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

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

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

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

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Last Monday, I flew from Medellin to Bogota to Buenos Aires in Avianca Business Class for 20,000 Singapore KrisFlyer miles and $45. (How I booked the award.)

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The flights pleasantly surprised me. The main flight from Bogota to Buenos Aires was a six hour redeye, on which I wanted to sleep. The angled lie-flat bed was more comfortable than I expected.

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I couldn’t capture a great image of the bed. Image courtesy of http://www.the2milmoon.com/
  • How were the lounges, seat, bed, food, service, and entertainment?

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Back in April, I won two tickets to a Capital Cities concert in Buenos Aires that came with a chance to meet the band and a cocktail reception for only 6,000 SPG Starpoints through an SPG Moments auction.

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I went to the concert on Thursday and had a blast. #spglife did a good job putting the show on, Capital Cities were great performers, and I met some fun people.

IMG_20141204_193808

Play their hit song Safe & Sound while you read the rest of the post.

  • How was the concert?
  • How well was the experience run?
  • Why is Capital Cities wearing leis?
  • Are Moments a good use of Starpoints?
  • What current Moments offers catch my eye?

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This is pretty hilarious for anyone interested in currencies, McDonald’s, politics, Argentina, or The Economist. I happen to be interested in all five.

For years, press reports have suggested that the Argentine government has “leaned on Argentina’s McDonaldses to exercise restraint in their Big Mac pricing” because The Economist publishes a semi-tongue-in-cheek Big Mac Index that tracks purchasing power parity. See the full Slate article from 2012.

I snapped the picture above at a McDonald’s in Buenos Aires on December 3, 2014.

IMG_20141203_142037

What’s so funny? 

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My friend has a destination wedding in Roatan, Honduras over the July 4th weekend. He asked me to write a post explaining to his guests how they can get there with miles. This is the specific example I’ll use, but this post is broadly applicable when you need to plan airfare for any destination wedding. Follow the same three steps in this post.

Destination weddings don’t need to break the bank for attendees. Airfare can cost as little as the roundtrip aviation taxes to your destination ($29 to Honduras), and, worst case scenario, you can always get $500 off the cheapest fare to your destination.

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Roatan, from infinitybay.com

There is a simple three-step process I would use to minimize the cost of airfare to a destination wedding.

For Roatan over July 4:

1. Search on united.com for award space from your home airport to Roatan.

2a. If there is space you want, open the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Meet its minimum spending requirement to unlock its bonus. Book the space you found on united.com.
2b. If there is not space you want, open the Arrival Plus.

3. If you open the Arrival Plus, set a Kayak Price Alert and purchase the ticket with your Arrival miles when the cash price dips.

For other destination weddings:

  1. Fill out a free credit card consultation form, and I will tell you what card(s) to open for the destination, time of year, and cabin of service you want.
  2. Meet the minimum spending requirements on those credit cards, and redeem your miles for the flights.

Let me go over these simple steps in detail at a beginners’ level, so anyone can follow along. No excuses for not showing up in Roatan!

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The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® is now offering 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase and the payment of an $89 annual fee. This is the best offer I’ve ever seen on the card, and by far the easiest 50,000 point sign up bonus to earn.

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Most Valuable Miles

I consider US Airways miles to be the most valuable airline miles because the US Airways award chart is so cheap, and the routing rules are so lax. From the post “Comparison of United, Delta, US Airways, and American Airlines Latest Award Charts,” here is a comparison of roundtrip Business Class award prices from the United States.

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One correction since I made the chart: US Airways now charges 110k miles roundtrip to North Asia

The consistent blue numbers in the US Airways column explain why I value the miles more highly than United, Delta, and American miles.

If you have a chance to use the US Airways miles in the next few months, you can take advantage of these amazing prices. If you don’t, US Airways miles will be converted to American Airlines miles on a 1:1 basis between April and June 2015.

Many people are getting The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® and the miles in anticipation of the miles becoming American Airlines miles, trying to create a large balance of American miles.

American Airlines has the second best chart in my opinion, behind only US Airways, and American Airlines has committed to NOT devaluing its chart in 2015 at the time of integration with US Airways miles.

Amazing Partners

US Airways miles can be used on any oneworld alliance member.

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My favorite uses would be for premium cabins on Cathay Pacific, Qatar, and Qantas.

