Category Archive for 'Miles'

Transfer 20K Starwood Starpoints Into 30K American AAdvantage Miles

Friday, August 28th, 2015

Update: Transfers for this offer must be initiated by Monday, 08/31!

Originally posted on 07/01:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser. For a limited time only, earn 25K signup points with the Starwood Consumer AMEX or the Starwood Business AMEX

Starwood-American Transfer Bonus Details Linky

Starwood Airline Miles Transfer Linky

From today through 08/31 you can get 30K AA miles (instead of the standard 25K miles) for every 20K Starpoints that you transfer.
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The Starwood-AA transfer bonus in June 2010 gives some perspective on what’s happened in the past 5 years, I mentioned in that post that:
-US Mint coins are a great way to meet the spend threshold on the Starwood card (Indeed I wound up churning so much money that the US mint sent me a nastygram to knock it off)
-American has an awesome round-the-world award chart (Mimi and I would wind up going on a monthlong round-the-world adventure later that year, while she was 3 months pregnant with Rafi)
-You could earn American lifetime elite status with Starwood transfers (Mimi and I both wound up earning lifetime Platinum status)
All 3 of those those options are long gone though…
I also wrote that the deal was emailed out to “2,318 DansDeals Facebook members” and “761 DansDeals Twitter followers.” There are now over 20K Facebook members who talk about pretty much anything under the sun but no longer get emails of deal alerts and there are now 58K(!) Twitter followers who can get a text message every time a deal is posted.
Thanks for following!
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The current promotion offers a 20% bonus that’s fulfilled by American which stacks on top of the 25% bonus that Starwood always offers for making transfers in 20K increments.  When you transfer Starpoints to American it will only say that you’ll get 25K American miles, as the remaining 5K if added by American.

There’s no minimum or maximum on this offer, but it’s always wise to transfer Starpoints in increments of 20K and the most you can transfer in one day to maximize that is 60K Starpoints, which would net 90K AA miles. You can make 1 transfer per day.

-The names on the Starwood account and the AA account must match or the transfer will be rejected. You are able to transfer Starpoints for free between people living at the same address, though if you are changing the address on one of the accounts you’ll have to wait 30 days before transferring Starpoints to someone else’s Starwood account.

-The 20% bonus miles fulfilled by American will be posted within 7 business days after the initial conversion activity has been posted by Starwood Preferred Guest. The initial transfer usually takes a couple of days.  You can hold an AA award for 5 days which is enough time for the transfer to process.

-You are able to do a Starwood Nights and Flights redemption for 60K Starpoints in exchange for 60K AA miles and 5 nights in a category 3 property (normally 40K+28K Starpoints), or 70K Starpoints in exchange for 60K AA miles and 5 nights in a category 4 property (normally 40K+40K Starpoints).

American has an excellent award chart. It’s so much better than their competition’s award charts that you can’t help but wonder when the devaluation will come…

For the time being you can enjoy awesome one-way values from the US48/Canada like:
-12.5K to Alaska (17.5K on United)
-12.5K to the Caribbean and Mexico during off-peak times (17.5K on United)
-17.5K to Hawaii during off-peak times (22.5K on United)
-20K to South America during off-peak times (30K on United)
-20K to Europe during off-peak times (30K on United)
-25K to Japan/Korea during off-peak times (35K on United)
-55K business class to Hong Kong (70K-80K on United)
-67.5K first class to China (80K-120K on United)

From Israel there are many bargains as well, some examples include:
-25K to the Maldives in business (35K on United)
-30K to Thailand in business (60K on United)
-45K to Australia in business (60K on United)

You can also save another 10% on awards (up to a 10K rebate per year) with an AAdvantage credit card. The card also offers up to 7.5K off round-trip awards to rotating destinations.

Now there are some caveats to all that. In some cases, especially within North America on nonstop flights, it will be cheaper to use BA Avios. An American flight that might cost 12.5K AA miles can be had for as little as 4.5K Avios. Plus there are no close-in fees and cancellations are as little as $5.60 with Avios.

United may be pricier in most cases, but they have more partner airlines which makes for generally better availability, never charge a fuel surcharge (American collects a big one for travel on British Airways), allows for a free stopover on round-trip tickets (American doesn’t allow any), and allows you to connect pretty much anywhere you want (American is very strict about where you can connect, so forget about connecting in Asia on the way to Australia with American).

Still, with the right award in mind, it can definitely make sense to make a transfer from Starwood to American.  It’s worth noting that many AAdvantage partner awards (such as on like Air Tahiti Nui, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, and JAL) can only be booked by calling American to hold or book them.

HT: Moishebatchy, via DDF

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Get $15 Off $300 Or $30 Off $600 For Purchasing Visa Gift Cards From Office Max This Week

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Office Max by 08/29 you’ll get $15 back instantly. If you buy $600+ you’ll get $30 back instantly. Valid in-store only.

Some stores will set limits to these offers, while others will let you make multiple transactions to save $15 or $30 on each transaction. In the same store itself some cashiers may allow multiple purchases while others may not.

If you buy 3 $200 Visa gift cards in store you’ll pay $20.85 in card fees and get back $30 instantly. A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees and get back $15 instantly.

But the real reason to bother with these if that when you use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card you get 5 points per dollar spent.

Even without the instant rebate, the argument can be made to buy gift cards for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday items. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free. You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee.  Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Air Canada And United Transfer Bonuses

Sunday, August 23rd, 2015

Update: The Air Canada transfer bonus ends tomorrow. If you do still want to take advantage of the 80K or 120K bonus you would need to transfer part of it today and part of tomorrow as the maximum amount of Starpoints you can transfer per day for the maximum bonus is 60K.

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United Transfer Bonus Offer Details

Through 08/31 you will get a 25% bonus for transfers from hotel programs to United.

It’s not worth transferring valuable Starpoints to United due to the poor 20K:12.5K ratio, though with this promotion the ratio would be 20,000:15,625.  Still, you’d be far better off transferring 20K Starpoints into 30K American miles and using Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to transfer at a 1:1 ratio into United.

The best option is from Marriott. With RewardsPlus Hotel+Air you can use 220K Marriott points for 7 nights at a category 5 hotel plus 96,250 United miles. Or 112K Marriott points would net 62.5K United miles via RewardsPlus.

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Air Canada Aeroplan Transfer Bonus Offer Details

Through 08/24 you can get bonus points for transferring points from hotel and car partners to Air Canada’s Aeroplan program. Here is a link to Air Canada’s award chart.

Unfortunately the bonus does not apply for American Express Membership Rewards transfers, but it does work for Starwood transfers. Starwood gives 25K Aeroplan miles for every 20K Starpoints transferred.
-If you transfer 5K Starwood you’ll have 6K Aeroplan (effective 20% bonus)
-If you transfer 10K Starwood you’ll have 12K Aeroplan (effective 20% bonus)
-If you transfer 20K Starwood you’ll have 29K Aeroplan (effective 45% bonus)
-If you transfer 40K Starwood you’ll have 60K Aeroplan (effective 50% bonus)
-If you transfer 80K Starwood you’ll have 125K Aeroplan (effective 56.25% bonus)
-If you transfer 120K Starwood you’ll have 190K Aeroplan (effective 58.33% bonus)

Both the Starwood consumer and business credit cards have limited time increased signup bonuses.

120K Starwood points will get you more than enough Aeroplan miles for 2 people to fly round-trip business class to Europe on Star Alliance carrier Swiss with no fuel surcharges. Plus Aeroplan also offers 2 free stopovers!

Of course there are many other options for your Starpoints, so you’ll have to consider if the 50% bonus to American will serve you better than a 58% bonus to Aeroplan. Plus you can transfer Membership Rewards to Aeroplan but not to American.

A breakdown of Aeroplan policies:
-Air Canada has one of the best lap child policies out there. You pay a flat fee of just $50 in coach, $100 in business, and $125 in first for a lap child. Compare that to 10% of the paid fare with other airlines and you can save a small fortune, especially if you are flying in business or first class.
-Air Canada generously allows for 2 free stopovers, so you can check out up to 2 cities for as long as you want in addition to your final destination. If used properly you can create for yourself a mini round-the-world trip, all for the single award rate of flying to your final destination. So for just 90K miles you can fly in business class round-trip to 3 European cities and stay in each for as long as you want. Or for 150K miles you can fly round-trip to Asia in business, with stops in Europe along the way.
-There are no expedite/close-in fees.
-There is a $90 charge to change or cancel an award ticket. Officially you can’t cancel an award within 21 days, but you can pay $90 to change it to a date outside of 21 days and another $90 to cancel it.
-Air Canada charges a fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI. There is no fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EVA, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Shenzhen, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Turkish, and United.
-Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.

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American Is Pulling Out Of Tel Aviv 01/04/16, Grab Award Seats Now For Reaccommodation…

Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Update, 5:30pm: The flights have now been pulled from AA.com. The final flight from Philadelphia-Tel Aviv will be on 01/04 and the final flight from Tel Aviv-Philadelphia will depart on 01/05.

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American Airlines will end service to Tel Aviv after 01/04/16.

USAirways has been serving the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route since 2009 and now just as their merger is finalized the route is going away, proving once again that airline mergers are never good for consumers.

I flew the route to Tel Aviv with my family earlier this year due to the business class award availablity glitch, and it’s definitely one of the best business class seats that fly between North America and Tel Aviv, so it’s a real shame to lose the route.

On 11/19/13 I made a number predictions about the American-USAirways merger. Several have already come true. The American OneWorld round-the-world award chart was killed. USAirways started collecting fuel surcharges on British Airways and killed their lucrative off-peak awards. American and El Al ended their relationship.

And in that same post I wrote that the unresolved TWA pensions may well doom the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route for American.

American still owes Israeli ex-TWA employees over $15 million.

However American is saying that the reason for the cancellation is that the route has always been a money-loser.

That’s rather curious as USAirways’ president Scott Kirby has called the route among the most lucrative in their system. Newark-Tel Aviv was also publicly called the most profitable in Continental’s system in the past.

Of course profit is a funny thing. United CEO Jeff Smisek lied about Cleveland’s hub not being profitable when the real reason for the cuts was a severe regional jet pilot shortage. But that couldn’t be the stated public reason because that would make United liable to pay millions of dollars to Cleveland and Ohio for pulling out against their promise to keep the Cleveland hub alive as long as it remained profitable. United is even adding flights back to Cleveland , including several nonstops to Florida and more routes will be returned as well according to sources.

