10% back on Star Alliance awards, preparing for the unknown, and more [Week in review]


What would you do to prepare for a trip if you had no idea where you were going to be going or what you’d be doing? That was a question that Greg and I addressed in separate posts this week. In other news you can use, LifeMiles has added subscriptions that offer the chance to get 10% back on Star Alliance redemptions and even free changes and cancellations along with new Amex credit cards. Read on for all that and more in this Frequent Miler week in review.

an airplane at an airport

This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

Prepping for last-minute travel (Greg’s Flying by the Seat of our Points Journal)

We’ve got just over a week to go before we live stream on June 3rd to find out where we’re all headed to meet up for the “Domestic Convergence” portion of our Flying by the Seat of our Points team challenge for 2024. In this post, Greg explains what he’s doing to grease the wheels and get prepared for the completely unknown.

Prepping for last-minute travel? Huh? (Nick’s Flying by the Seat of our Points Journal)

Greg made me nervous when he said he was going to write a post about what he’s doing to prepare for the challenge, but it turned out that I got inspired to do a few preparations of my own. My preparations are a bit different, but I’m going to be ready to take on Tim and Greg when the call comes to tell us where to go. Note that these posts will also serve as our ongoing journals during the challenge, so subscribe to comments and add your suggestions and recommendations as the challenge unfolds.

New Avianca LifeMiles LifeMiles+ subscriptions, a great deal for enthusiasts

Speaking of subscriptions, I am very excited about the new LifeMiles+ subscriptions, both for the 10% rebate on award bookings (including on partner bookings!) and for the ability to get free changes and cancellations (at least 72 hours in advance). I’ll hold off on subscribing until I’m ready to make my next redemption, but when I am ready to do so, I’ll hop on a subscription (maybe even during our challenge!).

Cardless launches new Avianca LifeMiles credit cards

The launch of the new LifeMiles+ subscriptions is mean to go hand-in-hand with the new Cardless Avianca Lifemiles credit cards. I’m excited to see this partnership, but I’m only lukewarm on the cards. They could make sense for the right segment of the market, and if you would consider subscribing to LifeMiles+ and you don’t care about the 5/24 impact, it probably makes sense to get the Elite card. On the other hand, I’m more excited about LifeMiles+ than the cards themselves.

United-ing Divorced Segments with United’s Excursionist Perk

Greg’s use of the Excursionist Perk here was very clever. The way he booked the tail end of the award has worked for many years and he had written about it during our 40K to Far Away challenge and I had also written about using it for a free intra-Africa flight in the same way a few years prior. What made this use really stand out to me though was the way that he leveraged that knowledge to make an impossible booking become possible. This was a really creative way around the “divorced” segment logic at play here. The tax savings was also very real. Kudos to Greg for a super creative way to solve this problem.

Hilton vs Marriott for a 2-player household

My wife and I probably have too many credit cards. Between a couple of Platinum cards each, a Sapphire Reserve, a few Ritz cards, the Aspire card, an Altitude Reserve, and all of the less-than-$400-per-ear cards that we have, we probably need to pare down and refocus. For years, we’ve pursued a mixed Marriott / Hilton strategy, but in this post I wanted to compare an all-Hilton-cards strategy versus an all-Marriott-cards strategy. In the end, I couldn’t really decide and I think that for now I may continue with a mixed strategy until I hit Lifetime Platinum with Marriott. Then I basically need to decide whether I more highly value a bunch of free night certificates with no spend required or completely uncapped certificates that allow for the chance at staying in the lap of luxury (albeit with high spend required). What’s your plan?

Podcast: When points wag the dog | Coffee Break Ep11 | 5-21-24

Coffee Break Episode 11

We’ve been wagged by our points repeatedly over the years, and I don’t regret a minute of it. We’ve ended up visiting places that never would have made my bucket list mostly because I wouldn’t have known about them were it not for a hotel I could book with points or award availability on flights I’d have never considered booking otherwise. I’ve attended exciting events and experienced things that I may never have considered even if I were rich but that have nonetheless enriched my life and those of my immediate family members. I plan travel much differently than most of my friends and family members, but I do so with the comfort of knowing that there will (hopefully) always be more points to get me to the places I’ve added to my bucket list along the way.

(Update) Bilt losing American Airlines as transfer partner after June 24, 2024

Bilt American Airlines breaking up

I’m including this small update in week in review just to bring it to the forefront for weekly email subscribers who may have previously missed that this partnership is winding down. You’ve got about a month to go if you’re interested in transferring Bilt Rewards points to American Airlines.

Citi Strata Premier℠ Credit Card Review (2024)

The newly revamped Strata Premier adds a couple of benefits, though it overall remains pretty similar to its predecessor. The bottom line is that if you were never interested in the Premier card, then the word “Strata” probably won’t make much of a difference for you — but if you hadn’t previously given the card much consideration, this card is definitely still worth a look. In fact, the Strata Premier probably isn’t top of mind for everyone when they try to answer the question “Which is the best credit card?”, but with a plethora of useful 3x categories and a down-to-earth annual fee, this really could be the answer for many folks.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye on this week’s month-ending last chance deals to be sure you grab those expiring in a few days.

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