Friday, December 30, 2011

Up To 30% Off Alaska Airlines Award Flights

I received an email regarding this offer more than a week ago, but haven't been able to post about it since I've been in New Zealand (apparently free WiFi is not very prevalent here). Alaska Airlines is running a great winter promotion right now, offering up to 30% off the amount of miles needed to book an award ticket. The best part is, even flights to Mexico and Hawaii are included, although the discount is at a lower rate.

The offer is only valid on Alaska Airlines-operated non-stop flights, and can be booked as a one-way or round-trip. West Coast flights are discounted 30% (8,700 miles each way), flights to Mexico are discounted 25% (13,000 each way), and flights to Hawaii are discounted 20% (16,000 miles each way). Award tickets must be purchased between December 20, 2011 and January 10, 2012, and travel is valid between January 8 and March 7, 2012.

Seats appear to be limited, so book soon before they are all gone!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Prepping For New Zealand

I'll be leaving for New Zealand tonight and spending the next two weeks backpacking and roadtripping through the South Island with a few of my old college friends. I'm probably most excited about our 4-day hike on the Milford Track, ending at the world-famous Milford Sound. Well... that, and the fact that I'm flying business class both ways on Air New Zealand! Expect a full trip report with plenty of pictures once I return. Although, judging from my last big trip report, it may take a few months for me to actually complete ;)  Hopefully I'll be able to check in once or twice while I'm in New Zealand.

Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Current Citibank AAdvantage 50,000 Miles Bonus Offers

It's been a long while since I've written about the Citibank AAdvantage credit card, and that's mainly because there just hasn't been very many good offers to write about! Ever since the 75,000 mega-bonus died a slow death months after its supposed expiration date in February 2011, there's hardly been a peep from the good folks at Citibank and American Airlines.

Well, two non-targeted offers seem to have arrived in the last two months, offering a decent 50,000 AAdvantage bonus miles and a range of other benefits after the qualified spend:
  • Earn 50,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within the first 4 months of cardmembership. Also receive a one-time $150 statement credit after the first eligible American Airlines purchase you make within the first 12 months of cardmembership (there is no minimum purchase amount, so you can buy a beer on your next AA flight, and you will still receive the $150 statement credit). Finally, get two Admirals Club one-day passes. The earn rate is 2 miles per dollar spent on all American Airlines purchases within the first 12 months, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases with no date restrictions. The annual fee of $85 is waived for the first year. This offer expires February 29, 2012. Apply here.
  • Earn 50,000 bonus AAdvantage miles after spending $2,500 within the first 4 months of cardmembership. The earn rate is 2 miles per dollar spent on all AA purchases within the first 12 months, and 1 mile per dollar spent on all other purchases with no date restrictions. The annual fee of $85 is waived for the first year. There is no expiration date on this offer, but as always, these things can be pulled at any time. Also, there does not appear to be a personal American Express version of this card like most other offers from Citibank - you can only apply for the personal or business Visa. Apply here. EDIT: This offer has already expired.
I would definitely go for the first offer, as there are quite a few more benefits, and the required spend is only $500 more. However, if you are sure you cannot hit the $3,000 threshold, then the second offer is still a good option. I think in that situation, it might be worthwhile to just purchase $500 in gift cards at a grocery store you would shop at regularly anyways in order to meet the minimum spend.

One quick note: "eligible" American Airlines purchases to qualify for the $150 statement credit do not include car rentals, hotel reservations, American Airlines Vacation packages, purchases of American Airlines AAdvantage miles, duty-free purchases, and AA Cargo products and services.

You can read more about using the 2-browser trick to apply for multiple personal Citibank AAdvantage credit cards at the same time here, but the general rule nowadays is that you are only allowed to apply for a personal card once every 18 months. Some have reported being approved for another card inside the 18-month rule, so YMMV. The business card approval process is on a completely different track, and it appears that you can still do some churning. It is best to wait at least 3 months between business card applications, although even with that precaution, Citibank will sometimes request proof of your business with further documentation, so proceed with caution.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Stay 4 Nights And Earn 5,000 Bonus Points At IHG Hotels

Just received this offer in the email, and it looks to be open to everyone. Simply stay 4 nights between January 1 and March 31, 2012 at any IHG hotel worldwide, and earn 5,000 bonus Priority Club points. You must register prior to completing your 4 nights in order to qualify, and no retroactive points will be awarded for stays prior to registration. Only one room per member per stay will be awarded the applicable bonus points.

To register, go to the generic IHG offer registration page, enter your Priority Club number or email, and then enter the promotion code 2183. This offer is fairly easy since it is awarded by nights, not stays... so there is no need to hotel hop in order to meet the requirement.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Flyertalker Gone Wild?

This story is just so absurd I had to laugh, and repost. It also made me slightly jealous ;)

There is an article in the LA Times about how Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum finance director Ronald Lederkramer charged nearly $270,000 worth of new sound equipment to his personal Chase Visa just so he could earn points. The Coliseum has been undergoing major renovations, and apparently, Lederkramer found a way to put large purchases in installments on his personal credit card rather than issue standard checks from the taxpayer-owned stadium.

While this seems to "violate every procurement policy the city of Los Angeles has in place to protect taxpayers", one does question if it is in fact illegal. Seems to me like he should be fired for what he did, but jail time would probably be a little excessive. That may depend, however, on whether or not he overcharged the city in order to use his personal Visa, or if either way of payment would have resulted in the same cost. What's even more ridiculous is the fact that this wasn't a one-time occurrence either. He had been charging major stadium purchases on his personal Visa for almost 3 years, racking up an additional $114,000 in charges... all while earning a salary of $190,000!

I just hope Lederkramer didn't redeem his points for a pair of first class tickets on United like the article suggests... at least spring for an airline that has first class suites and caviar! ;)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Make Sure Your CitiBusiness Account Is REALLY Closed

I had an interesting thing happen today. When I got home, I noticed a statement letter from a CitiBusiness AAdvantage account I opened December of last year, but closed about 6 months ago. I thought that was a little strange, but I figured it was probably just one of those residual zero-balance statements I get once in a long while on a card I never use. Although I have never received a statement 6 months after closing an account before!

Once I opened it, I was shocked to see a $75 annual fee with the payment due by December 27! Of course, I immediately called up CitiBusiness. I explained to the customer service representative what happened, and after a few minutes of looking through my account, she said she knew exactly what was going on.

For those of you who have opened a CitiBusiness AAdvantage account before (or 5 or 6 ;)), you know that in addition to the 16-digit account number printed on your card, you also get a separate, distinct 16-digit business account number. This is so you can open more credit card accounts for your employees, and all of those individual credit card accounts (in addition to yours) will go under the top-level business account number.

Well apparently, the representative who helped me close my account 6 months ago managed to close my credit card, but failed to close down the entire business account. Hence, I was still being charged the $75 annual fee on my open business account. The representative I spoke to tonight apologized for the oversight, and assured me that the $75 would be credited back to me, and the business account would also be closed for good.

So if you have a CitiBusiness AAdvantage credit card that you closed recently, it doesn't hurt to double check and verify with a representative that both your credit card and your business accounts have been properly closed.

Monday, December 5, 2011

25% Off Virgin America Flight Code

This is a great offer found by Deals We Like! Sponsored by Toms Shoes and, they are running a promotion by giving away 12 roundtrip Virgin America flights, exclusive gifts from Toms, as well as $1,000 in restaurant certificates. However, just by entering (all you need is an email address and zip code), they will give you a 15% off certificate to be used on Virgin America.

The best part is, after you enter, you are taken to the next page, where you will be offered another 25% off code just for inviting 5 friends to enter the promotion. Click submit and the 25% code will automatically appear on the next page.

The only downside is that the dates in which the codes can be used are rather limited. You must book your Virgin America flights between December 15 and December 21, 2011, for travel between January 3 and February 15, 2012. The promo code can only be used for one-way or roundtrip non-stop travel, it cannot be used for multi-city itineraries. Also, it is only valid for non-refundable Main Cabin tickets in the following fare classes: S, L, M, U, E, H, B, or V. Valid for new bookings only. Taxes and fees will apply, of course.

Award "Sale" On Aeroplan

Via View From The Wing and this FlyerTalk thread, Air Canada's Aeroplan appears to be pricing business class awards at the economy level, and first class awards at the business level. It started last Friday December 2, and most people thought it was just an award system glitch, but now there is word that this is in fact a "special promotion" that has been confirmed by people affiliated with Aeroplan. Not sure how accurate this confirmation is, but as of today, it looks like the discount is still on.

I had thought about visiting Toronto next summer, and I am currently still seeing SFO-YYZ business seats going for 25,000 Aeroplan miles roundtrip! Be aware that Aeroplan does tack on fuel surcharges to Air Canada award tickets as well as some partner airlines, which can add up quickly. But if you have been planning an award itinerary for sometime next year, I would take advantage of this massive discount right away. There is no word yet on when this "promotion" will be pulled, but I don't expect it to last more than a few more days, if that.

Remember that American Express Membership Rewards is a transfer partner, and miles are deposited into your Aeroplan account almost immediately. This is a great way to burn some of your MR points, especially since Continental is no longer a partner and British Airways has massively devalued their award chart.

EDIT: Seems like they are gradually fixing the issue. There may still be some business and first class seats at the lower level, but most are back to their normal pricing. Take advantage of this "sale" while you still can!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

American Airlines Cracks Down On AwardWallet

Looks like American Airlines is officially cracking down on AwardWallet. As of December 4, 2011, AwardWallet will no longer be able to access your AA miles balance. I just received an email saying they are testing out a new browser extension that will store your password information with your browser and will access the AA miles balance from your computer instead of their servers. There will be a beta test period, but no word yet on when the beta will be released.

Here's the email: 
"American Airlines has contacted us and stated that we may not access its website on your behalf and that we may not store any of your American Airlines account data on our servers. As a result, in the coming weeks we will release a browser extension which will enable you to check your balance and still display that balance along with the rest of your loyalty account balances; however, the data, such as your username, password, balance and any other attributes will only be stored in your browser so we will never have access to it. Also, this browser extension will be accessing American Airlines website from your computer and not from our servers. Since we do not have this extension ready yet, please save all of your American Airlines accounts and password in a secure place so that you can enter that data when we release the extension."

EDIT: The browser extension has been officially released by AwardWallet and can be downloaded directly from their website. It works seamlessly for me so far, and I see it as a good workaround in case other airlines start following AA's lead.