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3Nov/110

TODAY ONLY! HOT OFFER!! 75,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points with New AMEX Business Gold Card signup (and meeting $10,000 spend in 5 months)

Updated November 3, 2011, 4:44pm: This offer is valid today only. Get it before it's gone.

As predicted in my earlier post, sign-up bonuses for Business cards keep getting better. American Express has just released a new limited time promo where they will award you 75,000 AMEX MR points (previous best offer was 50,000 AMEX MR points) when you sign up for their American Express Business Gold Rewards Card and then spend $10,000 or more within the first 5 months after sign-up. The first year fee is waived after which the annual fee is $175 every year. This is a fantastic offer.

All those who have a regular Gold Business Card from American Express can apply for this new one and would still qualify for the bonus. And it is not necessary for applicants to be a registered business owner. Any consumer can apply for this card under "sole proprietorship" and use their own name as business name and put in the SSN for Tax ID.

Word of caution though, Business Cards do not fall under the new Card ACT and thus will not offer the same protection under ACT that personal cards do. I would again say that we will see more banks offering Business cards with hefty sign-up bonuses in the coming months and will not be enforcing strict application reviews at the same time. They have to make money some way after all! As long as you are aware of this and understand the implications and are going to be paying off the balance in full every month, you may want to consider this offer. For most savvy people who like to milk the sign-up bonuses, and who use cards as a mode of payment and not a mode of credit, this offer is golden.

18Sep/110

7,000 SPG points, $185 towards AVIS car rental plus 6-days, 5-night at the Westin Ka‘anapali Ocean Resort Villas for $798

I just received this offer in the mails and find it to be a good deal considering that you get 5 days at their studio villa which normally sells for $299 per day. You also get 7K SPG points which I value at the minimum at ~3 cents a point (thus $210 in value) and $185 for Avis Car Rental. Thus your total for 5 days at this fabulous resort in Kaanapali, Maui comes to under $400.

http://www.westinvacationownership.com/westin-kaanapali-ocean-resort-villas/offer-0286.html

It is a great resort for families with kids as they have lots of activities for them plus a wonderful beach in front. Maui has been one of my favorite destinations ever since I visited the islands several years ago.

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18Sep/110

Transfer AMEX MR Points to DELTA For a 50% Mileage Bonus and 25K Bonus MQM (Free bump to Silver Medallion Status for non-Medallions)

Upto September 30, 2011, those who have never transferred AMEX MRs to Delta Airlines can transfer a single batch of 100K (or more) AMEX MR points to Delta Skymiles account and get 50% bonus (normal transfer is 1:1) and also 25K bonus MQMs. This 25K MQMs will immediately bump up non-medallions to Silver Medallion status (usually takes 24 hours for status to be updated).

Register for the promo using this link:

http://dmn.delta.com/ace_offers/junemr/

Please wait atleast 24 hours after registering before you initiate the transfer of AMEX points to DL. This is because DL's system is known to take 24 hours for tagging registered accounts with this promotion.

Although, DL miles offers some very attractive redemptions on its partners like AF's A380 business class award from IAD, YUL and JFK (availability is great too!). Korean Air also offers some great seats in business from most of the North American hubs like LAX, SFO, ORD, SEA, YYZ, IAD, JFK and ATL. Note that Korean Air has some extensive blackout dates.

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18Sep/110

12 days left to convert American Express Membership Rewards points to Continental OnePass or United Mileage Plus miles

Transferring to Continental Airlines OnePass miles (and thus to United Airlines Mileage Plus miles) will no longer be an option starting October 1, 2011. For those who don't know, you can freely transfer and combine miles between United and Continental Airlines right now using the following link:

http://www.continental.com/web/en-US/apps/onepass/transferMiles/betweenPrograms/signInHome.aspx

After October 1, there will still be some good Star Alliance transfer options in Membership Rewards program, Continental/United offers one-ways awards at half the price which offers a lot of flexibility when the award space is difficult to find on any single carrier or under a single program. Some of the good Star Alliance options include Air Canada's Aeroplan that still remains very competitive after the recent award chart devaluation this past summer and ANA's Mileage Club that offers distance based awards and has some fantastic carriers as its partners like Jet Airways, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic. AMEX MR points to Aeroplan are instantaneous but for transfer ANA, takes 1-2 weeks. Another downside for transfer ANA is, award redemptions carry a heavy fuel surcharge taxes which is applicable to Aeroplan awards too but only if the itinerary has a AC flight in it.

