Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Visa Infinite Exclusive Card – Made of Gold & Diamonds…Literally.

This is the card every credit card churner should have in their sights. The benefits are exclusive and the feel and look of the card puts the Chase Sapphire Preferred card to shame. It’s the Visa Infinite Exclusive Card.

Here are the benefits:

  • Airport lounge access
  • Concierge Service
  • Discounts at Hotels and Restaurants
  • Car Hire
  • Life and Health Insurance (a $250K+ benefit)

You also get a free iPhone 5 and Montblanc card case if approved. Additionally, you get two cards: the first made of Pure Gold, 26 Diamonds, and Mother of Pearl. The second is grade A genuine plastic.

The Visa Infinite Exclusive Card – Made of Pure Gold, 26 Diamonds, and Mother of Pearl

The yearly fee is waived the first year, and is $2,000 thereafter. There is also a simple one-time fee of $100,000 ($35,000 of this gets deposited into your account for use).

I recommend this card for people who are big spenders and/or do not have health or life insurance. If you happen to be in the market for an iPhone 5, this is basically two birds with one stone.

The catch: You must be a resident of Kazakhstan, and only 100 are available.

The card is available from Sberbank-Kazakhstan, and you can get more information about it directly from their website here (you’ll need to translate the page).

I originally heard about this card from a coworker, who sent me the link to an ABC News article discussing it here.

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US Airways Club at LAX Terminal 1

If you’re flying US Airways from LAX, you’re probably flying from Terminal 1. I was on one of two LAX-PHL red-eyes offered by US from Los Angeles, opting for the cheaper 10:10PM flight.

If you’re ever making use of this lounge make sure you take note of the open/closing times. This one closes at 10PM, which I think is a little early considering US has several flights departing after midnight. The time happened to work out perfectly for my flight this time.

Art at the entry walkway

Getting to the lounge isn’t as straightforward as it should be (which is the case at many lounges I’ve found). After clearing security you need to hook a u-turn to your left, then walk up a walkway to the lounge. Once you make that u-turn you’ll start seeing some signs.

There’s some colorful art on the walk up to the lounge. It kind of gives you hope of what’s to come, but you’ll find everything as standard as usual.

All the standard foods

The food options were all the normal items. Some apples, stale trail mix, chips, salsa, and crackers. The one thing that was a little different was Milano cookies, which was a nice change.

The bar

The bar was small and I didn’t make use of it at all, opting for water instead. They did a last call for alcohol at exactly 9:23PM.

One of the three small seating areas

Expanded shot of seating area

The seating was broken into three separate areas. There was another area that looked just like the pictures above (which are both of the same room). The third was a smaller area with open tables. There were also at least 6 work stations that were pretty empty, so I elected to take one of them.

When I got in to the lounge around 9PM it was very full. The pictures above don’t show that many people because I didn’t take pictures until a big group left, but it would have been hard to find a seat.

Four work stations. There were at least two more separate from these.

The work stations all had power outlets as you’d expect. I didn’t get a chance to test the internet so I can’t speak to whether it’s fast or not.

Bathroom

I like how the pink soap pops against the dull grey color scheme

The bathroom wasn’t as bad as I thought it might be but definitely wasn’t anything special. It was small like the rest of the lounge, but clean.

Overall, this lounge was dull, dark, and pretty boring. There were no windows so not much to look at besides the TVs. It was just the basics, but sure beats sitting outside in the terminal!

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Don’t Abuse Bluebird, but…

There are probably going to be A LOT of people that hate this article, but I’m sure all 2 of my regular readers wont really mind. My goal is to get people thinking of the new possibilities Bluebird creates, and I personally believe that showing some extreme examples is the best way. Everyone should read Frequent Miler’sMillion Mile Secret’s, and Scottrick’s (my absolute favorite of the three) articles imploring moderation so you don’t screw yourself or everyone else over unintentionally.