Profit can easily be manipulated by attributing various costs to the flight. And no doubt the cost of paying back the ex-TWA workers is a factor here.

Or perhaps American doesn’t want to pay off TWAs debts to avoid setting a precedent of paying off TWAs debts when they only purchased TWAs assets in the first place?

At any rate, American is stating that they will not be serving Tel Aviv from other hubs. Both their JFK and Miami routes are natural fits for service to Tel Aviv, so if American’s issues are ever resolved I’d expect routes from those hubs rather than Philadelphia.

American will be contacting customers booked to fly the Philadelphia-Tel Aviv route next year with options for alternate arrangements or a refund.

For now the route is still bookable, so you can still grab an award seat or cheap ticket and you’ll be reaccommodated on another airline or you’ll get a refund if you don’t agree with the reaccommodation offer.

American has a whopping 9 hubs now. I have to wonder if hubs like Phoenix or Philadelphia, that are so close to Los Angeles and JFK respectively, will be around in 5 years from now?

I do think that other airlines will pick up the slack here.

This should be a golden opportunity for United to add Chicago-Tel Aviv service on a 787-900. Perhaps El Al will use their upcoming 787s to serve Miami or San Francisco?

Will American restart their relationship with El Al? That would indeed be a nice consolation prize for losing this route.

HT: aussiebochur, via DDF

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United: Discounted Awards To Brazil And Chile

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

-Bookable on United.com

Promo rules:
-Award travel on United from the US49/Canada to Brazil or Chile is normally 60K miles round-trip.
With this discount it will be 45K miles if both dates fall within the promotion or 52.5K miles if one date falls within the promotion. In other words even if you return after the promotion ends you can still get the discounted 52.5K rate as long as you depart by 11/30.
-Book and travel by 11/30.
-Travel only valid on United and in coach. This effectively limits the promotion for travel to Santiago, Sao Paulo, or Rio de Janeiro.
-You are allowed to have an open jaw, so you can fly into Rio and back from Sao Paulo or Santiago for 45K miles for example.

Flying between the cities with Avios for an open-jaw award:

Sao Paulo and Rio both have great kosher restaurant options. Brazil’s currency is at 10 year low versus the dollar, making this a great time visit.

-From Sao Paulo you can fly nonstop to Iguazu Falls for just 4.5K BA Avios to experience the most awe-inspiring waterfalls in the world. Rio to Iguazu nonstop is 7.5K BA Avios.
-From Sao Paulo you can fly nonstop to Rio for just 4.5K BA Avios to experience one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
-From Sao Paulo or Rio you can fly nonstop to Santiago for just 10K BA Avios.
-From Santiago you can hop over to Easter Island for 12.5K BA Avios in coach or 25K in business on LAN. LAN even continues on from Easter Island to Papeete, home base for the stunning islands of Moorea and Bora Bora, for another 12.5K Avios.

Visas:
-Brazil charges a $160 reciprocity fee for American citizens that don’t hold other citizenship. The visa lasts for 10 years.
-Chile no longer charges a fee for Americans.

Earning BA and United miles with their credit cards:
-The Chase BA card offers 50K Avios for signing up with the annual fee waived for the first year for applications received by 08/31.
-The Chase United card offers 35,000 miles for signing up and adding a free additional user with the annual fee waived for the first year. The United card also offers significantly expanded saver award availability, priority boarding, and free checked baggage.
HT: RWM

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Starwood Adds 33rd Airline Transfer Partner!

Monday, August 17th, 2015

Related:
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
-It’s Back: 30,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards! Plus: New Benefits For Existing Cardholders!

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express
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The unique value of Starpoints is found in their versatility. Sure, they’re excellent for staying in Starwood hotels. And you can do awesome things with them like get a suite loaded with kosher food at Wrigley Field, Madison Square Garden, the US Open, etc. But they’re the only currency that transfers into airline miles at a permanent favorable ratio of 20K:25K. And you have a plethora of airlines to choose from including programs like American and Alaska that don’t participate in other major point transfer programs from AMEX, Citi, or Chase.

Today Starwood announced that Korean Airlines will be their 33rd airline transfer option. Currently Chase points transfer to Korean at a 1:1 ratio and now Starwood will as well with a 20K:25K ratio.

Korean has lots of positive things going for it:
-There are no close-in fees, no fees to change an award, and no fees to cancel an award and redeposit the miles.
-They have the best first class award availability of any foreign carrier and it’s very good. I reviewed it here.
A Korean First Class Kosmo Sleeper Class Suite between North America and Asia or between Tel Aviv and Asia is just 80,000 miles one-way, so you can fly all the way to Tel Aviv the long way in the only true international first class option the whole way from US to Tel Aviv. They serve delicious Hermolis kosher meals out of Asia and have a open self-service bar on the A380 with top-shelf drinks.
If you do stopover in Seoul (and take a tour of the DMZ) you can stay at the very highly rated Park Hyatt with your Chase points for just 20K points of 10K+$125 per night.
-They allow you to hold Korean award seats until 2 days before the flight.
-Korean miles don’t expire for 10 years.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Alaska on Alaska Air is just 20K miles in coach or 40K miles in first class with a free stopover.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Hawaii on Delta is just 25K miles in coach or 45K miles in first class with a free stopover.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Hawaii on Alaska or Hawaiian is just 30K miles in coach or 60K miles in first class with a free stopover if flying on Alaska.
-A round-trip flight from the US48 to Tahiti on Air France is just 60K miles in coach or 90K miles in business class.
-A round-trip flight from the Sydney to Auckland in a first class suite on an Emirates A380 with a shower spa onboard is just 75K miles.

HT: benjie1305, via DDF

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Get 100 Points And Extend The Life Of Your Marriott Points For 24 Months With A 1 Minute Survey

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Related: Mileage Expiration And Points Transfer Chart For 55 Loyalty Programs, How To Keep Your Points From Expiring, And How To Bring Them Back To Life After They’ve Expired
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Extend Your Marriott Points For 24 Months With A 1 Minute Survey

Complete the survey above and you’ll get 100 Marriott points. 100 points isn’t worth much, but it will extend the life of your points by another 24 months. The points will post to your account within 2 weeks.

For a limited time you can get 80K points for signing up for the Chase Marriott card and get a free anniversary night every year upon account renewal. Marriott also gives the 5th night free on award stays and allows you to transfer points between spouses for free.  In this post you read how far those points will go in Israel and learn more about the program.

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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30% Off Delta Awards Between North America And Europe: Coach For 21K, Business For 43.5K Each Way!

Tuesday, August 11th, 2015

Update: As of today Delta has opened this sale to everyone!

Originally posted on 08/10:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Delta is offering 30% off their level 1 awards to Europe for their elite members and for Delta AMEX cardholders for travel between 11/01/15-02/28/16.

For now it’s an unpublished sale, but I checked winter dates from JFK to Amsterdam, London, and Paris, and availability was surprisingly good.

Of course Delta doesn’t even tell you what level 1 in supposed to cost anymore, but that’s why I saved their award charts before they deleted them. Level 1 coach is normally 30K but is 21K with the sale. Level 1 business is normally 62.5K but is 43.5K with the sale.

You’ll need to login to view the discounted rates.  DDF member “yuguy” reports that he closed his Platinum Delta card several weeks ago but is still able to book with the 30% off.

The sale is valid on one-ways in either direction. But it’s definitely worth noting that Delta charges a fuel surcharge for awards that originate in Europe.  Therefore if you are flying from North America to Europe you’ll want to book as a round-trip. If you are flying from Europe to North America you’ll want to book travel as one-ways to take advantage of the lack of fuel surcharges for the return.

It’s always easier to search for one-way availability and then book it as a round-trip.

JFK-London nonstop one-way in coach for 21K:

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JFK-London nonstop one-way in business for 43.5K:

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JFK-Paris nonstop one-way in coach for 21K:

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HT: yuguy, via DDF and Rene

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United Adds Ferry Flight From Tel Aviv To Newark Tomorrow, Wide Open For Awards

Monday, August 10th, 2015

United’s evening departure last night from Tel Aviv to Newark was cancelled due to aircraft maintenance.

During off-peak times United might have cancelled one of their Newark-Tel Aviv flights so that they don’t have a stranded airplane in Tel Aviv, but those flights are operating at full capacity, leaving no slack to cancel them.

Instead United has added a rare 3rd flight from Tel Aviv to Newark.  It departs at 9:30am, arriving into Newark at 2:25pm. As the flight wasn’t being sold it’s wide open:

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Expert mode tells us that there are at least 9 saver award seats available in both coach and in BusinessFirst class, an extraordinarily rare sight during the summer.

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With United miles the flight costs 42.5K in coach or 70K in business. If you have Singapore miles though you can nab that flight for just 37.5K in coach or 57.5K in business without any close-in fees.  You can normally transfer points to Singapore from AMEX, Chase, Citi, and Starwood, but those transfers wouldn’t post until about 3AM EDT the next day at the earliest, which won’t work in this case.

Post a comment if you book and let us know what the empty flight is like!

HT: ar, via DDF

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The Tax Consequences Of Helping United Fix Bugs On Their Site

Thursday, August 6th, 2015

Last month the news that United handed out millions of miles as part of their bug bounty program went viral.  CNN Money, Fox, Business Insider, the BBC, and many more outlets covered the story of domestic white hat hackers that won at least 1,000,000 miles each for reporting remote code execution bugs on United.com.

Surprisingly none of the news outlets covered the tax implications of being awarded 1,000,000 miles.

Many companies offer cash bounties, but the tax implications of that aren’t as critical. After all, you can just take part of the cash winnings to pay the tax bill. Not so with miles that officially can’t be sold.

The IRS considers miles earned from flights and from credit cards to be purchase rebates which are non-taxable. However I’ve received 1099s for miles earned from opening checking accounts in the past, so miles earned from other sources are definitely taxable.

I reached out to United asking about the tax implications and they responded that they will be sending out 1099s at a value of 2 cents per mile for domestic participants.

So the 1,000,000 mile prize comes with a tax bill equivalent to $20,000 of income. The marginal tax rate for a NYC based household that has $91,000 of total income is 28% federal+3.65% local+6.45% state=38.1%. For that household, winning the miles will result in an out of pocket cost of $7,620. That cost could rise further if the additional “income” also knocks out any other tax deductions due to the higher overall income level.

