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. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. 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).


Reader Vinhsynd wanted to know,

What do you think the chances are of Citi ThankYou Rewards adding AAdvantage as a transfer partner?

What are your thoughts on using the Citi Prestige and Barclay AAviator Silver for getting AAdavantage points vs a combination of Citi Executive and Starwood AMEX?

It’s really strange that Citi ThankYou Rewards — now that it offers mileage transfers to a variety of programs — doesn’t allow transfers to AAdvantage. I’m confident that Citi would like to do this, and that they haven’t been able to come to terms with American over it.

I can’t predict whether they will ever be able to come to terms on it, except to say that they haven’t been able to so far so if I were betting I’d say it’s less than 50% likely that they will be able to in the future. American doesn’t seem especially receptive to this.

Citi Prestige is a really strong card. $450 annual fee, but you get a $250 airline credit (and you can use this on airfare).

The signup bonus is 30,000 ThankYou points after $2000 spend within 3 months (I’ve heard of a 60,000 point offer that requires $15,000 spend, available in-branch).

The card earns triple points with airlines, hotels and on spend with travel agencies and double points on dining and entertainment.

It provides American Admirals Club access like Citi Executive does, and also a Priority Pass Select card just like the American Express Platinum does — except the Citi Prestige offers Priority Pass Select with a free guest whereas Amex Platinum’s charges for guests.

It also offers a credit for the $100 Global Entry application fee. This expedites immigration (skip the lines, use a kiosk) and gets you TSA PreCheck as well.

And instead of 1.25 cents per point towards airfare, Citi Prestige gives you 1.33 cents a point — or 1.6 cents if you spend the points on American Airlines travel.

But for now this card won’t help you earn American AAdvantage miles.

You mention three other cards.

Barclays Aviator Silver isn’t something you can apply for. It’s being offered to select US Airways Premier World MasterCard cardholders, though it may be rolled out more broadly.

Citi Executive / AAdvantage is the premium Citi AAdvantage card that offers lounge access.

The strongest earner of American miles for ongoing spending, of course, is the Starwood Preferred Guest Card from American Express. That’s because when you transfer Starwood points into 20,000 miles you get 5000 bonus miles. Effectively you earn 1.25 miles per dollar on all spend when transferring 20,000 mile increments. So it earns faster than the American co-branded cards, gives you the option of transferring points into programs other than American’s, and comes at a lower ($0 the first year, $65 thereafter) price point.

chase freedom credit cardEditorial 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. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.
chase freedom credit card

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. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. 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).


You want a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, and ideally an ATM card that offers that too. Otherwise you’re going to pay a surcharge on all of your transactions, usually 3%.

Personally I want to carry more than one in case a bank shuts me down thinking that my foreign travel is fraud (they should know my patterns better by now).

The basic lessons are:

  • Use a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees. This saves you 3% on all of your foreign purchases.

    The one I like best is the Chase Sapphire Preferred since you not only save the foreign currency conversion fees but also still earn double points on all of your travel (such as airfare, hotel, rental car) and restaurant spending.

  • Do not let merchants convert bills into your home currency. Always pay bills in the local currency. You do not want anyone to convert your bill to your own currency because they will charge you an unfavorable exchange rate to do so. You’re far better off with your bank’s rate than a local merchant’s rate, even if your card tacks on 3%. Besides, even after a merchant converts your bill to US dollars that credit card tacking on 3% is still going to add the 3% because it’s a charge originating outside the United States, regardless of the currency of the transaction.

  • The best way to get cash is from an ATM. That’s true even if your bank doesn’t rebate ‘out of network’ ATM fees, and even if your bank doesn’t waive foreign currency conversion fees. The classic card for waiving these fees comes from Charles Schwab.

  • Some people still notify their card issuers when traveling abroad. Many say this is no longer necessary, and notifying them isn’t a guarantee they won’t see foreign charges as suspicious, so I don’t bother doing it and don’t really have problems (but then foreign charges aren’t really outside my spending patterns so may not raise flags). I like the suggestion to just have more cards from more banks in case any give you a problem, and also to keep at least one card back at the hotel in your room safe.


chase freedom credit cardEditorial 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.
chase freedom credit card

News and notes from around the interweb:

  • For a few days only you can get $100 off top quality luggage while benefiting charity at the same time.
  • For God’s Sake Shut Up About Credit Cards and Airline Miles (HT: Barry P.) The author complains that talk of miles has replaced doing lines of cocaine off of fax machines for investment bankers.

