. Note that the 90K business award to Asia is now 110K, though oddly the first class award is still just 120K round-trip.

This offer ends tonight.

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Originally posted 04/07:

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

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Get A 100% Mileage Bonus When You Share USAirways Miles

This promotion has been around several times over the past year and I’m happy to see it again now that USAirways has merged with American. It’s an excellent way to buy miles on the cheap.

Through 04/13 when you share up to 50,000 USAirways miles with a friend USAirways will double the transfer. The cost to share 50,000 miles is $567.50. So if you transfer 50,000 miles to a friend he will wind up with 100,000 miles instantly in his account and you will have effectively purchased 50,000 miles at a cost of $567.50 or 1.135 cents per mile.

Accounts need to be open for at least 12 days before they can share or receive miles, so unless you already have an account it’s too late to participate this time.

I have already tested it out and it’s instantly giving the bonus 50,000 miles.

Of course you can then share 50,000 miles right back to where they started or to another account where they will again turn into 100,000 miles for the same cost. However receiving accounts are limited to a maximum of 50,000 bonus miles during this promo period. Even if you did this during the October and December 2013 promos you can receive another 50K now.

The transaction is processed by a 3rd party, so you will unfortunately not earn bonus travel points on cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred (though you can always ask for ‘em afterwards).

Don’t have USAirways miles? Find a friend that does or you can always transfer 40,000 Starwood Starpoints to anyone’s USAirways account and they’ll receive 50,000 miles and then be able to start generating miles for just 1.135 cents per mile.

In other words “David” can transfer 40K Starpoints into 50K USAirways miles.  He can then transfer those 50K miles to his wife for $567.50 and she’ll have 100,000 USAirways miles.  If they want more miles his wife can then transfer 50K miles back to David for $567.50 and she’ll be left with 50K miles while he will have 100,000 miles.

If you transfer points now you should have them by Sunday in time for this promotion, though there’s no guarantee with Starwood transfers.

USAirways is now part of the OneWorld alliance. You need to call USAirways to book most partner award travel as it can’t be booked online. You can search for saver availability on OneWorld airline sites with more robust websites like Qantas.com, AA.com, and BA.com and then call USAirways to book flights.

USAirways allows 3 day holds on award flights (which can even be extended for another 3 days for making a small change) so you can first put a flight on hold and then purchase miles.

USAirways miles require activity every 18 months to keep them alive and this will count as activity of course to extend your miles.

Bear in mind that USAirways does charge a number of fees though they do not collect any fuel surcharges. Award fees include $150 to change dates, an award ticketing fee of $25-$50 depending on your destination, and a $75 fee for booking award travel within 21 days.

USAirways requires round-trip award travel. They do allow a free stopover.  If you book travel on partner airlines you can’t change anything once your trip has begun.

There are plenty of redemption bargains:

-A lie-flat first class seat at American’s new A321T aircraft flying between JFK and Los Angeles or S. Francisco is just 50,000 miles round-trip with USAirways miles!  These are personal seats in a 1-1 configuration with nobody sitting next to you at all!  You would need 65K American miles or 75K BA miles for the same seat.  The cost of 50,000 miles with this promotion is just $567.50.
The cheapest paid coach ticket from 04/08-04/09 on American is $1,250, business is $5,000, and first is $6,700. Not a bad deal to pay $567 in first :D

-A First Class TAM flight from JFK to South America is 125,000 USAirways miles, or $1,419 at 1.135 cents per mile. Availability in this intimate 4 person cabin is incredible, often with all 4 seats available for miles.

-Off-peak coach awards to the Caribbean are just 25,000 miles and to Europe or South America are just 35,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways.  Off peak First Class/Envoy awards to the Carribean are just 50,000 miles and to South America are just 60,000 miles round-trip if you fly on USAirways.

-Award tickets to Israel are 80,000 in coach or 120,000 in business. A coach ticket would be the equivalent of $908 and a business ticket would be the equivalent of $1,362 at 1.135 cents per mile.

-A business class ticket to Asia is 90,000 USAirways miles and a first class ticket is 120,000 USAirways miles. A business ticket would be the equivalent of $1,012.50 and a first class ticket would be the equivalent of $1,362 at 1.135 cents per mile. You can fly on world-class carrier Cathay Pacific, where a business class ticket can go for $10,000 and a first class ticket would set you back a whopping $27,000.

I’ve sat next to people on Cathay First who have paid that and been invited to join them on their yachts. They may not care about the $27K, but you can sit right next to them for $1,360 with promotions like this one.

Plus you can even stopover in Europe or even Israel on the way to Asia for free for as long as you want, or you can even stopover in multiple cities as long as you are in the additional stopover cities for less than 24 hours.

-A business class ticket to Australia or New Zealand is 110,000 USAirways miles and a first class ticket is 140,000 USAirways miles. A business ticket would be the equivalent of $1,248.50 and a first class ticket would be the equivalent of $1,589 at 1.135 cents per mile.

Plus you can even stopover in Europe or Asia on the way down under for free for as long as you want, or you can even stopover in multiple cities as long as you are in the additional stopover cities for less than 24 hours.

Note that:

-USAirways has merged with American.  At some point their mileage programs will be combined though that date has yet to be announced.

-USAirways award charts can change at any time. Hopefully they won’t change until they merge their mileage program with American’s.

-USAirways agents are fairly incompetent, so it may take a few phone calls to book what you want. Then again I’ve seen several people book travel from the US to South Africa with a stopover in Israel for a total of 40,000 miles round-trip, so incompetency works both ways…

Will you be buying miles this way? Find any other great uses? Post a comment!

HT: MilesNpoints, via DDF

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HAS Advantage Points No Longer Transfer To El Al

Friday, April 11th, 2014

I have never been a fan of the HAS Advantage card.

I’ve spoken at seminars and written why many times over the years.  I write exactly why whenever I post a code to join El Al’s Matmid program for free. The El Al program is just not a good place for your points.  Just yesterday I actually had an argument with a commenter who didn’t like me calling out the HAS card and favoring the SPG card.

Or as I wrote in this post,

The Starwood card is much better than other cards (Like HAS advantage) for going to Israel. With HAS you are stuck with just the availability on El Al. Plus El Al charges hundreds of dollars in fuel surcharges on award tickets.
With Starwood you have thousands of routing possibilities for free flights to Israel for less points than with HAS. And even if you want to only go to Israel on El Al you can just transfer Starwood points to AA and they will book you on El Al without any fuel surcharges!


At any rate, here is the awful news from HAS,

HAS Advantage is unable to process point transfers to El Al. Unfortunately a business dispute has arisen between HAS and El Al. At this time we can’t provide additional information about this dispute and while we are trying to resolve it, we are not very hopeful it will be resolved.

If you planned on using your points to fly El Al we recommend that you make other travel arrangements. We are extremely sorry about this sudden development. As a HAS cardholder we truly appreciate your support and you deserve better.

If you have a pending transfer, the points will be placed back into your HAS account.


Unlike AMEX, Chase, and Starwood which each have lots of transfer options in case a dispute were ever to arise, HAS only had El Al.

This news has no effect on AMEX points, which continue to transfer El Al.

At this point you should wait and see if they can get it restored somehow, but it seems likely that the best option will be to just take the 1% cash back that they are offering (sure beats the Blue Fringe CD redemption value ;) ). Which really, really stinks considering cards like the Barclay Arrival card give 2.22% cash back on everything.

There’s no longer any reason to keep using the card, that’s for sure.

Much better cards to get you to Israel include the:

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (25% bonus for transferring blocks of 20K points into miles.)
More on lots of ways of using Starpoints to Israel (from 20K round-trip) in this post.

-Barclaycard Arrival World Mastercard (40K signup points plus 2.22% cash back on everything to use towards any travel related charge.)

-Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa Signature (40K signup points, 5K points for adding a free additional user, up to 3.21 points per dollar spent, points transfer to United for Air Canada or United flights for 85K miles with no fuel surcharges or to BA for Air Berlin or USAirways flights for 60K Avios round-trip with no fuel surcharges).

-Chase Ink Plus Business Card and Chase Ink Bold Business Card (50K signup points each, up to 5 points per dollar spent, points transfers to the same places as Sapphire Preferred including BA, Korean, United, Virgin Atlantic, etc.).

-American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25K bonus points, triple points on airfare, double points on gas and groceries, 15K bonus points every year you spend $30K, points transfer to Air Canada, Alitalia (80K miles in business class round-trip!), BA, Delta, El Al, Flying Blue (as low as 25K miles round-trip), Singapore (fly in a private suite) etc)

-Chase Freedom Visa (No annual fee, 10K signup points plus 2.5K points for adding a free additional user, up to 5 points per dollar spent or 5.5 points per dollar spent if you also have a Chase checking account, point transfers require that you or your spouse have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, or Ink Plus card.)

-Chase British Airways Visa Signature (50K signup bonus, 1.25 points per dollar spent, Air Berlin or USAirways flights are 60K Avios with no fuel surcharges)

-Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card (30K signup bonus plus 5K points for adding an additional user, 10K bonus points every year that you spend $25K, 85K miles with no fuel surcharges to Israel)

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Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Related: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express gives 10,000 points after your first purchase and a 15,000 point bonus for spending $5,000 within 6 months besides for the 5,000 points you’ll get from base spending.
You can also use your Starpoints to stay free at the the highly rated Sheraton Tel Aviv and next year at the W Tel Aviv – Jaffa
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As you probably know already, the Starwood card is one of the best cards out there for general spending. You can use just a couple thousand points for free hotel stays or transfer points into miles with dozens of airlines at favorable ratios. If you are transferring points you may also want to consider Starwood’s Nights & Flights option where you can save 8,000 points on a mileage transfer and any future 5 night stay in a category 3 or 4 hotel.

To make a mileage transfer just login to your Starwood account at SPG.com. If you have never made an account at SPG.com you may need to set one up. Locate your SPG number on the Starwood AMEX statement where it lists how many points you earned in the past month and for the year. Then you can setup for SPG.com account. Click here to transfer Starpoints into airline miles. Transfers don’t happen instantly. They can take between 1-20 days. On average figure on about 2-7 days though.

The rates in this chart are for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv. Rates from other North American cities should be similar, but may differ depending on the airline. Remember to try to do your own research online when searching for award flights. With enough time and effort you should be able to easily book something over the phone. Remember the phone agents just want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible and aren’t likely to want to try to find any creative routings to get you your free flight.
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Summary:

Rates listed in this post are for round-trip travel and are assuming that you maximize the 25% point bonus for transferring Starpoints in blocks of 20,000 points (which you may or may not be able to do depending on the number of passengers so you may have leftover miles)

Before you transfer try to find availability to see which transfer you should do!

Star Alliance:
-For United travel, transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (no fuel surcharges)
-For Star Alliance travel on airlines besides United, transfer points (from 48K) to ANA (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Star Alliance travel with lap children or on select carriers, transfer points (from 64K) to Air Canada (fuel surcharges on select carriers)
-For travel on Singapore, transfer points (from 60K) to Singapore (fuel surcharges apply)
-For travel on Lufthansa or Swiss, transfer points (from 48K) to Lufthansa (fuel surcharges apply)

OneWorld/El Al:
-For USAirways travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel, transfer points (from 40K) to JAL (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Air Berlin and USAirways travel, transfer points (from 48K) to BA (no fuel surcharges)
-For BA travel, transfer points (from 52K) to BA (fuel surcharges apply)
-For OneWorld or El Al travel besides for BA travel, transfer points (from 64K) to AA (no fuel surcharges)
-For OneWorld travel on airlines besides Air Berlin and USAirways, transfer points (from 64K) (no fuel surcharges)

Skyteam:
-For Delta travel transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (no fuel surcharges)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta transfer points (from 40K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
-For Skyteam travel on airlines besides Delta, transfer points (From 68K) to Delta (no fuel surcharges)
-For Air France/KLM travel during a promo period (Such as this one), transfer points (From 20K) to Flying Blue (fuel surcharges apply)
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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 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 couple months 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.
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. 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 even 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 miles)
-United from Newark (bookable via Star Alliance miles)
-Delta from JFK (bookable via Skyteam miles)
-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 miles)
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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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. In July the Air Canada flight will switch to a 787, offering what will likely be the best business class between North America and Israer.

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. Though 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).

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Using ANA miles, from 48,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 60K coach, 90K business, 140K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 ANA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 72,000 Starpoints in business, or 112,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United awards.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Officially not allowed but there are “workarounds.”
-Stopovers: ANA allows for 4 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: ANA allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.

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Using Air Canada Aeroplan miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 165K business, 230K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Aeroplan miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 132,000 Starpoints in business, or 184,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: If you fly on these carriers you will pay a fuel surcharge: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI.
If you fly on these carriers you will not pay a fuel surcharge: Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, South African, Swiss, TAM, Turkish, and United.
-Mileage expiration: Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out 2 American or European cities in addition to Tel Aviv for the same amount of miles!
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and an effective $180 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: Flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first.

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Using Singapore miles, from 60,000 Starpoints.

-Miles required: 75K coach, 115K business, 150K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Porringer miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 60,000 Starpoints in coach, 92,000 Starpoints in business, or 120,000 Starpoints in first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: None on United.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 1 free stopover
-Changes/Cancellation: $20 change fee, $30 cancellation fee.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-With Singapore miles you can fly on Singapore from NYC to Tel Aviv on Singapore to Frankfurt in business or first class and then to Tel Aviv on Lufthansa which you can’t do with other miles.

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-Miles & More Group (Adria, Austrian, Brussels, Croatia, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, and Swiss): For departures from the USA nonstop to Tel Aviv: 80K coach, 135K business. For departures from the USA to Tel Aviv via Europe: 100K coach, 185K business, 290K first. For departures from Israel to the USA nonstop or via Europe for Miles & More accounts with an Israeli address on file: 60K coach, 105K business, 170K first.
-Transfer partners: Starwood transfer partner at a 20K:25K ratio.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except LOT.
-Mileage expiration: Miles expire 36 months after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: 2 free stopovers.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $60 charge to change or cancel an award ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: None except for airport departure taxes.
-Children ages 2-11: Receive a 25% discount on the mileage requirement on Miles & More flights.
-Expanded award availability on Lufthansa and Swiss business and first class.

