Through March 10, 2016, American Express is offering a 50% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin America Elevate Points.

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.38.20 PMThe normal transfer ratio is 200 Membership Rewards to 100 Elevate Points, but for the next month, the ratio will be 200 Membership Rewards to 150 Elevate Points.
Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.38.31 PM

How Membership Rewards Work

As a quick refresher, there are two ways to use Membership Rewards:

  1. The dumb way: use them like cash to purchase flights, car rentals, hotels, or cruises at a paltry rate of 1 cent per point
  2. The smart way: transfer them to one of the 16 airline partners or three hotel partners. Then your points are whatever miles you chose, subject to that award chart and those rules.

16 Airline and 3 Hotel Partners

Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.49.10 PM Screen Shot 2016-02-11 at 12.49.18 PM

Best Uses of Virgin America Elevate Points

Virgin America points are worth about 2 cents each toward Virgin America flights. They are usually worth more than that when redeemed on award charts for Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia flights. The only one of those partners on which Virgin America collects fuel surcharges is Virgin Atlantic.

Bottom Line

Through March 10, American Express Membership Rewards enjoy a 50% transfer bonus to Virgin America Elevate Points, bringing the transfer rate to 200 MR -> 150 Virgin America points.

This unlocks some incredible deals on partner airlines like Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic, and Virgin Australia.

Hat Tip Doctor of Credit

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I use united.com for most of my award searches when redeeming Star Alliance miles because it shows most Star Alliance partners’ award availability, but it does have some drawbacks. Namely, it doesn’t show all partners and it sometimes displays phantom award space–award space will show as available but in reality, it doesn’t exist.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 9.14.50 PM
Star Alliance Airlines Whose Award Space I Want to Search

The best way to confirm Star Alliance award space is using the All Nippon Airways (ANA) search tool. ANA’s tool is trickier to use, but it’s the most reliable. The website and search tool’s interface has undergone some changes since the last time I wrote about how to use the ANA search tool three years ago, so I’m rewriting that post today to clarify any doubts.

First of All, Great News!

ANA no longer restricts members from using it’s award search tool for a lack of miles in their account. Anyone can search Star Alliance availability as long as you are signed up as a member of the ANA Mileage Club— no more annoying work arounds necessary!

Using the ANA Award Search Tool: Step-by-Step Guide

1. If you haven’t already, sign up for a ANA Mileage Club account here. Though this page looks like a credit card application (no annual fee!) simply click “Apply Here” at the bottom of the screen.

ANA mileage club sign up2. After filling in your pertinent information, you will be assigned a Mileage Club frequent flyer number and a password. Once you are signed up and logged in, you can access the award search tool directly from the ANA home page, just click Award Booking in the bottom right corner of the regular flight reservation box.

ANA homepage, award booking box

3. You will then be taken to the ANA Award search tool, where you can start searching for your desired Star Alliance award. Check the bubble next to “Compare seat availability +/- 3 days.”

ana search tool

4. Checking the bubble next to Compare seat availability +/- 3 days will show you a week’s worth of availability.

LAX to Tokyo ANA

5. Occasionally a search will turn up this ugly error message, but it only means the specific day and class you searched for doesn’t have a seat available. Click Confirm and the rest of the week’s availability will display.

Mia to Bue error, confirm anyways ANA

6. Choose your dates for both legs.

LAX to tokyo, day specific selection

7. And then select your preferred flight schedule for both legs.

If you don’t have the sufficient mileage in your Mileage Club account, a box will pop up like this:

lack of mileage ANA

8. Just click Confirm and it will allow you too see all the details anyways.

Displayed will be the summarized flight itinerary, the price of the award in miles as well as taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges….

ANA itinerary, payment breakdown

…and the award type descriptions, with convenient links to the corresponding award chart/rules. The baggage limitations are also displayed. (This is only important if you are redeeming ANA miles.)

award type bagge ANA

A Common Glitch

I received this pop-up multiple times while choosing the flight itineraries for my preferred days of travel:

wonky error ANA

It seems like you can ignore the error message if the previous screen said there were flights available on the day you’ve selected.

LAX to Tokyo ANA

Try to select the date again, and you may see the space and no error message.

In my experience, even if you keep getting the error message, there is award space on the flight. (You can check this by calling United and asking the agent if the flight has award space. I did that for the example of a Business Class seat from Los Angeles to Tokyo above, and there was indeed award space available.)

Can I Plug in my City Pairs and Expect ANA to Come up With Good Itineraries?

No. ANA’s search tool has improved somewhat over the years, but searching Kansas City <-> Mumbai likely won’t yield anything usable. You should search segment-by-segment (like Newark to Mumbai on Air India and Kansas City to Newark on United.)

How do I search multiple segments?

There’s no short cut to this with ANA’s search tool unfortunately. You’ll need to search every segment separately.

This seems tedious. Any shortcuts?

Searching United.com is faster but can sometimes display false positives and negatives as previously detailed in my post about phantom award space. United’s site is a great place to get routing ideas while confirming them using ANA’s tool.

Do ANA miles have any value?

This is outside the main scope of this post, which is how to SEARCH ON ANA.COM to USE ANY STAR ALLIANCE MILES.

But yes, since you ask, ANA miles have plenty of value.

Though ANA assesses fuel surcharges on all Star Alliance partner flights except United, their chart has some great sweet spots that allow for low mileage redemptions. Check out how ANA’s chart compares to other types of Star Alliance miles here: Comprehensive Spread Sheets of Eight Star Alliance Award Charts.

Bottom Line

ANA’s search tool is the final word on Star Alliance availability. If united.com displays the space but you don’t see it on ANA’s site, the award isn’t bookable.

The only requirements to use ANA’s search tool are a Mileage Club membership and a little bit of patience to do the segment-by-segment searching. Once you find award space on ana.com, you can book it with the Star Alliance miles that offer the cheapest award price to where you’re going. Find that out here.

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Until December 21, 2015, there is a 25% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Miles. One thousand Membership Rewards transfer to 1,250 Hawaiian Miles.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.21.47 AM

This is actually the third ongoing offer at the moment, with transfer bonuses to Iberia (and indirectly British Airways) Avios and Virgin America points that I have already covered.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.21.40 AM Good Deals with Hawaiian Miles

Hawaiian Airlines is not a member of any alliance, but it has a number of partners. You can use Hawaiian miles on:

  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • ANA
  • American Airlines
  • China Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Korean Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin Australia

Check out the award charts for all partners here and for Hawaiian Airlines flights here.

