United and Delta Devalue Their Miles

DeltaUnited

Airline devaluations are one of the guarantees in life.  Some airlines will devalue their mileage currency annually and some will do it every three to four years. This hurts the consumer since it often takes more miles or a larger fee has to be paid in the form of a “surcharge” for an award redemption. Delta is known to devalue their Sky Miles frequently and without warning. Some in the frequent flier world refer to their miles as “Sky Pesos.” United doesn’t devalue as often but this particular devaluation will hurt travelers regardless of cabin class.

 

                               United

Prior to November 1st, the most you would ever use for a domestic one way ticket in economy was 25k miles . Now if you want that one way ticket during the holiday season or any other holiday, there are some days where you won’t have an option that’s cheaper than 32.5k miles. Here is an example for a one way ticket from Chicago to Los Angeles:

UnitedDevaluation

Business class transcontinental award tickets will also jump up to 35k miles for saver economy and 60k miles for everyday or peak times. The same holds true for an international award ticket.  Business class tickets originating in the U.S. will see a 5k to 10k increase in miles on just about every route.

 

                                    Delta

Delta on the other hand is starting to devalue their Sky Miles by rolling out fuel surcharges on flights to Europe. You won’t see it on every route just yet but here is an example of a one way flight from Paris to Seattle:

DeltaDevaluation

As you can see, the surcharge for this one way flight is a ridiculous 215 euros. That’s in addition to the 50k miles at minimum that are needed for this redemption. Whether Delta rolls out this surcharge for all flights into and out of Europe or only those are departing or landing on the West Coast remains to be seen.

Regardless of which airline program you participate in, frequent flier miles always depreciate over time. Sometimes, the devaluation occurs without warning. Use them quickly because you just might need a whole lot more if you wait.

 

 

Image source: http://www.trendler.com

 

Using Ibotta for Uber, Hotels, and More

ibottaLogo

Of all the apps I have downloaded on my phone, there isn’t a single one that’s as rewarding as Ibotta. If you already have it downloaded and regularly use it, you know how it works. If you’ve never heard of Ibotta, I’ll introduce it and show you how you can benefit from your routine shopping. It’s available for both Android and iOS.

Ibotta rewards you in two different ways. The first requires you to upload your receipt from one of their listed retailers. Among them are Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Jewel-Osco, Pathmark, Mariano’s, etc.  For example, Walmart will have tons of different grocery or household items that will be eligible for cashback in a given week. If you purchase those items and unlock them on the Ibotta app, you get whatever the cashback is for that particular item. Here is example of some of the breakfast items listed this week at Walmart:

Ibotta3

 

Clothing retailers work the same way. Until November 2nd, you can make a purchase at H&M, upload your receipt and you get 15% cash back. The purchase would have to be made in-store.

H&M_Miles4Places

 

The other way Ibotta rewards you is by using their app to launch another app and then making a purchase. For example if you click on Uber via Ibotta, it will automatically launch the Uber app that’s already downloaded on your phone. For every ride you take, you get a dollar back:

UberIbotta

 

The same goes for travel websites such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Hotwire.com, etc. For these websites, you typically get between 4-6% back on your total cost.

 

Ibotta2

 

Make sure you have the apps for any of the above downloaded prior to making a booking. Ibotta will credit you the cashback once you have completed your hotel stay.

 

HotelsIbotta

 

Once you have $20, you can cash out via Paypal or Venmo. You could also select gift cards to retailers such as Amazon or Target.

You could also double dip using this app. For example, Walmart sells Hotels.com gift cards. You could use your Chase Freedom credit card to buy the gift card from Walmart and that will get you 5 points per dollar (Walmart is a 5x quarterly category for Chase Freedom this quarter). You can then make your booking on Hotels.com by launching the app via Ibotta and get an additional 5% back. Regardless of where you shop or travel, Ibotta has something that can benefit just about everyone. If you don’t already have Ibotta and you use my link to sign up, you get $10 back after uploading your first receipt or making your first purchase using the app. —->  https://ibotta.com/r/xq3zkq

As always, thanks for reading.

Earn 1,000+ Marriott Rewards Points Free. Act Fast!

marriott-rewards-logo

 

Marriott is giving away 1,000 Rewards Points if you answer their Twitter NFL trivia question before 8 PM eastern. 1,000 points won’t get you a free stay at a hotel but Marriott has been giving away thousands of points routinely via twitter and other social media  promos. They certainly add up over the course of a few months and in time, you might have enough for a free hotel stay. You can also supplement your Marriott account by transferring points via Chase Ultimate Rewards if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Preferred.

MarriottTrivia

 

To link your Marriott account to Twitter or other social media platforms, click here.  The answer for this week is 53. Just tweet 53 along with #RewardsPoints and you will see the points shortly. Marriott also awards you points by linking your account to Instagram and Facebook.

MarriottRewards

 

Registering for a Marriott Rewards account is free so you have absolutely nothing to lose.  If you want this week’s 1,000 points, you have until 8pm Eastern. Better act fast!

Credit Card Review: American Express Platinum

AMEXPlatinum

The AMEX Platinum currently has a 60k membership points bonus if you spend $5k within the first 3 months of opening the account. This card also has a steep annual fee of $550 (not waived the first year) so it’s not for everyone. The 60k points could easily net you $1,200 worth of travel and cover your annual fee for 2 years if you didn’t derive any other benefit the card offers. AMEX membership points can be transferred to a multitude of airlines and hotels.  I received an upgrade offer from AMEX a few months back that offered 60k points and I jumped on it. I still rate the Chase Sapphire Reserve as the best among the premium credit cards. However, the  AMEX Platinum might actually be of greater value for some of you. Here are some of the benefits you can get with the AMEX Platinum:

1) 60k bonus points after spending $5k over the first 3 months

AmexmembershipRewards

AMEX Membership Rewards points have a lot of value because of the multitude of airlines and hotels they have as transfer partners. Among the airline partners: Delta, Etihad, Emirates, Singapore, British Airways, Iberia, Air France/KLM (via Flying Blue), etc. Hotel transfer partners include Starwood, Hilton, and Choice hotels.

 

2) Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check

global entry      tsaprecheck

AMEX will reimburse you the $100 fee for Global Entry or $85 for TSA pre-check. If you are in a major metro area, Global Entry is the way to go since it automatically gives you TSA pre-check. I’ve had TSA pre-check for about a year now and saves you from the inconvenience of taking off your shoes, removing your laptop/electronics from your carry, and going through X-ray machines.  Plain and simple, it saves a lot of time. Both of them are good for 5 years.

 

3.  $200 in annual airline fee credits

For this benefit, you have to select a particular airline and you would get reimbursed for incidental fees such as checked bag fees, in-flight internet, and in-flight food purchases. It’s not nearly as valuable as Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit, which covers everything from airfare, hotels, tolls, parking fees, etc. However, there is a way to get around this if you desire credit towards airfare instead. If you use this card to purchase $200 worth of American Airlines gift cards from AA.com, AMEX will treat it as an incidental purchase and credit you back the $200. Here is a screen shot below:

AMEXAA

It only took two days for them to reimburse me and I was able to put the gift cards to use a month later. I don’t think this trick works for any other airline. This was far more beneficial in my opinion since I don’t end up checking-in $200 worth of bags in any given year.

 

4. $200 Uber credit annually

uber.jpg

This is a really nice perk that can really help offset the annual fee for those who find themselves using Uber on a regular basis. AMEX gives you $15 Uber credit for each month and in December, they give you an extra $20. Just link the AMEX card with your Uber account and use that as the method of payment.

 

5. Complimentary Boingo Hotspot

boingo

We still live in a world where many airports still don’t offer complimentary wifi access for more than a half hour.  If you don’t find yourself transiting through one of these airports often, this perk may not be a huge deal. However, if you’re frequently traveling or connecting through airports such as Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway, NYC’s LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark, or LAX in Los Angeles, this might be of great value. These airports offer complimentary low speed wifi for 30-45 minutes. By the time your website is done loading, you have half the time left. This perk allows you to have complimentary access to Boingo’s higher speed internet, which would usually costs $7.95 per use.

 

6. Complimentary Access to AMEX Centurion Lounge

CenturionDFW1

If you are a traveler that routinely transits through New York’s LaGuardia, Seattle-Tacoma, Miami, Dallas (DFW), Houston (Bush Intercontinental), San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Philadelphia, having Centurion lounge access is an awesome perk to have. You get complimentary drinks, snacks, meals, massages (DFW), really high speed wifi, and a place where you can unwind between flights or just get some work done. You can also bring two guests free of charge. To get an idea of what the Centurion Lounge is like, you can read my review of the lounges at LaGuardia and Dallas-Fort Worth right here and here.

 

7. Complimentary Access to Priority Pass Lounges

PriorityPass.png

Here is another valuable perk to have if you find yourself at airports that have lounges that are part of Priority Pass.  Priority Pass has over 1,000 lounges at airports all over the world. There are even restaurants such as Timberline’s Steak and Grille (Denver International Airport) that are a part of Priority Pass. At Timberline’s, each guest gets $28 worth of credit towards food. So you and two guests can actually get $84 off an entire check.

 

8. Complimentary Access to Delta Sky Club (When Flying on Delta)

DAL_SKYCLUB_TERMB

If you fly on Delta frequently,  add this to the list of perks that comes with the Platinum Card. You would have access to Delta Sky Club lounges from coast to coast. Just show them your boarding pass and AMEX Platinum card and you’re in.

 

        9. Gold Status for Hilton and Starwood Hotels

PrinthiltonLogo.jpg

If you play your hand right, this benefit can cover the entire cost of an annual fee and then some. Having Hilton Gold status makes you eligible for free upgrades at any Hilton Hotel. You also get complimentary breakfast and high speed WiFi.  A couple of months back, my wife and I took a trip to Maldives and stayed at the Conrad in Rangali Island. Hilton gave us a complimentary upgrade from a water villa to a retreat water villa during our 4 nights there. The value of our upgrade was over $500. This doesn’t even include the complimentary breakfast, lunch, and mocktails we enjoyed as Hilton Gold members.  Add that to the value of the upgrade and we derived well over $700 worth of value simply by having Hilton Gold status.  I haven’t put the status to use at any Starwood hotels just yet, but I’ll keep you posted if I do.

 

10. Earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on Flights Booked Directly with Airlines or via AMEX Travel

This is the highest earning credit card for booking flights. You also earn 5X the points for booking a hotel through AMEX Travel. For the flights, you can’t book it via Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, or any other third party site. For the hotels, it has to be booked via AMEX travel.  I’m really hoping in the future they just give you the 5X for all travel related purchases. Chase Sapphire Reserve gives you 3X Ultimate Reward points on anything travel related. It doesn’t matter if you booked on Expedia or directly from the hotel/airline.

 

 

 

If you are going to apply for the the card, do it during a time when you know you’ll be spending $5k over 3 months. Due to its exorbitant annual fee, this card isn’t a long term keeper for a leisure traveler who only travels once or twice a year or an individual who doesn’t travel for work. If you find yourself in a scenario where you can derive the benefits and perks routinely, this card can be extremely rewarding.

 

Chase Freedom 5% Quarterly Categories Include Walmart and Department Stores

freedom_card

Chase just released their 4th quarter 5% cashback categories for the Chase Freedom and this includes Walmart and department stores. For the months of October, November, and December, you will get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on the first $1,500 you spend on these categories. The inclusion of Walmart is a pretty big deal since many people shop there on a weekly basis for groceries, household goods, supplies, clothing, etc. It’s an added bonus that the inclusion of Walmart and department stores during the 4th quarter coincides with Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the Christmas holiday season.  If you already hold the Chase Freedom card, remember to log in to Chase and activate the 5% cashback bonus. If you also own the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, this would have added value since you aren’t limited to redeeming the Ultimate Rewards Points for cashback or gift cards. You are able to unlock more value by transferring the points on a 1:1 basis to one of the many airline or hotel partners. I wrote a couple of detailed posts about that and you can read that here and here.

Limited Time Offer: 60k Points After First Purchase with American Airlines Barclays Aviator Card

Aviator1

 

One of the biggest impediments for a lot of folks after applying for a credit card is spending up to the threshold to gain the boat load of bonus points. These days, many  valuable credit cards require anywhere between $3k and $7.5k of spending over 3 months to get the bonus. Many people simply don’t have expenses that add up to that amount over a 3 month period. This makes obtaining a bonus difficult. This is where the American Airlines Barclays Aviator card comes into play. They have a limited time offer in which you would earn 60,000 American AAdvantage miles after your first purchase.  That purchase can be as small as a cup of coffee and that would be sufficient to trigger the bonus. The first year annual fee of $95 is not waived but that is a trade off you should make any day of the week. 60,000 miles for $95? That’s a STEAL.  Let’s take a look below where 60k American AAdvantage miles would take you.

 

Chicago to Barcelona Round Trip (March 7th-14th)

ORD2BCN.JPG

 

Plenty of award availability on this route throughout the year. This round trip during non-peak season (until March 10th) would require 45k miles round trip, giving you 15k miles to spare. If you decided to take this trip during peak season, it would cost 60k miles round trip. Chicago to Barcelona non-stop service is seasonal so you would get a non-stop flight if you booked between early spring and early autumn.

 

BCN2ORD.JPG

 

 

Chicago to Tokyo Round Trip (March 2nd-12th)

ORD2NRT

 

Chicago to Tokyo round trip would cost 65k miles during non-peak season. The 60k bonus would put you right at the door step for this award flight if you don’t have any miles to work with.  This itinerary would have non-stop service for the flight there and the return back to Chicago.

NRT2ORD

 

 

Albany, NY to Paris

Even though most of my examples are from larger airports and cities, these award flights would also work if your flight originated in a smaller airport such as Albany International Airport. I haven’t forgotten about you, Albany people =)

ALB2CDG

 

For 45k points, you would be able to fly round trip to Paris with a relatively short layover in Philadelphia. If you chose this route during the peak season  in late spring into early autumn, the bonus would still cover the 60k points required for this award ticket.  The return flight would also have a reasonable layover in Philadelphia.

 

CDG2ALB

 

If you have a spouse or travel partner that also takes advantage of this offer, now you’d get two free round trip tickets to Europe or be on the cusp of getting to destinations as far out as Asia. All this for a combined annual fee of $190 between the two cards.  This card also allows you to bring a free checked bag and gives you back 10% of the points you redeem.

My Experience Redeeming British Airways Avios for a Flight on American Airlines

british-airways-banner

 

Before I get into the tidbits of Avios redemption on American Airlines, I’ll share my recent experience with British Airways and how redeeming Avios on American Airlines rather than booking with American using its own AAdvantage miles saved me a huge headache. At a conference in Philadelphia two weeks ago, I arrived at the hotel and was asked to provide a drivers license or an ID and a credit card for incidentals. I opened my wallet and my credit card was there. I assumed I had my drivers license and looked behind a few cards but I could not find it (I left it in my scanner at home when I was making a copy 2 days prior). I went into all out panic mode and frantically started searching my pockets, book bag, and suitcase. I took out every single card from my wallet and nothing came up. I was the guy who booked the hotel rooms for 3 other friends and I’m thinking I might be the guy who might have screwed this whole thing up. I told the receptionist “uhhh I’m really really sorry but I don’t have my drivers license with me.  I think I dropped it. The only thing I have is my school ID.  Can you match that with my credit card and make that work?” The receptionist said they generally don’t allow it but since I was there for the conference, he’d let it slide. If you are some how reading this and you are that receptionist from the Double Tree near Phildelphia International Airport,  God bless you and thank you again. Half the disaster averted. Now I realized I also had a flight from Philly to Albany two days later and not having my license would really make things difficult ( I arrived in Philly via Greyhound and they never checked for ID).  I booked my flight using British Airways Avios on American Airlines for 7.5k Avios plus $5.60 in taxes. The cash price for this one way ticket was going for $422 (!). This gave me an excellent value of 5.6 cents per Avios.  If I had booked the same flight using American Airlines miles, It would have cost me 7.5k AAdvantage miles PLUS an additional $80. If you book an award flight within 21 days of departure on American, you are subjected to an $80 “close in” fee. British Airways does not charge the same fee when using Avios to book on American. This allows you to make same day bookings (if seats are available) without losing value due to a surcharge. Since I didn’t have my license and didn’t want to deal with extra paperwork and questions from TSA trying to board my flight, I decided I would just ride back with a friend who had driven there. I called British Airways about 40 hours prior to departure and requested to cancel my flight. British Airways’ award cancellation policy is very customer friendly. As long as you cancel 24 hours or more prior to departure, they will credit your miles back without charging a fee to reinstate those miles. The only thing you would lose is the $5.60 in tax which is negligible in the grand scheme of things. Had I booked this flight using AAdvantage miles, American would have charged me $150 to cancel the flight and reinstate those miles.

 

PHLAvios

The cost of my flight had I used cash to pay for it. Prior to cancelling, I only used 7.5k Avios, which would have given me a value of 5.6 cents per Avios.

 

For many of the reasons highlighted above,  Executive Club is one my favorite frequent flier programs for domestic travel. BA Executive Club is a transfer partner of Chase, AMEX, and SPG, so there are many ways to get Avios (British Airways’ frequent flier curency). I have never redeemed Avios for international flights on British Airways itself because BA charges a very hefty fuel surcharge on transatlantic award flights flown on their metal. I use Avios to book flights on BA’s OneWorld partner, American Airlines. British Airways utilizes a distance based award chart which means the number of Avios used depends on the distance you’re traveling. Zone 1 costs 7.5k Avios for a one way ticket (0-1,151 miles traveled),   zone 2 costs 10k avios for a one way ticket (1,152-2000 miles traveled), and zone 3 costs 12.5k Avios for a one way ticket (2001-3000 miles traveled).  When you book a saver award using American Airlines, domestic flights that are less than 500 miles require 7.5k AAdvantage miles. Anything more than that requires 12.5k at the saver level.  I do want clarify that British Airways award availability on American Airlines isn’t a sure thing on any given date. Generally if American Airlines is showing saver award availability via their own program, there is a decent chance BA will have access to those as well. I have posted an example of a sample itinerary using both programs.

In this example, we’ll use a one way flight from Chicago (ORD) to Denver (DIA) on September 17th. Let’s start off with American Airlines:

 

We can see that there is MileSAAver availability from Chicago to Denver. A one way flight would cost 12.5 AAdvantage miles.

AA2DIAEconomy

 

There is also discounted MileSAAver availability in business class for 25k AAdvantage miles.

 

ORD2DIABusinessClass

 

Now let’s see how much the same flight would cost using British Airways Avios:

 

AviosORD2DIAeconomy

 

The same flight we saw above for 12.5k AAdantage miles in economy can be booked for 7.5k Avios. And if we want to book a seat in business class……..

 

AviosORD2DIABusinessClass

 

This same flight costs 25k AAdvantage miles to book in business class. Booking with British Airways only costs 15k Avios for a business class ticket. When you take into consideration that booking just an economy seat using American costs 12.5k miles, an extra 2.5k Avios to bump up to business class is a tremendous value.

Another great use of Avios is for domestic award tickets on Alaska Airlines. Unfortunately, Alaska Airlines does not show up on British Airways’ website the way American does so you would have to call them to book.  If they tell you that a phone booking would cost you a fee, kindly request them to waive it since booking an Alaska flight using Avios is not possible through their website.

Leveraging Your Routine Spending Into Points: Back to School Edition

Back2School

If you have driven past any mall or big box retailer over the past couple of weeks, you have seen the “back to school” signs plastered on storefront windows trying to grab your attention and inviting you to walk in. It’s the time of the year when parents will be restocking school supplies for kids and undergrad and grad students will be looking for the best deals on laptops and textbooks. This time of the year is pretty important for retailers and they know consumers have more choices than ever. In the realm of the points and miles world, this is also a time of the year where you can benefit greatly. If you plan on doing a majority of your shopping on Amazon, you can read in-depth how you can accumulate JetBlue miles by clicking here.  For other retailers where you might consider shopping online, I highly recommend using www.cashbackmonitor.com

This website shows you how many airline miles or hotel points you will earn by routing yourself through that airline’s or hotel’s online mall.  It’s pretty straight forward and you can find a detailed example below.  I have posted some screenshots for the online Apple store as an example:

This is the homepage of http://www.cashbackmonitor.com. The most popular retailers are listed on the front page. If you don’t see yours, search for it on the search tab

CashBackMonitor1

 

If you wanted to purchase something online from the Apple Store, this is how many miles/points/cashback different airlines/hotels/cashback portals are offering if you route yourself to the Apple Store via their own shopping mall. Keep in mind, it doesn’t cost you a dime to sign up for these frequent flier programs. At this particular time, United is offering 6 miles per dollar if you make a purchase on Apple.com by clicking through their link. This is the highest among any of the shopping portals. Let’s use that as an example.

CashBackMonitor2

 

When you click on United’s link, this is the page you land on. But wait, not only would you get 6 United MileagePlus miles per dollar for your Apple purchase, United is also offering a back- to-school bonus depending on your level of spending. That $1,300 Macbook Pro would earn you 10,800 United MileagePlus Miles –> ($1,300 x 6 miles) + 3,000 bonus miles for getting the 3,000 mile back-to-school bonus offered by United for spending $600. 12.5k United MileagePlus miles gets you a saver award one way in economy. In addition to that, Apple is offering free Beats headphones if you purchase an iPad or Macbook Pro for college (presumably with a student ID).

UnitedBack2School

Simply click on the “shop now” icon and you are directed to Apple’s website.

 

If you were going to shop for school supplies online at Walmart.com, this is how much you would earn through each portal:

CashbackmonitorWalmart

 

For you undergrad and grad students reading this, popular online textbook retailers such as Textbooks.com and Alibris.com are also listed on cashbackmonitor.com.  If you’re purchasing from Amazon, remember to route yourself via JetBlue. You are simply walking away from an easy opportunity to earn miles if you don’t. And remember, you can use this website to help you earn miles for your routine online shopping no matter the time of the year.

SOME VERY IMPORTANT TIPS BEFORE USING ANY PORTALS TO MAKE A PURCHASE

  1. Make sure your cookies are enabled. If they’re not, the airline or hotel rewards program can’t track your purchase and you might not get credited for them.
  2. Sign up for that particular airline’s frequent flier program PRIOR to shopping (it’s free and takes a minute).
  3. Make sure you are logged-in to the airline’s frequent flier program prior to clicking on the retailers website. Most portals will make you sign in prior to routing you to that retailer.

 

U.S. to Barcelona for Under $350 Round Trip Between November and March.

Norwegian

For those of you who are interested in traveling to Barcelona between November and March, Norwegian Airlines has plenty of dates for airfare as low as $313 round trip from Boston and $344 round trip from Newark. Norwegian does charge to check in luggage and they do not serve complimentary meals on international flights so that is something to keep in mind. But even with the added cost, it is still a great deal to one my favorite cities in Europe and one that routinely lands on TripAdvisor’s top 25 cities in the world. Norwegian has a relatively young fleet and utilizes the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on these routes. I flew on this plane on the Norwegian metal two years ago and had a pretty comfortable experience in economy.   If you conduct a search on Google flights, you will get a calendar that shows you the low fares on various dates. Below is a sample itinerary from Newark (EWR) from January 21st to January 29th.

GoogleBCN

googleflights

Excellent Award Tickets to Hawaii from New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, and More using Flying Blue

flying-blue-LOGO

One of my favorite frequent flier programs and one which I utilize quite frequently is Flying Blue. This is the frequent flier program for Air France and KLM, but one which you could also use to book flights on Delta as well as other airlines that are part of the Sky Team alliance. Flying Blue is also a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. If you have a credit card (see examples below) that earns points for any of the above programs, you can transfer those points into Flying Blue and then book a flight on a multitude of Sky Team partners.

 

All of these credit cards earn points that can be transferred into Flying Blue. With regards to Chase Sapphire Reserve and Preferred, points from the Chase Freedom and Freedom Unlimited can be combined to maximize the benefits.

 

In this post, I’ll go into detail on using those points on Delta for an excellent redemption to Hawaii starting from late August and into early November. While there are many cities where you can find these redemptions, I’ll go over NYC, Chicago, and St. Louis. Every one of these trips only costs 30k points round trip to and from Hawaii. The cash price on these tickets is well over $600.

New York City to Honolulu

 

FlyingBlue

If you have flexibility, you have several days from late August into late September that offers a departure for 15k points.

 

FlyingBlue2

Many return dates also utilizing 15k points per person

You also have several days on the return trip that have a 15k points per person.  If you were going to a book a flight from September 9th-18th using cash, you would paying at least $782 per person below. With the award redemption you’re getting round trip tickets for 2 people for a total of 60k points.

GoogleFlights

 

Chicago to Maui

 

ORD2OGGFLyingBlue

If you have some flexibility, plenty of departure dates using only 15k points per person

 

OGG2ORD

And plenty of return dates also using 15k points per person.

If you were going to pay with cash, a sample search from September 27th – October 4th is pictured below. This will give you an idea of how much you would pay in cash. The same dates using Flying Blue redemptions would be 30k points per person.

GoogleFlightsORD2OGG

 

St. Louis to Kona

STL2KonaFlyingBlue

 

St. Louis has many days in September that offer departures to Kona for 15k points per person. Kona is a district located in the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kona2STLFLyingBlue

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many dates available on the way back. If you have flexibility, you can use an itinerary such as September 11-18th. This would give you the 30k round trip redemption per person. And if you were to pay with cash for those same dates………

STL2KonaGoogleFlights

In all of these examples, you are getting an excellent value of more than 2 cents per mile for these redemptions. Keep in mind, all these routes would be flown on Delta Airlines. If you want to explore multiple islands, inter-island flights between islands are usually reasonable in price. So let’s say in the above example you landed in Kona but want to explore Oahu or Maui, you can check to see if there are 1 way redemptions from either of those islands back to St. Louis for 15k and plan accordingly. If you have JetBlue points accrued, you can use those to redeem for inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines . This is what I did when I flew from Maui to Kauai last December.