Ask Jeff

I do have a lot of questions that I get via email/twitter so I thought I’d provide a page for y’all to ask questions.

If you have a miles/points/credit cards/travel related question that can’t be answered in 140 characters (or else tweet me) Post it here, and I’ll do my best to answer it as quickly as possible.

Comments

  1. Jeff, thanks so much for the 10k post! Just subscribed to your blog! Any chance you can email me any other “tricked” cities? I know the gummy but have been trying to scour for others and coming up empty. Thanks in advance!

  2. I cannot get access to the protected information on your site even though I am registered and have a valid password.

    Please advise the correct access procedure.

  3. Trying to change an award on Aeroplan, but they say that the routing is invalid. This would be a valid routing, right? CDG-(LH J)-FRA-(LH F)-IAD-(UA J)-SEA-(UA Y)-PDX

    • Unfortunately not, as the maximum permitted mileage between CDG and PDX is 6463. Remember this determines the maximum miles your flights can be between the cities. CDG-FRA-IAD-SEA-PDX is 6794 miles which exceeds the permitted mileage which is why this is invalid.

  4. Hi Jeff,
    I am trying to redeem miles for; Hyderabad to Singapore or Hyderabad to Hong Kong;
    what would be the best options to do this with less fuel surcharges.
    I have miles with united, and BA

    • United, as they don’t have fuel surcharges on any airlines while avios does.
      Remember avios is best used for short-haul flights that are fairly expensive (such as transborder flights, etc.)

  5. Do you know when the next promotion will be for getting bonus miles when converting American Express miles to Aeroplan miles?

    • I think the last transfer promo excluded AMEX MR and they haven’t had one which includes amex for at least a year so I wouldn’t count on it. Just my opinion though.

  6. Hi Jeff, I have about 1100 orphaned Aeroplan miles and was wondering if you had any recommendations for what to do with them. I am US-based and would credit any Star Alliance flights to United. Thanks.

  7. I have a bunch of Lifemiles and am thinking about taking advantage of the sharing promo this month. Please kindly fill me in on the LM route secrets and how to get Singapore business class on A380 or other premium aircraft. Thanks!

  8. Hello Jeff, I’ve got a pile of Amex Member Reward points and wondering if you can please suggest where to transfer for the best YYZ-YVR redemptions? Air Canada is eco/biz for 25k/50k + ~200$. Any recommendation would be appreciated. Thanks!

  9. f you have AMEX MR in Canada, Aeroplan is the best option. If you have AMEX MR USA, then transfer to Singapore and economy is only 20k and biz is 40k.

  10. Hey Jeff,

    What are your churning habits in canada?
    I was looking over AMEX terms and conditions and didn’t see the common ‘if you’ve had this card in the last 12 months then you can’t get the bonus’ disclaimer you see for American AMEX cards.
    Is it easy to churn in Canada?
    And I don’t see your Gold Rewards card referral link anymore. Can I click through it to give you some points? =p

  11. Jeff, I remember you used to have a post about getting a US credit file by opening up a Target RedCard credit account in the states. I’ve done that, and recently had my credit limit increased. What’s the next step in getting a different american credit card?

    • See if they’re tracking your credit score because otherwise you’re not going to have any luck with online applications. If not, you’ll have to go to bank branches and apply for cc’s directly through them so build a relationship with a bank. If you are willing to take the risk you could put in your Canadian SIN on applications although that is VERY risky and could possibly be illegal. At the end of the day it’s pretty difficult to get US CC’s especially the good bonuses without an SSN and it’s definitely YMMV. Good luck!

  12. Hey Jeff,

    I was trying to see if Avios could be used for short haul flights from Vancouver and I’m not seeing anything….
    I can’t even go to SEA or PDX.
    Are Avios useless here? =/

  13. Hi Jeff

    Alaska Airlines with their partnerships offer great rewards (180000 miles to Cape Town in Emirates First for example) so I have switched my accumulation to them. However with the exception of the credit card the points build slowly (I am temped to purchase). They doesn’t appear that there are any reasonable way to switch points to them either.

    Do you have any idea how to expedite the accumulation of Alaskan points?

    thanks

    • The best way to accumulate is applying for the Canadian or American co-branded cc (whichever you’re eligible for). The bonus is usually at least 25k for both the Canadian and the US one (no annual fee waived though) but definitely churnable which is probably the easiest way. SPG also transfers to Alaska. If you have a sale then buying them for just over 2 cents is not a bad way to top up as well. Emirates First is also only 100,000 miles. 🙂

      • Thanks for the advice. Already have two cards with Alaskan (Canadian). Am thinking about churning soon. The 180k was supposedly return last time I looked (90 each way). If it truly is 100k return then sign me up . Have Cdn Amex Gold but cannot see any way to transfer to anything other than AC when their special offer returns. Could possibly use BA and then CPT via Cathay but they seem to have very high miles.

        cheers

  14. Hi Jeff, I’m planning a trip to India in July 2014. I have 25,000 United miles and I can get a round trip ticket for 80,000 miles. Is there a way I can earn United Miles from Canada? Is there a way I can transfer Aeroplan Miles to United? Please help!

    • Unfortunately not directly. If you really need united miles, you could transfer SPG or Marriott miles to united, although the ratios aren’t great. The other option is also using award accelerator.

  15. Hi Jeff, great website.

    I need 20k miles to continue 2014 Air Canada Elite.
    Out of YYZ, I can’t find any good MR.

    Possible you point me to right direction please?

    Thank you very much

    • You could look at the MR page of Flyertalk or theflightdeal.com which occasionally has MR’s to/from Toronto. Whenever you’re doing an MR make sure you look at the cost and opportunity cost associated with elite status versus outright buying miles through for example USDM promos.

  16. I’m a big fan of the site but I don’t tweet. Is there any other way to get access to things like your protected posts for old-fashioned folks? Thanks!

  17. Good day
    I’m interested in buying lifemiles to make a trip here from Brazil to the USA. Is there any of your tricks that can help me? please send me an email.
    Thank you

  18. Jeff,
    On your Dec 9 report about Award Maximizing, is this Guam-Osaka-Bangkok-Sydney-Melbourne-Auckland-Singapore-Nagoya-Guam route still bookable using USDM??? I have approx 100K USDM and would like to get 2 tickets on this route.
    Note: I’ll find a way how to reach GUAM from east coast

  19. Jeff: Since you are the AC expert . . . we have 2 C tix from YYZ to SFSO on July 12. Want to change to late afternoon on 7/11. Right now only one C award seat (although appears several are open). If I book one in C and one in Y, does AC typically release additional space? Thanks for any insight you have on the mysterious workings of AC award space. Love your blog.

    • AC does release additional seats up to departure date if paid flight loads are light. So there certainly is a chance, though no guarantee. Set up alerts so you can get the second seat. Thanks for the support. 🙂

  20. Hey Jeff,

    Quick question on churning. so let us say I have a good credit. I currently want to churn 2 amex whilst holding down 3 other CC’s. IF I open them both in Jan 2014. SPG + AMEX Gold can I cancel them in April then re apply in July or is that too soon? Also is it possible to churn Capital One cards?

    Thanks

    Alex

    • I’m not sure here whether you are churning US or Canadian cards, but either way it’s always ONE card per issuer per churn. You should not open them both as you will be denied for one of them. I’d personally suggest holding them as long as you can if there’s no annual fee, and cycle between the cards. Capital One Cards I think you can churn, but only one at a time and go through all their cards that are worth getting first.
      So an Amex churn schedule that would be possible is :
      JAN 2014: Open SPG AMEX in churn (along with other cards you want)
      APRIL 2014: Open AMEX GOLD
      JULY 2014: Open AMEX Aeroplan Gold
      etc.
      You can cancel anytime you want as long as you have not had the card you are applying for for a few months (in Canada).

