The Movement Festival in Detroit is one of my favorites each year. Experiencing Techno where a lot of it began is a great experience and the fact that it is dirt cheap as well doesn’t hurt!
British Airways just announced changes to their Avios Frequent Flyer program that are largely negative that take effect April 28, 2015. At the same time, the changes really won’t effect me with my Avios usage pattern. Let me explain:
- Changes to the amount of Avios you earn when you credit flights to BA (specifically 25% or 50% instead of 100% for cheap coach fares but more for business and first class)
- Changes to the amount of Avios you spend when you fly Oneworld Partners in business or first class (specifically first class goes from 200% of coach cost to 300% and business goes from 150% to 250%)
- Introducing peak and off peak award pricing when redeeming miles on BA operated flights (but all partner award flights will be booked at the peak rates)
Why I Don’t Care
I mainly use BA Avios to book American short haul flights. For example, Miami to Cancun for $72 and 9000 Avios, Costa Rica for $45 and 15,000 Avios, Panama for $62.50 and 20,000 Avios, and Chicago for $5 and 15,000 Avios. Since all of these flights are less than 3 hours, I usually just book coach and save my miles for the long haul flights to Europe and beyond. Well, none of these redemptions will change one bit with the announced changes! I just returned from the BPM Festival in Mexico and I will be able to buy the same cheap seat after these changes take place that I purchased before for just 9000 miles! So for me, the 50,000 sign up bonus for the BA Visa card is just as valuable as it was before this announcement.
I know some people liked the 50K round trip business class fares from Boston to Dublin and the 50K round trip business class from NYC to LA, those weren’t something that I used so it isn’t something that I will miss. If those bookings interest you then make sure to make them before April 28, 2015 to take advantage of the old prices.
While I hate seeing any negative changes at all, this is how the game is played and you are forever shooting at a moving target. That is why my advice to everyone is to earn miles as fast as you can, then burn them just as fast. See the world for free while you can because we never know what is around the next bend. But if you like to fly last minute like I do, don’t mind coach for short flights and are looking to travel around the Americas for a song, then in my opinion little has changed with this announcement.
As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info! And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!
American Express Membership rewards has announced a 40% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios through January 31, 2014! This means if you transfer 100,000 Membership Rewards points you will receive 140,000 British Airways Avios. This is one of the best transfer bonuses for BA Avios I have seen. I jumped on a 30% transfer bonus to BA right before I cancelled my Amex Gold card and netted a cool 122,000 Avios which I then used for my trip to Mexico and many more trips as well. If you have read our article on When to use American AAdvantage Miles vs British Airways Avios then you know how valuable BA Avios can be! I use them all the time for domestic and Central American travel and you should too! Continue reading “Membership Rewards 40% British Airways transfer bonus!”
This is another in our Take Me Away series of articles. We first showed you how to get to Bali for free and then tackled Costa Rica. I took my own advice and ended up flying to Costa Rica last month for only $45! If you don’t have miles yet, take 30-45 minutes and complete our free Getting Started page so you will be ready next time
World Cup madness is upon us and I wanted to see what last minute trips were available with miles to get you to Brazil. Since the matches are scattered around Brazil over a large timeframe, this was a perfect opportunity to come up with some creative frequent flyer tickets! Here are some of the options I found using my article on How to Search OneWorld availability using Quantas.com. Once I found available flights I priced them out following the article on How to book OneWorld flights with British Airways Miles.
British Airways is a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards. You can transfer miles earned from the 40,000 point bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred, or the 60,000 point bonus of the Chase Ink Bold, or the book directly with 50,000 Avios bonus of the Chase British Airways card.
Option 1: Sao Paulo
There is TONS of availability for this city. You could use this as a jumping off point for many of the other cities. To keep things simple (and the milage costs down), I am only going to focus on the non stop available awards. For just 50,000 Avios + $88 you could fly down from Miami and see three world cup matches!
For those of you not in Miami, British Airways may not be the cheapest option (but it probably still will be), so check out the American flights for 60,000 AA or US Airways Miles and $118 from anywhere in the continental US. The Citibank AA Mastercard currently has a 50K sign up bonus and the US Airways Card has a 40K bonus after spending $1. You would just need to find connecting flights from your city to Miami where there are award seats using the tools we linked to above.
