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Four Ways to Use the Right Combination of Points, Miles, and Money to Save on Airfare

Airfare sales happen every day but not necessarily from your home airport. In order to take advantage of some of the best deals out there, you might have to get a bit creative. There are plenty of options available to help reduce the cost of airfare. You may save money by positioning yourself to nearby airports or by using your frequent flyer miles like cash to reduce the cost of a ticket. If you’re earning points on a credit card you will want to access their travel portals to see if your points have greater value there. Additionally, using a combination of award tickets and purchased tickets for securing your airfare may result in paying less. Try these combinations to find the best deal.

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The Top 5 Frequent Flyer Programs for International Travel

Best Frequent Flyer Programs for International Travel

Picking the right frequent flyer programs for your international travel depends on the region, the distance (short-haul/long-haul) and your own objectives. Are you looking to get status? Or do you favor cheap redemptions?

Start by assessing your travel patterns and booking habits (deep-discounted economy vs. full-fare economy or business/first) and reviewing both the redemption side as well as earning ability of potential programs. Some programs however generally stand out by their number of partners, ease of achieving elite status and overall value. Here’s a rundown.

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Top 5 Frequent Flyer Programs for Domestic Flying

There are so many frequent flyer programs out there, and determining which programs to earn miles in can be a challenge. Each program has it’s own strengths and weaknesses, both when it comes to earning miles, redeeming them and more. Fortunately, you don’t need to do all of the research to determine which miles are best for you. Below we will go into detail about the top five frequent flyer programs for flights within the US and what makes these programs the best so you can decide which program is right for you.

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How to Visit Two Caribbean Islands for the Price of One

Travelers who are also country counters always look for ways to maximize their travel time and visit more than one place per trip. Although traveling longer is the most obvious answer, sometimes traveling smarter also does the trick. Knowing special routings and which frequent-flyer miles to use where can help you maximize that time on the ground.

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How to Maximize Amex’s Promo Transfer Bonus to British Airways and Iberia

Last month, American Express Membership Rewards program restored its point transfer ratio to 1-to-1 for both partner Avios programs: British Airways and Iberia. With a 250-200 conversion for British Airways and a 5-4 conversion for Iberia, transfer ratios left a lot to be desired previously. Shortly after, a new promotion sweetened the deal even further. Amex began offering a 40-percent bonus on all Avios transfers through September 17.

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Citi Prestige 75k Offer and Membership Rewards 40% Transfer Bonus to Avios

Citi recently implemented a massive wave of changes to its flagship Prestige card. Most of these were announced last year year but did not become effective until this week. Just ahead of the July 23rd implementation, Citi announced some meager positive changes to put a positive spin on things. While most of these recent developments are barely worth mentioning, there is one legitimate bit of good news: the sign-up bonus on the Citi Prestige card has gone up to 75k points.

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Which Airlines Allow Stopovers and Open Jaws?

Stopovers and open jaws are great way to see more of the world for less money. Some airlines allow you to add a stopover to your award ticket itinerary on the way to or from your final destination. So what exactly is a stopover and an open jaw and which carriers let you take them? Read on for the airlines and their rules.

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The Ultimate Guide to Booking International Awards with a Lap Infant

Most people who have ever taken a baby on a plane are probably familiar with the cheap and simple treatment U.S. airlines have for lap infants. For children under two years old who will not be occupying their own seat, an adult may take one lap infant for free (other than possibly some small taxes and fees). What’s also great is that lap infants don’t even have to be declared at the time of booking – only at the time of check-in.

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Best Award Charts for Short Haul Redemptions

For many years, the standard price for a round-trip domestic economy award has been 25K miles for the legacy airlines. This continues to be the case for United, American, and to a lesser extent, Delta.

However, there are many alternatives available which allow us to book round-trip domestic economy awards for cheaper prices than this when the flights are short enough to fall under certain mileage thresholds. In this post, we will lay out some of the best options for cheap short-haul award bookings.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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8 Ways to Redeem Avios with British Airways for Maximum Value

avios

The British Airways loyalty program, Executive Club, offers some unique value propositions. Partnerships with American Airlines and Alaska Airlines in the United States, as well as the rest of the oneworld alliance, provide ample opportunity to put it to good use. The airline also has a U.S. credit card, and you can transfer additional points from Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership rewards. Thus, flying on British Airways isn’t necessary to earn or redeem Avios points.

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Iberia Plus Elite Status: How to Get it and What’s in It for You

After British Airways and Iberia merged, Avios became the default currency for Iberia. However, Iberia still maintains its own Iberia Plus frequent flyer program, and although there are some similarities between Executive Club and Iberia Plus, they operate separately.

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British Airways Elite Status: How to Reach it and What’s in it for You

british airways elite status

British Airways Executive Club is structured a bit differently from many other airline elite programs, mostly because Avios — the airline’s currency — are points, not miles.

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British Airways Is Introducing First Class Service Between San Diego and London

British Airways has plans to offer passengers a first class experience on flights between San Diego and London. This upgrade is thanks to the route’s success and the new four-cabin Boeing 777-300 the airline will be flying. First class service is set to start on March 27, 2016. This route was first introduced in the summer of 2011.

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British Airways Adds Flights to Las Vegas, Seattle and San Jose

If you’re a frequent flyer who’s on the lookout for the best values in travel, you should watch for new service from all the airlines. Why? Award availability is usually quite good during the first few weeks a new route or flight is added to any airline’s reservation system. That’s why you should take a look at British Airways’ new flights between London and Las Vegas; London and Seattle; and London and San Jose.

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The City of Pearls: Hyderabad, India

The City of Pearls: Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad sits at an ancient crossroads of commerce, and was once famous as a pearl and diamond trading center. Still known as the City of Pearls, its centuries-old shopping bazaars offer modern and exotic goods from all over India. This 400-year-old city on the banks of the Musi River is full of striking Qutb arches, royal palaces and minarets.

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Rotterdam’s Rich with Maritime History and Modern Culture

Rotterdam's Rich with Maritime History and Modern Culture

Rotterdam is both an historic city and a dynamic, modern metropolis. The Netherlands second largest city, it’s known as “Manhattan on the Maas” for its high rises and impressive architecture. The city also boasts more than a dozen museums dedicated to architecture, contemporary art, natural history, maritime history and ship building.

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How to Book British Airways Awards

British Airways awards are an invaluable resource for frequent flyers, thanks to their distance-based award chart, great availability, and cheap, one-tier redemption system.

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British Airways Visa Signature Card Review

british airways card

Who Is the British Airways Visa Signature Card Good For?

Most co-branded airline cards offer two (or more, for more expensive cards) miles per dollar spent on their own airline, but they pretty much universally offer just one mile per dollar on all other purchases.

Though an extra quarter of a point doesn’t sound like much, over the course of the year, a 25 percent bonus on earning can go a long way. Combine this with the high value of Avios, and you’ve got a potent card that’s valuable for any traveler, whether you primarily fly domestic or international.

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British Airways Executive Club Review

Who Is British Airways Executive Club Good For?

If you take a lot of flights around America (North, Central or South), Avios may be the best program for you. Because of its close partnership with American Airlines, you can use Avios to book pretty much any American flight for a fraction of the miles, since the Executive Club uses distance-based awards rather than zone-based awards.

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