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TRAVEL: Points, Miles, Discounts, Tips, Advice & Questions

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On 3/28/2018 at 7:23 AM, G650 said:

The limit is 27000 for free transfers I've discovered. I am sending some to someone else later if I can figure it all out. You are more than welcome to some. I think the limit is 6 people I can give to.

I will take some

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Looks like I have maxed out what I'm allowed fellas. After the calendar year I can give away another round of freebies.

 

Everyone who I've signed up so far will see theirs last week of the month.

Edited by G650

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We just did DFW-Doha-Amman and return for $133 each in business on Qatar using AA miles (business/first). It took some doing on the phone with Qatar/AA, but worth it.

Always check the schedules of partners, because often you can redeem points from your airline on partners’ metal. Aside from the fact that AA doesn’t have this route, the Qatar customer experience was incredible. The First Class lounge in Doha was unbelievable.

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Just a shout out to AMEX Platinum.  Totally worth carrying.   Just used their free 24/7 roadside service to tow my truck, free of charge.  Bad fuel pump.  Yeah its $550 but its paid for itself and that's not even including the value of the 60,000 bonus points.  $200 a year in uber credits, $200/yr in airline credits and I'll easily eat and drink $150 worth at the amex clubs.

Edited by midtown

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1 hour ago, midtown said:

Just a shout out to AMEX Platinum.  Totally worth carrying.   Just used their free 24/7 roadside service to tow my truck, free of charge.  Bad fuel pump.  Yeah its $550 but its paid for itself and that's not even including the value of the 60,000 bonus points.  $200 a year in uber credits, $200/yr in airline credits and I'll easily eat and drink $150 worth at the amex clubs.

I’m considering this card but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It has great perks beyond the points, as you said. I fly out of LGA and DFW enough to enjoy the lounge benefit too. But, I think I’m in the Chase 5/24 penalty box for a few more months. So I need to let that expire first. The AMEX travel partners aren’t that exciting for me. 

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Why not grab the AE Plat now, get the 60k and then add one of the Chase Cards once you are out of the 5/24?  There was a good write up on how you could get 300k pts with amex with business and personal cards.   And FYI the Amex delta is still at 70k.   That comes with a domestic companion pass after your one year anniv. 


You also get access to the Delta lounges when flying Delta.  That plus the priority pass gives you a shit ton of lounges. 

 

Amex does transfer to Avios so I plan to use the points GS is giving me, transferring some Amex pts and using those to go to London  Scotland this fall.

Edited by midtown

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The AE Plat would count against the 5/24 and reset that clock. Get out of 5/24, open the new Chase account he is wanting, and then get the AE Plat.

Edited by skipperj

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On 3/28/2018 at 5:23 AM, G650 said:

The limit is 27000 for free transfers I've discovered. I am sending some to someone else later if I can figure it all out. You are more than welcome to some. I think the limit is 6 people I can give to.

Man, I'd be down if there are any left. 

Thanks for the consideration 

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The AE Plat would count against the 5/24 and reset that clock. Get out of 5/24, open the new Chase account he is wanting, and then get the AE Plat.
Did not know that it counts

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk

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We have the Southwest Airlines VISA card and that's the only card we use for purchases.  So we have a ton of points.

Is there a rule of thumb for when you should use your points on a flight vs paying outright?  

I was looking at a flight from Austin to Fort Lauderdale and it's $164 or 10,868 points.  I'm trying to wrap my head around if that is a good time to use my points (in terms of $ per point) or if I just pay for it outright?  Thoughts?

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Southwest is one of the easy ones since points are directly tied to the fare rather than the distance or a fixed price chart. There is no bad redemption. I’ve flown the LGA-DAL route on points dozens of times. The only reason I’d purchase airfare is if it was cheap, like a $49 sale, and I wanted to hoard the points for another time. Otherwise, cash them in.

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3 hours ago, Spankytoes said:

Southwest is one of the easy ones since points are directly tied to the fare rather than the distance or a fixed price chart. There is no bad redemption. I’ve flown the LGA-DAL route on points dozens of times. The only reason I’d purchase airfare is if it was cheap, like a $49 sale, and I wanted to hoard the points for another time. Otherwise, cash them in.

