May 2 2015

1,000 Free Aadvantage Miles, Half Off Starbucks, Complimentary Wine Tasting, Free Museum Entrance, and JetBlue Signup Bonus

Happy weekend!

I’ve been cooped up all month thanks to work deadlines so I’m looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Here are a few good travel (and non-travel) deals to consider…

 

1,000 free American Airlines Aadvantage miles

This one’s really easy:

  • Go here and type in your “dream destination”
  • Watch all six videos and answer a question after each video (you don’t have to get the correct answer)
  • Enter your account information at the end

I value AA miles at 1.6 cents each, so I view this as $16 for about two minutes of my time. (I didn’t count the time it takes to actually watch the videos since I just let them run in another window while doing other things, only coming back to answer the question after each video.)

Promotion ends June 12, 2015.

 

7,000-point JetBlue signup bonus

If you’re not already a member of JetBlue’s loyalty program, TrueBlue, the airline is offering a new-member promotion.

JetBlue signup bonus

To earn 7,000 bonus TrueBlue points, join and register here then book a trip and fly by June 18, 2015. (The flight can be one way or round trip.)

I value a TrueBlue point at 1.4 cents, so this equates to a $98 bonus. That’s a great deal, especially considering JetBlue flights start at $49. Playing your cards well, you can essentially extract 3 flights for the price of 1 with this promotion.

 

50% off Starbucks

Now through May 10, Starbucks is offering 50% off Frappuccino beverages from 3-5pm. (Members of the My Starbucks Rewards program get an extra hour – until 6pm.)

Sbux happy hour

To me 50% off starts to make Starbucks prices seem reasonable, but you can do even better by paying with a Starbucks gift card acquired at a discount. (There are currently no deals on that, to my knowledge, but past examples would be this and this.)

 

Complimentary wine tasting at Andaz West Hollywood

On May 13, Andaz West Hollywood is hosting a complimentary wine tasting from 6-8pm.

While not something I’d personally go out of my way for, I might stop by if it were right on my way.

 

Free museum admission this weekend

Finally, just a quick reminder that this weekend Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders are offered free admission to 150+ museums.

Enjoy the weekend!

 

January 18 2015

US Airways 2,000-Mile Dining Bonus, Expedia $25 off $100, and More

Good evening! I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday weekend.

Don’t forget tomorrow, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, the National Park Service is offering free entrance to all US national parks.

For your travel-deal fix, here are a bunch of other offers.

 

2,000 US Airways miles for dining

You can earn 2,000 US Airways miles as a signup bonus with the US Airways dining program.

US Air dining signup bonus

To earn the bonus:

  • Join by February 1, 2015,
  • Spend $30 or more at a participating restaurant within 30 days of joining, and
  • Write a review (which is quick and painless to do).

The $30 must be spent in one transaction, but if you wouldn’t normally spend that much at one meal then just buy a gift card to use over time.

If you’re unfamiliar with travel-provider-affiliated dining programs, I explain here.

Even if you do not collect US Airways miles, this promotion is still valuable if you collect American Airlines miles.

As you may know, the two airlines merged in 2013. At this time their respective frequent flyer programs still operate separately. However, when they merge later this year, mileage balances will be combined.

So this promotion is also an indirect way to earn 2,000 American miles.

 

$25 off $100+ at Expedia

Expedia is offering coupons for $25 off a hotel booking of $100 or more made through the mobile app.

To obtain a coupon, enter your mobile number here. They will text you back a unique discount code.

The nice thing about this deal is that you can request up to three coupons per account (but must wait 24 hours between requests).

Coupons must be redeemed by March 31, 2015 for travel through the same date.

 

Travelocity savings

Travelocity also has a couple of mobile offers, but note they expire at 11:59 PM tonight (January 18):

Travelocity app coupons

For $30 off $100+ use code MOBILE30JAN. For $40 off $150+ use code MOBILE40JAN.

The terms limit these to one’s first hotel booking via app, so if you’ve previously used another Travelocity app coupon on the same account this one may not “take.”

Many national brands are excluded, but these are still nice discounts if you find a boutique hotel that works with your travel plans.

 

Other deals

Finally, a few random non-travel deals while I’m at it:

Enjoy the remaining weekend.

