How to Maximize the National Car Rental ONE TWO FREE Promo

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

Disclosure: National offered me compensation to write this post, and a $200 gift card for MileValue readers. All views are expressed are mine and (other) Scott’s, not those of National Car Rental.

National Car Rental’s popular ONE TWO FREE has returned through January 31, 2015. For every two qualifying rentals, you earn one free* rental day for use on a future trip. ONE TWO FREE is a points-based promo, so you can also earn free days by referring friends to the program, using the mobile app, and more.

*Like “free” award tickets, you are responsible for taxes on your free rental day.

To promote ONE TWO FREE, National put me in touch with (another) Scott, an active member of National’s Emerald Club program since 1999, to get his perspective on the Emerald Club, the ONE TWO FREE promo, and how National Car Rental works for business travelers.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.35.46 PM

Scott in Pinnacles National Monument in Paicines, CA

How the ONE TWO FREE Promo Works

During the ONE TWO FREE promo, which runs until January 31, 2015, registered Emerald Club members can earn one free rental day for every 600 points earned. Members can combine up to three free-day certificates into a single rental.

Once you register for ONE TWO FREE, you earn 300 points for any qualifying rental of 2+ days. You can also earn points in a variety of  other ways:

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.23.37 PM

Scott said that he usually takes business trips that include car rentals paid by his employer. Those rentals earn him free rental days that he uses on personal trips.

Some other ways to earn points require just a few clicks:

  • 50 points for connecting your Emerald Club account and Facebook
  • 50 points for opting in for emails
  • 25 points for downloading the National Car Rental app
  • 25 points for visiting the Drive Alliance, a site about the partnership between National, Alamo, and Enterprise

There are ways to earn extra points on every rental:

  • 75 points for renting on the mobile app (up to 4 times)
  • 250 points for renting a GPS
  • 250 points for using the fuel service option

Scott highlighted the bonus points for using the mobile app and how easy it is to use. He said that he once took an earlier flight to Seattle for a conference near the airport. He hadn’t originally planned on renting a car at all, but he realized he had enough time to make it to Mount Rainier, which had always been a dream of his.

He used the mobile app during the plane’s taxi to the gate, and within 15 minutes of landing, he had rented his National car and was headed south. Within a few hours, he had one less item on his bucket list.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.37.24 PM

Scott at Mount Rainier

You can also earn 300 points for each friend you refer to the Emerald Club after their first paid rental (up to 10 referrals.)

A combination of paid rentals and taking advantage of the other points-earning methods can quickly get you free rental days.

You can combine up to three free days for each free rental.

You can earn up to 50 free days during the promotion period.

Why Everyone Should Join Emerald Club (even if they won’t be frequent renters)

There are two reasons you should join the Emerald Club even if you only plan to rent a single time.

  1. At most locations, Club members do not have to go to the desk. They go straight to their cars.
  2. Club members who rent a mid-sized vehicle can pick any car off the Emerald Aisle.

1. Save time with stored preferences and skipping the desk.

When you join the Emerald Club, you input your driver’s license information, credit card information, car type, and preferences for options like insurance.

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 5.49.14 PM

Insurance options in your Emerald Club sign up

Scott explained that then when you rent a car as an Emerald Club member, you can skip the counter and go straight to the Emerald Aisle at most locations. Flash your credit card and license at the exit, and you are on your way. He estimated he is usually driving away from on-site lots within 10-15 minutes after walking out the airplane door. Scott raved about the speed of the process.

Scott said there’s nothing worse than showing up at your destination tired and then facing a line at the rental-car counter. And then when you get to the front, an agent goes through each option that you don’t want. Just by joining the Emerald Club, you skip that forever, which is well worth the 5 minutes it takes to sign up.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.36.11 PM

Scott driving across the Golden Gate Bridge

Plus if you want something other than the default options you set, you always have the option to go to the counter and pick new options for your current rental.

2. Access the Emerald Aisle with a mid-sized rental

Club members who rent at least a mid-sized car get to go to a special section of the lot where they can pick any car.

Scott gushed about the control and choice.

When he anticipated a long drive, he’d look for a hybrid to save on gas or a car that had free XM radio to enjoy the drive more. He’s picked cars with lower mileage on their odometers to get the benefits of a newer car, or cars that he’s been wanting to test out in anticipation of perhaps one day buying them. He’s gotten a bigger car when he needed more room when traveling with his family, and a convertible when he was alone and wanted a more fun drive.

Bottom Line

National’s Emerald Club is free to join and lets members skip the counter and head straight to the Emerald Aisle, where they can pick any car. There’s no reason not to join.

The Emerald Club’s ONE TWO FREE promotion allows members to earn free rental days after every two qualified paid rentals. You can earn free days even more quickly with actions like linking your account to Facebook and referring friends.

