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UNITED AIRLINES

galapagos islands united excursionist
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How I Booked a Trip to the Galápagos Islands with the United Excursionist Perk

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 can read our advertising disclosure here.

By:  Anya Kartashova

If you’ve played the points and miles game for longer than a couple of years, you might remember United Airlines MileagePlus program’s generous stopover and open-jaw rules. I don’t mean to sound like my grandmother but, back in the day, we had it good.

Long gone are the loose stopover definitions and the opportunities to circle the globe on the same award. The stopover rules have changed, and we now have what United dubbed the Excursionist Perk, which still provides some fun opportunities.

What Is the United Excursionist Perk?

The Excursionist Perk is a free one-way segment you can add to select award bookings. It can be used on a multi-city itinerary of at least three one-way awards within a single reservation.

As with all award bookings, the Excursionist Perk comes with rules and limitations. As per the United website, the following must be true.

  • Travel must end in the same MileagePlus defined region where travel originates.
  • The origin and destination of the Excursionist Perk are within a single MileagePlus defined region.
  • The cabin of service and award type of the free one-way award is the same or lower than the one-way award preceding it.
  • If two or more one-way awards qualify for this benefit, only the first occurrence will be free.

Make sure you check out our two-part series on the Excursionist Perk to learn all the ins and outs of maximizing your United award bookings.

How much you’ll save with your free intra-region one-way will depend on your route, of course. However, when flying to the Galápagos Islands, it can provide big savings!

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credit cards free checked bag
Blog

Which Credit Cards Require You to Pay with Them for Free Checked Bags?

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 can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: Anya Kartashova

With the introduction of bare-bones basic economy fares, panic has settled in among the traveling masses. Most budget fares do not offer a seat selection and make you board the aircraft last, which oftentimes leaves you with no room for luggage in the overhead bin. Your options are to place the bag underneath the seat in front of you or, if it’s too big, you’re forced to check it, which doesn’t come cheap.

Luckily, there are ways to avoid paying for a checked bag. Being an elite flyer is one of them. Flying in a premium cabin is another.

An alternative option?

Holding a co-branded credit card from an airline of your choice.

Typical perks include boarding a plane in an early group to get access to the oh-so-limited overhead space, yes, but also being able to check a bag at no extra cost. The benefit often even covers your travel companions.

So, which credit cards allow you to check a bag for free? And, more importantly, which credit cards require you to pay for the ticket with them to receive the benefit?


Alaska Airlines

Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card

With the Bank of America Alaska card, you and up to six travel companions are able to save on baggage fees. Most domestic airlines have increased their bag fees from $25 to $30 for the first checked bag, but Alaska still charges $25. Your group can save up to $350 per round-trip reservation provided that everyone in the party checks a bag each way.

 Alaska Airlines - book ticket using credit card to get free baggage fee

When you book, simply make sure you attach your Mileage Plan number at the time of booking.

You’re not required to pay for the reservation with the Alaska co-branded credit card for the benefit to apply — this is key since cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred provide trip delay coverage.

When you book, simply make sure you attach your Mileage Plan number at the time of booking. It takes about two to three weeks for the perk to activate once you open the card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Business Card from Bank of America

Same benefit as on the personal Alaska Airlines Visa Credit Card.

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card Earn 30,000 miles after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days

American Airlines

Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard

Holding the Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard will allow you and up to four travel companions booked on the same reservation to check the first bag for free on domestic flights operated by American Airlines and its regional subsidiaries, such as American Eagle, Compass Airlines, ExpressJet Airlines, etc.

credit card to get free checked bag

Keep in mind that flights to the Caribbean don’t count as domestic, and you’ll be on the hook for a bag fee even if you’re a credit cardholder. Been there, done that.

American Airlines charges $30 for the first checked bag (for tickets issued after Sept. 21, 2018), so you’re looking at potentially saving $60 per person on a round-trip flight. If all four of your travel companions check a bag, you’ll save the group $300 on your entire trip.

