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

I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitterand follow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

Travel from Fort Lauderdale to Cartagena, Colombia (on the Caribbean coast) for $198 roundtrip this Fall. One way travel is available for $84.

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Even if you don’t live in South Florida, you may be able to combine this with the Southwest fare sale to Fort Lauderdale to book a fantastic trip from your home airport.




  1. When are the $84 fares?
  2. Why Cartagena, Colombia?
  3. Combine the Award with the Southwest fare sale
  4. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket
  5. JetBlue Baggage Policy

$84 One Way to Cartagena, Colombia, $198 Roundtrip

Sample Dates: FLL-CTG, Friday September 11 – Sunday September 21 on JetBlue

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Search JetBlue.com and you are automatically shown one week at a time in each direction. Find an $84 fare to Cartagena. I see availability September through December.

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Find a $115 return.

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Combined, they price at $198.

One ways are available for $84. Multiple city trips are very cheap too. Fort Lauderdale to Cartagena, returning to Pittsburgh is $336 total.

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Why Cartagena, Colombia?

Cartagena is a major colonial, waterfront destination and Santa Marta, the gateway to Parque Nacional Tayrona and the Ciudad Perdida hike is a half day away by bus.

I’ve been to Colombia three times in the last year, but only Bogota and Medellin. My next trip, I want to go to the northern coast to hike the Ciudad Perdida and camp in Parque Nacional Tayrona.

Combining the Deal with Southwest Sale

If you don’t live in Fort Lauderdale, this still might be your ticket to a super cheap trip to Cartagena. Here are the destinations on sale to/from Fort Lauderdale with Southwest if you book today and fly this Fall.

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For instance, if you live in Pittsburgh, you could fly to Fort Lauderdale for $99, enjoy South Florida for a few days, then fly the $336 ticket in the last section to Cartagena and back to Pittsburgh. That would be $435 for a trip to Miami and Cartagena.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

Your top choice should be the Citi Prestige® Card, since it comes with a $250 Air Travel Credit every calendar year that will cover the purchase of this ticket. If you haven’t used the credit yet, buy this fare with your Prestige, and you will receive an offsetting credit on your next statement, so a roundtrip would be totally free.

Even if you’ve already used your $250 credit for this year, the card offers 3x on all airfare purchases.

See my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like it annual $250 Air Travel Credit, 50,000 point sign up bonus, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, and a $450 annual fee.

My second choice would be the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card, which offers 3x on all travel and gas purchases and also has no foreign transaction fees. The card comes with 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months.

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JetBlue Baggage Policy

You can take one carry on, one personal item, and one checked bag up to 50 pounds for free.

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Hat Tip Secretly Flying

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

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 post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here.

Two amazing JetBlue promotions are stackable today and tomorrow that allow you to fly JetBlue Mint Class, the best Business Class Suite in the United States for only 26,250 points Membership Rewards.

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Enclosed Suite, Live TV, Free WiFi
  • What are the two stackable promotions?
  • How good of a deal is this?
  • How can you ensure that you get an enclosed suite (not all Mint seats are)?

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

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

I’ve covered how to earn miles and the redemption options for miles. Now I’m giving the basics on several major airline programs where you can quickly collect miles for amazing trips. Today: the Southwest Rapid Rewards, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Virgin America Elevate programs. I’m taking all three together because they are similar programs.

Why Collect Southwest, JetBlue, and Virgin America Points?

All three types of airline points can save you big on your next domestic trip or near international trip.

All three types of points can access every flight on their respective airlines with no blackouts.

  • What airlines can you fly with Rapid Rewards, TrueBlue points, and Elevate points?
  • What are the special features of each program?
  • How can you book Rapid Rewards, TrueBlue, and Elevate awards?


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

Book any JetBlue award by 11:59 PM ET tomorrow (July 25, 2014) for travel from September 2 to October 31, 2014, and you’ll get 20% of the points back in November or December 2014.

If you have Fall travel planned but not booked, this is a nice rebate.

You can transfer 250 Membership Rewards to 200 JetBlue points if you’re short of the award you want. With this 20% rebate on awards, that may make sense.

