As we approach the holiday season, sign-up bonus offers for new credit cards are proving to be generous and rewarding. Also, read on to find out how Hilton is making lifetime Diamond status easier to achieve and how to bypass part of American’s new elite status spending requirements in the new year.
The Year in Review: Frequent Flyer Program Changes in 2016
A lot happened in the world of frequent flyer programs this year. Not surprisingly, award chart devaluations were the norm, particularly for premium cabins. The news wasn’t all bad, though. Some redemptions actually dropped in price, and airlines and credit card issuers introduced new partnerships, giving members more redemption and transfer options.
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.
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.
Christmas Shopping Travel Hacker Style
How much will you spend on holiday shopping this year? According to
When you add to that the amount spent on food, entertainment
HomeExchange: How Travelers Can Get Free Lodging
Did you know you can travel around the world and get lodging for free? That’s what HomeExchange offers with their house swapping service.
RewardExpert spoke with Alexandra Origet, HomeExchange’s global public relations director, to learn more.
AAdvantage eShopping Mall Portal: A Primer
If you’re not leveraging your
Sure, it might be easy to log in to your favorite retailer 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
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.
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.
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.
Log in to the AAdvantage eShopping online shopping mall.
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.
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.
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 , 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.
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.
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.
Amex Sign-up Bonus Clawbacks and Hitting Minimum Spend Requirements
American Express sometimes offers 100,000-point
AA and United Set to Compete with Budget Carriers Like Frontier and Spirit
Delta first introduced Basic Economy fares which offer reduced amenities and flexibility relative to standard economy class tickets back in 2012. The bare bones fares were available in select markets in order to compete with low cost carriers such as Frontier and Spirit.
Mileage Redemption Options And Bonus Points for Online Shopping
Alaska Mileage Plan is a crowd pleaser, and it continues to impress with new redemption opportunities with Japan Airlines. Also, don’t miss the latest points and mileage earning bonuses for making online purchases as you shop around presents this holiday season.
CleverLayover: Save Money On Global Travel
How would you like to save money on long-distance flights? That’s what CleverLayover says they can do.
RewardExpert spoke with CEO and Co-founder Phil Hu to find out more. He explains the secrets of the system and offers a few travel tips.
Best App for Renewing Your Passport
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.
Help City Kids by Donating United Miles to R.O.C.K.
Real Options for City Kids, or R.O.C.K. for short, is a San Francisco-based nonprofit that provides active and enriching programs to youth living in the working class neighborhood of Visitacion Valley. R.O.C.K. gives kids in this underserved community a chance to participate in activities they wouldn’t normally have access to, such as sports, outdoor adventures and a variety academic programs. Thanks to a partnership with United Airlines, you can donate MileagePlus miles to this worthy charity.
United Pulls Back the Curtain on Polaris and Delta Gouges Members Who Want to Buy Extra MQMs
United’s much-heralded Polaris lounge and inflight product are finally here. The airline rolled out the new offering Dec. 1 and will slowly make its way across the airline’s network in the coming months and year. Delta also put its MQMs on sale, but the prices will make your jaw drop. At least, Air France and KLM have put some awards on sale and Aeroplan (Air Canada) has some free miles up for grabs.
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.
Credit Cards That Reimburse You for Delayed Flights
We’ve all experienced flight delays. While it’s never fun, you can have some control over the situation if you’ve paid for your ticket with the right credit card. Some cards will reimburse you for expenses incurred because of the delay giving you plenty of options including taking a different flight, renting a car or staying at a hotel. Let’s take a look at which cards offer what.
Best and Worst Use of Citi ThankYou Points on Air France/KLM and Singapore
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.
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.
Donate Southwest Airlines Points to Team Rubicon
In 2010, U.S. Marines William McNulty and Jake Wood put together a small team of military veterans and first responders to head into Haiti after the earthquake. They were in Port-au-Prince three days after the quake, providing much needed medical services and supplies while many relief organizations were still waiting to enter the city.
Team Rubicon was born, and it has since grown its ranks to 40,000 volunteers who have participated in over 120 operations around the world. You can support their disaster relief efforts by donating your Southwest Airlines points.
Annual Spending Bonuses to Hit Before the Year is Over
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.