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Travis Cormier

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The Guide to Redeeming AAdvantage Miles

By: 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.

I love seeing the success stories of our 10xTravel readers. Every story provides some fun insights into the earning and redemption strategies our readers have used to take some amazing vacations. What often isn’t mentioned is what goes on behind the scenes.

Behind the scenes is where the real work happens. To connect your miles and points to travel, you have to know the rules and restrictions on award travel. You have to know how many points an award ticket is going to cost and you have to know how to find the award space you need.

This guide doesn’t have pictures that will inspire you to travel more. It isn’t about awesome planes or luxurious hotels and resorts. This guide is instead full of the essential information that you’ll need to use your American Airlines AAdvantage miles to book award flights.

This guide will give you the necessary information so that you don’t have to just look at pictures online—you can be the one taking them.

Maybe your pictures will be part of our next reader success story!

Understanding American Airlines’ Region-Based Award Chart

American Airlines uses a zone-based award chart. A zone-based award chart groups countries into different zones. When you book a ticket from one zone to another, you pay a set number of miles.

If you’re flying from the US to Europe, it doesn’t matter if you’re departing from New York or Los Angeles, you’ll need the same number of miles. Below is a table listing every country by zone.

Continue Reading

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How To See The World With 120,000 American AAdvantage Miles

By: 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.

If you’ve ever found yourself staring at your miles and points wondering where they can take you, you’re not alone. Earning miles is the easy part of what we do. Knowing where your miles can take you can sometimes be overwhelming.

Your miles aren’t doing you any good just sitting there. You need to put them to use! So, let’s look at some options for how you can use one of my favorite airline mile currencies: American Airlines AAdvantage miles.

How to Earn 120,000 AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines has two partners who provide co-branded credit cards that earn American AAdvantage miles. With both Citi and Barclaycard providing co-branded options, earning 120,000 AAdvantage miles is a breeze. The only hard part is saying the names of each credit card in one breath.

Citi has been a partner with the American Airlines AAdvantage program for a long time. The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard has a sign-up bonus that is frequently between 30,000 and 50,000 miles and even reaches 60,000 miles at times. To earn the sign-up bonus, you will be required to reach a minimum spend threshold – often between $1,000 and $3,000 – within three months of opening the card.

Barclaycard previously provided the co-branded credit card for U.S. Airways but now that American Airlines and U.S. Airways have merged, they are providing another card that earns American miles. This card is the Barclaycard Aviator Red Mastercard which often comes with a sign-up bonus between 40,000 and 60,000 AAdvantage miles.

This sign-up bonus is quite possibly the easiest you will ever get. The requirements for the sign-up bonus are to make a single purchase and pay the $95 annual fee. Any purchase. Even a pack of gum. That is all you need to get a huge chunk of American AAdvantage miles.

Between these two cards, you can earn a ton of miles and, if you time it right, you could even earn 120,000 American miles from the sign-up bonuses.

Now that you have a bunch of American miles, what can you do with them?! Let’s take a look.

Round-trip to Europe for Two

Europe is a hot travel destination for many great reasons. Wonderful history, fantastic culture, and phenomenal food span the continent. Add in the romantic aura of cities like Paris, Venice, and Florence and it is no wonder that Europe is such a popular travel destination for couples.

With 120,000 AAdvantage miles a European getaway can quickly become a reality. You can get two round-trip tickets to anywhere in Europe in economy class on American Airlines or one of their Oneworld partners.

However, there is one partner to watch out for and that’s British Airways. Flying British Airways will mean high taxes and fees for flying into London plus high carrier-imposed surcharges. You can avoid the latter by taking a flight operated by American Airlines.

AA AdvantageAs you can see in the image above, a flight from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to London (LHR) on British Airways would result in $523.36 in taxes, fees, and surcharges for one person. You can get a cash ticket to Europe for cheaper than that!

