Citi Thank You points just got a whole lot more valuable.

Anyone who still has big points balances with the program is certainly rejoicing.

Holders of Citi Thank You Premier, Prestige, and Chairman cards can transfer their points now to:

  • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Etihad Guest
  • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Hilton HHonors

In a followup on the specific transfer partners, I noted the best Thank You signup bonus currently. I’ll highlight it here.

The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card currently has a 50,000 point signup bonus:

  • 20,000 points after $2000 in purchases within the first 3 months
  • 30,000 points after another $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months of the second year as a cardmember
  • Earns 3 points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • First year annual fee waived, $125 after that

This is the best current offer that I know, and a source of transferable points-to-miles from an issuer that didn’t already have those.

As such, one interesting option is transferring points to Singapore Airlines. You can get cards from American Express (Starwood Preferred Guest, Membership Rewards) and Chase (Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, Ink Bold) whose points transfer to Singapore. And now you can build up Singapore miles with points from another issuer.

And those points are really useful for Singapore Airlines flights (much better availability with their miles) and also for US domestic travel (with no fuel surcharges).

Editorial note: I do receive compensation if you apply for cards in this post. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


News and notes from around the interweb:


Historically Virgin Australia has had amazing business class award availability to Australia. That’s been probably the best overall use of Delta Skymiles — searchable online, and without fuel surcharges — since Australia awards and especially during high season are one of the holy grails of mileage redemption.

Space has been cyclical — 4 seats every day, then nothing, then wide open again. But will the space come back?

Virgin Australia is cancelling their Los Angeles – Melbourne flight effective right as United starts up theirs.

The North America – Australia and New Zealand route is served without a stopover in Tahiti or Fiji and without transiting Asia by:

  • United
  • Qantas
  • Delta
  • Virgin Australia
  • Air Canada
  • Air New Zealand

New Zealand awards are harder than Australia awards. Air New Zealand used to open up business class space 60 days out quite reliably. Now you will not get Air New Zealand business class awards. Pretty much ever.

Qantas used to fly to New Zealand. They used to fly from San Francisco. They’ve cut back on capacity, even as they’ve added Airbus A380 equipment out of Los Angeles and are adding it to their Dallas route.

Air Canada award space has existed from Vancouver to be sure but it’s not generous. And United is hit or miss, mostly miss.

As tough as it is to get award seats, and with a flight long enough that premium seats do sell, I’d expect that there’s not enough capacity in the market rather than too much despite having all of these competitors.

Still, Virgin Australia is a fast-growing entity in Australia but the least well known in the US market (despite a partnership with Delta, and competing with Delta to Sydney at the same time). Serving three routes from Los Angeles made them a large player.

Sydney is a bread and butter route. Brisbane is a shorter flight, and better for many connections as a result. Melbourne is too far south for most connections, and now facing competition from bigger players in the Los Angeles market Qantas and United.

It makes sense. The sheer number of award seats on Virgin Australia suggests they aren’t selling enough of their seats, some retrenchment was probably inevitable.

But with fewer seats, there could be fewer awards in our future. And the single best way to get from the US to Australia on points without transiting Asia could become far less reliable.


PointsHound now lets you choose to earn points or rebates for the hotel bookings you make for yourself or others in 18 different currencies.

You can do bitcoin if you wish, basically just earning in a foreign currency.

Or you can earn miles with a bunch of different programs. The newest options are Cathay Pacific’s AsiaMiles and JetBlue’s TrueBlue.

I find the best rates of return to be Alaska miles and American miles (I generally choose to accrue with Alaska).

You can sign up without a bonus, or the standard offer for being referred by an existing PointsHound user is 250 points each with your first booking.

My referral link, though, ups that bonus to 1000 miles.

My favorite things about PointsHound have been:

  • That you earn miles when booking for someone else
  • That they have ‘DoubleUp’ rates that earn miles through them, hotel points through the chain you’re staying with, and credit towards elite status.

However technical problems have paused the availability of these DoubleUp rates.

Nonetheless, I’ve tended to find PointsHound more personally useful than their major competitor Rocketmiles.