  21. I have 60 000 aeroplan miles and would like to use them when I will be in Thailand for a side trip to Japan for myself and my wife.
    On aeroplan it is 30 000 return in business per person from Thailand to Japan but no stopovers are allowed only an open jaw.
    The Aeroplan rules state 10 sectors is the maximum for any award redemption.
    Would this be the case for an intracontinetal award?
    In your experience would I be able to have an under 24 hour layover on the outbound and inbound.
    Thank you

    • Correct, I don’t think the number of segments would be an issue. But stopovers are not permitted on Asia 1-Asia 1 awards although you might get lucky. Yes, you can have as many 24 hour layovers as you want as long as the routing is legal.

  22. Hi Jeff, I am living in korea and My main airport is ICN. Is there any information that I can use for international trip to europe, america or africa from ICN by lifemiles? I know several things about mis-coded cities (only in central asia… don’t know other area cities), east russian cities and guam. Could you let me know other useful tricks by lifemiles? Lots of information are for the people living in america. Please help for Asian guy too! 🙂

    • There are few cities ex-ICN that are good with lifemiles. Read the the FT thread in a bit more detail as I do think I’ve seen mention of some of those cities.

  23. Hi Jeff,

    So glad I found a Canadian points site! My wife just started a two-year position in Switzerland so I’ll be traveling YVR to ZRH/GVA two to three times a year starting next month. I’m hoping for stopovers in Toronto or NYC to visit friends/family. I have about 120k RBC Avion Infinite Visa points, which I can transfer to oneworld. I’m Canadian so can’t really take advantage of the great American sign up bonuses with CCs. I’m new to all of this, and feeling a bit overwhelmed about the avalanche of information.

    For an outgoing fight through NYC, I can book YVR-ZRH with AA for 20k points and no surcharges, which is great — but on the return I’d be forced to go through LHR via BA with a hefty surcharge, which really takes the sweetness out of the deal. Is there someway I can get back home for about what I’d pay going?

    As for going through Toronto, I haven’t been able to find anything like the 20k AA flight through JFK.

    So it seems like I can get a decent deal on the domestic leg (if through YYZ) or the international leg (through JFK) but not both.

    Anyway, thanks very much for any advice you can offer.

    • If you’re using AA on a non-peak Y award definitely try to avoid BA, as that is quite a lot of fuel surcharges. Are you using aa.com? They only show some partners, so I’d recommend looking at ba.com, because they show partners like iberia and others aa.com does not. You want to search segment by segment. So instead of searching ZRH-YVR or whatever city pair on aa.com, you want to look at this page (http://blog.wandr.me/2013/03/a-collection-of-oneworld-transatlantic-routes/), and search segment by segment for the TATL award space.

      I wrote a bit about the ba.com search engine here (http://canadiankilometers.boardingarea.com/2013/12/12/improved-avios-online-award-search/). You want to IGNORE the points and taxes that the site shows up as you want to SEARCH the space on their site and BOOK with aa.com (either online, or via phone). When you call the phone agent, you’ll want to have the flight information ready and feed the AA agent segment by segment (of course, your segments have to conform to routing rules). I’m not sure whether you’re familiar with this process, so it is a TON of information. Feel free to ask on anything that doesn’t seem quite clear.

      Send me an email and tell me what your flights/dates are looking at if you want and I’ll try and give you some more advice.

  24. Would you consider doing the service of finding award seats for an 80 year old and her children to visit the only grandchild in the family?

    Details

    Needs to be 3 seats all on the same flights.
    Business desired, up to one first class if absolutely necessary.
    Have enough aa miles (240k) for two round trips, brother has enough avios for one round trip,
    But have not checked cost in avios yet. He also has enough RBc points to transfer to aa, not sure how long it takes to transfer the points.

    Routing yvr-hkG-rep. Return either rep-hkG-yvr hopefully am arrival as they actually start and end in Vancouver island. Return might require stopover in hkG, or alternatively they could return from pNh or Bkk.

    Preferred departure is dec 31 or jan 1 give or take a couple of days. Prefer 15 nights in rep, but 12 to 18 would probably work. Prefer early morning just past midnight flight to start from Vancouver. HkG rep is three times a week, different times each day.

    Thanks

  25. Hi Jeff, a very Canada-specific question: Do you know if I can have both CIBC Aerogold AND CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite? They are offering 20K signup bonus and first year annual fee waive now, sounds like a pretty good deal, especially if could have both. Thanks!

  26. Hey Jeff,

    I clicked on your Scotia cashback link but it’s not waiving the annual fee. The summary still shows $99, did they change your affiliate link offer on you or something?

    • The annual fee should be waived – see this page: http://www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/0,,86,00.html. Even when you click the apply link on that though it still indicates that there is an annual fee, so just to make sure if you are applying through my link call the number to make sure that your fee does get waived before applying.

  27. Any thoughts on US currency cards for Canadian residents? Can we use any US-based CCs instead of the crappy no points offers that BMO & CIBC have? We have a great credit score, with the BMO World Elite, RBC Avios, Amex Gold and a couple of other low-end Air Miles cards. Thoughts on how we could improve?

    • I DO NOT recommend the US currency cards from RBC/BMO/CIBC as they have an annual fee and no rewards program. Unless you have a large balance of USD, I’d recommend getting the Chase Marriott Card with the 50,000 points targeted offer which has no foreign transaction fee. Otherwise, if you do want to keep purchases in USD you can easily open a debit account with a bank in the US.

  28. I’m a US citizen who lives very close to the Canadian border and the Toronto airport. Are there any credit card programs that I could apply to?

      • I do and have been at this since Jan 2012 so have racked up several bonuses, but am in a dry spell now after closing a few accounts and letting the dust settle. I have or had AA Citi, Delta Am Ex, US Airways, Barclay World MC, Chase Sapphire, Chase Ink, Jetblue. Haven’t really pursued hotel cards since we don’t regularly stay in chains. I also haven’t done Southwest, even though that offer is a good one, because we’re targetting Caribbean or Central American destinations at this point and those are predominantly domestic. Credit score is over 800, but monthly spend isn’t very large. Thanks in advance for any advice.

        • Probably look for the AMEX MR targeted offers and the CSP, as well as the AMEX SPG as those points are really flexible. Some of the US Bank cards are pretty good as well including flexperks, club carlson, and lifemiles.

  29. Hi Jeff

    Ex travel agent here and just curious with the ITA Software for flight searches. Do these airfares reflect airline lowest fares and online retailers, or take into account wholesalers that offer net fares to Travel Agents as well?

    Thanks

    Wayne

    P.S. Great site

  30. Super silly question, but just thought I’d double check – I’m trying to book a one way flight to Sydney (or anywhere in Australia really) using Aeroplan for December 2014, and the only option for the date I want is an Air Canada flight to Shanghai, then Air China to Sydney. Is it a good idea to book this flight now, and hope something better/no fuel surcharges comes up later? How easy is it to change an Aeroplan booking completely? (ie I am hoping for YVR-LAX-MEL if it opens up on United)

    • Hi Jeff

      Just curious with lifemiles. Can we buy up to 150,00 without flying? We are wanting to go back to S.e Asia in January, how can this benefit us. We are Aeroplan members. We are currently looking at 1500cad RT for flights now. If I am reading it right we can purchase 1500 usd in points and go in business class. Correct?

