It appears Barclay is stepping up it’s game with Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard and it’s new and improved sign-up bonus of 40,000 miles or $440 in travel. If you want to use the 40,000 miles for a “cash back statement credit” it will equal $200 since you get 0.5 in...
You can now activate your Freedom for quarter 3 5% categories. Chase has announced that from July 1st thru September 30th, they will be offering 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent at gas stations, theme parks, and Kohl’s® when you use your Chase Freedom card. Last week, Chase announced the Freedom’s 5% cash back (or 5x...
Happy Monday, Noobs. Today, I have a special treat to help beat the work week blues. Check out this sweet confessional video by Noob reader Chase, a musician from Austin, TX, and see how he is traveling the world Noob style- for pennies. Chase has, as he said, entered the “Noob Zone” and is balling out of control with...
Last week was crazy! Jordan and I got back in town from a quick trip and dove head first into packing and MOVING. Yeah, never fun, but at least it’s over now. So in case your week was crazy like ours, here’s a news recap from last week…
Citi AAdvantage Reduced Mileage Awards
I’ve written in the past about taking advantage of the quarterly Reduced Mileage (domestic) awards on American Airlines if you hold a Citi AAdvantage rewards card. Recently though, I’ve been using British Airways Avios (for short hauls on American Airlines) and my Southwest Companion Pass, so I haven’t been taking advantage of any of the Citi AAdvantage Reduced Mileage awards.
That may change. Citi and American airlines announced some recent changes to the Reduced Mileage awards. Participating cities now change monthly instead of quarterly, and you can now book one-way Reduced Mileage Awards! That’s as smooth as a Danny Green jump shot.
A Reduced Mileage Award in economy is 8,750 one-way or 17,500 round-trip. Not too shabby, depending on the routing. If it’s First Class you’re desiring, then it’s 21,500 one-way or 42,500 for a round-trip ticket.
The Citi® Platinum Select® / AAdvantage® World MasterCard® currently has a sign-up bonus of 40,000, which is more than enough for two Reduced Mileage awards (and don’t forget that you will get 10% of your booking back).
To make a Reduced Mileage Award booking, you need to call American Airlines at 1-800-882-8880. Also, there’s a $35 fee to book over the phone, but you can always ask them to waive it. I have been lucky before by being polite during the phone call and then asking at the end for the fee to be waived since the award isn’t bookable online.
This is a good option for longer haul domestic award flights, especially now that you can book one-ways.
Increased Sign-up Bonus on the Ink Cards
If you missed it yesterday, and you may have since it was Father’s Day and a Sunday – Chase has increased the sign-up bonus to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points on the Ink Bold® Business Card & Ink Plus® Business Card!
You must spend $5,000 in 3 months to receive the bonus and you must apply June 16th – June 22, 2013.
The standard 50,000 sign-up bonus on the Ink Plus and Bold was already one of the best deals around, so this makes me happy. I love my Ink business cards, and whenever I have a new venture, it’s the first card I apply for to separate spending for that business.
You don’t have to have an incorporated business to apply for a business card – I have found Chase to be willing to work with start-ups and sole proprietors. Here are a couple more of my helpful posts on the Ink business rewards cards.
We all know that I’m a proud Austinite, so I was pumped to see the registration for the Austin MegaDo go live. The event will be Feb. 20-23, 2014. There will be bbq, beer, and fellow rewards travel enthusiasts. What else is there in life?
I hope to see you here! I need to register myself…but the website seems to be temporarily down.
Free Virgin Atlantic Silver Status
View from the Wing wrote about how to get free Virgin Atlantic Silver Status. Could be good for future priority benefits on Delta, or to status match with another airline. Of course, there’s a chance the status won’t stick (ymmv).
50,000 Southwest and United offers
The 50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards cards are back. They seem to always come around every couple of months. Those of you who were waiting, wait no more. You can see see the personal Plus offer here, and the business Plus offer here. Enjoy.
Amol, from Hack My Trip, writes a detailed post on how to see if you’re targeted for a 50,000 United Business card. Basically the same way you can for the personal Explorer that we’ve talked about many times before: log in to your United account, click through the United card ad, and then click on the top right corner where it says “are you a business owner?”.
There have also been reports of getting the same offers at a local Chase branch. May be worth a look.
Activate Q3 Freedom 5x Categories
You can now activate your Chase Freedom® Visa for quarter 3 5x categories. The categories for Q3 are gas stations (yes), theme parks, and Kohls.
Activate your Freedom here, and start earning 5% cash back or 5x Ultimate Rewards if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Plus, or Ink Bold you can transfer your Freedom points to. Quarter 3 categories go live July 1 – September 30, 2013.
I think that about covers it. Be well and have a great start to your week!
(Disclaimer: I receive a referral credit for some of the cards mentioned in this post. Thanks for supporting the blog if you decide to apply!)
