Scott Grimmer

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New codes at 6:56 PM ET on April 25, 2015.

Enjoy one of these 50 free upgrade codes to six months of Award Wallet Plus. Award Wallet is the free way I track my 32 miles and points balances and store my login information for those programs.

Here are the extra features of Award Wallet Plus:

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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 50 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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This was a popular post two years ago, and I want to update it with all the cards to earn the following miles, which I consider the most important:

  • American
  • Delta
  • United
  • Alaska
  • Singapore
  • British Airways
  • Southwest

This is a good reference if you want to collect a certain type of miles, but this should not be construed as an endorsement to open all the cards on any of the lists.

I haven’t included any analysis, just the sign up bonus. These cards have annual fees, minimum spending requirements, and category bonuses. Read their terms and conditions before applying. If there’s not a direct link, you can get to the card by clicking one of these banners.

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See the footnotes at the bottom for further explanation of some points. The number in parentheses is the sign up bonus of the card.

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® (50k)
CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® (50k)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Citi Gold American Airlines personal cards (I saw a targeted 50k by mail in April 2015, online the best I see is 25k)

Delta SkyMiles

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR1)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express (30k)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR1)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR1)
Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express (10k, also earns MQM)
Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express (earns MQM)

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United MileagePlus Miles

United MileagePlus Explorer Card (personal) (up to 55k, any 30k offer can add an authorized user for 5k, and can be matched 20k higher with a secure message to Chase)
United MileagePlus Explorer Card (business) (50k, inside your United account)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (45k UR+5)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (15,000 to 15,6254)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (15,000 to 15,6254)
Freedom (10k UR-6)
United Club Card (0, but 1.5 miles per dollar on all spending)

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Alaska Mileage Plan

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card (25k)
Alaska Airlines Business Card (25k)

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles

Citi Prestige® Card (50k)
Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (50k)
Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR2)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR2)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR2)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

British Airways Avios

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz (50k MR2)
British Airways Visa Signature (50k)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (30-31.25k3)
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN (25k MR2)
Platinum Card from American Express (25k MR2)
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card (25k MR2)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

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Southwest Rapid Rewards

Southwest Premier Personal Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here and there are 50k referral links from other readers in the thread)
Southwest Premier Business Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here)
Southwest Plus Personal Visa (25k, I cover frequent 50k offers here)
Ink Plus (50k UR+5)
Sapphire Preferred (40k UR+5)
Ink Cash (20k UR-6)
Freedom (10k UR-6)

  1. Membership Rewards transfer 1:1 to Delta with a $0.60 fee per 1,000 transferred. There were transfer bonuses, but the last was November 2011.
  2. Membership Rewards transfer to British Airways Avios and Singapore KrisFlyer miles with no fee. There are frequent transfer bonuses to Avios. The last was 40% in December 2014. There has never been a transfer bonus to Singapore miles.
  3. Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Delta, American, Alaska, Singapore, and British Airways miles with a 5k mile bonus for every 20k Starpoints transferred. 25k Starpoints would transfer to 30k miles, but 25k Starpoints transferred as part of exact 20k increments represents 31,250 miles.
  4. Starpoints transfer 2:1 to United miles with a 2.5k mile bonus for every 20k Starpoints transferred. Avoid this horrible deal.
  5. UR+ are Ultimate Rewards that can be transferred 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, and Southwest among other loyalty programs
  6. UR- are Ultimate Rewards that cannot be transferred 1:1 to airline miles and hotel points. But you can transfer these points to an Ink Plus or Sapphire Preferred account and from there to airline and hotel points.

Did I make any mistakes? Correct them in the comments.

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

This is the sixth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Where We Are and Where We’re Going

We’re in the section on redeeming miles. Once you understand how to redeem miles, you’ll understand which miles to earn. This post will focus on the three major alliances, which among them have most of the world’s most important airlines. Every airline in these alliances has a distance-based or region-based award program as far as I know.

The Three Alliances

You can always book awards using one airline’s miles on its own flights or on that airline’s alliance partners.

Below is a list of each alliances’ members and those members’ hubs and codes. Knowing these lists or at least where to find them will make you a much savvier flyer.

Carriers are in alphabetical order except American carriers are listed first. Each entry includes the airlines name and its hubs.

Star Alliance

United Airlines (Newark, Houston-Intercontinental, Washington-Dulles, Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, Cleveland, Tokyo-Narita, Guam)

Adria Airways (Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Aegean Airlines (Athens, Greece)
Air Canada (Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver)
Air China (Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai)
Air India (Delhi, Mumbai)
Air New Zealand (Auckland)
ANA (Tokyo-Narita, Tokyo-Haneda, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
Asiana Airlines (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
Avianca (Bogota, Colombia; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Quito, Ecuador; San Salvador, El Salvador; San Jose, Costa Rica; Lima, Peru)
Brussels Airlines (Brussels, Belgium)
Copa (Panama City)
Croatia Airlines (Zagreb)
EgyptAir (Cairo)
Ethiopian Airlines (Addis Ababa)
EVA Air (Taipei, Taiwan)
LOT Polish Airlines (Warsaw)
Lufthansa (Frankfurt, Munich, Dusseldorf, Berlin)
Scandinavian Airlines (Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm)
Shenzhen Airlines (Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Nanjing)
Singapore Airlines (Singapore)
South African Airways (Johannesburg)
Swiss International Air Lines (Zurich)
TAP Portugal (Lisbon)
Thai Airways International (Bangkok)
Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Ataturk)

SkyTeam

Delta Airlines (Atlanta, New York-JFK, New York-LaGuardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cincinnati, Salt Lake City, Memphis, Detroit, Amsterdam, Tokyo-Narita, Paris-Charles de Gaulle)

Aeroflot (Moscow-Sheremetyevo)
Aerolineas Argentinas (Buenos Aires-Ezeiza, Buenos Aires-Aeroparque)
Aeroméxico (Mexico City)
Air Europa (Madrid)
Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Lyon, Toulouse-Blagnac, Marseille, Nice)
Alitalia (Rome-Fiumicino)
China Airlines (Taipei, Kaohsiung)
China Eastern Airlines (Kunming, Shanghai-Pudong, Shanghai-Hongqiao, Xi’an)
China Southern Airlines (Beijing-Capital, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Urumqi)
Czech Airlines (Prague)
Garuda Indonesia (Jakarta, Bali)
Kenya Airways (Nairobi)
KLM (Amsterdam)
Korean Air (Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Gimpo)
Middle East Airlines (Beirut, Lebanon)
Saudia (Dammam, Jeddah, Medinah, Ryiadh)
TAROM (Bucharest, Romania)
Vietnam Airlines (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City)
Xiamen Airlines (Xiamen, Fuzhou, Hangzhou)

oneworld

American Airlines/US Airways (Dallas-Fort Worth, New York-JFK, Los Angeles, Chicago-O’Hare, Miami, Charlotte, Phoenix, Philadelphia)

airberlin (Berlin, Dusseldorf)
British Airways (London-Heathrow, London-Gatwick)
Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong)
Finnair (Helsinki)
Iberia (Madrid, Barcelona)
Japan Airlines (Tokyo-Haneda, Tokyo-Narita, Osaka, Osaka-Kansai)
LAN (Santiago, Chile; Lima, Peru)
Malaysia Airlines (Kuala Lumpur)
Qantas (Sydney, Melbourne)
Qatar Airways (Doha)
Royal Jordanian (Amman)
S7 Airlines (Moscow-Domodedovo, Novosibirsk)
SriLankan Airlines (Colombo)
TAM Airlines (Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia)

Not Alliance Members

Tons of airlines are not part of any alliances. They usually make one-off codesharing deals or several partners across many alliances. Major unaffiliated airlines include virtually all budget airlines and several premium airlines:

Alaska Airlines
Southwest
JetBlue
Frontier
Hawaiian
Allegiant
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Australia
Emirates
Etihad
every other airline not mentioned in this article

Where to Search Award Space

Few sites show award space for all members of an alliance, so it is often necessary to search several award search engines to completely search an alliance for award space.

