frequent flier miles http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/12827/all en-US Route, Connections, Price: How Far Will You Go for a Cheap Flight? http://www.wisebread.com/route-connections-price-how-far-will-you-go-for-a-cheap-flight <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/route-connections-price-how-far-will-you-go-for-a-cheap-flight" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5878300387_f37183d6ff_z.jpg" alt="reading map" title="reading map" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>I despise booking airfare. It's a laborious, tedious process rife with loopholes and changing price points that I don't understand. And I know &mdash; <em>I just know&nbsp;</em>&mdash; that as soon as I click &ldquo;buy&rdquo;, I'll find another fare (probably on a better airline no less) for a fraction of what I paid.&nbsp;</p> <p>So, instead of clicking &ldquo;buy,&rdquo; I spend days and days (weeks, really) manually performing searches to try and find the best combination of route, connections, and price. And unfortunately, the three are not harmoniously correlated. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Which&nbsp;Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability</a>)</p> <h2>How to Find the Best Route</h2> <p>If you're short on travel time, then you probably don't want to go too far out of your way for a cheap flight. But don't just do a point A-B search; if you're flying from Miami to London, consider other major ports of departure (or arrival). It might be best to hop on a cheap flight to New York or Atlanta and catch a seat sale from there to London instead.</p> <p>Personally I find this to be the most tedious part of the process, but a necessary evil. How do you search for alternate destination/arrival points? A few ways:</p> <p><strong>Widen Your Search</strong></p> <p>Many flight search engines have the ability to &ldquo;search nearby airports.&rdquo; Make sure this box is checked.</p> <p><strong>Consider Different Arrival and Departure Points</strong></p> <p>Popular routes often have seat sales. Search different major departure and arrival points (and if you can, be flexible with your flight dates/times).</p> <p><strong>Book Directly With the Airline</strong></p> <p>Once you've found a few airlines that fly your route, ditch the search engines and see what the airline's website has to offer. You might discover a seat sale that fits your needs.</p> <h2>How to Find the Best Connections</h2> <p>This is the biggest variable; one that, in conjunction with finding the best route, can result in the trip being a soul-destroying ordeal or a walk in the park. Much of it depends on what you're willing to pay for.</p> <p>I made a trip from Toronto to Melbourne a few years ago that lasted over 50 hours. This is because I already had a cheap flight from New York, but I waited too long to find a connecting flight from Toronto to New York. I ended up taking an overnight bus and waiting the better part of a day in the airport, thus extending an already long trip by about 18 (unenjoyable) hours.</p> <p>A subsequent trip from Auckland to Madrid took over 45 hours. Granted it's a long journey no matter which way you slice it, but since I was on a mission to fly in business class using my <a target="_blank" href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-travel-hacking-cartel-fly-around-the-world-for-almost-free">frequent flier miles</a>, I conceded to spending 12 hours overnight in the Bangkok airport en route. (After sleeping on the airport floor for six hours, the business class lounge opened and I enjoyed a contrasting six hours getting free massages, free food, WiFi, and comfy lounge chairs. It was a good trade-off!)</p> <p>Here are some tips for working out your connections.</p> <p><strong>Leave Time Between Connecting Flights</strong></p> <p>I despise missing connections. So I generally refuse to book a flight with anything less than a two-hour connection time. Even with this buffer I've found myself on delayed flights, tearing through the airport to make the connecting flight in time &mdash; with varying degrees of success.</p> <p><strong>Consider Other Forms of Transportation</strong></p> <p>Instead of doing a short-haul flight to connect to a longer one, it might be easier &mdash; and/or cheaper &mdash; to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/alternatives-to-flying-other-ways-to-get-from-here-to-there">take a bus or train</a> to/from your major departure/arrival point.</p> <h2>How to Find the Best Price</h2> <p>Price is usually the bottom line for people, but the question remains &mdash; how far will you go to get that cheap flight?</p> <p>Last year I had to travel from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale. Following the route and connection tips above, I had a few options:</p> <ol> <li>Fly direct return from Toronto to Fort Lauderdale for $400 (and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.theprofessionalhobo.com/2011/12/financial-travel-tip-8-flying-for-free-or-almost-free/">collect preferred air miles</a>&nbsp;in so doing).<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fly from Toronto to Miami for $50 less, and contend with my Floridian friend's overwhelming distaste for the Miami airport and extra time on her part spent picking me up and dropping me off.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Fly from Buffalo to Fort Lauderdale on a super-budget airline for $150.</li> </ol> <p>Really, the competition was between options one and three, since the $50 savings wasn't worth the hassle on my friend's part.</p> <p>And since Buffalo is a mere two-hour drive from Toronto, it appeared that option three would be the best balance of routes, connections, and price.</p> <p>Sadly, though, the airline's departure from Buffalo was at 7 a.m. (awkward flight times are a budget-airline signature). And I just couldn't find any way to get to Buffalo in time for that flight, shy of taking a bus the night before and either paying for a hotel or sleeping in the airport. The cost of the bus plus paying for a hotel would have negated the flight savings, and sleeping in the airport would have left me wrecked for my first few days in Florida.</p> <p>And as much as I specialize in <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">cheap full-time travel</a>, if the cheapest option isn't remotely reasonable or comfortable, I'm happy to pay a little more (especially if I can collect valuable frequent flier miles in the process.</p> <p>Budget airlines are an obvious option when searching for the best price. Here are a couple of other variables to consider in finding the best price.</p> <p><strong>Ditch the Search Engines</strong></p> <p>Search engines can be effective to get a general sense of what major airlines fly which routes, but they don't include many budget airlines and don't leave you privy to seat sales. Here's a technique I've used in the past to <a href="http://www.iwillteachyoutoberich.com/blog/cheap-travel/#tip1">save up to 80% on airfare</a>.</p> <p><strong>Monitor the Fare After You Buy</strong></p> <p>Some airlines will give you a refund on the price difference if your fare changes even after you purchase a ticket. Check out <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-lowest-price-on-airfare-even-after-you-buy">How to Get the Lowest Price on Airfare, Even After You Buy</a> for more info.</p> <h2>How Far Will You Go?</h2> <p>You'll notice that price, connections, and route are interrelated, yet conflicting &mdash; and most often confusing.</p> <p><em>What are your experiences? How far out of your way (or comfort zone) would you go for a cheap flight? Are budget airlines really all they're cracked up to be after everything is said and done? And where is the line between saving money and being comfortable? </em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Froute-connections-price-how-far-will-you-go-for-a-cheap-flight&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FRoute%2C%20Connections%2C%20Price-%20How%20Far%20Will%20You%20Go%20for%20a%20Cheap%20Flight-.jpg&amp;description=Route%2C%20Connections%2C%20Price%3A%20How%20Far%20Will%20You%20Go%20for%20a%20Cheap%20Flight%3F" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Route%2C%20Connections%2C%20Price-%20How%20Far%20Will%20You%20Go%20for%20a%20Cheap%20Flight-.jpg" alt="Route, Connections, Price: How Far Will You Go for a Cheap Flight?