The ethics of traveling to certain parts of the world — places where human rights aren’t respected, where a sex trade exists (perhaps illegal but unfettered) or where ‘guest workers’ have their passports taken on arrival and have little choice but to toil in unsafe conditions – can be complicated.

I think it’s difficult, and certainly uncomfortable, for a world traveler to ponder how their choices affect the people they meet. And it’s even tougher to ponder the signals their choices send — does visiting Turkmenistan endorse that regime? Does it provide hard currency that sustains the regime? Is your tourism in some way fostering terrible conditions that people live under?

Sometimes that might be the case, although rarely does one person’s decisions materially affect the situations of people on the ground and rarely would one person’s decisions prop up or undermine an abusive structure.

Still, don’t we have some obligation just not to participate or at least not to derive enjoyment from situations and places that generate misery for others?

Read More…

JetBlue is winning Hollywood. Not the studio contracts, of course. If you have a deal with Paramount, you’re flying American on the lucrative Los Angeles – New York route. But the ‘real’ Hollywood. The actors and directors and producers and independent talent who work for a living, aren’t traveling on a studio’s dime, but view the world through the lens of those who do.

One of the best sources of clients for my award booking business has been Hollywood – recognizable actors who have had many small roles in film, or recurring roles on cable TV, comedic directors whose shows we know but that we wouldn’t recognize in an airport.

They travel in circles with actresses and actors who fly private, or who are flown in international first class all over the world. They want to travel this way, but they frankly can’t afford to. And they love miles and points as a result because it opens up the world that they’re otherwise merely on the fringes of.

One really great client who I like a lot recently emailed,

Boy, JetBlue Mint is great for the money.

He’s otherwise picking and choosing flights based on which airline, day, and time has confirmable upgrade space. He’s buying the cheapest coach ticket, spending miles, and a cash co-pay. By the time he does that roundtrip, he’s effectively paying at least as much as just buying the seat outright from JetBlue.

The thing is, American, United, and Delta are regularly selling seats at these prices. Just not to you, and not to him.

Corporate contracts on these routes are much more cost-competitive with JetBlue than the prices you see quoted on an airline’s website, or on Orbitz or Expedia.

JetBlue will sell seats to anyone. And that’s why the A-listers may fly American, but the B-listers choose JetBlue.

Premium cabin travel used to be priced several multiples that of coach on domestic flights. And as a result, no one bought the tickets. 90% of domestic first class seats were taken by upgraders. Now with airlines generally reducing first class fares, they unsurprisingly sell more first class tickets.

That doesn’t mean the seats are cheap. JetBlue gets $600 each way. But it’s much less than what competitors are charging on the route.

There’s a premium market where prices modest multiples of economy. That’s a market that legacy carriers are currently ceding.

Revenue-based frequent flyer programs are good for consumers — just not in the way airlines would have you believe.

Frequent flyer programs are the most successful marketing creations ever. And as such they get consumers to behave irrationally. Customers buy more expensive tickets than they otherwise would. And not even for the elite benefits, non-elites do it too and low level elites who may not get much incremental value from their status. Frequent flyer programs turned airline seats, which were otherwise commodity products, into differentiated products, and differentiated products consumers were willing to buy at a premium.

But when you commodify the relationship, and you turn the frequent flyer program into a straight rebate there’s little advantage to choosing one program or another.

What’s more, the leader in the revenue-based space — Delta Air Lines — actually turns out to be the loser in this game when all of their competitors reward high fares as well.

  • Delta awards more miles to higher fares, but the miles they award are worth less than their competitors’ currency. That makes them the less rewarding airline program for the high spenders.
  • Trust is incredibly important in a revenue-based program. And when consumers understand the program as a rebate in fares, cuts to the value of miles sting even more. Delta has reminded us over the past month that they begin with a huge trust deficit, and are doing everything possible to signal to consumers that they’re doubling down instead of doing anything to make up for it.

Delta runs a good airline operation, and it makes sense for customers in Atlanta and the Upper Midwest to fly them as a result. Planes are full so airlines don’t need to spend a lot to fill incremental seats.

Big data can even project what changes may happen at the margin, that a given cutback will save more on costs than it will cost in business. But there’s a temptation towards scientism, to believe that the data tells you more than it does. If there’s any misspecification of the question, of you’re just finding support in the data for your own priors and missing second and third order effects. (See generally, Karl Popper and also Hayek’s Counter Revolution of Science).

What’s more there’s a tendency to isolate a single change, and determine that there’s little customer attrition driven by that change. What customer gets driven away by American’s choice of domestic first class cookie? But taken together, a series of changes influences a consumer’s view of the product even if no single change moves the needle.

