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Spencer Howard

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5 First Class Awards For An Awesome Luxury Experience

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

1) Cathay Pacific First Class with Alaska Mileage Plan Miles

Cathay Pacific First Class Seat

Cathay Pacific first class should be near the top of your list of amazing flights to try if you like great service and champagne. Courtesy of Spencer Howard

Cathay Pacific really is a luxury experience from the moment you set foot on the plane and are presented with an amenity kit and some extremely comfortable pajamas. And don’t forget the champagne. Who doesn’t like starting off a flight with a refreshing glass of champagne?

It has a well-earned reputation as one of the premier airlines in the world due in large part to their amazing first class product. Not only will you be able to enjoy a massive lie-flat seat, but the service provided by the Cathay Pacific crew is fantastic.

If you’re departing or connecting, you can visit one of Cathay Pacific’s two first class lounges: The Pier and The Wing. If those lounges aren’t convenient for your connecting flight, you can visit one of the business class lounges: The Bridge or The Cabin. Regardless of which lounge you choose, these lounges are a great place to relax before a flight.

You can book a first class flight on Cathay Pacific from one of five US airports:

  • Boston (BOS)
  • Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • New York City (JFK)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

Regardless of which US airport you are flying out of or into, you can use 70,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles to book your first class award to Hong Kong (HKG). In fact, you can even connect another city in Asia for no extra miles (some of these connections will be in business class). You can also use 110,000 American AAdvantage miles if you have a stockpile ready to burn.

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5 Great Redemptions For Some Business Class Fun

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

In my last post, we talked about some cheap economy class award redemptions you’ll want to check out. These economy awards are great for those trying to see as many places as they can and for those looking for cheap short flights—even if you usually fly business or first class.

Today, we’re going to take a look at five awesome business class awards that will not only help you get to your destination but help you enjoy the journey. This is by no means a comprehensive list of all the great business class redemptions out there, but it will provide you some food for thought.

In this list, you’ll find ways to use American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, and SPG Starpoints. Some you might already know, but I’d bet many of you will learn something new that could help you book a fun adventure.

Let’s dig in!

1) Use ANA Mileage Club Miles To Visit Japan

If you’re not familiar with All Nippon Airways (ANA), one of Japan’s major airlines, you should change that. ANA Mileage Club partners with both the Amex Membership Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) programs making it quite easy to earn the necessary miles.

On top of that, ANA Mileage Club has some really solid redemption rates on their own flights. In fact, if you want to visit Japan, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better way to book a business class award.

ANA’s award chart includes three seasons: low, regular, and high—which we discussed in our guide to booking flights to Tokyo. If you want to use the fewest miles possible, you’ll want to book during low season as it will only require 75,000 Mileage Club miles for a round-trip business class award.

Regular season will require 85,000 Mileage Club miles while high season will require 90,000 Mileage Club miles for a round-trip award. Even at these rates, you’ll still get a better deal than almost every other frequent flyer program.

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5 Crazy Cheap Economy Redemptions You Should Book

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

One of the toughest parts when learning how to travel by using miles and points is knowing where to start. What’s the point in earning a bunch of miles if you have no idea what to do with or even what you want to do with them?!

To help get you thinking about your travel goals, we’re going to discuss some fun redemption options you should consider utilizing to really get some value out of your miles and points.

This will be the first of a three part mini-series on some great ways to redeem your miles and points for some awesome flights. After seeing what your miles can do for you, it will be easier to decide how you want to fly.

Perhaps your goal is a luxury-filled honeymoon like 10xTravel’s own Travis Cormier. Maybe flying business class and having a lie-flat seat so you can get some sleep on long flights is your top priority. Or, maybe you want to take as many flights as possible and are totally happy stretching your miles with economy class bookings.

The first four options we will discuss include airlines that are transfer partners of Chase Ultimate Rewards. Cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points should be a top priority for beginners because of their transfer partners and the Chase 5/24 Rule. The final redemption option is a partner of American Express Membership Rewards.

Now, let’s get into it.

Mexico Traveling

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Drop Loyalty Program: Awesome Trick to Cover Travel Costs

It’s no secret that we love traveling on miles and points. Whether it’s hotel stays or flights, using points to travel makes everything more fun. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my money at the destination than just getting there!

