Mar 09

Citibank Transfers to JetBlue Offering A 50% Bonus

Citibank ThankYou points (TYP)* are not the most valuable currency, but they do transfer to a number of airlines. The most recent airline partner to join is JetBlue, and Citi is offering a bonus to move points to TrueBlue.

Citibank – JetBlue

thankyou points

A sentiment that won’t play well in Boston.

Typically, transferring 1,000 TYP to JetBlue will earn you 800 TrueBlue points. Until April 30, however, that number gets a 1.5X multiplier, exchanging at a rate of 1.2. I value TrueBlue points at 1.5 cents each, which means that, with the multiplier, one TYP is worth 1.8 cents. In a vacuum, that’s not a great rate (a 2% Citi Double Cash card would be better), but if you already have a lot of TYP, this could be the way to go.

JetBlue has clearly been trying to boost its profile. If you look at the number of promotions that it has run recently, it’s easy to see that the company out for market share.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: Banks generally offer a few different types of cards. In Citibank’s case, you can get ones that pay you back in cash, pay you in a partner’s points (such as the Citibank American Airlines card, which earns AA miles) and cards that give you the company’s proprietary currency. In the case of Citibank, the proprietary currency is called “ThankYou Points (TYP).” Based on the type of purchase you make and type of card you have, you’ll earn one or more TYP per dollar spent. The points can be transferred to loyalty programs, used to shop or used to pay your bill.

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Mar 08

Possible 70,000 Points for United Airlines Credit Card

This one is interesting. Generally, the  highest sign-up offer that I’ll see for the “cheap” cards (the ones that cost $95 per year) is 50,000 miles. Yesterday, I got an offer from United Airlines for their credit card that offered me 70,000 points as a sign-up bonus. And I’m not sure about who is eligible, which is what makes this one curious.

70,000 United Miles (More Or Less)

MileagePlus

Here’s the deal: The offer I got is the one above, 70,000 miles. But when I clicked on the offer, I saw something different:

Wait, where are my 70,000 miles?

Notice that this screen is different. It doesn’t give me a total for the amount of miles that I earn. And then, when I click on the offer, I get this screen:

mileageplus

So which is it?

Somehow, I lost 20,000 miles in two clicks. This appears to be a targeted offer* gone wrong, and it would likely generate a phone call from me (if I were interested in the card). But be careful when you see these offers and make sure that they are consistent throughout. My suspicion is that I would get 70,000 miles if I did sign up and spend $3,000, but that may only apply to people who were actually targeted. Feel free to click on the deal and see what United is offering you.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: A “targeted” offer is one that is only sent to a certain group of people and is not open to the general public. As companies get more data, they are increasingly able to target offers to consumers that they think are more likely to purchase the product.

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Mar 07

American Express Platinum Card Raises Fees, Benefits: Is It Worth It?

The American Express Platinum Card has long been the gold standard (or Platinum standard, as the case may be) for high-end credit cards.  Over the past few years, however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige cards have surpassed the Amex Platinum, offering significantly better benefits at a cheaper price.

Recently, though, Amex began to roll out new benefits, offering bonuses for large purchases, point refunds on airline ticket purchases and extra shopping perks. And now, they’ve added a few additional goodies, although they come at a higher price.

Base Benefits

One of the best benefits is entry into Priority Pass lounges at the airport.

Back in October, I discussed the base benefits of the card. There are a ton of them, but here are the ones that I find most valuable:

If you are a frequent traveler, this is an okay card. If you are a frequent Delta traveler, this is a good card. Many of the traditional benefits will help offset the annual fee, including:

  • An annual $200 credit toward any airline fees charged to the card. That knocks the annual cost down to a net of $250 (at the time; now $350).
  • A $100 reimbursement for Global Entry every five years.
  • Airport lounge access: This one is big. You get access to Delta lounges, American Express Centurion lounges, Priority Pass clubs and a few other specialized locations. You may never need to sit in a hard plastic chair at an airport again!
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi access at over a million hotspots and 10 Gogo Inflight internet passes annually. If you ever need the internet on an airplane, this card will save you a fortune.
  • A bunch of other cool stuff.

New Benefits

As the competition caught up, Amex Plat’s benefits went from “way ahead of the game” to “way behind the game.” The new card benefits, however, starting March 30, put Amex at or near the top once again, particularly since Citi Prestige cut its benefits. Some of them are just to fill bullet points: A metal card (which drives me crazy; they are impossible to cut with scissors)*, Invitation Only global events, continued hotel and dining benefits, etc. But it’s the hard benefits that really add up (and please note that these changes are for the personal version, not the business one):

  • 5X Membership Rewards points now extended to flights booked directly with the airlines or through Amex travel. You also get 5X points when booking at amextravel.com, although you may not get elite rewards if you don’t book directly through the hotel. MR points aren’t particularly valuable, but they can be exchanged for miles or gift cards at a penny each.
  • Free additional gold cards at no annual fee. That’s good if you want somebody to earn on your account.
  • You can now use your card to bring guests into the Priority Pass lounge.
  • Uber benefits: You’ll get up to $200 per year reimbursed from Uber rides. It’s up to $15 per month, with the bonus in December.