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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 (the miles received from the HAS Advantage card, a terrible card for your spending) because El Al adds 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.
You can check OneWorld availability on flawed 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). You can also check availability by calling AA.

Using USAirways miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach, 120K business, 180K first.
-Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 USAirways miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means the equivalent of 64,000 Starpoints in coach, 96,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal). There is a $50 award ticketing fee.
-Mileage expiration: USAirways miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: USAirways allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket
USAirways is draconian in not allowing any changes to partner award tickets once travel has begun.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-5,000 mile discount on USAirways flights with a USAirways credit card.

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Using American miles, from 64,000 Starpoints.
-Miles required: 80K coach off-peak (10/15-05/15 annually) via Europe, 90K coach on El Al flights from North America or peak via Europe, 135K business on El Al flights from North America or via Europe, 180K first via Europe.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 AA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 64,000 or 72,000 Starpoints in coach, 108,000 Starpoints in business, or 144,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for flights on partners British Airways (very high) and Iberia (nominal).
-Mileage expiration: AA miles require activity every 18 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Allowed at the North American gateway city.
-Changes/Cancellation: AA allows free date and routing changes, but changes to the origin or destination city or cancellation costs $150 for non-elites.  If you cancel more than 1 ticket at a time the fee is just $25 after the $150 fee for the first ticket.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: $75 within 21 days for non-elites.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.
-USAirways flight has no fuel surcharges.  Otherwise the best shot at availability without paying fuel surcharges would be to take AA to London or anywhere else in Europe and then El Al from London or anywhere else in Europe to Tel Aviv. This routing would be 80,000 miles between October 15-May 15 or the same 90,000 miles as the nonstop El Al flight from the US during the summer.
You need to call American to book travel on El Al. You should do your research first by opening a Matmid account and searching for awards on elal.com. 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 those El Al cities.

The image below shows a business class award found on El Al’s site which is the same as the availability that American can access. While El Al charges 3,000 points (150,000 AMEX MR) + $350 for fuel surcharges American would charge 135,000 miles (~108K Starwood) and no fuel surcharges for the same flight.

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Using BA Avios, from 48,000 Starpoints
-Avios required: 60K coach on Air Berlin and on USAirways, 65K coach on other carriers, 100K business on Air Berlin, 120K business on USAirways, 130K business on other carriers, 195K first.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio, Chase Ultimate Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 BA miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 48,000 Starpoints in coach, 80,000 Starpoints in business, or 156,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Apply for all Trans-Atlantic flights except on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, and USAirways.
You can drastically reduce fuel surcharges for travel on Iberia via Madrid by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios. You must have your Iberia account open for 3 months before you can do such a transfer.
-Mileage expiration: BA miles require activity every 36 months.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Each leg costs additional mileage, but you can stopover at any connection city for as long as you want.
-Changes/Cancellation: $40.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: Instead of cash, BA charges just 10% of the adult mileage required on international segments.
-Some partner airline awards must be booked over the phone.

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Using JAL miles, from 40,000 Starpoints
-Miles required: 50K coach, 80K business, 115K first.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 JAL miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 40,000 Starpoints in coach, 64,000 Starpoints in business, or 92,000 Starpoints in first.
-Fuel surcharges: Applies to most travel, none of USAirways.
-Mileage expiration: 3 years after they are earned regardless of activity.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: JAL allows for 2 stopovers, though each additional flight will add to the fuel surcharges.
-Changes/Cancellation: JAL allows free date changes, but other changes or cancellation results in a 3,000 mile penalty.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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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.

Using Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) miles, from 20,000 Starpoints
-Miles Required: 25K coach during a promo period, 50K coach otherwise, 62.5K business during a promo period, 125K business otherwise.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Flying Blue miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 20,000 Starpoints in coach or 50,000 Starpoints in business for a promo award. For regular tickets and partner ticket 40,000 Starpoints per ticket in coach or 100,000 Starpoints per ticket in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on all airlines except Delta.
-Mileage expiration: Flying Blue miles expire 20 months unless you credit a Skyteam flight to Flying Blue.
-One-way awards: Allowed for half the amount of a round-trip.
-Stopovers: Flying Blue allows for 1 free stopover.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
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Using Delta miles, from 68,000 Starpoints.
-Miles Required: 85K-170K coach, 140K-350K business.
Transfer Ratio: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 Delta miles. At a 1:1.25 ratio this means 68,000-136,000 Starpoints in coach or 112,000-280,000 Starpoints in business.
-Other transfer partners: AMEX Membership Rewards partner at a 1:1 ratio
-Fuel surcharges: Apply on select partners but generally won’t apply to/from Israel.
-Mileage expiration: None.
-One-way awards: Not allowed.
-Stopovers: Delta allows for 1 free stopover OR 1 free Open jaw.
-Changes/Cancellation: There is a $150 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. No changes or cancellations are allowed within 3 days of the flight.
-Expedite/Close-in fee: None.
-Infant fees: 10% of full fare.
-It can be brutal trying to find Delta low award availability and Delta’s terrible website only makes it more difficult. Plus Delta used to be a good option for booking Air France/KLM but now availability when booking those direct with Flying Blue is much better than when booking with Delta.

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Find a mistake or better method of getting to Israel with Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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AAdvantage MAAsacre News Continues To Trickle Out

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Part 1: American Modifying AAnytime Award Chart Rates
Part 2: The Other Shoe Drops: American Eliminates Free Stopovers On Awards
Part 3: The Unannounced MAAsacre Continues
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The new American is at best clueless, though I’d just call it deceitful.  What a shame the government didn’t make good on their threat to block USelessAirways’ CEO Doug Parker from taking over American.

Clueless because they don’t know how to just give all the bad news in one shot.  They’ve updated different parts of their website without any announcement, leaving us to try to figure out the damage.  Just rip off the band-aid in one-shot please!

Deceitful because it’s wrong to make changes without giving prior warning.  That’s not loyalty, that’s punishment.

Deceitful because they emailed everyone this press release which makes the masses think that good things are happening.  They make everything sound great when the only mildly good news here is that the USAirways credit card will finally play catch-up and give free luggage.

The latest bad news:
-AA award ticketing fees for international tickets booked over the phone will climb from $25 to $35 per ticket. These fees are mandatory for tickets that can’t be booked online like flights on El Al and Cathay Pacific.
-AAdvantage Gold and USAirways Silver members will only get 1 free checked bag when flying AA, the same as any AA credit card holder.
-Alaska MVP members will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to apparently not getting any free bags.
-Full fare passengers will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to not getting any free bags.
-AAnytime award passengers (who just got hit by massive increases) will go from having 2 free bags when flying AA to not getting any free bags.
-AAdvantage Platinums flying on USAirways will go from having 3 free bags to having 2 free bags.
-USAirways Golds and Platinums flying on USAirways will go from having 3 free bags to having 2 free bags.

Unannounced changes are wrong: #AAdvantageMAAsacre

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The Unannounced MAAsacre Continues

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

More nasty surprises since the elimination of stopovers and new AAnytime award chart I covered in the wee hours of the moring:

1. On the USAirways side of the airline they have updated their partner award chart by raising the business class award from the US to North Asia from 90K to 110K round-trip.  This was a real redemption sweet spot, especially since joining Oneworld with that rate working for Cathay Pacific.  Bizarrely though, first class remains a real bargain, unchanged at just 120K.  Even more bizarrely other awards like Caribbean/Mexico/Central America to South Asia remain at 90K in business class.

Their High level award has also been split into 2 levels for travel starting in June. This I could care less about.

2. American has eliminated their aspirational OneWorld Explorer/Round-The-World award.

I was able to take a 16 flight segment first class round-the-world tour back in 2010 off of their awesome, yet underutilized Explorer award chart.

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Never got around to finishing those trip notes, though I did cover Khao Lak , Chiang Mai , Melbourne , and Sydney.

And now it’s gone. Completely unannounced.  At least United (which does still offer a round-the-world award) had the courtesy of letting us know several months ahead of their devaluation. This is just wrong. #AAdvantageMAAsacre

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The Other Shoe Drops: American Eliminates Free Stopovers On Awards

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Ever since American started allowing one-way awards they have allowed for a free stopover at the North American international gateway. That meant 2 free stopovers on a round-trip award.

That policy created all kinds of loopholes.  If you were flying from Tel Aviv to JFK it allowed you to add on a free ticket to anywhere in the US50/Canada at any point over the next year.  Then you could fly back from say Kauai or Los Angeles to JFK and onto Tel Aviv anytime in the next year as well for just the price of the US-Tel Aviv award.

I’ve had a lot of fun at DansDeals Seminars over the past few years demonstrating just how far you could take that by combining awards and transforming 2 peak one-way awards that may have cost 52.5K or 55K miles into 1 off-peak award costing just 20K or 25K miles by using stopovers.

Of course people will say that bloggers have killed another deal, while others will be mad that I never explicitly made a post spelling out this stuff in full detail.  In the end I felt that a seminar was a good medium to convey these kinds of tips with illustrated pictures and away from the prying eyes of the airlines.  Though slowly but surely these loopholes are being plugged.

DDF member PlatinumGuy was the first to report last week that stopovers were going to be eliminated.  He called it the first major hit of the American/USAirways merger.  As of today with the launch of the new American AAnytime award chart it seems that they have indeed quietly taken away the ability to take any stopovers on an award.

I’ve confirmed this on AA.com as well as with several phone reps.   Another one bites the dust.

For now USAirways still allows for a free stopover, though they require you to book a round-trip award.  Other airlines, like Air Canada, Delta, and United still allow for a free stopover on a round-trip award as well. Alaska even allows for a free stopover on a one-way award.

You can still have up to 15 stopovers on an OneWorld Explorer/Round-The-World award ticket booked with American miles.

American provided no official notice of this rule change or of the new AAnytime award chart changes. Enjoy the lucrative SAAver award chart still offered by American and USAirways while you can as they’re probably going to change that one day as well without warning.  Though hopefully that won’t happen until the programs are combined, most likely in 2015.

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American Modifying AAnytime Award Chart Rates

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I’ve never redeemed miles for an AAnytime award, but American did have the best value AAnytime award chart, charging only double miles to book an award without capacity controls.  Personally I don’t care too much about the AAnytime award chart so I’m not too worked up over changes to it.

Here is the old award chart which remains in effect for travel through 05/31.

Effective for travel starting 06/01 this new award chart will go into place. The cheaper MileSAAver award rates remain unchanged but AAnytime award are split into at least 2 levels.

On some routes the AAnytime changes are minor.  For example coach AAnytime within the US48 goes from being 25K each way to being either 20K or 30K each way.  Business AAnytime within the US48 goes from being 50K each way to being either 45K or 55K each way.  However First AAnytime within the US48 is hit hard, going from being 65K each way to being either 85K or 95K each way.  First AAnytime is only for airplanes with 3 cabins like JFK to LAX and SFO, most domestic first class is sold as business.

For flights to Europe coach AAnytime goes from being 60K each way to being either 45K or 65K each way. The premium cabins are harder hit. Business AAnytime goes from being 100K each way to being either 110K or 135K each way. First AAnytime goes from being 125K each way to being either 140K or 175K each way.

Of course partner awards aren’t effected as those only have the MileSAAver level anyway, which remains unchanged.

Again, for anyone that normally redeems at the lowest levels, nothing will change here. I don’t think it’s fair to compare this change to Delta’s upcoming 5 tier award system.  Delta rarely has availability in the lower tiers and I don’t trust that they ever will.  American will continue to have peak and off-peak MileSAAver awards as they always have and I fully expect that American will continue to offer the same about of MileSAAver availability that they have in the past.

HT: Yosef and Lucky

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Air France: Boston To/From Tel Aviv Round-Trip For 25,000 Miles Plus $305

Saturday, April 5th, 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.

Air France is currently having a promo award special for flights from Boston to Europe for just 12,500 miles each way.  Air France’s Flying Blue program considers places like Tel Aviv and Moscow to be part of Europe.

There are fuel surcharges and fees. A one-way flight from Boston to Tel Aviv will be 12,500 miles plus $132.  A one-way flight from Tel Aviv to Boston will be 12,500 miles plus $173.  And a round-trip in either direction will run 25,000 miles plus $305.

You’ll have to change planes in Paris.

Availability to and from Tel Aviv is excellent right now:

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You have to book this by 04/30 and travel in June or July.  Seats are limited of course.

You can fly to Boston for just 9,000 BA Avios round-trip from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, and more. Or it can even pay to book a paid flight to Boston for a cheap flight to Israel.

AMEX MR points transfer to Flying Blue 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 2-9 days.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
These points can transfer instantly at a 1:1 ratio.

-You can get 50,000 BA Avios for spending $2,000 on the Chase British Airways card.

HT: koshergourmetmart, via PM&M

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Activate Freedom Q2 Spending Now

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

The Chase Freedom Visa is an excellent no annual fee card.  They market the signup bonus as $100 for spending $500 in 3 months, but really it comes in the form of 10,000 bonus points which can be worth much more than $100.  Plus if you add an additional user and make a purchase within 3 months you’ll get another 2,500 bonus points, for a total of 12,500 points.

But the real beauty of the card is in the quarterly 5% categories. Again, while they call it 5% cash back you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

I say at least because if you have a Chase checking account active by December you’ll get a 10% bonus on all points earned that year.  So if you spend the $1,500 per quarter and have Chase checking you will earn 33,000 points per year, or 5.5 points per dollar.  You’ll also earn 1.1 points per dollar on all other purchases that you make.

If you and your spouse only has a Freedom card you won’t be able to transfer points to airlines and hotels. However if you or your spouse has a Sapphire PreferredInk Plus, or Ink Bold card (or will get one in the future) 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, etc) or hotel points (Hyatt, etc).

Click here to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories.

