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2018-02-25T01:59:19.235Z
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There was a bit of a scare within the miles community last week that the ability to book First Class awards flying Cathay Pacific, one of the highest value awards you can book with Alaska miles, had evaporated.

@CTravelr tweeted the following to catch bloggers’ attention:

If Alaska blocked mileage redemptions within three days of departure, that would pretty much thwart the booking of Cathay Pacific First Class at all, as the majority of premium cabin award space released–at least to partners–becomes available within two or maybe three days of departure max (these days). You’ve seen us write about the patterns of Cathay Pacific First and Business Class availability before. It typically requires either a great deal of foresight or a lot of flexibility.

Alaska decided to amend the policy after the Twitter discourse.

Business Class award space for at least two travelers is plentiful right now from the United States to Australia, mid November through December. There aren’t a lot of return options on Qantas, so you’ll likely need to find other award space for the other direction (think Air New Zealand, United, or American if you want to fly back to the United States).

Yes, I realize that it’s just outbound award space and most people have to fly home. But I still think it’s news because:

A) Premium cabin award space between the United States and Australia is hard to come by, especially for multiple travelers, and especially around that time of year.

B) While November and December in the United States are frosty, it’s summer in Australia.

Qantas begins a new direct route between Melbourne and San Francisco as of September 1, 2018, and there is still plenty of premium cabin award space left on it from mid November through the end of December. That is the award space I was originally investigating, curious as to whether or not there was any left since it become available to book about a month ago. And there is.

But what I also noticed in the process is that there’s a good amount of availability for two in Business between San Francisco and Sydney direct. What I’m saying is that you have many options to get between the United States and various Australian destinations, since you can take connecting flights from Sydney or Melbourne on Qantas to...

There is a targeted offer available through creditcards.com’s CardMatch Tool for 100,000 Membership Rewards for spending $5,000 on your new Platinum within three months of opening it. The current public offer is 60,000 Membership Rewards for spending $5,000 in three months, so this targeted offer is significantly better. I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents each, making it worth a whopping $800 more.

You can only get the bonus on an American Express card once per lifetime. However if you were targeted for an American Express offer, you can still be approved even if you have had the card before.

How to Check if You’re Targeted
    1. Click Apply Now below (doing so will not take you to a credit card application page, it will take you to the CardMatch Tool):

2.  Fill in the information requested on the landing page, and click GET MATCHES at the bottom of the form.

Don’t worry, the site specifically states that a hard credit score will not be performed (so your credit score will not be affected).

3. See what cards pop up. Hopefully you see this…

I was not targeted but my friend and my father were the last time this offer was floating around in December, and both scooped up the opportunity for the massive...

United MileagePlus Shopping is offering big shopping portal bonuses at specific retailers through February 19, 2018 at 11:59 PM ET. The marketing material says you can earn up to 10x miles per dollar spent, but a couple of the retailers are offering even bigger bonuses than that.

value United miles at 1.6 cents each, so getting 10 miles per dollar on your purchase is like getting 16% of your purchase rebated back in United miles (in addition to the 1x or more you’re getting on your credit card purchase normally.)


More information on portals from my Free First Class Next Month series:

The process for earning miles from portals is simple. I’ll show you exactly how to use my favorite portal: the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Step 1: Sign in to your Chase online account.

You do have to have a Freedom, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Business Preferred, Sapphire Reserve or other Ultimate-Rewards-earning card to get in. And each card has a slightly different portal with different payouts.

Portals are designed to get you to use the card related to the portal. But you don’t have to use those cards in the mall to earn points. I do try to use the appropriate card for the portal I’m using. Why? If there is a problem with my points posting, I don’t want the portal to have any excuse not to give me the points.

Step 2: Click on your Ultimate Rewards balance...

Now is the time of year to earn a Southwest Companion Pass as you want to be able to fully maximize as much of two calendar years as possible, which is the maximum amount of time you could have a companion pass before having to earn it again. If you want to split hairs, the beginning of January is the MOST ideal time to earn the pass as then you’d have it for nearly 24 months. February is still a good time to earn a Companion Pass if you can meet the spending requirements on your new Southwest cards relatively quickly. Waiting much later in the year means you lose out on a fair amount of months you could be flying with your companion for free.