    I’m at lunch with this consultant and this investment banker. One is a brilliant young man who aced his SATs and went to a well-regarded private university, somewhere like Duke, where he led the debate society, and tutored at-risk children, and helped build houses for the poor, and earned a 3.8 grade point average. And the other is just as brilliant, and he went to a college that’s just as prestigious, somewhere like Georgetown, where he ran the economics club, and edited the business school magazine, and volunteered to do taxes for poor people. So you get these two intelligent, clever, visionary young minds together, and what do they sit there discussing? That’s right: the best lounge food at the Tampa airport.

  • Tripmole will help you get compensation for flight delays and cancellations. Just enter your ticket details and it tells you what you’re entitled to.
  • The credit card with a unique feature: it smells like you.
  • Iraqi Airways starting Manchester service next month.
  • The very first Air Force One.

The details of what this passenger did are probably not safe for work.

So before continuing, for those reading the story on the front page of my blog, I’ll require you to… Click to see more…

An Air France A380 stranded passengers in Manchester for nearly 7 hours.

The New York – Paris flight carrying 460 people suffered a 4 hour de-icing delay on departure. As a result of the four hour delay, crew exceeded their maximum flying hours. This was a fact that Air France knew would happen prior to departure through simple math. If no one at the airline was paying attention, the crew themselves were certainly aware. And Manchester was 2 hours past allowable hours, but the final leg to Paris would have apparently been too far over.

The aircraft touched down at 11:30 am (UK time) and that is where it happened. Six and a half hours on the grounded plane with reported no food or water.

Air France had originally told passengers it would send a new crew to fly the plane onto its destination. However, while pre-flight checks were being carried out a technical fault was then discovered in the cabin. The airline then said it would fly three extra planes (two Airbus A318s and an A320) over to collect the passengers, but these relief aircraft took hours to arrive. After being eventually let off the double decker A380, passengers were taken to a waiting room near departures, where they say around 50 burgers were provided.

Eventually 13 passengers who live in the UK, and were connecting home via Paris, were allowed to stay.. including a woman who lives down the road from the Manchester airport, who of course was stuck airside for more than 6 hours.

Lessons:

  • This outcome couldn’t have been better than continuing the short additional distance to Paris.
  • This could have happened to any airline, in fact it does every year or so at least.
  • While the US has tarmac delay rules, those punish airlines for what’s often the fault of weather, airport facilities, and customs and immigration services (in fact, frequently a combination of those when you get these sort of delays).
  • Since these events are recurring there should be learning, rather than just fines to airlines, with better preparedness on the part of airports and immigration.
  • There should be a decent holding area for those that immigration cannot process, an emergency immigration setup, and passengers allowed (at the very least at their own expense) to leave the terminal and seek accommodation elsewhere.
  • 50 hamburgers for more than 450 people after six hours, that’s like Lord of the Flies. I’ve personally catered a full 757 from inside the terminal, a domestic pier with food establishments closing, so I know more than 50 burgers are possible.

In frequent flyer circles, probably the worst possible behavior — worse than anything you see from ‘the kettles’ (Ma and Pa Kettle who fly maybe once a year) or ‘gate lice’ (people who crowd the boarding lanes before their zone is called) are the ‘DYKWIAs’…usually elite passengers who think they’re entitled to whatever it is they want because they are so darned important.

Often the ‘DYKWIA’ declares their elite status, or throws down their elite membership card, along with their tantrum.

It seems that Delta is actually encouraging this, with their elite bag tags this year. They’ve even created a hash tag, #BragTag.

#StayClassy

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. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. 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).


Big news yesterday was about new benefits coming to the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.

Starting June 1 the card will offer a $100 travel credit in addition to no foreign transaction fees and a new bonus category — 2x for dining.

That’s in addition to the current benefits of 3x earning for airfare (purchased directly from airlines) and 2x earning for US grocery stores and US gas stations.

These new benefits and reduced net cost of cardmembership will make it a good tool for many folks.

Several readers reported that there’s a 50,000 point signup bonus offer out there, which is double the usual 25,000 point offer.