— Noob MasterRead More
Chase has raised the sign-up bonus on the Ink Bold® Business Card & Ink Plus® Business Card to 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months! That’s good news. You must apply between June 16th – June 22nd.
The increased sign-up bonus on the Ink cards is just a part of Chase’s support of National Small Business Week. I love when big companies help support small businesses. I’ll post more on the other ways Chase is partnering with small businesses in the upcoming week.
In addition to the Bold & Plus increases, the Ink Cash® Business Card sign-up bonus is also being raised to $250 cash back, and the Ink Classic is going up to 25,000 points.
I don’t get excited about much, but man – increased sign-up bonuses make me happy. The previous 50,000 sign-up bonus was already one of the best bonuses you could get with a rewards credit card, so this just takes it up another notch.
If you’ve been looking into getting an Ink card, this week is your week. You don’t see 60,000 Ultimate Rewards sign-up bonuses often, if at all, so it’s a good deal to jump on.
That’s all I got for this Sunday afternoon. I’ll be writing more about National Small Business Week this week, so stay tuned. Have a great rest of your weekend and don’t hesitate to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
— Noob MasterRead More
Today is the last day to redeem Axon awards before they increase in price tomorrow, June, 15, 2013.
There are now 10 Hilton categories instead of the 7 before the epic Hilton devaluation. Unfortunately, you aren’t able to book any Axon awards for aspirational properties in the 8, 9, or 10 categories before June 15th. However, you can still book Hilton hotels in categories 5, 6, and 7 at the current Axon level.
Axon awards are for Hilton members who carry an American Express branded Hilton rewards credit card. They are discounted hotel awards for stays of 4 nights.
The current Axon rates are:
- Category 5 – 125,000
- Category 6 – 125,000
- Category 7 – 145,000
The new Axon rates starting June 15th, 2013 are:
- Category 5 – 130,000
- Category 6 – 160,000
- Category 7 – 190,000
- Category 8 – 220,000
- Category 9 – 260,000
- Category 10 – 300,00
That’s quite a hike in prices! You would save 45,000 Hilton HHonors points if you booked an Axon award for a category 7 hotel today. To see a hotels award pricing, check out Hilton’s new search tool. Nifty.
To make an Axon award booking you must call the Diamond line at 1-800-920-5649.
I’m thinking about booking the Conrad category 7 hotel in Bali today to burn some of my Hilton stash. Not the greatest beach, but I’ll make it. Don’t forget to compare the cost of booking the hotel per night since members with Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will now get a free night when they book a Standard Room Reward stay of five or more consecutive nights. Do the math.
It’s a bummer, Axon awards were such a sweet spot for top tier Hilton hotels for such a long time. Now it’s more than double to book a top level Hilton hotel, but at least it’s still relatively easy to earn Hilton points; the two free weekend nights earned from the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card can still be used at new top tier hotels. A small win.
This is just another example of why you should always be earning and burning. Those miles in your accounts aren’t earning interest.
(I receive a referral credit for the Citi Hilton Reserve card. Thank you if you decide to apply through the blog!)
— Noob MasterRead More
I’ve been moving all week, and have no idea what day it is, so Noob contributor, Mark, is going to shed some light on a great deal that broke a couple of days ago. Enjoy.
13,000 Mile Virgin Atlantic One-Way Awards to Europe
One of the most visited continents on the planet is Europe. And if you read this website, there’s a good chance that it’s on your list of places to travel on miles and points.
Using some of America’s loyalty carriers (or their air alliances) to get to Europe is the option most use, since those are the airlines they have points balances in.
However, news broke last week (H/T to Just Another Points Traveler!) of what is possibly the cheapest award from North America to Europe, and that is by flying Virgin Atlantic from JFK (or Newark) to London in economy for 13,000 miles each way plus $98 in taxes and fees on the first leg and ~$273 on the return (ehh). I would rather route through another city on the return. You must book by June 17th.
How to Earn Points in Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club Program
Even if you’ve never flown Virgin Atlantic, there are some easy options available to you that can get you the amount of points you need today. Below, the options:
- The Obvious: Fly Virgin Atlantic
This is the most work, obviously, but if you’ve already been flying Virgin Atlantic, then you may already have the 26,000 miles required for the round trip flight!
- American Express Membership Rewards
This option is great for those that already have a healthy Membership Rewards balance. Transferring at 1:1 in 1,000 mile increments, the Flying Club miles will be posted in your account within 24 to 48 hours, but could be sooner. As recently as November 2012, there was a 35% bonus on all transferred miles between the two programs, so look in the future for promotions. Be on the look out for random one day offers on the American Express PRG, Platinum, or Business Gold cards.