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Lounging in Cathay Pacific First Class, bookable with US Airways miles

In addition, US Airways miles can be redeemed for flights on:

  • Aegean (Greece)
  • Air China
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Jet Airways (India)
  • Shenzhen Airlines (China)
  • South African Airways
  • TAP Portugal

Here are all the places you can go with the sign up bonus.

10% Back on Redeemed Miles and Other Benefits

The card comes with the following benefits now:

  • Receive one companion certificate for up to two guests to travel with you on US Airways operated flights at $99 each, plus taxes and fees
  • Take advantage of priority boarding Zone 2 on US Airways operated flights
  • Relax with a complimentary Club day pass
  • NEW! 25% in-flight savings on food, beverages & headset purchases on US Airways and American Airlines

In the Second Quarter 2015, the following benefits will be added, to match current benefits on the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®:

  • $100 flight discount on your account anniversary each year when you spend $30,000 on purchases
  • Also receive 10% of your redeemed miles back, up to 10,000 annually.

That 10% of redeemed miles up to 10,000 miles back annually is a huge benefit that I take advantage of.

Unlike past versions of this card, I do not see anywhere mentioned that it comes with a 5,000 mile discount on awards entirely flown on US Airways planes. That’s a shame to lose, but the 10% of redeemed miles back is probably better.

Can You Get This Card?

This card is separate from, and even offered by a separate bank as, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard®

Whether you have an American Airlines card is irrelevant to whether you can get The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. Many people have gotten both, even on the same day.

 

If you have had The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, you may be able to apply again and get the bonus again. My friend got three bonuses recently.

People tend to have more success if they don’t currently have a US Airways card open when they apply for a new one.

Share your application experiences in the comments.

Don’t Get This Card

Don’t get this card to go to Africa (unless South Africa AND you plan to book in the next few months.)

Oneworld alliance is very weak to Africa, but strong to Asia, Latin America, and Europe.

If you can use the miles in the next few months as US Airways miles, you can find space on South African Airways flights to Southern Africa, so that’s an exception to the general rule not to get these miles if you want to go to Africa.

What Will Happen to This Card Next Year?

When the US Airways Dividend Miles program ends and your miles become American Airlines miles, this card will begin to earn American Airlines miles.

Bottom Line

I’ve never seen such a large publicly available offer on The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. Right now you can earn 50,000 bonus miles after first purchase!

———

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

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

Application Link: The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®

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TIA: This is Argentina.

It’s an admonition, popular among expats, to lower your expectations when dealing with the government or businesses in Argentina.

I think about it like this: there is an ‘Argentina Tax‘ in money and time when you want to do anything in Argentina, and Monday I paid that tax a few times.

It started the night before in Medellin, Colombia when I realized my trip to Buenos Aires was 24 hours away, and I had to do two things before I flew that I never have to do before heading to other countries.

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Not Before I Complete Two Errands
  • Why did I have the most stressful 24 hours before my flights to Argentina?
  • What two things do you have to do before your trip to Argentina?

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On Monday, I published “Free One Ways on Alaska Airlines Awards.” You haven’t read it yet? What? Read it!

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Add a Free One Way to Mexico or Hawaii onto Your Next Alaska Airlines Award

I got some questions about people having trouble with the search function, not finding as much award space as they were expecting to find.

  • What’s the one tip I would give to find more award space when searching for free one ways on Alaska Airlines awards?

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I recently redeemed 20,000 Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles and $45 for a one way trip in Business Class from Medellin, Colombia to Buenos Aires.

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Avianca Business Class, not flat, but much better than coach

That’s over seven hours of flying up front for only 20,000 miles. United would have charged 40,000 for me to book the exact same award space. American Airlines would have charged 32,500 to fly its partner LAN Airlines in Business Class.

I got the 20,000 Singapore miles by transferring Citi ThankYou Points 1:1 to Singapore miles in about 24 hours. (Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints also transfer to Singapore miles.)

I earn ThankYou Points with my Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, which comes with 20,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 in the first three months, and 30,000 more bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of the next year. That’s 50,000 total bonus points.

The card also comes with 3x points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 2x on airfare and hotels. It is one of only three cards I usually carry abroad.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

Getting the miles and searching for award space were very easy, but something very surprising happened while booking that got me an even better award than I was expecting.