Great feedback. Thanks!
I noticed that the $ per point varies slightly.  Like 1.50cents per point to 1.75cents per point if you compare the cost of the flight and the points.  I wonder how they run the math there and what the logic is behind why the math isn't some flat #.  Any insight?

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Discovered recently that SPG points transfer 3-1 to Marriott Rewards.  Marriott Reward Points can then be transferred to United Airlines 1pt = 1 mile.  I have 80K SPG pts, that's 240K Marriott Reward pts which, in turn, is 240k United miles.  Sweetness....

Wifey (no pics) and I are headed to Australia next February for a couple of weeks.  Was able to book Air Canada Vancouver to Melbourne (nonstop 16 hrs) in business class for 90K miles each.  Holding out hope United comes through with a 90K business class offer for the return on the United nonstop to IAH from Sydney.

Anyone have any insight on when United opens up and gets more generous with business class mileage deals?

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13 hours ago, RD3 said:

Great feedback. Thanks!
I noticed that the $ per point varies slightly.  Like 1.50cents per point to 1.75cents per point if you compare the cost of the flight and the points.  I wonder how they run the math there and what the logic is behind why the math isn't some flat #.  Any insight?

The $ per point does vary. I haven't completely cracked the code but some of the things that influence it seem to be: Time of booking until departure (Generally more advanced = less points), time of day of flight (early AM and late night flights are less), and number of connections. 

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4 minutes ago, RiceOwl said:

The $ per point does vary. I haven't completely cracked the code but some of the things that influence it seem to be: Time of booking until departure (Generally more advanced = less points), time of day of flight (early AM and late night flights are less), and number of connections. 

It's a $ amount range. If it's between $X - $X then the point output is X. There are probably some sweet spots there, but not enough to make a fuss about it. You may end up overpaying a few hundred points in the mid $100 range. Timing has nothing to do with it. I've booked flights several times the same day or the day before. I've also changed flights in the same manner. That's one great thing about SWA's point system: You only pay the difference in fare by points. I've had several even swaps or even refunds due to point totals. The $ is generally based on the probability of selling out. When it gets closer to the date, it then becomes a capacity control issue to balance out the weight. I do find that the first and last flight are generally the cheapest. (For the aforementioned reasons since they are the least popular)

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On 4/10/2018 at 11:15 AM, Spankytoes said:

It's a $ amount range. If it's between $X - $X then the point output is X. There are probably some sweet spots there, but not enough to make a fuss about it. You may end up overpaying a few hundred points in the mid $100 range. Timing has nothing to do with it. I've booked flights several times the same day or the day before. I've also changed flights in the same manner. That's one great thing about SWA's point system: You only pay the difference in fare by points. I've had several even swaps or even refunds due to point totals. The $ is generally based on the probability of selling out. When it gets closer to the date, it then becomes a capacity control issue to balance out the weight. I do find that the first and last flight are generally the cheapest. (For the aforementioned reasons since they are the least popular)

Thanks man.  This is good info.  

One benefit of using points NOW is if they ever go any direction it will be to water them down. Might as well take that bird in the hand...

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On 4/10/2018 at 9:44 AM, gecko said:

Discovered recently that SPG points transfer 3-1 to Marriott Rewards.  Marriott Reward Points can then be transferred to United Airlines 1pt = 1 mile.  I have 80K SPG pts, that's 240K Marriott Reward pts which, in turn, is 240k United miles.  Sweetness....

Wifey (no pics) and I are headed to Australia next February for a couple of weeks.  Was able to book Air Canada Vancouver to Melbourne (nonstop 16 hrs) in business class for 90K miles each.  Holding out hope United comes through with a 90K business class offer for the return on the United nonstop to IAH from Sydney.

Anyone have any insight on when United opens up and gets more generous with business class mileage deals?

I think you have your conversion rates wrong. SPG does transfer to Marriott at 3:1 but Marriott does not transfer to United 1:1. 240K Marriott Rewards will get you about 110,000 United miles if you transfer directly. Or you can use 270K Marriott points and get a 7 night certificate at a category 1-5 hotel plus 132K United miles with the flights and hotel package.