By taking away the loyalty aspect of frequency programs, the revenue-based approach takes the blinders off consumers and allows them to act more in their rational self-interest. That’s not good for the airlines, it’s not good for those consumers who could approach programs rationally in earlier eras, but it’s probably good for consumers as a whole. Of course no airline would knowingly go down that road. But their big data blinders and self-confirming hypothesis lead them inexorably towards it.

For years (here I am writing about it in 2009), Sixt Rent a Car has offered elite status to customers who have status of some kind with a variety of airline or hotel programs.

And rental car status is one of the most important things you can have to make your experience better.

Sixt will give their Platinum status to (among others):

  • United Premier Executive 50k and higher
  • Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles Elite and higher
  • US Airways Dividend Miles Platinum and higher
  • Starwood Platinum, Hilton Diamond, Hyatt Diamond
  • Delta Skymiles Gold and higher
  • Club Carlson Gold
  • Best Western Diamond

Their list is way out of date, since they offer to comp Kingfisher elites and Continental Platinums. And their list shows a misunderstanding of the programs they’ll comp, since they make the offer to Marriott Diamonds.

Platinum benefits include:

  • Up to 15%* discount on Sixt rent a car and Sixt rent a truck.
  • Free upgrade to the next higher car group and a double upgrade in U.S. locations**.
  • No Rental Formalities: Your personal data is stored behind the card, no waiting time at the arrival location and easy payment due to your stored credit card information.
  • Preferred Mobility: Forgot to reserve? No problem. Call up to 24 hours before the rental, and we will provide a car.

Lower tier elites — like most airline and hotel silver (first-tier status) — can get free Sixt Gold status.

This is such a gimme that comped Hilton Silvers who have signed up for the free version of the Hilton Citibank credit card can do this. American Express Platinum cardholders who have taken the free Starwood Gold status can do this.

This is most useful in Europe, but Sixt also has several airports in the U.S. and has other locations as well. I’m not the biggest fan of Sixt’s Miami airport location, although commenters share a variety of experiences both good and bad. Sixt does have some nice cars.


Back in August, the knee defender guy touched off a media firestorm.

The fight started when the male passenger, seated in a middle seat of row 12, used the Knee Defender to stop the woman in front of him from reclining while he was on his laptop…

A flight attendant asked him to remove the device and he refused. The woman then stood up, turned around and threw a cup of water at him, the official says. That’s when United decided to land in Chicago. The two passengers were not allowed to continue to Denver.

For about a week there was a ‘national conversation’ about how bad things have gotten with air travel, whether there’s a right to recline your seat, and the need to be polite (“we’re all in this together”).

There were even other incidents in quick succession, and the original perpetrator even claimed he’d do it again.

Last year I even sat next to a woman who was written up with an inflight disturbance report. She brought her own wine onboard and didn’t want to relinquish it.

The crazy thing? There were fewer passenger incidents reported to airline authorities since statistics for this began!

Domestic flight crews reported 121 unruly passengers to federal authorities last year. These include incidents in which a passenger assaults, threatens, intimidates or interferes with an airline crew member in the course of his or her duties while aboard an airplane. Reporting is at the discretion of crew members.

There were over 200 such incidents in 2001 and 2004. Most do not lead to fines.

While there are theories posited as to what’s led to the reduction in reported incidents, such as “Flying has become so undignified and degrading that the airlines have successfully cowed their passengers into submission” and “The FAA adopted stiffer penalties for passenger disruptions in the year 2000, and airlines adopted zero-tolerance approaches to bad behavior in the years after 2001″ none of this actually explains the year-over-year variation in the data or that 2014 would see the fewest incidents on record.

Whether 120 or 300, the number of reported incidents is dwarfed by the number of domestic airline passengers. These incidents have always been rare, and generally defy a single unifying cause.

Whatever the reason, though, there are fewer of them!


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).


Citi Thank You Premier is changing its spending bonuses and reducing its annual fee, effective April 19.

The fee drops from $125 to $95 (it’s still $0 the first year) which makes it competitive with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.

The signup bonus remains up to 50,000 points as a signup bonus — 20,000 points after $2000 spend within 3 months and 30,000 more after $3000 spend in the first 3 months of your second year with the card. And it still has no foreign transaction fees.

What’s changing are the spending bonuses.

Starting April 19 it will earn triple points on travel including gas (the travel category for Sapphire Preferred doesn’t include gas). And it will earn double points on dining and entertainment.

Basically they’re flipping the double and triple categories from what was previously offered, while broadening the definition of what is travel for the purpose of awarding bonus points.

No doubt there will be people that preferred triple points on dining, but I view this as a net positive since it seems clear more bonus points will be rewarded overall for regular travelers.

Citibank Points Have Gotten Much More Valuable This Year Thanks to Airline Mileage Transfers

Citibank introduced airline miles as an option for redeeming Thank You points over the summer, instantly increasing the value of their Citi Thank You Cards points substantially.