Those who prefer to use one-way awards, CO/UA still is the best option around with fantastic availability and a very powerful award search engine on continental.com. With the exception of a few carriers like SQ, CO's award search engine is really a good tool to search and book awards.

So go ahead and transfer your AMEX MR points to CO before the option goes away.

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18Sep/110

50,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points with New AMEX Business Gold Card signup (and meeting $10,000 spend in 5 months)

American Express has an ongoing limited time promo where they will award you 50,000 AMEX MR points when you sign up for their American Express Business Gold Rewards Card and then spend atleast $10,000 within the first 5 months after sign-up.
Interestingly, they finally are offering a Business Gold Card that earns 3X, 2X and 1X points, just like the Personal Gold Premier Rewards card. Additionally, the first year fee is waived after which the annual fee is $175 every year. This is a fantastic offer. All those who have a regular Gold Business Card from American Express can apply for this new one and would still qualify for the bonus. And it is not necessary for applicants to be a registered business owner. Any consumer can apply for this card under "sole proprietorship" and use their own name as business name and put in the SSN for Tax ID.

Word of caution though, Business Cards do not fall under the new Card ACT and thus will not offer the same protection under ACT that personal cards do. It is because of this reason that we will see more banks offering Business cards with hefty signup bonuses in the coming months and will not be enforcing strict application reviews at the same time. They have to make money some way after all! As long as you are aware of this and understand the implications and are going to be paying off the balance in full every month, you may want to consider this offer. For most savy people who like to milk the signup bonuses, and who use cards as a mode of payment and not a mode of credit, this offer is golden.

http://www262.americanexpress.com/business-credit-cards/business-card-details/american-express-gold-business-card/?revised=new

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7Aug/110

Last Day to apply for Chase Southwest Airlines 50K bonus card

Here is a reminder that today, Sunday 8/7/11 is the last day to apply for Chase Credit Card to get Southwest airlines 50K bonus points. This equates to $833 in airfare within US. It is a good deal if you live in a hub city or travel on a route served by SWA. One of the big advantage of this card since SWA moved to a new reward system is that you can buy any available ticket since the bonus points have specific value. Please note that card does have an annual fee of $99 and awards 6K points for yearly renewal of the card.

Few more advantages of flying with SWA is that it doesn't charge for checked in bags and there is no cancel/change fees (you get a travel credit to be used within one year). Also the airline employees are rated most efficient and friendly.

Link to the card:

http://www9.chasecreditcards.com/southwest/premier/search?CELL=6RRW&MSC=IQ37296646

 

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14May/110

Amex Gold 50K MR and no 1st and 2nd yr fees

A targetted offer of an Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card with 2 years of the annual fee waived and 50,000 bonus points is making circles online. It’s an incredible deal, however it is a targeted promotion for  Columbia Business School 2011 and 2012 graduates. Also people who have an Amex charge card (Platinum, Gold, Premier Rewards, Green or Zync card), are not qualified for the bonus points. Folks on the flyertalk have reported success with this offer. As always take screen shots and call the membership rewards team to confirm the offer after the card is activated. Amex generally has good customer rep service and would allocate you points generously.