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/route-connections-price-how-far-will-you-go-for-a-cheap-flight">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-get-the-lowest-price-on-airfare-even-after-you-buy">How to Get the Lowest Price on Airfare, Even After You Buy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bringing-water-and-wheels-to-africa-my-amazing-frugal-vacation">Bringing Water and Wheels to Africa: My Amazing Frugal Vacation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions">How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/travel-and-money-using-your-credit-card-on-the-road">Travel and Money: Using Your Credit Card on the Road</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel booking airfare cheap flights frequent flier miles Mon, 25 Jun 2012 10:36:09 +0000 Nora Dunn 935296 at http://www.wisebread.com US Airways Promotion: How to Save on International Flights http://www.wisebread.com/us-airways-promotion-how-to-save-on-international-flights <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/us-airways-promotion-how-to-save-on-international-flights" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/5025838854_1bbf3d5fc8_z.jpg" alt="US Airways plane" title="US Airways plane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="141" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Right now there is an opportunity at US Airways to save money on an international trip. Through April 15, 2012, if you buy up to 50,000 US Airways Dividend miles, US Airways and Points.com will <a href="http://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/programdetails/purchasemiles/default.html">double your miles</a>. Thus, 50,000 miles becomes 100,000 miles. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">6&nbsp;Ways My&nbsp;Family&nbsp;Scores Free Travel With Credit Cards</a>)</p> <h3>How Much Does It Cost?</h3> <p>Each mile typically costs 3.5 cents each. With the bonus you can get miles for 1.75 cents each.</p> <p>Obviously, if you were going to consider this, you'd need to be buying tickets that are more expensive than the cost of the miles. The best way to do this is to buy miles to use for business class tickets. To be clear, this would typically not be a good deal on most domestic itineraries, but it could be a great deal for international flights.</p> <p>For example, let's look at flying from the United States to Australia. Depending on your departure city from the U.S., an economy class ticket to Australia could be around $2,000. However, through this promotion you can buy 75,000 miles for $1,330 (plus tax). That's a decent price. But, to make the value even better, you can buy 100,000 for $1,750. A round-trip ticket to Australia requires 110,000 points. As long as you have at least 10,000 miles in your account, you can turn that $1,750 purchase into a business class ticket to Australia.</p> <p>Best of all, if you book travel through Asia, you can add on an Asia stopover at no extra charge. Destinations that could be valuable include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Macau, Mongolia, S. Korea, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. These cities in Northern Asia require 90,000 miles for business class and 60,000 for economy.</p> <h3>The Best Course of Action</h3> <p>First of all, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. One is that when you fly on miles, you won't earn miles. A factor in the price difference calculation should include the miles you could have earned if you purchased a ticket instead of miles. Also, some destinations (like Australia mentioned above) are hard to get with miles. I had to book 11 months in advance to find availability. Other less competitive destinations could be booked closer to six months in advance.</p> <p>Here's what to do.</p> <p><strong>1. Search for Mileage Availability</strong></p> <p>Before you get too excited, you need to be sure there is availability around your dates.&nbsp;</p> <p>You can use your Dividend Miles for Star Alliance airlines that have &quot;Saver Awards&quot; availability. The simplest and most comprehensive way to search availability is at <a href="http://united.com">United.com</a>. Just type in your trip information, and click on &quot;Award Travel.&quot; Look for the &quot;Saver Awards,&quot; as those are eligible flights to use with Dividend Miles.</p> <p>Typically, you can expect to find a couple of business class seats far in advance, but don't expect to find enough <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-in-style-for-free">business class seats</a> for your family of six.</p> <p><strong>2. Call US Airways</strong></p> <p>If you see flights you are interested in, call US Airways Dividend Miles (you can't book international award flights online), and ask them to put the the flights on hold (which they will do for three days). Technically, you need the miles to do this, but usually they will hold them even if you don't have enough miles. If they say you don't have enough miles just tell them you are planning to buy the miles.</p> <p><strong>3. Buy Your Miles</strong></p> <p>Once you have tickets on hold and you've calculated the taxes and fees into the equation, then <a href="http://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/programdetails/purchasemiles/default.html">buy your miles</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>When you make your purchase, 25% of the miles you buy don't post automatically. Thus, this method works best if you already have some miles in your account and buy enough miles so that 75% of what you purchase will cover what you need.</p> <p>Finally, consider signing up for the <a href="http://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/creditcards/default.html">US Airways Dividend Miles credit card</a>. This card can give you 40,000 bonus miles plus a 5,000 mile discount when booking award tickets.</p> <p>I would almost never suggest buying miles on speculation only. However, if you have an upcoming international vacation or trip, you may find that you can lock in some seats for less than by buying miles instead of tickets.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/craig-ford">Craig Ford</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/us-airways-promotion-how-to-save-on-international-flights">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-frugal-fall-getaways-you-can-start-packing-for-now">10 Frugal Fall Getaways You Can Start Packing For Now</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-flight-booking-hacks-to-save-you-hundreds">10 Flight Booking Hacks to Save You Hundreds</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-best-websites-for-last-minute-airfare-deals">7 Best Websites for Last-Minute Airfare Deals</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/what-to-do-about-a-terrible-airbnb-stay">What to Do About a Terrible Airbnb Stay</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-ways-to-protect-your-luggage-on-your-next-trip">9 Ways to Protect Your Luggage on Your Next Trip</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Travel frequent flier miles international airfare vacation Fri, 30 Mar 2012 09:48:15 +0000 Craig Ford 914252 at http://www.wisebread.com Bringing Water and Wheels to Africa: My Amazing Frugal Vacation http://www.wisebread.com/bringing-water-and-wheels-to-africa-my-amazing-frugal-vacation <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bringing-water-and-wheels-to-africa-my-amazing-frugal-vacation" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/african-trip-lion.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>While I travel a lot, it&rsquo;s rarely with my parents, which is why I was surprised when I received a call from my father inviting me to join him on a trip &mdash; to Uganda. For some, Uganda might bring up images of infamous guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, or scenes from heart-wrenching film <em>The Last King of Scotland</em>. But my father has a much more personal relationship with the country.