The highest value award is for Mint Class between New York and Los Angeles and, starting October 26, New York and San Francisco. You can get a fully flat bed in a fully enclosed Mint Suite for 34,800 TrueBlue points, plus you’d get 6,960 TrueBlue points back for use on a future flight.

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I wrote extensively about the amenities and price that make Mint “By Far The Best Deal on Domestic Business Class” so check out that post for far more information on why I’d take advantage of this rebate to book Mint Class.

  • What are the full terms and conditions of the 20% rebate?


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

JetBlue Mint Class is a fully enclosed suite between New York and Los Angeles, and New York and San Francisco starting October 26, 2014. JetBlue Mint Class is the nicest Business Class experience on a transcontinental flight in the United States–by far–and it is available for $599 each way or 35,000 TrueBlue points.

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Mint seats extend to fully flat 6’8″ beds, the longest on domestic routes, and four out of the 16 Mint seats are fully enclosed suites, which are currently available for no extra charge.

Mint passengers get everything you’d expect in business class on a premium route:

  • Priority check in, security, and boarding
  • Free multi-course meal
  • Free alcohol
  • Two free checked bags

Mint passengers also receive some amenities that few or zero airlines match:

  • Free wifi
  • Free DirecTV (100 channels)
  • Amenity Kit

Mint is pricey, but far cheaper than competing business class seats at as little as $599 each way. The seats can also be booked for 35,000 TrueBlue points or 43,750 American Express Membership Rewards each way.

  • What flights have the special $599 / 35,000 point price?
  • Can you select an enclosed suite for that price?
  • How can you get TrueBlue points?
  • Is this a good deal?


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

Edit: Airfare deals come and go quickly. This is dead. But type in your email address on the top left of the page for one, free daily email to your inbox with tips and tricks to travel cheap or free!

And if you want to go to Peru for even less than $302, that’s easy too.

Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® with 40,000 American Airlines miles after spending $3k in three months. The US to anywhere in Peru roundtrip is only 35k American Airlines miles + about $50 in government taxes.

  • For a limited time, Earn 40,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of cardmembership*
  • Your first eligible checked bag is free*
  • Priority Boarding with Group 1 privileges* and 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases*
  • Earn a $100 American Airlines Flight Discount every cardmembership year with qualifying purchases and cardmembership renewal*
  • 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*
  • *See full terms and conditions

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

My favorite country–Peru–is on sale!

JetBlue is launching a new Fort Lauderdale to Lima route November 21, marking JetBlue’s first foray into the Southern Hemisphere. To drum up business for the route, JetBlue is selling oneway flights for $139. A roundtrip is $302.


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

JetBlue is running an incredible (and incredibly limited) 80% off promotion from yesterday through February 1. Every day at noon ET, a few flights will be released with a promo code that will get you 80% off selected roundtrips for a very limited number of days.

Here were yesterday’s routes: a mixture of JFK and LGA, international and domestic.

The dates are extremely limited, but the price is right. St. Maarten was around $170 roundtrip.

I believe all of yesterday’s deals are gone already, so check back at noon ET today for the new deals.

If I wanted some impromptu travel, and I lived in New York City or had easy access to JFK or LaGuardia, I would be checking back every day at noon. (And anyone who has 4,500 Avios can get to New York City from a large number of cities. See A List of All Possible Avios Redemptions from New York City.)

JetBlue has my absolute favorite economy class. The seats have 34″ of pitch–a measure of leg room–which is 3″ inches more than the industry standard. That three inches is crucial for someone 6’4″ like me. And each seat has a TV with free DirecTV. All that plus a free checked bag. I’ve asked before: Do you need to earn United status just to get the perks JetBlue offers everyone?

Check out the How to Book and the Terms and Conditions.

Refresh the Flight Week page right at noon to have a chance to get in on the deal, which will not last. And check back every day at noon through February 1st.


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I got an email today that flying three paid JetBlue roundtrips during 2013 will automatically earn a 5,000 point bonus.

