Authors Posts by Scott Grimmer

Scott Grimmer

2333 POSTS 7223 COMMENTS

8

You wouldn’t like Hawaii… unless you like pristine beaches, beautiful hikes, and 80 degree weather. Hawaii is my favorite place in the world. (A few of my photos are sprinkled through this post.)

If Hawaii is your favorite place, or if you’ve always wanted to take a family vacation there: one person can easily earn enough miles to book 6 economy roundtrip awards to Hawaii or nearly 4 First Class roundtrip awards.

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There are two basic ideas:

  1. You don’t need many Singapore Airlines miles to get to Hawaii on United flights. You just need 17,500 miles each way in economy between Hawaii and the mainland or 30,000 miles in United First Class–even on the routes with flat beds.
  2. You can transfer any type of transferable points to Singapore miles.

You can get the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus from Chase, the Citi Prestige® Card, and the Mercedes-Benz Platinum from American Express, and then transfer all the points you earn to at least 216,000 Singapore miles.

With a simple five-step process, one person can go from zero miles to booking a party of six their roundtrip flights to Hawaii.
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The steps are:

  1. Open four credit cards
  2. Meet their minimum spending requirements
  3. Find award space on United flights to Hawaii
  4. Transfer your cards’ points to Singapore miles.
  5. Call Singapore to book the awards

1. Open the Cards

The four cards are three personal cards from three different banks plus a business card from one of the same banks. You an get all four on the same day as long as you can meet their combined minimum spending requirements of $15,000 in the first three months. If you can’t meet that high of a combined minimum spending requirement, stagger your sign ups.

  • The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. While I can not directly link to the current offer for the Ink Plus, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Meeting the cards’ minimum spending requirements will earn a total of at least 216,000 points (probably more considering the cards various category bonuses), all of which can be transferred to Singapore Krisflyer miles. That’s enough for 6x roundtrips in economy to Hawaii (210k Singapore miles) and almost enough for 4x roundtrips in First Class (240k.)

2. Meet their minimum spending requirements

If $16,000 in three months is more than you normally spend, you can manufacture spending or stagger the applications.

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Your points will post at about the same time that the statement period ends during which you met the minimum spending requirement.

While meeting your minimum spending requirements earn extra points by hitting category bonuses like 3x points for hotels and airfare on the Citi Prestige® Card.

3. Find award space on United flights to Hawaii

I’ve explained in detail steps three through five in my post about how I booked myself a Singapore Airlines award to Hawaii on United flights.

During these steps, you’ll have to decide whether you want to pay 17,500 miles each way in economy or 30,000 miles each way in United First. I’d pretty much always choose First Class for that differential, and I’d also try to find United flights on which First Class features flat beds as explained in this post.

Why United flights? Because Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance with United, so you can use its miles to book all the same Saver award space that United releases to its general members.

Can you find six award seats on the same flights? That’s not a problem at all, especially during the winter. All the yellow days below have economy award space for six from Los Angeles to Honolulu on one or more United flights.

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4. Transfer your cards’ points to Singapore miles.

This can take about 36 hours, so you have to live with the small chance that award space disappears in the meantime.

5. Call Singapore to book the awards

Easy and explained here.

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The total cost of the awards will be about $11 per person plus the miles.

Bottom Line

One person can open up four credit cards and have enough miles to book six people to Hawaii roundtrip for just the miles earned from the sign up bonuses plus $66 total.

This amazing deal is possible because Singapore miles are a transfer partner of Chase, Citi, and American Express points. Any other use for which Singapore miles are valuable (like United flights to Europe, Singapore Suites, and awards to South America with a few stopovers) can also be leveraged by getting multiple credit cards from all the transferable points programs.

There’s no excuse for not taking your family to Hawaii to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf!

Application Links

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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6

I originally wrote this series in 2012.  As it has turned out to be quite popular, I am in the process of updating it to reflect current information for 2016.

“Top 10 Things to Do, See, and Eat in Peru” Series Index

2. Swim with the Pink Dolphins in the Amazon Rainforest

Sixty percent of Peru is Amazon Rainforest. Peru’s natural beauty rivals its historical and cultural beauty. The most accessible jumping off points for visits to the rainforest are Puerto Maldonado in the southeast and Iquitos in the northeast.

I think Iquitos is a more interesting city, but otherwise the options are pretty equal. In both cases, you’ll have the chance to take a boat down the river to the eco-lodge of your choice in all budget ranges. Choose one in your budget range with a good first-hand review or internet reviews.

Daily hikes will reveal a wealth of interesting plant and animal life. Nightly hikes or boat rides will spot the nocturnal animals like caimans. There aren’t a lot of amazing animal ecosystems left, so a chance to see a rainforest full of monkeys, butterflies, frogs, and lizards shouldn’t be missed.

But by far the coolest animal in the Peruvian rainforest is the pink dolphin–yes, they’re really pink.

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Spotting or swimming with these guys is the highlight of the Amazon. The other highlight is the lack of cell phone service. Bring some good books, and because electricity is scarce even at the lodges, a charged e-reader might be advisable.

The main lowlights in the jungle are the intense humidity and mosquitos. Bring your DEET-packed bug spray and mentally prepare yourself to be wet the entire time.

If you’re extremely adventurous, you can take boat cruises down the Amazon of varying length. You can even cross into Brazil or Bolivia via boat. I haven’t done any of the boat cruises, but I’d be interested if anyone has any experience.

Hotels: eco-lodges or tents depending on your price range.

Time needed to visit: 2-5 days.

How to Get There

4,500 Avios from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado or Lima to Iquitos each way and a few dollars in tax (flying LATAM).

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Best Time to Visit

The high tourist season for the Peruvian Amazon is the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, June to September. There are less mosquitoes and animals tend to hang out around the rivers more, making sitings a bit easier. But as always, tourist high season = higher prices. A pro to going during the wetter, more mosquito ridden time aside from cheaper services/accommodation: water levels are higher in the summer, making exploration of the river more accessible.

3. See the Less Famous Inca Ruins in the Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley is the area around Cuzco dotted with Inca ruins, tiny towns, and Quechua speakers. Most people see some of the sites as part of a package tour that includes Cuzco and Machu Picchu. The area is amazing, and should not be rushed through. It rewards the independent traveler.

I think the must-sees are Ollantaytambo, Q’allaqasa and Intihuatana at Pisac, and Chinchero Market. (Pro tip for any Spanish speakers: Quechua speakers pronounce “ll” like “li,” so Quechua place names are pronounced this way. That’s why the nickname for Ollantaytambo and the first name of Peru’s president are pronounced “Olianta.”

Ollantaytambo is a small town with cobblestone streets and stone houses. The city has been continuously inhabited for 900 years, so you can see for yourself the urban planning of the Incas. The town itself deserves a long walk in the evening. (Maybe the night before taking the train to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu. More about taking the train from here to Machu Picchu at #1).

ollantay

But the star of Ollantaytambo is the terraced fortress smiling down on the town. These are some of the best Inca ruins in Peru and show how the Inca farmed and how they protected their cities. You can also see the stone storehouses on the mountain that the Incas used to preserve their crops. How the Incas figured out that the location and design of the storehouses preserved their crops longer is beyond me!

ollantay2Q’allasqa is one of my favorite Inca ruins, a well-preserved citadel on top of a mountain. Intihuatana is the nearby Temple of the Sun, the Inca god. What’s so great about these ruins is that they almost rival Machu Picchu and Ollantaytambo in impressiveness, and they are completely deserted. Pisac’s big market days are Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, so if you come on other days, these ruins are all yours.

Finally, while Pisac’s market is bigger, I prefer Chinchero’s market. Chichero’s Sunday and smaller Tuesday/Thursday markets have all the tourist tchotchkes you can buy throughout Peru: Inca chess sets, llama figurines made with real llama fur, “alpaca” scarves (that are mostly llama fur.)

But what makes Chinchero’s market better than most markets is that it is attached to a real locals’ market. Locals come from surrounding villages to sell their crops, animals, and other products. You can watch how real markets have worked in Peru for centuries.

Here’s some bargaining advice gleaned from economic theory worthy of Gary Leff. Just be ruthless and get the lowest price you can, which is probably under half of the original asking price and may be as low as one fifth depending on the item. Aren’t you being selfish as a rich foreigner by doing this to a poor Peruvian?

No. Economic theory would suggest that if people overpay the vendors, vendors’ expected earnings will increase, causing more people to choose selling at the market on the margin. More vendors will rush in driving expected earnings back down to where the marginal vendor is indifferent between selling at the market and his old job again. So overpaying doesn’t enrich the vendors long term; it just creates more of them.