      Thanks

      Wayne

      • No, that’s not the case. With lifemiles inventory has to be available as awards. Also, they have their own award levels, so to figure out how much you have to pay you need to figure out how many points you’d redeem for the award, and then calculate how much it’d cost to “buy” the points.

  31. HI Jeff
    Thanks for posting the Life Miles offer.

    Before I purchase too many miles, can you please advise if you think there will be any OW availability in J class from CPT or JNB to either SEA, LAX/SFO or YVR/(YLW) through life miles Mar/Apr next year? Preferably with SQ or OZ or? (Is this a viable route with LM?)

    thanks
    Alan

      • From your postings on FT I gather you are an expert in using the LM search engine (esp tricks) while I am not. I understand LM only does point-point and you cannot build a route. So my question is since you live in YVR, in your experience can you suggest what portals might be bookable from South Africa (CPT/JNB) to near YVR OW in J? I had better stick with Alaska if LM does not get close. Regards.

  32. Hi Jeff,
    Could you suggest some creative routings to EZE or other SA destinations from YVR? Using SPG points so can pretty well transfer anywhere. Thanks and I love your blog!

  33. Jeff,

    Looking for a return from YUL which includes HNL and anywhere in South America. Do you have any suggestions using Aeroplan.

    Thanks

    Boris

  34. Hi Jeff,

    So I hope this gets to you in time, (I’m thinking about doing the share USDM promo today only if I can find award space suitable for this december/january).

    I’m based in Vancouver, and I’m looking into a trip to Capetown, JNB and Nairobi in December. I was thinking of doing USDM First class to Africa if I can find enough first class award space. Off the top of your head, which routes have first class to there? Any suggestions, or advice?

    • Seasonal FC service from CX via HKG or BA via LHR. Oneworld isn’t great for South Africa (Star Alliance is much better) but if you can find seats it’s not bad. Qatar also flies to JNB via DOH.

  35. Hi Jeff, I recently received an invitation to ask me to apply an Amex platinum car, I can earn 60000 points and several other benefits once I activate the card.
    I am wondering is this card a wise choice, especially when the annual fee is $699?
    Thx!

  36. I am planning a trip from YOW to CHC on aeroplan pts (80,000). I believe this allows me two stopovers. Are stopovers in Melbourne and Europe possible?

  37. Hi Jeff,
    I’m trying to get flights for 2 from San Diego to Manila. What are the most economical options available? I have UR, MR and AA points at my disposal. I’m also interested in the Life Miles option. Thank you for your assistance!

    • If you’re doing economy I’d say UA or AA would be the cheapest as they have no fuel surcharges. Lifemiles is best for longhaul premium class redemptions.

  38. Hey Jeff,

    I am about to cancel my Amex Gold and my Amex AeroplanPlus Platinum cards. I have 108k membership rewards sitting in my account, and 200k aeroplan miles. I live in Yellowknife, so I can only use Aeroplan to get out of here and award tickets are usually not available anyway. I am thinking of transferring 100k to BA for trips to the USA on AA out of Vancouver or within Europe with Iberia or something. Do you reckon there’s a better way of using these 108k MRs??

    • Hi Gustavo, sorry for the late reply. I would recommend transferring to Aeroplan if you have no general use, especially you live in Yellowknife simply because AP has much more reach up north in the territories.

  39. Hi Jeff – off the wall question – what software do you use for creating graphics like the US Airways share promo “flow” chart you published today? I need to do a leadership training segment soon and have an idea for a similar chart but no idea what software to use! Thanks, Jeff

  40. Hi Jeff,
    What award redemption would you recommend for a trip GRU-YUL-YQB-…-GRU in terms of product/service?
    I usually fly OneWorld, but was considering AirCanada for convenience (only going through customs/immigration once). Would it be better to transfer Amex MR to Aeroplan? Many thanks.

    • Generally if you’re transferring AMEX MR AC is probably a better option, simply because the other Avios transfer option will generally require more points since they charge per segment.

      • Thank you, Jeff. I have a question regarding Air Canada awards. I found availability with the ANA tool for YQB-EWR-GRU, however on the AC site I am not able to see that option. When I try to force the connection with multi-city it says it cannot be booked as a single award. Does ANA show options that cannot be booked or do I need to call AC? Many thanks.

  41. Hey Jeff,

    EMergency!
    That AMEX PLat card I signed up via you a few months back – I’ve gotta spend $300 more on it in 2 days.

    Where should I spend this money? I don’t need groceries or anything. Should I buy gift cards?

    Any advice?

    • Hi Ralph, I’d suggest getting gift cards, or prepaying other monthly bills that accept AMEX like utilities, wireless service, and such. Hope it’s not to hard to meet your minimum spend!

  42. Jeff,

    I’m trying to ramp up my (manufactured?) spend and am looking for a few more ‘how to’s’ for Canadians. Any plans on a future article? Links on articles elsewhere? Advice? Thanks!

    • I’d say MS is pretty limited in Canada as the options are available do require at least 1cpm for each point…. which really isn’t worth my time considering the work involved to cycle money through a cc.

  43. Do you know how quick I can apply for a card from Chase Canada after just having closed that specific card? [To avoid exorbitant annual fee]

    • The T&C from the Chase cards prohibit receiving the signup bonus twice, but there have been anecdotal reports of people getting two signup bonuses for cards like the Chase Marriott with different offers a few months after having closed the first.

  44. Hey Jeff,

    I was wondering if you can give me some advice regarding the cancelation/downgrade of the cards. After one cycle of applications, what should I be doing with my existing cards? If i cancel them all, and reapply, wouldn’t my credit score take a hit? On the other hand, if i downgrade my cards, and keeping them in my portfolio of cards, wouldn’t that also hurt my credit score, since I’m holding onto so many credit cards?

    • You want to downgrade if you can. Remember your credit score is determined by a combination of credit utilization, length of credit history, inquiry history, and payment history, so your score will actually NOT decrease if you hold many credit cards, as long as you continue to pay on time. Cancelling does affect your because that reduces the total credit you’re given (and thus increases your utilization ratio).

      • Thanks for the explanation!

        Just one more follow up question. For the Gold Rewards AMEX card, do you recommend cancelling it first and then reapplying for a new one, or reapplying for the new one and then cancelling the card.

        Thanks,

  45. Hello, I’m the owner of http://www.telgo.ca

    We offer short term travel phone plans for Canadians traveling within the U.S.

    We love your blog and we’re wondering if there was a way for us to collaborate to get your readers acquainted with our product.

    Thanks and gave a great day!

  46. I’m looking at taking a complicated trip. Which booking award service do you recommend?

    Looking at edmonton-phoenix-cancun-phoenix-hawaii-hong kong-thailand-miami-phoenix-edmonton.

    Stopovers of 1 to 4 weeks in each. Going October, returning April.

  47. Jeff – what are some good uses of Lifemiles right now? I have 40K from a credit card sign up a few months ago (and willing to buy more to top off an award if needed). Lifemiles re-classified Guam as part of Asia, so that trick doesn’t work any more. Any other good uses for Lifemiles in business class?

  48. Hi Jeff, just in the middle of another churning cycle and had a quick question regarding the MBNA alaska airlines card – is this a card that I can have more than one of? (ie, i already have this card) Thanks!

  49. Hi Jeff, I heard of a workaround a while ago for avoiding a YQ charge and was wondering if it was still valid. You book an itinerary leg with a “no YQ” airline and then after the booking is settled, call back and switch to your prefered “YQ” airline. For example, switching FRA-JFK from SQ to LH.