The email says:

“Here’s something to celebrate: We’re giving 5,000 bonus points to every TrueBlue member who purchases and flies three roundtrip JetBlue flights in 2013. It’s that easy. That’s 5,000 extra points to use toward any seat, anytime, on any flight operated by JetBlue. Period.”

I couldn’t find any more information on the promo, but it sounds pretty clear: no registration, no hassle. Fly three roundtrips, and get 5,000 points.

That’s actually a lot of JetBlue points, worth about $100. JetBlue has a revenue-based program, meaning you earn miles based on the cost of your ticket not the distance you fly. You earn six points per dollar of base fare, meaning you’d need to buy $833 worth of tickets to earn 5,000 points the butt-in-seat way.

JetBlue has my absolute favorite economy class. The seats have 34″ of pitch–a measure of leg room–which is 3″ inches more than the industry standard. That three inches is crucial for someone 6’4″ like me. And each seat has a TV with free DirecTV. All that plus a free checked bag. I’ve asked before: Do you need to earn United status just to get the perks JetBlue offers everyone?

I’ve only flown it for the hour flights between Long Beach or Burbank and Vegas, which are often around $100 roundtrip. Flights like that would be an incredible way to take advantage of this promotion. They would be a cheap 5,000 points, and buying United, American, Delta, or Southwest flights wouldn’t earn many miles anyway.


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There’s a very good JetBlue sale going on today and tomorrow: The Fly-Somewhere-New Sale. I want to highlight it because flying JetBlue is like flying with bottom tier status.

I have United Silver status, and just buying any JetBlue ticket mimics many of the benefits.

When I fly United, I get one checked bag fee. All JetBlue passengers get one checked bag free.

When I fly United, I get economy plus at check in, which is 34″ of pitch. Regular JetBlue seats have 34″ of pitch! I can’t usually get an aisle or window seat either on United at check in, which is a snap if you book a few weeks out on JetBlue.

When I fly United, I do get priority security and boarding. But JetBlue has an even better benefit for everyone: free DirecTV at every seat!

When I fly United, I earn valuable miles with a 25% bonus for my status. When you fly JetBlue, you get 5 points per dollar spent on the base fare. This is an advantage for United.

From the comparison, it should be clear that flying JetBlue is a pretty great deal for a casual traveler. The deal is made even better when there’s a sale on like now.

The sale page lists each way prices to several destinations from most JetBlue cities. Some of the deals are quite good.

Clicking on a fare gives its requirements. Most require a 14 day advance purchase and Tuesday or Wednesday travel.

Purchase by tomorrow for travel January 22 to February 13 (or beyond based on the route.)


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JetBlue is running a winter sale for roundtrip tickets purchased by 11:59 PM ET tomorrow November 20.

For flights flown 11/27 to 12/20, you’ll get 25% off the base fare with code WINTER25.

For flights flown 1/7 to 2/14, you’ll get 20% off the base fare with code WINTER20.

For full details, head here.

To book, head here.

The discounts do not appear next to the flight times. But once you’ve selected a roundtrip, the discount automatically appears if you typed in the promo code correctly.

I can’t say enough about JetBlue–it is by far the best economy cabin experience in the US. JetBlue seats have 34″ of pitch, which is like flying economy plus on other airlines. Every seat has its own TV, which has free, live DirecTV. And you get a free checked bag.

I love this promo because there are no blackout dates within the date ranges on sale.

Who’s taking advantage of the deal?


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1) Yesterday’s incredible JetBlue deal ends today at 11:59 PM ET. Anyone can get $100 off on a roundtrip fare and enjoy the best economy class in the US. I got a roundtrip from Burbank to Vegas for $25.

2) A reader passed along an email he got from TACA LifeMiles–and I got the same–saying that any activity in his LifeMiles account would result in a 500 mile bonus. As if we needed another reason to buy LifeMiles for 1.37 cents.

By the way, the more I’ve considered whether I should have shared–with screen shots–how to book any Star Alliance award for 1.37 cents times the number of TACA LifeMiles it costs, the more I realize I absolutely made the right decision.

The TACA deal is so great not because of the cash and miles option, but because of the 100% bonus on purchased miles and reasonable award chart. The cash and miles option–which is hardly a secret–merely lowers the cost of miles from 1.5 cents to 1.37 cents.