Rocketmiles has offered more miles much of the time (and I used to think it was an advantage that Rocketmiles let you earn United miles, but I no longer do). But Rocketmiles has far fewer hotels to choose from. And worth noting that PointsHound earning has increased.

Always check rates on the mileage rebate sites with the best rates you can get elsewhere. It’s often the same, sometimes more, and I’ve even seen hotels for much less with PointsHound. So your mileage may vary and know that the prices can deviate.

Still, booking hotels especially for others who aren’t concerned with loyalty programs, I love being rebates points for doing the favor..


I know, I know, it’s a good idea to refill the gas tank before returning the vehicle.

  • But what if you have a 6am flight? You didn’t fill up the night before, aren’t sure whether gas stations will be open and you overslept anyway…
  • And sometimes it isn’t worth refilling on your own anyway. Gas stations around the airport may be priced exorbitantly high, and rental companies may charge less than you realize to refill for you.

I find that National Car Rental usually wants about $5.65 a gallon or so from me to top off a tank if I don’t do it myself. That’s not cheap, but when I’m cutting it close and I haven’t driven a lot I can justify that.

But it’s a mistake to assume all rental car companies are the same. As I just learned.

Take that 6am flight and the car rental company is Budget. I got a receipt from them and learn that I was charged $77.01 to refill a tank on a Ford Fusion that was returned more than half full. Surely that was a mistake. So I contacted them.

Here’s their reply (emphasis mine):

Dear Mr. Leff,

Thank you for contacting the E-mail Customer Service team.

I am very sorry you were not advised of the cost associated with refueling our vehicle if not done prior to check in. Any time a customer returns the vehicle with less fuel than when it was rented, a refueling service charge is imposed; this service charge does not necessarily reflect current retail gas prices. This fee compensates Budget for the refueling service performed by Budget personnel in preparing the vehicle for the next rental.

The Ford Fusion holds 16.5 gallons and you were charged for 7.866GALS at $9.79 per gallon.

Our records show you were charged correctly, therefore, no adjustment is warranted.

Wow. $9.79 a gallon. That’s 73% more than I’m used. Not that I like the price I’m used to seeing, but in this case it was definitely worth it.

That’ll teach me to decide to rent from Budget when I think they’re cheaper, since for this particular trip they absolutely weren’t.


North Korea plans to build an underwater hotel. (HT: Thomask on Milepoint)

North Korean authorities have announced an expansive development project for the east coast city of Wonsan that will include the construction of an underwater hotel, a Pyongyang Times article said last Tuesday.

The ambitious plan, which focuses on the construction and development of infrastructure and buildings primarily related to the leisure sector, will see Wonsan become a “tourist city,” the Pyongyang Times said.

“Underwater hotel, flower park, international meeting hall, exhibition and exposition hall, stadium and development areas will be built on the Kalma Peninsula,” the article said, adding that “towers and other modern-style buildings” would be constructed in “large numbers” in downtown area.

…“We have confirmed with our local partners in Pyongyang that there are indeed plans to build an underwater hotel in Wonsan,” Lee said, adding that “local authorities are now in discussions on how to build the hotel”.

And in order to visit the hotel, they need an airport.

Despite the fact that tourists from Wonsan’s two closest neighbors – Japan and South Korea – are unable to currently visit the country, North Korea has already made plans to expand infrastructure in the area to facilitate a hoped influx of investors and tourists.

In 2013 NK News obtained architectural designs from Hong Kong based firm PLT, revealing plans to build a $200 million airport in Wonsan to serve as a major transportation hub for area and the wider Special Tourism Zone.

While Air Koryo’s fare sale didn’t pan out, don’t forget that North Korea — or at least their dictator — does have nice things.

I don’t expect the underwater hotel to open anytime soon. North Korea’s 105 story Ryugyong Hotel is only supposedly ‘close’ to being opened and that project began in the 1980s.

Standard criticism doesn’t seem to go very far, certainly in terms of changing behavior in a country that is among the worst in the world in terms of treatment of its people.

