Avios

250 Membership Rewards will transfer to 300 British Airways Avios from now until 11:59 p.m. CT on October 10, 2016. The normal transfer rate is 250 Membership Rewards = 200 British Airways Avios, so this transfer bonus will get you 50% more Avios.

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For only 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly roundtrip on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines planes in economy from the West Coast to Hawaii. Here are the possible routes.

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1: Seasonal

That means with the current transfer bonus, you could convert 21,000 Membership Rewards to 25,200 British Airways Avios (transfers must be in increments of 250) to book yourself a roundtrip to Hawaii if you live in one of the cities listed above. That is an unbeatable deal.
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And that’s not all Avios are great for.

Other High Value Avios Redemptions

British Airways Avios are very valuable for short, direct flights without fuel surcharges (i.e. American Airlines flights within the Western Hemisphere, Alaska Airlines flights, Aer Lingus flights, airberlin flights, and British Airways flights within Europe).

If you have had a British Airways Avios and Iberia Avios account open for three months, you can transfer freely between them. This is extremely useful when you consider:

  • You pay much lower fuel surcharges when redeeming Iberia Avios on Iberia flights as opposed to British Airways Avios
  • You can redeem Iberia Avios on American Airlines flights (but not Alaska–they’re not partners). The price of an Iberia Avios award depends on the total distance flown, not the distance of each segment flown like British Airways Avios. They are not priced per segment so you are not penalized for connections. So if you’re taking a short trip but it requires a connection, an Iberia award will probably be cheaper. The only downside is that when redeeming Iberia Avios on American Airlines, you must book roundtrip awards as no one ways are allowed.
  • For any of the dates not highlighted in red on these calendars, you can fly Business Class between New York or Boston to Madrid on Iberia for only 34,000 Iberia Avios.

And neither British Airways nor Iberia Avios collect last minute award booking fees.

Speculative Transfers

I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each, and Avios at 1.6 cents each. That makes 1,000 Membership Rewards worth $20 and 1,200 Avios (which is how many Avios you would get from transferring 1,000 Membership Rewards)  worth $19.20.

I’d rather have $20 (the Membership Rewards) than $19.20 (the Avios), so I probably wouldn’t transfer speculatively, but that margin is extremely narrow. This transfer bonus is a good deal, no doubt about it. Plug in your own valuations of Membership Rewards and Avios to figure out if a speculative transfer is worth it to you.

Bottom Line

Until 11:59 p.m. CT on October 10, 2016 you can turn 250 Membership Rewards into 300 Avios. This 50% transfer bonus represents huge savings over the normal transfer rate of 250 Membership Rewards to 200 Avios.

Transfer Bonus Terms & Conditions

Terms and Conditions for the Membership Rewards® program apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms or call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276) for more information. Participating partners and available rewards are subject to change without notice. 
 
The value of Membership Rewards points varies according to how you choose to use them. To learn more, go to www.membershiprewards.com/pointsinfo.
 
You must be enrolled in the British Airways Executive Club program in order to participate in this offer, visit ba.com/executiveclub to enroll. American Express is not responsible for availability of flight, accommodations or any other rewards in the British Airways Executive Club program. Once you have transferred Membership Rewards points, they become subject to the Terms and Conditions of the British Airways Executive Club program and cannot be transferred back to your Membership Rewards program account. Taxes, fees, charges and surcharges, including airline surcharges, apply on British Airways redemption flights and upgrades. See British Airways Executive Club Terms and Conditions for details. Individual air carrier restrictions may apply. 
Minimum transfer is 250 Membership Rewards points. Redeem for this exclusive offer from 12:00 a.m. CT on August 10, 2016 to 11:59 p.m. CT on October 10, 2016, to receive 50% additional Avios. Additional Avios will be awarded at the time of transfer.
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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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I’ve been hopping around Europe for the last few months with flight that I’ve booked a variety of ways:

  • Barcelona, Spain to Leipzig, Germany (cash, Vueling)
  • Prague, Czech Republic to Belgrade, Serbia (Etihad Guest miles, Air Serbia, Anatomy of an Award)
  • Belgrade to Tivat, Montenegro (cash, Air Serbia)
  • Sarajevo, Bosnia to Zagreb, Croatia (cash, Croatia Airlines)

Now I have two more flights coming up from Zagreb to Spain and back for a quick trip. Using all my knowledge of cheap flights and miles I came up with the best options for each flight, and I’ll share my thought process here, so you can see how I attack the flight search.

I need to fly into Madrid and out of Barcelona. My dates were only semi-flexible. I really wanted to go on certain days, and going a different day would make me less happy and cost me extra for hotel rooms, so I’d only change from my preferred dates for a great deal.

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First Step: Cash Search

The first thing I always do when deciding how to book a flight is to check out its cash price. On the dates I wanted to travel, I could book a nonstop roundtrip for $257.

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That sounded reasonable. If the flights were under $200, I would have just booked the trip with cash and not looked any farther because when the cash price is very low, you are not getting a good return on your miles. It’s better to save them for flights with high cash prices like international Business Class or routes made expensive by a lack of competition.

I went a step further and searched each one way separately. The return was only $84, so I decided to book that with cash and the outbound with miles, if I could find a suitable outbound itinerary.

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Second Step: Wikipedia

If I’m going to use miles, I always go to Wikipedia’s articles on the airports I’ll be using to see which airlines fly my route. It turns out that only Iberia has a direct flight from Zagreb to Madrid.

Third Step: Brainstorm Potential Miles and Search Award Space

For a short, direct flight on a oneworld carrier, Avios are ideal–not much brainstorming required.

I went to ba.com and searched for the flight I wanted, and I found ample award space on the direct flight on my ideal date in economy and Business Class. (Intra-Europe Business is the same seat as economy, just with the middle seat in each row blocked. That’s not worth extra miles for me.)

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.14.23 PM The economy award was 8,250 Avios + 25 euros, or several other combinations of Avios and euros. (By the way, can anyone explain why the award was 8,250 Avios and not 7,500 or 10,000? I think BA might have slightly different prices for Iberia flights than other partners.)Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.14.33 PM There are no fuel surcharges on the award. The 25 euros are all taxes, and the other amounts you can pay are cash co-pays to spend fewer Avios.Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.14.49 PM
I decided that the best option was 2,750 Avios + 85 euros. I’d save 5,500 Avios at a cost of 60 euros, which was like buying back Avios for 1.21 cents each, which is a good deal for me, since I value Avios at 1.7 cents each. Check out my full analysis of Avios Cash & Points award here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 4.38.37 PMSince the one way flight cost $173, I was getting well over 2 cents of value per Avios.

But before I booked the award, I took a look at booking it with Iberia Avios instead. On iberia.com, the same flight showed the same award space, as expected.Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.18.53 PM The prices were a little different though. The option to pay 8,250 Avios was 5 euros more expensive with cash. But the option to use the fewest Avios used 250 fewer Avios (worth about $4) to me and 5 euros less, about a $10 savings overall.Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.18.59 PMI tried to transfer British Airways Avios to my Iberia Avios account to book the cheaper way, but I got an error message online.

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At the time, I was busy and decided not to make the call. I booked with British Airways Avios instead.

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Bottom Line

Instead of $257 roundtrip between Croatia and Spain I paid $178 and 2,750 Avios. I looked at the best options with miles and cash to get the cheapest and most convenient flights. It turned out the best deal was cash one way and Iberia Avios the other.

This is a rather mundane example, but most award bookings are rather mundane and just require knowing the options and picking the best one. Over time, these mundane “wins” add up to huge savings which you can plow into extra travel.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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British Airways collects fuel surcharges on almost all award redemptions. People constantly complain to me that their recent “free ticket” cost $650 or $1,000 or more in “taxes.”

In fact, taxes make up a small share of the cash component of most British Airways awards. Instead British Airways is collecting fuel surcharges on almost all awards, making those awards very poor values.

But there are exceptions where taxes can be as low as $2.50 on an award with no fuel surcharges. And we only want to use our Avios on these exceptions.

When exactly does British Airways collect fuel surcharges on Avios awards and when does it not?

They collect fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. How can you tell if the equivalent cash flight will have fuel surcharges? ITA Matrix.

ITA Matrix gives a breakdown of every dollar of the price of a ticket including fuel surcharges.