  50. Can you tell me what “mistakes” there still are on the lifemiles chart ? I heard there is still a good one to eastern europe, but I can’t figure it out. Thanks, Love your blog !!

    • I have actually. I’m going to reserve judgement from until I actually see the site once they go public, but some of the fares they’ve mentioned were just the super deal fares that were floating around on FT (i.e. Toronto – Milan – Tokyo for ~200), and then the $110 fares to NY/SFO are probably miles and taxes. So it doesn’t look like anything mindblowing, but we’ll see…

  51. Jeff- you should publish something about Aeroplan failing to show any Copa award availability for over two months. Something’s up and we need to put pressure on them.

  52. Hello Jeff,

    I recently got a place in the states and so have a legal address there. After reading various different blogs such as yours, I’ve come to the conclusion that American Credit Cards offer A LOT more points/value than the Canadians do. So I’d like to try my chance on getting an American Credit card. Called Chase and they said I need a SSN. Do you know of any ‘tricks’ or ways I can get these American cards that offer a ton of points? I live there two weeks out of the year, have excellent credit/job here in Canada and can’t see why they couldn’t offer it to me if they were to look at my Canadian credit score. Would love to hear your take on this

  53. Hi Jeff,

    Do you have advice on 7k Aeroplan miles set to expire in 12 days? I don’t know if I can use them for flights… should I just get a magazine subscription (gasp)? I have 80k MR points to transfer over, but I don’t know if I can find any sweet spots on the award chart.

    My home airport is SFO and I mostly fly UA/ANA/EVA (on award) to Asia.

    I can transfer 1k MR to keep the Aeroplan 7k alive for another year, but I can’t find an award sweet spot that I would be able to use with a reasonable cpm. I think I can use 25k to fly SFO – LAX on partner flights, but that would be less than 1.5 cpm since most r/t flights on that segment are ~$200.

    Would love to hear your thoughts!

    Thanks,
    Ivan

    • It depends whether you have plans to use Aeroplan in the future. There are some sweet spots like stopovers on a 25k domestic economy award or 30k for intra asia business class, or 45k for one-way business class to Europe. If you do intend to redeem for awards like those, then it make sense to transfer miles in. If you never intend to use your Aeroplan ever again (and only if that’s the case) then redeem them for a gift card or equivalent.

  54. Hi Jeff,

    Any recommendations for meeting 5K minimum spend for the new amex gold card? I’m thinking MS, but the options to do so are quite limited in Canada. Much appreciated.

    • It is. The easiest MS honestly is just floating the cash for a refundable airline ticket. That’s the simplest. Buy a refundable airline ticket for next August which is 5k, hold it for three months, cancel it. There’s another interesting opportunity that I’m still working out and will make a post soon…

  55. Hi Jeff, some excellent resources you have here! What are your thoughts on the Scotia Rewards program? As I understand they current accumulate at 4 per $1 in grocery, and the current offer is 30,000 to start. How useful are they in real world travel terms?

    • I think it’s a great offer, especially if you can take advantage of the 4 points/$. The 30k signup bonus should be worth $300, so it’s not a bad signup bonus either. I have details of the card on my right side panel.

  56. Just found your excellent website! Can you offer any advice on a Mastercard that can be leveraged towards Aeroplan or Star Alliance awards for Canadians? Now that Costco is taking Mastercard that will be a significant drop in my Amex spend. Thanks!

  57. Hi Jeff,
    On your post about Credit Card Churning, you mentioned “In Canada, thankfully with most cards you can get bonuses more than once, for the most part.”. I’m thinking about applying to the Amex Platinum (or perhaps request upgrade from the Gold I currently have) and was wondering if it’s common to have the bonus miles every year. This is the only way the card would be good to me.

    Also, what other card do you recommend as an alternative to Amex? I’m thinking about “MBNA Alaska Airlines MasterCard”, not sure if you have other recommendation.

    • Hi Pedro, you only get the bonus miles on signup. You don’t get it every year. When I mean with cards you can get bonuses more than once, I mean you can get the card multiple times, which means you can get the signup bonus multiple times. If you upgrade from the Gold you have, you wouldn’t get the 60,000 signup bonus, so you’d have to open a new card (and close the Gold after you’ve been approved). The MBNA Alaska MC is good, but currently their application page is down, since they’re merging with TD. The offer should be available again in November.

      • Hi Jeff, thanks for your quick reply.
        Do you mean you cancel and re-apply to the Amex Platinum every year?
        My only concern is that you might lose your credit history once you cancel a credit card.

        • That’s right. You’d cancel the card, wait a few months, then reapply for the card. You could also apply for a another card and “cycle” them (i.e. gold one year and plat the next). The only way your credit history is affected is the average age of your accounts, which is minimal as long as you pay your bills on time and keep your credit utilization low.

  58. HI Jeff, do you have any idea of the cycle for Starwood promotions? They currently have a 10,000 point bonus, but I have heard about higher in the past. Thanks!

  59. Hey Jeff – quick question with too many possible answers, but do you have any suggestions on getting to Thailand and Cambodia from Edmonton around Dec 19-Jan4/5 on Aeroplan? I’ve got about 300k miles to burn. I may have to get to YVR or somewhere on the US west coast and that should be fine even having to pay for a ticket to get there. Also fine stopping in other Asian cities as long as I hit those two countries eventually.

    Thanks!

  60. Hi Jeff

    Have you had much experience redeeming airmiles? I find their website difficult to use and can never seem to find anything. Any advice? Now that miles expire, I need to use them and I have quite a few. Thank you

    • Yeah, their website is atrocious. Generally the best use for airmiles is if you can find flights to smaller cities where the cash price is very high. Otherwise, I’d redeem them for gift cards or hotel points.

  61. Hi Jeff,
    I am a Canadian business traveler that flies out East for work (Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec) about 1-2 times a month for about 3-4 days at a time. Just looking for feedback on what the best strategy is to leverage the various points gained off business travel and apply for them for some of the personal gain and travel experiences you mention here.

    Currently I stick to flying Air Canada as much as possible for status and Aeroplan points.

    Car rental is currently National. The perks are not that great and I rarely rent a car in my personal time. Debating on moving over to Hertz so I can get further Aeroplan points.

    Hotel brand is IHG when possible. Started doing this because it looks feasible to stack up a lot of bonus reward points.

    I would sure love to see a blog post about it and hear your thoughts on the topic! 🙂

    Thanks. (FT handle is bjywong)

    • Hi Brian, thanks for stopping by. Using points from earned from business travel is no different in my opinion that points earned through other ways – you want to figure out what you want and use your points to achieve the goals. To supplement your points there are several credit cards available such as the AMEX or CapOne IHG cards that’ll allow you to further supplement your points earnings. I’ll see if I can write up a post soon about using points from business travel. 🙂

  62. Hi Jeff! I have 50,000 avion points and I’m hoping to travel to Nicaragua with my son on spring break at the end of March. We fly from YVR. Is is possible to offset a chunk of our flight cost with points? All suggestions are SO welcome. Thanks so much Jeff!

    • Hi Laurie, thanks for stopping by. You have a two options I believe that are worth considering. The best option, is converting your Avion points (if you’re a Platinum or Infinite Avion cardholder) to American Airlines points, at a 1:1 ratio. This can be done on the phone. Before converting, you want to look on aa.com if there’s award availability by checking the “Redeem Miles” box. If there are flights that are available under the “saver” low level, then you can use 35,000 AA to redeem for a roundtrip, or 17,500 for a one-way award. You’d have enough miles for two one-way tickets but not quite enough for two.

