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.
Applications open for new American AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard
If you’ve been following American’s rules for earning elite status next year, you know that the airline is offering bonus Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) for those that hold the new American AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard and meet the minimum $25,000 spending requirement.
This should assist in reaching the required $12,000 spending requirement (for those trying to reach top Executive Platinum status) for air travel with American and partners in the new year. The maximum signup offer is for 40,500 AAdvantage miles for those that sign up inflight (the 500-mile bonus is an inflight bonus).
Other benefits of the card include priority boarding, two miles per dollar spent on American purchases, 25% discount on in-flight purchases, and a first checked bag free. If you need more EQDs for your 2017 earnings, you can upgrade the card to the American AAdvantage Aviator Silver World Elite MasterCard, which comes with a $195 annual fee and the option to earn an additional $3,000 EQD waiver by spending $50,000 in a calendar year. Direct applications for the Silver card are not available, but the ability to upgrade after acquiring the Red card is.
Starwood and China Eastern benefits partnership
If you’re a fan of Starwood’s Crossover Rewards program where you earn Delta SkyMiles for staying at a Starwood and earn Starwood points for flying Delta, there’s a new airline partner to consider. Delta’s SkyTeam partner China Eastern is introducing its own similar program with Starwood known as Eastern Explorer Rewards.
Delta has gutted much of its mileage offering for many of its passengers flying China Eastern (some fares only earn 30% of distance flown), but this option provides some sweet benefits for Starwood elites. Starwood Gold and Platinum members enjoy priority check-in and boarding plus lounge access when flying China Eastern. They also earn one Starpoint for every four China Eastern miles earned. They are also eligible for excess luggage without a fee. Starwood also has a similar partnership with Emirates.
Hilton HHonors Diamond status for life is more achievable now
Hilton HHonors’ highest status level is Diamond, and it comes with a slew of benefits like plentiful bonus points, suite and club level upgrades, plus increased room inventory access at full hotels. It typically requires staying 30 times or 60 nights at a Hilton family hotel per calendar year, including some of the brands’ newest openings like the Hilton Brooklyn or Hilton Bali. Guests can also earn Diamond for a year by earning 120,000 base points in 12 months.
But anyone that has stayed 1,000 nights or earned two million base points since joining the program can achieve lifetime Diamond status. That’s a new change effective in 2017, which will surely be a pleasant new year surprise to longtime members that may not have earned enough in a particular year, but cumulatively have been loyal. Watch your email or check your HHonors account in the new year to see if you are eligible.
Earn 40% bonus on purchased Alaska miles
Alaska Mileage Plan has some great redemption opportunities like Cathay Pacific and Emirates first class cabins. And as the only major domestic airline to still award miles based upon distance flown, it is easier to rack up the miles with Alaska than other carriers. But, if you’re still short and have a big trip coming up, now is the time to buy miles thanks to a tiered bonus structure that offers extra miles depending upon how much you purchase. For example, earn a 20% bonus for buying between 10,000-19,000 miles and a 40% bonus for purchasing between 30,000-60,000 miles.
Virgin America to discontinue Citi ThankYou partnership
Effective Jan. 22, Virgin America (recently merged with Alaska Airlines) will no longer be a transfer partner with the Citi ThankYou program. At the moment, two ThankYou points transfers to one Virgin America Elevate point. If you plan on making point transfers, you have about one month left to do so!
Emirates begins new flight to Fort Lauderdale
Emirates continues its U.S. expansion adding its latest gateway, Fort Lauderdale. The flight from Dubai lands at FLL mid-morning so that it can connect to numerous JetBlue departures. JetBlue and Emirates have a codeshare agreement in addition to loyalty program tie-ups allowing each carrier’s members to earn and burn on reciprocal flights. Unlike other Emirates departures, the aircraft actually sits on the ground at FLL for about ten hours and returns to Dubai at 8:20pm, which permits greater connections for those arriving on inbound JetBlue flights. For those looking to redeem Alaska, Emirates, or JetBlue points (among others) for Emirates flights, be sure to check availability from FLL as new flights may often have greater award space.
Chase Freedom announces first quarter bonuses
If you’re a fan of the category bonuses with the Chase Freedom card, the news is out for the first quarter of 2017. Cardholders can earn 5x Ultimate Rewards points on purchases at gas stations and local commuter transportation in the U.S. (excluding Amtrak and bike sharing services). The bonus is available for the first $1,500 spent in that category.