December 4 2014

Bonus Airline Miles for a Marriott Stay, Free Bed & Breakfast Gift Card (with Purchase)

$75 gift card from BedandBreakfast.com

BedandBreakfast.com is offering a $75 gift card when you purchase a gift card of $250 or more. (Several cards in smaller amounts also works as long as the total is $250+.) Even if you’re not a big B&B person this could make a good gift for those who are.

You can access the offer here. Be sure to use promo code CHEER and purchase by December 9, 2014.

BedandBreakfast GC

BedandBreakfast.com also offers “Hot Deals” – they change weekly and I occasionally spot some very nice discounts.

For example, this week at the Cabernet House in California’s Wine Country you can save 66% off the regular rate:

NapaB&B

Combine a 66%-off sale with a free $75 gift card and you’ve got a nice little deal!

Although the card is accepted at over 4,000 properties throughout the US and Canada, if you have your eye on a specific property I would check that it accepts gift cards before purchasing. Participating properties can be searched here.

(Note the T&Cs state your check-in date must be at least 7 days after the purchase date of the gift card.)

 

1,000 bonus airline miles for a Marriott stay

I saw this offer yesterday and snuck it onto the Travel Deals page without saying anything. 🙂

Marriott is offering 1,000 bonus airline miles for stays at select brands through January 31, 2015.

You must register in advance and book by December 31, 2014.

  • For American Airlines miles, register here.
  • For Delta, register here.
  • For US Airways, register here.

Also, be sure you’ve designated the respective airline program as the earnings preference in your Marriott Rewards profile.

Have a great rest of the day!

October 6 2014

7,500 American AAdvantage Miles for Test Driving a Cadillac

As part of a new partnership between American Airlines and Cadillac, the companies are offering 7,500 American miles for test driving a new Cadillac at a US dealership.

This has just been announced so I have not yet seen a lot of details, but it has been reported widely today. (Well, at least widely in my view, but I probably consume too much financial media.)

If you’re in the market for a new car, why not earn some miles for test driving one.

 

June 1 2014

Weekend Roundup of Travel News & Deals

Happy weekend again!

If you have young children to entertain, check out the movie Mr. Peabody & Sherman. I watched it today and found it not only funny but also educational about historical events and their geographic settings. Great for travel-minded kids.

Enjoy a few recent travel stories, and be sure to read about the appealing new-member offer from Marriott below.

Travel news and stories

Marriott free night promotion for new members

Marriott free night new member promo

Here are some high-level details of the promotion, but as always be sure to read the full T&Cs carefully.

  • Join Marriott Rewards® and be automatically registered to earn your Free Night Certificate.
  • Stay twice at a participating hotel during your earning period. Your earning period starts the day you enroll through the end of that month, plus an additional 120 days.
  • Earn your free night after your 2nd paid stay at any participating category 1-5 hotel.

A free night after two stays is generally a great deal and I’d be all over this if I were eligible. (Unfortunately it’s only open to new members.)

Avis promotion: up to 35% off + 7,500 AAdvantage bonus miles

[UPDATE: offer extended to August 31, 2014.]

From the offer landing page:

Now through July 15, 2014, American Airlines AAdvantage® members can earn up to 7,500 AAdvantage bonus miles from Avis on rentals of 1 or more consecutive days at participating Avis airport locations in the U.S., Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Earn 1,000 AAdvantage bonus miles on rentals of 1-2 days.
  • Earn 3,000 AAdvantage bonus miles on rentals of 3-4 days.
  • Earn 5,000 AAdvantage bonus miles on rentals of 5-6 days.
  • Earn 7,500 AAdvantage bonus miles on rentals of 7 or more days.

Use coupon # MUAA036 and provide your AAdvantage number at the time of reservation or at the rental counter to earn your AAdvantage bonus miles. This offer is in addition to your everyday savings of up to 35% when you use AWD # K817187.

Remember an American Airlines award ticket starts at 12,500 miles. If you need to rent a car anyway, doing so through with this deal could get you 60% of the way to a free flight.

Finally, don’t forget to check our permanent, regularly-updated Travel Deals page for more promotions.

May 25 2014

Weekend Roundup of Travel News & Deals

Welcome to the (unofficial) start of summer! Amid your weekend festivities, please bear in mind the meaning of Memorial Day and take a moment to remember those who served.

I received an email from Cunard Line about their military cruise benefit and wanted to pass it along as a reminder that such discounts are often available (though not always broadly advertised) with other travel providers as well. If in doubt, it never hurts to ask!

Travel news and stories

Speaking of serene, I snapped this flying into Munich earlier this month. Can never get enough of the scenery on that approach.

MUC approach

A couple of quick deal notes

You can earn up to 100,000 bonus American AAdvantage miles for qualifying roundtrip flights between North America and Europe.

There’s a similar offer for earning bonus British Airways Avios although this one excludes Mexico.

Don’t forget to register first.

The catch with these is the flight needs to be in full-fare economy or higher. (If you’re unsure which fares qualify, the T&Cs specify which fare classes do.)

So these promos could work well for business travel if your employer buys such fares; not so much if you’re looking at discounted fares.

Enjoy the holiday weekend!

April 10 2014

Contrasting Perspectives on the American Airlines Devaluation

The miles-and-points world has been all a’twitter over American Airlines’ sudden devaluation of its frequent flyer program this week. While it was destined for devaluation, as all loyalty programs are over time, we were stunned by the manner in which AA communicated – or failed to communicate – the changes. Indeed, AA quietly loaded the changes to its online booking engine in the middle of the night, then released a statement the next morning touting program “enhancements.”

If you’re already familiar with the new changes, feel free to scroll to the next section lest I bore you recapping the changes.

The Changes

I shared a side-by-side comparison of the old and new programs, which showed that for many award tickets – particularly those in premium cabins – the miles required increased significantly.

For example, look at the price of a first class ticket between North America and Europe.

1

The price of a MileSAAver award (an award with limited availability and subject to capacity controls) did not change from 62,500 miles. However, the more flexible AAnytime ticket, which required 125,000 miles pre-devaluation, will now vary (but certainly increase) in price depending on which day you travel: 140,000 miles for a low-demand day, 175,000 for a higher-demand day, and “ * ” for what the press release terms “the busiest travel days of the year.” They haven’t even quantified that asterisked amount, so far only saying that “on those days, American will offer a higher reward redemption option.”

Changes to most other regions follow a similar pattern, and rather than rehash them all let me refer you to this side-by-side comparison of the old and new charts.

While the new mileage requirements affect travel starting June 1, other “enhancements” were effected immediately. Notably:

  • The ability to book a free stopover on an international award ticket was eliminated. Personally this is a significant loss as I got huge value from having a free stopover (of practically unlimited duration) on an international award ticket; it was almost like getting two tickets for the price of one. In fact, I found out about the devaluation while trying to book this very award – and was shocked/perplexed to see the booking engine charge for a stopover instead of making it free.
  • The “oneworld Explorer Award” was also eliminated. While relatively obscure, it was a valuable award akin to a round-the-world ticket.

Other changes include reductions in the number of free checked bags for certain travelers and increased fees here and there. As I mentioned previously, there are some positive changes but they are relatively inconsequential and certainly eclipsed by the negatives.

My Consumer Perspective

Most upsetting is not the changes per se, but that they were implemented without notice. Literally overnight.

Yes, this miles and points hobby is a game (I even refer to it by that exact term sometimes). But, to use a sports analogy, you can’t change the rules in the middle of a play and expect people to be fine with it.

It is a service provider’s prerogative to change its pricing any time, but that doesn’t mean we as consumers have to like it. Many AA customers are making their displeasure known, as they should. The #AAdvantageMAAsacre hashtag isn’t trending without reason.

The lack of notice is, in a word, egregious.

Some people saved up miles for years, planning to redeem them for an aspirational award. They shifted their business to AA and its partners, perhaps forgoing cheaper tickets or more convenient flight times offered elsewhere, to amass enough miles for a particular award.

Then suddenly the rug was pulled out from below. Lack of notice leaves consumers without opportunity to mitigate the damage.

The stopover award I tried to book that night went from costing 20,000 miles to 32,500 miles – a 63% increase – without any advance notice. I hadn’t booked sooner hoping more award space would open up, but had I known the cost would rise that night I would’ve made sure to book before it rose. Simple as that.

My Business Perspective

Whether by increasing revenue, reducing costs, or other means, a for-profit company must be profitable to remain viable. In fact, the “old” American filed bankruptcy just a few years ago.

If AA must make program “enhancements” to remain viable, I accept that. I’d rather have more airlines than less airlines. Because the fewer there are, the less competition there is. And diminished competition usually leads to increased prices (among other drawbacks).

Furthermore, devaluation in itself is a natural economic process. Just as monetary currency loses value over time due to inflation, miles diminish in value over time due to miles inflation.