To be sure, that’s still a decent price for obtaining miles (0.76 cents per mile), but it sure puts a damper on the program. Perhaps not quite as bad as how I imagine the contestants on Wheel of Fortune feel after they realize the real cost of their “free” trip to Jamaica when they get hit with a 1099 for $11,500. But a damper nonetheless.

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No, you won’t get a tax bill for telling United to fix a crucial award searching bug, but you will have my thanks. Read this post for how to provide feedback to United about their new site and click on the retweet and favorite buttons in the tweet below to make the issue heard by United:

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United’s New Website Will Replace Continental’s Legacy Site This Month And Is Set To Remove Critical Award Searching Features; Provide Your Feedback Now Before It’s Too Late!

Wednesday, August 5th, 2015

Continental last redesigned their website in 2006. It’s not pretty, but even 9 years later it still offers more functionality than any other airline’s website. That’s a real testament to just how far ahead of its time it was. When United merged with Continental it was a no-brainer to keep Continental.com over the site that was derided as United.bomb for its failure to correctly perform basic tasks.

In 2012 at the United DO I sat in a fascinating Q&A session with Mark Nasr, who came from the Continental side and was in charge of United.com up until a few months ago. He guesstimated that the new United.com would be up and running by the 2nd half of 2013. And he swore to get rid of the notorious blue screen while waiting for flight results:

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He was 2 years off, but the new United.com site is out of beta and is now up and running. And the blue screen is gone. The legacy Continental site will only be operational “for a few weeks” longer. During the rest of this month people will be transitioned over to the new site while still being allowed to switch back to the old site while it exists.

Unfortunately the new site represents a massive setback in award searching functionality from the old site.

Both the home pages of the old site and new site allow you to search for award flights and select nonstop flights only.

But the old United.com site gives an accurate look at which dates have nonstop flights with saver award availability. Dates in yellow have nonstop saver award space, dates in white only have standard award space:

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Even if you didn’t originally search for a nonstop flight you can just click “nonstop flights only” and you’ll see a calendar that shows which dates have nonstop saver award availability.

On the new United.com even when you select nonstop only it still returns a calendar that shows dates that only have connecting flights with saver award space.  In the example below a search for a nonstop flight from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 the calendar shows saver award seats, but in reality those are only available on connecting flights.  If you look at the calendar on the old United.com as shown above you can easily tell that there are no saver award seats on nonstop flights from Newark to Tel Aviv on 01/11/16 but on the new site it’s impossible to figure that out from the calendar, so you’re left having to manually check every single day to find nonstop saver award space:

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To make matters even worse, the new United.com has eliminated the Economy Saver and Standard award columns that the old site has.  Now there’s just a column that’s called “Economy (lowest)”.  In order to know whether you’re getting saver or standard award pricing you’ll have to look at the award chart!  The cynic in me says that is exactly their intention. I won’t be surprised to see United copy Delta’s lead in deleting their award charts and moving to dynamic pricing so that you never know if you’re really getting a saver award.  But then why would they still have saver and standard columns for business and first class on the new site?

I always break down my award searches to identify nonstop flights with award space.  There may be saver award space from NYC to Los Angeles on May 18 and from Los Angeles to Sydney on May 22nd.  United.com won’t show saver space for that itinerary, but after finding both of those nonstop awards you can use the multi-destination award search to piece together an award with a 4 night stopover in LA before flying down under.  It won’t even cost you more miles to take advantage of that stopover.  Without the ability to quickly view nonstop award space on the calendar view this technique becomes far more time-intensive.

Let’s make ourselves heard:

There’s no reason that United can’t add 2006 technology into their 2015 site, but the time to get it fixed before the old site dissapears is running out.

Please go now to the new United.com site and click on the green “site feedback” button on the right-side of every page (I highlighted it in a red box in the screenshot above).

And ask them:

1. Please fix the award calendar on the new United.com site so that when you select “nonstop” the calendar only shows dates with nonstop saver award availability, just like the old United.com currently does.

2. Please add a separate Economy Saver Award and Economy Standard Award column to the new United.com, just like the new site has for business and first class awards and just like the old United.com has for economy, business, and first class awards.

In addition you can favorite and Retweet this:

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Buy $300 In Mastercard Gift Cards From Office Max And Get $15 Off Instantly

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Mastercard gift cards from Office Max by 08/08 you’ll get $15 back instantly.  If you buy $600+ you’ll get $30 back instantly. Valid in-store only.

In my local store there was no information about the sale in the circular or anywhere else, but to the cashier’s surprise, at checkout it took $15 off $300.

I had the cashier try it on a Visa gift card, but it didn’t work.

Some stores will set limits to these offers, while others will let you make multiple transactions to save $15 on each transaction.

If you buy 3 $200 Mastercard gift cards in store you’ll pay $20.85 in card fees and get back $30 instantly. A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees and get back $15 instantly.

But the real reason to bother with these if that when you use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card you get 5 points per dollar spent.

Even without the instant rebate, the argument can be made to buy gift cards for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday items. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

You can call the number on the back of the Mastercard to set up a PIN.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free.  You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee, though with a Mastercard you’ll be limited to under $50 per load at Walmart.
-You can load gift cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee, though with a Mastercard you’ll be limited to under $50 per load at Walmart. Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: mendy613, via DDF

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Mileage Expiration And Points Transfer Chart For 55 Loyalty Programs, How To Keep Your Points From Expiring, And How To Bring Them Back To Life After They’ve Expired

Sunday, August 2nd, 2015

This post has been updated with the expiration policies and transfer rates for every transferable mileage currency.

Originally posted on 02/18/15:

Expiration of credit card points:

-Points earned from an airline or hotel credit card, where the points are deposited monthly into your airline/hotel account, are not forfeited by closing the card.  The points are subject to the normal expiration dates listed in the chart below. Some representatives use scare tactics and say that all of your points or tickets will be lost if you cancel the card, but it’s just misinformation.

-Proprietary credit card point programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Barclays Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards) do not expire as long as you keep at least one card open that is enrolled in their respective program.  Some programs store points individually under each card account, so be sure to transfer points from that card account to another account before cancelling that card. If you do accidentally close a card before moving the points to another card you can try reactivating the card, moving the points over, and cancelling the card once again.

Keeping points alive:

There are a thousands of ways to generate activity to keep points alive.  One easy way is by redeeming a few hundred miles for a magazine subscription. Redeeming miles is safer than the various methods of earning miles as point earnings don’t always post and it can turn into a fight in case your account expires. But as with everything else in life when you’re paying for something you can be sure that it will always post without any fighting required :D

There are actually get some pretty sweet deals, like The Economist for 3,200 miles. Delta miles don’t require activity, but still 3,200 Delta “Skypesos” for a year of The Economist isn’t bad at all!

MagsForMiles offers redemption options for Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Spirit, and United
-Newspaper Rewards offers newspaper redemption options for Alaska, American, Delta, Hawaiian, JetBlue, and United
-Points.com Alaska Magazine Offers
-Points.com American Magazine Offers
-Points.com Delta Magazine Offers
-Points.com JetBlue Magazine Offers
-MagazineRewards United Magazines Offers

If you have transferable points you can move points from Chase, AMEX, or Starwood to an airline to keep your entire account alive.  Note that some airlines (like American) require the name on the Starwood account to match the name on the American account.  You can transfer Starpoints to anyone living at the same address and from there transfer points to an airline.  If your Starpoints themselves are expiring, all you need to do is make a simple transfer from you to your spouse or someone else living at your address and that counts as activity that will keep both of your accounts alive for another 18 months.

Some people have also had success booking an award flight to hotel stay to extend the validity of their points and then cancelling it after the points have been deducted. Others have said that it’s not a foolproof system and the old expiration may still be in force.  Note that cancellation policies vary by airline.  American doesn’t allow free cancellations on awards even within 24 hours.  United allows 24 hours to cancel for free. British Airways only charges the lessor of taxes of $55 after 24 hours, so a one-way domestic flight cancellation after 24 hours would only cost you $5.60.

 

Reactivating expired miles:

I have saved the miles of family members and close friends by crediting past car rentals towards their airline mileage accounts.  Most car rentals earn a nominal amount of airline miles, but you can call the car rental company to credit anyone’s airline mileage account up to a year after the car rental.  If someone lost their miles 6 months ago you would have to locate a car rental from more than 6 months ago, but less than 12 months ago.  Shortly after the miles post to their account it should automatically reactivate all of their miles retroactively to the date of the car rental.  Just don’t forget to add new activity to prevent that from happening again!

The same would work for past hotel stays or other activities that can be credited towards airline miles.

Some airlines, like British Airways, will actually reinstate miles for free and give you 3 additional months to use or redeem some miles to keep your account alive for another 3 years.

Other airlines like United and American will charge to reactivate miles, but those are often worthwhile if you don’t have any other avenues. American also has a unique challenge that I wrote about over 5 years ago that allows you to reactivate miles by completing tasks like opening a credit card or flying on a paid AA flight. Since then they’ve added a small fee to take that challenge, but it should be much cheaper than paying to reactivate the miles outright.

Mileage expiration policies:

View the complete 55 program chart after the jump:

(more…)

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American And Spirit Free Promo Miles Have Posted

Friday, July 24th, 2015

1. The 1,000 free miles for the American promotion that was originally posted here back in April have finally posted. The promotion is no longer running.  The miles are backdated to 06/30, so anyone that participated won’t have their miles expire until 01/07/17. Any activity extends the miles for another 18 months.

2. The Spirit miles for the promotion that was posted a month ago have also posted. Those promotions are still alive. Those miles only last for 3 months and they can’t be extended by just using them, you actually need to earn more miles to extend them. So go ahead and book some travel or redeem for free magazine subscriptions before they expire!

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Hyatt 2015 Category Changes. Plus: A Unified Hyatt Award Chart

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Update: The Park Hyatt Maldives, which just went from a category 6 to 7 earlier this year, has returned to category 6 today.  The cost of a free night there is now just 25K Chase or Hyatt points per night.  That leaves only 7 other hotels in Hyatt’s most expensive hotel tier.

If you have an existing future reservation you will automatically receive a points refund.

I made it to the Maldives a couple of years ago, truly heaven on Earth.

I checked through the list of hotels that went up in category this year and don’t see any other changes.

HT: chucksterace, via DDF and FT
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Originally posted on 12/09/14:

Hyatt 2015 Category Changes Linky

Effective 01/22/15 there will 22 Hyatt hotels that go up in category and cost more points and 48 hotels that will go down and cost fewer points.

