There is currently an offer available for new members of Mileage Plus Dining where you could earn 6k United miles if you are MileagePlus member or 7k United miles if you are MileagePlus Premier member. Let's dissect the offer to see what it really means. Below is what is stated for the offer:
Now here is one of the way (Thank You Amex!) using which you can maximize this without dining and minimum out of pocket cost. There is an American Express Sync offer for dining place called "Buca Di Beppo" where you get $10 statement credit for spend of $50. The Amex sync offer expires on 09/16/2015. This restaurant is a participant on United Mileage Plan dining and other Reward Network Dining Program at lot of locations. (You will need to check for your location, but below is a snap shot in Bay Area). The interesting thing is that they sell gift cards for dining with them in their restaurant locations and buying those gift cards would still trigger the cash back and bonus for United Miles. Also these gift cards have "re-sale" value of ~70% at the time of this writing.
So here is the gist of the deal:
As you can see if you spend ~$550 (spend needed to earn full promotion bonus) you would earn 6k or 7k United miles (plus any additional 5 miles/$ spend for your dining). Thus for an out of pocket spend of $55 you can earn 6k or 7k miles.
Of-course there are better ways to maximize this deal. As a teaser by going after just the initial sign up bonus for multiple family member accounts you can earn 1k/2k miles for net cost of $5 only!
In the previous installment we talked about how Hidden City Revenue Ticket can be booked. Let's see how we can apply the same to book award tickets with hidden city which can either reduced the "fuel surcharges" or the "number of miles" required for the award. Below are the traits of booking such an award:
Lets see the usage of above with few examples:
Going from South Asia to Central Asia using United Miles:
United typically charges 35k/60k/110k miles in Economy/Business/First respectively for travel between South Asia region and Central Asia region yet it only charges 20k/35k/45k miles for travel wholly within "South Asia" region. As you can see from below a trip from Kathmandu (KTM) to Bangkok (BKK) requires 35k miles in Economy and 60k
Now, lets try one of the "hidden city" concept to see if we can reduce the price. Let's see what happens if we change our destination to Colombo (CMB) which is in South Asia region.
As you can see from above the mileage cost has reduced from 35k/60k to 20k/35k and you are still travelling via Bangkok (BKK). The idea here is you can book the flight from Kathmandu to Colombo via Bangkok and can get down at Bangkok as long as you do not have any checked-in Bags and have "visa" for Colombo (you will need Colombo visa to board the flight from Kathmandu).
Going from North America to South Pacific using Delta Skymiles:
Most of you would consider Delta Skymiles to be useless but one of the sweet redemption is travelling to Australia on Virgin Australia using Delta Skymiles. You can only book Delta flights round trip but can have one-stop over and one open-jaw in the route. Ideally Delta would charge 100k/160k in Economy/Business to fly Australia as shown below:
Lets now change to destination in some other region where Virgin Australia flies. How about some another vacation spot? If you change the destination to Bali (DPS) which is in Southeast Asia you can reduce the mileage cost to 80k/140k in Economy/Business as shown below:
As you can see there are quite a few opportunities which reduces the mileage cost with the help of "Hidden City Ticketing". On similar lines changing the destination to something which has "low fuel surcharge" when booking through mileage currency from programs such as ANA or Aeroplan which typically levies fuel surchage can provide good amount of savings.
So, look around for such opportunities before you book your next vacation.
Ever wondered, which airline flies which route and what are the flight options for the given city? Would that not be much easier if there was single source or page listing all the flights departing a airport? or showing flight details between two city pair?. Although no single website exists which could satisfy this needs there are several resources which could help you find that info. Below are some of the useful websites which can help you get that info, which would help you finalize that missing puzzle of your successful award or revenue travel.
Currently in beta flightconnections will help you find what are the "destinations" served from the airport of your desire and if you key in source/destination pair the available airline/flight options between those two airport/city pair. Of-course you could click on one of those airlines and go to one of their "affiliate" booking web-page, but at least you get the info you need.
Open Flights is like a wikipedia of flights. As it is open-source it is maintained by community of volunteers, and thus would have good info albeit some of the info might be wrong. The interesting part is you could view or list flights from a given "airport" or "city" and the data could be either seen as a map or read as a list. You can even sort the data as well as filter per the "airlines". As seen from below snapshots!