However, there are times we can’t cover all costs with miles and points while other times we’d be better off saving the points.

This is where Drop comes into play.

Drop is a loyalty program app that allows you to earn points when you make purchases at select merchants. These points can then be redeemed for gift cards including American Airlines, Hotels.com, and Amazon.

Let’s dive into the details so you can get signed up, earn points (on top of your credit card rewards), and cash in the points for something fun!

How To Sign Up For Drop

The sign-up process is easy. You can either sign up online or through the app. The app will give you access right away while signing up online will require you to wait for them to email you with confirmation.

To sign up via the app: Continue Reading

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How To Visit The Maldives With Miles and Points

By: Spencer Howard and Travis Cormier 

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Hey Travel Junkies,

Many of you have been wondering how to make a trip to the Maldives happen. Off the bat, you should know that it takes a lot of planning. It can take 500,000+ points to put together a full trip if you’re flying in business or first class.

Personally, my trip took almost a year of planning. This guide will help you navigate and plan what points to get so you can take a dream vacation.

How to Travel to Maldives with Miles and Points

How To Book Your Flights

The biggest challenge you’ll run into is figuring out what flights to book. Flying from the US often means over 24 hours of travel! Fortunately, you have three amazing airlines to choose from if you are booking with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

American Airlines classifies the Maldives as part of the Indian Subcontinent and, while American’s routing rules can be confusing, you can connect in Abu Dhabi to get to the Maldives.

You can fly with Cathay Pacific through Hong Kong, Etihad through Abu Dhabi, or Qatar Airways through Doha*. A one-way first class award ticket will cost 115,000 American miles between the US and the Maldives, while a one-way business class award is 70,000 miles. A one-way economy class seat costs 40,000 miles. Continue Reading

Blog

How to Get Your Real Credit Score (Without Having to Pay for It)

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

Not a day goes by that we don’t get questions about credit scores. Sometimes it’s as simple as someone wondering where to find their credit score, other times it’s a momentary freak out when a reader looks at Credit Karma and sees their score has dropped.

To prevent these freakouts and make it easier for you to find your credit score, we’re going to discuss where you can find your credit score. Not an estimated FICO score, but your actual FICO score. This is what you really need to know.

 

Does Credit Karma Actually Provide Your FICO Credit Score?

Let’s just get this out of the way now: NO!!!

Credit Karma provides a VantageScore which is not a commonly used score for credit card applications. We have found that the score it provides can vary by 50+ points compared to a true FICO score.

It seems to be very sensitive to credit utilization, which is what causes such anguish for readers who rely on Credit Karma. They see a huge drop and, understandably, are not pleased.

It is because of situations like this that we felt it was necessary to address Credit Karma.

Now, that does not mean Credit Karma isn’t a useful for a miles and points connoisseur like you. Credit Karma is a big help if you want to see credit card inquiries on your Equifax and TransUnion reports. Additionally, you can see what open accounts you have reporting to each credit bureau.

This can be particularly helpful if you are unsure of your 5/24 status with Chase.

 

Get Your Actual FICO Score

There are several free ways to get your actual FICO score from each of the three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

FICO

Let’s start with Experian, as you don’t even need a credit card to get your FICO score from Discover through their Free Credit Scorecard. The scorecard provides your true Experian FICO credit score as well as a bunch of other great information including: total accounts, length of credit, inquiries, utilization, and missed payments.

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How To Maximize Your Travel Credit

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

As we approach the end of the year, we have been receiving tons of questions about how to maximize the annual travel credit attached to several credit cards.

American Express, Chase, and Citi all have products that provide a lucrative travel credit that can be used every year you hold the card. As avid travelers, these credits are a great way to reduce the effective annual fee for these cards.

Let’s discuss how each card’s travel credit works.

10xTravel Maximize Travel Credit

 

American Express Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold Airline Fee Credits

Several American Express cards provide airline fee credits. Most of these cards are variations of the American Express Platinum card, which include a $200 credit. Additionally, those who hold the Premier Rewards Gold card have a $100 credit.

One very important point about the Amex airline fee credit: You must select a qualifying airline prior to making your purchase if you want it to be reimbursed. You can choose one airline each calendar year. Once you have made your selection, you can only get airline fees reimbursed when purchases are made with that airline.