If you want to try your luck, here is the link

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28Apr/110

Amex 50K Membership Rewards & Delta transfer bonus

There has been a lot of talk about Amex 50K MR points on the web and someone just pointed us to the direct link for this offer. We always recommend taking screenshot of the offer incase you don't receive promised reward points. One reason this deal has been in news is because of Delta transfer bonus deal which makes it pretty hot in our opinion. https://www304.americanexpress.com/personal-card-application/platinum-charge-card/36900-10-0/0/0/0/n/

Delta  Transfer Bonus Deal:

1. Register for the the Delta 50% transfer (first time transfers only)  DL transfer must be complete by 5/31/11.
2. Apply for the Platinum card. Once approved and when you have the card in
hand, if you have had another Amex card in good standing, you can "borrow or advance" 60K MR points. You do this on the Amex Membership rewards
site.
3. Complete the $1000 minimum spend on the Plat card ASAP and your points (50K) should post a couple weeks after your statement closes.
4. Those points will pay back your "advance or borrow."
5. By applying for this card, you will get 50K MR, which you then transfer to the program of your choice. In addition, you will receive $200 of airline incidental expenses credit (baggage, meals, etc.), lounge access for one year. 6. If you choose the Delta promotion, you will also receive 25,000 MQM also which will give you Delta Silver Elite Status until Feb. 1, 2013 and 75K Delta miles (by signing up for 50% offer in step 1).
7. The application fee for the Platinum Card is $450 and your net cost (if you use the incidental expenses) is $250.

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20Apr/111

My blog…

Our family members, relatives and friends frequently ask for our help when it comes to travel. And we try our best, as the situation permits to help them. We truly enjoy helping them to get the most out of their travel experience, maximizing the value of their miles or $$$. In fact, several of our friends asked us to guide them into this game. In spite of giving them several tips and direct guidance, we think many of them still just don’t get it. So, it is our humble attempt via this blog to guide them to take advantage of the loyalty programs to the best of our ability. If any of you have any questions about anything that we write or if you need clarification about something that we talk about, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment. We try our best to reply to each and every inquiry personally and to the best of knowledge and ability. If you have specific questions outside of the topic that we have written but within this sphere, please don’t hesitate to ask that as well.

Further thoughts… we are going to stick primarily to the world of travel as that is one passion that we truly cherish. All of our endeavours with points and miles are used for travel and only for travel and nothing else. That could be free flights in economy, business or first class, upgrade to business or first class, free hotel rooms, suites or upgrades to better rooms, free car rentals or upgrade to better cars.

With this, let us begin…

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19Apr/110

Aeroplan devalues their Frequent Flyer program, increases the mileage requirements for awards

Loyal Air Canada’s frequent flyer miles users who have enjoyed the generous Aeroplan (Air Canada’s loyalty program) redemption structure will now need to save up on a lot more miles than has been in the past for the popular flight award tickets. Starting this summer, they will need as high as 60% more miles to cash in on free flights to popular travel destinations.

Aeroplan has just released a new award chart with the reduction Aeroplan Award Level Change Table in mileage levels for travel from US49 and Canada (North America or NA henceforth) to a select few regions already in effect from April 15, which is good news. BUT, I should add, there is also an exorbitant increase in mileage requirement to most destinations that applies for all redemptions on or after July 15. And the increase is quiet extraordinary.

Aeroplan says it's boosting the required amount of miles by an average of five per cent starting July 15.  However, based on my analysis (see included table):

  • The average increase is more than 14% if you do not account those 9 awards that
    have reduced mileage requirement after the change.
  • Even if you include those reduced awards, the average is still above 12%.
  • And if you consider only the awards from/to North America, the average increase
    is whopping 20.34%.
  • Even if you include the mileage reductions implemented only for travel from/to North America, the average increase is still 10%.

Generally, the changes to pricing of Air Canada awards are mainly targeting awards to/from North America for which the highest change is massive 46%. Of the 42 different award types offered in this category, 23 have been bumped up, 9 have been lowered and 10 have no change. There are some awards for which the increase isn’t too terrible and should be acceptable to most avid fans. But some awards like the premium cabin long-haul awards are definitely taking a big hit, and the once-attractive First Class long haul awards are no longer as tempting. Aeroplan has been the harshest with their popular premium cabin awards which included travel to Asia, South Pacific, Hawaii and Southern South America.