This tool would be useful if you know the source and destination as well as the dates of your travel and want to know all the available flight options. So, although limited compared to open flights or flightconnection it is still useful as it can quickly list all the options on various airlines as can be seen from below search.
This website requires a little more info before spitting out the route-map but it is useful if you are looking for a route map by "region" or "airline". You could plug in your short-listing criteria and get set of route-maps which are available. You can see a simple search for American Airlines below yields links to various route maps by region as well detailed info on the "hubs".
Airline Route Mapper
Airline route mapper is another tool which was created by flyertalk member cockpitvisit. You need to download this tool but it does list a fairly comprehensive and updated route map. So, if you are one of those who do lot of search and do not mind installing this tool on your laptop/desktop then this is for you.
Apart from above there is a route map (which might be a little limited in its usage but still useful) for One World Alliance routes which can be found here and Star Alliance routes which can be found here.
There are two promotions going on currently which can help you earn United Miles at ~1.8 cpm (cent per mile). Although this might not be a cool way to earn united miles, but if you are short of miles for you next award and want to get there quickly this could be for you rather than buying it directly from united at a cost of ~3.5 cpm.
There are currently two promotions going on which both co-incidentally run till November 30th, 2013.
Wyndham points can be purchase in the blocks of 1000 points with each 1000 points costing $11. So let's say you purchased 20,000 Wyndham points you would essentially pay $220 for 24,000 points (20,000 + 4000 [bonus]). Wyndham points convert at ratio of 2.5:1 to United Miles. Thus you would trade 24,000 Wyndham points to 9600 United Miles. Since United will give you 25% bonus on received miles which is 2400 additional miles (9600 x 25%). Thus you get 12,000 miles (9600 + 2400) for a payment of $220 which is ~1.833 cent/mile.
There is one more way of earning United Miles for same price as above if you do not mind renting a car at Alamo if it is available for cheap (This is YMMV and thus proceed with caution). For details of this promo offer which earns 1000 miles for 1 day rentals check here.
ITA MATRIX is one of the best "free" tool available to search for the flights with variety of options. This is really useful if you are looking to fly a specific airline carrier, or you want to know which near-by airport has the cheapest available fare to your destination, or you are looking for the specific fare class which would still earn full 100% miles. Below is a sample list of things you could do using ITA MATRIX but by no means is exhaustive:
Although you can search different combination's as mentioned above the "ITA MATRIX" does not allow you to make a final purchase nor directs you to one. But most of the time knowing the fare exists would enable you to book your ticket either through OTA (Online Travel Agent) website such Expedia, Priceline or Orbitz or book through other meta search engine sites such as Skyscanner or Hipmunk. You can also book the tickets through various airlines own websites as well if you so desire. Also note that the search does not include any OTA or airline specific coupons or discounts which you could use if available.
Q: How to do a basic search with price per mile enabled?
A: To do the search with price per mile enabled you need to add "?showPricePerMile=true" at the end of webpage link of ITA MATRIX or use this link. Let's do a search for a 2 to 3 day roundtrip from SFO to MIA on any day in the month of September 2013 for Economy Cabin Class.
The result of the above search can be seen below in Fig 2. As you can see the rates are different for different dates as well as it shows if it is for 2 or 3 days turn as well. You can modify the highlighted box in "red" for search for different month or days of trip.
As you can see from Fig. 3, selecting the cheapest trip shown in Fig. 2 loads up variety of flights at different times as well as showing "price per mile" for those trips.
As mentioned this was a simple search with single source and destination. If you want to depart from either of SJC or SFO and your destination could be either of FLL or MIA, you could put that in the search box as shown in Fig. 4
For searching flights operated by only "American Airlines", you can enable "advance routing codes" field and add "AA+" or change the "Departing from" field to look like "SFO, SJC::AA+"
As you can see there are "tons" of possibility of advance code combinations you can use to make your search more specific, but remember if you put "too many generic" options the ITA MATRIX tool will simply time-out or exit with only "partial" results. So, it is prudent to make your search as specific as possible as well as having broad characteristics of details important to you. Below are some examples of advance routing codes which would be useful. We have assumed the "Departing from" to be SFO, but you have any other airport code for your search. The "two letter" code of each airline can be found here.