New Price, New Value

The cost of the card is going up to $550, but the additional Uber benefits alone make up the difference. The card comes with a $200 fee credit and if you max out the Uber benefits, you are getting the rest for $150. That’s a heck of a price for a lot of strong benefits.

All credit cards can be found on the credit cards for charity page.


 

Beginner’s Hint: Repeat after me: “I get no benefits from a card simply because it’s exclusive.” Banks have made a mint off cards with “Black,” “Platinum,” “Titanium,” etc. You get zero hard benefits (although maybe some psychic benefit, if that’s your thing) from a pretty card. If you’re paying up, make sure that the card offers you value in excess of the annual fee. For 90% of the people in the country, the Citi Double Cash card is the best solution. You get 2% back on every purchase, regardless of category. No muss, no fuss.

 

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Mar 05

JetBlue Double Points Promo

In December/January, JetBlue usually sends out a double points email. They’re running a little later than usual this year, but the offer just went out.

Double TrueBlue Points (Elite Eligible)

spring forward

JetBlue normally gives three points per dollar spent but, for the duration of the program, they’re doubling your base points to six per dollar spent. Simply register by 3/23 and fly by April 30 and you’ll receive the extra points.* Sadly, you only get the base points for the ticket doubled. Any other bonuses (online booking or Mosaic, for instance) remain the same.

The best part about this promotion is that the bonus points also count toward elite status. Normally, airlines don’t count bonus miles toward status, but JetBlue is the exception. It takes 15,000 points to earn JetBlue Mosaic status, or $5,000 in spending. If you fly during the double promo period, your requirements are essentially cut in half for the duration of the program.

It costs nothing to register so, even if you don’t think that you will be flying during the promotion period, you might as well sign up.

 


Beginner’s Hint: It’s actually easy to calculate the value of JetBlue points. Unlike other airlines, which give you awards based on how far you are flying (e.g., a flight from Boston to Minneapolis would cost you the same number of points as one from Boston to San Francisco), JetBlue’s reward flights are based on the actual cast cost of the flight, with one point worth approximately 1.5 cents. For example, a $150 flight would cost about 10,000 points, while a $300 flight would cost about 20,000 points. If you are receiving six points per dollar spent, it’s an effective rebate of 9%.

 

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Mar 02

Discover 5% Categories for Second Quarter

Doing your annual home improvement project as the weather turns warm? Good. Make sure you have a Discover card, since home improvement stores (and warehouse clubs, for that matter) are the 5% categories for April-June.

(At Least) 5% Back at Home Improvement And Warehouse Clubs

Discover

Every three months, Discover offers It members a bonus at certain categories of stores. You receive 5% back for all category purchases, up to a maximum of $1,500 in spending, or $75 in cash back. This quarter is home improvement stores and warehouse clubs. That makes your Saturday afternoon at Costco and Home Depot an even better one in April, May and June.

If you don’t have a Discover card, here’s why you should get one now: Most of their cards will match everything you get at the end of your first year. So your 5% cash back purchases would become 10% back for your first 365 days. Some cards also offer you access to Discover Deals, which give you rebates of at least 5% at over 100 merchants. Yes, that cash back will also be doubled at the end of your first year.

You can apply for credit cards through the Credit Cards for Charity page. All commissions get donated to charity.

 

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Note: This post may contain credit card affiliate links. All credit card proceeds are donated to charity.

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Feb 28

5,000 Points When You Join TrueBlue (And Fly)

I feel like it’s been all JetBlue, all the time around here, but hey, they’re the ones offering the bonuses. They get the good press.

5,000 TrueBlue Points to Join And Fly

Simple enough. If you are new to the JetBlue program, simply sign up for the promotion* and you’ll pick up 5,000 points when you take your first flight by April 16. And that’s all. I value TrueBlue points at about 1.5 cents each, so the offer is about $75 worth of value.

I’ve seen this promotion on a number of sites, but first saw it at View from The Wing.

 


 

*Beginner’s Hint: JetBlue has one of the most valuable frequent flyer programs. You earn a minimum of three miles per dollar spent, or almost 5% back in JetBlue currency. You earn an additional three if you book online, and the numbers go up depending on how you pay and whether you have Mosaic status.

