Frontier Airlines to Link Washington Dulles with 14 Cities; $39 Intro Fares on Tap

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Jim, Joe, Jay and Gary the Penguins

As a Reston, Virginia local, I was pretty psyched about the news this week that Frontier Airlines will be flying a regular schedule of flights to 14 popular destinations out of Dulles International Airport (IAD) near Washington, DC.

Grab Introductory Fares on Frontier Airlines Now!

Frontier is a low-cost airline and they capped their announcement with a 12 hour sale with fares as low as $15 one way!  I didn’t get in on the sale — I heard the website was pretty overwhelmed — but there is still a chance for introductory fares as low as $39 if you buy your tickets by May 17, 2014. 

Beginning August 19, 2014, Frontier will offer nonstop service to:

Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Foxy the Fox
  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte, NC
  • Orlando, FL
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul
  • Tampa, FL

Beginning September 8, 2014, Frontier will begin nonstop service to:

  • Chicago-O’Hare
  • Cincinnati
  • Detroit
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • Las Vegas
  • Memphis, TN
  • Fort Myers, FL
  • St. Louis
  • St. Augustine/Jacksonville, FL
Frontier Airlines Credit Card
Buddy the Badger

Frontier’s  service from Washington-Dulles will operate on 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft.

Cranky Flyer has a great analysis today about the tortured history of low cost airlines at Dulles Airport and it’s not a pretty story.  Hopefully, Frontier’s entry into this market will create some price competition.

Frontier Credit Card Sign Up Good for Two Free Round Trips

Frontier Airlines has a pretty generous standard award chart, with 20,000 miles required for a roundtrip for travel within the U.S., including Alaska.  The Frontier Airlines World MasterCard® offers a sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles after spending $500 in the first 90 days.

So the current credit card offer is good for two round trips, and then some.  That’s because you can travel with a companion for just 15,000 per round trip.

That’s a pretty generous bonus for a very low spend requirement!

There is a $69 annual fee which is not waived in the first year.  Note that Barclay’s advertises this offer as a 50,000 mile bonus, but that includes the balance transfer provision, which is never a good deal because of the fees charged.

What’s more, look at all the cute animals that you can get on your credit card!

Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer
Frontier Airlines Credit Card Offer

Here are the specifics:

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Mexico in May, Maybe?

Roundtrip to Mexico City for 28K Miles
Roundtrip to Mexico City for 28K Miles

United Airlines has announced a 20 percent off sale on “saver” award tickets to Mexico City.  Tickets must be purchased by April 29, 2014, for travel in May 2014.

Roundtrip saver awards between the U.S. (excluding Hawaii and Guam) or Canada and Mexico City, Mexico normally cost 35,000 miles.  For the month of May 2014, the price is 28,000 Mileage Plus miles, plus taxes and fees.

There was plenty of saver award availability when I checked flights from and to IAD.

Here’s the link to the full terms and conditions.

50K Frequent Flyer Miles x 2

Free FICO Credit Score from Barclaycard Arrival
Free FICO Credit Score from Barclaycard Arrival

My favorite feature of the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® is free access to my  credit score every quarter.

If you are opening a lot of credit cards to earn points and miles, you definitely need to stay on top of the impact on your credit score.

Barclay’s offers free access to the real FICO score from Transunion.  You are also eligible for a free FICO credit score from Barclay’s if you have the The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®.  

This benefit has been available for the past six months, so I have been able to watch my score gradually increase over time as I took a break from opening new credit cards.

At first blush, you might think that your credit score would go down from opening a lot of rewards credit cards.  It does.  Your score temporarily drops a few points for each credit inquiry on your credit report.

Components of FICO Credit Score
Components of FICO Credit Score

However, if you pay your bills on time and in full every month (and you should only be in this game if you do) your score could actually increase over time.

That is because an important component of your credit score is credit utilization, or how much of the total credit line is being used.

If your total credit line increases as you open more cards, and the percent of credit utilized decreases, that can have a positive impact on your credit score.

Free FICO Score from Barclaycard Arrival:  My Credit Score Increased Over Time

Free FICO Credit Score from Barclaycard Arrival
Free FICO Credit Score from Barclaycard Arrival

Six months ago, when I first gained access to my official FICO score via Barclaycard, my score was roughly 779.  That is in the excellent range.  (Sorry, I don’t have a screen shot.)

I wanted to give my credit score a rest, so I stopped applying for new credit cards for a while.  As credit inquiries gradually dropped off my report, my score rose to 810 in January 2014.

Three months later, in April 2014, my credit score rose again to 825 out of a maximum score of 850.  This is amazing considering the large number of credit cards I have applied for over the last several years.

Stay Alert for Offers for 50K Frequent Flyer Miles

My “strategy” when I first got into this game was to look for rewards cards that offered 50K bonus miles for new applicants.  First, I applied for the Southwest credit card for 50K, and then the Southwest business card for 50K.  Next I applied for the Delta card for 50K, and then the Delta business card for another 50K.  After that I applied for the United card for 50K, and the United business card for 50K.

I am self-employed so I am eligible for small business credit cards because of my environmental consulting business.

I got a lot of free flights from these airlines!

Actually though, I think a consolidation strategy makes more sense for a lot of people, especially leisure, budget travelers.

Nevertheless, I didn’t follow my own advice, and last summer I applied for the American Airlines AAdvantage credit card for 50K bonus miles.

With my credit score now well above 800, I was now ready to consider applying for additional travel rewards credit cards.  So this weekend, I applied for the American Airlines AAdvantage business credit card for 50K bonus points.  This card has a $3,000 spend requirement in the first three months to get the bonus, and it has a $95 annual fee that is waived the first year.  There are other offers out there for “Executive” versions of the AA card, but they had higher spend requirements than I was comfortable with.