Southwest is currently offering 50,000 point sign up bonuses on its two personal credit cards and 60,000 point bonus on its business credit card. The personal cards each have a minimum spending requirement of $2,000 in three months; the business card requires $3,000 in three months.

Get one personal card and one business card for a boatload of points and a Southwest Companion Pass good until the end of 2018.

You can leverage the offers for $3,286 in free flights in 2018 and 2019.

Briefly

You can get both a personal and business card at once, and after meeting their minimum spending requirements, you will have 115,000 Rapid Rewards post to your account.

Southwest has a nearly fixed-value program in which you can get...

Get excited, because you can now book Singapore Krisflyer awards flying Star Alliance partner United online! Why should you be excited? Because being able to book anything online versus having to call and speak to a representative, which was previously the only option, is going to save you a significant amount of time. And while I love the Krisflyer program with its cheap change fees, no close-in booking fees, and fair/cheap award chart, I’ve collectively waited on hold with Singapore for hours.

I wouldn’t say they are any worse–they’re probably better–than US based frequent flyer programs as far as hold times. I just happen to redeem a lot of Singapore miles on partner flights, and especially United flights, since Singapore doesn’t collect fuel surcharges on United as United doesn’t enforce them. I’m ready to eliminate Singapore’s hold music from my dreams (true story).

Singapore Krisflyer miles are arguably the easiest mile to accrue because Singapore is a 1:1 transfer partner of all four major transferrable point programs:

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou Points
  • American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints (from SPG they transfer 1: 1.25 if you transfer in 20k increments)
Booking Singapore Awards Flying United Online

Step 1: Create an account.

You’ll need to create a Singapore Krisflyer account to search for award space on singaporeair.com. If you don’t already have one, create one now and use promo code  JOINKFSQ by March 31, 2018 to earn an extremely easy 1,000 Singapore miles. Read Easy 1k Singapore Miles for Opening a New Account for...

The United MileagePlus Explorer card is now offering 50,000 United miles for spending $3,000 on the card within three months of opening it. This bonus is a limited time offer ending March 15, 2018.

This is significant because the United MileagePlus Explorer card is one of the first travel credit cards we recommend applying for due to the Chase 5/24 rule–the fact that Chase cuts you off to the majority of their lucrative travel credit cards once you’ve opened five personal credit cards from any bank–but only if its bonus is at 50k or higher. The standard offer is 30k United miles for spending $1,000 in three months.

With a valuable sign up bonus and lots of perks when flying United, the United MileagePlus Explorer is one of the most valuable Chase cards.

Quick Facts
  • Sign up bonus: 50,000 United miles after spending $3,000 in three months
  • Value of United miles: Our valuation is 1.6 cents each
  • Authorized user bonus: 5,000 Bonus Miles when you add an authorized user and make a purchase in the first three months
  • Anniversary/loyalty bonus: 10,000 Bonus Miles when you spend $25,000 in net purchases on your card each year
  • United specific perks: Free first checked bag for cardmember and one companion on United flights purchased with Explorer Card; Priority boarding for you and anyone on your reservation; Two United Club passes per year
  • Category bonus: 2 miles per dollar spent on tickets purchased from United
  • Global Acceptance: Visa, chip technology, and no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual Fee: $95
  • Eligibility: Chase 5/24 Rule applies

The card has a $95 annual...

Last month my good friend and CPA wrote to me with various  questions regarding the hobby. He touches on a few pertinent topics that I think are worth sharing with you guys.

My response is in normal font and his original questions are in italics. Anything I added to the email to better explain something to you guys is in blue and in parentheses.

************************************************************************

Hey Vinnie!

Hope India was great. We’re freezing our a$$es off in Maryland. The United States is miserably cold right now. Man. (This email was written during the BOMB CYCLONE, perhaps the most dramatic name for a storm, ever.) So, to answer your questions…

 

  • If I apply for the Amex Platinum regular (I already have the Platinum Mercedes Benz) will I get the bonus? Same question applies since I got a phone call about a Platinum Business.
In regards to Amex’s “once in a lifetime bonus rule”, it applies separately to each product. The normal Platinum and the Mercedes Benz Platinum and the Business Platinum are all different products. So yes, you can get the bonus on each of those once. (The “once in a lifetime bonus rule” refers to the fact that once you’ve earned the bonus on a Amex card, you typically aren’t eligible for it again. I say typically because the loophole to this rule is targeted offers) Should I...