So I’m sympathetic to attempts to mock Kim Jong Un on twitter. And even more sympathetic to be subversive through dance. Towards that end, this is just brilliant:


With Chase eliminating the 7% annual points bonus from their Sapphire Preferred Card after first removing the benefit from their marketing materials, it became easy to speculate when seeing other benefits disappear from the Chase website.

I actually believe that — for me, and folks like me although this depends on spending and travel patterns — that the changes to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are a net positive. The introduction of a primary collision damage for all Sapphire Preferred cardholders is a great benefit. And I think it’s more than fair that existing cardholders keep their 7% annual bonus through all of 2015.

But speculation about change is scary, and also what we do with the lifeblood of miles, points, and travel.

Doctor of Credit tweeted me on Sunday about two Chase products.

It appeared that the Fairmont hotels co-brand Visa had disappeared. Click on the link from the Fairmont site, and you’d get re-directed to the Chase website and not taken to that card.

And the 10% annual points bonus for Chase Freedom Card cardholders who also have a Chase checking account was apparently missing as well.

I reached out to Chase who:

  • Points out to me that the card link on the Fairmont website is again working. So false alarm.
  • The Freedom Card is still included in the Chase Exclusives program, and the annual 10% bonus on points earned is still listed there:

While no guarantees in any case about the future, it looks like these issues from over the weekend were false alarms.

Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


Delta and US Airways have announced the cancellation of flights to Israel following a rocket attack miles from the Tel Aviv airport.

United Airlines currently plans to continue its operations, as does El Al. (Update: United has now cancelled its flights as well.)

Delta’s flight today actually turned around and backtracked to Paris. Via FlightAware:

Delta shows its JFK – Tel Aviv flight 456 cancelled for tomorrow as well.

Norwegian and Korean Air flights were already cancelled.


News and notes from around the interweb:


But you have to sign up to receive text messages from the program.

Here is what you can expect from the Aeroplan Text Message Service

  • No more than 2 or 3 text messages per month.
  • Up-to-the-minute opportunities to earn more miles.
  • Program news and information.
  • If you’re willing to do this, here’s how to sign up.

    You can unsubscribe from text messages after the miles post in 3-4 weeks.

    Last year I called Aeroplan the most devalued program in North America.

    First there was the gutting of their award chart on July 15, 2011. For instance, my favorite award — first class to most of Asia — went from 120,000 miles to 175,000 miles (a 46% increase in one shot). Australia awards went from 75,000 to 80,000 in coach; 100,000 to 135,000 in business (35% increase), and 140,000 to 185,000 in first (32% increase).

    Then the cost of redeeming awards went up hundreds of dollars through the imposition of fuel surcharges on many of their partners effective November 2011.

    And then they increased award prices again. Remember that first class Asia award that two years ago cost 120,000 miles? It now costs 210,000 miles. First class to Australia? 220,000.

    So I guess these days, every mile counts.


    I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. I do not write about all credit cards that are available — instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

    The Citi Thank You Points program — which long ago used to be one of my favorites — breathed some new life into the offering today with the introduction of airline mileage transfer partners.

    Earlier today I listed (7) airlines that you can transfer points to:

    • Cathay Pacific AsiaMiles
    • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
    • Etihad Guest
    • Garuda Indonesia Frequent Flyer
    • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
    • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
    • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus

    Those are the seven listed as partner programs.

    But The Miles Professor points out that the help topic page lists an 8th frequent flyer program you can transfer to: Malaysia Airlines Enrich.

    Is Malaysia a transfer partner or aren’t they? I do not know why the discrepancy.

    Reader Daniel asked earlier for a link to a strong credit card offer for earning Thank You points. The best offer I’m currently aware of is for The Citi ThankYou® Premier Card:

    • 20,000 points after $2000 in purchases within the first 3 months
    • 30,000 points after another $3000 in purchases within the first 3 months of the second year as a cardmember
    • Earns 3 points per dollar on dining and entertainment and 2 points per dollar on airfare and hotels.
    • No foreign transaction fees
    • First year annual fee waived, $125 after that

    Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


    Hilton is offering double points on Monday through Thursday nights, and trip points for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights between August 1 and October 31. Registration is required.

