4 1223

American Airlines offers some of the most generous off peak awards in the world. Off peak awards are discounts (ranging from 20-30%) on economy awards with MileSAAver award space, the capacity-controlled space that we like to book.

To Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, and Central America, American Airlines charges just 15,000 miles one way seven months out of the year. Two roundtrips cost only 60,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.41.37 PM

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.41.49 PM
Two Roundtrips to Peru

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. Just meeting its minimum spending requirement puts you at 53,000 miles. A little more spending gets you to 60,000 miles and two roundtrips.

When are Off Peak Awards Available

Off peak awards are available to the Central America and northern South America for most of the year, including most of winter, spring, and fall.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.43.39 PM

What Do They Cost

If you fly between January 16 and June 14 or September 7 and November 14, you can take advantage of a 20% discount on MileSAAver awards and pay only 15,000 miles one way or 30,000 miles roundtrip to Central America and Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.58.26 PM Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.58.46 PM

Where Does American Fly in the Region

American has the strongest route network to Central and South America. Here are the flights from Miami to cities in the off peak region.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.52.25 PM

Here are the flights from Dallas. There are no destinations served from Dallas that are not served from Miami.
Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 12.52.46 PM

Unique to American Airlines, you can usually book off peak awards on either American flights or its partners flights. By contrast US Airways off peak awards require booking on US Airways flights only. See Master Thread: Off Peak Awards for more information.

One exception to American’s largesse is off peak awards to Central America, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Off peak awards to these countries must be booked on American Airlines flights.

That means that adding on a connecting segment on a partner will increase the price to the normal MileSAAver price of 17,500 miles one way. For instance, adding Lima to Cuzco in Peru onto an American Airlines award that would otherwise cost 15,000 miles makes it cost 17,500 miles. It still might be worth it to pay 2,500 miles to get the segment onto your award, but be aware of this rule.

You can connect from your home airport to Miami or Dallas to start the award for zero extra miles as long as the connecting flights have award space in MileSAAver economy and are operated by American Airlines. If they are operated by US Airways, the price jumps to 17,500 miles that direction.

How to Search for Award Space

Nothing fancy here. Search on aa.com for award space from your home airport to your destination. There shouldn’t even be a need for segment-by-segment searching because aa.com is pretty good at displaying even long layovers on awards like these if necessary. Here’s how to search aa.com.

Award space is generally excellent to these destinations during off peak dates. If it isn’t available on the dates you want, don’t despair, American Airlines open a lot of MileSAAver and off peak economy award space one month before departure.

Getting the Miles

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months. It also comes with a ton of other benefits like free checked bags, priority boarding, a 10% rebate on awards, two lounge passes, and more. See my full review.

If you open the card and meet the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have 53,000 American Airlines miles. Spend $7,000 more on the card at your leisure, and you’ll have 60,000 American Airlines miles.

If you normally spend $2,500 per month on a card, getting to 60,000 miles will take only four months. If you spend only $1,000, this will take 10 months. No matter what, sometime in 2015, you should easily get to 60,000 miles.

With that 60,000 miles, you can book two roundtrip (or open jaw) tickets to Central America or northern South America during off peak dates.

You’ll even get a 6,000 mile rebate a few weeks after the booking from the 10% rebate that comes with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

Take your friend on a dream trip. Open one card, collect 60,000 miles on it including the 50,000 mile sign up bonus. Then book you and a companion an award trip to Central or South America. Head to Ecuador to see the Galapagos, Peru to see Machu Picchu, Colombia to trek to the Ciudad Perdida, Guatemala to see Semuc Champey, or wherever your dream trip is.

Is there an easier way to get two tickets to an exotic destination? Share it in the comments.

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



Powered By Credit Karma

Aspire to Cathay Pacific Business Class.

  • It is one of the world’s nicest Business Classes, featuring a fully flat bed on flights of up to 16 hours between the United States and Hong Kong.
  • It is dirt cheap at 55,000 American Airlines miles one way or 110,000 US Airways miles roundtrip. This is just 10% more than flying half the time in a far inferior product to Europe.
  • Award space is widely available. Cathay Pacific releases 2 Business Class seats on a ton of flights 11 months in advance.
  • It is so easy to earn the miles needed to fly. The American Airlines and US Airways cards both offer 50,000 point sign up bonuses. These two types of miles combine into your American Airlines account early next year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 3.35.18 AM

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

We know that The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate, some time in the second quarter of 2015. That means that the chance to earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

All US Airways miles not redeemed on the US Airways chart by the time of integration will become American Airlines miles, and American Airlines has committed to not devaluing its award chart at the time of combination. The two types of miles are roughly equal in value. Getting both cards now and meeting both spending requirements means you will have at least 103,000 American Airlines miles in early 2015.

Cathay Pacific Business Class serves fascinating destinations like Southeast Asia, the Maldives, and Australia.

There are better products in the world (like Cathay Pacific First Class for instance), but for excellence, cheapness, ease of finding award space, and ease of getting the miles, I anoint Cathay Pacific Business Class the best premium cabin product in the miles world.

  • Where does Cathay Pacific Business Class fly?
  • How can you book it?
  • How many miles do you need?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • Why is booking Cathay Pacific Business Class then changing to First Class a good deal?

5 1182

The purchase of American Airlines miles is now processed by American Airlines itself, meaning that you can use your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to purchase American Airlines miles and redeem Arrival miles to eliminate the purchase price.

Or you can use a card that earns bonus miles on American Airlines purchases like the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®, CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, or Sapphire Preferred, which all earn 2x miles on American Airlines purchases.

Previously purchases of American Airlines miles were handled by points.com, so you couldn’t redeem Arrival miles to offset a purchase, nor would you earn bonus miles for purchases of American Airlines miles because no card offers bonus miles for purchases from points.com.

  • What is the proof that AA processes the miles purchases now?
  • How can you currently buy 125,000 AA miles?
  • Which other airlines and hotels process their own miles/points sales and which don’t?

7 335

American Airlines and US Airways are both running sales on the purchase of their miles through January 2, 2015.

For now, your American Airlines miles and US Airways miles will sit in separate accounts, and you can redeem them on separate charts, with different routing rules, and slightly different partners. Some time between April and June 2015, your US Airways and American Airlines miles will be combined into your American Airlines account, and the American Airlines chart, partners, and rules will control.

That means the chance to buy both kinds of miles at a discount could be a way to eventually have one huge American Airlines balance. Similar reasoning has led me to recommend getting the American Airlines and US Airways credit cards before the US Airways program disappears.

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

We know that the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will no longer be offered to new applicants as soon as the US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer programs integrate. That means that the chance to earn 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase will disappear soon. Check out all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus.

 

From the credit cards, you could have 103,000 American Airlines miles next year. From the mileage sales, you could add another 250,000 miles. But is buying the 250k miles a good deal?

  • How expensive are the US Airways miles?
  • How expensive are the American Airlines miles?
  • How long do the sales last?

23 397

Updated 12/4/14 because the bonus on the US Airways card has increased to 50,000 miles after first purchase!

American Airlines and US Airways are currently offering huge sign up bonuses on their co-branded credit cards. While the miles will temporarily go to separate accounts, everyone’s American Airlines and US Airways miles will be combined in early 2015 as part of the airlines’ merger, so that you can earn enough miles for a round-the-world trip just from opening three credit cards.

Getting all three cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $6,001 will earn you 156,000 American Airlines miles when your US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts combine in the second quarter of 2015.

  • What timing rule should you follow on the applications?
  • What can you do with 156,000 American Airlines miles?
  • What is the one other killer benefit of the American Airlines personal card?

10 136

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® is a business card that offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club lounge passes after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 1.51.10 PM

This card is in addition to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® personal card which offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club Passes after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

You can hold both cards at the same time to take advantage of earning American Airlines miles for your personal and business spending, but you cannot be approved for both on the same day. The collected wisdom is to put at least 8 days between applications for cards issued by Citi.

The Business card is actually better than the Personal card for accruing miles because it has two unique benefits:

  • 2x AAdvantage miles at certain office supply merchants, telecommunications merchants, and car rental merchants
  • 5% mileage bonus when you renew your card

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® offers a huge sign up bonus, nice category bonuses, and a great mechanism to encourage renewal.

The card also comes with a free checked bag on American Airlines flights and priority boarding.

  • How does the category bonus work?
  • How does the 5% mileage bonus work?
  • What are the other benefits of the card?
  • Are you eligible for this card?

11 45

The calendar is turning to Summer below the equator, and it’s not too late to book yourself an award to escape the cold in the United States.

Many airlines release unsold seats as Saver award space in the last weeks, days, or even hours before a flight. I searched for award space between Miami and several South American cities on American Airlines for the next few weeks to see what American’s pattern of last-second award space will be this South American Summer.

American Airlines miles have the best award space to South America on American Airlines and LAN Airlines flights. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

If you got the card today, and spent $3,000 on it in the first month, you’d have 53,000 American Airlines miles around the New Year. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Northern South America including Peru and just short of the 60,000 miles needed for a roundtrip to Southern South America.

  • What is the award space to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and more for the next few weeks?
  • What is the award space in economy, business, and first class?
  • Where can you search and book this award space?

American Airlines, United, Delta, and US Airways all release several co-branded credit cards with various benefits, bonuses, and fees.

I have attempted to summarize the following cards on one table for easy comparison:

I consider these to be the “basic” personal card for each of the four legacy carriers in the United States. Each airline also has a lower-tier cards which earn miles at a lower rate and come with no sign up bonus. And several of the airlines have higher tier cards that come with gigantic annual fees and even better benefits. But these are the four basic cards.

  • Which cards have the best sign up bonus?
  • Which have the best benefits?

Japan's Cherry Blossoms

Today I was with my friend as she applied for two credit cards. Her knowledge of miles and points is average for an American, which is to say, it’s almost non-existent.

The questions she asked me while we talked about which cards she should get were illuminating. They reminded me of a few facts that I’d like to drill into beginners’ heads. Please forward this post to anyone who has ever expressed interest in miles and points or envy at the way you travel.

My friend told me that she wanted to collect miles to go to Japan and London in economy. For Japan, the best miles are American Airlines miles because you can fly on American or Japan Airlines, and for six months per year, the price is only 25k miles each way. For London, many miles are roughly equal including American Airlines miles, which allow you to fly to Europe for 20k miles each way seven months per year.

Japan's Cherry Blossoms
Japan’s Cherry Blossoms

I suggested that she open the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® at the same time to earn 93,000 American Airlines by early next year by taking advantage of the merger between American Airlines and US Airways.

She accepted the advice, but she had a lot of questions.

  • What does she have to do to combine the miles?
  • What if the spending requirement is too much?
  • Will I see her financial information if she applies for the cards through links on my site?
  • What are the fees associated with the cards?
  • Will canceling these cards in the future cause her to forfeit the miles?
  • How can she check her credit score?
  • Should she close other credit cards she has?
  • How can she book her award tickets?

17 168

I went to Angkor Wat this February, and I was blown away.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.22.44 PM
View from Inside Angkor Wat

The 900 year-old Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia is up there on the list of the most impressive historical sites I’ve visited with Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

And it isn’t just Angkor Wat. The rest of the Angkor Temples like Angkor Thom and Banteay Srei are just as amazing and all within a short drive of the very lively Siem Reap.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.21.25 PM
Admiring a Gate of Angkor Thom

Beyond the destination, Southeast Asia happens to be one of the best places to go with miles in a premium cabin for five reasons.

  1. It’s super cheap! American Airlines charges just 55k miles one way in Business Class or 67.5k miles one way in First Class
  2. Cathay Pacific–an American Airlines partner–has one of the world’s best Business and First Class products.
  3. Award space is abundant in Cathay Pacific premium cabins.
  4. The flight between the United States and Hong Kong is around 16 hours, meaning you get to fully enjoy your flights and arrive rested.
  5. The  Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® are both offering huge bonuses, the two types of miles will be combined in early 2015, and American Airlines has committed to keeping the cheap prices I just quoted at the time of combination.
IMG_0052
Lounging in Cathay Pacific First Class

Right now is an amazing time to plan a 2015 vacation with luxurious flights to Angkor Wat.

  • Where can you search Cathay Pacific award space?
  • How can you book Cathay Pacific award space?
  • What are the very regular rules that Cathay Pacific Business and First Class award space follow?

16 122

Machu Picchu is one the few places in the world that can’t be over-hyped. Seriously, no matter how high your expectations are when you get there, I don’t think you can be disappointed.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.42.34 AM

Even on my third visit, watching the sunrise over the mountains was spectacular.

So how do you get to Machu Picchu with miles?

It’s actually very easy. The best miles to get to Machu Picchu are American Airlines miles. You can fly to Cuzco, the nearest airport, roundtrip for 35,000 American Airlines miles. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, so no excuses about not having the miles.

You cannot completely search for your award to Machu Picchu on aa.com, though, so make sure you are searching the right place.

  • Where can you search for award space to Cuzco?
  • How can you book the American Airlines award?

11 65

Are you better off using Avios or American Airlines miles for a trip to South America?

I’m at the beginning of probably nine months of travel, with almost no flights booked and only the vaguest sense of where I’ll head and how I’ll get there. I’m having an absolute blast in Bogota, Colombia, so I think I want to go to Cali or Medellin, Colombia after a quick trip back to the United States.

I am looking at flying from Philadelphia to Colombia in about two weeks, and my most convenient options–one stop in Miami versus 2+ stops–are on oneworld flights. I can book those flights with American Airlines miles, British Airways Avios, or cash.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 12.36.49 AM

Things are complicated further by close-in ticketing fees, Cash & Avios awards, my point valuations, and my mileage balances, so I thought what better way to tease out the best value than a little early-morning math!

Even if you never want to go to Colombia (big mistake!) or you mainly focus on miles other than American and British Airways, this post should illuminate how to decide which miles to use for a certain trip and whether to use miles at all or just to pay cash.

  • Which is the best value to Colombia: AA miles, BA miles, or cash?

Off peak awards allow us to stretch our miles further by booking discounted awards to select regions during certain pre-determined dates. Off peak awards are offered by several airlines, and this post will put all the off peak awards I know of in one place.

While off peak awards are often less desirable dates, there are some off peak dates that are actually my favorite times to visit a country. For instance, March is a fantastic month in Argentina, and you can book an award to Buenos Aires or Bariloche every March for 10,000 fewer American Airlines miles than if you travel in July, a worse time to visit in my opinion.

Bariloche, Lake District of Patagonia, in March

American and US Airways have set off peak awards every year to select regions. Air France Flying Blue and Lufthansa Miles & More have discounted awards that are kind of like off peak awards. United and Delta occasionally have award sales that are like off peak awards, but are not as regular as American and US Airways’ off peak awards.

  • What are the off peak awards offered by American, US Airways, Delta, United, Lufthansa, and Air France?
  • What dates are they offered?
  • Do you have to fly the airline offering the deal or can you fly a partner?

Update: The deal died within an hour of this post. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook to avoid missing these time-sensitive deals.

American Airlines’ best Business and First Class is on its new 777-300ERs. Both cabins feature flat beds.

Business Class on 777-300ER

There is almost never award space on any of its routes.

American has added a second daily 777-300ER from Los Angeles to London to its schedule for next year.

The flight was loaded into the schedule today, and as often happens, there’s a bit of a glitch and many days next spring have 6 First Class award space.

  • How many miles does the award space cost?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • How can you book the award space?
  • How long will this last?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

Fiji is a year-round tropical destination, known for its beaches, diving, and hiking.

Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton
Fiji Beach Resort and Spa Managed by Hilton

Fiji Airways (formerly Air Pacific) flies from Los Angeles and Honolulu to Fiji. You can book Fiji Airways award space with American Airlines miles.

American Airlines charges:

  • 37,500 miles each way between the United States and Fiji in economy
  • 62,500 miles each way between the United States and Fiji in business
  • Fiji Airways does not fly a first class.

You can book a simple roundtrip to Fiji with American Airlines miles. Or you can combine your trip to Fiji with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, or anywhere else in Asia for only 12,500 miles more.

Screen Shot 2014-11-01 at 1.52.02 PM

  • How can you combine Fiji and another destination for only 12,500 miles more? Which destinations?
  • When is the best time to go to Fiji and what is the award space then?
  • How can you search Fiji Airlines award space? How can you book it?
  • How can you get American Airlines miles?

Follow Me

Featured Posts