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 12.36.40 PM

Scott at the Louisville Slugger Museum

Giveaway

National Car Rental is offering an amazing giveaway to MileValue readers. One lucky reader will win a $200 American Express Gift Card and a year of complimentary Emerald Club Executive status. There are two ways to enter:

  1. Share this blog post with hashtag #OneTwoFree and @MileValue on Twitter
  2. Leave a comment on this post about your favorite business-turned-sightseeing trip

At 11:59 PM Hawaii time on November 21, 2014, entries will close. I’ll add up the total number of entries and randomly pick one winner of the $200 American Express Gift Card and a year of complimentary Emerald Club Executive status.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!

Award Space on United 787-9 Dreamliner to Melbourne Australia

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

United flies from Los Angeles to Melbourne directly with its newest plane the 787-9 Dreamliner.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 10.10.48 PM

15 hours 45 minutes

Award space on United’s Dreamliners in Business Class has been abysmal, but I wanted to check in and see if anything was different on this route.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 9.50.27 PM

We want to get into these flat beds up front

The good news is that there is award space on the route in both directions for two people in Business Class.

  • What is the award space picture? 
  • How many miles does the flight to Australia cost?

Continue reading

(Bleg) Where Should I Go in 2015 to Maximize Festivals, Parties, and Events?

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

I am generally planning on being in South America through March and then in Europe from April to August.

I’ll have a blast no matter what, but I’ll have even more fun if my time some of my trip to coincide with festivals, events, and other parties.

For instance, I would have had a blast in Brazil in June no matter what, but I had 10x the fun because I was there during World Cup.

IMG_0824

Before I go into the guidebooks, I’ll go the infinite wisdom of my readers. What should I not miss over that time frame on those continents. The stranger and more obscure the better.

This post was inspired by One Mile at a Time’s Asian Festival Bucket List.

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!



Powered By Credit Karma

United Offering 20% Discount on Awards to Europe

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

United is offering a 20% discount on economy awards to Europe flown this winter.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 12.22.39 AM

Instead of the normal 60,000 miles roundtrip, Saver awards to nine airports in Europe will cost only 48,000 miles roundtrip.

This is a good deal if you were already planning to use United miles to fly to Europe this winter, but there are better deals for winter travel to Europe.

  • How does the deal work? (One ways?)
  • What are the better off peak awards to Europe?

Continue reading

Best Lounge at Bogota El Dorado Airport, Colombia

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

This post should have narrow appeal, but should be of great use to people flying through Bogota El Dorado International Airport in Colombia. Priority Pass members–free with an American Express Platinum–get free access to the Salon VIP LAN and Avianca Sala VIP. Which is better?

Continue reading

How to Get to Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia with Miles

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

I went to Angkor Wat this February, and I was blown away.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.22.44 PM

View from Inside Angkor Wat

The 900 year-old Hindu-turned-Buddhist temple just outside of Siem Reap, Cambodia is up there on the list of the most impressive historical sites I’ve visited with Machu Picchu and the Great Wall of China.

And it isn’t just Angkor Wat. The rest of the Angkor Temples like Angkor Thom and Banteay Srei are just as amazing and all within a short drive of the very lively Siem Reap.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.21.25 PM

Admiring a Gate of Angkor Thom

Beyond the destination, Southeast Asia happens to be one of the best places to go with miles in a premium cabin for five reasons.

  1. It’s super cheap! American Airlines charges just 55k miles one way in Business Class or 67.5k miles one way in First Class
  2. Cathay Pacific–an American Airlines partner–has one of the world’s best Business and First Class products.
  3. Award space is abundant in Cathay Pacific premium cabins.
  4. The flight between the United States and Hong Kong is around 16 hours, meaning you get to fully enjoy your flights and arrive rested.
  5. The  Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® MasterCard® and The US Airways® Premier World MasterCard® are both offering huge bonuses, the two types of miles will be combined in early 2015, and American Airlines has committed to keeping the cheap prices I just quoted at the time of combination.
IMG_0052

Lounging in Cathay Pacific First Class

Right now is an amazing time to plan a 2015 vacation with luxurious flights to Angkor Wat.

  • Where can you search Cathay Pacific award space?
  • How can you book Cathay Pacific award space?
  • What are the very regular rules that Cathay Pacific Business and First Class award space follow?

Continue reading

Here’s When Buying Hyatt Miles for 1.85 Cents is a Good Deal

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

Until December 10, 2014, you can purchase Hyatt Gold Passport points for 1.85 cents each.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.17.09 AM

The sale offers a 30% bonus on the number of miles you receive for all purchases of at least 5,000 points, and you can purchase up to 55,000 points per calendar year. (If you purchases 55,000 points, you’d receive 71,500 points after the bonus.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.17.22 AMSince the bonus is constant, and the price of Gold Passport points is constant at 2.4 cents each, you pay 1.85 cents each for any purchase of at least 5,000 points (6,500 after bonus.)

