This week brings good news in terms of rich promotions, but also sour news in terms of more restrictive airline fees. Read on to see who the winners and losers are in the world of travel this past week.
Virgin America doubles point and status credits for first class flyers
Fork over for the premium cabin aboard Virgin America between now and November 15, and you can earn double points and status credits to keep your account nice and plump. To take advantage of this special offer, be sure to register before travel.
Aeroplan beefs up extra fees
If you’re a fan of redeeming Aeroplan miles, get ready for a bit of bad news. While the program is a great option for those that like to book Star Alliance awards (especially in that elusive first class cabin), Aeroplan has long been a favorite despite charging high fuel surcharges. Well, the bean counters have added more surcharges to the list; this time in the name of making changes to a reservation. Until now, changing or canceling an award reservation (to redeposit the miles) costs $90 CAD (close to $70 USD). Effective December 6, a new structure imposes higher fees for general members: $100 CAD to change a reservation and $150 CAD to cancel and redeposit miles.
Cancelations within three weeks of departure are no longer permitted, at least if you want to get your miles back although you could simply exchange this reservation for a new one to use within a year and pay just the change fee. These restrictive change fees are worse than they appear since they apply to each direction of travel and per traveler on a reservation. Tickets booked by December 5 are still able to take advantage of the current fee schedule, and Aeroplan Diamond members receive some nice discounts when it comes to fees.
Citi ThankYou program partners with JetBlue
Those with a stash of Citi ThankYou points now have the option to transfer them to JetBlue’s frequent flier program. While this is a great option for those that might need to top up their account, keep in mind that JetBlue’s redemption program is based upon the cost of a ticket so you might fare better just using your Citi ThankYou points to book the ticket directly, since it would be eligible to earn TrueBlue points with JetBlue (instead of transferring them). The ratio is 1,000 Citi ThankYou points to 500 JetBlue points if you hold a Citi ThankYou Preferred credit card. Those with the upgraded Citi ThankYou Premier or Citi Prestige card can transfer points at a ratio of 1,000 to 800, which clearly offers more value.
American Express offers double points to shop with small businesses
Holiday shopping is getting even more rewarding for both you and your community. The credit card company is offering double Membership Rewards points for shopping at participating small businesses between now and the end of the year. Keep in mind that if a retailer already provides bonus points for shopping within a certain category, the additional bonus is on top of the existing category bonus. Be sure to register for this offer before shopping. You can earn twice as many points up to $100,000 in eligible spending (up to $250,000 for Amex Open small business cardholders.)
Flying Blue discounts awards for winter season
The latest list of discounted awards from Flying Blue is out. The loyalty program of Air France and KLM is known for putting both economy and business class awards on sale on select routes, which offers tremendous value to fliers. Eligible flights during the months of December and January offer discounts like 25% off award travel between certain city pairs from North America to Europe. Reservations must be made by October 30 to take advantage, and keep in mind that Flying Blue miles can be transferred from credit card programs like Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou. It is best to already have an account open with Flying Blue for several months before transferring points in (the airline discourages people from opening new accounts and immediately transferring points into it), so to take advantage of future promotional awards, it may be a good idea to open an account now.
Convert American miles to Marriott for a bonus
American and Marriott have partnered to allow AAdvantage members to transfer miles to Marriott points at a 20% bonus (which could later be transferred to Starwood for those that have linked their accounts and prefer SPG points). This could be a valuable offer if you have more American miles than you need and are looking for a free hotel. Typically, 10,000 miles convert to 2,000 Marriott points. Under this promotion, 10,000 miles becomes 2,400 points. This is not a great use in terms of extracting the best value from your miles, but everyone has different needs.
United offers bonus miles for transferring hotel points
If you need more United miles, consider transferring hotel loyalty points to United for a 25% bonus between now and November 30. While the most you can earn as a bonus is 20,000 miles, it can still be worth it if you have orphan points in an account you rarely use. Keep in mind each hotel program transfers points at a different ratio of points to miles. Be sure to register for this promotion before transferring points.