Option 2: Recife
For the non stop there is only availability after the USA match but you could see the first match of the Round of 16. You could spend the rest of the time on the beautiful beaches of Recife! For only 40,000 Avios (the same amount as the sign on bonus for the Chase Sapphire Preferred) + $88 you could see this historic match!You could do the same thing from anywhere in the US for the higher price of 60,000 AA miles + $118.
Option 3: Rio de Janeiro
How does this sound for the ultimate long weekend? Fly into Rio on Thursday night, July 3, arrive at 5 in the morning on July 4, attend the quarter finals that day at the famous Estádio Maracanã, then celebrate through the weekend in Rio then fly back out on Sunday July 6. For only 50,000 Avios (the exact amount of the sign up bonus on the Chase British Airways Visa) or 60,000 American Miles, you can do it! And there are two seats available so you can take a friend with you!
Option 4: Brasilia
You can’t make the Colombia match unfortunately for the cheapest miles price, but you can make it for 3 matches including the Quarter-finals in the amazing city of Brasilia for only 40,000 Avios (which you could get from the sign up bonus of the Chase Sapphire Preferred) and $91!Like the other options you could travel from anywhere else in the US using 60,000 American miles once you find your connecting flights to Miami.
Option 5: Belo Horizonte
For just 40,000 Avios and $88 you can leave in two days and see Argentina, Costa Rica, and England play, and also catch the first round of 16 match in Belo Horizonte, one of the most beautiful cities in all of Brazil!As with the others, 60K AA miles is also an option if you aren’t located in Miami.
Bonus Option 6 for my Colombian Friends
I have so many Colombian Friends I had to include an option to see your match vs Japan in Cuiabá, Brazil on June 24. Since Cuiabá is such a small airport, I couldn’t find frequent flyer seats there so you would need to buy a ticket from Sao Paulo to there for $78.You could then buy another $65 ticket from Cuiabá to Brasilia to catch your frequent flyer ticket back from there.
This gives you a total cost of 45,000 Avios and $234. Which still isn’t too bad to see your country play in the world cup! A better option might be to predict where they will play in the Round of 16 and go there since I am sure they will be making it through!
You would still need hotels and tickets to the games but there are a ton of options available to you when you get the flights there for cheap. Using the tools I have provided above you can look for the flights and cities that match up with your favorite teams. That Rio option is looking awfully tempting to me. I think those two seats are going to go quickly once this article is published!
Feel free to comment on what other good options you found and tell me which matches you think would be the best to watch! As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info!
It started innocently enough: “Keith invites you to the Facebook group Costa Rica Vacation.” Intrigued I clicked into this group some of my friends had started and saw what they had planned. A huge 8 bedroom house with a chef that sleeps 18 in Quepos, Costa Rica in the rain forest but near the beach. The best part was since there were so many people interested, the cost would only be around $200 a person for the whole week!
But how much would it cost me to fly there? If you read my article TWM, Take Me Away to Costa Rica for Free then you know that from Miami redeeming 15,000 British Airways miles for American Airlines flights is the best option. I checked over the dates I was looking at and found tons of award availability over the 3 non stop flights each day.
I transferred 15,000 points that I earned by Spending Money without Spending Money with my Chase Ink Bold card (which now has a 60,000 point sign on bonus.) You could also use miles you get from the 40,000 point Chase Sapphire Preferred or the 50,000 Avios Chase British Airways card. The transfer processed instantly and then I was able to book my trip for just 15,000 British Airways Avios and $45!
I did a quick comparison for the exact same flights if I paid cash with American Airlines and came up with $545! This gives me a savings of exactly $500 and value of over 3.3 cents per point which is great! My total out of pocket cost for this trip including lodging and airfare is about $250 right now. To that I will just have add on groceries and any excursions such as canopy ziplining or ATVing or hiking a volcano! 🙂 I’m pretty sure even when everything is factored in, it will be cheaper than Miami would have been for the week! Having the frequent flyer miles for the flights is definitely what made this trip possible for me.
If you have read our ABC’s of Airline Alliances article, you know that you can use any airline in an alliance to book an award seat. For example, if you wanted to book an American Airlines seat you could use American AAdvantage miles, British Airways Avios, Iberia Avios, or any other of the members of the OneWorld Alliance. I end up with American miles from cards like the Citibank AA Platinum Personal MC and I can easily get British Airways miles by transferring them from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card or my American Express ® Premier Rewards Gold Card.