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.17.32 AM

In general, I’d value Hyatt points at 1.2 cents, so as usual, this sale is not the time to stock up on points. However, there are a lot of uses, for which buying points now and then immediately redeeming them makes great sense.

  • Under what circumstances, should you buy Hyatt points for 1.85 cents?

Continue reading

35% Bonus on Purchase of Alaska Miles. Good Deal?

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

Until December 20, 2014, you can buy Alaska Airlines miles for as little as 2.19 cents each.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.01.56 AM

The sale is structured as a bonus on the normal number of miles you’d receive. The bonus is tiered, so the biggest 35% bonus comes from purchasing 35,000 to 40,000 miles at the normal price of about 2.96 cents each after tax.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.02.04 AM

To buy 47,250 miles (35,000 + 12,250 bonus) during this sale costs $1,034.69, which is 2.19 cents per mile. This is the cheapest amount of miles that gets the maximum 35% bonus.

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 11.03.09 AM

I don’t think Alaska miles are worth 2.19 cents each, but they are worth close to that, and if you have a specific redemption in mind, it isn’t hard to get more than 2.19 cents of value per mile.

  • What are the best redemptions for Alaska miles?
  • Does this miles purchase count as airfare or travel spending for category bonuses?
  • How does this compare to past miles sales on Alaska?

Continue reading

Top Ten Credit Cards for Travel, November 2014

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

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.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 2.37.59 PMWant to Hike the Great Wall of China with Your Brother? There’s a Card for That

Since the start of last year, I’ve been to over 30 countries, travel that would have been completely impossible without miles and points earned from credit cards. This has been my life thanks to miles:

  • Biking 25km around Bogota as part of the original Ciclovia
  • Hiking the Great Wall of China with my brother
  • Straddling the line between North and South Korea
  • Watching dragons dance at the Mid-Autumn Festival in Hong Kong
  • 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 September 2014?
  • Which of the cards on the list expire in the next few days?

Continue reading

How to Get to Machu Picchu with Miles

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

Machu Picchu is one the few places in the world that can’t be over-hyped. Seriously, no matter how high your expectations are when you get there, I don’t think you can be disappointed.

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.42.34 AM

Even on my third visit, watching the sunrise over the mountains was spectacular.

So how do you get to Machu Picchu with miles?

It’s actually very easy. The best miles to get to Machu Picchu are American Airlines miles. You can fly to Cuzco, the nearest airport, roundtrip for 35,000 American Airlines miles. 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, so no excuses about not having the miles.

You cannot completely search for your award to Machu Picchu on aa.com, though, so make sure you are searching the right place.

  • Where can you search for award space to Cuzco?
  • How can you book the American Airlines award?

Continue reading

ThankYou Points Worldwide

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

I was eating a burrito at an obvious Chipotle knockoff in Bogota, Colombia (Sipote, it’s awesome), and when I moved my tray, I noticed I had been sitting at a Citi ThankYou Points sponsored table.

IMG_20141103_200247

Generally we Americans have by far the best credit card and frequent-flyer-mile-earning options, but ThankYou Points and Membership Rewards are offered to people around the world.

The program here in Colombia looks remarkably similar to what Citi offers Americans.

First, I can clearly see the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card on the table, which was actually the card I bought my dinner with to earn 3x ThankYou Points on dining with no foreign transaction fees.

My Review of the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card

Second Citi offers Colombians “puntos de bienvenida” (sign up bonus) and “por cada dolar facturado” (for each dollar spent. Yes, it actually says “dollar.”) That’s the same as we get, though I doubt they have a 50,000 point bonus on the Citi ThankYou® Premier Rewards Card.

Third, Colombians have the same redemption options we do, including using their points to get things from the “catologo global en linea” (global online catalog, don’t do it, Colombians!) or “transferencias…a programas de lealtad de hoteles y aerolineas.”

In fact, here’s the rundown on the nine airlines and one hotel to which you can transfer ThankYou Points. Here are the best awards you can book with Flying Blue and Singapore Airlines, the best transfer partners.

How often do you see similar credit card offers around the world? Are the bonuses ever as good as we get?

————————————————————————————————————
Never miss a post again! Follow MileValue on Twitter and Facebook. And sign up to receive one free daily email every morning with all of the day’s posts!



Powered By Credit Karma

Southwest 50k Offers Are Back, Leverage Them for $3,142 in Free Flights

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

All four Southwest credit cards are back with a 50k offer. This is perfect timing to get the Companion Pass for all of 2015 and 2016.