Here are some deals I like.

Flying Hawaiian

20,000 MILES (16k Membership Rewards)

Economy, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • New York City

new-york-city-wallpaper

  • Las Vegas

Las-Vegas-images-300x200

British Airways offer excellent deals from most West Coast cities to Hawaii, but they do not have any partner flights directly from Las Vegas. Thus, Hawaiian miles are the best miles to use for award flights from Las Vegas to Hawaii.

The Hawaiian Airlines award chart states that flights from Hawaii to the mainland cost 20,000 miles. However, for holders of the Hawaiian Airlines credit card the price is discounted to 17,500 miles.

27,500 MILES (22k Membership Rewards)

Economy class, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • Pago Pago, Samoa
  • Papeete, Tahiti

honeymoon-ideas-Tahiti-Cooks-Bay

40,000 MILES (32k Membership Rewards)

Economy class, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • Brisbane
  • Sydney
  • Auckland

western-australia-kangaroo-beach

First class, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • Seattle
  • Portland
  • Sacramento
  • Oakland
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Los Angeles
  • San Diego
  • Las Vegas
  • Phoenix
  • New York City

Here is a trip report of Hawaiian Airlines First Class.

120703-HawaiianA3301st-01

47,500 MILES (38k Membership Rewards)

First class, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • Pago Pago, Samoa
  • Papeete, Tahiti

120703-HawaiianA330200-01

65,000 MILES (52,000 Membership Rewards)

First class, one-way, Hawaii to:

  • Brisbane
  • Sydney
  • Auckland
  • Taipei
  • Beijing

inflightfood

Flying Partners

30,000 MILES (24k Membership Rewards)

Economy class, round-trip, Korean Air, Seoul to all its destinations in Asia:

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.35.27 AM

  • Akita
  • Aomori
  • Fukuoka
  • Hakodate
  • Kagoshima
  • Komatsu
  • Nagasaki
  • Nagoya
  • Niigata
  • Oita
  • Okayama
  • Osaka
  • Sapporo
  • Shizuoka
  • Tokyo (Narita, Haneda)
  • Beijing
  • Changsha
  • Dalian
  • Guangzhou
  • Hong Kong
  • Jinan
  • Kunming
  • Mudanjiang
  • Qingdao
  • Shanghai (Hongqiao)
  • Shenyang
  • Shenzhen
  • Tianjin
  • Tunxi
  • Weihai
  • Wuhan
  • Ximen
  • Xian
  • Yanji
  • Zhengzhou
  • Irukutsk
  • Taipei
  • Ulaanbaatar
  • Vladivostok
  • Bangkok
  • Cebu
  • Chiang Mai
  • Da Nang
  • Denpasar Bali
  • Hanoi
  • Ho Chi Minh City
  • Jakarta
  • Kota Kinabalu
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Manila
  • Palau
  • Phnom Penh
  • Phuket
  • Siem Reap
  • Singapore
  • Yangon
  • Guam
  • Colombo
  • Malé
  • Mumbai
  • Kathmandu
  • Tashkent

images

Korean Air, a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and SPG, charges 30,000 to 75,000 miles for the above itineraries.

30,000 Hawaiian miles could also be used for a round-trip ticket departing from any of the Asian cities listed above and going to Seoul.

35,000, 45,000, 60,000 MILES (28k, 36k, 48k Membership Rewards)

The chart to fly American Airlines with Hawaiian Miles is similar to what American charges for its own flights. With the 25% transfer bonuses, some of the deals get very good indeed.
Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.35.32 AM

Roundtrips to the Caribbean, Central America, Southern South America, and Europe are good deals in economy.

How to Book Partner Awards

You need to find Saver availability on the partner, which you cannot do on hawaiianair.com. For American Airlines space, I’d search aa.com; for Korean space, I’d search delta.com; for other partners, I’d search wherever its award space was searchable. Hawaiian Airlines should have access to all its partners’ Saver award space.

Then you book by calling 877-HA-MILES from 7 AM – 4:30 PM HST Monday through Friday, which is currently noon to 9:30 PM ET.

Other Ways to Get Hawaiian Miles

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® comes with a 50,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

Hawaiian Airlines cardholders with family members who also accrue Hawaiian miles can take advantage of a unique benefit: Hawaiian miles can be combined into one account through the share miles program. This free benefit can turn worthless “leftover” miles into an award goldmine.

Anyone who has a card open can receive Hawaiian Miles from another account for free. Most airlines charge over 1 cent per mile for transfers of this kind!

The other benefit of the Hawaiian Airlines card, that I mentioned earlier, is that you get to book Super Saver economy awards between the United States and Hawaii for 17,500 Hawaiian miles each way instead of the 20,000 mile price on the chart.

Bottom Line

You have 12 days to transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards to 1,250 Hawaiian Miles. That will be a good deal for people who want to book the sweet spots on the Hawaiian Airlines chart that I laid out in this post.

Hat Tip View from the Wing

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Effective this Thursday, October 1, 2015, 250 Membership Rewards will transfer to 200 British Airways or Iberia Avios. That’s a 20% reduction of the current 1,000 Membership Rewards to 1,000 Avios transfers.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 3.58.38 PM
Source: Travel with Grant

This is a huge blow to Membership Rewards. It still has great 1:1 transfer partners like Delta, ANA, Aeroplan, and Singapore, but this majorly hurts the value of its best oneworld transfer partner.

In the past we’ve seen transfer bonuses from Membership Rewards to Avios like this year’s 40% bonus. I don’t know if this reduced transfer rate between Membership Rewards and Avios signals the end of those. A 40% bonus on the new transfer rate would mean 250 Membership Rewards transferred to 280 Avios, which is 12% better than 1:1.

Other Bad News for Earning Avios

This worsening transfer rate from Membership Rewards isn’t the only bad news we’ve gotten about earning Avios this year. Chase also changed the British Airways Visa to only earn 1 Avios per dollar spent, down from 1.25 per dollar, another 20% drop in rates for earning Avios.

Chase Ultimate Rewards earned on the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preffered still transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

About Avios

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Avios are good for short, direct, economy awards on partners without fuel surcharges like airberlin; Niki; and American Airlines, US Airways, and Alaska Airlines within the Americas including Hawaii. The number of Avios for Business and First Class awards rose sharply in April, but that affected very few high value awards. Here are the basics of Avios, which every American frequent traveler should understand. Here are all the 12,500 Avios awards from the mainland United States to Hawaii.