It’s targeted, but it’s easy to find out if you’re eligible: the CardMatch Tool has several targeted offers, you enter personal information to be presented with what you’re eligible for.

I was able to find the 50,000 point offer for this card.

I also saw a 30,000 point offer for the Amex Everyday Preferred card.

Both of these offers, retrieved in the early a.m. hours on February 27, are double the usual available offer.

At a minimum it’s worth a quick check of the CardMatch Tool to see what offer shows up for you, and scrolling down the page to make sure you don’t miss the best one. This will not generate a ‘hard pull’ on your credit.


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.

Star Alliance carrier COPA is launching their own frequent flyer program this coming summer and exiting from United’s MileagePlus.

But it appears they’re not the only Star Alliance airline that may leave a coalition program to strike out on their own.

Now it appears that Brussels Airlines may go it alone, apart from Lufthansa’s Miles & More… at least based on this job posting. (HT: Delvind H.)

Brussels Airlines will soon launch an innovative frequent flyer program (FFP). We are building a new loyalty competence centre and are looking for an entrepreneurial team that will successfully drive the development of this program.

I don’t have a sense for what the program will look like, though as a European program I’d bet that it will add fuel surcharges onto the cost of award tickets though I certainly hope those continue to fall.

I certainly like more options — more award chart competition, more airlines that can partner with credit card companies to allow points transfers, more possibility for innovation in award rules and elite benefits.

Here’s How to Book Award Trips Using Star Alliance Partners

News and notes from around the interweb:

As if it’s not enough that Marriott Rewards points will be worth less, Marriott has announced that points will expire after two years of account inactivity.


    These people seem so happy that their points can now expire!

It’s been in the terms and conditions that Marriott points expire for years, as far back as I remember, but they’ve never actually done it.

Now the terms say, “The Rewards Program will start enforcing this policy on February 1, 2016.” Those with lifetime elite status are exempt from this change.

Here are the details:

In fairness, Starwood, Hyatt, and Hilton points will expire after a period of inactivity. IHG Rewards Club points do not.

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. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. 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).


American Express Premier Rewards Gold just announced the addition of a $100 travel credit, double points on dining, and eliminated foreign transaction fees. These new benefits go into effect June 1.

American Express Premier Rewards Gold used to be the best Membership Rewards points-earning card by far. It earns triple points on airfare purchased directly from airlines and double points at US gas stations and at US grocery stores. It carries an annual fee of $0 the first year, then $175.

It always struck me interesting that this was such a stronger points-earning card than the Platinum card (which of course has better benefits like lounge access).

But the fee was too high on the card after the first year to make sense. That became doubly true with the introduction of the Amex Everyday Preferred card which earned a 50% bonus on all spend each month you use it 30 times and with a lower $95 annual fee.

Back in the fall when American Express removed the card’s annual threshold bonus of 15,000 point for $30,000 spend in a yeara, Amex was promising that the card would get new benefits. It took five months, but they’re here and they make Premier Rewards Gold card a much more compelling product.

Now the improvements have been announced.

American Express will give you a $100 travel credit. That means you can effectively make $100 the first year when the annual fee is zero. In my experience American Express travel credits have worked with $100 electronic airline gift cards.

The card will earn double points on dining in addition to triple points on airfare and double points at US gas stations and on groceries.

They’ve eliminated foreign transaction fees

They’ve taken the sting out of the annual fee on the card, and made it a stronger points-earning card than before.

Here are the best uses of American Express Membership Rewards points, which are one of the most valuable currencies since they transfer to a variety of loyalty program currencies (my favorite uses being ANA, Aeroplan, British Airways, Singapore, Delta).

American Express Premier Rewards Gold


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.

There’s a New York Magazine piece suggesting that MH370 was hijacked and flown to Kazakhstan, likely to an air strip leased by Russia.

All it requires to get there is assuming that data suggesting the plane went somewhere else must have been faked, and once you ignore it you can plot a path that could get you there.

One of the commenters on my blog had learned that the compartment on 777s called the electronics-and-equipment bay, or E/E bay, can be accessed via a hatch in the front of the first-class cabin.15 If perpetrators got in there, a long shot, they would have access to equipment that could be used to change the BFO value of its satellite transmissions. They could even take over the flight controls.

