Month: August 2016

It’s a Bird… It’s a plane… No, wait! It’s a Delta Devaluation!

Category : Uncategorized

Here we go again.

Yesterday, Lucky from One Mile at a Time discovered that starting January 1, 2017, one of the best award redemptions on Delta will be increasing.

The News

The U.S. to Europe currently (and has for a long time) costs 62,500 SkyMiles. That’s 125,000 roundtrip. But after January 1, 2017 this will increase by 7,500 points each way, or 15,000 round trip – for a total of 70,000 each way or 140,000 total for the roundtrip.

DL deval 62.5 - 70
Notice the change after December 31

It’s not surprising that Delta made another devaluation without giving notice, but at least it does not affect travel or award tickets before that.

Though 62,500 SkyMiles is more than the competition, the award availability and excellent premium products across the pond usually made the 57,500 (United and American) vs 62,500 on Delta / SkyTeam partners, worth it. This is more in line with United’s 70,000 U.S. to Europe in business class on Star Alliance partners (they charge more for using their miles on partners). Where United beats Delta, though, is that they don’t pass fuel surcharges, particularly on the way back from Europe. And Delta does.

new j af
Air France’s new business class cabin can currently be redeemed fro 62,500 SkyMiles – Image Courtesy of Air France

And although SkyTeam has less European partners than the Star Alliance, the availability is usually plentiful on Delta, Air France, Alitalia, Aeroflot and non-alliance partner Virgin Atlantic.

Bottom Line

Though I’m disappointed by this increase, Delta has a bad history with its frequent flyers so it’s not too surprising that something like this happened. If you wanted to head to Europe and were planning to use Delta miles, maybe you can shuffle around plans to see some of the sights this coming fall and winter. Paris is beautiful in the winter, and usually not too cold.

– The Miner

ACT FAST: Citi Credit Card Product Changes Tomorrow

Category : Uncategorized

On Sunday Citi’s new credit card rules went into effect, essentially limiting you to one product per credit card family, per two years. Unfortunate, but if you keep track of openings and closings, you’ll be better off and know when you’re ready to apply next.

A bunch of Citi bonuses are changing tomorrow, September 1. If you still can, get on it today.

Citi Hilton Visa – 75,000 HHonors Points

The no-fee Citi Hilton card is currently offering 75,000 HHonors points after spending $2,000 in three months. The status it comes with is garbage (Silver), but these points are easy to earn and you can find good redemptions at Hiltons across all point ranges.

If you can get a Hilton card, I’d get the Citi Hilton Reserve – which comes with Gold status and 2 Free Weekend nights to use at any Hilton, but if this is the only one you can get – go for it today.

Citi Prestige – Admiral’s Club Access

Citi made some negative – but not surprising – changes to the Citi Prestige earlier this summer. One of those was that the card would lose Admiral’s Club access starting next July (July 27, 2017, to be precise). However, those who have the card already or open it before tomorrow September 1, 2016, will still receive access.

So if you were thinking of getting this card and would like the Admiral’s Club access, now would be the time to apply for it.

American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Card – 60,000 AAdvantage Miles

Similar to the Citi Hilton No Fee – Visa offer, this 60,000 AAdvantage Miles offer is set to expire tomorrow, September 1. This card requires $5,000 in spending over three months but carriers an annual fee that is not waived of $450.

It does come with the standard Priority Boarding and free checked bags. The nice part about this card is that it comes with Admiral’s Club membership – this means you can use the AA lounges even if you’re not flying on American that day. (The Prestige provides access which only let’s you enter with an itinerary ticketed on American Airlines).

Bottom Line

Several Citi offers are supposed to change tomorrow. If you were thinking about getting these cards before and are still able due to the new rules, there’s no time like the present.

– The Miner

Stretching Your Points for a Rainy Day

Category : Uncategorized

With constant devaluations and tightening of rules by banks (see here, here and here), the gravy train is slowing down.

While there has been a lot of conversation about the why it’s happening, there isn’t much conversation on conserving those points and maybe saving them for a rainy day.

The point (pun intended) to churning, earning and burning is to take trips not specifically to take trips you otherwise wouldn’t; rather, to earn points to make those trips you were always going to take for less, or free. There’s a big difference.

Sure, I’d love to travel abroad more than I go to Chicago, but holidays and other obligations mean I’m going to Chicago 5 – 6 times a year, if not more. Anything else is extra. Fun, and extra. But not necessary.

<End rant>

So what can we do to stretch these points a bit farther while having our cake and eating it too?

1a. Rethink First Class: Go Business or Coach *Gasp*

Before you get all bent out of shape, let’s take this extreme example.

Lufthansa First Class is really, really nice.

