Point & Center: 100 Free American AAdvantage Miles, Only 26,250 Miles Roundtrip for a Award Flight to Europe and More!

Welcome to the first Point & Center feature of 2015. Let’s get to it with some real quick updates of what’s going on in the points/miles world.

1) 100 Free American AAdvantage Miles for Joining PointsHound – PointsHound, which is a site that offer miles or points for booking hotel rooms through them, is offering new users 100 Free AA miles simply for signing up – no purchase required. You will also get an additional 2,000 miles if you actually reserve a hotel room by March 31st. I definitely recommend signing up to get the free 100 AA miles but if you do book a hotel room through them, remember you will most likely not earn stay credit with the hotel program nor have your elite benefits recoginzed. I mainly use PointsHound if I have a non-chain hotel stay. (H/T View from the Wing)

AA100Miles

2) How to Fly to Europe for 26,250 Virgin Atlantic Miles Roundtrip…with a catch – Virgin Atlantic is having an award sale that is discounting the amount of miles needed for an award flight by 25% for ALL destinations. If you orginate on the East Coast of the United States, that means a roundtrip award is only 26,250 miles but with one major issue – fuel surcharges of $500 per person.  The other approach is to use this for a one way TO London where the cost would be 13,125 miles + $134 in fuel surcharges (its more expensive departing FROM London). You must book your tickets by January 22nd and this is valid for economy only. This is similar to their award sale last year that I wrote about here.

Cost of Discounted Awards

Cost of Discounted Awards

3) Starwood Best Rate Guarantee Improves – Starwood has one of the easiest Best Rate Guarantees as you don’t need even need a current reservation to make a best rate claim to get a cheaper rate at Starwood branded hotels. Starwood recently announced an enhancement to their best rate guarantee by now offering customers 20% off the lower rate if it is found outside the Starwood reservations channels (website, mobile app & phone reservations). The old discount used to be 10% off. You also still have the option to select 2,000 Starpoints instead of the 20% discount.

4) A Pretty Awesome Club Carlson Promotion – Club Carlson is enticing its members to stay at Club Carlson hotels (Radisson, Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Park Plaza) in Q1 2015 by offering 15,000 points after staying 2 nights or 30,000 points after staying 3+ nights for stays from January 12 to March 29. This promotion called “Extend Your Stay, Earn 30K” is by far the best promotion of Q1 across all major hotel chains. Additionally, some Club Carlson members were sent an email offering them an extra 10,000 points on top of the bonuses if they registered by January 12th. Here is the link to register.

5) Starwood Q1 Promotion – Starwood has also announced their Q1 promotion which is open for registration as well called the SPG Double Play Promotion. You can earn double points on stays of 2+ nights and 1,000 point bonus after every 5 nights. The 5 nights do not have to be consecutive to earn the 1,000 point bonus. Compared to the Club Carlson offer, this pales in comparison but is still worth registering for.

As always, I recommend registering now even if you don’t think you’ll have an applicable stay in the period because if the need for a stay unexpectedly arises, chances are you won’t remember to register for these promotions (this applies to the Club Carlson offer above as well).

6) Start Linking Your American & US Airways Frequent Flyer Accounts – The next step in the merger of American and US Airways is to combine the frequent flyer accounts of both program so members will have just one resulting frequent flyer program (which will be your American AAdvantage account and you will keep your existing AA number). However, before they can completely merge the frequent flyer accounts, American is asking members to link their AA account to their US Airways account.

Per One Mile a Time, American announced the following:

“The time has come – beginning tonight, members with accounts in both programs will be able to match their accounts on aa.com and usairways.com (full sites only; not on the mobile sites or the app). Members will automatically be presented with the option to match their accounts on either site when they log-in or by selecting the Match My Account link in the My Account section. Once a customer has successfully matched their account, they will see a success message online, receive an email and will see a success message in the My Account section on both sites. Matching accounts is simply a way to self-identify, so the process to merge the accounts in second quarter of 2015 is easier on the business.”

Hopefully this is a sign that members will soon be able to transfer miles back and forth between programs but this has not been announced yet. Here is to hoping its sooner rather than later!

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One Way Award Flights to Europe: 13,125 Virgin Atlantic Miles + $134!

Virgin Atlantic is having a promotion in which they are discounting all award flights by 25% off which makes one way flights to Europe only 13,125 miles + $134! The best part is this promotion is valid for all dates of travel that you could currently book Virgin flights for, including next summer! You must book by September 23rd and this applies to economy & premium economy bookings only. 

Prices listed are for roundtrip travel

Prices listed are for roundtrip travel

As I’ve written previously, using Virgin Atlantic miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic is generally not an amazing use of miles due to the large fuel surcharges Virgin passes on, especially when departing London since the British government tacks on a large tax on departing flights. However, there is one great use of these miles for travel on Virgin Atlantic: One Way Travel To Europe for only 13,125 miles + $134. Most other airlines charge 30,000 miles one way to Europe so this is a pretty solid deal.

With this promotion, economy roundtrip flights are discounted to only 26,250 miles but with hefty taxes of $400 per person. The workaround to make this promotion worthwhile is to book just a one way award to London which causes half the amount of miles, 13,125, but only $134 in surcharges. The surcharges are not evenly split between flights to and from London so it makes sense to take advantage of the lower surcharges simply by flying to London but not home from London.

NY to London...Reasonable

NY to London – Good Deal.

London to NY

London to NY – Not As Good.

I think the real advantage of this promotion is that it covers flights into next summer, when airfares SKYROCKET to Europe. Even better, Virgin Atlantic has amazing availability for award flights for next summer. I personally would fly Virgin Atlantic to London and return home from a different city in Europe using miles. Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam are all easy train rides from London and you can explore several cities before returning home.  This promotion ends September 23rd, so you could book flights for next year up until August 23rd by waiting for the last day of the promotion.

I think the promotion has sneaky good value. Is anyone taking advantage of this promotion?

(H/T to View From the Wing)