Thursday, May 18, 2017

Delta bonus promo

If you haven't done so already, you should sign up for the Delta partner bonus promotion.

Once you're registered, you'll earn 1000 bonus SkyMiles for each new Delta partner you earn miles with until June 30th. A list of the partners is here.

I fly Delta fairly regularly for domestic travel, and I generally avoid United at all costs. But United's miles are still so much more useful that I pretty much only use the United Mileage mall and United Mileage Dining websites when I'm shopping or eating out.

That turned out to be perfect for this promo, since I'm both a Delta SkyMiles shopping AND a SkyMiles Dining virgin. Once I was signed up for the Delta SkyMiles shopping program, I used it to buy a few things from Walgreens.com and collect my first 1000 point bonus. (Do note the dates – the bonus takes 6 weeks to post).



Last month when we needed to take an emergency trip to Seattle, I transferred Starwood points to Delta to pay for the flight. Lo and behold, that also counted as new partner earnings and I got another 1000 points for that.

But even if you're a big Delta fan and have already used most of their partners to earn miles, you can still sign up for their new Lyft partnership and hopefully land yourself another 1000.

Delta says it qualifies 😀
















Thursday, May 11, 2017

Bye-bye Aeroplan!

Big news today that Air Canada is dropping its 3rd party Aeroplan mileage program in favor of an in-house solution in 2020.

I don't normally fly Air Canada, but here's why I care: Aeroplan one of the few Star Alliance transfer partners for American Express points. Of the other two partners: ANA still only allows round-trip rewards, and Singapore doesn't permit partner reward booking online - you have to call in.

We used Aeroplan miles for ANA Business Class to Tokyo in 2015

Cathay Pacific, British Airways, and Iberia have a similar setup where a separate company (Asia Miles, Avios) administers their points program. Air Canada sold their program off to a company called Aimia after 9/11 to earn some cash in a tough economic climate, but times have changed and this is a multi-billion dollar business they want to repatriate.

My recommendation:
  • Spend any Aeroplan miles you have before 2020. The miles are NOT going to roll from the old plan into the new one, and everyone is predicting a massive devaluation
  • Unless you're chasing Air Canada elite status, I'd start crediting all of your future Air Canada flying to United (or other Star Alliance airline).
  • Or at least have a plan to spend most of miles you earn before the cutoff date.

Six or seven years ago Aeroplan used to be a great place to redeem for Star Alliance Business Class flights, but like so many other programs they've devalued their points multiple times and added high fuel surcharges to awards. The other maddening aspect of their program is that it almost never offers you the option to redeem for a direct flight. Despite assurances that their site shows unfiltered Star Alliance availability, on multiple occasions I've seen a direct flight available on United.com or ANA.co.jp but not on Aeroplan.

Once the transition is complete, let's hope they have a USA credit card with a big signup bonus and that they stay an Amex transfer partner!








Tuesday, May 9, 2017

OMG Shoes!

It's unfortunate, but American department store and malls in general are on the verge of dying. In an effort to stay relevant, many old school retailers are making various kinds of online offers to lure you to their website instead of Amazon.com or specialty online shops like Bluefly or Jet. The bonus points from my last big shopping portal victory just cleared (5400 United points and 1100 Amex points for a pair of shoes!) and I thought I'd share a few tips.

Airline shopping portal tips:
  • Be patient. High markup retailers have specials in the 8-12 points per dollar range
  • Low markup retailers (Amazon, Jet, BestBuy) rarely have specials
  • Stack promos whenever you can (Amex offer + portal + portal bonus!)
  • Don't buy anything you wouldn't have bought otherwise (this is the hardest part!)
  • Comparison shop so you know if you're overpaying (have you seen Wikibuy?!)
  • Utilize free shipping options whenever possible
  • Turn off adblock before using the shopping portal
  • Use shopping portals to generate activity and keep miles from expiring
  • Spend 2 minutes a week reviewing Amex offers and shopping portal bonuses when you have a big purchase in mind. 
  • Use EVReward.com to compare the rate each portal is currently offering (but know that they generally don't update for daily specials)

My 6600 mile shoes

I've wanted these super cute Gucci shoes for a while now but I was holding out for Neimans or Bergdorf Goodman to have a good shopping portal bonus before I bought. Normally these high-markup retailers offer 2 points per dollar through the United, Delta, or Alaska shopping portals, but I know they run specials for 10 or 12 points per dollar several times a year. Besides, it was cold out and these are very summery shoes so I wasn't in a hurry.
So cute!

On a separate front, I periodically check my Amex Offers to add deals to my card and I spotted this gem: an extra Amex point for shopping through Bergdorf Goodman's website. I added it to my card and waited... 



A few days later, yet another bonus popped up: United's shopping portal sent me an email saying I could earn 1000 bonus miles on top of anything else I earn if I his their spending target by Friday. Luckily this email also showed that Bergdorf was having a special: 8 points per dollar. It was time 👟


I purchased the shoes through United's shopping portal (yes, they're expensive shoes but I would have bought them anyway!) and once all of the bonuses had cleared I made 5400 United points and 1100 Amex points.

While I rarely fly United, I still think they have the best mileage plan in the US, so I happily collect their points and then spend them on ANA, Asiana, Lufthansa, Singapore, LOT, etc.








Saturday, May 6, 2017

You can now earn JetBlue miles flying Iceland Air

One of the weakest things about JetBlue is their mileage program – they have very few options for earning and redeeming miles beyond their own flights. 
 
You can earn TrueBlue points when you fly on:
  • Emirates
  • Hawaiian
  • JetsuiteX and Silver Airways
  • Singapore
  • South African
  • and now Iceland Air!
To celebrate Iceland Air being added to the family, they're running a special double-miles promo through July 7th. If I were flying soon, I'd probably take the 2x credit to JetBlue, but once the promo is over and it's back down to 1x, I'd probably choose to credit any Iceland Air flying to my Alaska account. They have lots of great redemption partners, whereas JetBlue doesn't.

 
 
When you want to redeem your TrueBlue points, you still only have two options: JetBlue and Hawaiian. When you redeem for JetBlue flights you get a fixed value of around 1.4¢, which works out to a 4% rebate on the purchase price of your flight. (If you have their credit card, attain Mosaic status, and hit all of their bonuses, you can bring that up to 13%).

Redeeming for Hawaiian airlines flights can only be done over the phone, and yields you around 1¢ per TrueBlue point. More information about that over at TPG.
 
I hope this is part of a series of enhancements to JetBlue's loyalty program. JetBlue (and the combined Alaska/Virgin) is on the cusp of becoming a real nationwide carrier and stepping up the value of their TrueBlue program is an essential part of that.