You can lock in lower rates by booking future reservations by 01/21/15.

Here is the Hyatt award chart:

Hotel CategoryStandard Room AwardSuite Night AwardPoints+Cash Standard Room AwardCost of points saved with P+C Award
15K8K2.5K+$502 cents/point
28K13K4K+$551.38 cents/point
312K20K6K+$751.25 cents/point
415K24K7.5K+$1001.33 cents/point
520K32K10K+$1251.25 cents/point
625K40K12.5K+$1501.2 cents/point
730K48K15K+$3002 cents/point

When booking a points+cash reservation I included a metric in the chart above that shows the rate that you’re effectively buying your points back at.  The category 6 rate is the biggest points+cash bargain. You “buy” back or save 12.5K points per night for $150.  Effectively you paid just 1.2 cents per point ($150/12,500) to save those 12.5K points per night.  The category 1 and 7 points + cash deals are the worst as you are effectively paying 2 cents per point.

Note that standard awards have no blackouts or capacity controls on standard rooms and suites.  However points+cash reservations are capacity controlled.  A nice benefit of points+cash rooms is that they are considered a paid rate, so they qualify for all promotions that apply to paid hotel stays and you can use a diamond suite upgrade certificate to confirm them into a suite.

Suite nights require a 3 night minimum stay and can only be booked over the phone.

Points+Cash nights can also only be booked over the phone.

Sample hotels getting more expensive:
-Park Hyatt Maldives goes from category 6 to 7.
-Andaz Amsterdam goes from category 5 to 6.
-Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee goes from category 5 to 6.
-Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas goes from category 4 to 5.
-Grand Hyatt Macau goes from category 4 to 5.
-Park Hyatt Seoul goes from category 4 to 5.
-Grand Hyatt Taipei goes from category 3 to 4.
-Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo goes from category 3 to 4.
-Excalibur Las Vegas goes from category 2 to 3.
-Hyatt Regency Toronto goes from category 2 to 3.

Sample hotels getting less expensive include:
-Hyatt Place Orlando Airport goes from category 2 to 1.
-Hyatt Regency Montreal goes from category 3 to 2.
-Hyatt Place Orlando/Universal goes from category 3 to 2.
-Park Hyatt Chennai goes from category 3 to 2.
-Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Fort Lauderdale goes from category 4 to 3.
-Hyatt French Quarter New Orleans goes from category 5 to 4.
-Grand Hyatt Washington DC goes from category 5 to 4.
-Hyatt Regency La Jolla goes from category 5 to 4.
-MGM Grand Las Vegas goes from category 5 to 4.
-Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, FL goes from category 5 to 4.
-Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando goes from category 5 to 4.
-Mandalay Bay Las Vegas goes from category 6 to 5.
-Park Hyatt Washington Washington DC goes from category 6 to 5.

If you want to lock in a dream trip to the Park Hyatt Maldives in 2015, now is the time to book.

Even a reservation at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar that doesn’t open until June will become 33% more expensive (15K vs 20K) come 01/22. Plus it will no longer be eligible for Hyatt anniversary night redemptions once it becomes a category 5 property. You can reserve a stay now for travel through January 2016 at the lower rates or with anniversary nights.

HT: chucksterace, via DDF

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Is This The Beginning Of The End? Delta Introducing Dynamic Award Pricing For Travel From 06/01/16

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

The beauty of miles has long been the lack of correlation between mileage cost and cash cost. That has meant that a last minute coach ticket that would cost $2,000 cash can cost just 9,000 miles.  A $15,000 first class suite can cost just 57,000 miles. They’re practical and aspirational to collect and use. And that’s been a boon to airlines, banks, and consumers all at the same time.

Delta’s miles (aka Skypesos) have long been among the least valuable in the industry. Then Delta hid their award charts earlier this year.

And now this,

“We know your miles are important, so we want to provide the most notice possible regarding Award price changes. For travel on or after June 1, 2016, the number of miles needed will change based on destination, demand and other considerations. But most Award prices will remain unchanged. To see the best availability and deals, search at least 21 days prior to departure and use our Award Calendar by selecting “flexible days” when searching for a flight.
Miles needed to upgrade will increase, and to provide greater access to these upgrades, we’ve expanded the eligible types of fares.”


I’m not even sure what they mean that “But most Award prices will remain unchanged.” They don’t even have a published award chart today and their award award chart already consists of 5 different levels!

To Delta’s credit, they have introduced awards starting at just 7.5K miles when booked 21 days in advance.

But the ballgame is changing. Delta clearly wants to put an end to outsized mileage redemption values, especially those within 21 days. Dynamic pricing will allow them to charge less for flights that cost less and more for flights that cost more. It’s a simple concept, but it eats away at the very value proposition of miles and can lead consumers to turn in their mileage cards for cashback cards.

Will Delta continue to allow partner redemptions within 21 days to be had at saver levels? It’s hard to say at this point.

We can hope this is just a one-off. But United loves copying Delta devaluations. We saw that when United copied Delta’s dreadful revenue based mileage earning scheme.

It’s hard to see United not copying Delta’s lead here. The only question is how far they’ll go.

My hope is that United is smart enough not to kill the golden goose and that they continue to have published saver award charts and that they continue to allow redemptions within 21 days.

If United introduces dynamic award levels for standard awards that won’t be the end of the world. But it will be a very sad day if they copy Delta here and delete their award charts for good in favor of dynamic pricing.

HT: yuguy, via DDF and MJ

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The BA Glitch Fix Has Made Even More Flights And Routes Available To Book With Avios Online Than Before!

Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Related post (Read this first!): Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

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Yesterday I broke the news that American flights were back on BA.com after a few week hiatus.

Turns out that things are even better than before!

Previously, when there were a lot of available award flights BA.com would only display the earlier flights and not the flights later in the day.
Booking the later flights required a phone call to a competent agent (such as those at the Singapore desk).

Well the good news here is that this glitch appears to have been fixed!

LGA-Chicago on BA.com now matches up exactly to what AA.com shows:

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LGA-Miami on BA.com also matches up exactly to what AA.com shows:

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Except of course BA charges 7.5K for those flights instead of the 12.5K that AA charges. AA has a $75 close-in fee while BA has none. AA charges a $150 cancellation fee while BA allows you to cancel for $5.60.

As per this post, always search for NYC, LGA, EWR, and JFK as each can give different results.

 

In the past LAN flights have typically had to be booked over the phone, but I’m now seeing LAN routes that have never showed up on BA.com before.

For example Buenos Aires/AEP to Iguazu Falls/IGR can now be booked online:

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Santiago, Chile-Easter Island:

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And Easter Island-Papeete, just a 45 minute flight from Bora Bora:

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Alas, Alaska and Aer Lingus flights are still not available online.

Find anything else that has changed? Hit the comments!

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A Sight For Sore Eyes On BA.com

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Related: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

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Despite the numerous naysayers calling me “complicit in the coverup” for advising people not to panic. Despite some mileage brokers “confirming” that BA Avios would never be the same. No the sky is not falling. My brazen prediction goes on to live another day.

American flights are once again bookable on BA.com with Avios.

Which is a good thing because using 4.5K Avios+$5.60…

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…Is far preferable to paying $538.10:

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No close-in fee and only a $5.60 fee to redeposit the ticket and get back the miles make it that much sweeter.

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Can Everyone Please Stop Panicking About Their Avios…

Sunday, July 12th, 2015

Update: This issue is still ongoing and I’ll be sure to update when it’s been fixed.

When calling BA using the US 1-800 number some people have reported issues with hold times as well as with the (typically incompetent) agents finding the nonstop saver flights that show up on AA.com.

I just called the BA call center in Singapore and they had no hold time and were able to quickly find the exact nonstop saver award flights that AA.com shows. 

They weren’t sure when BA.com will be fixed to show AA flights, but they proactively offered to waive the phone booking fee, making the cost of a CLE-LGA round-trip flight just 9,000 Avios+$11.20. The flight would otherwise have cost $1,141.

It costs just 2 cents per minute to make a call to the BA call center in Singapore via the Google Hangouts app. Their phone number and hours of operation can be found in the original post below.

—————————————————————

Originally posted on 07/05:

Related: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

I’ve gotten quite a few emails from people panicking about not being able to find Avios flights like they used to on American Airlines.

Some mileage brokers have spread rumors “confirming” that you won’t be able to use Avios on American anymore :roll:

That’s nonsense, what’s going on is nothing more than an IT bug that is being worked on.

A couple of weeks ago American’s saver award availability disappeared from their website for several days.  That space has returned, but it just hasn’t returned to BA.com for Avios bookings.

However BA is more than happy to book those seats over the phone. Their agents are aware of the bug and will be happy to waive the phone booking fee.

Just to confirm I found saver award space on AA.com for a flight tomorrow from Chicago to Cleveland.  AA.com wanted 12.5K miles plus $80.60 to book it.  I called BA and they were identified the same flights that AA.com was showing and correctly quoted a fare of 4.5K Avios plus $5.60 to book it.

It’s important to note that you aren’t limited to booking with the US based phone number for BA. You can use any of their offices to book, including:
US: 800-452-1201 (7:30am-8pm EDT)
Singapore +65-6823-2095 (9pm-5:30am EDT)
Israel: +972-3-606-1515 (2am-9am EDT)
UK: +44-191-490-7901 (2:30am-3pm EDT)

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British Airways Avios Can Now Book Qantas Flights From Australia Without Fuel Surcharges

Monday, July 6th, 2015

Related: Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

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British Airways Avios are an awesome points currency as long as you understand their Achilles heel, the fuel surcharge.

When you use United miles you never pay a fuel surcharge.  When you use Delta miles you generally won’t pay a fuel surcharge (exceptions include flights originating from Europe and flights on select partners). When you use American miles you generally won’t pay a fuel surcharge (except if you want to fly on British Airways, the only way to fly on BA without paying a fuel surcharge is by using LAN Kilometers which can be obtained via Starwood Starpoints).

