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Updated with the Chase 5/24 rule going into effect

Will you be approved for a new card? Will you get its bonus?

What if you’ve already had that card and gotten its bonus before?

The answer to these questions depends on the issuing bank of the credit card. The issuing bank is not the payment network like Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. The issuing bank is the bank that gives you the card, collects interest, and provides customer service. For rewards cards, the main issuing banks are Chase, Citi, American Express, Barclaycard, and Bank of America.

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Let’s look at the rules for each issuing bank, which vary widely.

Chase

  • If you have 5+ new credit card accounts with any bank in the last 24 months, you will be denied all Chase personal and business credit cards. However if you were targeted for a Chase offer, you can still be approved even if you have 5+ new credit cards in the last 24 months.
  • You can only get the bonus on the same Chase card once every 24 months. This 24 month clock starts when you got the last bonus (which may be several months after you got the card).
  • You can be approved for multiple cards on the same day. I know people who have been approved for two personal and one business card from Chase on their first ever credit card applications.

American Express

  • You can only get the bonus on an American Express card once per lifetime. However if you were targeted for an American Express offer, you can still be approved even if you have 5+ new credit cards in the last 24 months.
  • You are limited to holding four American Express credit cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (AMEX Gold, Everyday, Delta, and SPG are credit cards.)
  • Separately, you are limited to holding four American Express charge cards. Both personal and business count toward this limit. (AMEX Platinum is a charge card.)

Citi

  • You can be approved for no more than one Citi card in an eight day period. If you want two Citi cards, get them on days 1 and 9.
  • You can be approved for no more than two Citi cards in a 65 day period. If you want three Citi cards, get them on days 1, 9, and 66.
  • You can only get the bonus on a Citi card you’ve had before if the old card has been closed for 24 months.

Barclaycard

  • Applicants with zero Barclaycards may be able to get several at once.
  • Applicants who have a Barclaycard will not be approved for another for at least six months since the last application.
  • Barclaycard denies people for having too many Barclaycards, not enough spending on existing Barclaycards, too much credit with Barclaycard, or too many accounts with other banks.

Bank of America

  • At least for the Alaska Airlines personal and business cards, the only cards worth getting, you can get as many as you’d like at one time. I get one of each every 91 days, but people have gotten multiple at once or waited less time between applications.

Bottom Line

Every issuing bank has different rules on how often you can apply for its cards and how often you can get a new bonus on a card you’ve had previously. The rules are changing, and the general trend is toward a tightening of the rules. The rules are sometimes written down and sometimes figured out by aggregating data points on FlyerTalk or good, old-fashioned experimentation.

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

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

Earn 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.

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There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.

  • For free luxury hotel stays and First Class flights
  • To travel to more countries than you could otherwise afford
  • To take your family on vacation
  • To visit home for the holidays
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending

Whatever your reason for coming to MileValue, there is a rewards card that suit your needs.

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Swimming in a Cave in Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam

In the last few years, I’ve been to dozens of countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

And I’ve generally flown Business or First Class between those adventures on tickets that cost me not thousands or hundreds of dollars, but tens of dollars.

If you don’t have the money to take your dream trips, the good news is that you don’t need much money. By maximizing the sign up bonuses on rewards cards, anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.

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Where I’ve Been Through May 2016

Here are, in my opinion, the top ten rewards credit cards.

1. Ink Plus

Until May 15, 2016, the Ink Plus is a business card that offers 70,000 Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, British Airways, Singapore, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

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

The annual fee is $95, and it is NOT waived for the first year during this 70,000 point promotion.

Unfortunately you can only apply for the 70,000 point offer in a Chase branch. There is a similar offer with a 60,000 bonus point offer you can apply for online.

While I can not directly link to the current Ink Plus offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

2. Platinum Card from American Express

Until June 22, 2016, the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz comes with 75,000 Membership Rewards after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Membership Rewards transfer to around 20 hotel and airline programs including Delta, Singapore, and British Airways.

The card has a $475 annual fee in the first year. But it comes with huge benefits like airline fee reimbursement, airport lounge access, and hotel status.

For more info on setting up and maximizing the benefits, see Get the Most Out of Your Platinum Card.

Landing Page: Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

The “regular” Platinum card is worse than this offer because it has a smaller sign up bonus and only a $25 lower annual fee.

3. Citi Prestige Card

For a limited time, the Citi Prestige® Card comes with 50,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open, $250 in airfare or airline fee credits per calendar year, access to the American Airlines Admirals Clubs and Priority Pass lounges, 3x points per dollar on air travel and hotels, the fourth night free on paid hotel stays, three free rounds of golf per year, and a $450 annual fee.

I got the Citi Prestige when it only offered 30,000 bonus points for its amazing benefits. Now that it also has one of the biggest sign up bonuses on the market, it shoots up my rankings. I value the current sign up bonus at $1,250.

The Citi Prestige® Card is premium card that is designed to give travelers huge benefits to offset the big annual fee. For the first 12 months of holding the card, you are guaranteed to get more than $450 from the card if you maximize the $250 worth of statement credits for purchases of airline tickets or airline fees each calendar year (that’s $500 worth in the first 12 months), a $100 statement credit to offset Global Entry, and Priority Pass and American Airlines lounge access.

Beyond the 50,000 point sign up bonus, the Citi Prestige® Card earns:

  • 3x points on Air Travel and Hotels
  • 2x points on Dining at Restaurants and Entertainment

ThankYou Points transfer to 12 airlines and one hotel. Or you can use the points for 1.33 cents off any flight on any airline with no blackouts or 1.6 cents off American Airlines flights. Here’s how to use ThankYou Points.

Click these links for a full explanation of the card’s benefits and for a comparison to the American Express Platinum Card.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

I recently used 30,000 ThankYou Points, transferred to Singapore miles, to book myself United First Class from Houston to Honolulu.

4. Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50k Ultimate Rewards after spending $4k in 3 months. Ultimate Rewards transfer 1:1 to United, Singapore, British Airways, Korean, Southwest, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and more.

You also get 5k bonus points for adding an authorized user while applying, so I think of this as a 55k bonus point card. (Adding an authorized user does not prevent that person from getting the card at the same time or in the future as a primary account holder and getting the full sign up bonus.)

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

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

While I can not directly link to the current Sapphire Preferred offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

5. British Airways Card

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

Spend $15,000 in the first 12 months for another 25,000 bonus Avios. The maximum bonus is 75,000 total Avios for spending $15,000 in the first 12 months of which $2,000 came in the first three.

The card comes with 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on other purchases.

British Airways Avios are perfect for short, direct, economy flights on British Airways partners that do not levy fuel surcharges like these partners.

For instance, the west coast to Hawaii on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines flights for 12,500 Avios or only 4,500 Avios between New York and a dozen destinations are two of many sweet spots.

The card has a $95 annual fee that is NOT waived.

While I can not directly link to the current British Airways Visa offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

6. Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card is the best card for giving you free luxury hotel nights. The card comes with two free weekend nights at Hiltons worldwide after spending $2,500 in the first four months. The free nights are best spent at top-tier Hiltons and Conrads that can go for $1,000 or more per night.

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

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

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

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

Application Link: Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card

7. Club Carlson Visa

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card offers 85,000 bonus Club Carlson points after spending $2,500 on the card in the first 90 days.

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The card earns 5 points per dollar on all purchases and 10 on purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels, so you’ll earn at least another 12,500 points from meeting the minimum spending requirement. After meeting the minimum spending requirement, you’ll have at least 97,500 Gold Points.

    • Free nights at Radisson, Park Plaza, and other properties start at 9,000 Gold Points

The Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card is a must have if you are traveling near the 1,000 participating Club Carlson hotels. I picked up the card in 2013 and don’t ever plan on canceling it because of the 40,000 points I earn every year on my card’s anniversary upon paying the $75 annual fee.

Application link: Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card

8. AAdvantage Executive

The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $5,000 in the first three months.

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The card also comes with Admirals Club lounge membership, which explains its $450 annual fee. Admirals Club membership means you can access over 90 lounges worldwide for free no matter what airline you’re flying, and you can bring in two guests for free.