There’s plenty to do in the Sacred Valley, so don’t skip over it on the way to Machu Picchu, and see it independently if you feel comfortable traveling that way. It will be more rewarding than a packaged tour, which will rush through these site and will ensure you are always at a place packed with tourists.

Hotels: Base yourself in Cuzco, and do day trips. The exception is Ollantaytambo where I recommend an overnight en route to Machu Picchu. More in the Machu Picchu section.

Time needed to visit: 3+ days

How to Get There

You can take private cars, tour bus, or public bus from Cuzco or between these towns. To learn how to get to Lima, read the Prologue of this series. To learn how to get to from Lima to Cuzco, read the Machu Picchu section of this series.

Sarah Page’s Two Cents: The Sacred Valley

I did not travel to the Amazon when I visited Peru. I did spend time in the Sacred Valley though, and found the towns dotting it to be culturally rich and charming. While I loved the historic architecture and significance of Cuzco, it’s full of tourists. The Sacred Valley still maintains that untouched charm that off the beaten path travelers strive for.  Below are some of my recommendations that I particularly enjoyed in the Sacred Valley.

Pisac

I recommend hiking to Intihuatana from the trail that begins in the town and winds up through the Incan terraces. There are beautiful views along the way you won’t see if you take a bus to the top, and overall the hike isn’t that long (from my memory it took a couple hours, but I stopped for a lot of pictures).
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Intihuatana

Walking down from Intihuatana on the other side of the mountain is more terracing.

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Wind down through that for about 10 minute and you’ll get to a parking lot where you can either take a bus or a taxi back to the town of Pisac.

Ollantaytambo

Another Incan ruin I enjoyed that Scott didn’t mention is Puma Marca. There is a trail you can take from the town of Ollantaytambo all the way to the ruins.  Overall the hike takes anywhere from four to six hours roundtrip on foot. It winds through terraces along the side of a mountain, looking down on farms, rivers, and eucalyptus tree forests nestled in a valley. I was completely alone the entire time, except for a few local farmers and cows I passed by.

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The Incan ruins are beautiful as well, and not so commonly visited. I had them all to myself even though I was there during the peak tourist season.

Puma Marca
Puma Marca

The hike to Pumamarca isn’t exactly the most well marked, but you can google the directions to follow (like these). Just pack lots of water and snacks and a sense of adventure and you will be greatly rewarded. It’s one of my fondest memories in Peru, and traveling, perhaps ever.

Food in the Sacred Valley

I ate at a lovely little place called Mullu Cafe in the square of Pisac that head a massive menu full of interesting, healthy options. It’s always refreshing to find tasty, healthy food when traveling as it’s not the easiest to come by. The owner’s name is Josip, so be sure to say hello if you stop in. You can tell him Sarah from Buenos Aires sent you!

And while we’re on the subject of food: if you drive by a place near Lamay (in the Sacred Valley) with a large statue of a guinea pig, STOP.

Sarah Page Maxwell in the Sacred Valley
If you see this guinea pig statue in the Sacred Valley, stop and eat!

They serve a delicious “cuy”, aka guinea pig, which is a traditional dish in this region of Peru. The woman in this picture had spent hours roasting the cuy rotisserie-style, by HAND. The Peruvians take pride in their cuy.

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In Ollantaytambo, two meals stick out in my memory. One was the Aji de Gallina at a place called Coffee Tree. Aji de Gallina is one of my favorite traditional Peruvian dishes made with shredded chicken stewed in a spicy, creamy sauce served on top of rice. La Esquina was great for hearty, creative salads (again, a hard thing to come by traveling!) and serves the local craft beer Sacred Valley Brewing Company.

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Bottom Line

You can see exotic flora and fauna in the Amazon in one of the few truly diverse animal ecosystems left on this planet. You can see ancient Incan ruins set in charming towns throughout the Sacred Valley, with great hiking and food to boot. Don’t miss out on either of these destinations as they lay at the heart of Peruvian culture.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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3

Singapore Airlines is altering its routes to the United States in October 2016. Currently, Singapore flies from four American cities to Singapore with stops along the way in Europe and Asia.

  • San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore
  • Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore

Singapore is making several changes though. It is changing which West Coast city flies to Seoul, and adding a direct flight from San Francisco.

  • Subtracting San Francisco to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 22, 2016
  • Adding Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore October 23
  • Adding San Francisco to Singapore October 23

It also changing the routing from Houston to Singapore.

  • Subtracting Houston to Moscow (DME) to Singapore October 29, 2016
  • Adding Houston to Manchester to Singapore October 30

That means from October 30, 2016, the new routes will be:

  • San Francisco to Singapore on the A350-900
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN) to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • Houston to Manchester to Singapore on the new 777-300ER
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt to Singapore on the A380

The new route map, from October 30, 2016 will look like this:

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Singapore Business Class Product

Singapore Airlines Business Class is among the best in the world. The massively wide seats/beds are laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration on the A350, 777, and A380.

The seats look almost exactly like the Singapore First Class seat and better than the First Class seat on many airlines. In addition, you will get top-notch service, delicious food, expensive alcohol, and lounge access during your journey.

Singapore Business Class is world-class.

Award Prices on New Route Network in Business Class

For Business Class Saver award space (after 15% discount for booking online):

  • San Francisco to Singapore: 68,000 Singapore miles + $253
  • San Francisco to Hong Kong: 63,750 Singapore miles + $23
  • Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT): 65,785 Singapore miles + $23
  • Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN):  65,785 Singapore miles + $193
  • Houston to Manchester: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193
  • New York (JFK) to Frankfurt: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

You’ll notice all of the awards are cheap. The awards to Europe being under 50,000 miles and the awards to Hong Kong and Tokyo without fuel surcharges are steals.

These awards can only be booked with Singapore miles, not partner miles like United miles, because Singapore only releases longhaul Business and First Class award space to its KrisFlyer program and not to partners.

You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

Award Space on New Route Network in Business Class

For all six American routes, I took a look at Business Class award space for one and two people in the first week of November, February, April, and June. (I often uses this method because it should catch seasonal and day-of-the-week variations.)

San Francisco to Singapore: 68,000 Singapore miles + $253

SFO-SIN had award space on 13/28 days for one passenger and 8/28 for two passengers. All of the award space was February 3rd or later. There was award space every day I checked in April.

San Francisco to Hong Kong: 63,750 Singapore miles + $23

SFO-HKG had award space on 3/28 days for one passenger and 2/28 for two passengers, all of which was in April or June.

Los Angeles to Tokyo (NRT): 65,785 Singapore miles + $23

LAX-NRT had award space on 9/28 days for one passenger and 8/28 for two passengers. All of the award space was February 4th or sooner.

Los Angeles to Seoul (ICN):  65,785 Singapore miles + $193

LAX-ICN had award space on 25/28 days for one passenger and 23/28 for two passengers. This new route is by far the most wide open in Business Class at the moment.

Houston to Manchester: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

IAH-MAN will not operate on Mondays or Thursdays. The route had award space on 10/20 days for one passenger and all 10 of those days had space for two passengers. All of the award space was in November or February, nothing in April or June at the moment on the days I checked.

New York (JFK) to Frankfurt: 48,875 Singapore miles + $193

JFK-FRA had award space on 4/28 days for one passenger and 3/28 for two passengers.

Bottom Line

In October, Singapore is significantly altering its route network to the United States. I checked out Business Class award space on the new routes for November through June and found that it varied significantly by route though all routes have at least some days with award space for two passengers at Saver prices.

Singapore Business Class is worth considering because it is much cheaper than the devalued prices American airlines charge, and it is a world-class product.

To book Singapore Business Class, you need Singapore miles. You can easily get Singapore miles because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of every major transferable points program. The best ways to earn Singapore miles:

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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3

The landscape for credit card approvals, and more importantly, getting cards’ bonuses has changed during the five years I’ve been in the game. I combined the new rules to write “Best Order for Card Applications to Maximize Bonuses Over Your Lifetime” two months ago, and everything in it is still true.

But I want to write a follow up post about a further change to the recommended best practices for applying for credit cards.

The Change: Instead of applying for cards from different banks on the same day, wait a day or two between applications to let credit inquiries from the last bank combine.

The Reasons:

  • If you apply for multiple cards from one bank on the same day, that bank often combines those applications into one credit inquiry. But it takes a day or two for the multiple credit pulls for the multiple cards to be combined into one inquiry.
  • The fewer inquiries you have on your credit report, the better your chances are for approval with the next bank.
  • The reasoning to make all your applications on the same day–that maybe each bank wouldn’t see the other bank’s applications yet–is dead because pulls show up instantly on your credit report.