While you may not be able to collect this cute Lufthansa First Class Duck, you'll save your hard earned points - Image courtesy of Lufthansaflyer
While you may not be able to collect this cute Lufthansa First Class Duck, you’ll save your hard earned points – Image courtesy of Lufthansaflyer

The most common way to redeem Lufthansa First Class is using United MileagePlus miles, as they do not on pass on fuel surcharges.

But how much will that redemption set you back?

110,000 United MileagePlus miles – each way –  or 220,000 round-trip. 

For two people that’s 440,000 United MileagePlus miles. What can you do with that?

  • Seven – yes, seven – round-trip coach tickets from U.S. to Europe
  • Almost four round-trip tickets in business from U.S. to Europe on United metal flights [alternatively, that would be 3 round-trips and 1 one-way on Star Alliance partners in business from the U.S. to Europe].

You can still go in business, but there’s potential to take the entire family in either class of service.

Air Canada's Business Class - It's not First, but it'll do.
Air Canada’s Business Class – It’s not First, but it’ll do.

1b. Rethink Business Class: Go Coach on Flights 6 – 8 Hours or Less

Raise your hand if you’ve flown from coast-to-coast in coach? *Everyone raises hand*

The flight distance and time between the East Coast and West Coast is only slightly less than flights between the East Coast and destinations like Dublin, London and Paris.

These coast-to-coast flights clock in at about 5.5 - 6 hours
These coast-to-coast flights clock in at about 5.5 – 6 hours

If your butt can survive 6 hours from New York to Los Angeles, it can probably survive 7 hours from New York to London.

Another way to think about – would you really pay a premium of miles to only get 6 or 7 hours in business class?! I wouldn’t. Save them for those truly long-hauls.

2. Always Look at Cash Prices 

This may seem obvious, but sometimes we rush to make redemptions without thinking about the “cent per mile” value – don’t worry about that. Just look at the cash price.

Here’s a good example (continuing with the New York to Chicago trend):

lga to ord cash
This cash ticket is $74!

This same flight using British Airways Avios would be 7,500 Avios. If you value avios at .1 cent a point, then it’s a decent redemption; however, you can definitely do better than that with Avios. I’d prefer to pay cash for this ticket, earn some miles, and save a lot more.

Follow and subscribe to @theflightdeal on twitter for updates on cheap travel (particularly from hubbed airports around the U.S.).

3. If You Need to Book Non-Saver Space…

The major frequent flyer programs in the United States have the lowest level redemptions per class of service titled ‘Saver Award’ space – or something similar. They also have a non-Saver Award chart and those are the redemptions we’re all told to avoid.

Sometimes you need to get somewhere (a family wedding, sick family member) and the cash prices are outrageous. So you book that non-Saver space.

United’s non-Saver space is pretty simple: it’s usually double the saver price (in coach/business on domestic routes). American’s has gotten really complicated and over priced so avoid that.

Delta, on the other hand, does not have reliable award prices – in fact they did away with their award chart – but in that unreliability is a certain amount of reliability.

delta variable pricing

There are four different prices listed here: 32,500, 17,500, 12,500 and 10,000.

That 17,500 is still less than American and United would charge for redeeming non-Saver coach/domestic awards.

4. Maximize Stopovers and Open-Jaws

In our Europe example (1a), those round-trip tickets provide you with a free stopover and open-jaw. So you could book something like this for 60,000 in round-trip/coach for you and the whole fam:

Open-jaw example
Open-jaw example

This is an open-jaw example on United (you can also have a stopover) and fill in that Lisbon (LIS) to Frankfurt (FRA) flight with a cheap intra-European ticket.

United and American, amongst others allow you to have a 23 hour “connection” in a city without paying more miles – that feels like a stopover to me!

5. Pick Transfer Partners That Are Immediate 

When transferring award points from American Express Membership Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, Citi ThankYou points, and Chase Ultimate Rewards, there’s always a risk that once your transfer is complete, the award space will be gone. And then you’ll be stuck with miles and unable to redeem the award you had in mind.

Remember, transfers are generally one-way – so there’s not reverse transfers. It would be a waste to have miles in a program where, perhaps they expire quicker than they otherwise would, or the other redemptions represent a poor value.

Many programs are instantaneous (or a few hours later, at most), but most of the Starwood transfers can take over that. There are occasions when the common Starwood – AAdvantage transfer can happen the same day, but usually it’s more than that. Here’s a Flyertalk thread with data points of transfer points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards – Most airline transfers are instantaneous, with the exception of Singapore which should happen the same day. Marriott, Ritz and IHG can take a bit longer, but in my experience they’re relatively instantaneous.

Citi ThankYou Points – Unfortunately, all transfers can officially take 1 – 2 days, but there are many reports of FlyingBlue miles being transferred instantly.