</p> <p>He founded The Clean Water Foundation, a non-government organization dedicated to bringing water and transportation to people in East Africa. That is why my father called &mdash; he wanted me to join him as he trekked into the tropical rainforests of the Virunga Mountains to see the gorillas, delivered bicycles to women in Buhoma, and helped bring water to a remote village that was the home of a man my parents had met on their last trip, three years ago. I said yes. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">6 Ways My&nbsp;Family Scores Free Travel</a>)</p> <h3>10 Miles From the Nile &mdash; With No Clean Water</h3> <p><img width="605" height="410" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-woman-with-water.jpg" /></p> <p>Two days after landing in Uganda, we woke up in a modest tent hotel along the banks of the Nile, the longest river in the world, and waited for our guide and driver Owingi Milton to pick us up. My father had met Milton &mdash; as he prefers to be called &mdash; on his last trip to Uganda, when he stayed in a hotel that Milton was working in. Our primary goal for this trip was to bring water to the residents of Milton&rsquo;s home, Pandinga Village.</p> <p>As we hurtled down the heavily potholed dirt road, Milton told us that we are the first outsiders to visit Pandinga, and when my father and I arrived, we discovered several hundred people&nbsp;waiting for us. The leader of the village led a prayer to celebrate our arrival, referring to my father as &ldquo;Tata,&rdquo; or father of the village, and I was given the title of brother. Next, a procession of women arrived on their knees, bowed their heads, and crawled towards us with offerings of eggs, grains, peanuts, and three live chickens (Milton claimed he found good homes for the chickens). In return we gave them shoes, racquetballs, reading glasses, and assorted school supplies.</p> <p>We learned from the villagers that among their many needs, clean water is paramount. To emphasize this point, we were shown a skit dramatizing the social and medical consequences of 1,000 people attempting to subsist on water sources that are just muddy holes in the ground two miles away. These effects include infighting among the women who collect the water and families being broken up over stress and illness caused a lack of clean water. Unmentioned is the task of transporting over fifty pounds of water on one&rsquo;s head for several miles, a burden which seems to be borne exclusively by the women of the village.</p> <p>But this isn't a story about a primitive tribe being dazzled by strange outsiders. While the rest of the world may not be aware of Pandinga, their residents are aware of us. Although electricity is even scarcer than water, several residents had cell phones that they charged using portable solar panels, and it seemed like they had better coverage than I have in parts of Denver. Pandinga is not a place cut off from civilization; it is a subsistence farming village with few resources that is struggling to reach out to the world. It was our honor and privilege to reach back.</p> <p><img width="605" height="404" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-smiling-children.jpg" /></p> <p>The ceremony concluded with the playing of a xylophone unlike any I had ever seen. In Pandinga, the instrument was constructed with eighteen logs of varying lengths laid over a pit in the earth several feet deep. A dozen men were needed to play it, using sticks covered in rubber from old tires.</p> <p>After the ceremony, we were escorted to a marshy areas to witness how the village currently gathers its water. Women kneeled in the mud to retrieve brown water from a small trench, one liter at a time. They emptied it into yellow, 25 liter plastic jugs. Once filled, these 55 pound containers were hoisted onto their heads and transported back to the village. We saw thousands of women doing this on the side of the road all across Uganda. And all this for water that puts residents at an ever-present risk of sickness and death.</p> <p>One surprising thing we discovered in Pandinga, though, is that there were existing wells near the village &mdash; they simply were not functioning, and no one had come to repair them. One was built by a company we visited, and my father and I decided to focus our efforts in getting that company to go out and fix the well they drilled. As of writing this article, we have helped get a crew repair the first well, and we are moving forward quickly on plans to drill again to replace their second well, which is beyond repair.</p> <p>At the end of the day in Pandiga, we found ourselves back at our tent hotel, watching the Nile flow by after having spent the day ruminating on the problem of clean water for a village of 1,000 people not ten miles away. In the United States, we would just build a water treatment plant, pump the water from the Nile to the town, and finance the project by changing each household $30 a month for this virtually unlimited clean water. But the people of Pandinga couldn&rsquo;t even afford the maintenance or fuel required for a diesel-powered well &mdash; only a hand-pumped one. I will never again look at the faucet in my house the same way.</p> <h3>Bicycles in Buhoma</h3> <p><img width="605" height="404" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-women-bicycles.jpg" /></p> <p>We left early the next day to start our journey to Buhoma, which lies at the foothills of the volcanic Virunga Mountains, near the borders of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is not a large country, about the size of Oregon, yet it took us nearly three full days of driving on their horrific roads in order to reach our next destination.</p> <p>In Buhoma, we met with Denis Rubalema, a native Ugandan with an unmistakably British accent. Denis is the director of <a href="http://www.ride4awoman.org/">Ride for a Woman</a>, a bicycle shop in Buhoma with a mission to empower women in the villages surrounding the Bwindi Impenetrable Park. Working with his organization, we presented new bicycles to three women who previously had no access to transportation. With these bicycles, these women would be able to reach the nearby towns to sell their farm goods, purchase supplies, and receive medical care. For example, one of our recipients was Ms. Margaret Naranri, a divorced mother of nine children, four of whom currently remain at home. With a new bicycle, she and her children will now be able to bring their sugarcane to the market in the town of Butogota, nine miles away.</p> <p>Our plan was to present bicycles to the women when we arrived in the morning, but as we were about to hand them over, I realized that they had arrived from the factory without any of the necessary tuning or adjustment. While I watched a local bicycle repairman struggle to prepare them for delivery, a realization struck me. In Pandinga, I felt helpless because I knew nothing about technical aspects of drilling for water. Yet as a former bicycle mechanic, I could finally put my skills to use. I put down my camera, picked up a wrench, and cancelled our sightseeing plans for the afternoon. After spending a week of making plans and holding meetings, I was relieved to actually be doing some tangible good with my own hands.</p> <p><img width="605" height="403" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-baby-gorillas.jpg" /></p> <p>Bicycles were not the only reason we went to Buhoma, however &mdash; we also went to see some of the rare mountain gorillas in the area, and we were rewarded with a truly memorable experience. We were, in fact, surrounded by gorillas &mdash; the adults dropped fruit from above, while babies wrested with each other. At one point, we encountered an enormous silverback in the process of mating. He didn&rsquo;t seem to be bothered by our presence anymore than he did by the fourteen other gorillas on the ground and in the trees. When the silverback wasn&rsquo;t preoccupied with his amorous pursuits, he kept a watchful eye over his band.</p> <p>Just a day later, we were on board the first of several international flights that would take us home...but we were forever changed.