Combined Credit Inquiries (Pulls)

When you apply for a credit card, the card issuer will check your credit report to see if you are good enough credit risk to be approved.

When a bank checks a credit report after a credit card application, it is considered a “hard pull” or “hard inquiry.” (A “soft inquiry” results from a check of the credit report not related to a lending decision, like when you check your own credit report.) The hard pull shows up instantly on your credit report. Hard pulls lower your credit score. In my experience, after a hard pull, my score drops 2-5 points for a few months, at which point the effect is gone. And after two years, the hard pull itself is completely gone from the credit report.

Hard pulls are bad because they temporarily lower your credit score and because some banks count them to see if you’re applying for a lot of credit cards, which they assume you are doing just for the bonuses, which would make you an unprofitable customer that they’ll deny.

Of course, hard pulls are worth it if a credit card is offering a juicy deal, but all things equal, we’d like to minimize the number of pulls on our credit report. So if we could get multiple cards but only one pull, that would be ideal.

This is indeed possible because some credit card issuers will only do one pull for all the cards you apply for on the same day. Usually, though, each application shows up as a hard pull for a day or two before they are combined into one pull.

Let’s pause here and marvel at all those “weasel words” as my English teacher called them: “possible,” “some,” “usually.”

A whole family of weasel words
A whole family of weasel words

Unfortunately the rules for combining inquiries vary by bank, sometimes by whether you are applying for personal or business cards, and sometimes change so that your results don’t match previously reported results.

The best way to know whether your multiple applications from one bank will be combined into one inquiry is to read this Doctor of Credit post and its comments for updates.

How Long Does It Take Credit Inquiries to Combine

Just because credit inquiries combine doesn’t meant it happens instantly. The Devil’s Advocate has conclusively shown that multiple applications show as multiple pulls for 12-48 hours before they combine. As he puts it:

There’s a bit of confusion about what actually happens when inquiries combine, so let’s clear things up. It’s not usually the banks that combine credit inquiries, but rather the credit reporting agencies themselves. Many CRA computers appear programmed to assume that two or more inquiries on the same day from the same lender are a mistake, or simply a duplicate of the same inquiry. Therefore, the repeated ones are deleted (or “combined”), leaving just one inquiry on your credit report.

A + B + C = The Logical Takeaway

So credit pulls show up instantly on your report (and to other banks), credit pulls can be combined, but the combining isn’t instant. Add that up and you get a new strategy for applying for multiple cards from multiple banks at the same time. Instead of applying for them all in the same day like I used to recommend, you should apply for all the cards from one bank on one day, wait until your credit pulls from that bank are combined, and then apply for all cards from the next bank on one day.

While previously you did all of your applications in the same day, not maybe the process will take three days or a week.

Bottom Line

I think the change to strategy laid out in this post is very important, but let’s not forget what it doesn’t change.

So if you understand all that, it should be a snap to understand that the new best practice for applying for multiple cards from multiple banks is to wait until the credit inquiries from each bank combine before moving on to the next bank.

Check out the Devil’s Advocate post from which I got this idea for screen shots showing how to see whether inquiries have combined. And check out the hard work done by Doctor of Credit to keep track of under what circumstances credit pulls combine.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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67

British Airways collects fuel surcharges on almost all award redemptions. People constantly complain to me that their recent “free ticket” cost $650 or $1,000 or more in “taxes.”

In fact, taxes make up a small share of the cash component of most British Airways awards. Instead British Airways is collecting fuel surcharges on almost all awards, making those awards very poor values.

But there are exceptions where taxes can be as low as $2.50 on an award with no fuel surcharges. And we only want to use our Avios on these exceptions.

When exactly does British Airways collect fuel surcharges on Avios awards and when does it not?

They collect fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. How can you tell if the equivalent cash flight will have fuel surcharges? ITA Matrix.

ITA Matrix gives a breakdown of every dollar of the price of a ticket including fuel surcharges.

If I search for a flight from JFK to London on British Airways on ITA Matrix, and then select a specific flight, it will show breakdown of the ticket price, like this:

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Anything on the breakdown labeled as YQ or YR is a fuel surcharge.

The fuel surcharges you see in the price of a cash ticket will match the fuel surcharges you have to pay on your British Airways award (even if you’re not searching British Airways flights).

British Airways Does Not Collect Fuel Surcharges In the Following Instances

These are the only flights you can book with Avios without fuel surcharges.

  • American Airlines flights within the USA, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean, Central, and South America.
  • Alaska Airlines flights
  • All LATAM international flights
  • Some LATAM domestic flights
  • Aer Lingus and airberlin flights
  • British Airways flights within Europe
  • Qantas domestic flights
  • S7 flights

British Airways has two US-based partners: American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Awards on American Airlines can be booked online, but awards on Alaska need to be booked by calling 800-AIRWAYS. Both types of awards escape fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.36.10 PM

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Awards from the mainland to Hawaii–which is part of the United States, thank you very much–also have no fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.39.42 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.23.37 PM

Awards between the United States and the Americas and the Caribbean

Awards between the United States and Mexico, Canada, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and LATAM also have no fuel surcharges, just government taxes.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.41.59 PM

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All LATAM Flights Except Some LATAM Domestic Flights

LATAM flies to Auckland, Sydney, Madrid, and Frankfurt from Santiago, Chile–all without fuel surcharges.

LATAM Peru flights have no fuel surcharges, like this one from Cuzco to Lima…

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But there are fuel surcharges on other LATAM affiliates like LATAM Argentina. See this post on intra-Argentina flights for more info.

All Flights on airberlin and Aer Lingus

You can get to Europe without fuel surcharges on airberlin and Aer Lingus flights. (OK technically Aer Lingus flights have fuel surcharges, but they are about $30, so I am putting them here.) airberlin flights are bookable online, but you have to call 800-AIRWAYS to book Aer Lingus flights.

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There are also no fuel surcharges collected on airberlin flights or Aer Lingus flights within Europe.

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Intra-Europe on British Airways

British Airways collects a flat fee on its own intra-European flights in lieu of taxes and fuel surcharges. The flat fee is fairly low–$27.50 from Berlin to London–and is often lower than taxes would be on the same route.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.15.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.15.08 PMQantas Flights within Australia

British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Qantas long haul flights, like those between Los Angeles and Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. But British Airways doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on domestic Qantas flights like Sydney to Melbourne.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.21.35 PM

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I also just tried to test Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand, but ba.com couldn’t find the award space that aa.com did. Call in to test whether SYD-AKL has fuel surcharges imposed on Avios awards.

All S7 Flights

S7 is a Russian airlines based at DME airport in Moscow. Its domestic and international flights booked as awards with Avios have no fuel surcharges.

I could not find any award space flying S7 to show an example, however.

British Airways Does Collect Fuel Surcharges in the Following Instances

That means all other flights have fuel surcharges when booked with Avios including:

  • American Airlines flights to Europe and Asia
  • British Airways flights that go from Europe to any other continent
  • British Airways flights within South Africa
  • Cathay Pacific flights
  • Finnair flights
  • Iberia flights
  • JAL flights
  • LATAM Argentina flights
  • Malaysia Airlines flights
  • Qantas international flights flights
  • Qatar Airways flights
  • Royal Jordanian flights

To get an idea of the fuel surcharges on these flights, search them on ba.com.

Bonus

Brazil made fuel surcharges on award tickets illegal. Different airlines interpret that different ways, but most flights that originate in Brazil do not have fuel surcharges.

Double Bonus

Don’t forget that awards that originate in the UK are subject to the UK’s onerous Air Passenger Duty of about $200 on long haul economy flights and $300 on long haul flights in business or first class.

Here is a list of award taxes from major cities in europe, so you return from low tax countries (transiting through London is a lot cheaper, and skipping London is cheaper still.)

Triple Bonus

Your mostly fuel-surcharge-free oneworld miles of choice are American Airlines AAdvantage miles. American only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights when you redeem AAdvantage miles.

Which card should I pay fuel surcharges with?

Pay your award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Bottom Line

Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. I just wrote a post a couple days ago about how you can combine Avios redemptions with your preferred region-based miles to spend less miles overall and see more places all at the same time. Avios help compliment a diversified mile collection.

British Airways collects nasty fuel surcharges on a lot of awards, but as you can see exemplified above, there are many options with no fuel surcharges (and even more with low ones– mainly short, direct economy flights).

While I can not directly link to British Airways Visa Signature Card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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2

Although United offers no stopovers on one way awards, the airline allows one stopover on roundtrip awards in addition to your destination. This can lead to all sorts of outsized value:

Lately I’ve been most excited about the possibilities of the Three One Ways award. That’s probably because I’m a nomad and have booked my awards as an unending series of one way awards for the last few years. (If you’re not a nomad, you’ll probably get more value from Free One Ways and 2-3 cities for the price of one awards.)

