We enter uncharted territory to create some handy charts to help you compare your favorite programs.
Frequent flyers have a penchant for charts. It’s the easiest way to quickly compare the various programs. We went a bit chart mad and produced a few quick reference charts on various aspects of frequent travel programs including fees—how much they are and how to avoid them with owning the right plastic, hotel award categories, mileage expiration policies, transfer programs between miles and points and global airline alliance comparisons. The list could go on and on, but we have room for just a few here. As with anything related to these quickly evolving programs, the information in these charts is correct as of this posting, but things could change at any moment.
Big Family, Lots of Luggage?
If you travel a lot with a large family, the best cards to have in your wallet are the Delta SkyMiles American Express credit cards that allow free checked bags for up to nine passengers.
American AAdvantage members who have a Citi / AAdvantage American Express Card or the Citi Gold / AAdvantage World MasterCard can take advantage of reduced mileage awards to destinations selected every month—2,500 miles discount on one- way MileSAAver awards or 5,000 miles discount on roundtrip MileSAAver awards.
US Airways Dividend Miles members who have the US Airways World MasterCard can redeem award travel on US Airways flights to any destination for 5,000 fewer miles.
Most U.S. airlines FFPs allow for free checked bags for elite-level members including Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, United MileagePlus and US Airways. Of these, Alaska and US Airways do not offer a credit card with waived bag fees.
Last-Minute Delta Awards
Miles for award travel are nonrefundable for flights canceled or changed within 72 hours of the original departure time. This also means that award tickets booked within 72 hours of departure are nonrefundable and cannot be redeposited or changed.
While Star Alliance is the biggest alliance with the most number of destinations, each alliance has its strength in certain geographical areas. With TAM moving to oneworld, oneworld is the powerhouse in South America. If China is a place you frequently visit, SkyTeam has three airlines based in China. While all three alliances have a notable presence in Europe, Star Alliance has the most number of European carriers in its ranks. For flights to Australia, oneworld member Qantas or Star Alliance member Air New Zealand can take you to the land down under, an area where SkyTeam has fewer flights.
When transferring points to U.S.-based airlines, American Express Membership Rewards members must pay a fee of $.0006 per point, up to a maximum of $99. Transferring 50,000 points into 50,000 miles, for example, would incur a $30 fee. Transfers with Starwood Preferred Guest and Ultimate Rewards are free.
Starwood Preferred Guest offers a bonus for transfers of 20,000 points. For every 20,000 points transferred, you will automatically receive another 5,000 points.
Some programs, like Aeroplan, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles offer a way for members who have lost their mileage by expiration to reinstate their miles for a fee.