</p> <h3>Planning the Trip &mdash; Frugally</h3> <p><img width="605" height="403" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-feeding-giraffes.jpg" /></p> <p>One of the main things that made this trip possible was frugal planning. A&nbsp;trip to Uganda is not like making reservations for your typical vacation. My father used his local knowledge from his last visit to plan the trip, along with the help of Milton (who is a both a highly skilled driver and an excellent tour guide); this allowed us to book our lodging directly with the providers. Otherwise, we would have had to use a tour group or travel agent that would take a cut. No matter where you&rsquo;re traveling, it can help to see if you have friends or family who might know someone in the area who could help you plan your trip. Also, we stayed flexible and in many instances pulled into towns where we had no reservations. In these kind of places, the nicest lodge in town might have only been $60 a night.</p> <p>As regular Wise Bread readers know, I travel a lot using <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">frequent flier miles</a>, which were especially useful in planning this trip. By using 240,000 Delta SkyMiles, we were able to save the $4,000 we would have spent on two coach tickets while enjoying approximately 50 hours of flying in International Business class on Delta and Kenyan Airways. The trick is to always find seats in Delta's &quot;Low&quot; mileage class by searching their systems one leg at a time. I used Air France's website for flights on partners such as Air France, KLM, and Kenyan Airlines. In my experience, you can never rely on what Delta reps tell you over the phone, or you will never get the lowest mileage rate &mdash; your best bet is to search through partner sites, and then call Delta to have them book the flights you found.</p> <p>By saving money with these methods, we were able to achieve one of the most important goals of frugal living &mdash; saving money in one area so we could spend it on something else that was important to us. Material things come and go, but life-chagning experiences last forever.&nbsp;</p> <h3>Final Thoughts</h3> <p><img width="605" height="404" alt="" src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u4/african-woman-with-water-on-head.jpg" /></p> <p>My parents had vacationed all over the world but until this trip, I never understood why they returned from Uganda to start a foundation. When you befriend a man like Milton and visit a place like Pandinga, you return home with a sense of obligation to work hard and share some of your own good fortune. News of celebrity gossip and even our economic downturn seem less significant to me now that I realize that we barely have to lift a finger to find clean water.</p> <p><em><a href="http://thecleanwaterfoundation.com/">The Clean Water Foundation</a> is a grassroots non-governmental organization (NGO) created by the author&rsquo;s father, Clifford Steele (who also took all the pictures for this article). The foundation drills deep water wells in East Africa, and provide bicycles to residents of rural western Uganda not otherwise served by public transportation.</em></p> <p><em>Author Jason Steele is Wise Bread's travel rewards and credit card expert. For interview requests please contact&nbsp;<span style="color: rgb(34, 34, 34); font-size: 13px; white-space: nowrap; "><a href="mailto:media@wisebread.com?subject=Jason%20Steele%20Africa%20Story">media@wisebread.com</a>.</span></em></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fbringing-water-and-wheels-to-africa-my-amazing-frugal-vacation&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FBringing%20Water%20and%20Wheels%20to%20Africa-%20My%20Amazing%20Frugal%20Vacation.jpg&amp;description=Bringing%20Water%20and%20Wheels%20to%20Africa%3A%20My%20Amazing%20Frugal%20Vacation" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Bringing%20Water%20and%20Wheels%20to%20Africa-%20My%20Amazing%20Frugal%20Vacation.jpg" alt="Bringing Water and Wheels to Africa: My Amazing Frugal Vacation" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/bringing-water-and-wheels-to-africa-my-amazing-frugal-vacation">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions">How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles">Extreme Mileage Hacking: Creative Ways to Earn Flier Miles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards-that-make-scoring-free-airfare-easy">Credit Cards that Make Scoring Free Airfare Easy</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel charitable giving frequent flier miles volunteering Fri, 23 Mar 2012 10:36:13 +0000 Jason Steele 913157 at http://www.wisebread.com Extreme Mileage Hacking: Creative Ways to Earn Flier Miles http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/extreme-airplane-shot.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Most people have a frequent flier account of some sort, even if they haven&rsquo;t given it much thought lately. Others have made collecting points and miles not just their hobby, but their passion. While the rest of us sit in awe of extreme couponers when they save a few hundred dollars off of their groceries, these extreme mileage hackers regularly earn tens of thousands of dollars worth of travel. They fly around the world in first and business class, stay in suites at luxury resorts, and barely pay a fraction of what these services would normally cost.</p> <p>I recently attended a weekend seminar where many of the top mileage collectors in the world gathered to tell their stories and share their techniques. Of all the travel award enthusiasts that I met, three people told stories of extreme mileage earning that were so mind-boggling, they held this well-traveled crowd at the edge of their seats. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-the-value-of-your-frequent-flier-miles">How to Maximize the Value of Your Frequent Flier Miles</a>)</p> <h2>The Pudding Guy</h2> <p>Have you ever done anything so cool that a Hollywood director decided to include it as part a movie? That is what happened to a Californian named David Phillips. In 1999, Phillips learned that the Healthy Choice company was offering a few hundred frequent flier miles for the purchase of each of their food products. He realized that by buying pudding, their least expensive item, the miles he earned would be worth more than the product itself. He ended up purchasing $3,380 worth of pudding from distributors across the state. As he ordered the pudding by the truckload, some distributors would ask what he needed it for. Slyly, would just mumble something about Y2K. Upon receipt of the pudding, he donated it to the Salvation Army, which in turn provided volunteers to help him process the paperwork. He thoroughly documented everything he did, making copies of his entire submission.</p> <p>Although the people at Healthy Choice initially claimed not to have received his voluminous submission, they quickly relented in the face of his evidence, and even enlisted him in a publicity campaign. In the end Phillips earned over 1,250,000 miles from airlines such as American, Northwest, Delta, and United Airlines, as well as a tax deduction for his charitable contribution. This is enough for ten first class trips to Europe. If this story sounds familiar, then you have probably seen the movie <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00000G02H/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=lx-03-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=B00000G02H" target="_blank"><i>Punch Drunk Love</i></a>, where the character played by Adam Sandler does this exact same thing.</p> <h2>Mr. Pickles</h2> <p>Another amazing speaker at this convention prefers to remain anonymous, but goes by his online pseudonym Mr. Pickles. In 2009, he achieved some measure of notoriety when an acquaintance of his spoke to a reporter and disclosed his obsession with ordering coins from the United States Mint. Although most people would find coin collecting is a perfectly normal past time, Mr. Pickles is no average collector. He enjoyed ordering the new commemorative one dollar coins which are only worth their face value. He used his credit card to place the order under their Direct Ship program, which offered free shipping in order to encourage the circulation of these unpopular coins. Upon receipt, he would immediately deposit the coins at a local bank and use those funds to quickly pay off his credit card balance. Doing so earned him frequent flier miles at no cost to himself.