Why does is matter which I use?
Because it can save you a ton of miles! The reason there is a big difference is that American uses a zone based system and British Airways a distance based system. The American Awards use a flat rate based on what zone you are leaving from and flying to. Click here to see the American Award Chart or click here to see the American Partner Award chart which is slightly different. You would use the first if you wanted to fly on American flights and the second if you wanted to fly on a partner such as Iberia or British Airways. Under the standard American Award chart for domestic economy class travel, it is the same 25K miles to fly from Miami to Orlando as it is to fly from Miami to Seattle.British Airways uses a distance based chart where the number of miles is tied to the distance that you fly.This means that the flight from Miami to Orlando costs only 9,000 Avios round trip since it is such a short distance. The flight from Miami to Seattle costs 25,000 Avios round trip. So if you use British Airways instead of American Miles for the Orlando trip, you save 16,000 miles! The Seattle is an example of one where the award redemption rates are the same.
Another example would be Miami to Cancun, Mexico which I used this year to attend the BPM Festival for only $70. This flight using American Miles from the North American zone to Mexico would cost 35K miles round trip. With British Airways since it is only 531 miles to Mexico, it is just 9,000 Avios round trip! That is a savings of 24,000 Miles for the exact same flights!
How to choose?
In general, if it is a short flight, BA will often times save you miles, but when in doubt, check both! It will only take a couple of extra seconds but the reward could be huge. You can use the following links to quickly see the difference.
American Airlines chart (for flights strictly on American Planes)
American Airlines Partner chart (for flights on any Oneworld plane)
British Airways Award Calculator (input your departure and destination)
Ready to book?
Check out our article on How to Book OneWorld Flights with British Airways Avios or our article on How to Book an American Airlines AAdvantage Award Ticket on AA.com.
Earning miles is just one half of the Travel With Miles formula to seeing the world for free! Being smart when you redeem your miles is another very important piece of the puzzle. If you follow my advice and redeem the smart way then you will get more trips and more fun for your miles!
OneWorld is a great alliance and one that is important to me because I used a OneWorld Explorer award ticket to go on my 5 month 15 country trip around the world. Read this article I wrote about the ABC’s of Airline Alliances if you don’t know how the major alliances work(and why you should care). I’ve written before about how to use AA.com to check out American Airlines award availability and I’ve written about how to use British Airways site to check OneWorld availability and book using BA Miles. If you want the best way to view all of the OneWorld partners in one spot, including the ones with really nice premium cabins such as Cathay Pacific and Japan Airlines, then using Qantas.com is the way to go.
It may seem at first strange that you would use Qantas’ web site if you want to check Cathay Pacific or LAN or British Airways award seats, but in my experience it is usually one of the best ways of finding the flights you need. In addition, it offers a whole month view at a time so is better than British Airways one week view and not limited to just a few airlines like American’s site is.
What do I need?
If you have followed our Getting Started page, then you will already have a free Qantas frequent flyer account as well as an AwardWallet account which will make things really convenient because it will automatically log you into your Qantas account for you.
Searching on Qantas step by step
1. After you have logged in, click on the Frequent Flyer drop down then the Award Flights option under Using Points shown here in a blue circle.2. Click on the Quantas & Partner Classic Awards Book Now button.3. Scroll down on the next screen and fill in the “From”, “To”, “Depart”, and “Return” boxes and make sure that “Flexible with Dates” is selected and then hit Search Flights. For this example, we will choose a trip from Miami to Bangkok.4. On the next screen a full month of availability will be displayed, but the default is just coach. Since it is a long flight, I want to see the business and first class availability too. So check those boxes then hit Go..5. The available award seats will now show up in all of the classes for a month at a time! Once you have found dates that offer availability, select those dates on the calendar then click Continue to see the available flights and carriers. It is sometimes easier to search for each one way separately.It will show the available flights, airlines, and times. Since Bangkok is too far to have a direct flight, the above shows two different options: One on a combination of American Airlines and British Airways through London in First Class. One on a combination of American Airlines and Cathay Pacific in Economy Class.
The best way to search if you want a certain airline is to look at the “Where We Fly” maps for that airline and figure out where their hub locations are and then piece together the individual flights from there. If you wanted to fly Cathay Pacific for example you would look for the flight from New York JFK to Hong Kong first (because the long flights are usually the hardest to find award seats on), then from Miami to New York, then finally from Hong Kong to Bangkok. You would have to have availability on all 3 flights in the class you wanted so it may take some experimenting.
