Frequent Flyer Tips for Experienced Travelers

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Secrets to Earning Oneworld Alliance Tier Status

Here’s the scoop on how to earn status on an alliance and not just an airline. The oneworld alliance may be smaller the other two major ones, but its 14 members (plus 21 affiliated members) can literally take you anywhere in the populated world.

If you regularly fly on Air Berlin, American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qantas, Iberia, Finnair, Japan Airlines, LATAM Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines, or SriLankan Airlines, it’s a safe bet that you might benefit from oneworld tier status.

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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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Award Ticket Availability to the Super Bowl in Houston

Airline ticket and hotel prices go through the roof for the host city during big events like the upcoming Super Bowl, which is being held in Houston on Sunday, February 5.

One way to cut costs if you want to see it in person is to use points and miles where the price in miles is fixed regardless of the cash price of the ticket. Because tickets will be costly. You can expect to use 25,000 miles to get to Texas for the game though some airlines will cost more and at least one route is less.

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Extreme Reward Stacking When Dining Out

dining

Unless you’re a road warrior with elite status, chances are you earn more points and miles through credit card spend rather than actually flying. Hopefully, you have one or two credit cards in your wallet that earn bonus points on dining, but there could be extra points you’re leaving on the table. In the points and miles hobby, the art of stacking is an advanced skill to accelerate your points earning potential, and it might even save you money.

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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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Amex Sign-up Bonus Clawbacks and Hitting Minimum Spend Requirements

Amex Sign-up Bonus Claw-backs

American Express sometimes offers 100,000-point sign-up bonuses. Not too long ago, some people found a link online for a 100,000-point sign-up bonus for the personal Platinum card which was not supposed to be made public.

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Best App for Renewing Your Passport

Best App for International Travel

The appropriately named ItsEasy app makes it easy to renew your passport. You’ll never need to trudge down to the post office and wait in line again. Just use an iPhone or iPad to snap your photo, fill out the appropriate forms and send them off to ItsEasy. They’ll take care of the rest.

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Using Citi ThankYou Points on Virgin Atlantic to Fly Delta and on JetBlue to Get to Cuba

Virgin Atlantic can be a fantastic airline to transfer your Citi ThankYou points to. The airline has 10 redemption partners of its own, so finding a good value is not an issue. You just need to be strategic and do your homework before transferring your points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Transfers are usually instantaneous, and you can even transfer your points while on the phone with an agent.

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Best and Worst Use of Citi ThankYou Points on Air France/KLM and Singapore

citi thankyou points

Unlike Chase which partners with United, and American Express which partners with Delta, Citi doesn’t have a major U.S. airline partner. But it does have many foreign airline partners that you can transfer ThankYou points to and book one of the three domestic legacy carriers.

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Best and Worst Use of Citi ThankYou Points Through the Bank’s Travel Center

The Citi ThankYou travel rewards program is very similar to the American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards programs. Just like those two, Citi ThankYou allows you to book travel through its own portal or transfer your points to airline partners if you have a premium card. 

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Annual Spending Bonuses to Hit Before the Year is Over

spend bonuses

Did you know that many travel rewards credit cards come with annual spending bonuses? These bonuses can often boost you to higher levels of elite status. But there is an element of art as well as science in determining whether to ramp up spend on a specific card. We’ll break it down for you here.

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Best and Worst American Express Membership Rewards Redemptions on Cathay Pacific and Etihad

American Express has almost 20 airline partners, and you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to any of them. Two of the best Amex airline partners you might consider are Cathay Pacific and Etihad, but like other airline frequent flyer programs there are some sweet spots and some that may not be worth the transfer.

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How Small Businesses Can Maximize Rewards for Air Travel

Big companies get discounts and special deals for committing their business to one airline. This is often done behind the scenes and is a common and expected practice among airlines. It might even include complimentary elite status and fee waivers for corporate travelers.

But what about smaller companies? Isn’t their business valuable, too? Isn’t that the entire idea behind loyalty?

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How to Increase Your Credit Limit

How to Increase Your Credit Limit image

Credit card companies will typically increase the maximum amount of money they will let you borrow over time, particularly if you have good credit. But what if you want a higher credit limit before they offer it to you? Is there a good way to increase your credit and is it a good idea? Let’s find out.

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Best and Worst Use of American Express Membership Rewards When Transferring Points to Airlines

membership rewards

We explained the best and worst redemptions for American Express Membership Rewards through the Amex Travel Portal. Now we look at the value of those points when transferred to frequent flyer programs.