      To get the return ticket, you could either get another credit card or pay for a one-way ticket back to Vancouver. I personally would recommend getting the American Express Business Gold Card (you can also apply as an individual) as that’s one of the highest offers at 40,000 points, which when converted to Aeroplan will be enough to get you from Nicaragua back to Vancouver. You can see my post about that here: http://canadiankilometers.boardingarea.com/2014/10/09/american-express-business-gold-canada-40000-points-signup-offer/

      If you want to redeem your points on any airline, you can call the Avion travel center and see what options they can find for you. I would recommend against this unless you can’t find award space because it’d be 55,000 miles a person (not to mention you don’t have enough miles)! I hope that helps, and if you need any additional clarification don’t hesitate to ask or email me.

  63. Hi Jeff,

    If I want to signup for a new card right now which would you recommend to maximize my travel/hotel rewards? I currently have the AMEX gold rewards card and the Aeroplan Plus Gold card. I was thinking on getting a SPG amex or the Marriott card for their 50k rewards. Which would you recommend?

    Also, I was thinking of reducing my card holdings as well. Do you recommend me cancelling my Aeroplan gold plus card (its been 5 months) or to downgrade it to the regular plus card?

    Thanks,

    • Hi Derek, I personally would recommend getting the AMEX Biz Gold card, if you’re eligible for that because it has THE best signup offer right now. You can see my post about that here: http://canadiankilometers.boardingarea.com/2014/10/09/american-express-business-gold-canada-40000-points-signup-offer/
      The SPG Amex offer isn’t that good right now so while you could get it I’d wait until the offer improves. The Chase Marriott 50k targeted offers are always around, and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. You could get that now or later. I’d wait at the 11 month point until downgrading/cancelling since it’s a free card and having more credit actually improves your credit score (assuming you pay off your balances each mont) because of that means your credit utilization ratio stays low.

  64. Hey Jeff,

    I would absolutely love to apply for the AMEX biz gold card but being a recent grad and entry level position, it makes it hard to meet the 5k spending requirement.

    In terms of the Marriott card, do you know if it’s possible to churn that card for the signup bonuses? I’m not a frequent hotel stayer, but I would love to find a card that is easily churnable for hotel reward points.

    • There have been anecdotal reports that it has been churnable but I haven’t attempted it myself. Chase tends to be pretty strict on churning so even if you are going to try I’d leave a good amount of time between applying for your first and second card.

  65. Trying to get my family of 5 to Rome from Halifax next summer on Aeroplan in Business class with minimal fuel surcharges. Not having much luck on the Aeroplan site. Any advise?

  66. How many points would I need for a round trip to India with a stop over in Europe? I have 90k MR points and am thinking of either buying the tickets and pay with points or can I do better with award tickets. I don’t care about Business vs Economy class. For as long as I can get there and back in reasonable manner. Tx

  67. Hi Jeff,
    Planning a trip for the wife’s birthday next year. We were interested in going to Copenhagen in early May (from Calgary). We hope to use Aeroplan points (collected from various Amex signup bonuses, etc.) to fly first class in Lufthansa over the Atlantic.

    1) My understanding is that Lufthansa only releases first class 14 days prior. What is the best way to make ensure we get the dates that we want? (Ideally May 2-10)
    2) What is the best way to avoid the Aeroplan fuel surcharges in this case?

    • 1) No particular way to get the dates you want, but LH will tend to release flights that are F7 or F8, so you want to watch those flights and pounce whenever they release seats.
      2) To avoid YQ it’d make most sense to fly SAS from Chicago, Toronto, or Newark, which are their North American destinations (to my knowledge). You could also try Swiss or United.

  68. Hi Jeff,
    Can you outline your strategy on how you have been able to get enough KrisFlyer points to fly First Class on Singapore Airlines?

    It seems the only way to do this in Canada is to churn the AMEX SPG card but given the low welcome bonus, I can’t see how you would be able to do this very quickly (e.g. less than 12 months).

      • That sure helps out 🙂
        How would you go about it if you didn’t have access to US Amex and Chase?

        (Sorry, you can delete my duplicate post below as I clicked on the wrong button).

        • Definitely get the signup bonus from the SPG when it goes up. Put all of your spend on it! The other program in Canada which allows transfers to SQ is HSBC Rewards, which some people I know have sizeable balances. Finally, consider purchasing SPG points when they have a sale, and transferring to SQ. Or, if you want a lower price, there are people in the interwebs which deal with these sorta things. Email me if you want any more details about that.

  69. I am trying to find how to get a Euro flight for domestic points. When you say “click through” do you mean on the Summary on the “Book >” button? I don’t want to push it if it goes ahead and books without confirmation. Otherwise, how do I get the flight for 50k instead of 90k – that is what shows up for me.

  70. Hi Jeff,
    I booked some business class flights to SE Asia (using Aeroplan) for next summer.
    YYC>YVR on AC. YVR>HKG on AC (overnight stay in HKG). HKG>SIN on SQ. KLL>BKK on TG. BKK>HKG>YVR>YYC on AC.

    Since this is my first experience in J, I wanted to make the most of it. Any recommendations based on your own personal experiences? (lounges, meals, other extras). I will likely have the AMEX Platinum card before this trip so not sure if that plays into deciding which lounges at which locations. Thanks in advance!

  71. Hi Jeff, your link for MBNA Alaska card is dead. I can still find i through google so maybe you could update the link if you receive some kickback from it?

  72. Any way to dump AC market award “great deal” tickets? I’m looking to book YYZ-LHR round trip, but the YQ is $480… all segments need to be on AC for market award, so haven’t been able to find a solution…

    Thoughts? Thanks!

  73. Could you please elaborate on the $400 first year from [American Express Platinum Card 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards after $1000 spend within 3 months $400 first year airline credit, $200 each year]? I don’t find this anywhere else; thanks!

    • The American Express Platinum Card offers 60,000 points after $1000 spend as you can see in the applications details from my link: http://canadiankilometers.com/go/amex-plat-60k/. The $400 first year airline credit refers to a travel credit that’s applicable on flights, hotels, and anything else booked by the Platinum Travel Service. This is per calendar year, so if you applied now, you could get 1 $200 travel credit this year and one the next. This pretty much takes $400 off the annual fee, since you’re saving money you’d normally spend on travel.

  74. Hi Jeff
    Continue to love your blog

    Would love to hear your opinion on the value of Air Miles – I can’t seem to find one – but perhaps I am missing something

    Thanks

    • I’m not a big fan of Air Miles. I think of it more as a shopping/loyalty program rather than miles like Aeroplan, since a lot of the redemptions are rather poor values. It’s fairly easy to collect at shopping partners, so it’s not a bad program that way. But their travel redemptions aren’t that great for the most part.

  75. Hey Jeff,

    I am currently looking at the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite, I was wondering if you know whether the 60k minimum income is your expected income or income as defined by your employment details. I’m currently employed and make a bit less than the minimum but I also have my own small business which I’m expecting to bring my total income over the minimum. What are you thoughts on this?

    Thanks,

  76. Hi Jeff, I’m really new to this award redemption. Joined LM last year and purchased the maximum of 150,000 with inviting to top up to 250000. Problem is, I have not been able to score any redemption. For example, the J class tics for Spain is like not available for the whole 2015! What’s wrong? I am getting desperate and panicky as I’m afraid the amount I spent buying the miles are going down the drain.

    Please help. The route will be SIN-BARCELONA.

    Thank you very much.

