Category Archives: Barclay’s

Top Ten Credit Cards for Travel, July 2014

There are a lot of reasons to collect miles and points.

  • For free luxury hotel stays and first class flights
  • To travel to more countries than you could otherwise afford
  • To take your family on vacation
  • To visit home for the holidays
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending

Whatever your reason for being here, there is a rewards card or cards that suit your needs.

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 26 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Eating more steak than anyone should in Brazil and Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Seeing Angkor Wat near Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM

2013 Flights

If you don’t have the money to take your dream trips, the good news is that you don’t need much money. By maximizing the sign up bonuses on rewards cards, anyone with good credit can take a dream trip anywhere in the world.

  • How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams?
  • What are the best credit card offers for July 2014? Continue reading

Hurry: Lufthansa Card’s 50,000 Bonus Miles Disappear Today

Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

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Today (June 30, 2014) is the last day to get 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles from the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days.

Screen Shot 2013-12-09 at 12.49.52 AM

See my Miles & More Program Primer for more information on the Lufthansa frequent flyer program and six great uses for the mega sign up bonus.

The cliff notes? Lufthansa is a major member of the Star Alliance, which also includes United, Air New Zealand, Thai, South African, and 20+ others. Lufthansa Miles & More miles can be used on any Star Alliance partner.

55,000 Lufthansa miles–the sign up bonus plus normal spending needed to unlock it–will get you:

This is a card I got for myself last year, and I’ve been using the miles to fly United flights between the mainland and Hawaii, a trip that costs fewer Lufthansa miles than United miles for the exact same flights.

  • How can you use your Lufthansa miles?
  • When does the 50,000 mile offer end?
  • Who is this offer right for?

Continue reading

When Do Arrival Miles Expire?

Arrival miles never expire as long as you hold your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®. They do disappear the second you cancel the card though.

Arrival Plus Card Image

Other than cancelling the card, the only time constraint on using Arrival miles is that you have 120 days after any travel purchase to redeem miles for an offsetting statement credit.

If you forget to use your Arrival miles to offset a travel purchase within 120 days though, it’s usually not a big deal, since all travel redemptions get the same value per Arrival mile. You can just use your Arrival miles to offset the next travel purchase.

These are great redemption rules for us:

  1. Since Arrival miles never expire, you don’t need to earn Arrival miles with a specific redemption in mind. Once you earn Arrival miles, they stay in your account until you’re ready to use them.
  2. With 120 days after any travel purchase to redeem miles, you have the ability to take a trip, then earn miles, then redeem the miles to make the trip free retroactively.

The Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® is the king of cash back cards without even being a cash back card. I got one myself in February and have included it as one of the June 2014 top ten credit card offers for travel. The Arrival Plus earns 2.28% back toward travel on all purchases, offers flexible redemption options, and just clearing the sign up bonus is worth $500 in free travel!

Since I got the card, Barclaycard has expanded its definition of a travel purchase, which increases redemption options, and now offers Chip & PIN technology, which means it can be used abroad more easily where it has no foreign transaction fees.

  • What are the best uses of Arrival miles?
  • How do you earn and redeem Arrival miles?
  • Who is the Arrival Plus card best for?

Continue reading

Comparison of Lufthansa and United Award Charts

Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

———————————————————

There is one week left to get the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® with 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. The offer expires June 30, 2014.

The normal bonus on the card is for only 20,000 miles. I got the card last year and racked up 73,000 Lufthansa miles. I’ve booked myself a few awards between the mainland and Hawaii, since Lufthansa charges fewer miles for the exact same United flights than United charges.

Comparing United and Lufthansa miles is natural because both are Star Alliance members with (basically) equal access to award space on all Star Alliance partners.

Between Hawaii and the mainland isn’t the only route where the United and Lufthansa award charts differ. I’ve compiled three charts to show whether Lufthansa miles or United miles are cheaper to any given destination in economy, business, and first class.

  • For which destinations are United miles cheaper?
  • For which destinations are Lufthansa miles cheaper?
  • What about fuel surcharges?

Continue reading

How to Book Singapore Business Class to Europe This Summer

Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

———————————————————

Lufthansa Miles & More Miles can be used to book longhaul Singapore Business Class awards to Europe!

