Scott Grimmer

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I was just approved for the Citi Prestige® Card yesterday. I got the card for its:

  • Sign Up Bonus: 30,000 ThankYou Points after $2,000 in spending
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on air travel and hotels, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Air travel fee credit:  $250 annual credit toward airfare, bag fees, or award taxes ($500 first year of cardmembership)
  • Lounge access: Admirals Clubs lounges and Priority Pass lounges worldwide
  • Free hotel nights: Get your 4th night free on all paid hotel stays (no blackout dates)
  • Global Entry: $100 application fee credit
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $450 not waived, well worth it for me

Before getting the Citi Prestige® Card, I did a lot of analysis because of its unique perks and high annual fee. I’ll tackle the benefits and drawbacks one by one, so you can see why the Citi Prestige® Card made sense for me.

Sign Up Bonus

The headline sign up bonus is 30,000 ThankYou Points after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card.

Those 30,000 points are worth over $500 to me because I am very high on ThankYou Points, which transfer to 11 airlines and Hilton.

Thirty thousand points is enough to transfer to Singapore miles for a one way award between Hawaii and the mainland United States in a flat bed on United flights.

I also recently transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore Airlines miles to fly from Colombia to Argentina in Business Class for half the price it would have been with United miles. Furthermore, Singapore miles are the only way to fly Singapore Suites and offer an amazing deal to Central and South America.

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

Beyond transferring ThankYou Points, you can also redeem them directly for cash flights at a fixed rate. When you do this, the airline sees your ticket as a cash ticket, so you earn miles on the flights.

If you have a Citi Prestige® Card, ThankYou Points are redeemable for 1.6 cents each toward American Airlines or US Airways tickets, and 1.33 cents each toward tickets on any other airline. American Airlines tickets are a good use of the points if you can’t find better awards with ThankYou Points’ transfer partners.

As an added benefit, I will now be able to redeem ThankYou Points earned on my Citi ThankYou Premier for 1.6 cents toward American Airlines and US Airways flights through pooling of the points with my Prestige’s points. Normally ThankYou Premier points are only worth 1.25 cents toward airfare.

All this said, I was sold more by the other benefits of this card than its sign up bonus.

Category Bonuses

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

This card very clearly offers the biggest benefits to 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.

I’ve been looking at my credit card statements for the last few weeks that I’ve been on the road throughout the Southeast and Hawaii. Almost all my charges are restaurants, flights, and hotels. I would be racking up huge ThankYou Points with the Citi Prestige® Card.

Note that the 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels is worth at least 4.8% back toward travel on American Airlines and US Airways, since points are worth 1.6 cents each toward those flights. That’s an incredible return.

Air Travel Credit

Every calendar year, you get a $250 air travel credit to offset airline fees. “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. Like everyone reading this blog, I spend at least $250 on airfare or award taxes each year, so this is like straight cash to me and will greatly reduce the sting of the annual fee.

In fact, for the first year, I’ll get more value from this benefit than I pay in annual fees. The air travel credit is a calendar year benefit.

I will spend $250 on airfare or award taxes on the card by the end of 2015, and then I will spend $250 on airfare or award taxes on the card by March 2016. In the first 12 months I have the card, that means I will pay one $450 annual fee, but earn $500 in airfare reimbursement.

Even without considering the sign up bonus and other benefits, the card would already be profit me $50 for the first 12 months.

Lounge Access

Having the Citi Prestige® Card gets you into any Admirals Club worldwide whenever you’re flying an American Airlines, American Eagle, or American Connection flight. In addition, you can bring in your family (spouse, domestic partner, children under 18) or up to two guests for free.

This is a fantastic benefit that I plan to use a few times throughout the year. An Admirals Club Membership normally costs $500 for the first year.

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Citi Prestige® Card holders can also 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).

I downloaded the 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.

Just like into Admirals Clubs, you can bring in your family (spouse, domestic partner, children under 18) or up to two guests for free.

Lounge access costs about $50 per visit, and I tend to use Priority Pass lounges quite a bit more than Admirals Club lounges because I do a lot of international travel.

4th Night Free on Hotel Stays

From the terms and conditions of the benefits of the Prestige Card:

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You will enjoy a complimentary fourth night with no black-out dates, when you book four consecutive nights at any hotel booked by a personal travel advisor designated by MasterCard (the “designated travel advisor” is Carlson Wagonlit Travel). Bookings made through other methods such as, travel agents, websites or directly with a hotel will not qualify.

To receive your complimentary night (via a statement credit) you must:

  • Make a reservation for a minimum, consecutive four-night stay by contacting the Citi Prestige Concierge, to book directly with a designated travel advisor
  • Fully pay for your stay with a Citi Prestige Card

Receive one complimentary night (room rate for the fourth night and applicable taxes only) for any consecutive four-night hotel stay booked directly with a MasterCard designated travel advisor. Hotel imposed fees and incidental guest charges are the Cardmember’s responsibility. The value of the complimentary night will be the actual rate, as provided by the designated travel advisor, on that fourth night of the reservation, even if the rate is different from the rate on other nights. Cardmember will be charged the total cost of the stay at checkout and will receive a credit to the credit card statement for the cost of the fourth night (and the applicable taxes). If the cardmember books a special “pre-paid” rate this may require upfront payment in full, at time of booking. Payment in full is defined as pre-payment for the total of all four consecutive nights. Only one complimentary night is eligible per room reservation. Rates provided will be equal to or lower than the lowest publicly-available fare at the hotel’s official website. The benefit can only be used by each primary account Cardholder. This benefit is available to all Citi Prestige Cardmembers worldwide.

For any Program related questions contact Citi Prestige customer service at 1-877-288-CITI.

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If you book a lot of paid hotel nights, and the price being offered by Carlson Wagonlit is the same as you can get elsewhere, this will save you a lot of money. Using this benefit means foregoing booking the hotel through the hotel itself and earning andy bonus points and status for that.

This benefit didn’t influence my decision because I rarely book four-night paid hotel stays, so this benefit is not for me, but it will be useful for many.

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.

Having Global Entry allows you to 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 membership is valid for 5 years, and having Global Entry also lets you skip immigration queues in Australia and New Zealand.

Having Global Entry also gets you TSA Precheck, which is such a more pleasant and faster security experience.