Normally an airline will release award space to all of its partners equally, so if you see Brussels Airlines space on ana.com, for instance, that space is equally bookable with miles from any Star Alliance carrier (by calling the loyalty program of the carrier whose miles you want to use.) Click the links below for tutorials on how to search each site and which carriers can be searched there.

Star Alliance

  • united.com (quickest to search, many partners displayed)
  • aeroplan.com (more partners than united.com, better at finding complicated itineraries)
  • ana.com (most accurate to confirm award space on a single segment)

SkyTeam

  • delta.com (shows more and more partners)
  • airfrance.us (shows many more partners than delta.com, but not all)
  • Expert Flyer (shows some SkyTeam members’ award space that aren’t searchable elsewhere)

oneworld

Next, I’ll start going through programs one at a time and explaining how they work.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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

Update 4/23/15:Three of the offers on this list have improved in April, so I am re-posting this re-ordered.

There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.

  • For free luxury hotel stays and First Class flights
  • To travel to more countries than you could otherwise afford
  • To take your family on vacation
  • To visit home for the holidays
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending

Whatever your reason for coming to MileValue, there is a rewards card or cards that suit your needs.

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Climbing a banyan tree on Maui, on a trip made possible with points

In the last few years, I’ve been to dozens of countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

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The 55 Countries I’ve Visited

If you don’t have the money to take your dream trips, the good news is that you don’t need much money. By maximizing the sign up bonuses on rewards cards, anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.

1. Citi American Airlines Personal and Business Cards (100,000 Bonus Miles Total)

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® (personal card) comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

The other huge benefit is that cardholders get a 10% rebate on all American Airlines award redemptions up to 100k redeemed/10k rebated per year. Example: You book Cathay Pacific First Class from San Francisco to Hong Kong for 67.5k miles. In a few weeks, you get 6,750 miles rebated to your account.

The card also comes with a free checked bag, priority boarding, 25% off onboard food purchases, 2 miles per dollar on AA flights, and one mile per dollar on everything else.

There is no annual fee the first year, then $95.

Right now American Airlines has the best award chart in the world. Economy roundtrips to Europe start at 40,000 miles, and prices for Business Class and First Class awards can be 40% less than with United miles.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

The business version of the AAdvantage card offers the same sign up bonus (50k miles after $3k/3 months) and no annual fee the first year, followed by $95. Plus the business card offers 2x mile category bonuses on popular business categories. Full MileValue review on the business card.

You can hold both cards at the same time.

Application Link:  CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®

I recently used American Airlines miles to fly between the United States and Colombia. I’m writing a multi-part series on how to redeem American Airlines miles. Here are the first 10 posts.

2. Citi Prestige Card

Just improved 4/9/15: The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, three free rounds of golf per year, and a $450 annual fee.

I got the Citi Prestige when it only offered 30,000 bonus points for its amazing benefits. Now that it also has one of the biggest sign up bonuses on the market, it shoots up my rankings.

The Citi Prestige® Card is premium card that is designed to give travelers huge benefits to offset the big annual fee. For the first 12 months of holding the card, you are guaranteed to get more than $450 from the card if you maximize the $250 worth of statement credits to offset airline tickets or fees each calendar year (that’s $500 worth in the first 12 months), a $100 statement credit to offset Global Entry, and Priority Pass and American Airlines lounge access.

Beyond the 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Citi Prestige® Card earns:

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

ThankYou Points transfer to 11 airlines and one hotel. Or you can use the points for 1.33 cents off any flight on any airline with no blackouts or 1.6 cents off American Airlines and US Airways flights. Here’s how to use ThankYou Points.

Click these links for a full explanation of the card’s benefits and for a comparison to the American Express Platinum Card.

You can get both the Prestige and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card (#4 below) eight or more days apart and combine their points into a single ThankYou account.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

3. Ink Plus

The Ink Plus is a business card that offers 50,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

The Ink Plus earns 5x points on internet, phone, and cell phone bills; 5x points on purchases at office supply stores; 2x points on hotels and gas; and 1x points on everything else.

The annual fee is $95, though it is waived for the first year.

I recently used Ultimate Rewards (transferred to Hyatt points) to book the Grand Hyatt Macau and Ultimate Rewards (transferred to United miles) to book Slovenia-to-North Carolina in Lufthansa First Class.

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4. Citi ThankYou Premier Card

Just improved 4/20/15: The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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ThankYou Points transfer to 11 airlines and Hilton or can be used like cash for 1.25 cents each toward any flight on any airline with no blackouts. I get more value out of transferring the points to airline miles.

My favorite transfer partner is Singapore Airlines. For 50,000 Singapore miles, you can book a roundtrip award to South America with two free one ways to Hawaii, all on United flights.

My second favorite partner is Flying Blue. Flying Blue miles can book Promo Awards that cost only 12,500 miles each way to Europe or Israel. You can also use Flying Blue miles to book one way awards on Delta like 15,000 miles to Hawaii, Central America, or the Caribbean.

The card offers 3x points on travel (broadly defined) and gas plus 2x on dining out and entertainment.

The card has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

I recently transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore miles to book United First Class (flat bed) from Atlanta to Honolulu for 30,000 miles. The same flights would have cost 40,000 United miles.

5. Arrival Plus

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® is a great card for families that travel in economy, since Arrival miles can be used to book any flight on any airline with no blackouts. Miles can also be redeemed for any hotel or other travel expense.

This card comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days and earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases.

Miles are worth 1.14 cents each, so spending $3,000 on the card in the first 90 days earns more than $500 in free flights or other travel expenses.

With this card you can book any flight on any airline at any time, or any hotel, or rental car, then redeem your miles for a statement credit equal to the cost. Here’s how.

The 40,000 bonus miles could be used on any $400 flight without the need to find award space. You would even earn miles for flying the flight, since the airline will see it as a cash ticket!

Plus you get a 10% rebate after every redemption for travel, so after redeeming the 40,000 miles for $400 in travel, you get 4,000 miles back, worth $40 more dollars.

This card fills the gaps in a miles strategy because the rewards are perfect for cheap domestic flights or hotels that otherwise would be bad redemptions with traditional airline miles and hotel points.

There is no annual fee the first year, $89 thereafter.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

I recently used my Arrival miles to book myself a free Airbnb stay and to pay the taxes on an award booked with traditional miles.

6. Club Carlson Visa

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers up to 20 free hotel nights after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.

The basic idea is:

  • 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points after first purchase
  • 35,000 more Club Carlson Gold Points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days
  • Earn 5 points per dollar on all purchases (and 10 on purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels), so you’ll earn at least another 12,500 points from meeting the minimum spending requirement. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 97,500 Gold Points.
  • Free nights at Radisson, Park Plaza, and other properties start at 9,000 Gold Points
  • On award stays of two or more nights, you get the last night free as a cardholder. That means a two night stay at a 9,000 point-per-night property costs only 9,000 total points. This only applies to bookings made by May 31, 2015, but some hotels allow bookings up to three years in advance.
  • That means 90,000 points is enough for 10 two-night stays (20 nights total.)