Singapore Business Class

This is especially excellent because United miles cannot book longhaul business class awards on Singapore, and Singapore Business Class is widely considered one of the best products in the world.

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is currently offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5,000 in the first 90 days. (This deal ends June 30, 2014.) Meeting the card’s spending requirement would earn you enough miles to book Singapore Business Class one way between the United States and Europe.

  • How do you search Singapore Business Class?
  • How do you book Singapore Business Class with Lufthansa miles?
  • Does Lufthansa collect fuel surcharges on Singapore Airlines flights?

Continue reading

Get the Hawaiian Miles Card and Take Your Friends Orphan Miles through Share Miles

I know a lot of people with around 5,000 Hawaiian miles. Until recently, I was one of them. That’s about what you’d have if you’ve flown one paid roundtrip on Hawaiian Airlines.

For a lot of people, those miles are headed to an unused expiration.

But if you have The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard®, you can receive miles from other Hawaiian Miles accounts for free through the online share miles promotion. So get the Hawaiian card and relieve your friends of their orphaned miles.

Or combine all your Hawaiian Miles into one account before making a booking for you and travel companions.

  • How does the Hawaiian Share Miles work?
  • Who can send and receive Hawaiian Miles?
  • How can you use it to make family bookings easier?

Continue reading

Top Ten Credit Card Offers for Travel, June 2014

Why are you collecting miles and points?

  • For free luxury hotel stays and first class flights?
  • To travel to more countries than you’d otherwise be able to?
  • To take a family vacation?
  • For a free trip home for the holidays?
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending?

Whatever your reason for being here, there is a rewards card that suits your needs.

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 25 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Playing bilingual basketball games with the expats and locals in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand and Soweto, Jo’burg, South Africa
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Getting to travel with my brother in Australia and using miles to make his dream of seeing the Australian Open a reality
  • Flying a friend to Thailand to spend a week together
  • Seeing Angkor Wat
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
  • Following my favorite basketball team for six games in three cities
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM

2013 Flights

How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams? What are the best credit card offers for June 2014? Continue reading

How to Get 1.52 LifeMiles Per Dollar on All Purchases

You can get 1.52 TACA/Avianca LifeMiles on all purchases by using your Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® for purchases and then using your Arrival miles to buy LifeMiles during their near-constant 2 x 1 sales.

This is an incredible way to turn Arrival miles, which are worth a fixed 1.11 to 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.

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 LifeMiles technique makes the Arrival Plus also the best all-around card for business and first class redemptions.

No other card earns 1.52 traditional airline miles on all purchases, and the LifeMiles award chart offers tons of great values in premium cabins like:

  • 72,500 miles each way in Lufthansa First Class between the United States and Europe. United charges 110k miles.
  • 52,500 miles each way in Austrian Business Class between the United States and Europe. United charges 70k miles.
  • 75,000 miles each way to North Asia in First Class. United wants 120k miles.
  • Tons of awards within the Western Hemisphere for the same price or cheaper on the LifeMiles award chart than on the United chart.

LifeMiles awards never contain fuel surcharges, just government taxes plus a $25 award booking fee.

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

  • 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?

Continue reading

Make This Two Minute Call Before Your Next International Trip

Two weeks ago, Barclaycard rebranded its flagship card as the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.


The card still comes with the same 40,000 bonus miles after spending $3,000 in the first 90 days and double miles on all purchases, which adds up to over $500 in free flights after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

The new features are:

  • Longer time period to redeem miles for statement credits. You now have 120 days from the date of a travel purchase to use Arrival miles to remove the charge from your statement.
  • Expanded definition of travel purchases. You can still redeem miles for flights, hotels, and car rentals. You can now also redeem for amusement parks, trains, taxis, ferries, campgrounds, and more.
  • Chip and PIN capability. This is America’s first major card with the world’s standard account safety measures. Chip and PIN is sometimes the only way to purchase certain things abroad–for instance train tickets in Northern Europe.

I have a trip to Brazil coming up next month, so I want to test out the chip and PIN system on the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

Today I called Barclaycard at the number on the back of my card.

I told the agent I had heard the Arrival Plus now had chip and PIN capabilities, and I’d love to be sent a new card with a chip for an upcoming trip.