</p> <p>So far, this story is not very remarkable. Many people, myself included, ordered a few thousand of these coins from the Mint to use around town while earning a few <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">miles on our credit cards</a>. On the other hand, Mr. Pickles ordered well over one million coins during the life of the program. To find banks that would accept deposits of thousands of coins a day, he mapped out every branch location within 50 miles of his home. He would then tell the managers what he was doing and be extra nice to the bank&rsquo;s tellers. Although the coins were delivered and deposited in rolls, each bank would eventually grow tired of regularly receiving hundreds of pounds in coins. Often, he would bring the staff pizza, donuts, or coffee in order to put off the inevitable day when they told him to take his business elsewhere.</p> <p>Once his story and those of others like him was leaked to the mainstream media, the United States Mint decided it would no longer accept credit cards for the purchase of coins at face value. Before that happened in mid 2011, Mr. Pickles earned over 1.2 million miles, enough to travel around the world in business class four times.</p> <h2>Steve Belkin<span> </span></h2> <p>It was appropriate that Steve Belkin gave a closing address to the conference, as he was one of the most engaging and enthusiastic speakers there. For him, earning a mere million miles is just child&rsquo;s play. Belkin, who goes by the name BeauBeau on various travel forums, treats frequent flier miles like a Wall Street investment banker treats stocks. He has figured out exactly how much each company&rsquo;s points and miles are worth, and he will heavily invest his money in any scheme that allows him to acquire them at rates that are below his pre-determined values. When an airline offers bonus miles for traveling on a certain route, he doesn&rsquo;t just buy himself a ticket, <i>he pays for other people to fly</i> as long as they agree to let him use their miles. He told stories of paying Asian farmers to fly around Thailand and American students to travel through Europe, so he collects bonus miles being offered on particular routes.</p> <p>Like the Pudding Guy, Belkin is constantly looking for opportunities to make purchases that earn more miles than the item is worth. In late 2009, he and I both purchased large quantities of the TrackItBack Lost &amp; Found Recover Service, when we learned that US Airways was temporarily awarding 140 miles per dollar spent on this product during a holiday promotion. According to <a href="http://www.trackitback.com/">their website</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>TrackItBack provides its customers with uniquely coded ID labels that come in various sizes, shapes, and languages. Customers affix the ID labels to their personal items and register them online at TrackItBack's website or by phone. When an item is lost, the ID label instructs the finder to &quot;Return for Reward&quot; and TrackItBack facilitates the return of the lost device at no charge to its customer. The finder is rewarded with a pack of TrackItBack product and any optional cash reward that the owner of the item has chosen to provide.</p> </blockquote> <p>After thoroughly reading the terms and conditions of the offer and consulting with others online, my wife and I eventually decided to purchase $3,000 worth of this product. We carefully considered the possibility that US Airways would not honor the terms of the deal, but we were reassured when the company responded to customer&rsquo;s concerns in public online forums. Although we eventually received a 475,000 US Airways miles, Belkin earned millions of miles to be used by his family and friends, potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars more than he paid.</p> <p>Although less tasty than pudding, I love the TrackItBack system. Better yet, I was also able to realize a tax deduction by donating my surplus product to a non-profit organization. Most of it went to the NTEN, the Nonprofit Technology Network, which was able to distribute it to other worthy charities that needed such a tracking system. After our tax deduction was taken into account, we essentially purchased miles for approximately one half of a cent each. <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">We later redeemed 360,000 of these miles for our family to fly in business class to Italy and Israel this fall</a>. I donated the remainder of the miles to my parents who traveled to visit family in a Williamsport, Pennsylvania, a town whose airport only has service from US Airways.</p> <h2>What We Can Learn</h2> <p>I have been earning miles my whole life, but really started spending time researching award travel within the last four years. Although I was previously aware of some of these stories, I was still thrilled to meet these people hear their experiences first hand. But I also tried to learn something from each of them. For example, the Pudding Guy only received his million miles because he kept meticulous records of his compliance with the terms of Healthy Choice&rsquo;s offer. This is a great habit no matter how many miles are at stake. Likewise, you should always save your boarding pass in case your mileage is not credited. In addition, Steve Belkin&rsquo;s experiences show how you can always find creative ways to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frequent-flier-programs-for-infrequent-fliers">earn miles without ever leaving the ground</a>. Finally, Mr. Pickles proves that just being extra nice to the people you meet will encourage them to go out of their way to help you out. If there is one lesson that I learned from everyone I met at this conference, it is that the only limit to the amount of points and miles that can be earned is that your own determination and creativity. There is no doubt that these opportunities continue to present themselves, and I will do my best to share them with you as soon as I learn about them.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fextreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FExtreme%20Mileage%20Hacking-%20Creative%20Ways%20to%20Earn%20Flier%20Miles.jpg&amp;description=Extreme%20Mileage%20Hacking%3A%20Creative%20Ways%20to%20Earn%20Flier%20Miles" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Extreme%20Mileage%20Hacking-%20Creative%20Ways%20to%20Earn%20Flier%20Miles.jpg" alt="Extreme Mileage Hacking: Creative Ways to Earn Flier Miles" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions">How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">The Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-credit-cards-for-hotel-deals-and-rewards">The Best Credit Cards for Hotel Deals and Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel credit card rewards extreme thrift frequent flier miles Mon, 30 Jan 2012 11:36:32 +0000 Jason Steele 876059 at http://www.wisebread.com How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/woman_in_business_class.jpg" alt="Woman riding in business class" title="Woman riding in business class" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="147" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Although real frequent fliers earn their miles in the air, there are still many of us who use every trick in the book to find miles on the ground. Ever since I stopped traveling for business, I have had to earn most of my miles and points through credit cards, car rentals, hotels, and various shopping promotions. Regardless of where their miles came from, business travelers, vacationers, and earthbound collectors all share the desire to stretch them as far as possible. At the same time, the airlines seem determined offer all sorts of awards that are of limited value, to say the least. Through careful study of the various award options, I have come up with a set of principles that I use to guide how I spend my hard earned loyalty points. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/best-rewards-card-the-starwood-preferred-guest-from-american-express">Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card Review</a>)</p> <h3>1. Focus on Flights</h3> <p>Maximizing the use of my miles is all about figuring out how many cents in value per mile spent that I am getting for a particular award. Each airline offers many different types of awards in addition to standard flight awards. For example, Delta allows customers to use miles for hotel stays, car rentals, and to buy merchandise at its SkyMiles marketplace. In almost all cases, I have found that these other redemption options provide inferior value compared to almost any flight award. For example, the SkyMiles Mall currently lists a Logitech Harmony 1100 universal remote for over 100,000 miles. Since this device that currently sells for $258 at Best Buy, this option is only worth .25 cents in value per mile! In fact, you could use those same miles for four separate round trip domestic tickets, or a single trip to Europe in Business Class. In contrast, when I use my miles to travel overseas in Business or First Class, I am usually able to find at least five cents per mile in value.</p> <h3>2. Decide How Much Money an Award Redemption Is Worth to You</h3> <p>Just because I can redeem my miles for an international Business Class ticket that the airline offers for $7,000, it doesn&rsquo;t mean that I actually saved that much money. To be realistic, I have to imagine how many dollars I would have spent if I had to purchase that ticket, since I am not in the habit of shelling out tens of thousands of dollars in airfare, to say the least.</p> <p>For example, this summer I used 120,000 US Airways miles each for three Business Class tickets to Europe and the Middle East, using US Airways' Star Alliance partners such as Lufthansa. The cash price of these tickets would have been about $7,000 each, yet it is inconceivable that I would have spent $21,000 for three tickets. The price for these same flights in coach is $2,000 each, and US Airways <span>mileage awards required just 50% more miles for my family to fly in Business Class. Therefore, I considered each ticket of the Business Class tickets to be worth $3,000 <em>to me</em>, which means that I received a true value of 2.5 cents per mile redeemed. Likewise, even if you redeem miles for merchandise awards, don&rsquo;t accept the value offered by the airline, which will always be its full retail price. Check to see what the lowest available price for the device or a that of a competitor's, and consider that price the true value of your award.</span></p> <h3>3. Consider Opportunity Costs</h3> <p>Even though I avoid paying credit card interest by always paying my balance in full, the miles I earn from that spending still comes at a cost. Yes, there is often an annual fee associated with a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">mileage earning credit card</a>, but the real cost of earning the miles is the cash back reward that I am forgoing. Had I been making purchases using one of the <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-cash-back-credit-cards">top cash back cards</a>, I could be earning as much as 2 cents in cash rewards for each dollar spent. So if I am earning miles from credit card spending to use for a domestic round trip economy award that requires 25,000 miles, it has to be for a flight that I would have paid at least $500 for. Otherwise, I would have simply been better off using a cash back card, receiving the $500 directly, and just paying for the flight.</p> <h3>4. Even If You Have the Miles, Think About Paying Cash for Some Flights</h3> <p>Sometimes, the flight you need is priced in such a way that it just makes more sense to pay for it with cash rather than spend your hard earned miles. Consider the following example &mdash; last week, a student asked me to help him book two one-way tickets within Europe in conjunction with his semester abroad. The first ticket, from Brussels to Prague, would have cost him $350 to purchase. Without a second thought, I recommended that he redeem an award for 10,000 American Airlines AAdvantage that miles he had. His miles provided him with a value of 3.5 cents each. Later, he would be flying from Berlin to London. A quick check of airfares revealed a flight on British Airways for about $100. After redeeming another 10,000 miles and paying the taxes and fees required for an award booking, he would have received less than one cent in value per mile. Therefore, he wisely chose to purchase the ticket with cash, and he will even earn more American Airlines miles for his flight.</p> <h3>5. Hold Out for Low-Mileage Flight Awards</h3> <p>The real key to maximizing mileage redemptions is to only consider awards that require the least amount of miles. Finding these award flights requires flexibility, skill, patience, and little bit of luck. For example, I just helped a friend book a trip from Denver to the Cayman Islands with her United Airlines miles. She came to me with a range of dates and was willing to move her trip around in order spend just 35,000 miles for a so-called Saver Award, the minimum possible. In the end, I was able to find her an award flight that would have cost otherwise cost her $700, and I recommended that she book it while it was still available. She did, and realized a respectable two cents in value for each of her miles, which is twice what she would have received had she spent 70,000 of her miles on what United calls a Standard Award in Economy Class.</p> <p>Getting the most value from your miles is part science, part game, and a little part luck. By closely adhering to these principles, you too can squeeze as many pennies from each point as my friends and I do from a <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">travel rewards card.</a></p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fhow-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FHow%20to%20Maximize%20Your%20Airline%20Mileage%20Redemptions.jpg&amp;description=How%20to%20Maximize%20Your%20Airline%20Mileage%20Redemptions" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/How%20to%20Maximize%20Your%20Airline%20Mileage%20Redemptions.jpg" alt="How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles">Extreme Mileage Hacking: Creative Ways to Earn Flier Miles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">The Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel credit card rewards frequent flier miles Mon, 09 Jan 2012 10:48:22 +0000 Jason Steele 856573 at http://www.wisebread.com Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability? http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/american-airline-taking-off.jpg" alt="American Airlines jet taking off at sunset" title="Jet taking off" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Frequent flier miles were once a fun commodity. I would collect and redeem them for <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-ways-my-family-scores-free-travel-with-credit-cards">free flights</a> like punches in a frequent diner card at my local sandwich shop. Today, airline miles are a controversial subject as too many travelers have felt burned when they have found their earned miles to be virtually unusable for awards at the lowest redemption levels. By instituting dramatic increases in the miles needed for most awards and placing Draconian capacity controls on award seats available at the lowest mileage levels, the airlines have created an unregulated lottery that leads to customer disappointment. (See also:&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-buy-and-sell-airline-miles">How to Buy and Sell Frequent Flier Miles</a>)</p> <p>But the news is not entirely grim. I have learned that airline award availability is better at some carriers than at others, and it can be somewhat reasonable if you know how to search for award seats.</p> <p>American Airlines has an easy to use award booking tool on their website and by far, the greatest frequent flier award availability.</p> <p>Despite the fact that United has been known to block some partner awards, I have to give them the edge over US Airways as <a href="http://www.united.com/page/article/1,,53694,00.html">United&rsquo;s two-tier award system</a> is generally more favorable than <a href="http://www.usairways.com/en-US/dividendmiles/usemiles/awardchart.html">US Airway&rsquo;s four-tier chart</a>. Sadly, a US Airways award to a popular destination at a peak time can require well over 100% more miles than their lowest award.</p> <p>The major airline with the worst award availability is indisputably Delta. The problem with their <a href="http://dmn.delta.com/skymiles/direct/charts/us49/">three-tier system</a> is most acute when searching for awards in domestic coach and international business class. It is not uncommon to have their award calendar show no low-tier awards, on any flight to a particular destination, for several months at a time.</p> <h2>A Summary of Major Airlines' Award Availability</h2> <p>Here are the major airline rewards programs ranked from best to worst in terms of availability.</p> <h3><span>1.<span> </span></span>American Airlines AAdvantage</h3> <p>This carrier&rsquo;s program is the last remaining vestige of the golden age of frequent flier programs. While their <a href="http://www.aa.com/i18n/disclaimers/free-ticket-award-chart.jsp">multi-tier award chart</a> is nothing special, members will be pleasantly surprised to find multiple award seats to popular destinations available at the lowest levels, and customers can even change their travel dates at no charge.&nbsp;In the last year, the AAdvantage program allowed me to do what is impossible with other carriers &mdash; I found three award seats on the same flight, at the lowest levels, in coach or first class, over a variety of dates, to fantastic destinations such as Florida, the Caribbean, and Brazil.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Tip:</b> Like the other major domestic carriers, American hasn&rsquo;t bothered to build an online partner award search engine, so members are told to call up and have an agent search for flights one at a time. To get around this limitation, partner award availability can be searched on the website of Qantas Airlines, a fellow OneWorld alliance member.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3><span>2.<span> </span></span>United Mileage Plus</h3> <p>By the start of 2012, United will have completely assimilated the frequent flier program of its merger partner, Continental. Fortunately, the new United Mileage Plus website retains many of the strengths of the old OnePass program. Award availability is generally not great, but you can always find surprises. In fact, I was actually able to find three award seats for my family to visit my parents in Atlanta this Thanksgiving. On the other hand, United has been known to block their members from redeeming awards for flights on partner airlines, even as those same seats are offered to members of other carrier&rsquo;s frequent flier programs.</p> <p><b>Tip: </b>When domestic award seats are only being offered at the &ldquo;Standard&rdquo; rate of 50,000 miles, check for the availability of First Class award seats at the &ldquo;Saver&rdquo; level that require the same number of miles. Although some partner award seats can be booked online, it may still be necessary to search for partner awards on another airline&rsquo;s site, just as it is with American awards. In this case, use the website of ANA Airlines of Japan, which is also a member of the Star Alliance.</p> <h3><span>3.<span> </span></span>US Airways Dividend Miles</h3> <p>This carrier actually uses four different mileage levels for awards on flights they operate, which makes it very difficult to find awards at the lowest levels. Furthermore, they impose blackout dates on awards for flights that they operate, and no partner awards can be booked online.&nbsp;Like United, US Airways is part of the Star Alliance, but fortunately they are not known to block partner awards as aggressively as United does.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <p><b>Tip:</b> Just like with United, a fellow Star Alliance member, US Airways partner awards should be searched for on ANA&rsquo;s website before calling the airline. I used this technique earlier this year to redeem my US Airways miles for three business class award seats to Israel and Italy on Lufthansa, a Star Alliance carrier. I also took advantage of the one free stopover that they permit, which allowed us to visit Italy on our return.<b>&nbsp;</b></p> <h3><span>4.<span> </span></span>Delta SkyMiles</h3> <p>Delta is infamous for making&nbsp; few award seats available at the lowest mileage levels. Domestic awards in economy class are incredibly scarce at the standard 25,000 mile level for a round trip ticket, and international Business Class awards are even more so. These problems are compounded by the fact that Delta&rsquo;s online award search function has been broken for some time. After spending some time searching for award seats, it becomes clear that their website consistently misprices awards. Beyond Delta&rsquo;s stinginess in opening up award space, award seats are also hard to find because Delta gives away more miles than most carriers, giving bonuses for just about any interaction with their numerous partners.</p> <p><b>Tip: </b>When putting together a Delta award with connections, search each segment one at a time to ensure that a seat is available for the lowest number of miles. Having just one segment at a higher rate will re-price the entire itinerary. Medallion members and their companions will also have greater access to domestic economy class awards at the lowest level, so those members shouldn&rsquo;t forget to log in with their SkyMiles number before searching. Also, Delta&rsquo;s website does not show most partner <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-tips-for-scoring-a-frequent-flyer-rewards-flight">award seats</a>, so first search the website for Air France, which is also part of the SkyTeam Alliance. When Delta&rsquo;s own representatives were unable to find award seats at the lowest level, I was able to use this trick to find them myself for an upcoming award trip to Africa in Business Class.</p> <h2>Other Domestic Airlines</h2> <p>Alaska and Hawaiian airlines have terrific programs with great partnerships and reasonable award availability, although low mileage awards on Frontier Airlines are now almost as hard to find as Delta awards. Other domestic carriers have adopted programs where points valued at a fixed amount towards the purchase of any seat. For example, points in Southwest&rsquo;s Rapid Rewards program are worth 1.6 cents towards any seat in their lowest fare class. JetBlue and Virgin America have similar fixed value programs where award availability is never an issue, but your points and miles may not go as far.</p> <h2>Other Tips</h2> <p>When booking multiple passengers, always search for award seats one at a time. If you search for three seats, and only two are available at the lowest rate, the entire group will be offered all seats at the higher rate. When constructing itineraries with multiple connections, do not rely on the carrier&rsquo;s website to provide the best options. To exhaust every possibility, perform your own search one leg at a time. In my experience, miles are easiest to use the further you go from the United States, since the popularity of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">mileage earning credit cards</a> and has saturated American&rsquo;s frequent flyer accounts. For my upcoming award trip on Delta to Africa, the more distant flights were far easier to find award seats on than the domestic or trans-Atlantic legs.</p> <p>It can be incredibly frustrating to accumulate miles that feel impossible to use, but by learning which programs still offer the best availability, you can play the airline miles game with realistic expectations and even surprising results.</p> <h2 style="text-align: center;">Like this article? Pin it!&nbsp;</h2> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: center;"><a href="//www.pinterest.com/pin/create/button/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Fwhich-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability&amp;media=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisebread.com%2Ffiles%2Ffruganomics%2Fu5180%2FWhich%20Frequent%20Flier%20Program%20Has%20the%20Best%20Awards%20Availability-.jpg&amp;description=Which%20Frequent%20Flier%20Program%20Has%20the%20Best%20Awards%20Availability%3F" data-pin-do="buttonPin" data-pin-config="above" data-pin-color="red" data-pin-height="28"><img src="//assets.pinterest.com/images/pidgets/pinit_fg_en_rect_red_28.png" alt="" /></a> </p> <!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><!-- Please call pinit.js only once per page --><script type="text/javascript" async defer src="//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js"></script></p> <p style="text-align: center;"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/u5180/Which%20Frequent%20Flier%20Program%20Has%20the%20Best%20Awards%20Availability-.jpg" alt="Which Frequent Flier Program Has the Best Awards Availability?" width="250" height="374" /></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/jason-steele">Jason Steele</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/which-frequent-flier-program-has-the-best-awards-availability">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-your-airline-mileage-redemptions">How to Maximize Your Airline Mileage Redemptions</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/extreme-mileage-hacking-creative-ways-to-earn-flier-miles">Extreme Mileage Hacking: Creative Ways to Earn Flier Miles</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-5-travel-reward-credit-cards">The Best Travel Reward Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-best-sign-up-bonuses-for-airline-miles-credit-cards">The Best Sign-up Bonuses for Airline Miles Credit Cards</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-pitfalls-when-chasing-travel-rewards">6 Pitfalls When Chasing Travel Rewards</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Credit Cards Travel air travel credit card rewards frequent flier miles Wed, 07 Dec 2011 11:36:29 +0000 Jason Steele 799873 at http://www.wisebread.com Frequent Flier Programs for Infrequent Fliers http://www.wisebread.com/frequent-flier-programs-for-infrequent-fliers <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/frequent-flier-programs-for-infrequent-fliers" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/235804211_dfdf3f2761_z.jpg" alt="airplane" title="airplane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>It's hard to argue with the basic idea of the frequent flier program. Getting credit towards a free flight every time I spend money on a ticket does make it a little easier to finalize travel plans. The only trouble is, I do not generally fly in a way that allows me to capitalize on the benefit. At their root frequent flier programs are consumer loyalty programs and I am, admittedly, a woefully disloyal consumer.</p> <p>Most people fly infrequently or with whichever airline offers the cheapest fare. Frequent flier programs are not designed for customers like this. Nevertheless, they hang there, a carrot from a stick, beaconing us towards an unrealistic reward.</p> <p>Even if you fly frequently and are consistent with airlines, changing rules and restrictions make it advantageous to use your credit as soon as possible.</p> <p>Fortunately, there are several tricks for maximizing miles and using them in creative ways to get the most benefit with the smallest credit. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-maximize-the-value-of-your-frequent-flier-miles">How to Maximize the Value of Your Frequent Flier Miles</a>)</p> <h2>Earn Miles on the Ground</h2> <p>Most people are aware of the many credit cards available that provide bonus air miles for every purchase. While I am personally not a big fan of credit cards, this is one of the many reasons to use your <a title="Why I Use My Credit Card for Everything" href="http://www.wisebread.com/top-seven-reasons-why-i-use-my-credit-card-for-everything">credit card to pay for everything</a>, that is, if you can <a title="Call Your Credit Card a Plastic Check" href="http://www.wisebread.com/call-your-credit-card-a-plastic-check">do so responsibly</a>.</p> <p>Besides credit card bonuses, there are several other ways to earn miles on the ground. Both <a href="http://www.e-rewards.com/">e-rewards</a> and <a href="http://www.e-miles.com/">e-miles</a> give airline miles for viewing marketing information and taking surveys. Whether this is a worthwhile use of your time is debatable. However, if you only need a few more miles to attain a reward, these programs offer a no-cost way to do it.</p> <p>Finally, if you like shopping, <a href="http://www.mypoints.com/">mypoints.com</a> and the <a href="http://www.webflyer.com/deals/mileage_mall/">WebFlyer Milage Mall</a> might be a good solution for building up some additional air miles or hotel credit through purchase you had planned to make anyway.</p> <h2>Trade and Exchange Miles</h2> <p>If, like me, you have miles spread across several different programs you do not frequently add to, consolidating may be the best option. The basic strategy most people use is to find a &quot;common denominator&quot; between various flight programs. For example, If you have a few miles from an international flight with Virgin Atlantic, but the majority of your miles are from domestic flights with American Airlines, you can use the <a href="http://hhonors1.hilton.com/en_US/hh/home_index.do">Hilton HHonors</a> reward system to transfer between the two airlines. Keep in mind that when you transfer your Virgin Atlantic miles to Hilton HHonors points, you will lose some credit and that even more will be lost when you convert the HHonors points into American Airlines miles. Another useful &quot;common denominator&quot; program is <a href="http://www.amtrakguestrewards.com/">Amtrak Rewards</a>.</p> <p>A while ago Wise Bread writer Nora Dunn introduced us to <a href="https://www.points.com/">Points.com</a>, a great place to <a title="Manage Your Miles Here" href="http://www.wisebread.com/frequent-flyer-junkie-manage-your-miles-here">manage reward programs</a>. This service is also a great place to trade and transfer points between programs, informs you of any applicable bonus offers available, and even allows you to buy more points.</p> <h2>Make a Donation</h2> <p>Finally, if you are feeling philanthropic, or that your miles are too insignificant to ever be of use, consider donating them to your favorite cause. Many well known charities accept frequent flier miles donations including the <a href="http://www.redcross.org/donate/donatemiles.html">Red Cross</a>, and <a href="http://www.redcross.org/donate/donatemiles.html">Project Hero</a>. More examples can be found at this <a href="https://www.continental.com/web/en-US/apps/onepass/donate/donateMiles.aspx">guide for OnePass members</a>. While you generally will not receive a tax deduction for these donations, it is a good way to help out and prevent your miles from going to waste.</p> <p>It is true that frequent flier miles have the greatest value when applied to the airline from which they were earned. However, for most fliers, this simply isn't practical. With a little research you can consolidate and maximize you rewards and apply them to something worthwhile.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-defranza">David DeFranza</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/frequent-flier-programs-for-infrequent-fliers">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-12"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/repair-the-car-or-spend-the-cash">Repair the Car or Spend the Cash?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-ways-to-get-free-or-almost-free-airline-tickets">10 Ways to Get Free (or Almost Free) Airline Tickets</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/17-things-car-salesmen-dont-want-you-to-know">17 Things Car Salesmen Don&#039;t Want You to Know</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/a-used-car-salesman-reveals-dirty-tricks-and-how-to-beat-them">A Used Car Salesman Reveals Dirty Tricks (and How to Beat Them)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-wisebread-helped-me-get-45mpg-out-of-my-28mpg-car">How Wisebread helped me get 45mpg out of my 28mpg car.</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Cars and Transportation Airfare frequent flier miles Mon, 10 Mar 2008 10:00:29 +0000 David DeFranza 1900 at http://www.wisebread.com