I’m flying EVA Royal Laurel (business class) and the Hello Kitty plane on a regional flight next month which will be pretty exciting as part of my ginormous May trip. This post talks about how I booked the trip. I’ve flown EVA RL and Business before but never managed to write a trip report about the flights, so hopefully I’ll get to it this time. This will also be my first time flying EVA Royal Laurel on a trans-pacific route.

Something I wanted to note you can also pre-select your meals if you’re in Royal Laurel or Premium Laurel starting a few weeks before your flight, with the manage your trip page. Once you’ve entered your booking reference and info, you’ll get to a page like this:

Manage My Reservation

Manage My Reservation

Then you can select your meals. These are the meals for my LAX – TPE flight:

LAX-TPE Meals

LAX-TPE Meals

There isn’t anything “exciting” but it’s still nice being able to pre-select your meal beforehand. Flights that depart from Taipei get catering from Din Tai Fung, so that’s a nice bonus. Unfortunately it will have to be something I try next time.

I am looking forward to adding the EVA Rimowa Amenity Kit to my collection. :)

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Posted by Jeff | 5 Comments

Last week I wrote about the 100% US Airways Share Miles Promotion.

Share Miles Promo

Here is the list of relevant posts I’ve written on the promotion, if you need a refresher:

The promotion runs until 11:59PM Pacific on the 13th, so today is the last day to share miles with up to a 100% bonus. You earn the maximum 100% bonus miles for transfers between 30,000 – 50,000 miles.

The cost for generating 50,000 miles with the 100% promo from one transfer is $567.50 USD. This means you’re paying around 1.15 cents per mile, which is a fantastic deal. This puts most first class redemptions under $2000. At the moment US Airways Dividend Miles is also not charging fuel surcharges on BA flight segments which is great.

US Airways also devalued their award chart this week for business class travel from North America to North Asia to 110,000 miles. However, the other values of the chart and fairly lax routing rules make it a great deal, in my opinion, as long as you have a redemption in mind.

Note that there is GST/HST for US residents, so you want to keep that in mind. Furthermore, points.com processes the transfers, which means there are no category bonuses. Finally, you can only receive one transfer with a 100% promo (max 50,000 miles per transfer), but you can share from the same account as many times as you want which you can leverage in your transfers. Finally, you can transfer miles in from AMEX Membership Rewards (through Aeroplan and points.com) to US Airways if you need to top your accounts.

You can share miles through this link.

Happy Sharing!

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Posted by Jeff | 8 Comments

This is a touchup of a post I published over 8 months ago with more current information.

Credit card churning, also called “app-o-ramas” are quite popular in the miles and points world. A one sentence definition of credit card churning is that it you are applying for multiple credit cards on one day.

Your Credit Score

Every time that you apply for a credit card, you will get a hard pull (consumer-initiated) on your credit report. In the USA there are three main credit bureaus (TransUnion, Experian, Equifax), so the art of credit card churning (especially if you are hardcore) is timing your applications so that spread your inquiries out over several bureaus, and thus applying for several cards in one day “clumps” your inquiries. It’s similar in Canada except there are only two main credit bureaus (TransUnion and Equifax).

Your FICO (Fair Issac Corporation) credit score is largely what determines whether you’re creditworthy when applying for cards, which has a range between 300 – 850. The higher your score, the lower risk you are and the more likely you’re going to get approved. There are many variables that make up your credit score, each which can be found in your credit report. Each variable is weighted based on importance. Thus if you do your credit card churning correctly, your credit score should not take much of a hit. You can see all the factors in the chart here:

Credit Card Churning Credit Score Breakdown

Credit Score Breakdown

(35%) Payment history
This factor is concerned with you paying bills on time. This is unaffected if you’re churning cards.

(30%) Amounts owed
This factor is related to your credit utilization ratio – that is, the amount of money you’re using relative to the credit limit for the cards you currently have. This means this factor should actually improve given your level of spending stays the same while you have more cards.

(15%) Length of Credit History
Here you want to make sure you keep your oldest credit card active as that is a major factor in how old your accounts are.

(10%) Inquiries (New Credit)
This is the factor that is affected by churning, but it shouldn’t be significant.

(10%) Types of Credit Used
This is calculated from whether you have other credit such as home, school, car, and other secured loans rather than just unsecured credit.

