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Caroline Lupini

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Chase Sapphire Reserve: Everything You Need To Know

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

By: Caroline Lupini

Chase really shook up the premium credit card landscape when they launched the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. It’s a direct competitor to The Platinum Card from American Express and the Citi Prestige Card.

If you’re a member of the 10xTravel Insiders Facebook group, you’ve probably noticed that tons of people have made this card has earned a place in many wallets.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a 10xT favorite!

The Basics

  • Earning: 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel and dining, 1X on  everything else
  • Current sign-up bonus: 50,000 points after $4,000 spend in the first 3 months
  • Key benefits: annual $300 travel credit, Global entry fee credit, Priority Pass Select membership (unlimited guests), premium travel benefits and protection, no foreign transaction fees
  • Annual fee: $450
  • Authorized user fee: $75 per authorized user

Learn more about the full offer details here.

Bonus Categories

·       Earn 3X points on travel worldwide from airfare and hotels to taxis to trains (and more)

·       Earn 3X points on dining at restaurants worldwide from fast casual to fine dining

·       Earn 1X point per $1 spent on all other purchases

The earning structure for the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it a great card for frequent travelers and people who like to dine out regularly. This combination of 3X on travel and dining is unmatched and can even be improved when paired with the Chase Freedom (rotating quarterly 5X categories) and Freedom Unlimited (1.5X on everything) cards.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x on all travel purchases

Redeem Your Ultimate Rewards

Chase Ultimate Rewards points are, of course, best used for travel. One of the key benefits of the Chase Sapphire Reserve is that each point is worth 1.5 cents towards travel when redeemed directly through the Chase travel portal.

When you redeem your points this way, you’ll always know exactly what you’re getting for your points. Better yet, flights booked will still earn miles.

This is a great redemption option when flight prices are low. For example, JetBlue regularly has transcontinental Mint Business class flights on sale for $399 each way, which would only require 26,600 Chase Ultimate Rewards points – and you’ll earn JetBlue points!

You can use points earned from Sapphire Reserve to book JetBlue Mint. Image courtesy of JetBlue.com

Assuming you could find availability, United would charge 25,000 miles (which can be transferred from Ultimate Rewards) for the same flight itinerary, but United’s transcontinental flights generally aren’t thought to be as nice as JetBlue’s and you won’t earn miles when you fly.

Even better redemptions can usually be achieved with Chase’s numerous airline and hotel transfer partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Iberia Plus
  • Korean Air SkyPass
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Southwest Rapid Rewards
  • United MileagePlus
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

On the hotel side, you can transfer to:

  • IHG Rewards Club
  • Marriott Rewards
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards
  • World of Hyatt

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What to Do With 35,000+ Starpoints

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

By: Caroline Lupini

In March, the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card from American Express was offering a limited time offer of 35,000 Starpoints after spending $7,000 in the first 3 months after opening the card.

(This offer is no longer acvailable as of March 28, 2018)

This offer only comes around about once a year, so I hope you had the opportunity to sign up for it if you were eligible! If you signed up for the card and completed the minimum spend requirement, you’ll have at least 42,000 Starpoints in your account.

So, now that you’ve got a good chunk of Starpoints, here are a few ideas of how to redeem them on your next trip.

Transfer Starpoints to Airline Miles (With a Bonus)

One of the reasons Starpoints are so highly valued in the miles and points community is that they can be transferred to a wide variety of airline partners, including several partners unique to SPG. Almost all of these partners have a 1:1 transfer ratio, so 1 Starpoint = 1 airline mile.

On top of this, Starwood gives you a bonus of 5,000 miles for every 20,000 Starpoints transferred.

20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 miles, 40,000 Starpoints = 50,000 miles, etc. You can transfer a maximum of 79,999 Starpoints per 24 hours, so to maximize the bonus you won’t want to transfer more than 60,000 points per day.

(The math is slightly different for Air New Zealand, Gol, LATAM, and United, but the same principle applies – when you spend 20,000 Starpoints, you get the equivalent of 25,000 Starpoints.)

