american airlines

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I Got the SPG AMEX with 35,000 SPG Points – Here’s Why

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Yep, I caved. Because I figured now or never.

I wrote about how I didn’t care about SPG points. But I also used to love Club Carlson. And cozied up to Hyatt.

I also used to be “meh” about Hilton, but I’m enjoying being Hilton Diamond this year.

So, things change. And if anything’s changing, it’s definitely the loyalty industry. And it is an industry.

Why now?

I navigated over to the application page, and looked at it for a little while. (How’s that for an image?)


Hook, line, and sinker

And then, I thought, well, 40,000 Starpoints is worth at least 50,000 Alaska Airlines or American Airlines miles.

It’s true. You get 5,000 bonus miles for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer (if the airline has a 1:1 transfer ratio with SPG).

I figured I’ll have at least 40,000 Starpoints after meeting the minimum spending requirements. Plus, I have to pay taxes this year and, fortunately or unfortunately (depending on how you look at it), I can complete it in one go.

That’s worth it for 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles.

Although, Cash & Points is looking mad attractive the more I dig into it.

Plus, you get the 5th night free on award stays at Category 3 and up hotels.

Nights & Flights looks pretty interesting, too.

Suffice it to say: there are a lot of ways to start using 40,000 Starwood points.

Getting the SPG AMEX

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Just Booked: Tokyo and Osaka, Japan in April for Cherry Blossoms

Thanks to Frequent Miler for posting this “Quick Deal!”

It certainly did go quick.

I saw Business Class award availability shrink away from me with the Wicked Witch of the East’s shoes when the house fell on top of her.

But First Class seats were still there – at least 2 of them – and I thought, you know, whatever. And just did it. DFW-NRT First Class on American Airlines. And ITM-NRT-DFW coming back.

At least I got in on this one during its prime time unlike the ~$747 AA Business Class ticket to Barcelona (which still ended up being a very good deal).

This trip cost 62,500 American Airlines miles each way, but I got back 10,000 miles for having the Citi AA credit card.

In total, I paid 120,000 American Airlines miles round-trip.

I wish it were on JAL, or Cathay Pacific, instead of AA, but oh well. It’s in the middle of cherry blossom season. I hope these dates are lucky so I’ll be able to see cherry blossoms during Japan’s spring.

By the numbers

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4 Things Holding Back Citi ThankYou From Being the Best Points Program

For too long, Chase Ultimate Rewards has been considered the best all-around points program for peeps who like collecting them (myself included).

You welcome

You welcome

AMEX is failing miserably at just about everything right now, except for AMEX Offers.

They lost Costco and jetBlue, might lose Starwood, Membership Rewards doesn’t have (m)any great transfer partners (maybe Delta, Aeroplan, and ANA for niche award flight redemptions), and they’ve absolutely failed to make timely and industry-leading adjustments to their credit card and points line-up for a long time (thanks for dropping forex fees after like, a decade…).

That left the door wide open for Citi to swoop in (Barclays and Bank of America were never a concern). And man, they really took their chance.

I went from having 1 Citi AAdvantage card to wanting multiple Citi cards in a short while. I’m in love with Citi Prestige because of all the money it’s saved me in the few months I’ve had it.

Current Citi cards I have and want

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Out and Out Is in Barcelona! Any Must-Dos? (And Updates!)

Dear Out and Out readers, I miss you so.

I got to Barcelona (Barcy) Wednesday morning and have spent the past 3 days wandering, sleeping, working, eating (tapas), and drinking (sangria and Spanish wines and local craft beers).

Wandering in the Gothic Quarter

Wandering in the Gothic Quarter

I still have 3 more full days in Barcy and am totally open to ideas about how to fill the time. I’m meeting with friends, and have a few things on my to-do list (on Todoist):


Restaurants, sites, and things to see. Anything I should add?

I’ll get up tomorrow and see La Sangrada Familia, then maybe head to the Picasso Museum and see the Arc de Triomphe along the way.

Feel free to share any tips about where to go, what to do, or great restaurants you love. I’ll try to work in as many things as possible!

A few updates

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Forget AAdvantage! I’m Switching to Alaska MileagePlan This Year

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The beginning of the year is an excellent time to set new travel goals.

Especially when you’re looking at this:


Ruh roh!

I already broke down the numbers of qualifying for top-tier status on American and Alaska, and found that Alaska MVP Gold 75K status is easier to earn with less flying. And you end up with more miles than AAdvantage Executive Platinum status when you start from zero and hit the top tier – 36,250 miles to be exact.

And now it’s even more attractive in light of American’s upcoming devalued award chart.

But… what about Dallas?

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16 Points & Miles Predictions for 2016

Happy New Year! I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon with the predictions. So here’s my effort.

"Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?"

“Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?”

2015 was a crazy year

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

Out and Out’s Points and Miles Predictions for 2016

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Barclaycard Aviator Downgrade Offer + Q1 Bonus Points at Supermarkets

RIP, Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard®.

As part of closing on my house, I had to ax this card (I’ll explain why in another post). But, before the boot, I downgraded the card from the Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Red World Elite Mastercard® (with an $89 annual fee) to the regular ol’ “Aviator card” (with no annual fee), and got it in the mail just in time to say goodbye.

You are lost and gone forever, oh my darlin', Clementine

You are lost and gone forever, oh my darlin’, Clementine

Here are 2 offers I got that might be helpful to some folks. One you have to call to receive, the other is targeted – so be on the lookout if you’re interested.

Downgrade offer

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Alaska MileagePlan: The Last Good Loyalty Program? (Alaska Vs. American by the Numbers)

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I’ve been interested in Alaska’s MileagePlan program for a while now. But I’ve never actually banked any flights to them.

As I get ready to base out in Dallas, I, like everyone else, am waiting for all of American’s little shoes to drop. And what it might mean.

For all the speculation, we haven’t actually heard anything from American yet.

It’ll be a shame the program might change as I move to their backyard.


There can only be one

I even thought, wow, I can really kick off earning miles toward Executive Platinum status with my biz class flight to Barcy in January. That’ll be a nice boost toward status right at the beginning of the year.

But now I’m looking at MileagePlan all over again.

The numbers

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New American Airlines FoundersCard Benefit: 10% Off Transatlantic Fares & 5% Off Domestically

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At the risk of turning Out and Out into the official FoundersCard blog, I wanted to share their new American Airlines benefit. It changes quarterly, and some of them have been really good (they’ve had 5% off domestic fares before, and just had a free Platinum Status Challenge this past quarter).

10% off transatlantic fares is a new benny!

10% off transatlantic fares is a new benny!

They’ve never had 10% off fares to the UK and Europe before, so this could be useful to some.

FoundersCard + American

If you have a business class fare (or heck, even an economy fare) to Europe, you could easily save $70-$100+ on a $700-$1,000+ round-trip ticket.  5% off domestically is nice, too.

A few T&Cs to keep in mind:

  • The discount will not be applied to any government or airport imposed taxes, fees, or charges (duh)
  • Discount is only valid on published, round-trip fares
  • You must book on
  • You must purchase your ticket by November 1st, 2015
  • And travel by January 6th, 2016
  • There are blackout dates around Labor Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas/New Year

You can use the benefit as many times as you want. You can request the 5% off code directly through the website (they’ll email it to you instantly), but you must call to get the 10% off code.

About FoundersCard

FoundersCard has a few key relationships I really value (this one with American Airlines, free Gold elite status at Hilton, 15% off AT&T cell phone bills, free TripIt Pro for a year, and a few other goodies).

It’s $395 a year, which I mostly recoup from getting 15% off my AT&T bill. Everything else, like free breakfast and late check-out at Hilton hotels, free TripIt Pro, and discounts like this one, are gravy.

If you have a few trips with American Airlines coming up, especially to Europe, 10% off could easily add up to cover the cost of the annual fee. And then you’d have all the other perks left to enjoy, so it might be worth it for a few peeps.

Bottom line

I was looking forward to seeing what the new American Airlines benefit would be, and this one is the best yet.

Too bad there are blackout dates for the holidays, but every airline has blackout dates around the holidays, so I can’t really blame ’em.

Check out my posts about if FoundersCard is worth it, some of the overall perks, and specifically the ones about travel.

Feel free to sign up using my link. I can also email invites so you can preview the website. Just comment below or email me.

Happy Saturday!

Kohl’s B’day Gift, Free Admirals Club Membership In, Instant FIA Credit Line Increase + Inquiry

Just a few bits and baubles to follow up on recent posts.

1. Kohl’s $10 Birthday Gift

Also see: 

August is my birthday month, and Kohl’s got their timing perfect.

Because today, in the mail, was a card/gift from Kohl’s. Right after I mentioned how much I love them this morning.

$10 birthday present from Kohl's

$10 birthday present from Kohl’s

I also just received my Yes2Rewards this morning as an email, too.

Kohl’s has a great thing going. Their rewards program is more straightforward than Sears Shop Your Way Rewards and their website is way better, they have frequent discounts (usually 30% off) and promotion codes, often free shipping, and now I get a $10 bonus.

I wish their portal payout on the Discover Deals shopping portal was 10% cashback like Macy’s, Sears, and Kmart (it’s 5%).

But free money is great. I can always buy some new sheets and towels for my Airbnbs.

2. Admirals Club Membership Materials Are In

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Upgrade Barclays Red Aviator to Silver Automatically Online

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If you’re interested in upgrading your Barclays Red Aviator card (not open to new applicants), it might be possible to do so directly in online banking.

View from the Wing reported that Barclays was slowly rolling out the upgrades, and listed some reasons why you may NOT want to upgrade the card.

To Upgrade or to Not Upgrade, That Is the Question

Me, I’m not gonna do it.

Because I have 10,000 American miles coming my way when I pay the annual fee again.

Here’s how you can tell:

Click "View Rewards"

Click “View Rewards”

And then…

Click "How my rewards work"

Click “How my rewards work”

There, you’ll see something to this effect:

I only get one round of 10K. But others get 10K EVERY cardmember year. They should NOT upgrade to Aviator Silver

I only get one round of 10K. But others get 10K EVERY cardmember year. They should NOT upgrade to Aviator Silver

I’ll get the 10,000 AA miles once and then consider upgrading to Aviator Silver.

But if you don’t see such language, you might consider making the upgrade now.

Check your account

In my account, the offer was on the right side, under Barclaycard extras:

Click to start, then 2 more clicks to upgrade to Aviator Silver!

Click to start, then 2 more clicks to upgrade to Aviator Silver!

It just says, “Upgrade your Account Benefits.”

When I clicked through, I was invited to upgrade to Aviator Silver.

Click "Tell me more" to proceed

Click “Tell me more” to proceed

After I clicked, I got a long list of details. Including that the upgrade would happen on August 7, 2015.

Page 1 of details

Page 1 of details

Page 2 of details

Page 2 of details

If I’d clicked “Yes, I accept,” the card would’ve been upgraded and the annual fee charged on November 30, 2015.

Should you do it?

I’m holding off to get my 10,000 AA anniversary miles. But if I didn’t have that coming, I’d definitely be tempted by this offer.

When you upgrade, you get:

  • 3X AA miles on AA flights
  • 2X AA miles on hotels and car rentals
  • 1X AA mile everywhere else
  • 5,000 EQMs when you spend $20,000 annually (can get up to 10,000 EQMs)
  • $99 companion certificate when you spend $30,000 annually
  • Free Global Entry (as a statement credit)

So this card is really only worth it if you have a lot of paid flights on American Airlines. Or if you want the opportunity to “buy” EQMs instead of fly to attain/retain status each year. Hey, 10,000 EQMs is 2 round-trip transcons! 

$195 is pretty hefty for an annual fee. But no other card earns 3X AA miles, which are extremely valuable (for now). If you can met the various spending thresholds, EQMs are very valuable, too. And the $99 companion cert if a nice bonus – if you can actually use it.

So it’s a personal decision for a niche crowd. Also consider this card is not available to new applicants. So if you can get it now, go for it.

Bottom line

Barclays is finally loosening the requirements to upgrade from Aviator Red to Silver. I was able to do it in 2 clicks directly in my online banking.

This is great news for a select set of people to whom this card caters.

But if you can wring the benefits out of it, like the EQMs, 3X AA miles, and $99 companion certificate, it would be well worth the $195 annual fee.

Do you have the option to upgrade? If you do… will you?

Admirals Club Passes Giveaway Winners!

Thanks to everyone who commented on Giveaway: 5 Pairs of Admirals Club Day Passes ($100 Value!)!

I was kinda blown away by the number of comments!

It came down to sheer randomness, literally. I used and picked 5 numbers. The first 5 numbers were the winners!

Enjoy the Admirals Club!

Enjoy the Admirals Club!

They are:

  1. R Hirsch
  2. JamesP
  3. Allan
  4. Mary
  5. Dee

I’ll be in touch with each of you about where to send your Admirals Club passes. Congrats!

Ways to keep up with the blog

Twitter and Instagram are my personal accounts. I post on those the most so be sure to follow me on both!

I often write about things I find handy or ways to save money.  There are two ways to ensure you never miss a blog post:

Ways to support the blog

If you like what you see here, I appreciate any kind of support, whether it’s using my links for services I like, or to pick up a new travel rewards credit card.

I’m aggressively working toward paying off my student loans so any clickage is infinitely appreciated!

Bottom line

It was a pleasure being featured on BoardingArea for the week!

Thanks again to all who entered the giveaway! I hope you’ll continue to follow Out and Out.

Winners, I’ll be in touch shortly about where to send the passes – enjoy the Admirals Club, whichever one you pick!