If you’ve been doing this hobby for a couple of years, most of this post won’t present any new information. Scroll down to the bottom for a potentially useful tip.
I’ve gotten several reader questions on this via email, and figured it would be a good time to put together a post on the subject. At the moment, there are three lucrative offers on personal cards when it comes to mileage bonuses. They are: US Airways Premier World MasterCard, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard and Chase British Airways Visa. The last two pay me referral.
All offer 50,000 miles sign-up bonus and you can see more details in my page “Best credit card deals for family.” There is a business version of AAdvantage card (also pays me) with an identical sign-up bonus. You might be debating on which one to pick. Let me make some suggestions.
Just one card (X2)
If you can only pick one, I would absolutely, without a doubt, go with US Airways card. It offers 50,000 miles after $1 in spending, $89 annual fee is not waived. This is your last chance to pick up the bonus. Eventually, this program will merge with AAdvantage.
Of course, there is one very lucrative way to use US Airways Dividend miles now, though, of limited use to most families. I’m talking about 35,000 miles roundtrip economy redemption between USA and Europe. The catch? The dates of travel have to fall between January 15th and February 28th, and all flights have to be roundtrip and on US Airways metal. I’ve had emails from a couple of readers who currently have this card and aren’t sure if they could get the bonus if they cancel it and reapply.
It’s very hard to say whether you would have success on getting approved, but I would at least try. That is if it’s been at least 6 months since your last Barclay app. I can’t guarantee anything, of course, but usually, with Barclay, as long as you get approved, you should get the bonus.
I have made one last attempt to get this card in my husband’s name and the app got rejected. The reason: Too many recent inquiries. Barclay is on to him. I plan to wait around 12 months before applying in his name again, unless some super offer comes along.
This is one of very rare times when I would recommend applying for the card even if you don’t have any specific plans for the bonus.
Two cards (X2)
If you want to add another card into the mix, take a look at your goals. Are you planning to go to Europe in a near future and happen to live on the East coast? Do you mostly fly short non-stop flights and happen to live near AA hub? In that case, you may want to consider Chase British Airways Visa. The offer with no annual fee will expire on March 31st. Avios award chart is distance-based and priced per segment: Of course, if you have half a million Avios points, burn those first! You don’t need more miles.
As I’ve written in my Friday post, BA will tweak its program on April 28th. The good news is economy redemptions on BA partners in America will stay the same for the foreseeable future. Still, this is a reminder not to hoard miles. Also, there are some developments that do affect my target readership.
Those are: The rise in price for business class between Boston and Dublin and potential significant fuel surcharges on Aer Lingus flights (if BA takeover occurs). Of course, business class isn’t critical as I’ve said many times in my blog.
However, it could come in handy when there aren’t enough economy seats available on a specific flight. Plus, for 12,500 extra miles one-way for Boston-Dublin route, it won’t break your miles “bank.” And if you’ve always wanted to try business class on a nighttime transatlantic flight, and do it on the cheap, this is your last chance.
The second development is much more significant. It could make Boston-Dublin economy redemption not nearly as lucrative as it is today. As it stands, you can fly roundtrip for 25K miles (plus $130 tax). Availability is usually plentiful, a big plus for a large family. So, my advice is to use Southwest or Jet Blue points to get to Boston, and go to Europe from there.
Getting your app on
Chase now has a new rule where you can get a sign-up bonus as long as you didn’t receive this particular bonus in the last 24 months. It shouldn’t matter if the account was still open during that time. Let’s say both spouses get Chase British Airways Visa. You would end up with 105,000 Avios points that you can pull in one family account.
That’s enough for 4 economy roundtrip tickets from Boston to Dublin. You can easily connect from there to other cities in Europe by flying Ryanair. If you have more than 4 in the family, there is an option to co-pay with cash if you don’t have enough miles. See this post for more.
That amount is also enough for 4 roundtrip tickets from LAX, San Diego, Seattle and other West Coast cities to Hawaii. You can get to those airports via Southwest and spend a night before/after your flights. Unfortunately, no co-pay option is offered on this route since it’s not an international flight. There are many other good Avios uses and you can read about them in this post.
Do you live on the West coast and plan to fly to Europe or Caribbean?
You may be better off with Citi AAdvantage card. Be aware, Citi now requires that the account is closed for at least 18 months before you are eligible for another bonus. The best way for you to leverage AA chart is to fly off-peak. Here are the usual suspects and the dates to qualify for this redemption rate: As long as you stick to those dates, you will most likely do better by going with AA program rather than Avios, especially if you have to make several connections. Remember, the pricing is flat, not per-segment. For those who live on the East coast, it’s cheaper to fly to Hawaii via AAdvantage program during off-peak dates.
On top of that, you get a 10% rebate on your redemption as long as you use your Citi AA card to pay for award taxes. Flying from West coast to Europe for 36,000 miles roundtrip in economy is an amazing bargain, but you have to plan your trip between October 15th-May 15th. It could make for a fun spring break vacation.
As long as you stick to southern European countries (and perhaps Paris), the weather should be fine. Let’s assume that both spouses each get AA card and US Airways card. You would have 106,000 AA miles and 100,002 US Airways miles after minimum spending is met. That amount will take care of 5 roundtrip tickets to Europe in the off-peak season.
Of course, I’m assuming that both programs will merge into one, which should happen in the next few months. There is also a possibility of AA chart changes, but nothing has been announced so far. My guess is it should be OK for another six months or so, though, I can’t guarantee it.
Transferring Membership Rewards to AAdvantage
First, the bad news. There is no direct way to do it. However, if you are willing to risk it, there is a roundabout way, though, it does involve a loss of points. This arbitrage opportunity will cease to exist with the demise of US Airways Dividend miles program. First, you will need to get a free Points.com account. Then, join Air Canada Aeroplan program and US Airways Dividend miles
1. Register them both to your Points.com account.
2. Then, you transfer at least 15,000 (or more) Membership Rewards points to your Aeroplan account 1:1 and get 15,000 miles as a result.
3. Go to your Points.com account and make sure the miles show up.
Obviously, I don’t recommend this to most people. However, for off-peak Europe (as well as Japan, Korea and South America ) redemptions and under the right circumstances, it could make sense for some. Once again, this is NOT for everyone and involves real risk. For the most part, you can do just as well by going through Membership Rewards airline partners. Not to mention, you would be foregoing potential transfer bonuses in the future when going this route.
You have many choices and what card you decide on depends on where you live and where you plan on going. If you have a decent stash, get US Airways card and call it a day. Use what you’ve got first and collect some hotel points or cash back in the meantime. And it’s a wrap.
Readers, are you planning on getting any of the above-mentioned cards?
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Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.