For a limited time, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard® is offering 60,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first three months. While we don’t know when exactly, according to the Points Guy, this 60k bonus is disappearing soon. 60k is as good as it gets for this card, and while it comes and goes periodically, I’d apply now if you were already interested.

Credit card links have been removed from posts and added to the menu bar at the top of every page of MileValue under the heading Top Credit Cards.

In the process of reaching that minimum spending requirement you would earn:

  • 60,000 miles for the bonus
  • at least another 3,000 miles from the $3,000 in spending it takes to unlock the bonus (you earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on everyday purchases)
  • more than 3,000 points if any of that spending is on American Airlines flights, which earns 2 miles for every dollar spent

The card offers other benefits as well, including a free checked bag for you and up to four others on your domestic American Airlines itinerary, and 10% of your redeemed American miles back — up to 10,000 miles each calendar year.

63,000 American Airlines miles is a pretty big stash that you can do a lot of cool things with. Listed below are different ideas for how you could use them.

Awards Originating in the United States

1. Fly two roundtrips between the United States and Mexico, Caribbean, or Central America during...

For a while Hilton has offered all of the following co-branded credit cards:

  • Hilton Honors Card from American Express with no annual fee
  • Citi Hilton Honors Card with no annual fee
  • Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express with a $75 annual fee
  • Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card with a $95 annual fee

But that’s changing tomorrow. We’ve known for a while that Hilton dropped its partnership with Citi in favor of an exclusive co-branding partnership with Amex. Tomorrow the following Amex Hilton cards hit the market:

  • Hilton Honors American Express Card with no annual fee (this isn’t be advertised as a new product, yet a change in benefit structure from the prior version–this one has no foreign transaction fees)
  • Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card with a $95 annual fee
What’s Replacing What

If you already have a Hilton co-branded credit card, your card will be converted to one of these two new products either tomorrow, January 18, or next Tuesday, January 30.

The Hilton Honors American Express Card will replace both the old Citi and Amex Hilton no annual fee cards. The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card will replace the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express and the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card.

  • Hilton Honors Card from American Express is expected to convert January 18.
  • Citi Hilton Honors is expected to convert January 30.
  • Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express is expected to convert January 18.
  • Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card is expected to convert January 30.
So, what should existing cardholders do if they want to maximize potential benefit from these new products? Cancel? Downgrade? Hold?

There are different circumstances you each will...

AAdvantage is giving out elite status–Gold tier–and you might be one of the lucky targeted customers.

Here is the landing page for the link of the promotion given out in the targeted email. The promo code is HV18G. Check now to see if you get Gold status benefits through May 25!

What do you get with Gold status?

Some of the highlights are…

  • Complimentary upgrades on flights 500 miles or less within North America (confirmed as early as 24 hours before departure)
  • Priority through the airport at check-in, security and boarding
  • 7 award miles/U.S. dollar (40% bonus)
  • Complimentary access to Preferred seats
  • 1 free checked bag
  • oneworld® RubySM status on partner airlines

You’ll also get ten 500-mile upgrades just for registering, with “no strings attached”, according to AA.

Bottom Line

You don’t need to have elite status in another program to “match” to Gold status for this offer, nor do you have to purchase anything/fly with American to earn Gold status. This promotion appears to be an outright freebie. All you have to do is check if you were targeted, and register if you are. Then enjoy free perks!

Terms and conditions of the offer can also be read on the landing page of the above link. Your Gold status should kick in at the most ten business days after registering.

I love free things. Sadly I wasn’t targeted. Were you?

The Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red World Elite MasterCard comes with 60,000 American Airlines miles, and you don’t even have to spend a large amount of money to earn the bonus. In fact, you hardly have to spend anything–only one purchase is required, along with the payment of the $95 annual fee–to trigger the 60k bonus. Little did you know Barclaycard also issues a business version of this card! It comes with 40,000 American Airlines miles after one purchase and paying the $95 annual fee. 40,000 AAdvantage miles is enough to fly anywhere in the world–that’s right, to ANY region–at least one way in economy.

Prefer to travel in style? The bonus is also an easy way to boost your balance for that premium cabin redemption you’ve been eyeing. Japan Airlines First Class to Tokyo, anyone?