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. No other card offers a free award night on all award stays of 2+ nights. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it.

Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

7. Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 40k Ultimate Rewards after spending $3k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 45k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)

The Sapphire Preferred earns 2x points on dining and travel. Dining includes bars, restaurants, and fast food. Travel includes airfare, hotels, taxis, rental cars, tolls, parking, and much more.

The Sapphire Preferred has no annual fee the first year, then $95 thereafter.

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8. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

  • Limited Time: Earn a $100 statement credit after spending $100 or more on your first hotel stay in the Hilton Portfolio within the first 3 months of account opening.*

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the best card for giving you free luxury hotel nights. The card comes with two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months. The free nights are best spent at top-tier Hiltons and Conrads that can go for $500 or more per night.

This card is perfect to get aspirational stays at top tier properties like the Conrad Koh Samui that goes for 95,000 Hilton points per night and costs more than $1k per night.

The card also comes with Hilton Gold Status, so you can enjoy free internet and breakfast on those free stays.

The card earns 10x points on Hilton stays, 5x on airlines and car rentals, and 3x on all other purchases.

There card has no foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $95.

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

9. Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status.

For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Landing Page: Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

10. British Airways Card

The British Airways Visa Signature card comes with 50,000 bonus Avios after spending $2,000 in the first three months on the card.

The card comes with 2.5 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios per dollar on other purchases. Starting April 30, these earning rates change to 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on all other purchases.

British Airways Avios are perfect for short, direct, economy flights on British Airways partners that do not levy fuel surcharges like these partners.

For instance, the west coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights for 12,500 Avios or only 4,500 Avios between New York and a dozen destinations are two of many sweet spots.

Starting April 28, prices for Business and First Class awards go up for medium and long haul flights.

The card has a $95 annual fee that is waived for the first 12 months.

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This is the fifth post in a monthlong series that started here. Each post will take about two minutes to read and may include an action item that takes the reader another two minutes to complete. I am writing this for an audience of people who know nothing about frequent flyer miles, and my goal is that by the end, you know enough to fly for free anywhere you want to go.

Where We Are and Where We’re Going

So far I’ve just tried to get you excited about the possibilities with miles, but now the real education begins.

And this education begins at the end. With miles you always need to work backwards from your goals to which miles are best for those goals to which strategy is best for earning the miles you need.

That means this section of the beginners’ guide will be about redeeming frequent flyer miles. Later posts will delve into the specifics of a type of miles–like American Airlines miles–but today I’ll start generally by talking about the five types of miles.

The Five Types of Miles from Easiest to Understand to Most Complicated

  1. Credit Card Points Pretending to Be Miles
  2. Airline Points
  3. Region-Based Miles
  4. Distance-Based Miles
  5. Transferable Points (ie points that transfer to two or more of the types above)

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 = 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
  • Discover Miles
  • 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.

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

3. Region-Based Miles 

The three legacy carriers in the United States–American, Delta, and United–plus Alaska and a host of foreign carriers like Singapore and AirFrance Flying Blue have region-based mileage programs.

Each of these airlines 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 (in which case it 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 region-based 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, Alaska, 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, Alaska, and Delta miles

4. Distance-Based Miles

British Airways has by far the most important distance-based program though there are other distance-based programs like All Nippon Airways (ANA.)

With British Airways awards, miles needed for an award are calculated by adding up the miles needed for each flight on an award. The miles needed for each flight are calculated by only two things:

  1. the distance of the flight
  2. the cabin of the flight

All flights within a certain band, like 0-650 miles flown, cost 4,500 British Airways Avios. Flights from 651-1151 cost 7,500 Avios and so on.

You can see how these will have different strengths than region-based awards. With region-based awards your cities didn’t matter, so New York to London is the same miles as Los Angeles to Istanbul. In distance-based awards, your regions don’t matter so Los Angeles to Honolulu is the same price as Los Angeles to New York. (Normally awards to Hawaii are more expensive with region-based miles.)

The ideal use of distance-based awards is for short flights that would otherwise be expensive with region-based miles or cash. With British Airways Avios, for instance, the best deals are short, direct, economy flights in the Western Hemisphere.

5. 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.

Transferable points are most valuable when there is a transfer partner in every alliance; when there are partners with region-based, distance-based, and fixed-value programs; and when the points can also be used like cash to buy flights.

Examples of Programs In This Category:

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

All four of the transferable points programs:

  • have transfer partners in all three alliance
  • have some partners with region-based programs and some with distance-based programs
  • allow you to directly buy flights with the points at a fixed rate (not that that’s necessarily a good idea)

As you can see, transferable points are the most complex. You need to understand the other four types of miles, so that you can understand your options with transferable points. But if you master the transfer partners, you will get more valuable from transferable points than any single type of miles.

Bottom Line

Those are the five types of miles:

  1. Credit Card Points Pretending to Be Miles
  2. Airline Points
  3. Region-Based Miles
  4. Distance-Based Miles
  5. Transferable Points (ie they transfer to two or more of the types above)

Did you notice they all have different strengths? That’s why it’s so important to diversify across the types of miles. You want to have the best mile for the job, and you want to use the types of miles in concert.

In the next few posts, I’ll explain in detail the most important programs, so that you’ll have an idea which miles you’ll need for your dream trip. Then we’ll work backwards and talk about all the ways to earn those miles.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Yesterday I shared how you can get both the Citi Prestige® Card and Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, get both their 50,000 point sign up bonuses after spending $3,000 in the first three months, and have 106,000+ ThankYou Points.

If you do that, the points you earn will not automatically be combined into one account, but you want to combine them. Specifically you want to combine them into your Prestige account because, while both cards can transfer points to the same airline partners, the Prestige’s points are worth more when using ThankYou Points like cash to purchase any flight, any time, on any airline.

(See the two ways to redeem ThankYou Points for more info on transfers to miles vs. using them like cash.)

  • The Premier’s points are worth 1.25 cents each toward any flight.
  • The Prestige’s points are worth 1.6 cents toward American Airlines and US Airways flights and 1.33 cents toward any other flight.

So how do you combine ThankYou Points into one account?

  • on thankyou.com
  • if that fails, by phone

On thankyou.com

Sign into thankyou.com. Click Combine ThankYou Accounts under My Account.

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Click “Add a Citi Account.”

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At this point, I tried to type in my credit card number.Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.29.28 PM But I got an error.Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.37.10 PM

I called in to combine my accounts, which was very quick.

By Phone

I called the number on the back of my Prestige and said I wanted to combine all my ThankYou Points into that account.

The agent had to first match up all the account details on both accounts. I think one was missing a phone number, which is probably why my online attempt failed.

Then she let me know that combining the ThankYou accounts was irreversible and that if I cancelled a card, I’d have 60 days to redeem points earned on that card before they expired.

I’m not sure how that would work in practice, which points would be attributed to each card if I cancelled one. But since ThankYou Points can transfer to airline miles, I don’t think I’ll ever have trouble redeeming my points by transferring them to miles if I cancel a card.

After a few minutes on the phone, my accounts were combined into one. I got a confirmation email.

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Then I went to thankyou.com to see the improvement.

Why to Combine Points

Before combining points, I searched for a roundtrip from Los Angeles to New York on thankyou.com in my Premier account to illustrate the effect of a combination. Roundtrip flights were about $470 on the days I searched, and that equated to 37,545 to 37,600 points on all airlines–a valuation of 1.25 cents per point.