Just keep checking United website or any of the mile and points blogs and they will definitely publicize any award availability. If you get a chance to use United miles for Air New Zealand business class you can try to get Auckland to Houston nonstop. My wife and I flew Air New Zealand from LAX to Auckland and loved it.

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Details around the SPG and Marriott Program merger: 

https://thepointsguy.com/news/details-unified-marriott-spg-loyalty-program/

  • The new program will have one unified loyalty account with Marriott-style points, meaning SPG points will be converted into the new program at a 1-to-3 ratio. You’ll use this one account to earn and redeem across all three chains — Marriott, SPG and Ritz-Carlton.
  • There’ll be a single new 8-category award chart with bands for standard, peak and off-peak times of the year.
  • Elite status will be streamlined into one system, but you’ll still have the option in 2018 of earning toward status under the current SPG elite system.
  • Airline transfers are staying, with all the old airlines available (plus some new ones) and a transfer ratio of 3 points in the new program to 1 airline mile. And yes, there’s still a transfer bonus.
  • New credit cards will be introduced by both Chase and American Express, including a brand new premium card with fee credits and an annual free night.

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Well I haven’t booked it yet but it would be the KLM Amsterdam to Houston route. My company typically prefers booking KLM because they have an alliance agreement or something like that making it cheaper than the delta codeshare equivalent. 

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4 hours ago, Johnny Chimpo said:

What’s the story with using delta miles to upgrade a flight itinerary that may be booked on KLM or other sky team members. Can you do this? 

No

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Is there any guidance on how often you can apply for bonuses?  I am sure it varies by card, but are there any tips?  For instance, we upgraded to the Chase Sapphire in 2016 for the rewards bonus.  It worked great.  I did the same for the business Ink in 2017.  We also got a couple of Aadvantage Barclays cards last year.  We have closed all the accounts but the Sapphires.   When can we make another run?

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1 hour ago, Johnny Chimpo said:

Well I haven’t booked it yet but it would be the KLM Amsterdam to Houston route. My company typically prefers booking KLM because they have an alliance agreement or something like that making it cheaper than the delta codeshare equivalent. 

 

Spanky summed it up. 

There may be an option to buy up, but I’m guessing that would come out of your own pocket. Your company won’t allow J for TATL? Ouch. 

 

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2 hours ago, DFWTexEx said:

Is there any guidance on how often you can apply for bonuses?  I am sure it varies by card, but are there any tips?  For instance, we upgraded to the Chase Sapphire in 2016 for the rewards bonus.  It worked great.  I did the same for the business Ink in 2017.  We also got a couple of Aadvantage Barclays cards last year.  We have closed all the accounts but the Sapphires.   When can we make another run?

2 years. Just downgrade your Sapphire to a Freedom Unlimited and double-dip your applications for the Reserve and Preferred on the same day of the next week (open two browsers and fill out the applications, hit submit on one and then the other right after).

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Spanky-

Do you have the SPG? If you're at all familiar with the program and the changes, can you say what the best course of action would be with those points? I'm trying to decide if I need to open one in my wife's name before they convert the program over.

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1 hour ago, lonestar3 said:

Spanky-

Do you have the SPG? If you're at all familiar with the program and the changes, can you say what the best course of action would be with those points? I'm trying to decide if I need to open one in my wife's name before they convert the program over.

I am weak on SPG simply because I don't benefit from them. I opened up a personal and biz AMEX card for them back in the day for the sole purpose of converting points into airline miles and closing my accounts. Shortly after, AMEX changed their policy to only allow you to benefit from a bonus once per lifetime. Since I am top tier with Hilton, IHG and Radisson, they never made it into my rotation since I couldn't earn extra points with a credit card. I used to be top tier with Hyatt and Marriott back when obtaining such through a status challenge was easy.  I really liked the Marriott brand. (I assume that SPG will be similar quality) If they would match my status, I would consider switching over. It's hard to give up the lounges, points bonuses and perks with Hilton/Conrad/Waldorf Astoria or Intercontinental/Crowne Plaza/Indigo to start from mid-level. 

Having said that, they have always been the most valuable points since they are so flexible. The point redemptions for SPG are low and they give you a 5,000 mile bonus when you convert 20,000 points into miles on just about every major airline. I am not, however, nearly as impressed with Marriott's reward redemption options. If you are going to quickly burn the points before the transition, I'd say go for it. Letting them convert to Marriott points is probably a waste.

