Fly to Europe or Israel for 18,750 Miles

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Flying Blue–the loyalty program of Air France/KLM, Air Europa, Kenya Airways, and TAROM Romanian–has released its newest Promo Awards that let you fly from select US cities to anywhere in Europe or to Israel for as little as 18,750 miles each way with only modest fuel surcharges.

Flying Blue is a 1:1 transfer partner of ThankYou Points, Membership Rewards and Starpoints. You can get over 50,000 ThankYou Points from the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card: 20,000 points after $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening and an additional 30,000 points after another $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of your second year of being a cardmember

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

These Flying Blue Promo Awards must be booked in October 2014 for December 2014 or January 2015 travel. There are five American cities on the discounted list with discounts for economy, Premium Economy, and Business Class travel.

  • What cities are these Promo Awards good for? What if you don’t live in one?
  • How do you book a Promo Award?
  • How do these awards compare to awards with lower fuel surcharges?
  • How are the Air France Premium Economy and Business Class products?
  • How can you eliminate the out-of-pocket cost of the award?

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The Ink Bold is Being Discontinued

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Update: A Chase Secure Message reply says: “Chase has decided to no longer offer Ink Bold effective 11/16/14.” (Hat Tip: Cave Dweller)

The Ink Bold is going to die very, very soon I predict.

How soon? 11/16/14 [updated]

The evidence:

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How to Get 1.52 LifeMiles Per Dollar on All Purchases

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Update: Mileage sale extended until 10/3/14.

Today (September 30, 2014) is the last day that you can get 1.52 Avianca LifeMiles on all purchases by using your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

This is a big flipping deal!

The Arrival Plus is already the most valuable card for economy redemptions since its 2 miles per dollar on all purchases and 10% rebate on all travel redemptions means you effectively get 2.28% back toward flights on any airline with no blackouts. This technique–which dies today–makes the Arrival Plus also the best all-around card for business and first class redemptions.

The technique in this post is an incredible way to turn Arrival miles, which are worth a fixed 1.14 cents each, into traditional airline miles that can be used for valuable international business and first class itineraries.

Now Get into Beds, like United Global First, with Arrival Miles

To me, the technique in this post makes the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® much more valuable because no other card earns 1.52 traditional airline miles on all purchases, and the LifeMiles award chart offers tons of great values for premium cabin awards on Star Alliance partners like:

Maybe you’ve never heard of LifeMiles, but they are actually fantastic for international awards. The only reason they’re not better known is because they’re normally hard to obtain.

LifeMiles awards never contain fuel surcharges, just government taxes plus a $25 award booking fee. You can book all 27 Star Alliance airline with LifeMiles.

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Getting more than one-and-a-half miles per dollar on such a great award chart is quite a deal, and that deal ends today.

  • How can you get 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar on all Arrival Plus purchases?
  • How can you book LifeMiles awards?
  • What are the highest value LifeMiles awards?
  • Is earning 1.52 LifeMiles per dollar better than 2 Arrival miles per dollar?

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IHG Rewards PointBreaks List Means $35 Hotels Until November 30

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There are several posts on the new PointBreaks list, which allows us to book hotel rooms through November 30, 2014 for $35 per night.

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InterContinental Nha Trang (Vietnam) for $35

Even if you’ve read those, read this. I’ve honed my strategy for getting $35 per night rooms quite a bit, and I want to share it, so everyone can have access to the best practices.

Plus I’ve stayed in PointBreaks hotels several times in the last two years, so I want to say a word on their quality.

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Crowne Plaza Amman, $35 for the next two months

This post will tell you how to book any hotel on the list of IHG Reward Club’s PointBreaks hotels for at most $35 per night, even the ones that ordinarily cost $200 or more per night like InterContinental hotels.

  • What’s my strategy to make the most of PointBreaks?
  • What are the top properties on the newest PointBreaks list?
  • What change to PointBreaks rules has changed my booking strategy?

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Three Ways You Can Get Big Ultimate Rewards from 70k Ink Plus Offer

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Just Another Points Traveler reports that the 70,000 point sign up bonus on the Ink Plus is back.

That’s fantastic news because the Ink Plusis already one of the best cards on the market for business when it has its normal 50,000 point sign up bonus.

Offer details of 70,000 point offer from Just Another Points Traveler:

  • LIMITED TIME BONUS OFFER: Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $875 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Named “Best for Travel Rewards for Small Business” MONEY® Magazine, October 2013
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at office supply stores and on cellular phone, landline, internet and cable TV services each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 2X points per $1 on the first $50,000 spent in combined purchases at gas stations and hotel accommodations when purchased directly with the hotel each account anniversary year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading frequent travel programs with no transfer fees.
  • $95 Annual Fee

The big difference other than the extra 20,000 bonus points is that this offer does not waive the $95 annual fee for the first year. That’s a bummer, but it is worth paying $95 for 20,000 extra points.

There are three ways you can get big points from this new offer:

  1. Folks who don’t have an Ink Plus can get one and get 70,000 bonus points after spending $5,000 in three months
  2. Folks who got an Ink Plus in the last three months can try to get matched to the new better offer to get 20,000 more bonus points.
  3. Folks who have had an Ink Plus for a while can refer friends and get 10,000 bonus points per approved friend.

Keep reading for more information on the three ways to earn extra Ultimate Rewards today.

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All the Routes from West Coast to Europe with Flat Bed Business

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Commenter RH Dailey asked me for a list of direct flights from the west coast to Europe and to let him know which ones have flat beds in Business Class.

There are direct flights from five west coast cities plus Vancouver and Las Vegas to Europe.

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These flights are operated by all the major transatlantic players and by some airlines that perhaps you’ve never heard of.

For each North American city, I’ve listed the European cities served and by which carriers. Here I’ll list where to search for award space on each carrier and whether it has flat beds in Business Class.

  • American Airlines: aa.com, yes from Los Angeles to London
  • Aer Lingus: Expert Flyer, yes starting in 2015
  • Air France: delta.com, no
  • United: united.com, yes
  • British Airways: aa.com, yes (you will pay huge fuel surcharges to book British Airways flights with any type of miles)
  • Virgin Atlantic: delta.com, yes
  • KLM: delta.com, no
  • Lufthansa: united.com, on some aircraft
  • Scandinavian: united.com, no
  • Swiss: united.com, yes
  • Turkish, united.com, on some aircraft
  • Aeroflot, airfrance.us, no (fuel surcharges)
  • airberlin, aa.com, on some aircraft
  • Air Tahiti Nui, Expert Flyer, no
  • Air New Zealand, united.com, yes (never releases business class award space)
  • Delta, delta.com, yes
  • Alitalia, delta.com, on some aircraft
  • Iberia, ba.com, no
  • Air Canada, united.com, yes
  • Air Europa, Expert Flyer, no (fuel surcharges)

These next seven airlines don’t have award space that can be booked with traditional miles, and I don’t think any of them have flat bed business class either. You can, of course, book these airlines with your Arrival miles from the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® since you can book any airline with Arrival miles.

  • XL Airways France
  • Transaero
  • Norwegian
  • Condor
  • Icelandair
  • Edelweiss
  • Thomas Cook

What are the routes from the west coast to Europe?

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50,000 Mile Offer on US Airways Card

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Reader Trevor was snail mailed a 50,000 mile bonus offer on The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®. He sent along the following scan of the offer.

Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.54.02 AM Screen Shot 2014-09-28 at 8.54.23 AM

The offer is identical to the publicly available 40,000 bonus mile offer on The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® except for the extra 10,000 miles.

  • Can you get the 50,000 mile offer?
  • How can you get these targeted offers?
  • Will the public offer go to 50,000 miles before the card disappears?

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American Airlines/El Al Partnership Ends, Cheapest Options to Israel

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American Airlines’ and El Al’s partnership ends October 31, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.34.18 PM Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 9.34.25 PMTo use American Airlines miles to fly to Israel on El Al, you must book by October 31, 2014. You can book American Airlines awards up to 11 months in advance, so you can travel on tickets booked October 31, 2014 until about the end of September 2015.

Once the partnership ends, you will still be able to use American Airlines miles to book US Airways flights from Philadelphia to Tel Aviv. I took a look at that award space to see how big of a loss the El Al partnership is.

  • How good is US Airways space to Israel?
  • How many American Airlines miles does it cost to book? How can you save tens of thousands of miles?

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I’m Missing Out on $150 This Small Business Saturday

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American Express Small Business Saturday is back the Saturday after Thanksgiving–November 29, 2014.

This year, you can get up to three $10 statement credits per American Express card. Since I have five American Express cards, I could get $150 in statement credits, but I’ll be out of the country. Don’t miss out on your free $150.

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  • When can you register for Small Business Saturday?
  • How do the statement credits work?
  • What counts as a small business?

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Since I Met Minimum Spends I Carry Three Cards

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Don’t try to optimize your credit card strategy for every last mile. I only carry three cards right now.

About two weeks ago, I made a large deposit in my Kiva account to meet the minimum spending requirement on my Citi Executive American Airlines card.

That spending unlocked 100,000 bonus miles (offer now dead), so for three months I had been putting all my spending on the Executive card.

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Now that I am not clearing any sign up bonuses, though, I have taken the Executive card out of my wallet. Its 1 American Airlines mile per dollar on day-to-day spending doesn’t entice me when I have several cards that earn a higher return. I’ll put the card back in my wallet whenever I travel for the free American Airlines lounge access that came with the card’s $450 annual fee.

In the Executive Card’s place, I have put three cards in my wallet that come close to optimizing all my spending while keeping things very simple for me. This is the balance I advocate instead of “optimizing” your credit card strategy to earn every last mile at the expense of cluttering your wallet and brain.

  • What three cards are in my wallet?
  • What is the benefit of each card?
  • How many more miles could I earn by adding more cards to my wallet?

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Five Underpriced Countries for Your Next Award

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Sometimes you can go really far for not very miles by finding underpriced countries on your favorite award chart.

Award charts, by their nature, group several countries together for a single price. The countries at the extremes of each group are often underpriced relative to the rest of the group, leaving you the chance to get a great deal with your miles.

Here are five examples of underpriced countries on the American Airlines, United, Delta, US Airways, and British Airways award charts.

1. Peru, by American, United, and Delta

Peru is the farthest south country in Northern South America on the American Airlines, United, and Delta charts. I’ve previously called Peru the Best Destination for Lie Flat Seats because it is the only country in its region with lie flat seats offered by United, Delta, and American’s partner LAN.

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The most distant country in Northern South America is Peru

You can book a one way award from the United States to Peru for as little as 15,000 American Airlines miles each way in economy on these dates: between January 16 – June 14 and September 7 – November 14. That’s only 2,500 miles more than a one way award within the continental United States and cheaper than an award to Hawaii despite Peru being farther award from the continental United States than Hawaii.

You can fly flat beds to Peru for:

  • 30,000 American Airlines miles each way (LAN)
  • 35,000 United miles each way (United)
  • 90,000 Delta miles roundtrip (Delta) [45,000 miles each way starting 1/1/15]

That’s cheaper than flat beds to Hawaii, despite Peru being farther away from the continental United States. Those prices are also a huge discount on the prices to Chile, Brazil, and Argentina which are just a few hours more of flying.

Peru also happens to be my favorite country to visit. Here’s my Top Ten Things to Do, Eat, and See in Peru.

  • What are the other four underpriced countries?

