Another 88,000 free Carlson points with 2 inexpensive stays.

This is a followup to our entry about the Radisson Free Night Giveaway.  It turns out that Club Carlson (the points program for Radisson) is also doing the free nights giveaway for two of their other brands as well.  The brands are Country Inn and Suites and  Park Inn.  Country Inns are located mainly around the US, while Park Inns are all over the world.  The promotion works pretty much the same as the Radisson Free Night Giveaway which means for your first paid stay between now and July 15 (including cash+points stays), you will get 44,000 Carlson points.  This means if you register for all three promos (which you should do right now because registration is limited) you can get a total of 138,000 Carlson points!  So if you stay 1 night at a Radisson, 1 night at a Country Inn, and 1 night at a Park Inn before July 15th then you will get an extra 50,000 points for the Radisson night, 44,000 for the Country Inn night, and 44,000 for the Park Inn night!  Incredible, right? Plus you will get an additional 1,000 points for booking your reservations online plus the usual 20 points for every dollar spent. If you haven’t signed up for this free promotion yet, then do it now for all 3!

Radisson Free Night Giveaway

Country Inn and Suites Free Night Giveaway

Park Inn Free Night Giveaway

Now what to do with all these points?  I think the best values for redemption are in the low end Category 1 options for 9,000 points and the high end Category 6 options for 50,000 points.  Just for the sake of window shopping, here is some redemptions for 150,000 points that caught my eye.

Start with 5 nights in Taba, Egypt on the Red Sea for 45,000 points

Then head over to Alexandria, Egypt for 5 nights for another 45,000 points

Finally check out the diving at the Raddison El Quseir, Egypt for the final 45,000 points for a total award redemption of 135,000 points.

Those don’t look too bad for Category 1 rewards to me! Using some random dates in September, the lowest rates came to almost $1500 for these redemption.  Not a bad return for around $240 in cost today.

Now if you want to blow all your points in a few days of true luxury, then I would take a look at the Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris.

At $356 a night for a random 3 day weekend in September, your total value comes to $1068 for 150,000 points redeemed.  Again, at a cost of $240 or so, this is a great value.

Those are just two examples of ways to get the most value for this promotion, but start at the Club Carlson Redemption Page, and start planning where you want to go! I know I have! Let me know in the comments about any properties that are a particularly good value.

100 Free SPG points for liking them on Facebook

Starwood Preferred Guest is one of the top hotel programs in my opinion due to the ease of getting status, the quality of the properties, and exceptional value for points when utilizing their Cash + Points award option.  As such, SPG points are very valuable to me and most other point connoisseurs.  And I love getting free points, especially when it is so easy.  Like the title says, you can get 100 SPG points simply for liking them on Facebook. There is also a chance to win 100,000 SPG points and you might get lucky!  So click here and hit the like button then enter your SPG details and submit.  You probably can unlike them after the points show up, but it doesn’t look like they spam too much and most of the stuff they post about that will show up in your feed are promos that you might want to know about anyways.  Enjoy!

The fabulous 100,000 Mile British Airways card is back for a limited time!

Update: This great offer has now been deactivated.  You may still be able to get a 100K offer by following the steps in this flyertalk post.

Chase has brought back the very popular 100,000 Mile British Airways card. I was able to take advantage of this offer last time it was offered and used the miles to take my recent business class trip to Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and Santiago, Chile. The requirements are a bit higher than when I took advantage of the offer, but with proper spending and planning, it is still quite doable.

The current offer, which expires June 7 (currently extended until some future date), gives you 50,000 Avios (the British Airways miles) after your first purchase, then 25,000 more when you spend $10,000 within the first year, then a further 25,000 when you spend $10,000 more within the first year. $20,000 is a fair amount of spend in one year, but there are a number of ways to get qualified spend without necessarily spending the money. In a future article I will be going over several of the techniques I use to help meet the spend requirements.

The card has several great features, including a number specifically for international travel.

