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Andrea Rotondo

Andrea Rotondo

Andrea M. Rotondo is a writer covering cruise news and luxury travel trends for Fodor’s, Conde Nast Traveler online, and other outlets like Cruise Critic, Onboard, and Cruise & Travel Lifestyles. She also helps travelers leverage their miles and points at Frequent Flyer Toolkits.

She belongs to just about every frequent flyer program. She’s earned Lifetime Gold status with American Airlines and is a Hilton HHonors Diamond. Chase Ink Bold and American Express Business Gold Rewards duke it out for Andrea’s nod as her favorite rewards credit card. Her preferred use of miles and points is for first-class travel to Southeast Asia and southern Africa and OneWorld is her go-to alliance. Miles and points have taken her around the world to destinations like Bali, Tahiti, the Maldives, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Johannesburg. Follow her on Twitter: @luxtravelmavens or on Google+ ( https://plus.google.com/+AndreaRotondo ).

Andrea Rotondo Andrea Rotondo’s posts:

Best First-Class Flights for Couples: Long-Haul Flights to Asia

first class travel

One of the cool things about amassing a zillion frequent flyer miles is actually using them to fly in first class to destinations you previously never thought you’d visit.
Asia is especially enticing when you have frequent flyer miles because you can finally make that long-haul trip in the comfort of the first class cabin. Maybe you’ll jet off to Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul or Singapore. If you’ve got Asia aspirations, we’ll tell you what to look for and how to plan it to ensure a happy and romantic trip.

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Comparing Air France and Air Tahiti Nui’s Business Class Cabins

air france business class

If you’re planning a trip to the South Pacific and want to fly into Papeete, Tahiti (PPT) in French Polynesia, your flight choices are pretty limited. It’s a long haul from the United States–Los Angeles to Papeete takes about 8.5 hours–so you’ll probably want to fly in business class. Let’s compare two airlines that can get you from Los Angeles to Papeete in style: AirFrance and Air Tahiti Nui.

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Transferring Miles Between Accounts to Increase Your Balance

One way to quickly build up a stash of frequent flyer miles is to take advantage of limited-time offers the airlines promote. Oftentimes, airlines like Avianca and banks like American Express will offer a bonus scheme when you transfer miles between accounts. That means you may earn a bonus when you transfer your miles to your husband’s account, or to a friend or child. Sometimes the deals aren’t worth it but when they are, you can leverage the promotion to earn plenty of free travel for yourself and potentially others. Let’s look at this method of earning loyalty currency.

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How to Pay Student Loans or Contribute to 529 Plans and Earn Miles and Points

There is a fantastic new way to give the gift of education to any friend or family member. And, it’s even a method to help you pay down your student loan while earning miles and points. Gift of College is a college savings registry of sorts.
You can purchase gift cards from the company that the recipient (or you) can use to pay off a student loan, or establish or contribute to his or her existing 529 plan. For miles and points enthusiasts, it finally paves the way to earn valuable loyalty currency just for paying off your loan or helping someone else afford college. Let’s look at how the program works.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Travel Hackers

You may not be a New Year’s resolution type of person, but you’ll actually do yourself a disservice if you don’t make a few promises related to your travel hacking hobby. Earning miles and points that will help whisk you and your family around the globe in style isn’t easy, and it takes planning and organization.
Before you sing “Auld Lang Syne” at the dawn of the New Year, make a few resolutions that may help you get where you want to go in the next 12 months. Here are some resolutions shared by us at RewardExpert. You may want to commit to them as well.

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5 Things You Might Not Know About Your Credit Score

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Your credit score is one of your most valuable assets and you should nurture it and protect it. You want a healthy credit score to help you accomplish all of your life goals, including getting a mortgage or car loan (with reasonable interest rates) or passing a potential employer or landlord’s background check.
You also want a high credit score so you can fully participate in the lucrative hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles, hotel loyalty program points, or bank points (such as American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, or Citi ThankYou points).