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As a note on the SPG thing, when they switch over in August the SPG point balance gets multiplied by 3 to turn into whatever it is their calling it. So 100k SPG points would become 300k marriott points. Whether that works in anyones favor I can’t say. If that’s worth opening a card now, it would depend on the situation I suppose. 

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9 hours ago, thunderlounge said:

 

Spanky summed it up. 

There may be an option to buy up, but I’m guessing that would come out of your own pocket. Your company won’t allow J for TATL? Ouch. 

 

No my default booking class is business but I work a 28 day on 28 day off rotational schedule and I can take my travel budget and purchase any itinerary I want. Looking at trying to do Atyrau to Houston to Dallas to Bangkok to Atyrau on my travel budget and it looks doable if I drop to economy but I want to fly business 😄. I’ll spend more time fucking with it next time I’m working. I just started days off today. 

 

My travel budget is about 7k just for the record

Edited by Johnny Chimpo
Mikes mom

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24 minutes ago, Johnny Chimpo said:

No my default booking class is business but I work a 28 day on 28 day off rotational schedule and I can take my travel budget and purchase any itinerary I want. Looking at trying to do Atyrau to Houston to Dallas to Bangkok to Atyrau on my travel budget and it looks doable if I drop to economy but I want to fly business 😄. I’ll spend more time fucking with it next time I’m working. I just started days off today. 

 

My travel budget is about 7k just for the record

Ohhhhhh. Now I see how it’s workin out. Makes much more sense.

Nothing coming up through matrix? Maybe adjust the route a little bit? Separate PNR’s? Longhauls on one ticket, domestics on another? Then maybe at least get the longs in J?

A r/t ex-EU to the US shouldn’t eat up much (less than starting here), but the TPAC is going to be a good chunk.

Maybe try through one of the airlines “vacation” sites and book some hotel nights with it? A lot of times you can get air/hotel for the same or less than just the tickets. Delta Vacations usually seems to do pretty good. Found r/t J for a December trip to Europe/UK with an in/out of Brussels with hotel for all nights for $1k less than just the tickets.

Also maybe check some of the stops. Sometimes you can find cheaper trips to a destination that is close, and then get an internal ticket.

 

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Yea I need to look into this a lot more, I really just did a quick google flights check. Those are some good pointers though, I didn’t realize that they have such good deals if you buy a hotel room for a few nights. I need to check that out more in the future. 

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Maybe it’s me, but I prefer the original matrix over google flights. I seem to find better stuff there that gf doesn’t pick up or show. 

Don’t forget to use private browsing mode when searching.

Oh, and if you can get the KLM codeshare on DL metal from AMS to DTW on the A350, it has DL’s new Delta One Suite. Might be worth it for ya.

 

How far out are you looking to book? 

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Spanky,

I want to open a CC that amasses/gets on sign up the most Southwest points rather than my current Citi AA card (I live closer to Love field than DFW). Is there a better time of year that bigger sign-up offers occur over other times of the year? 

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Not really. There's no rhyme or reason to when Southwest ups their bonuses for the card that I've found. There has been some major devaluations with the way you earn towards a Companion Pass lately if that is on your mind: https://thepointsguy.com/news/new-restrictions-southwest-credit-cards/

The top tier bonuses are 60,000 points for the personal and biz card. You can stack other cards, such as the Chase Ink, on that as well since Southwest is a transfer partner. I fly the LGA-DAL flight pretty much every month since our house is closer to Love than DFW as well. But, I mix AA in there from time to time because I would never use Southwest for international travel. 

TPG is pretty good with updating the top cards to get. I'd check that or Google for the cards to see if any promos are going on. 

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Call it a hunch or a wild ass guess, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see southwest offering a large signup bonus soon. 

Brief glimpse of their new marketing:

 

joe+dirt.gif

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I’ve been going down the black hole of maximizing award flights. I came across awardhacker.com which led me to finding some business class deals to Europe for 90k points RT around Christmas. Awardhacker will give you the points by airline for any route so you can figure out how to get the most out your points. 