Write down the flights when you find them and when you find an itinerary that works, then call your OneWorld carrier to book! Give them the flights one by one and they should be able to see the same availability we just found. If you run into troubles it is often best to just hang up and call back because a different rep probably can help. Sometimes it is like putting a puzzle together but when you get an itinerary that works it feels great.
I hope this post shows you the best way to search for OneWorld availability using the Qantas web site and helps you get some award seats booked!
One of my favorite festivals I attend each year is the Movement Festival in Detroit over Memorial Day weekend. I truly believe it is the best techno focused festival in the US each year. Last year I went with a friend to Detroit for only $10. Since this is the next big festival many of my readers are thinking about attending, I’m going to show you what you can do now to get free flights there from Miami (but many of the options should apply wherever you are coming from).
1. Pay cash for the plane ticket.
Current prices are $218 (departing Friday, May 23) or $240 (Departing Saturday, May 24) on Delta Airlines. This obviously isn’t a free option, but I wanted to include it so you can compare its cost to the other options and see what value you are getting for the points you are redeeming.
2. Use part of the 40,000 Mile Bonus of the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® to pay cash for the plane ticket. Value – 1.25 cents per mile.
Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard® card and use 21,800 Miles of the 40,000 Mile sign on bonus to pay for a ticket. You will get an automatic rebate of 2,180 Miles (10%) back into your Arrival mileage account. You will get 2255 Skymiles since you are basically paying cash for the ticket as far as Delta is concerned. You could consider the true cost of this option as 21,800 – 2180 – 2255 = 17365 because of the rebates and miles you will earn. Read our full review on the Arrival Card here.
3. Use part of the 40,000 Chase Sapphire Preferred bonus to book Southwest flights using points. Value – 2.2 Cents / Point
Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 10,940 of the 40,000 point bonus to Southwest Airlines where you can book an award seat using those points. Read our full review on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here.
4. Use part of the 50,000 Chase Rapid Rewards Plus bonus to book Southwest flights using points. Value – 2.2 Cents / Point
Apply for the Chase Rapid Rewards Plus card and use 10,940 of the 50,000 point bonus to book an award seat using those points (same flights apply as the picture on option 3).
5. Use part of the 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards bonus to book American flights using British Airways Avios. Value – 1.2 Cents / point
Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 20,000 of the 40,000 point bonus to British Airways Avios where you can book an American Airlines award seat using those points. Read our article on how to book American Flights with British Airways Avios if you aren’t familiar with that process. Read our full review on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card here.
6. Use part of the 50,000 Avios British Airways Mastercard bonus to book American flights using British Airways Avios. Value – 1.2 Cents / point
Apply for the British Airways card and use 20,000 of the 50,000 Avios Bonus to book an American Award seat using Avios (same flights apply as in option 5). Read our article on how to book American Flights with British Airways Avios if you aren’t familiar with that process.
7. Shop online with Rapid Rewards shopping to earn the 10,940 points needed for a Southwest Award flight. Value – unlimited if it is for purchases you would have made anyways.
This will be the only option available for those without good credit since you can use your debit card or even a prepaid card. There are hundreds of merchants you can shop with and get points for every dollar that you spend. If you were planning on making these purchases anyways then you can end up with completely free points to redeem for your tickets! Some of the high earning merchants right now are 12 points / $1 at Magazines.com, 10 points / 1$ at Rosetta Stone, 7 points / $1 at Snapfish, 4 points / $1 at Advance Auto Parts, or 3 points / $1 at Groupon. If you aren’t familiar with how to make miles and points with online shopping, read our article on how to make mega miles shopping online!
As you can see, the best value for your miles is in option 3 and 4, followed by option 2, then option 5 and 6. If you don’t have a lot of miles, then option 1 isn’t a bad choice while the fares stay low. As the fares go up, the free ticket options will go up in value. I personally will probably be using option 3 since I have so many Ultimate Rewards points.
By the time you read this, I will be on my way to Playa del Carmen, Mexico for the BPM Festival. This 10 day music festival brings all the best DJs from around the world into a beachfront community about an hour South of Cancun for day and night parties. I’ll start out with the Diynamic party with Solomun, then the Circo Loco party on Friday daytime, the Innervisions party on Friday night, All Day I Dream with Lee Burridge during the day, Music On during the night, then the closing parties on Sunday.