I would pay the $100 in a heartbeat 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.

My Global Entry is good for another two years, so I plan to use this benefit then.

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.

A lot of my cards never get used while I’m traveling abroad, but this card will continue to be used for purchasing flights, hotels, and at restaurants.

Annual Fee

The annual fee is $450 and not waived. This doesn’t bother me a bit.

During the first annual fee, I will make double use of the $250 airfare credit, so I will get all this for my first $450:

  • 30,000 bonus ThankYou Points, worth $480 to $600 to me
  • $500 worth of airline fee credits ($250 per calendar year)
  • Lounge access + 2 at Admirals Clubs and Priority Club lounges, worth $200 to me
  • 3x ThankYou Points on airfare and hotels; 2x on dining and entertainment, worth an extra $150 in points to me
  • 4th 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 I actually use the benefits, I’ll have a better idea going forward whether to keep the card for $450 per year in return for:

  • $250 worth of airline fee credits
  • Lounge access + 2 at Admirals Clubs and Priority Club lounges
  • 4th night free on hotel stays with no blackouts
  • 3x ThankYou Points on airfare and hotels; 2x on dining and entertainment
  • $100 credit for applying for Global Entry

So that’s why I got the Citi Prestige® Card.

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

Citi Prestige® Card with 30,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $2,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months, lounge access, $250 per calendar year in airline fee credits, and more

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 30,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $2,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • 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
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Today is the eighth day of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Today only, two and three night stays in Las Vegas and Atlantic City at Caesars properties are discounted. All of these stays come with other perks like dining credits, show tickets, and airport limos.

Today’s deal is:

All properties in Las Vegas except Harrah’s Atlantic City

  • Two night package at Bally’s for $315
  • Two night package at Paris Las Vegas for $350
  • Two night package at LINQ for $350
  • Two night package at The Cromwell for $590
  • Two night package at Harrah’s Atlantic City for $650
  • Three night package in a Caesars Palace Suite for $1,400

 

These are extras-laden packages, and if you value the extras, you can find a great deal.

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All of the packages must be redeemed by July 1, 2016 and have blackout dates. Unfortunately none of the Terms & Conditions list the blackout dates except the Cromwell package, which cannot be redeemed over New Year’s Eve or Super Bowl weekend. Hopefully those are the only blackouts, though yesterday’s Vegas packages had more blackouts.

Each package includes different components, so I’ll list what each package includes from cheapest to most expensive.

Two night package at Bally’s for $315

  • Accommodations for two consecutive nights in a Jubilee King Room at Bally’s Las Vegas(double occupancy).
  • Two tickets to see “Jubilee: The Showgirl Reborn”. The last classic Vegas showgirl on the Strip! Plays inside the newly renovated Jubilee theatre. Due to continuous demand, Jubilee performs 10 spectacular performances per week.
  • Two Buffet of Buffets passes, giving you unlimited access to six of the most spectacular buffets in the city for a 24-hour period.
  • Bottle of Champagne delivered to your room.
  • Round-trip limousine transportation between McCarran International Airport and Bally’s Las Vegas.

Two night package at Paris Las Vegas for $350

  • Accommodations in a Red Room Premier for two consecutive nights at Paris Las Vegas(double occupancy).
  • A $150 credit to use for dinner for two at your choice of restaurant within the hotel.
  • A $150 credit to use for your choice of treatments at Mandara Spa.
  • In-room bottle of champagne.
  • Round-trip limousine transportation between McCarran International Airport and Paris Las Vegas.

Two night package at LINQ for $350

  • Accommodations for two (2) consecutive nights in a Deluxe King Room, complete with the electronic features of a USB charging station and a 47-inch LED flat-screen TV. The LINQ Hotel and Casino. (double occupancy).
  • Two tickets on the High Roller. Soar to new heights by experiencing the world’s largest observation wheel, the High Roller.
  • Two show tickets of choice to the hottest entertainment options on the strip (based on availability; some restrictions apply).
  • In-room bottle of champagne.
  • Round-trip limousine transportation between McCarran International Airport and The LINQ Hotel and Casino.

Two night package at The Cromwell for $590

  • Accommodations for two consecutive nights in a Luxury King Room The Cromwell. (double occupancy).
  • A $100 breakfast dining credit at Giada’s Restaurant.
  • Access to Drais Beach Club/NightClub.
  • In-room Champagne.
  • Round-trip airport limousine transportation between McCarran International Airport and The Cromwell.

Two night package at Harrah’s Atlantic City for $650

  • Accommodations for two consecutive nights in a luxurious Bayview Premium Room atHarrah’s Resort Atlantic City. (double occupancy).
  • Gourmet dinner for 2 at your choice of restaurant at Harrah’s (maximum value of $150). * Round-trip limousine transfers between hotel and Atlantic City International Airport.
  • In-room Champagne.

Three night package in a Caesars Palace Suite for $1,400

  • Accommodations for three consecutive nights in a plush suite at Caesars Palace (double occupancy; suite types may vary).
  • Two tickets to the show of your choice at any of Caesars Entertainment’s 8 Las Vegas properties (based on availability; some restrictions apply).
  • A $200 dining credit to use at the Caesars Palace restaurant(s) of your choice.
  • Daily fitness center access for two at QUA Baths & Spa.
  • Round-trip limousine transportation between McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas and Caesars Palace.
  • Complimentary in-room internet access for one device.

If one of these packages appeals, you should also check out the deals on April 14 at Caesars properties including a $299 package at Harrah’s Las Vegas and a $425 package for two nights at any Caesars Las Vegas property including $250 in credits.

To value a package, figure out the going rate for the included room on the weekend you’re looking at–these are definitely not good deals on weekdays–and add in the value to you of each extra.

My Plan

I’m sitting out this deal. I don’t have any firm plans to get to Las Vegas before July 2016, and I have free offers to stay at the Wynn and Cosmopolitan if I decide to go.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

There are only 5-10 packages for each offer, so I think so.

Purchasing the Packages

To maximize your chances of getting in on the deal, I recommend using a site like whattimeisit.com to figure out the official time. The sale starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT / 7 AM HT. This year’s sales all started on time to the second. Keep refreshing the deal page until you see the BUY NOW button replace the SEE DETAILS button.

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This is what happens if you try to purchase something when all quantities are already in someone’s cart.

