Black Friday officially launches the holiday shopping season, which is a great time of year to rack up tons of miles for next year’s travels. While the miles earned from the increased levels of spending are great, there are multiple ways that rewards can be increased using airline and bank shopping portals, Amex offers, and credit card bonus categories. You can even stack them. That’s right. You can combine these great earning opportunities to earn even more.
When You Should Use Amex Membership Rewards Points Through its Booking Portal
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.
Celebrity Chef Meals and Popular Brands on Delta Menus
The old adage that airplane food is bland and unexciting is no longer true, especially aboard Delta now that the airline has made significant investment in partnerships with celebrity chefs and well-known brands. We take a look at some of the latest choices available on board the airline.
United Loopholes Allow for Some Creative Routings
When United recently overhauled its award ticket rules this past summer many saw it as a massive devaluation. United had relatively friendly award routing rules that allowed one stopover and two open jaws on roundtrip award tickets.Those rules are gone now though and have been replaced by the “Excursionist Perk,” which is essentially a free segment on an international itinerary. It comes with new rules. We bring you workarounds. Read on.
United Introduces a New Economy Class and American Adds a New Perk For Elites
United has announced a new fare class that is especially restrictive. It is designed to counter ultra-low fare airline competition, but frequent flyers should be cautious before booking it. American is also giving its Concierge Key members a nice new bonus.
Budget Airlines and Their Loyalty Programs: Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit
Budget airlines tempt you with cheap fares, but they charge extra for everything from seat assignments to carry-on bags. Is it worth it? Which low-cost carrier is the best? And what about their frequent flyer programs? Let’s take a closer look at Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit.
How to Get In The Free Travel Game
What if you could travel for free whenever you want to get away? It seems far-fetched, but some people do it and it may not be as difficult as you think.
Free travel, sometimes called travel hacking or travel rewards, is all about collecting points or miles and redeeming them for free airline tickets, hotel rooms, gift cards or cash.
GlobalGiving Connects HHonors Members to Charity Projects
In 2002 GlobalGiving introduced a new model of charitable giving that connects individual donors with grassroots nonprofits around the world.
Through this crowdfunding website, you can choose the projects you want to support, knowing that your donations will have a direct impact on those communities. And thanks to Hilton’s partnership with GlobalGiving, you can give HHonors points to help support these causes.
How to Pick the Best Travel Rewards Cards
With so many
New Elite Qualifying Dollar Benefit on American Airlines Aviator Cards
Earlier this year American Airlines made the latest copycat move in the world of frequent flyer program devaluations when they announced the addition of an Elite Qualifying Dollar (EQD) requirement beginning in 2017. EDQ requirements mean that you must spend a certain amount of money with the airline in addition to flying a certain number of miles or segments to qualify for elite status.
A Primer on Boeing 777 Premium Seats
The Boeing 777 is the most widely operated wide-body commercial jetliner in the sky today. There are over 1,100 of these planes currently in operation with orders for many more on the way. Here’s a rundown of who’s flying them and what they are offering.
Faster Path to Elite Status on AA Through Card Spending and Free Marriott Points for Linking Social Accounts
There are some opportunities to score
The Best Use of Allegiant Air Points
Allegiant Air’s reward program, myAllegiant, is a bit unusual. You can’t earn points by flying and the airline doesn’t offer elite status. In fact, the carrier’s gone out of its way to say that its program is for “infrequent flyers.”
5 Must-Have Travel Apps For Holiday Travel
Mobile apps are all about convenience, and there is no better time for efficiency than when traveling. As you plan holiday travel, take a look some of our favorite travel apps out there to help you from planning to packing.
Airport Layovers Don’t Need to Be Boring Anymore with Zipcar
Renting cars by the hour—car sharing—is no longer just a city phenomenon where gas and parking cost make owning a vehicle burdensome. Now that Zipcar has vehicles available in 50 airports worldwide, air travelers can take a spin during a layover or delay.
Zach Ellard, head of Zipcar’s airports division, spoke with RewardExpert.com about the benefits of short-term car rentals and rewards for air travelers.
Big Bonus on Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard Credit Card
Between now and the end of the year, Barclaycard is offering one of its
How to Navigate Thailand in the Next Year
When it comes to redeeming points and miles for a dream vacation, Thailand is often at the top of the list. Low prices for hotels, tours, and dining combined with lots of flights with relatively decent award space into Bangkok create the perfect, friendly storm for an amazing trip.
Changes Coming for Chase INK Business Cards
There have been several big rumors floating around the blogosphere recently regarding changes to the business card offerings from Chase. These have included rumors of a new product, possible changes to bonus categories, and the possible elimination of one of Chases’ current offerings. We now have official confirmation from Chase of exactly what is in store.
Early Holiday Shopping Bonuses from Amex, AA and United and New Rewards Program from Hyatt
American Express rewards spenders at small businesses
Between now and the end of the year, earn double miles and points when using your American Express card at qualifying small businesses in your area. Included in the offer are more than 50 Amex-branded cards including the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and Hilton HHonors American Express. What’s unique about this promotion is that Amex is doubling whatever rewards currency your card offers.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
- Premium Economy
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.