It requires some work to find dates that work and some creativity depending on where your points are to unlock the awards. For the 90k flights, I’ll have to book through Korean Air - flights are delta. Korean Air is great for me since most of my points are Ultimate Rewards.

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I was hoping for the same thing.

And according to those links from Spanky, towards the end of the year really benefits SW to try to get folks to apply bc they base the Companion on the calendar year.

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We currently have a chase sapphire preferred with my wife as an authorized user and a chase FU. We’ve amassed around 160000 points in 9 months of using (we don’t buy much, surly poor 1%). We don’t have any travel plans for the future but would like to accelerate accumulating and are thinking about planning something for this summer.

Assuming we’re both good on our 5/24, how does referrals and AU work? Is there a way to better optimize what we have without another card?


Should we get the big boi sapphire for one or both of us? It’s my understanding that the UR redemption rate is higher on that card and the annual price can be offset by the extra money there. The $450 annual would only be $150 after the $300 travel credit is used. The reserve offers 1.5 cents per on redemption vs the 1.25 on our preferred. The extra .25 redemption on our current 160k points means $400 value right??


I wish they brought back the 100k sign on. That was nuts.

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29 minutes ago, thunderlounge said:

Why not try both and see which you like better?

Because I only have two hours.  I assume 30-45mins of my total time in the airport will be getting from gate to club and then club to gate for boarding.  Great idea if I had a 4 hour layover.  I also have a lot of extra time at PBI coming back so Ill hit their Delta lounge and but then only an hour back in ATL on the way home. 

 

NVM.  There isn't a Centurion listed on the AMEX site.  Could've sworn there was one there.   The busiest US airport doesn't have a Centurion lounge?  WTF?

Edited by midtown

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32 minutes ago, midtown said:

If I'm in Atlanta and I have a few hours to kill should I hit the centurion lounge or Delta lounge? 

It's like asking if you should have sex with Phoebe Cates now or circa Fast Times.

Centurion.

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As you have found out, no centurion lounge. If those are your options, I assume AMEX Plat? Use your Priority Pass and go to The Club in International terminal. I like it better than Delta’s lounge.

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19 hours ago, deft said:

We currently have a chase sapphire preferred with my wife as an authorized user and a chase FU. We’ve amassed around 160000 points in 9 months of using (we don’t buy much, surly poor 1%). We don’t have any travel plans for the future but would like to accelerate accumulating and are thinking about planning something for this summer.

Assuming we’re both good on our 5/24, how does referrals and AU work? Is there a way to better optimize what we have without another card?


Should we get the big boi sapphire for one or both of us? It’s my understanding that the UR redemption rate is higher on that card and the annual price can be offset by the extra money there. The $450 annual would only be $150 after the $300 travel credit is used. The reserve offers 1.5 cents per on redemption vs the 1.25 on our preferred. The extra .25 redemption on our current 160k points means $400 value right??


I wish they brought back the 100k sign on. That was nuts.

Making your SO an AU is a huge mistake. It will count against the 5/24 rule. If you are not employing the same strategies for your SO as yourself, to the greatest extent possible, you are doing this wrong. You all should have both cards.... use your travel credit, get Global Entry reimbursement Then it’s a 50 fee.

Then Get the ink cards, then the freedom, etc.

Edited by 4th and 5

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Ok so no more AU. Got it. I’ll try getting her an ink using her halfway abandoned Etsy site as a biz next then I guess.

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1 hour ago, deft said:

Ok so no more AU. Got it. I’ll try getting her an ink using her halfway abandoned Etsy site as a biz next then I guess.
 

Have been hearing reports that it's not as easy as it used to be. Chase has been cracking down on getting the EIN and websites for businesses instead of letting you use your social. It's been a while since I tried as nothing has looked appealing that I'm eligible for. Be prepared to call the reconsideration line.

Edited by Spankytoes

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2 hours ago, deft said:

Ok so no more AU. Got it. I’ll try getting her an ink using her halfway abandoned Etsy site as a biz next then I guess.
 

Whether an ink or not, make sure your wife being an AU has dropped off her report if she would be in jeopardy of crossing the 5/24 limit. The best scenario would be she wouldn't be in danger of that, and can still use the boost that your card is giving her.

 

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