The card offers 10,000 American Airlines status miles if you spend $40,000 on it in a calendar year. Also get a free checked bag for you and up to eight companions when you fly American Airlines, priority boarding, 2x miles on American Airlines purchases, and no foreign transaction fees.

Application Link: Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard®

9. Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom Unlimited comes with 15,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months and 2,500 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user.

The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on all purchases.

Ultimate Rewards can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent each– that’s why all the marketing of the card features cash back language. BUT if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus card (#2 and #3 on this list), there is a second way of redeeming the Freedom Unlimited’s Ultimate Rewards: transfer them to your Sapphire Preferred or Ink Plus account and from there to airline miles or hotel points. I call this the Freedom Two Step.

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I value several of the transfer partners’ miles in the 1.6 to 1.8 cent range, so the Freedom Two Step should allow you to get far more than 1 cent of value from those same Ultimate Rewards.

Check out my full post on the Freedom Two Step for more explanation, screenshots of the process, and high value awards with the partner programs.

The Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee.

While I can not directly link to the current Freedom Unlimited offer, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

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

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

Earn 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.

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A few years ago, I created a manual for award booking. I thought the best way to organize it was to explain the key concepts of all awards in the beginning, and then explain each major program in detail afterwards. Here is the first section of the manual–nine key concepts of all award bookings. I’ve edited it slightly today to make sure it is up to date.

Are there any other key concepts you would add to a manual of award booking?

Key Concept 1

Each type of miles has its own rules. When booking an award, the operant rules are the rules of the airline whose miles you are using, not the airlines you are flying.

You always deal with the airline whose miles you’re using. You book with them. You follow their rules. You pay their fees.

The only two things you don’t do with the carrier whose miles you are using are pick seats and check in. You pick seats with each airline you are flying by calling the airlines you are flying. You check in with the first carrier you are flying each direction.

Question: You are booking an award with British Airways Avios that flies American Airlines flights. What airline’s award rules do you need to follow?

[If you answered British Airways, you’re right. If you answered American Airlines, reread the last few sentences.]

Key Concept 2

You can [almost] never transfer miles from one airline’s account to a partner airline’s account. That means if you have 30,000 British Airways Avios and 30,000 American Airlines miles, you cannot combine them even though British Airways and American Airlines are partners.

*I said [almost] never because there is one exception. You can freely transfer Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios if both your Iberia and British Airways accounts are 90 days old.

Key Concept 3

In most circumstances, you cannot combine miles from two people’s accounts in the same program in an efficient way.

For instance, you cannot combine your 30,000 American Airlines miles with your wife’s 30,000 American Airlines miles unless you pay 1.25 cent per mile–$375 in this case. That destroys almost all of the value the miles, so it is an awful choice.

Hawaiian Airlines (only if the recipient is a Hawaiian Airlines cardholder), Korean Air, and British Airways are key exceptions where you can combine miles freely between accounts.

Key Concept 4

But you can almost* always use anyone’s miles to book an award for anyone else, and you can use miles from partner airlines to book seats on the same flights.

So in the 30k Avios and 30k AA example in Key Concept 2, you could book two people on the same Miami to Lima flight on LAN Airlines because LAN is a partner of both British Airways and American Airlines, and you can use both Avios and American Airlines miles to book on LAN.

Or in the 30k American Airlines miles in your account and 30k in your wife’s example in Key Concept 3, you can book yourself a roundtrip economy ticket to Europe, booking the outbound from your account and the return from hers since

  • each direction costs 30k miles
  • you can book oneway awards on American Airlines
  • and you can book an award for anyone with anyone else’s miles (Key Concept 4)

More info on Key Concepts 2-4: Two Foundational Questions in Miles Collecting

*Korean Air only allows you to book for yourself and your immediate family (with proof of relationship.)

Key Concept 5

In general, if an airline releases Saver award space on a flight, it releases that space equally to all partners. We use this to our advantage by searching the easiest place to search for an airline’s award space no matter what miles we’ll use to book the space.

For instance, I’ll search award space for Alaska Airlines flights on aa.com whether I plan to book the space with American, British Airways, Alaska, or Delta miles because aa.com is the easiest place to search the space and all four of those partners have equal access to Alaska Airlines award space.

Key Concept 6

All flights must price at the Saver award level for an itinerary to price at that level.

Key Concept 7

Rules that are the same for nearly all miles:

  1. You can book up to 330 or more days out. This varies slightly by type of miles.
  2. There are generally three classes of service on international flights: economy, Business, First
  3. There are generally two classes of service on domestic flights: economy and First
  4. Domestic First is generally treated as Business Class. It is priced at the Business Class price and can be added to international Business Class awards without increasing the price of the award. This is true because, like Business Class, it is only better than one other cabin on the plane.
  5. Every airline has “low miles price” award seats–called Saver, Low, MileSAAver, Level 1, etc–and “high miles price” award seats—called Standard, Medium, High, AAnytime. The high price ones cost twice the miles generally. We only want low miles price seats. (more info: Do I have enough miles? A Beginners’ Guide to Navigating Award Charts)
  6. Partner award space always prices at the low miles price.
  7. American, United, Delta (kind of), Hawaiian, Air France, Air Canada, Alaska, Singapore, Korean, and others have award charts. The cost of an award is determined by the region of the departure city and the region of the arrival city. (more info: Do I have enough miles? A Beginners’ Guide to Navigating Award Charts)
  8. British Airways, Iberia, LAN, Japan Airlines and others have a distance based chart. The distance of each segment (British Airways, Iberia, LAN) or the distance of the whole itinerary (Japan Airlines) as actually flown determines the award price.
  9. JetBlue, Virgin America (redeemed on Virgin America flights), Southwest, and others have revenue-based miles. The price of an award depends on the price of the flight. There are no blackouts. For more info on all five types of miles, see: The Five Types of Frequent Flyer Miles
  10. You always have to pay government taxes on awards. Government taxes for flights departing the US are always $5.60 per direction. International flights incur much higher taxes, so $100 per ticket is common.
  11. There are certain fees that redeeming miles sometimes incurs including phone fees, change fees, cancellation fees, close in ticketing fees, and more. These vary by airline and can generally be found by googling “[airline-in-question] award fees”
  12. Using certain miles and flying certain partners incurs fuel surcharges. These can be hundreds of dollars per person per direction. Foreign programs generally add fuel surcharges to all awards and American programs add them to zero awards, though American Airlines adds them when redeeming miles on British Airways flights and Delta adds them on all awards that originate in Europe (as well as a number of other partners).
  13. Use these definitions for a stopover, and you will never be confused: On a domestic/Canada award: a layover is a stop of less than 4 hours. A stopover is a stop of more than 4 hours. On an international award: a layover is a stop of less than 24 hours. A stopover is a stop of more than 24 hours.
  14. Use this definition for an open jaw. An open jaw occurs when the origin of your outbound doesn’t match up with the destination of your return. An open jaw also occurs when the origin of your return doesn’t match up with the destination of your outbound. Holes in the middle of the outbound or return are not open jaws. They are holes. You can’t have holes. For more information: What is an Open Jaw? How Can My Award Have Two Open Jaws?

Key Concept 8

The major ways I will use to define each type of miles are:

  • Can you book a oneway trip for half the price of a roundtrip or does the airline charge the roundtrip price on all awards?
  • How many stopovers can you get on an award? Where can it be?
  • How many open jaws can you have?
  • What are the routing rules of an award? Possible routing rules include:
    • Maximum Permitted Mileage or some percentage of it. Maximum Permitted Mileage is a term of art. It is the maximum number of miles you can fly for a given origin/destination pair on a paid ticket. You can find it for a given airline and origin/destination pair at ExpertFlyer. More info: Using Expert Flyer
    • Maximum number of segments: An airline can limit the number of semgents you can fly on a single award. Think of a segment as a flight number because even if you land, if you continue on the same flight number, it is only one segment.
    • Limit the oceans you can cross or continents where you can land. An airline could prohibit routing through South America on an award between North America on Europe. An airline could say you can’t cross the Atlantic and Pacific on the same award.
  • Whether you will incur fuel surcharges redeeming the miles

Key Concept 9

Many awards allow the booking of free one ways. A free one way is a separate one way trip added onto your main award for zero additional miles. Read here about the current state of free one ways.