Should You Transfer Your Membership Rewards to Avios Before Thursday?

It’s a tricky question with a lot of things to consider, so there is no definitive answer that covers everyone.

You’d hate to transfer 200,000 Membership Rewards to Avios only to see a big Avios devaluation (unlikely to happen for the next year or two in my opinion because we just saw one) or to see a big transfer bonus that brings the transfer rate above 1:1 (your guess is as good as mine about whether this will happen.)

I value Membership Rewards higher than Avios because of their flexibility–they can be Avios if those are the best miles for an award or Singapore miles if those are best or Delta miles, etc. So I am disinclined to send Membership Rewards to Avios this week to beat the devalued transfer ratio, however I understand if you look at the same facts and come to the opposite conclusion.

Hat Tip Travel with Grant

 

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

The page that shows American Membership Rewards transfer partners seems to require sign in, so I will put the partners and ratios here for those who are considering getting an American Express card and want to see where their points can transfer. The best options are Delta, Aeroplan, Flying Blue, Avios, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic miles depending on the trip you have in mind.

Airlines (all transfer options 1,000 Membersip Rewards to 1,000 miles unless noted):

  • Delta SkyMiles
  • AeroMexico Club Premier Miles
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia Club
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • British Airways Avios
  • Iberia Avios
  • El Al Matmid Points (1,000 MR = 20 points)
  • Emirates Skywards Miles
  • Hawaiian Airlines Miles
  • JetBlue TrueBlue Points (250 MR = 200 points)
  • Singapore KrisFlyer Miles
  • Virgin America Elevate Points (200 MR = 100 points)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotels:

  • Best Western Rewards Points (1,000 MR = 1,000 points)
  • Choice Privileges Points (1,000 MR = 1,000 points)
  • Hilton HHonors Points (1,000 MR = 1,500 points)
  • SPG Starpoints (1,000 MR = 333 points)
------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’m going to show you how to book a mega-award with seven stops to South America with Asia Miles. You already have Asia Miles because they are a transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, AMEX Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.31.35 PM

Asia Miles can be used to book any oneworld airline‘s award space plus space on its partners Aer Lingus and Alaska Airlines.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.34.25 PM

Asia Miles charges fuel surcharges on award tickets when the equivalent cash tickets would have fuel surcharges. In practice, that means all Asia Miles awards will have fuel surcharges except flights on:

  • airberlin
  • Niki (Austrian low-cost subsidiary of airberlin that flies to these destinations)
  • S7 (Russian airline)
  • American Airlines flights within the Americas
  • LAN Airlines (South American airline)
  • TAM Airlines (Brazilian Airline with Paraguayan subsidiary)
  • Alaska Airlines

Since I like to avoid fuel surcharges, I would almost exclusively book those flights with Asia Miles. Asia Miles awards that don’t include a segment on Cathay Pacific (which I would book with American Airlines or Alaska miles, not Asia Miles) can have 5 stopovers, 2 open-jaws, and 2 transfers. I’ll discuss these rules in detail later.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.25.10 PM

Add up the distance flown on all the flights, and then read the award price off this distance-based award chart.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.24.50 PM

As you can see, there are a number of sweet spots in economy since the price barely rises from 1,001-4,000 miles flown or from 4,001-7,000 miles flown or from 10,001-20,000 miles flown.

In Business Class, the prices rises more steadily, but just under 9,000 miles flown looks pretty sweet.

The First Class chart is largely irrelevant because the only First Class by an airline on the no-fuel-surcharges list is American Airlines First Class, which isn’t that great and is being removed from most planes.

Rules for Awards

There are two award charts, each with its own set of rules. This post will only focus on the chart for awards that contain:

  • Two oneworld alliance airlines, where Cathay Pacific or Dragonair is not included; or
  • Three or more oneworld alliance airlines when Cathay Pacific or Dragonair is included.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.24.50 PM

Cathay Pacific and Dragonair don’t fly to South America, so we’ll always be on the “oneworld Multi-Carrier Awards Chart.”

The big rule of the multi-carrier award chart is:

  • You can make a maximum of five stopovers, two transfers and two open-jaws at either origin, en-route or turnaround point, subject to airline partners’ terms and conditions.

Ideally I’d book several Asia Miles awards on my own to figure out what the rule means in practice, but that’s impractical because my Award Booking Service clients rarely request an award for which Asia Miles make sense, and I don’t have a need for such an award myself at the moment.

So I’ve investigated the next best way: by reading threads on FlyerTalk to see the reported experiences of others. With that in mind, here’s what I’ve figured out:

  1. As usual a transfer is a layover of less than 24 hours. A stopover is a layover of more than 24 hours.
  2. If you need more transfers than the 2 allowed, you can ask an agent to count a transfer as a stopover. As an example, say you want to have 3 transfers and 3 stopovers–something like JFK-MIA-BOG; BOG-LIM-SCL; SCL-EZE; EZE-MIA-JFK where the stopovers are denoted by a semicolon after the airport code–this is illegal. But if you make a transfer a stopover, now you have 2 transfers and 4 stopovers, which is OK. Ask the agent to make the first Miami transfer a stopover even though it is under 24 hours.
  3. You get 5 stopovers and zero destinations for 5 total 24+ hour stops. Ordinarily if an award is allowed one stopover, like a roundtrip United award, that’s in addition to your 1 destination, so you really get to stop 24+ hours in 2 places. Here you get 5 total, not 5 + 1.
  4. Open jaws do NOT count as a stopover. As an example, a super-simple award like Miami to Lima, returning Quito to Miami has 1 open jaw, zero stopovers, and zero transfers. That is an award that sees two places with no stopovers.
  5. That means your 5 stopovers plus 2 open jaws, which each can see two places without burning a stopover is already 9 places you can see. Add in the under-24 hour transfers, and you can see 11 places.
  6. Unfortunately not all agents are well trained on the point that open jaws do NOT count as stopovers. Some agents will count open jaws as stopovers, but you should just ask them to try putting your routing into the system and the system will accept a routing with 5 stopovers plus 2 other open jaws. You may have best results calling the agents on the Cantonese line and then speaking English with them because these are the best-trained agents.
  7. An open jaw may be at any point during the award or even between where the award begins and ends. Some agents say that if there is an open jaw between the first and last city of an award, both cities must be in the same country.
  8. You may be able to later transit your origin region or even stopover there (which would allow you to combine two separate trips onto one cheap award. Here is an example of someone who ticketed Brazil/Argentina/Peru and a later trip to San Francisco onto one award.)
  9. The Asia Miles website suggests filling out a form to request your award. FlyerTalkers all call in to book their awards
  10. The ticketing time on awards–the time from your call until you receive a final confirmation that everything is ticketed–is between 15 hours and one week.