If you haven’t signed up for Bluebird yet, you should!

I don’t want Bluebird to get shut down any more than the next guy (especially since I just paid my property tax using it), but this new card presents quite a bit of opportunity for many people. Certain things that weren’t possible before might seem within reach now, and hopefully a few examples can show you how it’s possible, though not necessarily practical, to leverage the new card.

Very important note: each of the below scenarios assumes that all money put on to your Bluebird card will either be cashed out or spent via your regular purchases. Most people can’t or are not willing to do that.

ATTAIN SPG PLATINUM STATUS FOR JUST $395 (plus effort)

One of the cool benefits of the SPG program is that all reward nights count towards your elite status qualification. There is no rule that says any part of your 25 stays/50 nights have to be paid, so you can theoretically use your SPG Amex card to earn Platinum status for minimal spend, but lots of effort.

To stay at a Category 1 property, it takes a minimum of 2,000 points. If you have an SPG Amex you’d need to buy 4 Vanilla reload cards at $500 each to get 2,000 SPG points. At $3.95 per reload card, that’s $15.80 for a night at a Category 1 hotel. Now, do that 25 more times and you have SPG Platinum status!

That means $395 ($15.80 x 25 nights) gets you SPG Platinum status, assuming you’re able to spend or cash out the money you put on it. Keep in mind this means buying $50,000 worth of Vanilla Reload cards, or 100 of them, so not everyone can or would do this.

Is it even worth it? Only you can decide that. Maybe you’d rather use those 50K SPG points for several nights at a Category 4 (or lower) property. Maybe you’d rather use it for a couple of nights at a top end Category 6 or 7. Either way, you’re almost certain to get more than $395 worth of value out of it!

ATTAIN HILTON DIAMOND STATUS FOR JUST $316 (plus effort)

While Hilton also counts award stays toward elite status, there is a much easier way to get top tier status with them. Spending $40,000 on either the Amex Hilton Surpass card or the Citi Hilton Reserve card will get you Diamond status.

To put $40,000 on a card, you’d need to buy 80 Vanilla Reload packs at $500 each (80 x $500 = $40,000). At $3.95 per Vanilla Reload, that’s just $316 in fees ($3.95 x 80 = $316) in order to attain Hilton Honors Diamond status. Again, this assumes you can spend or cash out the $40,000 on your Bluebird card. You also get 120,000 HHonors points, good for several nights depending on how you use them.

Is it worth it? Well, the difference between Hilton Gold and Diamond status is marginal. I’m Hilton Gold status this year despite staying with them only once, thanks to a rare opportunity to get Gold status for free. But $316 is also pretty cheap, even with all the time and effort involved. Again, you decide if it’s worth it for you.

HYATT AND PRIORITY CLUB

Unfortunately there is currently no way to earn Hyatt elite status via spending to my knowledge, and they don’t allow award nights to count toward stays either. Boo to them.

Priority Club’s program makes it relatively easy to attain top tier status as it is, so I wont bother doing a write-up for it.

ATTAINING AIRLINE ELITE STATUS

Delta is the only program through which you can actually spend your way to airline elite status via credit card spending. Select other programs offer a certain amount of Preferred/Elite Qualifying miles for hitting a certain spending threshold, as long as you have the co-branded credit card.

  • Spending $25,000 on the Barclays US Airways card or Barclays Virgin America card will get you 10,000 points/miles in each respective program. It costs $197.50 to get these elite miles via Vanilla Reloads (50 Vanilla Reloads x $3.95 = $197.50).
  • Spending $40,000 on the Citi American Airlines Executive card will also get you 10,000 elite AAdvantage miles. It costs $316 to get these elite miles via Vanilla Reloads (80 Vanilla Reloads x $3.95 = $316).
  • Spending $10,000 on the Chase Southwest cards gets you an extra 1,500 bonus points. That means that if you spend $100,000 you’ll earn enough points for the coveted Southwest Companion Pass. But that’s a lot of spending. It costs $790 to get these elite miles via Vanilla Reloads (200 Vanilla Reloads x $3.95 = $790).