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When You Should Use Amex Membership Rewards Points Through its Booking Portal

amex rewards

The American Express Membership Rewards program offers members the ability to redeem points for all kinds of rewards. Like similar credit card rewards programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou, the best Membership Rewards value usually comes from transferring points to an airline partner. However, there are some exceptions that are worth considering like booking tickets through the Amex travel portal. Here’s a rundown of when that makes sense and when it doesn’t.

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How to Pick the Best Travel Rewards Cards

With so many travel rewards credit cards on the market, it can be difficult to decide which ones are worth getting and which should be ignored. If you get too many cards, you may end up paying more in annual fees than the value you get out of the cards. On the other hand, if you have too few cards you might miss out on programs and points that fit your travel needs.

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Best and Worst Chase Ultimate Rewards Redemptions: British Airways

British Airways Executive Club is a great program that can really stretch the value of your Ultimate Rewards points. Since BA is an airline partner of UR you can transfer points to Execuive Club, the airline’s frequent flyer program. While British Airways is not a U.S. airline, you can use Avios to fly on its partner airlines, which include American or Alaska.

Also, unlike most U.S. based airline programs, British Airways Executive Club is a distance-based program, and it works best on relatively short, non-stop flights. Redemption levels start at 7,500 Avios per one-way flight (15,000 roundtip) in the U.S. and 4,000 Avios (8,000 roundtip) elsewhere.

Ultimate Rewards to British Airways: Best Redemptions

Short flights in the U.S.

Nonstop flights for distances up to 1,150 miles in the U.S. are priced at 7,500 Avios one way, which is a much better rate than reduced United flights priced at 10,000 miles for distanced up to 700 miles. The next level is 10,000 Avios for distances between 1,151 and 2,000 miles.

1) For travel originated or terminated in the U.S., consider transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC if:

  • You hold a Sapphire Preferred card and your desired roundtrip ticket costs $187.50 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site or
  • You hold a Sapphire Reserve card and your roundtrip ticket costs $225 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site.

transfer-from-sapphire-cards

2) For travel not originating or terminating in the U.S., consider transferring your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC if:

  • You hold a Sapphire Preferred card and your desired roundtrip ticket costs $112.50 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site or
  • You hold a Sapphire Reserve card and your roundtrip ticket costs $135 or more on the Ultimate Rewards site

For better understanding of this valuation, read the Best and Worst Examples of Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points – The Portal.

A few examples of flights under 1,150 miles are: NYC – Miami, Toronto/Montreal, Washington, Chicago or Bermuda or Los Angeles to Seattle on the West Coast. You can find the distance between cities with this free tool.

West Coast to Hawaii on Alaska or American

Flights between the continental U.S. and Hawaii cost 22,500 one way, but the West Coast lies well within a 3,000-mile distance from Honolulu, so if you transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC, you can fly between the West Coast and Honolulu on American or Alaska for 12,500 Avios or 25,000 per roundtrip.

avios-hnl-west-coast

Boston to Dublin on Aer Lingus

One of the most amazing Ultimate Rewards values is redeeming Avios between Boston and Dublin on a British partner Aer Lingus for 25,000 per roundtrip. Even a business class ticket (redeeming Avios for business class tickets are not usually recommended) for 75,000 Avios per roundtrip is a good deal compared to United’s 100,000 miles price tag.

Northeast to Western Europe on Airberlin or Iberia

Transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC and fly from New York to Berlin/Dusseldorf for 40,000 Avios on Air Berlin (per roundtrip), or to Madrid for 34,000 Avios on Iberia. United charges 60,000 miles for flights between the U.S. and Europe.

London to Europe on BA

We generally discourage people from using Avios to fly British Airways over the ocean due to high fuel surcharges, but short- and medium-haul flights between London and Continental Europe can be a real bargain. The fees on intra-Europe BA flights are capped at £35 (which is slightly above $45 with current exchange rates), so you can connect anywhere in Europe for cheap. You can fly to Marseilles or Copenhagen for 9,000 Avios per roundtrip, Rome, Ibiza and Budapest for 15,000 Avios, or Moscow, Athens and Istanbul for 20,000.

redeem-for-cheap-tickets-to-europe

Save even more by flying BA off-peak

British Airways has discounts if you don’t mind flying off-peak with them. Your savings for short-to-medium-haul one-way flights are as follows:

  • 4,000 Avios vs. 4,500 for Zone 1
  • 6,500 Avios vs. 7,500 for Zone 2
  • 8,500 Avios vs. 10,000 for Zone 3
  • 10,000 Avios vs. 12,500 for Zone 4

Intra-South America on LAN/TAM

Intra-South American flights can be prohibitively expensive; a one-hour flight between Lima and Cuzco (a gateway to Machu Picchu) can cost hundreds of dollars. However, the same flight can be yours for 4,500 Avios one way. Same 4,500 Avios can get you between other popular cities, for example, Sao Paulo and Iguassu Falls or Rio and Florianopolis. Or you can fly from Buenos Aires to Santiago de Chile for 7,500 one way.

Intra-Australia flights on Qantas

Qantas holds a virtual monopoly on intra-Australia flights, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a 1.5- hour flight between Sydney and Melbourne can cost $300-400 sometimes. Instead, transfer you Ultimate Rewards points to BAEC and book the same flight for 4,500 Avios and a few dollars of taxes.

Sydney – Auckland on LAN

This is a rare instance when we can recommend paying slightly more for a business class flight. This route is served by South American LAN on the way to/from Santiago and features Premium Business class with lie-flat seats. This 3.5 hour flight will cost you 20,000 Avios in business or 10,000 Avios in economy (one way).

lan-syd-akl
Buy business class tickets to Auckland for 20,000 Avios

Intra-Asia on Cathay Pacific and intra-Japan on JAL

You can fly from Hong Kong to Hanoi or Taipei for 4,500 Avios and to Chiang Mai or Siem Reap for 7,500 Avios one way. You can also use other oneworld partners Malaysia and SriLankan, but both add some fuel surcharges to their award tickets. Or you can redeem 4,500 Avios for any intra-Japan one-way flight on JAL from Tokyo – be it to Fukuoka in the South or Sapporo in the North.

Ultimate Rewards to British Airways: Worst Redemptions

This list is amazingly short.

Avoid connecting flights

The way Executive Club is designed is that any extra segment adds costs. So if there isn’t a non-stop flight or if you can’t find a nonstop availability, the system will usually (although not always) charge you for two segments instead of one.
Avoid connecting flights
For example, the flying distance between New York and Tampa, is just a hair above 1,000 miles which means it would cost 7,500 Avios per one-way flight if there was a non-stop flight between these two cities on American. Unfortunately, there isn’t, so when the computer routes your flight via Miami or Washington, DC, it adds an extra segment, meaning that you end up paying 15,000 Avios instead of 7,500. That makes transferring to United or booking your trip with Ultimate Rewards points a better option.

Once again, this is not always the case, so try to price your itinerary on the British Airways website first.

Avoid redeeming Avios for premium class travel

With some exceptions, using Avios to book first, or even business class is rarely a good deal. The BAEC scheme operates with a premise of a four-class configuration.

  • Economy
  • Premium Economy
  • Business
  • First

So if an economy seat costs 4,500 Avios, then a premium economy seat is 6,750, which is 50 percent more; a business class seat is 9,000, which is twice as much as a seat in economy; and a first class seat is 18,000 Avios, which is twice as much as a seat in business.

While redeeming Avios for a business class seat may be a decent value  (like our Boston-Dublin and Auckland-Sydney examples), in general, the best value of the BAEC program is in short trip redemptions. There just isn’t much value in spending a lot of points for a two to three-hour flight. If you’re interested in business or first, save your Ultimate Rewards points for another day and transfer them into a program providing a much better value for long-haul premium class travel.

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How Do I Find a Cheap Mileage Run to Bump Up My Frequent Flyer Account?

How Do I Find a Cheap Mileage Run to Bump Up My Frequent Flyer Account?

You’ve heard about them before. Mileage runs–the holy grail of scoring tons of miles by using cheap fares to fly a long distance. Since airlines have largely adjusted the way they award miles (based upon price of the ticket versus distance flown), mileage runs have lost much of their appeal.

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Get These Credit Cards to Top Off Your AA, Delta or United Frequent Flyer Account

Get These Credit Cards to Top Off Your AA, Delta or United Frequent Flyer Account

It happens to all of us. You’re planning a trip and you find the award flight you want, but you’re just a few miles short. What do you do? The easiest solution is to transfer points from a rewards credit card to your frequent flyer account. Or better yet, get a new card with a big sign-up bonus. You’ll probably even have enough miles to upgrade from coach to business. Why not travel in style?

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