The benefit applies to award travel as well. Not bad for a card that costs $99 annually (waived for the first year).

You don’t have to pay for the flights with your Citi / AAdvantage Platinum Select credit card, but the account must be open at least seven days before travel date.

Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard

The Citi / AAdvantage Executive World Elite MasterCard has a similar baggage perk, except now you and eight of your companions are covered on the same trip as long as all of you were booked together. In this scenario, your Brady Bunch can save up to $540 on each round-trip.

Keep in mind that this premium credit card has a high annual fee of $450, but it more than makes up for it in other benefits, such as Admirals Club access and Global Entry / TSA Precheck enrollment fee. Continue Reading

How To Beat United Basic Economy
Blog

How to Beat United Basic Economy

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 can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: Travis Cormier

Hey Travel Junkies,

As a Houston native, I fly United quite a bit.

I don’t mind flying United Basic Economy to get to my destination when I am flying alone. Sometimes all I need is a flight from point A to point B.

When flying Basic Economy on United, I want to be sure I’m getting everything I need. If I’m taking a bag with me, I want to be sure I can check it or bring it as a carry-on. I may even want to select my seat.

Many unsuspecting travelers have been caught off-guard by Basic Economy and there are some restrictions that might surprise you.

Let’s take a look at the United’s Basic Economy rules and how you can avoid some of the pitfalls.

How To Beat United Basic Economy

United’s Basic Economy rules and how you can avoid some of the pitfalls.

The Best Credit Cards to Beat United Basic Economy

Before we get into United’s Basic Economy rules, let’s look at the available co-branded credit cards that can help you beat United Basic Economy. There are four United credit cards that can help you avoid some nasty fees:

  • United Explorer Card
  • Chase United MileagePlus Club Card
  • Chase United MileagePlus Explorer Business Card
  • Chase United MileagePlus Club Business Card
United Explorer Card 40,000 bonus miles after $2,000 spend in 3 months(Learn more)

 

Most travelers will find the benefits offered by the Chase United Explorer personal or business cards to be enough to beat United Basic Economy. There are additional benefits to the Club cards — United Club access — but these benefits come with a much higher annual fee.

With any of these credit cards, you’ll receive at least one free checked bags for you and one companion when you purchase your ticket using your United co-branded credit card. If you hold either the MileagePlus Club Card or MileagePlus Club Business Card, you’ll receive your first and second bag for free.

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south africa points and miles | family travel
Blog, Success Stories

Reader Success Story: How a 100-year-old Farmhouse Helped a Family of 4 to South Africa

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 can read our advertising disclosure here.

By: 10xT Reader Jessica

Intro

I’m not new to the points and miles world. I’ve traveled to Italy, France, Australia, United Arab Emirates and Seychelles (to name a few) on points and miles over the years. That being said, the 10X Team took it up to the next level. Once our family of 3 became a family of 4, this game became a little more challenging. I’m here to tell you that you can still play the points and miles game as a family and explore the world.

Earning the points and miles to travel South Africa

A little over a year ago, our family purchased a 100-year-old farmhouse on 3 acres in Northern California. At this point, I wasn’t seriously into the points and miles game (this is a good thing as it’s recommended to not apply for cards within 9 months of applying for a mortgage). The house we bought was livable, but definitely, a “fixer-upper” that we planned to change from a 2 bedroom / 1 bathroom to a 3 bedroom / 2 bathroom.

Months later, we had a designer and a contractor on board. With all of the spending we had ahead of us, it was time to maximize the credit card points. I was not new to the Chase Family at this point. I already had a Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) and Chase Freedom from many years prior with some Ultimate Rewards (UR) racked up.

Following the monthly 10X post on the best credit cards to apply for, I went for the Chase Ink Preferred for 80,000 UR. I also referred my husband to his own CSP for an additional 10,000 UR (for referring him) plus his 50,000 UR sign up bonus plus 5,000 additional UR for adding our son as an authorized user (there are pros and cons to adding a minor as an authorized user, decide for yourself if this is a good move in your particular case).