 

This doesn’t mean the deal is sold out. If someone doesn’t complete his purchase, that quantity will immediately become available for someone else. Keep checking until the dreaded “Sold Out” appears.

Key Links

Do you plan to buy these suite packages? Post your successful or failed attempt in the comments, so we can gauge how quick you had to be to snag a deal.

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

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I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

The Delta SkyMiles program has sunk to unimaginable lows. I thought it was ridiculous in February that Delta removed its award charts, so we would no longer know how much an award should cost. Now Delta has gone one step farther: Delta will no longer display how many redeemable SkyMiles you have in your account!

When the award chart was removed, Delta pointed to its improved award calendar as the reason a chart was no longer needed. At the time it said:

With the launch of the all-new Award calendar, it’s now easy to search for and see prices for Awards online. Search for the price of an Award like you search for airfare today. The expanded search capabilities and calendar at delta.com provide more choices and an easier-to-read and more accurate view of Award prices.

Check out the all-new Award calendar.

Again, Delta points to its updated award calendar for the reason displaying your SkyMiles balance is no longer necessary.

Delta has continued enhancing its all-new Award calendar, adding new airlines all the time like partners Aeroflot, Gol, Aerolineas Argentinas, and Garuda Indonesia, and simplifying how you book awards with its newest feature, the SkyCheck.

Search for awards as usual on delta.com, and instead of prices displayed in SkyMiles, each itinerary will either feature a SkyCheck to indicate that your account has enough SkyMiles to book the award or a red X to indicate that your account has insufficient SkyMiles.

This is our easiest-to-use and most accurate view of Award prices ever because at SkyMiles, we strive to Keep Climbing.

Check out the all-new Award calendar.

Old System vs. New System

Until March 31, 2015 when you signed into delta.com, you immediately got a window that showed account information including redeemable miles balance at the top, upcoming trips, and progress toward elite status.

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Starting April 1, the screen no longer displays your account balance. It still displays elite qualifying information, which is unchanged for 2015 with today’s announcement.

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Award searches, like Los Angeles to Sydney one way, used to display the price every day for one or five weeks
Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 1.31.00 PMNow the same search either either shows green SkyChecks if you have enough miles to fly that day or red Xs if you don’t.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 2.13.12 PMSince I have about 79,000 miles, I got SkyChecks on April 13-15, which until yesterday showed a price of 50,000 miles and red Xs on April 16-20, which cost 95,000 miles yesterday.

Even selecting a day just brings up itineraries with either SkyChecks or Xs.

My Plan

If I didn’t ditch Delta for industry-trailing award space, being in the weakest of the three alliances, not allowing award changes or cancellations within 72 hours, removing its upgrade information from Expert Flyer, blocking account balances on Award Wallet, or eliminating its award chart, I’m not going to ditch it now.

I know my account balance was 79,052 miles yesterday. I will keep careful track of miles I earn from flights (which is a bit complicated because you have to multiply the base fare times 5-11 based on your status instead of earning miles based on miles flown), transfers of points in, and other sources like dining programs.

I will keep careful track of miles I spend on awards too. This will be a bit complicated too, but if I search award space on airfrance.us then book only space I find there by calling Delta, I can ensure I am booking Level 1 award space. Then I can cross-reference the screen shots of the old Delta award chart to see how many miles my award cost.

I would hope Award Wallet could create an extension to do all this, but unfortunately Delta blocked Award Wallet from tracking Delta miles last year.

Your Take

Is anyone surprised by Delta’s latest move? How will you respond? Leave your take in the comments.

Hat Tip Lantean

 

 

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Update at 3:37 PM ET: Neither package has sold out.

Today is the seventh day of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Today only, two-night stays in fancy suites at the Venetian and Palazzo in Las Vegas are deeply discounted.

Today’s deal is:

  • Two nights in a Piazza View Suite at the Venetian for $495, 50 available
  • Two nights in a Siena Suite at the Palazzo for $608, 42 available

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These are incredible suites at very nice on-Strip properties for about half their normal price for a Summer weekend.

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Siena Suite at Palazzo Living Room

The Siena Suite at the Palazzo is 1,280 square feet. The marketing material says: “A marble foyer, complete with a powder room for guests, flows into a sumptuous living room, where a comfortable couch, dining table and wet bar set an inviting backdrop for entertaining.”

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The Siena Suite at the Palazzo is going for over $1,270 after the resort fee for a weekend this June. The Daily Getaway price is $608, and the terms and conditions indicate that purchasers will not have to pay the resort fee. That’s a savings of $660+.

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The Piazza Suite at Venetian is an even larger 1,400 square feet. The bedroom is smaller, but you get a separate living room and dining room.Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 9.37.05 AM

The Piazza Suite at the Venetian goes for over $930 after resort fee for a weekend in June. Through Daily Getaways, you pay $495. That’s a savings of $435+.

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These two-night stays need to be redeemed by March 31, 2016, and there are a lot of blackout dates:

  • March 25, 26, 27, 2015
  • April 14, 15, 21, 2015
  • May 4, 8, 9, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 29, 30, 2015
  • June 19, 20, 2015
  • August 16, 17, 18, 2015
  • September 5, 18, 19, 28, 29, 2015
  • October 6, 7, 2015
  • November 2, 3, 4, 2015
  • December 30, 31, 2015
  • January 5, 6, 7, 8, 19, 20, 25, 26, 2016
  • February 15, 16, 29, 2016
  • March 1, 2, 18, 2016.

Purchase Link: Palazzo Suite for two nights for $608

Purchase Link: Venetian Suite for two nights for $495

My Plan

I’m sitting out this deal. I don’t have any firm plans to get to Las Vegas before March 2016, and I have free offers to stay at the Wynn and Cosmopolitan if I decide to go.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

This deal has been offered the last two years at approximately the same prices. I don’t remember whether they sold out quickly. I think they will this year. If you remember what happened in past years, please chime in.

Purchasing the Packages

To maximize your chances of getting in on the deal, I recommend using a site like whattimeisit.com to figure out the official time. The sale starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT / 7 AM HT. This year’s sales all started on time to the second. Keep refreshing the deal page until you see the BUY NOW button replace the SEE DETAILS button.

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This is what happens if you try to purchase something when all quantities are already in someone’s cart.