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Southwest Rapid Rewards Shopping Mall Portal: A Primer

If Southwest Rapid Rewards is your main frequent flyer program, you need to be aware of Rapid Reward Shopping as well. This online shopping mall acts as a portal to all of your favorite online retailers, from Kohl’s and Old Navy to JCPenney and Ulta Beauty. All you need to do to earn extra Rapid Rewards points is visit the portal and click on the store you wish to shop at. Then, once you make a purchase, you’ll be rewarded with a certain number of Rapid Rewards per dollar spent. It’s that easy, but we’ll step you through the entire process.

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Are You Booking Your First Award Tickets by Phone? Here’s How

You’ve been painstakingly saving those miles for a special trip and you finally reached your goal. You’ve got enough miles to book that award flight you’ve had your eye on. Booking award travel can be a bit intimidating if you haven’t done it before—especially when booking over the phone. But, have no fear. It’s easy to master the art of booking award tickets. Just use our handy script if this is your first time trying to book a free flight from your frequent flyer program.

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Delta SkyMiles Shopping Mall Portal: A Primer

If you are a fan of online shopping and you’re a miles and points junkie, you have to get in the habit of using your favorite airline or hotel’s online shopping portal. Delta Skymiles Shopping is just such a portal, and we’ll show you exactly how to sign up so you’ll be rewarded with extra miles on purchases made through this venue. We’ll also show you how to spot deals at SkyMiles Shopping and how to know when to pass up that purchase.

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AAdvantage eShopping Mall Portal: A Primer

aadvantage shopping portal

If you’re not leveraging your favorite airline’s online shopping portal, you are leaving miles—and possibly points—on the table.
Sure, it might be easy to log in to your favorite etailer to buy that pair of sneakers for your kids, but if you go the extra mile and make one additional click at the airline portal, you’ll be rewarded with a certain number of miles per dollar spent—and that’s on top of whatever bonus your credit card offers you for making purchases.
Let us help you discover the value of online shopping portals. Today we’ll step you through American Airlines’ AAdvantage eShopping portal just in time for holiday shopping.

What Is the AAdvantage eShopping Mall?

Like most airline frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, American Airlines offers an online shopping portal. The portal makes it quick and easy for you to earn valuable AAdvantage miles, which can be used to book award flights on American Airlines flights as well as on every single oneworld partner airline. You can earn miles whenever you purchase something online from one of the shops that belong to the AAdvantage eShopping online mall.

What Kind of Retailers Are Part of AAdvantage eShopping?

Some of AAdvantage’s most popular retail partners include Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Target, Kohl’s, The Home Depot, Nike, and JCPenney.
Top Stores

But, there are tons of additional shops to browse, including those in the categories shown below, which include everything from apparel to flowers and gifts to travel.

Online shopping advances include some hidden gems in the category list, so you really need to explore the offerings. Otherwise, you may miss out on potential miles-earning opportunities. For example, under the Books category, you’d expect to find the popular chain Books-A-Million. But, you’ll also find indie bookstore AbeBooks as well as The Scholastic Store for youngsters and Textbooks.com for college students.
Hundreds of online retailers participate in the AAdvantage eShopping mall, so you’ll want to check out the directory to see if the stores you love are available.

How to Earn Miles (& Points) By Shopping at the AAdvantage eShopping Portal

You will love how quickly you rack up the miles once you begin shopping through the AAdvantage eShopping mall. It’s really simple to get started.
  1. Sign up to be an AAdvantage eShopping member.

While you are already an American Airlines AAdvantage member with a frequent flyer number, you’ll need to register with the shopping portal before you can begin to earn miles. Click the “Sign up” link on the home page. (Be sure to have your AAdvantage frequent flyer number readily available.)

In order to keep abreast of the mall’s special offers and deals, be sure to check the box at the bottom of the order form that adds you to the portal’s email list.