If I search for a flight from JFK to London on British Airways on ITA Matrix, and then select a specific flight, it will show breakdown of the ticket price, like this:

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Anything on the breakdown labeled as YQ or YR is a fuel surcharge.

The fuel surcharges you see in the price of a cash ticket will match the fuel surcharges you have to pay on your British Airways award (even if you’re not searching British Airways flights).

British Airways Does Not Collect Fuel Surcharges In the Following Instances

These are the only flights you can book with Avios without fuel surcharges.

  • American Airlines flights within the USA, Mexico, Canada, Caribbean, Central, and South America.
  • Alaska Airlines flights
  • All LATAM international flights
  • Some LATAM domestic flights
  • Aer Lingus and airberlin flights
  • British Airways flights within Europe
  • Qantas domestic flights
  • S7 flights

British Airways has two US-based partners: American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Awards on American Airlines can be booked online, but awards on Alaska need to be booked by calling 800-AIRWAYS. Both types of awards escape fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.36.10 PM

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Awards from the mainland to Hawaii–which is part of the United States, thank you very much–also have no fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.39.42 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.23.37 PM

Awards between the United States and the Americas and the Caribbean

Awards between the United States and Mexico, Canada, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean on American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and LATAM also have no fuel surcharges, just government taxes.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 8.41.59 PM

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All LATAM Flights Except Some LATAM Domestic Flights

LATAM flies to Auckland, Sydney, Madrid, and Frankfurt from Santiago, Chile–all without fuel surcharges.

LATAM Peru flights have no fuel surcharges, like this one from Cuzco to Lima…

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But there are fuel surcharges on other LATAM affiliates like LATAM Argentina. See this post on intra-Argentina flights for more info.

All Flights on airberlin and Aer Lingus

You can get to Europe without fuel surcharges on airberlin and Aer Lingus flights. (OK technically Aer Lingus flights have fuel surcharges, but they are about $30, so I am putting them here.) airberlin flights are bookable online, but you have to call 800-AIRWAYS to book Aer Lingus flights.

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There are also no fuel surcharges collected on airberlin flights or Aer Lingus flights within Europe.

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Intra-Europe on British Airways

British Airways collects a flat fee on its own intra-European flights in lieu of taxes and fuel surcharges. The flat fee is fairly low–$27.50 from Berlin to London–and is often lower than taxes would be on the same route.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.15.02 PMScreen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.15.08 PMQantas Flights within Australia

British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Qantas long haul flights, like those between Los Angeles and Sydney, Melbourne, or Brisbane. But British Airways doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on domestic Qantas flights like Sydney to Melbourne.Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 9.21.35 PM

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I also just tried to test Sydney to Auckland, New Zealand, but ba.com couldn’t find the award space that aa.com did. Call in to test whether SYD-AKL has fuel surcharges imposed on Avios awards.

All S7 Flights

S7 is a Russian airlines based at DME airport in Moscow. Its domestic and international flights booked as awards with Avios have no fuel surcharges.

I could not find any award space flying S7 to show an example, however.

British Airways Does Collect Fuel Surcharges in the Following Instances

That means all other flights have fuel surcharges when booked with Avios including:

  • American Airlines flights to Europe and Asia
  • British Airways flights that go from Europe to any other continent
  • British Airways flights within South Africa
  • Cathay Pacific flights
  • Finnair flights
  • Iberia flights
  • JAL flights
  • LATAM Argentina flights
  • Malaysia Airlines flights
  • Qantas international flights flights
  • Qatar Airways flights
  • Royal Jordanian flights

To get an idea of the fuel surcharges on these flights, search them on ba.com.

Bonus

Brazil made fuel surcharges on award tickets illegal. Different airlines interpret that different ways, but most flights that originate in Brazil do not have fuel surcharges.

Double Bonus

Don’t forget that awards that originate in the UK are subject to the UK’s onerous Air Passenger Duty of about $200 on long haul economy flights and $300 on long haul flights in business or first class.

Here is a list of award taxes from major cities in europe, so you return from low tax countries (transiting through London is a lot cheaper, and skipping London is cheaper still.)

Triple Bonus

Your mostly fuel-surcharge-free oneworld miles of choice are American Airlines AAdvantage miles. American only collects fuel surcharges on British Airways and Iberia flights when you redeem AAdvantage miles.

Which card should I pay fuel surcharges with?

Pay your award taxes, fees, and fuel surcharges with the Citi Prestige® Card. The first $250 in award taxes, fuel surcharges, airfare, or airline fees per calendar year are refunded to you as a statement credit. If you’ve already maxed out the statement credit, you will still earn 3x ThankYou Points on the award taxes.

Bottom Line

Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. I just wrote a post a couple days ago about how you can combine Avios redemptions with your preferred region-based miles to spend less miles overall and see more places all at the same time. Avios help compliment a diversified mile collection.

British Airways collects nasty fuel surcharges on a lot of awards, but as you can see exemplified above, there are many options with no fuel surcharges (and even more with low ones– mainly short, direct economy flights).

While I can not directly link to British Airways Visa Signature Card, 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. Today I’m going to show you some examples of how you can combine the use of Avios with region-based miles to use less miles overall and see more places at the same time.

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First, let’s go over some basics.

  • While most major airline miles have region-based award prices, Avios awards are distance-based.
    • What I mean by region-based: the price of an award is determined by what region you originate and what region your destination is in (coupled with the cabin). Regions are determined by the loyalty program, but are generally the same with some exceptions (i.e. North America, South America, Europe, etc.)
    • What I mean by distance-based:  the price of an award is determined by the distance of each segment flown, and the cabin you fly in.

Let’s say you want to go to Morocco. It would cost 40k United miles to fly economy or 80k to fly Business, from the United States to Northern Africa, the region that Unified classifies Morocco in. But if you flew to Madrid first (classified by United as Europe) and then used Avios to hop to Morocco, it would only cost 30k/57.5k/70k United miles in economy/United Business/Partner Business, and 4,500 Avios in economy (it’s only a 1.5 hour flight). You save yourself miles and get to see Madrid as well as Morocco. 

Below are examples of actual awards where you can apply this trick to see an extra destination and pay less miles overall while doing it.

Before we go any further, a quick aside about fuel surcharges…

With Avios awards you have to watch out for fuel surcharges. They collect fuel surcharges on any award flight that has fuel surcharges on the equivalent cash flight. Notable exceptions when they don’t collect fuel surcharges:

  • On their own flights within Europe
  • American Airlines within the Western Hemisphere
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Aer Lingus
  • airberlin

That doesn’t mean you can’t utilize Avios for flights on other oneworld carriers or non-allied partners of British Airways. Some only charge mild fuel surcharges, especially on short flights like the examples I will show you below.

How to See More For Less

United States-> Spain -> Morocco VS. United States -> Morocco

Let’s take a closer look at the example I gave at the beginning of this post.

You can fly from North America to Madrid for 30k United miles in economy, 57.5k United miles in United’s Business Class, or 70k United miles in a United partners’ Business Class. Then you can use just 4,500 Avios to take an hour and half flight in economy to Casablanca in Morocco on Iberia.

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Newark to Spain with United miles, Spain to Morocco with Avios

The out of pocket taxes and fees for this award are minimal at only $29.

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Flying straight to Morocco from North America would cost 40k United miles in economy or 80k in a Business.

United States -> Turkey -> Qatar VS. United States -> Qatar

You could fly from North America to Istanbul for 30k United miles in economy. Then you can use 10,000 Avios to take a four hour flight in economy to Doha on Qatar Airways.

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Los Angeles to Istanbul with United miles, Istanbul to Doha with Avios

British Airways collects fuel surcharges on Qatar, but they are reasonable at $86 for this award.

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Flying straight to Qatar from North America would cost 42.5k United miles in economy.

You could also easily fly into a different European airport (like Paris, for example) for the same price, and take a low cost carrier flight between Paris and Istanbul before heading on to Doha with Avios. Read about how to incorporate an award like this into a round-the-world trip with half the flights in a flat bed for 100,000 Miles.

United States -> Germany -> Poland VS. United States Poland

You can fly United Airlines from North America to Berlin for 30k Aeroplan miles in economy (without fuel surcharges). Then you can use just 4,500 Avios to take a little over an hour flight in airberlin economy to Warsaw in Poland.