    Because this is Hilton, there will be a ton of hotels that have chosen not to participate. As of now we don’t know which those are.

    In fact, the promotion’s FAQ is still from last year’s version of the offer as I write this. So they aren’t quite ready with this one year, but we know what the next promotion will be.

    This isn’t a huge promotion, it isn’t one that will shift any of my business for sure, but it’s roughly in line with what we’ve seen from other hotel chains of late when rooms are reasonably full and they don’t need to spend big marketing dollars to do that.

    On the other hand, Hilton really should be offering double points now that they charge double points for so many hotel redemptions.


    Two-plus years ago there was much speculation about Citi introduces points transfer partners to the Thank You Points program.

    A year and a half ago they introduces transfers to Hilton HHonors. And that was it.

    Now they’ve gone ahead and done it! Read More…

    News and notes from around the interweb:


    Delta miles are great (yes, they really are!) for:

    Last month I highlighted Virgin Australia’s amazing award availability between the U.S. and Australia. Specifically, I showed just how many dates you’d find at least four business class seats on the Los Angeles – Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne routes.

    Sadly wide-open availability is no longer the case. Read More…

    In this post I am going to offer some possible insight into what’s going on with Delta Skymiles — award availability, and the future of redemption — based on conversations with several different knowledgeable people regarding the transition to a revenue-based program and the agreements they have in place with their partners.

    None of those people shared the full picture, so it’s possible that this is slightly off but nonetheless I believe it’s at a minimum directionally-correct. Read More…

    I much liked Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. (What a cast! with Bill Murray, Harvey Keitel, F. Murray Abraham, Owen Wilson, and Jeff Goldblum in supporting roles.)

    So, too, apparently did a number of TripAdvisor reviewers. (HT: Jenny F.)

    For an interwar period property, I like complaints such as “No free wifi.”

    TripAdvisor warns that the hotel is unbookable:

    Without the warning this could have become TripAdvisor’s Tuscan Whole Milk.

    One word of caution — milk, even when frozen into a baseball-bat shape, is nigh worthless as a baseball bat, merely shattering into cloudy fragments at the first strike of a baseball.


    Since Avianca’s LifeMiles joined Star Alliance, it has been one of the most lucrative frequent flyer programs in the world.

    They’ve announced a new award chart starting October 15th, and have now released the details of the chart. Are there some great hidden gems? Are the increases bad? Will they change how to play this program? Read More…

    I receive compensation for many links on this blog. You don’t have to use these links, but I am grateful to you if you do. I do not write about all credit cards that are available — instead focusing on miles, points, and cash back (and currencies that can be converted into the same).

    The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has made changes to its benefits effective today.

    I spoke with the Sapphire team and they let me know that it would take some time before the changes all propagated across various websites and other materials, but that the changes are now in effect.

    What Stays the Same

    The core benefits of the card most people are familiar with all remain in place.

    • A signup bonus of 40,000 points after $3000 in purchases within 3 months. Plus another 5000 points for adding a no fee authorized user to the account and making a purchase within 3 months.
    • Double points on travel and dining spend.
    • Points transfer to several loyalty currencies.
      • Airlines: United, British Airways, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Southwest
      • Hotels: Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, IHG Rewards
      • Ground: Amtrak

    • No foreign transaction fees.
    • $0 annual fee the first year, $95 thereafter.

    What Goes Away

    As speculated when Chase pulled the benefit from its marketing materials, Chase is eliminating the 7% annual bonus on points earned in the previous year. New cardholders will no longer receive this benefit.

    For someone who spends $3000 a month on the card, so $36,000 a year, the benefit has been worth ~ 2500 points annually.

    Existing cardholders will receive the 7% bonus on points earned in 2014 and also 2015 (these points are paid out early in the following calendar year). So existing cardholders will still get their 7% bonus posting at the beginning of 2016.

    If you took my advice you have this benefit already locked in for the next year and a half.

    I don’t like to lose this, but do love the amount of notice they’re giving.