There are many more such codes which are useful to trim down to the flights you are looking for. more information about these can be found on the flyerguide post here. Hope this would be useful for planning your next trip with cash and knowing what were your options before making the purchase.
Most of the credit cards offer some sort of incentive to entice you in applying for them. Sometimes they come up with great offers as well. Below are the few credit credit cards which are offering lucrative bonus miles. These credit cards offer have value of close to $400 to $500 worth of air-travel or cash equivalent. Here is the list:
1. United Explorer Card 50k Miles: United Airlines is having a 50k miles bonus promotion for signing up on their Explorer Card. The details are below:
2. British Airways 100k Miles: British Airways is offering 100k miles in total for signing up for British Airways Visa Card. The details are below:
3. American Airlines 50k Miles (x 2): There are various offers available for American Airlines Credit Card. Since Citi Bank is the card issuer it allows to apply for 2 personal credit cards at same time and thus you can maximize to earn 100k miles by applying for 2 variants of the same card (VISA & AMEX) or (VISA & MasterCard) using 2 browser trick. Also as an added advantage you only get one credit card pull on your credit report since two credit pulls get merged since they are from the same issuer and for the same card type. More info about the 2 browser trick can be found here. There are various offers floating at the moment with annual fees of ~$95 (waived for 1st year) and I am listing all the offers below. (HT to flytertalk page here)
a. 50k miles after $2500 spend in 4 months (Note: No Admirals Club passes or statement credit; Thanks to FT member jeanie). -- Expired, No landing page, but still working
b. Up to $150 statement credits for the eligible AA purchases made within 12 months of card membership, 45k miles after $5,000 in purchases within the first 4 months, 2 Admirals Club passes. (Thanks to FT member jeanie)
c. Up to $100 credit, two admirals club passes, 50k miles (40k miles for $2k within 4 months of opening + 10k miles after $5k within 12 months of opening), 2 miles/$ on AA: Direct Links:
American Airlines rewards can be redeemed for One World Alliance member flights as well as any of their partner airlines as well. Also off-peak round trip Europe travel from USA only costs 40k miles.
4. US Airways 40k Miles: You can earn 40k miles after the first purchase. Although the application page says it's only for Chairman's Preferred Members, anyone applying using the link and approved for the card have received all the benefits, but obviously YMMV. The application link is here. Some of the details for the card are as below:
US Ariways Miles can be redeemed on United Airlines or any Star Alliance flights (although with some restrictions) as well as partner airlines. Also US Airways reward flight can only be booked on phone and there is reward redemption fee for both domestic and international awards. US Airways Credit Card is offered by Barclays Bank.
There are so many credit cards available with good offers that at times it becomes confusing on which credit card to consider. This article will list the best combo (publicly available offers) as of current date that can help you reach to your next award flight. For the sake of brevity we will list only the "bonus miles"!
American Airlines 70k miles bonus combo:
You can apply for 2 personal credit cards from Citi within 90 days period. That means you can apply for both the cards below using "two browser trick". The trick is to apply for both the cards at the "same time" so that you are considered as first time card holder for both of them and get approved for both with aggregate 70k miles. There are other higher miles offer (not public) available not listed here.
United Airlines 65k to 70k miles bonus combo:
You can apply for United Explorer card (25k to 30k miles) + Chase Sapphire Preferred card (40k miles) to get 65k bonus miles (plus 5k miles for adding authorized user). Since both United Explorer Card and Chase Sapphire preferred card are issued by chase it is best advisable to do these two applications more than 90 days apart.
Hawaiian Airlines 70k miles bonus combo:
You can apply for 2 Hawaiian airline credit card one each from "Bank of America" and "Bank of Hawaii". This will net you 70k miles which are good enough for return flight to Hawaii!! Make sure you apply for both the cards the same day to avoid any issues of not getting approved.
Above are only few example's which could help you secure you next international inexpensive trip. You could potentially also transfer points/miles from AMEX premier rewards gold or AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest card to add to the total to get higher/better class of travel!!