For a much more efficient breakdown of how “big spenders” can earn these bonuses and much more (and we’re all suddenly big spenders with Bluebird), I highly recommend Million Mile Secrets’ Big Spenders Series. He also wrote this article on how to earn lots of points (not necessarily elite points) via spending.

It’s easy to calculate how many points you need when you’re trying to reach a particular spending goal for whatever purpose (as you saw above). The basic formula is:

Spend Target/$500 x $3.95 = Total Cost. So if you need to hit $25,000 as I noted above: $25,000/$500 x $3.95 = $197.50. If you’re bad at math, don’t worry…order of operations doesn’t apply so multiply and divide however you want!

LIMITATIONS

You’re “only” allowed to load $5,000 per month on your Bluebird card, so $60,000 a year might not cut it for your spending needs. If, however, you were to start today, you could theoretically load/spend $75,000 by the end of 2013. Three calendar months left this year is $15,000, plus all 12 next year is another $60,000 for a total of $75,000.

Oh and don’t forget the good old Amex Prepaid card! You can order 3 of them for yourself and each can hold up to $2,500, reloaded with Vanilla Reloads. It can be cashed out at ATM machines, but there are some fees. It does not have check writing capabilities.

Also, as I’ve tried to note several times above, it’s damn hard to spend or get back all that money efficiently or quickly. It will take time, patience, and in many cases you have to have the ability to “float” several thousand dollars at a time. Again, not everyone can or would want to do this.

Quite frankly, if you went all out like I noted above then Chase or Amex might take a look at your accounts and/or shut you down. Don’t let that happen.

With that being said, I’d like to direct you to an article from the Wall Street Journal that notes how lucrative opportunities like this could be if you go all out and can find a way to avoid having your accounts closed.

If you’re wondering, I’m not going to attempt most of the above options. The one I might consider is the US Airways EQMs. I also might use the SPG card for a few nights here or there.

Just remember, don’t go overboard. Be responsible. Only you can prevent forest fires.

Happy spending!

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Squeezing Every Penny out of SPG’s Fall 2012 Promotions

Three SPG Promos in one!

SPG has a lot of different promotions going on concurrently right now, and you can take part in all of them at the same time. As with everything in the points world, taking a little time to think it through can really make a big difference in the points/rebates you earn, and the SPG promotions are a perfect example.

Here are the promotions:

  • Better by the Night: Double points on 1-2 night stays, Triple points on 3+ night stays
  • iPhone app booking: 500 points per night (or 250 if booked online)
  • Foursquare check-in: 250 points per stay

How else you can earn points:

  • SPG Gold/Platinum Status: 1 point per dollar spent
  • Platinum Status: 250 point bonus check-in amenity (125 points at Aloft, Element, and Four Points)
  • SPG Amex: 2 points per dollar
  • “Super” Platinums (75+ nights): extra 1 point per dollar spent
  • SPG Green Choice (decline housekeeping at select hotels): 500 points per night
  • Ultimate Rewards Mall: 2 points per dollar at Westin

Oh, and if you want to forego the Ultimate rewards mall points, are booking at non-Westin hotels, or for some reason can’t book with an iPhone, you can always book through Big Crumbs for 2.1% cash back. (That’s my referral link – I appreciate if you sign up using it!)

Holy smokes that’s a lot of ways to earn points! Let’s break it down to see what you can earn in a few real-world scenarios, starting with a one-night stay for $100 for a non-elite.

Points Earned by an SPG non-elite on a $100 Stay

Your one-night, $100 stay earns a pretty respectable 1,350 SPG points if you have no elite status with SPG. According to MileValue’s Leaderboard, SPG points are worth 2.44 cents each. Those 1,350 points are like having $32.94 back in your pocket, or a 33% rebate! I’d also like to point out that several bloggers agree that you can/should get MUCH more than 2.44 cents per SPG point (I got more than 7 cents per point before). See The Points Guy, Deals We Like, Frequent Flyer University, and Google for how-to guides.