Quick Facts

  • Sign Up Bonus: 40,000 American Airlines miles after your first purchase
  • Category Bonus: 2 American Airlines miles for every dollar spent on American Airlines purchases, as well as 2 American Airlines miles for every dollar spent at eligible office supply, telecom and car rental merchants
  • First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines flights for you and four others on the same reservation
  • Preferred Boarding for you and up to four travel companions on your reservation when flying American Airlines
  • 25% off of in-flight food, beverages, and headsets purchased on the card
  • 10% rebate of redeemed American Airlines miles (maximum of 10,000 miles returned each calendar year)
  • $99 Companion Certificate each year (after cardmember anniversary)...

Hyatt Cash + Points Awards let you use only half the number of points needed for a free night award in exchange for a cash co-pay. They can sometimes be a high value way to stretch your points. They can also be a bad deal.

Here are what Points + Cash awards typically cost.

For some reason there are various Hyatt’s with Cash + Points awards priced lower than the chart listed above right now, and it’s not being advertised by Hyatt. Save anywhere from $20 to $50 a night on the cash portion of the award, at least on those listed below. If you find any more let us know! This is by no means a complete list as I wanted to get the word out quickly. If you’re planning a trip check Hyatt’s in your destination.

 Properties on Sale: Sale Price & Savings per Night

Do you have an American Express credit card? If you do, are you aware that you may have the ability to share referral links with others that will earn you tons of bonus points?

In July of last year I published a post welcoming readers to share their American Express card referral links in the comments. Since many of the offers in the comments have expired, I decided to start fresh with a new thread. If you recently commented on the old referral thread, please add your info to the comments of this post so we can all have the latest referrals collected in one place. Thanks!

Checking For Referrals

Signing in here will take you to a landing page that should show any/all offers available for you to refer. You will be given the option to send your link via email by entering your friend or family’s email address, share your link on Facebook or Twitter, or you can simply copy and paste your personalized links to share how you wish.

You can also get your personalized referral links by signing into your Amex account and scrolling down below the statement balance, payment, and rewards boxes. In between those boxes and the section about recent transactions is the area where referral information pops up.

My Referrals

At the moment I hold two American Express credit cards, and I have referrals...

Thanks to everyone who participated. A winner has been randomly selected. Congratulations to Mike Reitsma! Safe travels.

Happy holidays! Longtime and ever generous reader CaveDweller is once again offering one lucky reader a $51 Southwest gift card. Southwest gift cards are fully transferable and don’t expire. There are two ways to enter:

  1. Comment on this post
  2. Follow us on Facebook.
  3. Retweet this tweet.

Each person can enter all three ways to triple their chances of winning (just make sure I can tell through each social media platform who it is).

I’ll choose one winner from the entries and notify the winner on January 1, so enter by December 31 (Sunday).

Read more about Southwest and how to maximize the Rapid Rewards program in Southwest Companion Pass Masterthread. The offers for the Chase issued Southwest cards have changed since the last time that post was updated–they are not all still 60k each, but 40k for both personal cards (the Plus and Premier) and 60k for the business Premier.

Thanks again, CaveDweller, for helping start MileValue readers’ 2018 on the right foot! Happy New Year everyone!

I have an adorable two year old boston terrier named Omar that I share with my boyfriend, pictured below in his carrier on a ferry to Uruguay last year.

My home base is Buenos Aires, but when winter strikes come June we escape to Northern hemisphere summer to enjoy warmer temps and time with family and friends around the United States. Sometimes we also fly back for Christmas, like we did a week ago. Within the last year we started bringing our four legged furry companion in the cabin on these pilgrimages, as he’s right at the size and weight to be able to fit in a carrier underneath the seat.

I am writing to you now from outside of Baltimore where the current temperature is below freezing. I half regret leaving balmy Buenos Aires, but when I look at this photo of Omar from Christmas day all my regrets melt away

Before we started traveling with Omar, I did a fair amount of research to explore our options carrying him between...

Are you scrambling to spend all your incidental travel fee credit for your Amex Platinum before the year ends? Is Delta your designated airline? Then be careful how you buy Delta gift cards. Gift cards bought through the mobile version of Delta’s site are coding as actual gift cards, and therefore aren’t being reimbursed by Amex. Gift cards bought through the desktop site are, thankfully, not coding as obvious gift cards and are generally being reimbursed by Amex.