    What’s New That We Get

    Effective today, for both new and existing cardholders,

    1. Trip cancellation/trip interruption benefit increases in value from a $5000 maximum payout to a $10,000 maximum.
    2. Rental car collision damage benefit becomes primary.

    I’m really happy about this second item.

    I rent cars frequently so it’s meaningful to me. Most premium cards come with secondary collision, meaning they will pay what your own insurance doesn’t. That usually means they’ll cover your deductible.

    Primary means that if you damage the rental vehicle, if you paid for the rental with your card then the card’s coverage is primary — it comes before any other insurance. In many cases your insurance carrier doesn’t even need to know.

    The only other personal cards I’m aware of which come with this benefit are Diners Club, United Explorer (and legacy Presidential Plus cards), Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa and Chase Palladium. Which other cards am I forgetting?

    Chase Ink Plus Business Card and Chase Ink Bold Business Card offer primary collision damage coverage when renting for business purposes, something not uncommon with small business cards, but the benefit is rare for personal cards.

    Changes: Good or Bad?

    I do really like that they’re changing up meaningful benefits, rather than merely taking away benefits — evaluating how to best spend their marketing dollars on cardmembers.

    Net-net I’d come out ahead with this, but whether the changes are good or bad for you depends on your spend volume on the card and your travel patterns (how much value you’d get out of the improved coverages).

    Take that $36,000 a year in spend and those points are worth and spend those points are worth $40-$50. Based on what rental companies charge for collision damage waivers, you break even renting a car for three days. If you don’t actually buy that coverage now, you don’t value it at the price those companies charge. So let’s say that you certainly come out ahead if you rent cars 10 days a year or more.

    Of course, those who already have the card, get the best of both worlds for awhile.

    Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either.


    I only just signed up for Global Entry in April of last year.

    And yet I just had to update my passport number in my Global Entry profile. I almost forgot to do it, so it seemed like — though this will be obvious to some, and too obscure for others — worth sharing.

    I’ve loved having Global Entry.

    • Re-entering the U.S. is quick and easy. Not only do I skip the immigration queue (which can be quite long arriving at Washington Dulles around 3pm), but also the customs queue too (it gets really long in Miami, since everyone really is smuggling in drugs).
    • I get TSA PreCheck every time. I used to get it most of the time flying American where my elite status flagged me as unlikely to be a threat. But now I get it all the time flying American, and also other airlines since I add my ‘Known Traveler’ number to my reservations.

    It saves time every week. And I got the signup fee rebated with my American Express Platinum card.

    You’d think though that a government system designed to track and analyze you well enough to know you aren’t a threat would know when the government issued a new passport to you. You wouldn’t have to tell the government the passport number it just gave you. But you do.

    • You have to log on to GOES (“Global Online Enrollment System”)

    • You created a username and password when applying for Global Entry. Both of those are, fortunately, recoverable.

    • Choose ‘Update Documents’ on the left hand side of the screen. It actually took me quite awhile to figure out that I didn’t want ‘Change Profile’ or ‘Manage Membership’. That’s where you’re able to change your passport details or your drivers license details as-needed.

    You need to keep your details up to date. And you’re also going to need to re-apply any time within a year of your Global Entry expiring. So you’ll return to the GOES website. That’s the function ‘Manage Membership’ will be used for. They may or may not make you do an interview again.


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    View from the Wing is a project of Miles and Points Consulting, LLC. This site is for entertainment purpose only. The owner of this site is not an investment advisor, financial planner, nor legal or tax professional and articles here are of an opinion and general nature and should not be relied upon for individual circumstances.

    Advertiser Disclosure: Many (but not all) of the credit card offers on the site are from banks from which we receive compensation if you are approved. Compensation does not impact the placement of cards other than in banner advertising (we do not currently control the banner advertising on this blog). We don’t include all US credit card offers available on this site. Instead, I write primarily about cards which earn airline miles, hotel points, and some cash back (or have points that can be converted into the same).

    Editorial Note: The opinions, analyses, and evaluations here are mine and not provided by any bank including (but not limited to) American Express, Chase, Citibank, US Bank, Barclaycard or any other company. They have not reviewed, approved or endorsed what I have to say.