  • First, it has no foreign transaction fees. Most credit cards tack on an extra 3% onto any charge not made in US Dollars so if you use those cards for international travel, you effectively just spent 3% more than you would with this card.
  • Second, it has smart chip technology for use in Europe. Many European merchants won’t accept charges that don’t include a physical chip on the card. This is one of the only US available cards that has this technology available.
  • You also earn 1.25 Avios for each $1 spent on the card and 2.5 Avios for each $1 spent with British Airways.
  • Another great feature, particularly if you are going to go for the full 100,000 Avios bonus, is if you spend $30,000 in a calendar year you get a travel together ticket which allows a companion to travel with you on either a paid or an award ticket if they just pay the taxes.  It is a bit limited in that it has to be on British Airways flights only(which have high fuel surcharges) but especially if you are planning on using your Avios for a flight to Europe in business class, it can provide a good value.  And if you spend $20,000 in the first year to get the full 100,000 Avios bonus, you are 2/3 of the way to the free ticket so it might make sense to go ahead and complete the extra spend.

There is an annual fee of $95 that is assessed immediately, but trading $95 for 100,000 Avios is something I would do all day long. So what are you waiting for, click here to sign up for the Chase British Airways Visa and start planning your trip! 

The great 50,000 point Radisson free night offer is back!

Radisson had done this incredible offer back in December and it was one of my favorites.  It is really quite simple.  1) Register for this promo. 2) Stay one night at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel around the world between May 15th and July 15th. That’s it!  Back in December the last time this promo ran, I was able to find a Radisson in Nashville, TN for around $66 that netted me 50,000 points in my Club Carlson account! This is enough for 5+ nights at many of their level 1 properties up to 1 night at their top level 6 properties.  You can also get an extra 1,000 points by booking your stay online.  I will probably use these points for hotels on my next Europe trip since the with the Euro exchange rates paying for hotels out of pocket over there is pretty expensive.  What are you waiting for, sign up now!

Getting Started guide added

Many of you have asked me about what to do first to get started earning miles and points.  While I know it is tempting to jump right in and start applying for cards, there are a few things you can do to make sure you are ready for the onslaught on points and miles that will come with it.  These include signing up for frequent flyer accounts, points tracking software to keep track of all your miles and doing a quick credit check to see where you stand. I have created a guide to do just that and jump start your

Well, what are you waiting for, check out our Getting Started Guide now!

Chase Ink Bold increases spend requirements for sign up bonus

I am guessing Chase has been pleased with the sign up rate of their New Ink Bold card because they have increased the spend requirements from $5,000 within 3 months to 25,000 points after the first purchase and 25,000 after $10,000 within 3 months.  I was able to apply and get approved right under the wire for the change.

The Chase New Ink Bold has a number of attractive features that have made it such a popular card.  The first is that it used the ultra flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards Points (for more details on these great points check out my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review).  A unique way to accrue these points with this card is a 5 points per dollar on the first $50,000 spent at Office Supply stores, phone, internet, and cable TV charges which we all almost all have!  It also has the 2X points for hotel and gas expenses and 1X for every other purchases. It also has no foreign transaction fees making it a great card for international travel which is what this whole blog is about! It does have an annual fee of $95, but it is waived for the first year. This card also gives you Priority Pass access to over 350 VIP Airport lounges around the world which is a great benefit when you are flying coach instead of business class or your airline doesn’t have lounge access.

Please note that this is a charge card rather than a credit card which means it must be paid off at the end of each month and a balance cannot be carried from month to month.  This feature might keep some people from getting themselves into trouble as well. 🙂  If this card and an extra 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points sounds good to you then sign up now for the Chase Ink Bold.  Remember that using our links to sign up helps support this site and helps us to continue to bring you the best travel tips and tricks.