I was toying around with a Three One Way award recently to get from the Chicago Seminars (where I’ll be presenting about miles twice in October) to South America and then Africa. I found a way to fly to three cities in Business Class for only 100,000 miles, 20,000 miles cheaper than if I booked the award as a series of one way awards.

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The Award Search

Start your Three One Way search on united.com by searching separately for each of the three one way awards that you plan to stick together. I started with Chicago to Buenos Aires.

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Award space in economy is much better than Business Class on the route, but I found some Business Class the week of Thanksgiving.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.17.32 PM Then I searched Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo. Award space is wide open on Turkish Airlines in flat bed Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.19.03 PMTurkish flies this short tag flight at a terrible time as part of its route to Istanbul.
Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.18.50 PMFinally I searched Sao Paulo to Cape Town, which is wide open in Business Class and has some economy available.
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South African Airways flies Sao Paulo to Johannesburg daily with connections throughout South Africa. (I flew and reviewed South African Business Class from Buenos Aires to Johannesburg, a route which has since been cancelled.)

Amazingly United charges only 45,000 miles one way in Business Class for this longhaul.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.19.48 PM

Putting It All Together

Once I noted the dates of the award space, I went back to the home page of united.com and clicked “All search options” to do a multi-city award search for all three one ways.

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I selected “Multi-city” and typed in my cities.

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.23.41 PMMulti-city award results are always weird on united.com. Look how some Saver Business Class awards showed as 55,000 miles and some showed as 27,500 miles for the first leg.
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Ignore that weirdness, and select the legs you want. All the Saver space will show up as the same price at the end. (For those interested, the 27.5k awards are considering Sao Paulo the destination and charging 27.5k + 27.5k + 45k for the award while the 55k awards are considering Buenos Aires the destination and charging 55k + 22.5k + 22.5k, both of which equal 100,000 miles.)

I selected the award space I had found on my original one way searches.
Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.24.53 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.25.06 PM And the award totaled 100,000 miles + $132 in taxes.Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.25.25 PM Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 1.25.33 PMThat price is what makes this a Three One Ways Award. As you can see from the original one way searches, if booked as one ways, these awards would have cost:

  • 55,000 miles in Business Class from Chicago to Buenos Aires
  • 20,000 miles in Business Class from Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo
  • 45,000 miles in Business Class from Sao Paulo to Cape Town

That’s 120,000 miles separately. But booked together, it’s 100,000 miles. That’s the magic!

Getting United Miles

You need United miles to book Three One Ways awards. You could get the 100,000 miles for the award in this post from just two cards.

United is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, and the best cards to get Ultimate Rewards are the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $95 thereafter

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Bottom Line

Stopovers lead to tricks. Delta and American no longer allow stopovers, but United still allows one on roundtrip awards.

United Three One Way awards are enabled by using this stopover and your destination to book three one way awards together and save thousands of miles over booking them separately.

It took me all of 15 minutes to come up with and search for the example in this post. Can you come up with another Three One Ways Award example that would save thousands of miles?

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Citi is relaunching the Citi Prestige® Card  with a new offer.

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The Citi Prestige® Card now comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

This is a decrease from the previous sign up bonus of 50,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, which I signed up for in April, 2015.

There are other changes in the offer as well, the most impactful of which in my opinion are:

  • No more Admiral’s Club Access
  • ThankYou Points can only be redeemed directly for cash flights at a value of 1.33 cents each on all airlines now, no longer can you redeem them for 1.6 cents each on American Airlines + codeshare partners.

Below is a chart comparing the differences in benefits between the last offer and the current one:

final spreadsheet for prestige

Citi Prestige® Card Offer as of July 25, 2016

Quick Facts
  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 ThankYou Points after $4,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air Travel Credit:  $250 statement credit per calendar year ($500 during first year of cardmembership)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Lounge access: Priority Pass lounges worldwide for you and two guests
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays booked throught the Citi Prestige Conceirge (no blackout dates)
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450 not waived, well worth it for most people
Sign Up Bonus

The headline sign up bonus is 40,000 ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 in the first three months on the card. Those 40,000 points equal:

  • $532 toward any flights on any other airline
  • $400 in gift cards (please don’t redeem them like this)
  • 40,000 miles with 12 airline transfer partners
  • 75,000 Hilton points

I have explained the two main ways to use ThankYou points:

  1. Like cash toward the purchase of any flight on any airline. Toward any airlines’ flights, ThankYou Points are worth 1.33 cents each. The cool things about using points like this: ease (points work like cash to pay all or part of any fare), availability (any flight on any airline), and you earn miles and status from these flights because the airline sees a paid ticket not an award. That being said, it’s very possible to get more than 1.33 cents of value out of each ThankYou Point by transferring them to an airline partner instead.
  2. By transferring the points to one 12 airlines or Hilton. Once you transfer, the points are Singapore miles or Flying Blue miles or wherever you transferred and now must be redeemed in accordance with those rules and that award chart. The cool thing about transferring points to miles: miles are the only economical way to book luxury First Class products.

I transfer my ThankYou Points to airline miles.

I recently transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines miles to fly from Atlanta to Honolulu in a flat bed for 30,000 miles. I’ve also used Singapore miles to fly from Colombia to Argentina in Business Class for half the price it would have been with United miles. Singapore miles are also the only way to fly Singapore Suites, cheaper than United miles to book United flights to Europe, and offer two stopovers in addition to your destination on roundtrip awards.

I also love Air France Flying Blue as a transfer partner because of its cheap awards to Europe, Israel,Hawaii and South America.

Because of all the valuable uses of ThankYou Points, I value them at 1.9 cents each. That puts this 40,000 point sign up bonus among the most valuable out there, espeically when you factor in the category bonuses and other benefits of the card.

Category Bonuses
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment

This card is very clearly designed for frequent travelers, since a number of its benefits like free hotel nights and lounge access will be most used by travelers. The category bonuses are no exception. If you buy a lot of airline tickets and hotel stays, and if you dine out while traveling, you will rack up a ton of extra points from these category bonuses.

Note that the 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels is worth at least 3.99% back toward travel on any airline, since points are worth 1.33 cents each toward those flights. That’s a great return on spending.

Air Travel Credit

Every calendar year, you get a $250 air travel credit to offset airline fees. Airline fees include airfare itself:

“Airline Fees are defined as purchases made with airlines including Air fares, baggage fees, lounge access and some in-flight purchases.” (Emphasis mine.)

That means that you can buy airline tickets with this card, and the first $250 will be reimbursed each calendar year (plus you’ll earn 3x on the purchases, win-win!) Or you can use the airline fee credit to pay the taxes on award tickets.

This is a calendar year benefit, that means in the first 12 months you have the card, you can get this $250 credit twice: once in 2016 and once in 2017. That $500 in statement credits pays for your annual fee plus $50 extra.

Even without considering the sign up bonus and other benefits, the card would already be a great deal.

Here are my experiences getting my $250 Air Travel Credit in 2015 and in 2016.

Lounge Access

Citi Prestige® Card holders get a free Priority Pass Select membership. Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program. Prestige Card holders get free Priority Pass Select membership, which entitles them to free access to hundreds of lounges worldwide (everything on the list except United Clubs).

Priority-Pass-Pic

I downloaded the Priority Pass app on my phone, so I can search for participating lounges by airport while I travel. I seem to find one or more options at most international airports and tons of domestic airports.

You can bring in your family (spouse, domestic partner, children under 18) or up to two guests for free. You can access Priority Pass lounges no matter which airline you’re flying.

Lounge access usually costs $50 per visit. Heavy users of this benefit–especially the free family or guest access–will get hundreds of dollars of value from this benefit.

Here’s my experience using the Prestige’s lounge access benefits on a typical trip.

Fourth Night Free on Hotel Stays

From the terms and conditions at the bottom of the Prestige Card’s application page:

The primary cardholder will enjoy a complimentary fourth night (room rate for the fourth night and applicable taxes only) with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked through the Citi Prestige®Concierge. Your benefit is a statement credit equal to the value of the 4th night’s actual room rate, as provided by the Citi Prestige Concierge, even if the rate is different from the rate on other nights.

Interestingly, you don’t get 25% off a four night stay. You get the fourth night free. If you book a stay where the fourth night is the most expensive–like December 28 to January 1 at a New Year’s Eve destination–you can save a lot more than 25% on your stay.

Full article on Fourth Night Free Benefit.

