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Little Evil

Long Haul Business Class for under $2K (Long Post)

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Little Evil

Long Haul Business Class for under $2K

 

Let me preface this with a partial disclaimer.  This is a report on how to get frequent flyer miles for the approximate value of a round trip business class ticket from a distance of NYC to BKK.  That is not a guarantee you will find the itinerary that you want or need, so keep that in mind if you end up trying these techniques. This is for someone who is very flexible with their travel arrangements, not for someone who needs specific flying dates.  For those who just want the mileage detail, skip to the bottom.  With that being said….

 

Once you experience flying business class or better, the thought of not having expedited security/customs and a fully flat bed is unfathomable.  Having to go back to fighting over armrests, knees dug into the seat in front of you, and a few inches of recline for a 10-14 hour long haul leg is no longer an option.  That might sound somewhat elitist, but trust me when I say that I'm not some upper crust snob.  If I had to classify myself, I'm middle class on an income bar.  That means that while my preference is business class, my wallet is more economy.  So, what to do now that I got the taste of higher end airline travel? 

 

As many of you already know, airlines offer miles/point frequent flyer programs.  They were initially for those who, well, frequently flew.  It was their loyalty reward program.  In the recent decade, these FF programs have expanded out of the airlines industry and now include shopping, rentals, services, research, and dining.  That means, one can earn miles for things outside of buying an airline ticket.  Now that they programs are so robust in terms of earning potential, entrepreneurial people like myself have turned mile earning into a hobby and have figured out methods and hacks to get the most out of their programs.  What I'm about to list is just the basic mile collecting that just about anyone can do without having to get into the more detailed hacks.

 

__________________________________________

 

 

In the attached chart, the actual mileage purchase was $1,881.25.  That was to buy 50,000 miles at regular fare ($.035 cents a mile, plus taxes/fees) and I got a 100% mileage bonus during specific and often targeted bonus periods.  I won't get into the nitty gritty about per mile value in this piece, but most people agree that this is a good deal.  If you figure that an economy ticket from NYC to BKK would run anywhere from $1,500 - 1,700 currently, then spending $1,881.25 on miles to translate to a business class ticket is a steal.  Particularly when considering the dollar value of that type of ticket is anywhere between $3,500. - $6,000.   I'm amazed that some people actually buy tickets at those fairs, but I guess it is relative to your income.  Here's how the simple points game is done:

 

Buying Miles:       Pretty much all airlines offer miles to purchase.  This is handy if you need to top off your account to get an award ticket, but otherwise a bad idea because the per mile expense exceeds that of outright buying an economy ticket.  Things get more favorable during bonus periods where you can get anywhere from 10-100% bonus on miles.  If your target is business class or higher, then buying miles during these bonus periods is a great way to get a solid base going or to put a significant amount of miles in your pool that would normally take several months to earn through the below means.  My personal take is that I will already be spending at least $1,500-1,700. on travel per trip to LOS, so why not spend a couple hundred dollar more to travel in lay-down comfort?  I usually max out purchases during 100% bonuses, but that's just me.  This is not ideal if your target is economy, but then again, this post isn't about getting a coach seat. 

 

Storefront:     You earn miles for every $ spent through their shopping portal.  The shopping portal is just a series of links to regular online stores.  Your frequent flyer program gets credit for sending shoppers to these links, and the airline and store spread the wealth by giving you mileage credit for your purchase.  Typical range is 1-18 miles per dollar, but it fluctuate often with higher values during holidays.  I tend to do all my Xmas shopping through this portal, and even do some work purchases through this portal.  I have a business credit card, so I can get miles for purchases that don't touch my personal bank account.  I figure that I'd make most of these purchases anyway, so why not capitalize on them by getting miles?  They also do sign up bonuses from time to time and give out realistic holiday spend bonuses.

 

Dining:      US Airways and United (maybe others) have dining programs where you sign up, register your credit cards (any under your name) and every time you dine at their listed restaurants, you get miles for every dollar.  3 miles per dollar for the first 12 dines, and 5 per dollar thereafter.  They also do signup promotions from time to time.  Quite a few of the restaurants I frequent are on the list, so again, why not get the miles if I'm already eating at these places?  The service is unobtrusive, as you only need to enter the card number, not the expiration date or CSV code. 

 

Surveys:    There are a few research companies that conduct online consumer surveys.  These research companies are partners with the top tier airlines, so you can set up an account and earn miles for taking 5-20 minute surveys.  You actually earn virtual $ or points, and when you hit specific tiers, you trade them in for miles.  These programs also offer sign up bonuses from time to time.  The biggest names are E-Rewards and E-Miles.  There are a few others that have varying degrees of results.  No money spent--just a time commitment. 