Southwest is currently offering 50k bonus point sign ups on its personal and business credit cards after spending $2,000 in three months. You can leverage the offers for $3,142 in free flights.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 3.24.15 PM

You can get both a personal and business card at once, and after meeting their minimum spending requirements, you will have 104,000 Rapid Rewards post to your account.

Southwest has a fixed-value program in which you can get any Wanna Get Away? fare for 70 points for every dollar of the base fare. That means 104,000 points are worth $1,485 in free flights.

Earn another 6,000 Rapid Rewards with the cards or a few other ways–getting to 110k points total–and you will earn the best deal in all of travel hacking: a Southwest Companion Pass.

If you have the Southwest Companion pass, you can designate a companion who flies for $5.60 per direction on every Southwest flight you fly. That’s every Southwest flight–including paid tickets and awards–for all of 2015 and 2016 if you play this correctly.

The free travel from the 110k Rapid Rewards and Companion Pass are worth at least $3,142 even after Southwest’s recent devaluation.

  • What is a Southwest Companion Pass?
  • How can you get one from two credit cards?
  • How can you time this to make your companion pass last over 23 months?

Continue reading

Anatomy of an Award: Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia with SkyMiles

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

I asked longtime award booker and occasional blog contributor JB to write about a very interesting Delta award he just booked.

A lot of people think Delta miles are worthless, but there are no other miles that could book a single convenient award with long stops in Tahiti and Sydney plus an overnight in Auckland.

A client contacted the MileValue Award Booking Service requesting a slightly modified version a MileValue classic: Tahiti, New Zealand & Australia on One Trip Using Delta Skymiles.

delta award ATL-SYD map

She had tried another award booking service that failed to convince Delta to book the award. Despite this ominous sign, I took it on.

Her routing is all one award. It is properly viewed as a round trip to Sydney (SYD) with a stopover in Papeete (PPT). There is an overnight in Auckland (AKL), but the time between flights is less than 24 hours, and on an international award ticket, that is a “layover” not a “stopover.” That means we are following the rule that you get one stopover plus one destination on a Delta award.

I’m sure you educated readers already know that. But, guess who didn’t. That’s right… the Delta agent.

  • How did I search for award space?
  • How did I out-maneuver the agent to get the award ticketed?
  • What is the go-to lie Delta agents are telling to try to shut down your award and how you do you beat it?

Continue reading

Take Your Whole Family to Europe This Summer

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

Aer Lingus, a partner of United MileagePlus and British Airways Avios, debuts a Washington-Dulles to Dublin route on May 1, 2015. It has 4 economy seats and 4 business class seats available for awards on nearly every flight through October 2015 at the moment.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 8.17.49 PM

This is in addition to the gold mine award routes to Europe for next summer that I discussed Tuesday.

  • What days will Aer Lingus operate Washington to Dublin?
  • What is the award space picture?
  • What is the cheapest way to book the flight with miles?

Continue reading

5 Best Products to Book One Way with SkyMiles

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

We are less than two months from 2015, and what I’m most looking forward to is being able to book one way awards with Delta SkyMiles. The 2015 award chart is already published and no Saver awards are going up in price.

Here are the roundtrip business class prices next year. One ways will be half the price.

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 11.57.59 AM

2015 SkyMiles Business Class Award Chart

I have booked myself only one SkyMiles awards in the last three years, and the big reasons is that one way awards are often most convenient for my travel style. In 2015, I expect to book myself several SkyMiles awards, possibly to South America, Europe, Asia, and New Zealand.

Here are the five partners I am most excited to book one way:

1. Virgin Australia to Australia or New Zealand

50k SkyMiles in economy or 80k miles in flat bed Business Class

Virgin Australia has the best Business Class award space to Australia with connections to New Zealand of any airline. It’s not even close.

  • Qantas hardly releases any premium cabin award space to American Airlines
  • Air New Zealand gives United none
  • United and Air Canada release some premium cabin space bookable with United miles, but far less than Virgin Australia

When I’m flying 16 hours, a flat bed is most welcome, and Virgin Australia Business Class features very comfortable flat beds.

Unfortunately for those who don’t read MileValue, and fortunately for those who do, Delta has stopped displaying Virgin Australia award space on delta.com. Now you can search it like this on virginaustralia.com. This only figures to increase the already widely available award space.

Virgin Australia flies to Brisbane and Sydney from Los Angeles. You can connect in Los Angeles with Alaska Airlines or Delta.

I’m eager to fly one way to Australia, so that I can hop around New Zealand and Southeast Asia before coming home. Soon I can get to Australia for 80k Delta miles one way.

  • What are the rest of the top five partners I’m most excited to fly one way?
  • Flights to Asia, Europe, and South America

Continue reading