This doesn’t mean the deal is sold out. If someone doesn’t complete his purchase, that quantity will immediately become available for someone else. Keep checking until the dreaded “Sold Out” appears.

Key Links

Do you plan to buy these suite packages? Post your successful or failed attempt in the comments, so we can gauge how quick you had to be to snag a deal.

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

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United is offering a 20% discount on roundtrip Saver economy awards booked to Hawaii by April 19 and flown Mondays through Thursdays from April 14 to May 19. The total cost of a roundtrip is 36,000 miles.

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Don’t Book This Promotion

If you have United miles, this may be a good deal. If you have Ultimate Rewards, do not transfer them to United miles to book this deal. You can always book roundtrip Saver award space on United to Hawaii for 35,000 Singapore miles, which is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints.

How the Promotion Works If You Have United Miles

The promotion is hard-coded into the search results at united.com, so as long as you search roundtrip for travel dates between April 14 and May 19, Mondays through Thursdays will display 20% off–18,000 miles each way.

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I performed some dummy searches between Washington DC and Honolulu, and as I expected, award space was excellent as it usually is to Hawaii during the Spring. All green and yellow days below have Saver award space for two passengers.

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United flies to the four major Hawaiian islands daily. Atlanta to Maui priced out at 36,000 miles + $11 roundtrip, 20% off the normal 45,000 mile price.

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FAQ

Images from a previous, identical promotion.

Does this discount apply to one way awards?

No. If you search one way, you will see the normal one way Saver price of 22,500 miles.

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What if only one date of a roundtrip is within the discounted date range or I choose one way in First Class?

You will get the discount on one way if one way of a roundtrip is within the discounted April 14 – May 19 date range.

Here is Denver to Kauai with one way in the discounted dates and the return not. It prices at 40,500 miles roundtrip–18,000 for outbound and 22,500 for return.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.27.58 AMScreen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.28.05 AMSimilarly if one way of a roundtrip is in economy, it will be discounted, while the First Class portion of the award will not be. You would pay 58,000 United miles for such a roundtrip.

Full terms and conditions were emailed to members.

  • Saver Award discount applies for travel on Monday through Thursday only.
  • Saver Award discount is only valid for air travel. Promotion period ends at 11:59 p.m. CST on April 19, 2015.
  • Offer is valid for travel beginning on or after April 14, 2015, and completed on or before May 19, 2015.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid for roundtrip travel between the U.S. or Canada and Hawaii.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid for roundtrip travel. One-way travel is still priced as a regular, non-discounted Saver Award.
  • For this offer, a roundtrip is defined as travel from an origin city to a destination city with return travel ending at the first origin city, and with all segments on flights operated by Star Alliance partner airlines. A segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Open jaw itineraries within the same region do qualify for the discount. Stopovers do not qualify for this offer.
  • A booking service charge may apply for travel booked less than 21 days before departure.
  • Award pricing is subject to change without notice.
  • Qualifying existing award tickets may be reissued, upon request, to the award sale mileage. They are subject to the award change policy, including any applicable service fees.

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Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.34.07 AM

I earn a commission for some links on this blog. Citi is a MileValue partner.

Most of the posts on this site are minutia: a discount on awards to Brazil and Chile or a new Delta route with good award space to Europe. Such posts are only valuable once you understand the big picture and how the miles world works and fits together. Here’s the current big picture.

How to Earn Big Miles

Now, more than ever, the way to earn big miles and points for free travel is through credit cards. United and Delta have slashed the number of miles they give to you for flying their flights, while the number of miles you can earn from signing up for a credit card is often 40,000, 50,000, or more.

There are a lot of types of miles and points you can earn.

Types of Miles and Points from Easiest to Understand to Most Complicated

1. Credit Card Points Pretending to Be Miles

If you’ve seen a Capital One Venture Card ad with Jennifer Garner, you probably don’t understand what Capital One points are because the marketing deliberately obfuscates the product.

Whenever you see an ad that promises miles you can use on any airline with no blackout, the card does not earn true miles. It earns points worth 1 cent (usually) each toward the purchase of any cash ticket. Because you can redeem the credit card points for any cash ticket at a fixed rate, they can legitimately market the card as having no blackouts.

Cards that earn points that can be used at a fixed rate toward any flight are great for people who know how to find cheap tickets, people who don’t mind flying low cost carriers, people who need to travel on completely fixed dates, and families who travel in economy.

These are the simplest rewards program to understand: 1 point/mile = 1 cent or 1.14 cents or whatever the company says they’re worth. You never have to search for award space (explained below); you just purchase any cash ticket on any airlines and redeem your points to offset the cost of the ticket.

Examples of Cards/Programs In This Category:

  • Capital One Venture
  • Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Arrival
  • Many Smaller Banks’ “Miles Earning” Cards
  • Any Card that Promises Redemption of Rewards on Any Airline with No Blackouts

Program to Start with For Beginners: Start with the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus “miles” after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and the miles are worth 1.14 cents each toward any flight, hotel, car rental, cruise, or other travel expense. It is the best of the bunch for its sign up bonus, value of its miles, and the fact that you can redeem for any travel expense not just flights.

Further Reading: Three Steps to Get $500 in Free Flights, Hotels, and Car Rentals from the Arrival Plus Card

2. Airline Points

Airline points are points that have a fixed value or close to a fixed value and can be redeemed on any flight that airline operates. The number of points you need is based on the ticket price.

These are conceptually very similar to the fixed-value credit card points above, except that these can only be used on one airline.

For example, Southwest’s Rapid Rewards can be redeemed for any Southwest flight with no blackouts as long as tickets are for sale. You just pay 70 Rapid Rewards times the base fare. A flight with a $100 base fare would cost 7,000 Rapid Rewards.

These programs are much easier to understand than traditional airline miles that require award searching (explained below) and amounts of miles based on an award chart and award availability.

Examples of Programs In This Category:

  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Virgin America Elevate

Program to Start with For Beginners: If Southwest serves routes you want to fly, join the program and get one of the Southwest credit cards when the bonuses go to 50,000 points every few months. If you usually fly with the same companion, get the Southwest Companion Pass–possibly the best deal in travel.

By the way, to figure out where any airline flies, search “[airline] destinations wiki.” To figure out all the routes from your home airport, search “[city] airport wiki.”