 

Services:   There are a few services that give miles for signup and service use.  The one I used was Energy Plus.  That is an electricity provider, so anyone with deregulated utilities and set up this service.  At the time, they were giving a 5,000 sign up bonus.  that occasionally goes up to 10,000 (I'm kicking myself for not waiting).  No commitment, so when I get the miles, I'm out.  Theoretically, they could actually save me a bit on utilities, but judging by their track record, I doubt it.  Again, this is something I'd be spending money on anyway.  Capitalize!  Other services are investing, Lasik, insurance, dental plans, cell phone sign up bonus (if you plan to switch), Satellite TV, etc.

 

Wine Clubs:   This is more of a Storefront item, but it is so lucrative, that it deserves its own section.  The particular one I signed up for had a 5,000 sign up bonus.  Your commitment is for 3 months min to get the miles, but that gives you 18 bottles of wine, and two bottle carry tote, and 5,450 miles.  All said and done, this one is a little pricey at about $15. a bottle of wine, but I drink a lot of wine anyway, and would most likely spend this much money anyway with or without the program.  I'm still quitting after this third shipment. 

 

So, with just a little effort and virtually no money spent that I wouldn't already be spending, I earned and purchased over 120,000 miles in less than a year and for less than $2,000.  When it comes time to book, they'll whack me for a few more fees, but I'm still killing it in terms of savings for business class.  The next step, award booking, isn't a cakewalk though, so re-read my disclaimer above. 

Miles.jpg

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duke main

LE, thanks for posting this. Flying B class to Asia is one of life's great luxuries. I wish I could do it about 5 times per year. I just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which will get me 40,000 points after I spend $3,000 on the card. I definitely need to learn more about the bonus periods you mentioned. Is that from the airline? Or a points consolidator? How much did you actually pay for those points? Thanks again. Duke

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Little Evil

LE, thanks for posting this. Flying B class to Asia is one of life's great luxuries. I wish I could do it about 5 times per year. I just signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card which will get me 40,000 points after I spend $3,000 on the card. I definitely need to learn more about the bonus periods you mentioned. Is that from the airline? Or a points consolidator? How much did you actually pay for those points? Thanks again. Duke

 

Chase Sapphire Preferred is the best travel card right now and one of the top tier points cards on the market.  Definitely worth it if your credit is good enough.  No international transaction fees for the Preferred one.  

 

When I mentioned bonus periods, those are just promotional periods from either the airline (ie. mile bonuses or sales) or through other mile earning areas (ie. time to time sign up bonuses for programs).  You just have to keep an eye out for them.  Often times there is no rhyme or reason when the start and stop.  Best bet is to sign up for a FF blog newsletter like Thepointsguy.com or any number of the other ones.  They alert you to small-window mile earning events and programs, and also give you insight on best practices for credit card use in terms of earning miles.  For instance right now, there is a neat trick involving Amex Bluebird accounts and vanilla re-loadable gift cards.  There are all sorts of hacks, double dips, and even some triple dips.  EDITED to say that my above post is geared more towards airline FF programs.  There are plenty of neat credit card tricks, but I didn't really cover them.  

 

The miles I bought were $1,881.25 for 100,000 miles.  That's already good enough for round trip Star Alliance business class from the east coast USA to northern China, Japan, South Korea, etc.  I need 120,000 for where I live to BKK round trip in business.  Alternatively, I could get two economy tickets for the same amount, but screw economy I say.  I just wanted to show people how easy and (relatively) inexpensive it is to get to business class.  Nearly the same price as economy, but I get to stretch out in a lie-flat seat, premium alcohol, a tenderloin steak, snacks on demand, a charger port, airport lounges and a fastpass through the airport.  

Edited by Little Evil

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duke main

Sorry, I posted after only skimming what you wrote. Good info.

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Little Evil

Sorry, I posted after only skimming what you wrote. Good info.

 

No worries.  I'm kind of long-winded when writing about the miles hustle.  

 

If you get the Saphirre Preferred, look into the Bluebird/Vanilla Reload thing I was talking about. Easy way to hit your initial spend when not actually spending much at all. Basics are: 

  1. Get Sapphire Preferred
  2. Open Bluebird account
  3. Buy Vanilla Reload cards with Chase Sapphire Preferred (get Chase points & hit target spend for card opening bonus)
  4. Use Vanilla Reload cards to deposit those funds into Bluebird account
  5. Use Bluebird account to pay off Chase Sapphire for buying Vanilla reloads or use Bluebird to pay for bills (utilities, rent/mortgage, car payments, etc).  