Lima, Peru Airport Lounges

After missing my flight in Santiago (mental note, always check in 24 hours ahead of time), I ended up with a 12 hour layover in Lima from 12 AM to 12 PM. I wasn’t sure until I arrived in Lima if I would be able to make an earlier connection so I didn’t arrange a hotel or hostel ahead of time. I also would have needed to go through immigration and security again if I had left the airport so I decided to check out the lounges and camp out until I my flight left. When I had been in Lima previously, I had used the “VIP Club” lounge which while a bit crowded had a good food selection.  I had noticed another lounge called the “Sumaq VIP Lounge” but had assumed that it for for a different airline than LAN which I was flying.  This time I decided to ask and found out that like Santiago, you can use either lounge when flying business class with LAN.  As I walked into the lounge, I could already tell it was a bit nicer than the VIP Club lounge with plush furniture and a glass cabinet showing off some silver items which really gave it an upscale feel.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

There was also a very nice wood paneled bar with many different liquors on offer and an accommodating bartender ready to chat the night away if needed.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

Since I had been in the airport all day the day before and arrived after midnight, I was happy to see that they not only offered showers for your use but also had a rest area room with these comfortable looking chaises where you could get a bit of rest if needed.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

The food was typical if a bit lighter than the VIP club room.  In the morning they had hard boiled eggs, cereals, toast and jellies.  They had the requisite fancy coffee maker for your latte or expresso needs and even a fresh squeezed orange just machine that would cut and squeeze you a class when you fed it the supplied oranges.  The internet was shared with the other VIP lounge and in typical Peruvian fashion it was quite slow with 380K down and 100K up.  I certainly would get frustrated trying to send any large files here!

Having a shower and then napping for a few hours made my long layover much more enjoyable and made me refreshed and ready to tackle the 7 hour flight back to Miami.  Particularly for overnight layovers, I would recommend the Sumaq lounge instead of the VIP lounge in Lima.

Santiago, Chile Airport Lounges

Since I ended up missing my connection to Lima and onto Miami, I had the opportunity to spend about 8 hours in the Santiago airport while I was waiting for my flight.  I found out that they have not one, not two, but three different lounges for LAN Business class lounges:  One Admiral’s Club, One LAN “Naruda” VIP lounge, and one catch all Salon VIP lounge which you can get into with your Platinum Amex, Priority Pass and a bunch of other loyalty programs and alliances. I thought this information might be useful for anyone who might be considering a trip to Santiago since I feel that the lounge access is one of the hidden gems of flying business class.  You can take the stress out of the airport by arriving early for your flight and have a comfortable place to work or surf while enjoying the free food and often times top shelf liquor on offer.

I started at the Admiral Club lounge, which had a rich feel to it with dark wood panelling and was quiet as a church without the usual TV noise that many lounges have.

Admiral's Club Lounge SantiagoIt is definitely the poshest of the three lounges with showers on offer and a nice serene environment.  I had a salad with oil and vinegar dressing and some chicken noodle soup, but I was looking for some more substantial food so I planned on checking out the other lounges to see what goodies they had.  I overheard one of the patrons raving about the wine selection and since I had just completed a wine tour the day before with copious amounts consumed, I decided not to partake.  I also connected to the wifi using the provided password and found speeds of about 700K up and 120K down, typical of a slower DSL type connection and not good for mailing off a bunch of huge pictures from Peru to my family.  When I arrived at the lounge the girls at reception assured me it was the nicest of the lounges and if you need to take a shower or want a really quiet place to work, I would tend to agree. They also had a business center on offer with internet kiosks and printers.

I then went to the LAN VIP lounge and as I checked in commented on how there was 3 lounge access with my LAN Business class ticket, they then assured me that their lounge was the nicest 🙂  The LAN lounge had a bit more modern feel to it with light wood panel walls and more contemporary furniture.

The food was much better at 4 PM when I was there with a variety of cheese and meat plates, finger sandwiches and later they brought in sushi which was a nice treat.  The most important thing to me as a travel blogger is that their internet was much faster at almost 2.5 MB upstream and down.  This allowed me to quickly send the 50 pictures to my family that they were waiting for which would have taken a long time at the other lounge. Another thing that was nice about this lounge was they had a “Rest Area” which was a separate enclosed room with dimmed lights, chaises with pillows and blankets which I took advantage of for a power nap.