American Express Membership Rewards – Most transfers are instantaneous with the exception of Singapore, Iberia, Aeromexico, ANA, Virgin Atlantic. Cathay Pacific Asia miles can take some time, but in my experience they’re the same day.

Bottom line

It’s already happened to me several times where I planned what points I’d earn from which new card and which bank, and then wham! The bank changes its rules and I can’t take that trip the way I wanted to.

At the end of the day, you know how many points and miles you’re earning each month or year. If it’s a finite amount, be smart about the redemptions to save them for a rainy day, emergency, or a ‘just because’ trip.

The Miner


Last Days to Get Citi Products Under Old Rules

Category : Uncategorized

[Disclosure: I do not earn any compensation from the links on this article]

Beginning on/around Sunday, August 28, Citi bank’s new rules regarding churning their credit card products will go into place. This may be that Sunday is the last day under the old rules, or the first day of the new rules. Either way, I’d apply now (especially since you’ve probably applied for the Sapphire Reserve already).

Their new cards state that the card member bonus:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi®/AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

citi new restriction

Keeping this in mind with their other rules – only one of any Citi product within 8 days – let’s assume this is the last card you’re going to get from Citi per family for the next two years, you want to be strategic and apply for the card that will give you the best short- and long-term returns.

Let’s break this down by family of card.

American Airlines

Citi AAdvantage Gold – 25,000 AAdvantage miles 

This is the standard offer, which sometimes goes up to 30,000, for $750 spending in three months. There are no Priority or Group 1 benefits, so unless you’ve gotten all other Citi cards, I’d skip this.

Annual fee is waived for the first year.

TIP: After being approved for this card, send a secure message to Citi asking them to match you to the higher offer of 30,000 AAdvantage miles. 

Citi AAdvantage Platinum – 50,000 AAdvantage miles

This is the Citi AAdvantage workhorse (but thankfully Barclays is coming out with new AA-earning cards soon!) and I’ll be sad to not be able to churn it for the next two years. It comes with free checked bags on domestic travel for you and several companions and Group 1 or Priority boarding.

The annual fee is waived for the first year.

Citi AAdvantage Executive – 60,000 AAdvantage miles

This is Citi’s AAdvantage premium card with a $450 annual fee. There are of course the Priority and Group 1 boarding/security and free checked bag benefits, but where it outclasses all other Citi cards is that it provides Admiral’s Club membership. Membership. Not access. Membership. This means that you, and your authorized users can enter the Admiral’s Club anytime you’re near one. You don’t need to be flying on American – which is what the Prestige requires.

American Airlines Admiral’s Club – Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

There are other benefits for those seeking status – but let’s skip that for now.

The sign-up requires $5,000 in spending over three months. Though that’s doable, it’s a bit more than the standard $3,000 AND the bonus is only 10,000 AAdvantage miles more than your workhorse Platinum version.

Citi AAdvantage Business  

This product is currently exempt from the new rules. Though, there’s no time like the present because who knows when Citi could change that? Either way, you could always get your last Citi product before August 28th and then this product sometime after.

Sign-up, annual fee and benefits mirror that of the Platinum product. The one exception is the earning structure.

(My) Winner: You probably already have the regular Citi AAdvantage Platinum, so I’d go for the Citi Executive AA – the annual fee isn’t worth it, so chuck it after the sign-up bonus is earned. Of course, if you don’t have the Platinum, get that – it’s also easier to swallow that annual fee after the first year.


There are two Hilton products provided through Citi.

Citi Hilton Reserve – Two Free Weekend Nights & $100 Statement Credit when used at a Hilton property

This is the superior of the two cards, offering Hilton Gold status (very similar to their top-tier Diamond status) as long as you hold the card and the most lucrative part is the sign-up bonus.

You’ll earn two weekend nights (Friday, Saturday or Sunday night) after spending $2,500 in four months of opening the card. These nights can be used at any Hilton that has availability. Some great properties include the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and the Conrad Tokyo – amongst many, many others.

The only downside is that these nights expire one year after earning them. So if you have no use for them (or don’t anticipate having a use for them), you may want to skip this card. After all, let your travel wishes drive which points/miles/certificates you earn, not the other way around.

This card offer also comes with $100 statement credit after a purchase at any Hilton of $100 or more. So that purchase can’t be less, but if it’s $105, you’ll get a statement credit of $100 – and yes, there are rooms that are nice and cheap for not much more than $100.

Use your two Citi Hilton Reserve nights to stay the weekend at the Conrad Maldives Overwater Bungalow - Image Courtesy of Hilton
Use your two Citi Hilton Reserve nights to stay the weekend at the Conrad Maldives Overwater Bungalow – Image Courtesy of Hilton

Finally, after spending $10,000 within a cardmember year (so 12 months from opening), this card earns you a free weekend night at any Hilton. I think with Citi’s new rules, this card is a keeper, at least for me.