However when you use British Airways Avios you will normally pay a fuel surcharge, though there are lots of exceptions that make up the bulk of the value of the Avios program.
Namely:
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Aer Lingus. A flight from Boston to Dublin or Shannon is just 12.5K Avios in coach or 37.5K in business. From there you can fly elsewhere within Europe without paying fuel surcharges. Plus you can fly to Boston from cities like Buffalo, NYC, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, or Washington DC for just 4.5K Avios. Aer Lingus flights can only be booked over the phone.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Air Berlin, making them a potential way to fly to Israel without fuel surcharges.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Alaska. These flights can only be booked over the phone.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on LAN. Many of these flights can only be booked over the phone.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on Niki. They fly from Israel to Vienna for 10K Avios.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on TAM. Many of these flights can only be booked over the phone.
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on American within the Western Hemisphere
There are no fuel surcharges for flights on USAirways within the Western Hemisphere
There are no fuel surcharges for Qantas flights within Australia.
-There are no fuel surcharges for JAL flights within Japan.
Fuel surcharges on award-winning carrier Cathay Pacific are relatively low and you don’t even need to fly all the way to Hong Kong (though you should-great city with awesome kosher food, airport lounges with kosher food, and a business or first class flight you’ll never forget!) to get a taste of their awesome service, seat, pajamas, and amenities. They fly a daily 777 nonstop between JFK and Vancouver.
You can significantly cut the fuel surcharges when flying on Iberia by transferring your BA Avios into Iberia Avios
British Airways 5th Freedom Flights (flights that don’t depart from or arrive to the UK) have significantly lower fees. For example even though Singapore-Sydney is a longer flight than NYC-London the fees in first class on Singapore-Sydney are less than half of those from NYC-London.
As long as you have earned a single Avios within the past 12 months then fuel surcharges for intra-Europe and intra-Africa flights will be very low. You can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, or Starwood to activate that benefit.

Until last week Qantas charged a heavy fuel surcharge for paid flights to and from Australia.  British Airways passes along the same fuel surcharge that applies to paid flights on partner airlines.  That made long-haul flights to Australia an exceptionally poor value for your Avios.

Now Qantas has dropped that fuel surcharge for flights that originate in Australia (which caused this $444 price mistake that was honored)

That means you can book a one-way or round-trip ticket on Qantas from Australia without fuel surcharges.

A round-trip coach ticket on Qantas from Sydney to JFK is now 100K Avios plus about $116 in taxes.

A one-way coach ticket on Qantas from Sydney to JFK is now 50K Avios plus about $87 in taxes.

However a round-trip ticket from NYC to Sydney will still be slammed with $861 in fuel surcharges and taxes.

Of course you can also use 75K AA miles plus $116 tax for a round-trip ticket for a Qantas flight regardless of origination and American doesn’t pass on the fuel surcharge if you use AA miles.  You can even transfer 60K Starpoints into 90K AA miles right now.

However it’s easier to earn BA Avios than AA miles, so if you’re not flush with AA miles or Starpoints, then this is a welcome development.

If you’re short on AA miles for example you can even use 37.5K AA miles+$28 to fly from JFK to Sydney and then use 50K Avios+$87 for the return flight.

 

 

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The easiest way to search for award space for 50K Avios each way for a flight between Sydney and JFK is to use AA.com and search for a flight between Sydney and Los Angeles:

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On the calendar page, toggle the number of stops option to nonstop only:

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Generally speaking if there is nonstop availability from Sydney-Los Angeles there will also be nonstop availability from Los Angeles to JFK on Qantas’ special LAX-JFK tag-on flight that can only be booked together with the flight from Sydney.

Once you find a date that has nonstop space to Los Angeles you can confirm that there’s space to NYC on that date as well.

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The advantage of routing via Los Angeles (and not Dallas) is that since the Qantas flight retains the same flight number all the way from Sydney to JFK via Los Angeles, British Airways only charges you the mileage required for a single leg as it’s marketed as a “direct” flight.

Once you’ve identified valid dates on AA.com, you can logon to BA.com and book the flight that you found on AA.com.

If BA.com isn’t finding it or is giving you an error just give BA a call and don’t forget that you may need to HUCA to find a competent rep. You can use any of their offices to book, including:
US: 800-452-1201 (7:30am-8pm EDT)
Singapore +65-6823-2095 (9pm-5:30am EDT)
Israel: +972-3-606-1515 (2am-9am EDT)
UK: +44-191-490-7901 (2:30am-3pm EDT)

Once again, there is still a fuel surcharge for flights originating from the US.  Hopefully though Qantas (and other airlines) will continue to pare those back as well…

The same story appears to apply to other countries.  There are no fuel surcharges from Sydney to London one-way or round-trip but there are fuel surcharges from London to Sydney.

HT: bmw, via DDF

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

Sunday, July 5th, 2015

American announced that they are launching nonstop service from LGA to Akron/Canton and Memphis on 11/05 and from LGA to Jacksonville as of 12/17. The chart has been updated with the new flights and the new rates for flying in business and first class.

Currently BA Avios flights on American Airlines can only be booked over the phone.

Akron/Canton (part of Cleveland CSA), has picked up 2 daily United flights to Newark and a daily American flight to LGA since Southwest announced they would be cutting flights from Akron/Canton to LGA (among other airports) in late October.
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Originally posted on 08/12/13.
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

Rates in the following charts are currently only accurate for travel in coach:
-Click to view Direct Avios Flights From Montreal, Toronto, Denver, Detroit, Pittsburgh, S. Francisco, And 6 Ohio Airports
-Click to view 94 Direct Avios Flights From Baltimore/Washington DC
-Click to view 29 Direct Avios Flights From Boston
-Click to view 126 Direct Avios Flights From Chicago
-Click to view 196 Direct Avios Flights From Dallas
-Click to view 12 Direct Avios Flights From Johannesburg
-Click to view 77 Direct Avios Flights From Los Angeles
-Click to view 77 Direct Avios Flights From Miami
-Click to view 102 Direct Avios Flights From NYC
-Click to view 123 Direct Avios Flights From Philadelphia
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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Did you know that there are 102 places you can fly direct to 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 dirt cheap award cancellations.  Below are all of the direct flights from NYC that can be booked with Avios.

Be sure to read this post for everything you NEED to know about the BA program and how to best search for BA award availability with tips like always booking one-way awards.  If you have a question it’s probably already been answered there!

Notes:
1. Rates in the chart are for one-way flights. Generally speaking it’s a good idea to book BA flights as one-ways to give you maximum flexibility.

2. Rates are always given in Avios.  There is always a 25% bonus for transferring increments of 20K Starwood Starpoints into Avios.  That just means that if a route requires 25K Avios for example you will only need 20K Starpoints.

3. Routes that are displayed in bold are subject to fuel surcharges, which can vary from $25 (JFK-Vancouver on Cathay Pacific) to several hundred dollars each way.

4. There are no fuel surcharges for flights on: Aer Lingus, Air Berlin, Alaska, LAN, and TAM. There are also no fuel surcharges for American and USAirways flights within the western hemisphere, for JAL flights within Japan, and for Qantas flights within Australia. Fuel surcharges for intra-Europe flights are also typically quite low. Fuel surcharges for travel on Cathay Pacific aren’t too bad while fuel surcharges to fly on British Airways border on the criminal.
You can save on the fuel surcharges imposed on Iberia flights by transferring British Airways Avios into Iberia Avios.

5. In the charts below I’ve only included direct flights as BA charges Avios for each flight segment. 

For example 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.

Maui isn’t on the chart as no airlines fly nonstop from NYC-Maui.  Though you can always fly to Maui from 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.

6. 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. You can search Aer Lingus availability on United.com before calling BA to book it.

7. In rare cases connecting flights can be cheaper than nonstop flights when using Avios and I’ve noted that in the chart.

8. Cities in the chart may only have seasonal nonstop service.

9. A dash means that class of service isn’t offered on that route.

10. 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.
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American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

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

-Chase Ultimate Rewards points are earned from consumer cards like Sapphire Preferred or Chase Freedom. They can also be earned on business cards like the Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash. These points also can transfer instantly 1:1 to Avios.

-The Chase British Airways Visa Signature offers 50,000 Avios for spending $2K. Until 08/31/15 the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year as well.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest Consumer Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card awards 25K signup points with the annual fee waived for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Avios with the permanent 25% transfer bonus, however point transfers can take a couple of days.

-American Express Membership Rewards points can be earned from credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and The Amex EveryDay Credit Card.

The Everyday Preferred card earns more points per dollar for everyday purchases than any other card in its class. The Everyday card is the only no annual fee card that allows point transfers into airline miles.

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

Until 09/30 AMEX MR points normally transfer instantly at 1:1 to Avios but effective 10/01 the ratio from AMEX to Avios will become 250:200.  AMEX has run transfer bonuses from 20%-50% at least annually since the launch of Avios in 2011.

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View the complete 102 route chart after the jump:

(more…)

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Get A 100% Point Bonus When Purchasing IHG Or Hilton Points

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

Update: The IHG bonus offer ends tonight!

Originally posted on 06/16:

-IHG: Get 100% bonus points through 06/30.
120,000 points would cost $690 (0.575 cents per point).

-Hilton: Get 100% bonus points through 06/17.
160,000 points would cost $800 (0.5 cents per point).

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

You can get the lowest rate with this promotion by buying between 26K-60K points and your point purchase will be doubled.  26K points will become 52K points for $299. 50K points will become 100K points for $575.  Or 60K points will become 120K points for $690.

This promotion expires on 06/30.

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

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

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

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

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

Hilton normally sells points for 1 cent each, which drops to half a cent with this promotion.
As far as the potential value, take the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, probably the nicest hotel in the entire country. A 5 night stay from October 11-16 for example would run $620/night (plus 18% VAT for locals). However it’s just 64K points per night with a 5 night stay or 80K points per night without a 5 night stay.
When buying points for 0.5 cents each that’s just $320 per night on a 5 night stay or $400 per night without a 5 night stay.

Need the full 320K points for a 5 night stay? Just open 2 Hilton accounts in your name, purchase 160K points in each, and then merge the accounts via this link.

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HURRY! Unprecedented United Transcontinental Lie-Flat Business Class Award Space For Your Entire Family!

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Update: I reached out to United and they responded that the Newark to Los Angeles and S. Francisco flights will have kosher meals in business class effective 10/25 when the p.s. service shifts from JFK to Newark.

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United announced last week that they will be abandoning JFK after 10/24.

They have now loaded the Newark to Los Angeles and S. Francisco routes exclusively with 757 aircraft that have lie-flat business class seating with the shift of the United p.s. flights from JFK to Newark. This change takes effect on 10/25. 