  • How did I discover this sweet spot on the Singapore award chart?
  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I book the award?
  • What weird thing happened during the award booking?

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You can add a free one way to one way awards booked with Alaska Airlines miles. That means you can add two free one ways to roundtrip awards.

A free one way is a separate trip, separated by days or months from your main trip, that adds zero extra miles to the cost of your award.

For instance, if you live in Los Angeles a free one way would be:

  • fly from Sydney to Los Angeles for 42,500 miles in economy
  • months later fly from Los Angeles to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on the same award for zero extra miles
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Free One Way in Green is Taken Months Later and Adds Zero Miles to Price

(Yes, this is a legal free one way with Alaska miles.)

Alaska Airlines has the most generous free one way policy in many ways.

  • You can add free one ways to one way awards
  • You can add free one ways to Mexico
  • You can add free one ways to Hawaii (even when the main award goes to Asia or Australia)
  • You can backtrack on your free one way
  • You can end your main award at one airport in a city and start your free one way at another airport in the city (like flying into Newark and out of JFK)
  • Alaska has amazing partners, and free one ways are available on awards that use any partner.
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You can book awards on these airlines with Alaska miles

But there are limitations on free one ways. The biggest one:

  • On any one way award with Alaska Airlines miles, you can only fly one Alaska Airlines partner in addition to Alaska Airlines.

I’ll talk through this limitation and others in my full explanation of how to book free one ways with Alaska Airlines miles.

  • How do you book a free one way with Alaska miles?
  • Which partners are searchable online?
  • Where can your free one way go?
  • In which cabin can you fly your free one way?
  • How can you get Alaska miles?

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Disclosure: National offered me compensation to write this post, and a $200 gift card for MileValue readers. All views are expressed are mine and (other) Scott’s, not those of National Car Rental.

National Car Rental’s popular ONE TWO FREE has returned through January 31, 2015. For every two qualifying rentals, you earn one free* rental day for use on a future trip. ONE TWO FREE is a points-based promo, so you can also earn free days by referring friends to the program, using the mobile app, and more.

*Like “free” award tickets, you are responsible for taxes on your free rental day.

To promote ONE TWO FREE, National put me in touch with (another) Scott, an active member of National’s Emerald Club program since 1999, to get his perspective on the Emerald Club, the ONE TWO FREE promo, and how National Car Rental works for business travelers.

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Scott in Pinnacles National Monument in Paicines, CA

How the ONE TWO FREE Promo Works

During the ONE TWO FREE promo, which runs until January 31, 2015, registered Emerald Club members can earn one free rental day for every 600 points earned. Members can combine up to three free-day certificates into a single rental.

Once you register for ONE TWO FREE, you earn 300 points for any qualifying rental of 2+ days. You can also earn points in a variety of  other ways:

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.23.37 PM

Scott said that he usually takes business trips that include car rentals paid by his employer. Those rentals earn him free rental days that he uses on personal trips.

Some other ways to earn points require just a few clicks:

  • 50 points for connecting your Emerald Club account and Facebook
  • 50 points for opting in for emails
  • 25 points for downloading the National Car Rental app
  • 25 points for visiting the Drive Alliance, a site about the partnership between National, Alamo, and Enterprise

There are ways to earn extra points on every rental:

  • 75 points for renting on the mobile app (up to 4 times)
  • 250 points for renting a GPS
  • 250 points for using the fuel service option

Scott highlighted the bonus points for using the mobile app and how easy it is to use. He said that he once took an earlier flight to Seattle for a conference near the airport. He hadn’t originally planned on renting a car at all, but he realized he had enough time to make it to Mount Rainier, which had always been a dream of his.

He used the mobile app during the plane’s taxi to the gate, and within 15 minutes of landing, he had rented his National car and was headed south. Within a few hours, he had one less item on his bucket list.

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Scott at Mount Rainier

You can also earn 300 points for each friend you refer to the Emerald Club after their first paid rental (up to 10 referrals.)

A combination of paid rentals and taking advantage of the other points-earning methods can quickly get you free rental days.

You can combine up to three free days for each free rental.

You can earn up to 50 free days during the promotion period.

Why Everyone Should Join Emerald Club (even if they won’t be frequent renters)

There are two reasons you should join the Emerald Club even if you only plan to rent a single time.

