Point & Center: Two Offers for Free Miles, 60k Citibank Hilton Visa Offer, & Discounted United Awards to South America

It’s been a while since I posted one of these roundups so let’s get to it. Here is a very quick rundown of some items from last week.

1) 250 Free Virgin Atlantic Miles - If you agree to install their shopping portal toolbar “Shops Away”, Virgin will award you 250 miles for doing so. To get this offer, click this link for Shops Away and then click shop today. After logging in and hitting shop now, click Mile Finder up top to see this offer. I would install this in a browser I normally don’t use such as Internet Explorer.

VAToolbar

2) 100 Free Aeroplan Miles - Signup to receive emails from Home Hardware and they will give you 100 Aeroplan miles for doing so. This is the frequent flyer program for Air Canada and while 100 miles isn’t a significant amount at all, it is an easy way to reset the expiration date on the miles in your account. Make sure to use a backup email address for this (unless you actually care to receive these newsletters).

3) Citibank 60,000 Hilton HHonors Points Visa - Citibank has temporarily increased the offer on this no annual fee Hilton HHonors credit card from 40,000 to 60,000 for spending $1,000 in 4 months. This card will not be useful for many of you except for those trying to top off their Hilton HHonors balance. I picked up this card last year when it was 60,000 points as I was out of Hilton cards to get.

CitiHilton

4) Discounted United Awards to Brazil & Chile - United has had several discounted award sales this past year and the latest is a 25% discount on award flights to either Brazil or Chile for travel through June 25th. All travel must be booked by April 25th and it must be roundtrip to get the promotion rate. Instead of an award flight costing 60,000 miles, it is now only 45,000 miles roundtrip. Click here for more details from United.

New Better Offer on Southwest Personal Premier Credit Card: 50,000 Points + $100 Statement Credit

Yesterday, I received an email from Southwest with the best offer I’ve ever seen on the personal Southwest card – 50,000 points + $100 statement credit. This offer is targeted however and the link I have for the card pre-populates my information in the application. However it might be possible for anyone to get this offer by phone.

SWCC

From my understanding there are several different offers being promoted to Rapid Rewards members including the standard 50,000 point offer on the personal Southwest card as well as a 60,000 point offer on the Southwest Business credit card. In the comments of this post from Doctor of Credit, someone was able to successfully apply for the 60,000 point offer on the business card even though they weren’t targeted as the phone number on the application was a direct line to a department that handed this special offer.

I don’t know if this will work for this offer but the phone number listed on the application is 1-866-836-0917. Interestingly enough another Southwest account that I manage only got an email with a 50,000 point offer on the personal card (no statement credit) and the phone number for that application is different from the above. So applying by phone might work to get the better offer but this is a huge YMMV situation. They might ask for an invitation number in which you try to say you accidentally deleted the email but maybe they can look up the offer for you. Do not apply for the card on the phone unless the rep confirms you are applying for the better offer which includes the statement credit. 

If that doesn’t work, then I would suggest scanning your email folders for an email from Southwest with the subject line “Rapid Rewards Member: 50,000 points + $100 statement credit”.

Did anyone have any luck getting this offer to work?

Using Virgin America Elevate Points for Hawaiian Airlines Inter-Island Flights

A co-worker of mine is heading to Hawaii this summer and he smartly sought my advice on the best use of miles to get to Hawaii and also how to jump between various islands. When he brought up which miles to use to go from the Big Island to Maui, I remembered a great deal that I recently took advantage of for my trip to Hawaii next month – using only 3,000 Virgin America Elevate points for inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines.

HAOneWay

Virgin America Award Price for KOA to OGG

 

Virgin America points aren’t like traditional miles found in programs like Delta, American or United. Instead, they are revenue based, more similar to JetBlue or Southwest’s frequent flyer program. On average, Virgin America points are worth about ~2.2 cents when redeemed for Virgin America flights, however you can also redeem Virgin America points on various partners including Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Singapore Airlines & Emirates Airlines.

To start, it is important to figure out what other airlines charge for inter-island flights. For the same exact one way Hawaiian Airlines flight, Hawaiian charges 7,500 miles, United charges 6,000 miles, American charges 5,000 miles, Delta charges 7,500 miles while Virgin America only charges 3,000 points. Now while Virgin America is cheaper than the competition you do have to remember that if you do not have Virgin America points, you can transfer from American Express at a 2:1 ratio, so the cost is really 6,000 American Express Membership Rewards one-way in that scenario.

Virgin America Transfer from American Express

Virgin America Transfer from American Express

Personally, I like to use my United and American miles for bigger, more expensive trips such as business class to Europe or Asia so I would rule those options out as I want to converse those miles. Hawaiian and Delta both charge too many miles for my taste (and I try avoiding collecting miles in those programs as a general rule of thumb) so that leaves me with Virgin America as my top choice. If you want the absolutely cheapest option (assuming no Virgin America points) or you have some spare American miles leftover that you have no other intentions for, 5k on American Airlines would be my second choice on this list to book.

If you’ve followed my blog, you would have noticed I’ve posted several free or really, really cheap (under $1) offers for Virgin America points including this one for 500 points and how to spend 99 cents to get another 500 Virgin America points. So assuming you’re a loyal reader and followed my awesome advice (you’re welcome), you now only need 2,000 Virgin America points for this flight (or 4,000 American Express Membership Rewards points). Considering the retail value of these flights, which can range from $80 – $100 or more if you book last minute, redeeming points is a great deal. Especially if you have a handful of Virgin America points that you wouldn’t use otherwise!

My Flight in Late April

My Flight in Late April

Random Flight in August

Random Flight in August

I recommend searching award availability on either united.com or aa.com before booking these flights. Virgin America should have the same access other partners have to the award space. From there, here is how to book these flights on Virgin America.

  • Once you’ve confirmed availability on Hawaiian Airline flights only, write down the flight numbers and call Virgin America at 1.877.FLY.VIRGIN (877.359.8474). You cannot book these flights online.
  • When you get to the phone prompt, choose Elevate and after selecting award travel, choose partner airline.
  • In my experience, Virgin America’s agents are very good. The agent I had was very knowledgeable and was able to find the flights after I read her the flight number.
  • Virgin America will NOT charge you the $20 phone booking fee since this is a partner award that cannot be booked online.
  • After collecting the taxes on your award, the agent will let you know they generally need 24 hours to confirm the flight with Hawaiian and issue your ticket. I received an email from Virgin America about 30 hours after I contacted them. In the email, it had both the Virgin American confirmation code as well as the Hawaiian Airlines confirmation code to select seats.
  • In the event you need to cancel or change the award, there is NO redeposit fee (at least according to my email confirmation). This was a pleasant surprise but good to know in case plans change.

Both Andrea and I had a little over 2,000 Virgin America points in our account from the promotions mentioned earlier in the post and one flight we took on Virgin America back in 2013. We only need another 1,000 points so it ended up costing us an additional 2,000 American Express Membership Rewards points each to save $125 per person on the quick, 33 minute inter-island flight on Hawaiian Airlines. We each got over 4 cents in value per Virgin America point which is better than redeeming points for flights on Virgin America. The next time you go to Hawaii I would strongly consider this option to cover your inter-island flights.