Citi Hilton No Fee Visa – 75,000 Hilton HHonors. 

For a limited time, this card is offering 75,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in three months. There is no annual fee. The status provided is the lowest level at Hilton: Silver.

While the Reserve seemingly blows this card out of the water, your Hilton points take longer to expire (and making a purchase on this card would extend them). So if you have no use, you’re probably better off with this product.

(My) Winner: Citi Hilton Reserve for its sign-up, status and yearly benefit.

Thank You 

ThankYou Preferred – 10,000 ThankYou Points

If this is the last Citi ThankYou card you can get from that family (and no other Citi cards at the moment), then go for it. Otherwise, if you haven’t had any other Citi cards, I’d hold off for a more lucrative offer.

ThankYou Premier – No bonus at the moment

Citi pulled the bonus from the product several months back and we have yet to see it reappear. For a mid-level card (similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Premier Rewards Gold), it offers no-fee the first year – then $95 – but a solid earning structure and a decent sign up bonus at the time: 50,000 or 40,000 ThankYou points.

ThankYou Prestige – 40,000 ThankYou Points

This is the only ThankYou product with a sign-up bonus. So, if you have no ThankYou products, you’re probably better waiting it out to see if this goes back up to 50,000 or the Premier comes out at 40/50,000. If, however, you already have opened a Premier or Preferred, I’d go for this product.

Right now the annual fee is somewhat worth it, but once it loses Admiral’s Club access and a lower redemption on cash American Airlines tickets, I’d seriously consider cancelling this card… Except it would reset your Citi clock to 24 months for any other ThankYou products. That’s not worth it.

(My) Winner: If you have no ThankYou cards, it doesn’t matter now – wait for the premier and then decide; otherwise, if you’ve gotten other ThankYou family products, go for the Prestige.


Could be interesting once you run out of other cards, but this is a lackluster product with not much to offer. Review coming soon…? #DesperateTimes

Clarifying Scenarios

Scenario 1: You have not had any Citi cards – Wait for the best offers, but it will be two years from opening or closing any of the above products.

Scenario 2: You have one Citi per product family (Premier and AAdvantage Platinum, for example) – you will be ineligible from receiving the bonus on the Gold/Executive or Preferred/Prestige for two years – go for one of the other one’s before Sunday.

Scenario 3: You have/had every Citi card recently and are ineligible for the bonuses. Keep those cards open, otherwise you’ll have to reset the 24 month clock for each family once a particular product is closed. If you’re opening or recently opened a premium card (Executive or Prestige) – try to keep it open, or close right after you earn the bonus to keep the 24 month ineligibility window short.

Bottom line

Between now and Sunday (or Saturday), you’ll only be able to get one Citi product of a certain family for two years. Make the strategic choice and don’t listen to others – just yourself!

If the hardest part to swallow is the annual fee – work out the math – does it make sense to keep the product open for another year? Or is the product just good for the sign-up bonus?

Citi’s rules have gotten more complicated. Hit the comments if you have any questions about Citi churning policy or procedures

-The Miner



[Disclosure: I do not earn any compensation from the links on this article]

The Chase Sapphire Reserve Is Finally Here – And I’m Late!

Category : Uncategorized

On Monday, the day we’ve all been waiting for with bated breath – arrived. (Sorry I was late to the game!)

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase’s newest and shiniest credit card has officially launched. Though it’s really exciting and it’s a sweet new product with lots of potential, it’s bittersweet for a lot of us churners

While I won’t go into all the benefits, here are some of the really spectacular highlights:

  • 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonus after spending $4,000 in three months
  • 3X points on dining and 2X on travel
  • $300 travel credit (including hotels, car rentals, etc.) per calendar year – so you can earn this benefit twice. Once now, and then once again after January 1, 2017.
  • Points can be redeemed at 1.5 point per cent on travel via the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal.

Though earlier reports from last week seemed to indicate that the application which went live – which weren’t supposed to at that time last Thursday – werenot under 5/24 (for a refresher, see here), it appears that as of today, the official applications do indeed fall under Chase’s restrictive policy.

If you’re not over 5/24…

… And you’re at 4/24, get this card before you get anything else.

If you’re first getting started your first five credit cards should be Chase products. And remember. You can apply for multiple Chase cards in the same day to limit credit pulls cymbalta price. But, please be sure to apply for one card at a time. Once you’re approved, move on to the next.

If the Reserve will be your fifth card (assuming you’re approved), you won’t be able to get other Chase cards, but you can still get:

  • Hyatt
  • British Airways
  • Fairmont
  • AARP
  • Disney
  • Amazon
  • IHG
  • Marriott Business

Remember: Get approved for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and then the second card.