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Virgin Atlantic Opens Up Lots of Last Minute Award Space in Upper Class

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Virgin Atlantic is a London-based airline that serves or has plans to serve 12 American airports. Virgin Atlantic releases a ton of award space in Upper Class between the United States and Europe in the last days and weeks before departure.

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

Detroit begins 6/1/15, Atlanta begins 10/27/14

You can book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class with Delta miles. Delta currently charges 125,000 miles roundtrip to Europe in Virgin Atlantic Upper Class.

Last week, I looked at some of Virgin Atlantic’s new flights and asked whether booking Virgin Atlantic Upper Class was the best use of SkyMiles.

Starting January 1, 2015, you’ll be able to book Virgin Atlantic Upper Class for 62,500 Delta miles one way. Delta does not collect fuel surcharges on Upper Class flights.

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Virgin Atlantic Upper Class is among the world’s best business classes because it features a fully flat bed, direct aisle access from every seat, an onboard bar, and fantastic lounges, especially in London.

I was daydreaming about flying Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home from Europe next summer, and I wondered: Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?

I figure that if I am in Europe, and I do want to fly Virgin Atlantic Upper Class home, I’d book the ticket at the last minute to maintain maximum flexibility.

  • Does Virgin Atlantic release a lot of last minute award space on its routes?
  • How can you search and book Virgin Atlantic award space?
  • How can you save money when booking Virgin Atlantic award space?

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Amazing Emirates First Class Award Space from SFO/IAH to Dubai

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Emirates is releasing two First Class seats on its A380 flights from San Francisco and Houston to Dubai on a ton of days in Winter 2015.

My flight in Emirates First Class was my favorite ever because of the over-the-top service and amenities, like two onboard shower spas.

At the MileValue dinner, when I shared these five tips, a reader (wish I could remember a name for credit here) shared the tip that Emirates First Class award space on its A380s was wide open from San Francisco and Houston.

You can search Emirates award space at alaskaair.com and book it with Alaska Airlines miles with no fuel surcharges. You can get Alaska miles by opening the Alaska Airlines credit cards or by transferring SPG Starpoints to Alaska Airlines miles.

  • How good is award space on the Emirates A380s?
  • What if you don’t live in San Francisco or Houston?
  • How many Alaska Airlines miles do you need?
  • What about free stopovers on the award?

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Trip Report: Allegiant Airlines Giant Seat

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Monday I flew Allegiant Air in a Giant Seat, one of their First Class-sized seats up front, from Los Angeles to Honolulu.

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Allegiant Air is a Las-Vegas-based low-cost carrier that survives by selling bundled hotel-air-entertainment packages, charging a fee for almost everything, and keeping its costs low.

It was a First Class-sized seat at an economy-class price. Was it worth flying a budget-carrier with no frequent flyer program just to save a few bucks and get a bigger seat?

  • How was the check-in, security, boarding, food, and service with Allegiant?
  • What perks came with a Giant Seat?
  • Which Giant Seat should you choose (they have different leg room and recline)?

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How to Book a Roundtrip to Europe for 30,000 US Airways Miles

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Anyone can book themselves a roundtrip to Europe this winter for 30,000 US Airways miles. Award space is excellent, and you can get the miles you need from opening one credit card and making one purchase on it.

Yesterday, I wrote about the unannounced demise of US Airways off peak awards to South America. On a happier note, US Airways off peak awards are still alive to Europe for only 30,000 to 35,000 miles roundtrip to all of these destinations:

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If you fly between January 15 and February 28, 2015 on US Airways flights, you can book a roundtrip in economy from anywhere in the United States to any of those European destinations for 35,000 miles, award space permitting.

If you have The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, you get a 5,000 mile discount on all US Airways awards flown completely on US Airways flights, like off peak awards. That means cardholders can book these off peak awards to Europe for 30,000 miles roundtrip.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® comes with 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase and paying an $89 annual fee. Opening the card gives you more than enough miles for an off peak award to Europe.

  • How can you search for off peak award space?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • What if you want to fly different dates?

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