Here’s am award that follows all those rules that sees 11 cities in South America.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 6.56.24 PM

  • Miami to Baranquilla, Colombia (1) on American Airlines. Stopover #1
  • Baranquilla to Bogota, Colombia (2) on LAN Airlines, layover of less than 24 hours, enough time to see a few museums and go out for a night. Transfer #1
  • Bogota to Lima, Peru (3) on LAN Airlines. Stopover #2
  • Lima to Santiago, Chile (4) on LAN Airlines. Stopover #3
  • Santiago to Buenos Aires, Argentina (5) on LAN Airlines. Stopover #4
  • Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, Brazil (6) on LAN Airlines, layover of less than 24 hours, enough time to eat at a churrascaria and go out for a night. Transfer #2
  • Sao Paulo to Foz do Iguacu, Brazil (7) on TAM Airlines. Open Jaw #1 because you will not fly out of Foz do Iguacu
  • Porto Alegere, Brazil (8) to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (9) on TAM Airlines. Stopover #5
  • Rio de Janeiro to Natal, Brazil (10) on TAM Airlines. Open Jaw #2 because you will not fly out of Natal
  • Recife, Brazil (11) to Miami on American Airlines.

There are holes in two spots in Brazil that you can fill with buses or separate cash or award tickets.

The flown distance is 12,330 miles according to Great Circle Mapper, so this award would cost 85,000 Asia Miles in economy or 115,000 Asia Miles in Business Class plus government taxes. There would be no fuel surcharges.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 6.56.32 PM

Practical Considerations

If you don’t live in Miami or Dallas, you’ll probably need to use your two transfers to get to and from those cities. The vast majority of South American flights on oneworld leave from Miami and Dallas, so if you live somewhere like Los Angeles, you will probably need one transfer in each direction to start and finish the award.

Here is an award from Los Angeles with four stopovers in South America, two transfers in the United States, and zero open jaws.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 7.02.44 AM

That’s not to say that all international flights to the Americas leave from Miami and Dallas. The following cities all have international flights on American, Alaska, or US Airways. The black dots mostly have flights to Mexican vacation destinations, of which only Cancun is well connected to South America.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 7.15.57 AM

Open jaws are so powerful because they don’t cost you a stopover and you get two see two places. Some easy open jaws:

  • between Buenos Aires and Montevideo, which is served by a two-hour ferry
  • between Foz do Iguacu, Brazil and Puerto Iguazu, Argentina, which is a short car ride (and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay is right there too, but that is the sketchiest and most boring city I’ve visited in South America)
  • Punta Arenas, Chile and El Calafate, Argentina are a five-hour bus ride apart
  • Many Central American capitals are very close
  • Santiago, Chile and Mendoza, Argentina are a common bus-ride apart
  • Punta Arenas, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina are not convenient A to B, but an open jaw between the two would allow you to explore Patagonia by boat, bus, and small airplane like I did last December

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.20.03 PM

Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires all have at least two major airports. I do not know whether flying into one airport and out of another airport in those cities counts as an open jaw or whether the airports are considered coterminal like JFK/LGA/EWR usually are in New York.

Fun Considerations

LAN flies to the Galapagos Islands (GPS is one airport) from Guayaquil and Quito, Peru.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 7.21.06 AM

LAN flies to Easter Island from Santiago and Lima.

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 7.24.09 AM

There’s no reason your award has to start in the United States. It could make sense to book awards from the United States to South America and then just hop around in South America on an Asia Miles award. This one would be 35,000 miles in economy, and you can still add more segments and stops.

Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.21.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-06-14 at 5.21.45 PM

If you convince an agent to let you stopover in your city of origin, you can have two trips on a single cheap award. This award is Dallas to Cancun roundtrip, followed months later by Dallas to Bogota to Lima, open jaw returning Cuzco to Lima to Dallas. It would cost 65,000 Asia Miles in economy and 95,000 in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-06-15 at 3.00.19 PM

Getting the Miles

Asia Miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points. The transfer takes one business day. You can get 106,000 ThankYou Points by opening the Citi ThankYou Premier and Citi Prestige eight days apart. You can use 106,000 ThankYou Points for up to 20,000 miles flown in economy on a single award or 10,000 miles in Business Class.

Asia Miles are also a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards and SPG Starpoints.

Searching

The relevant airlines for a South America awards are American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, LAN, and TAM.

American, US, and Alaska are best searched on aa.com. You can only use MileSAAver award space.

LAN and TAM are best searched on ba.com. You can use any award space you see there.

Booking

Once you’ve found the award space, call Asia Miles at 866-892-2598 to book the award. Feed the agent the date, cabin, and flight number of each flight you found with award space.

If your award comes close to maxing out the 5 stopovers, 2 open jaws, or 2 transfers, I would proactively lead the call by saying things like, “Next is Bogota to Lima on January 10 on LAN flight 123 in economy. Bogota is my first open jaw because I continue the award from Quito. The next flight is…” The agents seem to have some discretion in their counting, so you want to suggest how they count.

If you’re having trouble with the Asia Miles agents at that number, call the Cantonese line at +852 2747 3838 from your gmail account for 2 cents per minute.

Bottom Line

Asia Miles offers a distance-based award chart that allows you to visit 11 places on a single 9-flight award by maximizing the 5 stopovers, 2 open jaws, and 2 transfers.

Asia Miles is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points, American Express Membership Rewards, and SPG Starpoints.

Asia Miles awards have fuel surcharges when an equivalent cash flight has fuel surcharges. Avoid fuel surcharges by flying to and around South America. (There are also European partners with no fuel surcharges, which I’ll cover in a separate post.)

