Typically, award redemptions for travel in the US/Canada begin at 25,000 miles for economy class or 50,000 miles for business/first, but if you hold a Citi American Airlines Visa, American Express, or World Elite MasterCard, you’ll be eligible to book awards at a reduced mileage level. Every quarter, Citi releases a list of destinations that will be bookable over the next few months beginning at these low levels: 17,500 miles in economy or 42,500 miles in first. According to AAdvantage Geek, the destinations available for booking through March 31, 2013 have now been announced.
This is definitely a perk of having their credit card, although not a very consistent perk since locations are limited and may not line up with your travel needs!
With all good things come restrictions. Among the most noteworthy are:
- Only the published locations are eligible at a reduced mileage level.
- A flight is only eligible if both directions of travel can be booked at “saver” space (i.e. 25,000 miles round-trip before discount).
- All travel on these routes must be within January 1 – March 31.
- All flights must be booked as round-trip travel.
- All flights must be booked by calling 1-800-882-8880, which comes attached with a $25 phone booking fee per passenger. Yes, it’s worth paying $25 to save 7,500 miles.
Many of the destinations seem to be overlap with last quarter’s offerings, which is great because there were some awesome options. However, here are a few more suggestions on where to go in order to take advantage of this promotion.
- New York (LaGuardia): I don’t think I’ve seen NYC on the list before, so this is great one. New York is very much a year-round destination, so don’t be put off by the fact it’s winter. Pack a pair of boots so you can walk all over the city without getting wet feet and plan on museum-hopping, eating amazing food in all cuisines and styles possible, and enjoying blue sky days ice skating in Bryant Park. The best part about New York? It’s perfect for a short weekend or an entire week, so fit it in any way that works with your available time.
- Jackson Hole: Skiiers have long known that Jackson Hole is a perfect winter destination and there are tons of posh resorts to stay at if you’d rather sit by the fire in the lodge drinking hot toddies and spending time at the spa. However, Jackson Hole is also a great starting point for trips to Yellowstone National Park. Check out the park in a magical time of year to spot wildlife, see geyser steam juxtaposed against snow, and feel the crisp air while you’re out on snowshoe. Be aware that only the north (Gardiner, MT) and northeast (Cooke City) entrances are open in the winter, and check road status before you go.
- Montreal: I’m biased because I’m hoping to make my wintertime trip happen since it didn’t pan out last year. My goal? Either timing it for Montréal en Lumière and Nuit Blanche or the world’s largest winter festival in nearby Quebec City’s Carnaval. Throw in some side trips to Mont Tremblant and Montebello and you could easily fill a week with two world-class cities and some time in the countryside all without a ton of driving. Cross-border fares are often expensive, so if you’re like me and can’t land a nonstop cheaply with Avios, this is your next best bet.
- Gulfport/Biloxi: If you like festivals, but you don’t like the cold, look at award flights to GPT in time for Mardi Gras. Gulfport is an easy drive to New Orleans (and as a backup, Baton Rouge is an equally easy drive away and also on the list), and likely offers more award space than the prime destination of New Orleans. Spend a few days in the Big Easy, but also look for some great hotel deals at the casino resorts in Biloxi. While you’re there, take some time for plantation tours, swamp tours, and other attractions to enjoy once you sober up from Fat Tuesday’s festivities.
Of course, if these destinations don’t interest you, you can see the full list here for more options. Additionally, the locations for travel through December 31 are still posted, and I think there are some worthy locations on that list as well (check out my previous recommendations), but keep in mind last-minute award bookings require a $75 surcharge, and with the holidays in full swing, it may be near-impossible to find any remaining award space.
Remember that cardholders are also entitled to a 10% refund on miles redeemed, up to a maximum of 10,000 miles per calendar year, so if you haven’t already claimed your 2012 refund, try and book before December 31 to maximize your miles. You’ll be eligible for an entirely new refund starting January 1.