  • All free one ways rely on a stopover at your home airport to separate the main trip from the free one way.
  • All free one ways must be before the main award to your home airport or after the main award from your home airport.
  • Airlines don’t know what a free one way is, so your free one way will be treated as part of your main award and must be part of your outbound or return, with all that entails. Some things that might entail:
    • If your free one way is after your main award from your home airport, your return ends not at your home airport, but at the destination of your free oneway.
    • If your free one way is before your main award to your home airport, your outbound begins at the origin of the free one way. This means that if you miss this first leg, the whole award will be cancelled. (If you ever miss a segment, the rest of your ticket is cancelled.)
  • A free one way can be constructed whenever you are allowed a stopover at your home airport and an open jaw. The open jaw arises because there is now a mismatch between the start of one leg and end of the other since one of these will be your home airport, and the other will be the place visited in your free one way.

Bottom Line

Understanding these key concepts will help you lay a foundation of knowledge that enables you to book high value awards around the globe.

But if you would still like some help, contact my Award Booking Service and we can do the leg work for you.

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

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

Earn 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.

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Last updated April 25, 2016 to remove American Airlines awards that went up in price last month and add more Singapore and Korean awards.

Until 2014, the best way to use miles to book a round-the-world (RTW) trip was to save a lot of one mileage currency and book a special RTW award with those miles. If you’ve saved up miles for years to book yourself such a once-in-a-lifetime trip, you’re probably dismayed that the best two RTW awards from American Airlines and Delta were eliminated in 2014.

You can still book RTW trips in 2016, but now the best way is as a series of one way awards across many different programs to take advantage of sweet spots on each airline’s award chart.

In this post, I’ll list some of the cheapest awards, or sweet spots, from each region. When planning your RTW trip in 2016 or beyond, refer to these lists to piece together your trip. For instance, if you know you want to visit South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and Australia, look under each of those headings to find cheap awards to the next region.

But before getting to those lists, let’s consider other types of tickets that should be part of your RTW award.

Avios & Cash

All of the awards on the lists in the next section are from programs with region-based miles. These miles usually offer the best value for international awards.

But before using region-based miles consider using Avios or cash for appropriate flights on your RTW trip.

Cash

Use cash if the possible awards are not getting you a good return on your miles (1.2 to 1.8+ cents each, depending on the miles.) This will be very likely when a low cost carrier flies the route you want to fly, especially within Europe and Southeast Asia or to Iceland.

When cash flights are the best option, you don’t need to actually use cash to book them.

You can book them with points that can be used like cash toward any flight like ThankYou Points or Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®, or you can use the $250 per year airfare statement credit on the Citi Prestige.

Avios

British Airways Avios are fantastic for short, direct, economy awards especially when you can fly a partner with no fuel surcharges. There are tons of times you would want to use Avios on your RTW trip. A partial list:

  • West coast of United States to Hawaii
  • Miami, Dallas, or New York to Latin America or Caribbean
  • Intra-Latin America international flights
  • Intra-Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Ecuador (including Galapagos), and Chile (including Easter Island)
  • Intra-South Africa
  • Intra-Australia
  • Intra-Europe, especially on airberlin or Niki for no fuel surcharges
  • Boston to Ireland on Aer Lingus
  • India to Sri Lanka to change zones on the American Airlines chart from India/Middle East to Asia 2
  • Europe to Israel

Region-to-Region Awards

For the longhaul awards, you’ll almost certainly get the best value by using airline miles that allow one way redemptions with the price based on a region-based award chart. A partial list of such airline miles:

  • American Airlines AAdvantage (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Delta SkyMiles (transfer partner of AMEX Membership Rewards and SPG)
  • United MileagePlus (transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards)
  • Alaska Mileage Plan (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Singapore KrisFlyer (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG)
  • Asiana Mileage Club (transfer partner of SPG)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (transfer partner of AMEX and SPG)
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (transfer partner of AMEX, Chase, Citi, and SPG)
  • Air France Flying Blue (transfer partner of AMEX, Citi, and SPG)
  • Korean SkyPass (transfer partner of Chase and SPG)
  • Etihad Guest (transfer partner of Citi and SPG)

Some of the awards below are listed because they cost very few miles. Some are listed because they present amazing value in a premium cabin. Links take you to longer articles on that award. Any prices listed are one way unless otherwise noted. If no cabin is listed, the award is in economy. If no fuel surcharges are mentioned, the award has none. Remember to check Avios redemptions and cash tickets before booking any awards on these lists.

From United States

To Europe

To Korea or Japan

To China or Southeast Asia

To Central America, Mexico, Caribbean

  • with 12,500 American Airlines miles each year from April 27 – May 20 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • to Central America only with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • to Central America only with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador

  • with 15,000 Alaska miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights
  • with 15,000 Etihad miles each year from January 16 – June 14 or September 7 – November 14 on American Airlines flights

To Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

To Hawaii

To Fiji

To Australia/New Zealand

From Europe

When leaving Europe, don’t fly your longhaul flight out of London. You’ll pay $200 to $300 in taxes for starting a premium cabin itinerary in the United Kingdom. Hop a low cost carrier flight from London to somewhere on the continent and fly your longhaul award to the next region from there.

Intra-Europe

To United States

  • See From United States to Europe above

To Hong Kong

To Middle East/India/Maldives

To South America

From the Middle East

Intra-Middle East

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Middle East above

To East Asia

  • in Business Class with 40,000 American Airlines miles
  • in First Class with 50,000 American Airlines miles
From North Asia

To United States

  • See From United States to Korea or Japan and From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Australia/New Zealand

To Oceania

To Southeast Asia

From Southeast Asia

Intra-China

Intra-Indonesia

To United States

  • See From United States to China or Southeast Asia

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

To Australia/New Zealand

To North Asia

From South America

Flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges, so miles that otherwise collect fuel surcharges on most awards are especially well used from Brazil to Europe.

to United States

  • See From United States to Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, or Ecuador and From United States to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia, or Uruguay

to Europe

  • See From Europe to South America. Note that traveling South America to Europe is better than Europe to South America because flights leaving Brazil cannot have fuel surcharges.

Intra-South America

to Central America

  • (from Northern South America) with 10,000 United miles

to Africa

From Australia/New Zealand

Intra Australia/New Zealand

To Rest of Oceania

To North America

  • See From North America to Australia/New Zealand and From North America to Fiji

To Europe

  • See From Europe to Hong Kong

To Southeast Asia

  • See from Southeast Asia to Australia/New Zealand

To North Asia

  • See from North Asia to Australia/New Zealand

Please add your other favorite awards in the comments, and I may include them in this post. Bookmark this post for reference when you want to book a RTW trip.

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

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

Earn 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.

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On roundtrip United awards, you get one free stopover in addition to your destination and up to two open jaws. I’ve given a few examples of how permissive United is in allowing us to combine these rules (1, 2, and 3).

I want to give a lot more examples and a clear structure of how and why to book what I’ll call “Three One Ways Awards.”

What are United Three One Ways Awards?

Imagine a roundtrip United award with a stopover.

  • New York to Frankfurt (stopover)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (destination)
  • Delhi to New York

This is legal, and a little bit interesting. You get to see Europe for zero extra miles on your award to India. Now imagine that there is an open jaw between the origin (New York) and the final destination.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Los Angeles

This is legal and a little more interesting, but you probably either live in New York or Los Angeles, so there’s little practical benefit.

Now imagine that you keep this structure of a stopover and an open jaw, but throw the idea of flying anything like a roundtrip out the window.

  • New York to Frankfurt
  • Frankfurt to Delhi
  • Delhi to Bangkok

Amazingly this too is legal. And it’s very interesting because it can be part of a New Yorker’s round-the-world or other very BIG trip. This map should make it clear why I call this a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.49 AM

The trick is that we book it as a single United “roundtrip” award and not as three one ways. Why?

