Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Best Credit Card Miles Promotions Currently Out There

Credit cards are by far the most lucrative source of free miles. And for one reason or another, banks have been upping the ante on the promotional bonus miles quite generously these past 2-3 years. The card that started this mega-bonus trend was the British Airways Chase Visa Signature, who in the winter of 2009 offered 100,000 miles upon spending $1000 within 3 months of approval. A similar BA offer was brought back for a brief couple of weeks just this past April, but has since expired. There are, however, still some great promotions out there. I'll detail 2 of them below:

1) American Airlines Citibank Visa Signature, Citibank American Express, and CitiBusiness Visa - 75,000 miles after spending $1,500 within the first 6 months of cardmembership. Officially this offer expired in February 2011. However, the applications online continue to work, and anecdotal evidence offered virtually every day on FlyerTalk suggests the promotion is very much alive and well (EDIT: it looks like ALL versions of this offer have finally expired - links no longer work). A couple of points to remember about Citibank AA cards however:
  • Sneaky folks out there have realized that although Citibank now only allows one personal card bonus, it is possible to get both the Visa Signature and the American Express card (and both bonuses) in one swoop by applying for them within the same day (preferably applying at the same time, one after another in different browsers). If you apply for one, then wait a few days, and then apply for the other, you will be denied the second time due to not being a "first time customer". The other advantage to doing this is typically the 2 resulting credit pulls will be combined by the credit bureau into 1 pull.
  • If you only applied for 1 personal card above, you can go ahead and apply for the CitiBusiness Visa at any time. The general rule for Citibank is 2 applications every 60 days. You do NOT need to have your own business to apply (just use your name as the business name and your SSN as a sole proprietorship). Some have run into problems as they have received phone calls or letters asking for more proof of the business name and address via utility bills, so if you use your name as the business name, you might have more success.
  • If you applied for 2 personal cards at the same time, then you should definitely wait at least 60 days to apply for the CitiBusiness card. Otherwise you will be denied for "too many applications for credit".
  • For the people who used to churn the AA Citibank cards, you will be be denied for not being a "first time customer". However, if you wait approximately 18 months after your last churn, there is a good chance you may be approved. To be safe however, I would wait about 18 months after you canceled your last AA Citibank card.
  • CitiBusiness cards seem to still be churnable (though with a lot of scrutiny and probably more proof of your business). It is best to wait at least 90 days between CitiBusiness applications.
  • If you applied and did not get instant approval, you can try calling 1-866-606-2961 between the hours of 9:00 am to 9:00 pm EST, Monday - Friday, to check the status.
  • The application pages have absolutely no trace of the promotional offer, but trust that it works (I will most likely post a warning once it actually expires). Just to be safe, when you receive your card, call in to activate and reconfirm the promotion with the customer service representative on the phone.
  • Annual fee of $85 for the personal cards and $75 for the business card is waived for the first year. Just cancel before your anniversary date is up.
  • Credit for all the above information goes to Flyertalk and specifically jcmitchell21's post.
2) Chase Sapphire Preferred Card - 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $3,000 within the first 3 months of cardmembership. The spend threshold is a bit high, but I think it's doable for most people. Plus there are methods to do the spend without actually doing the spend (more on this later). This application is a lot more straightforward, but just a couple of notes about the benefits and the reward points for the card:
  • 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points can be directly cashed out into a $500 check or statement credit. Or if you book through the Chase airfare tool, you can use the 50,000 points to redeem for tickets worth up to $625. Otherwise, the more preferred way of utilizing these points, IMO, would be to take advantage of the 1:1 point transfer ratio and move them over to your United/Continental, British Airways, or Hyatt accounts. There are a number of other ways to redeem your UR points through their website.
  • The annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year, so be sure to cancel before the anniversary date is up.
  • You get a 7% annual bonus on all the UR points you accumulated in one calendar year, regardless of if you have already redeemed them or if they are from the sign-up bonus. Since they total the points at the end of the year (December 31st), you can still get this bonus before your annual fee hits (around May 2012 if you apply now).
  • No foreign exchange or foreign transaction fees when using this card abroad.
  • So far I have not seen an expiration date on this offer, but I'm guessing it won't last more than a few months at most.
I will continue to post new credit card offers as they pop up. And judging from the string of exceptional offers these past few years, I have no doubt more will be coming. With the deals above, you could potentially bank 225,000 AAdvantage miles, and 50,000 UR points in just 6 months. That's more than enough for a first class flight to virtually anywhere in the world and also a couple nights of hotel stays!

Friday, May 27, 2011

30% Off MileSAAver® Awards Within The Continental U.S. And Canada

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the American Airlines AAdvantage program, AA is offering 30% off miles redemptions for award travel within the continental U.S. and Canada. No registration is required.

AA offers one-way awards, so the discounts would apply as follows: 3,750 miles off a 12,500 miles one-way redemption, or 7,500 miles off a 25,000 miles round-trip redemption.

The one hitch is that award reservations must be booked between May 27, 2011 and June 10, 2011, and travel must occur between September 7, 2011 and November 8, 2011. Otherwise, this is a great deal to take advantage of.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

... And Miles To Go Before I Sleep

Welcome to my travel blog!

I've learned quite a bit about frequent flyer miles (and travel in general) these past few of years thanks to the many resources out there on the web and the many kind individuals who have dispensed invaluable advice to me. So I felt like this was a good time to start my own blog documenting some simple and efficient ways for acquiring miles, planning your award travel, and most importantly, enjoying your adventures around the world.

My hope is for this blog to aggregate some of the more rewarding methods of building your miles/points balance, and to inform non-mileage junkies out there on ways to maximize their value. Most of the information I post will be open knowledge and can be found readily on the web if you do some digging, but I believe I can help spread the word, so to speak, on how truly simple it is to vacation for literally pennies on the mile.

In addition, I will be using this blog as a means to document the many upcoming trips I hope to take. It's exciting to realize that I only started traveling about 7 years ago, but I've already experienced so many places that I never imagined I would see, all thanks to miles and points. And what's great is that I've really only hit the tip of the iceberg. In the next few months, I will be adding some in-depth trip reports 
covering my excursions around the world.

Thanks for reading, and I hope this blog will help everyone become a miles junkie!

- glu