She told me my new card would arrive in 7-10 business days. There is no cost to receive a new card.

I then asked to set my PIN. She said a random PIN could be sent to me, or I could set one over the automated system.

The automated system warned that repeating or consecutively-numbered PINs like 1234, 1212, or 1111 would be rejected. I set my PIN in a few seconds, and hung up.

This two minute call might make my trip to Brazil easier and will certainly make my next European trip easier.

The Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® will be my go-to card abroad because it has no foreign transaction fees and earns an astounding 2 miles per dollar (which I value at 2.28 cents) on all purchases.

  • Have you asked for your new Arrival Plus yet?
  • Have you used its chip and PIN capabilities?

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This One Mistake on the US Airways Award Chart Can Save You 15k Miles

US Airways charges the same price for three-cabin First Class within the United States and Canada as it does for two-cabin First Class or Business Class.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 7.08.12 AM

I consider this a mistake rooted in the fact that US Airways only operates two-cabin planes within the United States as did its former partner United (with a few exceptions.)

But US Airways’ new partners American Airlines and Cathay Pacific both operate three-cabin planes within the United States on a few routes:

  • New York-JFK to Los Angeles (American Airlines)
  • New York-JFK to San Francisco (American Airlines)
  • New York-JFK to Vancouver (Cathay Pacific)

I expect that at some point soon, US Airways will charge 65k miles for roundtrip awards on these three routes, so book them now for big savings.

If you’re short on US Airways miles, The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

  • How is award space on these three routes?
  • How can you book the award space with US Airways miles?
  • How is Cathay Pacific First Class?

Continue reading

Huge Benefit Changes to the US Airways Card

Lucky first reported huge changes coming to the benefits of The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard®, which currently offers 40,000 bonus miles after first purchase.

To me, this is the most intriguing card on the market because we know that the last chance to apply for The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® will be some time in the next year when the American Airlines and US Airways mileage programs combine. At that time, Barclaycard is losing the right to issue new US Airways cards and existing cards will convert to American Airlines cards.

The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® offers by far the highest sign up bonus of cards with no minimum spending requirement. For now, you can use US Airways miles on the US Airways award chart, which is the best in the world. If you don’t use them by early 2015, they will be converted to American Airlines miles, which is a roughly fair conversion.

  • What are the upcoming changes to the US Airways card’s benefits?
  • What killer benefit is it adding?
  • Will the US Airways card lose its main benefit?

Continue reading

Big Changes Today from the Barclaycard Arrival Cards

Today the Arrival cards changed their official names and card artwork. More importantly, they expanded their definition of travel expenses, which means more way to redeem the super-flexible miles.

Name and Art Changes

The premium version of the card, which earns 2x miles on all purchases and has an $89 annual fee (waived for the first 12 months) is now the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® and has a bluer card face than the black one it used to have.

Arrival Plus

Its sister card, which earns 1x miles on most purchases and 2x on travel and dining, without an annual fee is now the Barclaycard ArrivalTM World MasterCard®. It has a lighter blue updated card art.

Arrival

  • What was the big expansion to how “travel” is defined (which affects redemptions)?
  • Did the key benefits of the cards change today?

Continue reading

How to Get Free Flights Next Month If You Have No Miles Now

This post was inspired by the plight of my friends in Los Angeles who haven’t bought their plane tickets yet for next month’s Del Close Marathon Improv Festival in New York City. The principles are equally applicable to anyone who wants to fly for free next month from a starting balance of zero miles.

Let’s start from a few premises:

  • Free flights are better than paying.
  • Opening up a credit card is by far the quickest way to get free travel.
  • With almost every credit card you open, it takes at least six weeks to get the rewards that you need for free travel.

The reason why you normally have to wait at least six weeks to get your rewards is that all rewards cards I know of except the Alaska Airlines credit cards have a minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus miles advertised for new customers.

That minimum spending requirement can range from any one purchase with the card to $10,000 over the first three months. Usually your bonus points post to your account about the time that the credit card statement closes on which you met that spending requirement. Hence the six delay from credit card application:

  • Apply for card and receive it in the mail 1-2 weeks later.
  • Meet the minimum spending requirement on the card during the first statement period, which closes 4-4.5 weeks after card arrived.
  • Bonus points post within 0-0.5 weeks of statement closing.