Here are a few specific examples of redemptions you could make with your SPG points:

  • Book Cathay Pacific business class from the U.S. to Southeast Asia for only 50,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (40,000 SPG)
  • Fly to South America on LATAM in business class for only 45,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles (40,000 SPG) and you’ll have 5,000 Alaska miles already saved for your next trip!
  • You only need 25,000 Flying Blue miles to get to Europe in economy class (20,000 SPG)
  • Korean Air SkyPass only requires 25,000 miles round-trip for an economy trip to Hawaii (that’s only 20,000 SPG)!

You can transfer your Starpoints to Alaska Mileage Plan to book Cathay Pacific

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Flying Blue Awards To Book Before the June 1 Changes

By: Caroline Lupini

Flying Blue is the loyalty program of Air France-KLM, their subsidiaries, and a few other partners including Kenya Airways, Tarom, and Aircalin. It’s one of Europe’s major frequent flyer programs, along with the British Airways Executive Club and Miles & More (Lufthansa group).

This year marks a major change in the Flying Blue program, which will become fully revenue-based as of April 1, 2018 for earning purposes. To make matters worse, the award chart will disappear on June 1, 2018, with a pricing based on the origin, the destination and the date, in a similar way to what Delta has done with Skymiles.

Considering these changes, there’s truly a lot we don’t know. What we do know, however, is that some awards are definitely going to cost more miles while some are staying the same or even going down. Due to this, there are some awards that you should book before June 1, 2018 to get the best deal and some others that you might be better off booking after the change.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue Awards To Book Before June 1

1. Longer Flights Within the Continental US

Domestic redemptions are changing and, while not all of the city pairs are loaded into the system, it appears that short-haul redemptions are going down slightly—Boston (BOS) to New York (JFK) decreases from 12,500 to 11,500 Flying Blue miles in economy class and from 31,250 to 28,000 miles in first class).

Transcontinental flights will go up with JFK to Los Angeles (LAX) increasing from 31,250 to 34,000 miles in first class and economy class increasing from 12,500 to 14,000 miles. Awards to Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean will be priced similarly.

2. Flights to Hawaii

Award flights to Hawaii are getting hit with a sharp devaluation. LAX or Atlanta (ATL) to Honolulu (HNL) will start at 43,000 miles for first class, up from 30,000 miles. The mileage cost from the cities on the east coast are not yet available.

3. Flights Within Asia

Intra-Asia redemptions also take a hit. While they were a sweet spot at 10,000 miles one-way in economy class and 25,000 in business class as long as you stayed in the same region, those awards will now require 20,000 miles—a 100% increase—and 45,000 miles, respectively.

4. West Coast USA to Europe

Most destinations from the west coast to Paris (CDG) or Amsterdam (AMS) will also see a substantial increase of 8,500 to 9,500 miles for business class awards which means awards that were previously 62,500 miles will be 71,000 or 72,000 miles. With business class awards from LAX, San Francisco (SFO), Seattle (SEA) and Salt Lake City (SLC) surpassing 70,000 miles one-way with the change, you’ll definitely want to book those now.

Note that Vancouver (YVR) will be much more reasonable after the change with a saver level award rate of 59,500 miles one-way with the launch of the new award chart.

Since Flying Blue charges only 45 euros to change or cancel an award, it might be worth securing one of these awards at the current price, even if your plans aren’t set in stone, as you could potentially save thousands of miles.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue Awards To Book After June 1

One word of caution before we look at redemptions that could become a better deal under the new program. The new award calculator clearly states that the mileage required is the minimum number of miles required between two airports. This means that not all flights available for redemption will be available at this saver level. If this seems familiar, you can look at how Delta prices awards.

It does’t even guarantee that low-level awards (those that are available to other SkyTeam partners as well) will always be priced at that level, since the mileage cost of a ticket might also vary depending on the season. The new Flying Blue website states (bolding mine):

We’ll calculate the number of Miles needed to book your ticket based on the origin, destination and date of your flight.