A small respite, some of the insanely high priced awards that previously existed in Aeroplan’s Star Alliance award chart do go down, but nevertheless they do are not cheap even after reduction in prices. For example:

  • Coach award between NA and Asia 2 (Region south of Singapore, e.g., Bali, a popular
    tourist destination) goes down to 90K miles from 95K miles.
  • Coach award between NA and Middle East and North Africa goes down to 80K from previous level of 105K; Business award goes down to 150K miles to 135K miles.
  • Coach, Business and First awards between NA and Rest of Africa are down to 100K, 150K and 210K from 130K, 185K and 240K respectively.
  • Coach award between NA and India goes down to 100K from 130K. Business award is down to 150K from 185K and First award down to 210K from 240K.

The above listed reduction in mileage levels are not representatives of the larger list by any means. In fact, this is the list. And nearly every other award is going up, while a few remain unchanged like most awards to and from Northern South America with the exception of the one from/to North America.

Award pricing from the US and Canada:

  • Business awards to majority of Asian destinations bumped up to 125K from 100K (this still a reasonably priced award, though previous level of 100K was an exceptional value) and First awards get a monstrous increase of 46%, yes 46%! That one goes up to 175K from 120K (it was a bargain worth going miles for). The levels will be higher than most other Star Alliance carriers or for that matter even most competing programs outside the alliance as well. This is a major heart-breaker for us ardent Aeroplan fans (no longer after July 15).
  • Australia awards, in coach, business and first, will be 80K up from 75K, 135K up from 100K and 185K up from 140K, respectively. (Please review the corresponding table for a better understanding in terms of percentage change.)
  • Business award to Western Europe jumps to 90K from 80K (this still remains an attractive award price), while First award goes up to 125K from 100K (a 25% increase, but still lower than some of the other Star Alliance carriers, this shall be addressed in the next post).
  • Business award Eastern Europe like Greece will be 105K from 100K and First award will go up to 145K from 120K.
  • Another smaller change is in coach award between North American and Mexico that goes up to 40K from previous cost of 35K.
  • Long-haul business award within North America will be 50K miles from the previous 40K. (was an excellent value for those who mainly travelled domestically.)

I immediately called a friend upon knowing these new changes to update him on the changes. The reason being only the previous weekend, I had strongly recommended him to switch from accumulating miles on United to AC and had laid out a strategy to expedite accumulation as well maximize the redemptions. I had planned to provide the same information in my posts but it would now be a futile exercise. Because of these upcoming changes, I no longer recommend Aeroplan as a loyalty program, frequent flyer (or
otherwise as is mostly the case these days with the invasion by credit-earning option). There may still be some good reward values, mainly because of the routing and stopover rules, but the program will never be as loved (and exploited as it once was). The days of round-the-world travel to three destination in First class for 120K miles are over. Though, the opportunity still exists to make the most of your beloved AC miles. I for sure will look to use my hard earned 120K+ WorldPoints motivated purely by the obsession of earning AC miles. I will scurrying before July 15, to maximize the value of my AC miles, hoping to squeeze as many international business or first awards.

It’s been one hell of a run that I expected to end at some point. Luckily, Aeroplan will still continue offering the generous routing rules (two stopovers or a stopover and an open jaw). The day that goes away will mark the death of a fantastic frequent flyer program.

The decision to adjust the mileage requirements should help lower the bloating costs of rewards in recent years, primarily because of some exceptional value offered by their popular awards. Airlines have also felt the pinch from the rising gas prices in the last few months, eventually driving up the seat cost for each airline and hurtin g their revenues.

Aeroplan continues to offer flight rewards that are still amongst the best value in the industry because of its generous (read lax) routing rules and stopover/open jaw rules. This change now brings Aerplan’s mileage levels more in-sync with other mileage levels for North American star alliance carriers’ programs. For the next post, I will offer some analysis and comparison of Aeroplan’s pre-change and post-change award table with one or more of the other North American carriers.

In next few posts, I will also discuss how to maximize the returns on your AC miles, but you will have to jump on the ship before July 15 when the new increased levels come into effect.

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20Mar/110

Welcome!

Please let us welcome you to our blog where you will find ways to accumulate award miles/points and tips on how to travel world on a small budget. Please start with the post on credit score before you go this route. If you are a pro, dive into any section of our blog.

If you find information useful, feel free to leave a comment and share the word about our blog!

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