  1. Log in to the AAdvantage eShopping online shopping mall.

The login link is at the top of the home page.

  1. Search the store you want to make a purchase from. Let’s say you want to buy something at Sephora.


You’ll see a few offers from the store and a “Shop now” button. Click on the link that will take you from the portal to the store’s website. You must be logged in to your account when you click the link. Otherwise, your purchase won’t earn any points.

How to Find Deals and AAdvantage Shopping Promotions

While it’s great to earn a few miles per dollar spent on your purchases, AA eShopping portal also offers a variety of deals that can earn you additional miles. Here’s how you can find any special bonus offers:

Extra Rewards Deals

When you log in to your account, look for the dollar icon on the right top of the page. When you click on it, it will get you to a page with special deals and extra rewards offers. The deal usually means an increase in the number of miles you’ll receive per dollar spent at a retailer.

Offers

Click on the “Offers” tab at the top of the page, and you’ll get a menu that lists all of the current offers from every retailer that comprises the shopping portal. You’ll see deals for free shipping, gift cards, special holiday offers, and more.


Oh, this could be a boon for anyone that’s planning to spend at least $250 at Macy’s. You’ll earn an increased number of miles per dollar spent: 6 miles per dollar instead of the normal 3 AND you’ll receive 500 bonus miles if you spend a minimum of $250 at the store.

Seasonal Bonuses

If you’re shopping during holidays or love seasonal shopping, be sure to check the home page for a link with deals. It will lead you to all of the special deals that vendors are offering during a specific—and limited—time period.

RewardExpert
is publishing this story during spring season so there are a number of deals to consider.

Which Stores Offer the Most Miles Per Dollar

Finally, it makes sense to review the list of participating stores in order of the store’s earn rate. You can do that by clicking on “Stores” at the top of the page and then “Stores by earn rate.”


Be sure to sort the list by the highest earn rates; click on the tab that says “6+.” The miles per dollar payout changes randomly so it’s always a good idea to review the list before you decide to purchase through the portal.

Which Credit Card You Should Use at the AA Shopping Portal

Whenever you shop online you’re faced with the decision of what credit card to use. When you buy anything through the AAdvantage eShopping portal, you’ll most likely want to use your Citi / AAdvantage credit card that rewards you with AAdvantage miles for every dollar you spend. That’s in addition to the miles you’ll earn for shopping through the portal.

Let’s look at an example. If you send flowers from FTD by clicking on the link at the AAdvantage eShopping portal, you’ll receive 20 miles per dollar spent. So, if your total before tax and delivery was $89, you’ll be rewarded with 1,780 AAdvantage miles from the portal.
Now, when you charge this purchase to your credit card you’ll earn more miles or points. If you use the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll receive 1 mile for every dollar spent on your purchase. The flowers were $89 but with tax and delivery your total was $104.95. Citi will reward you with 105 AAdvantage miles for that purchase.
So, when all is said and done, you’ll receive 1,885 AAdvantage miles for your purchase (1,780 miles from the shopping portal and 105 miles from Citi for using its AA-branded credit card).
If you’re going to make purchases anyway, it’s a no-brainer to do so through the AAdvantage eShopping mall. You’ll earn a healthy number of miles each time you shop.

Best and Worst Deals on the AA Shopping Mall

An informed shopper is a smart shopper. Just because there is a “deal” at the AA shopping mall doesn’t mean it’s the best deal. You’ll need to determine if you’re best off making the purchase through the portal or elsewhere.

Money-Off Coupons

Sometimes you’ll receive a money-off discount code from your favorite retailer. Oftentimes, those coupons can’t be used in conjunction with an online shopping portal that rewards you with miles or points. You’ll need to read the fine print for each shop to determine if you can use a coupon that was sent to you. Otherwise, look for coupons and deals right at the AAdvantage eShopping portal. You may find the same, or better, options.

