TACA/Avianca is a Star Alliance carrier with a loyalty program called LifeMiles. LifeMiles are sold for 3 cents per mile, but frequent 2 x 1 sales–like the current sale through December 30, 2013–bring the cost down to 1.5 cents per mile.
LifeMiles has a solid award chart that is broadly in line with other Star Alliance carriers. It’s worse than US Airways’ chart, but better than United’s new chart.
LifeMiles has four incredibly flyer-friendly award policies that combine for some attractive deals like
- a $190 one way flight from the US to Japan
- a $190 one way flight from the mainland US to Hawaii
- or a $340 one way in business class from Europe to Asia
The four awesome policies that combine to allow those prices are:
- Cheap Miles. US Airways is currently “selling” miles for 1.13 cents, but other than that sale, you never see miles for as cheap as LifeMiles routinely sells them (1.5 cents per mile.)
- One way awards for half the roundtrip price.
- Not charging the award price for the most expensive region transited. You can route from North America to Japan to North America in one direction and pay only the “within North America” price instead of the more expensive price some airlines would charge for transiting a more expensive region.
- Treating Guam as North America. Guam is part of the US, which is a big part of North America, so I understand LifeMiles’ thinking. Other airlines’ award charts treat Guam as part of Oceania, which is often a more expensive region.
How can you put it all together to get incredibly cheap economy and business class tickets to and within many regions worldwide?
Cyber Monday is the Black Friday of online shopping. Many airlines and hotels are participating with discounted airfare and hotel stays if you book today. Some of the deals are spectacular!
- Los Angeles to Lima for $684 roundtrip on LAN (and earns 8,300 American Airlines miles)
- Los Angeles to Buenos Aires for $910 roundtrip on LAN (and earns 12,200 American Airlines miles) during the South American summer
- 15% off Frontier flights
- San Diego to Honolulu for $159 each way on Alaska
- A 2,013-point rebate on JetBlue awards
- 30% off Marriott hotel stays
- 10% off Austrian Airlines flights
- many more deals
If cash fares are low enough, or you like to use your miles for international premium cabin travel, you are better off paying cash for economy tickets and earning miles on the flights.
Even better, you can buy these discounted-cash tickets with credit card points and keep all your cash in your pocket. The airline will still see the ticket as a cash ticket and award you miles, and you’ll save your money. Win-win!
My favorite card that earns flexible points that can be used for any airline ticket with no blackouts is the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases with 40,000 miles after spending $1k in the first three months and no annual fee for the first year. Just meeting the card’s minimum spending requirement gives you over $460 worth of miles that can be used on any airline, any flight, any time or on any hotel stay with no blackouts.
Application Link: Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases
For a full rundown of all the airline and hotel Cyber Monday deals I’ve seen, keep reading.
Posted in Deal
Tagged Cyber Monday
Register all your American Express credit and charge cards today, spend $10 on each one this Saturday November 30 at a small business, and receive a $10 statement credit on each card.
This is the easiest win-win-win promotion of the year. We get $10 statement credits for participating, small businesses get more business, and American Express gets great advertising.
How do you register for Small Business Saturday and its $10 statement credits? How have I used my statement credits in the past?
When signing up for a rewards card, I think there are four factors to consider:
- What is the value of the sign up bonus?
- What is value of putting my pattern of spending on the card? (category bonuses and the value of the base point earned)
- What are the benefits of holding the card? (lounge access, free checked bags, discounted awards, etc)
- When is the deal disappearing?
All things equal, you should apply for a card with a limited time sign up bonus over one that is stable. You can get the stable card next time.
With so much excitement around the now-certain American Airlines/US Airways merger and the pending disappearance of the US Airways Premier World MasterCard, I thought it would be useful to compile a list of other cards offers that are soon to disappear.
What are the top ten credit card offers that are about to disappear? When are they disappearing? And how much worse will the upcoming offers be?
Update: I’ve booked myself Seoul to Frankfurt to Munich to Toronto to Los Angeles one way for 70k miles. The long legs are in Asiana First Class and Lufthansa First Class. I can check out the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt from whenever I get to the airport until 10 AM. I wish it were longer, but I am excited to have a chance to get inside.
As for the trip, I am thinking of getting to Asia on the Island Hopper plus Avios and trying to see North Korea.
Lufthansa First Class award space is currently bookable with United miles from April 2014 through October 2014. This is huge news because normally Lufthansa First Class award space is only bookable with partner miles 15 days before departure. I expect this glitch to be corrected within a few hours, but I expect all tickets booked to be honored.
Lufthansa is widely considered to have one of the nicest First Class products in the world, and they are one of the three carriers I want to fly as soon as possible!
One of the main reasons I want to fly Lufthansa First Class is to enjoy access to the First Class Terminal in Frankfurt. Booking today would give access to the First Class Terminal if you book the right routing.
Interior of First Class Terminal
If you have any desire to use this award space, book now. You will be able to cancel for up to 24 hours with no penalty. You’ll get all your miles and taxes back. But I don’t expect this deal to last 24 hours.
More info on the routes with the available space, the products that fly those routes, and how to maximize the deal after the jump!
A reader emailed me a discount code for United flights flown before December 15, 2013.
He described it as a 13% discount, but I am only getting a 5% discount, capped at $60. The code seems to work on domestic and international flights.
To use a promo code, click Advanced Search on united.com.
Locate the Promo Code box and type in ZNY9357515.
In my experience, it knocked off 5% of the base fare, which works out to less than 5% of the price.
5% Discount of Base Fare
The 5% discount seems to be capped at $60 though.
Discount of $60 per ticket LAX-NRT
Did the code work for you?
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Daily Getaways was a monthlong sale that lasted from mid-June to mid-July. Every day different travel packages went on sale, including the ability to buy hotel points, car rental status, gift certificates, hotel nights, and vacation packages.