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Then after combining my points, I re-ran the same search. The price in cash was the exact same, but the points prices dropped dramatically to 29,332 points on US Airways or 35,339 with JetBlue. That’s a savings of more than 8,000 points on one roundtrip just by combining my accounts.Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 6.43.09 PM

 

Those points prices represent a valuation of 1.6 cents for the American Airlines and US Airways flights and 1.33 cents for the JetBlue flights.

My Premier points that had been worth 1.25 cents each when used like cash were now worth 1.33 to 1.6 cents each, a 28% increase in value when booking American Airlines flights.

If you’ll ever use your ThankYou Points like cash to book a flight and you have a Citi Prestige, you want to combine all your ThankYou Points into that account. Even if you only plan to use your ThankYou Points to transfer them to airline miles, it’s still convenient to be down to one ThankYou account.

Bottom Line

If your information on your credit card accounts matches perfectly, you can quickly combine them on thankyou.com. Otherwise call the number on the back of your Prestige. You’ll quickly raise the value of your ThankYou Points earned on other cards.

Citi Prestige® Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

My review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

 

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Points are redeemable for an $800 flight on American Airlines or US Airways®, a $665 flight on any other airline or $500 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

Citi ThankYou® Premier Card with 50,000 bonus points, 3x points on travel and gas, and 2x points on dining and entertainment

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

 

  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening –  redeemable for $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.
  • Earn 3X ThankYou Points on Travel including Gas,  2X ThankYou Points on Dining Out and Entertainment, and 1X ThankYou Points on Other Purchases
  • ThankYou® Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through thankyou.com, as compared to gift cards
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited ThankYou Points
  • Annual Fee:  $95 (fee waived for the first 12 months)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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My friend and I stayed two nights at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali last weekend that cost me 12,000 SPG Starpoints and $31.25 per night. I really enjoyed my stay and recommend the Westin Maui and Ka’anapali area generally.

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The hotel is on the beautiful, wide, miles-long Ka’anapali white sand beach just a few miles north of Lahaina on the west coast of Maui with perfect views of sunset over the ocean.

My friend and I spent three nights on Maui (and three on Oahu), and our plan was to camp the first night and stay at a nice hotel the next two nights. I wanted to use Starpoints, and both the Westin and Sheraton on the same beach should cost 12,000 points per night during most of the year. (During peak dates, they go for 16,000 points a night.)

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Unfortunately on our dates, the base room at the Sheraton was unavailable, so I was offered a better view for 13,500 points per night. I figured I’d get an ocean view for my 12,000 points at the Westin, so I picked the hotel that cost me fewer points.

I would summarize this FlyerTalk thread comparing the Sheraton and Westin as saying that some people prefer each one. On our travel dates, the Westin was more expensive with cash, but that isn’t always the case, and you can get it for a $269 base rate next month.
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Check In & Parking

We arrived at the hotel at 2:45 PM in our rental car and pulled to the valet stand to ask about self-parking. The valet had to check that we were actually hotel guests, which took about 2-3 minutes before opening the self-parking gate for us. This system is in place because once you are in the self-parking area, exit is free. Waiting around to park was not a great first impression.

Self-parking is included in the $31.25 (including tax) resort fee. We were given a second card for free at check in for our friends to use when visiting us. That’s not actually necessary, as we could have swiped the one card we got at check in to let our friends in, and they could have exited freely. The self-parking lot is right near the entrance, so it is convenient enough.

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When we checked in, we had to wait a few minutes in the Gold/Platinum line. While we waited, someone came out to give us cowrie shell leis. The hotel often had someone right at the main entrance doing this. We were given a fourth floor “Ocean View” room in the Ocean Tower, two towel cards, and two parking cards at check in. I accepted the “make a green choice offer,” which turned down some cleaning service for 500 points per night. That was a nice 1,000 points back.

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Room

Our room was nice enough, although Ocean View was a bit of a stretch for the 4th Floor. It was mainly tree view with a little ocean peaking out.

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We got two queen beds, which were very spacious and comfortable.

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The room had a flat screen TV and a mini-fridge to store the Kona Brewing Company beer we had picked up at Walmart in Kahului. Unfortunately the room had a corkscrew, but no beer bottle opener. Luckily YouTube has a great video on opening one bottle with another. ;)

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The sink and mirror were outside the bathroom, which made it easy to chat while one of us got ready.

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The bathroom was standard. The hot water and water pressure in the shower were on point.

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The little balcony was perfect for two people to hang out with a drink.

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Resort Fee

Resort fees are a scam in my opinion. This $31.25 per night scam included:

  • High Speed Internet Access in your guestroom and public areas (basically a lie since everyone already gets free internet at SPG properties just for booking through an SPG platform)
  • Local and toll free calls up to 60 minutes
  • Two (2) bottles of water replenished daily as needed
  • Self-Parking
  • Shuttle service to Kapalua West Maui Airport, upon availability (this is not the airport that serves the mainland)
  • Shuttle service to Lahaina and to our three Starwood resorts
  • Logo souvenir eco bag
  • Outdoor portrait sitting and free 4 by 6 color photograph through Reflections Photography

We thought the 4″ by 6″ portrait sounded like a funny perk, so we took advantage. This service is only available Monday through Saturday with 3:40 PM Saturday the last slot. You sign up in the lobby, and the pictures took us just a few minutes. They’re hoping to sell you a more expensive package, and they hold the images hostage to entice you to buy.

They won’t email you the pictures. They will just print one out and put it on their table for you the next business day. Unfortunately we took our picture on a Saturday, so that meant we’d be checking out on Sunday before the picture was ready on Monday. The photographer said she could mail us the one photo for $16.

Service

All the employees I encountered were friendly, and two went above and beyond.

The front desk check in agent offered me a second self-parking access key when I asked where our friends could park when they came to visit.

A manager picked up our 4″ x 6″ portrait and mailed it to us for free. We were walking through the lobby, and she asked how our stay was going. We had just taken our portrait, and we mentioned we were bummed we would not actually receive the final product. She took my friend’s address, and the photo was there when he got home.

I’ll also give good marks for how quickly extra cups were brought to our room and how quickly my to-go burgers from Relish were ready.

Facilities

The only area I checked out were the swimming pool and ponds between the hotel and beach, which are the star of the resort.

The ponds have waterfalls, koi fish, and flamingos.

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Waterfall into koi pond
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Pink flamingos

The all-ages pool has a volleyball net, waterfall, basketball net, balls floating around, a water slide, and turns blue at night.

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Volleyball net, free balls are floating around
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Shot of the Ocean Tower from the Pool
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View of the Waterslide
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Basketball hoop

 

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Poolside
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Blue pool at night

 

Above the main pool is an adults-only pool and hot tub open until 10 PM. I never spent more than half an hour at a time in the pool area, but I really enjoyed it because I like pool games like basketball and volleyball.

The free poolside chairs, some of which had some shade, filled up very quickly. Renting a gazebo or caban is ludicrously expensive.

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Beach

Ka’anapali Beach is stunning and has views of Molokai and Lanai.

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Molokai in the distance

 

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Lanai in the distance

Two chairs and an umbrella is $45 per day. I’d recommend a towel instead.

My favorite part of the beach is at the very end in front of the Sheraton, a rocky outcropping called Blackrock. Every day dozens of people ignore the “Don’t Walk Past This Sign” signs and jump from the 20 foot rock. Every day at a sunset, a local guy paid by the Sheraton comes out and does a swan dive. Some days he even does other tricks like flips and handstand jumps.