Global Entry Fee Credit

Prestige card holders are entitled to a $100 statement credit when they pay the $100 Global Entry enrollment fee with their Prestige cards. Global Entry membership is valid for five years, and the benefit entitles you to reimbursement for it every five years

Global Entry is a United States Customs and Border Patrol program designed to let trusted travelers skip the immigrations and customs queues when arriving in the United States. Instead of spending time in line and talking to an agent, you tap a few buttons at a kiosk and get to the curb in a few minutes. Global Entry also lets you skip immigration queues in Australia and New Zealand, and lets you use TSA Precheck lines in the US, even on domestic itineraries.

I would pay the $100 in a heartbeat for Global Entry even if I only traveled abroad once a year. When you can get it for free, it’s a no-brainer. How and Why I Got Global Entry.

Global Entry is good for five years, so I will use this benefit of my Prestige in two years when I need to renew my Global Entry.

If you already have Global Entry, you can use the credit to pay someone else’s $100 fee (either give them your credit card number to pay the fee or give them a Citi Virtual Account Number with a $100 limit.)

Chip and No Foreign Transaction Fees

It shouldn’t surprise that a card very clearly designed for travelers comes with chip technology for global acceptance and zero foreign transaction fees. The only surprising thing is that not all cards have these basic features.

Annual Fee

The annual fee is $450 and not waived. That should be a deal breaker if you don’t use the benefits of the card, but it’s a fair price to pay if you are maximizing the card’s perks.

If you apply for the card and use the airline fee credit twice before the next annual fee, you can get all of this for the cost of the first annual fee:

  • 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points
  • $500 worth of airfare or fee credits ($250 per calendar year)
  • $100 credit for applying for Global Entry every five years
  • Lounge access for you and family or two guests at Priority Club lounges
  • Fourth night free on hotel stays with no blackouts

Those benefits clearly dwarf the $450 annual fee. After testing out the card and seeing how much you actually use the benefits, you’ll have a better idea going forward whether to keep the card for $450 per year in return for:

  • $250 worth of airfare or fee credits
  • Lounge access for you and family or two guests at Admirals Clubs and Priority Club lounges
  • Fourth night free on hotel stays with no blackouts
  • 3x ThankYou Points on airfare and hotels; 2x on dining and entertainment

If you have a Citi Prestige, share your experiences in the comments.

Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, lounge access, $250 per calendar year in airline fee credits, and more.

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  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for $532 towards any flight on any airline or $400 in gift cards.
  • Transfer points to a variety of travel loyalty programs from airlines to hotels.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

 

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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3

From now through September 19, 2016 you can earn 2,500 SPG points for adding an authorized user to your Starwood Preferred Guest®Credit Card from American Express. The promotion was originally sent out as a targeted email, but you can also access it from this link.

I value SPG points more highly than any other transferrable points currency (around 2.5 cents each) because they transfer to over 30 airline loyalty programs.

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This bonus could be especially useful if you have a balance of Starpoints that is almost but not quite 20,000, since when you transfer Starpoints in increments of 20,000 to an airline loyalty program you receive a 5,000 mile bonus.

How to Get the 2,500 SPG Point Bonus

1. Click this link.

2. Log in if you’re not already logged into your American Express online account.

3. Add authorized user.

How would the authorized user be affected?

One of the first things you’ll probably notice is that American Express asks for the social security number of the user you are authorizing to spend on your card. Adding a person as an authorized user does not trigger a hard credit pull for them, but does apparently does count against the Chase 5/24 according to this Flyertalk thread about Applying for Chase Credit Cards- May 2015-Present (it’s in the Wiki at the top).

What if I have the SPG Business card but not the personal?

Commenters on Reddit have confirmed that the authorized user bonus is not available for Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card cardholders.

Terms & Conditions

  • The offer for 2,500 Starpoints expires on September 19, 2016. Card Members are limited to one-time receipt of 2,500 Starpoints through this email offer. Bonus points will appear on your Starwood Preferred Guest statement 8-12 weeks after you add an additional Card.
  • You must notify Additional Card Members that we may obtain, provide, and use information about them and that their use of your Account is subject to certain provisions of the Card Member Agreement. The maximum number of Additional Cards issued on each Account is 99.
  • Additional Card Members must be at least 15 years of age and never have had a defaulted account with American Express.
  • Additional Card Members do not have accounts with us but they can use your Account subject to the terms of the Card Member Agreement. You are responsible for all use of your Account by Additional Card Members and anyone they allow to use your Account. You must pay for all charges they make. You authorize us to give Additional Card Members information about your Account and to discuss it with them.
  • Eligible Purchases means purchases for goods and services minus returns and other credits. Eligible purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, balance transfers, cash advances, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Additional terms and restrictions apply. Starpoints received from your Card will be posted to your SPG account up to 12 weeks after the end of each month. To be eligible to receive Starpoints, Card Member’s account must not be cancelled or in default at the time of bonus fulfillment.
  • Merchants are assigned codes based on what they primarily sell. A purchase will not earn additional points if the merchant’s code is not eligible. Purchases made through a third-party payment account or on an online marketplace (with multiple retailers) will not earn additional points. A purchase may not earn additional points if the merchant submits the purchase using a mobile or wireless card reader or if you use a mobile or digital wallet.

Don’t Forget the SPG Card Referral Bonus

You can earn 10,000 SPG Points per credit card referral, up to 55,000 per year– click here to learn more.

Here is my friend’s referral link if you want to benefit a fellow mile lover and get the card. I already have my 55,000 points for the year.

Bottom Line

SPG is running a targeted email promotion giving cardholders the opportunity to earn 2,500 bonus Starpoints for adding an authorized user through September 19, 2016. Luckily there is a link that currently works whether or not you received the targeted email.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. Today I’m going to show you some examples of how you can combine the use of Avios with region-based miles to use less miles overall and see more places at the same time.

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First, let’s go over some basics.

  • While most major airline miles have region-based award prices, Avios awards are distance-based.
    • What I mean by region-based: the price of an award is determined by what region you originate and what region your destination is in (coupled with the cabin). Regions are determined by the loyalty program, but are generally the same with some exceptions (i.e. North America, South America, Europe, etc.)
    • What I mean by distance-based:  the price of an award is determined by the distance of each segment flown, and the cabin you fly in.

Let’s say you want to go to Morocco. It would cost 40k United miles to fly economy or 80k to fly Business, from the United States to Northern Africa, the region that Unified classifies Morocco in. But if you flew to Madrid first (classified by United as Europe) and then used Avios to hop to Morocco, it would only cost 30k/57.5k/70k United miles in economy/United Business/Partner Business, and 4,500 Avios in economy (it’s only a 1.5 hour flight). You save yourself miles and get to see Madrid as well as Morocco. 

Below are examples of actual awards where you can apply this trick to see an extra destination and pay less miles overall while doing it.

Before we go any further, a quick aside about fuel surcharges…

With Avios awards you have to watch out for fuel surcharges. They collect fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. Notable exceptions when they don’t collect fuel surcharges:

  • On their own flights within Europe
  • American Airlines within the Western Hemisphere
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • airberlin

That doesn’t mean you can’t utilize Avios for flights on other oneworld carriers or non-allied partners of British Airways. Some only charge mild fuel surcharges, especially on short flights like the examples I will show you below.

How to See More For Less

United States-> Spain -> Morocco VS. United States -> Morocco

Let’s take a closer look at the example I gave at the beginning of this post.

You can fly from North America to Madrid for 30k United miles in economy, 57.5k United miles in United’s Business Class, or 70k United miles in a United partners’ Business Class. Then you can use just 4,500 Avios to take an hour and half flight in economy to Casablanca in Morocco on Iberia.

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Newark to Spain with United miles, Spain to Morocco with Avios

The out of pocket taxes and fees for this award are minimal at only $29.

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Flying straight to Morocco from North America would cost 40k United miles in economy or 80k in a Business.

United States -> Turkey -> Qatar VS. United States -> Qatar

You could fly from North America to Istanbul for 30k United miles in economy. Then you can use 10,000 Avios to take a four hour flight in economy to Doha on Qatar Airways.

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Los Angeles to Istanbul with United miles, Istanbul to Doha with Avios

British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Qatar, but they are reasonable at $86 for this award.

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Flying straight to Qatar from North America would cost 42.5k United miles in economy.

You could also easily fly into a different European airport (like Paris, for example) for the same price, and take a low cost carrier flight between Paris and Istanbul before heading on to Doha with Avios. Read about how to incorporate an award like this into a round-the-world trip with half the flights in a flat bed for 100,000 Miles.

United States -> Germany -> Poland VS. United States Poland

You can fly United Airlines from North America to Berlin for 30k Aeroplan miles in economy (without fuel surcharges). Then you can use just 4,500 Avios to take a little over an hour flight in airberlin economy to Warsaw in Poland.