And I’ve seen a lot of miles inflation over the years. These days, you can get 50,000 (sometimes 100,000) miles at once just by getting a credit card. Consider that many people (myself included) apply for multiple new cards a year for the main purpose of earning miles and points, and you have many miles being earned for relatively little cost and effort.

If earning miles gets easier, redeeming them must get proportionately harder. Otherwise, a supply-demand imbalance results and the system breaks down. Devaluation is a re-balancing mechanism. When there are more miles in circulation than award seats available to redeem those miles for, an efficient market responds by pushing up the price of award seats.

Takeaway

We can’t change this devaluation or prevent future ones. They’re a fact of an efficient market.

And I’m certainly not going to stop playing this game. For me it’s not only rewarding (even post-devaluation), but intrinsically fun.

Instead, my “strategy” is to avoid hoarding miles and points. Yes, I exert effort to earn them, but I’m equally keen to use them. I like to travel, and I redeem miles and points to do so whenever practical. Consequently, I’ve saved a lot of money on travel over the years.

I’m all for saving money, but not for saving miles. Money, invested wisely, grows. Miles are not an investible asset; they are an illiquid currency with little value outside of their respective loyalty program.

So have fun earning miles, but even more fun using them.

April 8 2014

#AAdvantageMAAsacre Award Chart – a Side by Side Comparison

By now you’ve likely seen today’s big miles-and-points news – the sudden devaluation of American Airlines’ frequent flyer program. As United and Delta changed their programs for the worse (rather significantly) in recent months, AA was ripe for its own devaluation. While today’s press release proclaimed “new award travel options” and “enhancements,” the bottom line is not favorable to we who earn and redeem miles.

To be fair, some of the changes are indeed for the better. But they are the minority, vastly outweighed by unfavorable changes. I have many thoughts on the matter, but sharing them today would come off as a rant so let me just share the quantitative side of things today.

I nerded out and made a chart. The layout of AA’s old award chart (now valid for travel through May 31) is inconsistent with its new award chart (valid for travel starting June 1), making comparison difficult. I tried to solve that by creating charts of consistent layout. It was not possible to fully align the old and new award categories as AA changed some regional definitions and award tiers, but I tried to lump the regions together as logically as possible.

Here they are:

1

2

3

4

While the numbers tell some of the story, there are material changes to the program aside from just increased mile requirements. Significant among them is that the ability to book a free stopover on an international award ticket has been eliminated.

Also, no more free checked bags with AAnytime award and full-fare economy tickets (for legacy American), and one fewer free checked bag for AAdvantage Gold members and Dividend Miles Platinum and Gold members.

The asterisks currently showing on the new award chart? A mystery for now, perhaps even to AA itself – which apparently hasn’t determined (or at least communicated) what it will charge for redemptions in that highest tier.

It is entirely possible there are typos on my charts, so please point out any and I will happily make corrections.

March 21 2014

~1,000 Free AA Miles

AA

Here’s a pretty painless way to earn free American Airlines miles.  For participating in the AAdvantage® Passport Challenge, you can earn over 10,000 bonus miles.  Although you must fly to earn most of that, you can potentially earn over 1,000 from some quick, free, and occasionally entertaining activities.

I spent about 15 minutes, earned just a tad over 1,000 miles, and even learned a few things about AA’s new product offerings.  Considering a free flight between the US and Europe starts at 20,000 miles on AA, I’d say it was worth the time of day.  I re-played the game (for a family member’s AA account that I manage) for another ~1,000 miles in half the time.

You must like AA on Facebook.  After that, it’s possible to earn ~700 miles answering trivia questions and another ~350 “sharing” on Facebook.

Some tips:

  • To avoid spamming all your Facebook friends you can set the sharing activities visibility to “custom” or “only me.”  On the sharing box that pops up, there is a settings drop-down on the bottom left.  Or you can forgo the sharing activities and still earn up to 700 miles from the trivia games.
  • To maximize earnings, be sure to click on all the games, including the “Fly & Earn” ones at the bottom.
  • Don’t fret about getting the correct answers.  Most of them are evident, you get 2 tries (out of usually 3 possible answers), and a few times I struck out on both tries yet it looked as if I got the miles anyway.  However, so my parents don’t think that the money they spent on my education was a complete waste, let me just say that I nailed most of the questions.

For those who don’t fly AA much, this is also worthwhile as it should extend the expiration date on the miles you already have.

The game ends on May 23, 2014.