I was selective, buying packages only four days. Combined my purchases have saved me over $920 in cash with one unused.
My latest redemption of a Daily Getaways package was this week when I redeemed three $50 Alamo Gift Certificates that I had purchased for $22.50 each for a weeklong car rental in Los Angeles.
Instead of saving $82.50–$150 in gift certificates bought for $67.50–like I expected, I saved about $120 with the gift certificates. Now I love car rental gift certificates!
Why do I now love car rental gift certificates? How have my other Daily Getaways packages added up to over $920 in savings? How can you get in on the next Daily Getaways?
Update: Two readers got the same offer, but with 5 bonus miles per dollar, taking the total to 7 miles per dollar! Wow! The post below still refers to 2 extra miles and 4 total miles per dollar, but some folks are being offered a total of 7 miles per dollar!
Next time you get an email for a great offer, forward it to me, so I can share it with everyone!
Barclaycard is offering targeted Arrival World MasterCard holders 4x miles per dollar at gas stations; restaurants; and department, toy, and game stores from now until December 31, 2013. (Thanks to reader Drew B. for alerting me!)
If you received a targeted email with the subject “Earn bonus miles in three easy ways”, click the Activate Now button in the email.
This is the fourth very good miles promotion this week.
What are the details on this Arrival Card 4x Promotion? Is it worth your while? How does it compare to the other promotions this week?
Yesterday I got an email with the subject line “Earn 3X American Airlines AAdvantage® Miles | Enroll in one click!”
By clicking the button inside the email, I enrolled myself for 3 American Airlines miles per dollar at department stores, restaurants, gas stations, and grocery stores through 12/31/13 on purchases made with my Citi AAdvantage card. There is a limit of 2,500 bonus miles ($1,250 in spending) on the promotion.
Clicking “Enroll with one click >” did just what it should have, taking me to this message.
Everyone should check your email for a similar email, and enroll with one click if you can.
But should you take advantage of the offer? Or are there more valuable cards on which to spend even after this bonus? What is the best current offer on the Citi AA card?
JetBlue has announced a 5x points promo on flights booked by Tuesday.
Posted in Deal, JetBlue
Tagged Deal, JetBlue
I am a lodging cheapskate. My ideal trip length is four weeks, so hotel bills would add up quickly. Right now I haven’t been in the US since February, so I’ve had to come up with creative ways to sleep cheaply.
But just because I’m a cheapskate doesn’t mean I don’t want to stay at fancy hotels sometimes too. I’m jealous that Rookie Alli has two nights at any Hilton worldwide. I have my own two free nights at Hyatts worldwide that I’ll be sure to use somewhere way outside my price range.
There is a third way, though, between the extremes of free ultra-luxury and cheap adequate accommodation: under-categorized hotels are a fantastic value play.
Free nights at hotels cost a certain number of points that are decided by which category a hotel places the hotel into. For instance, a Category 1 Hilton costs 5,000 points for a free night. A Category 10 Hilton costs up to 95,000 points for a free night.
The number of points needed generally tracks the quality, location, and price of the hotel, but some hotels are under-categorized and represent fantastic value with points.
Last night I stayed in one such hotel, the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur, which is a Hilton Category 2 property that costs only 10k Hilton points per night.
Continue for my review with photos of the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur and a rundown of all the freebies I got. What hotel award charts might have sweet spots? What are the best value free nights you’ve gotten?
Posted in Club Carlson, Deal, Hilton, Hyatt, SPG, Travel Style, Trip Report
Tagged Deal, DoubleTree, Free Night, Hilton, Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
Update 9/3/13: The 30k bonus Starpoint offers on the personal and business versions of the SPG card are dead. For the current 25k offers, see here for the personal card and here for the business card.
After a brief disappearance, the 50k mile sign up bonus has returned to the Citi American Airlines card. Its return coincides with the once-a-year bonus of 30k Starpoints being offered on the SPG personal and business cards. (The SPG offers expire in two days, 9/3/13.)
Combined, the cards offer enough American Airlines miles for a round-the-world business class award with up to 15 stopovers.
You could take this trip in business class.
How can you go around the world in business class for just the taxes?
American Airlines has a great promotional award price to Hawaii this fall of only 15,000 miles each way in economy if you book by September 13 and fly September 11 to December 17.
Waikiki, December 2012
American has several services to Hawaii.
- Honolulu <-> Dallas, Los Angeles, and Chicago
- Kahului <-> Dallas and Los Angeles
- Kona <-> Los Angeles
- Lihue <-> Los Angeles
How good is this deal? Are there currently better deals to Hawaii? How is award space?
Miles and points aren’t all about traveling in first class for pennies, although that’s the most aspirational aspect of the game, and the most fun to write about. In the last few weeks, I’ve used hotel points for massive savings on adequate rooms in convenient locations in expensive cities.
Through just a little bit of planning, I’ve spent about $255 total for my last six nights of hotels or $42 per night. Half of the nights have been in Europe in the summer, and two of them are at a hotel that has a retail price of over $325 per night currently.
My strategies haven’t involved any credit cards or hard work, just a bit of planning. They’ve been crucial strategies for me to get some affordable alone time away from hostels to break up an eight-month trip. And they’re strategies that anyone can employ to keep costs down and travel more.
This, 88% Off
What are the three tricks I’ve used to spend so little on hotels in Europe?
Two Star Alliance carriers are selling miles at a discount this month.
- US Airways will sell you up to 100k Dividend Miles for $1,881.25 (1.88 cents each.)
- TACA/Avianca will see you up to 150k LifeMiles for $2,250 (1.5 cents each.)
Is either your ticket to a deeply discounted vacation?