Some Reports of Success – Pre-approved in Branch? 

There are some reports of success for those over 5/24 if they are pre-approved. 

How do you know if you’re pre-approved?

You need to go into a Chase branch. Doctor of Credit, as usual, has a great article on tips and FAQ regarding pre-approvals in branch. I strongly recommend you review this article. Of course, this does not mean it is a guarantee, but there are a lot of data points indicating that it helps with an approval for those with many cards opened recently.

Bottom Line

While I’m a bit salty that I probably will be  unable to get approved for this, that’s the direction that banks have been moving in and I’ve reluctantly accepted it.

Upwards and onwards!


– The Miner

Lack of American Airlines Award Space – Europe 2017

Category : Uncategorized

I like to plan early. I mean really early. Like 11 months from the day I’d like to travel.

11 months or so are when many airline calendars open up for revenue reservations and award bookings. Sometimes, the day the calendar opens up can be the best day to book. For many people it’s pretty difficult to plan so far in advance.

In any event, next summer I’m hoping to embark on a Euro Trip (countries to be determined). Knowing full well what availability is like getting to Europe in the summer, I’ve already started my searches to identify award space trends. (See here for when to start planning a award trip).

While I have my outbound from North America locked in, finding a way back appears to be a bit trickier.

Delta/SkyTeam have space, but you’ll pay hefty fuel surcharges on the way back to the U.S. As for using United MileagePlus miles, I’m out of those, so I had to default to American.

Before the devaluation, using AAdvantage miles on Oneworld or American Airlines flights to Europe was a great deal: 30,000 in coach, 50,000 in business. The business redemption changed to 57,500 – which isn’t too bad, all things considered.

Economy: 30,000

Business: 57,500

What still remains the same about using your AAdvantage miles on Oneworld or American Airlines flights is the following:

  • High fuel surcharges on all flights leaving the U.K., especially when travelling on British Airways.
  • Minimal fuel surcharges on Iberia flights
  • Low taxes and fuel surcharges on all other flights leaving Europe when on American Airlines or other Oneworld partners

Routes from Europe

American Airlines operates 26 direct flights to the United States from Europe in the summer (many of these routes are seasonal). Here’s what it will looks like (as of now) for summer 2017:

<img class="aligncenter wp-image-939 size-full" src="" width="717" height="360" srcset="http://miningformiles cymbalta 717w,×151.png 300w” sizes=”(max-width: 717px) 100vw, 717px” />

Most of the locations in the United States are East Coast hubs with the exception of Chicago.

And in non-map form, here are the routes from each hub:

  • Chicago O’hare International Airport (ORD) – Paris (CDG), Dusseldorf (DUS), Rome (FCO) and Dublin (DUB)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) – Paris (CDG)
  • Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) – Brussels (BRU), Paris (CDG), Frankfurt (FRA), Munich (MUC), Athens (ATH), Dublin (DUB), Shannon (SNN), Rome (FCO), Venice (VCE), Amsterdam (AMS), Lisbon (LIS)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) – Rome (FCO), Paris (CDG), Dublin (DUB), Milan (MXP)
  • Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT) – Paris (CDG), Frankfurt (FRA), Dublin (DUB), Rome (FCO)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA) – Paris (CDG), Milan (MXP)

I conducted a search on all 26 routes for two passengers leaving from the European destination… The results were depressing. I knew that AAdvantage Saver award space was getting worse, but I didn’t think it would be THAT bad.

Please note that all searches were conducted on August 17, 2016 for two passengers and that award space can change at a moment’s notice.

Without further ado, here are the results…

Route 9 – 11 Months, Coach 9 – 11 Months, Business Latest date of space
BRU-PHL Yes No 7/11 – AA 751
CDG-JFK Yes Yes 6/9 – AA 45
CDG – BOS Yes No 7/6 – AA 147
CDG – CLT Yes No 6/27 – AA 787
CDG – ORD Yes Yes 6/27 – AA 151
CDG – MIA Yes No 7/5 – AA 63
CDG – PHL Yes No 7/12 – AA 755
DUS – ORD Yes No 6/27 – AA 241
FRA – PHL Yes No 7/11 – AA 701
FRA – CLT Yes No 6/28 – AA 705
MUC – PHL Yes No 7/6 – AA 717
ATH – PHL Yes No 7/6 – AA 759
DUB – JFK Yes No 6/7 – AA 291
DUB – PHL Yes No 7/7 – AA 723
DUB – CLT Yes No 7/6 – AA 725
DUB – ORD Yes No 6/29 – AA 711
SNN – PHL Yes No 7/12 – AA 777
MXP – MIA Yes No 6/8 – AA 207
MXP – JFK Yes No 5/9 – AA 199
FCO – CLT Yes No 7/5 – AA 721
FCO – JFK Yes No 7/7 – AA 235
FCO – PHL Yes No 7/6 – AA 719
FCO – ORD Yes No 6/29 – AA 111
VCE – PHL Yes No 7/12 – AA 715
AMS – PHL Yes No 6/28 – AA 203
LIS – PHL Yes No 7/6 – AA 739