- The Newest Option: Chase Ultimate Rewards Points
Having been added this year, the newest partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards points is Virgin Atlantic, also transferring at a 1:1 ratio from the two programs. An easy way to earn points quickly is by signing up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred®, which gets you 40,000 miles for $3,000 in spend in 3 months. If you already have that card, the Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card, both give you 50,000 miles for $5,000 in spend in 3 months. All cards can have their points funnel into one Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
- Apply for the Virgin Atlantic American Express Credit Card
Edit: this won’t help you for this deal since it expires, June 17th. But it may be worth padding your VA balance for future deals.
The Virgin Atlantic card is issued by Bank of America, you’ll earn 20,000 miles after your first purchase after receiving the card. That’s 6,000 short of a free round trip to Europe (if this deal comes around again)! Plus another 25,000 additional Flying Club bonus miles after you spend at least $2,500 in qualifying purchases
You’ll also receive 15,000 miles each account anniversary, as well as 5,000 miles for each additional card member you add to the account. This card earns 3 miles on every Virgin Atlantic purchase, and 1.5 miles on every other purchase.
How to Find Virgin Atlantic Award Availability
Searching for availability is easy, since the website pulls up a calendar of available dates if the first option you chose is not available.
The website also clearly shows the taxes and fees you will be charged if you book the award flight. For this itinerary, I was able to find exactly what dates were available, and can clearly see the trip will cost me 26,000 miles and $376.20 in taxes and fees for the whole trip. That’s if you decided to go round trip with this deal. I prefer to route back through another city to avoid hefty fees.
The best way for people to fly from the US to London on points and miles right now is through this deal *in economy only* (Business Class and First Class tickets still have the higher fuel surcharges and taxes.) Even with the higher return taxes from London, the miles saved through this offer can be valuable. Even in off-peak time, you’ll have to spend at least 40,000 miles round trip for example: American Airlines from anywhere in the continental US using off-peak economy awards, but with less fees. However, I always try to route back to the States from London through another city to avoid the fees.
While this doesn’t appeal to folks out on the west coast, for the millions that live within easy travel distance to New York City, this deal is a no brainer.
— Noob MasterRead More
- Planning the Trip
- Buenos Aires
To begin our journey to Argentina, we had to get to San Fransisco, since that’s where I found the great deal. I had booked us tickets on United the night before, and it was easy enough to connect both of us through Denver, and selected seats together even though we were on separate reservations.
I used a free category 1-4 night that I had earned through Marriott’s Megabonus promotion (stay 2 times get a free night) to book us the Fairfield Inn San Francisco Airport/Millbrae. I was hoping the full service Marriott near the airport would be available, since I’ve stayed there before, but it is a category 5 and I would much rather use a free night when rates were $189 or above in either hotel. The hotel was a pretty standard Fairfield Inn, and they had a shuttle but we arrived too late and took a cab, which was pretty cheap.
The next morning we had a lovely breakfast with a friend (skipping the free hotel breakfast) and headed to the airport to begin our long journey to Argentina. The first flight to Chicago was pretty uneventful, and once in Chicago we paid a visit to the United Club. If you’ve been in one United Club domestically, you’ve been in them all. Honestly, I can’t even find a picture I’ve taken of one. But here’s a review if you’re interested.
One great thing about the club is they go ahead and pre-clear your immigration so you don’t have to do that at the gate. Next came our 10 hour flight to Sao Paulo. We had seats in the bulkhead, so a nice bit of legroom.
My only beef with bulkhead seats on long-haul flights is the screens in the seat, so you have to contend with that. Overall, a pretty uneventful flight.
Transit in Sao Paolo was strange, since they just sort of pulled us from the stream of people headed toward immigration back into the terminal. We then set out to find the lounges, and tried out the United Club first. It was nice, with a good spread of food and self-serve drinks. It was especially nice since it was almost empty, which was not the case as we prepared to fly home.
Then we tried out the TAM lounge. It was significantly smaller, which surprised me since this is a TAM hub, but there was still plenty of seating, and a decent food/beverage selection, though the United Club actually had the better options of the 2 Star Alliance Lounges.
The TAM Lounge did have 3 computers to use, and a piano! The wifi in the TAM lounge, however, required signing up to receive what looked like marketing emails, while the United Club had free wifi to use.
Overall, it was a good experience at the lounges, and we only had a short 2.5 hour flight to Buenos Aires. We got loaded on one of the people mover buses to a remote stand to board our A320. The plane was older, but still relatively nice, and about what you’d expect on a short flight in economy. They did this weird thing where they fumigated the plane with what apparently is an insecticide, just to make sure no critters followed us from Brazil to Argentina.
It was a pretty comfortable ride (notice they provided pillows and blankets for a 2.5 hour flight!), and we got through Argentine customs with no problems. Overall we had a good experience on the flights, even though we were in economy. It was certainly a lot of flying, but worth it for all the miles we earned!
— Ethan CarterRead More