Map: Newark to Germany with Aeroplan miles, Germany to Poland with Avios
Newark to Germany with Aeroplan miles, Germany to Poland with Avios

British Airways does not collect fuel surcharges on airberlin, so taxes are just $30 for this award.

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Since Aeroplan divides their award chart into Eastern and Western Europe, flying straight to Poland from the United States would cost 37.5k Aeroplan miles in economy.

Santiago -> Easter Island -> Tahiti VS. Santiago -> Tahiti

You can fly from Santiago to Easter Island (a territory of Chile) for 10k American Airlines miles in economy, 20k American Airlines miles in Business. This would position you in what most consider the South Pacific region. Then you can use 12,500 Avios (+$30 in taxes/fees) to take a five and a half hour flight in LATAM Chile economy to Tahiti.

Map: Santiago to Easter Island with American Airlines miles, Easter Island to Tahiti with Avios
Santiago to Easter Island with American Airlines miles, Easter Island to Tahiti with Avios

Flying straight to Tahiti from Santiago would cost 45k/82.5k American Airlines miles in economy/Business Class.

The savings in this example could be huge, unfortunately I can only call it a theoretical sweetspot as I could not find any LATAM Chile award space between Easter Island and Tahiti. Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever seen it.

No Last Minute Award Booking Fees

Another nice perk of British Airways Avios is that they don’t tack on any extra fees for booking your flight at the last minute. So if you decide in the middle or your Euro-trip that you want to fly somewhere else over the weekend, you won’t have to pay one of those annoying $75 fees that American Airlines AAdvantage or United Mileage Plus would charge.

How to Find Award Space and Book British Airways Awards

You can look for award space right on ba.com– here’s how to use the search tool. You can also book on ba.com.

How to Get Avios

Avios are very easy to collect. Ultimate Rewards are a 1:1 transfer partner of Avios. These cards are your best options:

  • British Airways Visa Signature
  • Ink Plus
  • Sapphire Preferred
  • Freedom & Freedom Unlimited

British Airways Visa Signature Card

The British Airways Visa Signature card currently offers:

  • 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
  • 3 Avios per dollar on British Airways purchases and 1 Avios per dollar on other purchases
  • $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.)

Ink Plus

The Ink Plus currently offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet, and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

You might qualify for a business card and not realize it, so don’t write off the possibility just because you don’t have your own booming startup.

Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred currently offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $95 annual fee

While I can not directly link to many of the offers for the Sapphire Preferred or the Ink Plus, you may find it by clicking below if you decide to apply. (I receive a commission, and your support keeps this blog going.)

Freedom & Freedom Unlimited

The Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are two separate cards, but are two sides of the same coin. You can read my analysis comparing the two here.

Both cards come 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.

This biggest difference between the two cards are their category bonuses. The Freedom Unlimited earns a spectacular 1.5x on everything. The Freedom earns a “meh” 1x on everything except 5x on up to $1,500 per quarter in categories that rotate quarterly.

The Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited earn Ultimate Rewards. Both cards earn points that 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, there is a second way of redeeming the Freedom or 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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For the reasons presented in this post, the Freedom Unlimited is one of the first two cards I recommend everyone get.

While I can not directly link to the current Freedom or 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.)

Chase 5/24

As all of the cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are Chase products, before applying for any of these cards remember to consider the Chase 5/24 rule. In short, if you’ve opened any five credit cards in the last 24 months, an application for a new Chase card will be denied.

Bottom Line

Avios are different than most of your mileages in that the prices of awards are based on distance. Different equals more valuable when it comes to miles because it opens up different types of high value awards. By combining Avios with your preferred region-based miles, you can maximize the value of your miles and see more places all at the same time.

The easiest way to get a bunch of Avios is through cards that earn Ultimate Rewards, since Avios is a 1:1 transfer partners and there are lots of cards that earn them with large sign-up bonuses.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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Until July 5, 2016, you can transfer 20,000 Starpoints to 33,750 British Airways Avios. The normal rate is 20,000 points to 25,000 Avios, but Avios is running a 35% bonus on transferring hotel points.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.33.10 PM The only hotel-point transfer option with a decent rate is Starpoints.Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 6.33.55 PM

 

If you don’t have Starpoints, you can buy them right now for 2.45 cents each. The best number to buy would be 20,000 for $490 to maximize this promotion, since Starwood gives a bonus for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred to airlines. Then you could transfer those 20,000 Starpoints to 33,750 Avios, which is like buying those Avios for 1.45 cents each. I value Avios at 1.6 cents each, so this can be a very good deal if you use Avios for their high value uses.

This (1.45 cpp) is close to the best we’ve seen for buying Avios other than a few Spanish Groupon deals.

Key Links:

Hat Tip One Mile at a Time

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

I have a friend who, after about five months off from applying for any new cards, decided to give it another go recently. He is writing a series for MileValue on his experience. Below is Part 2: applying for the Ink Plus and the British Airways Visa Signature by Chase, as well as the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature and Business credit cards by Bank of America. Read Part 1 if you haven’t, where he explains how he decided on those cards. Take it away, buddy:

In Part 1 of my story, I explained to you why I decided to apply for the following cards:

  • the Ink Plus by Chase
  • the British Airways Visa Signature by Chase
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card by Bank of America
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card by Bank of America

To put it simply, I decided on applying for the Ink Plus and the British Airways cards as a last ditch effort–to see if I could slip them in before the Chase 5/24 rule completely solidifies. People on FlyerTalk have been reporting lots of denials and some approvals, so I wanted to give it a shot. Might as well, since I don’t plan on taking any two year breaks from this hobby any time soon and the longer I wait, the less likely I am to be approved.

The Alaska cards I decided on because I didn’t want to add a ton of required spend to the $7,000 I would need to put out for the Chase card bonuses. I found a link to apply for the personal card in this Flyertalk thread that offers 25,000 miles just for signing up, and the business card’s official public offer only requires one purchase to earn the 25,000 mile bonus.

Read on to find out what happened when I applied.

Applying for the Chase Cards

I started with the Chase cards, the Ink Plus and the British Airways Visa Signature, and received the same response.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 2.55.36 PM

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.15.14 PM

Both applications would require further review. Buzz kill. All things considered, 90% of me was expecting this response, so I couldn’t be too disappointed.

I immediately returned to the FlyerTalk thread I found about applying for Chase cards, in search of the reconsideration phone number as it is standard practice to call when you receive this type of pending application response from a bank. But as I was skimming through the wiki at the top of the thread, I came across the following statement:

“It may be better to avoid calling Chase unless your application is denied. Many recent calls on pending applications led to denials, and many people report having success letting applications work their way through the system. Be patient. Time is on your side; increasingly, Chase [customer service representatives] are not.”

I found this to be interesting and also make sense, so I heeded the advice and didn’t call the reconsideration line.

Applying for the Bank of America Cards

Next up was the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card, which I was auto-approved for!

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.21.18 PM

The final application was for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card. Perhaps it was because I filled out the application just minutes after I had applied for the business card, I’m not sure, but I received another “we can’t give you a decision right now” pop-up:

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.10.53 PM

The FlyerTalk thread that discusses the application process for the Alaska cards does not advise against calling Bank of America’s reconsideration line like the Chase thread did, so I called 1-866-811-4108 to discuss my application with a Bank of America representative.

I am accustomed to this conversation as I have had it multiple times before. I always start out with the same line:

“Hello, I recently applied for your ____________ card and was told that more time was needed to review my application. I am calling to see if there is any information I can provide you with that would help speed along that process.”

I always strive to sound extra friendly. The reps on the other end have never ask me more than surface level questions that I already answered on the credit card application.

And that’s exactly how this call to Bank of America reconsideration went. The rep asked me who I worked for and what I did for a living, to which I answered briefly and truthfully. And that was it. He congratulated me on approval, and let me know that I would get my card in the mail in the next seven to ten business days.

The 25,000 miles from opening the personal card have already hit my Alaska Mileage Plan account, and the other 25,000 from the business card will hit shortly, once I purchase something with it and this month’s statement closes.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 9.27.13 PM

Waiting Out Chase

In the next post, I’ll have Chase’s decisions about my applications for the Ink Plus and the British Airways Visa Signature. Dun…dun…dun…cliffhanger!