But what if you’re a Platinum member? Well the points just keep coming!

Points earned by a Platinum member on a $100 stay

Those 1,700 points is like getting back $41.48, or a 41.5% rebate! “Super” Platinum members would get another 100 points, for a total value of $43.92 or 44% back.

What about a 3 night stay? For consistency I’ll go with a $100 nightly rate again ($300 total for 3 nights).

Points earned by a non-elite member on a 3 night stay at $100 per night

Those 4,150 points can get you a free night at a category 2 hotel (4,000 points), or a calculated value of $101.26 for 33.7% back.

Elite members do a little better. Let’s see what a Platinum elite can get back on the same stay.

Points earned by a Platinum elite on 3 night stay at $100 per night

That equates to $114.68 back, or 38.2% back, so not quite as well off as on the one-night stay. This, of course, is based on calculations. You may very well get better value with the points you earn!

Just for fun, let’s do a much more interesting scenario. SPG has a Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) that gives either 2,000 points back or 10% off the lower rate. For stays that are cheap, you get more points for your money.

Let’s say a Platinum member sees a rate of $88 instead of $100, and successfully submits a BRG claim to get the points. What will he/she get back?

Points earned by a Platinum elite on a one night stay of $88, after a BRG claim.

Those 3,616 points have a calculated value of $88.23. You actually end up MAKING MONEY! This type of scenario is a pretty good mattress run. Keep in mind that those 3,616 points can potentially be worth a lot more than the $90 you spent, depending on how you use them.

If you’ve never done it before, making a successful BRG claim isn’t that hard. I’m one for one, and it was easy, completely painless, and done in 12 hours. The hard part is finding one, but sites like Kayak make it so much easier.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re booking at a Westin and booking online, it’s probably better to book through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Mall instead of Big Crumbs. Using an SPG Amex at the Ultimate Rewards Mall should work, but there is a risk. I personally value 2 ultimate rewards points higher than the 2.1% cash back from Big Crumbs, but to each his own.

Also, if you don’t have the SPG Amex, you can use the Chase Freedom card for 5x points or the Sapphire Card for 2.14x points.

Once again, this shows that putting a little bit of thought into your travel can allow you to get a lot more for your dollar!

If I missed any SPG promotions or if you have other tips, please let me know!

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Bucket List Activity – Fly a Helicopter (through Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall)

This is a guest post written by frequent contributor B.Positive.

“Learn to Fly a Helicopter” Experience from Cloud9Living.com (via Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall)

Happy October!

If you’re a Chase customer and are looking for ideas for adrenaline filled activities, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Mall (accessed through my Chase Freedom card) has an Experiences section which you can browse through. I found the “Learn to Fly a Helicopter” in the aviation section of the rewards mall and decided to give it a go. Here’s how it went:

Background

I was bored at work and felt like my life was stuck in a rut so I decided to look for things to fill the big void in my life. Being a Chase Freedom credit card holder since early 2010 and have been accruing points – enough points to cause me to wander onto the Ultimate Rewards Mall to see what goods, services, and/or experiences I could consume to help me feel less miserable about my life. That’s when I stumbled across the “Experiences” section of the Ultimate Rewards website and found plenty of awesome activities to purchase using points, cash, or to bid on (for those experiences that are being auctioned off).

I’ve never flown a helicopter before and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to do so. An hour of flying a helicopter for 25,900 points or $259?  Considering how expensive maintaining, insuring, and renting a pilot to fly a helicopter with you, I considered this to be a fair price and took the bait. (Update – the 1 hour flight price has been increased to $305 on Cloud 9 living’s webite as of 10/18/2012).