 

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Feb 25

Atlanta Invasion: Earn 6,000 JetBlue Points

JetBlue is starting a Boston-Atlanta route to compete with Delta, and you know what that means for you: A bonus opportunity!*

Earn 6,000 JetBlue Points

JetBlue

Don’t forget to register

Fly between Boston and Atlanta on JetBlue and you can earn up to 6,000 bonus points after you register here. Both JetBlue and Delta are trying to establish Boston as a focus city** and a flight to Atlanta is a shot across Delta’s bow, since it flies directly into their biggest hub. This promotion is similar to the one that JetBlue ran when it launched flights between Boston and New York’s LaGuardia. You’ll earn extra points based on the number of flights that you take:

The inevitable terms and conditions

After you register, you have until June 30 to complete up to three round-trips (or six one-ways). It is also likely that JetBlue will announce introductory fares, to prime the pump, so to speak.

Bottom Line: It costs nothing to register, so you might as well.

 


*Beginner’s Hint: When airlines launch new routes that compete directly with others, they often provide a bonus to get you to fly with them. This new flight is one such route.

**Beginner’s Hint: A focus city is a city where an airline has a strong position, but not necessarily a dominant one. or the market itself is not big enough to sustain a full-blown hub. For example, there are three airlines in Boston that each have about 20% market share. 

 

 

 

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Feb 24

500 Free And Easy United Miles

Free miles. No, seriously, free. No purchase necessary.

Free United Airlines Miles

mypoints

This one is as good as it gets. Sign up for MyPoints, a free site that offers you points for shopping* or clicking on emails, and get 500 United Airlines miles. That’s it. Give out an email, get miles.

I am a MyPoints member and occasionally do some shopping through the site when there’s a great deal. But if you want to claim your miles and then move on, go for it. If you hang around and spend $50 through in the first 30 days, you’ll get another 1,000 miles bonus.

Bottom Line: Free and easy. That’s the way I like my miles.


 

*Beginner’s Hint: I am a big fan of online shopping portals that give you points or cash for purchases you would have made anyway. You can find out more about them here, but you should never shop online without checking whether the merchant is accessible through a portal. You can learn more about them through my link here.

 

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Feb 22

American Airlines Changes The Boarding Process. Again.

Airlines do certain things well. Getting their passengers on planes is not one of them. For years, airlines have tried to optimize the boarding process and, for years, they’ve failed. In fact, if anything, the process has gotten more complicated. In fact, the only logical thing that they’ve done is tacitly admitted that they have no clue what they are doing, and thus, just trying to monetize it.*

The New, New, New, New, New Boarding Process

You will no longer have to decipher your boarding pass.

The implementation of boarding process 11.0, or whatever version we are on, doesn’t mix up the boarding groups much. What it does do is assign a number to your boarding pass, so the gate agent can announce “Now Boarding Group 3,” instead of “We now invite Platinum members, Gold members, people traveling with kids, people traveling with pets, people dressed in red, etc. to board.” In other words, they’ll speed up the boarding process a little bit by eliminating any opportunity to be confused by the various boarding group names. Now, you only have to be able to count to nine.

A few things stand out to me in the “new” boarding process:

  • Concierge Key members will always board first, regardless of their class of service. CK is American’s “secret elite status.” There are no stated metrics for what is needed to earn it. If you earn it, they’ll let you know.
  • If you pay extra for priority boarding,  you don’t board first. You don’t board second or third, either. Yup, you’re in boarding group four. But you’ll likely still have overhead space.
  • If you have no elite status or anything else that will accelerate your boarding, the earliest you will board will be group six.
  • Those of you buying Basic Economy will board last, in group nine. You won’t have overhead space, but that’s okay, because you aren’t entitled to it, anyway.

The Bottom Line

Airlines 101: If you can’t fix it, at least make money off of it.

 

 


*Beginner’s Hint: Yes, airlines are even charging you to board the plane. You can purchase expedited boarding (which will now put you in the fourth group to board) and your credit card may get you closer to the front.

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Feb 21

Win 100,000 topbonus Miles from airberlin

You may not know topbonus, which is the mileage program for airberlin, but you should. Not because you will ever fly them, but because they give out a lot of free miles and have some interesting promos.

Win 100,000 topbonus Miles

topbonus (no capital letters) tends to have a lot of promotions and offers inexpensive short-haul redemptions. But the reason you should care about this promotion is that airberlin is also a member of the oneworld alliance.* In other words, if you have topbonus miles, you can get anywhere in the world.

The best thing about the contest is that it is easy. Just enter here and you could win one of the 100,000 miles prizes. Good luck!

 


*Beginner’s Hint: Alliances are partnerships between airlines that allow you to travel globally using one airline’s miles. For example, American Airlines miles can also be used on British Airways and Cathay Pacific, among others. For more information, look in the categories to the right for each of the three major global alliances (oneworld, Star Alliance and Skyteam).

 

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