The 5 point categories for the rest of 2014 are as follows:
Q2: Restaurants and Lowe’s.
Q3: Gas stations and Kohl’s.
Q4: Amazon.com, Zappos.com, and Department stores.

So go out to eat from now until June 30th and you’ll earn a whopping 5 or 5.5 points per dollar spent.  Buy a gift card from your favorite eatery to lock in savings.

Or buy gift cards from Lowe’s.  See this post for gift cards that they sell for all kinds of other stores where you’ll be able to earn 5 or 5.5 points per dollar.

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. 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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Excellent Delta Business Class Award Availability To Tel Aviv

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Update: Many of the dates have been snapped up, I’ve updated the available dates below.
In the good news department, it seems that only Alitalia’s night staff is incompetent. I made 3 phone calls to them 2 nights ago when I posted this and they weren’t able to see the award space.

Today a DDF’er reported that he was able to book this morning via Alitalia for just 80,000 miles round-trip in business class as per my suggestion in this post. Unlike when booking with Delta or Flying Blue, they do tack on a $275 fuel surcharge (plus $46 in taxes that everyone charges=$321), but that’s well worthwhile considering the mileage savings.
Note that Alitalia allows free date changes but they do not allow award cancellations.

I just called Alitalia myself a few minutes ago and the rep also had no issue seeing the award space.
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Originally posted on 04/01:

Delta typically is very stingy with business class award seats, especially so to Tel Aviv.  They have 3 levels of award prices and often flights to Tel Aviv are at the highest level or not even available at all. Hence the name, Skypesos.

Currently though there are a surprising number of saver award dates available.

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Delta offers the best business class from NYC to Tel Aviv with lie-flat seating and direct aisle access for all passengers.

-You can book a one-way for 62,500 Air France Flying Blue miles or a round-trip for 125,000 miles. Points transfer instantly from American Express Membership Rewards. You can also transfer from Starwood with a 25% bonus, though those points aren’t instant.  There are no fuel surcharges for Delta flights.
-You can book a round-trip for 140,000 Delta miles. Delta does not allow for one-way award redemption. Points transfer instantly from American Express Membership Rewards. You can also transfer from Starwood with a 25% bonus, though those points aren’t instant. There are no fuel surcharges.
-You can book a round-trip for 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Points transfer instantly from American Express Membership Rewards and from Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also transfer from Starwood with a 25% bonus, though those points aren’t instant. There are no fuel surcharges.
-You can book a round-trip using 120,000 Korean miles, though that would have to be booked over the phone. Points transfer instantly from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
-You can theoretically book an round-trip for just 80,000 Alitalia miles, though in several test calls their agents were too incompetent to search Delta award flight availability. Points transfer instantly from American Express Membership Rewards but call them first to see if they can book it for you. You can also transfer from Starwood with a 25% bonus, though those points aren’t instant. A $275 fuel surcharge will be added.

Saver award dates from JFK-TLV in business class:
April: 1
July: 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 and 30
November: 26, 27, 30
December: 7, 8, 9, 10, 27, 28, and 29.
January 2015: 3, 4, 5, 6, 13, 19, 21, 22, 27, 28, and 29
February 2015: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9, 18, 19, and 26.

Saver award dates from TLV-JFK in business class:
July: 2
November: 26
December: 8, 9, 11, 17, 20, and 24.
January 2015: 17,
February 2015: 5, 10, 11, and 12. 14

Even if you can’t book a round-trip with this, you can still book a one-way via Air France and book a return trip with miles from another airline that allows for one-way redemption like American (partners with El Al and USAirways) and United (partners with Air Canada and several European carriers that also fly to Tel Aviv).

HT: ilherman, via DDF

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123 Direct Flights From Philadelphia That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios; Fly Across The Atlantic With No Fuel Surcharges!

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

-Click here to view Direct Flights From NYC That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Chicago That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Los Angeles That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Miami That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-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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British Airways Avios can’t be beat for short-haul nonstop flights thanks to ultra-low award rates, no expedite/close-in fees, and practically free award cancellations.  Below are all of the direct flights from Philadelphia that can be booked with Avios.

Be sure to read the British Airways knowledgebase 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.
2. Routes that display the airline in bold are subject to fuel surcharges.
3. There are no fuel surcharges for flights on: Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and USAirways. There are also no fuel surcharges for American flights within the western hemisphere and for Qantas flights within Austrlia. 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 borders on the criminal.
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 Philadelphia-Maui.  Though you can always fly to Maui via Los Angeles, S. Diego, or Seattle, for 12.5K for the PHL-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 PHL to pickup a flight you’ll probably be better off searching for and booking the NYC-PHL leg for 4.5K separately from the PHL-XYZ leg.
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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.

-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 Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and the and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
These points can transfer instantly 1:1 to Avios and typically several times per year there are bonuses that range from 20%-50% to transfer points to BA.

-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.

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View the complete 123 route chart after the jump:

(more…)

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Vanilla Reload Cash Only Rollout At CVS Continues

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Related post: No More Credit Card Fun At CVS: Reports From FL And NJ Say That You Can Stick A Fork In It.
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CVS stores in Cleveland were coded today to no longer take credit cards for Vanilla Reload and other reloadable cards:

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The cashier was very nice and even tried cards like Vanilla Reload and Vanilla MVD for me, but they were all were denied for credit card purchase.

OneVanilla and other Visa cards were able to be purchased by credit card.  Those have a $4.95 fee for $500 and can be loaded to Bluebird at Walmart, used for money orders, etc.

In some regions of the country the rollout will happen tomorrow or on the 4th, so buy them while you can!  If your store will rollout the changes on the 4th you can still purchase $5,000 now, $5,000 after 8pm tonight, and another $5,000 after 8pm tomorrow night.  Those are per person limits. Only purchases of $1,000 are limited based on your driver’s license, purchases of $999.99 or less are unlimited.

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Supreme Court: Airlines Are Immune From Mileage Lawsuits

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Update: Looking through the actual decision now and indeed it does say,

Although respondent and amici claim there have been fundamental changes in the way that frequent flyer miles are earned since Wolens was decided, that does not matter here where respondent did not assert that he earned miles from any activity but taking flights or that he attempted to redeem miles for anything but tickets and upgrades.

So it sounds like the Supreme court would accept another case against the airlines where the miles in question were earned from non-flight activity or would be used for non-flight redemptions.
And that’s a very good thing.
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Via the Chicago Tribune, the Supreme Court has rules in favor of Delta and tossed out Rabbi Ginsberg’s lawsuit against them for closing his mileage account for complaining too much.

In short, the deregulation act places the airlines above the courts jurisdiction and they can do anything they want.

It’s a shame that this is the case that went to court. It would have been far more interesting to see a case go to court where an account was closed where all of the miles were earned from credit card spend instead of miles. After all, the deregulation act may have given airlines full power over price, route or service, but does it really give them control over something that was not earned via flying and can be redeemed for things other than flights?

I’m no legal expert, but I’m not sure just how strong this precedent is. The airlines may have won this one, but I don’t think we’ve seen the end of mileage suits in court.

HT: sb5917, via DDF

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Philadelphia To Tel Aviv: 30K Avios, No Fuel Surcharges!

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Related: British Airways Avios Knowledgebase, A Collection Of Tips For Using Your BA Avios
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Just beautiful, no? It’s all bookable now on BA.com, though you should read the knowledgebase to educate yourself first.

One-way coach PHL-TLV: 30K plus $2.50:

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One-way business PHL-TLV: 60K plus $2.50:

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Round-trip PHL-TLV: 60K plus $46.82:

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Not bad considering the BA card comes with a 50K signup bonus. And that you can transfer points to BA from all 3 of the major transferable currencies (Chase Ultimate Rewards, Starwood Starpoints, AMEX Membership Rewards).

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No More Credit Card Fun At CVS: Reports From FL And NJ Say That You Can Stick A Fork In It.

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Update, 04/01: CVS has put out a new memo stating that chainwide rollout of this policy should be completed by 04/04.

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For the past 18 months mileage junkies have been able to use manufactured spend to get miles on the cheap at CVS thanks to cards like Vanilla Reload, Serve, etc.

Via @Ringsthecaddy comes this image of a policy change that says that effective Monday, 03/31, CVS will only take cash for Vanilla Reloads, Serve, and many other reload methods.  The registers will be hard coded to reject credit cards just as they are in Walgreens stores.

This was taken in a store in Boca Raton, FL:

Additionally DDF member ccsaver reports that he was showed the same memo in a CVS store in Edison, NJ.

Previously rogue stores refused to take credit cards, but it was never official policy or hard coded.  Official policy was that you could buy $5,000 in Vanilla Reloads per day,

Based on reports from numerous states and that the memo was sent from a CVS corporate it seems like this will be a nationwide policy and not just a regional policy.  The memo is drafted by Cary Chaney, who works in CVS’ corporate headquarters and is in charge of the prepaid cards category for CVS.

There still are other methods of manufacturing spend via Bluebird as you can read here.  By buying gift cards with your Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card at Office Max or Staples you can still get 5 points per dollar and load them onto Bluebird at Walmart.  Or buy a money order at stores that takes debit cards for money orders.

It was a fun ride while it lasted. And like we learned with mint coins, all good things come to an end. RIP VRs.

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10 Days Until USAirways Joins OneWorld, 10 Things You Should Know

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

Reminder: Sunday, 03/30 is the final day of USAirways being part of the Star Alliance.  They will transition to OneWorld on Monday, 03/31.

Originally posted on 03/21:

1. March 30th is the final day to use USAirways miles for travel across the entire Star Alliance network.

2. March 30th is also the final day to use miles from other Star Alliance airlines, like United, to travel on USAirways.  If you have ANA, Lufthansa, or Singapore miles and want to redeem for travel without fuel surcharges you may want to consider booking travel on USAirways before its too late as those programs do charge fuel surcharges for travel on most other airlines.

3. After March 30th USAirways will remain partners for at least a short period of time with Aegean, Air China, Air New Zealand, Avianca, Eva Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Airways, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, TACA, TAM Airlines, TAP Portugal and Turkish Airlines. You will still be able to earn and redeem miles with these airlines until their bilateral contracts expire. The exact end dates are unknown for all except EVA, which has announced that May 14th will be their final date to earn or redeem miles with USAirways. It’s also possible that some will stay on as partners.

Note that Aegean’s site says that you can only earn tier qualifying miles from USAirways flights through 03/30. That means you can only keep accumulating lifetime Aegean Star Alliance Gold status when flying on USAirways flights until 03/30, afterward it would just earn non-elite status award miles. Last minute mileage run anyone?

4. On March 31st USAirways will be joining OneWorld and you should be able to use USAirways miles for travel on all OneWorld alliance airlines on that day.  I say should as doing so on the 31st may be a logistical nightmare if not impossibly as they get things converted over from Star to OneWorld without any planned downtime.

5. You should also be able to use miles from other OneWorld carriers to travel on USAirways on March 31st. Yes, that means lots of new British Airways Avios flight awards starting at 4,500 Avios.

6. The USAirways Dividend miles program will remain separate from American AAdvantage for the time being.  At some point in the future you should be able to transfer miles back and forth between the programs and eventually all miles will be merged into a new combined American Airlines program as the USAirways brand is phased out.

7. USAirways has an incredibly generous partner award chart, including round-trip awards for just 90K miles in business to Asia, 110K in business to Australia or Africa, and 120K in business to the middle east.

It will apparently retain the same lucrative award chart even after the switch to OneWorld.  Don’t get your hopes up, it will be eventually devalued. But for now it seems that it will remain in place, perhaps until the programs are combined or until miles can be transferred between the 2 programs.

8. For the time being you can still transfer American Express Membership Rewards points earned from cards like American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card to USAirways.  That can be done by first transferring points at a 1:1 ratio into Air Canada Aeroplan and then from Air Canada to USAirways via Points.com. Up to 100,000 miles can be transferred out of one Aeroplan account per year and 100,000 miles would yield 84,011 USAirways miles.

9. Starwood points like those earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express can still transfer to American or USAirways at a 20K:25K ratio. American will reject transfers if the name on the Starwood account (or at least the last name) doesn’t match the American mileage account.  For now though USAirways doesn’t require names to match.

10. Most people are familiar with American’s region based award chart. But the real fun is in their distance based OneWorld award chart.

It allows for 16 flights and stopovers and my wife and I had an incredible time flying around the world in first class on such an award. With USAirways joining OneWorld a whole new slew of possibilities is opened, including the first ever OneWorld flight between the US and Israel.

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Ink Is Beautiful

Sunday, March 23rd, 2014

The Chase Ink cards are some of the most powerful tools in any mileage junkie’s arsenal.  They are truly a must-have.

-Chase Ink Plus Card Linky
-Chase Ink Bold Card Linky
-Chase Ink Cash Card Linky

Many people don’t even realize that they can get a business card. If you or your spouse have any business, side business, or even if you are just in the planning stages of a business you can get a business card.  For example if Joe Smith sells items or wants to start selling items online and wants a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures he can open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business name. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field as well as in the social security number field.

Here are some of the reason that Ink Is Beautiful:

1. The signup bonus.
Both the Ink Bold and Ink Plus offer a very generous 50,000 point signup bonus for spending $5,000 in 3 months.  The $95 annual fee on those cards is waived for the first year.
Not only that, but you can have the same card at the same time for different businesses, each with their own signup bonus.

The Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards are credit cards that can be paid off over time if needed.  The Ink Bold is a charge card that must be paid off in full monthly.

The Ink Cash card has no annual fee and a 20,000 point signup bonus for spending $3,000 in 3 months. It says $200 cash back but that’s just because you can use the 20,000 points for $200 cash back. I sure hope you don’t.

2. 5x points on telecom.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar on internet/cable service and landline/cellular purchases.  That’s a nice rebate when you purchase a new cell phone and off your telecom/internet bills.

3. 5x points on office supplies.
You’ll earn 5 points per dollar at office supply stores.
Office supply stores like Office Max, Staples, and Office Depot sell gift cards to hundreds of other stores. You can click here to view a list I compiled last year.