An important note on purchasing Ultimate Rewards: The rewards mall doesn’t give you any kind of points leverage when purchasing goods or experience straight through the rewards mall. The points redemption rate of this experience was $0.01/point. You might as well save your points to transfer to airline miles for cheaper flights (refer to marZ’s articles on the value of leveraging points to purchase flights for cheap).

Once I signed up for the flight lesson via the ultimate rewards mall for a lesson at the Long Beach Airport (this location no longer seems available as of 10/18/2012), I received a confirmation email and a nice receipt enclosed in its own case from Cloud 9 Living. (I didn’t actually know what company I was paying for the experience until after the experience was booked – a good move on Chase’s part to avoid having consumers go straight to the retailer). The experience with Cloud 9 was pleasant overall and I’d recommend going straight to Cloud 9 Living to look for and book experiences unless you’re adamant about spending points at a terrible redemption rate. (To improve your redemption rate, try gift card churning or buying gift cards at 5 points per dollar on the Chase Ink card before buying this experience).

Getting to the Airport and Orientation

I arrived at the airport on the day of my lesson and actually had a very difficult time finding the person I was supposed to contact for my flight. At the airport, there was a giant hangar with no sign out front to tell me where to go. This experience really isn’t advertised (I later find out that these “experiences” are done as a promotional offer at cost to the flight company to help promote awareness of the company and to encourage customers who get serious about learning to fly to sign up for private lessons there).

After running around and panicking I finally find my instructor and get our 30 minute class portion started.

The instructional portion revolves around introducing me to the basic mechanics of how and why a helicopter is able to fly and to provide me with the layout of the controls and how they affect the helicopter’s ride. Bottom line is, a helicopter is an inherently unstable aircraft (let go of the controls and you will crash and burn) and requires constant attention to ensure that the helicopter is on course and not getting itself into a dangerous situation.

After a (very) brief introduction to the instruments and controls, we head out to the runway to meet our ride (a 2-seater Robinson 22). The cabin was very cozy – imagine sitting in a cramped Mazda Miata (if you have never been in one, imagine sitting in the middle seat between two sumo wrestlers). The instructor filled the fuel tank, did the systems check, and took off from the airport before handing the controls over.

Flying a helicopter. For Reals.

After flying  a safe distance from the airport, the instructor handed me the controls. This being the first time flying a helicopter, it’s safe to say I experienced a massive sensory and information overload. It feels like driving a car for the first time – you’re so worried about the road, your speed, and other cars that you forget that your blinkers are on, your emergency lights were accidentally pushed, and you’re worried that your sweat soaked palms are going to slip off of the steering wheel and cause you to veer  into a pole. It’s kind of like that except that you are 1000 feet in the air and have to also worry about wind speed, yaw (helicopter angle), elevation changes, and many more things that affect the aircraft’s behavior in the air.

Thankfully, with the help of the experienced instructor who seems to keep his cool no matter how terribly I’m directing the flying Miata.

View of PCH around Palos Verdes

The hour long helicopter ride afforded us the opportunity to head out of Long Beach with a sweeping loop around Redondo, Palos Verdes, and then back to the airport. The views were even more incredible provided the fact that I was seeing the California coast from a very unique perspective.

Back at the airport, I witnessed (tried not to pee my pants while seeing) an emergency landing maneuver that felt more like the drop of a roller coaster and was able to practice hovering a few feet off of the ground. Hovering may look easy, but I can assure you it is not. Again, because of the sensory overload, I struggled to get the Robinson from burying its rotors into the ground or keeping the helicopter level, straight, or even at the same height. (This is why helicopter training is so important. And expensive ~$19,000 to get licensed).

Final Thoughts

Overall, this was an amazing experienced referred to by Chase and provided by Cloud 9 Living. I’m incredibly glad I got this off of my bucket list and has only strengthened my desire to become  a pilot. The freedom, exhilaration  and the experience of flying is like no other. I found this experience to be totally worth the price (don’t pay in points) and would recommend this to ALL of our readers interested in flying.