 

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I naturally categorize miles and points into two groups:

  1. Broadly useful
  2. Niche programs

The first type of miles are the miles you want to stockpile if you’re hoping to follow a simple mile-accumulation strategy to meet all your future travel goals. Ideally these miles benefit from cheap award charts across all classes of service and to all regions without incurring fuel surcharges on awards.

By contrast, niche programs have some great values on their award charts, but lots of flaws. Maybe the program collects fuel surcharges on most awards, or charges too much for redemptions in premium cabins, or simply doesn’t release much Saver award space on flights.

Niche programs can be ignored by those who merely dabble in miles collection, but serious miles collectors should know the strengths of and collect miles in niche programs too.

  • Which miles do I consider broadly useful?
  • Which programs do I consider niche programs?
  • What are the niche programs’ strengths?

Broadly Useful

None of these programs is perfect, but I consider all the following programs to be broadly useful programs in which a person could exclusively collect miles and still get a fair deal on the vast majority of potential redemptions:

  • American Airlines
  • United
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Ultimate Rewards

American Airlines

American Airlines miles offer good value on most routes in all cabins. The oneworld alliance great members like Cathay Pacific, Qantas, and LAN, and American miles can be redeemed on 24 airlines.

There are some weaknesses with American Airlines miles:

  • American Airlines collects fuel surcharges on British Airways flights. British Airways award space is the most available award space to Europe and Africa. If you avoid booking British Airways flights with American Airlines miles, you are hamstrung to Africa especially.
  • I–and the experts–anticipate a devaluation announced in late 2015 for awards booked in early 2016 or later.
  • Awards to the Middle East and India are overpriced.

United

Even after 2014’s devaluation, I still think United miles are among the most broadly useful airline miles to stockpile for a few reasons:

  • Award space is good on United and partners.
  • United is a member of the Star Alliance, the largest alliance in the world, with good coverage of every continent.
  • United never imposes fuel surcharges on awards.
  • United’s economy awards are fairly priced.
  • United’s Business Class awards on its own planes are not outrageously priced.

Of course, the big problem is that partner First Class awards are basically out of reach. Who has 240,000 United miles for one roundtrip to Asia in First Class?

Still, I’ll almost always be happy when folks come to my Award Booking Service with a stash of United miles.

Ultimate Rewards

Since Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 instantly to United miles, Ultimate Rewards are at least as useful as United miles. With the added flexibility of transferring to niche programs like British Airways, Singapore, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest, and Korean plus hotel programs, Ultimate Rewards are the second most flexible currency overall.

Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints

The most flexible and broadly useful points are Starpoints, which transfer to American, Alaska, and 27 other airline programs mostly at favorable rates. Every day, 20,000 Starpoints transfers to 25,000 American Airlines or Alaska Airlines miles.

The big drawbacks with Starpoints:

  • Most transfers take days.
  • 2 Starpoints transfer to 1 United mile. Since United devalued, I’d love that transfer to get revalued to 1:1 like with American, Delta, Alaska, and dozens of other airlines.

Intermediate Usefulness

These three programs have bigger warts than the programs above, but are too broadly useful for me to call “niche” programs.

  • Delta
  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points

Delta

Delta has some definite strengths:

  • There are good value awards and decent space to Australia (Virgin Australia), Africa (Air France), Europe (various partners), Asia (various partners), and South America (AeroMexico). Very few of these awards have fuel surcharges.
  • The often-times higher prices are offset by the ease with which you can earn Delta miles from Delta cards, Membership Rewards-earning cards, and Starpoints-earning cards.
  • Since January 1, 2015, Delta allows one way award redemptions for half the price of roundtrips.

But the weaknesses are far greater than with competing US-based airlines:

  • Delta doesn’t offer much Saver award space on domestic flights, making it hard to get to a gateway to connect to partner award space abroad. This is a huge drawback.
  • Delta collects fuel surcharges on a bunch of its partners.
  • Delta collects fuel surcharges on all awards originating in Europe. This essentially means that its miles can be used for one ways to Europe, but are a terrible value for one ways home.
  • Delta miles cannot be redeemed for three-cabin international First Class.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has a hodge-podge of partners that fly all over the world.

Screen Shot 2014-01-22 at 2.54.32 AMAlaska has access to some of the world’s most coveted award space like Emirates First Class space with no fuel surcharges.

Some of the award charts are very cheap–there is a different one for each partner to each region–you can book one way awards for half the roundtrip price, and you can even get a stopover on one way awards.

The only thing that holds Alaska miles back from being more widely useful is that you cannot freely combine partners on Alaska awards. Each direction needs to be all one partner’s flights or all one partner’s flights plus Alaska flights. This rule hampers your options incredibly, especially if you don’t live in a city where Alaska flies!

Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards have a large number of partners, but none of them is in the most useful category above. All are 1:1 partners in case otherwise noted.

  • Delta Airlines
  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Alitalia Airlines
  • All Nippon Airways (ANA)
  • British Airways Avios
  • Cathay Pacific
  • EL AL Israel Airlines 1,000 MR to 20 EL AL point
  • Air France & KLM Flying Blue
  • Emirates
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia Plus Avios
  • JetBlue 250 MR to 200 TrueBlue Points
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Virgin America 200 MR to 100 Elevate Points

Delta is in this intermediate category, and the rest of the programs are in the niche category below including Virgin Atlantic, Aeroplan, ANA, British Airways Avios,  Flying Blue (Air France), Hawaiian, and Singapore. The big problem is that all the global partners impose fuel surcharges on most of their awards.

You can creatively mostly avoid fuel surcharges, but you have to work hard enough that this program can’t be in the “Broadly Useful” category.

Citi ThankYou Points

ThankYou Points now transfer to 11 airlines at a 1:1 rate:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchard Plus
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
  • Qantas miles

I don’t know of a single high value use of the eight programs that are not in bold. But between Singapore KrisFlyer, Air France Flying Blue, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and the ability to use ThankYou Points for 1.25 to 1.6 cents each toward any flight on any airline, this program belongs in the intermediate category.

Singapore miles allow fuel-surcharge-free awards on United flights often for fewer mile than United would charge for the same award including to Hawaii, Europe, South America, and within the continental US; they’re the only way to book Singapore Suites; and they have awesome stopover rules.

Flying Blue miles allow you to book some Delta flights for fewer miles than with Delta miles, and allow access to Promo Awards like 12,500 miles one way to Europe or Israel.