Fixed Rate Options

Most stores offer a certain number of AAdvantage miles for each dollar you spend. However, there are a few dozen retailers that offer a fixed number of miles for a specific purchase. For example, you can earn 25,000 AAdvantage miles for switching to Sprint through the portal. Or, you can earn 250 miles for buying a membership to AT&T TV NOW. You’ll need to look at all of your other buying options outside of the shopping portal to see if it makes sense or not.

Bottom Line

Once you get the hang of how the AAdvantage eShopping mall works, you’ll be earning miles on all of your online purchases. To find the best use of all those AAdvantage miles, use RewardExpert, a free service that will help you figure out the best partner airline to use American’s currency on based on where you want to go.

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Transferring Amex Membership Rewards to Hawaiian Airlines

transfer amex points

If you’re amassing American Express Membership Rewards points, it’s because you know how valuable it is to have flexible points that can be transferred to a number of different airlines and hotel chains, or even used to pay down the cost of a trip booked through American Express’ travel portal. If you’ve got Membership Rewards points and you want to book a getaway to Hawaii, look no further than transferring those points to Hawaiian Airlines’ loyalty program: HawaiianMiles.

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Which Branded Credit Card is Best for Getting to Hawaii on Miles?

travel to hawaii

When it comes to stockpiles of frequent flyer miles, it’s safe to say that many of those miles are earmarked for a special trip to Hawaii. The Hawaiian Islands are one of the most popular destinations in the United States and it’s a no-brainer to use miles to get there. The flights are generally fairly expensive, and long—even if you’re departing from the West Coast—so you’ll be tempted to book into or upgrade to a premium cabin, if possible. 

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Chase and Amex Travel Booking Portals: What’s the Deal?

When the travel hacking bug hits, most newcomers to the hobby only think about earning points that can be transferred to an airline or hotel in order to book an award. However, two major players in this field—Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards—offer so much more than a simple transfer of their points to an external travel loyalty program. Let’s delve into the travel booking portals from both of these companies so you know all of your options when it comes to using your hard-earned points.

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Don’t Miss the Benefits of American Express OPEN

Do you have an American Express business credit or charge card? If so, have you delved into everything the company’s OPEN program offers? Probably not because it’s not as sexy as earning a ton of points via a sign-up bonus. But, you can definitely earn additional Membership Rewards points through the program so let’s talk about how you can benefit from some other really valuable Amex perks.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees on JetBlue

Paying a fee to check your luggage on any airline can seem insulting. After all, you paid good money for your ticket and now you have to shell out more dough just to check your luggage. It’s a drag but it’s a reality in air travel today. JetBlue levies various fees for checked bags—regardless of if you booked a Blue, Blue Plus, or Blue Flex fare. We’ll tell you how to avoid those fees.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees on Alaska Airlines

Mileage Plan elite members can check a certain amount of luggage for free on Alaska Airlines flights. The rest of us may need to cough up some cash. Here’s a look at how much checked bags cost on Alaska Airlines and ways to skirt the fee whenever possible.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees on Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines is not immune to the dreaded checked bag fee. If you aren’t careful, you could pay a ton when checking bags on your next Delta flight. Here are a few methods to help you avoid those extra fees.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees on American Airlines

Paying extra to check your bag on any airline stinks, but it’s the new normal these days. However, savvy travelers like you can get around these fees. We’ll show you the ways in which you can avoid baggage fees on American Airlines flights.

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American Express Business Cards: Which Is Best for You?

Many frequent travelers—especially small business owners—focus their loyalty on the American Express Membership Rewards program. That’s because of the myriad airlines that participate in its transfer program.

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How to Avoid Baggage Fees on United Airlines

MileagePlus elite members score free baggage allowance on United Airlines flights, but that’s not the only way to avoid these onerous checked bag fees. Let’s take a look at the ways you can save money by getting your bag checked for free on your next United flight.

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