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Here’s a quick recap of the interesting points and miles news from the week.
Freedom Card Third Quarter Bonus Categories
July 1 marked the start of Quarter 3 of 2012, and with it, the 5 points per $1 up to $1,500 spending bonus categories on the Chase Freedom card changed over. This quarter the bonus spend categories will be restaurants and gas stations (perfect for summer road trips). To qualify for the bonuses, you must register your card by September 14, 2012.
If you just have the Freedom card, those points are just good toward cash back, but remember, if you also have a Sapphire Preferred or Ink Bold with Ultimate Reward card those Ultimate Reward points can be transferred to United, British Airways, Southwest, Korean, Hyatt, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Priority Club and Amtrak. I personally find United miles to be the most valuable transfer partner since their award thresholds are pretty low, they have generous routing rules and fees are dirt cheap. Earning 5 United miles for every dollar spent is a pretty amazing deal for a card that has no annual fee.
Plus, you can also maximize Freedom if you have a Chase checking account because they give a 10% bonus and 10 point per transaction bonus. That makes earning on most purchases more lucrative when using the Freedom over any other card. For more info on the Chase Exclusives/Checking program, check out this post.
Earn Up To 25,000 Bonus American Miles From Chicago to Helsinki
Ever since learning about Finnair’s saunas at the Helsinki airport, I’ve had a hankering to head north to the land of dogsleds and reindeer to try them out. American this week announced a bonus that makes a trip to Finland even more attractive. Travelers can earn up to 25,000 bonus miles when flying non-stop roundtrip between Chicago and Helsinki between now and September 30, 2012. Travelers in business class (J, D, R, I fares) earn 25,000 bonus miles, full-fare economy tickets (Y, B, H) earn 20,000 bonus miles, and economy tickets (K, L, M) earn 15,000–still a decent haul. Just be sure to register for the promotion and use the code AAHEL when booking. Downside: bonus miles don’t count toward elite status.
Transfer BMI Miles to British Airways Avios
Though it might not affect too many US flyers, this was still an interesting development for the British Airways Avios program this week, which is that you can now combine your BMI Diamond Club miles to British Airways Avios points. To do so, simply log into your BA Executive Club account, go to Manage My Account, then click on Combine Avios.
BMI isn’t part of an alliance, but it does have some interesting airline partners that BA does not, like Jet Airways and Qatar, as well as Virgin Atlantic, so check before you transfer miles to make sure the BA award you want is available, otherwise you might be better off leaving your BMI miles alone.
Delta Offers Status Match Until February 2014
If you’re thinking of switching your allegiance to an airline, but don’t want to have to go through the rigamarole of requalifying for elite status, status matching can be a quick, easy, effective way to get all the perks and benefits of elite status even as you qualify with a new airline. In its bid to assert dominance over the US market, Delta has made it pretty easy to status match with them from another airline, and has recently extended its status benefits for those who do a status match starting July 1 until February 2014, meaning, if you ask for a status match and qualify both for the match and complete the segments necessary, you could have Delta elite benefits for another 18 months. You can find all the details on qualifying for various elite levels through a status match here.
Delta 50% Bonus on Transferred Miles
Last month I reported on a current bonus Delta is offering a 50% bonus on mileage purchases that was initially available until June 30, but which has been extended through July 31, 2012. Apparently they didn’t sell enough miles in the original promo period!
It’s no wonder, either. As usual, it rarely makes sense, financially speaking, to purchase miles, even with bonuses of up to 100% like the recent US Airways promo, unless you’re trying to top up your account to obtain a specific award.
A quick look at the Terms and Conditions says that this offer is only open to recipients of the original email from Delta, though if any readers who did not get the email were able to score the bonus, tell me about it in the comments below.
The bonus does not apply to miles purchased under the SkyMiles Gift Miles program or miles transferred under the SkyMiles Transfer Miles program, so in other words, you have to be purchasing these miles for your own account. Also, if you’re thinking about doing this, your account must have been established for at least 10 days, so be sure to get one by July 21.
You can buy up to 60,000 total (90,000 with bonus), which is also your annual max of purchased miles from Delta. Ordinarily, Delta SkyMiles cost 3.5 cents each plus a 7.5% tax. With this promo, you’d be paying that same amount of $75.25 for a total of 3,000 miles, so your cost per mile would be 2.5 cents, saving you one cent per mile. That ratio holds true no matter how many miles you purchase with this bonus.
Unfortunately, I suspect the fact that Delta extended the bonus might mean there won’t be better or more lucrative purchase or transfer promos from Delta in the near future, which is too bad, so if you just need to top up points, I’d recommend transferring American Express points instantly instead.
US Airways 50% Miles Transfer Bonus
US Airways is also offering a bonus of up to 50% on transferred miles good until July 31, 2012, but since it comes so close behind the recently ended 100% bonus on purchased US Airways miles, it’s a bit less impressive even than it would have been otherwise.
Miles : Bonus
1,000-9,000 miles : 10%
10,000-19,000 miles: 20%
20,000-29,000 miles: 30%
30,000-39,000 miles: 40%
40,000-50,000 miles: 50%
Because of the limited terms of this promotion – the mileage cap, the fact that you can only get a bonus on a single transfer – all mean that it’s going to be much harder to squeeze real value out of any transfers. But if you were thinking of transferring some miles anyway so a friend or family member could reach an award-ticket threshold, then you might as well take advantage of this bonus to help them score a few extra miles into the bargain at the same price you can only take advantage of this on a single share either as donor or recipient, and the figures look a bit dismal as it costs 1 cent a mile to share plus a $30 processing fee per transaction (and a 7.5% tax for Canadian residents).
Because of the limited terms of this promotion – the mileage cap, the fact that you can only get a bonus on a single transfer – all mean that it’s going to be much harder to squeeze real value out of any transfers. But if you were thinking of transferring some miles anyway so a friend or family member could reach an award-ticket threshold, then you might as well take advantage of this bonus to help them score a few extra miles into the bargain at the same price.