Now that I have made you interested here are 5 things you can do now to get to BPM Festival for Free like I am this year:
- Apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and transfer 9,000 of the 40,000 Ultimate Reward sign up bonus to British Airways Avios and just pay the international taxes of $72. This is exactly how I got here this year and is truly the best use of your points if you are traveling from Miami. Check out our Full Review of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card here and find out why it is our #1 travel card for people who want to get started with already established credit.
- Get the Chase British Airways card and use 9,000 of the 50,000 Avios sign on bonus for the same ticket we listed above. If you play your cards right, you could even take 5 of your friends with you to BPM with this bonus!Read this article about how to book American flights with British Airways points which is exactly what I did.
- Apply for the Barclaycard Arrival card and use the 40,000 Mile sign on bonus (worth $400 in travel expenses) to pay for a ticket. This has the benefit of earning you miles for the flight as well since you are in essence paying for the ticket using the miles. The better use of this bonus would be for the hotel portion of your trip. Some friends and I are staying at the Fusion Hotel which is right in the middle of everything for 3 nights for around $400 total. This could be fully paid for with this sign up bonus!
- Get the Citibank American Airlines Platinum Personal Mastercard and use 35,000 of the 50,000 sign up bonus to book an American Award seat from anywhere in the US to Mexico. This option obviously pales in comparison to numbers 2 and 3 since you have to use 35,000 miles for the exact same award seat that you could get for 9,000 Avios, but it might make sense for people who aren’t in Miami. For example, British Airways if you fly from Seattle to Cancun via Phoenix costs 35,000 miles. This is exactly the same amount as if you booked with American Airlines miles. So if you are a long way from Cancun, then this option might be equal to the Avios option.
- Shop online with the British Airways online mall. If you have read our article about How to Make Mega Miles with Shopping Portals, then you know how just by shopping online you can earn miles. You just need to earn 9000 Avios to have enough for a round trip ticket from Miami. Here is a chart of some of the merchants they work with (but there are a bunch more!)$1125 at Shoes.com, $1125 at 1-800-Petmeds or $750 in flowers or Rosetta Stone can get you enough Avios to go to BPM!
As always, reply with any questions and follow me on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to make sure you don’t miss any great info! And don’t forget to share this article with anyone who might be interested using the handy social share buttons right below this post!
As each year ends, I think it is important to reflect on what has happened in the last year. As I make decisions on how to acquire and use miles in 2014, I wanted to see what value I had received from my miles in the last year.
- I started out in January with a trip to the BPM Festival in Playa del Carmen Mexico in business class for 18000 British Airways Avios and $70.
- That same month I had the unfortunate need for some last minute tickets to attend a funeral in North Carolina. Instead of paying $370, I used 15,000 Avios and only $5!
- At the end of January I attended for the first time Intifest in Lima, Peru in Business Class for 50,000 Avios and $65.
- In April I used another 18,000 Avios and $72 each to send a friend and I to Cancun, Mexico for a long weekend.
- In May I went back to Detroit for the Detroit Electronic Music Festival using 12780 Southwest points and $20 for two tickets using my companion pass so my friend flew for free!
- In June, I had one of my most memorable experiences ever when I splurged on 100,000 United miles and $134 each to give my Dad an unforgettable Christmas present of a business class trip to Brussels, Ireland, Scotland, London and Frankfurt. I also used 18,000 Avios for four one way tickets on that trip which saved me a bundle over the cash price.
- In August, I attended Burning Man for the second time using 5,900 Southwest points and $5. I used the free one way feature on my United Europe ticket to fly out there in first class!
- In September, I splurged again with a first class ticket on Lufthansa for 135,000 United Miles and $118 to the closing parties in Ibiza.
- In October, I used 40,000 Avios and $125 for two tickets to Panama for a long weekend and my first time in Panama
- In October, I also went to Austin to visit a friend for the first time for 11,600 Southwest points and $5.
- Finally in both November and December I was able to fly home to Nashville for the holidays for only 9000 miles and $5 per trip!
Looking back and writing it all down has helped me remember why I am so obsessed about points and has me looking forward to my travel in 2014!
If you are ready to get started, why not try the Chase Sapphire Preferred card? With the Ultimate Rewards points it has, you can transfer them to all of the airlines I used to fly this year!