Citi Prestige Trip Cancellation Benefit doesn’t cover miles refunds

In an attempt to recoup the value of a ticket my wife and I had to cancel I called the phone number on the back of our Citi Prestige card in order to file a trip cancellation refund request. We had used the card to pay the taxes on a mileage trip on Korean Airlines, whose generous refund rules allow you to recoup much of your losses for not that much money (miles, actually). That being said, they still deduct miles in order to process the refund according to this chart:

So, due to the international nature of our travel we each lost 3,000 Korean Air Skypass miles in the transaction (and we got the rest back, including the taxes). So, when I called Citi, I wasn’t necessarily expecting anything magical, but I was hoping they would refund some kind of dollar value of the 6,000 miles that we lost. Turns out the answer is no. They don’t refund miles. I’ve been a happy customer of Citi Prestige for a while and love all their insurance benefits but it turns out this one they don’t help with. It’s not that big a deal – 6,000 miles is a small price to pay to get everything back easily, but it’s annoying.

Good to know for the future, though, I’m sure.

Win 350,000 miles on American Airlines (and get taxed for it!)

Right now American Airlines has an interesting promotion called Miles for Milestones with either no downside or a pretty strange downside. For the 35th anniversary of their AAdvantage program they are offering 35 people a chance to win 350,000 AA miles to use on any of their routes or award partner routes. In addition, each entrant earns 350 miles just for signing up.

The upsides: you could earn enough AA miles to go round-trip first class for free to anywhere in the world. Or you will definitely earn a small amount of miles to help you get to your next domestic flights.

The downside: in the terms and conditions at the bottom of the site, it lists the “total ARV of each Prize [as] $6,965.” This may sound like a windfall but it’s possible they will send you a 1099-MISC form requiring you to pay taxes on the “income” you received as part of the prize.

I would still recommend signing up for the promotion anyway because the benefits far outweigh the costs. Imagine spending 25k miles on each roundtrip flight inside the US and you would earn 13 free flights with this prize. I signed up for it this morning.

Good luck!

How we booked a Winter Break excursion for less than $500

My wife and I want to get some sun this Winter Break and since my parents recently bought a condo in Florida, we thought it would be a good idea to spend some time down there. Obviously, saving on housing is a big plus, but even without that expense, plane tickets for the December 23-31 timespan were ranging from $400 each for the least desirable times (departing a 5:45am? no thanks) to $850 each for the best times. Instead, we opted to use our miles and get as cheap deals as possible for whatever else we could.

For the flight down, we opted for using our United Mileage Plus account to the tune of 25,000 miles each for the one-way trip. The only time we could leave on December 23 was after 6:30pm because I teach until 3:05pm, which would have cost us $397 each:

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Since we used 25K miles + $5.60 each for the September 11th fee, the price per mile is calculated the following way:

$397 – $5.60 = $391.40
$391.40/25,000 = 0.0156 (or 1.56 cents per mile)
The Points Guy values United miles at 1.5 cents each so we were just above that value.

Total dollar cost for these flights was $11.20 for our tickets.

For our rental car we found a deal with Budget for only $470 for the week. The method to keep this cost down while maintaining coverage is twofold:

1) Knowing that if you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you get primary auto insurance. Therefore, you can decline their Liability Damage Waiver that can get excessively expensive.

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2) Knowing that according to Budget’s terms of service, spouses and domestic partners can be added as additional drivers for no extra fee. You do need to show up and display a driver’s license but you would not have to pay the $14/day extra.Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.22.29 AM

Total dollar cost for rental car was $470.

Finally, since we are visiting Providence, RI for the day following this trip, I knew we would need to find a connecting flight from Fort Lauderdale up north. I turned to Southwest Airlines, as they are a transfer partner of Chase. I found a flight that would cost $217 each on their “Wanna Get Away” fair that comes with free checked bags.

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Since I was trying to minimize cost, however, I opted for the points amount of 13,381 miles + $5.60 fee. Price per mile calculation:

$217 – $5.60 = $211.40
$211.40/13,381 = 0.0157 (or 1.57 cents per mile)
The Points Guy values Southwest airlines miles at 1.3 cents per mile, so we had ourselves a pretty good deal.

Total cost for return flights: $11.20

Final total cost for entire trip: $492.40.

(Amount saved: $397 @ 2 = $794; $217 * 2 = $434; $28 * 7 days = $196; Total saved: $1,424).

We look forward to our time on the beach!

How to get to Southeast Asia in style

This summer I am feeling a bit antsy since for the first time in 11 years I am not doing an enormous amount of travel. I usually travel internationally (to Israel and beyond, more or less) and this time am sticking close to home with small trips on the east coast and Chicago.

That being said, it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to dream! I’ve been eyeing some tickets to Southeast Asia just to find out how many miles they would cost and what kind of planes they would be. I reviewed some of the first-class options two days ago that was mainly using Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Here, though, I’m going to talk about using American Airlines miles, which can often be a better use of your points.

The two important things you must know are:

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 7.46.44 AM1) American Airlines has a great partner award travel chart. As a member of the oneworld alliance, you have access to amazing airlines like Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, and more. Their chart shows that you can get from the US to Southeast Asia (known as Asia Regions 1 and 2 in this chart) for at most 67,500 miles one-way (in first class, no less). Sometimes you can even do it for 25,000 in economy.

2) You can’t easily search these flights on the American Airlines website. To better your search capacity, using British Airways Avios search tool (it sounds weird, but it’s true).

First, you must make sure you are a member of the British Airways Executive Club (sometimes there are sign-up bonuses but don’t let that make you hesitate).

Then, you can use their search tool to ostensibly find British Airways flights, when in fact you will find all the partner flights as well. For example, here is a search from New York to Singapore on February 26:Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 7.56.24 AM

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Or you could try using another airline on February 23:

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All these flights would be available for American Airlines mile-users. The one caveat to note, however, is that American Airlines only allows the fares listed above if traveling directly to that region. In the case of the British Airways and Qatar Airways flights, they are technically flying through an extra region to get to Singapore, so your flights would be broken up into two segments and priced accordingly.

In any case, it is important to note this method when you want to find these flights. It is hard to find them otherwise.

Test drive a Cadillac for free and earn 7,500 AAdvantage miles

As many in the travel blog world have already done, today I signed up for a test drive of a new Cadillac in order to receive 7,500 AAdvantage miles for free. While some had issues getting a hold of a representative (and had to wait over an hour) my wait time was more like five minutes. I used the Get Human service to receive a free callback so I didn’t have to wait on the line (wonderful!) and then answered a few questions about if I currently own a car, when I’m looking to buy, etc.

This is my first time officially test-driving a car and I don’t have the money to buy one anyway. We’ll see how it goes!