Though technically not the last day on the calendar, I looked at the calendar 9 – 11 months from today as that when there was the most

The only trend here is that all routes have coach space in end of April, May, June and the beginning of July. As of now only Rome-Chicago and Rome-New York (JFK) have a few days of business class space. 

I also included flight numbers if you’d like to set alerts on ExpertFlyer or Award Nexus if space opens up.

How to Search

While there’s a lot to hate about the AAdvantage Award search engine, there’s one key feature that allowed me to zero in on space: the ‘non-stop’ selection.

Here’s what Dublin – Philadelphia looks like when you don’t filter. There’s space everyday. Most of it is connecting on British Airways:

It looks like there is business class availability everyday.

It looks like there is business class availability everyday.

In the box in red, it says ‘No Preference’ – now watch what happens when we change it to ‘non-stop only’:

DUB - PHL Non stop only

Now that looks right – unfortunately. There is no business space as of now on this route.

If you’re looking for non-stop flights, be sure to change that filter otherwise you’ll end up with a lot of British Airways flights with fuel surcharges ranging from $250 – $500+ on a one-way ticket.

Constructing an Award

What if you don’t want to fly out of one of these destinations on your trip? Or perhaps you do want to go to Dublin, but don’t live in Charlotte?

Well you don’t need to be locked in. You can construct an award that has mixed Oneworld partners and has multiple cities. If you hit multiple European cities you’ll pay a bit more in fuel surcharges.

Remember, you can also have your connecting city be a faux-stopover as long as it is less than 24 hours it should price out at as one award.

Example 1:

If you want to fly… Dublin – Charlotte – Dallas, your best bet is to search each leg individually. Then search Dublin – Dallas. If the whole trip doesn’t come up, but there is individual space on each leg, call American and they should be able to manually price it out for you at no extra cost. Do not pay the phone fee if it’s a legal award booking, but it doesn’t show up online.

In this case, it will come come up with no problems:

Though there's a lengthy connection, it will get you home

Though there’s a lengthy connection, it will get you home

Example 2:

You have no desire to go to Dublin, but there are no other dates that will work for you to get back home in New York.

In that case, Iberia a Oneworld partner has many routes through MADairport. You could do something like… Madrid – Dublin – New York.

Remember, search each leg individually and if it doesn’t show up online, call American Airlines to book the award flight over the phone.

For reference, here are all the Oneworld hubs/focus cities in Europe:

  • London-Heathrow International Airport (LHR)
  • London-Gatwick Airport (LGW)
  • Madrid International Airport (MAD)
  • Barcelona Airport (BCN)
  • Helsinki International Airport (HEL)
  • Moscow Domodedovo International Airport (DME)
  • Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO)
  • Berlin-Tegel International Airport
  • Dusseldorf International Airport
  • Hamburg Airport (HAM)
  • Munich Airport (MUC)
  • Zurich Airport (ZRH)
  • Stuttgart Airport (STR)

You’ll find a lot of connecting options through a lot of the focus city airports (Zurich, Stuttgart, London-Gatwick).

Bottom line

So why not just fly Iberia, Air Berlin or Finnair from their hubs and be done with AA?

This post was originally meant to just highlight the lack of AAdvantage Saver award space, but it morphed into showcasing other options for a Euro Trip (or similar trip) and it includes other direct destinations available only by flying American Airlines.

Furthermore, with banks restricting sign-up bonuses it’s not such a bad idea to be smarter about how we redeem miles and points for award flights. Even if this means flying coach *gasp*. Routes like Dublin – New York aren’t much longer than Los Angeles – New York.

Unfortunately the business class award space situation here is bleak. Looking at the calendar so far out, one would assume that there would be a plethora of award space (many airlines release space like this). It used to be this way with American Airlines. The only positive note is that award space will (hopefully) change dramatically over the next few months. Be sure to keep an eye out on routes where you’d like to fly business and monitor them as closely as possible.

-The Miner

Related Articles:

Summer 2016 Award Space to Rome

Summer 2016 Award Space to Dublin

Summer 2016 Award Space to Greece (and its Islands)

Chase Sapphire Reserve – NEW Credit Card

Category : Uncategorized

There’s a new credit card in town, and it’s called the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Officially, it will be launched August 21, 2016, but yesterday…

Well, yesterday the card accidentally went live and eagle-eyed churners over at Reddit posted the link and begin to apply.