By buying gift cards you can get 5 points per dollar at hundreds of places you shop at anyway, including Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond/Buy Buy Baby, Marriott (You can even use these to cater a wedding!), Nordstrom, Southwest Airlines, Starbucks, Whole Foods, and hundreds of others.

Plus Office Max and Staples accepts credit cards for Visa prepaid gift cards.  Even when there isn’t a sale the 5 points per dollar easily is worth more than the $6.95 fee on a $200 gift card.  But they often go on sale where they sell them for less than the $200 face value AND you get the 5 points per dollar.  They can be loaded onto Bluebird or just used anywhere you shop and you’ll still come out ahead.

On the Ink Plus or Bold card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $50,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.
On the Ink Cash card you can earn 5 points per dollar on up to $25,000 of spending per cardmember year per card.

4. Earn 5x points on Charity?

Your local school or other charity will be more than happy to accept donations of Amazon gift cards for supplies or any other useful gift cards for chinese auctions, raffles, fundraisers, etc.

They will give you a tax deductible receipt for the full face value-the price you paid for the gift cards.  And at the same time you’ll earn 5 points per dollar.  So while doing good you can still get a nice chunk of points and you’ll save on your taxes.  Sounds like a win-win-win to me.

5. Cash back on top of points.

Ink cards used to be issued as Mastercards though now they are all Visa cards.

Programs like Mastercard Easy Savings and the Visa Savings Program offer cash back on top of points at select stores just for registering your card.

For example with an Ink Visa you’ll get an additional 1% cash back on top of 5 points per dollar every time you spend $200 or more at a Staples store or online.  That makes gift cards even more lucrative!

With Visa you’ll also get cash back on top of 2 points per dollar at several gas stations and hotels.  You’ll even get a 4% cash rebate at Alamo and National rent a car.

With Mastercard you’ll 5% cash back at Avis or Budget and cash back at 19,000 participating gas stations nationwide on top of 2 points per dollar.

6. Double point categories.
The Bold and Plus cards offer 2 points per dollar for spending on gas and hotels.
The Cash card offers 2 points per per dollar for spending on gas and dining.

7. Free lounge visits.
The primary cardholder and additional cardholders (which are free!) can each get a free Lounge Club membership that allows access 2 free lounge visits per year.

There are participating lounges all across the globe.

A recent addition to Lounge Club is the new Art & Lounge in Newark. That lounge is intended for use by El Al business and first class passengers and offers exclusively kosher food. With a Platinum card you can get unlimited free access to this lounge.

8. No foreign exchange fees.

The Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards have no fees for using their cards when abroad. Just opt to pay in the local currency and you’ll always get the best exchange rate with no fees.

9. Spending won’t hurt your credit score.
The really great thing with these business cards is that they don’t report your spending on your personal credit report.

On personal cards if you spend money on your card, your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes a lot of effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a few dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month.

On an Ink business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score. That makes life a lot simpler.

Plus if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

10. A year of 0% APR

The Ink Cash card offers a full year of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers.  So do many other cards.  The difference is that because spending on the Ink cards won’t show up on your credit report (unless you’re delinquent), carrying a balance on an Ink card won’t hurt your credit score like it will on other cards.  The 0% APR is just icing on the cake.

Note that there is a one-time 3% balance transfer fee. If you want a card with 0% APR and no fees for balance transfers you’ll want to look into Chase Slate which gives 15 months of 0% APR. However that is a consumer card, so carrying a balance there will hurt your score.

11. The Chase Trifecta.

Years ago I coined the term “Chase Trifecta.”

It refers to having a:
-Chase checking account
AND
-A Chase Freedom card
AND
-Either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a Chase Ink Plus card, or a Chase Ink Bold card.

The reason is that the Chase Freedom is a very generous no annual fee card thanks to its rotating 5 point categories (such as gas stations, restaurants, etc).  Plus if you have a checking account you’ll even get an annual 10% bonus making those 5.5 point categories and making all purchases earn 1.1 points per dollar.

The problem is that Chase Freedom points can’t be transferred into much more valuable airline miles and hotel points.  To rectify that either you or your spouse has to have either a Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a Chase Ink Plus card, or a Chase Ink Bold card.  That way you can transfer the Freedom points to one of those cards and from there into airline miles or hotel points.

12. Chase UR points are still awesome.

Chase Ultimate Rewards offer instant and fee-free transfers to top-notch mileage and points programs at a 1:1 ratio.

Transfer partners include:
-United (Star Alliance) is still an excellent currency, even after their devaluation last month.  They never charge fuel surcharges, have very flexible routing rules, they allow one-way awards for half the mileage, they have a short-haul awards for 10,000 miles, they allow for a stopover and an open-jaw so that you can really maximize a single award ticket into several free trips, and they have dozens of partners to fly on, most of which can be booked on their website.
-British Airways (OneWorld) is awesome for short-haul awards. Just 9,000 miles for a round-trip zone 1 or 15,000 miles for zone 2 short-haul award.  The zone 3 award for 25,000 miles round-trip can also be a bargain, for example for flights between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands or between Boston and Ireland with no fuel surcharges.  Flights to Israel on Air Berlin are 60,000 miles with no fuel surcharges. They allow one-way awards for half the mileage. There are no close-in or expedite fees.  You can cancel an award for as little as $2.50. Infants are only charged 10% of the miles on international trips instead of 10% of the full fare like US carriers charge. Plus they don’t collect fuel surcharges on AA within the western hemisphere, on Qantas within Australia, on Air Berlin, Aer Lingus, Alaska, or LAN and you can transfer points to Iberia to limit fuel surcharges there as well. Read more in the BA knowledgebase. Next week you’ll have access to book USAirways flights with Avios. See 102 places you can go to nonstop from NYC with Avios.
-Korean (Skyteam) offers the best first class availability of any airline in the world (777+A380 First Class Trip Report here), it’s truly incredible.  Did you know that they fly to 13 US cities as well as Tel Aviv and the Maldives?  They also have amazing bargains on partner travel, just 30,000 miles to fly round-trip on Hawaiian or Alaska to Hawaii in coach or 60,000 miles in first.  And it’s just 20,000 miles to fly to Alaska in coach or 40,000 miles in first. You can even get a free stopover on the way to or in Alaska!
-Southwest offers award travel without capacity controls, though the value per point will dip effective 03/31. It will still offer a great value for award flights and they don’t charge for changes or cancellations. Plus you get 2 free checked bags and you can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. You can also transfer points to Airtran for flat-rate awards like business class upgrades or free tickets at a flat rate instead of a rate that corresponds to the ticket price. From Airtran they can even be converted back into the old Southwest program that also offers flat rate awards.
-Virgin Atlantic has some niche uses like discounted awards on Delta and Cyprus Air.  For example a round-trip from Tel Aviv to Cyprus is just 5,000 miles!
-Hyatt is a powerful hotel currency. They have added a new cash and points option that offers some excellent values and more importantly those stays earn points, elite stay credits, promo credits, and you can use suite upgrades on cash and point stays as well.  It remains far less expensive for high-end hotel stays than any other hotel program, a $1,500/night villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives would run just 25,000 points or 12,500 points+$150.
You can also funnel points through Hyatt to Southwest to qualify for a free Southwest Companion Pass which gives you a free companion every time you pay for or redeem for a free ticket.
-You can also transfer points to Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Priority Club, and Amtrak. I’ve never been on an Amtrak in my life, but some people have reported getting some really nice bargains on Amtrak travel via their program.

When you use your points for travel you can get far more value out of them than when you sell them or cash them out.  It’s easy to get an insane value from your points when flying in business or first class or staying in 5 star resorts.  But even when you are in a pinch and need a last-minute ticket, a one-way ticket, or a ticket with stopovers in several cities, you can do far better using real miles than booking with cash or proprietary bank points that directly correlate with the cash price of the travel.  That $1,200 last-minute coach ticket would cost 120,000 Capital One points versus 9,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

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Earn American AAdvantage Miles On Facebook: Extend Your Mileage Expiration Date

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Earn American AAdvantage Miles On Facebook

Play trivia games and earn AA miles.

I maintain an extra Facebook account with no friends for apps like this where you have to share your complete friend list and more.  You can skip having them post on your wall, but in the games they will offer you more miles to do that.

Frankly it’s probably not worth most people’s time. Each game/trivia earns just 50 to 100 miles.  Though more importantly for some, the miles will extend the expiration date of all of your banked miles for another 18 months. But who knows when they will get around to crediting miles earned from this promotion  Wondering when your other miles expire here’s a chart. And here’s a quick and easy way to extend them.

All together you can earn about 1,000 miles if you are pretty bored and complete everything. You can also earn more miles by flying on specific paid flights.

Here are the answers for the AA trivia that earns a whopping 50 miles:
-330
-DFW, LAX, JFK, MIA, ORD, CLT, PHL, PHX
-American Eagle
-http://www.aa.com/findyourway
-All of the above

HT: jmansour, via DDF

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Reminder: Earn 3.21 Points Per Dollar With Sapphire Preferred At Restaurants Today

Friday, March 7th, 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 2.14 points per dollar on dining, airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals.

This program was introduced in 2013 and has been extended for 2014 as well.

Together with the 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 in 3.21 points per dollar by purchasing them today!

Need to pay a caterer? Do it today and pocket the 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 Israel: 2.14 points per dollar, free primary CDW insurance with no deductible, and no foreign use fees).

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Visa Gift Card Special At Office Max Stores Next Week

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Update: 03/06, Let the good times roll…at least until 03/08!  The spoils goes to those who conquer from within ;)

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Update, 03/03: I’m already in for $5K so far, post your results in the comments! Yesterday was a bit of a pain as the promotion wasn’t properly activated and had to be manually applied by a store manager but today was easy sailing.

I’ve been buying 5 of the $200 cards in a single transaction and the coupon that they scan at the register automatically takes off $60. Total comes out to $974.75 for $1,000 in Visa cards and more importantly, quintuple points!

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Originally posted on 02/28:

If you buy at least $250 in Visa gift cards between 03/02-03/08 you’ll get $15 off instantly.

That means you can get 2 $200 cards for below face value and you’ll get quintuple points by using your Ink Plus, Ink Bold, or Ink Cash card.

A $100 card normally costs $105.95 and a $200 card normally costs $206.95.

If you open a new Ink Plus card for example and spend $5K at Office Max you would have a whopping 75,000 Ultimate Rewards points.  That’s more than enough for 16 (!) free short-haul flights or for 6 nights at the cash and points rate at a incredible high-end hotel like the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Andaz Maui, or Park Hyatt Maldives. (This new award works with Hyatt suite upgrades and it’s worth noting that those expire today if you have any.)

Officially there is a limit of 2 $15 discounts per person though in the past my local stores haven’t enforced any limits.
The Visa cards can be loaded onto Bluebird at WalMart via the ATM or any cashier, sent to a friend via Amazon Payments, loaded on a money order at any store besides for the post office that accept debit cards for a money order (my local grocery store does this for 50 cents), etc.

Or just use them for everyday purchases knowing that you already got the cards below face value and that you earned 5 points per dollar!

HT: raccah, via DDF

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Delta SkyPesos To Become Even More Irrelevant, But What Does It Mean For Better Programs?

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Update 2, 03/06: In the face of harsh criticism Delta has released the 5 level 2015 award chart. It’s applicable for flights booked starting 01/01/15.

It’s pretty much as expected with a new tier added in between each of current 3 levels.
Theoretically tickets to Israel get cheaper with level 1 going down from 85K to 80K. However when there is level 1 availability you can also just use 50K Air France Flying Blue miles to book that same Delta flight with no fuel surcharges, so no bargain there.

In my opinion it’s all pretty meaningless until we see the distribution of seats. Considering how scarce saver awards are now with Delta in a 3 level program I can’t imagine that there will be much available at level 1 pricing come 2015.

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Update: Delta.com now has the full details of the upcoming changes (though they say that the new award charts won’t be published until the end of this year :roll: ).

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Originally posted on 02/26:

The WSJ is reporting that effective 01/01/15 Delta will completely revamp their SkyMiles program.

Delta has already been known for having a complicated 3-tier redemption system with little availability at the bottom tier.  Coupled with frequent devaluations made without prior announcement, the term “SkyPesos” came to stick.

Now they’re planning on changing the whole game.

Effective 01/01/15 you will earn miles based on how much you paid for your airfare. You will no longer earn miles based on the distance flown.  A non-elite will earn 5 miles per dollar spent, Silvers will get 7, Gold 8, Platinums 9, and Diamonds 11.

Currently a non-elite flying round-trip between JFK and Los Angeles on a $300 base fare ticket earns 4,950 miles.  Come 2015 and that flight will earn a paltry 1,500 miles.  A gold elite currently earns 9,900 miles but come 2015 and they will earn just 2,400 miles.

On the redemption side there will now be an even more complicated 5 tiers of awards for them to try to more closely align the mileage cost with the cost of the flight.  The only giveback is that Delta will finally allow one-way awards for half the miles of a round-trip.

So you’ll earn fewer miles from flights and redemptions will cost more.

Considering how poor of a value Delta miles offered until now this isn’t really such a loss, it’s just a bad program becoming really bad.

The real and far more pressing question will be if American and United will match.

Sure they can theoretically line their pockets even more by copying this, but at what cost?  If only 1 of them match then frequent flyer junkies will flock to the other.  If they both match do they really expect people to keep accumulating miles via credit card spend when they’ll be able to do better with a 2.2% cash back card?

I think what might happen is that we see American and/or United match just the earning aspect, tying the flight mileage earned to money spent.

But I think they may be smart enough to realize that by tinkering with the redemption side to add several tiers will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.  They make billions of dollars annually selling miles to partners and if the lure of redeeming miles goes away so may those revenues.   American and United never did match Delta’s ugly 3-tier system, so perhaps a 5 tier system won’t in the cards for them either?

Will other international programs match this? Will you still be able to accumulate Delta flight miles by crediting flights to those programs? Will you still be able to credit Delta to Alaska miles?

