As someone who would collect miles and points in various airlines and hotel reward programs it is inevitable that there are times when your miles/points are expiring and you want to extend it if possible. One of popular currency is Avianca Lifemiles. Lifemiles keeps having promotion every 3 months or so where you can buy miles cheaply for as low as 1.375 cents/mile when you buy 50k+ miles. But what if you have miles in your account but no travel plans and then the time comes when the miles are about to expire?
The easiest way to extend the life of your expiring miles is to purchase miles at the cost of US $33 + tax per 1000 miles or to transfer small chunk of miles (Starting at 1000 miles) to friend or family account at a cost of US $15 + tax per 1000 miles. There is another option though where it does not have to cost you any money and that is by donating your miles.
Most of the programs requires you to donate minimum of 1000 miles or more to participating charitable organization, but Lifemiles allows you to donate 1 mile and extend the life of your miles by ~24 months. You can go to the homepage here and go to "Donate Miles" as shown below or you can go to the Donate Miles link here.
So next time you are close to expiration of your Lifemiles just donate 1 mile and extend the life for 24 more months without buying or transferring any miles. If you are interested in subtle tips and value on lifemiles check out this flyertalk thread.
Disclosure: Miles And Money could earn referral bonus for sign up through some of the links above. Some of the links may or may not be publicly available links.
If you stay in the USA and can sign up for credit cards then the one card you should have in your wallet is the American Express Hilton Card. American Express has two variants of the card below:
After first anniversary of the Hilton HHonors Surpass card once you receive the free weekend night certificate you can downgrade the card to No annual fee Hilton HHonors card.
Disclosure: Miles And Money could earn referral bonus for sign up through some of the links above. Some of the links may or may not be publicly available links.
Update: You can now earn 1 Delta Skymiles per $1 spend on Lyft ride and till 08/31/2017 you can earn additional 2 Delta Skymiles per $1 on airport rides with Lyft. Link your accounts here.
lyft is a ride-sharing service which is a smaller competitor of UBER. Lyft is competitively priced for rides compared to UBER. In the earlier post we discussed earning $2 in SYWR points for UBER rides. lyft also has partnership with jetBlue where you can earn jetBlue miles as a rider and if you drive with lyft you can also earn Shell Fuel discount. You can link your lyft account to earn the discount here. You can also find all the "riders" promotion here.
Earning 1200 jetBlue points annually: You can earn 30 points with each of the ride with Lyft (except Line service). In total you can earn 1200 jetBlue points annually which although small it still is free and earned automatically. If you are new to lyft or jetBlue you could also earn bonus $20 for lyft ride or 750 points with jetBlue.
Above is how the connect page looks like at lyft. Just login to your lyft account and go here and link your jetBlue account number to start earning jetBlue miles/points. Although the amount of jetBlue miles/points you earn are limited they are still free.
We are already done with Week 2 of Daily Getaways. I will list down the upcoming Week 3 and Week 4 deals which I feel could be a good value.
Week 3 (May 1 to May 5):
May 4 - Marriott e-gift card at 20% off (Good Deal): You could use these gift cards at any of the Marriott properties worldwide except all the Starwood (SPG) properties, Protea Hotels by Marriott and Marriott Executive Apartments. Alternatively you can also re-sell it to certain Gift card re-seller if you have bulk relationship with them (But you wan't earn much on in here). These are available in $100, $250 and $500 value. You will need to present the e-gift card at the time of check-out so you would not be able to take advantage of prepaid rates. The good part is that you can register the card on your email address and protect it in case of any fraud.
Week 4 (May 8 to May 10):
May 9 - Hertz points at discounted rate from ~4.24 to ~5.09 cents/point (OK Deal): So you are essentially buying points which you can redeem at standard rewards rates or anytime rewards rates. So based on the type of redemption you can get a good deal or a raw deal. Also points expire in 24 months if there is no activity on your account. For e.g. 5500 points for $280 can be used for 1 week rental (anytime reward) with no black out dates which is roughly paying about $40 per day for standard vehicle which may or may not be a good deal based on where you can rent. The interesting part is you could redeem for the same weekly rental for 2750 points only by using "standard reward" rate which may not be available though on certain black out dates. Also you can transfer the points to your spouse or domestic partner. Do remember if you pay with points for your rental you would forego car rental protection provided by certain credit cards and might have to purchase CDW insurance from car rental company. So, depending on your plans it may or may not be for you.