Map: Newark to Germany with Aeroplan miles, Germany to Poland with Avios
Newark to Germany with Aeroplan miles, Germany to Poland with Avios

British Airways does not collect fuel surcharges on airberlin, so taxes are just $30 for this award.

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Since Aeroplan divides their award chart into Eastern and Western Europe, flying straight to Poland from the United States would cost 37.5k Aeroplan miles in economy.

Santiago -> Easter Island -> Tahiti VS. Santiago -> Tahiti

You can fly from Santiago to Easter Island (a territory of Chile) for 10k American Airlines miles in economy, 20k American Airlines miles in Business. This would position you in what most consider the South Pacific region. Then you can use 12,500 Avios (+$30 in taxes/fees) to take a five and a half hour flight in LATAM Chile economy to Tahiti.

Map: Santiago to Easter Island with American Airlines miles, Easter Island to Tahiti with Avios
Santiago to Easter Island with American Airlines miles, Easter Island to Tahiti with Avios

Flying straight to Tahiti from Santiago would cost 45k/82.5k American Airlines miles in economy/Business Class.

The savings in this example could be huge, unfortunately I can only call it a theoretical sweetspot as I could not find any LATAM Chile award space between Easter Island and Tahiti. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever seen it.

No Last Minute Award Booking Fees

Another nice perk of British Airways Avios is that they don’t tack on any extra fees for booking your flight at the last minute. So if you decide in the middle or your Euro-trip that you want to fly somewhere else over the weekend, you won’t have to pay one of those annoying $75 fees that American Airlines AAdvantage or United Mileage Plus would charge.

How to Find Award Space and Book British Airways Awards

You can look for award space right on ba.com– here’s how to use the search tool. You can also book on ba.com.

How to Get Avios

Avios are very easy to collect. Ultimate Rewards are a 1:1 transfer partner of Avios. These cards are your best options:

  • British Airways Visa Signature
  • Ink Plus
  • Sapphire Preferred
  • Freedom & Freedom Unlimited

British Airways Visa Signature Card

The British Airways Visa Signature card currently offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card.
  • Spend $15,000 in the first 12 months for another 25,000 bonus Avios. The maximum bonus is 75,000 total Avios for spending $15,000 in the first 12 months of which $2,000 came in the first three
  • 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on other purchases
  • $95 annual fee that is not waived

While I can not directly link to the current British Airways Visa offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus currently offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

You might qualify for a business card and not realize it, so don’t write off the possibility just because you don’t have your own booming startup.

Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred currently offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to many of the offers for the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Freedom & Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are two separate cards, but are two sides of the same coin. You can read my analysis comparing the two here.

Both cards come with 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months and 2,500 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user.

This biggest difference between the two cards are their category bonuses. The Freedom Unlimited earns a spectacular 1.5x on everything. The Freedom earns a “meh” 1x on everything except 5x on up to $1,500 per quarter in categories that rotate quarterly.

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited earn Ultimate Rewards. Both cards earn points that can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each– that’s why all the marketing of the card features cash back language. BUT if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card, there is a second way of redeeming the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited’s Ultimate Rewards: transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. I call this the Freedom Two Step.

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For the reasons presented in this post, the Freedom Unlimited is one of the first two cards I recommend everyone get.

While I can not directly link to the current Freedom or Freedom Unlimited offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Chase 5/24

As all of the cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are Chase products, before applying for any of these cards remember to consider the Chase 5/24 rule. In short, if you’ve opened any five credit cards in the last 24 months, an application for a new Chase card will be denied.

Bottom Line

Avios are different than most of your mileages in that the prices of awards are based on distance. Different equals more valuable when it comes to miles because it opens up different types of high value awards. By combining Avios with your preferred region-based miles, you can maximize the value of your miles and see more places all at the same time.

The easiest way to get a bunch of Avios is through cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, since Avios is a 1:1 transfer partners and there are lots of cards that earn them with large sign-up bonuses.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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5

Hainan Airlines is a new partner of Alaska Airlines, and their flights are now bookable on alaskaair.com. Their award chart is dirt cheap.

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That’s right, 50,000 miles one way in a flat bed for over 13 hours, with connections all over Asia. The only other deal that can compare is using Alaska miles to book Cathay Pacific flights for the same amount of miles and a little less out of pocket expenses (Hainan charges mild fuel surcharges– about $140 per one way). But award space on Cathay Pacific can be scarce unless it’s eleven months out or a week before, and Hainan award space is wide open at the moment.  If you wanna see the scope of what you can book for that price, look for the countries in Asia on Hainan Airlines destinations wikipedia page.

So there’s that.

And the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card  offers 75,000 bonus HHonors points after spending $2,000 on the card in the first three months.  Just from the sign-up bonus, the spending it requires to meet it, and then spending $500 more you will accrue at least 80,000 Hilton HHonors points.

And there’s that.

Combine those two deals and you get a very cheap award to Asia (potentially in Business Class with a flat bed), and free accommodation while you’re there. 

How to get to Asia in a flat bed for 50,000 miles and stay for free while you’re there…

  • Step 1: Get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
  • Step 2: Research where you want to go in Asia where Hainan flies and there are Hilton Hotels
  • Step 3: Meet the minimum spending requirement for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card
  • Step 4: Accumulate Alaska Airlines miles by opening the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card as well as the Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card
  • Step 5: Book your Alaska Airlines award flying Hainan
  • Step 6: Book your Hilton hotels

Step 1: Get the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card.

Step 2: Research the city in Asia you want to visit that Hainan flies to that also has Hiltons.

I did some of the research for you assuming you have 80,000 Hilton HHonors point to work with. These are some of the best deals I’ve found in cities where Hainan flies in Asia. There are probably more. Please let us know in the comments section if you find any.

Category 1 hotels – 5,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 20 nights for free

Category 2 hotels – 10,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 10 nights for free.

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Double Tree by Hilton Beijing

 Category 3 hotels – cost 20,000 points a night, but the fifth night free for Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Cardholders, so you could potentially book up to 5 nights for free.

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Hilton Chongqing
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Hilton Haikou Meilan
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Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Guangzhou
  • Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Sukhumvit in Bangkok, Thailand
  • While you might not want to stay out at the Narita airport in Tokyo for five nights, the Hilton Tokyo Narita Airport hotel is a Category 3 hotel and costs 20,000 points a night. It could be useful for an overnights after a flight or before a flight out of Tokyo Narita.

Category 5 hotel – 30,000 points per night. Pricey, but it could be used for two nights of a trip compounded with other cheaper hotels. It’s a beautiful property.

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Hilton Phuket Arcadia Resort & Spa

Step 3: Meet the Minimum Spending Requirement for the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card.

Spend $2,000 within three months of the account opening and you’ll get 75,000 bonus points. As you get at least two points per dollar on everyday spending (three points for every dollar spent at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations, and six points for every dollar spent at a Hilton) you’ll accrue at least another 4,000 points just from meeting the minimum spending requirement. The most you would have to spend to get to 80,000 points is $500 more, and then you would have enough points to book 20 free nights in a Hilton Category 1 hotel10 free nights in Category 2 Hiltons, or 5 free nights in Category 3 Hiltons.

Step 4: Accumulate Alaska Airlines miles by opening the Alaska Airlines Cards.

The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card earns 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 within three months of opening the account.

While I can not directly link to the current Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® Credit Card offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

The Alaska Airlines Visa® Business Card also earns 30,000 miles for spending $1,000 within three months of opening the account.

You would earn 62,000 Alaska miles for signing up for both, which is enough for a roundtrip for one person in economy to everywhere Hainan flies in Asia. Or you could use 50,000 miles to fly one way in flat bed Business Class and use another type of miles to get home (like 80,000 Korean miles in Korean Airlines First Class).

Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 points transferred.

Step 5: Book your Alaska Airlines Award flying Hainan.

Hainan’s award space is excellent for two passengers on many flights, but it’s still better to book airline awards before hotel awards since hotel awards aren’t as restrictive with availability. Airline awards are capacity controlled while hotel loyalty programs will you give you the last room available.

Read this post on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

Step 6: Book your Hilton hotels with your Hilton HHonors Points.

And pat yourself on the back for being truly resourceful.

Bottom Line

Hainan is a new redeemable partner of Alaska Airlines, whose miles are easy to collect since the cards that earn them have low minimum spending requirements (and are still churnable). You can fly from the United States to all over Asia for 60,000 Alaska Airlines miles roundtrip in Economy or 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles roundtrip in Business Class, with a flat bed.

