A request for my readers…

The past few days have been full of frequent flyer news, but that’s not always the case.  Likewise, I want to make sure that I’m giving you what you want to hear.  Thus, I have a favor to ask:

Please tell me what you’d like to hear about.  It helps if you are as specific as possible.  For instance, “more ways to earn lots of miles” doesn’t give me as much to work with as “the best credit card mileage offers without annual fees.”  Travel advice is also here for the taking, but “how do I make my trip easier” is less specific than “what should I do if I’m traveling with screaming toddlers.”

Thanks everyone.

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    • Gretchen on June 13, 2014 at 10:29 pm
    • Reply

    Hi Mike,

    I. Would love a review of how to manufacture spend now that I can’t do Vanilla Reloads at CVS anymore. Do you have any tips? I have a Bluebird account and I would to still use it to pay my mortgage, condo fees, etc.

    Thanks, Gretchen

  1. Thanks for the comment Anne! It’s much appreciated.

    The best way to avoid the fees on BA are to fly a partner airline. That includes American on the way to Europe (although you may have to connect to BA metal once you are there) and Cathay Pacific or JAL to Asia. Obviously, those aren’t all the partners, but they might be the best ones for you. Every airline charges some sort of surcharge and those surcharges are likely to go up over time, but nobody charges the extortion that BA does. BA’s website should show you partners, but if it doesn’t, call them. BA’s redemption site is well-known for its “issues.” Don’t let them make the booking for you, since they will charge a fee, but have them tell you exactly how to do it online. Finally, Avios can often be used for intra-US travel at a cheaper rate than other airlines would offer.

    If you are flying Boston to Dublin or Shannon (or can use one of those airports as a launching pad for the rest of Europe), there is a secret back door. BA has a partnership with Aer Lingus allowing you to use Avios to fly those two routes (You do have to call BA to do this, but tell them to waive the fee because you can’t book it online.) on Aer Lingus. They do not advertise this flight, since it is one of the great Trans-Atlantic bargains. Because Avios redemption levels are based on distance, you luck out on this route. Because the flight is less than 3,000 miles (It’s 2,986 miles to Dublin.), it is 25,000 Avios ROUND-TRIP!

    In regard to miles: Credit card offers come and go, and the offer for 100,000 AA miles for the Citibank credit card is rumored to end on June 25. The annual fee is $450, but you get a $200 credit for your first purchase. You do need to spend $10,000 in the first three months to earn the miles, but that can be handled through manufactured spending if you aren’t doing those levels of spend on your own. I can help you with that, but it would be better done over PM at frequentflyermiles101@gmail.com.

    The card can be seen here.

    Another option is UFB Direct, which offers you one American airlines mile per two dollars that you spend on its debit card. The card can be used to pay purchase money orders at the post office or certain supermarkets. There are some restrictions, but you can read about it here.

    And if you live near a SunTrust Bank branch, you may be able to get the Delta SkyMiles debit card, which pays you one Delta mile per dollar spent. Again, money orders are the route to go, but the post office doesn’t work with this card. Supermarkets and Walmarts are you friends.

      • Patti McCarron on June 16, 2014 at 10:18 am
      • Reply

      Hi Mike,

      Great stuff here! Coincidentally, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to use miles from other airlines on Aer Lingus to fly business class from BOS-DUB this fall. Last year I booked a flight for my niece online using United Miles, but I don’t see an option for that anymore. I even considered flying BA, which I’ve flown before using AA points, I think, but all I see listed on the AA site are AA flights with lousy connections (BA flights are greeted out). I almost passed out when I saw the fees listed in the BA site – more than the flight itself! I was thinking of buying two coach fares on Aer Lingus with Amex points and upgrading with miles, but that would only work if I could use AA or UA miles. I’ll call BA today.

      Thanks much,


      1. So glad I could help! I believe you can use double BA miles if you want to fly in the front of the plane on Aer Lingus. That flight is one of the single best mileage deals in the world, primarily because Dublin isn’t 14 miles farther from Boston.

        BA fees are truly outrageous, but there’s always a workaround on a different airline, although it’s easier when flying to Asia than when flying to Europe.

    • Anne on June 13, 2014 at 9:53 am
    • Reply

    Hi Mike, First of all, thanks for all your great posts and insights — I’m a new subscriber and really appreciate the great wealth of info that you provide! Question: I have lots of British Airways miles, and everytime I try to use them, their fees are so high that it’s hardly worth bothering with! I’d like to know about how best to use them to avoid the fees. We live in the US and fly a lot to Asia and Europe. Another question is I’m always curious about unusual ways to earn miles — I just did the Fidelity/United offer and the bank direct checking acct — it;d be great to hear about more of those if they exist. Thanks again for your great info!

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