Further Reading: Basics of Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America Points

3. United, Delta, and American Airlines Miles

Airline mergers have winnowed down the legacy carriers in the United States to three: American, Delta, and United. They’re miles all work basically the same.

Each is a member of an alliance with a few dozen airline partners. You can use your miles on any of the partners. American Airlines is part of oneworld, and there are 24 airlines on which you can redeem American Airlines miles. United is part of Star Alliance. Delta is part of SkyTeam.

On its own flights, each legacy carriers either releases Saver award space or doesn’t (and releases Standard/AAnytime/Level 2-5 award space.) Saver award space costs the fewest miles, but it is not available on every flight in every cabin. It is most available when the airline expects to have empty seats. Think unpopular days, routes, and seasons.

All partner award space prices at the Saver level, so if you are booking Cathay Pacific or Qantas flights with American Airlines miles, you are paying the Saver price.

The number of miles you need for an American Airlines, Delta, or United award is determined by three things:

  1. The cabin you want to fly: economy, Business, or First
  2. Whether you found Saver award space or not
  3. The departure region and arrival region. The cities you fly into/out of don’t matter. Just the regions. Think North America and Europe.

Once you have those three piece of information, you read off the price of your award from the award chart of the airline whose miles you’re using.

These types of miles are complicated because you have to be proficient at searching for Saver and partner award space, or you have to hire an Award Booking Service like mine in order to maximize the value of your miles. But if you can handle the complexity, these miles are more valuable than any other type of miles.

If you find Saver award space, you can fly one way from Los Angeles to Paris in Business Class for 50,000 American Airlines miles. That’s probably a $2,000 ticket, which means it would cost about 200,000 Arrival miles.

American, United, and Delta miles tend to be best for international trips, especially in premium cabins.

Program to Start with For Beginners: American Airlines has the cheapest award chart because United and Delta more recently increased the prices on their charts. You can go to Peru for 15,000 miles one way or Southeast Asia in First Class luxury for only 67,500 miles one way. For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards. Getting both would be enough for a roundtrip anywhere in the world and up to four roundtrips to the Caribbean.

Further Reading: Basics of American, United, and Delta miles

4. Transferable Points

Transferable points are points you earn from a credit card that you can transfer to many different types of airline miles or other points. For instance, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to six airline miles/points programs, four hotel programs, and Amtrak points.

Transferable points are awesome because they give you so much flexibility. Each airline program has strengths and weaknesses in terms of the number of miles you need and the availability from point A to point B. Collecting transferable points ensures that no matter where you decide to go, you can always transfer your points to the type of airline miles that is best for the award you want.

To maximize transferable points is extremely complex, though, because you need to understand the basics of every transfer partners to ensure you are using transferring your points to the right partner.

For instance, most people with Ultimate Rewards who want to go to Hawaii from the East Coast are probably transferring their points to United miles to book United flights. That’s a huge mistake. Another Ultimate Rewards transfer partner–Singapore Airlines–can book the exact same United flights for fewer miles. Not knowing that fact would lead to spending too many Ultimate Rewards for your trip to Hawaii.

Examples of Programs In This Category:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints

Program to Start with For Beginners: I like Chase Ultimate Rewards roster of credit cards and partners a lot, and I always start friends and family off with a Chase Sapphire Preferred personal card and Chase Ink Plus business card. They both have 40,000 to 50,000 point sign up bonuses and category bonuses of 2x points that let you rack up points.

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Further Reading: Transferable Points Basics

5. Other Mileage Programs

While you’re mastering transferable points, you’ll have to master other, mostly foreign, airline miles programs.

Programs like British Airways Avios, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Lufthansa Miles & More, Singapore KrisFlyer, and Air France Flying Blue all offer tremendous value to Americans for certain awards, and you can get all of their miles by earning the right transferable points.

While it might seem interminable to learn about 10-20 other airline programs, it’s actually not very tough. I always say that understanding one airline program like American Airlines is the same difficulty as understanding airline programs 2 through 99 combined. All airline programs share certain principles, which make learning the basics of each one a snap. You just have to learn the few quirks.

Examples of Programs In This Category:

  • British Airways Avios (great for short, direct, economy flights on American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines within United States; for flights intra-Europe; for flights intra-South America; for flights from the West Coast to Hawaii; for flights from the East Coast to Europe)
  • Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan (great for Business and First Class on Emirates and Cathay Pacific)
  • Lufthansa Miles & More (great for flights within the Western Hemisphere on Star Alliance)
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (great for Singapore Suites and flights within the Western Hemisphere on Star Alliance)
  • Air France Flying Blue (great for Promo Awards and some Delta flights)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (great for Economy and Premium Economy to the United Kingdom)

Program to Start with For Beginners: If you live somewhere with a lot of American Airlines, US Airways, or Alaska Airlines flights, start collecting Avios.

Further Reading: Basics of Redeeming Singapore, Aeroplan, Flying Blue, ANA, Lufthansa, and Korean Miles

Hotel Points

Beyond the scope of this post, but there are plenty of ways to earn free lodging on your travels.

Bottom Line

Miles and points are still the best way to travel for free. The main way to earn them is through credit card sign up bonuses.

The miles world is complicated, so learn about it a chunk at a time. Start by understanding fixed value credit cards that claim to offer miles. Progress to airline points and airline miles. Pretty soon you’ll understand all the foreign mileage programs to which you can transfer your transferable points. Along the way, you’ll have earned and redeemed hundreds of thousands of miles for thousands of dollars in free travel.

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I was explaining to my brother the changes that Delta has made in 2015, and I mentioned that the one I just couldn’t believe was that Delta eliminated its award chart. It seems self-evident to all of us in the miles game that Delta eliminating its award chart is insane and unjustifiable.

(Delta deleted the chart from its site, but the possible priced for awards are the same now as they were when the chart was on delta.com. You can see screenshots of the deleted chart here.)

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“Delta eliminating its chart is no big deal,” he replied.

“Of course it is,” I countered. “Now there is no easy way to know how many miles you need to collect for your dream trip.”

“But,” he pointed out, “there isn’t any way to know how much cash you need if you’re saving up for a dream trip either. Right now maybe a roundtrip to Australia is $1,000, but it could be $1,500 by the time you’ve saved $1,000.”

