Should You Sign Up For Credit Cards From Airlines Outside The U.S.?

Every once in a while, I’ll see a post about a credit card from an airline outside the United States. The card is from a bank in the U.S. and marketed to Americans but why should I be interested in a card that earns points in a program from a foreign airline? I guess the answer depends on the program you’re collecting miles from and what you can do with them.

While some of these cards are for programs I’m familiar with, others are for programs I admittedly don’t know much about. While I might not ever fly on that airline, there’s plenty of opportunities to use miles on partner airlines.

While a single sign up bonus might not be enough for an award ticket, if the program is affiliated with a flexible points currency you can combine those points to get the award you want.

Employing a strategy of earning points in airlines outside the U.S. involves more work than just earning Membership Rewards, ThankYou Points or Ultimate Rewards. You need to know ahead of time if you’ll have any use for the points you’re earning. However, if you’ve already applied for the cards from the major U.S. airlines, these cards give you some additional options. I’d categorize this as a medium risk, medium approach to earning points and miles.

Here’s a list of some of the cards available in the U.S. that earn miles for foreign airlines:

Continue reading “Should You Sign Up For Credit Cards From Airlines Outside The U.S.?”

Where Can We Go With United Miles When We Won’t Fly On United?

We’ve made a choice to avoid flying on United Airlines. For our normal travels, it doesn’t cause much of a hardship as we don’t live at a United hub airport. We’ve been able to find flights to where we want without using them and they’ve never been the cheapest or best option anyway. The problem is that we still have a stash of United miles that we earned from the United MileagePlus Explorer card sign up bonus. We didn’t renew the card but those miles are still ours and I need to figure out a use for them.

Thank goodness for airline alliances. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which means we should be able to use those miles for flights on Star Alliance member airlines. You may also hear this being called “using miles on partner airlines.” So where can we fly from our home airport, or nearby, using our United miles?

Continue reading “Where Can We Go With United Miles When We Won’t Fly On United?”

Visa No Longer Needed, Marriott Bonvoy & Other Hotel Complaints, Huge WDW Entry Change & More!

Happy Sunday to all of our travel friends, both near and far! Here are some articles we’ve read from other bloggers (and other sources) that we think you may like, as well, so we’re passing them along.

Continue reading “Visa No Longer Needed, Marriott Bonvoy & Other Hotel Complaints, Huge WDW Entry Change & More!”

Changes to Credit Card Programs, Star Wars Pop-Up Bars, & More…

From new military loyalty cards to a report about someone who stayed in a Japanese capsule hotel, here are some stories we saw this week that we thought were interesting. We hope you will, too:

  • Million Miles Secrets reported on Citibank adding Avianca to the Thank You Points program.
  • Star Wars Pop-Up bars are the new thing, and as per Conde Nast Traveler and they appear to be for those with plenty of galactic credits to throw around.
  • As per Frequent Miler, Chase added the ability to transfer directly from Ultimate Rewards to two more valuable partners, Aer Lingus and Iberia.
  • Loyalty Lobby wrote about how SPG is back with their Birth Year promotion. We used this for a stay in Austria and it saved us a bunch of money.
  • On a more negative note, View From the Wing reported that Singapore Airlines is going to start to charge more points for awards on partner airlines.
  • Another downer is that AMEX is not going to offer any Small Business Saturday promotion this year. Oh well, it was good while it lasted. We appreciate One Mile At A Time for letting everyone know.
  • Doctor of Credit reported that Caesars Entertainment launched new loyalty card for military. It also provides discounts at Wyndham Hotels, Norwegian Cruise Line and Hawaiian Airlines.
  • We love stacking multiple offers because it’s a great way to save lots of cash and to earn points, too.  The Points Guy reported on some reader success stories of doing just that!
  • If you enjoy reading about other peoples’ trip reports, Wandering Aramean just posted one about his stay at a capsule hotel in Japan.
  • Finally, in the “OMG, really???” category, No Mas Coach reported on how an Air France flight had to be cancelled due to a passenger who was caught masturbating. Yes, really. And the story of what happened afterwards is even more weird.

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Using Your Airline Miles To Get To Europe

We love traveling and TransAtlantic trips are extra special. Living on the east coast of the U.S., flights to European cities are not much longer than trips to the west coast. While I’ve made the trip in economy class, making the overnight flight there in a lie flat business class seat is just so much better. You actually might even sleep on the flight and arrive for your big vacation well rested.

Unfortunately, I will never have the time to try all of the airlines that fly between the United States and Europe. Lucky for me, The Points Guy has just posted a list of all the airlines and comments on the business class service available on each one on this page of their blog.  They also pick what they feel are the Top 10, based on factors like availability, service and cost.

I’ve only flew a few of these but will give my quick opinion of each. I did my research before all of these flights and picked out what seemed to be the best airline available to fit our needs. I actively avoided airplanes which had bad reviews but did not go out of my way to book a particular airline/airplane/seat type. I can say that I was happy with all the flights. None were amazing beyond compare but we had much more comfortable flight than we would have had in economy while soaring over the Atlantic Ocean on all of them.

Aer Lingus

This was how we got to London on our most recent trip in the fall of 2016. I was able to get flights in business class from Orlando to Dublin, then onward to London in economy. We were even able to arrange for a 10 hour layover so we got to leave the airport and spend the afternoon in Dublin so we could eat at one of our most favorite restaurants, Gallagher’s Boxty House. The seats were very comfortable and I even managed to get several hours of sleep on the flight. Since Aer Lingus is a partner with United Airlines, I was able to book the one way ticket for 70,000 United  miles + $23.80 each.

 American Airlines

This was our airline to get us home from Europe in 2016. Since we hopped around a little bit, we needed to fly home from Austria. I was able to get a ticket from Salzburg, Austria to London to Miami and finally to Orlando, all in business class.

I managed to get us seats on an American 777-300ER, which is one of their newest planes, for our flight from London to Miami. It had lie flat seats, everyone had aisle access and a really big TV screen. We were flying home during the daytime so I didn’t sleep very much on the flight but did enjoy reclining to read. To book the tickets, I had a healthy stash of American miles. At the time, this award cost 50,000 American miles (now it costs 57,500) and $200.20 each.

 Virgin Atlantic

I love the vibe of Virgin Atlantic. We flew them back in 2013 in Upper Class from Orlando to London and then home from Manchester to Orlando. Flying there, we took a 747 and were the first two seats in the nose of the plane. It was so cool. Apparently it was so cool that we didn’t want to appear silly taking a bunch of pictures. This was the only one I could find.img_0040

Flying home from Manchester we were on an Airbus A330-300. The seats were jammed in much closer and it wasn’t as luxurious a trip back. I guess that’s why we have no pictures of the flight.

That trip was the first time I used some miles and points tricks without help from others. I booked this flight using miles from ANA (All Nippon Airways). They are partners with Virgin Atlantic and only charge 68,000 miles for the flight. I was able to get ANA miles by transferring points to them from my American Express Membership Rewards account. This was good for me because back then I didn’t have a big stash of miles to spend. The kicker was that they do charge taxes and fees which ended up costing $1100.00 per ticket. I viewed it as if I was paying cash for a premium economy ticket and the miles I used was the cost to upgrade to Upper Class.

Delta Airlines and Air France

We flew these airlines to Ireland back in 2011. The information about the flights and such are really out of date. Flying up in front of the plane was also still a new thrill for us. Apparently the only thing that excited us was the amount of legroom we had as these are the only pictures I can find of the flight.

To book this flight, I used an award booking service I read about in a magazine called Book Your Award. Using a service to take advantage of your miles was a new idea back then. They are still around and I will refer people to them if they need help to book a complicated award ticket with miles.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary