Scott Grimmer

2215 POSTS 7040 COMMENTS

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Citi offers Price Rewind as a free feature on its personal cards like the:

Basically you register purchases online and if the price drops within 60 days of the purchase, Citi refunds you the difference up to $2,500 per year (according to Million Mile Secrets, the prior $1,200 per year and $300 per item refund limit is increasing to $2,500 and $500).

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The process is explained clearly in this video.

Or, if you prefer, this infographic.

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Citi Price Rewind has saved cardholders $3,993,614 in 2015 alone at an average of $33.50 per refund.

How to Access Price Rewind

There are two ways:

1. Go to citipricerewind.com and sign in with your Citi card’s online account info (click on either sign on option)

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2. Go to Citi’s website, sign in, and click card benefits. You can find it from there.
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How to Register a Product

Enter your product name to search Citi’s inventory on citipricerewind.com

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When registering a product, be as specific as possible since Citi has quite a large inventory. Details that can help specify aside from the product name are model number and/or UPC code (try Amazon if you can’t find them elsewhere).

For example, when I searched a very general term like “macbook”, it turned up 34,567 results.

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Once you’ve narrowed down your product, click Track This Item and you will be brought to a page where you need to fill in the purchase price, date of purchase, and where you bought it:

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 6.59.51 PMThen you Start the Price Rewind.
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Quick Facts About the Process

  • Citi will search for lower prices for a 60 day period of time post-purchase (not from when you registered the purchase, but from when the purchase was actually made)
  • The most you can get refunded for one item is $500.
  • The most you can get refunded in one year is $2,500.
  • You will receive an email alert if a lower price is found within the 60 day post-purchase time period
  • If you receive the email alert, sign in to citipricerewind.com and request a refund. Remember to keep your original, itemized receipt for this as they will likely ask you to upload it.
    • If your refund is $25.01 or more, you can choose between a statement credit or a check through the mail. If you request a check Citi says it will take 10 to 14 business days.
    • If your refund is less than $25.01, it will automatically be issued as a statement credit (processing time of two to three days)
  • Requests for a refund must be done within 180 days of the original purchase.

Which Purchases You Can Register and When You Should

Anything you buy with your Citi card within the United States qualifies, as long as it’s not in the list in the next section (Which Purchases You Can’t Register).

When you make any large purchase on your Citi card, the likelihood for bigger savings via Price Rewind increases. So register all your expensive purchases.

It would also be wise to register any purchases around the holidays, as sales are common post-holiday season to get rid of access inventory. Here’s a good hack: avoid getting trampled by Black Friday crowds by doing all your holiday shopping the week before on your Citi card. Register all the products on Price Rewind, watch the savings role in the next week, and laugh at your friends who wake up at 5 am to wait at doorbuster sales.

Which Purchases You Can’t Register

Items purchased with reward points, miles, gift cards or store credits do not count (the entire purchase must have been made on a Citi card).

The following list about which purchases don’t qualify is from the terms and conditions page of citipricerewind.com:

  • Any motorized land or air vehicles or their permanently attached parts, such as tires.
  • Boats.
  • Products that can spoil or be used up, such as food, fuel, perfume, printer cartridges and cosmetics.
  • Jewelry including loose gems, precious stones, metals and pearls. Watches are covered.
  • Antiques, art objects or stamps.
  • Tickets.
  • Land, buildings or fixtures meant for installation, such as windows, wallpaper or wall-to-wall carpeting.
  • Cash (including rare or precious coins), checks, promissory notes, gift cards or any other financial document that represents money.
  • Items purchased for resale, professional or commercial use.
  • Plants or animals, including stuffed or mounted animals or fish.
  • Advice or services for a purchased item, such as product installation, labor, maintenance or repair.
  • Firearms or ammunition.

What if I Find a Lower Price than Price Rewind?

If you find a lower price than Price Rewind does, you can file a claim manually. You have a 180 day window to find and claim the lower price.

You can download a claim form by logging on to citipricerewind.com and clicking on “My Price Rewinds”:

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In the bottom right hand corner of every one of your Price Rewinds, there is a link to download a claim form.

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These are the documents you will need to send in with the claim form according to Price Rewind’s FAQ’s:

  • A copy of the itemized receipt for the item purchased.
  • A copy of the merchant’s advertisement with the lower price for the same item by the same manufacturer. The advertisement must state; Item
  • Effective date of sale (within 60 days of purchase)
  • Sale price
  • Model number and model year
  • Authorized dealer or merchant name (in US only)

Send everything to:

Citi® Price Rewind
P.O. Box 901024
Fort Worth, TX 76101
Call Toll Free 1-855-569-7366
Fax: 817-820-5917

Peoples’ Experiences with Price Rewind

Flyertalk

There isn’t a whole lot of buzz on Flyertalk about Citi Price Rewind, but what talk has gone on is nearly all positive. This Flyertalker dropped some useful knowledge that the refund per year limit is not person, but per account. So he’s saying if you have the Citi Prestige® Card and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card for example, you could apparently get up to $5,000 refunded from Citi per year. Anyone have any personal experience with this? Let us know in the comments if so.

Reader Success Story

Reader Amy C saved at least $59.20 on a dress she bought at Nordstrom for $148 thanks to Price Rewind:

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She sent us the following screenshot of one of her Citi Price Rewind account page (the whole 60 day post-purchase period had not elapsed yet, this was only partially through it):

dress

Thanks for sharing the data point Amy C!

Dissatisfied Reader

Reader Gina had a less than satisfactory experience when she did not receive the refund due to her:Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 7.34.22 PM

Any update on this, Gina?

Tips From Readers Who Have Used Citi Price Rewind

  • If you plan on buying multiple of the same item you want to register on Price Rewind, be sure to buy them in separate transactions:

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  • Use it to save on high shipping costs and to get your desired item sooner when the online price is cheaper than the store:

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Bottom Line

The next time I buy something expensive, I’ll give Citi Price Rewind a whirl if I’m not meeting minimum spending requirements on other cards. It’s a great way to save yourself time and money on big purchases since Citi Bank does the market research for you– and nearly all the reviews I’ve read have been happy customers.

Have you ever used Citi Price Rewind? Did you get a refund?

If you haven’t used it yet, and you have one of these cards, give it a shot and let us know your results.

 

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Avianca LifeMiles is offering a bonus of up to 125% on purchased miles through May 31, 2016. You have to log in to your account at this link to get the offer. You can buy up to 150,000 LifeMiles during the sale and get up to 187,500 bonus miles.

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LifeMiles cost 3.3 cents each, so with a 125% bonus, you get the miles for 1.47 cents each. For instance, 227,250 total miles would be $3,333 or 1.47 cents each.

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The cheapest I’ve ever seen LifeMiles was 1.32 cents each.

When to Buy (Math)

Here are the prices for each number of miles (including bonus) that you can purchase.

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  • 4,000 to 80,000 miles for 1.65 cents each
  • 88,150 to 215,000 miles for 1.53 cents each
  • 227,250 to 337,500 miles for 1.47 cents each

I value LifeMiles at 1.5 cents per mile at the moment. Buying them for 1.47 cents per mile is not enough of an inducement for me because I don’t have an immediate use for them, and miles get devalued all the time. I don’t want to shell out $3,000+ on such an uncertain investment.

Many people should have a similar view of this sale and buy zero miles. As with most mile sales, the main way it make sense to buy miles at these prices is if you have an immediate high value use for them.

Possible Immediate High Value Uses

There are a ton of deals on the LifeMiles award chart, which allows one way redemptions with no fuel surcharges on all 27 Star Alliance partners, so an immediate high value use is very possible.

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Do not just use the award chart, though. Make sure you can book what you want to book on lifemiles.com. You can do an award search with zero miles in your account. The reason for this extra step is that if you can’t book your award online, LifeMiles call centers are nearly useless.

Cuba

Americans can book awards to Cuba with LifeMiles. For instance, here is a search from Washington-Dulles to Havana, Cuba. It costs 17,500 LifeMiles + $31.65 or 7,500 miles + $181.65.

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Buying miles during the award booking often costs 1.5 cents per mile as in this case.

If you bought all the miles for a one way award to Cuba during the current sale, you’d pay:

  • $297: 18,000 miles at 1.65 cents each
  • $31.65: taxes and fees
  • $328.65 total, unbeatable for a one way award to Cuba
Europe in Business Class

The United States to Europe is 63,000 miles each way in Business Class. The Star Alliance has great award space.

You could buy 26,000 miles (13,000 + bonus) for $429 and buy the last 37,000 miles for $555 at the time of booking. That would get you a one way in Business Class for about $1,000 total after taxes.

See How to Consistently Buy Business Class Tickets to Europe for about $1,000 and Anatomy of an Award: Using LifeMiles to Buy Business Class Ticket Between Europe and USA for $1,040 for full details on these awards.

There are similar deals all over the world and in all cabins through this sale, too many to list here. Investigate where you want to go on the award chart and then make sure you can book the award you want. If the math works out, buy LifeMiles.

Buy LifeMiles with These Credit Cards

LifeMiles purchases are processed directly by Avianca. That’s great news!

It means you can buy them with your Citi Prestige® Card, and its $250 Air Travel Credit will refund you the first $250 of the purchase price of the miles (plus you’ll earn 4x ThankYou Points on the first $250 of the miles purchase.)

It means you can purchase LifeMiles with your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, then use your Arrival miles for an offsetting statement credit.

Bottom Line

You can buy 227,250 Avianca LifeMiles for $3,333 or 1.47 cents each. That’s too high to buy speculatively, but there are a lot of immediate awards you can book where that price offers great value.

The LifeMiles sales are now processed by Avianca itself, so you can get category bonuses on cards that bonus airline or travel purchases like my latest card, the Citi Prestige® Card which offers 3x on purchases from airlines and a $250 Air Travel Credit, or you can use your Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® to get Avianca miles for zero cash.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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Regarding any information in this post about taxes: this is miles information, not tax advice. Consult a tax professional before paying your taxes with a credit card.

Plastiq is an online bill payment processing system that “empowers you to use your existing debit and credit cards to pay any bill, regardless of acceptance”. The charge for that convenience is 2.5% of each payment on a credit card and 1% on a debit card. At the moment they accept Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. You can pay with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express gift cards as well but the 2.5% credit card fee is applied.

You simply specify who you want to pay, and Plastiq pays them either via check or electronic transfer depending on what the recipient accepts. You are notified once your payment is received.

Who and What You Can and Cannot Pay via Plastiq

Examples of Who and What You Can Pay

  • Anyone providing a good or a service
  • Tuition and housing fees
  • Taxes (income and property)
  • Rent
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Mortgages
  • Car payments
  • Home loan payments
  • Home repairs/construction

Examples Who and What You Cannot Pay

Plastiq’s Referral Program

Everyone that signs up on for an account on plastiq.com is given a referral link they can share with anyone new who is signing up. You and the person both receive benefits once they make a payment of $20.

The following screenshots were taken from Plastiq’s blog:

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FFDs are “Fee Free Dollars”–basically amounts of payments you can make without the card processing fee. You have 90 days to use the FFDs after you earn them.

If you decide to sign up for Plastiq after reading this article, please consider using my referral link.

Promotions

Previously (like April 2015, for example), Plastiq has charged only 2% for processing MasterCards for promotional spans of time. It also appears that they are charging (at least some people) only 2% for all MasterCards at the moment, despite the website claiming 2.5% for all card types. If anyone else has gotten this rate for a MasterCard let us know in the comments.

Also, last month they offered a fee of only 1.75% if you paid your taxes with a MasterCard. I believe this was only sent out to people with plastiq.com accounts. I received an email notification about it. Register now and see if you get the same email next year:Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 7.08.14 PM

The asterisk after MasterCard signifies that you can’t pay all types of taxes, only these kinds:

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The lowest fee I’ve seen in the past is 1.87% for processing taxes on credit cards, so this promotional rate is the best I’m aware of.

The Company’s Reputation Thus Far

The following statement is from plastiq.com’s terms and conditions page:

“Delivery of funds to the Merchant typically takes between forty-eight (48) and seventy-two (72) hours but may take additional time.”

We can all understand that sending a check takes longer than an electronic transfer. But these FlyerTalkers complained of waiting over a week or even longer, which can be a real issue when we’re talking bill payment. The good news is that it appears Plastiq has been improving on this front in recent months, at least on this FlyerTalk thread.

I think a wise move– when paying a bill to a new recipient– would be to send a small amount way ahead of the time the bill is due and wait to see how it long it takes. If it is received in a timely fashion, then send the remaining amount due. This way you’ll know how long it takes for future payments to that recipient and you can schedule accordingly. You can auto-schedule recurring payments on plastiq.com but only if the amount is the same each month.

Is it Worth the 2.5% Fee?

On the right cards and in the right circumstances, yes.

The only cash back card on the market right now that would be worth putting your bills on via Plastiq is the Discover it card, and only if you’ve opened one within the last year. The Discover it® Miles Card earns 1.5% back on all purchases and Discover doubles that at the end of the first year of card membership, meaning you get 3% back. 3% >2.5% processing fee, so you definitely come out on top.

But you can do much better with your returns.

Often the effective rebate on meeting a minimum spending requirement is 20% or more. That means if you pay your large bills via Plastiq that are otherwise not payable on credit cards in order to open more cards and meet more minimum spending requirements, the 1.87% fee can be a drop in the bucket compared to the rewards you’ll earn.

If you’re not trying to reach a minimum spending requirement for a sign-up bonus, I wouldn’t use Plastiq for bill payments on cards that earn 1 mile per dollar as I don’t value any miles at greater than 2.5 cents (for example, my highest valued point is SPG at 2.5 and highest valued mile is Virgin America mile at 2.3 cents each).

Meeting Minimum Spends for Sign Up Bonuses

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus by Chase is a Business credit card offering 70,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months, but only until May 15, 2016 and only if you apply in a Chase branch. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more. The annual fee is $95, and it is NOT waived for the first year during this 70,000 point promotion.

If you paid $5,000 of your bills via Plastiq on this card, the processing fee would be $125. I value Ultimate rewards at 2 cents each, so you’d essentially be paying $125 for $1,500 worth of points (75,000 Ultimate Rewards, which you’d earn from the sign up bonus and the 1x on spending it takes to get there).

There is a similar offer with a 60,000 bonus point offer you can apply for online if you can’t make it to a branch. From meeting that minimum spend via Plastiq it’s like paying $125 for $1,300.

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

But don’t forget the Chase 5/24 rule. If you’ve opened five cards within the last 24 months, you will most likely get denied for this card.

Citi Prestige® Card 

This card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first three months the account is open, along with a plethora of benefits that more than make up for the pricey annual fee. You can read all about it in my review of the Citi Prestige Card.

If you opened the Citi Prestige® Card and paid $3,000 worth of your bills with it via Plastiq, you’d be paying $75 for 50,000 ThankYou Points. I value ThankYou Points at 1.9 cents each, so that’s like paying $75 for $1,007 (53,000 ThankYou points from the sign up bonus and the 1x on spending it takes to get there). But you can stretch their value even more if you redeem on a premium cabin award like Singapore Suites on Singapore Airlines, considered to be the nicest First Class in the world by some people.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

Until June 22, 2016, the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, British Airways, and Virgin America.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But, like the Citi Prestige® Card, it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status. If you paid $3,000 worth of your bills with it via Plastiq, you’d be paying $75 for 78,000 Membership Rewards. I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each, so that’s like buying $1,560 for $75.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® 

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This card is similar to the Citi Prestige® Card in that in comes with many benefits that help offset the cost of the steep annual fee. If you spend $5,000 in the first three months after you open it, you get 50,000 American Airlines miles. If you paid $5,000 in bills via Plastiq on it, you’d be buying 55,000 American Airlines miles for a processing fee of $125. I value American Airlines miles at 1.5 cents each, so that sign up bonus along with the miles you earn to get it is worth about $825 to me.

While this isn’t the biggest return from a sign up bonus, people with a lot of bills to pay should consider it from the angle of meeting this card’s yearly spending threshold if status with American Airlines is something you’re eyeing. Spend $40,000 in a year and get 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles, which will send you on your way to earning status with American Airlines.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

Bottom Line

Nearly any bill that you couldn’t pay before on a credit card you now have the opportunity to pay via Plastiq.com. It costs 2.5% for any MasterCard, Visa, or American Express payments. I would definitely use Plastiq to help meet minimum spending requirements, as that provides extremely fruitful returns. I would not use Plastiq for everyday spending, since it is difficult to get enough value out of your miles to make up for the 2.5 cent charge on every dollar.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Last week my friend flew 24 hours of Lufthansa First Class and had a 3.5 hour layover in the famous Lufthansa First Class Terminal, which he booked for 125,000 United miles and $58. I helped him book the award, and this post will illustrate:

  • Where to Search for Lufthansa Award Space
  • When Lufthansa First Class Award Space Opens Up
  • How to Predict Whether There Will Be Lufthansa First Class Award Space on Your Desired Flight
  • How to Book Lufthansa First Class with United miles
  • How to Save $75 When Booking Lufthansa First Class

My friend was in Tokyo and wanted to move to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had tons of United miles from opening United cards and cards that earn Ultimate Rewards in the past. He wanted to fly a fancy First Class product.

He contacted me in December, 2015 about a series of awards that he wanted to book to go from Buenos Aires to Southeast Asia to Japan and eventually to Rio. We booked most of his awards then, but I suggested we hold off on booking the flights from Japan to Brazil until the last minute. Why?

  1. There wasn’t award space in Business or First Class on any reasonable routing when we first searched
  2. I thought Lufthansa First Class would be a great product for him to fly with a great routing and fancy amenities, including the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt
  3. Lufthansa only opens up First Class award space for partners 15 days before the flight

When I made the suggestion, I wanted to be fairly sure that we could book him Lufthansa First Class when the time came. So I followed my own advice in “How to Estimate Your Chances of Last Minute Award Space.” I searched for award space from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro for the next two weeks and found award space on 7 of 15 days. That was a good sign since he had some date flexibility, and May isn’t peak time on the routes.

He originally planned to fly May 10 +/- one day, so I set a calendar alert for April 25 and searched for award space for May 9 and May 10 on April 25.

I found some decent Business Class itineraries that I relayed to him, but I didn’t find the holy grail: Tokyo-Haneda to Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, 3.5 hour layover at the Frankfurt First Class Terminal, and Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro in Lufthansa First Class.

That itinerary had First Class space on May 9…

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 12.45.01 AM …and May 7…Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.48.38 PM …but for a May 10 departure, he’d need to fly ANA Business Class on the first leg and have an all day layover in Frankfurt (a curse if you’re in a hurry, a blessing if you like to see cities on 23 hour layovers en route.)Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.47.04 PM
These First Class itineraries are very pricey since United devalued its award chart massively in February 2014, so I also mentioned the Business Class awards he could book, like 75,000 miles one way if he flew United Business Class (flat bed)…
Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.45.15 PM …or 85,000 miles if he flew partner Business Class.Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 10.43.33 PM

Finally I let him know that if we waited a few more days, I thought we could snag the all Lufthansa First Class award because at the time 5 of the next 7 days had First Class award space on that route.

He said he didn’t mind spending 125,000 miles one way. His main priority was ultra-luxury, and he would happily wait a few more days to book.

A few days later, he told me that he changed his ideal departure date by a week and now wanted to travel May 2. There had already been award space on May 2 when I first searched on April 25, and it was still there, so we were ready to book.

However, instead of heading straight to united.com and booking the award for 125,000 miles + $58 in taxes + $75 for ticketing an award within three weeks of departure, I told him to use this trick to avoid the $75 close in ticketing fee.

He went to united.com and booked himself an economy award from Haneda to Rio de Janeiro on Lufthansa for June 2016 for 55,000 miles + $58 and immediately called United at 800-UNITED-1. He told the agent he’d like to make a change to an award which he had booked within the last 24 hours and fed her the Lufthansa First Class segments on May 2. She made the change, deducting 70,000 extra miles (125,000 total as expected) and informed him that the taxes hadn’t changed. As we had hoped, she forgot to add a $75 fee for changing an award’s departure to within 21 days.

The Product

Both his segments were on the Lufthansa 747-8, which I have flown in First Class from Frankfurt to Washington-Dulles. The Lufthansa 747-8 First Class product is a large seat

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that folds into a comfortable flat bed.

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There is unlimited wine (I’ve heard of people requesting wine tastings) and caviar onboard (ask for seconds since they serve everyone out of one large containers instead of individual small containers.

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If you have a flight out of Frankfurt in Lufthansa First Class, you get access to the First Class Terminal, which is my favorite ground experience in the world.

This is an entire terminal just for First Class passengers with a top-notch buffet and a la carte food, a cigar bar, and warm baths with rubber duckies.

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Since you are in a separate terminal, when it is flight time, you are ferried to your plane in a Porsche.

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My friend loved his trip. He texted me from the First Class Terminal several times excitedly, and said that the ground experience alone was worth the miles.

While I think 125,000 miles is too much for a single one way trip, I think 62,500 would be an amazing price for either Tokyo to Frankfurt or Frankfurt to Rio de Janeiro in Lufthansa First Class (both of which are 12 hour flights), so I didn’t begrudge him the redemption.

Cheaper Ways into Lufthansa First Class

I am hoping to fly Lufthansa First Class in September for 50,000 Asiana miles (transferred from 40,000 SPG points) + $200-$300 from Eastern Europe to Washington-Dulles. Flying from Europe to the United States in Lufthansa First Class with Asiana miles is the best deal if you find a route with low taxes and fuel surcharges.

Getting the Miles

You can get United miles from the United Explorer and United Business Explorer cards. You can get Ultimate Rewards, which transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles from the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Plus.

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

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

Bottom Line

If you want to book Lufthansa First Class, do research many months out to figure out if award spaces usually opens on your route of interest within 15 days of departure. Have your miles ready (and ideally some date flexibility), and then start searching again 15 days before departure. If you find your dream space, book some dummy space more than 21 days out (ideally on the same routing and airlines, but it doesn’t have to be), and immediately call in to change to the real space you want to likely avoid the $75 fee for ticketing within 21 days of departure.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

2

Elite members of United’s MileagePlus frequent flyer program get access to extra Saver award seats in economy class. (Platinum and higher members also get extra business and first class seat availability.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.16.55 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.16.51 AM

United credit card holders also get the extra Saver economy award space set aside for elites. That includes people with the United Explorer, Business Explorer, and Club cards.

I consider this one of the biggest benefits of the cards, and, oddly, it is a benefit that is completely unadvertised and possibly unintentional.

Recent Example

I have the United Business Explorer card and no elite status with United. I was recently looking for award space from Virginia to Hawaii in October as part of my Summer/Fall travel plans.

Here was all of the Saver award space in economy from Washington-Dulles to Honolulu before I signed into my account.

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That’s three possible itineraries. (The fourth, which costs “45k” is Standard award space.)

I signed in–alerting united.com to show me the extra award space reserved for elites and credit card holders–and ran the same search. There were about ten itineraries with Saver award space. Here are the first six.
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.53.34 PMLet’s look closer at that 3:50 PM to 9:45 PM itinerary that shows up when I sign in (second screen shot), but not when I don’t (first screen shot.) Once signed in, I am in Expert Mode, which allows me to see the number of seats in each fare class on a flight.
Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 3.54.37 PMThe problem is that the second flight has X0 and XN9. “X” is the Saver economy award space open to everyone. “XN” is the extra set aside for elites and credit card holders. This award has nine Saver seats for elites and credit card holders but none for Joe Schmo. That’s why it showed up when I signed in but not before.

This flight is an extreme example of extra seats available to elites, but it illustrates how valuable the benefit can be to elites.

And It’s a Secret Benefit

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

The offer page touts an extra award space benefit, but not the one I’m talking about.

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 3.01.17 AM

This benefit refers to cardholders being able to book any seat, any time as a Standard award. There is some value to the benefit, but in general I try to avoid booking Standard awards, which tend to cost double the price of Saver awards. I would much prefer to get more Saver awards than be able to get any seat as a Standard award.

No, You Can’t Book This Extra Space with Partner Miles

I’m not going to book a a trip from the East Coast to Hawaii with United miles. The same United flights are much cheaper with Singapore miles. Unfortunately, when using Singapore miles you can only book United Saver award space in the “X”, “I”, and “O” fare classes–that is, the Saver award space open to non-elites and non-credit card holders.

So I had to sign back out of my United account to search for that space. Any United Saver award space you find when searching united.com without signing in should be equally bookable with all Star Alliance miles.

Bottom Line

United credit cards give you access to extra Saver economy award space on United flights when redeeming United miles. This is an unadvertised benefit and puts you on even footing with United elites.

The extra award space is not available for booking with other Star Alliance miles.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

It seems that experflyer.com is not accurately displaying Air Tahiti Nui award space that Delta agents can book. Multiple Delta representatives confirmed with me over the phone that four seats in Business Class are available on seven different Air Tahiti Nui flights, all of which show zero award seats in Business Class available on expertflyer.com.

What Air Tahiti Nui Is and Why it Matters

Air Tahiti Nui, headquartered in Papeete, Tahiti, is one of seven airlines that flies into Fa’a’ā International Airport in Tahiti. Only two of those airlines have flights to the mainland United States–Air France and Air Tahiti Nui–and they only fly to Los Angeles.

Tahiti is the gateway to French Polynesia, as it’s the only place you can fly to with miles in the whole string of South Pacific islands. Want to go to Mo’orea or Bora Bora with miles? You’ll have to go to Tahiti first and then pay for a flight (or redeem Arrival miles) onward.

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Air Tahiti Nui not a member of any of the three major alliances, but it is a non-alliance partner of Delta and American Airlines.

What Expertflyer.com Is and Why it Matters

The only way to search for Air Tahiti Nui award space online is via expertflyer.com, which is a paid service–$100 per year, $10 per month, or free for a five day trial. It can be used for a variety of purposes, one of which is to search for some airlines award space that doesn’t show up elsewhere on the internet. Read more about how I use it in Free First Class Next Month: Using expertflyer.com.  

From patterns I’ve seen (and see now) on expertflyer.com flying Air Tahiti Nui from the US to Tahiti, if you can book 11 months out from your desired travel dates than you’ll have a good amount of options, with a maximum of two seats in Business Class and seven seats in Economy. Wait any longer and space deteriorates as the departure date approaches. 

Wait…Expertflyer.com and Air Tahiti Nui’s Actual Award Space Don’t Match?

A client of the MileValue Award Booking Service recently told me that she had found two seats in Business Class from Los Angeles to Tahiti in October bookable with her Delta miles. I searched the dates on expertflyer.com expecting to find the two seats in Business Class, but was surprised when nothing turned up. So I called Delta (800-3232323) to see if an agent could find the award space that expertflyer.com wasn’t displaying, and they indeed found the two seats in Business Class I was looking for.

I searched for award space on a number of flights from Los Angeles to Tahiti (and Tahiti to Los Angeles) on expertflyer.com to test if this was a recurring theme, planning to call Delta to cross reference.

What Expertflyer.com Says

Dates that I searched range from May 2016 to March 2017:

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 6.57.00 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.39.53 PM

Much like what I’ve seen in the past, there’s a good selection 11 months out and then nothing, except a smattering of Economy seats…

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.40.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.40.54 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.41.11 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.41.33 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.42.30 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.42.47 PM

What Delta Says

When I called Delta, three separate representatives all told me the same thing. Each of those flights from the screenshots above have four seats available in Business Class that I could book with Delta miles. Expertflyer.com shows zero seats available in Business class except for the first roundtrip example, which shows only two Business Class award seats. I was also told there are some extra Economy seats on some of the flights that expertflyer.com shows having none.

Cool! So How Can I Book a Delta award to Tahiti?

I did not actually end up booking any of this award space, so I can’t 100% confirm it is possible.

Either way, the message is clear. If you’re trying to book a flight with Delta miles to Tahiti, don’t write off the possibility just because expertflyer.com doesn’t show space. Take the following steps instead:

  1. Sign up for a paid membership or free five day trial at expertflyer.com
  2. Search for the days you would like to travel to Tahiti
  3. Note the flight numbers expertflyer.com shows, even if the dates you want to travel show zero seats available in your preferred cabin
  4. Call Delta at 800-3232323, and feed the agent your desired dates, cabin and flight numbers

I only needed to feed the Delta agents the flight numbers and dates I looked up on expertflyer.com– no other special directions were necessary. They all found the space easily. Hopefully the representatives you talk to can as well.

Cost of Delta Awards to Tahiti

Unfortunately you have to pay fuel surcharges when redeeming Delta miles on Air Tahiti Nui flights.

  • One roundtrip in Economy from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti: 90,000 Delta miles + $422.36
  • One roundtrip in Business Class from Los Angeles to Papeete, Tahiti: 190,000 Delta miles + $532.36
  • Delta miles cannot be used to book partners’ First Class

Awards from other parts of the United States will cost the same number of miles if you find Delta or Alaska Airlines Saver award space to/from Los Angeles.

An Economy ticket purchased with cash has taxes, fees and fuel surcharges that break down to look like this (taken from ITA matrix):

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.48.59 PM

A Business Class ticket purchased with cash has taxes, fees and fuel surcharges that break down to look like this (also taken from ITA matrix):

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 8.59.56 PM

The sums of those fees (including the YQ amount, aka fuel surcharges) are both very similar to what a Delta representative quoted for me, so from that we can conclude that fuel surcharges are included when redeeming Delta miles on Air Tahiti Nui flights.

Can I Redeem American Airlines Miles Instead then?

American Airlines does not collect fuel surcharges on awards flying partner Air Tahiti Nui. It is a truism of miles that airlines release Saver award space equally to all partners, so theoretically it could also be the case that there is award space bookable with American Airlines miles that is not showing up on expertflyer.com.

Unfortunately in this case the truism is not true. I called American Airlines (800-882-8880) and asked a representative about all of the dates from the screenshots above– that according to Delta had four seats in Business Class available– and they couldn’t find any of the same space. In fact, there was even less space available to book with American Airlines miles than what expertflyer.com reports.

Bottom Line

There appears to be award space on Air Tahiti Nui from the United States to Tahiti that is not showing up in expertflyer.com’s award search results. The award space is at least bookable with Delta miles (with hefty fuel surcharges), and potentially American Airlines miles as well (fuel surcharge free).

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

15

I’m a nomad. Here are my current travel plans. Also see Late 2015 Travel, Early 2016 Travel, and Where I Slept in 2015.

I have a clear picture of where I’ll be until about October 2016. Last week, I booked a flurry of awards, mostly with obscure mileage programs to lock in my dates for 2016. Here’s what I’m planning, with links to already written Anatomy of an Award posts:

I am spending a few weeks in Brazil to visit friends and position for Singapore First Class flight. I was only planning on spending four days in Brazil, but it is unseasonably cold in Buenos Aires, so I am leaving a week earlier than planned. I’ll spend the extra time in Bonito, Brazil, which looks absolutely gorgeous.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.11.51 AM

I am spending the first two weeks in Europe in Barcelona, visiting friends in Germany, and in the Czech Republic, where I can’t believe I haven’t made it to yet–Prague seems like it is right up my alley. Then the heart of the trip begins.

My main goal for the Summer of 2016 is to learn the Serbo-Croat language. I really enjoy languages. I studied Latin and Spanish in high school and am a bit of a grammar nerd in English. After years of living and traveling in South America and Spain, I am fluent in Spanish. I could, of course, improve further, but I figure that I am good enough that the amount of effort I’d need to improve in Spanish would be better spent learning a completely new language.

In the past I’ve considered Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Serbo-Croat. I don’t like Brazil or Portugal enough to want to spend the months there to learn the language, and Bucharest (Romania) is a step below Belgrade (Serbia) and Zagreb (Croatia) in my mind, so I eliminated those languages. Russian was my top choice, but the hassle of getting a Russian visa (I’d have to come back to the United States and wait for days or weeks while the paperwork cleared) and the fact that it rains 15 days a month in St. Petersburg and Moscow during the Summer led me to pick Serbo-Croat. (Yes, I also considered learning Russian in another country but decided against it.)

The benefit of learning Serbo-Croat is that (please don’t start a linguistics debate in the comments over this sentence) it is the language of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia. I can travel throughout those countries while learning the language. I think I’ll spend June in Belgrade with daily language classes to get a base and September in Zagreb. July and August when European capitals thin out as people head to the sea, I’ll head to the Montenegrin and Croatian beaches, and at some point I’ll find time for at least Sarajevo, Bosnia and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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The drawback of Serbo-Croat is that it is a non-romance language with noun declensions, the Cyrillic alphabet (Serbia only), and only 12 million people speak it natively. But I’m going to give it a go and am eager to see what progress I can make in four months.

I plan to spend about 3.5 out of 4 months in Serbo-Croat-speaking countries over the heart of summer. The two weeks outside will be in Spain where I will follow the University of Virginia basketball team as it plays several games against lower division pro teams. (College basketball teams get to take a once-every-four-years international trip over the summer. They do it because it’s fun, and they get extra practices, which are especially useful for newcomers to the program, which UVA has six of this year.) I love Spain, I love UVA basketball, and I am eager to see the new players three months before I otherwise could.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 4.12.25 PM

Finally I’ll head back from Europe to the USA in time to catch my friends’ wedding, visit family in Hawaii, and make the Chicago Seminars. That takes me through mid-October, after which it will probably be time to head back to Southern South America as Spring heats up.

Northern Hemisphere Summer 2016 will see me:

  • change hemispheres as the seasons change because everyone should live in Summer all year round
  • visit family in Hawaii
  • visit friends in Rio de Janeiro and Leipzig
  • return to favorites like Zagreb, Belgrade, Dubrovnik (cliff jumping!), Sao Paulo, and Spain
  • go to the Czech Republic, Bosnia, and Montenegro for the first time
  • explore natural beauty in Bonito, Brazil; a Croatian National Park; and the Adriatic coast
  • watch UVA basketball play four times in person
  • speak twice at the Chicago Seminars
  • …and hopefully learn the Serbo-Croat language

I’ll fly in products ranging from low-cost carrier economy to one of the world’s fanciest First Classes on the Singapore 777.

All of the awards were carefully thought out to maximize miles, so I am excited to explain why I’ve been and will be using so many Asiana and Singapore miles, and why you might want to use them also.

Some of the awards even touch on interesting problems like how long a transfer takes, what to do when there is only space in your desired cabin on some legs, and choosing which miles to use.

I still need to book the Lufthansa First Class award from Europe to the United States, and I will need to wait several months as Lufthansa only releases award space in First Class to partners within 15 days of departure. (Please don’t devalue in the next five months, Asiana!)

I still need to book Virginia-Hawaii-Chicago. Right now the award space isn’t very good, but I expect that it improves dramatically as my dates approach.

Hopefully your mid-2016 travel schedule excites you as much as mine excites me. Where are you headed?

I’ll crank out the rest of the Anatomy of an Award posts soon–where I break down how to search the award, how to book the award, what miles to use, and how to get those miles–and I’ll keep this post updated as I do.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

For the second time, I used 5,000 ThankYou Points to book a one way Air Serbia flight award flight. This time I booked a $323 flight from Prague to Belgrade for $25, meaning I got 6 cents per ThankYou Point because I understand the sweet spots of all frequent flyer programs instead of only focusing on American-based programs.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.08.34 AM

I transferred and booked before the 30% American Express transfer bonus to Etihad miles was announced, which would have allowed me to book for 4,000 Amex points and get 7.5 cents per point of value.

I transferred my ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest Miles, which is the frequent flyer program for Air Serbia and several other airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.17.14 AM

ThankYou Points are easy to get because the Citi Prestige® Card is offering 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases on the card in the first three months.

Etihad Guest / Air Serbia Award Chart

Air Serbia is not a member of one of the three alliances, but is a member of the “kind-of fourth alliance” of airlines in which Etihad has bought a stake. The only way to book Air Serbia flights with miles is with Etihad Guest miles. Here’s the award chart for Air Serbia flights in its entirety:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.27.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.27.39 AM

Prague to Belgrade is 5,000 miles one way in economy and 7,125 miles one way in Business Class. For a two hour flight, I didn’t even want to pay 2,125 miles extra for Business Class.

You do not pay fuel surcharges on Air Serbia award flights, only government taxes.

(By the way, that Belgrade to New York route is intriguing. It begins June 23, 2016 and will operate five times per week on a leased Jet Airways A330 that features 18 Business Class flat beds in a 1-1-1 configuration. The Business Class price is competitive and could be a route to watch if award space is as good as it is on shorthaul flights. During the current 30% transfer bonus from Amex to Etihad, you’d need only 50,000 Membership Rewards for a one way in a flat bed!)

Getting Etihad Guest Miles

Etihad miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points and Amex Membership Rewards, and you must transfer in increments of 1,000.

Screen Shot 2015-06-08 at 5.29.21 AM

To transfer ThankYou Points to Etihad Guest miles, you must open a free Etihad Guest account, and then complete the transfer on thankyou.com. First click “Points Transfer” under “Do more.”

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Select “TRANSFER NOW” next to Etihad Guest.

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Type in the number of miles you want to transfer. You need to transfer in increments of 1,000.

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Enter your Etihad Guest frequent flyer number, and you’re done.Screen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.57.06 AMScreen Shot 2015-07-09 at 4.57.31 AMThe transfer is not instant. It took about one week for my Etihad miles to show up in my account last year. This time, the transfer took five days. I transferred Thursday afternoon, and the miles posted the next Tuesday afternoon.

We have seen 25% transfer bonuses from ThankYou Points to Etihad miles before.

In April 2016, Amex Membership Rewards added Etihad as a transfer partner. There is a 30% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Etihad miles through June 15, 2016.

Booking Etihad Guest / Air Serbia Award

To book an award, call 800-8-ETIHAD. I don’t know of any way to search award space beforehand, but all the short Air Serbia flights I’ve inquired about have had award space.

I had searched flight times and prices on kayak.com, and the two daily Air Serbia flights were $323 one way.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.44.09 AM(A decent itinerary with one connection was $267, and an overnight in Istanbul was $130, so using points on the expensive direct flights was ideal.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.03.41 AM

I asked the agent if there was award space on the day I wanted, and she said there was award space on both flights that day. This didn’t surprise me because there has been award space on every short Air Serbia flight I’ve ever inquired about. She quoted a price of 5,000 miles + 22.08 euros.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 2.43.34 AM

This exactly matched the taxes on the paid ticket according to ITA Matrix, which were 597 Czech koruna. The award did not include the approximately $20 fuel surcharge that the cash ticket included.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.50.12 AMScreen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.51.29 AM

I received a confirmation email of my new ticket while I was still on the phone with the agent.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 2.58.39 AMI immediately went to airserbia.com and typed in the confirmation on the home page.

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.00.21 AMI was able to select my seat, an aisle in the second row.Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 3.01.32 AM

Bottom Line

In a few weeks, I am flying from Prague to Belgrade to start a big new undertaking (more on that in a future post.) The direct flight was a ridiculous $323, and even overnighting in Istanbul would only bring the price down to $130.

Instead I booked the flight for 5,000 Etihad miles + $25. I got the miles by transferring 5,000 ThankYou Points, which means I got about 6 cents per ThankYou Point of value.

Etihad Miles aren’t just useful if you want to go to/from Serbia. Etihad Guest Miles are also the miles of big airlines in Italy, Germany, and Austria.

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And you can also use Etihad miles to fly American Airlines flights for pre-devaluation prices.

Getting ThankYou Points is easy:

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

8

In 2014, American Express made it so you could get the bonus only once per lifetime on personal cards, and in February 2016 that rule was extended to business cards.

But there might be a targeted exception. Reader g passes along a targeted offer he got for the American Express Platinum Card.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 1.48.01 AM

The offer is to open the American Express Platinum Card with 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. The offer is addressed to him and has unique offer codes to apply online or by phone.

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What’s interesting is that g has had the Platinum Card before and gotten its bonus, which should mean that he is ineligible for a new bonus. All the online Amex offers have language like this, which limit the bonus to new applicants. For instance, here’s the language on the public 40k Amex Platinum offer page:

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 1.45.58 AM

But his offer doesn’t have that language.

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Because he was targeted for the offer and the language excluding people who had had the Platinum Card was absent, g called the number in the targeted offer to ask if he could get the card and bonus even though he had the card and bonus before.

[The Amex rep] said my prior status did not affect my ability to tap into the MR bonus again! She did not speculate why the offer is being extended; however, the offer makes mention of the fact that I am also an EveryDay cardholder, which could mean that having/getting the EveryDay card (the no fee card I use to protect my MR points) is a prerequisite to accessing the offer. My guess is that the Citi Prestige with its greater club access, unrestricted travel credit and bonus point opportunities has really cut into AmEx’s premium card membership.

My Take

Phone reps can be wrong. I think there is a decent chance that if he applied for the card, he would not get the bonus automatically. But I’m not sure how he could be kept from getting it eventually when a phone rep said he was eligible and the application page doesn’t mention that previous cardholders are ineligible for the bonus.

I asked g to let us know what happens if he applies for the card.

Has anyone else recently been targeted for an Amex offer for a card they’ve previously had?

This would be huge news if the once-per-lifetime rule had an exception.

Also see: Issuing Banks’ Rules for Approvals and New Bonuses

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I just booked myself an award from Sao Paulo to Barcelona: 10+ hours in Singapore First Class for 58,225 Singapore miles + $37, a route I’ve highlighted before as a sweet spot. I booked the award for several reasons:

  1. I need to get from South America to Europe because it is turning to winter here :( and summer there. :)
  2. Ten hours of Singapore First Class for 58,225 miles is a ridiculous steal.
  3. This is the only route to book Singapore award space with no fuel surcharges, which are illegal departing Brazil.

The Route

Asia to South America is too far and has too few customers for nonstop flights. Airlines that offer service between the two continents always include a stop like Korean Air, which flies from Seoul to Los Angeles to Sao Paulo. Singapore flies from Singapore to Sao Paulo three times a week with a stop both directions in Barcelona. You can book any part of the trip individually.

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As you can imagine, an Asian airline flying between Europe and South America doesn’t fill the plane with paying customers, so award space is wide open between Sao Paulo and Barcelona in both directions in economy, Business, and First Class. And, for whatever reason, Singapore charges very few miles for Saver awards on the route.

Award Price

From Barcelona to Sao Paulo, an 11 hour, 10 minute flight, Singapore charges only:

  • 17,425 miles + $183 one way in Economy
  • 50,150 miles + $197 one way in Business Class
  • 58,225 miles + $207 one way in First Class

Economy and First Class are ludicrously cheap compared to other airlines’ award charts. For instance, American charges 50k/87.5k/120k each way in economy/Business/First which is 2-3x the price Singapore charges. United charges 47.5k/87.5k/125k, again 2-3x the price Singapore charges. And Singapore offers a superior product compared to United’s and American Airlines’ partners.

Unfortunately from Barcelona to Singapore, you pay pesky fuel surcharges of about $100-$150 one way. You must pay fuel surcharges on all Singapore awards that fly Singapore Airlines except on the Sao Paulo to Barcelona and Sao Paulo to Singapore flights. Brazil law prohibits fuel surcharges.

So from Sao Paulo to Barcelona, a 10 hour, 25 minute flight, Singapore charges only:

  • 17,425 miles + $37 one way in Economy
  • 50,150 miles + $37 one way in Business Class
  • 58,225 miles + $37 one way in First Class

The Product

This route is flown by a Singapore 777, which means it features “only” First Class instead of Suites Class, which is the name of First Class on the Singapore A380.

I have flown Singapore First Class on the 777 before, and it is awesome! Here’s my full trip report.

You basically get a throne…

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…that turns into a comfortable, large bed.

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Plus you get some of the best service, food, and drink in the sky.

Singapore First Class is several steps above American and Latin American carriers, and solidly better than Lufthansa First Class, which would be the second best option between Europe and South America.

Getting Singapore Miles

You need Singapore miles to book Singapore First Class, Suites Class, and Business Class on longhaul flights. Singapore protects the cabins by not releasing award space in them to partners. Luckily Singapore miles are easy to get.

Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Citi ThankYou Points. Plus 20,000 Starpoints transfer to 25,000 Singapore miles.

The best cards to get Singapore miles are the Citi Prestige® Card, Sapphire Preferred, and Ink Plus.

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.

My review of the Citi Prestige Card 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Transferring

According to this FlyerTalk thread, which compiles transfer times, transfers from Chase, Citi, and Amex usually show up overnight within 1-2 days. Transfers from SPG can take up to two weeks.

Which transferable points to send to Singapore, if you have several options, depends on which type of points you’d like to save for future uses.

I had 125 Singapore miles. I decided to transfer 8,000 Ultimate Rewards and 40,100 SPG points to Singapore miles. With the 10,000 bonus Singapore miles for transferring 40,000 SPG points, that was a total of 58,100 new Singapore miles, bringing my total to 58,225 miles.

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The Ultimate Rewards posted within 24 hours. The SPG points took three weeks to transfer. (More on that in a separate post.) Luckily, while I waited, the award space remained. If space had disappeared in First Class, my back up plan was to book economy, plan C was to book Business, and plans D through I were to book any cabin a few days earlier or later (the flight occurs three times per week.) If I had booked economy or Business, the extra miles would not have been orphaned; they would have been used to book a trip between the mainland United States and Hawaii on United in the future–another top use of Singapore miles.

Booking

Once I had my miles, the process was a snap. I searched right on the home page of singaporeair.com.

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Award prices are initially displayed without the automatic 15% discount for booking online.

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But once selected, the discounted price is displayed.

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I paid for the award with my Citi Prestige® Card. If I hadn’t already used my $250 Air Travel Credit for 2016, I would have had the $37 in taxes refunded as a statement credit. Since I have, I will just earn 3x on this airline purchase.

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Post Booking

Booking the ticket doesn’t end the fun. I also want to ensure the ideal seat, food, and lounge plan.

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Singapore First Class is laid out 1-2-1 in two rows. I chose seat 1A to have my own space an a window.

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Singapore premium-cabin passengers can select their exact meals in advance of the flight through the Book the Cook service. Unfortunately the service is not available for flights from Sao Paulo, only the following cities: (It would be available if flying Barcelona to Sao Paulo.)

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I could only select meal preferences/allergies. I just selected “Standard meal,” and I’ll have a chance onboard to choose from several options.

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I looked up lounge access, and it looks like I’ll get to use the Star Alliance Lounge in Sao Paulo. I googled trip reports and found this review of the GRU Star Alliance loungeScreen Shot 2016-05-03 at 2.39.24 PM
It looks solidly better than a United Club or equivalent, but well below what I would expect if Singapore had its own lounge like it does at Singapore’s airport.

Since the lounge isn’t that great, I won’t budget much time to explore it, and I won’t eat much food, preferring to gorge onboard!

Bottom Line

In a few weeks, I’ll fly Sao Paulo to Barcelona in Singapore First Class. It’s an awesome route between South America and Europe because it has a super product, a very low mileage price (especially in economy and First), no fuel surcharges, and great award space.

Singapore miles partner with every transferable points program.

Has anyone else flown this route? Trip report coming up in a few weeks.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

American Express is offering a 30% transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic through May 31, 2016. For the next four weeks, 1,000 Membership Rewards will transfer to 1,300 Etihad Guest Miles.

 

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This is huge news because there is also currently a 30% discount on Virgin Atlantic economy awards through May 11, 2016. Combining this transfer bonus with that sale means you can book awards from the Eastern United United States to London for 10,000 Membership Rewards plus $135 with great availability for the next 11 months if you act right now. From other parts of the country, you’ll pay only a few more miles.

On some routes, award space is WIDE OPEN year round, including the heart of summer 2016. Here is the award space for July 2016 from New York to London. Days with a red line underneath have award space that can be booked for 10,000 Membership Rewards one way.

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 3.26.05 PMVirgin Atlantic Awards

Virgin Atlantic flies to the UK from 12 US cities and offers great prices for award tickets in economy, Premium Economy, and Upper Class.

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The normal prices are only:

  • 17,500+ miles in economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 27,500+ miles in Premium Economy to London, depending on starting city
  • 40,000+ miles in flat bed Upper Class to London, depending on starting city

Two Week Sale on Economy and Premium Economy Awards

Until May 11, 2016, Virgin Atlantic is discounting the miles price of economy awards between North America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia and the UK by 30%. Neither Premium Economy nor Upper Class awards are discounted during this sale. Discounted award prices (one ways bookable for half the miles price) originating in the US:

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Book now to lock in the rate; you can book travel through April 3, 2017 at the discounted prices.

Transfer Bonuses

ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer parters of Virgin Atlantic) have both offered transfer bonuses of 25% to 35% to Virgin Atlantic miles in the past.

This is the first time we have see a concurrent transfer bonus and award sale.

Right now you can transfer 10,000 Membership Rewards to 13,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. The Membership Rewards will instantly appear as Virgin Atlantic miles, and you can use 12,250 to book a one way award from Boston, Newark, New York, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, or Chicago to London.

You’d only need 12,000 Membership Rewards for a one way from Miami, Orlando, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to Newark.

There are similar deals to Manchester and Glasgow.

Out-of-Pocket Price

Virgin Atlantic awards have fuel surcharges. You cannot avoid them.

Virgin Atlantic roundtrip awards will feature a departure from Great Britain, which will incur exorbitant taxes. You can easily avoid them by using this sale to book one way awards to London only. Then use a different type of miles to return from a low tax city in Europe. You see more of Europe for very few miles and very low out of pocket expense.

For instance, a one way award from New York, Boston, DC, Atlanta, Detroit, or Chicago to London will cost 12,250 miles + $135 in economy, even over the heart of summer.

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That is a manageable out-of-pocket price that is very much worth paying to save a ton of miles over awards using other miles.

But let’s look at a return from London to the United States. Now a one way in economy is 12,250 miles + a ridiculous $257.Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 3.22.36 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-26 at 5.31.37 PM

Strategy to Lower or Eliminate Out-of-Pocket Price

To reiterate, just book the eastbound to London during this transfer bonus and sale. Book the westbound return from somewhere cheaper in Europe with a different type of miles, perhaps United or American. (Get between London and Europe on a train or a low cost carrier.)

You can even eliminate the out-of-pocket cash needed by paying for the Virgin Atlantic Award with your Citi Prestige® Card.

The Citi Prestige® Card offer a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year that offsets your first $250 in spending on airlines with the card. Taxes and fuel surcharges on an award ticket definitely count. If your taxes and fuel surcharges are less than $250, the entire amount will be credited back on your statement. If they are more than $250, $250 will be credited back.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, which can be transferred to Flying Blue miles.

Application LinkCiti Prestige® Card

Is This The Best Deal to Europe?

Other than WOW Air’s $99 fares from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco to Iceland, yes.

Here are some almost-as-good deals (copied from my list of the best awards between all regions):

Upper Class?

Luxury lovers will want to know about the prices in Upper Class to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, since Upper Class is a fantastic business class product.

Unfortunately the current 30% discount does not apply to Upper Class, so the fuel surcharges and miles required to fly Upper Class are about triple economy. At those prices, I don’t think Upper Class is a great deal unless you are miles poor and cash rich at the moment. For instance, New York to London is 40k miles (31,000 Membership Rewards) + $420, and Los Angeles to London one way is 50k miles (39,000 Membership Rewards) + $458 in Upper Class.

Searching for and Booking the Award

You can search award space one month at a time right on the Virgin Atlantic home page. You don’t even need to be a member of the Flying Club to search. Just fill in the search form and select “Spend your miles.”

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Whatever space you find this way is bookable with Flying Club miles, there are no blackout dates for this sale. You can also book right on virginatlantic.com.

Results look like this. At the bottom of each date are colors that signify award space.

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Red is economy, white is Premium Economy, and purple is Upper Class.

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Bottom Line

Europe is within reach for as little as 12,250 miles one way if you book in the next week for trips for the next 11 months. Membership Rewards has a concurrent 30% transfer bonus. That means you can book awards to Europe for 10,000 points + $135 one way. Where will you go this summer?

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

7

Until June 13, 2016, you can buy Alaska Airlines miles for as little as 1.97 cents each. You have to log in to your account at this link to see your offer. People are being offered bonuses of 35% to 50% on purchased miles.

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The sale is structured as a bonus on the normal number of miles you’d receive. The bonus is tiered, so the biggest 35%-50% bonus comes from purchasing 50,000 to 60,000 miles at the normal price of about 2.96 cents each after tax.

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If you get a 50% bonus, it costs $1,478.13 to buy 75,000 miles (50k + 25k bonus) during this sale.

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  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 35%, you can buy miles for 2.19 cents each.
  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 40%, you can buy miles for 2.11 cents each.
  • If your bonus for buying 50,000+ miles is 50%, you can buy miles for 1.97 cents each.

While each purchase is limited to 60,000 miles plus bonus, you can make unlimited purchases during the sale, so you can buy unlimited miles.

I don’t think Alaska miles are worth 1.97 cents each, but they are worth close to that, and if you have a specific redemption in mind, it is not hard to get more than 1.97 cents of value per mile.

Airlines on which You Can Redeem Alaska Miles

Here are the Alaska partners on which you can redeem. (Note: AeroMexico awards have been unavailable since October 2015.)

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Five Favorite Redemptions

Here are my five favorite redemptions with Alaska miles:

 1. Cathay Pacific First Class

Cathay Pacific First Class costs 70,000 Alaska miles one way from the United States to Asia or Africa with a free stopover in Hong Kong, or 80,000 miles one way to Australia or New Zealand, again with a free stopover possible in Hong Kong.

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Cathay Pacific Premium Economy to Asia is only 35,000 Alaska miles one way and Business Class is only 50,000.

If you buy Alaska miles for 1.97 cents each, any of these awards would be a significant discount off the retail price.

Here is my review of Cathay Pacific First Class.

2. American Airlines Flights at Pre-Devaluation Prices

Alaska still charges the same number of miles for American Airlines flights that American Airlines charged until its massive March 22, 2016 devaluation. Some steals (prices listed one way):

  • 20,000 Alaska miles for seven months out of the year in economy to Europe
  • 20,000 Alaska miles for five months out of the year in economy to Southern South America
  • 25,000 Alaska miles for six months out of the year in economy to Japan
  • 30,000 Alaska miles to Peru or Northern South America in Business Class
  • 50,000 Alaska miles in Business Class to Europe, Japan, or Southern South America
  • 62,500 Alaska miles in Business Class to Australia or New Zealand
3. Fiji Airways Business Class

You can fly from the United States to Fiji to New Zealand or Australia for only 55,000 Alaska miles one way in Business Class with a free stopover in Fiji.

4. Hainan Business Class

Alaska charges just 50,000 miles each way in Hainan flat bed Business Class to anywhere in Asia.

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Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $140 per direction.

Full details on booking Hainan flights with Alaska miles.

5. Icelandair

Icelandair awards start at 22,500 miles one way to Iceland or 55,000 miles one way in Business Class to Europe with a stopover in Iceland.

Unfortunately there are fuel surcharges of about $100 per direction on these awards.

Full details on booking Icelandair awards with Alaska miles.

Alaska Airlines Award Routing Rules

Alaska Airlines is extremely generous allowing a stopover on one way awards, anywhere you’d like en route.

Here are the basics for redemptions of Alaska miles.

Logistics of Buying Alaska Miles

Unlike many miles sales when you are capped at how many miles you can buy, with Alaska miles sales, you can make several maximum purchases to get all the miles you need.

Remember that Alaska Airlines miles sales are handled through points.com, so they are not considered airfare or travel purchases for the purposes of earning a category bonus on your credit card.

Bottom Line

Alaska miles are on sale until June 13, 2016 for as little as 1.97 cents each. While that’s too high of a price to buy speculatively, it is a good price if you have an immediate high value use for the miles.

Sale Link: Log into your Alaska account here to see the size of your bonus

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

American Express just added Etihad as a Membership Rewards transfer partner in April, and it is now offering a 30% transfer bonus through June 15, 2016.

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For the next six weeks, 1,000 Membership Rewards will transfer to 1,300 Etihad Guest Miles.

Good Deal?

Using Etihad Miles for Etihad Flights

Etihad Guest Miles aren’t very good for booking First Class on the Etihad A380, which is a current obsession of mine.

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For instance, Etihad would charge 88,022 Etihad miles + $175 to book Abu Dhabi to London in First Class on the Etihad A380. During the transfer bonus, that’s 68,000 Membership Rewards.

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A better deal, but not quite a good one, is booking JFK to Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class for 117,556 Etihad miles + $179, which would be 91,000 Membership Rewards during the transfer bonus. You could book the same flight for 115,000 American Airlines miles + $6.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.09 AMJFK to Delhi, which would feature two flights in First Class is 119,000 Membership Rewards during the promotion. Again, this would cost 115,000 American Airlines miles.Screen Shot 2015-11-16 at 9.52.53 AM

So Etihad miles are competitive with American Airlines miles to book Etihad flights during this transfer bonus, but that’s not saying much. Both types of miles are still expensive for booking Etihad flights. The real value of Etihad miles is to book other airlines’ flights.

Using Etihad Miles for Other Flights

Etihad Guest miles can be used on 25 other airlines. On Etihad’s page, you can click on “Know more” and then click to bring up the redemption table for that airline’s flights.

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For redeeming Etihad miles on American Airlines flights, the Etihad’s award chart is nearly identical to the old American Airlines award chart before the devaluation that happened March 22, 2016, at least for now. Remember 62,500 miles one way to Australia in Business Class and 20,000 miles one way to Europe in Economy? You can’t book those with American Airlines miles anymore, but you can with Etihad miles!

  • 125,000 Etihad miles (97,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Australia roundtrip in American Airlines Business Class
  • 40,000 Etihad miles (31,000 Membership Rewards) + taxes = United States to Europe roundtrip in American Airlines Economy (however that out of pocket amount would skyrocket if you returned from London because of departure taxes, choose one of these European cities with lower taxes instead)

A few months ago I wrote about how you can fly to Europe in a flat bed for 37,000 ThankYou Points. That’s because it costs:

  • 36,620 Etihad miles (29,000 Membership Rewards) + $94.70 in taxes = New York to Brussels roundtrip in Brussels Airlines Business Class (featuring a flat bed)

This is technically still speculative, as I eventually found an Etihad Guest agent who found a Business Class award seat on this flight but I did not actually carry out the booking.

I wouldn’t exactly call this a sweetspot, but it is useful to know that if you ever need to book a flight on Air Serbia for some reason, hopping over to Romania on a Eurotrip perhaps, the only miles you can use to book their awards are Etihad miles. I just booked an award for 5,000 Etihad Miles (4,000 Membership Rewards) + $23 from Prague to Belgrade.

Bottom Line

American Express is offering a 30% bonus on Membership Rewards transferred to Etihad Guest Miles until June 15, 2016. This does not offer great value for booking Etihad First Class, but it does offer great value for booking partner flights like American Airlines, Air Serbia, and 23 other partners.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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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 that suit your needs.

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Swimming in a Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam

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:

And I’ve generally flown Business or First Class between those adventures on tickets that cost me not thousands or hundreds of dollars, but tens of dollars.

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.

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Where I’ve Been Through May 2016

Here are, in my opinion, the top ten rewards credit cards.

1. Ink Plus

Until May 15, 2016, the Ink Plus is a business card that offers 70,000 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, 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, and it is NOT waived for the first year during this 70,000 point promotion.

Unfortunately you can only apply for the 70,000 point offer in a Chase branch. There is a similar offer with a 60,000 bonus point offer you can apply for online.

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

2. Platinum Card from American Express

Until June 22, 2016, the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 75,000 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

The “regular” Platinum card is worse than this offer because it has a smaller sign up bonus and only a $25 lower annual fee.

3. Citi Prestige Card

For a limited time, 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. I value the current sign up bonus at $1,250.

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 for purchases of airline tickets or airline 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 12 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 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.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

I recently used 30,000 ThankYou Points, transferred to Singapore miles, to book myself United First Class from Houston to Honolulu.

4. Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50k Ultimate Rewards after spending $4k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 55k 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.

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

5. Hilton Surpass

Until May 4, 2016, the Hilton Surpass offers 100,000 bonus Hilton points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. The card also offers automatic Hilton Gold Status.

The card has a $75 annual fee.

For more information on maximizing Hilton points–the key strategy is to book hotels in Categories 1-3 because free nights in higher Categories cost a ton of points–see this post.

Application Link: Hilton Surpass

6. 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.

Spend $15,000 in the first 12 months for another 25,000 bonus Avios. The maximum bonus is 75,000 total Avios for spending $15,000 in the first 12 months of which $2,000 came in the first three.

The card comes with 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on 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.

The card has a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived.

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

7. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

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 $1,000 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

8. Club Carlson Visa

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 85,000 bonus Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.

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The card earns 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

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it because of the 40,000 points I earn every year on my card’s anniversary upon paying the $75 annual fee.

Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

9. AAdvantage Executive

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

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The card also comes with Admirals Club lounge membership, which explains its $450 annual fee. Admirals Club membership means you can access over 90 lounges worldwide for free no matter what airline you’re flying, and you can bring in two guests for free.

The card offers 10,000 American Airlines status miles if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year. Also get a free checked bag for you and up to eight companions when you fly American Airlines, priority boarding, 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, and no foreign transaction fees.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

10. Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited comes with 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months and 2,500 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user.

The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on all purchases.

Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each– that’s why all the marketing of the card features cash back language. BUT if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card (#2 and #3 on this list), there is a second way of redeeming the Freedom Unlimited’s Ultimate Rewards: transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. I call this the Freedom Two Step.

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I value several of the transfer partners’ miles in the 1.6 to 1.8 cent range, so the Freedom Two Step should allow you to get far more than 1 cent of value from those same Ultimate Rewards.

Check out my full post on the Freedom Two Step for more explanation, screenshots of the process, and high value awards with the partner programs.

The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee.

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

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

8

As of a few weeks ago, you can redeem American Airlines Miles to the Indian subcontinent via Hong Kong!

Why is this exciting news?

Before, you could only connect in Europe or the Middle East on the way to the Indian Subcontinent, and more routing options means more award space. It’s especially good news for those who live on the West Coast, for whom routing via Hong Kong is faster than routing via Europe or the Middle East.

The routing must be done through Hong Kong–not Tokyo for instance–and it is only allowed to the Indian subcontinent, despite the fact that the Middle East is part of the same region as the Indian subcontinent as defined by American Airlines.

Then What is the Indian Subcontinent?

The Points Guy has confirmed with an AAgent that the following countries are considered to be the Indian Subcontinent:

  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Kazakhstan
  • Maldives
  • Nepal
  • Pakistan
  • Sri Lanka
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan

Airlines You Can Fly with the New Routing

You can fly to Hong Kong with Cathay Pacific Airlines or American Airlines en route to the Indian subcontinent.
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These are the destinations they fly direct to and from in the United States:

  • Cathay Pacific
    • Boston
    • Chicago
    • Los Angeles
    • New York City (JFK)
    • Newark
    • San Francisco
  • American Airlines
    • Dallas/Fort Worth
    • Los Angeles (beginning September 8, 2016)

Flying either airline to the Indian subcontinent costs 40,000 American Airlines miles in economy, 70,000 American Airlines miles in Business Class and 115,000 American Airlines miles in First Class, and no fuel surcharges, just the standard taxes that apply to every award.

Premium Cabin Award Space from US to Hong Kong

Now that the possibility is there to book American Airlines awards to the Indian subcontinent via Asia, let’s see if the space is actually there to do it.

Cathay Pacific

I just recently wrote about availability patterns for Cathay Pacific premium cabin awards. In that post I discuss booking Cathay Pacific awards with Alaska miles, but as it is a truism of miles that airlines release Saver award space equally to all partners, the same space I found on britishairways.com to book with Alaska miles is also bookable with American Airlines miles.

Cathay Pacific premium cabin award space is most prevalent within a week of departure, with one to nine seats available in Business Class and one to two seats available in First Class. It’s the only time you can book two people in First Class. If you can’t afford to wait until the last minute, then the next best time is 11 months out, when you’ll find up to five Business Class seats and one First Class Seat per flight.

Search for Cathay Pacific award space on ba.com as it does not show up on aa.com. (Read this to learn how to search ba.com).

Below are routes from the US to Hong Kong with some of the most premium cabin award space 11 months from now.

Los Angeles to Hong Kong 

headerlax to hkg 11 mnths out

Boston to Hong Kong

headerbos to hkg 11 mnths out

San Francisco to Hong Kong

headerSFO to hkg 11 mnths outAnd here are routes from the US to Hong Kong with some of the most premium cabin award space within a week of departure:

New York City to Hong Kong

headerjfk to hkg april 30San Francisco to Hong Kongheader

sfo to hkg may 2

sfo to hkg may 4

American Airlines 

There is basically no award space in Business or First Class from Dallas to Hong Kong, and I checked every month through the latest possible date you can book on aa.com right now. I saw one day available in Business Class in each of January and February 2017, and that was it.

Dallas to Hong Kong

The blue color represents Saver level Business Class.

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The Los Angeles to Hong Kong route had absolutely no Business or First Class award space.

Bottom Line on Space to/from Hong Kong

If you want to route your American Airlines award through Hong Kong on the way to the Indian Subcontinent, you can do so flying Cathay Pacific. You’ll need to book either 11 months out, or if you miss that time window (or want to fly as a party of two in First Class) than within a week of departure. The American Airlines flights to Hong Kong have virtually no award space on them on that moment, but I would rather fly Cathay Pacific’s premium cabins than American Airlines’ anyways as they are much superior products–read my trip report when I flew Cathay Pacific First Class from New York to Hong Kong.

Options from Hong Kong to the Indian Subcontinent

From Hong Kong, you can connect to all of these locations in the Indian subcontinent with oneworld alliance members Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Dragonair, or Jet Airways:

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 8.11.26 PM

  • New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata in India
  • Maldives
  • Kathmandu in Nepal

None of the airlines that fly these routes’ award space can be searched on aa.com– you’ll need to look on ba.com.

Premium Cabin Award Space from Hong Kong to India

Hong Kong to New Delhi

There is tons of Cathay Pacific Business Class seats (there is no First Class on these flights)– about two seats a day on two different flights nearly every day I checked 11 months out, six months out, and three months out. Within a week of departure that increases to up to nine Business Class seats per flight.

Below is the award space 11 months out from now:

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 6.14.17 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.43.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.43.53 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.43.23 PM

There is also plenty of Dragonair Business Class space to Bangalore (First Class isn’t operated on this flight either)– four seats a day on one flight 11 months out and six months out. It starts to thin out a bit by three months out from the travel date, but there’s still two to three seats in Business Class almost every day. Within a week of departure that number jumps to nine.

Below is the award space 11 months out from now:

headerScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.53.28 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.53.53 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-30 at 5.53.11 PM

Steps for Booking Through Hong Kong to the Indian Subcontinent

1. Search ba.com for Cathay Pacific award space to Hong Kong from one of the six American cities the airline flies to. If you don’t live in one of them, you can add MileSAAver award space on American Airlines flights from your hometown for no extra miles as long as it’s in the same (or a lower) cabin as the legs to Hong Kong and the Indian subcontinent. Note your desired travel dates, cabin and flight numbers that you find.

2. Search ba.com again for the connecting leg on to the Indian subcontinent. Note your desired travel dates, cabin and flight numbers that you find.

3. Call AAdvantage to book (800-882-8880) and feed the agent the dates, cabins and flight numbers you want to make up your award. They should waive the phone since none of the airlines you would use to get to the Indian subcontinent via Hong Kong are bookable online.

Getting American Airlines Miles

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months and Admirals Club lounge membership.

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Bottom Line

If you are trying to get to the region defined as the Indian subcontinent by American Airlines with American Airlines miles, you can now route your award through Hong Kong to get there.

There is plenty of premium cabin award space at the moment flying Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong either 11 months out or within a week of departure, but pretty much none flying American Airlines to Hong Kong.

Onward from Hong Kong you can fly to nine different destinations in the Indian subcontinent. For example, Cathay Pacific and Dragonair have tons of Business Class award space to New Delhi and Bangalore pretty much all the time.

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

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

Earn 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 a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

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