And a month later they even added a transfer partner, signifying that they weren’t done building the program.

Then in January they added another partner still, and told me “there will be more news soon…” Since then they added Qantas.

Thank You Premier and Prestige cardmembers can now transfer points to:

  • Air France-KLM
  • Asia Miles
  • Etihad Airways Guest
  • EVA Air Infinity MileageLands
  • Garuda Indonesia GarudaMiles
  • Hilton HHonorsTM
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Of these, Singapore Airlines has the broadest and best uses in my opinion. You can now transfer points from Chase, Starwood, American Express, and Citi over to Singapore. And that’s a really great option.

Though Citi has several truly unique partners, not duplicated by other programs. In general they aren’t going to be as valuable as some other mileage programs, but there are niche uses, such as redeeming Etihad Guest points for Philippine Airlines business class awards.

Do you view the changes to Citi Thank You Premier as net positive as I do?


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.

News and notes from around the interweb:

Commenter Dan writes,

I used to do Strategy and Analytics for an [Online Travel Agency] and had an offer for a similar title [tp General Manager, SkyMiles Strategy & Analysis] at United Mileage Plus.

This is much more an analytics role than a strategy role. At all these firms, they need a business person who can run data models to tell them what is making/not making money. Sometimes I was able to put together small changes or run promos that helped the bottom line (my biggest was probably an international fare sale on select foreign carriers), but the overall direction of the program is guided by the higher-ups. This person would just tell the higher-up how much money they would be making off the decision.

That being said, 100% of the decisions made come down to the bottom line. One of the most common analyses I would run would be based on net revenue improvement vs. volume decline from adverse decisions. Very rarely was it not profitable at the end of the day to do a customer unfriendly move, as people get angry but rarely change decisions enough to offset the new cash being brought in.

(Emphasis mine.)

Relatedly, reader Alan H. pointed me to “Every Time a New Fee is Announced, a Fairy is Born

Ancillary revenue grew 7% in 2014, the most since 2010. 2015 is off to a good start with January up 9% as reported by A4A this week. There are more opportunities by tweaking current offerings and by exploring new ones. We list 10 potential new fees in this note, including charging for sodas (US Airways tried this unsuccessfully in 2008), first checked bag fee on int’l routes, and fees for customers that lie and try to cheat the rules. Many of these could be lucrative.

Inconvenient truth: customers like fees. Maybe that sentence would be better received if we had said “customers like paying only for what they use.” Well, guess what…that’s the same thing. Part of the airline evolution is about airlines segmenting their customers and treating good customers better than bad customers. Hotels do this well. Some airlines are just getting into that as they overhaul loyalty programs, for example, to dollar-based awards.

If a company can charge you more and give you less, and you don’t materially change your behavior, well then they probably should do just that. It’s in their interest.

If you aren’t going to move your business to products offering you better value propositions, then you get exactly the program and fee structures you deserve. No sense complaining.

Of course there’s a collective action problem: you may move your business, but unless enough business moves then it’s not going to matter. You need to do more than move your business — you need to move the needle. So you need to amplify your voice.

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 B. wanted to know,

Is it worth spending $40,000 on the Citi Hilton reserve to get Diamond status?

No, in my opinion it is not.

I think that the Citi Hilton Reserve Card is definitely worth getting, and worth keeping.

It provides a signup bonus of two free weekend nights at almost any Hilton property after $2500 in spending and each year you put $10,000 spend on the card you get an additional weekend night.


    The Award Room — an Ocean View Standalone Villa With Private Pool — at the Conrad Koh Samui

And you get HHonors Gold just for having the card.

I think it’s worth having the card for Gold status – modest upgrades, breakfast, free internet — and it’s worth putting $10,000 of spend on the card for the extra free weekend night.


    Breakfast and a newspaper at the Conrad New York

But in my view Hilton Diamond just isn’t that much better for most members than Hilton Gold. There’s no suite guarantee. You’re guaranteed lounge access (at most properties) but Golds get breakfast anyway if you don’t get into the lounge. There’s no suite upgrade entitlement (only the generosity of specific hotels, no requirement) and no guaranteed late checkout.

I say this as someone who used to put $40,000 of spend on a Hilton co-brand credit card (the premium Amex, which has a $20 lower annual fee but doesn’t have as rich a signup bonus) and decided to stop. And who also lucked into Diamond status a different way.

It makes no sense to me to actually earn Hilton status via stays. It makes no sense to me to put $40,000 in spend on a card for Diamond. But since there aren’t Hyatts and Starwoods everywhere it makes sense to have a backup status in a program with hotels most places you’ll go. And I believe the best route is Hilton Gold just for the $95 annual fee from the Citi Hilton Reserve Card

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).


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.

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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.

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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.