Most of the airlines in US have a co-branded card between themselves and the merchant bank. But there are few credit cards which earn points that can be converted to miles of number of airlines. These cards have advantage of filling out the void of few thousand miles required in specific airline program as well as help in accumulating enough points which can be converted to miles for a reward travel. Lets explore these cards further:
1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card: This is one of the go-to card for earning points which can be converted to lot of partner programs, most of them at 1:1 ratio. This card has following features:
The best part of this card is the redemption options available. You can redeem your points into miles for following airlines at the time of this writing:
There are other airlines as partners but for them you can redeem the points only for specific tickets. You can also redeem for various hotel partners but that's not the focus of this article. The complete partner list can be found by going here and selecting "Use Points -> Airlines"
2. Chase Sapphire Preferred: This is one of the favorite personal credit card for lot of people simply because of the ability to earn bonus points on purchases through its "Ultimate Rewards Mall". This card has lot fewer airline partners compared to American Express Premier Rewards card and it transfers the points at 1:1 ratio as well. United and Korean airlines offer great redemption value. This card also has some great features as listed below:
The airline partners are listed below:
3. Starwood Preferred Guest: The value of this credit card lies in points+cash redemption in its brand hotels as well as 1:1.25 points to miles transfer ratio to most of its partner airlines. So for every transfer of 20k points you end up getting 25k miles. Also the long list of partner airlines makes this credit card a good to keep. Below are the features of this card:
The amazing airlines partners list can be found here although few of them are listed below
Note: I do not earn any referral credit from the links above. Also I advise to look for best available offer before applying for the credit cards.
Your Problem: Imagine the situation that you have earned miles for flying one of your less favorite airlines last summer and accumulated few thousand miles but have no use for them. Or you stayed in that wonderful and expensive hotel and earned some of their loyalty program points but do not know what to do of those?
If you have face one of the above situation and want to get some value out of otherwise "wasteful" miles and points than you have "points.com" at your rescue.
If you have never heard about points.com or have heard bad things about points.com than stay with me as I would take you through some hidden gems of this program while avoiding the popular mistakes. Below are few features listed:
1. The program is free to join.
2. It allows to exchange, buy or trade miles and points between various participating airline and hotel programs albeit at some cost.
3. You can redeem the unused miles or points for either Paypal cash or gift cards.
Analysis of Points.com: Since points.com is free to join and you can potentially exchange, buy or trade your miles/points, it has some great value to offer if you use it correctly. Remember airlines and hotels do not want you to exchange or trade your otherwise useless miles and points as they know exactly that they are "useless". Points.com comes to rescue by getting some value out of those "useless" miles/points. Below are few hypothetical but could be real scenarios which would give you great value out of this program.
Scenario A: You have 2000 Elevate miles accumulated in Virgin America from the last flight you took for which you have no use of. You are planning to just forget about those miles and move on...
Solution: Hold on.. below I have listed few of many options available using points.com. You can trade 2000 Elevate points for:
1. 1580 US Airways Dividend miles
2. 878 United Mileage plus miles or American Airlines AAdvantage miles
3. 1700 Cathay Pacific Asia miles
4. 1700 Priority club points
You can check the complete list of available options here.
Scenario B: You are short by 43 miles for United Airlines Mileage plus reward level of 12500 points. You want to book the reward within next few days but do not know the cheapest way of getting those 43 miles quickly. Ideally if you want to buy from United Airlines you will need to buy in multiples of 1000 points at a cost of $35/1000 points without any ongoing promotion.
Solution: You realize that you are member of US Airways Dividend miles and you have about 250 dividend miles accumulated from the new member promotion they had some time back. You quickly log-on to points.com and you find that you can get 43 United Mileage plus miles in exchange of 200 US Air Dividend miles. Although looks like a poor conversion ratio, but hey mind you are saving $35! The complete list of option's for US Airways can be found here.
Scenario C: You have accumulated 6500 points on your flight with Cathay Pacific Asia miles more than 2 years ago. These points are going to expire soon and you do not want to transfer to any other airline partner
Solution: You can redeem 6353 points for $27 in Amazon credits good towards any purchase on Amazon.com
You can also trade miles from one program to another, but these are generally based on availability and usually costs almost the same as buying points from the Airlines directly. Your specific situation might vary depending on trade available etc
As you can see from above scenarios, that points.com best value lies in exchange where you have few thousand "useless" miles and sometimes in redemption of soon to expire miles. Also programs like Frontier Airlines do not allow you to redeem their miles for anything except flight reward or magazines, so you could potentially extract more value by using points.com for Frontier Airline transaction.
Below is the list of few popular points.com participating airlines and hotels:
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