That’s a nice marginal improvement, but the majority of the good deal comes from the 100% bonus pricing miles at 1.5 cents. And TACA is doing everything they can to advertise that sale.

All this is to say that more publicity won’t kill the TACA deal, so take advantage with a clean conscience.

3) My brother passed along an interesting Economist article on Japan Airlines (JAL) coming out of bankruptcy. (But will they ever come out of ba.com award-search-engine disappearance? I know these are unrelated.)

Basically the government propped up JAL with a sweetheart deal unavailable to rivals:

The write-offs alone exceed the amount JAL has earmarked to buy 44 new Boeing 787 Dreamliners, he says, whereas ANA has to fork out the money to buy 55 of them…The long-haul Dreamliner is part of that strategy: JAL is opening potentially lucrative new routes such as Tokyo to Boston.

And this:

JAL gives investors coupons that they can use for cheap flights if they don’t dump their shares. This helps to explain why 70% of the IPO has been bought by individual investors.

I’d be interested in learning more about those coupons if anyone has any more info (or is a JAL shareholder.)

4) LAX now offers 45 minutes of free wifi. If you want more, you’ll have to duck into a lounge or pay $5 for an hour or $8 for 24 hours.

It’s possible airports make more from free wifi by more people choosing to route through an airport or people showing up earlier for a flight because they know they can work and buying things while at the airport. But I doubt it. Either way, it’s good news for me and you.

5) It’s Aloha Friday, so I’ll give away a gogo wireless pass. Comment below for a chance to win a single-flight pass that expires 12/31/12.

Gogo internet is available on select planes on Air Canada, AirTran, Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, United, US Airways, and Virgin America




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JetBlue is running a two-day promo that ends tomorrow. They emailed their TrueBlue members a mystery code worth $20 to $300 off the purchase of a flight taken between September 14 and November 7.

The code is good for oneways and roundtrips. JetBlue ran a similar promotion on April 30, and this time I was ready! I just scored a roundtrip ticket from Burbank to Las Vegas for $25.

Check your email for a code–check your spam folder too–and head to jetblue.com/promo to figure out its worth.

If you didn’t get one, keep reading. You can get in on the fun too.

Type in an expensive roundtrip flight search–maybe Charlotte to Long Beach–and select an outbound and return. On the right side, you’ll see your discount size after selecting both flights. My discount size was $50.

Now if you can find a fare less than your discount size, your out of pocket expense will be $7. I know that non-Friday/Sunday Los Angeles to Las Vegas flights are routinely less than $50, so I searched LGB-LAS.

Fantastic, but two problems: one I would prefer to fly out of the slightly more expensive Burbank airport. Two, $50 off a roundtrip is great, but $50 off each way would be better.

One of the discoveries of the last JetBlue mystery promo was that the lower value codes could be used more than once. So I broke up my BUR-LAS roundtrip into two oneways and purchased them sequentially.

After my $50 discount each way, the outbound was $18, and the return was $7. The trip insurance I was offered actually cost more than the ticket!

After purchasing the two tickets–now added to my Meet Up page–I tested my code again. It still worked for a $50 discount.

For me, this deal is especially fantastic because, bar none, JetBlue is my favorite airline in coach. Its seats have 34″ of pitch instead of the industry standard 31″, and it offers free DirecTV at every seat.

How can you exploit this offer? If you check your email, and you got this promotional email, go to jetblue.com/promo immediately to find out the size of your discount, which you can do by making any dummy search and selection of flights. Now that you know your discount size, you can price out any trips you may want to take between now and 11/7.

What if you have a code and can’t use it? No worries! They are transferable, so alert a family member or friend who might be thinking about flying soon. If that fails, post your code (and the discount size if you know it) in the comments for another MileValue reader to enjoy.

If your code is under $100, we should all be able to use it.

If your code is more than $100, thanks for sharing. I will email the first three such posters of valid codes $101+, a free GoGo wireless password as a sign of gratitude. (I won a bunch for having Frugal Travel Guy’s deal of the day for my post on buying TACA miles.)