If you really want to stretch your miles, you can book during off peak dates of January 10 – March 14 and November 1 – December 14. If you travel during these timeframes, a round-trip economy class booking to Europe will only cost 45,000 American miles per person!

If you’re starting with 120,000 American miles, two tickets during off peak dates would leave you with 30,000 AAdvantage miles which is enough of at least another one-way ticket to Europe!

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The Basics of Partner Award Bookings

By: 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,

You’ve earned your points, picked your destination, and now you just need to figure out how to get there.

If you’ve gotten stuck on this step, you’re not alone. Understanding airline partners is a tricky part of the award booking process, but can be one of the best ways to get the most out of your miles and points.

Let’s dig into the airline alliance and partnerships, how they work, and go over some of the biggest alliances and partnerships.

Passenger Airplane

What are Airline Alliances?

Airline alliances are agreements between airlines to cooperate in transporting passengers which can make international travel much easier.

There are three major airline alliances including Oneworld, Star Alliance, and SkyTeam. Each is comprised of airlines from around the world. A couple airlines – Alaska Airlines and Etihad Airways – also have large networks of individual airline partnerships. Continue Reading

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How To Maximize Your British Airways Avios

By: 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.

You’re probably more familiar with the loyalty programs of the major U.S. airlines, but looking beyond the U.S. will open up even more award flight possibilities. With this in mind, the British Airways Executive Club is a loyalty program that you’ll want to learn—you’ll notice they refer to miles as Avios.

There are some fantastic redemption options within British Airways’ award charts. With that said, long-haul premium cabin award tickets often incur high carrier-imposed surcharges on top of the usual taxes and fees.

For this reason, it’s important to do a little research before booking an award flight with Avios. Fortunately, there are a ton of easy to ways to earn Avios through their credit card partners so you’ll always have a path to more!

Now, let’s check out how you can earn a bunch of Avios and redeem them for maximum value!

Earn Avios with Credit Cards

British Airways has partnered with Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) so you have plenty of options to transfer points when you need Avios. Ultimate Rewards points and Membership Rewards points generally transfer almost instantly while SPG Starpoints can take up to 7 days for a transfer to process.

As is the case whenever you transfer points to an airline partner, you need to make sure you’re ready to book as they cannot be returned to the transferable points program from which you transferred.

Chase also provides a co-branded British Airways Visa Card that earns Avios directly on all your purchases.

You can get the British Airways Visa Card from Chase after you have run into Chase’s 5/24 rule so it won’t be a first-tier priority. Continue Reading

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The Best Debit Cards for International Travel

By: 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.

Longtime 10xTravel readers know you can get flight and hotels at huge discounts using points acquired from credit cards. Unfortunately, not all parts travel can be nearly free. Food, souvenirs, and drinks can’t readily be purchased with points.

While you should use a credit card for these purchases whenever possible, you won’t be able to do so everywhere you go. Having access to cash is important, especially in the local currency. But this often requires subjecting yourself to terrible exchange fees if you get money from a local exchange shop.

To get the best exchange rate when you need cash, you’ll want to get money from an ATM. However, picking the right debit card can prevent you from paying fees on top of that.

Let’s explore some options to help avoid those pesky fees and save you money.

10xTravel Picking the Best Debit Card for International Travel Continue Reading

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How To Combine Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

By: 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 nailed how to earn lots of points thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses and your everyday spending.

One of the biggest challenges after earning these points is maximizing their value to make them stretch as far as possible. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to combine Chase Ultimate Rewards points to help you get started.

 

Why Should You Combine Ultimate Rewards?

Combining Ultimate Rewards can help increase the value of your Ultimate Rewards. If you have the right credit cards and combine correctly you can increase the value of each point by a minimum of 50%!

Typically, Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth 1 cent per point. However, they are worth more if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card which both give you a bonus when you redeem your points in the Chase travel portal.

If you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, your points are worth 1.25 cents each and if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, they are worth 1.5 cents each.