If you open the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card you will get 80,000 points from meeting the sign-up bonus and spending $500 moreand then you can book 20 free nights in a Hilton Category 1 hotel10 free nights in Category 2 Hiltons, or 5 free nights in Category 3 Hiltons for your trip to Asia.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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0

United is giving away one billion miles to Untited Mileage Plus members in a sweepstakes. 
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The only condition is that you are a United Mileage Plus member.

How to Enter the Sweepstakes

Between August 1, 2016 and September 30, 2016, you can enter:

1. automatically via purchases on your United Mileage Plus Explorer Card.

2. by logging in here on the billion mile giveaway homepage (not active yet, will be on August 1, 2016) and follow the instructions (fill out a form, I assume). Each entry has to be manually keystroked.

You can win up to one million miles if you’re a grand prize winner, or 25,000 or 5,000 miles if for first or second prize.

Also, note:

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(click to enlarge)

Grand prize winners are technically responsible for paying taxes on the winnings, which is why United is giving away $7,500 cash to them along with the million miles. Considering the numbers above, they are valuing the miles from the grand prize at 2 cents each (total retail value is $27,500, less the $7,500 cash portion of the prize is $20,000). However, as View from the Wing points out, United sells miles for 1.88 cents a piece relatively often, so you could at least make a case for that valuation and possibly pay less taxes on your winnings.

The lower tier prizes have retail values lower than the threshold that requires taxation.

Bottom Line

This is somewhat of an incentive to use your United card more often over the next couple of months, however I wouldn’t see at as a large one unless you have no other travel credit card that earns better category bonuses and you aren’t trying to meet a minimum spending requirement for a sign-up bonus.

If you were already thinking of signing up for United’s co-branded card, then you might as well now to boost your chances of winning that grand prize.

The current sign-up offer is 30,000 United miles for spending $1,000 within the first three months of opening the account. While I can not directly link to the offer for the United Mileage Plus Explorer card, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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21

I originally wrote this series in 2012.  As it has turned out to be quite popular, I am in the process of updating it to reflect current information for 2016.

“Top 10 Things to Do, See, and Eat in Peru” Series Index

1. Machu Picchu at Dawn

Some sites are so hyped, you think they can’t possibly deliver. Machu Picchu is one such site, but it has delivered for me three times. The key to Machu Pichhu: for the most memorable, awe-inspiring trip to Machu Picchu, do not go on a package tour, and arrive at dawn.

Machu Picchu with Huayna Picchu in the Background

The Logistics of Machu Picchu

Buy a ticket online at http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ (Clicking on the Union Jack will give you a mostly-English Spanglish page.) One entrance ticket to just Machu Picchu is $38. You don’t have to buy the ticket months in advance. There aren’t any tickets available for the following week, but if you look one week out there’s tons available (416 on July 29). Granted, this is the high season, so if you’re buying a ticket in the low season you probably don’t need to buy with much advance notice at all. But you should buy the tickets when you know what day you’ll be at Machu Picchu because there is a strict limit of 2,500 visitors per day.

To get to Machu Picchu, you have to get to Cuzco. That’s easy enough by bus from Arequipa or Puno or by air from Lima for 4,500 Avios and a few dollars tax each way on Latam Airlines (although I would check the price of cash tickets, I see them now for $78 one way).

From Cuzco, you have to get to Aguas Calientes, the city at the base of Machu Picchu. You can only do that by train…

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A clown doing tricks on the Vistadome train.

…or by hiking the Inca Trail. More on that at the bottom of this post.

Alternatively you can take the train from Cuzco (technically the station is called Poroy), Ollantaytambo, or Urubamba. I recommend taking it from Ollantaytambo but returning to Cuzco. Taking the train from Ollantaytambo is cheaper, and since you’ll want to see Ollantaytambo (see #3), it saves you from backtracking. It’s like an open jaw train ticket.

You can buy your tickets online at https://www.perurail.com/en/. I recommend buying the train ticket for the afternoon or evening before going to Machu Picchu and the latest return you can get on the day of your trip to Machu Picchu. There is not much to do in Aguas Calientes, so you don’t need to spend extra time there (although I do recommend Indio Feliz for a meal, and the hot springs are OK).

Example: If you want to see Machu Picchu on August 15, buy the Ollantaytambo – Machu Picchu ticket for the afternoon or evening of August 14, and buy the Machu Picchu – Cuzco ticket for the last train on August 15.

From Aguas Calientes, you have to get up the mountain to Machu Picchu. You can walk it or take the bus. The bus costs about $8 each way. I take the bus in the morning because the buses start at 5:30 AM, when I don’t have the strength to walk an hour plus up a steep hill at high altitude. But if you like hiking and saving $8, I think the walk back is pleasant.

When you get into Aguas Calientes on your afternoon train, go buy a bus ticket immediately from the bus departure area for the earliest departure time you can snag; buses start at 5:30 AM.

Why not do a packaged tour of Machu Picchu?

The vast majority of packaged tours get to Machu Picchu about 10 AM and leave in the mid-afternoon. Not only do you miss the incredible sun rise over the mountains, but you miss the tranquility of being at the site with only a few dozen people. You will not want to feel rushed or herded. You will want to explore Machu Picchu at your own pace.

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So I strongly recommend seeing Machu Picchu independently and being up the mountain as early as possible. That will give you a few hours to relax and explore on your own. Then right at 10 AM, as the place will become flooded with visitors, you make your escape up Huayna Picchu.

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View of the bus route from Huayna Picchu. Look at all those switchbacks for only $8.

Huayna Picchu (or Wayna Picchu) is a mountain overlooking Machu Picchu with incredible views and photo ops. The hike is about one hour up. It’s not particularly tough, but I had to stop several times to catch my breath because of the altitude. If you are in moderate physical condition, you can handle it.

Important Note about Huayna Picchu: Only a limited number of people are allowed up Huayna Picchu in two groups, one that is allowed to enter between 7 and 8 AM, and another that can enter between 10 and 11 AM. I strongly recommend being in the 10 AM group, as the first time slot is a better time to be at Machu Picchu than the second.

To get a slot in either group, you have to purchase it in advance as part of your ticket. These tickets are much harder to come by than just Machu Picchu tickets. A scan of the ticket website shows that combined Machu Picchu/Huayna Picchu tickets should probably be purchased at least a month in advance.

A ticket just to Machu Picchu is $38, while the Machu Picchu/Huayna Picchu combined ticket is $45.

Guides: I went once with a guide, but I hiked Huayna Picchu during his tour. The other times I was without a guide. That was fine for me. Any guide book will have information as good as most guides.

Outside the ruins are a number of willing guides. Make sure you negotiate the price in advance and clarify that that is the total price. “That was the price per person!” is a classic trick. No guarantee on quality. The best guides and most expensive are in Cuzco.

Getting there: 4,500 Avios from Lima-CUZ on Latam (or a cheap cash ticket), train to Aguas Calientes, bus to ruins

Hotels: Aguas Calientes has all manner of hotels in every price range. There is an $1300/night hotel at Machu Picchu itself, the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. If you have the money for one room there, you probably have the money to put your favorite travel blogger up for a night in another room!

Time needed to visit: 6 hours including Huayna Picchu

When to go: The best weather coincides with peak season of June to August. December through April is the rainy season, but the crowds are gone, and Machu Picchu looks incredible shrouded in clouds. My pick is February, when the Inca Trail is closed, so there are fewer people at Machu Picchu than any other time. But if you want do a trek, that’s a different story.

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Trekking to Get to Machu Picchu

An Aside by Sarah Page

I’m going to chime in here as I traveled to Peru last year and hiked the Salkantay trail to Machu Picchu over the course of four days and three nights. It was a fantastic experience that I will absolutely never forget, and I highly recommend it. I also recommend that you be in relatively good shape though if you do one of the longer treks like this, as it is a lot of hiking over the course of several days.

Some of the popular trail options include:

  • Inca (the one you’ve probably heard of, by far the most popular)
  • Salkantay
  • Lares
  • Vilcabamba
  • Cachicata

You also have options when it comes to the length of the trek you choose– packages are offered for anywhere from one day to two weeks on varying trails.

You have to have a permit to hike the Inca trail, as tickets to enter are strictly capacity controlled by the Peruvian government. They sell out months in advance (especially for the high, dry season). You can check availability for the Inca trail here. You also must do the trek with a guide authorized by the Peruvian government (they should take care of the permit for you). I do not think the rest of the trails I named above require that you have a permit to enter, nor do they require you be accompanied by a guide.

There are packages where you trek with a group (like I did) or you can hire a private guide.

If you’re going to do a trek, it’s probably wiser to choose dates during the dry season (June to August). I love hiking, but hiking when it’s wet and cold (the Salkantay trail mounts peaks that are above the snow line) can be miserable. There will be more people on the trails and at Machu Picchu at this time of course.