The third lounge I actually only saw from the outside before I went to the LAN lounge and can tell you that it is definitely the most downmarket of the three lounges.  But since it is meant for pretty much any business class flight and you can get in many other ways such as Priority Pass and Platinum American Express this makes sense.  I saw that it had food and drinks on offer, but it just seemed a bit less impressive and I was happy enough in the LAN lounge that I never ended up checking it out.

I anticipate having an overnight in Lima before I can catch a flight back to Miami so I will probably have some time and can review the Lima lounge as well tomorrow. My trip was a short 12 days but I am honestly glad to get back home.  I will be putting up more detailed trip reports in future days but wanted to get this up since I had some time to kill while waiting for my flight.

100,000 Delta Skymiles Skymall promo results.

Back in December, Skymall had a promotion with Delta where they were giving 25,000 skymiles out with each order over $500 for the first 1,000 orders.  I like many others took advantage of this offer and since now all of my miles have posted I wanted to post my results so you can decide if it is worth it to do these sorts of offers in the future.  I will admit, I didn’t make the most of this offer but I am happy with my results.

I placed 4 separate orders for Galaxy tablets that ended up after tax and shipping with a cost of $666 each.  Additionally I was able to price match to Best Buy and received a credit of $50 per order.  This gave me a total cost of $2464 which I put on my Chase Sapphire Preferred which gave me 2464 Ultimate Reward points.  I then was able to sell all four of the tablets on Craigslist for $480, $450, $450, and $400.  The price varied so much because I was only able to sell the first one in the high demand before Christmas time and the remaining ones after.  This means I received $1780 for a net loss of $684.

So in essence I paid $684 for 100,000 skymiles or a little less than .7 cents per mile.  One of my potential uses for these miles will be a business class award ticket back to one of my favorite places, Thailand.  I compared the fare over the same dates that I could use these miles and ended with with a ticket that was over $7,000!  While I would never pay that much for a ticket, it shows that I could end up with $7,000 in value for $684 out of pocket.  Another way to look at it would be two coach seats from Miami to Thailand which are worth at least $1,200 each.  That gives you $2,400 in value for $684 cost.  Quite a deal! For a long haul flight like that though I would never fly coach unless I had no other options.

So there you have it and I hope this helps you in the future deciding if a promo is right for you! I know I will be taking advantage of this promo next time it is offered and will tell all of you about it here on TravelWithMiles.com.

3 Free American Admiral Club Passes for $5 though the ExtrAA programs!

This is a subject we haven’t talked about yet on TravelWithMiles, but this offer makes it worth discussing. American Airlines has a program for businesses to build brand loyalty called Business ExtrAA. Basically this is a miles type account for a business. It is meant for office managers, group bookings, or other people that book a reasonable amount of airline tickets. You typically get miles for every dollar you spend on airfare at a rate of one ExtrAA mile per $10 spent. Since a free roundtrip requires 2000 ExtrAA points, you need to spend at least $20K on airfare so it might take a while! They have other redemptions as well.

But right now, they are having a promotion with one of their partners called Vertical Response that is an email marketing firm where if you spend $5 you can get 1000 ExtrAA miles!  This is enough for half of a roundtrip coach domestic fare or 3 Admiral Club passes at 300 ExtrAA miles each.  When I went on my round the world trip, having lounge access was one of my favorite perks since I was in business class.  Free wifi, free food and alcoholic drinks and a super comfortable spot to sit while you wait for your flight.  I found myself trying to get to the airport a couple of hours early just to hang out in the lounge before my flight!  Having the pass allows you to have lounge access even if you are flying coach that day!

So sign up for a Business ExtrAA account and then click on this link to sign up with Vertical Response.  You do need to spend at least $5 to qualify for the 1,000 ExtrAA miles and the best way is to buy 334 emails for $5.01.  Then the 1,000 miles will be yours!

Kudos to The Points Guy for publishing this offer.