A Little Background

About a month ago I wrote about maximizing the airline credits of your premium credit cards (think Chase Sapphire Reserve, Citi Prestige, Amex Platinum, and Chase Ritz card) before your December statement closes/before the end of the year, depending on which card you have and when your statement closes. It’s those credits more than any other annual benefit that make paying large annual fees worth it for those of us that travel often, since for us travel credit is basically like cash.

It’s a shame to see people forget and flush money down the toilet.

The Platinum Card from American Express’ travel credit is a little different than most premium credit cards. Not all travel expenses will trigger the credit, as is the case with the Sapphire Reserve and pretty much the case with the Citi Prestige.

How the Amex Platinum Card’s Travel Credit Works

Amex Platinum Cardholders get $200 in statement credits...

I am the token friend that lives in South America. That means I get emails pretty regularly from family members and friends who are planning travel to Buenos Aires asking for advice about where to eat and drink in the city. The requests became more frequent over time, so for ease I started a Google Document that I could share with whoever wanted a little intel about the Paris of South America.

I started the document a few years ago and it’s grown into a comprehensive list. I love food and taking advantage of the rapidly expanding gastronomic scene in Buenos Aires, so updating the list semi-regularly doesn’t feel like a chore to me.

I hope you find the list helpful. I know it’s helped many others before you.

I would be remiss not to mention (perhaps) the most famous English language food blogger in Buenos Aires, Allie Lazaar, and her blog Pick Up the Fork. Her site and restaurant guide, which you can conveniently filter by type of food and neighborhood, have saved me in times of crippling indecision over dinner, not to mention introduced me to places I might not have otherwise stumbled upon.

I’ve linked to each establishment I’m recommending’s Tripadvisor page, or if there isn’t one, their Facebook page or some other helpful reference. If I have a particular tip about the place apart from the basic description that will help you enjoy your experience there, I’ve included that as well. The restaurants are not in any particular...

I tweeted this deal first from @MileValueAlerts. Follow @MileValueAlerts on Twitter and follow these directions to get a text message every time I tweet from that account. I tweet from @MileValueAlerts only a few times a month because it is designed to be used only for the best and most limited-time deals–like mistake fares–so that you aren’t bombarded by text messages.

Roundtrip flights in February and March 2018 from Honolulu, Kona, and Kahului to Madrid and Barcelona, Spain are pricing from $355 to $409 roundtrip all in.

Contents

  1. When are the cheap fares?
  2. Mileage Earning
  3. Baggage Allowance
  4. Best Credit Card to Buy the Ticket
When are the cheap fares?

You’ll find these cheap fares offered directly on momondo.com for travel on United and Star Alliance partners in February and March 2018.

Mileage Earning

You earn United miles based on ticket price. If you credit these flights to United, you’ll get 5-11 miles per dollar based on your elite level. That will work out to only around 2,000 United miles if you have no status.

Baggage Allowance

United offers one free checked bag up to 50 pounds on economy tickets to Europe. Plus you’ll get a free carry on and free personal item.

So does Air Canada.

Best Way to Buy the Ticket

What card you should buy this ticket with depends on your priorities.

  • If you want it to be free, put it on whatever card you have travel statement credits for, like the Sapphire Reserve or Citi...

Edit November 18, 2017: Three more positive reports in the last two weeks. This trick may never die.

In Don’t Pay the $75 Close In Fee on United (Trick!), Scott wrote about an easy way anyone can avoid the fee United charges non-elites for booking an award within 21 days of departure. The trick has been alive and well for years, helping last minute travel planners (or those wanting to scoop up award space that becomes available close to departure) save tons over time.

The Trick

Facts

  • “Booking a MileagePlus award ticket through any channel, less than 21 days before departure” incurs a fee of $75 per ticket. This fee is reduced or waived depending on your status.
  • You can make free changes or cancellations of your United award within 24 hours of ticketing by phone or online as long as the original scheduled flight is purchased a week or more from departure. This is designed as a safety valve if you make a mistake in the initial ticketing, but you can use the free changes and cancellations however you’d like.

How it Works

If you want to book a United award within 21 days of departure, book the same flight for 1+ months in the future, then immediately call in to change it to within 21 days of departure. No close in ticketing fee will be charged.

Word That The Trick Was Dead

A few days ago, Angelina Travels wrote that...