Well in this example, if you booked all three segments as one way awards, you would pay 90,000 United miles in economy:

  • New York to Frankfurt (30,000)
  • Frankfurt to Delhi (25,000)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

If you book the one ways as a single “roundtrip,” you pay 77,500 United miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.48.42 AM

  • New York to Frankfurt to Delhi (42,500 with free stopover)
  • Delhi to Bangkok (35,000)

And we can find even bigger discounts and sweeter spots on the United chart.

How to Book a Three One Ways Award

You book Three One Ways Awards on united.com’s advanced search page by selecting “Yes” and “Multi-city” for the second and third questions.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.06.55 PM

You may want to select three suitable one ways by using the United award chart . A United Three One Ways Award will touch up to four regions on the chart. Of those four regions, you are specifically looking for three regions such that a one way between A and C is way cheaper than A to B plus B to C.

For instance:

  • A = Japan
  • B = Australia/New Zealand
  • C = Oceania

A to B is 22,500 miles. B to C is 22,500 miles. So A to B plus B to C is 45,000 miles. A to C is only 12,500 miles, so getting a free stopover in B as part of a Three One Ways Award would be a huge savings.

Unfortunately you don’t decide on a Three One Ways Award what is the destination and what is the stopover. I tried to book Seoul to Tokyo to Auckland to the Cook Islands to take advantage of the huge discount I just mentioned between Japan and Oceania.

If I could choose the stopover, I’d make it Auckland and have the destination be Tokyo. Then the award would be 27,500 miles (Seoul to Tokyo is 15,000 and Tokyo to Cook Islands is 12,500.)copy

Unfortunately United’s computer made Auckland the destination and Tokyo the stopover. That made the award 42,500 miles (Seoul to Auckland is 20,000 and Auckland to Cook Islands is 22,500.)

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.45.11 AM

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.06.28 PM

United open jaws can only be at the destination or origin, so I tried to force the destination to be in Japan by changing the award to:

  • Seoul to Fukuoka (open jaw in Japan to force it to be the destination)
  • Tokyo to Auckland
  • Auckland to Cook Islands

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.52.06 AM

Unfortunately I got an error online. I need to call in to attempt to book this award. When I call in, I’ll either be told the award is illegal or costs 27,500 miles I believe.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 8.07.23 PM

Weird Prices During Booking

The final miles price of the entire roundtrip award will always make sense as the sum of two one way awards, but while booking, some funny award prices will show up. Like this part of the award pricing at 21.3k miles or another time I saw awards listed for 0 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.46.49 AM

Those are caused by United arbitrarily assigning a portion of a one way award price to the parts before and after the stopover. The above screenshot is taken from the New York to Frankfurt to Delhi to Bangkok example. The 21.3k miles represents 21,250 or half of the 42,500 mile price from the United States to India.

The Rest of Your Trip

Three One Way Awards should be part of a bigger, perhaps round-the-world, trip. You can fly the three one ways to your home airport, from your home airport, or somewhere in the middle.

These awards should be combined with other sweet spot awards that I’ve compiled in this post.

Examples

Los Angeles to Honolulu to Bangkok to Sydney

United’s computer sees this as Los Angeles to Bangkok (stopover in Honolulu) with a return of Bangkok to Sydney. It is 17,500 miles cheaper to book all of this as a roundtrip award in economy than as three separate awards.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.55 AM

Since the award breaks in Bangkok, that means you can take advantage of the way-too-cheap United awards from Southeast Asia to Australia: Thai First Class for 40,000 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.43.49 AM

Economy for the first two thirds and First Class to Australia is 80,000 miles total.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 12.44.21 AMNew York to Munich to Kigali to Sao Paulo

In economy, this would be 90,000 United miles as three one ways or 70,000 miles as a Three One Ways Award.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.44.20 AM

Because Africa to South America is such a steal in Business Class (45k miles one way), I decided to book that leg in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.22 AM The first two thirds of the trip in economy and the last third in Business Class is just 85,000 United miles. Booking as one award saves 20,000 miles.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.45.42 AM Houston to Panama City to Lima to Buenos Aires

Just booking Houston to Buenos Aires is 30,000 miles in economy. Booking each leg individually would be 47,500 miles. Book all this as a Three One Ways Award for 37,500 miles.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.47.26 AM

United considers the destination on this award to be Panama City.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.48.49 AM It’s a little more expensive if you get United to consider the destination to be Peru, which you can do by adding an open jaw there.Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.39 AM The price jumps to 40,000 miles if the destination is Cuzco.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.51.49 AM

Failed Online Attempts

Sometimes throwing an open jaw into the award in an attempt to pick the destination caused an error that looked like this.
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.36 AM I failed to book Los Angeles to Guam, Tokyo to Auckland to Fiji online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.55.56 AM
I also failed to book New York to Munich to Zurich, Brussels to Kigali online.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 10.41.56 AM

I think these awards would be bookable by phone. More research is needed.

Bottom Line

You can use the free stopover on roundtrip United awards as intended for an en route stopover, to set up a free one way, or as part of a Three One Ways Award.

The Three One Ways Award is a useful way to string together three one ways onto a single award for massive miles savings.

Post some great Three One Way Award opportunities in the comments. Make sure to include:

  1. The cities involved
  2. How many miles total in the cabin you’d want to fly
  3. How many miles you’d save over booking three awards
  4. Whether your dummy booking on united.com was successful
  5. What united.com chose as the destination and the stopover
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Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

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

Earn 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.

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I was having lunch with my friend the other day, and we started talking about miles and points. She has some credit cards and has even made a few redemptions, but from the conversation it was clear that there was a lot about our world she didn’t know.

I gave her one homework assignment that I thought would greatly improve her grasp on miles. Maybe the headline is a little strong that completing it will make her an expert, but it will certainly grant her a lot of expertise and put her on a path to being an expert.

The assignment: book Cathay Pacific Business Class from Miami to Hong Kong with American Airlines miles.

Here are the things she will learn by doing this one simple exercise:

  1. Where to search Cathay Pacific and American Airlines award space
  2. How to search ba.com
  3. How to search aa.com
  4. How to book an AA award
  5. American Airlines award booking rules
  6. How to use Wikipedia
  7. How to lead a phone agent
  8. What rules are the same and different with different types of miles
  9. A lot more

Here are the steps she will need to follow, which will teach her all the preceding things.

  1. Figure out where Cathay Pacific flies in the United States by searching Wikipedia.
  2. Figure out how to get to those places from Miami, also on Wikipedia.
  3. Figure out where to search Cathay Pacific award space (and what space there that American Airlines miles can book.)
  4. Figure out where to search American Airlines award space and what cabins she can connect to Cathay Pacific Business Class.
  5. Figure out how to actually book or put on hold the space she has found.

To complete those steps, first she should probably read the Beginning of the Award Booking Manual I released.

  • From Concept 5, she’d learn that she can search Cathay Pacific award space anywhere that it is searchable, and American Airlines should have equal access to that space since generally airlines release their Saver award space equally to all partners.
  • From Concept 7-4, she’d learn that she can connect American Airlines domestic First Class to Cathay Pacific international Business Class for no extra miles.
  • From Concept 6, she’d learn that she must find Saver space on all legs.

Then she can check out my series on redeeming American Airlines miles. In part three, I list where to search award space on all American Airlines partners. She’d learn to search Cathay Pacific space on ba.com, and American Airlines space on aa.com. Here are tutorials on searching aa.com and ba.com.

She could learn which routes to search by reading up on how to use Wikipedia for award searches.

Then she’d actually do the award searching and booking.

I didn’t specify dates. Maybe that will make her search around and try to find the best availability patterns, a very useful thing to know when timing how far in advance to book. She might notice that Cathay Pacific Business Class award space in most available 10-11 months out…

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.41 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.05.47 PM

…and within a few days of departure.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PMScreen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.07.32 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.04.35 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.07.16 PM

She’d also pick up a few tricks for searching ba.com like always specify one passenger no matter how many are flying because it is the rare website that tells you how many award seats are available in each cabin if you just search for one person. (Note that when there is no number of seats listed, there are 8+ available seats in that cabin.)