Final Words by Scott

Curious as to how his luck turns out with the dreaded Chase 5/24 rule? I am. Tune in next time to see the results!

If you want to apply for the British Airways Visa Signature,  Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, or the Ink Plus (all mentioned in this post) please consider doing so through the links below. 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

I have a friend who, after about five months off from applying for any new cards, decided to give it another go recently. He is writing a series for MileValue on his experience. Below is Part 1, where he decides on a new round of credit cards: the Ink Plus and the British Airways Visa Signature by Chase, as well as the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature and Business credit cards by Bank of America. Take it away, buddy:

I travel often, and for me to keep my expenses down and maintain the lifestyle that I want, I sign up for credit cards that earn me a lot of rewards that I can cash in for basically free flights. I imagine many of you are like me, to some degree.

I tend to apply for credit cards in batches, all on the same day. This is because I subscribe to the school of thought that if I apply all at once, the banks won’t see what each other are doing as all of the credit inquiries are being processed at the same time. Whether I apply all on the same day or spread out over time, I know the affect on my credit score will be more or less the same. I choose to apply in batches because I think it improves my chances of being approved for multiple cards in a short span of time.

My last round of applications were done in this manner, all on Christmas Eve of 2015. What greater present could I give myself than a bunch of free travel? I applied for five different cards, and my credit score (expectedly) took a dip. This ain’t my first rodeo, so I didn’t panic.

One of the perks I really appreciate about my Citi Prestige® Card is that I can check my real FICO score,  so I monitored it on citi.com

Screen Shot 2016-06-10 at 7.34.35 PM

… and also expectedly, after a few months, my score bounced right back up.

So I started researching what cards would best suit my travel needs, considering what cards I had gotten before and what cards I currently have compared with the latest and best offers. Scott’s articles about issuing banks rules for approvals and new bonuses and the Top 10 Travel Credit Cards both really helped with the research.

I decided to set my sights on:

  • the Ink Plus by Chase
  • the British Airways Visa Signature by Chase
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card by Bank of America
  • the Alaska Airlines Visa Business card by Bank of America

How did I reach that conclusion?

Thoughts on The Current State of Chase Credit Cards

Unless you stumbled upon this blog post by accident, there’s a good chance you already know what the Chase 5/24 rule is. In a nutshell, the rule is that if you have opened any five credit cards, not just Chase cards, within the last 24 months, then your Chase application will be denied.

About a year ago, Chase started enforcing this dreaded rule to the purely Chase-branded personal cards, i.e. the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Slate. Then there were rumors that in March of this year, this 5/24 rule would also start applying to Chase’s Ink cards, and in April, to the remainder of the personal and business co-branded cards.

chase screenshot

I was really bummed about that news since I have certainly opened more than five cards in the last two years, and the Chase cards offer some of the best sign-up bonuses and perks out of any of the travel cards out there.

I looked on FlyerTalk to see if the rumors were true. The reports I read on this FlyerTalk thread about applying for Chase cards were mixed– many denials but still some approvals. What was clear was that the longer I waited, the less chance I would have of getting any Chase cards as more people (with five or more cards opened in the last two years) were seeing more denials as time passed. I saw my options as either:

A) Apply now and risk the denials to see if I can slip in before the 5/24 rule solidifies

B) Go two years without any new card applications, and then go after the Chase cards I want

Option B was not appealing in the least as I travel often and burn through miles pretty steadily. I decided the risk of a denial was worth the possibility of 60,000 Ultimate Rewards and 50,000 Avios.

My spending power isn’t greater than the $7,000 in three months required to unlock the sign-up bonuses on the Ink Plus and British Airways Visa Signature (assuming I am approved), so in my mind that left only two more options for this round of applications: the Alaska Airlines cards, personal and business versions.

Thoughts on the Current State of Alaska Airlines Credit Cards

The Alaska Airlines cards are known in the miles community as an easy way to keep a stream of valuable miles coming in without any serious spending required.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 8.12.22 PM

Prior to May 2016, the public offer for the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature card did not require any spending whatsoever– you received the 25,000 mile bonus after simply signing up and paying the $75 annual fee. The Alaska Airlines Visa Business card has always (and still does) require just one purchase to earn the 25,000 mile bonus, and also has a $75 annual fee.

Now the public offer for the personal card is a sign-up bonus of 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within three months of opening the account, which is still quite a low spending requirement, but I didn’t want to add even $1,000 to the $7,000 I would need to spend to earn the bonuses on the Chase cards as a I don’t think I’ll have that kind of spending capacity. So I looked to FlyerTalk in hopes of finding an old link with the 25,000 mile bonus in exchange for the $75 annual fee. I found one here at the top of this thread that is still active: Alaska Airlines card offers, Personal & Business, 25K and up.

I already have two Alaska cards, one personal and one business card, but all evidence I read still points to the Alaska Airlines credit cards as being churnable. I decided to proceed with applying for two more (one each of the personal and business cards).

Preparing for My Applications

I learned from reading Scott’s primer about the Alaska cards that calling into Bank of America to lower the credit limits on my existing Alaska cards would smoothen the process of applying for two more. The logic behind that makes sense to me– it reduces Bank of America’s exposure to risk– so I called customer service (1.800.732.9194) to complete the process. The representatives didn’t ask many questions, just did as they were told.

As for the Chase cards, I had no preparations to make. After waiting a week to make sure the credit limit decreases on my existing Alaska cards were official, I was ready to start the application process.

Final Words by Scott

Stay tuned for more follow up posts to see how his applications turn out.

If you want to apply for the British Airways Visa Signature,  Alaska Airlines Visa Signature, or the Ink Plus (all mentioned in this post) please consider doing so through the links below. 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

2

Through tomorrow (May 26, 2015), British Airways is offering a 40% bonus on the purchase of Avios. The biggest bonus ever offered on the purchase of Avios was 50% in February 2015, so this is a big bonus.

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 2.19.15 PM

The maximum Avios you can purchase in a year is normally 35,000, but is being raised to 100,000 during this promotion. With a 40% bonus, that means you can add 140,000 Avios to your account. Americans are being offered those Avios for 1.98 cents each, but with one simple trick, you can drop the price to 1.44 cents per Avios!

The Trick

If you set your British Airways account address to a country that uses the euro, say France, you will be sold Avios in euros instead of dollars. The euro price for buying Avios is way cheaper!

The cost to purchase 140,000 Avios for people with an American address is $2,775 or 1.98 cents per Avios. The cost to purchase 140,000 Avios for people with a euro-area address is $2,016 (1,800 euros) or 1.44 cents each. You save more than 25% just for changing your address.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.56.45 PM

To change your address, click “Manage my account under Executive Club on any page.
Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.35.52 PM

Click “Update my personal information” on the left side of the screen.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.36.16 PM

Give an address in a euro-using country.Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.38.40 PM

Hit Continue about three times. The first time I tried to make the change, I stopped a screen short. You’ll know if you have succeeded because when you go back to the Purchase Miles screen, you will be offered the Avios in euros.

If you buy fewer Avios, the price is a bit higher. For instance, buying 14,000 (10k + 4k bonus) Avios results in a price of 1.60 cents per Avios.

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 3.02.51 PM

If you purchase in euros, make sure you use a card that charges no foreign transaction fees like the Citi Prestige® Card. You should also probably pay with a MasterCard instead of a Visa (again like the Citi Prestige.)

Does Putting Your Account in France Mess Up Points Transfers?

After setting my account to France, I initiated a 1,000 Ultimate Rewards transfer to my British Airways account that was already stored on chase.com. The transfer went through instantly as usual, so changing your address doesn’t appear to mess this up.Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.46.45 PMScreen Shot 2015-02-24 at 12.46.53 PM

Eventually you can change your Avios account address back to your home address, but British Airways makes you wait six months between address changes. However I have had my address in France for over a year now, and I seem to be offered better deals for mileage sales and Cash & Avios awards, so I see no reason to change my address back to the United States.

Is This a Good Deal?

The best uses of Avios are short, direct, economy flights on partners without fuel surcharges.

At 1.44 cents per Avios, domestic (including Hawaii) one way awards that cost XXX Avios plus $5.60 in taxes one way would cost:

Those are pretty good deals. I’ve seen cheaper with cash on every route, and I’ve also seen a lot more expensive.