It's like buying money and getting points for it.  Truth is, I haven't personally done this hack yet, so you might want to check my math on that by doing your own feasibility research.   You end up spending a bit of money in the end for the Vanilla reload fees, but people are working this system to get miles.  

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Luv2Phuket

I'm with you, LE -- LOVE the "miles game" and use a lot of the websites you mentioned (emiles; e-rewards, etc.).

 

The biggest perk is the credit card sign-ups -- the US Air Barclays card is a steal right now, giving 35,000 miles (I think) after a single purchase.  I advised a friend to get it, then use it to buy US Air miles with the 100% bonus to take him from 0 US Air miles to about 140,000 in a month!

 

United Explorer has a low minimum spend ($1,000 I think for 35,000 miles).  I LOVE the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards -- just topped off my United account by moving 11,000 points and it took about 2 minutes for it to show up in my UA account.

 

A couple of my not-so-experienced thoughts/advice:

 - be very careful and spread out your "minimum spend" deadlines/limits - worse thing possible is getting a card and failing to meet the minimum spend

 - use your SSN and get business cards for your sole proprietorship -- Chase Ink gives 5 points per dollar spent at Staples, so a $500 Visa gift card = 2500 miles.

 - I couldn't figure out the Vanilla reloads/Bluebird thing.  I didn't have the patience to figure it out.

 - read frequent flier blogs -- Million Mile Secrets; View for the Wing; One Mile at a Time are some of my favorites.  They almost always post a monthly update on the best current credit card deals

 - if you can't figure out how to use your miles, consider using a booking service -- $150 for a RT biz ticket is still a great deal!  I did that for my trip in February.

 

I just re-booked my return flight from BKK in November.  I stupidly booked an 8:30 a.m. flight.  I was able to change it tonight to a 5:50 p.m. flight on EVA.  It's gonna cost me $150 to put the 55,000 AA miles back into my account, but that's a small price to pay for leaving Pattaya at 1 p.m. instead of 4:30 a.m.!

Edited by footypjman

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Little Evil

I'm with you, LE -- LOVE the "miles game" and use a lot of the websites you mentioned (emiles; e-rewards, etc.).

 

The biggest perk is the credit card sign-ups -- the US Air Barclays card is a steal right now, giving 35,000 miles (I think) after a single purchase.  I advised a friend to get it, then use it to buy US Air miles with the 100% bonus to take him from 0 US Air miles to about 140,000 in a month!

 

United Explorer has a low minimum spend ($1,000 I think for 35,000 miles).  I LOVE the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards -- just topped off my United account by moving 11,000 points and it took about 2 minutes for it to show up in my UA account.

 

A couple of my not-so-experienced thoughts/advice:

 - be very careful and spread out your "minimum spend" deadlines/limits - worse thing possible is getting a card and failing to meet the minimum spend

 - use your SSN and get business cards for your sole proprietorship -- Chase Ink gives 5 points per dollar spent at Staples, so a $500 Visa gift card = 2500 miles.

 - I couldn't figure out the Vanilla reloads/Bluebird thing.  I didn't have the patience to figure it out.

 - read frequent flier blogs -- Million Mile Secrets; View for the Wing; One Mile at a Time are some of my favorites.  They almost always post a monthly update on the best current credit card deals

 - if you can't figure out how to use your miles, consider using a booking service -- $150 for a RT biz ticket is still a great deal!  I did that for my trip in February.

 

I just re-booked my return flight from BKK in November.  I stupidly booked an 8:30 a.m. flight.  I was able to change it tonight to a 5:50 p.m. flight on EVA.  It's gonna cost me $150 to put the 55,000 AA miles back into my account, but that's a small price to pay for leaving Pattaya at 1 p.m. instead of 4:30 a.m.!

 

The Bluebird/Vanilla method could help you hit those minimum spends.  Bluebird is a joint venture between Amex and Walmart.  It is a virtual checking account.  The beauty of the program is that because it is virtual (no actual brick and mortar bank), you can fund your account with the Vanilla Reload cards (haven't personally done it, so you might want to check up on that part).  From there, you can use your Bluebird account to write checks for things that can't be paid by credit card such as mortgages and other loans and services.  The advantage being getting to earn miles for the Vanilla purchase such as the Staples 5/1 you mentioned.  It is a way of capitalizing your monthly payments that you normally wouldn't be able to use a miles earning streams. The big question that I haven't been able to fully confirm yet is if a circular method would work.  One where you use your miles credit card to buy Vanilla, load Vanilla amount into Bluebird, then use Bluebird to pay off miles credit card use to buy Vanilla.  In that scenario, only the Vanilla fees come into play, so you spend a few bucks per hundred and earn thousands of points in the process.  You could hit spends easily with that method (if it is allowed) without actually having to spend much at all.  

