Author Archives: Scott Grimmer

Happy Thanksgiving

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Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This year, just like the last two Thanksgivings, I am thankful for my readers. Without you, I might be in an office somewhere.

I will spend this Thanksgiving in Medellin, Colombia. Amazingly, I think it’s my first Thanksgiving abroad.

Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. My normal routine is to spend it in Virginia with my extended family. The cooks always say dinner will be at 2 PM, but it’s more like 4 PM. I don’t mind; it just gives me more time to get hungry. Once we all say what we’re thankful for, I load up one plate with a few pounds of turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, and rolls–maybe some peas or Brussels sprouts too. I finish it as the last of my family are just preparing their plates, and then I have an even bigger portion of seconds. I skip dessert temporarily, and head straight to the nearest bed for a two hour nap. Then I wake up and sample the pies.

This year though I’ll be headed to an Irish Pub for a plate of traditional Thanksgiving fare. The American owner is very excited about the preparations he’s made, and I’d hate to miss out on the food, football, and camaraderie that make Thursday special.

I notice a pronounced drop in traffic to MileValue each Thanksgiving, so I’ll take a few days off from posting to enjoy Medellin, plan my Patagonia trip, and recharge my blogging batteries. Expect the next new post on Sunday.

Until then, enjoy family, friends, food, Black Friday, and leftovers!

If you want to use some of your free time to brush up on miles, I’ve put some of my most popular posts from the last month after the “Continue Reading” button.

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There is Still Award Space for Thanksgiving Trips Home

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If you’ve somehow made it until two days before Thanksgiving without booking a flight and would like to book one, there is award space available.

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What? You were expecting a picture of the other turkey? (from Google Maps)

I did searches on transcontinental routes with two airlines and found good award space, even premium award space for travel over Thanksgiving weekend.

This is interesting whether you still need to book an award or plan to book holiday travel this year or in the future.

  • What award space pattern did I find?
  • What miles have no extra fee for booking right before departure?

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50 New Award Wallet Upgrade Codes

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Enjoy one of these 50 free upgrade codes to six months of Award Wallet Plus. Award Wallet is the free way I track my 35 miles and points balances and store my login information for those programs.

Read more about Award Wallet.

Sign up for Award Wallet.

These giveaways get a lot of complaints. Unfortunately I don’t think there is any way to improve them. The simple reality is that I have a lot more than 50 readers.

No need to leave a comment if you use one. These are likely going to be all gone in 15 minutes or less. Please don’t email me for a code.

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Why Delta Going One Way on Awards is a Huge Deal

This blog contains links to our affiliates. Below are credit card products that we recommend from our advertising partners.

Right now, you pay the same price for a roundtrip award and a one way award booked with Delta miles. Obviously, under current rules, booking a one way award is foolish.

Starting January 1, 2015, we will be able to book one way Delta awards for half the price of roundtrips. (We lose the ability to book stopovers on Delta awards the same day.)

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To me the ability to book one way awards is especially valuable with Delta miles.

  • Why?

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How to Earn and Spend 146,000 American Airlines Miles

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American Airlines and US Airways are currently offering huge sign up bonuses on their co-branded credit cards. While the miles will temporarily go to separate accounts, everyone’s American Airlines and US Airways miles will be combined in early 2015 as part of the airlines’ merger, so that you can earn enough miles for a round-the-world trip just from opening three credit cards.

Getting all three cards and meeting their combined minimum spending requirement of $6,001 will earn you 146,000 American Airlines miles when your US Airways and American Airlines frequent flyer accounts combine in the second quarter of 2015.

  • What timing rule should you follow on the applications?
  • What can you do with 146,000 American Airlines miles?
  • What is the one other killer benefit of the American Airlines personal card?

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The Stereotype of an American in Colombia

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I like to ask people what their stereotype of Americans is when I travel. I just get a kick out of it. The other day in the taxi in Medellin, Colombia, I didn’t even have to ask.

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How I Just Blew Rudy Maxa’s Mind

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I just appeared on the Rudy Maxa radio show to talk about United making it harder to achieve elite status by adding a separate spending requirement on United tickets in addition to miles flown, a requirement which came into effect this year and is increasing next year.

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Rudy asked how folks should adapt to this change, and I don’t think he expected such an easy answer.

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50k Bonus Miles on CitiBusiness AAdvantage Card

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The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® is a business card that offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club lounge passes after spending $3,000 on the card in the first three months.

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This card is in addition to the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® personal card which offers 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles and two Admirals Club Passes after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

You can hold both cards at the same time to take advantage of earning American Airlines miles for your personal and business spending, but you cannot be approved for both on the same day. The collected wisdom is to put at least 8 days between applications for cards issued by Citi.

The Business card is actually better than the Personal card for accruing miles because it has two unique benefits:

  • 2x AAdvantage miles at certain office supply merchants, telecommunications merchants, and car rental merchants
  • 5% mileage bonus when you renew your card

The CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World MasterCard® offers a huge sign up bonus, nice category bonuses, and a great mechanism to encourage renewal.

The card also comes with a free checked bag on American Airlines flights and priority boarding.

  • How does the category bonus work?
  • How does the 5% mileage bonus work?
  • What are the other benefits of the card?
  • Are you eligible for this card?

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Chase Freedom 20,000 Point Bonus

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The Chase Freedom is offering 20,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards after spending $500 in the first three months. This is double the normal sign up bonus.

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It is also offering up to 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards for existing cardholders who refer their friends to the Freedom.

I have the Freedom. The sign up bonus is puny, but the card has no annual fee, and has 5x bonus categories that rotate every quarter. I got it to hold forever and to maximize the 5x category each quarter to the tune of 30,000 Ultimate Rewards per year.

  • How can you maximize category bonuses with the Freedom?
  • What card do you also have to have to maximize the value of a Freedom?
  • How can you sign up for the 20k offer while getting another 5k bonus points for someone else?
  • How can you get your referral link into this post?

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Last Minute Award Space to South American Summer

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The calendar is turning to Summer below the equator, and it’s not too late to book yourself an award to escape the cold in the United States.

Many airlines release unsold seats as Saver award space in the last weeks, days, or even hours before a flight. I searched for award space between Miami and several South American cities on American Airlines for the next few weeks to see what American’s pattern of last-second award space will be this South American Summer.

American Airlines miles have the best award space to South America on American Airlines and LAN Airlines flights. Right now the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® comes with 50,000 bonus American Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.

If you got the card today, and spent $3,000 on it in the first month, you’d have 53,000 American Airlines miles around the New Year. That’s more than enough for a roundtrip to Northern South America including Peru and just short of the 60,000 miles needed for a roundtrip to Southern South America.

  • What is the award space to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and more for the next few weeks?
  • What is the award space in economy, business, and first class?
  • Where can you search and book this award space?

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Comparison of Four Major Airline Credit Cards

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American Airlines, United, Delta, and US Airways all release several co-branded credit cards with various benefits, bonuses, and fees.

I have attempted to summarize the following cards on one table for easy comparison:

I consider these to be the “basic” personal card for each of the four legacy carriers in the United States. Each airline also has a lower-tier cards which earn miles at a lower rate and come with no sign up bonus. And several of the airlines have higher tier cards that come with gigantic annual fees and even better benefits. But these are the four basic cards.

  • Which cards have the best sign up bonus?
  • Which have the best benefits?

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Delta Releases 2015 Award Chart

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Delta had already released its 2015 award chart for travel beginning in the United States (exlcuding Hawaii) and Canada, and now Delta has released SkyMiles Award Charts for 2015 from all other parts of the world.

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The current award chart controls for awards BOOKED in 2014, and the 2015 chart for awards BOOKED in 2015, regardless of when the flights are flown.

In addition to new award charts, we will see two major rule changes on Delta awards for awards booked January 1, 2015 or later:

The award charts reflect only minor changes from the 2014 chart, so don’t expect to find a big devaluation.

I scoured the new charts looking for creative, cheap awards, and I found a few.

  • What are the best deals on the new 2015 SkyMiles charts?

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Uber New Rider Bonus Drops November 24

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Uber has replaced taxis for me. I always use the app for airport pickups and safely getting around on weekeend nights.

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Uber is the world’s best taxi service because it has clean, courteous drivers and the easiest ride-ordering app imaginable. Tap, tap, tap, and a car whose progress you can track towards you is on its way.

For many months, Uber has offered a massive $30 off your first ride to new users who sign up through a referral link. (Sign up with mine and I’ll also get one free ride up to $30. Leave your referral link in the comments if you’d like.)

That offer ends November 23, 2014.

  • What will the new offer be?
  • When do you need to sign up and ride by to get the current offer?

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No Stopovers on Delta Awards from January 1, 2015

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As widely predicted, Delta is eliminating stopovers on its awards starting January 1, 2015. Its SkyMiles program rules page says as much.

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This is a bummer, but the good news is that one way awards will be bookable with Delta miles starting January 1, 2015, and Delta has already improved its online search.

American eliminated stopovers on awards this year, and the US Airways program will cease to exist in quarter 2 of 2015, which means United will be the only American program that allows stopovers very soon. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Your last chance to book a Delta award with a stopover will be December 31, 2014. At that point, you can book an award through about November 2015.

Hat Tip: Lisa in the comments

Two Tricks I Used on My Last Award Booking

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As you read this, I’m 35,000 feet up on my way to Medellin, Colombia.

I was in Tucson over the weekend for a tennis tournament, and I didn’t have any exit flight booked. I really wanted to return to Colombia because I had enjoyed Bogota so much and heard even better things about Medellin, but award space didn’t appear to be available for a Monday departure from Tucson to Medellin.

I used two tricks and a little bit of creativity to come up with a Saver award, save myself $75 in fees, and give myself a chance to hang out with a buddy I haven’t seen in a few years.

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  • What were my two tricks?
  • How did I save $75?

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