  77. Jeff, any tips on Swiss Air redemptions from N. America to Europe? I am looking in June and can’t find anything. Do they release space closer to the date, or am I to late? (Flying economy from YOW, but obviously the departure city is flexible.)

    thanks

    • Swiss generally tends to release space closer to the departure date in business class. At this point I think it’s unlikely that there’ll be Swiss Business available for June (although I haven’t checked).

  78. Hi Jeff!

    I have a total of 240,000 Aeroplan points. My goal was to use them on two J class mini-RTW, but that will not work as I don’t have enough for Asia. I can either settle on two J class round trip to South America or Europe (1 or 2) or go mini-rtw in Economy.

    Am I missing anything here? Any way to quickly get those missing 60,000 pts?

    Thanks!

    • It depends on how quickly you need the points. If you have SPG or AMEX MR, you can transfer those to Aeroplan. Otherwise, you can get a few credit card offers to make up the 60,000 points quickly as well as continue with your everyday earning via spend, travel, online shopping, and other activities. You could also book a J class trip to South America/Europe and/or a mini-RTW in Y, then swap to J once you’ve earned enough points.

      • Thanks Jeff for the reply. 240K is with all SPG, Marriott and AMEX points already in the total. No much room. 60K seems a lot to get. I already have the AMEX Gold (that I plan to cancel soon). Trip is for Mid-September.

    • I just haven’t written about it much. It’s a pretty good card for on-going spending, but I’ve never even done a redemption with Delta miles (or flown Delta) so it’s not really an area of expertise.

  79. Hi Jeff,

    How to make manufacturing spending for American express in Canada? Can you point to a few ways where I should be looking for the answer? Thanks!

    • There aren’t too many ways to “manufacture spend” in Canada that’s cost effective. If you’re generating spend in most cases that would be used to satisfy minimum spend requirements, and there are many ways to do that, such as buying a refundable ticket and cancelling after the bonus has posted, pre-paying for utilities and other monthly expenses if possible, and even buying gift cards for future use.

  80. Hi Jeff,
    Back in Oct 2014 I used your referral link for the Amex Gold Biz 40k bonus card, however, Amex is now saying that I only applied for the offer with 30k. Has this happened to others? They have not been helpful on investigating this and since I was quite sure I applied for the correct 40k link, I did not keep a screenshot of the application. Let me know, thank you!

    • You should forward them a screenshot of the offer landing page that you used. Call several times to see if they can manually credit the extra 10k, and if not try a secure message online. Let me know if you need any more help. Thank you for the support, by the way. 🙂

  81. Hey Jeff, are you still providing help/advice on booking AP Reward tickets? Have a colleage that is in dire need of some expert help, likely beyond my own capabilities and would really appreciate some help.

  82. My husband and I are planning trip to italy. Understand lufthansa is the way to fly but do you have any tips for hotels in rome, venice, florence?

    • It depends on what tips you’re looking for. In my planning process for a trip I’d definitely weigh the value of using points vs. paying cash for hotel rooms as well as looking at a varied amount of booking channels like BRG’s or cash/points rates to get the best value. If you’re looking for tips on the destination and particular hotels, there are many more qualified websites to find that information.

  83. Hi there,
    I just cancelled my AMEX Aeroplan Gold Card. I got it last year to get the sign up and referral points. How long do I have to wait before reapplying for another AMEX card. I am impressed by the 40,000 point bonus you recommended.

  84. Is it possible to churn the BMO Rewards card? That is, after already having received the fyf and points once, is there a way to get them on another one?

  85. I don’t know how I missed this, but ANA is not a transfer partner with Amex Canada! My whole plan was built on taking advantage of their incredibly low redemption levels. Major bummer.

    Might you have any ideas as to how to get around this? How can I transfer my MR points to ANA?

    Thanks!

    • Yep, unfortunately not. If you absolutely NEED ANA miles, you can convert MR to SPG at a 2:1 ratio, then SPG to ANA at a 1:1.25 ratio. You end up getting 25000 ANA for each 40000 AMEX you convert. That isn’t the best ratio, so you’d have to consider what options you have.

  86. I need something new! Just redeemed Air Miles for Air Canada flight and found out afterwards that it was for Tango fare, not Flex fare. So guess what? More charges for me for selecting my seat and baggage. Thanks so much, Air Miles – you have lost a customer. Any suggestions for a new program?

    • Air Miles aren’t that great of a primary program, although with Aeroplan you’re going to have to pay to select seat and for bags as well. Aeroplan however in my opinion is easiest to earn. Let me know if you need more info.

  87. What are the best options in Canada to get AA miles?
    Best credit cards (best conversion and bonus), is there any Canadian store at aadvantageeshopping.com.
    Any clue is valid, already use e-Rewards.com and holidaycheck.com

  88. Jeff, I’m having trouble booking a trip with my Aeroplan points. If I recall correctly, didn’t you launch a website or service to help with such things? I’d be happy to have your advice with this.

    Thanks!
    Warren

  89. Hi Jeff. Just sent you a facebook message. I’m a freelancer with the Toronto Star working on a story for the upcoming travel rewards section. Looking to do brief Q & A with three Canadian travel reward bloggers. Hoping you could be available for phone interview next Monday or Tuesday. Please let me know and thanks — if you could shoot me an email with a time that works for you and the best number to reach you at that would be great. Thanks, Anne annebokma@cogeco.ca

  90. Hi,

    I was wondering if you had any ideas related to manufactured spending? I put about $2k/mo on my credit card and in turn get Aeroplan points, but would like some ideas on how I could increase that.
    Let me know!
    -Rick

  91. Jeff,

    Just a heads up: I noticed in the right column listing credit card offers that the TD Aeroplan Visa card is listed as giving Membership Rewards points, instead of Aeroplan miles.

    Jeffrey

  92. Hi There,,
    Need your opinion on a return flight from Singapore Im going to book via
    > aeroplan first week of july. Im not sure how to proceed to maximize my
    points and ensure some decent hrs in F class/J class. need your expertise
    in routing currently on the Aeroplan site they have:Sin -ICN Singapore
    airline (Business class)ICN-JFK – Asiana (business class) For 75K points +$236 CAD
    > What do you recommend? what cities to route through?. My preference would be F class but a combination of business will do. what airlines do you
    recommend ? i have about 120-140K points Appreciate all the help

  93. I followed the link to apply for SPG business Amex but the bonus points on the link show 10000 whereas if I go to the SPG business Amex page on my own it shows 20000 bonus points.
    Just wondering if an update is needed. The gold and platinum business Amex cards all seem to show the extra 10000 points referral bonus when using your links.

  94. HI KILO, I WISH TO USE PLASTIQ TO PAY MY HST AND INCOME TAX DUE-DOES CAP ONE DELTA M/CARD-& OR TD VISA TREAT TRANSACTIONS AS CASH ADVANCES.
    THANKS FOR YOUR HELP IN ADVANCE.

  95. Hi Jeff. Looking for best way to get 2 adults/2 kids to Rome this summer from YYZ/YOW/YUL with 248,811 RBC points without paying astronomical fuel surcharges. Any tips?

  96. Hi Jeff. Thanks for the Canadian perspective. I live here, but am at the ftu in Dallas, even though its all USA geared, still getting ideas. Have u been to one? Couple things:
    Is there any manufacture spending opportunities in Canada?
    For Nicole question above, would she not be better to transfer the points to BA at bonus time, getting 1.5 points, then booking on AA or BA, even though BA have high charges? I also have RBC .
    And the plastiq question, at a 2% fee, I found it was not worth to pay taxes that way, to get the points. Your thoughts on plastiq ?