Virgin Atlantic miles aren’t just about 17,500 mile awards to London or 27,500 mile Premium Economy awards to London. They also allow 45,000 mile roundtrips to South America on Delta and a few other high value awards.

Citi partners with American Airlines. If Citi ever adds American Airlines as a 1:1 transfer partner, ThankYou Points will shoot to the most useful category.

Niche Usefulness

The absolute wrong conclusion to draw about the programs in this section is that they are not useful. Each program listed here–and many programs not listed here have some incredible, high-value awards. But most of their awards are a poor value.

You shouldn’t focus all your miles collecting in these programs, but you should know their strengths in case your travel goals overlap with their strengths, and you have transferable points. Here are some of my favorite niche programs and their strengths:

Of course, each of these programs has major flaws. Southwest points can’t be used for First Class, international travel beyond the Caribbean, or any partners. Any Avios awards with layovers get pricey very quickly. Almost all the international programs collect big fuel surcharges on most awards (but not on the awards mentioned above where there are no or small surcharges.)

Because of the weaknesses, I rarely collect miles in niche programs unless there’s an extremely attractive credit card sign up bonus, but I constantly consider the programs as transfer options for my Membership Rewards, Ultimate Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints to take advantage of their one or two sweetspots.

Action Item

If you’re currently collecting niche miles with your day-to-day credit card spending, put more of your spending on cards that earn more widely useful miles and points like the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express with 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5k in the first six months, which earns the most versatile points of all.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Your Take

Are any of the programs listed here mis-categorized for you? Is one of the niche programs perfect for all your awards? Does one of my “generally useful programs” never seem to offer you value? Am I letting United miles off too lightly for its big devaluation last year?

 

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

American Express Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin Atlantic miles will come with an automatic 25% transfer bonus from now through April 30, 2015. We last saw a 35% bonus in November 2014.

This transfer bonus allows you to fly:

  • One way from the US to London for only 14k Membership Rewards and $131.
  • One way from the US to London in Premium Economy for 22k Membership Rewards + $231.
  • Roundtrip from the US to Buenos Aires (or anywhere else in South America) for 36k Membership Rewards and $77.
  • Tons of other great routes for low mileage, taxes, and fees.

Virgin Atlantic is a London-based longhaul carrier best known for its Upper Class cabins and Clubhouse lounges. (Do not confuse it with Virgin America or Virgin Australia, which are all independent airlines.) It is not part of any alliance, so its dozen airline partners span the globe and all the alliances.

  • Should you transfer Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic?
  • What are the key features of Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club?
  • How can you get to Europe for 14k Membership Rewards and to South America roundtrip for 36k Membership Rewards?
  • How can you get Membership Rewards?

Until April 30, 2015, you can transfer increments of 1,000 American Express points to 1,250 Virgin Atlantic miles automatically at membershiprewards.com.

 

There are three main reasons you would want Virgin Atlantic miles.

1. Among the Cheapest Economy and Premium Economy Awards to Europe (in Miles)

The first reason to get Virgin Atlantic miles is that economy class awards to Europe require far fewer miles than competitors’ charge. From Boston, New York, Washington, and Chicago, you only need 17,500 Virgin Atlantic miles (14k Membership Rewards) for a one way flight to the United Kingdom.

And taxes and fees on the one way from the United States to Europe are only $131!

Combine a one way from the eastern United States to Europe for 14k Membership Rewards plus $131 and return from a low tax country–like Spain or Switzerland–to the United States on a one way award with United or American miles for a very cheap European vacation.

I wrote more about searching Virgin Atlantic award space, the fuel surcharges you’ll see, and booking the space in Huge Deal: 13k Miles to Europe This Summer.

Or you can fly one way from parts of the United States to the United Kingdom in Virgin Atlantic Premium Economy for only 27,500 miles (22k Membership Rewards) and $231.

Premium Economy on Virgin Atlantic is more akin to United First Class on domestic flights than United Economy Plus. It’s not just a big seat; Premium Economy comes with all the amenities in this promotional video.

2. Incredible Value Partner Awards

Virgin Atlantic has several airline partners.

Screen Shot 2014-05-12 at 3.20.02 AM

Each has its own award chart, and the values can be good, especially with this transfer bonus. Best of all, on many partners, Virgin Atlantic doesn’t collect any fuel surcharges!

Last year I called Flying Club at (800) 365-9500 and priced out several awards.

The call was fairly smooth although the agent told me that Atlanta to Buenos Aires on Delta wasn’t bookable with Virgin Atlantic miles. When I pressed him to double check, he came back with the news that it indeed is bookable. As always, you may know more than the phone agents, so be polite but firm.

Award prices including unavoidable government taxes (none include fuel surcharges):

  • Atlanta to Buenos Aires in roundtrip economy on Delta: 45k miles (36k MR) + $77.32
  • New York to London in roundtrip economy on Delta: 40k miles (32k MR) + $190.60
  • Atlanta to Los Angeles in roundtrip economy on Delta: 25k miles (20k MR) + $11.20
  • New York to Paris in roundtrip economy on Delta: 60k miles (48k MR) + $90.66
  • New York to Honolulu in roundtrip First on Hawaiian: 130k miles (104k MR) + $11.20
  • New York to LAX in roundtrip Main Cabin Select on Virgin America: 50k miles (40k MR) + $11.20 from Tuesday to Sunday over Thanksgiving

I learned a few key things about partner awards from the call:

  • Delta awards have no fuel surcharges, just the same government taxes as booking with Delta miles.
  • The Delta award chart is way underpriced to Southern South America. Buenos Aires for 36k Membership Rewards roundtrip is a steal. If you transferred Membership Rewards to Delta miles to book the exact same seats, you’d need 60k Membership Rewards.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Hawaiian Airlines award flights.
  • The Hawaiian award chart says economy roundtrips are “from 40,000 miles” and first is “from 80,000 miles.” Those prices only refer to roundtrips from the western US. The roundtrip price to/from JFK is quite a bit higher.
  • There are no fuel surcharges on Virgin America award flights.
  • Not all Virgin America flights have award space that Virgin Atlantic has access to. There’s no way to check without calling Virgin Atlantic that I know of. Before calling, I didn’t know what to expect with respect to Virgin America space since Virgin America’s program is revenue-based and doesn’t include a concept of “award space.”

3. Virgin Atlantic Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic’s Business Class–called Upper Class–is one of the best in the world with many folks comparing it to First Class. I am anxious to fly it.