You’re probably wondering what counts as an “airline fee” so let’s get into that. American Express will reimburse you for several types of incidental fees, including:

  • Checked baggage
  • Seat assignments
  • Phone reservations
  • Itinerary changes
  • In-flight entertainment (this does NOT include in-flight wifi, as the airline is not the provider)
  • Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
  • In-flight food and beverages
  • Pet fees

Note that this list does not include airfare or taxes and fees for award tickets. This does make the airline fee credit with American Express a bit more restrictive than some other travel credits, but they are still easily used by anyone who enjoys travel.

Finally, you receive this fee credit annually. Every January 1, it refreshes and can be used for the current year. If you are hoping to be reimbursed late in December, keep in mind that the purchase must post to your account prior to the end of year. If it does not post by December 31, the new year’s fee credit will be applied. For this reason, we don’t recommend waiting until the very last minute.

 

Chase Sapphire Reserve Travel Credit

When the Chase Sapphire Reserve was launched, it not only came with a hefty sign-up bonus and great earning structure, but the best travel credit on the market. Continue Reading

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How to Take Your Credit Card Application from Pending or Denied to Approved

By: Spencer Howard

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

You find a great credit card. You fill out the application with hopes of a new adventure. You know exactly what you’re going to do with those points.

You hit the submit button on your application and… Pending?!?! Denied?!?!

This is not what you planned. This was not supposed to happen.

Now, take a breath. It’s not over yet.

We are not at the end of this particular dance yet. It is only the beginning. Now is the time to prepare for a reconsideration call.

Let’s get into the details of how to handle this (annoying) situation.

 

When to call

Your best bet to turn an instant denial into approval is to call a bank’s reconsideration line. Since you’ve already been denied, there’s no need to hesitate on this one. Go ahead and call.

But what if you get a pending notification? This situation isn’t cut and dry. You will find some who prefer to call immediately and many others who prefer to wait.

Personally, I don’t see the need to call until you are denied. I prefer to let my application work its way through the system and wait for an approval or denial. It’s easy enough to check the status of applications online or via automated phone systems while you wait. Continue Reading

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The Marriott-Starwood Merger and What It Means For You

By: Spencer Howard

If you have been following the merger between Marriott and Starwood, you know many points’ enthusiasts have been having panic attacks over what this will mean for their SPG points.

Well, the merger was finally completed and… everything is okay. In fact, the merger has been handled quite well for those with loyalty to either program.

Let’s check out the opportunities the merger has presented us.

Marriott-StarwoodMerger

Linking Your Accounts

To get started, you will want to link your Starwood (SPG) and Marriott (or Ritz-Carlton*) accounts. Marriott has set up a site to make this a simple process. Just have your log-in info on hand for the two programs you are linking.

*Marriott and Ritz-Carlton are part of the same program already. The difference between them is mostly in the promotions they market to you. You can only have one or the other, but the points you earn work with both.

Transfer Points Between Programs

One of the great aspects of this merger is that points may now be transferred between programs, and at a fair rate of three SPG points per Marriott Rewards point. This provides some intriguing options for hotel stays in both programs, and possibly some interesting flight options. If you’ve been wanting to try a Marriott or Starwood property, but haven’t had the appropriate points, this could be your chance. Continue Reading

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What Is the Chase 5/24 Rule and How Does It Impact You?

By: Spencer Howard 

Disclosure: This post may contain references to products from our advertisers. We may receive compensation from products we link to. We appreciate your support.

We receive hundreds of questions every day, but some questions repeat themselves so often that we know we need to dedicate some time to it. With that in mind, we wanted to address one of the most common:

“What is 5/24?”

No, it’s not May 24th. It is actually one of the most discussed topics in the miles and points community. It refers to Chase’s rule (guideline?) that anyone who has opened five credit cards in the previous 24 months may not open Chase credit cards.

This can be tremendously frustrating for responsible credit users who want to utilize the perks of various credit cards.

Let’s dig in and see how we should handle things with this in mind.

5/24 Credit Cards

 

What Cards Are Included in Your 5/24 Count

We often see confusion regarding which cards count according to Chase. Many assume that this means five Chase cards when, in fact, it means cards from any bank are included in the count.

If you have opened cards with American Express, Citi, Barclaycard, Capital One, Discover, etc. They count.

Remember that: Credit cards from all banks count toward 5/24. Continue Reading