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fatjack1

Thanks.

 

I am looking into the Sapphire Pref card now.  I already use a Chase card for everything and I spend about $5000 a month on it.  I might qualify.  

 

I need to learn this milage game.  Will save me $$$.

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Little Evil

Thanks.

 

I am looking into the Sapphire Pref card now.  I already use a Chase card for everything and I spend about $5000 a month on it.  I might qualify.  

 

I need to learn this milage game.  Will save me $$$.

 

Wow.  $5k spend every month?  Impressive.

 

If you get 1 mile/dollar now, that is 60k miles/year.  Now, imagine that you can take a good percentage of those 60k miles and multiply them by 5 or 6.  That's the vanilla route, particularly if you use Bluebird too.  There are ways to triple dip as well.  

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fatjack1

OK, I just looked into the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  As Chase is my primary bank I suspect I will qualify for that.   But I already have a Chase card that gives points.  So as an experiment I tried booking a flight using the points I have through the Chase web.  

 

To get a biz class on EVA RT LAX/BKK they wanted 52,000 points AND $5000.  What the hell is THAT.  I can buy the damn ticket for about the same.

 

Is there supposed to be another way to apply the points?  Do points transfer over 1-1 with mile accrued? Help a poor noob through this thang so it makes some sense.

 

BTW, I AM going to get that care even though it costs $95 a year after the first year.  Why?  because if I buy my return ticket from BKK/LAX/BKK from thailand they always charge me on my old card and that is more than the $95 annual fee.  Worth it for that alone.

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Little Evil

OK, I just looked into the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  As Chase is my primary bank I suspect I will qualify for that.   But I already have a Chase card that gives points.  So as an experiment I tried booking a flight using the points I have through the Chase web.  

 

To get a biz class on EVA RT LAX/BKK they wanted 52,000 points AND $5000.  What the hell is THAT.  I can buy the damn ticket for about the same.

 

Is there supposed to be another way to apply the points?  Do points transfer over 1-1 with mile accrued? Help a poor noob through this thang so it makes some sense.

 

BTW, I AM going to get that care even though it costs $95 a year after the first year.  Why?  because if I buy my return ticket from BKK/LAX/BKK from thailand they always charge me on my old card and that is more than the $95 annual fee.  Worth it for that alone.

 

What a rip!  Transfer them to an airline and use the airline's award booking system.  I believe Chase Ultimate Rewards, Ink, and Sapphire trade 1:1 with United, British, Southwest and Korean (if I'm not mistaken).  That covers Star Alliance, One World, and Skyteam, so you pretty much have your choice of airlines from there.

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Little Evil

I'm with you, LE -- LOVE the "miles game" and use a lot of the websites you mentioned (emiles; e-rewards, etc.).

 

The biggest perk is the credit card sign-ups -- the US Air Barclays card is a steal right now, giving 35,000 miles (I think) after a single purchase.  I advised a friend to get it, then use it to buy US Air miles with the 100% bonus to take him from 0 US Air miles to about 140,000 in a month!

 

United Explorer has a low minimum spend ($1,000 I think for 35,000 miles).  I LOVE the Chase Ultimate Rewards cards -- just topped off my United account by moving 11,000 points and it took about 2 minutes for it to show up in my UA account.

 

A couple of my not-so-experienced thoughts/advice:

 - be very careful and spread out your "minimum spend" deadlines/limits - worse thing possible is getting a card and failing to meet the minimum spend

 - use your SSN and get business cards for your sole proprietorship -- Chase Ink gives 5 points per dollar spent at Staples, so a $500 Visa gift card = 2500 miles.

 - I couldn't figure out the Vanilla reloads/Bluebird thing.  I didn't have the patience to figure it out.

 - read frequent flier blogs -- Million Mile Secrets; View for the Wing; One Mile at a Time are some of my favorites.  They almost always post a monthly update on the best current credit card deals

 - if you can't figure out how to use your miles, consider using a booking service -- $150 for a RT biz ticket is still a great deal!  I did that for my trip in February.