True, but now there’s no easy way to compare how many miles trips are to each region, so you can find sweet spots. Of course, there’s no easy way to find the best value cash flights by reading off a region-by-region table either.

But but but, now there’s no way to know the “Saver” award price with Delta miles to where you want to go. If you search delta.com and see that one way to Europe is 37,500 miles on the day you want, is that a good price or not? Of course, if you search and find the flight is $500, is that a good price or not?

He had a point. While we’re used to award charts, we get by perfectly fine when paying for our cash tickets without any table that tells us what flights from one region to another should cost.

I think I was just tired from jetlag and in the moment missed what I think are other big problems with Delta eliminating its chart:

  1. Now it will be easier for Delta to go revenue-based on award redemptions. They won’t have to even announce the change because right now Delta award prices are “whatever price Delta says” anyway.
  2. All Delta’s competitors have an award chart.
  3. All Delta flights are available for some amount of miles. We know from the past chart that there are five possible prices, Level 1 through 5, and we knew the Level 5 price. Removing the chart removes from our knowledge the maximum number of miles we’d need if we really wanted to redeem our miles for an in demand flight. While I have never redeemed a Level 5 award and hope never to redeem one, what that price is sets a floor for the value of our miles.

When I write out my reasons, they don’t seem particularly strong.

I was angry when Delta removed its chart, and I still feel that emotion, but I can’t logically articulate why not having a chart is a big deal.

So I guess I agree that it’s not a big deal in and of itself that Delta eliminated its award chart because we still have screenshots of the charts, award prices haven’t changed, and my brother’s arguments about not knowing what a flight will cost with cash either have some validity. The big deal is not the loss of the chart; it is the signal Delta sent by eliminating its chart.

It just feels like Delta doesn’t care about SkyMiles members. Every other airline has an award chart, but not Delta.

And it feels like Delta is preparing for something worse–like revenue-based redemptions–by getting rid of its chart.

Your Take

Do you have some stronger reasons why Delta eliminating its chart is a big deal? Or is the lack of a chart not as bad as the signal that Delta sends by not having a chart?

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Delta has a new daily flight from Philadelphia to London that begins April 26, 2015 with excellent economy award space immediately and good Business Class award space later in the year.

Delta charges 30,000 miles each way in economy and 62,500 miles each way in flat bed Business Class. If you don’t live in Philadelphia, there are flights from Delta hubs plus Seattle and Raleigh/Durham to Philadelphia to connect.

Award Space

First I searched for one passenger in economy just on the direct flight from Philadelphia to London. As you can see, the flight starts April 26, and there is award space at Delta’s cheapest transatlantic price of 30,000 SkyMiles nearly every day for the first four weeks.

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Even later in the summer, award space is excellent with almost every day available for 30,000 or 37,500 SkyMiles, which used to be Level 1 and Level 2 on Delta’s award chart before that were eliminated.Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.05.20 PMI ran the same search for two passengers, and award space is still available for 30,000 miles per person from June 27 to July 18. That’s excellent for peak season.

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Next I searched for Business Class for one passenger from April 26 for the first five weeks of the route. There is no award space at the cheapest price of 62,500 miles. A few days in May are 80,000 miles one way.Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.06.28 PM

Later in the year, there is regular Business Class award space for 62,500 miles one way.Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.06.57 PM

Taxes

Taxes departing the United Kingdom are very high. A roundtrip in economy is 60,000 Delta miles + $192 in taxes.

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Taxes are even higher in Business Class at about $300 roundtrip. You can save almost $150 on the economy award and $250 on the Business Class award by returning from a lower tax country like Spain.

As always, if you want to fly an open jaw to Europe, fly into London and home from somewhere on the continent with lower taxes.

You’re Better at Searching than Delta.com

This great award space to Europe over the Summer will be protected by the incompetence of the Delta search engine. Philadelphia is not a Delta hub, so delta.com doesn’t look for connections via Philadelphia.

But there’s no reason you can’t fly Raleigh to Philly to London on two Delta flights. If both have Level 1 award space, the cost is 30,000 miles. You just need to search segment-by-segment.

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On May 1, there is Level 1 award space (we know because it prices at 12,500 miles one way) from Raleigh to Philadelphia–pictured below–and from Philadelphia to London–see the calendars above.

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But on May 1, Raleigh to Philadelphia to London itineraries do not show up on a delta.com search for awards from Raleigh to London. All the 30,000 mile routings are via JFK, including some with 10+ hour layovers.
Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 6.10.33 PMIf a Delta award connecting in Philadelphia is the best itinerary the day you want to fly, do what you always have to do when you want to book an award you can’t bring up online: call the airline. Call Delta at 800-323-2323 and feed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight you found. Ask for the phone fee to be waived, since you couldn’t book online.

Possible Connections

Delta and Alaska Airlines, a Delta partner searchable on delta.com, have several flights to Philadelphia that you could fly to connect to this transatlantic award space.

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Source: wikipedia.org

If you live in Atlanta, Cincinnati, Seattle, etc, you can connect to London with one stop in Philadelphia for as little as 30,000 Delta miles.

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My US Airways miles have been transferred into my American Airlines account. This is a screenshot from my AAdvantage account.

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My American Airlines mile balance shows the correct total.

I also applied for a new US Airways card last week and was approved. After I make my first purchase, and the statement closes in about a month, I should earn 50,000 bonus miles. I assume they will be deposited directly into my American Airlines account.

Have your US Airways miles been transferred to your American Airlines account?

Get More American Airlines Miles

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.
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Purchases of Daily Getaways packages–see my rundown of the best deals this coming weekare coded as purchases from a travel agency. That means:

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Last week I purchased packages with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, and as you can see, the purchase coded as “Travel Agency and Tour Operators.”

 

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Right now, Travel Agencies earn 2x points on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, and that goes up to 3x on April 19.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 11.14.26 AM

I also purchased a package with my Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, and that purchase shows up on the list of travel purchases for which I can redeem Arrival miles.

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(If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the Arrival Plus earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, and you can use the miles to redeem for any travel purchase at a rate of 1.14 cents per mile. Here’s how redemption works.)

I haven’t used a Sapphire Preferred to purchase a Daily Getaways package, but the card offers 2x Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel purchases, which includes travel agencies.

Which Card Should You Use?