  1. At most locations, Club members do not have to go to the desk. They go straight to their cars.
  2. Club members who rent a mid-sized vehicle can pick any car off the Emerald Aisle.

1. Save time with stored preferences and skipping the desk.

When you join the Emerald Club, you input your driver’s license information, credit card information, car type, and preferences for options like insurance.

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Insurance options in your Emerald Club sign up

Scott explained that then when you rent a car as an Emerald Club member, you can skip the counter and go straight to the Emerald Aisle at most locations. Flash your credit card and license at the exit, and you are on your way. He estimated he is usually driving away from on-site lots within 10-15 minutes after walking out the airplane door. Scott raved about the speed of the process.

Scott said there’s nothing worse than showing up at your destination tired and then facing a line at the rental-car counter. And then when you get to the front, an agent goes through each option that you don’t want. Just by joining the Emerald Club, you skip that forever, which is well worth the 5 minutes it takes to sign up.

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Scott driving across the Golden Gate Bridge

Plus if you want something other than the default options you set, you always have the option to go to the counter and pick new options for your current rental.

2. Access the Emerald Aisle with a mid-sized rental

Club members who rent at least a mid-sized car get to go to a special section of the lot where they can pick any car.

Scott gushed about the control and choice.

When he anticipated a long drive, he’d look for a hybrid to save on gas or a car that had free XM radio to enjoy the drive more. He’s picked cars with lower mileage on their odometers to get the benefits of a newer car, or cars that he’s been wanting to test out in anticipation of perhaps one day buying them. He’s gotten a bigger car when he needed more room when traveling with his family, and a convertible when he was alone and wanted a more fun drive.

Bottom Line

National’s Emerald Club is free to join and lets members skip the counter and head straight to the Emerald Aisle, where they can pick any car. There’s no reason not to join.

The Emerald Club’s ONE TWO FREE promotion allows members to earn free rental days after every two qualified paid rentals. You can earn free days even more quickly with actions like linking your account to Facebook and referring friends.

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Scott at the Louisville Slugger Museum

Giveaway

National Car Rental is offering an amazing giveaway to MileValue readers. One lucky reader will win a $200 American Express Gift Card and a year of complimentary Emerald Club Executive status. There are two ways to enter:

  1. Share this blog post with hashtag #OneTwoFree and @MileValue on Twitter
  2. Leave a comment on this post about your favorite business-turned-sightseeing trip

At 11:59 PM Hawaii time on November 21, 2014, entries will close. I’ll add up the total number of entries and randomly pick one winner of the $200 American Express Gift Card and a year of complimentary Emerald Club Executive status.

————————————————————————————————————
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!

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Can you use Arrival miles to get free lodging from airbnb, the easiest way to rent someone else’s apartment while you travel?

I talked my brother into getting the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® earlier this year for the same reasons that I got one, the big sign up bonus and the two miles per dollar on all purchases. He quickly spent $3,000 in the first 3 months to unlock 40,000 bonus miles. That 46,000 miles–40,000 bonus plus 6,000 from spending–is worth $500 in free flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.

We are in Hong Kong now as part of two week trip through Asia. We’re using my cheapskate lodging techniques, avoiding hotels altogether with nights in airbnb, a hostel, and a Chinese farmer’s house.

He booked us five nights in Seoul through airbnb for $571. I told him to make sure that he booked the stay with his Arrival Plus, so we could test whether he could redeem Arrival miles (link) for an offsetting statement credit.

  • Were we able to redeem Arrival miles for a free airbnb stay?

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

Citi recently announced that ThankYou Points now transfer to seven airlines and one hotel chain.

Since you can earn up to 50,000 bonus ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card, I’ve been looking into those transfer partners to find the high value redemptions that maximize ThankYou points. I’ve harped on the sweet spots, luxury, and generous stopover rules of Singapore KrisFlyer miles already.

Today I want to show how to maximize Cathay Pacific Asia Miles for trips to Europe and South America.

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Asia Miles has two distance-based charts for travel on oneworld partners and non-oneworld partners like Alaska Airlines, Air New Zealand, and Aer Lingus. If you maximize your routings and fly partners without fuel surcharges, there are a lot of high value redemptions in the Asia Miles program.

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  • What airlines can be booked with Cathay Pacific Asia Miles?
  • How many stopovers and open jaws can an award have?
  • What fuel surcharges are imposed on awards, and how can you avoid them?

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