About 20 minutes after that, Chase shut down the link.

Why? Because it wasn’t ready. It was their beta landing/application page. The URL had “.wip” in it, which means “work in progress” – and once the page was shut down, if you refreshed, you were asked for developer credentials to log in and access the page.


Though it’s a false start, there isn’t too much to be disappointed by. In fact, a few things were confirmed!

Image courtesy of Frequent Miller.
Image courtesy of Frequent Miller.

Card Benefits

Sign-up bonus: 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points

Spending requirement: $4,000 in three months

Annual fee: $450 and $75 for authorized users

Lounge access: Priority Pass

Travel credits: $300 per calendar year (so it resets after Dec. 31 each year, effectively giving you $600 in travel credits this year). These will function like Citi Prestige travel credits, but will also include hotels and car rentals – basically anything that codes as travel! 

Bonus categories: 3X on Dining and Travel (whereas the Sapphire Preferred is 2X)

This card will also be issued as a Visa Infinite and have the usual suite of benefits like auto collision waiver insurance when renting a car.

That sign-up bonus is mouth watering, but so are the travel credits and the bonus categories.

5/24 Exempt?

For now.

Frequent Miller compiled some useful data from Reddit and found that 80% of applicants (who shared their stories, anyways) were over 5/24 and were approved. Apparently, when the Chase Freedom Ultimate launched, it too was exempt from 5/24, but only for the first few days.

So what should you do?

Here’s what I’m going to do, as my wife and I both have a lot of Chase products which significant credit limits.

  1. Lower credit limits. We have sufficient credit with Chase and I’ve previously found that when I lose/remove $5,000 – 7,000 in available credit, we have easier times getting automatically approved.
  2. Hold off on any other cards, including authorized users. Don’t give Chase less of a  reason to approve you. Even with Citi’s new rules. You can apply for this on 8/21 and then a Citi card after that Chase application has gone in.
  3. Unfreeze your Experian reports. I’ve kept my frozen for a better part of two years so that when I apply for Citi or Bank of America cards, those banks won’t pull Experian (which is dominated by AMEX and Chase in New York). Be sure to unfreeze your Experian (if Chase pulls that in your area) so you’re ready to go once the application is live. You can find out more information on freezes/thaws here.

Bottom line

Not only does this card have an incredible sign-up bonus, there are also some key benefits that make it worth keeping, even with the hefty annual fee. I really hope for all of us over 5 cards in 24 months that this card is exempt from the rule.

If the link actually goes live before August 21, I’ll be sure to post it.

-The Miner

Citi Churning Rules – Bad News

Category : Uncategorized

Another one bites the dust.

Earlier this year, Chase began limiting card members in a rule that’s known as “5/24” (see Chase – The Other Shoe Drops’), followed by AMEX which hammered another nail in the coffin by limiting ALL of their credit card bonuses to once per lifetime.

Well, yesterday it was Citi’s turn. I was planning on waiting for more data points to come out, but I thought I’d quickly share this.

citi new restriction

Here’s what the box in red reads:

American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles are not available if you have had any Citi®/AAdvantage® card (other than a CitiBusiness®/AAdvantage® card) opened or closed in the past 24 months.

Let’s break that down and analyze it:

  • “American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles are not available if you have had any…” – This means, other than the Business version, you cannot get the bonus of any AAdvantage card type, if…
  • … You opened OR closed that card type in the past 24 months.

Example Scenario:

January 1, 2015: Open and approved for Citi AAdvantage Platinum World Elite Mastercard

January 1, 2016: Annual fee on the above card comes due, you close the card. You will be unable to open ANY Citi AAdvantage cards.

Some FAQ that have emerged over the past few hours:

  1. Does this apply to other Citi Cards? YES. This applies to Citi ThankYou, Citi Expedia, Citi AAdvantage and Citi Hilton products.
  2. What’s excluded? Costco Business and Citi AAdvantage Business cards.
  3. What should I do with my Citi cards that are currently open? KEEP THEM OPEN, or reset the 24 month clock from closing. Even if this means paying an annual fee. Try for retention; and if they don’t budge, keep trying. Keeping the card for another year is worth the ability to reopen the product.
  4. Which Citi cards should I get if I am able? That’s up to you, but I’d recommend getting the AAdvantage Platinum, or Executive (but not the Gold), Citi Hilton Reserve over the No Fee Citi Hilton; in terms of ThankYou products, only the Prestige has a bonus. Wait to apply for Premier, as the Premier has no annual fee for the first year, and only $89 after that
  5. I just opened a new Citi card – what should I do? That depends on your specific situation. If it’s your first of the co-brand, like a Citi Hilton Reserve, you could just keep it open, or get the bonus and close. But once you close, your 24 month clock resets. (I personally would keep the card as the annual fee is manageable and it comes with Hilton Gold status). The only product to consider closing after you get the bonus, if you just opened it, is the Citi Prestige.