 

As a comparison, British Airways and Iberia awards vary between peak and off-peak days, but a calendar of peak dates is published way ahead of time. At this points, Air France-KLM Flying Blue haven’t indicated that they will do so.

On the more positive side, if you need to get on a particular flight, it will now always be possible (but we don’t know at what cost). From June 2018, they will offer a new Miles & Cash option. Instead of using just Miles, you can pay for up to 25% of your ticket with cash. This way, you won’t have to wait to book your favorite seat, even if you are a few miles short.

With these changes in mind, here are some award tickets you might want to book after June 1. Keep in mind that just because the saver-level award rate will be reduced, there is no guarantee that awards will be available at that rate.

1. Flights From Some East Coast Cities to Europe

Some direct flights from the East Coast will require fewer miles such as JFK or Miami (MIA) to CDG will decrease from 25,000 to 22,000 one-way in economy class and from 62,500 to 57,500 in business class.

Unfortunately, BOS to CDG goes up from 62,500 to 63,500 in business class. It gets better when Paris or Amsterdam aren’t your final destination, though. For example, Boston to Brussels (BRU) drops from 62,500 to 53,000 miles one-way in business class.

2. East Coast To India

If you want from JFK to Delhi (DEL), the mileage cost drops significantly from an overpriced 100,000 miles to 85,000 miles one-way in business class. This brings it more in line with the competition—United MileagePlus requires 75,000 miles on its own flights and 85,000 miles for partner flights.

3. West Coast US to French Polynesia

Finally, LAX to Tahiti (PPT) on Air France’s fifth-freedom route could become an interesting redemption as it drops from 75,000 to 64,000 miles in business class and from 30,000 miles to 25,500 in economy class.

4. Business Class flights to North Africa and Israel

Air France-KLM Flying Blue continues to consider North Africa and Israel as part of the European region and that’s good news for us. Business class awards from the US are actually getting even better. For example, JFK to Tel Aviv (TLV) will be 53,000 miles one-way in business class which is down from 62,500 miles one-way.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue Redemptions That Remain The Same

While we’re seeing some positive and some negative changes to the Flying Blue award chart, there are some awards that will remain the same.

1. First Class Awards

To be honest, this is unlikely to affect the vast majority of travelers in the states. First class awards on Air France can only be booked by those who have earned elite status in the Flying Blue program.

If you happen to have to elite status with Flying Blue, the new mileage rates aren’t going to help you book first class awards on Air France. First class awards between JFK and CDG will continue to be a staggering 200,000 miles. That’s just for a one-way ticket!

2. Economy Class Flights to North Africa and Israel

Economy class flights from the U.S. to North Africa and Israel remain untouched and we consider that a good thing. You can continue to book these award flights for 25,000 miles one-way after the changes are made on June 1.

Promo Awards Become Promo Reward Tickets

At this time, it does not appear that the mileage cost to fly partner airlines will be different—unlike the Delta SkyMiles and United MileagePlus programs. Of course, not all redemption prices seem to be set, so we shouldn’t feel entirely safe from a bad surprise.

The monthly Flying Blue Promo Awards, one of the major sweet spots of the Flying Blue program, seem to be unaffected at this point with only their name changing to Promo Reward. These discounted awards can reduce the mileage requirement by either 25% or 50%. The discounted award rates are only eligible for flights operated by Air France or KLM. If you find a Promo Reward ticket from the U.S., expect a 25% discount.

So, even though you might want to book some awards before June, always watch out for these promotions as it can be worth paying the 45 euro change fee to get up to 50% of your miles back if your destination goes on sale.

Bottom Line

It’s almost never a good thing when an airline makes changes to their award program. While we know about some of the changes coming to Flying Blue, we don’t have all the details yet. We might learn more Before June 1st, but we may have to wait until then to see exactly how things will play out.

If you have Flying Blue miles and are thinking about booking an award, make sure you look up the post-June 1 award rate with their mileage calculator and compare it to the current award rate.

We’ll keep an eye out for more important changes to the Air France-KLM Flying Blue program.