It depends on your goals.

If you are short on cash, use the Arrival Plus, and redeem your Arrival miles to not pay for your package.

If you want to earn ThankYou Points to transfer to Singapore, Flying Blue, or Virgin Atlantic, or to use for 1.25 cents toward any flight on any airline, use your ThankYou Premier.

If you want to earn Ultimate Rewards to transfer to United, British Airways, or Hyatt, use your Sapphire Preferred.

I’ll be using my ThankYou Premier because I’ve had the card just over one year, which means I am clearing the second half of the card’s split sign up bonus: (the third bullet point)

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

It’ll be nice to rack up the 30,000 bonus points while also earning 2x points on some of the spending on Daily Getaways packages. That will be more than enough points to book a one way between the mainland United States and Hawaii in a flat bed like I flew this week.

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United is offering a 25% discount on roundtrip economy awards to Brazil and Chile this Spring (their Fall.) For 45,000 United miles, you can fly roundtrip to Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, or Sao Paulo.

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Key Terms

  • Book by 11:59 p.m. on April 26, 2015.
  • Travel by June 25, 2015.
  • You must fly only United and United Express flights–no partners.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid for travel between the U.S. or Canada (excluding Hawaii) and Brazil or Chile.
  • Discounted Saver Award is only valid if you book roundtrip travel in Economy cabin. One-way travel is still priced as a regular, non-discounted Saver Award.
  • For this offer, a roundtrip is defined as travel from an origin city to a destination city with return travel ending at the first origin city, and with all segments on flights operated by United Airlines. A segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Open jaw itineraries within the same region do qualify for the discount. Stopovers do not qualify for this offer.
  • The discounted Saver Award is combinable with other award types as long as the itinerary is roundtrip (e.g., a member can book a Standard Award for the outbound portion of an itinerary and a Saver Award for the return portion, or vice versa) but only the flight segments purchased with a Saver Award will be eligible for a 25% discount.
  • A booking service charge may apply for travel booked less than 21 days before departure.

Examples, Award Space, What’s Possible

In Brazil and Chile, United flies from:

  • Houston to Santiago, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo
  • Washington-Dulles to Sao Paulo
  • Newark to Sao Paulo
  • Chicago to Sao Paulo

Award space is excellent on these routes over the sale period. In the calendars below, all green and yellow dates have Saver award space for one person for 45,000 miles roundtrip. Houston to Santiago has award space almost every day in April and May.

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Blue and green dates have Business and/or First Class space available for 55,000 or 70,000 miles one way. Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.00.27 AM

The return from Santiago to Houston also has award space almost every day.

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If you select a roundtrip at the Saver economy level the price is 45,000 miles + $53 in taxes to Chile. If your departure is less than 21 days away, a $75 fee is added.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.02.53 AM

You do not have to fly Saver economy both ways. You can return in Business Class and the award prices at 22,500 + 55,000 = 77,500 miles roundtrip.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.04.22 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.04.27 AM

Rio de Janeiro

Award space from Houston to Rio in April and May is good, but not as good as to Santiago.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.06.20 AM

Award space Rio to Houston is similar.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.06.33 AM

Sao Paulo

United has four routes to Sao Paulo. I searched Washington-Dulles to Sao Paulo. Award space is excellent in April, but less so in May.
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Award space on the return from Sao Paulo to Washington is a little better in May.

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You can fly into one Brazilian city and home from the other if you want to see both. (You can even have a second open jaw in the United States.) The award prices correctly at 45,000 miles plus taxes.Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.09.59 AM Screen Shot 2015-03-28 at 10.10.04 AM

American Airlines Off Peak

While these United awards for 45,000 miles–a 25% discount sound great–American Airlines has a cheaper award to Brazil and Chile that is a lot more flexible.

Every March 1 – May 31 and August 16 – November 30, you can fly American Airlines or any of its partners like LAN and TAM to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay for only 20,000 American Airlines miles each way–a 33% discount.

That’s broader dates, the ability to fly partners, more countries, and a cheaper price. The American Airlines off peak awards and award chart in general is better than United’s.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also comes with other awesome benefits like a 10% rebate on miles used for award bookings.

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards.

Are you going to book a discounted United award to Brazil or Chile?

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Monday begins the second week of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Here’s that overview of the second week of deals that start Monday. I plan to purchase only Friday’s deal, though I see great value Tuesday and Wednesday also.

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Monday March 30: $55 for 10,000 Best Western Points (can purchase up to five packages of 10,000), 0.55 cents per point

As with all points purchasing offers, this could be a good deal, and you need to do the math for redemptions you have in mind. But I don’t think it will be a great deal for many people.

There are a lot of ways to redeem Best Western Points, but transferring to airlines miles at a 5:1 rate or buying gift cards for less than 0.55 cents each will leave you coming out behind.

The only reasonable redemption is free nights at Best Westerns that cost 8,000 to 36,000 points per night. At 0.55 cents each, that’s $44 to $198 per night.

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There are some properties that will cost more with cash than by purchasing points for 0.55 cents each. For instance, this property in Paris costs $305 on June 10.

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You can book it for 36,000 points, which is $198 at 0.55 cents each.

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But you can only purchase 50,000 points maximum in 10,000 point increments, so that greatly reduces the value of the superficially valuable uses of this Daily Getaway.

Plus not every night is available for a redemption at every property.
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I can’t find any comprehensive list of hotels by category, so it’s hard to find under-priced properties. If you find some, share them in the comments.

For now, I’ll pass on this deal and won’t write more about it on Monday. The properties that are good deals only offer moderate savings, and I generally prefer airbnb to hotels, so I’d need massive savings to get involved.

Purchase Link: 10,000 Best Western Points for $55

Tuesday March 31: Two Nights in a Venetian Suite ($495) or Palazzo Suite ($608)

These are legit, fancy suites at very nice on-Strip properties for about half their normal price for a Summer weekend.

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The Living Room of One of Your Suites

Here are the layouts for the 1,200 square foot suites. I would love to stay in either for a weekend.

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The Siena Suite at the Palazzo is going for over $1,270 after the resort fee for a weekend. The Daily Getaway price is $608, and the terms and conditions indicate that purchasers will not have to pay the resort fee.

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The Piazza Suite at the Venetian goes for over $930 after resort fee for a weekend. Through Daily Getaways, you pay $495.

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These two night stays need to be redeemed by March 31, 2016, and there are a lot of blackout dates, but they are clearly listed in the terms and conditions.

Purchase Link: Palazzo Suite for two nights for $608

Purchase Link: Venetian Suite for two nights for $495

Wednesday April 1: Stays at Caesars in Las Vegas and Atlantic City

Wednesday, there are a variety of packages at Caesars properties in Las Vegas and Atlantic City from $315 to $1,400. These packages include 2-3 night stays and often have extras like free meals, free limo rides from the airport, show tickets, or in room champagne.

Read each package carefully.

I used one of these packages to stay at Harrah’s in Las Vegas last year, and I got good value. These are all good values if you stay over a summer weekend. There are blackout dates, but they are listed in the terms and conditions.

Purchase Link: Daily Getaways Caesars Packages

Thursday April 2: 4 pack of 2-day park tickets at Universal Studios Hollywood for $313

Your family of four can go to Universal Studios for two days for $78 each.

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Purchase Link: 4 pack of 2-day park tickets at Universal Studios Hollywood for $313

Friday April 3: Choice Privileges Points for 0.4 to 0.48 Cents Each

I’ve bought Choice Privileges points the last two years, and they’ve been some of my best purchases. I’ve used $39 worth of points purchased during Daily Getaways to stay in a $325 room in Stockholm.

There are great values from 8,000 points per night ($32) in America and Europe.

I’ve drawn down my Choice Privileges points with recent bookings in Charlotte and Charlottesville, so I want to stock up for my trip to Europe this summer.

As with several Daily Getaways, these are advertised as stays like “Comfort Inn®: Stay 3 Nights for $155,” but you are really buying points that can be used at any Choice Privileges property as the terms and conditions make clear.

The price of the points varies over 10% based on the package you buy.

You can buy up to two of each package. I’ll buy two of the 40,000 point package if I can.

Bottom Line for Week 2

The star is Choice Privileges points for 0.4 cents each. I’ve used them for huge savings in Munich during Oktoberfest and Stockholm as well as $32 per night stays at hotels in the United States.

Best Western Points for 0.55 cents don’t offer nearly the value.

Venetian/Palazzo and Caesars are offering Vegas and Atlantic City packages on Tuesday and Wednesday. Venetian/Palazzo’s offerings are about 50% discounts on really nice suites. Caesars’ offerings fit a variety of price ranges. Consider how much you value each package and its blackout dates before booking.

Look for full posts on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from me by 9 AM ET, and mark your calendar for any deal that piques your interest.

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British Airways Avios accounts have been hacked.

Apparently in some cases, points have been used. In others, British Airways drained an account to zero to prevent points from being used.

I tried to log in to my account and my correct password is being rejected.

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Folks are contacting British Airways on twitter and being told to DM information.

Folks who are calling British Airways are reporting interminable holds.

I predict British Airways sorts all this out in a few days or weeks and all points are restored. My account had under 1,000 Avios, so I will not be doing anything. If you try to contact British Airways, report your success or failure in getting your points or making a booking in the comments.

Hat Tip Dan’s Deals via JB

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Codes updated at 1:44 PM ET on 3/27/15

Enjoy one of these 63 free upgrade codes to six months of Award Wallet Plus. Award Wallet is the free way I track my 35 miles and points balances and store my login information for those programs.

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These Award Wallet code giveaways get a lot of complaints. Unfortunately I don’t think there is any way to improve them. The simple reality is that I have a lot more than 63 readers. No need to leave a comment if you use one. These are likely going to be all gone in 15 minutes or less. Please don’t email me for a code. Also check the comments because often generous readers leave more codes there.

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Update at 3:30 PM ET: The 250k and 100k deals have sold out. 150k remains.

Update at 1:40 PM ET: These deals have not sold out.

Today is the fifth day of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Every weekday at 1 PM ET, a discounted travel package or packages will go on sale and will often sell out in a few minutes. Every weekend I’ll preview the deals for the next week, and the morning of interesting deals, I’ll have a full write up.

Today only, Hilton HHonors points are being sold for 0.5 cents each.

Today’s deal is:

  • 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for $500 (0.5 cents each), 160 packages available
  • 150,000 Hilton HHonors points for $750 (0.5 cents each), 200 packages available
  • 250,000 Hilton HHonors points for $1,250 (0.5 cents each), 200 packages available

 

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You can buy one of each package, three total. If you bought the maximum, you would be getting 500k Club Carlson points for $2,500.

Club Carlson points can be used at over 4,100 hotels with the following brand names:

How far do Hilton points go? Here’s the award chart:

 

A Category 1 hotel costs 5,000 points, which is $25 if you buy points for 0.5 cents each. Needless to say $25 is a great deal for a hotel night anywhere in the world, though the Category 1 properties are in generally uninspiring places. Super reader Jeremy has created the most valuable spreadsheet imaginable for the Hilton HHonors program that you can download for free here, which lists all Category 1, 2, 9, and 10 properties. (Why 9 and 10? See The Only Two Good Hilton Strategies.)

My Plan

I’m sitting out this deal. Check out Hilton’s PDF of all its hotels’ categories. Most of the places I would stay at are Categories 3-7, which would cost $100 to $300 per night at these prices. Maybe buying points gets a discount over the retail price, but I can stay at airbnb properties for much cheaper and enjoy my stay more.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

The last two years, at approximately the same prices, Hilton points have not sold out.

Purchasing the Packages

To maximize your chances of getting in on the deal, I recommend using a site like whattimeisit.com to figure out the official time. The sale starts at 1 PM ET / 10 AM PT / 7 AM HT. This year’s sales all started on time to the second. Keep refreshing the deal page until you see the BUY NOW button replace the SEE DETAILS button.

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This is what happens if you try to purchase something when all quantities are already in someone’s cart.

This doesn’t mean the deal is sold out. If someone doesn’t complete his purchase, that quantity will immediately become available for someone else. Keep checking until the dreaded “Sold Out” appears.

Key Links

Do you plan to buy Hilton HHonors points? Post your successful or failed attempt in the comments, so we can gauge how quick you had to be to snag a deal.

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Earn up to 20 free hotel nights after meeting spending $2,500 in the first 90 days on the Club Carlson Visa.

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