If you need free flights next month, you can’t wait six weeks to get your miles before redeeming them.

Enter the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard®.

This card is perfect to get $460 in free flights next month for two reasons:

  1. You can redeem Arrival miles for any flight on any airline with no blackout dates.
  2. The way you redeem Arrival miles is to remove travel charges you’ve made on the card (like flights) up to 90 days after making those charges.

What are the four steps to getting $460 in free flights next month with the Arrival card?

Continue reading

Amazing Sweet Spots on the Lufthansa Award Chart to and from Hawaii and All the Possibilities They Unlock

Update July 1, 2014:

The current offer on the Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is 20,000 miles after first purchase and payment of $79 annual fee.

  • Earn 20,000 award miles after your first purchase or balance transfer
  • Earn up to 15,000 award miles with balance transfers (1 mile per $1 transferred) within 30 days of account opening
  • Earn 2 award miles per $1 on ticket purchases directly from Miles & More integrated airline partners
  • Earn 1 mile per $1 on all other purchases
  • Annual Companion Ticket after first purchase
  • No foreign transaction fees on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Redeem miles for flight awards and upgrades on Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, SWISS, Star Alliance airlines and other partners
  • $79 Annual Fee, waived for SEN and HON Circle Members

———————————————————

The Premier Miles & More® World MasterCard® is now offering 50,000 bonus Lufthansa miles after spending $5k in the first three months. That means you’ll have 55,000 Lufthansa miles after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

The Miles & More award chart has a number of sweet spots to get maximum value for those 55,000 miles.

Three sweet spots I want to highlight today are to and from Hawaii.

Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 10.04.09 PM

Between Hawaii and the United States mainland:

  • Economy (on United flights): 20k miles each way
  • First Class (on United two-cabin flights): 35k miles each way

Between Hawaii and Central Asia/Far East:

  • Economy (on United, ANA, Asiana, and Air China flights): 20k miles each way
  • Business: 35k miles each way
  • First: 62,500 miles each way

Between Hawaii and New Zealand/Australia/Oceania:

  • Economy (on United and Air New Zealand flights): 20k miles each way
  • Business: 35k miles each way

These are great prices for awards if you live in Hawaii. But even if you don’t live in Hawaii, these cheap awards to and from Hawaii allow for a free or almost free stopover in Hawaii as part of a larger trip. Who wouldn’t want to combine some time in Hawaii with some time in Asia or Australia or New Zealand as a way to break up the long transpacific flights?

  • How can anyone, no matter where they live, take advantage of these great award prices to and from Hawaii on Lufthansa’s chart?
  • How good is United’s First Class product to Hawaii?
  • What are the fuel surcharges on these routes?

Continue reading

Top Ten Credit Card Offers for Travel, May 2014

Why are you collecting miles and points?

  • For free luxury hotel stays and first class flights?
  • To travel to more countries than you’d otherwise be able to?
  • To take a family vacation?
  • For a free trip home for the holidays?
  • To earn big rewards for everyday spending?

Whatever your reason for being here, there is a rewards card that suits your needs.

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to 25 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Playing bilingual basketball games with the expats and locals in Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Cliff jumping in Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Bungee jumping in Queenstown, New Zealand and Soweto, Jo’burg, South Africa
  • Leading an “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” cheer in Rod Laver Arena during the Australian Open (tennis tournament) in Melbourne, Australia
  • Scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef
  • Eating Thai-hot Thai curry in Thailand at Thai prices
  • Biking in the Lake District of Patagonia in Bariloche, Argentina
  • Spending three days at Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany
  • Getting to travel with my brother in Australia and using miles to make his dream of seeing the Australian Open a reality
  • Flying a friend to Thailand to spend a week together
  • Seeing Angkor Wat
  • Getting some home cooking from my mom who lives 5,000 miles away
  • Following my favorite basketball team for six games across seven countries
Screen Shot 2013-12-31 at 2.14.12 AM

2013 Flights

How can you earn rewards for the trips of your dreams? What are the best credit card offers for May 2014? Continue reading