Remember if you try to use a code greater than $75, it is probably only one use. A possible way around this? Break up your roundtrip into oneway segments, and purchase each segment with a different browser at the same time. This is a variation of the two-browser trick we use to get two Citi cards at once.

What if you don’t have a code but want one? Use my $50 code, 8XW36N2K, or a better one from the comments. Hopefully some other readers with codes they can’t use will put their codes in the comments.

This could be the view at the end of your next vacation.

T & C: The promo code emailed to you is good until 9/14/12 (11:59 PM ET) for a one-time mystery discount ranging from $20 to $300 off the base fare of a one-way or roundtrip JetBlue flight (nonstop or connecting) originating from the United States (including Puerto Rico) between 9/14/12 and 11/7/12. Customers purchasing roundtrip travel must select both outbound and return flights within the travel period in order to view and receive the discount. Discount value of promo code will be revealed when you search for a flight before you complete your purchase; purchase required at time of reservation. Code (case-sensitive) is valid for one-time use only for flights purchased on jetblue.com/promo; new bookings only; limit one code per booking. Code is not valid in connection with JetBlue Getaways, award flights, taxes/fees, partner or codeshare or interline flights, baggage fees, or any other products or services. Code cannot be combined with other offers, cannot be partially redeemed, has no cash value, is not redeemable for cash, but is transferable. If flight reservation is changed or cancelled, a $100 fee per person will apply (plus any increase in fare for changes), and the promo code discount will be forfeited and will not apply to any modified or new reservation. Cancellations are for JetBlue travel credit only, valid for one year. If reservation is not changed/canceled prior to scheduled departure, all money associated with reservation is forfeited. Other restrictions apply. See jetblue.com/legal.

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Hey there, you’re reading an outdated post! The updated series from March 2013 can be found here.

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

In just a few days, you’ll be earning hundreds of thousands of frequent-flier miles and hotel points, and you need a place to put them. Below are the bare minimum programs you need to be a member of as a US-based traveler, and as you get more involved with the miles game, you’ll probably sign up for more.

By signing up for these programs, you’ll be able to take advantage of every major miles promotion, and you’ll be able to fly domestically and internationally for free and stay for free once you get there.

Each one should just take a moment to sign up for. Don’t skip any even if you’ve never flown the airline or don’t want to go where it flies. We often use one airline’s miles to fly its partners. For instance, I just used my British Airways miles to fly from LA to Honolulu on American Airlines.

If you already have an account, then instead of signing up, just activate your account online. Write down your username or number and passwords all in one place, we’ll need them again very soon.


AirTran (recently bought by Southwest, so joining unlocks a trick with Southwest points)

American Airlines

British Airways

Delta Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines

Southwest Airlines

United Airlines (if you had a Continental Onepass account, United automatically rolled that into a Mileage Plus account)

US Airways


Club Carlson


Priority Club


If you fly any other carriers like Virgin America or JetBlue, you should also sign up for their programs, but if you don’t fly them, you can stick to the eight listed airlines. If you’re an avid couchsurfer, you can skip signing up for the hotels.

Continue to Post 3.

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There are five basic types of frequent flier miles. I’ll detail each, including how best to take advantage of them. Then I’ll explain why it’s important to diversify across the types (not just across frequent flier programs.)

1) Region-to-region based miles. American, Delta, United, US Airways, etc

Region-to-region miles are the most common type of miles. These miles can be redeemed according to award charts, so a flight from North America to Europe costs a certain amount of miles regardless of where in North America and where in Europe and regardless of the (valid) routing. These miles are earned by buying paid tickets. The earnings depends on how many miles your paid ticket’s routing is.

Strategy: Buy cheap paid tickets, possibly with circuitous routings to earn miles. Redeem the miles for expensive tickets, especially premium classes, and especially to expensive-to-reach airports within a region. For instance these miles are put to better use to fly into Seville, Spain compared to flying into London. Also, many of these programs allow free stopovers, free open jaws, and even free oneways for no additional miles. Exploit those opportunities.