Virgin Atlantic offers its Flying Club members the best award availability, but the catch is the fuel surcharges (plus departing London taxes) of around $1,000 per roundtrip award in Upper Class.

While the out-of-pocket cost is a big drawback, the miles prices are very low. New York and Chicago to London are only 80k miles (64k Membership Rewards) roundtrip in Upper Class and Los Angeles and San Francisco to London roundtrip in Upper Class are only 100k miles (80k Membership Rewards).

Roundtrip Miles Prices to UK with Flying Club Miles listed Economy, Premium Economy, Upper Class from left to right

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges, Delta miles can be used to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 125k miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges. But Delta SkyMiles members don’t have access to the same award availability as Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members.

4. Other uses?

Did I miss any great uses of Virgin Atlantic miles? These small foreign programs get so few expert eyeballs on them, so I know that many have hidden gems. Hopefully I’ve exposed some with the partner flights in this post. If you know of others, share them in the comments please.

Getting the Miles

Membership Rewards and Ultimate Rewards both transfer 1:1 to Virgin Atlantic miles. Ultimate Rewards have never had a transfer bonus, and I like to use my Ultimate Rewards with United miles, so I strongly favor transferring Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic miles if you want Virgin Atlantic miles.

Membership Rewards are earned by all Platinum and Gold cards.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Right now, there is also a “90,000 mile sign up bonus” (not really, for reasons explained here) on the Virgin Atlantic credit card.

Recap

The 25% transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic has some highly valuable uses including cheap one ways to Europe on Virgin Atlantic, access to better award space in Upper Class with low mileage outlays, and partner awards at very low mileage prices with no fuel surcharges.

Have any of the award possibilities piqued your interest?

 

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Well, it’s January 31. So today is your last chance to transfer. Since I posted this initially, I have two other posts on Avios:

—————————–

American Express Membership Rewards transfers to British Airways Avios will come with an automatic 40% transfer bonus from now through January 31, 2015.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 3.57.36 AM

Is this British Airways transfer bonus a good deal? Should you take advantage of the 40% transfer bonus?

Until January 31, 2015, you can transfer increments of 1,000 AMEX points to 1,400 Avios automatically at membershiprewards.com.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 3.57.17 AM

 

If you have a use for Avios, this is a fantastic deal.

Avios are great for short, direct, economy tickets on airlines and routes without fuel surcharges.

For more information on Avios partners (all 18 of them), searches, award rules, fees, and how to avoid fuel surcharges, see: FREE FIRST CLASS 2014: BRITISH AIRWAYS AVIOS BASICS

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Starting in 2015, you will only be able to transfer 250,000 Membership Rewards to Delta miles per year and 200,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points to 250,000 Delta miles per year. See Delta FAQ.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 1.15.38 AM

Delta imposed the rule on American Express and Starwood, but it’s so easy to work around that it’s no big deal.

Here’s what membershiprewards.com says about the new rule:

“Beginning January 1, 2015, the maximum number of Membership Rewards® points you will be able to transfer out of a single Membership Rewards account to one or more SkyMiles accounts will be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year. Additionally, the maximum number of Membership Rewards points you will be able to transfer into a single SkyMiles account will also be limited to 250,000 points per calendar year.

You are able to transfer Membership Rewards points to a SkyMiles account without any annual limitations through December 31, 2014.”

  • What is the exact limit on transfers?
  • What are the workarounds to basically get unlimited Delta miles from Membership Rewards and Starpoints transfers?
------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

I’ve created comparison charts of how many mile a certain award costs with United MileagePlus miles versus the same award with Singapore KrisFlyer miles. Why?

  • Singapore Airlines miles can be used to book all the same Saver award space that United releases to its non-elite members without any fuel surcharges. That makes it a relevant comparison.
  • For many routes, the Singapore KrisFlyer program charges fewer miles to book a United flight than United charges to book the same flight. That makes it a profitable comparison.
  • Singapore miles are extremely easy to get since you can transfer all of the major transferable points to Singapore KrisFlyer miles. That makes it a useful comparison.

The major transferable points are:

I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Singapore miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination that United serves in economy, business, and first class.

  • For which destinations are United miles cheaper?
  • For which destinations are Singapore miles cheaper?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

Fuel Surcharges

Singapore miles are useful to book Singapore Business Class, First Class, and Suites Class because Singapore doesn’t release all that award space to its partners. Singapore miles are also useful to book United Economy, Business, and First Class.

Awards booked with United miles never include fuel surcharges.

Awards booked with Singapore miles almost always include the fuel surcharges that would be present on a paid ticket. You can verify fuel surcharges by using the ITA Matrix.

The one exception is booking United flights with Singapore miles.

United flights to Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia have fuel surcharges, but Singapore awards do not collect fuel surcharges on any United flights, not even these flights. We want to take advantage of this awesome loophole and book United flights with Singapore miles.

For this reason, all of the charts in this post compare using Singapore miles versus United miles to book United flights.

United awards and Singapore awards that only include United flights should have the exact same government taxes. You may notice a tiny variation because of currency conversions. United awards price in US dollars, and Singapore awards price in Singapore dollars.

Economy Award Charts

All award charts show the one way price in thousands of miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.28.08 AM

In economy, Singapore offers cheaper prices on flights from the continental United States to Alaska, Hawaii, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

United offers cheaper prices on most other international routes, and the two offer the same price to several countries.

Business Class Award Charts

The United column shows the award price for awards booked on United planes. Premium-cabin United awards booked on partner planes cost more miles.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.31.04 AM

Singapore offers cheaper business class awards within the United States including to Alaska and Hawaii. On these routes, United markets the best cabin on its two cabin planes as “First Class,” but you are only charged the business class price to book it. This even includes the flat beds you can book to Hawaii.

Singapore also charges fewer miles to Brazil, Chile, Argentina, the Middle East, and North Africa on United flights than United does.

United awards cost fewer miles to most of the world, and both programs charge 30,000 miles each way in business class to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America.

United BusinessFirst as its international business class is known is an underrated fully flat bed I’ve enjoyed several times.

First Class Award Charts

The United column shows the award price for awards booked on United planes. Premium-cabin United awards booked on partner planes cost more miles. I believe these are the only regions to which United flies three-cabin planes other than the occasional domestic flight.