The bottom line with all miles sales is that they are a good deal if you have an immediate, high value use for the miles, and a poor deal otherwise.

Bottom Line

You have until tomorrow (May 26) to get a big bonus on purchasing Avios. Ignore the 1.98 cent price for Americans. Anyone with a euro-zone address on file with British Airways and a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card can get the Avios for 1.44 cents each. The sales are consummated by points.com, so there is no bonus for an airline or travel purchase on your credit card.

The best deals with Avios are short, direct, economy flights on routes/airlines without fuel surcharges. That includes all domestic flights and all these flights.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

This is a post I am writing to illuminate how my friend can get from Denver to Tel Aviv with Amex Membership Rewards. I highly recommend you read it even if:

  • you don’t live in Denver
  • you don’t want to go to Israel
  • you don’t have Membership Rewards

Why? This post explains how I figure out how to get from anywhere to anywhere with any type of miles.

My friend emailed me:

Who has the best economy award redemption chart to middle east? Trying to get three of us to Tel Aviv this winter, and have ~125k amex points to transfer. Assuming that won’t cover all 3 of us, but if I could cover 2 that’s a good start. I also have some amount of United, delta, and American miles already.

First Step: Look at Award Charts

American Express Membership Rewards transfer to more than a dozen airline partners. Instead of looking up all of their charts individually, I headed to milez.biz to search pretty much every award chart at once.

The two deals that caught my eye were:

  • Air France Flying Blue for 25,000 miles each way from Denver to Tel Aviv. It is so cheap because Israel and parts of Northern Africa are inexplicably in Flying Blue’s Europe region as I always mention in Promo Awards posts. Unfortunately Flying Blue awards will have fuel surcharges, but maybe they won’t be so bad.
  • ANA for 65,000 miles roundtrip from Denver to Tel Aviv. ANA awards will have fuel surcharges unless they fly United, which does fly from Newark and San Francisco to Tel Aviv.

Second Step: Creativity

Europe tends to be a much cheaper award that Israel, so how about flying one award to Europe and then getting to Israel with Avios or a low-cost carrier. I wrote up this idea fully three years ago, and the only thing that has really changed is that American Airlines charges 22,500 miles one way during a shorter off peak window to Europe (compared to 20,000 miles and a longer window when the post was written.)

So he could perhaps use 45,000 American Airlines miles plus taxes and no fuel surcharges to fly Denver to Europe roundtrip and then book a separate Avios or low-cost carrier flights on to Israel. The disadvantage is the complexity of multiple tickets. The advantage–if he has the time–is he can see two European cities for as long as he’d like, one on the way there and one on the way back.

If he went this route, I’d recommend booking his awards from Denver to Cologne or Berlin to take advantage of 10,000 Avios awards to Tel Aviv on airberlin. (What are Avios?) That would be 45,000 American Airlines miles and 20,000 Avios roundtrip to Israel per person.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 10.00.15 PM

Or he could book the American Airlines awards to/from one of these cities with low-cost carrier flights to Tel Aviv (which I found on Wikipedia.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.30.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.31.18 PM

I’m going to drop this creative plan for the rest of the post, since I fleshed it out so fully in a previous post, and since I think the other options in the next step look really good.

Third Step: Look at Award Space

The prices of 50k Flying Blue miles and 65k ANA miles roundtrip are just theoretical if there is no award space.

Searching Flying Blue Award Space

Sign in to airfrance.us and search. You’ll find that winter 2017 has amazing award space between Denver and Tel Aviv, with nearly every day having award space for two people at the 25,000 miles one way price.
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.44.03 PM Unfortunately, you are generally looking at three flights each way. The ones that fly Delta across the Atlantic have only $50 in taxes and fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.07 PM The ones that fly Air France have another $55 in fuel surcharges.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.23 PM The returns have about $85 in taxes and fuel surcharges with Delta flying across the Atlantic plus another $55 if you fly Air France to the USA.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.45.51 PM My friend absolutely can book two people a roundtrip from Denver to Tel Aviv for 100,000 Flying Blue miles (an instant 1:1 transfer partner of Amex) + $269. The drawback is the ~$165 extra out of pocket compared to the ANA/United option below and the three flights per direction.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.46.13 PM

Searching United Award Space

The last section was about searching Flying Blue award space. It didn’t matter much which Flying Blue partner he flew as the fuel surcharges are minimal.

This section is about using ANA miles, but the only partner he would want to fly is United. Flying United, ANA doesn’t collect fuel surcharges. If he flies another partner, say Lufthansa, the fuel surcharges would probably exceed $1,000 for two people roundtrip.

To see only United award space, he should go to united.com and NOT sign in. (Signing in will bring up extra award space ANA cannot book if he is a United elite or credit card holder.) On the home screen, he should click “All search options” in the search box.
Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.46.41 PM

Then he needs to scroll down and click “My search preferences.”Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.46.54 PM

He needs to select “United and United Express only” to exclude results like those fuel-surcharge-infested Lufthansa flights.Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.47.00 PM Now his searches should bring up only United results. (Unfortunately the calendar will show both United and partner results. I wrote about this glitch last month.)Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.47.25 PMAny award space he finds on united.com, he can book on ana.com. (Here’s how to book on ana.com.) I pulled up award space for two people on ana.com on United flights, and it priced at 130,000 ANA miles + $105 for two people.

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 4.19.25 PM

Unfortunately I could only pull up Denver to Tel Aviv and vice versa connecting in Newark on ana.com. There’s no reason I can see that ANA couldn’t book the connections in San Francisco that united.com brought up, so if my friend wants to book those, he should call ANA instead of booking online.

Planning, Transferring, Booking

My friend has some planning to do. Does he prefer the 100,000 Flying Blue miles and $269 Flying Blue awards with three segments or the 130,000 ANA miles and $105 ANA awards with two segments. Or does he want to stop each direction and explore Europe on an American Airlines off peak award to Europe, supplemented by separate flights to Israel?

If he prefers the Flying Blue award, he can find award space on airfrance.us, transfer instantly from Amex to Flying Blue, and book online tonight. Or he could try to get 25,000 more American Express, Chase, or Citi points or 20,000 SPG points, all of which would combine with his 125k Amex points to get him enough points for three award tickets.

I’d recommend the Sapphire Preferred with 50,000 bonus Chase points. 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.)

If he prefers the ANA award, he needs 5k more Amex points, so a few months of spending should get him there. Then he can search for award space, transfer from Amex to ANA, wait approximately 36 hours for the miles to post, and book.

If he prefers the American Airlines award, he should put it on hold for five days, book the segments to and from Israel, then ticket the American Airlines award.

Bottom Line

The outlook is good for my friend’s trip to Israel. He has great options through a few obscure foreign airline programs. The key is to find the good deals on the award charts, including getting creative about where you book your award, and then make sure there is actually award space available for that price.

The process is basically the same no matter where you want to go and no matter what points you have. If it seems too complex, hire my Award Booking Service to plan and book your award 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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

Hawaii is one of the best places in the world to visit, and judging by the number of inquiries I get about booking awards to Hawaii, it’s clear that many people agree. There are a number of cheap ways to get there that I’ll list in order.

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Waikiki at Sunset

1. Allegiant Air $314+ roundtrip (ending 8/2016)

Allegiant Air is an ultra-low cost carrier that flies from Las Vegas and Los Angeles to Honolulu. The flights are as cheap as $314 roundtrip, but a carry on will cost $50 roundtrip and a checked bag is $70 roundtrip. Additionally if you want to select your seat or board early, you have to pay extra.

If you live in LA or Vegas, don’t mind a middle seat for six hours, and can travel with only one carry on, $364 roundtrip to Hawaii including a carry on is the best deal in my opinion–better than burning 25,000+ miles on the trip.

You can always pay for your Allegiant flights, bag fees, seat fees, and food with the $250 Air Travel Credit on your Citi Prestige® Card, which comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Check out my review of the Citi Prestige Card which explains its many benefits like $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, and a $450 annual fee.

With $250 off the price of an Allegiant ticket, you could get one to Hawaii for about $100 roundtrip.

Here’s my review of paying $90 extra to get a “Giant Seat” up front from Los Angeles to Honolulu when I flew Allegiant.

Allegiant has announced that it will terminate Hawaii service in August 2016.