 

I just re-booked my return flight from BKK in November.  I stupidly booked an 8:30 a.m. flight.  I was able to change it tonight to a 5:50 p.m. flight on EVA.  It's gonna cost me $150 to put the 55,000 AA miles back into my account, but that's a small price to pay for leaving Pattaya at 1 p.m. instead of 4:30 a.m.!

 

 

I may end up having to use a booking service for my August trip.  Award travel is scarce through Sept on Star Alliance right now for some reason.  It is possible, but with some dodgy connections or ridiculous layovers.  It gets better if one can leave and come back mid week, but that's not an option for me.  Even if I skip this Aug trip, I still have the miles in the bank, so to speak. 

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Daddee

I have no clue how to use miles... credit's ok, but not quite where it needs to be to get any of the mileage credit cards...

 

I have almost 60,000 miles with united piled up...  

 

what's the best way to parlay these into a business class trip to BKK on my next trip, which is probably sept or oct?

 

can you recommend a booking service?  this sounds like something I might use...

 

appreciate the input!

 

g

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Little Evil

I have no clue how to use miles... credit's ok, but not quite where it needs to be to get any of the mileage credit cards...

 

I have almost 60,000 miles with united piled up...  

 

what's the best way to parlay these into a business class trip to BKK on my next trip, which is probably sept or oct?

 

can you recommend a booking service?  this sounds like something I might use...

 

appreciate the input!

 

g

 

United is one of the few American carriers that will allow you to search online for award travel.  Just go to United.com and when you put in your desired itinerary details, set the bottom radial button from "Price" to "Award Travel" and then press the search button.  It will then show you the findings in mile values.  If you are logged in, you can book your flights from miles right there.  

 

It is a bit quirky though, as I don't think it searches ANA and a few others in Star Alliance members.  I only tend to see United, Lufthansa and Thai.  I also think they don't show you 100% of award availability for all available partners.  That's why booking services may be useful.  Also, ANA has their own tool that supposedly searches all Star Alliance.  You need an ANA FF account to use it, but anyone can just sign up for one. I've been doubting its recent usefulness though, as it doesn't even pick up the United flights I can find from the United website.  

 

Oh, and 60k miles on United will get you a one-way ticket in United's Business First.  It costs 120k for round trip.  

Edited by Little Evil

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Luv2Phuket

OK, I just looked into the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  As Chase is my primary bank I suspect I will qualify for that.   But I already have a Chase card that gives points.  So as an experiment I tried booking a flight using the points I have through the Chase web.  

 

To get a biz class on EVA RT LAX/BKK they wanted 52,000 points AND $5000.  What the hell is THAT.  I can buy the damn ticket for about the same.

 

Is there supposed to be another way to apply the points?  Do points transfer over 1-1 with mile accrued? Help a poor noob through this thang so it makes some sense.

 

BTW, I AM going to get that care even though it costs $95 a year after the first year.  Why?  because if I buy my return ticket from BKK/LAX/BKK from thailand they always charge me on my old card and that is more than the $95 annual fee.  Worth it for that alone.

 

Transfer those 52,000 miles to United and you are close to one leg of the trip in business class.  

 

Although I'm leery of whether the transaction went through until I have a EVA confirmation # and seat assignment, I just used 60,000 United miles last night to book a one-way business class ticket on EVA from BKK to LAX (through Taipei).  United telephone agent had no idea how to do it and had to get extensive assistance from their help desk, but I have received a e-ticket, so I'm hoping that she did it correctly.

 

In less than a month, EVA will join Star Alliance, and it will be even easier to use United (or US Air until AA merger is finalized) to get freebies on EVA, but -- for now-- they are still a "non-alliance" partner of United, so miles can presumably be used to book flights.

 

I may end up having to use a booking service for my August trip.  Award travel is scarce through Sept on Star Alliance right now for some reason.  It is possible, but with some dodgy connections or ridiculous layovers.  It gets better if one can leave and come back mid week, but that's not an option for me.  Even if I skip this Aug trip, I still have the miles in the bank, so to speak. 

 

I'll PM you the e-mail info of the guy I used -- he writes the One Mile At A Time blog.  Did a great job for me -- well worth the $150!  

 

To me, the best part is that, if he can't find you an acceptable itinerary, you don't owe him anything.

 

 

I have no clue how to use miles... credit's ok, but not quite where it needs to be to get any of the mileage credit cards...

 

I have almost 60,000 miles with united piled up...  

 

what's the best way to parlay these into a business class trip to BKK on my next trip, which is probably sept or oct?