The snorkeling especially near Blackrock must be pretty good as there is a steady stream of people out there. I saw several turtles from the rock and one dolphin.

Food

I got burgers to go both nights from Relish. At about $20 after tip, they were fine. Next door is Whaler’s Village, which has a food court including pizza, Mexican, plate lunch, and Subway. There are several beach front dining options, but they were out of my price range.

Location

Here’s a map I made for my review of the Andaz Maui at Wailea. Ka’anapali is just north of the underlined Lahaina on the northwest coast.

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The Westin Maui is 39 minutes from Kahului Airport and 8 minutes from West Maui Airport. I consider Ka’anapali’s location a little better than Wailea’s. Both are about the same distance from the airport, Haleakala, and start of the Road to Hana.

Ka’anapali is right next to Lahaina, which is a nice little town on Maui, so I give it a slight edge.

Overall

I definitely am happy with my 12,000 points per night redemption to stay at the Westin Maui.

Ka’anapali Beach, the pools, and the service were highlights.

I would have liked to have stayed on a higher floor and gotten out of that resort charge, but I wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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United has a setting you can activate called Expert Mode that allows you to see how many seats are in each fare bucket on a given flight.

I mentioned it yesterday in “Booking Two Tickets on the Same United Flight” and I got some questions in the comments about what Expert Mode is, how to use it, and why you’d want to use it.

What is a fare bucket?

Every ticket you book with cash or miles has every segment come out of a fare bucket or fare class.

The fare bucket is a one or two letter code that represents what cabin you’re in, whether you got the seat with cash or miles, and how many miles you’ll earn for the flight.

Everyone walking through this door has a ticket that booked into one fare bucket

Airlines are willing to book a certain number of tickets in each fare bucket. If the Saver economy award fare bucket has zero seats, you can’t book a Saver economy award on the flight, but if it has six seats, you can book up to six Saver economy award tickets.

Knowing how many seats are in each bucket will let you know whether you can expect an upgrade, whether you can book an award, and whether elites have better award access on a certain flight.

  • How can you enable Expert Mode on united.com?
  • How can you use Expert Mode on united.com in award bookings and to secure upgrades?

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In the last two weeks, the Citi Prestige and Citi ThankYou Premier have each increased their sign up bonuses to 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

I’ve gotten several questions about whether one person can get both cards and their 100,000 total bonus ThankYou Points.

Yes, one person can get both cards as long you apply for the two cards at least eight days apart.

Questions this article will answer:

  • What are the differences between the Prestige and Premier?
  • Why would you want both?
  • How can you get both?
  • How can you combine the points (and why do you really want to)?

What are the differences between the Prestige and Premier?

The Prestige is a premium credit card that competes with cards like the American Express Platinum. The Premier is more of a standard rewards card that competes with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

Sign Up Bonus

Both currently offer 50,000 ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

Annual Fee

There’s a huge difference here. The Prestige has a $450 annual fee that is not waived. The Premier has no annual fee the first 12 months, then $95 a year.

Category Bonuses

The Prestige offers 3x on airlines and hotels and 2x on dining and entertainment. The Premier‘s category bonuses are slightly better. It offers 3x on travel and gas. That includes airlines and hotels, but also a lot more. It also offers 2x on dining and entertainment.

Ease of Travel

Both cards have chip technology for global acceptance and no foreign transaction fees.

Value of ThankYou Points

Both cards offer the ability to transfer ThankYou Points to 12 airline and hotel programs. This is the highest value redemption method.

Both also offer the chance to redeem points like cash toward any flight with no blackouts, but the Prestige offers higher value when points are used this way. The Premier‘s points are worth 1.25 cents each toward all flights. The Prestige‘s are worth 1.6 cents toward American Airlines or US Airways flights and 1.33 cents toward all other flights.

If you have both the Premier and Prestige, you can combine the points into one account, which allows for redemptions at the better Prestige rates.

More info on these redemption options and redeeming ThankYou Points.

Other Benefits

This is where the Prestige kills the Premier, and why the Prestige‘s $450 annual fee is more than justified in my opinion. The Prestige offers:

Why Would You Want Both?

Each has strengths beyond its giant 50,000 point sign up bonus.

The Premier has better category bonuses because all the following are included at 3x: airlines, hotels, gas, car rentals, travel agencies, buses, trains, parking, tolls, bridges, and time shares. The Prestige only offers 3x on airlines and hotels. The Premier also has a lower annual fee, and one that is waived for the first year.

The Prestige has far better benefits like the statement credits, airport lounge access, and higher value of points when redeemed like cash for flights. Plus getting the Prestige can retroactively lift the value of ThankYou Points earned on other cards because those points can now be put into your Prestige account, which has higher value redemption options.

If you have one, you might want the other for its strengths. If you have neither, you might want both to maximize the strengths of both.

How Can You Get Both?

According to the combined experience of FlyerTalkers, you can be approved for no more than one Citi credit card application in 8 days and no more than two applications in 65 days.

So if you got one of the cards months ago and want the other now, apply.

If you have neither, apply for one now and one in 8+ days. (Unless you recently got a different Citi card like the American Airlines card with 50,000 bonus miles. In that case, make sure that at least 65 days have elapsed from your previous application to your second application.)

To avoid all confusion:

OK

Got Prestige 8+ days ago, have no other Citi cards, get Premier today

Have neither card or any other Citi card, get Prestige today and Premier in 8+ days

Got AA card 14 days ago. Get Prestige today and Premier in 51+ days. (65 day rule noted above)

Not OK

Get Premier and Prestige on same day

Got AA card 14 days ago. Get Prestige today and Premier in 8 days

You may not be instantly approved on your applications. When that happens, your screen should have a number to call Citi for an instant decision. I always call in to speed things up. I doubt you’ll be asked why you want both the Prestige and Premier, but if you are, mention the strengths of the one you don’t have yet.

How to Combine Points

You want to combine your ThankYou Points once you have both the Prestige and Premier because the Prestige‘s ThankYou Points are worth more when used like cash toward the purchase of a flight, especially an American Airlines flight.

You can do that from ThankYou.com or by calling the number on the back of your Prestige.

Bottom Line

You can get both the Prestige and Premier and long as you apply at least at least 8 days apart, and potentially further apart if you have another recent Citi application. Getting both cards and meeting their minimum spending requirements would earn at least 106,000 ThankYou Points, and probably more if you maximize the category bonuses.

You can combine the ThankYou Points into the Prestige‘s account to take advantage of a higher value for redeeming the points toward any flight like cash. However I still recommend that most people transfer ThankYou Points to airline miles for higher value redemptions.

Application Link: Citi Prestige

Application Link: Citi ThankYou Premier

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Airbnb is now in Cuba, and I’ve booked myself a stay that I should currently be enjoying. (Since internet access in Cuba is not the easiest thing in the world, I’ve queued up this post in advance. Here’s how I booked my flights to Cuba.)

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My favorite site to book accommodations now lists properties in Cuba that you can rent online. Here’s How Airbnb Works (Plus a $25 Credit You Can Use for Your First Stay). If you sign up through this link, we’ll both get $25 on your first Airbnb stay. Leave your referral link in the comments.

Hat Tip to Brian who sent me this Wall Street Journal article on Airbnb moving into Cuba.