Another reason to transfer points is to take advantage of travel partners. Not all Ultimate Rewards earning cards can be transferred to travel partners, like United Airlines and Hyatt. By transferring your points to a card with travel partner transfers, you can!

If you’re trying to figure out which cards have the ability to transfer, it basically comes down to this: if the card has an annual fee, it allows transfer to partners. This means the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Ink Preferred provide access to transfer partners while the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited do not.

 

How to Combine Between Your Personal Cards

When you log into your Ultimate Rewards portal, you’ll see a screen showing the number of points you have with each card.

 

Although most of my points are on my Sapphire Reserve, I do have a few on my freedom. If I redeem them on the freedom, they are only worth 1 cent each. By transferring these points onto my Sapphire Reserve, they will be worth at least 1.5 cents each. Thankfully, transferring points between your own personal cards is really easy! Continue Reading

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Citi Prestige Credit Card Benefits

By: 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,

The Citi Prestige Card is Citi’s flagship premium credit card. The unique benefits you get from the Citi Prestige really set this card apart from other premium cards on the market. If you don’t have the Citi Prestige already, you might want to consider it. Let’s talk about why.

Citi Prestige Credit Card - 10xTravel.com

4th-Night Free on Hotel Stays

You‘ve probably heard us talk about using points for free nights at hotels, but sometimes paying for hotel nights instead of using points can make sense. Additionally, if you want to stay at a boutique hotel that isn’t part of a large loyalty program, you’ll need to find a way to pay for it. Finally, if you travel for work, this can be a great way to save money on hotels.

With the Citi Prestige Card’s 4th-Night Free, whenever you book at least 4 consecutive nights at a hotel, you will receive a free night on the 4th night. Continue Reading

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Buying Miles: Is It Worth It?

By: 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,

Airlines and hotels frequently offer massive sales to purchase points. I’ve certainly been tempted by some of these sales. But, before you jump to make a purchase you need decide if it’s worth it. In this article, I’ll share with you when it’s really worth it to buy miles.

10xTravel Buying Miles - Worth It?

Why Buying Miles Is Almost Always A Bad Idea

Assuming you are able to open credit cards, buying miles is rarely a good idea. Thanks to credit card sign-up bonuses and bonus categories, there are plenty of ways to earn the necessary miles for flights.

When you think about it, why spend beyond what is necessary just for some miles? If you’re spending money, you should be getting something for it. Considering the fact that nearly all of your purchases can be made with a credit card, you’re better off not buying miles in almost all cases.

 

Only Buy Miles for Immediate Use

If you decide that buying miles is worth it because it saves you time and energy, only buy them for immediate use. Sales can make it tempting to buy for future use but, remember, miles are not an investment that become more valuable.

Buying miles to use later is a risky proposition. Devaluations aren’t a regular thing but they can happen without notice – Delta actually does this somewhat regularly. If you buy miles to use later, the value of the miles may drop leaving you in need of even more miles.

This happened last year, when Alaska Airlines had a 40% off sale on miles. The day after the sale ended, Alaska Airlines devalued its redemption rates with Emirates, one of their partner airlines, which nearly doubling the cost for some flights!

For this reason, you should only buy points when you are ready to redeem them right away.

 

Topping Off Your Balance

Speaking of redeeming immediately, topping off your balance for an immediate redemption is where you can get the best value from buying points.

Award availability, specifically business and first class, can be sparse at times. If you know you need a flight on a day that award space is available but are short the required miles, it might make sense to buy some.

In this case, you aren’t spending a ton of money on miles and you’re using them immediately.

 

Pick the Right Credit Card to Buy Miles

If you do find yourself needing to buy miles, make sure you know who is selling the miles. Some airlines allow you to buy directly from the while others let points.com run handle the process.

If the airline handles it, the purchase will code as travel so you should use a card that will earn bonus points such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2 points per dollar), Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (3 points per dollar), Citi Prestige Card (3 points per dollar), The Platinum Card from American Express (5 points per dollar), The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express (3 points per dollar), and more!