2. Avios Award: 25,000+ Avios and $11+ roundtrip

I love that British Airways Avios has a distance-based award chart. For 25,000 Avios and $11, you can fly roundtrip on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines planes from the West Coast to Hawaii. Here are the possible routes.

Screen Shot 2015-12-03 at 6.21.15 PM
1: Seasonal

Avios can be used for one way awards at half the price of a roundtrip award, which means that if you can’t get the Avios deal both ways, it’s still a good idea to go one way for 12,500 Avios and use another one way deal.

See here for an Anatomy of an Award post for a step-by-step breakdown of the time I booked a one way award from Honolulu to Los Angeles with Avios.

Getting British Airways Avios

You can get Chase’s British Airways card, transfer Ultimate Rewards 1:1, transfer Starpoints 4:5, or transfer Membership Rewards 5:4.

  • 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.

    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.)

3. Korean Miles Award: 25,000+ Korean Miles and $11 Roundtrip, First Class from 45,000 Korean Miles Roundtrip

Korean miles can book a roundtrip in Delta economy from anywhere in the United States to any of the four major Hawaiian islands for 25,000 Korean miles. A roundtrip in Delta First Class is 45,000 Korean miles.

You just have to find Saver award space on Delta flights on delta.com and transfer your Ultimate Rewards or SPG Starpoints to Korean miles.

More info on the process: Guide to Booking Delta Flights to Hawaii for 25k Korean Miles Roundtrip, 45k in First

Korean miles can also book Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines Saver award space, but the price is higher: 30k/60k Korean miles roundtrip in economy/First.

Getting Korean Miles

Korean miles are a 1:1 transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards and 4:5 transfer partner of Starpoints.

  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a personal card that earns 50k Ultimate Rewards after spending $4k in 3 months.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.)

4. Singapore Miles Award: 35,000+ Singapore Miles and $11 Roundtrip, First Class from 60,000 Singapore Miles Roundtrip

Singapore miles can book United economy from anywhere in the United States to any of the four major Hawaiian islands for 17,500 Singapore miles each way. One way in United First Class is 30,000 Singapore miles.

You just have to find Saver award space on United flights on united.com and transfer your Ultimate Rewards, Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points, or SPG Starpoints to Singapore miles.

More info on the process: Guide to Booking United Flights to Hawaii with Singapore Miles

While it’s ideal to use one of the three previous options to book an award to Hawaii, you might not live in a place that can take advantage of Allegiant flights or Avios awards, and Delta is notoriously poor for releasing award space (which means Korean miles are useless.) The best bet on this list is definitely United opening up award space, which you can then book with Singapore miles.

Getting Singapore Miles

Singapore miles are a partner of every transferable points program. Cards I like that earns points that transfer:

What Wasn’t On the List

  • United miles
  • Delta miles
  • American Airlines miles

Flights on those airlines can be booked cheaper with Singapore, Korean, and British Airways miles respectively.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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3
  • Groupon Spain is having a sale on Iberia Avios, offering them for 1.38 cents each.
  • Iberia has a portal that allows you to earn 8 Avios per euro on the purchase of Groupons.
  • Those extra Avios bring the effective purchase price down to 1.26 cents each.
  • You can freely transfer Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios if both your Iberia and British Airways accounts are 90 days old.
  • Both types of Avios are worth well more than 1.26 cents each.

Screen Shot 2015-12-23 at 7.51.37 AM

Preparation

The only three things you need to make this deal work are a credit card that charges no foreign transaction fees, the Google Chrome browser, and Iberia and British Airways accounts that have preferably been open for 90+ days. If you don’t have those three things, get them for this and future deals.

My favorite credit card with no foreign transaction fee is the Citi Prestige® Card because it offers 50,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in the first three months, 3x points on hotels and airfare, a $250 Air Travel Credit each year, lounge access, and 2x points on restaurants and entertainment.

Occasionally deals or useful information related to our hobby are only available in a foreign language. Chrome‘s built-in translator is awesome.

You can open an Iberia account here and a British Airways account here. Once both are 90+ days old, you can freely transfer miles between the two. The programs have slight differences, so this is very useful. Sign up now for the many future deals when you will want to transfer between the two, and put your log in information in your Award Wallet account, so you have it for the next deal.

Execution

1. Go to the Iberia Plus portal.
2. Search for Groupon. This deal is based on Groupon offering 8 Avios / €1.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 6.51.23 PM

Keep clicking through until you get this final confirmation and click “Continue.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 6.55.59 PM

You can now be confident that the portal is tracking your shopping with cookies, so that you will be awarded 8 bonus Avios per euro.

3. Go to the Avios Offer on Groupon.es
4. Make your purchase with a no-foreign-transaction-fee card.

You have four options: 4,000, 8,000, 12,000, and 20,000 Avios. (Unfortunately 2,000–the best deal–sold out.) You can buy five total packages, meaning you are limited to buying 100,000 Avios. The 4,000 to 12,000 point packages are almost identical in price, while the 20,000 point package is a few hundredths of a cent more expensive.

Screen Shot 2016-04-21 at 6.57.59 PM

If you buy only the 4,000 packages (ie you buy 4,000 to 20,000 Avios), you can get Avios for 1.12 cents each.

You pay 49 euros for each package, which is $55.31 at current exchange rates. In exchange, you get 4,000 Avios plus 392 Avios (8 times 49) for buying through the portal. That’s like getting each of your 4,392 Avios for 1.26 cents.

5. Redeeming Groupons for Avios

One Mile at a Time has actually redeemed the purchased Groupons for Avios and like most people on FlyerTalk got errors before the redemption actually went through:

In a new tab/window, open this page, which will let you validate the Groupon. Enter the security code, the coupon code, and the email you used to register for Groupon.

Because this is where the fun starts, you’ll most likely receive an error message [that says your coupon has been used.]

Obviously your coupon hasn’t been used yet, and there doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason as to why this fails.

Just keep entering your information until it actually works (for me this was 15 times, by which point I thought I was going completely crazy, because it’s not like this is a complicated form).

6. Optional: Transfer Iberia Avios to British Airways Avios

Once you have all the Avios, you can determine which program offers the better deals for your dream award. Usually, but not always, that is British Airways Avios. See Basics of British Airways Avios to learn more.

Here’s how to make the transfer.

Bottom Line

I value British Airways and Iberia Avios at 1.6 cents each. I normally say not to buy miles without an immediate use in mind, but 1.26 cents is on the border where I might buy Avios speculatively for myself.

This deal ends April 29 at 6 PM ET.

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

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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

You can book yourself a tour around Europe, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia stopping in four places for only 100,000 miles total with nearly half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in four places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

Much like the Mega Trip to the Caribbean and South America I wrote about a few days ago, this deal relies on piecing together some sweet spot awards (and this time also a low cost carrier flight within Europe) into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, knowledge of the sweet spot awards is useful.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Chicago > Paris > Istanbul > Doha > Bangkok > Chicago

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 1.54.50 PM

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that American Airlines flies to.
  • Paris could be replaced by anywhere that is in Europe, but that will affect the cost of the low carrier flight to Istanbul.
  • Istanbul could be replaced by any nearby city with low cost carrier flights from Europe, although this would affect the out of pocket cost as well as the miles price which will probably go up if you choose a different city since the following award is flown with distance-based Avios to the Middle East.
  • Doha can really only be replaced by Amman as the two oneworld hubs in the Middle East.
  • Bangkok could be replaced by a different Asian city that is anywhere from 3,001 to 4,000 miles away from Doha or Amman.
  • Chicago could be replaced by anywhere that Cathay Pacific or Alaska Airlines flies to.

United States to Paris

Before American Airlines devalued their award chart, you could book economy flights to Europe for 20,000 American Airlines miles during the Off Peak season (October 15 – May 15). With American Airlines’ devaluation, the price went to 22,500 miles one way and, more alarmingly, the available dates were dramatically reduced. However you can still use Alaska or Etihad miles to book American Airlines flights in economy to Europe from October 15 to May 15 for 20,000 Alaska or Etihad miles. Here is such a flight on alaskaair.com:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.13.32 PM

You can search for and book award space right on alaskaairlines.com’s home page, just check the “use miles” box in the search tool. You don’t even need an account with Alaska’s Mileage Plan loyalty program.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.27.07 PM

There is space every day of November.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 3.23.18 PM

You can book this same award flying American Airlines flights for 20,000 Etihad miles. 