What’s Different About Airbnb Properties in Cuba

For Cuba bookings, the four main differences I see are:

  1. cheaper properties
  2. slower host response times
  3. a declaration that you as an American can legally travel to Cuba
  4. many spaces listed only in Spanish

Havana is Cheap

There are 33 properties you can rent next week for $10 to $25 per night. No guarantee on their quality, and almost no properties have reviews so far, but you can’t beat the price.

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Hosts are Slow

The first place I contacted with a message before attempting to book because I wanted to know if arriving at 2 AM was a problem and the internet situation in his neighborhood. The host responded that a 2 AM arrival was fine, and there was an internet cafe for $4.50 an hour down the street.

Then I attempted to book the property, and I got no response for 24 hours, which causes your offer to expire. Then I renewed the offer, and he finally declined with no message.

It’s pretty rare for a host to miss the 24 hour time frame on Airbnb, but this host probably has to make a special trip to an internet cafe to check his messages that hosts in most countries can see on their phone wherever the are.

Give yourself a little extra time when booking a place in Cuba on Airbnb.

As an interesting side note, how does Airbnb partner with hosts who have no internet and no bank accounts? From Fast Company:

The hurdles were not small: In 2011, the country’s National Statistics Office and the International Telecommunication Union estimated that about 22% of Cubans have Internet access, but that included people who only had access to a government-controlled Intranet. Until 2008, Cubans were banned from buying their own computers. Meanwhile, having a bank account is uncommon. “It’s not just that people prefer cash,” says Henken, “It’s almost the only way. People don’t trust anything else, at least not yet.”

Thankfully for Airbnb, however, it didn’t have to start from scratch. It simply tapped into an existing network of middlemen.

The company partnered with a handful of what it describes as “Internet cafes for hosting” that were already facilitating bookings online. These small businesses already had connections with most of the homes for rent on the island, and already charged them a fee for management services. Now they will handle Airbnb listings. Even for hosts who have bank accounts, Airbnb needs to work with intermediaries to deposit funds into their accounts. For the many hosts without access to bank accounts, it partnered with third parties who, in some cases, will deliver cash to their doorsteps (Henken says Airbnb is likely using an established money transfer service to handle payments to unbanked hosts, Airbnb declined specify who’s providing the service for them). All of these are informal partnerships.

Declaration of Purpose of Travel to Cuba

Only Americans who fall into one of 12 categories can travel to Cuba. There’s no need to ask for permission in advance, you just need to self-certify a category.

And on Airbnb while requesting to book a place, you have to self-certify the category and give your address.

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¿Hablas español?

Most Airbnb properties worldwide list the place in English or English plus another language. But in Havana, most of the places I saw are only listed in Spanish. I’m not sure what response you’d get contacting the host in English. With Google Translate, I don’t think this is a big issue, but I thought I’d note it.

Bottom Line

The convenience of Airbnb has come to Cuban lodging. Use this referral link, and we’ll both get a $25 Airbnb credit on your first Airbnb stay. Leave your referral link in the comments.

I used Airbnb to book my first two nights in Havana. My other five nights in the country, I’ll just find on the fly. I will, of course, have a full review of my Airbnb stay in Cuba as soon as I leave the country.

Cuban Airbnb searches are a little different than you’re used to. The places are cheaper, the hosts are slower to respond, and you have to certify the purpose of your trip while booking.

Have you used Airbnb to book a stay in Cuba?

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card now offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

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Not to be confused with the Citi Prestige® Card, which has the same sign up bonus but totally different benefits.

For over a year, the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has offered 50,000 total bonus points, but they were spread out over 15 months. Now you can get the entire 50,000 points in the first three months.

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Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: 50,000 ThankYou Points after $3,000 in spending in the first three months
  • Category Bonuses: 3x on travel and gas, 2x on restaurants and entertainment
  • Value of ThankYou Points: Worth 1.25 cents toward the purchase of any cash ticket (or up to 1.6 cents if you also have a Citi Prestige) OR can be transferred to 11 airlines and Hilton for higher value
  • Global Acceptance: Chip technology and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first 12 months, $95 per year afterwards

Sign Up Bonus

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card now offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Thank You points have two primary uses.

  1. Use them like cash to purchase any flight on any airline with no blackouts.
  2. Transfer them to miles with 11 airlines or to Hilton points. Then they are whatever miles you chose, subject to those rules.

If you use these like cash toward any flight, you will get 1.25 cents each of value, making the sign up bonus worth $625 toward any flights with no blackouts. However if you have a Citi Prestige in addition to your Premier, you can combine the ThankYou Points from both cards and redeem them at the higher value the Prestige offers. In that case, you could redeem these 50,000 bonus points for 1.33 cents toward any flight or 1.6 cents toward American Airlines and US Airways flights. That would be $800 in American Airlines flights.

When you redeem ThankYou Points like cash toward any flight, the operating airline sees you as a cash-paying passenger, so you earn miles for your flights.

Instead of redeeming the points like cash, you can transfer your ThankYou Points to one of the 12 airline and hotel partners. The best partner is Singapore Airlines. In the last few months, I’ve transferred ThankYou Points to Singapore miles to fly United First Class to Hawaii, United economy to Madrid, and Avianca Business Class to Buenos Aires. Or you can use Singapore miles to book Singapore Suites.

For full details on redeeming ThankYou Points, see How ThankYou Points Work.

Category Bonuses

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3x ThankYou Points on travel and gas and 2x ThankYou Points on dining and entertainment, with no limit on bonus ThankYou Points earned.

Travel includes everything you’d expect like flights, hotels, and car rentals and even more like parking, tolls, campgrounds, and yacht rentals.

Restaurants include sit down places, take out, fast food, and even bars and nightclubs. Entertainment includes movie theaters, sports tickets, museums, and a lot more.

For a full breakdown on exactly what counts and what doesn’t, check out Citi ThankYou Premier Categories Change Today: 3x Gas and Travel; 2x Dining and Entertainment.

No other card offers both 3x on travel and gas. That’s incredible for travelers. Throw in 2x on dining and entertainment, and this card has among the best categories in the world.

Fees

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card has no foreign transaction fees. It also has chip technology for global acceptance, so it’s a great card for overseas travel.

The card has no annual fee for the first 12 months and only $95 thereafter, which is lower than the annual fee was when I got the card.

Bottom Line

I got the card when it took 15 months to get the full sign up bonus, there were no airline transfer partners for the points, the annual fee was higher, and gas was not a 3x category. That should tell you how good I think the current offer is!

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

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  • Earn 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening –  redeemable for $500 in gift cards, $625 for airfare, or other great rewards.
  • Earn 3X ThankYou Points on Travel including Gas,  2X ThankYou Points on Dining Out and Entertainment, and 1X ThankYou Points on Other Purchases
  • ThankYou® Points are worth 25% more when redeemed for travel through thankyou.com, as compared to gift cards
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited ThankYou Points
  • Annual Fee:  $95 (fee waived for the first 12 months)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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Today begins the last of five weeks of discounted travel packages from the US Travel Association called Daily Getaways. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 1 PM ET, discounted travel packages will go on sale and will sell out in a few minutes. This is the final preview I’ll write for 2015.

Here’s that overview of the last week of Daily Getaways that starts today. This week, there are only deals on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, when Daily Getaways abruptly ends. I see value each day, but I don’t plan to purchase anything.

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What Cards to Use to Purchase Daily Getaways

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Monday April 20: Discounted Fairmont Hotels Nights on Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii, and in Scottsdale

There are two packages available. The Hawaii package offers six nights at either the The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui or the The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii for $1,780. You can use the six nights all at once or one at a time, so you can spend time at both hotels during redemption. The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui is an all suites ocean front property in Wailea, Maui (where I stayed once at the Andaz.)

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Each free night includes breakfast for two the next morning at the breakfast buffet or in room. This summer, the base room at the The Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui with buffet for two goes for $689 + taxes and resort fee.Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 2.01.58 AM

A three night stay is actually over $800 per night all in, so getting it for under $300 per night is a huge discount. (No word in the terms whether your free night certificate gets you out of the $31.25 resort fee.)Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 2.03.47 AM

If you want a luxury stay in Hawaii and don’t have the hotel points, this is a good deal. I’d probably angle to spend 3-4 days in Maui and 2-3 on the Big Island because I think 3-4 days is the perfect amount of time to get a good feel for a Hawaiian island, and the Maui property looks nicer.

I’ve been tempted by this Hawaii Fairmont deal in the past, but always stopped short of buying because $1,780 is a lot of money.

The Scottsdale package is three nights at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for $610 also including breakfast for two each morning.

Tuesday April 21: Bellagio, MGM, Aria, Circus Circus, and Luxor Stays in Las Vegas

Caesars has already had two days of Daily Getaways deals, and this is the second for its big rival MGM Resorts. The two companies take opposite approaches to Daily Getaways. Most of Caesars’ packages are fairly inexpensive, starting at $299. By contrast, 3 out of the 5 MGM packages on Tuesday are more than $1,500, and are luxury experiences.

Tuesday’s Circus Circus offer is a pretty good deal if you can handle staying at one of the worst properties on the strip that literally has a base rate as low as $25 a night midweek. For $150, you get three nights, a breakfast buffet for 2, a dinner buffet for 2, a $75 credit at a steakhouse, and two passes to the resort’s theme park. This package does NOT include a $15 resort fee per night, so the total will be closer to $200.

The Aria package DOES get you out of its $29 resort fee, but not all packages specify one way or the other whether you’ll also have to pay a resort fee.

Read the packages’ Terms & Conditions carefully, and put your own value on a $400 dining credit or $500 spa credit instead of the retail value.

Wednesday April 22: $1,000 Expedia Hotel Coupon for $650 and Expedia Gold Status

For $650, you buy a $1,000 coupon that can be used at over 170,000 hotels. Unfortunately:

*Coupons can only be used once. Any leftover value is void.

So you need to plan a stay that costs at least $1,000 to get full value.

The deal also comes with Expedia +gold status through the end of February 2016. Here is a description of the benefits, none of which look particularly great. A lot of the best benefits are “subject to availability,” and hotels don’t like Expedia bookings much, so I wonder how often the benefits are “available.”

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This deal makes sense if you have a $1,000+ hotel stay coming up AND don’t have hotel points AND getting the fourth night free with the Citi Prestige® Card isn’t cheaper than saving than this $350 savings.

Bottom Line for Week 5

All three deals for Fairmont stays in Hawaii and Scottsdale, MGM Resorts stays in Vegas, and a discounted Expedia coupon offer huge value to the right person. I expect all to sell out right at 1 PM ET.

Will you purchase any? Will you pay with your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® redeem Arrival miles to eliminate the cost of your package or your Citi ThankYou® Premier Card to earn 3x on the purchase?

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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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The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card changed its category bonuses today and lowered its annual fee. The new category bonuses are:

  • 3 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on Travel including Gas
  • 2 ThankYou Points per dollar spent on Dining Out and Entertainment.

The new annual fee is $0 for the first 12 months, then $95 thereafter.

These are in addition to the 50,000 point sign up bonus on the card.

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As with all category bonuses, the question is: what exactly qualifies?

The 3x Category: “Travel and Gas”

The terms and conditions say that you earn 3 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at the following establishments:

(everything through the end of the parentheses on each line is a quotation, the rest in my analysis)

  • airlines (merchants that provide air travel): anything that the airline processes should count including award taxes and fees; gift cards; onboard food purchases; and, with some airlines but not all, miles purchases
  • hotels (merchants that provide sleeping or meeting room accommodations, and may include goods and services that are on a bill for these accommodations by a hotel, motel or inn): anything charged to your room like food, spa, or golf should earn 3x
  • car rental agencies (merchants that provide short-term or long-term rentals of cars)
  • travel agencies (merchants that provide travel information and booking services, and include travel aggregators and tour operators): this should include online travel agencies like Expedia
  • gas stations (merchants that sell fuel for consumer use and may or may not be attended… you will earn additional ThankYou Points on gas purchases made at warehouse clubs and convenience stores)
  • commuter transportation (merchants that provide suburban and local mass passenger transportation over regular routes and on regular schedules, including ferries, commuter railways and subways)
  • taxi/limousines (merchants that provide passenger transportation services for hire and includes horse-drawn cabs and carriages, bicycle taxis, aerial tramways, airport shuttles or cable cars): hopefully Uber falls in this category
  • passenger railways (merchants that primarily provide long-distance transportation and may include overnight accommodations on the train)
  • cruise lines (merchants that provide passenger transportation on the open sea or inland waters for the purpose of vacation or pleasure and operate predefined and advertised routes)
  • bridge and road tolls (merchants who collect fees associated with toll roads, highways and bridges)
  • parking lots/garages (merchants that provide temporary parking services for automobiles, usually on an hourly, daily or monthly contract or fee basis)
  • campgrounds and trailer parks (merchants that provide overnight or short-term campsites for recreational vehicles, trailers, campers, or tents)
  • time shares (retailers that sell, lease, and rent timeshare real estate and arrange timeshare condominium exchanges)
  • bus lines (passenger bus transportation services that operate on a regular schedule over predetermined routes)
  • motor home/RV Rental and boat rentals (merchants that rent motor homes, RVs, pop-up campers, tent trailers, and other recreational vehicles on a daily, short-term, or extended-term basis ormerchants that primarily provide boat rental and leasing services, including fishing boats, non-crew houseboats, sail boats, powerboats, jet skis, and yachts)

This 3x list includes everything that I think of as a travel expense from flights, hotels, and car rentals to tolls and renting a yacht, so the only hiccup could come from this sentence, which is standard in pretty much every credit card offer:

“We do not determine how merchants or establishments are classified; however, they are generally classified based upon the merchant’s primary line of business. We reserve the right to determine which purchases qualify for this offer.”

As long as the merchant is coded correctly as one of these travel or gas categories, you’ll get 3x points. If the merchant is not correctly classified, you can call Citi and ask for your 3x. After all, “[Citi] reserve[s] the right to determine which purchases qualify.”

The 2x Category: “Dining Out and Entertainment”

The terms and conditions say that you earn 2 ThankYou Points for every dollar you spend on purchases at (everything through the end of the parentheses on each line is a quotation, the rest in my analysis)

  • restaurants (dining establishments that primarily prepare food and drinks for immediate consumption by consumers, either on the merchant’s premises or packaged for takeout, and include bars, cocktail lounges, discotheques, nightclubs, taverns and fast food restaurants)
  • sports promoters (merchants that operate and promote live sporting events (professional or semi-professional), and may also include sports stadiums)
  • theatrical promoters (merchants that operate live theatrical productions or concerts, and include ticketing agencies)
  • movie theaters (establishments that sell tickets and refreshments for movie productions)
  • amusement parks, zoos, circuses and aquariums (establishments that operate parks or carnivals and offer mechanical rides and games and/or live animal shows)
  • tourist attractions, museums, and art galleries (establishments that operate attractions and exhibits for tourists)
  • record stores
  • video rental stores

“Restaurants” is a broad category that covers fine dining all the way down to takeout and fast food. Plus it covers places that aren’t really restaurants at all like bars and night clubs. Restaurants are where I’d get the most bonus points in the 2x category, though I occasionally patronize establishments in the other 2x categories.