This raises lots of questions. I guess for now we’ll just have to wait and see.

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102 Direct Flights From NYC That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

The updated chart below will become effective 04/01. USAirways routes will not be bookable until 03/31 when they join the OneWorld Alliance. 10 new American routes from LGA begin 04/01 while routes from LGA to Atlanta, Cleveland, and Minneapolis end on 03/31 and have been removed from the chart.
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-Click here to view Direct Flights From Chicago That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Los Angeles That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Miami That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-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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Effective 04/01 there will be 102 direct flights that you can take from NYC with your BA Avios!

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

Be sure to read the British Airways knowledgebase for everything you NEED to know about the BA program.  If you have a question it’s probably already been answered there!

Notes:
-Rates in the chart are for one-way flights.
-Routes that display the airline in bold are subject to fuel surcharges. Routes that display the airline in bold are subject to fuel surcharges, which can vary from $25 (JFK-Vancouver on Cathay Pacific) to several hundred dollars each way.
-In the charts below I’ve only included direct flights as BA charges Avios for each flight segment.
-In other words Tel Aviv isn’t on the chart as BA does not have any partners that fly nonstop from NYC to Tel Aviv.  Though you can always fly to Tel Aviv via Berlin or Dusseldorf for 20K for the overseas segment and 10K for the Berlin/Dusseldorf-Tel Aviv segment with no fuel surcharges. It can help to search for NYC-Berlin or Dusseldorf and Berlin or Dusseldorf-Tel Aviv separately.
Effective 03/31 you will be able to fly from NYC-Philadelphia for 4.5K and Philadelphia-Tel Aviv for 30K though the jury is still out on fuel surcharges for that route when using Avios.
-Maui isn’t on the chart as BA does not have any partners that fly nonstop from NYC-Maui.  Though you can always fly to Maui via Los Angeles, S. Diego, or Seattle, for 12.5K for the NYC-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.
-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.
-While the Qantas flight from JFK to Sydney stops in Los Angeles it is considered a direct flight by BA as the flight number remains the same. Therefore they do charge Avios as if it is just 1 flight segment.
-In rare cases connecting flights can be cheaper than nonstop flights when using Avios and I’ve noted that in the chart.
-Cities in the chart may only have seasonal service.
-A dash means that class of service isn’t offered on that route.
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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.

-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 Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and the and The Platinum Card® from American Express.
These points can transfer instantly 1:1 to Avios and typically several times per year there are bonuses that range from 20%-50% to transfer points to BA.

-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.

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View the complete 102 route chart after the jump:

(more…)

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The Unique Benefits Of The United Explorer Card: Expanded Award Space, Primary CDW Insurance, And Much More

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Update, 02/27: It’s worth making an update to this post to note that if you use United.com’s “Remember Me” button it can cause your award searches to exclude your expanded availability.

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You must be logged into your mileage account to have access to expanded award availability. If you check the “remember me” option it will look just like you are logged in, but after a short period of time it will stop searching for expanded awards.

I was searching for an award flight to Tel Aviv on 01/25/14 while logged into my account with “Remember Me” and got this goose egg:

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However after logging out and back in again that same search came up with award seats:

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Using expert mode (as described in the original post below) you can see exactly what’s going on:

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There are no award seats available for non cardholders (X class) but there are at least 9 award seats available for cardholders (XN class).

Same thing happened when I searched yesterday for an award from Cleveland to Fort Lauderdale for Pesach and expert mode shows why, 3 seats available just for cardholders or elites who are logged in without remember me:

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Moral of the story is simple, don’t have United.com remember you if you have elite status or a United credit card.

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Originally posted on 01/15/14:

The Chase United Explorer card and the United Club card are the only currently available credit cards that gives you access to expanded award ticket availability.

It also is one of the only cards that comes with primary rental car CDW insurance.  Almost every other card only has secondary coverage when you rent a car in your home country. This means that if you damage your rental vehicle you must file the claim with your own personal insurance policy first, and only if they won’t cover the damage will the credit card cover the damage.  Even additional cardholders get primary coverage when they rent.

With primary rental car CDW insurance you will not have to file anything with your own insurance company. Chase will cover the entire bill for any damage to your rental car. Just be sure to decline the rental agency’s CDW coverage.  This primary coverage applies in every country in the world.  The Sapphire Preferred is what I use in Israel and other foreign countries, but that’s just because of the 2.14 points per dollar it awards on car rentals.  In the US the United card is the way to go.

How do you find expanded award availability? All you need to do is login to your United.com account before you search for award flights.

How do you know if your card is properly linked to your account? Just login on United.com and then hover over the words “Mileage Expiration”

If your card is properly linked you will see the following message that your miles won’t expire as long as you remain a cardholder:
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If your card isn’t properly linked then you will see the following message that your miles will expire if you don’t have activity every 18 months:

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Expanded saver coach example:

When logged into an account with a United Explorer card there is 40K saver award space from Newark to Tel Aviv on November 23, 25, and 30:

ua3

When not logged in or when logged into an account without a credit card or elite status there is no space on any of those dates.

Just how much space is there?  Using this link you can click the box to enable United.com expert mode.

After enabling expert mode you can search for a paid flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 11/23 and then click on “fare class” which will bring up the available cabins box:

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Everything in that alphabet soup stands for important stuff but all we care about right now is XN and X class availability. There are at least 9 XN seats, meaning there are at least 9 saver award seats available to someone who has a United Explorer card or who has United elite status.  It never shows more than 9, so 9 means 9 or more.

There are 0 X seats, meaning that if you don’t have a United credit card and want a seat on that flight you would have to book a standard award for 75K miles.  Those 75K coach standard seats actually come out of the HN bucket for non-cardholders, so there are at least 9 of those.

Expanded standard coach and business example:

When logged into an account with a United Explorer card there is 75K coach standard award space and 150K business standard award space from Newark to Tel Aviv on the red-eye flight on 04/12.  This is an extremely popular flight for people flying to Israel for Pesach.

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When not logged in or when logged into an account without a credit card or elite status there isn’t even standard award space available for that flight. The flight doesn’t even show up when performing an award search from such an account.

How many seats are available for cardholders and elites?

ua5

 

 

 

HN class is standard coach availability for non-cardholders, no seats there.  ZN is standard business availability for non-cardholders, no seats there either.

YN is standard coach availability for cardholders and elites, at least 9 seats there. JN is standard business availability for cardholders and elites, at least 9 seats there.  In fact as long as there is a seat on the plane you can use the standard mileage award for get it if you are a cardholder.

Expanded saver business example:

Only United Platinum, 1K, and Global Services elites have access to expanded business class award availability (IN class as shown in expert mode).

However anyone can use United Plan B to book a business saver award even if there is only coach saver available. 

As United cardholders have more coach saver award space available they will automatically have more business saver award space as well thanks to Plan B.

Other card benefits:
Besides for the signup bonus of 30K miles for spending $1,000 and another 5K miles for adding a free authorized user, the primary CDW insurance, and the expanded award space, there are other nice benefits of the Explorer card:
-First checked bag free.
-Priority boarding so that you’ll have space for your carry-ons.
-No foreign transaction fees.
-2 free United passes per year.
-10K mileage bonus every year that you spend $25K, a 40% mileage bonus which means you’ll have earned 1.4 miles per dollar everywhere. Spending $25K in a year also waives the requirement to spend $2.5K on United flights to get Silver status, $5K on United flights to get Gold status, and $7.5K on United flights to get Platinum status. You only need to fly the 25K, 50K, or 75K miles like in the good old days.
-Double miles on United purchases.
-Elite members can get upgrades on coach award tickets on upgrade eligible routes if they have a United card.
-Miles don’t expire as long as you are a cardholder.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.

-You can also get the business version of the Chase United Explorer card.  Just click on “Are you a business owner” in the top-right of the Explorer card link.

-Want a 2nd free bag, a 50% mileage bonus per dollar spent everywhere, United club access for you and your entire family, post-security terminal access without a ticket, priority baggage handling and priority security access, and waived award expedite fees? The United Club card comes with all of that.  Just click on the MileagePlus Club tab at the top of the Explorer card link.

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Other Chase consumer cards you can get at the time as the United card include the Chase Sapphire Preferred (40K signup points plus another 5K points for adding a free additional user, no fee the first year, plus 2.14 points per dollar on travel and dining with no Foreign Exchange fees), Chase Southwest (50K signup points), Chase British Airways (50K signup points and 10% off BA flights), and Chase Freedom (which gives 5 points per dollar in rotating categories and 10% bonus points if you have a Chase checking account).

The Chase Ink Plus and Chase Ink Bold business cards both give 50,000 signup points and offer 5 points per dollar on telecom, cable, and office supply stores, 2 points per dollar for gas and lodging, no foreign exchange fees, free lounge visits, and a waived annual fee for the first year.

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United “Cancel Without Redeposit Trick” Successful Beyond My Wildest Dreams; Having Old Awards Gives Backdoor Access To The Old Award Chart

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

In mid-December I advised folks to beat the United devaluation by booking awards and then cancelling them without redepositing the miles.

By doing that you would be able to fly Lufthansa First Class at the old rates (135K to Europe/150K to Tel Aviv) instead of the new rates (220K to Europe/280K to Tel Aviv) by just changing the dates close to when you want to fly.  You would pay a small change fee, but save a boatload of miles. Lufthansa typically only releases their first class award space within 14 days of a flight.  Their first class is great with planes like the 747-400 that give you a seat as well as a real mattress next to it.  Plus you get access to their first class terminal where you can indulge in kosher food and rare scotches before being driven in a luxury car right up to your plane as I wrote about in my Venice trip notes a few years ago.

The advice wasn’t without controversy.

United refused to confirm or deny and their Flyertalk liaison advised that I should take a more conservative approach (ha!).

Numerous Flyertalkers ridiculed the advice, though I’d wager that most of them had probably never even used that cancel without redeposit option.

One blogger reblogged my advice to which another blogger responded, “I would bet that the odds of this working as described are near nil….Repeating bad advice doesn’t make it true.”

And yet another blogger wrote “Dan is suggesting that before the travel date you cancel the trip…He seems convinced this will work for locking in the old rates. I don’t necessarily disagree, I’m just not as confident about United’s system working that way as he is.”

I then reiterated in a later post that I stood by my advice based on my experience with United awards but cautioned that we were in uncharted territory and that nobody could say for certain what would happen.

I made several reservations myself and finally got around to playing with them and what I found was fascinating.  Not only can simple date changes be made without paying more miles (the intention of the original trick) but just about every other change can be done as well under the old award chart.

For example I have a one-way itinerary from Frankfurt to Cleveland via Newark on a Lufthansa 747-400 that was cancelled without being redeposited. It currently looks like this:

 

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And as predicted by choosing change flights I can change it without paying any additional miles.  In fact I could even change directions to have it go from Newark to Frankfurt without additional miles:

 

uae

 

But I didn’t stop there.  I tried changing my one-way into a round-trip and it only asked for an extra 67,500 miles per person for the return trip.  In other words by just having one of these itineraries I am able to book awards under the old rates (67.5K each way) instead of the new rates (110K each way).

uab

 

 

Compare that with the vile new award chart rates for a first class partner award for 2 passengers:

uac

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But why stop there? Next I tried changing the one-way Lufthansa ticket into a round-trip business class ticket to Israel.  Those tickets used to cost 120K round-trip but are now 140K on United or 160K on partner airlines.

Once again, it priced it out as a ticket under the old award chart, asking for 120K per passenger:

uaf

 

Want to fly in your own private Asiana suite? That’s 240K per person now, but with an old ticket you can access the old rate of 140K per person:

 

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Seemingly with any old award you can make a change online and access the old award chart.  Pretty cool if you ask me!

Best of all as I booked several one-ways each of those can be transformed into round-trips to anywhere in the world at the old rates.

Did you use the cancel without redeposit trick? Were you too afraid? Let’s hear about it in the comments!

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Starwood’s 31st Airline Transfer Partner: Virgin Australia; More Good News For CLE

Monday, February 17th, 2014

Related:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express:
Earn 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $1 and another 15,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 within 6 months for a total of 30,000 earned Starpoints with $5,000 of spending.

-Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints
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Starwood has added Virgin Australia’s Velocity program as a transfer partner.  You’ll get 25,000 miles for every 20,000 Starwood Starpoints transferred.

They aren’t part of any alliance but they have a hodgepodge of partners such as Delta.  Here is their award chart and partner airline details.

You’ll need an address in a country like Australia to setup your account.  I’ve had a Velocity account for several years dating from when they were matching status to Platinum with some pretty sweet bennies (still have Hilton Diamond and Hertz President’s Circle from that) and have never needed anything that they mailed to my buddy down under.

The sweet spot is for short-haul flights on Delta and Virgin America.  Flights under 600 miles in distance will cost just 6,900 miles.  As you get a 25% bonus for transferring increments of 20K Starpoints into miles that’s the rough equivalent of 5,520 Starpoints for a short-haul flight.  Flights that are between 601 and 1,200 miles in length will cost 10,900 miles each way or the rough equivalent of 8,720 Starpoints.

Delta, among other airlines like Frontier, have been on a tear in Cleveland even since United announced the dehubbing and since AA slashed the CLE-LGA route effective 04/01. They have added daily nonstops to Raleigh-Durham and 6 weekly nonstops to Indianapolis.  They’re also going to fly 3 daily flights to JFK, 5 daily flights to LGA, and all mainline flights to Atlanta besides for their current schedule to Detroit and Minneapolis.

All of those cities besides Minneapolis are within 600 miles of Cleveland and will therefore cost just 6,900 miles (~5,520 Starpoints) for a one-way.  Plus with all of these new flights Delta’s award availability chart is looking surprisingly good.

Of course this isn’t as good as British Airways‘ 4,500 mile flights but if you’re not located in an American hub city then this can be very useful.  Plus while BA charges 3 times the miles for American domestic first class Virgin Australia will charge just double miles for Delta domestic first class as they consider it business class.

There are some other seemingly sweet spots that are less sweet than they initially seem.