Typically lie-flat business class saver award availability on these routes are hard to come by, but it’s wide open right now.

Here is a award search from Newark to Los Angeles for 1 passenger with the calendar limited to showing nonstop flights only. The availability is surprisingly good:

 

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Here’s the same search for 8 passengers on nonstop flights only.  This level of availability for 8 passengers on the same nonstop transcontinental flight in a lie-flat seat is completely unprecedented.

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Same story for the return and for the EWR-SFO route.

You can book a one-way flight in United business class for 17.5K Lufthansa miles (an SPG transfer partner, not-instant), 20K Singapore miles (AMEX, Chase, Citi, and SPG transfer partner, none of which are instant), 25K Air Canada miles (transfers instantly from AMEX or non-instantly from SPG) or 25K United miles (transfers instantly from Chase).

You can connect stopover for as long as you want in LAX or SFO on the way to Hawaii for 30K Singapore miles, 35K Lufthansa miles, or 40K Air Canada or United miles each way.

United has yet to announce whether you’ll be able to order kosher meals when flying business class on the new p.s. flights from Newark. Currently the p.s. flights are only operated from JFK and they do offer kosher meals. Regardless, I’ve never had an issue having a United flight attendant warm up my own double-wrapped kosher meal that I brought onboard.

Grab a seat while it lasts!

HT: 12HRS, via DDF and TPG

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Membership Rewards Canada: 25% Bonus For Transfers Into British Airways Avios; Thoughts On The Future Of Avios Transfers From US Based Programs

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Related post (Read this first!): -Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your 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.
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.
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Membership Rewards Canada: 25% Bonus For Transfers Into British Airways Avios

This promotion applies for Canadian cards only.  Through 09/30, transfers from Membership Rewards Canada to British Airways will be at a 1K:1.25K ratio.

This promotion does not apply for transfers from US based AMEX Membership Rewards cards.

Destination charts for nonstop flights from Montreal and Toronto that can be booked with Avios can be found in this post.  With flights starting at just 4.5K Avios in coach and 9K Avios for a lie-flat business seat there are some real bargains.  With the 25% bonus that means that a coach award will start at just 3.6K AMEX points and a business award will start at 7.2K AMEX points.

It’s interesting to note that it appears that Membership Rewards Canada will continue to transfer to British Airways at a 1K:1K ratio even after 10/01 when Membership Rewards US drops to a 1K:800 ratio.

That leads me to believe that the ratio decrease was due to pressure from Chase, which doesn’t compete in the Canadian market.  We’ve seen this play out before when Chase arranged with Continental and United to have their transfer ratios from Starwood drop from 20:25K to 20K:12.5K.  And Continental/United dropped out of the Membership Rewards program to become exclusive with Chase, though those airlines have always had more exclusivity with Chase than British Airways.

True, Chase also decreased the British Airways Avios earning on the Chase BA card from 1.25/dollar to 1/dollar.  But moving the US AMEX transfer ratio down keeps their own US based card look better.  Of course the truth is for spending that their other cards like Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink are better for Avios earnings due to their superior bonus spending categories.  All Chase transfers are at a 1K:1K ratio and I don’t envision that changing anytime soon.  Chase also doesn’t believe in offering transfer bonus promotions.

In fact the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card can still do better than any of the Chase cards, even with the upcoming decreased ratio.  With 30 purchases in a month it earns 1.5 Membership Rewards points per dollar everywhere, 3 points per dollar on gas and Uber, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries.  If you want Avios that means it effectively earns 1.2 Avios per dollar everywhere, 2.4 Avios per dollar on gas and Uber, and 3.6 Avios per dollar on groceries after the upcoming devaluation.  Those numbers are still higher than on Chase cards.

If you don’t want to deal with getting to 30 transactions per month you can use the Starwood Consumer AMEX or the Starwood Business AMEX which will effectively earn 1.25 Avos per dollar everywhere thanks to the 20K:25K transfer ratio.

The AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Charge Card and the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card offer 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare from all airlines, not just British Airways. And they offer a plethora of other lucrative bonus categories on top of a $100 annual airline fee credit for the personal gold card.

Some bloggers have predicted that the devaluation of the Membership Rewards US to Avios transfer ratio means that we won’t see any more transfer bonuses to British Airways.  I’m not that pessimistic. There have been transfer bonuses at least annually from the US program to British Airways ever since Avios launched 4 years ago. My guess is that those bonuses continue, though a 25% bonus will only bring the transfer rate back up to parity.  A 50% bonus will make the ratio 1:1.2.  Those numbers aren’t great, but if you do have a card like Everyday Preferred earning 1.5-4.5 points per dollar everywhere it still means that transfers can be quite lucrative.

Avios have changed the way that many people travel on short-haul flights.  It’s no big deal for me to fly from Cleveland to Chicago or NYC for a day trip when it only costs 9,000 Avios instead of a same-day $1,200 flight.  Though with these changes I’m quite happy that I mistakenly (story here) transferred half a million AMEX points to British Airways during the US 40% promo earlier this year that they refused to reverse…

HT: zer0k1, via DDF

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The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Related:
-The Ultimate Hawaii Mileage Award Chart And Everything You Need To Know About The Hawaiian Islands

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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This updated chart below attempts to break down some of the best options for getting to Israel with miles.

See all of the possibilities along with the mileage booking policies of mileage program from around the world after the jump:

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9,503 Spirit Miles For Free=Free Magazine And Newspaper Subscriptions!

Monday, June 22nd, 2015

You might have to pay me to fly Spirit, but I’ll still collect their miles.  They have an atrocious 3 month expiration policy, but they’re perfect for free magazine subscriptions.

Click here to redeem your Spirit miles for magazine and newspaper subscriptions 😀

Here’s how to get 9,503 Spirit miles for free.

You’ll need to have your Spirit number handy. You can signup for a new account here.

1. Get 501 miles via the voucher you’ll get by clicking on this link.

Just paste your Spirit number and you’ll get a certificate number.  Copy the certificate number (be careful not to copy any trailing spaces!) and click “redeem now.”  Paste your certificate number, select “Other,” and click submit.

You’ll now have 501 miles in your account.

2. Get 501 miles via the voucher you’ll get by clicking on this link.

Just copy the bottom certificate number and repeat the same process as above to get another 501 miles.

3. Get 501 miles via the voucher you’ll get by clicking on this link.

Just copy the bottom certificate number and repeat the same process as above to get another 501 miles.

That will give you a total of 1,503 miles instantly.

Then you can get another 8,000 miles here by letting Spirit know which airline annoys you the most and why.

Those miles currently take about 1 month to post and it won’t work if you’ve done it in the past unless you open a new account.

HT: wcalvert, via FT

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

Sunday, June 21st, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Staples between 06/21 and 06/27 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Visa gift card.

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

If you buy 2 $200 Visa gift card in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. (A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees).

Use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card and get 5 points per dollar spent.

That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. Plus you’ll get the $20 Visa card via Easy Rebate to bring your cost basis down to $393.90 without accounting for the points.

Even without the rebate, the argument can be made to buy gift cards from Staples for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday spend. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in Visa gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the Visa gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free.  You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee. Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at stores that accepts debit cards as payment for money orders.
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: Moe’s Tavern, via DDF

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Brussels Airlines Awards Are Bookable On United.com Once Again

Monday, June 15th, 2015

In the past, I’ve spent several slides at DansDeals seminars instructing people to use websites like ANA and Air Canada to find award space that United.com won’t find.

For more advanced award bookers it’s been a blessing in disguise. It meant that fewer people knew how to book that award, which meant better award availability. Just last week I was able to find plenty of award space to Europe this summer on dates that when United.com came back with a goose egg.

For Israel that included flights on Lot Polish and Brussels. LOT came back to United.com late last year and now Brussels is back on United.com as well:

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United.com is much more adept at finding partner award space than AA.com or Delta.com is.  Whether that’s a good thing or bad thing depends on your perspective.

United still offers a free stopover on award tickets.  If you’re willing to stopover in Brussels you can find even better award space by searching for NYC-Brussels separately from Brussels-Tel Aviv.  After searching for each of those segments separately as a one-way award you can use the multiple destination award search to book an award by specifying NYC-Brussels and then Brussels-Tel Aviv, or you can call to stitch together an award.

United has dozens of partner airlines which means lots of award opportunities. However not all of them are currently bookable online, you’ll have to call (or use the Aeroplan or ANA sites) to get the full picture:

United partners that currently must be booked over the phone:
-Air Dolomiti
-Cape Air
-Great Lakes Airlines
-Jet Airways
-Shenzhen
-Singapore

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

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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About British Airways Avios: Tips, Tricks, And Advice You Need To Know To Maximize Your Avios

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

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

Update, 06/11: This post has been updated with the current information on the Avios program including Avios new award charts and why some flights like Philadelphia-Toronto in business class now cost fewer Avios than they did before.

Originally posted on 01/14/15:

British Airways Avios are awesome.  They effectively fill the gap that is left by the major programs like American AAdvantage and United MileagePlus.  The major programs provide a fantastic value for long-haul flights, but most programs are not great for short flights.

In 2011 BA launched the Avios program and since then it has continued to provide an incredible value for short-haul flights.  A last-minute one-way flight that would otherwise cost $600 can be had for just 4,500 Avios plus $5.60.

Everything you need to know about the program can be found after the jump:

(more…)

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Earn 1,000 American AAdvantage Miles For Free!

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Update, 06/11: This promotion ends tomorrow at 1pm EDT.

Originally posted on 04/29:

Promotion Linky

If you watch the six videos and answer the questions via the link above you will earn 1,000 free American Airline miles.

First go to the link and enter a destination. Then you will be moved to a page with 6 video options. You can skip to the end of the videos and enter the answers provided below. After the video you will enter your information and the 1,000 bonus miles will be deposited into your account 6 to 8 weeks after this promotion ends. This will extend the life of all your miles by another 18 months.

Bonus Miles earned by each entrant will be allocated to entrant’s AAdvantage account approximately 8 weeks after the end of Promotion Period.