 

can you recommend a booking service?  this sounds like something I might use...

 

appreciate the input!

 

g

 

 

For business class on Star Alliance carriers, it's going to run you 60,000 miles each way using United miles, so you need to bulk that account up asap.

 

You'd be surprised how easy it is to get a mileage earning credit card, especially if you have personal or business accounts at Chase.

 

The biggest bonuses out there right now are on the Sapphire Preferred and Ink business credit cards.  Don't be dissuaded from getting a business card because you don't have your own business up and running -- use your SSN as a sole proprietor and claim that you are starting a business (sell something on eBay and you're "in business"!)

 

The only hurdle with Sapphire and Ink cards is the minimum spend requirements.  If that will be an issue, you might want to look at the United Explorer card, which nets you 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the 1st 3 months.

 

Here's a link from last month that highlights the most lucrative bonus offers currently out there:  http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/2013/04/22/the-five-most-lucrative-credit-card-offers-right-now/

 

Given the time it will take for the miles to post to your United account, your best bet to get a ticket will be through a booking service.  September and October seats are already becoming hard to come by, but these guys know all the tricks of the trade and can probably find you a way there and back on miles.

 

I'll PM you the contact info, as well.

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Daddee

Transfer those 52,000 miles to United and you are close to one leg of the trip in business class.  

 

Although I'm leery of whether the transaction went through until I have a EVA confirmation # and seat assignment, I just used 60,000 United miles last night to book a one-way business class ticket on EVA from BKK to LAX (through Taipei).  United telephone agent had no idea how to do it and had to get extensive assistance from their help desk, but I have received a e-ticket, so I'm hoping that she did it correctly.

 

In less than a month, EVA will join Star Alliance, and it will be even easier to use United (or US Air until AA merger is finalized) to get freebies on EVA, but -- for now-- they are still a "non-alliance" partner of United, so miles can presumably be used to book flights.

 

 

I'll PM you the e-mail info of the guy I used -- he writes the One Mile At A Time blog.  Did a great job for me -- well worth the $150!  

 

To me, the best part is that, if he can't find you an acceptable itinerary, you don't owe him anything.

 

 

 

 

For business class on Star Alliance carriers, it's going to run you 60,000 miles each way using United miles, so you need to bulk that account up asap.

 

You'd be surprised how easy it is to get a mileage earning credit card, especially if you have personal or business accounts at Chase.

 

The biggest bonuses out there right now are on the Sapphire Preferred and Ink business credit cards.  Don't be dissuaded from getting a business card because you don't have your own business up and running -- use your SSN as a sole proprietor and claim that you are starting a business (sell something on eBay and you're "in business"!)

 

The only hurdle with Sapphire and Ink cards is the minimum spend requirements.  If that will be an issue, you might want to look at the United Explorer card, which nets you 30,000 miles after spending $1,000 within the 1st 3 months.

 

Here's a link from last month that highlights the most lucrative bonus offers currently out there:  http://boardingarea.com/blogs/viewfromthewing/2013/04/22/the-five-most-lucrative-credit-card-offers-right-now/

 

Given the time it will take for the miles to post to your United account, your best bet to get a ticket will be through a booking service.  September and October seats are already becoming hard to come by, but these guys know all the tricks of the trade and can probably find you a way there and back on miles.

 

I'll PM you the contact info, as well.

thanks footypjman!!!

 

United is one of the few American carriers that will allow you to search for award travel.  Just go to United.com and when you put in your desired itinerary details, set the bottom radial button from "Price" to "Award Travel" and then press the search button.  It will then show you the findings in mile values.  If you are logged in, you can book your flights from miles right there.  

 

It is a bit quirky though, as I don't think it searches ANA and a few others in Star Alliance members.  I only tend to see United, Lufthansa and Thai.  I also think they don't show you 100% of award availability for all available partners.  That's why booking services may be useful.  Also, ANA has their own tool that supposedly searches all Star Alliance.  You need an ANA FF account to use it, but anyone can just sign up for one. I've been doubting its recent usefulness though, as it doesn't even pick up the United flights I can find from the United website.  

 

Oh, and 60k miles on United will get you a one-way ticket in United's Business First.  It costs 120k for round trip.  

thanks LE!

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Little Evil

Holy crap.  Just checked Orbitz.com to see what the going rates are for Aug 2013.  It was showing me $1800-2100 economy flights from East Coast USA to BKK.  That means my first post was way off.  I'm getting a business class ticket for potentially cheaper than economy, not "nearly as cheap".  Why aren't more people doing this?  Maybe I should keep my mouth shut.....

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fatjack1

What a rip!  Transfer them to an airline and use the airline's award booking system.  I believe Chase Ultimate Rewards, Ink, and Sapphire trade 1:1 with United, British, Southwest and Korean (if I'm not mistaken).  That covers Star Alliance, One World, and Skyteam, so you pretty much have your choice of airlines from there.

 

I just logged into Chase again and the points I have are in fact part of the Ultimate Rewards. 

 

I see no way to transfer them to anything.  And I currently have 52,000 points which THEY value at $520.

 

Are you certain these points trade across one for one with air miles?  If so I need to make certain my United account is still alive and confirm EVA is joining them and my travel may become almost free as I'm getting tons of points every month from spending on stuff I'm gonna spend anyway.

 

I really need to get to the bottom of this.  I will also have another 40,000 from my new Sapphire card when I spend $3,000 (very soon on a ticket).

 

After flying LAX/BKK/LAX/BKK I will add about 40,000 + (business class) miles to my account.  If the points trade 1-1 I'll be over 135,000 before I need another ticket in 2014.  I sure hope you are right about this but I admit it doesn't FEEL like they will trade on a 1 for 1 basis.

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bgtp

fatjack, not all Chase cards allow the 1:1 transfer.

 

From their FAQs

 

Which Chase credit cards are eligible for point transfer?

Chase issues several premium credit cards for both individuals and businesses. These cards are fee-based and offer enhanced features including point transfer.

Chase's premium credit cards include: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Chase Corporate Flex Card, J.P. Morgan Palladium Card, J.P. Morgan Select Card

 

What if I don't see "Point Transfer" in the top navigation of the Ultimate Rewards site?

You may be enrolled in a credit card that does not offer this feature. If you want to learn more, call the number on the back of your Chase card to find out about eligible cards.

 

I wonder, if you enroll in a point transfer eligible card, do your previously earned Ultimate Rewards points suddenly become eligible for point transfer, too? Anybody know? If the answer is yes, would be even more incentive for you to get the Sapphire Preferred.

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Billy Baht

United is one of the few American carriers that will allow you to search online for award travel.  Just go to United.com and when you put in your desired itinerary details, set the bottom radial button from "Price" to "Award Travel" and then press the search button.  It will then show you the findings in mile values.  If you are logged in, you can book your flights from miles right there.  

 

It is a bit quirky though, as I don't think it searches ANA and a few others in Star Alliance members.  I only tend to see United, Lufthansa and Thai.  I also think they don't show you 100% of award availability for all available partners.  That's why booking services may be useful.  Also, ANA has their own tool that supposedly searches all Star Alliance.  You need an ANA FF account to use it, but anyone can just sign up for one. I've been doubting its recent usefulness though, as it doesn't even pick up the United flights I can find from the United website.  

 

Oh, and 60k miles on United will get you a one-way ticket in United's Business First.  It costs 120k for round trip.  

 

LE is correct, my last four segments from USA-Thailand-USA-Thailand have been with miles mostly awarded by opening a Chase credit card and collecting 35,000 miles after the first use. However my travel has been on coach, allbeit, Economy Plus (still a far cry from business.)

 

Super easy to book online with United and they allow one way trips, giving return flexibility :)

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Little Evil

I just logged into Chase again and the points I have are in fact part of the Ultimate Rewards. 

 

I see no way to transfer them to anything.  And I currently have 52,000 points which THEY value at $520.

 

Are you certain these points trade across one for one with air miles?  If so I need to make certain my United account is still alive and confirm EVA is joining them and my travel may become almost free as I'm getting tons of points every month from spending on stuff I'm gonna spend anyway.

 

I really need to get to the bottom of this.  I will also have another 40,000 from my new Sapphire card when I spend $3,000 (very soon on a ticket).

 

After flying LAX/BKK/LAX/BKK I will add about 40,000 + (business class) miles to my account.  If the points trade 1-1 I'll be over 135,000 before I need another ticket in 2014.  I sure hope you are right about this but I admit it doesn't FEEL like they will trade on a 1 for 1 basis.

 

From what bgtp posted, it sounds like only the top tier Chase cards offer 1:1 with airlines.  However, that list doesn't actually include all cards, such as the regular Chase Sapphire card (there is a regular and "Preferred" version).  It would help to know which Chase card you earned those points with to figure out a route to get miles.  I have a feeling that if you have Ultimate Rewards, you should be able to trade 1:1 no matter what card.  That is one of the often advertised perks of the Ultimate Reward program.  The disclaimer is probably for mid to lower end cards such as Slate.  Again though, I don't use this program, so research is suggested.  

 

Here is a post for consolidating certain Chase Ultimate rewards accounts.  Could be helpful if it proves true that your current card doesn't trade 1:1 with airlines, but you end up getting the Sapphire Preferred.  

 

http://themilesprofessor.com/2013/04/20/combine-transfer-chase-freedom-preferred-ink-ultimate-rewards/

 

 

Edited to say that I just checked EVA airlines.  Don't know much about them, but Aug trips to BKK from LAX (default in search) were around $2k USD.  Is that right?  Seems so cheap.  I was expecting at least twice that amount.  I wish I lived on the west coast now.  

Edited by Little Evil

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fatjack1

fatjack, not all Chase cards allow the 1:1 transfer.

 

From their FAQs

 

Which Chase credit cards are eligible for point transfer?

Chase issues several premium credit cards for both individuals and businesses. These cards are fee-based and offer enhanced features including point transfer.

Chase's premium credit cards include: Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, Chase Corporate Flex Card, J.P. Morgan Palladium Card, J.P. Morgan Select Card

 

What if I don't see "Point Transfer" in the top navigation of the Ultimate Rewards site?

You may be enrolled in a credit card that does not offer this feature. If you want to learn more, call the number on the back of your Chase card to find out about eligible cards.

 

I wonder, if you enroll in a point transfer eligible card, do your previously earned Ultimate Rewards points suddenly become eligible for point transfer, too? Anybody know? If the answer is yes, would be even more incentive for you to get the Sapphire Preferred.

 

Thanks.  Yeah, the Sapphire points are 1-2.  My Freedom card are not.  In fact I think I might as well cash them in for - cash.  52000 miles = $520.  

 

But I'll wait.  I WILL be using the Sapphire card exclusively from now on though.

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fatjack1

From what bgtp posted, it sounds like only the top tier Chase cards offer 1:1 with airlines.  However, that list doesn't actually include all cards, such as the regular Chase Sapphire card (there is a regular and "Preferred" version).  It would help to know which Chase card you earned those points with to figure out a route to get miles.  I have a feeling that if you have Ultimate Rewards, you should be able to trade 1:1 no matter what card.  That is one of the often advertised perks of the Ultimate Reward program.  The disclaimer is probably for mid to lower end cards such as Slate.  Again though, I don't use this program, so research is suggested.  

 

Here is a post for consolidating certain Chase Ultimate rewards accounts.  Could be helpful if it proves true that your current card doesn't trade 1:1 with airlines, but you end up getting the Sapphire Preferred.  

 

http://themilesprofessor.com/2013/04/20/combine-transfer-chase-freedom-preferred-ink-ultimate-rewards/

 

 

Edited to say that I just checked EVA airlines.  Don't know much about them, but Aug trips to BKK from LAX (default in search) were around $2k USD.  Is that right?  Seems so cheap.  I was expecting at least twice that amount.  I wish I lived on the west coast now.  

 

Yeah, I'll check into the Ultimate Rewards before I do anything with the miles.  I wish they were synced to EVA which maybe they will be soon.

 

On pricing in August I don't know what you are seeing.   What class of travel?  Seems like economy class has VERY cheap flights in that time like $1100 RT.  But biz is still $5200.

 

My Sapphire Preferred card is "in the mail".  Should have it by tomorrow.  And will begin using it ASAP.

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Little Evil

Yeah, I'll check into the Ultimate Rewards before I do anything with the miles.  I wish they were synced to EVA which maybe they will be soon.

 

On pricing in August I don't know what you are seeing.   What class of travel?  Seems like economy class has VERY cheap flights in that time like $1100 RT.  But biz is still $5200.

 

My Sapphire Preferred card is "in the mail".  Should have it by tomorrow.  And will begin using it ASAP.

 

Congrats with the Sapphire Preferred.  Definitely look into pooling your Ultimate Reward points.  I wouldn't cash them in for cash.  Not a great point/$ ratio.  1:1 with airlines is your best use.  You are close to 60k points, which are 60k miles.  That's half a USA-BKK itinerary already, so consider your point value at half a RT business class ticket.

 

Regarding EVA - I'm not familiar with their website and was looking at "Evergreen Deluxe Class/Elite Class".  Now that I'm looking at it again, I realize that they group business and first in one category, so the former must be some type of economy plus.  That would explain why I thought it was so cheap.  These names are getting out of hand.  That's as confusing as United's "Business First".  

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