American have it easy being because they can easily get a FAKO (non-official FICO score) online from sites like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. To my knowledge, if you’re Canadian you can’t access your credit score online without paying. The only free option you have is to get a copy of your credit report from issuers, which does not show your credit score. You can see the relevant forms and sites at Equifax and Transunion Canada. I’m assuming you should have a fairly good knowledge of your accounts, but the free credit report is a good way to catch anything you aren’t aware of such as other people with the same name leeching or dragging your score down before you start credit card churning.

Tips for Credit Card Churning

There are several blanket rules you want to keep in mind:

  • 90 Day Cycles

I personally space each round of applications three months apart, and that is what most people in this “field” do. It might be worth it to interrupt your cycle to get a card with a particularily good signup bonus, but it often throws off your rhythm. You want to be doing some prep on what cards you want to apply for, looking for the best offer, finding links to apply, and checking your credit score for anomalies a few days before you start applying.

  • One Card Per Issuer

This is a general rule for most issuers, and may not apply for all issuers, but it’s best you check before you apply. You want in your churn to only apply to one card from each bank/issuer – that means for example a simple sample credit card churn would include 1 card from Chase, 1 card from American Express, and 1 card from Capital One.

You can see what happens to a credit score when you do a churn (in the USA) – it’d be similar in Canada.

Sample Credit Score from Credit Card Churning

Sample Credit Score from Credit Card Churn

After the churn, the score improve again as other factors of your score – credit utilization/payment ratio decrease.

Credit Card Churning in the USA

Credit cards in the USA come with higher signup bonuses, but they also come with higher minimum spends. For example, there’s a Citi AA creidt card with a 100,00 points signup bonus with a $10,000 minimum spend.  This means, you’ll either need to be able to generate high amounts of minimum spend or manufacture spend. It’s definitely more legwork but I would do anything would really like to be able to get a green card and churn cards in the USA.

If you’re looking for information on manufactured spend or for a list of potential cards, there are lots of places where you can learn this information but I don’t live the USA, so this is not my area of expertise. Other BoardingArea bloggers should have great posts if you want to get started. 

Credit Card Churning in Canada

  • Minimum Income Requirements

Canada also has a much “stricter” income requirement than the USA (especially with premium cards requiring a minimum income). Luckily for most issuers they have “household income” so I am personally okay (as a student with a very low income ;)) for most cards.

  • Lower Skill Required!

I personally think that credit card churning in Canada is much easier, simply due to the fact that we’re a smaller country population-wise and economically, which makes fewer issuers, fewer types of cards, and generally, less information. As I mentioned earlier, there’s no free way to permanently access your credit score, which means that all churns are done “naked” as in you have basically no idea whether you’re going to get approved or not.

The minimum spend requirements for credit card churning are also significantly lower, I’d say in nearly all cases the average consumer will be able to satisfy those, so there’s no need to familiarize yourself with learning how to manufacture spend. I can also go on and on about the much more limited credit card products we can get, which if you are interested in, you can read about here.

  • Different Application Rules

In the US credit card churning has evolved into doing each card over and over again to several different cards every few months. In Canada, thankfully with most cards you can get bonuses more than once, for the most part. This is true with most issuers, especially with AMEX and CIBC. Also with most issuers you can hold duplicate cards at once. So if you don’t really need to cancel the card, you don’t have to and you can always use it as a tool to leverage approvals for new signups.

Key Takeaways for Credit Card Churning

The most important tip I can give you, is to take away is you want to do things at your own comfort level. For example I just mentioned going with credit reports and my specifications for selecting credit cards. Some people may want to keep an eye on their credit score just in case, so then there’s no problem getting a paid credit score report online. Or some people may not want to get so many cards at once, or don’t want to risk getting cards with high minimum spends, or duplicate cards if they’re not absolutely 100% comfortable with it. It is totally up to you.

I personally manage credit card churning for my parents, and I only do the same cards with at least a 6 month period between each card. I also don’t pay for credit scores, so the churns that I do are intelligent guesses that my parents will be approved given they have stellar credit. I also don’t apply for multiple cards from the same issuer at once.

Also, YOU CANNOT BE KEEPING BALANCES ON YOUR CARDS. If this is you, and you can’t manage your finances, this game isn’t for you. Not only do balances wreck your score by keeping your credit utilization ratios high, the interest from payments dwarf any value you get from the miles you earn from signup bonuses and spend. For most people with good credit though, credit card churning will constitute a large part of the mile earnings, so it is a very valuable skill to learn.

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Posted by Jeff | 19 Comments

Today has been an AAwful today with multiple devaluations from US Airways and American. With what I’ve read on the blogosphere, they’re “bundling” this devaluation with other changes to checked bags and elite status changes, but these don’t concern me for the most part. There have been three negative changes to AA’s award chart as of today:

Increased AAnytime Award Prices

AAdvantage has increased the price for AAnytime Awards, which is last seat award availability, effective June 1. This is unfortunate but does not affect me significantly as I have never had to redeem for standard/last-seat awards. The new chart is now three tiered, with the third level to be determined.

New AAnytime Chart

New AAnytime Chart

New AAnytime Chart

New AAnytime Chart

There’s definitely an increase over the previous AAnytime award chart. Thankfully, partner awards which are at the saver level do not (for now).

Elimination of International Gateway City Stopover

This is the big kicker for me, and a significant devaluation in my opinion. With nearly all of my AA awards I’ve had a free one-way with awards that are to or from North America, and that means now that the free one-way is eliminated and the value of AA’s one-way awards are even lower, given the arcane routing rules they already have. That means that free-one way now will be priced separately.

For most people, your best option now is to patch up that free one-way with avios or other mileage currencies.

Elimination of Oneworld Explorer Awards

This devaluation is effective immediately, as shown on American’s website:

No more Explorer Awards

No more Explorer Awards

This is an award which was really unique and unmatched by other programs. I’ve never stockpiled enough miles to redeem for one of these awards given the difficulty to accumulate AA miles in Canada, but I know many who really loved the flexibility and ability to really have a RTW trip.

Unfortunately I do think these changes were partly due to the merger and the US and AA both have to align their award programs. I look at it as not a traditional devaluation, like the United, Delta, and other airline/hotel devaluations in the past year, but rather some cleaning of their programs, which just happens to be a devaluation when looking at it from the perspective of a miles/points aficionado. I certainly dislike the devaluation, but I can understand why and the motive behind it. I just wish there was advance notice so I could redeem more miles.

There’s also a chance that this is due to the huge 100k credit card bonuses they’ve been giving out like candy. It’s really sad because only Americans have access to these signup bonuses, so the miles that everyone else earns is sitting in a much larger unredeemed liability on American’s books. I can only imagine to see what’s going to continue to happen in the next few months…

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Posted by Jeff | 5 Comments

US Airways has uploaded a new award oneworld/partner award chart effective immediately.

Revised Award Chart

This is the old award chart.

Old Award Chart

Old Award Chart

This is the new award chart. I’ve highlighted the devaluations in red:

Devalued Chart Regions

Devalued Chart Regions

You can see the full chart here.

US Airways Devalues North Asia Redemptions

This is a really significant devaluation, in my opinion, as this redemption was one of the best values within the USDM program. North Asia to North America/Mexico/Caribbean is now 110k, instead of 90k, which is close to a 25% increase. There was simply no other program that could match 90k redemption to North Asia with a stopover in Europe from North America.

The devaluation also showcases the absurdities now in USDM’s chart, as Mexico/Caribbean to South Asia, still 90k, is now cheaper than Mexico/Caribbean/North America to North Asia, which is now 110k. That also means now, North America to North Asia in business class is the same price as North America to Oceania via North Asia. Furthermore, first class is now only 10,000 miles more expensive to North Asia, at 110k vs 140k. which is absolutely insane.

The other issue I’m irked about is the lack of advance notice. With the major Aeroplan, United, Delta, and nearly all other loyalty programs (with the exception of Lifemiles), there’s been at least a few days if not months notice for the award chart to change. There’s no option for me here to even ticket at the old rate so if you were stockpiling 90k miles for a North Asia business class trip, you’d be sort of screwed. I cannot express how un-customer friendly this move is.

What now?

I was really hoping that Dividend miles would hold off on changes until the Given the lack of notice and the strange devaluation to only one region pair, I’d assume there will be devaluations coming soon as well. So with the 100% Share Miles Promotion that’s going on, I strongly recommend you only buy miles that you have an immediate use for.

Furthermore, this also means an empty account will only receive 100k miles, which is not enough to go to Asia. Given that oneworld is relatively weak transatlantic (as BA charges fuel surcharges), people with empty USDM accounts will find it harder to leverage the Share promotion. It’s important to note that there are no change to first class redemptions and all other business class redemptions to other regions, so if you do have the miles, now is as good of a time as ever to redeem your miles.

I’ve always assumed that there would be a devaluation when US Dividend Miles and AAdvantage merged. I certainly was prepared for a devaluation, though not without advance notice. This makes me very cautious with the award chart and I’m not sure if I do want to maximize the share miles promo to the extent that I was going to. The next thing they could do is gut the routing rules and any change to the current award chart could significantly damage the value of Dividend miles. The optimistic side to this means that this devaluation stays any more potential devaluations, but I’m not sure.

In any case, we’ll see soon enough whether there’ll be any more changes to the Dividend Miles Award chart.

A dAArk day for all…

(Tip of the Hat to Boris)

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Posted by Jeff | 9 Comments

US Airways is running a 100% promotion on shared miles until April 13! This is my FAVOURITE promotion by far as it allows you to generate points at 1.15 cents each.

The promotion runs as follows:

Transfer Bonuses

Transfer Bonuses Chart

The bonuses max out at 100% only between 30,000 and 50,000 miles. Transfers which aren’t that amount aren’t such a great value. It’ll cost you $567.50 to share 50,000 miles. As well, GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents.

Purchase Cost

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the share promo (or need a refresher), this post talks about my strategy to maximize the promotion.

Purchases are processed by points.com in USD. That means it’s best for you to use a card with strongest everyday earnings and for Canadians, a card with no foreign transaction fee.

Should I participate in the promotion?

This question is something that’s heavily dependent on your travel plans, but I’d recommend going for it IF you can in a pinch redeem for an award within the next 15 months or so, which is when US Airways will still have this award chart with the current routing rules. It’s highly likely when US Airways merges with American under the American name that there will only be one combined loyalty program operating. The point where a devaluation would occur is at when both programs merge and your AAdvantage and US Dividend Miles accounts are merged, which means as long as you are able to spend the miles before then (and actually do need to go on a trip) it’ll be worth it. I only recommend you to purchase miles if you have a trip you can redeem on BEFORE the devaluation in the future.

I think US Airways miles are currently the most valuable oneworld currency, because it’s the only currency that I know of which has decent award redemption levels and routing rules that let you go all over the place, including North Asia via Europe for only 90,000 miles in business class. At this point the previous for Star Alliance awards still apply for the most part. I’m assuming this will change as well when the programs merge. I talked about my first of many US Dividend Miles oneworld redemption here, which you can read if you want to learn more in detail about routing rules.

If you don’t have any miles in an account, you’d best look for a partner to do a trade with. You can also top up your accounts with a points.com Aeroplan to US Airways transfer if you want to do an F award or transfer into your accounts from SPG, although those may take several days which means you might not see the miles in your account before the end of the promotion. The last time US Airways offered a share promotion was December and October last year, so I’m not sure whether it’ll run again in the future (although I certainly hope it will). In previous years they usually ran it once per year.

You can share miles through this link.

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Posted by Jeff | One Comment

As you may or may not know, US Airways joined oneworld just a few days ago. This meant that you can use your Dividend miles on oneworld partners. They retained the same award chart price levels as their previous star alliance awards, which had several very good redemptions.

This is their award chart:

US Airways Oneworld Award Chart

US Airways Oneworld Award Chart

US Airways Award Booking Basics

The other good thing with their redemptions is very lax routing rules. If you don’t recall, here are the “main” rules which remain the same as the previous Star Alliance bookings, in order of their difficulty to break:

  • One stopover or open jaw per multi-region award
  • Maximum 10 segments in an award
  • Stopover has to be a gateway city with oneworld or US Airways

I’ve booked or seen awards that do break all of the above rules, so it’s a matter of calling multiple times and hitting the jackpot with a clueless agent. The other “rule” that agents often cite is that you’re above the maximum permitted mileage. As far as I know US Airways uses 25M for MPM but often it’s completely arbitrary what agents decide is valid or not, and it tends to be that you have a lot of segments. These rules still apply with the new oneworld bookings.

I’ve called a double-digit number of USDM agents in the past few days, and I’ve found the following issues so far with awards:

  • Agents have trouble seeing space

I’ve had agents have trouble seeing Qatar, British Airways, and JAL segments so far, but if you hang up call back enough you’ll eventually run into an agent who does manage to see the seats. That means I actually don’t know whether it’s just agent incompetence or a completely wonky reservations system. The Flyertalk thread with oneworld USDM bookings says for you to tell the agent to check the Regular Availability System versus the Award Availability System, but I haven’t done that personally so I can’t give insight on whether it works or not. But if you call enough then you should be able to add all the segments you want.

  • Manual pricing of awards

This has been the case with more complex Star Alliance awards where if the agent couldn’t price the award with the computer s/he would send it to the award rates desk, who would then be able to price it, whether through the computer or manually. With all the award reservations I’ve held and booked, I’ve spent at least 10-20 minutes on hold while waiting for the rates desk to price because none of the agents could price it by themselves. I don’t have a problem with this, but generally the rates desk means more “illegal” awards are weeded out.

I hope US Airways will fix these problems soon so there will be easier booking and less waiting.

My USDM redemption

The ticket I booked was actually a very vanilla routing compared to all the other US Airways awards I’ve booked because it didn’t break routing, stopover, or segment rules.

My routing was as follows:

US Airways Award

US Airways Award

Vancouver – New York: Cathay Pacific First Class

New York – London: British Airways First Class

London – Frankfurt: British Airways Club Europe

Frankfurt – Tokyo Narita: Japan Airlines First Class

Tokyo Haneda – Hong Kong: Cathay Pacific First Class

Hong Kong – London: Cathay Pacific First Class

London – New York: British Airways First Class

New York – Vancouver: Cathay Pacific First Class

I have a stopover of a few days in Tokyo and Hong Kong, as well as a 12 hour connection in New York.

This cost me 120,000 miles and just under $300.

Now here was the exciting part – there was no British Airways fuel surcharge and just the airport fees and taxes. I’ve never flown BA First or JAL First before, that’ll be fun. This was ticketed early morning yesterday, so I’m not sure whether they’re still charging fuel surcharges are not at this time. But there have been reports since Friday night/Saturday morning that there are no fuel surcharges involved.

The award chart does state the fuel surcharges are imposed on British Airways/Iberia Awards and several of my fellow BoardingArea bloggers have confirmed this, so I’d say if you’re looking to ticket and have the chance to fly British Airways with no fuel surcharges, get on it!

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Posted by Jeff | 10 Comments

This counts as one of the 17464726 times I wish I had a green card and a US credit history. Anyways, US Bank is offering a 30,000 point signup bonus with their Korean Air Skypass Visa Signature with first purchase.

Korean Air Skypass Visa Signature

Korean Air Skypass Visa Signature

Generally the regular offer for this is 15,000 points, although there some of my BoardingArea bloggers have reported getting targeted 40,000 bonuses. But it’s certainly not a bad offer.

You’ll also enjoy these exciting benefits:

  • 1 mile for every net $1 (purchases minus credits and returns) you spend on your card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Earn miles everywhere Visa is accepted and get Double Miles on Korean Air ticket purchases
  • 2 Korean Air VIP Lounge coupons each year
  • Redeem miles for award travel and upgrades on SkyTeam and other partner airlines, including Korean Air and domestic partners such as Alaska Airlines and Delta Air Lines.

The signup offer ends May 31, 2014.

Note that you’ll automatically be considered for the SKYPASS Visa Classic card which earns 5,000 Bonus Miles after the first purchase if you aren’t approved for the Visa Signature. If you’re applying, you want to consider freezing your IDA/ARS reports (see this Hack My Trip post for details).

This is for US residents only.

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Posted by Jeff | 3 Comments

With US Airways and TAM leaving Star Alliance, several airlines have offered status matches to retain existing customers:

Air Canada matching US Airways Elites

Air Canada has offered to match status from US Airways Elites with a qualifying flight before May 31.

Status Match Table

Status Match Table

You have to submit your request between March 15 and April 30, 2014 to us.status.match@aircanada.ca.

Altitude elite status includes benefits such as:

  • Priority Contacts
  • Priority reservation and airport services
  • Complimentary checked baggage allowance
  • eUpgrade Credits

You can see the full list of benefits at this link.

Purchase Avianca Elite Status

Avianca is outright selling their silver and gold elite status levels which also comes with Star Alliance Silver/Gold status.

Status Match

Status Sale

To purchase you’ll have to contact their phone center. I’d say that in most cases it isn’t worth it unless you have a significant amount of flying on Avianca and have use for bonus redeemable miles and free upgrades.

You can see the offer at this link.

Star Alliance Status Match for TAM Elites

As TAM has left Star Alliance, Star is offering a status match to retain existing customers. The matching airlines include:

Matching Airlines

Matching Airlines

The webpage that Star Alliance has set up is at this link. If you have TAM Red or Black status can complete the application on the website before May 30th.

You can see a list of Star Alliance Gold benefits which includes priority check-in, lounge access, and others at this link.

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Posted by Jeff | 3 Comments

British Airways has just increased their change and cancellation fees for Avios award tickets.

New Fees

New Fees

Change/Redeposit fees have now gone up from 40 USD all the way to 55 USD. It’s not significant, although this does make it a bit more painful to cancel flights though. I also don’t like that there was no advance notice. Existing reservations are not affected by the new change fees.

This change coincides with the fact that Gold Elite members now are charged cancellation and change fees as well, which corrodes the value of their status.

Fortunately with cancellations you only forfeit the maximum amount of your taxes, which means that with departures from the US with only a $2.50 airport tax means you’ll only be paying a “cancellation” fee of $2.50. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for ex-Canada departures.

For the most part though Avios is still extremely valuable for expensive short-haul direct flights.

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Posted by Jeff | 4 Comments

In my opinion, the American Express Platinum Canada Card is the best card out there for travel benefits. As long as you travel at least once a year and manage your credit well, I think it’s a must have in your wallet, even with a $699 annual fee. Now that I’ve actually listed all the benefits I personally use in some way, I realize that this card is simply unsurpassed in the rewards and benefits that it give you and in my opinion, well worth it.

Why should I get the American Express Platinum Canada Card?

  • Signup Bonus

You can earn 60,000 points Membership Rewards® Points with $1,000 of purchases within the first three months. At the very least, this is worth a minimum of $600, as you can redeem your points for travel at the rate of 1,000 points = $10.

Redeeming for Travel American Express Platinum Canada Card

Redeeming for Travel with American Express Platinum Canada Card

For one of my transactions with BA Avios, the taxes were only $15.63. I could offset this by using 1,563 points.

However, I personally wouldn’t do this. I find WAY more value by transferring the points to Aeroplan or Avios points, where I personally get at least 1.5 cents or more with redemptions in international business/first class, or expensive direct short-haul flights. I personally would value 60,000 points from the card closer to $750.

If you do want a card allows you to offset your travel by “paying with points”, you’re probably better off getting a card such as the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, as you can effectively get up to a 4% (instead of 1% with Amex pay for points) rebate on your purchases.

  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Access

American Express Fine Hotels and Resort Rates are rates for luxury properties around the world which include special amenities such as late checkout, room upgrades, and some form of spa/dining/resort credit around 100 USD. These rates are offered only to American Express Platinum Canada cardholders, and not any other card line in the Amex Canada family. The room rate is generally the same price as the best flexible rates at most hotels, so you’re not paying more than if you booked directly with the hotel/chain.

American Express Platinum Canada FHR Benefits

American Express Platinum Canada FHR Benefits

FHR rates have been immensely useful for me, as the value of these amenities are usually a significant rebate on the rate itself. There are plenty of luxury properties out there which have rates of $200-300 USD a night, so these benefits often are a 30-50% rebate on the room rate itself. If you stack this with a promo or hotel chain elite status, the value becomes even better.

You can use a Virtuoso agent but I find that American Express has much more standardized benefits and a larger collection of chain properties. For more about luxury hotel rates, check out this more detailed post I’ve written.

  • Platinum Travel Credit

The American Express Platinum Canada also offers a $200 travel benefit on travel booked with the Platinum Travel Service. There are many reports that the travel service you deal with on the phone is quite a hassle as they usually aren’t able to match rates for hotels/flights/cars so in my opinion I’ve always redeemed my credit for FHR rates, which reduces quite a lot of the hassle especially since you have to call into book FHR rates anyways and you can only access these rates with Amex, so you aren’t paying more than you should.

Note that this credit is per calendar year, which means if you apply now you can get two credits – one this calendar year and one the next.

  • Free Hotel Elite Status

Again, the American Express Platinum Canada card offers a high level of travel benefits unmatched by nearly all other credit card products in the Canadian market. It’s the only card which offers Club Carlson Gold Elite, Starwood Gold, and Accor Plat for free, and a fast track to Fairmont Platinum. Here are the benefits offered by Starwood Gold:

Starwood Gold Elite Benefits American Express Platinum Canada Card

Starwood Gold Elite Benefits

I’d say Club Carlson and Starwood both offer fairly similar benefits to most other mid-tier hotel elite statuses which include free internet, late checkout, room upgrades, and an elite phone line.