Here are some pictures from when I hiked the Salkantay.

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We only look a little bit cold, right? On the Salkantay you reach the highest summit on the first day: approximately 15,000 feet. The rest of the trail is much more amiable. You actual hike through multiple microclimates and are walking through coffee and banana plantations by the end– I found the diversity to be the most interesting thing by far.

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Entrepreneurial Peruvian outside of a coffee farm :)

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I used a tour operator named Enigma and also recommend it highly. The guides were super knowledgable and friendly, and the food was impressive. Every time the group arrived to a destination for a break or to camp for the night, the guides/staff had already set up a tent with table and chairs (as well as a separate tent for themselves in which they erected a make shift kitchen), where hot drinks and delicious meals were served.

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Pro tip: If you hire a porter (donkey) to carry any of your things, make sure you don’t put anything in that pack that you might want with you on a daily basis as the donkeys walk at a different pace from the people. And if you’re hiking the Salkantay especially, wear waterproof boots. I learned those lessons the hard way.

Bottom Line

If there is one thing you should not miss when you go to Peru, it’s Machu Picchu. It lives up to its reputation.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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20

Please welcome Sarah Page Maxwell as the newest member of the MileValue team. She will write several articles a week of the type you already enjoy on MileValue. She’ll also bring her own voice and travel experiences to MileValue to complement mine.

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Boipeba, Brazil

Sarah Page has been living in Buenos Aires, Argentina for four years, and we met through the expat community there a few years ago. Besides regular trips back to the East Coast to visit family (she grew up in Raleigh and family now lives in Charleston), Sarah Page has also traveled throughout South America and to Africa and Southeast Asia recently with miles. Like me, she is a free agent when it comes to airline and hotel loyalty. She just collects big credit card sign up bonuses and uses the miles and points efficiently for high-value redemptions.

I know you’ll enjoy Sarah Page’s posts because you already have been. Sarah Page has actually already been contributing to this site for months, writing articles with me that were ultimately published under my name.

This training wheels period was very important to me because MileValue is my baby. I won’t name names, but there are some blogs that have brought on new writers who are not good writers, not miles/points experts, or not either, and quality has suffered. There are other blogs that have moved beyond a single voice and been enriched. That’s the model we’re following.

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Railay Beach, Thailand

Mastering miles and points requires mastering earning and redeeming. Earning is usually easier, and most blogs understand that part. What makes MileValue different is that we know to redeem miles to get maximum value, which informs all of our posts. For instance, you can’t know whether a credit card offer is a good deal unless you know how to use the bonus miles. So I worked a long time with Sarah Page on her knowledge of redeeming miles. We started with the theoretical (“memorize the Star Alliance plus United’s non-alliance partners by tomorrow”) and moved to the practical (“let’s work on these MileValue Award Booking Service requests together, so you know how to redeem United, AA, Delta, Aeroplan, BA, Asiana, Flying Blue, and Alaska miles.”) Only when I was satisfied with her knowledge did I let her write.

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Four wheeling across the desert in Namibia

The other thing that makes this site unique is that writing. Many topics are covered by literally every miles and points blog. I always want the MileValue post on those topics to be the most clear, succinct, and best at anticipating what the reader will want to know. I’ve worked with Sarah Page on getting her to write like that–hopefully without stifling her unique voice because I enjoy reading it.

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Machu Picchu, Peru

You’ll know whether a post is written by me or Sarah Page based on the signature at the top of the post under the title.

The majority of posts will continue to be written by me. Sarah Page is not replacing me; she is in addition to me.

Sarah Page’s joining the team has made MileValue a better source for miles junkies, so I hope everyone will give her a hearty welcome.

sarah page maxwell and omar
Her biggest passion along with miles is her Boston Terrier, Omar.
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Citi just changed the benefit terms regarding Admiral’s Club Lounge access for Citi Prestige® Card holders. Take a look at this screenshot from my Prestige account’s explanation of benefits:

aa lounge prestigeThe Admirals Club lounge benefit will be pulled effective July 23rd, 2017 (roughly a year from now). This is one of many changes happening with the Citi Prestige® Card right now. We’re not sure exactly what the rest of those changes will be yet, but I did have to remove the current card offer from this site– so there is no doubt change is on the horizon.

If Admiral’s Club lounge Access was a perk of the Prestige that you valued highly, then you should consider the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. You can get up to 33 people lounge access with it. That’s not a typo. I actually meant 33 people.

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Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® Full Offer Details

You can read my full review of this limited time offer here.

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  • Earn 60,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Admirals Club® membership for you with guest privileges
  • Complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users
  • 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles from American Airlines after $40,000 spent on purchases every year (January through December billing statement)
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
  • Earn 2 AAdvantage® miles for every $1 spent on eligible American Airlines purchases and 1 AAdvantage® mile for every $1 spent on other purchases
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to eight companions traveling with you on the same reservation
  • A statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • $450 Annual fee

I’ll go ahead and address the elephant in the room.

$450 is a scary large annual fee. But it’s not nearly as straightforward as it looks. Aside from the obvious value of the sign-up bonus, consider these two things:

  1. The first year you get a $100 statement credit that you can use for your own Global Entry application or someone else’s. That effectively knocks down the price of the annual fee to $350 (the first year).
  2. One of the listed perks is complimentary Admirals Club® lounge access for authorized users. One Admiral’s Club membership for a year costs $500. If Admiral’s Club lounge access is something you would consider paying for anyways, then that brings your net “annual fee” to $150. You are making $150 so far, and we haven’t even considered the value of the sign-up bonus (which I personally value at about $975).

But it doesn’t stop there. You get Admirals Club access for yourself AND authorized users. So what does this ambiguous term “authorized users” mean? For once the fine print is in our favor.

“Authorized Users” = 33 People

As of 2015, you can add up to 10 authorized users to your Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® account, and each one will get access to American Airlines lounges for himself and two guests. They get the lounge access no matter what airline they’re flying, and even if you, the accountholder, are not present.

Screen-Shot-2015-12-18-at-9.44.05-AM-700x250

With you plus your two guests, that means a total of 33 people can access the same Admirals Club for free in the unlikely event that you, your 10 authorized users, and your 22 combined guests were all together.

You, the primary cardholder, are an Admirals Club member. The authorized users do not have to be.

As the primary cardholder you can enter not just the 50 American Airlines lounges, but also the 40 partners lounges that are affiliated with the Admirals Club including Alaska Airlines and Qantas lounges. The authorized users can only access the 50 American Airlines lounges, not the 40 partner lounges.

Bottom Line

Unfortunately as of July 23, 2017, Citi Prestige® Card holders will no longer have access to American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs.

Fortunately, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® offers Admirals Club lounge access as one of its many perks, that you can stretch to apply to up to 32 other people. Not to mention you get at least 65,000 American Airlines miles for meeting the minimum spending requirement of $5,000 in three months (bonus + at least 1x on regular spending), which is enough to redeem on all of these super cool awards.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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9

T-Mobile’s basic, contract-free, $50 plan offers free data and text messages in 140+ countries. I have had it for a few years, and I have been happy with it.

Unfortunately the free data abroad is at Edge speeds. Last month, though, T-Mobile announced free 4G data in Europe from July 1 – August 31, 2016.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 6.23.47 PMI’ve had a chance to use the high speed data in Montenegro, Croatia, and Bosnia over the last few weeks.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 6.27.47 PMIn general, I have been very happy with this improved data speed, and I haven’t found the need to buy a local SIM card yet. Unfortunately, as you can see in the above screen shot, my phone says “R” above its signal strength, which just means “roaming,” so I don’t know how much of my data has been Edge, how much 3G, and how much 4G.

It seems like I’ve mostly been on 3G. Most of the time, web pages have loaded at a reasonable speed, but not exactly instantly. Facebook uploads, attaching photos to WhatsApp messages, and viewing attached WhatsApp photos and videos has all been done at a reasonable speed, though certainly one that felt slower than 4G.

These are three of the poorer European countries. In all likelihood, T-Mobile customers in Western European countries are enjoying 4G speeds, but I have been happy enough with the speeds I’ve gotten.

In an effort to make this post more exact, I ran a speed test on my phone in my Sarajevo apartment, and got this reasonable upload speed but abysmal download speed. I can assure you that for most of my trip, my download speed has been much faster.
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Bottom Line

I don’t think I have seen 4G speeds in Europe this summer as a T-Mobile customer, but I have seen faster than the Edge speeds that I used to get. T-Mobile keeps improving its offer (my $50 plan now gets 2 GB of high speed data instead of 1 GB also), and I am very happy with T-Mobile as a traveler.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

If you liked this post, sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts! You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook.

Earn 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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