Until next time,

B.Positive

P.S. The GoPro Hero3 is out. Not only has their cameras gotten better but so has their commercials. I want to go do everything they’re doing in this video!

Buy 22K UA/US/AA Miles for Less than $200!

UPDATE: According to The Points Guy, this is a TARGETED promotion. I suggest you NOT take part in this promotion unless you were targeted! Bad on Wyndham for not mentioning this anywhere!

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Interested in getting 22K miles for really cheap? Of course you are!

Right now Wyndham Hotels is having a promotion where you can earn 16K Wyndham Rewards points per stay (up to 3 times) on stays at 20 select hotels. This promotion stacks on top of their Fall promotion which gives 5,500 points every second stay until November 26.

Wyndham Rewards points transfer to a pretty decent list of airlines at a 2.5 to 1 ratio.

As Gary from View from the Wing points out, the Orlando option has hotel nights at $56.60, taxes included. And he points out the rules of Wyndham’s program say that you don’t even need to show up to be awarded the points.

Say you book 3 separate nights. You’ll earn:

  • 16K x 3 = 48K (select hotels)
  • 5.5K (Fall promotion for second night)
  • 3 nights x $51 (base rate) x 10 points/dollar earning rate = 1,530 points
  • TOTAL: 55,030 points

Since you’d need 56K points to do a perfect airline miles transfer, make note of this promotion that gives an extra 1K points on top of the best rate!

Those points at a 2.5 to 1 ratio give you 22K points, a ratio of .7 cents (that’s 7/10ths of a cent). Even a nightly rate of $80 means you’ll buy points at just a penny each, which is still a great deal.

Warning: Gary’s article notes that according to Deals We Like (who detailed the old version of this promotion), the Orlando hotel was canceling some reservations and not charging your credit card. If this happens, you lose nothing but the time you took to book the hotel, but you don’t get any points either obviously.

If you can find a cheap room there’s really nothing to lose here. It’s a no-brainer in terms of buying points for cheap.

Other ways to maximize earning:

  • Use your Chase Freedom Card – 5x points for Hotels this quarter
  • Book via BigCrumbs (this is my referral link) to earn 2.1% cash back

For those of you wondering, 25K points is a round trip economy ticket OR a one-way first class ticket. Those could cost anywhere from $500-$1,000 depending on when/where you book the ticket, so these 22K points are EXTREMELY valuable!

If you have any other tips, feel free to share!

For an additional resource besides the one noted above, I recommend you check out this article from Deals We Like today. I also love Loyalty Traveler’s breakdowns.

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The Argument for Elite Status and Mileage Running

Although I wasn’t able to attend the Chicago Seminars for frequent travel geeks this year, there was one item discussed that I found interesting: whether mileage running and elite status is really worth it anymore. Ben from One Mile at a Time did a post of his view here, and I totally agree that elite status is worth it and I think it’s even more valuable than he states.

If you’re new to the game, having elite status with an airline bestows some pretty awesome benefits depending on your elite level: Special check-in counters, priority security, priority boarding, free/extra baggage allowance, bonus miles, and some fees are waived (if applicable). And these are just the BASIC benefits.

If you’re upgraded to first class and/or have higher elite benefits, you also get: Access to lounges (including alliance ones if applicable), a special assistance phone line, unlimited space-available upgrades to first/business class on domestic flights, free food on 3+ hour domestic flights (for first class upgrades), upgrade certificates for international flights, and the list seemingly goes on and on. Of course, all these benefits vary by airline.

I’m a pretty good example of elite status being totally worth it, actually. This year I’m a US Airways Gold elite member, and that membership has given me a first class upgrade rate of about 70%. On longer domestic flights, such as LAX-CLT or PHX-DTW, I’ve been upgraded every time. Needless to say this benefit has been very valuable to me, especially considering there are still two elite levels above me (Platinum and Chairman’s).