May 10 - Hyatt points from ~1.03 to ~1.1 cents/point (Good Deal): Hyatt points are valuable because you can use 30k points at high-end all inclusive properties. Also if you have upgrade certificates you can use them on award stays booked with points. With this deal they are selling 24,000 to 72,000 points and there is a limit of 1 package per person. Hyatt low-end redemption starts at only 5,000 points and they have pretty decent properties even at low end. Hyatt points packages sell out fast (within few minutes) as they are limited, so if you are eyeing one of them be there at 10 a.m. PST time to try your luck at it.
There are other offers in daily getaways but you can do equally better going other routes rather than blocking your cash up-front. Be sure to perform your due diligence before your purchase any of the above package. Best of luck.
IHG PointBreaks hotel are once again here and they are live for your booking. You could book the hotels for just 5k points per night. You could easily buy points from ~0.6 cents/points or less by either going through Daily Getaways IHG Points purchase if you do not have any IHG Points or by booking and cancelling cash + points booking provided you have atleast 5k points in your IHG account. You can refer here on how to purchase IHG points using cash+points booking.
Although there are certain restrictions on how many nights per hotel each member can book, it is rarely enforced in practice. Below is the sample list of hotels in "United States of America" available for booking at 5k points per night and there are smaller lists for other countries. So go ahead and make your reservations NOW!!
This year Daily Getaways is already underway. As for any sale not all "sale-items are created equal and the same is true for the Daily Getaways. Below is the run down of deals which I think are good deals for each week and my brief take on which one are worth chasing. As with any deal, do your own analysis before you jump on to purchase the deal.
Week 0 (April 10 to April 14):
April 10 - Alamo Car Rental Certificate (Good Deal): You get $50 Alamo Car Rental certificate for $25. Although it is 50% off the face value, in reality the certificate works like a coupon and thus would reduce the taxes as well. On top of it you could combine 3 certificates together to get a good discount for rentals of longer period. The only downside is the certificate does not work at all Car Rental locations (including some airports).
April 12 - Priority Club IHG Points at ~0.589 to 0.6 cent/point (OK Deal): You can buy the IHG prioirity club points from ~0.589 to ~0.6 cent/point with this deal. Since you can always buy IHG points for 0.7 cent/point whenever you need as described in the linked article even without the daily getaway, this deal is only good if you have immediate use of it. Do note the IHG points now expire after 12 months if there is no activity on the account.
Week 1 (April 17 to April 21):
April 19 - Universal Studios Hollywood front of the line pass for $139 (OK Deal): This deal boasts of saving $61 off of 1 day admission pass which also gives you front of the line access. In reality this is "Non-peak" pass and you need to give 30 days of notice to book this. Alternatively if you have American Express card which keeps having Amex Sync offers at Undercover Tourist, you can do equally better rather than investing up-front in daily getaway deal.
Week 2 (April 24 to April 28):
April 25 - Avis One Day Car Rental for $30 (Good Deal?): This deal lies somewhere between OK and Good Deal. This is simply because the certificate expires in 1 year (May 15, 2018) and has restrictions of black out days while not exactly spelling out what all are the black out dates. The good part is you can rent up to "G class" of car and you can combine up to 7 certificates for up to 7 day of rental. It is a good deal only if you know you will be able to use it.
April 28 - Choice Privilege points at 0.4 to 0.45 cent/point (Great Deal): This one is a great deal and you can bet it will be sold out in few minutes. Choice privileges sells points at a cost of 1.1 cent/point without any promotion. So getting more than 50% off the purchase price of points is great deal given that you can potentially use the points at a great redemption value in Europe. As I had pointed out in my article last year there have been positive changes around Choice privilege points expiration policy etc and this represents a really good deal if you travel to Europe and use your points for hotel redemption's even in the peak season. There are 4 different packages available with price ranging from 0.4 cent/point to 0.45 cent/point and they are limited. So get them before they sell out.
Uber is more and more used for transportation including commute from/to work. Along with increasing its presence it has also partnered with SPG to provide SPG Rewards points where you earn SPG points for each Uber ride. It also has partnered with Sears SYWR where you earn flat $2 SYWR Points in about ~25 markets in United States.
While the SPG partnership requires 1 qualifying stay each year before you start earning SPG points, the partnership with Sears SYWR does not have any such requirements. Also you earn $2 in SYWR points regardless of the ride cost. Although the SYWR points earned from UBER Ride expires within 30 days of earning, $2 in SYWR can potentially give you value of USD $2.
The other interesting aspect of the SYWR partnership is that as of now you do earn SYWR points on UBEREATS as well. So, if you order your food often from UBEREATS then linking your Sears SYWR rewards account would easily get you $2 SYWR per order which you can redeem for anything Sears sells. Also UBER runs the "commuter" uberPOOL service where you can use your commuter benefits and get tax-free rides to your work while also earning $2 in SYWR points.