1. Principles of redeeming miles
Question: Most people redeem there AAdvantage miles for?
Answer: Flights

2. Inside Elite Benefits
Question: Which is not a level of AAdvantage elite Status?
Answer: Iron

3. Exploring My Account
Question: You can save what information in your AAdvantage account?
Answer: All of the above

4. Earning Miles with Credit Cards
Question: You save how much off your in-flight purchases when you use your American Airlines and US Airways operated flights?
Answer: 25% off

5. Earning with Partners
Question: How can you earn miles with AAdvantage Dining program?
Answer: Dining out

6. Seeing the world: Flying & Earning
Question: American Airlines offers around how many daily flights?
Answer: 6,700

HT: maayanky, via DDF

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Signup For A Copa Mileage Account And Get 4,000 Miles

Thursday, June 11th, 2015

Copa used to majority owned by Continental and they used Continental’s OnePass mileage program instead of having their own program. They even adopted a very similar logo to Continental’s. When Continental moved from SkyTeam to the Star Alliance they brought Copa along with them. When Continental merged with United they brought Copa into MileagePlus and the globe logo continued to be used by both airlines.

However they’ve had disagreements with Copa about the elimination of distance based mileage earning in MileagePlus and Copa is now launching their own program that will earn miles based on distance flown.  Alas most United fares don’t earn full credit for distance flown, so the program doesn’t replace Singapore as one of the best places to credit your United flights to for 100% mileage earning.

Copa’s Star Alliance award chart very closely mirrors United’s award chart.

For now you can’t transfer any miles into Copa, though I’d imagine that we’ll see transfer partnerships in the future.

You can get 4,000 miles for enrolling in the Copa program here.
You’ll get 1,000 miles instantly for enrolling and another 2,000 miles instantly for completing your profile after creating your account for a total of 3,000 miles that will post instantly. Another 1,000 miles will post with the hard launch of the program in July.

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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Will American’s New Service To Sydney Open Up Any Premium Cabin Award Space?

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Update, 3pm: American will indeed add daily Los Angeles-Sydney service on their new 77W aircraft featuring lie-flat business and first class effective 12/17/15. Qantas will also be adding S. Francisco-Sydney service effective 12/20/15.  Tickets are not yet on sale for either route.

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American is poised to announce at 3pm that they will finally begin flying from Los Angeles to Sydney, duplicating a route currently served by Delta, Qantas, United, and Virgin Australia.  Well, they didn’t announce that they will be flying that route or even that they will fly to Australia, but the Kangaroo in their tweet is a bit of a giveaway and it’s only logical route for them to serve.

Oh how I wish they flew to Australia 10 years ago when I had several American systemwide free tickets thanks to the AVNYC promotion…

 

Park Hyatt Sydney and Sydney Opera House. Picture taken from Sydney Harbour Bridge:

 

Business and first class saver award space between the US and Australia can be difficult to find.

Delta rarely has saver award space on their own planes, though you can use 80K Delta miles for a one-way business class award on Virgin Australia, which has decent availability.

United has decent premium cabin award space within a few weeks of travel on their own planes, and the value is pretty good, 40K coach, 70K business, and 80K first.  United also allows you to route from the US to Australia via Asia and allows for a free stopover and a free open jaw.  That means you can get very creative at opening award space as long as you don’t mind the extra travel time.

If you’re already in a place like Hong Kong (say you used 67.5K American miles to fly in first class on Cathay Pacific) you can actually take advantage of one of the best awards in the entire United system.  It’s just 30K miles to fly business class or 40K miles to fly first class from Hong Kong to Australia via Thailand.  In Bangkok you’ll be shuttled from your plane to a free hour-long massage in the Thai first class lounge.  On a round-trip you can even stopover in Thailand and have an open jaw between Sydney and Melbourne for free.

It only costs 37.5K American miles in coach, 62.K in business, or 72.5K in first class to fly from the US to Australia.  However American has much stricter routing rules, not allowing to you to fly via Asia to Australia without purchasing a 2nd award.  American doesn’t currently fly to Australia, which leaves Qantas as the only good option for which you can redeem American miles on.

It wasn’t always this way.  In 2010 I redeemed for an around-the-world OneWorld award in first class and wrote about our experiences in Phuket, Chiang Mai, Melbourne/Great Ocean Road, and Sydney, though I never did finish writing about Tasmania, Hamilton Island, and Hong Kong. We flew Qantas first class from Hong Kong to Melbourne as part of that 20 segment journey around the world.  That award allowed you to route however you wanted but the option was eliminated as part of the AAdvantage MAAsacre (That was just part 1. Parts 2 and 3 will come later this year or next with the switch to revenue based mileage earning, a devalued award chart, and possibly systemwide upgrades that have a fare class requirement)

Unfortunately Qantas is notoriously stingy with the premium cabin award space. They do sometimes release some space within a week of the flight, but for the most part they only release award space 355 days before the flight when they open their schedule.  American only allows booking 330 days into the future, meaning that people with British Airways Avios or Qantas miles can snap up those award seats before people with American miles can.  However British Airways and Qantas both charge insane amounts of miles and fuel surcharges for premium cabin awards to Australia, making that a poor solution.  One workaround would be to book an award with British Airways 355 days into the future, pay the $55 cancellation penalty, and hope that the award goes back into inventory so that you can rebook it with American miles.  But aside from the $55 gamble, that approach takes a whole lot of BA Avios, 2 one-way first class seats from Los Angeles to Melbourne would require that you are sitting on 400K Avios in addition to 145K American miles.

It seems from American’s tweet that this will be a joint venture with Qantas:

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Is it realistic to hope that American will release premium cabin award space on a joint venture with Qantas? At this point we don’t even know if the route will be served by a 77W with first class or by a 772 or 787 with just business class.  Either way there probably won’t be much award space, but hopefully it will be more than Qantas has.  American’s top-tier elites are sure to be delighted with the new route, thanks to their systemwide upgrades working on a more valuable route than ever before.

The best odds for premium cabin award space may be hoping for a glitch when they load the inventory for the flights.

Twice earlier this year we saw glitches open up tons of premium cabin award space on tough routes like Tel Aviv.  I booked 6 awards on that glitch for us to fly with our in-laws to Israel for Purim in business class using American miles.

Can we hope for another glitch like that to occur when this route goes for sale?

If I can hope that the Cavs can pull off an against-all-odds miracle to bring Cleveland its first championship in 51 years, then surely we can hope for wide open award space down under as well :)

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American Express Membership Rewards To British Airways Avios Transfer Devaluation Effective 10/01

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Related:
Membership Rewards Airline Transfer Partners
Membership Rewards Hotel Transfer Partners

Grant reports that in his latest AMEX Platinum card statement it states that the transfer ratio from American Express Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios will be devalued.

I jumped onto AMEX chat to confirm the news and unfortunately the rep confirmed that information to me,

“Effective October 1, 2015, for every 250 Membership Rewards points that Card Members transfer to the British Airways Executive Club and Iberia Plus programs, they will receive 200 Avios. Card Members must transfer points to these loyalty programs in increments of 250. Refer to Changes to the Card Member Agreement – June 2015.”

Ouch.

It’s an odd change. After all, transfers to Avios have been bonused relatively frequently.

Unlike Grant, I do still think we’ll see bonus promotions in the future, but a 25% bonus will only bring the transfer back to parity. A 40% bonus will mean that 1,000 AMEX points will net 1,120 Avios instead of 1,400.

This comes on the heels on the Chase British Airways card dropping the earn per spend on the BA Avios card from 1.25 Avios per dollar to just 1 per dollar.

Transfers from Starwood Starpoints to British Airways Avios remains 20K to 25K, so purchases on the Starwood card can continue to earn 1.25 Avios per dollar spent.
Transfers from Chase to British Airways Avios remain 1K to 1K.
But in 4 months from now (barring any bonuses or further changes), 1K AMEX points will only yield 800 Avios.

How will this change what credit card you use? Will you spend more on your Starwood or Chase Sapphire Preferred/Freedom/Ink card? Will you still take advantage of 1.5 points per dollar everywhere on Everyday Preferred and keep holding off for transfer bonuses? Will you transfer lots of points from AMEX to British Airways before October? Sound off in the comments!

HT: Yosef, via DDF

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

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Staples between 05/24 and 05/30 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Visa gift card.

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

If you buy 2 $200 Visa gift card in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. (A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees).

Use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card and get 5 points per dollar spent.

That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. Plus you’ll get the $20 Visa card via Easy Rebate to bring your cost basis down to $393.90 without accounting for the points.

Even without the Staples gift card the argument can be made to buy gift cards from Staples for your everyday spending.

Say you spend $2,000 on everyday spend. On a typical card earning points or cash back worth 2% you would save $40.

If you bought $2,000 in Visa gift cards for $2,069.50 you’ll earn 10,348 points that are worth $181.09 at a 1.75 cents per point value. After backing out the $69.50 it cost to buy those gift cards you’ll still left with a $111.59 profit, or about triple the rewards you would earn from other cards. It’s an effective rebate of 5.58% everywhere you shop.

Even if you only value the points at 1.6 cents each that would value the 10,348 points at $165.57, leaving a profit of $96.07 or an effective rebate of 4.8% everywhere.

Want to just cash out the Visa gift card instead of using it for everyday purchases?

The pin on the Visa gift card is the last 4 digits of the card number, no need to set anything.
-You can load up to $5,000 per month onto a Target AMEX REDCard for free.  You can load up to $1,000 of gift cards per transaction with no limit on the number of gift cards used for a split tender.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card at a WalMart ATM machine for no fee.
-You can load Visa cards to your Bluebird or Serve card with a WalMart cashier or customer service for no fee. Just say you want to use your debit card, no need to mention that it’s a gift card.
-You can buy a money order with the Visa card at any store that accepts debit cards as payment (except the post office).
-You can pay your credit card bill at WalMart with BillPay at Customer Service.
-You can gift a Visa gift card as a wedding gift instead of giving a check.
-You can… ;)

HT: Moe’s Tavern, via DDF

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I’m Not Switching Back From REDcard To Serve. Yet.

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

I broke the news last week that Target would no longer allow REDcards to be loaded with a credit card.

That took a lot of the luster off the card, but at least you are still able to load gift cards to it.

Promotions like the current Office Max and Office Depot deal make this very lucrative.  While Visa gift cards normally carry fees, they are actually sold below face value when they have promotions like this.

Loading $10,000 on gift cards onto 2 REDcards in 2 days is a quick 50,000 miles when you buy those gift cards on an Ink card earning 5 points per dollar.  Of course if you and your spouse did that spending on 2 new Chase Ink Plus cards that would mean 170,000 points with the current limited time offer for the cards that runs until 05/25.

Loading the gift cards onto REDcard isn’t a major pain because you can load them all in one transaction.