  • Airline Travel Benefits

Some of the best benefits that the American Express Platinum Canada card has as well is access to a wide variety of airport lounges and clubs. The card has access to three primary sets of lounges:

  1. Plaza Premium Lounges and Servisair Executive Lounges within Canada (one companion permitted)
  2. The US Airport Club Program: US Airways, American Airlines, and Delta lounges (although US/AA lounge access ends March 22, and no companions for Delta lounges)
  3. Priority Pass Lounges: A large selection of international third-party lounges (cardholder only)

To get the most benefit from these lounge access privileges you do have to fly a lot, but I’d say any of these three programs are extremely useful and just absolutely unmatched by any other Canadian credit card product.

This is in addition to the Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold Elite status which is only available if you submit the enrolment forms before March 31, 2014. This will extend your elite status until January 2015. If you haven’t gotten the card yet, I’d say today is probably the very last day to apply for the card, assuming you get the card in a week and have two days left to send the form.

Cathay Gold Elite Status American Express Platinum Canada Card

Cathay Gold Elite Status

The card is definitely worth it’s weight in gold, as you have access oneworld business class lounges, priority check-in, and other nice things that come with airline elite status. As mid-tier elite status it’s basically equivalent to flying around 40,000-50,000 elite qualifying miles (minus the free domestic upgrades that come with a US Airline elite program) so it’s extremely valuable as well.

  • Other Travel Benefits

The American Express Platinum Canada card also offers lots of other travel benefits including specific cruise privileges, car rental elite statuses, and even a golf membership.

Other Travel Benefits from American Express Platinum Canada

Other Travel Benefits from American Express Platinum Canada

  • Insurance Benefits

As I am not over 75 or any other senior age, most of the travel medical insurance offered by the American Express Platinum Canada is as good as any other Visa Infinite/World Mastercard. Some other cards might have slightly longer coverage periods or higher limits for certain claims but the Emergency Travel Insurance, Trip Cancellation, Trip Delay, Trip Accident, and Baggage Loss that the card offers is very comprehensive to protect you on trips.

Some other benefits I like include:

  • Purchase Protection Plan: Insures eligible purchases against accidental physical damage and theft, up to a limit of $1,000 per occurrence (not per purchased item) for 90 days from date of purchase

That is really cool, and something I didn’t even realized existed until I dug into the insurance policies to write this article!

  • Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan: Doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty up to one additional year when you charge the full price on eligible purchases to your Platinum Card. This applies to products purchased with the Card anywhere in the world, provided the manufacturer’s warranty is valid in Canada and the U.S. and does not exceed five years.

This is extremely useful for me as well so for purchases like my Macbook Air it’s a good extra year of warranty for my laptop without having to pay additionally for an extended warranty.

  • Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance: Coverage of up to $1,000 against the loss of most personal items (excluding cash) if your hotel or motel room is burglarized.

I’m assuming the hotel will cover your loss if a theft occurs in your room, but who knows.

  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance: Covers for damage or theft of your rental car with an MSRP of up to $85,000.

This has saved my parents cold hard cash and they do decline the Loss Damage Waiver surcharge when renting a car from the rental agency. (I’m not the most familiar with rental cars considering I’m not even old enough to rent one! :P)

The full list of insurance benefits are available at this link.

My personal value from the American Express Platinum Canada

It’s really hard to quantitatively decide how much each benefit is worth numerically because everyone puts a different value. But in nearly all cases the American Express Platinum Canada is simply the card with the widest and most comprehensive amount of benefits. It is simply the best card for benefits in Canada.

They definitely add up for me as I do think it is worth paying the annual fee of $699 for all these benefits. But even if it might not be worth it for you, the signup bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points and the 2x $200 Travel Credit already cover well over the $699. I hope this was a good list of all the reasons why you should sign up for the Platinum card!

If for some reason you just don’t find value with the Platinum, American Express Canada also offers the Gold Rewards card and the AeroplanPlus Gold card, which offer 25,000 Membership Rewards Points, and 30,000 Aeroplan points respectively as a signup bonus. Both cards have annual fees waived, so it is definitely worth getting if you already haven’t applied.

Application Link: American Express Platinum Card Canada

Note that this is my referral offer. The current public offer only offers 50,000 points with an approval.

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Posted by Jeff | 34 Comments

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