STEVE & PAT’S 2015 FREE TRAVEL UPDATE
BETTER THAN CHEAP … FREE TRAVEL!
We mention the above because all our travel (airline flights) was FREE, most often using our favorite American AAdvantage award flights on both American and its many sister airlines i.e. British Airways and Spain’s Iberia Airlines.
We have always believed that our readers should likewise be enjoying the benefits of free airline travel to both domestic and exotic foreign destinations.To this noble end here is our abbreviated ‘Primer’ on Free air travel.
Caveat: When is Free really Free? Ex. I ask you to pay me ten dollars on condition that I will then immediately give you $50 back. You give me $10 and I give you a crisp $50 bill in return. IF you agree you have just been given a FREE gift of $40 then read on….
FREE TRAVEL FOR YOU
Most often we arrange for free global travel using our favorite American AAdvantage free travel program. As often as we are spending thousands of free award miles we are also amassing thousands of new program miles. Despite the fact that we do not gain any new miles from our free award flights we are able to amass new miles from other sources.
Following are our recommendations for entering the world of free airline travel:
1) YOU MUST DO THIS ASAP: Apply for free frequent flyer accounts with American Airlines, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Delta Airlines and British Airways. Open a folder for each airline including their passwords and PIN numbers and your account numbers. Here are links to the airline’s enrollment sites:
Hawaiian Miles Enrollment site: https://apps.hawaiianairlines.com/myhawaiianmiles/Enroll/Enrollment.aspx
American AAdvantage Enrollment site: https://www.aa.com/AAdvantage/quickEnroll.do
United Airlines MileagePlus Enrollment site: http://www.united.com/web/en-US/apps/account/enroll.aspx
Delta Airlines Dividend Miles Enrollment site: https://content.delta.com/content/dam/delta-www/pdfs/skymiles/SkyMiles_Enrollment_under13.pdf
British Airways Executive Club Enrollment site: http://www.britishairways.com/travel/execenrol/public/en_gb?prim=execclub
2) Start reaping FREE MILES NOW! With a few clicks on the keyboard 90% of you can easily qualify for your first free award travel flights. Here is our all important update article on our all-time favorite Citibank FREE travel promotion.
FAREWELL to CITIBANK’S BEST LONG RUNNING FREE TRAVEL PROMOTION HELLO to CITIBANK’S NEW PROMOTION: MORE RULES & BIGGER 50,000 MILES PAYOFF
Citibank’s new ‘replacement’ promotion is a less user friendly version of the above original. On the plus side there is a silver lining to this cloud. With a bit of planning and more spending you we can receive lots more bonus miles. These extra bonus miles can now qualify for instant award flights not only to Europe but also to far distant destinations such as China and Australia.
Here is the new smorgasbord of FOUR CITIBANK CARDS:
THREE CARDS (2 personal & 1 business) that offer 50,000 Bonus Miles
* Apply for Citibank’s (1) AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard (2) AAdvantage Platinum Select World Business MasterCard and/or (3) the personal non-business AAdvantage Platinum Select World MasterCard (not pictured)
* Just as before, the card’s annual fees ($95) are waived the first year
* Spend $3000 on purchases within three months of the account’s opening date
* Receive a whopping 50,000 bonus miles
* First bags checked for you and up to four travel companions are free
* Early group 1 boarding
* Receive 25% discount on in-flight food and beverages
ONE 25,000 Bonus Miles card (shown above):
* Apply for Citibank’s Gold MasterCard
* The card’s annual $50 fee is waived the first year
* Spend just $750 on purchases within three months of the account’s opening date
* Receive 25,000 Bonus Miles
HOW EASY IT TO CHARGE $3,000 IN 3 MONTHS?
95% of us spend most or all of our pay checks. We spend large amounts of money on:
* Supermarket food, drinks etc.
*Cell phone bills
* Any and all recurring payments i.e. Netflix, gas/electric, insurance etc.
* Education (all expenses from pre-school to post graduate degree study)* Gift purchases
* Transportation (including car maintenance, gas, commuter costs, insurance etc.)
* Home repairs/construction
* Big ticket item purchases
Many of us also have comfort, convenience and plain FUN items coming up for large payments. These often include:
* New car or boat
* Gifts i.e. jewelry
* Hobbies i.e. tablets/phones/cameras
* Sports gear
* Digital world i.e computers
With all this spending going on it is likely that most of us can select the ‘right’ time to obtain one of the above Citibank cards.
TIP: Use any one of the Citibank cards you have obtained as YOUR MAIN CARD FOR ALL FUTURE PURCHASES. That is the card you will keep even after the first free year. Forget using checks for future purchases. Instead use your MAIN Citibank card for ALL future purchases wherever and whenever possible.