For example JFK-Tel Aviv is 5,677 miles in length and is therefore just 70,000 Virgin Australia miles round-trip as opposed to 85,000 Delta miles.

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However you’ll be far better off booking that Delta flight with Air France Flying Blue miles.  With Air France you would only need 50,000 miles for the free round-trip on Delta to Tel Aviv.  You can transfer 40,000 Starpoints into 50,000 Air France miles or 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 50,000 Air France miles:

dl2

 

 

 

 

 

 

So Israel is no bargain, but I’m sure there are other bargains out there. Both Air France and Virgin Australia allow for one-way redemptions when using their miles while Delta does not when using their miles.

Curious about the other 30 Starwood transfer options and ratios?  With so may different airlines to transfer to it’s just a matter of figuring out which one has the lowest rates to where you want to go.  I’ve separated all of them by alliance so you can know which airlines are partners and will therefore let you book award travel on partner airlines.  Of course airlines also have lots non-alliance partners, but by definition they are partners with all airlines in the same alliance.

In parenthesis you can see if American Express Membership Rewards (MR) or Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) transfers to the airline as well.

OneWorld Alliance:
American: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
British Airways Avios: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
JAL/Japan Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
LAN: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (No other transfers)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)

Star Alliance:
Air Canada/Aeroplan: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points (No other transfers)
ANA/All Nippon: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)
USAirways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Unaligned:
Alaska (Partners with several airlines from different alliances): 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (No other transfers)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Saudi Arabian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (No other transfers)

Points can also transfer to Amtrak.

HT: Gary and tuvz, via DDF

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Flying From NYC To Tel Aviv Round-Trip For 35,000 Membership Rewards+$350

Monday, February 10th, 2014

50% Off El Al Award Flights

With this promotion a round-trip ticket between New York and Tel Aviv will be 700 points instead of 1,400 points.  You can transfer 35,000 American Express Membership Rewards points (earned on cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card) into 700 El Al points.

Note that El Al charges $350 in fuel surcharges and taxes for a round trip from the US to Israel.  (Fuel surcharges can be avoided by using American miles for travel on El Al, but then you can’t take advantage of this promotion).

You can also fly just one-way from NYC to Tel Aviv for 350 points plus $158.

Of course you have to find saver award space which is always tricky with El Al.

-Book by 02/16
-Depart: 02/24-04/06.

Sample valid date as of the time of this post: Newark to Tel Aviv from 03/03-03/12.

HT: 972sg212, via DDF

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Discounted American Awards: Las Vegas And Los Angeles

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Update:
-Here is the link for the Las Vegas promo details.
-Here is the link for the Los Angeles promo details.
The discounts are valid for bookings made by 02/27
.
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I can’t seem to find any promotion details yet, but American is having some discounted award specials right now:

-Connecting or nonstop flights to or from the US48 and Las Vegas through 04/04 are pricing out at 10K miles each way instead of 12.5K miles each way.

-Nonstop flights to or from the US48 and Los Angeles through 04/04 are pricing out at 10K miles each way instead of 12.5K miles each way.
Cities with nonstop American service to Los Angeles include: Albuquerque, Aspen, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, El Paso, Eugene, Fayetteville, Fresno, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Miami, Monterey, Nashville, Newark, NYC (JFK), Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Raleigh/Durham, Redmond, Reno, S. Barbara, S. Diego, S. Francisco, S. Jose, S. Louis, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Santa Fe, Tucson, Vail, Washington (DCA/IAD), West Palm Beach.

Find the full terms of this promotion or more valid cities? Post a comment!

HT: rapsjr, via DDF

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United Devaluation Clarifications

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

1. If you booked before yesterday’s devaluation then you will have much more flexibility then United previously announced.

It’s on the confusing side though, so you’ll probably have to play HUCA (Hang Up and Call Again!) and talk to several agents to get exactly what you want.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the operating airline as long as you stay in the same class of service and the same region.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the origin, connecting, or destination cities as long as the origin and destination cities are in the same region (US, Europe, Middle East, etc) as you originally booked. However you can’t change the class of service or operating airline in this case.
-You won’t have to use more miles if you change the date as long as you stay in the same class of service and the same region.

2. At least one commenter notes that an agent was willing to change the date without charging extra miles on a ticket that he cancelled without redepositing the miles.
It took him one HUCA to find that agent.

3. If you’re flying on United or Copa in business or first class you can use the cheaper United award chart when connecting to business or first class on a partner airline as long as the partner airline’s flight is within the same region as the United flight lands in.

For example If you fly from Newark to Frankfurt in United Business and connect to Paris in Lufthansa Business you can use the cheaper United award chart.

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1 Day Until United Devaluation: What We Know, What We Don’t.

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Update: United is delaying the implementation of the new award chart until Monday.
Book what you can today!

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— DansDeals (@DansDeals) November 1, 2013

 

D-Day is upon us.  Come 02/01 and it will cost more United miles to go places. In some cases many more miles.

I made a chart within an hour of the changes being announced, so you can go there to see the details.

And I said my piece back then as well.

The pain is two fold as for the first time United will charge more to fly to may places and they will charge even more to fly on partner airlines.

The gist of the changes for departures from the US:
-US48/Canada awards don’t change.
-Alaska is broken out as its own category and will become much more expensive with coach now going for 35K instead of 25K and business going for 60K instead of 50K.
-Hawaii in coach goes up from 40K to 45K though business and first are surprisingly unchanged.
-South America is mostly unscathed.
-Europe in coach in unchanged but business on United goes up by 15K to 115K and first on United goes up by 25K to 160K. The real pain is for partner redemption with business going up by 40K to 140K and first going up by a whopping 85K to 220K
-Israel in coach goes up 5K to 85K. Business nonstop on United goes up by 20K to 140K and first on United via Europe goes up by 30K to 180K. Again, the real pain is for partner redemption with business going up by 40K to 160K and first via Europe going up by an insane 130K to 280K. That first class partner jump is the infamous 87% rate increase.
-See the chart for similar increases to Asia, Africa, and Australia.
-Round-The-World awards get really smacked with coach going up 20K to 180K, business going up 90K to 350K, and first going up 100K to 450K.

It’s worth noting that for flights from Israel to places besides North America there is actually some good news:
DDF user Drago has the entire changes wrapped up nicely in this spreadsheet
Among many other examples from his chart:
-Israel to Southern Africa in coach goes down from 70K to 60K.
-Israel to Australia or Japan in coach goes down from 90K to 70K.

So how can you fly United First class to Israel via Europe when United doesn’t fly from Europe to Israel?
United has announced that you can still use the United chart instead of the partner award chart if the partner award flight is in a lower class of service than the United flight. So if you fly United First Class from Newark to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa Business class to Tel Aviv you would pay the United First rate of 180K. If you fly United business from Newark to Frankfurt and then Lufthansa coach to Tel Aviv you would pay the United business rate of 140K.

How will changes to tickets booked before February 1st work?
Nobody knows. You can book travel now for travel over the next year to lock in lower rates.  However United is leaving this intentionally vague by just saying that their existing change policies will apply and that simple date changes will not trigger the higher mileage rate.

In other words if something would cause a ticket to be reissued then it would have to be repriced at the higher award rates.  Changing the origin or destination of a ticket will definitely require a reissue.  Changing the dates will definitely not require a reissue.

However everything else is very murky.

Will a change of airlines require a reprice?  Will a change of routing (connecting cities) require a reprice?  It may, it may not.  I guess just assume that it may and be happy if it does not.

Even more likely is that it will be YMMV with some agents doing it without requiring more miles and some asking for more miles.

In my beat the devaluation post I suggested using United.com’s often overlooked “cancel without redepositing miles” as a way to lock in Lufthansa First Class awards which are only released within 2 weeks of a flight. (For other awards you are better booking a flight that’s in a year from now and then making a simple date change.)

Some bloggers agreed that changing the dates that way shouldn’t require a reprice.  Others weren’t sure while others thought it would require a reprice.

I think that taking that route should work as it keeps the pricing information from my experience and shouldn’t need a reprice.  In other words I helped someone book a flight on United from Newark to Tel Aviv that they cancelled and wound up rebooking a few months later on USAirways and it only charged $50 for a simple change without repricing the itinerary.  But it needs to be stressed that we are in uncharted territory here and nobody really can say for sure what will happen.

Some DDF members have asked United and the answers have been everything from of course that would work to there’s no way that would work.

United’s Twitter presence was completely worthless in their response when I reached out to them.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, we’re talking about the same @United account that said they were excited about everyone threatening to boycott United and that they would implement said boycott ASAP!

The bottom line is that nobody can give you a definitive answer at this point, not even United themselves.

It’s worth noting that not all airlines show award availability on United.com.  Brussels, LOT Polish (which has lie-flat seating in business class on their 787s), and Singapore are notable exceptions that can only be booked over the phone with United (though can be researched on other sites like Air Canada’s Aeroplan and ANA).  So if you are looking to lock in cheaper tickets to Israel, pick up that phone and call!

And don’t forget that although United business class isn’t being hit nearly as hard as partner awards, it definitely makes sense to lock in the current rates via a Plan B redemption Best of all you can lock them in now even if there is only coach award availability!  By setting up a Plan B award today you can save yourself tens of thousands of miles.

Does this change my overall mileage strategy?
I find myself using my Starwood card more often than before but I’m not going to shy away from collecting United miles.  I’m sitting on over 5 million United miles and it stinks that they’re being devalued like this but I’m not about to burn them to the ground just because of inflation. They’re still wayyyyy better than Delta miles and you can still get an incredible value for your miles. And I don’t think we’ll see another United devaluation for quite some time.
I’d be more scared pouring miles into American and USAirways miles as their award chart is a real bargain at this point in time which makes it ripe for devaluation. So keep those Starwood points in Starwood and transfer them to American or USAirways on an as needed basis only.  Better to be safe than sorry and that’s the beauty of transferable points that aren’t locking into just one airline.

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Ink Visa Business Cards Now Earn Cash And Points At Staples!

Friday, January 17th, 2014

Ink Plus, Ink Bold, and Ink Cash are now issued as Visa cards which make them eligible for Visa Business SavingsEdge cash back. (Older Mastercard versions can get Mastercard Easy Savings cash back though Mastercards won’t get cash back at Staples).

DDF member myb821 points out that Staples is now on the list as giving 1% cash back on $200+ purchases when you use a Visa business card.  Enrollment is required.

That’s on top of 5 points per dollar that the Ink cards earn on spending at office supply stores (as well as on telecom and cable spending).

You can also get an automatic $3 rebate thanks to Plink, though Plink now only gives 10 bonuses at Staples per 30 day period.

So when you buy a $200 Visa gift card at Staples for $206.95 you earn:
-1,035 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
-$2.07 cash back From Visa
-$3 Plink rebate good for Amazon or Walmart gift cards.

That’s like getting 1,035 points for $1.88 after the Visa and Plink savings (0.18 cents per mile).  Once you exhaust the Plink rebates you’ll be getting 1,035 points for $4.88 after the Visa savings (0.47 cents per mile.)

What do those numbers mean in practical terms?
-You can use 25,000 points transferred to Hyatt for a $1,500 villa in the Maldives.  That’s $45 at .18 or $117.50 at .47.  With Hyatt points and cash this category 6 redemption is also available for 12.5K points plus $150.
-You can use 30,000 points transferred to Korean for a round-trip to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian. That’s $54 at .18 or $141 at .47.
-You can use 30,000 points transferred to Southwest for about $570 worth of paid flights. That’s $54 at .18 or $141 at .47.
-You can use 80,000 points transferred to United for a round-trip to Israel. That’s $144 at .18 or $376 at .47. (Effective 02/01 this goes up to 85,000 points)
-You can use 120,000 points transferred to United for a round-trip business class ticket to Israel. That’s $216 at .18 or $564 at .47. (Effective for tickets bought after 01/31 this goes up to 140,000 on United  or 160,000 on partner airlines)
-You can use 160,000 points transferred to Korean for a round-trip in Kosmo Suites class to Asia. That’s $288 at .18 or $752 at .47. That’s a flight that would normally cost $20,000.  Just be sure to enjoy the open bar with $200 bottles of scotch :D

Of course on a new Ink Plus or Ink Bold card you would have 75,000 points if you spend that $5K at an office supply store.

The pin on the Visa gift card from Staples is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.

You can load the Visa card onto Bluebird at a Walmart ATM or cashier though not all cashiers will do it.  Or you can use it to buy a money order from stores that take debit cards for money orders. Lots more info in this post.

Don’t want a Visa card? You can get tons of other gift cards from Staples for other stores as well.

Store gift cards sold at Staples include Whole Foods, Nordstrom, Starbucks, TJMaxx, Gap Inc, Bed Bath & Beyond/BuyBuyBaby, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Shell, Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and much more.  Those cards have no fees.  Buy $200 of them and get 5 points per dollar, the $3 Plink rebate, and the 1% Visa cash back!

HT: myb821 via DDF

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Where Will You Be Crediting The Miles From Your Delta Flights To?

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Delta’s Skymiles program is awful enough to be known as Skypesos.  The Delta Credit Card is useful for free baggage for up to 9 passengers but you don’t want to use that card for general spending as there are much better programs out there to accumulate miles in.

But just because you’re flying Delta doesn’t mean you have to accumulate the miles earned from your Delta flight by them.

You can call Delta to earn miles for your ticket in any of their partner programs such as:
-Alaska has an excellent mileage program that allows you to redeem miles on a plethora of top-notch OneWorld and Skyteam airlines. Alaska miles won’t expire as long as you have any activity every 18 months.  They are a transfer partner with Starwood.  You can even credit miles earned from other partner flights like American to Alaska!
-Korean also has a great mileage program which allows really cheap award redemptions to Alaska or Hawaii and they have the best lie-flat first class international award availability of perhaps any airline. Miles don’t expire for 10 years and they are transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards.
-Air France/KLM Flying Blue has some nice redemptions like promo awards for 12.5K award tickets to Israel plus fuel surcharges or 25K award tickets on Delta to Israel with no fuel surcharges. And they allow one-way redemptions on Delta even though you can’t do that with Delta’s own miles. However miles expire after just 20 months unless you fly on a paid Skyteam flight and credit the miles to Flying Blue. They are transfer partners with both American Express Membership Rewards and Starwood.