If you have 5 of the $200 Visa gift cards from Office Max just give your REDcard to the Target cashier and ask to load $1,000 from your debit card. Then swipe one of the gift cards (which function just like a debit card) and enter the last 4 digits of the card number as the PIN code. The machine will then ask you if you want to load the full amount from that card. Just select no and tell the cashier that you want to load $200 from the card.  Do the same thing with the rest of your gift cards until you get to $1,000.

The funding limits are the same as with a credit card, $1,000 per transaction, $2,500 per day, $5,000 per month per REDcard.

Even without a gift card promotion it’s still worth paying for gift cards. You can buy $200 Visa gift cards online from Staples for $206.95.  Buying 1,035 miles for a $6.95 is still a ridiculously good deal.  That like paying $200 for a lie-flat business class seat nonstop from Newark to Hawaii (30K Singapore miles to fly on United at a cost of 0.67 cents per mile), $200 for a night at normally $1,500/night Park Hyatt hotels from Sydney to the Maldives, or $384 for a Singapore suite from JFK to Frankfurt.

So REDcard still works fine for my purposes. However Serve does has advantages over REDcard.

The biggest one is that Serve comes with 4 additional users and each qualify for AMEX Offers and Small Business Saturday.

Serve can also be loaded via gift cards at WalMart ATM machines, but those machines are often permanently down in many Walmart stores.

You can also load $1,000 from AMEX cards onto Serve online. You don’t earn miles for AMEX issued cards, but the spending does count towards meeting the threshold for signup bonuses.  There are also non AMEX-issued AMEX cards, like the Citibank American Airlines AMEX that would earn miles for online loads to Serve.

The major advantage of REDcard over Serve for me is that Target employees are happy to load my giftcards onto REDcard.  At Walmart they make it seem like I’m a criminal for doing so.

REDcard can also accept loads from Mastercard and Vanilla Visa gift cards that are difficult to load to Serve.

So for now I’ll stick with REDcard.  But when my local Target stores decide to disallow gift card funding I’ll make the switch without a doubt.

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REDcard Testing, Post Cinco de Mayo Memo

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

Yesterday I broke the news with the confirmation of a Target memo that May 5th would be the final day to load REDcards with a credit card.

Last night I did my final REDcard loads via a credit card.

This morning I went back to test the waters. Here are the results:

-Credit cards are indeed hard coded so that they can’t be loaded to REDcard, even if the cashier tries.
-Credit cards are also hard coded so that they can’t be loaded to the older American Express for Target cards, even if the cashier tries.
-I was able to use a Vanilla issued Visa gift card (like those sold at Office Depot and 7-Eleven) by using the last 4 digits of the card number as the PIN.
-I was able to use a Metabank issued Visa gift card (like those sold at Office Max and Staples) by using the last 4 digits of the card number as the PIN.
-I was not able to use a Staples Visa rebate card as the last 4 digits didn’t work as a PIN.
-I was not able to use an AMEX gift card as it also doesn’t have a PIN.

So not all is lost. They were very easy-going about loading gift cards to REDcard. And you are able to use multiple gift cards in one transaction using split tender.

You can still load $5,000 of Visa gift cards onto each REDcard per month.  If you have an Ink card that’s 25,869 miles per month if you buy the Visa gift cards at an office supply store earning 5 points per dollar.  Yes, you’ll pay $173.75 in gift card fees as opposed to it being free previously.  But being able to obtain miles for that cheap is a bargain.  A first class award in a lie-flat bed on an 11 hour flight Newark to Honolulu is just 30K Singapore miles.  Or a Singapore suite from JFK to Europe is 57K miles.

Of course when the gift cards go on sale the numbers change completely. Currently you can get gift cards for below face value at Office Max and Office Depot.  Or you can just buy gift cards online from Staples.

Don’t have an Ink card yet? The Ink Plus and Ink Cash cards are both offering 10K more points than normal for signups by 05/25.

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El Al Matmid: NYC To Tel Aviv For 20K AMEX Points Plus $160

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Update, 05/06: The rates have gone back up to 800 Matmid points each way.
————————————————————————
El Al is back with yet another discounted award promotion for flights from NYC to Tel Aviv.

The normal summer rate from NYC to Tel Aviv is 1,000 Matmid points (50K AMEX points) each way plus fuel surcharges.
The summer rate for Executives from NYC to Tel Aviv is 800 Matmid points (40K AMEX points) each way plus fuel surcharges.

With this currently unadvertised promotion for “Executives,” a one-way flight from NYC to Tel Aviv is 400 Matmid points (20K AMEX points) plus $160 in taxes and fuel surcharges.
A round-trip from NYC to Tel Aviv is 800 Matmid points (40K AMEX points) plus $355 in taxes and fuel surcharges.

This promo appears to only be valid for one-way or round-trip coach awards that originate from NYC.  It did not work for awards originating from Boston, Los Angeles, Toronto, or Tel Aviv and it doesn’t work for business or first class awards.

It’s easy to obtain Matmid executive status.  A transfer of just 5,000 points from the US AMEX Membership Rewards program to El Al’s Matmid program will earn you executive status for a year. Your account should reflect executive member status within about 24 hours from the transfer. You can transfer points from AMEX to El Al instantly via this link.

Note that transferred points expire after 36 months and can’t be extended with activity.

-Departures valid between May 5 and July 18, 2015.
-Returns valid any time.
-The booking deadline for this promotion is currently unknown and can end at any time.

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American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

American Express Membership Rewards points transfer instantly to El Al and can be earned from credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card or The Amex EveryDay Card.

The Preferred card awards 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere, 3 miles per dollar on Uber and gas, and 4.5 miles per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month. You can easily track how many transactions you have on the AMEX site and at the end of the month you can easily add credit to your Amazon account in as many transactions as you need to get up to 30 for that month.

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

You can also earn Membership Rewards points from consumer charge cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and from business charge cards like the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card or The Business Platinum Card.

HT: Million Miler, via DDF

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Today Is The Final Day To Load A REDcard With A Credit Card.

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

For the past 8 months I’ve been enjoying boatloads of free miles thanks to the Target REDcard and I’ve written about it several times since then. My local store had no problem loading up multiple cards with $2,500 per day from a credit card that earned 1.5 miles per dollar or from gift cards.

DDF member Dr. Moose reports that a memo went out today to all Target stores that effective tomorrow, credit cards will no longer be an acceptable form of REDcard funding.

I confirmed that memo with my local Target as well.

It was never question of if, but a question of when. Deals like this are just too good to last long-term.

Of course the real question is if we’ll still be able to use gift cards (that can be purchased from office supply stores earning 5 points per dollar) to load REDcard when swiped as a debit card with pin.

We should know that by tomorrow and that will determine whether it’s time to switch back to Serve.  My guess is that they will work, but that it will be up to each store and likely each cashier.

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$20 Off $300 Of Visa Gift Cards From Office Depot And Office Max

Monday, May 4th, 2015

Office Depot and Office Max are offering $20 off instantly on $300 worth of Visa gift cards. This is valid in-store only through 05/16.

Office Depot sells $100 and $200 Vanilla Visa cards that you can pay with a credit card.  The variable Vanilla cards are cash only, but the ones with a fixed amount are payable with a credit card.

Office Max sells $100 and $200 Metabank Visa gift cards that you can pay with a credit card.

The $100 gift cards normally cost $105.95 and the $200 gift cards normally cost $206.95

Officially there is a limit of 2 $20 off offers per person, though not all cashiers will enforce that.

Use your Chase Ink Plus or Chase Ink Cash card to get 5 points per dollar spent.

2 of the $200 cards will cost $413.90-$20=$393.90. Plus you’ll earn 1,970 points.

3 of the $100 cards will cost $317.85-$20=$297.85. Plus you’ll earn 1,490 points.

1 of the $100 cards and 1 of the $200 cards will cost $312.90-$20=$292.90. Plus you’ll earn 1,465 points.

You can then use those gift cards on everyday purchases to earn 5 points per dollar everywhere.

Or you can liquidate the cards by loading them onto REDcard or by buying money orders to cash them out.  You can upload a MetaBank Visa to Serve or Bluebird at a Walmart ATM (or a willing cashier) without limits but when uploading Vanilla Visa cards to Serve or Bluebird at a WalMart ATM machine you may need to limit it to $49.99 per transaction.

HT: Marco Polo, via DDF

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El Al Matmid: Book Discounted Spring And Summer Award Travel With No Fuel Surcharges Until Sunday! NYC To Tel Aviv For 65K AMEX Points Plus $69 Round-Trip!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

El Al Matmid Discounted Coach Awards

El Al has a very decent spring/summer travel sale for coach awards across the globe, including travel between Tel Aviv and North America, South Africa, Europe, or the Far East. Click on the link above for full details.

Awards are discounted further for “Executives” and it’s pretty easy to become an executive.  A transfer of just 5,000 points from the US AMEX Membership Rewards program to El Al’s Matmid program will earn you executive status for a year. You should have executive status within about 24 hours from the transfer.

Note that transferred points expire after 36 months and can’t be extended with activity.

With this sale, executives will pay just 650 Matmid points one-way or 1,300 Matmid points for round-trip travel between JFK, Newark, or Toronto and Tel Aviv.  That’s equal to 65,000 AMEX points round-trip.  The normal summer price is 1,600 Matmid points (80K AMEX)

Tickets between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv for executives will be 750 points one-way or 1,500 points for round-trip travel. That’s equal to 75,000 AMEX points round-trip. The normal summer price is 2,000 Matmid points (100K AMEX)

But even better is that you’ll pay no fuel surcharges on these discounted awards! Normally those add $355, but with this sale you’ll pay just $69 tax on a round-trip flight!

-Valid for awards booked by May 3.
-Departures valid between May 1 and July 18, 2015.
-The return flight officially needs to be completed by July 31, but from searching it appears that the return can actually be done at any time at the discounted rate.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

American Express Membership Rewards points transfer instantly to El Al and can be earned from credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card or The Amex EveryDay Card.

The Preferred card awards 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere, 3 miles per dollar on Uber and gas, and 4.5 miles per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month. You can easily track how many transactions you have on the AMEX site and at the end of the month you can easily add credit to your Amazon account in as many transactions as you need to get up to 30 for that month.

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

You can also earn Membership Rewards points from consumer charge cards like the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and from business charge cards like the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card or The Business Platinum Card.

HT: Million Miler, via DDF

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