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.

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?

Continue reading —>

Japan Dreaming: Save 25% on United Saver Awards to Japan

United Airlines is offering a 25 percent discount on award tickets to Japan, just in time for the cherry blossom season and festivals.

This is the bargain of the century!

Round-trip coach tickets for nonstop flights from Washington, DC to Tokyo price out at over $2,000 in April 2014, but can be had 52,500 miles with this sale!

The regular “saver” award price is 70,000 Mileage Plus miles.

What’s more, there is plenty of availability for Dulles International Airport (IAD) in both directions!

Saver Award Space From NRT to IAD
Saver Award Space from IAD to NRT
Saver Award Space From NRT to IAD
Saver Award Space From NRT to IAD

I did not check availability for other departure cities — but the offer is good for travel from the mainland U.S. and Canada.

The offer is valid for coach tickets purchased by April 17, 2014, for travel between April 1 and April 30, 2014.

A sample itinerary I checked priced out to 52,500 miles plus $120.50 in taxes for a roundtrip ticket, or $2,480 in cash.

That means that you could get enough miles for a roundtrip ticket to Japan just by opening a single credit card and meeting the minimum spend requirement.  That’s extraordinary if you think about it!

Here’s the link to the full Terms & Conditions.

How to Get Credit for a Nonrefundable, Non-Changeable Plane Ticket

Shut Up and Give me my MoneyMy daughter was scheduled to go on a school trip to Belize this spring break, but she had to withdraw from the trip due to unforeseen circumstances.

The school had purchased the plane tickets from United Airlines, and they were nonrefundable and non-changable.

$864 down the drain?  Maybe.

We learned that there was a way to partially recover the value of the ticket.

By entering the confirmation code on the United reservations website, it is possible to apply the amount paid toward another ticket.

There are three limitations.

  1. The ticket must be in her name only.
  2. The value must be used within one year of the date of issuance.
  3. You must pay a $200 change fee.

Paradoxically, we would have to spend another $200 to take advantage of the $864 credit.

The same change fee applies whether the price of the new ticket is $150 or $750.

Worth it?  It depends.

Have you had any luck recovering value from a cancelled ticket?

Quick Holiday Giveaway — United Lounge Passes

New York City at Christmastime
New York City at Christmastime

It’s time to spread a little holiday cheer with a quick giveaway contest!

Up for grabs is a pair of United Club Lounge Passes, good now through June 30, 2014.

This contest is easy to enter.    

Just leave a comment below indicating your favorite travel guide.  It can be an independent guide, a series of guides, or even a travelogue.

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We Took the Bait: Chase Bank Dangles $150 or 15,000 Miles

Dangling dollar If you have a reluctant spouse, maybe you can sympathize with this story.  My husband’s Chase United Explorer Card was coming up on its first anniversary.  On this month’s statement, he was hit with the $95 annual fee.

The last time he faced a similar situation, he told the Chase customer service rep that he wanted to cancel his Southwest Rapid Rewards credit card because he no longer flies Southwest.  No, no no!  He should have said that he loves to fly Southwest but was concerned about the $69 annual fee.  Chase was happy to cancel his Southwest credit card.

The fact of the matter is that we do fly Southwest.  When my Rapid Rewards credit card came due for the annual fee, I asked to speak to the retention specialist and was offered an extra 3,000 miles (6,000 total miles) for the $69 annual fee.

So this time, I offered to make the call for my husband.  

Continue reading —>

Part 1: Travel Savings Bonanza for Visa Small Business Card Users

I just stumbled upon the motherlode of travel savings opportunities which I will address in a three-part series of articles.

Part 1: Visa SavingsEdge

Part 2:  Mastercard Easy Savings

Part 3:  Check Inn – CLC Lodging

These three programs for small businesses are the best kept secret in the travel blogosphere. The programs have all been around for years and they are a cinch to use.

The first program, Visa SavingsEdge, discussed in today’s post, is good;  the second program, Mastercard Easy Savings, is even better;  and the third program is great.  Please signup for email notifications of these future articles.  

Visa SavingsEdge

If you are a small business owner and have a Visa business credit card, you may be interested in the Visa SavingsEdge program.

Visa EasySavings Travel Discounts
Visa EasySavings Travel Discounts

With a single registration, you can receive automatic discounts from dozens of vendors.  The savings show up as credits on your monthly statement.  No fuss, no muss.  This is the lazy person’s savings program.

The program is for holders of Visa small business credit cards.  All you have to do is register your card once and the discounts are automatic.

You can check whether your card is eligible on the Visa website.  My Chase United Mileage Plus business card and my Chase Southwest business card are both eligible, and I have heard that the Club Carson Business Card is also eligible.

Continue reading —>

Where to Find First Class Lounge Passes at Bargain Basement Prices

Delta-Skyclub PassIf you are trawling for passes to gain access  to those “swank” airport lounges reserved for the airlines’ best customers, you are in luck!

The big three U.S. airlines sell one-day lounge passes for $50 — a steep price to pay for relaxing in a “club” before your flight.

There are a lot of passes in circulation because several airline credit cards throw in lounge passes as incentives for applications.

Passes for the United Club, the Delta Sky Club, and the American Airlines Admiral Club are readily available on the Ebay auction site.

I checked the prices of “completed listings” on Ebay and found a big price variation depending on the airline club.

Can you guess which club passes command the highest prices on Ebay?

Continue reading —>

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

Continue reading —>

Friday Night is Movie Date Night — Fandango Twofer is offering a great deal for buy one get one free movie tickets.  This deal is really easy:

Iron Man 3 Opens in Theaters Friday May 3
Iron Man 3 Opens in Theaters Friday May 3

1.  Purchase 2 movie tickets to a Friday show with Fandango on a Friday.

2.  Pay with a Visa Signature Card (lots of cards will qualify)

3.  Receive 1 of the tickets free.

The limit is 1 complimentary movie ticket per Visa Signature card purchase, per 30 day period, and is valid through August 19, 2013.

The tickets must be purchased on a Friday for a Friday showing.

If you have 1 Visa Signature card, you could take advantage of this offer up to 4 times before the August 19th deadline.

If you have more than 1 Visa Signature card — you could be eligible for multiple BOGO movie tickets.

For instance, the Chase Freedom card, the Chase United Mileage Plus Explorer Card, and the Chase Southwest Rapid Reward card each would each qualify, as would many other Visa Signature credit cards.

Hey — Iron Man 3 opens in theaters this Friday!  Are you going?

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