Some other options you might want to consider depending on what kind of miles you have and where you live:

Paris to Istanbul

Low cost carriers are an economical way of hopping around Europe, especially when you’re trying to save your miles for higher value long distance redemptions.  I found the following flight from Paris to Istanbul with Pegasus Airlines for under $100:

pegasus flight

As is often the case with these discount airlines, the catch is that you have to watch how much you pack. You get one free carry on that can weigh 17.5 pounds. I am a proponent of one bag travel, but understandably you might want a little more room if you’re going on a trip with as many climates as this one. Luckily it’s only $6 more to bring about 44 pounds of luggage.

Istanbul to Doha

The next two legs are Avios awards. Why? Avios are ideal for short, direct, economy flights, especially between regions on award charts. Why pay 20,000 American Airlines to fly Istanbul to Doha (the same price that London to Delhi would be), when you can pay 10,000 Avios?

You can book a one way ticket between Istanbul and Doha in Economy for 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86 in taxes and fees.

avios price

You can search search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

avios award space

Doha to Bangkok

It costs 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62 in taxes and fees to fly from Doha to Bangkok, Thailand.

doha to bangkok price

You can search and book this award right on ba.com– here’s how use the search tool. There is space in Economy every day I checked between these two cities.

doha to bangkok avios space

Bangkok to United States

You can fly Cathay Pacific’s Business Class featuring a fully lie flat bed for only 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles…

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.35.25 PM

…and about $55 in taxes and fees. The following screenshot is from ITA matrix, which breaks down the costs of a normal revenue ticket. Alaska Airlines does not collet fuel surcharges on Cathay Pacific awards, so we know that the amount of out of pocket expenses will be approximately the sum of the taxes and other fees:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 7.41.40 PM

You cannot search for Cathay Pacific award space on Alaska’s website. Use British Airways’ search tool instead– here’s how to search ba.com. The easiest time to find award space in premium cabins on Cathay Pacific flights is immediately prior (a couple weeks or less before travel) or about 11 months out from travel. For example, the availability shown below is for about 11 months from now, and five out of the seven days displayed have three to eight Business Class seats available each day.

bkk to us

bkk to us

Cathay Pacific flights can be booked by calling Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan at 1-800-654-5669.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

     United States to Paris = 20,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $19

     Paris to Istanbul = $80

     Istanbul to Doha = 10,000 British Airways Avios and $86

     Doha to Bangkok = 20,000 British Airways Avios and $62

 +  Bangkok to United States = 50,000 Alaska Airlines Miles and $55


    100,000 Miles and $302  

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between the United States and Paris in Business Class it would cost an additional 30,000 Alaska miles for a total of 130,000 miles and $302.

How to Get the Miles Needed for this Trip

Alaska Airlines Miles

The Alaska Airlines credit cards from Bank of America are churnableEach one has a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus for simply signing up– no minimum spending requirement. For the Business Card you have to charge one purchase to earn the bonus.

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

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening. SPG Starpoints transfer 1:1 to Alaska miles with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 points transferred. SPG Starpoints also transfer 1:1 to British Airways Avios.

Etihad Miles

The Citi Prestige® Card comes with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open. Etihad is a 1:1 transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

British Airways Avios

Cards that earn Ultimate Rewards are ideal, since they transfer 1:1 instantly to British Airways Avios miles.

The Sapphire Preferred is one of the best personal credit cards on the market. It offers:

  • 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months
  • 5,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for adding an authorized user
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar on travel and dining purchases
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • no annual fee the first year and $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.)

The Ink Plus is easily the best business card on the market. It offers:

  • 60,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $5,000 in the first three months
  • 5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services
  • 2 Ultimate Rewards per dollar at gas stations and hotel accommodations
  • 1 Ultimate Reward per dollar on all other purchases
  • $95 annual fee

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.)

Bottom Line

You can see four destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia for 100,000 miles and $302 with about half the trip in a flat bed. The deal relies on using Etihad or Alaska miles to fly American Airlines off peak economy to Europe; using a low cost carrier in Europe; using Avios for direct, region-connecting flights; and using Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific home.

The exact destinations in this post are mostly guidelines and can be subbed out for your preferred spots, as long as you understand how these sweet spot awards work.

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

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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

4

BA.com is not showing Royal Jordanian award space. You have to call British Airways and give the agent specifically worded instructions to book Royal Jordanian flights with Avios.

British Airways is a member of oneworld Alliance, along with the rest of these airlines:

Screen-Shot-2014-05-02-at-2.55.30-PM

  • Air Berlin
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • JAL
  • LAN
  • TAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7
  • SriLankan

They also have the following non-allied partners:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Meridian

British Airways’ frequent flyer program is called British Airways Executive Club, and you can redeem distance-based Avios for awards on British Airways flights or (in theory) on any of the other aforementioned airlines.

When researching awards between the Middle East and Asia for an upcoming post, one of the legs I was investigating was an Avios award between Amman, Jordan and Bangkok, Thailand. I wanted to know how many Avios it would cost, how much the out of pocket expenses would be, and what the availability forecast looked like–thinking it could be a potential Avios sweetspot.  But I couldn’t find the award I wanted on britishairways.com, which lead me to discover a a specific method necessary for booking Royal Jordanian flights with Avios.

British Airways’ Search Results: Amman to Bangkok

The only results displaying on brithsairways.com were for Qatar or British Airways flights with out of the way routings, which makes the price of a distance-based Avios award skyrocket. Every day I looked at had similar results to this:

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.18.45 AM

None were ideal. I needed a direct route out of Amman, which would only be found on Royal Jordanian Airlines (the flag carrier airline of Jordan headquartered in Amman).

So I decided to double check with American Airlines’ search tool, as I know that while aa.com doesn’t show all oneworld Alliance award space, it does show Royal Jordanian’s.

American Airlines’ Search Results: Amman to Bangkok

I found plenty of award space on aa.com for on Royal Jordanian flights between Amman and Bangkok in Business:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.50.59 PM

And a smattering of it for the same time period in Economy:

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 9.50.49 PM

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.27.14 AM

This was a bit perplexing as British Airways’ search tool is known for, generally, showing every airline’s award space that belongs to oneworld Alliance, yet it did not show any of this space that I found on aa.com. I went back to britishairways.com to cross-reference these results with specific dates, yet still nothing matched up.

What Does That Mean?

A couple of quick searches returned some insight from Flyertalk, an online forum frequented by the kind of people that read this blog along with all types of travelers. It seems that I was not the only person unable to see Royal Jordanian award space on ba.com, and the answer wasn’t that aa.com was showing phantom award space. I called American Airlines AAdvantage to personally confirm this, and after feeding the agent some different dates that I saw with space on Royal Jordanian, she confirmed it was bookable with American Airlines miles.

I then called British Airways Executive Club to see if any of their agents could find this alleged award space. Using a tip from this Flyertalker, I directed the agent to look up the paid ticket with the same flight numbers as those with award space I was seeing on aa.com. This worked right off the bat. The agent was able to see the fare code for award space when he searched that way. I asked the agent to check a few different flights in different cabins on different days just to fully confirm that this method works, and it turned up available award seats every time.

Steps for Booking Royal Jordanian with Avios

1. If you know you specifically want to redeem your Avios on Royal Jordanian flights, then search for the award space you are looking for on aa.com.

2. Take note of dates, flight numbers, and cabin.

3. Call British Airways Executive Club at 1-800-452-1201.

4. Feed the agent the dates, flight numbers and cabin(s) of your desired award.

5. When they come back to you with no availability, which they probably will, ask them nicely if they would look up the paid ticket for the same flight numbers, and to see if they find the fare code for award space there. There is a good chance, from the data points I’ve experienced and from what I’ve seen on Flyertalk, that this will do the trick, and the agent will then be able to see and book Royal Jordanian award space for you.

6. Proceed with booking. Depending on the agent, they will tell you there is an additional $25 fee for booking your award over the phone. If that happens, patiently shed light on the situation that it is not possible for you to book this space online because it does not show up in britishairways.com’s search results. Also depending on the agent, they should waive the phone booking fee.