On aa.com, she’d learn to specify “non-stop only” on her search results to narrow in on what she wants more quickly. And she could find results like this that line up with search results from ba.com.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.10.38 PM

American Airlines flight 1510 lands at 12:35 PM at JFK on October 13. That lines up perfectly with the 2:50 PM departure of Cathay Pacific 831. She has found an itinerary that matches her goal.

There may be even better itineraries that connect in Chicago, Los Angeles, Newark, Boston, or San Francisco. Hopefully she’d check all of those to get even more experience searching.

As a side note, if she had done what most beginners do, and gone straight to aa.com, a seemingly logical place to start with American Airlines miles, she would have “learned” there was no Business Class award space from Miami to Hong Kong on October 13. Doing it the right way detailed in this post, though, she found the space easily.

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 12.22.20 PM

Now on to booking it.

She will learn that if you can’t book an award online, you always call the airline whose miles you want to use. This award can’t be booked online with American Airlines miles because Cathay Pacific space isn’t on aa.com.

She would call American Airlines at 800-882-8880, and if she just asked the agent to find her space from Miami to Hong Kong, she’d probably learn that that is very slow and might not even work. The agent might not find what my friend found. She’d learn just to lead the call and tell the agent that she had found specific space that she wanted to book, and she would read the date, cabin, and flight number of the American Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights to the agent.

She’d learn that with American Airlines awards, you can book immediately or put them on a five day hold. She’d learn that the phone fee is waived for American Airlines awards that cannot be booked online.

Are these rules the same for every type of miles? Nope.

If she tried to book China Southern award space with Delta miles, she’d see what rules are basically the same for all awards, and what rules vary. And then she’d basically be an expert on miles and points with the caveat that there is always more to learn.

Bottom Line

The best way to learn about miles and points is through dummy bookings. Give yourself a goal booking, try to do it, and google MileValue posts when you get stuck. Try to do this with all types of miles until you have a good handle on each one.

Congrats! Now you are an expert on redeeming miles which automatically makes you an expert at deciding which miles to accrue.

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

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

Earn 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.

19 3573

The personal and business American Airlines credit cards are each offering 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. Getting both cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $6,000 will earn you 106,000+ American Airlines miles, which you can use for up to four international roundtrips.

  • How to Get the Cards (and Who Is Eligible)
  • Meeting the Minimum Spending Requirements
  • Redeeming the Miles for Family Vacations, Luxurious First Class, and More

How to Get the Cards

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® are each offering 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Don’t be thrown off by the word “Platinum.” Both cards have no annual fee the first 12 months, and then $95.

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 6.44.51 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 3.59.13 PM

A person can get both cards and can hold both cards simultaneously. You just have to make sure there is at least a week between your applications because the cards are issued by Citi, and Citi won’t approve more than one card in a week. To be safe, apply for the personal card one day, and the business card eight days later.

From the date of the personal card application, you’ll have 3 months plus 8 days to meet the total $6,000 spending requirements to get 106,000 total American Airlines miles. (Always confirm the exact date by which you have to meet a minimum spending requirement when activating a card.)

While meeting the minimum spending requirements, keep in mind the cards’ different category bonuses. The personal card offers 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. The business card offers 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, telecommunications and car rental merchants, and after 11/15/15 at gas stations.

(Probably in exchange for its worse earning potential, the personal card offers 10% back on redeemed American Airlines miles up to 100,000 redeemed/10,000 back per calendar year.)

Who Is Eligible for the Bonuses

If you have never had a personal or business Platinum American Airlines card, you are in the clear to get these cards with their bonuses. If you have had Gold or Executive cards, that doesn’t matter. These are different products.

If you have had these Platinum cards before, you can get the bonuses again. According the received wisdom of dozens of FlyerTalkers, the rules are currently:

  • Personal Platinum card: you can get the bonus again after your old personal Platinum card has been closed for 18 months.
  • Business Platinum card: some people can get the bonus again after 95+ days from their last business Platinum application. Some people can never get the bonus again. “There is no telling into which bucket you fall prior to applying.”

What Can You Do with 106,000 American Airlines Miles?

1. Take a Round-the-World Trip

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.57.35 PM

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

Screen Shot 2014-10-29 at 2.59.33 PM

2. Take Your Friends or Family Somewhere
  • 2 roundtrips to Europe (80,000 miles from October 15 – May 15 each year)
  • 3 roundtrip to South America (90,000 miles to Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia most of the year)
  • 2 roundtrips to Japan or Korea (100,000 miles October 1 – April 30 each year)
  • 3 roundtrips to Hawaii (105,000 miles half the year)
  • 4 roundtrips to the Caribbean or Alaska (100,000 miles to Alaska year round or Caribbean Sep 7 – Nov 14 each year)

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


Sunset over Waikiki
3. Treat yourself to the world’s nicest First Class
  • 67,500 miles is enough to fly one way from the United States to anywhere in East Asia in First Class on Cathay Pacific, which is my second best flight ever.
  • 90,000 miles is enough for one way in First Class from the United States to the Middle East, Indian Subcontinent, or Maldives in Etihad First Class
IMG_0052
Stretching out in Cathay Pacific First Class
4. Head to the South Pacific

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


Overwater bungalows in the South Pacific
5. Machu Picchu in a Bed

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

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

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


Wow! Machu Picchu
6. Europe in Business Class

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

Other Benefits Besides the Sign Up Bonuses

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

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

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

If you redeem the 106,000 miles next year, that’s another 10,000 miles rebated because of this benefit.

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

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

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

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® comes with some duplicative benefits. Its unique benefit is its larger 2x category. You earn 2 miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, telecommunications and car rental merchants, and after 11/15/15 at gas stations.

Both cards have no annual fee for the first 12 months, then $95.

RECAP

You can earn 106,000 American Airlines miles in the next few weeks by:

  1. Applying for the American Airlines personal and business Platinum cards at least eight days apart.
  2. Meeting the $3k minimum spending requirement on each card.

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

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after $3,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open

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

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

Earn 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 idea of big trips fascinates me. True round-the-world (RTW) awards are basically dead, so the game now is to string together several cheap one way awards into a RTW trip. To help you out, I regularly update a page that strives to list all the cheap awards between all regions of the world.

Here’s how you could use that post to put together a RTW trip. I put this one together in under half an hour.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 6.25.24 PM

The example RTW trip in this post starts and ends in Los Angeles (imagine your home airport instead), takes about a month, and has stops in all the places on the map above:

  • Fiji
  • Sydney
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Delhi
  • London
  • Madrid

It flies a mix of economy, Business, and First Class flights. It has logical jumping off points if you want to really take your time in one region and see a lot of that area before continuing to the next region. Let’s walk through it:

Los Angeles to Fiji to Sydney for 40,000 Alaska miles + $142 (economy)

While most programs charge about 40,000 miles one way from the United States to Australia, Alaska lets you fly Fiji Airways and stop for as long as you’d like in Fiji. Search on alaskaair.com for a multi-city award.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.42.19 PM

I’m imagining that this RTW trip starts January 31, 2016. The stop in Fiji is four days.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.43.29 PM

Total cost is 40,000 Alaska miles + $142 of taxes and fees. Business Class would be only 55,000 miles if you could find award space, but Fiji Airways releases very little Business Class award space.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.43.39 PM

Sydney to Kuala Lumpur for 40,000 United miles + $60 (Thai First Class)

United has way underpriced awards between Australia/New Zealand and Southeast Asia. Search for them right on united.com.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.44.18 PM

After five days in Sydney, the trip picks back up.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.46.11 PMThe United award flies from Sydney to Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. The long segment is in Thai First Class on its 747, which means you will get First Class lounge access and a free hour-long massage in Bangkok. The short hop down to Kuala Lumpur is on a Thai Dreamliner in Business Class.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.45.26 PM

The total price is 40,000 United miles + $60.

Note that both Sydney and Southeast Asia are great spots to take a longer amount of time to explore the surrounding regions. Particularly in Southeast Asia, the low cost carrier flights are plentiful and cheap, so you can see a lot of places quickly and cheaply.

