9

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Loyal reader Drew sent along an amazing targeted offer he received to continue spending on his Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard (which is what US Airways cards turned into after the US Airways/American Airlines merger.)

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If he spends $500 per month on his card in August, September, and October, he’ll get 15,000 bonus miles!

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.51.33 PM

That means for a total of $1,500 in spending, he will earn 16,500 miles, which is 11 American Airlines miles per dollar!

The email came to Drew with the subject “Earn 15,000 bonus miles with your card!” Check your email for a similar offer if you have a Barclaycard American Airlines card.

Barclaycard seems to recognize that fact that its US Airways card (now American Airlines card) is not great for ongoing spending and offers frequent promotions to encourage us to get in the habit of regular spending on the card. These offers are targeted, but it seems like everyone eventually gets targeted for one or more:

Is This a Good Promo?

Yes, Drew should definitely take advantage of earning 15,000 bonus American Airlines miles for spending $500 per month for three months. It works out to 11 miles per dollar, which is on par with meeting the minimum spending requirements on some of the best sign up bonuses.

These aren’t just any old miles either. American Airlines miles are my favorite miles because they are great for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

Similar Promos on Other Barclaycards

Barclaycard also puts out similar targeted and frequent bonus offers on its other cards like the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® (up to 7x on certain categories for a few months) and Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® (15,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $750 in three consecutive months.)

How Can You Get Targeted?

I asked Drew some follow up questions to see what might have triggered his targeting.

He told me that he got his US Airways card in August 2013 and didn’t really use it after his first purchase.

He was offered this promotion in 2014 right when his annual fee was due in August, and now he’s being offered it again right when his annual fee is due in August 2015. I see a pattern!

Don’t cancel your card early. Hold it until just before the annual fee is due to see if you’re targeted.

Recap

The AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard has a targeted offer for 15,000 bonus miles after spending $500 per month in the next three months. If you’ve been targeted, take advantage.

If you haven’t, keep checking for the frequent targeted bonus mile offers this card offers for ongoing spending.

If you don’t have the AAdvantage Aviator Red Mastercard, you can NEVER get it. It is a vestige of Barclaycard’s relationship with US Airways and the US Airways/American Airlines merger. You can, however, get the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®, which offers 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 2.52.22 PM

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Earn 75,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $7,500 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines Admirals Club membership for super-cheap economy awards and ultra-luxury First Class awards.

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Right now, you cannot apply for an Arrival Plus, the card that normally offers 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in three months, which is worth $456 in free travel, and 2.28% back on all purchases. See my full breakdown of the Arrival Plus.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 3.01.51 AM

When the Arrival Plus is re-released soon, it will have four negative changes according to Mommy Points:

  1. Current cardholders get a 10% rebate on miles redeemed to offset travel purchases (How to Redeem Arrival Miles). That will drop to 5% for new cardholders. This drops the value of an Arrival mile from 1.14 cents to 1.075 cents. I guarantee every other blogger gets this valuation wrong. See this post for the math.
  2. The minimum redemption will increase from 2,500 miles for $25 off of a travel purchase to 10,000 miles for $100 off a travel purchase. This will greatly increase breakage (the inability to redeem all your miles) or increase engagement with the card as people try to get to 10,000 miles.
  3. The definition of “travel” will lose “tourist attractions,” which means that what we can redeem our Arrival miles against will decrease slightly. I’ll have a full post when we know the new definition of travel purchases.
  4. The free TripIt Pro subscription for cardmembers will end.

For existing cardholders, these changes will begin in November 2015 if you got the card on September 30, 2014 or earlier, and in August 2016 if you got the card on October 1, 2014 or later.

All of these changes stink, but overall they’re not huge changes.

I have stopped using my Arrival Plus because I prefer my Citi ThankYou® Premier CardThe Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Points can be redeemed for 1.25 cents toward any flight, or they can be transferred to 11 airlines. Plus the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card offers 3x points on travel purchases and 2x on dining out and entertainment.

Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 7.36.03 PM

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

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

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

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

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

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

American Airlines AAdvantage Miles

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

Delta SkyMiles

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

 

United MileagePlus Miles

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

 

Alaska Mileage Plan

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

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Miles

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

British Airways Avios

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

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 6.40.36 PM

 

Southwest Rapid Rewards

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

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

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

11

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I got a US Airways MasterCard just before the program disappeared, merged into the American Airlines AAdvantage program. Today, I activated the card–a card which theoretically earns miles in a defunct program.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 9.43.33 AMI’ve gotten a lot of tweets, emails, and messages from others who opened the card just recently and haven’t yet earned their 50,000 mile bonus. They’re all wondering how and if they’ll get their bonus.

Yes, with 100% certainty, I could say that if you stood to get a 50,000 US Airways miles bonus from this card, you will get a 50,000 American Airlines miles bonus. How could I be so sure before doing any investigation? A credit card company that offered a 50,000 mile bonus and then didn’t give you one would open itself up to huge penalties from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Now that I have the card, I did a little investigation. I called the number on the back and asked how my miles would be deposited into my US Airways account, since there are no US Airways accounts anymore. The first agent said she’d connect me to the rewards department to provide my American Airlines number, so that a new American Airlines number wasn’t created for me. She actually connected me directly to American Airlines AAdvantage customer support, so I hung up.

I called back, and I told the next agent that my US Airways and American Airlines accounts are already linked. Did I need to do anything else to get my bonus miles into my American Airlines account once I’ve earned them? She said no.

I said, “So you basically report my miles to US Airways, which automatically puts them in my American Airlines account.” She said yes.

We’ll see. Ordinarily after my first purchase on a US Airways card, I’d get 50,000 bonus miles the day that my credit card statement closed. It will be interesting to see whether I get the miles in my American Airlines account at the same time, whether Barclaycard creates a new American Airlines account for those 50,000 miles, or whether there is a delay.

I’m not sure how it will play out exactly, but I know I will eventually get 50,000 American Airlines miles as a bonus. No credit card company reneges on its bonus offers.

Getting More AA Miles

American Airlines miles are super easy to get.

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

The business version, the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard®, also comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This card comes with 2x miles on select business purchases and a 5% miles bonus on renewal. One person can have both cards, which would be 106,000 American Airlines miles after meeting the minimum spending requirements.

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

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2
from Wikipedia

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In a recent Free Credit Card Consultation, Matt wrote:

Goal: April 4 – 7 from Chicago (preferably ORD) to San Francisco Bay Area for 2 adults. Ideally, we’d like to fly both ways (economy or business) and stay at a hotel entirely on points earned from new and current cards. Thank you for your help! We love your website and plan on using your Award Booking Service in the future – especially for international adventures.

from Wikipedia
from Wikipedia

Here’s my response:

There’s a lag time when earning miles. You need to get the card, meet the spending requirement, then get the miles concomitant with the next statement closing, then redeem. So it is too late to get miles for a trip in April.

The exception is the Arrival Plus. You can use this card to charge flights and hotels and soon as the card arrives in the mail next week. Then after you meet its minimum spending requirement and your bonus miles post, you can redeem those miles to retroactively remove the flights/hotels charges. Each one of you who gets the card can take $500 of your flights/hotels bill. Any flight. Any hotel.

So basically as long as he can front the initial hotel and airfare expenses, Matt and his travel partner can eventually get $1,000 off those expenses. There’s no other card you could open right now that would definitely be useful for this trip because the lag time in getting other cards’ miles is too long.

Matt and his travel partner need to:

  1. Both open their own Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days.
  2. They each need to spend $3,000 on their new cards in the next 90 days. Part of this spending can be on their flights to San Francisco and hotels. (Here’s how to book the cheapest flights.)
  3. Since the card earns 2x miles per dollar on all purchases, and the bonus is 40,000 miles, they’ll each have 46,000+ Arrival miles.
  4. The can redeem Arrival miles against their flights. If the flights were $400, they’d redeem 40,000 miles online and then get 4,000 miles (10%) rebated automatically. Now they’d each have 10,000 miles to redeem for $100 off hotels, Airbnb, and more. That’s $500 total saved by each person or $1,000 off the cost of the trip.

Here’s the full post on Three Steps to Get $500 in Free Flights, Hotels, and Car Rentals from the Arrival Plus Card.

If Matt didn’t follow this advice and instead opened, say, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card, here’s what would happen:

  • Both cards arrive in a week, let’s say March 5. While he had 90 days to meet the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus because he could use the bonus miles retroactively, he needs to meet both these spending requirements in the first month because he needs the miles and points before using them. He spends $5,500 in the first month between the two cards.
  • His statement closes a month after he gets the card, say April 5. His points post about the same time.
  • He has 53,000 American Airlines miles and 97,500 Club Carlson points, but he missed his trip, which was set to start April 4.

Bottom Line

The right card depends on where you want to go and in what cabin; it also depends on when you want to go. The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® earns a big sign up bonus–40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days–that can be used retroactively to erase charges from your statement. That means you can get the card now, and then use the miles after you earn them for travel costs incurred before you earned the miles.

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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Arrival miles can be redeemed for any travel expense like any flight (no blackouts), taxes and fees on award tickets, hotels, airbnb, car rentals, cruises, and more. After the 10% rebate on all travel redemptions and the fact that you earn 2 miles per dollar on the purchase before you remove it from your account with a redemption, this card offer 2.28% back toward travel on all purchases.

Barclaycard has put out a video about how to redeem Arrival miles, which I think is a smart move. The incredibly simple process is still widely misunderstood, and this 1 minute video should clear that up. (Of course, I don’t think any blog readers here are confused because I’ve published How to Redeem Barclaycard Arrival Miles with step-by-step screen shots.)

A couple things to note about the video:

  • It mentions you earns 2x miles on travel purchases. On the no-annual-fee Arrival card, you earn 2x on travel and 1x on everything else. On the Arrival Plus, you earn 2x miles on everything.
  • They mention that 2,500 miles = $25 statement credit. True, but with the Arrival Plus, you also get a 10% rebate on miles redeemed for statement credits to offset travel. So the net is 2,250 miles = $25 statement credit.
  • There is a tiny, tiny error in the simulated redemption that $1,122.22 = 112,222 miles. They actually round up to the nearest 100 miles: 112,300 miles. As I said, tiny.

Right now the Arrival Plus is offering 40,000 bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases in the first three months. Because it also earns 2 miles per dollar on all purchases, just meeting the minimum spending requirement gives you 46,000 Arrival miles. Because of the 10% rebate on travel redemptions, having 46,000 Arrival miles is worth more than $500 in free flights, hotels, car rentals, or other travel expenses. The Arrival Plus is the card I put all my spending on that can’t earn a category or sign up bonus. I always carry it–even abroad because there are no foreign transaction fees.

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Meeting the minimum spending requirement on the Arrival Plus give you about $500 worth of free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® eliminated foreign transaction fees.

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That’s interesting to me because the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® still has a foreign transaction fee of 3%.

The foreign transaction fee on any given card doesn’t matter to me because I just need one card that doesn’t have the fee, and I have several including the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card and Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which are the two cards I carry when I travel.

The main reasons to get the US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® are still the 50,000 mile sign up bonus after first purchase and the fact that the ability to get that bonus will go away in the next few months when the American Airlines/US Airways merger is complete.

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6

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I can earn 5,000 bonus Arrival miles if I spend $1,500 per month in January, February, and March on my Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® offers 2 miles per dollar on all purchases. This would be another 5,000 miles for $4,500 in spending (or 1.11 bonus miles per dollar), so it would bring my total to 3.11 Arrival miles per dollar on all purchases during the duration of the offer.

Arrival miles are worth 1.14 cents each toward flights, car rentals, hotels, airbnb, the taxes on award tickets, and a lot more travel expenses. That means during the promotion I’d be getting 3.55% (3.11 * 1.14) back toward travel expenses.

  • Is this a good deal?
  • Were you targeted? For the same or a different version of the offer?

On December 23, I got an email with the subject line: “Earn 5,000 miles with your card!” Check your email and spam for a similar subject in case you missed it. You might even want to try the search with “10,000” and “15,000” instead of “5,000” for reasons I’ll explain below.

Screen Shot 2015-01-13 at 6.46.46 PM

The email didn’t indicate that registration was necessary.

Will I Participate?

No. My offer is tiny. It’s just over 1 extra mile per dollar. I’m better off optimizing my spending across my credit cards since $1,500 per month represents a ton of the money I normally put on credit cards. (Plus I’ll be in Argentina for all of January and February where using credit cards is a good way to pay 50% more than you need to.)

In the past, Barclaycard has run similar promotions on the Lufthansa and US Airways cards. The amount of bonus miles and amount of spending required per month has varied, but they’ve all been better than my offer here.

If this targeted Arrival mile offer that I received has several different versions including some with more generous miles and lower spending requirements, the lucky folks who got those offers should be more inclined to participate than I am.

Share in the comments whether you got an offer, and if it was different than mine.

Arrival Plus Info

The Arrival Plus is a great card for families, economy travelers, people who don’t want to pay their award taxes out of pocket, and anyone who likes airbnb.

Anyone planning to use Arrival miles for flights will stretch his Arrival miles further by finding cheap flights. Master setting Kayak Price Alerts as explained here to stretch your Arrival miles further on flights.

Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days

  • Earn 40,000 bonus miles if you make $3,000 or more in purchases in the first 90 days from account opening. 40,000 bonus miles equates to $400 off your next trip!
  • Earn 2X miles on all purchases
  • No mileage caps or foreign transaction fees
  • Get 10% miles back when you redeem for travel (i.e. redeem 25,000 miles for travel and get 2,500 miles back)
  • Use miles for a statement credit toward any airline purchase to any destination with no seat restrictions and no blackout dates
  • Easily redeem your miles for statement credits toward flights, cruises, car rentals, hotels and more
  • Complimentary subscription to TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer – a $49 annual value!
  • Complimentary FICO® Scores as a benefit to active cardmembers. Opt-in to have instant and convenient access to FICO® Scores from your Barclaycard online account.

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

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11

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A friend passed along an article from Time.com that advocates doing something I’ve done a few times, but not described:

You can often get a cheaper price on a cash ticket if you book the ticket in foreign currency through airline’s website designed for use by people in another country.

For instance, you can save about 35% on a roundtrip from Santiago, Chile to Easter Island, Chile booking in Chilean pesos through the LAN Chile website instead of in dollars through the LAN USA website.

I’ve noticed similarly cheaper flights using Colombian websites intra-Colombia and, most notably, Argentine websites intra-Argentina.

It’s easy to search the foreign websites, easy to translate them to English, and easy to pay with a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, so this is a trick everyone should be using.

Searching Foreign Websites

I recommend starting at the ITA Matrix. There you can quickly search for flights while toggling the “Sales city.” I searched Santiago to Easter Island roundtrip in April twice.

The first time I left “Sales city” blank, which defaults to departure city.

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.23.26 PM

The second time I put Washington DC for the “Sales city” to see what the price would be on American websites.

Washington DC as a sales city led to a price of $616.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.23.53 PM

Santiago as a sales city led to a price of CL$242,586.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.24.24 PM

That is $393 or a 36% discount on the price designed for Americans.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.25.01 PM

You can continue to select different sales cities and might find a cheaper price, but generally the cheapest price will be the foreign country where the flights are.

To get the price in pesos, head to lan.com. Along the top, you’ll see United States (English) as the default selection.
Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.25.49 PM

Change it to Chile. This will give you a Spanish-language site of course.

Getting the Foreign Website into English

If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you’ll be asked whether you want to translate the page to English.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.26.07 PM

Going through the purchase steps, I was able to replicate the price of CL$242,586.Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 1.27.42 PM

Avoiding Foreign Transaction Fees

The last step would be to purchase the ticket with a card with no foreign transaction fees to avoid being dinged 3% on top of the $393.

If you want a free ticket, purchase the flights with your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® and then redeem Arrival miles to remove the $393 purchase from your statement. See how to redeem Arrival miles.

If you want to earn 3x ThankYou Points per dollar, use your Citi Prestige® Card, which also gets you $250 in free flights per year. See my review of the Prestige.

 

If you don’t have either, you can also get 2x ThankYou Points per dollar on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card or 2x Ultimate Rewards on the Chase Sapphire Preferred, both without foreign transaction fees.

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

  • $250 Air Travel Credit each year
  • Complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay
  • Earn 30,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after $2,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
  • Earn 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment
  • 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

 

 

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Update 5/4/15: The 50k offers are dead.

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Getting both cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $3,001 will earn you 103,000 American Airlines miles when your US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts combine in the second quarter of 2015.

What Can You Do with 103,000 American Airlines Miles?

1. Take a Round-the-World Trip

a. For 87,500 miles, you can take a round-the-world trip with stops in Tokyo, Mumbai, and Paris.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.57.35 PM

b. For 95,000 miles, you can take a trip to Chile, Australia, and back.

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.59.33 PM

2. Take Your Friend Somewhere

  • 2 roundtrips to Europe (80,000 miles from Oct 15 – May 15 each year)
  • 3 roundtrip to South America (90,000 miles to Peru and north most of the year)
  • 2 roundtrips to Japan or Korea (100,000 miles Oct 1 – Apr 30 each year)
  • almost 3 roundtrips to Hawaii (105,000 miles half the year)
  • 4 roundtrips to the Caribbean or Alaska (100,000 miles to Alaska year round or Caribbean Sep 7 – Nov 14 each year)

South America is as little as 30k miles roundtrip, Europe 40k roundtrip, Asia 50k roundtrip, Africa and Australia 75k roundtrip, and the Middle East and India 90k roundtrip. For the full chart, see here.

Sunset over Waikiki

3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class

  • 67,500 miles is enough to fly one way from the United States to anywhere in East Asia in First Class on Cathay Pacific, which is my second best flight ever.
  • 90,000 miles is enough for one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives in Etihad First Class
IMG_0052
Stretching out in Cathay Pacific First Class

4. Head to the South Pacific

American partners with Fiji Airways, Air Tahiti Nui, and Qantas, so it has the best miles for the South Pacific. American charges only 37,500 miles each way in economy, 62,500 miles each way in business class, and 72,500 miles each way in First Class. (Qantas First Class looks unreal.)

Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific

 

5. Machu Picchu in a Bed

60,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Northern South America in business class. That means you can fly to anywhere in Peru–like Machu Picchu–with both directions in fully flat beds on a 787 Dreamliner on American Airlines-partner LAN Airlines.

I talked more about this award in depth here. The only drawback with this award is that once you experience flying in a fully flat bed, you might not ever want to go back to economy!

American has the biggest route network from the United States to Latin America and partners with LAN and TAM, the biggest airlines in South America, so American has the most and best award space to South America

Wow! Machu Picchu

6. Europe in Business Class

100,000 miles is enough for a roundtrip from the United States to Europe in business class. Several American Airlines partners fly to Europe with fully flat beds. I wrote about American’s Los Angeles to London route featuring flat beds in business class here. The newest planes feature an on-board bar in business class, pictured below.

How Exactly Do You Get the 103,000 Miles?

You apply for one American Airlines personal card and one US Airways card.

You make a single purchase on the US Airways card and receive 50,000 bonus miles after your first statement closes. You spend $3,000 in the first 3 months on the American Airlines card and earn 50,000 bonus miles.

The bonus miles plus the spending add up to 53,000 American Airlines miles and 40,000 US Airways miles.

You cannot combine these miles, but…

Your American Airlines and US Airways frequent flyer accounts will be automatically combined in early 2015 as part of the merger between the two airlines. At that point, you’ll have 103,000+ American Airlines miles.

Other Benefits Besides the Sign Up Bonus

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with my favorite feature by far of any airline credit card. While you’re a cardholder you’ll get a 10% miles rebate on all your American Airlines award redemptions up to 10,000 miles rebated per calendar year.

That means that if you booked a roundtrip award ticket to Tahiti with your American Airlines miles while you were a cardholder for 75k miles, you’d get 7,500 miles back for a total cost of only 67,500 miles roundtrip!

With these cards, you can mentally take a 10% discount on all award prices. Now Europe is only 18k miles each way, a business class bed to Machu Picchu is 27k miles each way, and Cathay Pacific First Class is 60,750 miles each way.

If you redeem the 103,000 miles next year, that’s another 10,000 miles rebated because of this benefit.

The benefit is automatic, no enrollment necessary. Here’s my experience with the rebate.

I value the 10,000 extra miles a year at about $180, so this is a huge ongoing benefit to me and one reason that I hold a Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®.

The 10% rebate on awards is in addition to a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying American Airlines, Group 1 boarding to get that overhead bin space, a 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and double miles on American Airlines purchases.

The The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with a free checked bag for you and four companions when flying US Airways, Zone 2 boarding to get that overhead bin space, and double miles on US Airways purchases.

Full Offers Rundown

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

 

  • For a limited time, earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Group 1 boarding and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Double AAdvantage® miles on eligible American Airlines purchases*
  • Earn 10% of your redeemed AAdvantage® miles back – up to 10,000 AAdvantage® miles each calendar year*

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

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

 

  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 50,000 bonus miles after your first purchase and payment of the $89 annual fee*
  • First checked bag free on eligible bags for you and up to four companions on domestic US Airways operated flights
  • One companion certificate good for up to 2 guests to travel with you on a US Airways operated flight at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flightsRedeem miles for award travel on US Airways and American Airlines booked through usairways.com or US Airways Reservations
  • Earn miles on every purchase with 2 miles for every $1 you spend on US Airways and American Airlines purchases and 1 mile for every $1 on purchases everywhere else
  • New! Receive a 25% savings on eligible US Airways and American Airlines in-flight purchases
  • Please see terms and conditions for complete details

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

Recap

You can earn 103,000 American Airlines miles in the next few weeks by:

  1. Applying for the American Airlines and US Airways cards.
  2. Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on the American Airlines card and making a purchase on the US Airways card
  3. Waiting until early 2015 for your American Airlines and US Airways miles’ balances to be combined.

Once you have the cards, you can enjoy the 10% rebate on the miles needed for AAdvantage awards up to 10k miles per calendar year and other benefits like a free checked bag and priority boarding on both airlines.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months

 

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying $89 annual fee

 

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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 being here, there is a rewards card or cards that suit your needs.

Want Bed Head at 35k Feet? There's a Card for That
Want Bed Head at 35k Feet? There’s a Card for That

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 30 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Hiking the Great Wall of China with my brother
  • Straddling the line between North and South Korea
  • Watching dragons dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong
  • Eating more steak than anyone should in Brazil and Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Seeing Angkor Wat near Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM
2013 Flights

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.

  • How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams?
  • What are the best credit card offers for September 2014?
  • Which of the cards on the list expire in the next few days?

1. Ink Plus

Limited Time Offer

The Ink Plus is a business card that is temporarily offering 70,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. The normal sign up bonus is 50,000 points. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, Amtrak, and more.

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

This offer on the Ink Plus does NOT waive the $95 annual fee for the first year.

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

2. Citi American Airlines MasterCard

Citi offers the American Airlines MasterCard with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in three months.

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

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

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

3. US Airways Premier World MasterCard

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is now offering 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase. US Airways miles are the most valuable miles right now because of how cheap business class awards are on the US Airways award chart.

Here are all the places you can go with just the sign up bonus on this card!

The other big perks are a 5,000 mile discount on awards booked entirely on US Airways metal and a free checked bag for you and four companions on paid US Airways flights purchased with the cards.

The card earns 1 US Airways mile per dollar on all purchases and 2 miles per dollar on US Airways purchases.

There is an $89 annual fee.

US Airways has an incredible award chart to use the miles now, or they will be converted to American Airlines miles during the merger, which is a fair conversion.

This card will disappear in early 2015 when US Airways’ and American Airlines’ loyalty programs combine. Any miles you have will be safe and converted to American Airlines miles. Don’t miss out on getting this card and its bonus before the merger is complete.

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

4. Citi ThankYou Premier Rewards Card

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card offers 20,000 bonus points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and an additional 30,000 bonus points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember. That’s 50,000 bonus ThankYou points total.

Citi just announced that ThankYou points transfer to nine airlines and one hotel.

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

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

I also love this card’s big category bonuses like 3x on entertainment and dining.

The card has no annual fee the first year, then $125.

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

I just got my Citi ThankYou Premier Rewards card in February, and I have not had a chance to use the rewards yet.

5. Arrival Plus

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have used my Arrival miles on a recent trip to book a motel and domestic flights like a $150 trip from Raleigh to Tampa that would have been a poor value with traditional miles. I also used my Arrival Plus recently to book myself a free Airbnb stay and to pay the taxes on an award booked with traditional miles.

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

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

Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®

6. Sapphire Preferred

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

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

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

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

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 $500 or more per night.

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

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

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

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

Application Link: Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

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

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 50,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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

9. British Airways Card

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

The card comes with 2.5 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1.25 Avios per dollar on other purchases.

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.

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The 50,000 mile bonus offer has returned on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® from Barclaycard.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 6.17.27 AM

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® now comes with 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. After meeting the spending requirement, you’ll have enough Lufthansa Miles & More miles for a roundtrip in business class to Europe.

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 6.17.37 AM

We’ve seen the same bonus run three times in the last two years, and it has been overwhelmingly popular. The normal bonus on the card is only 20,000 miles.

On the earning side, I think every aspiring traveler should get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® for its:

  • sign up bonus
  • frequent targeted category bonuses
  • potential secondary spending bonus

Beyond the 55,000 miles you’ll get for spending $5,000 on the card in the first three months, occasionally the Lufthansa Miles & More card offers targeted category bonuses. For the first three months of 2014, I earned 3 miles per dollar at grocery stores with my Lufthansa card. Others were targeted for 6 miles per dollar.

And many of us also were offered 15k Bonus Lufthansa Miles for Spending $500 or $750 Per Month for Three Straight Months on the card.

With these promos, I earned over 73,000 Lufthansa miles on the card in less than a year.

On the redemption side, Lufthansa Miles & More miles can be used on any of the 27 Star Alliance airlines including United, Lufthansa, and Air New Zealand. There are three types of awards where Lufthansa miles shine:

  1. Mileage Bargains awards (30k miles roundtrip to Europe in economy, 55k miles roundtrip to Europe in Business Class)
  2. Awards without fuel surcharges (Alaska, Hawaii, domestic, Caribbean, Central America, and South America)
  3. Awards you can’t book with United miles (Lufthansa First Class more than 15 days in advance, Condor flights)

But the card is not for everyone. It depends on how you want to redeem the miles because for some awards, Lufthansa miles are a terrible value.

In this post, I will go in detail on the three classes of high value awards with tons of specific examples to show the best uses of the 50,000 mile sign up bonus.

This post is also a full primer of the Miles & More program for people who don’t know much about it and explains how to book online and by phone, two ways to save miles on a Miles & More booking, and comparisons between Miles & More and United MileagePlus.

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Barclaycard sent me a targeted email because I have The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. My email offers me 2 bonus miles (3x total) at gas stations, restaurants, department stores, toy stores, and game stores until December 31, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-10-03 at 5.44.20 PMCheck your email now for the subject line “Three easy ways to earn bonus miles.” In past promotions, US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® cardholders have been offered 2x to 10x bonus miles, so you may have a higher earning rate than me.

  • How can you activate the bonus categories?
  • What’s the cap on bonus miles earned during the promotion?
  • Will the US Airways card crack the Three Cards in My Wallet?

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Update: Mileage sale extended until 10/3/14.

Today (September 30, 2014) is the last day that you can get 1.52 Avianca LifeMiles on all purchases by using your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

This is a big flipping deal!

The Arrival Plus is already the most valuable card for economy redemptions since its 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and 10% rebate on all travel redemptions means you effectively get 2.28% back toward flights on any airline with no blackouts. This technique–which dies today–makes the Arrival Plus also the best all-around card for business and first class redemptions.

The technique in this post is an incredible way to turn Arrival miles, which are worth a fixed 1.14 cents each, into traditional airline miles that can be used for valuable international business and first class itineraries.

Now Get into Beds, like United Global First, with Arrival Miles

To me, the technique in this post makes the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® much more valuable because no other card earns 1.52 traditional airline miles on all purchases, and the LifeMiles award chart offers tons of great values for premium cabin awards on Star Alliance partners like:

Maybe you’ve never heard of LifeMiles, but they are actually fantastic for international awards. The only reason they’re not better known is because they’re normally hard to obtain.

LifeMiles awards never contain fuel surcharges, just government taxes plus a $25 award booking fee. You can book all 27 Star Alliance airline with LifeMiles.

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 2.48.37 AM

Getting more than one-and-a-half miles per dollar on such a great award chart is quite a deal, and that deal ends today.

  • How can you get 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all Arrival Plus purchases?
  • How can you book LifeMiles awards?
  • What are the highest value LifeMiles awards?
  • Is earning 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar better than 2 Arrival miles per dollar?

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Don’t try to optimize your credit card strategy for every last mile. I only carry three cards right now.

About two weeks ago, I made a large deposit in my Kiva account to meet the minimum spending requirement on my Citi Executive American Airlines card.

That spending unlocked 100,000 bonus miles (offer now dead), so for three months I had been putting all my spending on the Executive card.

Screen Shot 2014-09-25 at 10.03.44 PM

Now that I am not clearing any sign up bonuses, though, I have taken the Executive card out of my wallet. Its 1 American Airlines mile per dollar on day-to-day spending doesn’t entice me when I have several cards that earn a higher return. I’ll put the card back in my wallet whenever I travel for the free American Airlines lounge access that came with the card’s $450 annual fee.

In the Executive Card’s place, I have put three cards in my wallet that come close to optimizing all my spending while keeping things very simple for me. This is the balance I advocate instead of “optimizing” your credit card strategy to earn every last mile at the expense of cluttering your wallet and brain.

  • What three cards are in my wallet?
  • What is the benefit of each card?
  • How many more miles could I earn by adding more cards to my wallet?

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