    Thanks, enjoy!

    • There aren’t that many MS opportunities in Canada, unfortunately. The ones I can think of you’re still generating miles for 1cpm apiece, which isn’t worth it for me. Transferring to RBC to BA or AA depends on where you want to go. BA is a lot better for short-haul direct flights, while AA is good for First Class to Asia, so they have different sweet spots. I don’t really recommend Plastiq for taxes either unless there’s a promo going on where it’s 1-1.25% (I think it might be going on still or may have recently ended). I’d use it purely for fulfilling high minimum spends, such as the 5k spend for the AMEX Biz Gold.

  97. Hi Jeff, Thanks for the reply for me above. I transfer to BA cause mostly all our flights are to LHR or Germany.(I do like the direct from YYC to LHR) Some short hauls within Europe also. I have been on AA to LHR via DFW, so taxes and all where still same as BA. Do you find/know if as long as I see availability on AA , should be bookable through BA website/phone, or is inventory only for that point program ? Is AA first class the same points cost as BA first class, say from YYC to Germany ? I could split my points at bonus transfer time between BA and AA, as I accumulate at least 100,000/yr. , do you think this is a good/or not needed idea ? I also have the Air Berlin option. BTW I did find the FTU in Dallas very enjoyable, and got a few new tips, even though it was 99% Americans. I would go to the Advanced, the speakers were very interesting. Have a great day.

    • Yes – most Low Level (Saver) partner award space on AA.com should be bookable with BA. The award chart is different with AA compared to BA. AA has a fixed price from North America to Europe, while Avios will charge depending on the length of each flight. Also keep in mind that they’re devaluing in just under a week, so make sure you know which program gives you the best value.

      • Thanks for the reply. Yes, I do know about the devaluing coming up. Thanks for the heads up. One more thing, do you do a good amount of point collecting from signup bonuses, and how many cards do you churn through a year here in Canada ?

  98. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for the blog. Last year I redeem above 500k miles, travelling in 1st and business with our baby. Now that we got two (one is still lap), we rather book economy with the full row (installing car seat). I have above 250k aeroplan and was looking for good redemption. The most interesting we looked, destination & value wise, is Australia; 240k R-T + 1500$ on AC metals: from YUL-YVR- Sydney. Cheapeast flight around the date we are looking at are 2200-2500$ by tix. I don’t see much blog around putting this as a great redemption or considering alternarive routing. Please let me know what can be done if we want to layover somewhere (not in North America…)
    Charles

    • Hi Charles,

      Note that you do incur high fuel surcharges if you are flying Air Canada – hence the $1500 in taxes and fees. It’s better if you use a carrier like United flying YUL-SFO-SYD – that way you can save quite a bit. To maximize the award you could also have a stopover in Asia, such as Beijing, using a circle-type routing YUl-SFO-SYD-PEK-YYZ-YUL. Note that you’re allowed up to two stopovers in addition to your destination, so you could also have a stopover in San Francisco, for example. You should use United.com to piece together individual segments, and then you’d have to call in and speak to an Aeroplan phone agent to book.

  99. Hey Jeff
    Love your blog!

    Does the once in a lifetime amex bonus policy that is in the US apply here in Canada – I just cancelled my SPG card – could I apply again in three to six months and get the bonus again?

    Thanks

    s

  100. Jeff – What are you using for a sim these days? Noticed t-mobile’s rates increased from $10-20 per month on the plan you wrote about in 2014. I’m touring Europe this summer and not spending significant time in any country to warrant a local sim. Is Knowroaming still a good bet?

    • I think it depends on how long you’re going for. I’m grandfathered into the T-Mobile $10 plans, so I’m good there, but I’ve heard good things about picking up a prepaid Vodafone SIM that’ll give you Europe-wide data/voice/sms coverage for $3-5 dollars a day. KnowRoaming is more expensive if you buy an unlimited pass, so I only think it’s useful if you’re there a short time or don’t use you phone a lot.

  101. Jeff,

    I signed up for an AmEx Business Gold Rewards card through your link, charged the $5K in expenses, but today I found out that I only got 30K instead of 40K bonus points, and I’m very accurate in that I applied after going thru your link. Should I wait / contact AmEx / ..?

    Jeffrey

      • Thanks Jeff, I followed your advice, and they’ve contacted the Membership Rewards department, the result of which will take 5-7 business days. I’ll let you know its outcome. By the way, in case they decline it although I did really apply through your link, would you have already received your commission by now?
        I applied on March 20.

        • I believe so. I do not think they should decline it – make sure next time that if you are applying through non-public links to take screenshots of the offer (although the offer is still available now so just take a screenshot of that). If they message you saying that they can’t credit the points into your account, call AMEX on the phone and try and explain to the agent, who may have more leniency in crediting the bonus.

          • Jeff,

            I’m happy to report that AmEx credited the remaining points upon my following up with them today.
            Thanks again for your link, and advice.

  102. Hi Jeff, I’m looking to travel to Brussels, Belgium next year in July from Toronto. I have 125,000 Aeroplan miles at the moment, just wondering what would be the best airports to fly in to for the best bang on the buck using my miles. I am open to traveling to a different city and traveling locally to Brussels. Thanks.

    • I think the best option is flying Brussels Airlines in business class via New York JFK or Washington Dulles, as that’s a fairly direct connection with no fuel surcharges. That would be 90,000 miles. If you wanted to use all 125k and fly First Class, I’d recommend Lufthansa First Class, except it’s only available 14 days in advance and has heavy fuel surcharges.

  103. Hey Jeff, I’ve tried to find the answer myself to no avail, but I have a mini RTW coming up later this year that begins and ends at JFK. The last leg is a monster HKG – JFK via TPE on Eva in economy which I am not too keen on taking. I was thinking just ditching the final segment and using Alaska miles to snag Cathay Business direct to Vancouver. Are there any repercussions to doing so? Such as being flagged by the airline for future travel or anything? Thanks in advance.

    • Not really, as long you don’t have a history of doing this multiple times in the past. Just make sure you don’t check a bag all the way through. Why don’t you consider swapping to BR J when it opens up?

      • My Mini RTW isn’t in J! I booked it in economy. I booked YVR to JFK in CX J to get to NY to start, but most of the business class options where I wanted to go were really lacklustre or had stupidly high YQ. I’d rather go as far as my miles will take me with the odd J flight to spoil myself. Thanks though, I may take the flight and save those Alaska Miles or might just use them.

  104. have you come across a table of fuel surcharges for various destinations. I’m most itnerested in redeeming LH/LX/BA using AC/LH/Asiana/AA miles. UA is not an option as too many miles will be needed.

    for example germany is > $800 in YQ while CPH is ~$400. I can dump the last segment of SFO-FRA-CPH award. So what flight can i add that will lower the YQ

  105. Hi Jeff ! Any manufacturing spending opportunities come up lately in Canada. IF, I had to use one, are there ANY you can suggest in Canada ? thanks, have a great weekend !

    • There’s nothing I’d personally do myself since the cost per mile for any of those opportunities hovers around 1 cent. But if you are interested, I’d look into Paypower Reloads or the Petro-Canada Pivot Cards.

  106. Hi Jeff,

    I’ve just come upon credit card churning/accumulating Aeroplan points and had a couple questions.

    1. I understand that most ppl will get a couple credit cards every 3 month cycle, and then cancel that particular card after 6 months. So when exactly do we reapply for that same card?