So, next time you ride with UBER make sure you link your account to earn these benefits free of cost.
Most of the folks who earn miles using credit card would have heard about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card from Bank of America. You can check out the flyertalk thread here with an important must-know here. Below are the few reasons folks have keen interest on this card:
The issue though is that when you apply online for the Alaska Airlines Credit Card you could either get "Visa Signature" card or the "Platinum Plus" card based on your credit worthiness. You get "Visa Signature" credit card when you secure a credit limit of $5k or more otherwise "Platinum Plus" when you secure the credit limit of less than $5k. Only the "Visa Signature" version earns 25k to 30k bonus miles whereas the "Platinum Plus" card only earns 5k bonus miles. So, your goal is to always secure the "Visa Signature" card or in other words get approved with the credit limit of $5k or more.
There are two approaches to make sure you get Visa Signature card or credit limit of $5k or more. The first one is more commonly known and used and the other one is lesser known:
Regardless of which approach you use, make sure that you have closed any of your previous opened Alaska Airlines Credit Card or do a product change to any other no-fee credit card few days before you roll in the new application. Also Bank of America combines the credit card hard-pull done on the same day most of the time, so you would (probably) not get hit with 2 credit card inquires.
So, get the easy bonus miles while this last...
Google Flights is one of the go-to tools for most folks looking to book the revenue flights. The various ease-to-use features help easily find the fares to the destination (or near by destination for creative souls). Since the ITA Matrix is at heart of the Google Flights, the same flight results can result from ITA including more details such as "fare class" as well as "Fare Rules" which are usually not shown by Google Flights. Using the "Fare Rules" details can help find out the details of the fare including the change/cancellation fees which vary by carrier.
The interesting aspect is when the flight is operated as "Code Share" flight. For e.g. a United flight is code-shared with its star alliance partners Lufthansa. Similarly carriers can have code-share agreement with another carrier in the market or route where they do not operate and this can represent the same flight being sold with different "Fare Rules" based on where you purchase your ticket from. There are certain routes which are code-shared by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Since Alaska Airlines has a very generous cancellation policy where you can change or cancel the flights up to 60 days before the date of departure the same could potentially apply to code-share flights on American Airlines. This can be easily found by looking at the "Fare Rules" from ITA Search.
For e.g. below is the one way flight search in Google flights from San Jose, Ca (SJC) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) for Dec 15, 2017. As you can see the American Airlines flight AA 1231 is marketed by Alaska Airlines as AS 6719. To top it the price is significantly cheaper on Alaska Airlines (Of-course the tickets would be booked in different booking class based on which carrier is selling the tickets) but still if you just care about going from Point A to Point B that's a good price difference. Also American Airlines charges whooping $200 as cancellation/change fee on non-refundable paid fares where as Alaska Airlines cancellation/changes are free up to 60 days before the date of departure or just $125 (assuming you do not have status with Alaska Airlines) till the date of departure.
So if you book the flight using Alaska Airlines you can get:
Of course there are few downside to this:
The next time you book the flight on any airlines and want to make sure you do not have to pay hefty fees do check the "Fare Rules" to determine Cancellation/Change fees. Also if the above Alaska Airlines booking downside seems minor to you for a code share flight between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, select Alaska Airlines for booking to get great cancellation/change policy.
Upside is the new business travel website which aims at reducing business traveler expense while at the same time providing incentives in terms of gift cards for travel package (flight + hotel) booked through their website. The way it works is they will encourage you to choose "alternative options" which might still work for you while providing you with $100 or more in known brand gift cards (You can select which gift card you want).
They nominally charge $35 booking fee which is potentially offset by the gift cards they offer for the booking done through their website. As of this writing their are offering a minimum of $200 in gift cards for the "flight + hotel" package regardless of price booked through them and also waiving $35 booking fee if you use some of their launch partner promotion code (google it and you will find few of them easily and you can enter them here). Although their primary target audience is business travelers you could still book the trip through them for leisure and earn the gift cards. So potentially it can be very lucrative offer to give them a try if you are looking for a weekend outing somewhere close by where you can essentially earn $200 in gift cards easily.
Their package cost are usually equal or less than the cost of flights and hotels if booked separately but at the same time providing you with good value gift cards. The biggest return is if you book international itineraries but even domestic itinerary would give you good value for your money. Also you do have option of making your trip "refundable" but at a higher cost. Below is one of the examples of available trips which looks very attractive using their promotion.
As you can see from above example your actual cost is close to ~50% factoring in the gift card rebate. If you are flexible in your days and are looking for vacation close by, you could easily reduce the above cost more than 50%.
So, take upside for a ride and see what you can find for your getaway.
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on 3 aspects: