How to

19

One of the most common reasons why people think frequent flyer miles are worthless is because they had a bad experience with miles expiring. After all the effort put into collecting miles, it would be quite a shame if they expired without taking you on a dream vacation.

If you’ve ever had any of these questions, you are in the right place for answers: How long do you have until your miles expire? What can keep them from expiring? If you close a credit card, do the miles expire? Are the rules the same for all miles and points? Answers to the these FAQ are addressed below.

Will closing my co-branded card cause my miles to expire?

Closing a credit card that is co-branded with an airline (such as the Citi AAdvantage card or Chase United MileagePlus Explorer card) will never, by itself, cause your miles to expire. Co-branded credit cards deposit the miles you earn from signup bonuses and spending directly into the account you have with the airline, so they are no longer linked to the credit card. I have an AAdvantage Citi Business card. You can see the section to the bottom of the screenshot of my credit card account that is dedicated to my AAdvantage miles accumulation.

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If I click the View Miles Earned, it will redirect me to the AAdvantage home page. 
Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 2.46.46 PMThat means the accounts are separate– the miles earned with the Citi AAdvantage card are automatically transferred to American Airlines.

And I confirm that by logging into my AAdvanatge account. So if I ever cancelled that card, the miles would still be safely in my AAdvantage account.

What will cause my miles to expire?

What does cause miles to expire, however, is a lack of activity in the program account for a specified period of time.

Examples:

  • Aeroplan miles expire after 12 consecutive months of account inactivity
  • American Airlines, United Airlines, and Hawaiian Airlines’ miles expire after 18 consecutive months of account inactivity
  • British Airways Avios expire after 36 consecutive months of account inactivity

Miles that Expire Despite Account Activity

Etihad Guest miles expire two years after the last day of the month in which they were earned- despite whether or not there is account activity (unless you have status–then they last three years). ANA and JAL follow similar policies– they expire 3 years after the month in which they were earned.

All Asiana miles earned after October 1, 2008 will expire seven to 12 years after accumulation (depending on your status). All Korean SKYPASS miles earned after July 1, 2008 will expire 10 years after accumulation.

Those are the only commonly used miles I know of that have an expiration policy apathetic to account activity. If you know of others, let us know in the comments.

Miles That Never Expire

  • Delta
  • JetBlue

Full details on the expiration policies for some major airline loyalty programs can be found here:

The danger of mile expiration does often come when you cancel a credit card. If I cancel my Citi AAdvantage card, I am no longer earning American Airlines miles on purchases. I have to make sure that there is some sort of activity–either earning or redeeming–in my AAdvantage account within the next 18? months, or I will lose all my miles.

Luckily keeping your miles from expiring is trivially easy. Any earning or redeeming keeps them active.

How can I keep my miles from expiring?

If you are coming up on the 18 month deadline and need a way to keep your miles active, there are a number of things you can do.

  • Dining programs: Signing up for dining programs allows you to earn miles when you eat out at certain restaurants. Read more details on how to use dining programs to keep your miles active here.
  • Purchase miles: Purchasing miles is normally a bad idea, as you end up paying more than the value of the mile. However, if you need to keep your miles active, you can purchase a small number of miles in the program you need to keep active. United charges $70 + 7.5% tax for 2,000 miles for example. Google “purchase [airline] miles” to quickly be taken to any airline’s mile purchase page.
  • Donate miles: All the major carriers allow you to donate miles to non-profits such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Operation Hero, UNICEF, and various other charities. While this is best done out of the goodness of your heart, a donation of miles will also keep your account active. Learn more about donating miles here.
  • Flying: These seems like an obvious one, but if your miles are danger of expiration, don’t foret to input your frequent flyer number when booking a revenue ticket with the airline or one of its partners. The activity from earning miles will extend the life of your account.
  • Shopping Portals: Shopping portals allow you to earn miles by making your normal online purchases through your favorite online stores. Just by starting at the loyalty program’s portal and using its link to your favorite online retailer, you can get extra miles for your purchases.
  • Move some transferrable bank points: You can’t normally move points around willy nilly between mileage accounts (there are some exceptions– but it’s not the norm). But points like Citi ThankYou Points, Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints are a different story entirely. They do transfer for free to dozens of types of airline miles, at which point they become those airline miles. The influx of miles is activity that counts towards extending the life your miles.
  • Watch out for free giveaways and/or promotions, like this AAdvantage one from Rocketmiles I wrote about last month.
  • Rent a car: for example, you can earn AAdvantage miles by renting a car through aa.com. This is the case with many major airline loyalty programs.

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What if my miles have already expired?

Hopefully you are reading this before your miles expire. If, however, you let your miles expire, some programs let you buy back the miles you lost for a fee. These reactivation policies vary from program to program.

For example, American Airlines allows you to reactivate any miles that expired dating back to 2002. They charge $200 for up to 50,000 miles, $400 for up to 75,000 miles, and $600 for 75,000+ miles. Alaska Airlines will even let you buy back expired miles for only $75–any amount of miles– for up to one year after they were deleted.

In general, buying back your miles is a good deal. But of course it’s better not to let your miles expire and have to pay the fee. To keep track of all your loyalty programs and miles balances, try Award Wallet. It will help you keep tabs on the expiration dates.

What about my bank points?

All that was about frequent flyer miles. Bank points are quite different.

Closing a credit card that earns bank points can cost you all of the points in the account. These cards hold the points that you earn in the credit card account–for example, the Ultimate Rewards points that you earn using your Chase Sapphire Preferred card are held in your Chase Sapphire Preferred account. If you were to simply cancel this card, you would lose all the points you worked to accumulate.

Luckily, transferrable points are easily transferred to another account within that loyalty program. In order to avoid losing transferable points when you cancel a card, transfer them into another account within that loyalty program before you cancel.

In our example of canceling a Sapphire Preferred, you would need to transfer your Ultimate Rewards into another account of yours that holds Ultimate Rewards to avoid the points disappearing. You could achieve this by transferring them into your Chase Ink Bold account or your Chase Ink Plus account. Just be careful before doing this, because sometimes it doesn’t work and is only a temporary solution, like in the case of cards that earn Citi ThankYou Points. Let’s say before you canceled your Citi Prestige, you moved the ThankYou points earned by that card to your Citi Premier ThankYou Account. That would extend the life of those points by 90 days, but they would expire nonetheless after that point.

Of course, you could always transfer bank points to one of the airline, hotel, or rail partners, but just make sure the program you transfer to is a type of mile you find valuable and useful.

Bottom Line

Frequent flyer miles do not expire when you close the credit card used to earn them, but they do usually expire after a set number of months of inactivity within that airline’s loyalty program account (and in some cases with foreign programs, they expire despite account activity after a set amount of time).

In order to keep the majority of your miles from expiring, do anything that changes the account balance like redeeming miles, signing up for a dining program, purchasing miles, or donating miles. If you accidentally allow your miles to expire, some airlines allow you to reinstate them for a fee.

Transferable bank points will disappear from your account when you close the credit card used to earn them. In order to avoid losing these points, transfer them to a transfer partner or another account within that bank’s loyalty program before you close the credit card.

Don’t want to worry about your miles expiring? Collect Delta Skymiles or JetBlue TrueBlue points

The JetBlue Plus Barclaycard earns 30,000 TrueBlue Points after spending just $1,000 on the card within the first three months of opening the account. 

While I can not directly link to current JetBlue 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.)

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Let’s talk about how….you did it! Those fireworks are for you!

You passed Redeeming American Airlines Miles 101. You should now have the basic tools to accrue and spend tons of American Airlines to destinations all over the world.

“Redeeming American Airlines Miles” Series Index

Now, let’s talk about the highlights of what we have learned. Below are key points drawn from each post in this series. I recommend reading each post individually to get a full understanding and complete details.

Part 1 — 5 Ways to Stretch American Airlines Miles on Economy Redemptions

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American Airlines miles are currently one of the most valuable airline miles for economy awards because of off peak awards. During some months of the year, your favorite destination can cost up to a 1/4 fewer miles to travel to.

All of the following examples are for one way in economy from the United States:

  • To Europe during January 10 – March 14 or November 1 – December 14: 22,500 miles
  • To the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America from April 27 – May 20, September 7 – November 14: 12,500 miles
  • To China and Hong Kong for most of the year: 32,500 miles
  • To Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Colombia and Manaus, Brazil from January – June, and September – November: 17,500 miles

It also only costs 7,500 miles to fly America Airlines anywhere in the Contiguous 48 U.S. states & Canada that is (≤ 500 miles) away.

Part 2 — 6 Ultra-Luxurious First Classes to Book with American Airlines Miles

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As far as the three US legacy carriers go, it is almost always cheaper to use American Airlines miles to fly one of its awesome partners’ First Classes than it is to use United miles to fly one of its partners’ First Classes. You can’t even use Delta to miles to book a three-cabin First Class.

  • Japan Airlines First Class for 80,000 between the US and Japan
  • Cathay Pacific First Class for 110,000 between the US and China, Hong Kong, and Southeast Asia
  • Malaysia Airlines First Class for 90,000 between Kuala Lumpur and London
  • Etihad First Class for 62,500 between Europe and the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives
  • Qantas First Class for 62,500 between London and Dubai
  • British Airways First Class for 80,000 between London and South Africa

However, First Class awards took the biggest hit with American Airlines’ devaluation.  So if you can, look to use Alaska miles, Korean miles, or Singapore miles instead for First Class awards.

Part 3 — Where to Search Award Space for All PartnersScreen Shot 2016-07-05 at 8.34.02 PM

Searchable on aa.com

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • airberlin
  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian

Here’s how to search aa.com.

Searchable on ba.com

  • Cathay Pacific
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM Airlines
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qatar Airways
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines

Here’s how to search ba.com.

Must Search Elsewhere

  • Air Tahiti Nui and Gulf Air award space is searchable on Expert Flyer.
  • Etihad Airways award space is searchable on etihad.com.
  • Fiji Airways award space is searchable on alaskaair.com.
  • Jet Airways and Seaborne award space is only searchable by calling American Airlines.

Part 4 — Award Rules and How Many Miles You Need

If your award is a single, direct flight, you can just read the price of the flight off one of American Airlines’ two award charts:

Otherwise, how does the award price? That’s where American Airlines’ award routing rules come into play:

  1. Stopovers are not allowed on American Airlines awards.
  2. The airline that operates the flight that connects the two regions must have a published fare for your origin and destination city pair.
  3. Your trip must not exceed AA’s Maximum Permitted Mileage for your origin and destination by more than 25% as flown.
  4. Awards between Region A and Region B cannot transit Region C unless specifically allowed.

Part 5 — Taxes, Fees, and Fuel Surcharges

Three most important things to remember about taxes, fuel surcharges, and fees:

1. Premium cabin awards that originate in the United Kingdom are the most expensive. Avoid those–see List of Award Taxes from Major Cities in Europe so you can plan a return to the US from a low tax country.

2. American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on award flights operated by British Airways (outrageously expensive) and Iberia (can be reasonable).

3. 21 is the magic number. There is a $75 fee to book an award within 21 days of departure or to change departure date to a date less than 21 days away. Both fees are waived for elites. However there is no fee to change the date of an award more than 21 days in advance.

Part 6 — Redeeming for Domestic Awards

Domestically, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines flights. Award space on both airlines is searchable on aa.com. American miles can book all the exact same award space that Alaska opens up to its own members at the Saver level.

New as of March 2016: For direct flights only on American Airlines planes that fly a distance less than or equal to 500 miles within the continental 48 U.S. states and Canada:

  • 7,500 miles each way in economy
  • 15,000 miles each way in First Class on a two-cabin aircraft (almost all aircraft) and in Business Class on three-cabin aircraft

In general, you should mainly be using American Airlines miles for international awards and booking domestic awards with Avios or Southwest points.

Part 7 — Redeeming for HawaiiScreen-Shot-2013-06-11-at-10.15.24-PM

To Hawaii, American Airlines miles can be redeemed on:

  • American Airlines
  • Alaska Airlines
  • any combination of the two

As of September 1, 2015, American Airlines miles cannot book Hawaiian Airlines flights between the mainland and Hawaii. AA miles can still book interisland flights on Hawaiian and flights between Hawaii and Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

Award space to Hawaii is highly seasonal on all airlines, and it lines up well with American’s Off Peak dates (which have cheaper award prices).

Part 8 — Redeeming for East and Southeast Asia

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Business and First Class awards from the United States to Japan and Korea, in terms of duration and partner product (Japan Airlines), have the best value on the new American Airlines award chart.

Prior to their devaluation, American’s under-pricing of awards to Southeast Asia relative to its competitors was one of the main reasons that American miles were the best miles to Southeast Asia. Now I recommend using Alaska or Etihad miles instead if you have them (SPG and ThankYou Points both transfer 1:1 to Etihad Airways), because you can book awards to Asia with either of those miles at the same prices American had pre-devaluation.

Cathay Pacific premium cabin award space, which is useful to China and Southeast Asia, is widely available 11 months out and within a week of departure. Japan Airlines Business Class award space is available on all its routes if you have date flexibility. American’s own flights have good economy award space, but Business and First Class are spotty unless you can book far ahead of time or within a few days of departure.

Part 9 — Redeeming for Middle East and Indian Subcontinent

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American is not the leader to the Middle East and India because of its pricing as much as its partners. American partners with two of the big three Middle Eastern carriers, Etihad and Qatar. Add in the other Middle Eastern and Indian partners, and American really has a lock on the region (i.e. the best award space to the Middle East and Indian Subcontinent by far).

I find award space to be excellent on Etihad. This is my go-to airline when I am looking for award space for MileValue Award Booking Service clients to the Middle East and India. With flexibility, you can find two seats in any cabin. In my experience, Qatar award space is not as strong as Etihad award space.

Part 10 — Redeeming for Australia and New Zealand

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American Airlines miles have access to incredible economy award space to Australia and New Zealand flying Qantas and American Airlines from the continental United States. You can also redeem AA miles on Hawaiian from Hawaii easily with tons of economy award space (but US->Hawaii->Australia would price as two awards). Unfortunately Business and First Class award space redeemable with AA miles is incredibly hard to find across the board, although it does exist.

Part 11 — Redeeming for South America

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American Airlines flies more routes from the United States to Central and South America than any other carrier–by far! You can also use partner LATAM (previously LAN and TAM until May 2016) to fly pretty much anywhere you’d want to go within South America.

Award space varies by destination and season, but the general pattern on American Airlines flights is OK economy award space and poor Business and First Class award space that gets slightly better the last few weeks before departure. I also notice that there is often better premium cabin award space from South America to the United States than from the United States to South America.

LATAM’s award space from the United States to Peru, Colombia, Argentina, and Ecuador is pretty bad, but to Chile and Brazil. And LATAM intra-South American award space is consistently pretty good.

Part 12 — Redeeming for Europe

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Redeeming to Europe is not the best use of American Airlines miles because award space isn’t great, and American collects fuel surcharges on two partners to Europe. But there are routes with no fuel surcharges and good award space that you should know about.

Here are the American Airlines partners with direct flights from North America to Europe:

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
    • not worth it, huge fuel surcharges
  • Iberia
    • Iberia charges moderate fuel surcharges, has great economy award space, and OK Business Class award space as long as you book in advance
  • airberlin
    • Airberlin has the best award space of these three partners
  • Finnair

Part 13 — Redeeming for Africa

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It is not the best use of American Airlines miles to redeem to Africa because award prices are high, and there is only partner you can really use while avoiding fuel surcharges (Qatar). But if you’re rolling in the AA miles, Qatar does have excellent economy and Business Class award space.

Part 14 — Redeeming for Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, and French Polynesia

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American Airlines partners with Fiji Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui to offer the best options to these distant Pacific Islands. Both have wide open economy award space, but for premium cabin award space you’ll have a lot better luck with Air Tahiti Nui.

American Airlines is not partners with Air Tahiti, a different airline than Air Tahiti Nui which only flies a few long haul flights. To travel within French Polynesia (to places like Bora Bora or Moorea) you’ll need to purchase flights on Air Tahiti.

So What’s Next?

Your mileage education is never complete. The miles and points hobby is ever evolving, so check back daily at this blog, and sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts. You should now have the basics down and can understand the more complicated posts. You can also follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.

Bottom Line

After reading this entire series you should be equipped with the knowledge to start redeeming American Airlines miles to numerous locations around the globe. So start collecting!

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles and Admirals Club lounge membership, among other awesome benefits, after spending $5,000 in the first three months.Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

By meeting the $5,000 total spending requirement you’ll earn at least 65,000 American Airlines miles. Read about 11 cool things you can do with that sign-up bonus.

Still don’t feel like applying the knowledge? We’ve got you covered. Just contact my Award Booking Service  by filling out this form and we’ll get to work for you.

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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19

Aeroplan is Air Canada’s spun-off loyalty program. Aeroplan.com is an awesome search engine that displays award availability on almost all Star Alliance flights.

You should know how to use aeroplan.com whether or not you ever plan to redeem Aeroplan miles because you shouldn’t necessarily search the website of the miles you’re using. You should just search the website that is easiest and best at displaying award availability. Any award availability shown at aeroplan.com will be bookable with Aeroplan, United, Singapore, ANA, Lufthansa, and Avianca miles.

Aeroplan.com is usually my backup search engine. I start my searches for Star Alliance award space at United.com because you can search without signing in, its two-month calendar is useful, it shows most partners, and it’s pretty good at finding available space.

I also use the ANA search tool to if I want to be sure whether there is space on an award segment or not because it is the most accurate Star Alliance search engine. Complete guides on how to perform those searches can be found here:

There are a few instances, however, when it makes sense to search for Star Alliance award availability on aeroplan.com:

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Star Alliance members courtesy of staralliance.com

Aeroplan’s search engine has also been programmed better than United’s to find itineraries with multiple connections. I frequently find award space on aeroplan.com for two or three layover itineraries that I did not find on united.com. That’s why I always search aeroplan.com before moving on to more complicated segment-by-segment searching.

  • How do you go about searching for award availability on Aeroplan.com?
  • Are there any limitations when using Aeroplan.com?
  • If United.com is flawed, why shouldn’t you just use Aeroplan.com for all Star Alliance searches?

Searching for Award Availability on Aeroplan.com

If you aren’t already a member, the first thing you’ll need to do is enroll in the Aeroplan reward program, which you can do here or by clicking on the link shown below.

Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 8.17.05 PMThe process is no different than signing up for other rewards programs–just some basic information. Once you’ve completed the registration process, you’ll automatically be signed in, and you’ll want to hover over “Use Your Miles” and click “Travel.”

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You’ll then be on the Travel Reward Search page. Select roundtrip or one way, your departure and arrival cities, the dates you want to fly, the number of passengers, and the flight cabin of your preference.

For the purposes of this tutorial, I am going to search for a flight that isn’t displayed on united.com: Singapore to Bali, Indonesia on Singapore Airlines. For example, when I search on united.com, I am given the following result:Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.21.54 PMOn Aeroplan.com, I plugged in all my information and checked the little box beneath the dates that says “My dates are flexible.” This will bring up a calendar of availability above the results for a single day.

Once all the information is filled in, click “Search.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.22.38 PMNow on the Search Results page, you’ll see that award availability is wide open in both economy and business/first the entire month of November between Singapore and Bali. You can switch the calendar view to show Business/First availability instead of economy by selecting it in the drop down menu:
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Scrolling down the same page, you’ll see that there are multiple flights from Singapore to Bali on November 9 on Singapore Airlines.

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United.com didn’t show any of these flights!

If you’re planning on using Aeroplan miles for this trip, you would select your flight times and click “Book.”Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 1.39.58 PMIf you are not using Aeroplan miles, simply note down the flight numbers, dates, and cabins of all your flights.

Once you decide which Star Alliance member’s miles you want to use for this trip, you will simply call their rewards booking number and feed the agent all the information for your flights. In this case, the prices displayed on aeroplan.com are not the number of miles you’ll use. Consult the award chart of the airline whose miles you are using.

Aeroplan.com Limitations

There are a few things United.com does well that Aeroplan does not:

  • You can’t see a full two month calendar of availability in economy and premium cabins on Aeroplan.com like you can on United.

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Aeroplan just shows two weeks in a single cabin at one time. 

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  • You can’t search specifically for direct flights on Aeroplan.com like you can on United.com.
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On the Advanced Search page of United.com
  • You can’t see availability in all cabins at the same time on aeroplan.com. It’s as simple as toggling the drop down menu from economy to Business/First, but is an extra step nonetheless.

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  • You have to sign in before searching for award availability on Aeroplan.com. The two extra clicks you need to get to the search screen is a big deterrent if you do a lot of award searches like me– not to mention the time it takes to register if you don’t already have an account.

Should You Always Use Aeroplan.com?

Despite United.com’s downfalls of being slightly worse at multi-segment searching and not showing any Singapore Airlines award space, I think it’s still the better search engine for finding the majority of Star Alliance award availability.

The bottom line is no search engine is perfect. As evidenced above, there are a few significant reasons why Aeroplan.com is not as useful as United.com when searching for Star Alliance award availability.

Yes, you can see more Star Alliance partners on Aeroplan.com, but the ease of searching on United outweighs that factor.

Bottom Line

While not the go-to search tool for Star Alliance flights, Aeroplan.com is a great backup to know how to use.

When looking for Singapore Airlines award space, use Aeroplan.com as it does not show up on United.com

When you do a search that you know will take many segments, like Las Vegas to Prague, and united.com shows no availability, search on aeroplan.com before beginning to search segment-by-segment.

Ultimately, both sites have flaws, but along with the ANA search tool, your arsenal for finding availability on Star Alliance flights just got more powerful.

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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45

Update: I Followed the Exact Steps in This Post to Buy My Friend a Business Class Ticket for $1,040
Update 2: LifeMiles are now on sale for as little as 1.4 cents each through September 30, 2015, which allows you to follow the steps in this post.

The Citi Prestige offer mentioned in this post is expired. See the new offer and analysis here.

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You can consistently buy one way Business Class tickets between the United States and Europe for around $1,000, even at the last minute. The tickets take a little bit of planning, and a little bit of know-how, but let me emphasize “little bit.” If you normally buy economy, Premium Economy, or Business Class tickets between the United States and Europe, read this article so you can save 75% or more off your next ticket.

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You can book this flat bed on the upper deck of a Lufthansa 747-8 for $1,000 one way

Of course, it is better to just open one of the top travel rewards cards and use the sign up bonus for a free one way trip to Europe (plus $5.60 and up in taxes), but some people travel too much to use open a credit card for all trips or cannot open American credit cards with their huge bonuses.

For those people, there is a way to buy Business Class tickets between the United States and Europe for about $1,000 each way.

Three Steps

  1. Sign up for an Avianca LifeMiles account and select a country of residence in Europe.
  2. Buy 26,400 LifeMiles during the next 120% bonus for $396.
  3. Book a Business Class trip to Europe, for 26,000 LifeMiles plus $587+.

The Steps Broken Down

1. Sign Up for a LifeMiles Account

Sign up for a free LifeMiles account here. Do it now even if you don’t want your $1,000 ticket for months. Do it now even if there’s only a 10% chance you’ll ever book one of these tickets. Signing up before a sale (Step 2) starts is a prerequisite to be eligible to purchase miles during a sale.

When signing up, select a country of residence other than Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador, United States, or Colombia. During the most recent sale (Step 2), accounts registered in these countries got a 100% bonus on miles purchased. Accounts from other countries got a 120% bonus.

Why sign up for LifeMiles? LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, a Colombian airline that is a member of the Star Alliance. You can use Avianca miles to book awards on all Star Alliance members including United, Lufthansa, Austrian, Brussels, TAP, Turkish, and other airlines with service to and within Europe.

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Of the many types of Star Alliance miles you can use for awards to Europe, LifeMiles stand out for how cheaply it sells miles, allowing for ~$1,000 one way Business Class tickets to Europe.

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Flat Beds on Lufthansa 747-8
2. Buy 26,400 LifeMiles during the next 120% bonus for $396

You can always buy LifeMiles for 3.3 cents each. Every few months, LifeMiles offers a bonus on the purchase of miles of at least 100%. The most recent bonus was from May 5 through May 29, 2015 and was a 100% bonus for the countries listed above and a 120% bonus for the rest of the world. That made the price 1.5 or 1.65 cents per mile total.

If the next sale is identical–I bet it will be–you can buy 12,000 miles with 14,400 bonus miles (26,400 total) for $396. Or if for some reason you’ve signed up with an American address, you can buy 13,000 miles with 13,000 bonus miles (26,000) for $429.

Why 26,000 or 26,400 miles? Because a one way Business Class award costs 63,000 LifeMiles, but LifeMiles allows awards to be booked with 40% of the necessary miles–26,000 in this case–by putting up cash to pay for your miles discount (Step 3).

I will cover the next sale on MileValue, so check back daily or sign up to receive one free daily email with all of the day’s posts.

During the sale, you should purchase 26,000 miles for each one way Business Class ticket you think you’ll want to book in the next few months, since the sales only pop up every few months. There is a limit of 150,000 miles purchased per calendar year including bonus miles during sales, so you are limited to booking five Business Class one way tickets per account per calendar year. But you can always open multiple accounts, since LifeMiles accounts can always be used to book tickets in anyone’s name.

3. Book a Business Class trip to Europe, for 26,000 LifeMiles plus $587+

To book a LifeMiles ticket, sign into your account and click “Air Tickets” under “Enjoy.” Notice I bought 98,000 miles during the last sale.

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Search for your cities, date, number of passengers, and cabin.

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Ideally the search reveals award space on several options like this search for award space from Washington DC to Frankfurt for next Monday reveals.

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However, award space is far from guaranteed (as I’ll discuss below in the caveats section.) Not all flights have award space in all cabins.

Once you’ve decided on your flight, select it and at the bottom of the screen, toggle “More Money” to the maximum. This will change the price from 63,000 miles and $0 to 26,000 miles and $557.10.

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Clicking “Continue” takes you to the screen that shows the total price, which will include all applicable government taxes and a $25 booking fee. One way flights from the United States to Europe with no connections in Europe have only $5.60 in taxes.

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We paid $396 for the 26,000 miles in Step 2, so for a one way Business Class flight from the United States to Europe, the all in price of this method is $396 + $587.70 = $983.30! How else can you consistently get Business Class tickets to Europe for under $1,000?

Awards from Europe to the United States will have higher taxes. I was talking to a friend about an award from Tallinn, Estonia to Chicago.
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That award has $59 in taxes, so the total price is $396 + $641.03 = $1,037.03. That’s an outrageously good deal for a flat bed, lounge access, and free food and drinks.

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To figure out the taxes for your one way award from Europe to the United States, check this list of award taxes from Europe sorted by departure city. The worst departure point in Europe is Great Britain. A one way from London to the United States in Business Class has $309 in taxes, so the total cost is $396 + $891.46 = $1,287.46 for a one way in Business Class.
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And how about an economy ticket? LifeMiles charges 30,000 miles one way, so you can book them with 12,000 miles (40% of the price) plus a cash copay. A one way in economy from the United States to Europe costs 12,000 miles ($165) + $313.85 or $478.85. You can often find cash tickets for this price, so I wouldn’t bother buying LifeMiles to book economy tickets to Europe.Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 2.46.57 PM

I also wouldn’t buy LifeMiles for First Class tickets to Europe because LifeMiles cannot book Lufthansa or Swiss First Class, two excellent products. Your only option would be United First Class, which is really not much better than United Business Class.

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Sleeping soundly on the flat bed of a United 767-400 in Business Class

Caveats

I hope you’re excited, but don’t rush off to Step 1 without reading these important caveats:

  1. These are the current prices from LifeMiles, but the only thing certain with miles is eventual devaluation. One day, LifeMiles will charge more than 63,000 miles one way in Business Class. When that happens, you don’t want to be stuck with a lot of miles in your account. That’s why you should go slowly and only buy enough miles to cover your very likely trips. Even then, you cannot completely eliminate devaluation risk.
  2. There is not award space on every flight in Business Class. You could buy the miles and then not be able to use them when you want to use them. However, I think this is only a minor concern because there is award space on most days from the United States to Europe with Avianca miles as long as you book within a few weeks of departure, which is when I assume most people who routinely book paid Business Class book their tickets. Here is award space from Washington DC to Frankfurt for the next five weeks. All green and blue days have Business Class award space for one passenger.
    Screen Shot 2015-06-24 at 2.41.54 PMThis is peak time and space is almost perfect. Space is barely worse to other cities in Europe because intra-Europe space is a gimme. Space is a bit worse to the west coast of the United States and much worse if you need to book more than two seats on the same flight.
  3. Every flight of a LifeMiles award must be in the same cabin. If you want Business Class across the Atlantic, you must also fly Business Class intra-Europe and United First Class (considered a business class) within the United States. This isn’t much of a problem intra-Europe, since almost all planes have Business Class, but there are many one-cabin planes in the United States operating to small airports. These cannot be booked with LifeMiles on a Business Class award. To see if your route is affected by this silly rule, go to united.com and search your award. Any award with a “Mixed Cabin” icon is off limits.

Bonus

Buy your LifeMiles in Step 2 and book your ticket in Step 3 with a Citi Prestige® Card for $250 off the first purchase and 3x points on all purchases. With the Citi Prestige® Card, the first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the LifeMiles miles purchases and award purchases.

The card also comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, international lounge access, and a host of other features.

Bottom Line

For most people, the best way to get transatlantic Business Class is to open credit cards and use the sign up bonuses for the free flights.

For businessmen who fly the routes too often to get all free tickets and ordinarily pay $4,000 to $8,000 for a roundtrip in Business Class, there is a back up plan. Buy LifeMiles and book Business Class awards for around $1,000 each way.

Nerdy Expansion of Search Techniques that You Can Skip

Further information on searching LifeMiles.com and picking the best plane:

Even when award space does exist, LifeMiles’ search engine may miss it if you select a “Smart Search” like I did in the screen shot of the search screen in the searching section. If your Smart Search reveals nothing, go to united.com to search for award space (here’s how), and return to search on lifemiles.com by specifying the airline you want to fly. LifeMiles should be able to book any awards on united.com that have a blue button in the Saver column other than space on Aer Lingus.

You may also want to use united.com to find the airplane operating each flight because certain Lufthansa aircraft are better than others. For instance, the 747-8 has flat beds in Business Class, while the 747-400 has angled beds.

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You can see whether your Lufthansa flight has the “new” flat beds or “old” angled beds in Business Class on this site. All United, Austrian, Swiss, and Air Canada Business Class has flat beds.

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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18

Every day people come to my Award Booking Service with a few hundred thousand Lufthansa miles and want to fly a Business Class award to Europe. Or worse, they come with 20,000 Turkish miles, 20,000 Lufthansa miles, 20,000 United miles, and 20,000 Asiana miles.

The problem is that most people blindly credit the frequent flyer miles they are earning from paid flights to the airline they’re flying, racking up the wrong kind of miles for the redemptions they want to make. It seems to make sense to credit to the airline you’re flying, and of course the airline you’re flying pushes you to do this. But you shouldn’t blindly credit your miles to the airline you’re flying.

Instead, you should credit miles to the partner that gives you the most valuable miles for the flight.

For instance, today I am flying Turkish Airlines from Vilnius to Belgrade. It’s about 1,500 miles in the air.

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I could credit those miles to Turkish’s Miles & Smiles program, but that would be dumb because Turkish’s program has poor redemption values and because these would be my only Turkish miles, so they’d eventually expire unused.

Instead, I can credit the miles to the frequent flyer program of any Star Alliance carrier.

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I am active with several of these programs, namely United, Avianca, Lufthansa, Singapore, Air Canada, and Copa.

How to Credit to a Partner

You usually have five chances to credit to a partner program:

  1. At ticket purchase
  2. By phone before flying
  3. At check in
  4. At the gate
  5. After the flight

You just need to get your partner frequent flyer number onto the ticket one time at any of those stages. I hadn’t been able to input a frequent flyer number when I purchased this ticket through an online travel agency, but at check in, I was given a dropdown menu with all Turkish’s partners and a chance to input my frequent flyer number.

Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 1.10.41 PMOnce added, the miles from the flight should automatically credit to the account you selected some time after travel completes.

Choosing the Right Partner to Credit to

I mentioned that I am active with several Star Alliance programs. How did I choose where to credit the miles from today’s flights?

The miles maximizing answer is to look up how many miles your journey would earn with each program and multiply it by the value you place on miles in that program.

You can google “earn [mileage program] [airline you’re flying]” to get to a page like this United MileagePlus earning table for Turkish flights:

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The cheapest economy fares earn 0-75% of mileage flown if you credit to United. With LifeMiles, you earn a few more miles with C, D, K, E, Q, and T fares. (All these letters represent fare buckets.)Screen Shot 2015-07-10 at 1.20.28 PM

Most of the time by looking at your emailed receipt, you can see the fare bucket, but I actually can’t find mine. I could call and ask, but I value my time too highly to make a phone call for an extra few hundred miles.

In the end, I tried to credit to United because I hadn’t even looked up these charts until writing this post, but the Turkish online check in and gate agent’s computer both rejected my United frequent flyer number. So I added my Avianca number. Hopefully I earn credit for the flight, though I suspect my sub-$100 fare might be in buckets W, G, or P and earn me zero mileage credit. (No big deal. I actually didn’t even have to pay for the ticket because it was covered by the $250 Air Travel Credit on my Citi Prestige® Card.)

Bottom Line

Don’t mindlessly collect miles that will be of low redemption value. Don’t collect miles in several different frequent flyer programs in the same alliance when you’d be better off collecting all your miles in one account.

Put a little thought into adding a partner frequent flyer number to your ticket to collect the most and most valuable 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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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47

I often use the ITA Software Matrix, which is one of the most useful tools to search for available flights and low fares.

First, go to matrix.itasoftware.com.

Type in your home airport and destination airport. You can use airport codes like JFK (New York-JFK) or even city codes like NYC (which includes JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark.)

For this example, let’s look at JFK to Honolulu.

ITA Matrix is awesome, in that you can type in all kinds of commands like which airline you want to fly. In the example above I wrote HA into the boxes, which means ITA Matrix will only return Hawaiian Airlines results. I did that because Hawaiian has a direct flight from JFK to Honolulu. If you leave that blank, all airlines will be returned.

After the cities, you can search the standard way by typing in departure and return dates or the way I prefer. I prefer to search certain length trips one month at a time for the lowest fares by selecting “See calendar of lowest fares.” I’ve asked the ITA Matrix to search for 3-8 night itineraries leaving in the month of January.

After you click “Search” you will be taken to a calendar displaying the lowest fare departing each day. You can ignore fares in light blue (though $447 is still a great price). You are targeting the cheapest days, which are in bold orange.

Clicking on a particular date will bring up the lowest prices departing on that date and returning 3-8 days later. Once you have found a comfortable length of time, click to display the flight.

Unfortunately the ITA Matrix is only for finding airfares. You don’t have the ability to book directly through this site. Write down the dates and flight numbers that work for you, and book directly through the airline site or online travel agency you prefer.

I use ITA Matrix because a quick one-minute search can show me a month at a time on a specific airline or all airlines. Then I can go the airline’s site, select seats, and purchase easily.

Best Card to Purchase Airfare?

Instead of using cash, you can use credit card points to book free flights. Buy the cheapest flights you find on ITA Matrix with credit card points you got for free for opening a card and meeting its minimum spending requirement.

The best one is the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which has a sign up bonus worth $625 in free flights on any airline with no blackouts.

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My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

 

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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14

A reader writes that he used 8,010 Arrival miles to avoid paying the annual fee on his Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®, which comes with 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3k in the first 90 days.

Arrival miles are completely unlike airline miles. Arrival miles are:
  • worth a fixed amount toward any travel redemption (1.11 to 1.14 cents) unlike regular miles which are redeemed according to a region-based award chart
  • equally good for hotel, car, flight, and cruise (and more) redemptions unlike regular miles which are only good for flights
  • able to be redeemed retroactively for up to 120 days unlike regular miles which you need to have in your account before booking your flight

In my last post about redeeming Arrival miles to buy American Airlines miles for zero cash, a ton of people were confused, so I suggest everyone read How to Redeem Barclaycard Arrival Miles.

Beside the obvious flights and hotels, I’ve shown that Arrival miles can be redeemed for:

A longtime reader just emailed me about a new use for Arrival miles that I didn’t know. His annual fee showed up on the page where travel purchases are listed.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 1.10.33 PMHe selected to remove his $89 annual fee for 8,900 miles. Like all other travel redemptions, he was immediately credited his 10% rebate on redeemed miles, which was 890 miles. That meant the net cost for not paying his annual fee was 8,010 Arrival miles.

Is this a good use of his Arrival miles?

Arrival miles are worth a fixed value, so all uses are good uses of Arrival miles as long as the thing for which you are redeeming is a good deal with cash.

The ability to redeem Arrival miles for the annual fee is good news for people with the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

I can basically count my Arrival miles as cash as long as I have enough purchases counted as “travel purchases” to redeem all my miles for them. Adding to the list of things that count helps. Of course, the definition of travel purchases is already so broad, and I travel so much that this is not a problem for me. Just the other day, I made two redemptions to knock $75 off my statement balance and reduce my mileage balance to 300 Arrival miles.

The Arrival Plus is one of three cards I travel abroad.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 1.43.46 PMHere’s my full review of the card and why I got the Arrival Plus, which has a sign up bonus worth $500 in free travel.

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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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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16

When you get deeper into the world of opening rewards cards to get free or luxury travel, there is an inevitable amount of bookkeeping that comes with managing your credit cards.

You have to track:

  • when you opened each card
  • when the annual fee is due on each card
  • how much you’ve spent toward the minimum spending requirement associated with the sign up bonus
  • when each statement closes
  • when payments are due on each card
  • category bonuses

While that looks like a lot to track, and may seem daunting, I estimate that I spend about 30 minutes per month on everything credit card related.

I think about a credit card’s life cycle as having four stages:

  1. Application
  2. Getting the bonus (minimum spending)
  3. Regular use (category bonuses)
  4. Renewal/Cancellation

Here’s what I do at each step to keep track of my cards and minimize my headaches.

What are the steps you need to take to put your credit card tracking on auto-pilot?

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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With this week’s United devaluation, the most popular award that the MileValue Award Booking Service books–premium cabin awards to Europe with United miles–went up in price as much as 63%.

Last week, one passenger flying one way from the continental US to Europe in business class would pay 50k United miles for the privilege, whether the flights on the award were operated by United or one of its many European partners like Lufthansa and Swiss. In first class, the price was 67.5k miles.

Today, a business class award to Europe on United flights costs 57.5k miles, while partner business class like TAP or Austrian costs 70k miles. For first class, the United-metal price is 80k miles, while the partner price is 110k miles.