There’s No Time Like the Present + Tracking

In this constant changing game of devaluations and churning, there really is no time like the present. Only last week I applied for the Citi Hilton Reserve for my wife (and was approved). I’m glad I did. We’re both pretty maxed out on our Citi products (they don’t have many), but I was looking forward to getting some more American Airlines Miles from the Citi Executive card.

A Word About Tracking

If you don’t have an Excel spreadsheet/Google sheet for your credit cards, open one NOW. Being able to go in, filter by bank (Citi in this case), I was able to see when I can reapply for my next Citi card.

Some Thoughts

We’ve seen this trend by the major banks to crack down on those of us who churn and chase sign-up bonuses.

American Express’s once-per-lifetime limitation is draconian and alienates all consumers, whereas Chase is in a position to limit the products they offer (because they have so many products and customers). Citi, on the other hand, has never had the strongest co-branded portfolio. This move is actually pretty smart.

Think about it: most consumers probably have 2-3 credit cards. Having multiple American Airlines credit cards from the same bank probably doesn’t make much sense to most people.

They’ve also, smartly, excluded business cards.

Don’t despair! Things change. It’s definitely a blow. But like we discussed when Chase and AMEX changed their rules, this requires further adaptation and planning.

As more data comes out on whether or not Citi is strictly enforcing this new rule, if there are any zombie links, or workarounds, I’ll be sure to post an update.

– The Miner

AMEX Membership Rewards to Avios – 50% Bonus!

Category : Uncategorized

Last October, American Express decreased the Membership Rewards to British Airways Avios from 1:1 to 250:200, respectively.

Since this “devaluation”, there has not been a British Airways Avios transfer bonus (though there historically have been many in the past).

Today, it seems, was the launch of a new transfer bonus – 50%! This offer is good through October 10, 2016. The new transfer ratio is 300:250, or more specifically, 1000 Membership Rewards become 1,200 British Airways Avios:

MR to BA Bonus

Though isn’t as great as a 50% bonus on a 1:1 transfer ratio, it still comes out to about 20% if there wasn’t a change in the ratio last October.

The Best Use of Avios Are…

The best use of Avios are for short/medium-haul flights in the United States. In particular, British Airways partners with American Airlines. This allows you to redeem Avios for American Airlines (and Alaska Airlines) flights.

Unlike American, though, British Airways Avios redemptions are distance based and not based on region. So in the U.S., anything that is between 1 – 1,151 miles flown, will be 7,500. Compare this to your standard 10,000 – 12,500 for U.S. domestic one-ways, and you have a steal!

The best tool for determining Avios price based on your location is the ‘Award Destinations by Price‘ tool. You simply enter the three letter airport code, and the return is a map of all airports you can fly into with your Avios – and more importantly, how many Avios miles it will require.

For example, if you enter ‘LGA’, here’s what you get:

avios destination by price lga

This works for every airport in the U.S., assuming American or Alaska flies there.

So routes that normally cost 7,500 Avios now only require 6,250 AMEX Membership Rewards. That’s a great deal. Probably the best you’ll get on any mileage program. And unless you’re flying Spirit, most of your tickets will cost over $60 one-way.

Short-Haul Travel Outside the U.S.

While the Oneworld alliance is not massive, there are some solid partners in different continents that are well connected. Because British Airways is part of the Oneworld alliance, you can redeem your Avios for other partner airlines. Even better, for truly short haul flights that measure between 1 -650 miles, you’ll need only 4,500 Avios or 3,750 Membership Rewards.

Here are the airline partners by region, outside the U.S.

  • Europe – Air Berlin, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, S7 Airlines
  • Asia – Cathay Pacific, Japanese Airlines, Malaysia Air, SriLankan Airlines
  • Middle-east – Qatar Airways, Royal Jordanian
  • Australia / South Pacific – Qantas
  • Latin America – LATAM Chile, LATAM Brasil

Let’s use Helsinki, Finland (HEL), Finnair’s European hub, as a starting point.

Avios Destinations by Price HEL

According to our tool, you could fly all over the Baltic states (and then some) for only 4,500 each way. Or, with the transfer bonus, 3,750 Membership Rewards. Doesn’t get much better than that, and it is not a low cost carrier!

If you’re planning any intra-country travel like a Euro trip, I’d really encourage you to look into transferring Membership Rewards to Avios while there’s a bonus.

-The Miner