Kuala Lumpur to Delhi for $187 (economy)

After four days in Malaysia, the trip continues to India. You could fly this segment on Malaysia Airlines, booking the ticket with Avios, but the taxes and fuel surcharges are over $130, so you might as well just buy the ticket with cash on a low-cost carrier.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.47.33 PM Malindo Air prices the route at about $186 for most of February 2016.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.47.47 PM

You can of course use the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card, Arrival miles, or ThankYou Points to get the flight for free.

This brings up an important point for all awards including those that are part of a RTW trip. Consider cash tickets. Sometimes they are a better value than using miles.

Delhi, by the way, is a two hour train from Agra, site of the Taj Mahal.

Delhi to London for 40,000 American Airlines miles + $40 (Etihad First Class)

After six days in India, keep flying west. American greatly underprices premium cabin awards between the Middle East or Indian Subcontinent and Europe.

Search on etihad.com for award space.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.48.43 PMThe flights you want need to have space in the Guest Seat column in order to be bookable with American Airlines miles. Pay special attention to the aircraft. If you can snag Etihad First Class on the A380, you will get a huge sweet and a shower onboard.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.49.30 PM

Ignore the price listed on etihad.com. Etihad charges its members way more miles for the exact same flights. American Airlines only charges 40,000 miles in First Class from India to Europe. Ignore, also, the out-of-pocket price listed on etihad.com. It includes fuel surcharges that American Airlines doesn’t collect on Etihad flights. I called American to price out these flights, and the agent priced them at 40,000 miles + $39.55.

London to Madrid for $36 (economy)

You don’t want to return to the United States from London. Taxes for departing London are outrageous. After five days in London, head to Madrid.

Avios are decent intra-Europe because there are no fuel surcharges on such awards. I searched ba.com to see about award pricing between London and Madrid.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.50.27 PM

The award on off-peak dates is 6,500 Avios (7,500 on peak dates) + $24 or 2,150 Avios + $68.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.52.23 PM

I checked cash fares, and Ryanair charges only $36. Iberia had some $40 fares. I didn’t check which is cheaper when you include baggage, which I would always do if I were actually booking this RTW trip.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.52.13 PM

You can of course use the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card, Arrival miles, or ThankYou Points to get the flight for free.

Madrid to Los Angeles for 20,000 American Airlines miles + $54 (economy)

Finally we have to come home after about a month away.

From October 15 to May 15 each year, American charges only 20,000 miles between the United States and Europe. Just make sure you avoid booking British Airways flights with your American Airlines miles to avoid huge fuel surcharges.

I searched on aa.com from Madrid to Los Angeles.
Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.53.21 PMA great itinerary on American Airlines flights popped up that costs only 20,000 American Airlines miles + $54.Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.53.48 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 5.54.10 PM

Total Cost

  • 40,000 Alaska miles
  • 40,000 United miles
  • 60,000 American Airlines miles
  • $519

If the $519 sounds like a lot, you could instead use under 50,000 total Arrival miles to pay for the low-cost-carrier flights and award taxes to make the out-of-pocket cost $0.

How to Get the Miles

One person, opening only personal cards, could easily get all these miles. He could open the:

Some credit card offers in this post have expired, but they might come back. If they do they will appear –> Click here for the top current credit card sign up bonuses.

The cards are from five different banks, so you could even open them all on the same day. Combined they have minimum spending requirements of $13,000 over the first three months. If that’s more than you spend, either stagger your sign ups or manufacture spending.

The cards have combined annual fees the first year of $75 (on the Alaska card), and you could cancel all of them before the annual fees are due in 12 months.

Meeting all the minimum spending requirements, you’d have:

  • 25,000 Alaska miles
  • 49,000 Ultimate Rewards
  • 53,000 American Airlines miles
  • 28,000 Starpoints
  • 46,000 Arrival miles

Transfer 40,000 Ultimate Rewards to United miles, 15,000 Starpoints to Alaska miles, and 7,000 Starpoints to American Airlines miles. Then you’d have:

  • 40,000 Alaska miles
  • 40,000 United miles
  • 60,000 American Airlines miles
  • 6,000 leftover Starpoints (could be as many as three free hotel nights)
  • 46,000 Arrival miles

That’s enough to book all the awards and use the Arrival miles for $483 off of the original $519 out-of-pocket expenses.

If you’ve followed all the math, that means you pay $36 out of pocket for flights/taxes and a $75 annual fee on the Alaska Airlines card–or $111 total for a RTW trip with six stops.

How to Book the Awards

Everything in this post can be booked online on the site of the miles you’re using or the site of the low-cost carrier you’re flying except the Etihad flights you’re booking with American Airlines miles. That award needs to be booked by calling American Airlines at 800-882-8880.

The booking order matters a bit, since award space can change. I’d put the American Airlines awards on free five-day holds online or by phone, then book the United and Alaska awards, then book the low-cost carrier flights.

If for some reason, the low-cost carrier flights surge in price or the award space you want to book with United or Alaska miles isn’t there, you can let the American Airlines award holds lapse for free, cancel the United award for free within 24 hours of booking for free, and cancel the Alaska Airlines award for free if travel is more than 60 days away.

Choose Your Own Adventure

This was an arbitrary template for a RTW trip. Use the list of all cheap awards between all regions of the world and your own travel preferences and schedule to plan your own RTW trip. If you want to hire my award booking service, we offer large discounts off our normal $125 per person per award rate when booking RTW trips that consist of several awards. Fill out this form for your free, no obligation quote.

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

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

Earn 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.

5 1394

Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska, the cheapest awards to Latin America and the Caribbean, the cheapest awards to Europe, the cheapest awards to Africa and the Middle East, the cheapest awards to North Asia, the cheapest awards to Southeast Asia, and the cheapest to the Indian Subcontinent.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to the Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only capture one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to Australia and New Zealand

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to the Australia and New Zealand, these are the prices:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.06 AM

United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.

Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada and Air New Zealand flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

The ideal award for an American would be to fly United flights from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Australia. These flights are surcharge-free with all the types of miles discussed here except Lufthansa miles.

For United flights, ANA has the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip) in economy and Business. United miles are the cheapest in First Class, but United will soon have Dreamliners with no First Class on all Australia routes.

Cheapest Awards to Oceania

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Oceania, these are the prices:

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 9.33.16 AM

United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.

Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air New Zealand flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

United has a lot of flights throughout Oceania. Here are its flights from Guam. It also has some from Honolulu.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 10.53.01 PM

For United flights, United has the cheapest economy awards and ANA has the cheapest Business Class awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip).

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

ANA miles and United miles are the best to the Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

United miles can be earned on the personal, business, and Club cards from Chase. United is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Bottom Line

ANA and United offer the best deals on United flights to Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, so pay attention to more than just the mileage price when deciding which miles to use to book your award.

 

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

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.

21 3912

Longtime reader Eddy emailed me:

Do you know of someplace that has the rules of the various frequent flyer programs? I’m looking at trip to China next Spring and there are so many options, so I’d like to know for each program: (1) allow one ways? (2) permit stop overs? (3) charge for fuel? Any idea if this info is collected in one place anywhere? Thanks.

This seemed like something I absolutely had to put in one place, so this is the place.

This chart represents the rules for using the type of miles listed in the far left column.

Click the image to enlarge.

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.07.14 AM

 

I’ve included nine of my favorite programs on the chart. I toyed with how best to present the information of the chart, at one point including footnotes next to almost every entry. I ditched that, and instead will put longer form answers for each airline and explanations of the color-coding below.

Color Coding

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 2.07.14 AM

 

  • The first three airlines in light blue are the United States’ three legacy carriers. Since they have long competed on their programs, I grouped them together.
  • The four in the orange-brown are four foreign Star Alliance programs. (United is the American airline in the Star Alliance.) Since these programs can all book basically all the same partner flights, I grouped them together. By the way, here is a post comparing the eight Star Alliance award charts to see which has the cheapest awards.
  • The red on the chart indicates a bad answer.
  • The green indicates a good answer.
  • The yellow indicates a mixed answer.

Longer Explanations

American Airlines AAdvantage

  • American Airlines miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Since April 2014, American Airlines awards do not allow any stopovers other than the destination. A stopover is a layover greater than 24 hours on international awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Any program that doesn’t allow stopovers, doesn’t allow free one ways.
  • American Airlines only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights.
  • I don’t know of any maximum segment rule on American Airlines awards. American Airlines does have some complicated routing rules though.