The first thing you need to do is locate the fare class of your ticket which is a letter code next to every flight.

Then look at charts like the Delta accrual chart, the Alaska accrual chart for Delta flights, the Korean accrual chart for Delta flights, and the Flying Blue accrual chart for Delta flights.

Finally take a look at GCMap.com to see how many actual flight miles you will be flying.  For example if someone bought a round-trip ticket from JFK to Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii via Los Angeles he would be flying 9,958 miles.
Earning from that flight can be 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, 125%, or 150% depending on the letter of the ticketing class.
A 25% earning would mean getting just 2,490 miles. A 150% earning would mean 14,937 miles.

For example I asked this question on DDF yesterday and DDF user jewdkoff has an outbound flight in S class and a return in V class. He has several options for each flight.
The S class outbound flight would earn full 100% mileage when credited to Delta or to partner airlines like Flying Blue, Alaska, or Korean.
However the V class return flight would earn 100% mileage when credited to Delta or Alaska, but just 25% when credited to Flying Blue and zilch if credited to Korean.

-DDF user aryeh1 had a Z class business flight.
If he credits that to Delta would get 150% of the actual miles flown while he would get 125% if credited to Alaska, Flying Blue, or Korean.

-DDF user 972sg212 was booked into C class outbound and T class on the return.
The C class business flight would get 150% of the actual miles when credited to Delta or Flying Blue or 125% if credited to Alaska or Korean.
The T class return flight would earn 100% mileage when credited to Delta or Alaska, but just 25% to Flying Blue and zilch if credited to Korean.

-DDF user Tzadik Nistar had a Y class coach flight.
It would get 150% of the actual miles flown when credited to Delta or 100% if credited to Alaska, Flying Blue, or Korean.

Of course not all miles are created equally.  I would rather have 1.25 Alaska miles than 1.5 Delta miles, so weigh your options before you decide.

So, where will you be crediting your miles to?

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American And USAirways Cross-Promotion Flight Bonus

Monday, January 13th, 2014

-Credit an American Airlines flight to USAirways Dividend miles and get a 50% bonus.
-Credit an USAirways flight to American AAdvantage miles and get a 50% bonus.

-Registration required via the links above.
-Valid for flights flown 01/13-03/02.

In other words if you are flying on American from JFK-LAX-JFK and credit the miles to USAirways you’ll get 4,950 base miles and 2,475 bonus miles.  Eventually the mileage programs will be merged into one.

HT: YOSEF, via DDF

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Business Class Saver Award Space To Israel…

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Business class award tickets direct from North America to Israel without stopping in Europe can be hard to come by.

The airlines release them at random times, when they feel the seat would otherwise go unsold.  So you just have to keep checking for space to open up. Of course you can always either fly via Europe or use United Plan B.

DDF member ilherman notices that there is a lot of space from Newark to Tel Aviv nonstop in business class during the first week of February:
02/02, UA84: 7 business saver+9 coach saver.
02/03, UA84: 9 business saver+9 coach saver.
02/03, UA90: 9 business saver+9 coach saver.
02/04, UA84: 9 business saver+9 coach saver.
02/05, UA84: 9 business saver+9 coach saver.

Plus you can pickup one of these spiffy limited edition amenity kits that are being handed out in United BusinessFirst/GlobalFirst flghts from the US through 03/01 or while supplies last (have to figure out how to get my hands on a CLE Friendly kit :D )

Worth pointing out while we’re at it how the expanded saver coach award benefit work if you have a Chase United credit card. On 02/06 if you aren’t logged into your account you won’t see any coach saver award seats. If you have a credit card and login to your United account before searching then you will see 2 coach saver award seats!

The return is tricky. You can return nonstop in coach, return via Europe in business, or use United Plan B.
Or tour the holy land for a month, United has a return business saver flight on 03/04, UA85 has 7 business saver seats (or 8 business saver seats for Platinum/1K/GS elites, something I haven’t seen for a long time).

United currently charges 40K for coach saver or 60K for business saver each way.  That goes up to 42.5K and 70K respectively on 02/01 for United flights only.  Partner flights will also be 42.5K in coach but are going up to 80K in business.  You can book travel now and change the dates later and just pay a date change fee and not pay the higher award rate.

You can also save a bundle by using ANA miles, you would need just 60K for a round-trip coach saver or 90K for a round-trip business saver on United with no fuel surcharges.
A flight from 02/05-03/04 in United business class using ANA miles would be 90K+$46.82.  Membership Rewards and Starpoints transfer to ANA though transfers aren’t instant.

Finally it’s definitely worth pointing out that Air Canada starts flying the first 787 Dreamliner to Israel starting in July and coach saver award space between Toronto and Israel on it looks great.  The business class on those planes looks incredible, but currently they are just releasing a maximum of 1 seat per flight.  Still availability in November and December for 1 seat in Dreamliner business class is very good.

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Aeroplan To USAirways Transfers May Not Be Dead And Other Items You Need To Know For The Final Months Of USAirways

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Update (as promised in the post I made below last July): You can once again use Points.com to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to USAirways via Aeroplan.  You will get 84,011 USAirways miles for trading in 100,000 Aeroplan miles.  Those USAirways miles will soon become American Aadvantage miles at an equal ratio and you can use them currently for American or Star Alliance flights.

You can transfer a maximum of 100,000 miles out of an Aeroplan account per year.

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The article below was originally posted 07/25/13.
For more updated into see these posts:
-American-USAirways Merger Finalized
-American-USAirways Reciprocity Starts Today

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USAirways as we know it will soon become American and join the OneWorld alliance. It’s a big loss for the Star Alliance.  It’s unknown when exactly this will happen though November 1st has been tossed around as a potential date.  There will likely be a period when you can transfer miles back and forth between the programs before they all become American miles.

Here is what you need to know.

1. Aeroplan Transfers.
You used to be able to transfer Air Canada Aeroplan miles (and by extension American Express points) into USAirways at a 1,000:840 ratio via Points.com.  Currently all transfers to/from USAirways are unavailable.  While some have reported online that this is because of the upcoming merger I confirmed with a points.com chat agent that it is only due to technical difficulties and they are working to restore that functionality.  The agent also said that the transfer ratio will remain unchanged when the USAirways transfer functionality is restored.  Of course the agent can also just be in the dark. I will post an update if and when the transfer ability is restored.

Bottom line: Nobody can tell you for certain what is going on, but hopefully people will still have a last chance to convert their Aeroplan and AMEX miles and points to USAirways with just a 16% haircut. Those USAir miles will soon become more valuable American miles.  Why do I say that they are more valuable? Sure there some advantages to USAirways miles but American miles can be used one-way. You can get a free stopover on a one-way flight which means you can get a free domestic round-trip to places like Florida, California, Alaska, or even Hawaii on top of an international round-trip award ticket (Only one allowed on USAirways though it does has more flexibility). You can change your travel dates for free ($150 on USAirways).  You are able to change your travel dates even after departure even on partner awards (Not allowed with USAirways).  You can redeposit additional award tickets at the same time for just $25 ($150 on USAirways). And you can easily book first and business class travel on award winning OneWorld airlines like Cathay Pacific with no fuel surcharges, something that is blocked on Star Alliance award winning carrier Singapore.  I run through the difference between Cathay business and first on their JFK-Vancouver flight in this trip report.

2. Aegean Star Alliance Gold
The easiest way to earn what can possibly be a lifetime of Star Alliance Gold elite status is going away.  I wrote about Aegean Star Alliance gold status in this post. It only takes 19,000 flown miles to earn the status and so far people who have it are reporting that it doesn’t appear to ever expire though it’s recommended to credit at least 1 Star Alliance flight to the program every 3 years after earning it to keep your entire account active.
Now the Aegean gold program isn’t changing but Aegean doesn’t credit miles or only gives partial credit for cheap airfares on most airlines.
USAirways is the one exception where you can almost always receive full mileage credit with Aegean, even on deeply discounted airfare rates.
Star Gold gets you and all of your companions 3 free 70 pound bags when flying on airlines like United and free lounge access at some 1,000 affiliated lounges worldwide when flying on the Star Alliance. In fact Aegean Star Gold even gives free United domestic lounge access-something that United Star Gold doesn’t even offer to their own elite members.

Bottom Line: The clock is ticking if you want to go on a mileage run to pickup 19,000 miles on USAirways to credit to Aegean for their amazing Star Gold program. While it may cost you $1,000 to book the flights to earn that, just figure out how much you’ll save on baggage and lounge fees for you and your family with the Star Gold status.

3. Starwood point transfers.
Starwood point transfers are a little funny. Some airlines require that the name on the Starwood account and the mileage account match. Others do not.
Now you can transfer Starwood points to other people in your household, but if you don’t have the same address then it can’t be done easily.
American requires that the names match in order to transfer Starpoints to miles.
USAirways does not require that the names match-you can transfer points to anyone.
Both offer 25,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

Bottom line: If you want to transfer Starpoints to eventually become American miles without the hassle of doing intra-Starwood transfers (something that you can get banned for if you abuse repeatedly) then you’ll want to transfer them to USAirways before Starwood kills the ability to transfer points there.

4. Travel to Israel.
American is effectively banned from flying to Israel thanks to leftover TWA pension obligations.  If they fly a plane to Israel it would likely be repossessed by those who feel that American assumed TWA’s liabilities and owe them lots of money with interest.
They are trying to settle those issues but if they don’t we may see the end of the USAirways flight from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv.
If they do work out those issues expect American to shift the flight from Philadelphia to JFK and/or Miami.
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.

Bottom line: Lots of unknowns on this one but if you want to fly on El Al with your AA miles then you should book travel now. If you want to use your United miles to fly to Israel on USAirways book that now as well.

5. Surcharge-free travel.
-DansDeals broke the news back in January that ANA had stopped collecting a fuel surcharge for travel on United and USAirways. That post has lots of info on their program.
They have an awesome award chart (38K miles to Europe, 60K to Israel, etc) and allow 4 free stopovers and it stings to lose the USAirways option though at least there’s still United.
-Same story with Singapore as I wrote about here. If you have those miles you’ll be losing a valuable surcharge-free partner though United remains an option and of course those miles are awesome for redeeming on Singapore business, first, and suites class.
Lufthansa charges a fuel surcharge on most airlines except for USAirways, so you may want to redeem those miles for travel on USAirways before they leave the Star Alliance. I wrote about their program in this post about Barclay bank cards. There’s no fuel surcharge on domestic United tickets but once you cross the ocean Lufthansa charges a fuel surcharge to travel on United.
-Note that United miles aren’t affected nearly as much as these program as they never collect a fuel surcharge for award travel. In fact once USAirways is gone they are one of the only carriers that can still say that.

Bottom line: Star Alliance miles on many foreign carriers will be worth less thanks to losing a valuable surcharge-free partner.

Have any other tips? Hit the comments!

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50% Off Select British Airways Coach Award Flights

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Related posts:
-Chase British Airways Visa

-Want to learn more about the BA Avios program. I’ve written up an entire knowledgebase of facts that you can peruse. Read it and you’ll probably find an answer to your question!
-Click here to view Direct Flights From NYC That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Flying Round-Trip To Israel On Air Berlin For 50K American Express Membership Rewards Plus $81 Tax: A Tutorial
-Flying With An Infant With Miles In Business Or First Class? Start Collecting Air Canada Miles Or British Airways Avios
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The British Airways Avios program is a bit of a conundrum. The best values occur when not redeeming for BA flights:
-You can fly on American within the western hemisphere without fuel surcharges.
-You can fly on Alaska without fuel surcharges, though you have to call to book.
-You can fly on Aer Lingus without fuel surcharges, though you have to call to book.
-You can fly on LAN without fuel surcharges, though you often have to call to book.
-You can fly on Air Berlin without fuel surcharges.
-You can fly on Qantas within Australia without fuel surcharges.
Fuel surcharges on Asian partners like Cathay Pacific are fairly reasonable as well, especially for their awesome JFK-Vancouver flight.
There are incredible values to be had, 4,500 Avios from Miami to the Caribbean or from NYC to dozens of short-haul locations, 12,500 Avios from Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus or from the west coast to Hawaii on Alaska or American. Etc.

But if you fly on BA the fuel surcharges are pretty outrageous. Compounding the issue is the UK APD tax that is applied for flights departing from London if you are originating there or stopped over there for at least 24 hours.

Generally speaking when flying overseas you are far better off using miles from a US based program where you generally don’t pay fuel surcharges for any flights .  A notable exception is using American miles to fly on BA when fuel surcharges are collected.  Another example of an exception would be using ANA miles to fly on United or USAirways at very low mileage rates without paying fuel surcharges.

At any rate BA is offering 50% off the Avios required for coach flights to or from London and Boston, Denver, Shanghai, New York, Chicago, Toronto, Dubai or Washington. It’s only valid if you fly on British Airways.

It’s not a great deal due to the fuel surcharges, but it’s not as terrible as normal.

-Book by 01/08 at 7am EST.
-Travel by 05/31.
-From JFK to London one-way on 02/04 it’s 10,000 Avios+$253.50 instead of 20,000 Avios.
-Discounts also would apply on a route that includes one of the flights above so JFK-Tel Aviv via London would be 22,500 Avios+$331.70 instead of 32,500 Avios.
For the return a flight from Tel Aviv to JFK on 02/11 would 22,500 Avios+$304.26.
A flight from London to JFK on 02/11 would be 10,000 Avios+$386.83.

Of course you can always fly Air Berlin without this “promotion” and save the fuel surcharges.  For example a flight on 01/12 from JFK-Tel Aviv via Dusseldorf on Air Berlin is 30,000 Avios plus just $23.12.  On 01/13 Air Berlin has a flight via Berlin for the same rate as well.