2) Fixed-value miles. Southwest, JetBlue, Virgin America

“Revenue-based” might be a more appropriate name since the value varies slightly because of taxes and other factors. The miles price of a ticket is based on the cash price of a ticket regardless of where the flight goes. Some airlines have a minimum amount a flight can cost in points, JetBlue at 5,000 oneway, and some have a maximum, Southwest at 19,200 roundtrip. These miles are earned by buying paid tickets at a set ratio of miles earned per dollar spent on the ticket, again regardless of where or how far the flight goes. Fixed-value miles are the only type that allow you to book any flight with miles; there is no need to worry about availability.

Strategy: Use the miles for cheap tickets. A roundtrip from LA to Vegas could be under 5,000 Rapid Rewards points, while it would cost 25,000 miles using region-to-region miles. The best way to earn the miles is by flying expensive tickets. If a last-minute fare between LAX and Vegas is going for $400 on United and Southwest, buy from Southwest. It will earn you six times the $400 for 2,400 Rapid Rewards points, while the United ticket will earn 1,000 miles.

3) Distance-based miles. British Airways Avios

Miles are earned in the same way as region-to-region miles, by flying paid tickets and earning one Avios per mile flown. Miles needed for an award are calculated by adding up the miles needed for each flight on an award. The miles needed for each flight are calculated by the distance of the flight. All flights within a certain band, 0-650 miles say, cost 4,500 Avios. Flights from 651-1151 cost 7,500 Avios and so on.

Strategy: Use the miles for short hops between expensive city pairs. Quito to Lima for 7,500 Avios plus taxes is a steal, for instance, because airfare between those cities can cost hundreds and hundreds of dollars.

4) Credits for flights. Airtran, vestiges of Southwest’s old program

One credit is earned per paid oneway whether that oneway is Tampa to Atlanta or Tampa to Las Vegas. A certain number of credits (8 for Airtran) equals a free oneway, whether it’s from Tampa to Atlanta or Tampa to Vegas.

Strategy: Buy cheaper, probably shorter flights to earn credits. Use the credits on more expensive, probably longer flights. For example eight roundtrips from Tampa to Atlanta on Airtran earns a roundtrip from Tampa to Las Vegas. Airtran and Southwest have merged, and both credit programs are being completely replaced by Southwest’s fixed value scheme. But while they last, there are some great earning and redemption opportunities.

5) Transferable Miles. Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, SPG Starpoints

These points are not earned by flying at all. Each program has different transfer partners with different transfer ratios.

Strategy: Keep the miles in the transferable points program until you have a redemption in mind unless a transfer bonus is ending that is too good to pass up. That allows you to maintain the option value of having many transfer options, and it allows you to use the miles for their most profitable use: topping up accounts that are just short of a dream award.

Those are the five types of miles; did you notice they all have different exploitation strategies? That’s why it’s so important to diversify across the types of miles. You want to have the best mile for the job, and you want to use the types of miles in concert.

For instance, imagine you live in Las Vegas, and you want to take a dream vacation to Peru, Chile, and Argentina in business class. You recognize that you want to use region-to-region miles for your main award, since they offer the best value for a trip between the US and South America, especially in business class. But you can’t find any award space out of Las Vegas, only Los Angeles. For the $120 roundtrip flight between Vegas and LA, you’ll want to use fixed-value miles. On Southwest, these flights would be about 6,000 points many days of the week.

Then from Los Angeles, you can fly to Lima and return from Buenos Aires in business class with region-to-region (probably American Airlines) miles. Once you’re in South America, British Airways’ distance-based Avios will almost certainly be the best option for travel among the South American cities. Using the different types of miles in concert unlocks all of their best value redemptions.

Another reason to diversify among the miles is the same reason you should diversify any type of asset: the same returns with lower variance. Changes in the airline industry affect different types of miles differently, so a hedge against those changes is to hold all types. For instance, higher fares this year have devalued fixed-value miles–it takes me more points to fly the same routes–but has had no effect on region-to-region or distance-based miles–I can still fly the same routes for the same price. This has, in turn, increased the cash value of region-to-region and distance-based miles.

This post had two main points: use the right mile for the job by understanding the best uses of each type and diversify your mile holdings not just across programs but across mile types.

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