Delta SkyMiles

  • Delta SkyMiles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Since January 2015, Delta awards do not allow any stopovers other than the destination. A stopover is a layover greater than 24 hours on international awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Delta collects fuel surcharges on all these partners and on all awards that originate in Europe.
  • I don’t know of any maximum segment rule on Delta awards. Delta’s routing rule tends to be that award tickets need to comply with the same routing rules as paid tickets.

United MileagePlus

  • United MileagePlus miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • United awards allow one stopover on roundtrip awards that are not wholly within one region on the United award chart and zero stopovers on one way awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • United awards that allow a stopover allow a free one way.
  • United awards never include fuel surcharges.
  • United awards are capped at four segments per one way award and eight per roundtrip.

British Airways Avios

The British Airways Avios program is COMPLETELY different than all the other programs in this post. All the others are region-to-region miles.

In the other programs, you pay a certain number of miles based on what region you start in, what region you end in, and what cabin of the plane you fly.

Avios are distance-based miles. In the British Airways Avios program, you don’t pay a single price for an award, you pay a single price for each flight on the award. The price of each flight is based only on its distance and the cabin you fly. Add up the price of each flight to get the price of your award.

  • You pay for each flight, so of course one way is half the price of a roundtrip.
  • You pay for each flight, so it doesn’t matter whether you stop for 1 hour or 1,000 hours in each city you fly through. In that sense, you get unlimited free stopovers on British Airways awards.
  • You pay for each flight, so you have unlimited open jaws on Avios awards.
  • You pay for each flight, so you can’t have a free one way.
  • British Airways collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. Here are the surcharges by partner.
  • British Airways awards can have unlimited segments. You pay for each one.

Singapore KrisFlyer

  • Singapore miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Singapore allows zero stopovers on one way awards. Singapore allows one free stopover on roundtrip awards. You can get up to three more stopovers on roundtrip awards for $100 each.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways. However if you book your roundtrip as a roundtrip, you get only one open jaw.
  • Singapore allows up to two free one ways per roundtrip award.
  • Singapore collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight except that Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Singapore roundtrip awards are capped at six segments.

Air Canada Aeroplan

  • For awards departing the continental United States and Canada, Aeroplan miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards. That is not the case for awards departing other regions.
  • Aeroplan allows two free stopovers or one stopover plus one open jaw on roundtrip awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Aeroplan allows free one ways.
  • Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on many partners. Aeroplan doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United flights.
  • Aeroplan roundtrip awards are capped at 10 segments.

Lufthansa Miles & More

  • Lufthansa miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Stopovers:
    • Lufthansa does not allow stopovers on one way awards.
    • Lufthansa does not allow stopovers in your region of departure.
    • Lufthansa allows one stopover per direction of travel on roundtrip awards, two total per roundtrip.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Because you can’t stopover at your home airport, no free one ways are possible.
  • Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. United, Copa, and Avianca flights within the Americas have no fuel surcharges.
  • Segments:
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards within one region are capped at four segments.
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards from one region to a second are capped at six segments.
    • Roundtrip Lufthansa awards that touch three regions are capped at eight segments.

Avianca LifeMiles

  • Avianca LifeMiles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • Stopovers are not allowed on LifeMiles awards, and a layovers becomes an illegal stopover at 8 hours, not the standard 24.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • Because you can’t stopover at your home airport, no free one ways are possible.
  • LifeMiles awards do not have fuel surcharges.
  • I do not believe there is a segment maximum for LifeMiles awards. There is a crazy rule that all flights must be in the same cabin. That is, you can’t mix economy and business or business and first even when your cabin of choice isn’t available on a flight you need.

Alaska Mileage Plan

  • Alaska miles can book one way awards for half the price of roundtrip awards.
  • A stopover is allowed on one way Alaska awards. Two stopovers are allowed on roundtrip awards.
  • Any program that allows booking one way awards, allows up to two open jaws by booking a roundtrip as two one ways.
  • A free one way is allowed on one way Alaska awards. Two free one ways are allowed on roundtrip awards.
  • Alaska awards only include fuel surcharges on British Airways flights.
  • I do not believe there is a segment maximum for Alaska awards.
  • You cannot combine partners on an Alaska award. You must fly one partner only (plus Alaska Airlines flights if you’d like) in each direction.

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

 

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

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

Earn 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.

7 1340

Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska, the cheapest awards to Latin America and the Caribbean, the cheapest awards to Europe, the cheapest awards to Africa and the Middle East, the cheapest awards to North Asia, and the cheapest awards to Southeast Asia.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to the Indian Subcontinent.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only capture one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to Indian Subcontinent

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to the Indian Subcontinent–the definition of which varies slightly by program–these are the prices:

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-12.30.58-AM

United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.

Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on many partners with service to the Indian Subcontinent. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on Air India or United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

ANA has by far the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip), but you will pay fuel surcharges unless you fly United. United Business Class for 115,000 miles roundtrip from the United States to Delhi or Mumbai is a steal.

If you want to completely avoid fuel surcharges, book with United miles. United Business and First Class are very cheap at 70,000 and 80,000 miles one way. Or you can connect on partners for only 80,000 miles one way in Business Class.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

ANA miles and United miles are the best to the Indian Subcontinent.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

United miles can be earned on the personal, business, and Club cards from Chase. United is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Bottom Line

ANA offers really cheap awards to the Indian Subcontinent that are all the more attractive if you can avoid fuel surcharges by flying United. Otherwise, United’s chart to the region is very good.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, so pay attention to more than just the mileage price when deciding which miles to use to book your award.

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

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.

9 1839

Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska, the cheapest awards to Latin America and the Caribbean, the cheapest awards to Europe, the cheapest awards to Africa and the Middle East, and the cheapest awards to North Asia.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to Southeast Asia.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only capture one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to Southeast Asia

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Southeast Asia, these are the prices:

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-12.30.44-AM

I’ve only included the award chart for flying United partners since United only flies to Singapore in the region

Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada, ANA, Thai, and Asiana flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on Air China, Singapore, and United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

ANA has by far the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip), but you will pay fuel surcharges unless you fly United. United Business Class for 115,000 miles roundtrip from the United States to Singapore is a steal. ANA’s prices are so low, fuel surcharges may even be worth paying. You can go to Southeast Asia for 115,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class, when the cheapest fuel-surcharge-free award is 156,000 LifeMiles.

If you want to completely avoid fuel surcharges, book with United miles. You can pay 80,000 miles one way in Business Class.

If you don’t mind buying miles, LifeMiles offers fair prices to Southeast Asia with no fuel surcharges.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

ANA miles, United miles, and LifeMiles are the best to Southeast Asia.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

United miles can be earned on the personal, business, and Club cards from Chase. United is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

LifeMiles can be purchased. Right now, they are on sale for a very cheap 1.4 cents each.

Bottom Line

ANA offers really cheap awards to Southeast Asia that are all the more attractive if you can avoid fuel surcharges by flying United. Otherwise, United’s chart to the region in partner Business Class is fair, and there are no fuel surcharges on any United awards. If you want to fly ANA or Asiana First Class, I’d book with LifeMiles.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, so pay attention to more than just the mileage price when deciding which miles to use to book your award.

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

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.

7 1686

Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska, the cheapest awards to Latin America and the Caribbean, the cheapest awards to Europe, and the cheapest awards to Africa and the Middle East.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to North Asia. The award charts I’ll be comparing define North Asia very differently and sometimes split the area into more than one region, so if an award price intrigues you, search for its award chart to find its definition of North Asia.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only capture one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to North Asia

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to the Middle East, these are the prices:

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.41.47 AM

 

Let me explain a few things:

  • United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.
  • The left of the slashes within United’s and Copa’s columns are prices to Japan. The right of the slashes are the prices to the rest of North Asia.
  • ANA has two separate prices for awards to Japan depending on your routing. Those are the first two numbers in each cell. The most expensive price in each cell is its price to Korea, China, Taiwan, and Philippines.
Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada, ANA, and Asiana flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on Air China, Singapore, and United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

ANA has by far the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip), but you will pay fuel surcharges unless you fly United. United Business Class for 85,000 miles roundtrip from the United States to Japan is a steal. ANA’s prices are so low, fuel surcharges may even be worth paying. You can go to China for 95,000 miles roundtrip in Business Class, when the cheapest fuel-surcharge-free award is 150,000 LifeMiles.