Once you learn that “there were three ethnically Russian men aboard MH370″ it’s obvious! But why was it hijacked and taken to Kazakhstan?

Because Vladimir Putin is a really bad guy, and…

Maybe he wanted to demonstrate to the United States, which had imposed the first punitive sanctions on Russia the day before, that he could hurt the West and its allies anywhere in the world. Maybe what he was really after were the secrets of one of the plane’s passengers. Maybe there was something strategically crucial in the hold. Or maybe he wanted the plane to show up unexpectedly somewhere someday, packed with explosives.

Suggesting Putin did it to show he was powerful, while not taking the credit, makes no sense. Besides, nuclear weapons.

And what would he need the plane for, packing it with explosives, because Russia has an air force. And civilian airlines. He could just buy a Boeing 777, or a Tupolov.

Not saying the plane couldn’t be where the article suggests, I think it’s less likely than not, but the Putin stuff is just off the rails.

To suggest it was unclaimed payback for sanctions imposed the day before but that he must have been plotting for months to make it happen with such precision, defies credulity.

MH370 is one of the great mysteries of aviation at this point, which will continue to generate theories and speculation. But seeing posts coming through my Facebook feed suggesting this particular theory is ‘80% likely’… I just don’t believe that level of confidence is warranted, at least without first knowing how the underpants gnomes intend to use the underwear they steal.

Most hotel programs assign individual hotels to ‘categories’ with a fixed number of points required to redeem the hotels in each category. And chains more or less adjust the hotels assigned to each category once a year.

Starwood announced their hotel reward category changes several days ago. About the same number of hotels are getting more expensive as are getting less expensive, with increases concentrated in the U.S.

Hyatt announced their changes in December with more hotels going down in price than going up.

(Hilton of course no longer makes announcements about annual changes, they just post changes to a web page throughout the year. This is in the name of ‘transparency’. Hilton is also an anomaly in that there are huge point ranges for several of the categories, which makes category assignments almost meaningful for those hotels.)

Marriott has posted a .pdf of hotels that are changing reward category. These changes go into effect March 20.

About a third of hotels are going up or down in price. The changes are skewed 3-1 in favor of increases. As a result, more than a quarter of all Marriott hotels will cost more points to redeem.

This has been a long term trend for Marriott.

It’s really quite shocking to see increases of this magnitude again. This isn’t just a one year phenomenon.

Download the .pdf. It isn’t categorized well and it isn’t sortable. But if there’s a property you’re interested in, do a find for it. If it’s going to be getting more expensive in a month, make a reservation now at the lower price.

(HT: One Mile at a Time)

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. American Express, Citibank, Chase, and other banks are advertising partners of this site. 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).


Starwood and Uber announced a new partnership that lets you earn Starpoints for Uber rides.

You earn 1 point per dollar spent; more (based on your status with SPG) when you using Uber on days you’re staying at a Starwood property.

This earning is entirely separate from the points you earn from your credit card for the spend itself. That means you can earn 1 Starpoint per dollar on UBer in addition to, say, 2 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar from paying for Uber with a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The ‘catch’ is that you have to have earned at least 1 stay with Starwood during the year before you’re eligible to earn points for this Uber spend.

At first blush it would seem that just having the Starwood American Express card would suffice for this.

You earn 2 stays and 5 nights from having the Starwood Amex card, no spend on the card required, these stays and nights post automatically at the beginning of each calendar year.

I received stays and nights from both the Starwood American Express and from the small business version of the card as well.

I asked Starwood about this and was told that these nights would not count.

Registered member must have 1 paid stay to start earning Starpoints for Uber rides. Amex stays given at beginning of year will not count as such.

For avoidance of doubt, keying off the mention of ‘1 paid stay’, I asked whether a reward stay will count — and was told that it will.

The following counts for an eligible stay – Standard “Paid Stay” and an Award Stay (which includes Cash and Points). Promotional stays/nights (aka “EQ’s”) are also NOT counted towards Uber….

So there you have it — you have to have a stay using cash or using points (or a combination of the two) during the calendar year before you’re eligible to earn Starpoints for Uber rides.


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.

A couple of days ago I reported that Delta appears to be charging more miles for elites booking economy awards than general members. Logged in elites would see a one-way flight for 17,500 miles that general members would see priced at 12,500 miles.