Screen Shot 2014-07-29 at 3.28.33 AM

Singapore charges fewer miles in first class to the Middle East. Oddly, Singapore charges fewer miles in first class to the Middle East than to Europe. I’ll have more on this tomorrow.

United charges fewer miles to the rest of Asia and Australia. To Brazil and Europe, Singapore and United charge the same number of miles to fly United Global First.

United Global First is a solid business class product in my experience, but not a world class First Class.

Getting Singapore Miles

Getting Singapore miles is extremely easy now.

Citi ThankYou Points transfer 1:1 in 22-36 hours to Singapore miles. If I had all four types of points in this section, transferring ThankYou Points would be my first choice. This is the best ThankYou Points transfer partner, and the other options like redeeming the points for 1.25 cents each toward any flight aren’t nearly as valuable.

To get 55,000 ThankYou Points after spending $5,000 over 15 months, start with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

 

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 6.41.45 PM

  • Earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou® Points. Bonus points are redeemable for up to $500 in gift cards, up to $625 for airfare or other great rewards
  • Earn 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember
  • Annual Fee: $125 (fee waived for the first 12 months). On  4/19/2015, this fee will be reduced to $95 on all accounts
  • Points do not expire and earn unlimited Thank You Points
  • Travel with ease and enjoy chip based technology

The card also offers 3x points on dining and entertainment and 2x points on travel. (These categories flip flop on April 19.)

Application Link: Citi ThankYou® Premier Card

This card has a $125 annual fee that is waived the first year, but you will have to pay it once in year 2 to get the full 50,000 point bonus.

SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Singapore miles in about a week. Like all SPG 1:1 transfer partners, for every 20,000 points transferred, you’ll get 5,000 bonus miles. Try to transfer in exact 20,000 Starpoint increments to maximize this 20,000:25,000 transfer ratio.

You can earn Starpoints from the Starwood Preferred Guest personal and business credit cards from American Express.

Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Ink Plus and Sapphire Preferred transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Points from the Freedom can transfer to any of those three cards‘ accounts and from there on to Singapore.

Ultimate Rewards are the only one of the four points that also transfer 1:1 to United miles, so people with Ultimate Rewards should definitely bookmark this post.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Singapore KrisFlyer miles in a day or two. Any Gold, Platinum, Green, EveryDay, or corporate card will earn Membership Rewards.

CKANbanner_300x250_v6b

Recap

Singapore KrisFlyer miles can book all the same Saver United award space open to non-elites with United miles. Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights, so the out of pocket expense on Singapore and United awards should be the same when booking United flights.

To some destinations, Singapore miles are cheaper, including 25% cheaper in flat bed United First Class (priced as business class) to Hawaii. To others, United miles are cheaper, like premium cabins to East Asia. And to many destinations, the price is the same.

If you have Ultimate Rewards, which transfer to either United or Singapore miles, pick the cheaper award chart when you want to book a United flight.

You can also transfer Starpoints, Membership Rewards, and ThankYou Points to Singapore miles.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card offers a 50,000 ThankYou Point bonus spread over two years and awesome category bonuses like 3x points on dining and entertainment.

See Also

See also my United Award Chart vs. LifeMiles Award Chart post and United Award Chart vs. Lufthansa Award Chart post from a few weeks ago.

See also my posts on booking Singapore Suites, booking Singapore awards to Central America with free one ways to Hawaii, and booking Singapore awards to South America with free one ways to Hawaii.

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

There is a 20% transfer bonus from American Express Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Airlines miles until June 23, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 8.51.19 PM

This can be a good way to top up your Hawaiian Miles balance if you’ve recently gotten The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® with 35,000 bonus miles after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days.

  • Is this a good deal?
  • What is the fee to transfer Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Miles?
  • What are the best deals with Hawaiian Miles?
------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

0

I have talked about how Uber is the world’s best taxi app because it has clean, courteous drivers and the easiest taxi-ordering app imaginable. Tap, tap, tap, and a cab whose progress you can track towards you is on its way with a constantly-updated ETA.

And now it has gotten even better. Uber just announced that Americans with iPhones will earn 2x Membership Rewards when they pay with an eligible American Express card (a great deal) and can even use Membership Rewards to pay for their ride at a rate of 1 cent per point (not a great deal.)

Uber Rewards Email Screenshot

 

This is in addition to the current offer where new Uber users can get $20 in free rides when they sign up through my referral link. You need to sign up and take your first ride by June 16, 2014 for the $20 credit. If you miss that deadline though, you’ll still get $10 in free rides.

(I know that clicking that link takes you to a page that says $10 free credit. But I can confirm it is paying out $20 until June 16, 2014 as my targeted Uber email claimed.)

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 12.55.23 PM

  • Why is Uber the best taxi service?
  • Why is paying with Membership Rewards not a good deal?
  • What are the best current offers for American Express Membership Rewards cards?
------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

There is currently a 30% transfer bonus on Membership Rewards transfers to Virgin America.

Until April 30, 2014, 200 Membership Rewards transfer to 130 Elevate points. (The normal rate is 200 Membership Rewards to 100 Elevate points.)

Screen Shot 2014-04-18 at 2.42.37 AM

What are the sweetspots on the Virgin America chart that might make a transfer worthwhile?

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Alaska Airlines flies a direct flight between Anchorage and Honolulu.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 3.53.02 PM

I love interesting routes from Hawaii–like the Island Hopper across the Pacific–since moving to Oahu, but I think this route has some cool possibilities for everyone, like one vacation that combines Alaska and Hawaii this summer.

Anchorage and Honolulu are 2,777 miles apart. This is a sweet spot on British Airways’ distance-based award chart. The approximately six hour flight costs only 12,500 British Airways Avios + $2.50 in taxes.

Combine a one way British Airways award between Alaska and Hawaii with a few other one way awards, and you can create a really cool triangle trip to see the 49th and 50th states for as little as 40k points.

Possible Summer Trip for a Chicagoan
Possible Summer Trip for a Chicagoan

What are the best awards to combine with the Alaska Airlines flight between Hawaii and Alaska? What is the award space on these routes? In what program, do you need to amass only 40k miles to take the whole trip?

------------------------------------------------------------

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

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

Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $800 in American Airlines flights) after spending $3,000 in the first three months on the Citi Prestige® Card. Plus get a $250 Air Travel Credit each calendar year, free airport lounge access worldwide, and your fourth night free on hotel stays. Why I got the card.

Follow Me