Eyeing the Barclaycard Arrival

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Why Diversification in Frequent Flyer Programs is a Bad Idea for Budget Travelers

Frequent Flyer ProgramsIt seems obvious to the casual observer.

Diversification is a good idea in the stock market, but it is a bad idea as far as frequent flyer programs go.

In order to maximize award travel, you need to concentrate your earning strategy on one or maybe two frequent flyer programs.

Miles and points have no value if they are not used.  Zilch.  So there is little value in gathering a few miles here and a few miles there unless you will have enough to redeem for an award ticket or hotel room.

Miles and Points Programs Are Loyalty Programs

Frequent flyer and hotel programs are loyalty programs so it stands to reason that they reward loyalty.  If you spread your spending around, the less likely you are to accrue enough points in any one program to redeem an award, or to benefit from elite status.  Now I am not one for elite status, but if you are doing a lot of traveling, and can arrange your travel to concentrate on a particular airline or hotel chain, you may accelerate your points earning as you move up the loyalty program ladder.

35,000 Miles Won’t Get Me Where I Want to Go

Let me give an example.  Last year, I opened a The US Airways Premier World MasterCard® for a bonus of 35K miles.  I thought this was a great deal because the miles were awarded after making my first purchase — there was no minimum spend requirement.  Free miles, I thought.  (The offer now is for $30K miles after your first purchase, with an annual fee of $89.)

US Airways fit into our family’s travel plans, because they had a lot of flights from Washington National (DCA) to Hartford (BDL).  The US Airways card came with two $99 companion passes, so I thought it would be a good way for our family of three to save on travel expenses.  Furthermore, it allowed award redemptions for 5,000 fewer points. (Economy awards on US Airways normally cost 25K miles, but if you have The US Airways Premier World MasterCard®, they cost only 20K miles.)

When it came time to book our travel, there was ready award availability at the “economy” level for flights from DC to Hartford.

So what’s the problem?

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ANA Mileage Club Offers Discounts at Sushi Restaurants

Discounts on SushiIf you love sushi as much as I do, you may be interested in netting a discount at some of the best Japanese restaurants in the Washington, DC area.

The discounts are small — 5 to 10 percent off — but the effort required is minimal.

What’s more, if your plans call for travel to Los Angeles, Honolulu, Seattle, San Francisco, Chicago, or New York — you may find some worthwhile discounts on sushi there as well.

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How I Saved $1200 on a Roundtrip Ticket

Last week, I needed to book a roundtrip flight from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Washington, DC (IAD) in a big hurry and airfares were through the roof:  $1297 on United Airlines to be precise.

No way, Jose!  Instead, I purchased the “economy” class ticket for 37,500 United Mileage Plus miles, a $7.50 fee, and a $75 close-in booking charge.

I “earned” the miles by opening a United Mileage Plus credit card with Chase Bank, by   accumulating some frequent flyer miles from a few long-distance flights.

Dulles International Airport Image by Metropolitan Washington  Airport Authority
Dulles International Airport
Image by Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority

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When a Delta Skymile is Worth Exactly One Cent

Have you ever been frustrated when trying to book an award ticket using frequent flyer miles?

I was arranging a trip home for our daughter on short notice. We were bound by school schedules and had very little leeway in terms of flight choices.  Delta Airlines offered a nonstop flight with departures and arrivals within our time constraints.

Delta Air Lines Sign
Delta Air Lines Sign at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Photo by Mav via Wikimedia Commons

The flights we wanted to book were showing availability on Delta, but there were no award seats available.  Sound familiar?

The award seats that were showing up for connecting flights would entail adding several hours of travel time; in other words, the more attractive routings were not offered  as award seats.

For some unknown reason, the nonstop flights on this route are less expensive than the flights involving plane changes.  The flight in question was priced at $653 roundtrip.  My husband had 60,000 miles in his Skymiles account, which he had obtained by opening an Amex Skymiles Credit Card through a targeted offer.

 What to do?  

We noticed an interesting feature on the Delta reservations website:  Pay with Miles.  Pay with Miles is a feature available only to Delta Skymile credit card holders.

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Eight Reasons Why I Stopped Applying for Travel Rewards Credit Cards

I am stepping off the credit card application merry-go-round — for the time being.

Here are 8 reasons why:

1.  I am still holding unspent gift cards.  I acquired a number of gift cards to meet the  minimum spend requirements for the Chase Ink Plus rewards credit card  I opened last year.  These include  ITunes, Starbucks, Amazon, and  Trader Joes gift cards.  I have about $500 of credits on these various cards that I want to spend down before incurring another minimum spend requirement.

2. I need to give my credit score a break.  My credit score took a hit from numerous credit inquiries and from lowering the average age of my accounts.  A hiatus from credit card applications will allow my accounts to mature and give my credit rating a chance to recover.

3.  I can meet my immediate travel needs with points/miles already in hand.  My family has lots of travel planned for this summer, but with 180,000 points/miles in the bank, I should be able to finance about half a dozen cross-country flights.  At a recent Frequent Flyer University conference, the advice from the experts was to use your miles to protect against program devaluations.

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The Airlines: Then and Now

The print edition of the today’s Washington Post has a great full page spread of infographics comparing  the airline industry of today to the days before deregulation in 1978.

Airplane
© Goehrum Christian, Dreamstime Stock Photos

Frequent flyer programs emerging since deregulation generate customer loyalty among hundreds of millions of people, reports Dwuan D. June.

“There are trillions of miles out there — 85 percent of which have never been redeemed,” according to Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst cited in the article.

This statistic demonstrates the potentially large cost that airlines are carrying on their books, if consumers can figure out clever ways to leverage their miles.

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