TIP: One big exception applies to credit card abusers. If you can not handle the responsible use of credit cards then this promotion is not for you.
TAKING OUR OWN ‘APPLY FOR A CARD’ and ‘HOW EASY TO SPEND’ ADVICE:
We each carry a Citibank AAdvantage card. In addition to that we have applied for various Citibank AAdvantage promotion related cards over the years. As we were writing this article we thought to call Citibank and determine whether we qualified as ‘new card holders’ for at least one of the above 50,000 bonus miles cards. The answer was YES! Steve applied on the phone for the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. The 30 minute phone application found Steve approved on the spot. We also targeted our application with a large upcoming bill just weeks away. Steve’s new card arrives in 7 days AND we have the final $2,200 payment on our Spring cruise due in about 20 days. That payment will make it a cinch to meet the $3,000 in 90 days spending requirement. Broad smiles as once again we reap the rewards of practicing what we preach.
We love options and you have a couple of good ones to chose from:
Once approved you should have your new card in about 10-15 days. Plan to obtain one of the above ‘personal’ 50,000 Bonus Miles cards when you know you can meet the $3,000 spending requirement within three months from the date your card account opened. That will likely be the date you receive an email telling you that your card application has been approved so you may have 2 ½ months in real time to spend the $3,000. With that said our ‘necessaries’ purchases alone over 2 ½ months can do it alone. Add one or two big ticket items and it can be a shoe in.
You will then have 50,000 American Airline miles good for an off-season round trip ticket to Paris and most other western Europe destinations.
Next, apply for the 50,000 miles Business Card. Easy to do if you have your own business. If you do not have your own business see below. Once you have your Business card repeat the above steps and you will have another 50,000 miles, enough for two round trip tickets to Europe or one round trip ticket to such as China or Australia.
Let us say you do not have your own business and do not wish to start-up a sole proprietor business. You have yet another option. After you have collected your first 50,000 miles (about 3 months after receiving your first card) go ahead and apply for the second 50,000 mile personal MasterCard. Citibank will likely approve a second card so long as some time has passed between the two applications.
SOLE PROPRIETOR TIP: We knew a lady, Mary. She dreamed of having her own business, Mary’s Pies. One day she sold 20 apple pies (some say she bought them from her local super market). She got a blank receipt off the web and sold the pies to a friend for $100. The receipt was made out to Mary’s Pies. Mary tucked the receipt into her Mary’s Pies sales folder and Mary now had a successful start-up business and was legally called a sole proprietor. She also now qualified to apply for any and all business credit cards.
Check out this wonderful article: How to fill out a business card application by Million Mile Secrets. The article expands on our above TIP and talks about such as a sole proprietor selling cookies and with income of under $100.
Also be sure to use the link, at the start of the article, to a second article titled: 3 Ways You May Qualify For A Business Credit Card.
Here is the link to How to fill out a business card application : http://millionmilesecrets.com/2011/06/10/how-to-fill-out-a-business-credit-card-application/
If you want the easiest route to bonus miles and/or you are not ready or able to spend the $3,000 over three months apply for the Citibank Gold MasterCard with its very low $750 spending requirement to obtain your $25,000 bonus miles. This is also a good card to keep ‘forever’ and which you should use for ALL your future . In no time at all you will find yourself amassing thousands more miles.
TIP: Option #2 leaves you with 25,000 bonus miles which qualifies you for an instant round trip ticket to any lower 48 USA destination or a one way low season ticket to most of western Europe. If you use this card for all your purchases then by years end you may well have 35,000 miles. You can purchase 5,000 miles for $149. With 40,000 miles you qualify for a free off-season (mid Sept to mid May) round trip ticket to most of western Europe, Hawaii and plus many other destinations.
LINK to these three Citibank cards: (1) AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard (2) AAdvantage Platinum Select World Business MasterCard (3) Gold Mastercard
Citi Business Platinum Select MasterCard offer details:
Citi Platinum Select World MasterCard offer details:
Comprehensive review of the new Citibank program by Ivan Daniel:
GETTING AN ‘EXTRA’ FREE STOPOVER WHEN BOOKING AN AWARD FLIGHT
Sadly American AAdvantage has done away with ‘extra’ free flights one could previously book as part of an award. Extra free domestic flights, free ‘first gateway’ stopover flights and extra free flights within Europe are no longer offered. All is not totally lost. In September we booked the equivalent of a free stopover in Maui en route home from Australia. Here is how we did it:
TWO FLIGHT ‘SEGMENTS’ CAN EQUAL A FREE STOPOVER
Formerly, one could, for example, book a round trip award flight to Australia. You could then, on the way home, use the ‘first free gateway stopover’ rule to fly to Hawaii and then later take your next free flight home. In September we did the same thing, even though free gateway stops are no longer offered. American’s awards are now booked as segments. We booked segment #1 Brisbane to Maui and two weeks later segment #2 Maui to San Francisco. The miles for booking these two segments equaled the miles we would have paid for one flight from Brisbane to San Francisco. This time around we were winners!