These airlines sell their miles directly to you:

  • American Airlines
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Delta Air Lines

If points.com runs the sale, the Blue Business Plus from American Express (2 points per dollar) or the Chase Freedom Unlimited (1.5 points per dollar) are great choices.

These airlines sell their miles through points.com:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

 

Alternatives

If you need miles there are better alternatives to buying them. One of my favorite ways of topping off my account is using shopping portals. If you’re going to spend money on miles, why not get something in addition to miles!

Nearly every major airline program has a shopping portal, and many of the bank programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards have them too. If you need to top off your account, you might even be able to ‘buy’ miles for cheaper through a shopping portal.

The only drawback is shopping portals don’t post immediately. So, if you have a specific flight that you want to book immediately, your only guaranteed way is through buying miles. If you can wait a few weeks for the points to post, portals are a great alternative!

Let’s be clear though, you should just spend money for the sake of it. Buy things you know you’re going to need if you must take this route.

 

Conclusion

Buying miles is rarely worth it. With credit card sign-up bonuses and plenty of other ways to earn miles, buying them is often a very pricey way to go.

If you don’t have time to earn the required miles, buying miles might be worth it though. In these rare situations, it’s much better to top off an account with a small purchase rather than spending a ton of money on a large purchase of miles.

If you don’t need the miles to book an award flight immediately, consider the many other options you have to earn the miles. It might not happen as quickly, but you’ll save a lot of money.

Safe Travels,

Travis

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Best Trip Delay Protection Credit Cards

By: 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,

At 10xTravel, we like to be optimistic–often writing about awesome trips you can take from the miles and points you earn thanks to credit cards. However, travel doesn’t always go as planned. Delays happen and, at one point or another, they happen to all of us.

Thankfully, many credit cards offer trip delay protection.

If you purchase your flight with the right credit card, you can help yourself out of this travel nightmare. You may find yourself eating a nice dinner out and sleeping in a comfortable bed instead of eating chips from the vending machine and sleeping on the airport floor.

Bored in Airport

What is Trip Delay Protection?

Trip delay protection is a perk offered on many credit cards. If you find you get stuck with a severely delayed (or canceled) flight, trip delay protection will reimburse you for reasonable expenses incurred due to the delay.

To qualify, you must have to paid for the ticket-sometimes you only have to pay for part of the ticket-with the card. These do not stack on top of any vouchers offered by airlines, so don’t think you can double up (I know what many of you were thinking!). Continue Reading

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Chase Hyatt Card: Is The 40k Bonus A Good Deal?

By: 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.

Travelers of all types love the World of Hyatt loyalty program. Hyatt award nights start at 5,000 points per night for Category 1 hotels while Category 7 hotels cost 30,000 points per night. Whether you’re just looking for a nice bed for the night or a luxury experience, Hyatt has you covered.

Historically, the Chase Hyatt credit card had a bonus of 2 free nights. Recently, this bonus was changed to 40,000 Hyatt points. While the bonus of 2 free nights was famous for the ability to book hotels such as the Park Hyatt Sydney and Park Hyatt Paris – Vendome, for many people the 40,000 points is going to be a better option.

Scenic Landscape with Andes Mountains in Mendoza, Argentina

New Hyatt Bonus Practically The Same

Many people, myself included, consider the 2 free nights to be worth at most 50,000 Hyatt points. Of the 667 Hyatt properties, 13 are a Category 7. Since it is unlikely you’ll use free nights at one of these few properties, the most value you will typically get is 2 nights at a category 6 hotel, worth 50,000 points total.

You probably think I’m crazy saying 40,000 points is nearly the same value as 50,000, but it is true! Calling the bonus only 40,000 points is misleading. When you add in the 2,000 points you’ll get from meeting the spending requirement, you have 42,000 points. Continue Reading