If you want to avoid fuel surcharges on all airlines, United’s 80,000 mile price for partner Business Class is fair. If you want to fly partner First Class, like Asiana’s awesome First Class on its A380 (trip report), book with LifeMiles. You can pay 90,000 LifeMiles one way in First Class instead of 120,000 United miles.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.39.00 AM Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 7.39.04 AM

 

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

ANA miles, United miles, and LifeMiles are the best to North Asia.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

United miles can be earned on the personal, business, and Club cards from Chase. United is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

LifeMiles can be purchased. Right now, they are on sale for a very cheap 1.4 cents each.

Bottom Line

ANA offers really cheap awards to North Asia that are all the more attractive if you can avoid fuel surcharges by flying United. Otherwise, United’s chart to the region in partner Business Class is fair, and there are no fuel surcharges on any United awards. If you want to fly ANA or Asiana First Class, I’d book with LifeMiles.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, so pay attention to more than just the mileage price when deciding which miles to use to book your award.

 

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

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

Earn 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.

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Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska and the cheapest awards to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to Africa and the Middle East.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only capture one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to the Middle East

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to the Middle East, these are the prices:

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.28.47 AM

Let me explain a few things:

  • United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.
  • All the miles except Lufthansa allow transit in Europe for the same price as direct flights to the Middle East. Transiting Europe would trigger a more expensive “3 regions” award on the Lufthansa chart.
  • LifeMiles blocks Lufthansa First Class awards.
Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austrian, TAP, and LOT flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on Air New Zealand, Brussels, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, Egyptair, South African, and United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

ANA and Singapore have by far the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip), but you will pay fuel surcharges. You can eliminate those by flying United to the Middle East. United’s destinations are Dubai, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Tel Aviv. You can greatly lower fuel surcharges by flying United to Europe and connecting there to a different partner to the Middle East.

If you want to completely avoid fuel surcharges, book with United miles. You can pay 80,000 miles one way in Business Class or 70,000 if you fly United Business Class to Europe and connect to a partner in economy to the Middle East.

Cheapest Awards to Africa

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Africa, these are the prices:

Screen Shot 2015-09-10 at 4.29.08 AM

 

Let me explain a few things:

  • United has two award charts. The cheaper one for flying United (or mostly United if you follow these rules) and the more expensive one is to fly its partners.
  • Singapore, LifeMiles, Aeroplan, and Lufthansa divide Africa into North and South. Consult their charts for the exact region definitions.
  • LifeMiles blocks Lufthansa First Class awards.
Fuel Surcharges

United, Copa, and LifeMiles don’t collect fuel surcharges on award tickets.

Asiana, ANA, and Singapore don’t collect fuel surcharges on awards on United-operated flights. They do collect fuel surcharges on all other flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Lufthansa collects fuel surcharges on all flights that have fuel surcharges as part of a normal cash ticket.

Aeroplan collects fuel surcharges on Air Canada, Lufthansa, Austrian, TAP, and LOT flights. Aeroplan does not collect fuel surcharges on Air New Zealand, Brussels, Ethiopian, SAS, Singapore, Swiss, Turkish, Egyptair, South African, and United flights.

You can figure out the fuel surcharges by calling the airline whose miles you want to use or just looking on ITA Matrix. Take fuel surcharges into account when determining which miles to use.

Best Deals

ANA and Singapore have by far the cheapest awards (remember that ANA awards must be roundtrip), but you will pay fuel surcharges. You can eliminate those by flying United to Africa, but its only destination is Lagos. You can lower fuel surcharges by flying United to Europe and connecting there to a different partner to Africa.

If you want to completely avoid fuel surcharges, book with United miles. You can pay 80,000 miles one way in Business Class or 70,000 if you fly United Business Class to Europe and connect to a partner in economy to Africa.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

ANA miles, Singapore miles, and United miles are the best to Europe.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

Singapore miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, and Starpoints.

United miles can be earned on the personal, business, and Club cards from Chase. United is also a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Bottom Line

There are better options to fly Star Alliance flights to Africa and the Middle East than using United miles.

Singapore and ANA offer really cheap award charts that are all the more attractive if you can avoid or reduce fuel surcharges. Otherwise, United’s chart to the region is fair, and there are no fuel surcharges on any United awards.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, so pay attention to more than just the mileage price when deciding which miles to use to book your award.

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

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

Earn 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.

14 2232

Because you can use any type of Star Alliance miles to book any Star Alliance flight, I’ve put the eight best Star Alliance award charts into one spreadsheet. Check out why I chose these eight award charts and how Americans can get these miles here. Check out the cheapest awards within the mainland USA, to Canada, to Hawaii, and to Alaska.

Today let’s look at the cheapest Star Alliance Awards to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Remember, the spread sheets in this post only captures one part of an award: its mileage price. The routing rules and fuel surcharges matter too. Where relevant, I will note those as we go through the regions, but here are a two big things that apply to all charts:

  • United, Copa, and LifeMiles never collect fuel surcharges. All the others collect fuel surcharges on most awards.
  • All programs allow one way redemptions for the prices listed on the charts except ANA. It only allows roundtrip redemptions for double the price on the chart. I used its fictitious “one way price” that you can’t actually book just to more easily compare to the programs that do allow one way bookings.

Cheapest Awards to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean, these are the prices:

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-12.29.00-AM

The lower price in the Copa column is if you fly Copa metal. That is the best deal to the region overall. The lower prices in the LifeMiles column are for Mexico and the Caribbean. The higher prices are for Central America.

There are no fuel surcharges on any of the Star Alliance flights to these regions, and there’s very little variation in these charts, so I’d mostly burn the miles or transferable points I valued the least.

United States to Northern South America

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, and Ecuador, these are the prices:

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-12.29.12-AM

The lower prices in the Copa column are if you fly Copa metal.

Again, no one collects fuel surcharges on these awards, so use Copa or Asiana miles. If you don’t have them, United miles offer a fair deal. Lufthansa and Singapore offer such terrible deals because they have all of South America in one region.

United States to Southern South America

For awards starting in the mainland United States and flying to Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Bolivia, these are the prices:

The lower prices in the Copa column are if you fly Copa metal.

Again, no one collects fuel surcharges on these awards, so use Copa, Asiana, or ANA miles–ANA miles for roundtrips only remember.

Searching and Booking the Awards

A truism of miles is that–with few exceptions–award space is equally available to all partners. One corollary is that you can search any award search engine that displays an airline’s award space, and if space is there, you can book it with any partner.

All Star Alliance partner award space is searchable on aeroplan.com. Here’s how to search for award space on aeroplan.com. All the award space you find there is bookable with all the miles discussed in this post. Ignore the price quoted on aeroplan.com. You will pay the price on the award chart of the miles you’re using.

To book, call the airline whose miles you’re using (or go to their website to book online if you can.) Feed the agent the award space you found on aeroplan.com.

Getting the Miles

Asiana miles, Copa miles, and ANA miles are the best to Latin America and the Caribbean.

Asiana miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints, which means you can transfer 20,000 Starpoints to 25,000 Asiana miles.

ANA miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of SPG Starpoints (or 20k Starpoints to 25k ANA miles), and a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

Copa’s new ConnectMiles program doesn’t have an associated credit card, nor does it partner with any transferable points, nor does it sell its miles cheaply. For the moment, you can only get Copa miles the hard way, butt-in-seat.

Bottom Line

There are much better options to fly United, Air Canada, Copa, Avianca, and TACA flights to Latin America and the Caribbean than using United miles.

For the most part, all Star Alliance partners have access to the same award space on all airlines. There are differences in routing rules and fuel surcharges, but there are no fuel surcharges on any flights in this post.

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

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

Earn 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.

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