Bottom Line

AA.com is properly displaying Royal Jordanian award space. If you want to book it with Avios, you cannot find the space on ba.com. You need to call British Airways, and have the agent look up the flight that interests you. He should see the award space you found in the proper fare bucket.

Let us know in the comments if any of you have successfully booked an award with Avios on a Royal Jordanian flight, I am interested to see if we have any other data points. Hopefully British Airways will fix the error soon.

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

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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

You can book yourself a tour around the Caribbean and South America stopping in three places for only 64,500 miles total with half the trip in a flat bed. By stopping in three places, I am referring to actual destinations, not connections that have to be under 24 hours.

This incredible deal relies on piecing together four sweet spots awards into one big trip. Even if you never take a trip like this, you should know about these sweet spot awards.

For the purposes of this example, this will be the route we examine:

Philadelphia > Aruba > Bogota, Colombia > Rio de Janeiro, Brazil > Philadelphia

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 7.46.00 PM

However the price is the same no matter where your home airport is, and no matter where you choose your destination in Southern South America to be.

You can tweak the route to your liking and keep the same prices as long as each destination falls in the right region for the pricing of the award.

What does that mean exactly?

  • Aruba could be replaced by anywhere that is in the region defined by American Airlines as Mexico, the Caribbean or Central America for no extra miles
  • Bogota could be replaced by any nearby city with direct LAN flights from the Caribbean or Mexico, though the miles price will probably go up if you choose a different city since this part of the award is flown with distance-based Avios
  • Rio de Janeiro could be replaced by any destination in South America for no extra miles

United States to Aruba

American Airlines post-devaluation award chart has flights to Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean during the off peak season priced at just 12,500 miles one way in economy.  

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.37 PM

The off peak season for these regions is defined as:

  • April 27 – May 20
  • September 7 – November 14

Taxes: $16

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.20.42 PM

Where to search for award space: aa.comHere’s how to search aa.com, award space is great to Aruba during off peak season

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.19.52 PM

How to Book: on aa.com

Aruba to Bogota

It costs 4,500 British Airways Avios to fly from from Aruba to Bogota, Colombia on LAN in economy.

Taxes: $49 (my ba.com is in euros for this reason)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.01 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.18.11 PM

Where to search for award space: ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. This route has the worst award space in the post, so if you copied this routing, you’d build the trip around award space on this leg. You can pick a place with better award space to Bogota (or wherever you decide to go), but the Avios price will probably be higher. Aruba to Bogota is only 605 miles flown, so it is the cheapest price of 4,500 Avios. Flights 651-1,150 miles flown are 7,500 Avios and something like Cancun to Bogota is 10,000 Avios.

How to Book: on ba.com.

Bogota to Rio de Janeiro

For 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles you can fly from Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Avianca/TACA (if using Singapore miles) or LAN (if using American Airlines miles). You could book the same flights in Business Class for 20,000 Singapore miles, or 25,000 American Airlines miles. 

Taxes/Fees: $62 (ignore the miles price in the screenshot, we pay the price on Singapore’s chart, not United’s chart when using Singapore miles)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.19 PM

Where to search for award space: If using Singapore miles, united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. If using American Airlines’ miles, ba.comHere’s how to search ba.com. Award space is very good on Avianca’s direct Bogota to Rio flight, especially in Business Class.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.14.08 PM

How to Book: If using Singapore miles, on singaporeair.com. If using American Airlines miles, call American Airlines’ AAdvantage customer service at 1-800-882-8880.

Rio de Janeiro > United States

It costs 35,000 Asiana miles to fly Business Class on Copa Airlines, Avianca, United, or Air Canada from Southern South America to the United States. I booked Los Angeles to Santiago, Chile in Copa Business Class for 35,000 Asiana miles this year.

Taxes/Fees: $57 (ignore mileage prices below, Asiana has lower prices than United for the same flights)

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.22.31 PM

Where to search for award space: united.com. Here’s how to search united.com. There is great award space between Rio and Philadelphia.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 7.21.52 PM

How to Book: call the Asiana Club at +1-800-227-4262.

What Do Those Awards Add up to?

    United States to Aruba = 12,500 American Airlines miles

    Aruba to Bogota, Colombia = 4,500 British Airways Avios

    Bogota, Colombia to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil = 12,500 Singapore or American Airlines miles

 + Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to United States = 35,000 Asiana miles in Business Class


    64,500 miles and under $184 in taxes

Or, if you wanted to fly the leg between Colombia and Brazil in Business Class, it would cost 72,000 using Singapore or 77,000 American Airlines miles.

Consider it from this angle as well. Heading southbound, you spent only 12,500 + 4,500 + 12,500 = 29,500 miles/Avios, and you visit three places. Normally a one way award to Southern South America would cost 30,000 American Airlines/Delta/United miles, and no stopovers would be allowed.

Why are There No Fuel Surcharges Mentioned in This Post?

Because fuel surcharges are not levied on any airline, on any ticket, w the Americas that I am aware of. Great news for our mega-trip!

How to Get the Miles and Points Needed for this Trip

American Airlines Miles

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

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 4.44.21 PM

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

Singapore Krisflyer Miles (transfer partner of Citi ThankYou Points)

The Citi Prestige® Card with 40,000 bonus ThankYou Points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.

Application Link: Citi Prestige® Card

Asiana Miles (transfer partner of Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints)

The Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card by American Express, personal and business versions, both are offering 25,000 Starpoints each for spending $3,000 and $5,000 respectively within three months of the accounts opening.

British Airways Avios 

British Airways Visa Signature card by Chase is offering 50,000 Avios for spending $2,000 within three months of the account opening.

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

Bottom Line

If you have some (emphasis on some, not many are needed!) American Airlines, Singapore, and Asiana miles as well as a few British Airways Avios, you can piece together an amazing multi-award trip that spans all over the Caribbean and South America with three different destinations. It would be a great way to use up smaller amounts miles hanging around in your frequent flyer accounts, leftover after larger redemptions.

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

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

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

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8

This change takes effect for bookings made February 2 at 5 AM ET or later.

British Avios are great for short, direct, economy awards on flights with no fuel surcharges–but they are getting less great.

The price of an award flight booked with British Airways Avios is determined by only two things: the distance of the flight and the cabin you book. The price of an Avios award is the sum of the prices of each flight segment. The award chart used to be set up such that Business Class flights were 2x the economy price and First Class flights were 3x.

In April 2015, the changed. First Class flights are now 4x the economy price. Business Class flights longer than 2,000 miles flown are now 3x the economy price. I didn’t love this devaluation, but I argued it was basically no big deal since only a few high value awards (like Boston to Dublin in Aer Lingus Business Class went up in price.) Most of the best values, namely the cheapest economy awards, were untouched. Here is the current chart (in thousands of Avios), since that devaluation:

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.51.06 PM

I even argued that the devaluation might be a good thing, on net, since it would probably forestall additional negative changes to the chart. I was wrong. In October 2015, British Airways announced additional negative changes.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.19.49 PM

For awards booked February 2, 2016 and later, the minimum price for an award starting or ending in the United States will be 7,500 Avios. The minimum price for a connecting award within the United States will be 15,000 Avios.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.20.32 PM

This change only affects bookings made February 2, 2016 and later. You can book until February 1, 2016 on the current chart. That means all of 2016 is bookable at the 4,500 Avios price. Here is an award currently bookable for this Summer from Charlotte to Tampa for 4,500 Avios.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 3.19.42 PM

This change only affects flights to, from, or within the United States. Flights in other regions will maintain the current chart. Here is that current chart (in thousands of Avios):

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.51.06 PM

Here is the chart for award bookings of flights that touch the United States starting February 2, 2016.

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.50.49 PM

Bottom Line

These are the last five days to book Avios awards within the United States for 4,500 Avios. You can book for the rest of 2016 and lock in the price. Cancellations of Avios awards cost as little as $5.60, so you may want to book some awards now even if you aren’t sure you’ll take them.

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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.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 100,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $4,000 in the first three months that you can transfer to United miles, Singapore miles, Southwest points, British Airways miles, or use for 1.5 cents each toward any flight, hotel, or car rentals.

Plus the card offers $300 in credits toward any travel purchase each calendar year, which is $600 in your first 12 months of cardmembership, $100 toward Global Entry, and worldwide lounge access. Basically it's the best credit card ever, even with a $450 annual fee.

cc-reward-320x50

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