TIP: If you want a ‘shot’ a getting a free stopover check the segments, as in our above Australia example, to determine whether or not the two segments requires the payment of extra miles.
TIP: Knowing the dollar value of free miles is a ‘must’ in order to evaluate which free miles programs are worth pursuing. This is especially true when you come across airline promotions that require an up front payment of their annual fee. These fees usually range from $50 to $95. Also know the cost of buying miles you may need to top off your account so as to qualify for the award flight you wish to book.
ESTIMATING THE VALUE OF FREE MILES:
Let us use a NY to SF round trip flight for this example. Currently the lowest Virgin Airways round trip flight is priced at about $400. At 25,000 miles for two round trip award segments we find that each mile is worth 1.6 cents.
Example: Sadly, my recent dentist visit cost $1,000. The dentist accepts MasterCard but offers a 5% ($50) discount for cash. Using the above formula we know that the 1,000 program miles are worth about $16. Another words I would have to pay $50 (by giving up the cash discount) in order to receive $16 worth of airline miles. Not worth it…so I paid by check. This is an exception to the ‘use your Citibank for all purchases rule.’
TIP: We just paid a whopping $89 each when applying for US Airways credit cards.
Why you may be asking? In return, we received a total of 50,000 bonus miles each.
Because of the high annual fee there was virtually no spending requirement. As soon as we made first single purchase i.e. $5 each for gas, we each obtained our 50,000 bonus miles. Using our handy dandy formula these miles are worth at least $800 which means we spent $89 for $800 of free airline travel.
JUNK MAIL WE LOVE: Keep a sharp eye out for Free airline travel deals and other ‘free miles’ deals. Such deals arrive in our collective mail boxes regularly but are all too often ‘tossed’ to the circular basket. One week Patty received a United Airlines envelope. The outer envelope said: 40,000 free miles. Patty applied for the United credit card and received her 40,000 free bonus miles. Her annual card fee was waived so that she paid zero for the 40,000 miles. The next week Steve received a similar envelope. The same 40,000 bonus miles BUT this time Steve had to pay a $75 annual fee for the card. Steve grumbled a bit, bit his tongue, paid the $75 and happily received his 40,000 miles worth $640 in free airline travel. Why different offers? Because on occasion banks will send offers to a select list of those who are former card holders and/or who have one or more ‘other’ of their bank cards. Hence, we were each ‘invited’ to participate in similar but different features offers. We do our best to publish new offers in our CTN.
Example: Two years ago a reader informed us of a fabulous British Airways offer. Those paying $75 for the BA credit card would receive a whopping 100,000 miles. This translates, for example, to a one way ticket from San Francisco to Paris for $22.50. Or, using our 1.6 cents per mile formula this amounted to $1,200 worth of free BA travel.
SWAPPING CARDS: For two or three years the two of us used our Citibank and spouse cards to amass miles. By spouse card we refer to the fact that Citibank and other banks will usually give you, per your request, a FREE second spouse card. Since most Airlines like American Airlines do NOT permit husbands and wives to combine accounts there may be times that one or the other spouse needs more miles.
EXAMPLE: Patty may have 26,000 miles sufficient for a free SF to NY flight but my account has only 23,000. I give Patty my second Citibank MasterCard, the free spouse card with her name on it and we use both these cards to quickly get my account up to the needed 25,000 miles.
HOW EASY IS ALL THIS: PRETTY DARN EASY. We never make a time consuming career of all this. Mostly we dutifully make our mileage related credit card purchases using our favorite Citibank and simply keep an eye out for new offers.
Note: We are able to and do PAY OUR CREDIT CARD BILLS IN FULL EACH MONTH thereby avoiding all interest charges. For this reason we are not concerned with our credit cards interest rates.
REMINDER TIP: Once you have received “NO FIRST YEAR FEE” card(s), used them at least once and received your FREE BONUS MILES you are never required to renew the cards. We have cancelled scores of such cards over the years and NO, it has not had any significant ill affect on our credit ratings. If you forget to cancel and at years end receive a renewal bill you usually have 30 more days to simply call the bank and request that both the card and the bill be cancelled.
Please DO IT! Enjoy the world of free airline travel!