HT: dovy2, via DDF

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Last Chance For A 2013 Southwest Companion Pass

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

If you have earned a significant amount of Southwest points in 2013 you may want to bump it up to 110K.
When you earn 110K points in a year from Southwest flights, from Southwest credit cards, or from hotel transfers you earn an unlimited use companion pass that allows you to bring a companion with you on all of your paid and award flights for the following calendar year.

So if you have earned 80K Southwest points in 2013, consider transferring 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt. That transfer is instant.  You or your spouse would need to have a Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus , or Ink Bold to make that transfer.
You can then transfer those 50,000 Hyatt points into 30,000 Southwest points. That transfer takes time, but it’s backdated to the day of the transfer so a few days after it is completed you will retroactively have earned a companion pass.  You may lose 20,000 points in the process, but you should get more value than that if you travel in 2014 with your pass.

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Get A 20% Bonus When You Transfer American Express Membership Rewards Points Into British Airways Avios

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Update: This offer ends 12/31.

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Related posts:
-Chase British Airways Visa

-Want to learn more about the BA Avios program. I’ve written up an entire knowledgebase of facts that you can peruse. Read it and you’ll probably find an answer to your question!
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Chicago That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Los Angeles That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From Miami That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Click here to view Direct Flights From NYC That Can Be Booked With British Airways Avios
-Flying Round-Trip To Israel On Air Berlin For 50K American Express Membership Rewards Plus $81 Tax: A Tutorial
-More BA.com Improvements: Choose Your Seat On Partner Flights
-Flying With An Infant With Miles In Business Or First Class? Start Collecting Air Canada Miles Or British Airways Avios
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BA/MR Promo Offer Linky

-Through 12/31/13 you will get 1,200 Avios for every 1,000 Membership Rewards (MR) Points transferred to BA.

This isn’t as good as part transfer bonuses that we’ve seen in the past.  If you anticipate the need for Avios in the near-term then go ahead and transfer but there should be a better offer available in the first half of 2014.
Previous MR->Avios bonus offers:
11/27/11=30%
03/15/12=50%
08/28/12=40%
12/03/12=30%
04/22/13=35%
10/15/13=20%

-There are no fuel surcharges for travel on American Airlines within the Western Hemisphere,  There are also no fuel surcharges for flying on Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, or LAN worldwide.

-There are no expedite or close-in fees for last minute award ticket bookings with BA Avios.

-You can book one-way tickets for half of the miles listed below!

-Earning or redeeming any amount of Avios extends your entire account validity for another 36 months.

-You can cancel tickets and redeposit miles for the lessor of $40 or the taxes you paid.  That means you pay just $2.50 for cancel a one-way domestic itinerary (and it’s why I always book cheap domestic flights as one-ways)

-British Airways only charges 10% extra miles for a lap child flying internationally, even when traveling on AA. AA and other domestic carriers charge a whopping 10% of the full fare, which can add up to be a small fortune.

-You can transfer points from an American Express Membership Rewards account to anyone’s British Airways account, names don’t have to match.

-Points transfer instantly from MR to BA and there are no fees or taxes for transferring points to British Airways.

-British Airways charges double miles for business class and triple miles for first class. Beware that on AA’s domestic 2 class planes they charge first class rates for what is really just a poor excuse for business class.

-You can search AA and Alaska award availability on AA.com and looking for sAAver awards. BA can’t book AAnytime awards, but you should be able to find all AA sAAver awards on BA.com. BA.com does not display all available awards on all airlines, airlines like Alaska, Aer Lingus, and LAN have to be booked over the phone.  Additionally you will have to call BA to make a booking if you see a sAAver award on AA.com that’s not showing on BA.com.

Sample uses:

-8,000 MR points will transfer into 9,600 Avios, more than enough for a 9K round-trip short-haul ticket between New York and places like Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Montreal, or Toronto or between Miami and the Bahamas, on OneWorld partner American.

-13,000 MR points becomes 15,600 Avios, more than enough for a 15K round-trip flight between New York and Chicago or Florida or from LA to Cabo.

-17,000 MR points becomes 20,400 Avios, more than enough for a 20K round-trip flight between Chicago and LA.

-21,000 MR points becomes 25,200 Avios, more than enough for a 25K round-trip flight between the west coast and any of the Hawaiian islands, New York and the west coast, or New York and Costa Rica. It’s even enough for a round-trip flight between Boston and Dublin or Shannon, Ireland with no fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus! You’ll have to call to book trips on airlines like Aer Lingus or Alaska.

-34,000 MR points becomes 40,800 Avios, more than enough for a 40K round-trip flight between Dallas and Hawaii or New York and London (though you’ll be hit with fuel surcharges for crossing the Atlantic on most airlines). It’s also enough for a round-trip flight between NYC or Chicago and Dublin or Shannon, Ireland with no fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus.

-42,000 MR points becomes 50,400 Avios, more than enough for a 50K round-trip flight between New York and Brazil or Argentina with no fuel surcharges.  It’s also more than enough for a round-trip in a lie-flat business class seat between JFK and Vancouver on Cathay Pacific.

-50,000 MR points becomes 60,000 Avios, enough for a 60K round-trip flight between New York and Tel Aviv on Air Berlin with no fuel surcharges.
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Need some Membership Rewards points?

-The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card comes with 25,000 points for spending $2,000 and the first year is free.  That will net you some 30,000 Avios.

-The Platinum Card® from American Express earns 25K points and you can get $400 of airline fee refunds (or airline gift cards in $100 increments) in one cardmember year. You get a free year of Amazon Prime upon signup. It also comes with a $100 global entry expedited customs (5 year membership) refund, Airspace and Delta lounge access for you and your entire family for at least 4 years, priority pass worldwide unlimited lounge membership, Starwood gold elite status with a point rebate even on award stays, car rental perks at Avis, Hertz, and National, lost item (up to $10,000/item) refund protection, checked baggage protection, 3 additional Platinum users (with 4 years of free platinum card lounge access, priority pass membership, and global entry refund) for just $58 each on the consumer card, no foreign exchange fees, and many more free benefits.  There is a $450 annual fee.  As with all annual fees they are refundable if cancelled within 60 days, they are pro-rated if cancelled after 60 days and have another American Express card (i.e. if you have the card for 3 months and then cancel you would get a $337.50 refund), and they are pro-rated if you downgrade the card even if you have no other American Express card.

The Platinum card also now gives free entry to top-of-the-line Centurion lounges worldwide including in Dallas and Las Vegas with other US airports like LaGuardia and San Francisco among other others opening soon.  There are also lounges in Argentina, Brazil, India, and Mexico.  You can even get a free spa treatment in the DFW lounge!

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Rules Of The Deal

Friday, December 27th, 2013

Reposing this article that I wrote a month ago after the United glitch. Since then it seems that even the Wall Street Journal has started monitoring my Twitter feed (1:00-1:05 in the video) :

wsj

 

Price mistakes happen a few times a year. Some of my favorites that I’ve blogged about besides for yesterday’s Detla bonanza:
-Last month there were $127 tickets to Milan and $287 tickets to Israel on United.
-My first time in Hawaii was with airfare and hotel for $87 with tax.
-I and thousands of others scored Airfare and 5 star accommodations at hotels like the Bellagio with Cirque tickets in Las Vegas all for free thanks to Expedia.
-Tons of people were able to get free airfare and hotels in the Bahamas.
-My whole family has lifetime free stays in suites at Fairmont hotels.
-There have been $250 tickets to anywhere in Europe.
-$336 El Al tickets to Israel for Pesach
-Dirt cheap tickets to anywhere when booked via LAN.
-$460 USAirways tickets to Israel from NYC.
-$347 USAirways tickets to Israel from other US cities.
-$550 nonstop Delta tickets from JFK to Israel along with $372 Delta tickets from Los Angeles to Israel and $498 Delta tickets from Newark to Israel.
-$376 Alitalia tickets to Israel.
-Lucky people had their WalMart price mistake orders honored
-HP even gave out $200 coupons to people who got in a price mistake…perhaps they didn’t realize the coupon was able to be used multiple times though.

Of course the fine line between price mistake and deal is often blurred.
In the past I stocked up on dozens of cases of free diapers and wipes thanks to Amazon. My wife and I have stayed at the Encore and Wynn just for having an American Express Platinum card. We flew to Aruba and Boston last year for free thanks to Jetblue’s voucher generosity in May as well as in September again. I racked up countless free Hyatt nights and hundreds of thousands of United miles with promotions like this one.
Years of churning dollar coins minted me hundreds of thousands of miles as well. Even some simple soda cups earned me tens of thousands of dollars of free United flight vouchers.
None of those were mistakes, it’s not always easy to tell what’s a mistake and what’s just an incredible deal.

Rules Of The Deal:

1. Don’t call.
Don’t talk to the airline or companies offering a deal while the deal is live. You can always ask questions once the deal is gone.

2. Don’t hesitate.
These deals never last long, you’ve got to act fast.
Most online booking agencies have generous cancellation policies, so book first and then decide later.

With some really crazy deals like 4 mile island some DDFers flew in first class around the world for just 4 miles because they booked to travel immediately.

3. Don’t forget your infant!
A common theme that I’ve seen with price mistakes is that people forget their infant children. You need to pay 10% of the normal fare for the privilege of holding your child on international tickets. Wouldn’t you be better off spending the few extra dollars for them to have their own seat?

4. Follow @DansDeals on Twitter.
I’ve gotten tons of complains from my email subscribers about missing the deal.  Unfortunately the emails just go out once a day.  If you want real time alerts you’ll want to follow @DansDeals on twitter and have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.  Once you’re signed up you never have to go onto Twitter again if you don’t want to.

5. Join DDF
The United deal last month was posted by Drago on the DansDeals Forums wayyy before it was posted on the main DansDeals site as I was offline for shabbos while Israel based DDF members got a big jump start.

6. Create your own free trip!
Don’t want to wait around for the next great deal to arrive?  The credit card companies are happy to fly you for free anywhere in the world, even in business or first class.  I’ve flown around the world countless times in private first class suites with miles earned from opening credit cards.  You can read some of those trip reports here.  I’ve banked 8 figures of miles and points by doing this stuff over the years and that means I don’t have to worry about being under pressure to book during a quick glitch, I travel free on my own terms.  And I still have a top-notch 800+ FICO score.

This page includes links for tons of great credit cards that will have you flying for free in no time!

There’s more information about applying for cards in this DDF FAQ page also with many credit card deals and links to dozens of others useful threads in this DDF credit card starting point thread.

You can also learn more about my favorite hobby by clicking on the credit card posts tab and the mileage posts tab.

Posts like this one on opening and closing cards and this one on getting business cards to improve your credit score are helpful as well.

Once you have the miles you can read about Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints and Getting To Israel Using Miles. It can be done starting at just 20K round-trip!

And now Chase offers free primary car rental insurance, even in Israel!

Or stay tuned for a DansDeals Seminar near you where I teach the tricks of the trade in person and answer any questions you might have. I’ve done 6 of them so far and they’re a blast!

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Join El Al Matmid For Free

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Related posts:
Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints
Getting To Israel Using Miles
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El Al has a fairly terrible frequent flyer program (which is why I’m not a fan of the HAS credit card for example).

Points from flights expire after 3 years, redemption rates are poor, availability can be very tough, partner award options are close to nil, the point system is confusing, and they charge a fuel surcharge (about $350 in total fees for North America-Tel Aviv) on redemptions to boot.

Adding insult to injury: They also charge $25 to join the program.

Apply for Matmid here though and use the following code to have the $25 fee waived: AOW24483828

You can also join for free via the AMEX Membership Rewards portal.

Why do you want to join if the program is so terrible, you ask?

First of all, they do run promotions that can be very good.

Currently there is a cash and points promo to fly for about $860 plus 50 points.

And you can get half off coach awards right now, so it’s just 700 points+$350 for a round-trip flight. 35,000 AMEX points transfer into 700 El Al points.

Second of all, if you are a member you will be able to check award availability online. You can use American miles to book El Al flights, but that must be done by calling AA. Best of all AA allows you to even book one-way awards on El Al AND they don’t charge a fuel surcharge for redeeming miles to fly on El Al!

I know someone is going to ask this, so I’ll preempt them, no you can’t use British Airways Avios to travel on El Al. Period, end of story.

Bear in mind that AA can only book coach and business seats on El Al.  If you want to fly in First Class you will need 5,000 Matmid points+$350.  You’ll have to transfer 250,000 American Express Membership Rewards points into 5,000 Matmid points.  A terrible value compared to other lie-flat options on other airlines but on the upside El Al First Class award availability is generally very good and it’s the best kosher food in the sky (aside from having a flight attendant heat up a double wrapped meal from a place like Pomegranate).

Need AA miles?
You can signup for an AA credit card but you will do better spending money on the Starwood card as you can always transfer 20,000 Starwood points for 25,000 AA miles, so that 25% more bang for your buck. The Starwood AMEX gives 25,000 bonus Starpoints for spending $5,000 in 6 months. Plus AMEX runs simply incredible promotions year round that easily make up for the $65 annual fee (which is waived the first year anyway) and they have top-notch return and warranty protections.

Here is a link to the AA partner award chart.

You can fly from North America to Tel Aviv nonstop on El Al for 45K each way in coach or 67.5K each way in business.

Or if you fly via Europe between October and May it’s just 40K each way, for example an American flight to Paris and then an El Al flight to Tel Aviv would be 40K off-peak.  And you can stopover in Europe for as long as you want.

On top of that American also allows for free one-ways with a stopover even on a one-way flight. A one-way flight nonstop from Tel Aviv to JFK, stopping over in NYC for as long as you want, and then a flight from JFK to Alaska, Hawaii, LA, Miami, etc. is just 45,000 miles.  The travel date of the “trailing” flight can even be changed for free.

The reverse works as well.  Fly back from Hawaii to JFK, stopover in NYC for as long as you want, and then fly nonstop from JFK to Tel Aviv for just 45,000 miles.

More on that kind of fun stuff in my seminar in LA tonight :)

HT: carageenan, via DDF

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