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Chinese New Year on miles

Chinese New Year comes early this time around and this year I can actually join my bunch of wayward, America-dwelling family members on their New Year trek back to the motherland. Roundtrip coach tickets from the East Coast to East Asia can start at around $1200 but even the promise of red envelopes can make buying a ticket pretty daunting. 16 hours straight in coach on say, Continental (as opposed to Cathay), makes the prospect of the trip even more terrifying. Especially if you’re like me and spend the entire trip simultaneously trying to thwart motion sickness and dreading the obligatory criticism received upon arrival such as: “Aiya! You got fat! Are you pregnant? You look pregnant.”

I am not pregnant.

(Incidentally, I will also get yelled at whenever I fail to eat to the point of exhaustion. My family is seriously, seriously into food. And the more endangered, the better.)

New Years decorations in Yau Mai Tei

I digress. So I’m headed back to Hong Kong for Chinese New Year. (The frequency at which I am headed back somewhere causes me great anxiety. This is what happens when you’ve lived in too many places.) I applied for a British Airways visa back in April when they were offering a whopping 100,000 Executive club miles as a sign-up bonus. Hell. Yes.

The annual fee of $95 dollars was not waived the first year, but it was still totally worth it. I received 50,000 miles after my first purchase and another 50,000 after spending $2500 in the first three months (made possible in part by charging me and my boyfriend’s summer airfare to Athens, which of course I was promptly reimbursed for by our respective travel grants). Also the card has no foreign transaction fees, so I’ve used it everywhere. As mentioned in the last post, 28,000 miles went towards a trip to Hawaii, but that left me with over 75,000 miles (over because I also receive 1.25 miles per dollar spent).

Knowing that on Nov. 16, British Airways was switching its Executive Club program into a program with a new distance-based awards chart, as opposed to the region-based one, I knew I wanted to burn those Executive Club miles. (The new program is called Avios, which many have referred to as Adios, as in Adios to awesome redemptions, which is not ENTIRELY true, but more on that later.)

That is how I am flying to Hong Kong on Cathay Business class. (!!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 and I never use emoticons!!!! I think they’re dumb!!!!! 🙂 :-)). BA is partners with Cathay, my favorite airline. JFK-HKG cost me 50,000 Executive Club miles and $148 in fees. Looking up a similar itinerary for March on the BA website, I’m seeing it costing 120,000 Avios miles and $268.91 in fees. As a further point of comparison,the Cathay site is showing my exact one-way itinerary in business class at $4,352.50. I believe when I was booking in early November, I snatched up one of the last award tickets in January.

Nian gao, lai see and panda dumplings, here I come! (Just kidding, we don’t eat panda.)

Central, in the lanes

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6 Comments on “Chinese New Year on miles”

  1. Liza says:

    Can I make a request? Can advise on the best credit card to buy or best way to know when they are making deals like that B.A. one? As someone who sadly has not traveled much in the past two years or so, I love the idea of earning the miles via a credit card deal. But I am a bit confused about what you wrote about the B.A. card: “The annual fee of $95 dollars was not waived the first year, but it was still totally worth it . . . Also the card has no annual fee, so I’ve used it everywhere.” Sooo, you would or you wouldn’t get a card with an annual fee?

    Also, is it bad for your credit to open up random cards? Keep the posts coming. 🙂 (I kind-of like emoticons :/ ).

    • Liza says:

      Ooops, good lord, my second sentence is a nightmare. EDIT: **Can you please advise on the best credit card to apply for or the best way to know when mileage bonuses are being offered**?

      Also, that smile emoticon is a bit goober-y. I guess it depends on the word processing program/format being used. For instance, I like the gmail emoticons. And I like the plain old parenthesis and colon smiley face, but this blogging platform turns into that goober above. OK, done my speech on emoticons for now.

  2. Yikes! I mean to put “no foreign transaction fees” for the second “annual fee” — it’s fixed now. Thanks for alerting me!

    The best deal right now still seems to be the Chase Sapphire Preferred (annual fee waived the first year, but a minimum spend of $3000 in the first three months) since Ultimate Rewards earned can be transferred to so many different programs, including Southwest, United, Korean Air, British Airways, etc. I personally love it for the double points on travel and dining (any transport really and eating almost anywhere).

    Here’s a shortlist of credit cards: http://boardingarea.com/blogs/onemileatatime/best-current-credit-card-offers/

    The Citi AA card is really not bad of an offer (although a few months ago, it was 75,000 miles they were offering and not the current 50,000)

    http://creditcards.citicards.com/usc/Travel/AA/Dec/2011/Dual/LTO/50k/default.htm?BTData=C021678726F617459544B4BBEBEB2A6A399958490F9FCF1ECECD5CCD9D9E65FF3E&BT_TRF=116204&app=UNSOL&sc=4XKIWCH1&m=ZCJ6LTOZZZW&langId=EN&siteId=CB&B=S&screenID=3001&link=Consumer%5F722193566&ProspectID=470594E0E4714A5FB497640FCB079C3C

    Applying for a credit card may make your credit score dip a few points, although it should recover in a few months. I personally don’t think dipping by a few points is a big deal (I also have no immediate plans to purchase a house or car or apply for any loan), and to be honest, I’ve never actually seen my own dip. Actually, after I applied for and received my Starwood Preferred Guest card, my credit score actually went up 20 points. Go figure. But I definitely wouldn’t apply for like one card every week for a month. Apparently the trick is to — if you’re applying for multiple cards, which I also wouldn’t do because I wouldn’t be able to make the minimum spends on multiple — apply for cards on the same day so that credit pulls are not seen by separate companies.

    I just applied for the Citi Thank You Premier even though Thank You points are not quite so flexible and you need to book travel through the Citi site but 50,000 points seems like a good deal to me and there are other benefits as well that are similar to the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

    http://creditcards.citicards.com/usc/drtv/rewards/Nov2011/spot2/default.htm?BT_SC=J%2EOc%2EBRh%2Elk%2ECok%2EZL7%2EbtS%2EA%2EFKq&BT_TRF=115891&m=YWF7MDU8520&cmp=KNC~01~090111~ACQUISITION~CRDACQXX~Google&BT_MKWD=e%5F4ba2ead5db9b2f9920181f36f5818d62&ef_id=tSBOej2qiQIAAAU7%3A20111219010448%3As&ProspectID=250F1961A6844D9CB8C25F50E38A1FCE

    how’s that for a start?

  3. Here’s a post on the Citi AA card
    http://boardingarea.com/blogs/pointsmilesandmartinis/2011/12/100000-american-airlines-miles-with-2-citi-50000-bonuses/

    Also, if you’re not able to make a high minimum spend right now, then I’d go for an airline branded card — the airline that you’re most interested in flying. Something like the United Explorer card is a good start and not a bad deal if you add an authorized user (you don’t actually have to give that card to the user to use, so it could be someone you trust like your parent or your dog)


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