I’ll use an extreme example to prove how and why earning US Airways elite status by just mileage running is absolutely worth it, particularly for someone like me since I fly US Airways regularly anyway.

Right now, US Airways is having a Double Elite Qualifying Miles (Double EQMs) promotion for those that own the US Airways MasterCard, which I do. Every mile flown earns double Preferred Qualifying Miles (the miles counted towards elite status) AND double redeemable miles (the miles used for award tickets).

Also right now, The Flight Deal shows that there is a pretty cheap fare that goes from LAX-BWI for just $240 on US Airways. Keeping in mind that US Airways awards a minimum of 500 miles per segment, this trip should earn me a little over 11K EQMs and redeemable miles. Now say I do this trip 9 times more to hit top tier Chairman’s Preferred status.

Where does that get me?

The below chart details what someone that starts with no status and no miles can earn if they did 10 of the LAX-BWI mileage runs that I mentioned above.

A mileage run on US Airways, and what you’ll pay and earn.

If you spend $2,400 and take the time to do this mileage run (an entire day’s worth of time for each), you’ll earn top-tier Chairman’s Preferred status and 130,625 miles you can redeem for an award.

If you go by MileValue’s assessment of the value of US Airways miles, those 130,625 are already worth $2,547. You’re already ahead $147.

Let’s take a more visual example. Say I want to go to Hong Kong using my new award miles, and I want to fly business class both ways. Using United.com’s award search engine, I see Star Alliance availability for the following flight to Hong Kong on Asiana:

An award flight to Hong Kong on Asiana Airlines.

If I booked through United, an award ticket like this would cost me:

The cost of an award ticket to Hong Kong using United.com.

But how much would this flight cost me if I bought it using my credit card? If I find these exact flights on Kayak.com, the total comes to:

How much cash it would take to book the exact same flights on Kayak.

If I wanted to outright buy this trip, this would cost me $4,131.

Since I’m sure you read my Beginner’s Guide Part 3, you’ll know that, according to this chart, Business class to Hong Kong using US Airways miles (which is a member of Star Alliance and has the same flights available that show on United.com) is actually only 90K points round trip…a fantastic deal.

Let’s bring it all together now. A trip that Kayak says costs $4,131 will cost me 90K US Airways miles and about $60 in taxes. Again, the cost to get those miles was $2,400, meaning I’m up $1,731 PLUS I still have more than 40K miles leftover!

Keep in mind all the perks you now get for being a US Airways top-tier elite as well. You get 4 upgrade vouchers (2 for you, 2 for a friend) that can be used to upgrade you on international flights on US Airways, which saves you thousands over booking Envoy (business) class outright. You get unlimited upgrades on domestic flights on US Airways, and you’re first in line for those upgrades. Every flight you pay for earns the standard mileage plus 100% bonus award miles. You’re also Star Alliance Gold (top-tier). And in general everyone will just be nicer to you.

Of course there are some drawbacks and/or other considerations. Not everyone has 10 days to just spend on mileage runs, even if they are on the weekend. Not everyone can just spend $2,400 for the future benefits I named. Many will argue that instead of going through all that, just keep signing up for credit cards and take those trips for free. And particularly with US Airways, there are tons of promotions that simply allow you to buy miles outright for between 1.1-1.8 cents each.

Those are all absolutely valid points. This type of a deal is most definitely not for everyone, and really is only for a select group of people that do fly a lot on a particular airline and enjoy traveling. Hopefully seeing the math above will give you a better understanding of whether it’s worth it for you.

Note that if you’re lazy/wealthy/busy you can also buy Chairman’s Status outright for $4,000, or buy the amount of PQMs needed to attain status (this is unique to US Airways as far as I know). You don’t get the redeemable miles by buying status, however.

What do you think? Is it worth all the time and effort? Do you know any other tricks to help you attain status faster or cheaper?

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