While there was a great deal of teeth gnashing over this, I did not believe it was intentional. Delta’s narrative is that they want to reward their most profitable customers more than others. Charging more miles for elites sends the exact opposite message.

I don’t doubt that there have been plenty of programming changes to the way Delta prices awards, some of them in the background, and some that may be ready to go live but aren’t yet fully tested. Nonetheless, I don’t think this specific result, where General Members can book a seat for 12,500 miles but elites pay 40% more, is what Delta has in store.

I asked Delta what was going on. And I specifically asked whether – if this was a glitch — they would identify any elites that paid more miles for award tickets as a result of this issue, and whether they would be proactively contacting those members to refund their points.

Here’s Delta’s response:

Quick update for you.

We found the pricing issue, corrected it and are now identifying the impacted accounts to refund the overcharge of miles.

As you noted, this was not an attempt to display higher pricing for medallion members.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have cause

While I give Delta a great deal of criticism for their recent program changes, and their lack of trasnparency around those changes, in this case they appear to be doing the right thing.

It takes a certain kind, the sort of folks who refer to the Target – American Express product REDcard as ‘Redbird’, to really appreciate this.

Does your area Target sell REDcard? Have you been using it? Are you worried they’ll stop allowing funds to be loaded at the register with a credit card?

@ckramer tweets,

Club Carlson has a business program that will let a separate business account earn up to 10 points per dollar for eligible stays, in addition to the points earned by the guest into their own account.

  • The guest and the company account administrator can be the same person (so they would effectively earn an extra 10 points per dollar for their stay).
  • And the company administrator can earn points for others’ stays as well — earning Club Carlson points even when they aren’t traveling.

Here’s the program. Read More…

This isn’t an exciting promotion, but you should register anyway. Even if you don’t regularly stay at HIlton properties.

  • Double points are better than single points, if only marginally so.
  • You never know when you’ll wind up staying at a Hilton, there are lots of them, so even if they aren’t in your plans it’s better for you to have registered and earned the points when it was on your radar than have to remember later and most likely forget.

Here’s the promotion. Register and become a very happy mother and child, I think the kid is happy because he’s drinking his ‘milk’ from a wine glass. The mother is happy because she’s inspecting for something in her son’s hair — dandruff? lice? — and not finding anything.

Promotion details

You choose between earning double Hilton HHonors points and earning double miles.

The earning period is March 1 through May 31. Registration is required prior to a stay in order to earn for that stay, there’s no retroactive earning, so you might as well register now.

As with all Hilton properties a good chunk will be non-participating. In some sense that’s fine, this promotion isn’t lucrative enough to get you to move any business to a Hilton property. As a result, you’ll collect the bonus when it happens to apply and won’t collect it when you happen to stay at a non-participating property. It’s more points, but not so much that you should even pay attention to when you’ll get them.

Double Hilton points is almost always the better bet than double miles

Now that there’s no longer a ‘points and fixed miles’ earning style at Hilton, you earn either ‘points and points’ or ‘points and variable miles.’ If you’re earning miles, it’s normally one mile per dollar.

So if you choose double miles, you earn an extra one mile per dollar. If you choose double points, you earn an extra 10 Hilton points per dollar. While Hilton points aren’t exceptionally valuable, Hilton points are worth about 4/10ths of a cent apiece and so 10 Hilton points are worth 4 cents. There’s no single airline mile worth 4 cents.

If you do want double miles though you need to have selected “Points and Miles” as your earning style preference and must have an airline partner selected.

Read More…

Puddle of Mudd lead singer Wes Scantlin was arrested after riding a baggage carousel in Denver into the secure area of the airport.

[TSA] told him to get off, and he refused. They didn’t arrest him immediately; they warned him: ‘Hey, if you don’t get off the luggage rack, we’re going to arrest you.’ He refused to get off, so they arrested him….

After his ride on the baggage carousel in Denver, Scantlin was taken to a downtown Denver jail, while Daniels and his staff tried to figure out a way to bail him out so that he could perform that night.

“He wasn’t supposed to get out until Tuesday because he had warrants in four other states,” says Daniels. “So they had to clear each warrant to make sure they weren’t extraditable. And they were all, like, skipping court dates for drunk and disorderly and other stupid stuff.”

There’s video.

(HT: Road Warrior Voices)

News and notes from around the interweb:

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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.