How to Use ThankYou Points

There are two reasonable ways to redeem ThankYou Points:

  1. Use them like cash to purchase any flight on any airline with no blackouts. Used this way, points are worth 1.25 to 1.6 cents each.
  2. Transfer them to miles with 11 airlines or to Hilton points. Then they are whatever miles you chose, subject to those rules. Used this way, the value of the points depends on your redemption, but 2 cents each is very possible.

For full details on How to Use ThankYou Points, click this link.

Bottom Line

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card now offers the best return on travel and gas at 3x and also offers 2x on dining and entertainment. These very broad categories make the 50,000 point sign up bonus all the more attractive.

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The card has even dropped its annual fee to $0 for the first year and $95 thereafter.

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

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

This week I posted that it is cheaper to use Singapore Airlines miles to book United flights to Europe in economy than it is to book the same flights with United miles. Check out that full post.

Yesterday I booked myself an award from Washington DC to Madrid in May with Singapore miles on a United flight.

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Source: gcmap.com

Questions this article will answer:

  • Why did I use Singapore miles?
  • Which points transfer to Singapore miles and how long does the transfer take?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book award space?
  • How did I select seats?

Why Singapore Miles

As explained in “Using Singapore Miles to Europe in Economy is Better Than Using United Miles,” a United economy flight from the United States to Europe costs 30,000 United miles or 27,500 Singapore miles.

My most important priority was booking a direct flight, since they are so much more convenient than connecting itineraries. The only airline that flies from Washington DC to Madrid is United. I would have preferred to book this flight in Business Class on a flat bed, but Business Class award space is not available at the moment as a Saver award. It may open up in the future, but I just wanted to lock this award in, and I can handle seven-and-a-half hours in economy, especially since the flight takes off so early that I wouldn’t have slept any way.

I used Singapore miles to book the economy award because, first, I wanted to save 2,500 miles.

Second, I wanted to use Singapore miles instead of United miles because I have more “potential” Singapore miles (ie transferable points that transfer to Singapore miles) than potential United miles. I’ll discuss this point further in the section on transferring points to Singapore miles.

Searching for Award Space

I searched for award space on united.com before transferring points to Singapore because transfers are irreversible. The flight I wanted had Saver award space in economy. (Here’s how to search united.com.)

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Singapore Airlines only has access to the flights on united.com with a blue button in the Saver award column.

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Which Points Transfer to Singapore Miles?

All major transferable points transfer to Singapore miles including Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints. It is all these partners that makes getting Singapore miles so easy, which allows things like: One Person Can Open Four Cards and Fly Six Roundtrips to Hawaii.

If you have all four types of transferable points, which should you transfer to ThankYou Points? The ones that you have the fewest other high value uses for.

For me, I’d transfer ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, Starpoints in that order because that is my order from least valuable (1.8 cents each for ThankYou Points) to most valuable (2.5 cents each for Starpoints.)

I already had 12,500 Singapore miles in my account, so I needed to transfer 15,000 points. I transferred 4,000 ThankYou Points to draw down that account (temporarily until I get the 50,000 bonus points on my Citi Prestige.)

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Then I transferred 11,000 Ultimate Rewards.

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Both transfers are performed online inside your credit card account. Both transfers resulted in immediate confirmation emails, though it takes 24-48 hours for the Singapore miles to show up. In this case, I transferred on Thursday at 9:30 AM ET, and the points had arrived by Friday at 3:30 PM ET, or in 30 hours at most.

Re-Running the Search

Once my points posted, I re-ran my search, and my award space was still available.

There is a possibility that you transfer points to Singapore miles, and in the 24-48 hours that the transfer takes, the space disappears. In that case, you’re basically out of luck because transfers are irreversible.

I didn’t worry too much about that possibility because United award space tends to increase not decrease in the last month, and because if I were “stuck” with 27,500 Singapore miles, I’d find a quick use for them to Europe, Hawaii, or South America or booking Singapore Suites.

Booking Award Space

I called Singapore Airlines at 213-404-0301 to book the flight. To book all Singapore partners, you have to call Singapore, but luckily there is no phone fee.

I fed the agent my date, flight number, and cabin, and she quickly found and booked the award space for 27,500 Singapore miles + 31.60 SGD ($23.) The whole call took 13 minutes.
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I paid with my Citi Prestige® Card because it has a $250 airfare credit per calendar year that includes airfare, award taxes, bag fees, upgrades, and more. That means that the $23 will be credited back to my account. This benefit is per calendar year, so in the first 12 months of holding this card, I will get $500 worth of free flights and award taxes. This more than offsets the $450 annual fee, and makes the 50,000 point sign up bonus and free lounge access worldwide even more valuable. All this is Why I Got the Citi Prestige.

How Did I Select Seats?

The general rule is that you must select seats with the operating carrier, in this case United. It is usually important to ask at the time of booking for the confirmation number for each operating carrier, so that you can contact them and quickly select seats.

In this case, the Singapore agent proactively offered me the United confirmation number.

That’s actually not necessary in this case because typing in either the Singapore or United confirmation number on united.com where it says “Change or View Reservations” will allow for seat selection.

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I picked the window seat furthest to the front. I was offered the chance to buy an Economy Plus seat upgrade from $109. Anyone with a ticket, no matter how you got it, always has the chance to buy Economy Plus.Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 5.09.44 PM

Bottom Line

Singapore miles are cheaper than United miles for booking United economy awards to Europe. I used my Singapore miles to book myself a one way flight to Madrid next month to kick off four months in Europe. Transferring ThankYou Points and Ultimate Rewards to Singapore, searching for the space, and booking the award were all seamless.

Right now you can earn oodles of Singapore miles. Start with the Citi Prestige® Card, which comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. The card also comes earns 3x points on airfare and hotels and has a host of benefits like lounge access and $250 in free airfare per year.

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Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get an additional $500 in free airfare on any airline in the first 12 months plus free airport lounge access worldwide for only a $450 annual fee. Why I got the card.

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Today ends the fourth 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, Marriott eGiftCards are 20% off.

Today’s deal is:

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You can buy five of the $100 gift cards, two of the $500 gift cards, and one of the $1,000 gift cards. That means you can purchase $2,500 in gift cards for $2,000. These eGiftCards are delivered electronically and do not expire.

The gift cards can be used at the following brands:

  • JW Marriott®
  • EDITIONSM
  • Autograph Collection® Hotels
  • Renaissance® Hotels
  • AC Hotels by MarriottSM
  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts®
  • Gaylord Hotels®
  • Courtyard® by Marriott
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites® by Marriott
  • SpringHill Suites® by Marriott
  • Residence Inn® by Marriott
  • TownePlace Suites® by Marriott
  • Marriott Vacation ClubSM
  • And participating hotel outlets: retail, spa, golf and food and beverage.

My Plan

I’m out. I don’t book (m)any paid stays at Marriotts. If you do stay at Marriotts, this deal is a no-brainer to purchase gift cards and lock in a 20% savings on future stays.

Will This Deal Sell Out?

Yes, very quickly.

What Cards to Use to Purchase Daily Getaways

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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 Marriott eGiftCards? 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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