Partner business class space now prices out 22% higher than United business, and partner first is 38% more than United first. Those are premiums I don’t want to pay because United business and United first are both nice products that I’ve reviewed:

This post will show how to most quickly find United-metal award space on united.com to book awards with United miles on the cheaper United-metal chart.

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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161

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® is a tool every frequent flyer should have in their wallet, especially big spenders and families. In essence, the card earns 2.28% back toward travel on all purchases. (Not to mention the sign up bonus worth $400 toward travel after spending $3k in the first three months on the card.)

With Arrival miles, you can book any flight on any airline with no blackouts and no need to search for award availability. You can even use the rewards to pay for the taxes and fees on other airlines’ award redemptions.

For Scott’s complete breakdown and analysis of the Arrival Plus, make sure to check out his comprehensive review here, and his ways to leverage the lucrative signup bonus here.

This post is a simple walk through of how to redeem your Arrival miles for travel purchases, as well as some pitfalls to avoid when doing so.

How do you redeem Barclaycard Arrival Miles on travel? When do you receive your 10% rebate? Can you use Arrival miles as partial payment towards a charge? Is the redemption process simple? How do you avoid lower value redemptions?

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Here’s how I got United to “manually sell” me award seats for an itinerary. While this technique is not possible in most circumstances, in my case, it turned no award into my dream award!

I was in the midst of constructing a simple roundtrip itinerary from the US to Europe when I ran into some big trouble.

United’s online award calendar displayed Austrian award space on the only day I could return to the States. Unfortunately, when I clicked to select those flights, I was met with a message saying the seats were no longer available.

Rapid Partner Availability

I used other Star Alliance search tools to discover that the seats were actually available to all partners, but United agents simply couldn’t see them.

The only thing left to do was request that United ask Austrian for the seats directly, often called a manual sell. Agents are extremely hesitant to do this, and often cite the company rule book in declining to do so. It usually takes some serious convincing to pull it off, but if you are calm, confident, and polite, it can be done. It’s critical to know how to pull this off, especially if you think your preferred flights have award space while a phone agent insists they don’t.

After a lengthy call, I finally convinced a United agent to manually request the unavailable seats. By requesting the manual sell, the flight I wanted instantly became bookable with my United miles. The segment was added to my itinerary, and I got the perfect set of flights for a summer trip to Europe.

How did this problem occur? Is this a phantom award space issue, or something completely different? What is a “manual sell”? How do you get a United agent to manually sell partner award seats?

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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I just booked myself a roundtrip First Class award from Honolulu to Sao Paulo, Brazil during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I also booked myself five nights at a hotel in Sao Paulo.

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Rooting for the Home Team (Poland) at the 2012 UEFA Euro Cup!

The cost?

  • 125,000 US Airways miles
  • 100,000 IHG Rewards points
  • $109

If you want to go see the biggest sporting event in the world in the world’s best footballing (soccer) country, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Don’t let the cost of the flights and hotels hold you back, when you can book them with miles and points.

This two-part series will cover:

  • The flight award possibilities including my three best recommendations for the exact routes to book
  • The hotel award possibility (singular) that I’ve found
  • Intra-Brazil flight options with miles and with cash
  • How to get tickets to the games
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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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11

Update: My transfer took two days. I made the transfer on December 18 and received the miles on December 20. Yours may take more or less time.

Starpoints (or SPG points) are the points earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express.

Starpoints are the most valuable mile or point in my opinion–worth about 2.5 cents each.

They can be used for free hotel nights, complete vacations, discounted hotel nights, or transferred to airline miles with over 30 airlines. It’s not uncommon for hotel points to be usable for hotel stays and airline tickets. What’s unusual is to get a good value for your points doing both things. That’s true versatility.

Some of the airline transfer partners are some of my favorite mileage programs like:

  • American Airlines
  • US Airways
  • Delta
  • British Airways
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alaska
  • Hawaiian
  • Japan Airlines
  • Lufthansa (Miles & More)
  • Singapore
  • Virgin Atlantic

All the airlines listed have miles that are ideal for certain awards, so to be able to transfer Starpoints at a 1:1 ratio to all those airlines is a huge boon! Even better, for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred, you receive 25,000 miles in your airline account, a tidy 5k mile bonus.

I recently opened both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express on the same day, so I am sitting on 70k Starpoints, mulling my redemption options.

Yesterday, I decided to transfer 20k Starpoints to my US Airways Dividend Miles account to receive 25k US Airways miles. My US Airways account had 100k miles in it (from a recent Share Miles promotion), and the award I want–roundtrip first class to South America–costs 125k US Airways miles.

How did I transfer the Starpoints (with screenshots)? What tips do I have for miles transfers?

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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Our Award Booking Service has been rocking and rolling lately. Busy frequent flyers love the personal attention we give each itinerary, as well as our expert knowledge of award programs.

The MileValue crew has a battle-tested recipe for award booking success. By following a few easy tips, doing your homework, and being flexible, you too can be an expert award booker–and get yourself your dream trip.

Emirates First Class Suite

What are MileValue’s eight tried-and-true tips? How can you book an award like the pros 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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

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By using the principles of free oneways and an incredible sweet spot on the US Airways award chart, you can save up to 70,000 miles on your next US Airways award booking to Asia.

I’m flying Turkish Airlines Business Class on My Next US Airways Award

US Airways charges ordinarily charges 120k miles roundtrip in business class to India or Thailand and 160k in first. We can cut that to 90k miles roundtrip in business class to South or Southeast Asia and 120k miles in first!

What is this awesome sweet spot on the US Airways chart? How do we take advantage of it? Can I really save up to 70,000 Dividend Miles per person by taking advantage?

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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 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®. Plus get American Airlines lounge access for you and guests. My full review of the card.

Screen Shot 2016-06-05 at 4.28.39 PM

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