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card 50,000 bonus points after $4,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More
Ink Business Preferred Credit Card 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points after $5,000 spend in 3 monthsLearn More
Chase Sapphire Reserve Earn 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months(Learn more)

We were in the middle of hitting minimum spends for these cards when Bryce posted about “last chance” to apply for the Amex SPG business card for 35,000 SPG points (most business cards do not add to your 5/24). My husband and I decided to apply for it at the same time since we could hit the $7000 minimum spend (X2) easily with our remodel expenses. After hitting minimum spend and then some, we had 90,000 SPG points.

My (then) 9-year-old son (who’s been to 20 countries and counting) reminded us that he’d be experiencing a “milestone” 10th birthday in September 2018 and that he wanted to visit his cousins in South Africa. Why not? At this point, I knew we were getting close to deciding on our fall trip, so I thought it was a good time to product change my CSP to a Chase Freedom Unlimited (CFU) and apply for the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) for 50,000 Ultimate Reward points.

Flights

I wish I could say we flew first class to South Africa… (that will be a later post once my children are in college!), but I can say that our family of 4 flew to South Africa and back for a net cost of $135.64. Yes, you heard me right, that’s $33.91 per person.

How did we do this? I started by transferring my husband’s SPG points to my SPG account (at no cost). Next, I transferred my 90,000 SPG points to my Marriott account (again, at no cost). This gave me 270,000 Marriott points (before the merger, SPG points transferred to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio). At the time, 270,000 Marriott points translated to a “Hotel & Air Package” of 7 nights at a Marriott Category 1-5 plus 120,000 miles with many airline programs. If you chose United, you received 10% more United miles. So, by using 270,000 Marriott points, I received a certificate for a 7-night stay at a Category 1-5 hotel PLUS 132,000 United miles deposited into my account (almost immediately).

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first 3 monthsLearn More

United Airlines is a Chase transfer partner. From the new Chase cards, my husband and I applied for, we had over 200,000 UR between the two of us. (Plus, I already had another 100,000 UR or so before we applied for the new cards.) To fly economy class to South Africa using United miles, I knew I needed 40,000 award miles for one-way saver awards. So, for a family of 4, this would equal 320,000 award miles needed. I already had 132,000 United miles in my United account thanks to the Marriott Hotel & Air Package, so I all I needed to do was transfer an additional 188,000 UR from my CSR to United.

The transfers to United all happened in late July / early August and we wanted to fly to South Africa in late September / early October. During this time period, I was logging into my United account frequently and seeing a lot of available for our time frame. (Note that you should not transfer points to an airline partner until you’re ready to book and know that there is availability.)

On August 3rd, I pulled the trigger and booked our flights. I booked one-way tickets in an “open jaw” format (SFO → CPT and JNB → SFO) through the award travel tab on the United website. I booked the first part of our trip on Lufthansa with a layover in Frankfurt for a total of 160,000 United miles plus $163.20 in taxes and fees.

Capetown | south africa points and miles

For the flight home, I booked Swiss Airlines with a layover in Zurich for 160,000 United miles plus $272.44 in taxes and fees. The total for the 4 of us came to $435.64. But wait, you said the total was only $135.64, where did the $300 difference go? It was erased thanks to my $300 travel credit from my CSR! (For fun, I looked up the cash price of these tickets, and although I know it’s super inflated, it was over $12,000 for the 4 of us!)

south africa points and miles

So, we now had our flights booked, but no real itinerary for our trip. We just knew we had 2 weeks in South Africa, starting in Cape Town and ending in Johannesburg. We also knew that we wanted to spend time in Cape Town, drive the Garden Route and fly from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg and then back home. I had heard about the United Excursionist Perk (where you basically get a free one-way segment within your trip), but there was no award availability from Port Elizabeth to Johannesburg for our specific dates. This is where the Chase travel portal came in handy. I was able to book flights on Mango Air for just under 40,000 UR for the 4 of us.

Johannesburg south africa points and miles

south africa points and miles

Onboard our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt

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