    2. Specifically on mileage usage, I’m going away to Asia (Singapore specifically) in January for 6 months from Toronto. While there, I will be looking to do a lot of travelling and was hoping to use some of my new miles to fund these trips. I reckon I won’t have enough saved up for both flight to Singapore and my excursions while in Asia. To maximize my points would you say for me to spend my points on a flight there and pay for my flights while there, or should I pay to fly there and spend my points on flights there?

    3. And I guess just to follow up, what would you say are some of the best routes to fly while there on points? Based on Singapore as a home base.

    4. As for award flight searches, besides Aeroplan, and the United website, what are some other websites where I can search some more complicated routes? Cause whenever I put one-way or multi-destiniation flights Aeroplan seems to always say that route is not available (I know their system is somewhat rudimentary).

    Thanks for your help!

    • 1) You’d wait at least 3 months before reapplying for the same card. I’d wait at least 6, personally.
      2) SE Intra-Asia flights are really cheap with low cost carriers, so if you’re okay with flying those, just pay for flights there.
      3) If you’re based in Singapore, 30k Aeroplan for roundtrip business class to Japan is one of the best values.
      4) I personally use Expertflyer and KVS Tool which are paid services, but those aren’t going to produce more complicated itineraries either. The best way is to break down and search for each flight at a time. That means if I want to fly from Toronto to Singapore, I’ll look from Toronto to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Singapore, for example. The resulting itinerary then might be Toronto – Montreal – Frankfurt – Bangkok – Singapore, which wouldn’t have shown up searching just YYZ to SIN.

      • 1. So would that be a year from my initial card? Example -> Jan 1 (Card 1), June 1 (Cancel Card 1), Dec 31 (Reapply Card 1)

        4. Aeroplan doesn’t seem to allow me to do one way flight searches like that? For example I was trying from Singapore to Tokyo via Seoul… and it just says not eligible for one way reward when i search Singapore to Seoul…

        • That’s correct. When you’re searching the Aeroplan engine, you want to search one leg at a time. So put in the roundtrip Tokyo Seoul Tokyo – the return is just the throwaway. You’d find the relevant segment from Tokyo to Seoul and write it down. Do the same for Seoul to Singapore and make sure you have enough connection time. Once you’ve gotten all the individual segments, call and book the ticket with the Aeroplan contact center.

  107. Hi Jeff,

    What do you think are the best options value-wise to redeem around 7-800 Air Miles’ Dream miles?
    Just trying to get rid of them, but still would like to get some value out of them.

    Thanks,
    Jeffrey

    • I’d say top up, and redeem for a intra-region award (on say, Westjet Encore or AC regional) that’s a good return in terms of value. If you’re a gold member, I’d wait to see whether there are any merchandise specials that are worthwhile. For example, I recall at one point during April you could redeem 1500 Air Miles towards the new Bose QC30’s which normally went for $350.

  108. Hi Jeff,

    Firstly I would like to thank you for providing such helpful and well organized content on your website. Super well done and I have found much valuable information.

    I was hoping you could assist me in making my final decision. I am currently a Canadian RBC Infinite Avion Card holder and have been for a number of years. Recently due to a new business endeavor, I am able to pay a large portion of supplier bills using my visa and have already racked up over 250K avion points. G-d willing my forecast for the foreseeable future includes similar yearly amounts spend on the card (>250K) and I would like to have the best card suited for my needs. I dont travel extensively but will plan on ramping that up in 2015-2016. Right now after some extensive research (including much time on your site) I am torn between the RBC infinate avion privielge and AMEX platinum. Aside from the up front difference in cost of the two cards my biggest concerns are:

    – Acceptace: I have heard some horror stories about Amex being widely UNaccepted in Canada

    – Travel: Do both cards require 2 week minimum notice to avoid a hefty point increase? Are lounge access/concierge services comparable?

    – Point transfer: If I do decide to go Amex I am assuming my Avion points are not transferable, do I need to worry about this? I wouldnt cancel the visa in that case.

    I hope I am not asking too much however I would like to make my final decision ASAP and it seems like you are the man with whom I need to consult.

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi Jesse, thanks for checking out my site.

      I would say to get the AMEX Platinum, as well as keeping an alternative Visa or Mastercard. I personally think the AMEX Plat is one of the best cards out there in Canada, simply because of how strong their overall benefits and points values are. I wrote about this here: http://canadiankilometers.boardingarea.com/2014/03/19/american-express-platinum-canada-worth/
      Keep in mind that the Platinum card offers a 60,000 points welcome bonus which is much stronger than what the RBC Avion is offering. To answer some of your points:

      -Acceptance: You are right in the AMEX isn’t accepted at as many retailers. That’s why I’d recommend you keep a secondary card in case those retailers don’t. You should definitely be checking with your suppliers whether they take AMEX.
      -Travel: Both cards don’t require two weeks minimum notice to avoid points increases if you’re transferring to a frequent flyer partner like Aeroplan or Avios. However, this depends on what your use for the points will be. I know that Avion has an specific Air Travel Avion Redemption grid that lets you use a certain amount of points for economy class tickets as long as they’re below a certain price. However, if you’re planning to do that, it’d probably make more sense to use a 2% travel rebate card as redeeming your RBC points that way won’t even get you a 2% return in most cases. Concierge, Travel, and Insurance benefits should be similar, although the AMEX has a better collection of lounges and hotels available for additional benefits.
      -Points Transfer: If you do decide to get an AMEX, I’d recommend that you transfer your points out from Avion as when you close your card, you lose all your points.

      If you do get an AMEX Platinum, you’d likely be able to keep the Avion card and ask your banker (given your spending levels) for an annual fee waiver which I’ve heard they will do if you have another Visa Infinite Card. Alternatively, you could get an Aeroplan Visa like the TD version which has a waived first year fee but still allows you to earn points: http://canadiankilometers.boardingarea.com/2015/01/13/td-aeroplan-visa-no-annual-fee/

      Hope this helps!

      • Hi Jeff,

        I am again blown away by your thourough reply. Thank you for providing world class service. I hope not to bombard you with too much info but I’d be remiss if I didnt ask FEW follow up q’s given your expertise. I will keep it short as I dont want to take advantage of your superb service:

        – It is now clear that I need carry two personal Credit Cards and devote one to soley business purchases:/

        – Invoice payments (confirmed they take amex)
        – Meals & entertainment (slight concern on acceptance levels)
        – Travel (mainly within canada)

        With these three key categories in mind I still am quite confident I can spend over >250K annualy on the business only card – at this point am I still best off with Amex platinum vs. Visa given

        lastly, to follow up on a point you made, if i do go with amex i will then likely keep my visa avion, i dont know if i will get the annual fee waived which could mean spending upwards of $800 annual on credit cards bewteen the two. Also at that point do I keep my RBC avion points as is or transfer to my amex (if even possible)

        Again… thank you for your help… i need to pull the trigger already and your help has been invaluable.

        J.

  109. Jeff,

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on the recent changes to AMEX Canada cards which now state that bonus sign-up points will not be given to current and previous card holders? As a churner this is a huge blow. Do you see anyway around this change? It looks as if the change started on July 1, 2015. I actually had reapplied for three AMEX cards (AirPlat, AeroGold and AMEXGold) just a couple of days before this change so I am hoping I still get my bonus points, but the future looks grim. BTW, I applied for the Aerogold through your link. Thanks.

    • From what I’ve seen online, people who have applied last week have still been getting their points – I’m assuming eventually they’ll get to updating their system which will check if you’ve had the card before – but at this point this hasn’t happened yet. I’m hoping they’ll be a little more lenient with applications, i.e. if you’ve had the card 2 years ago, they’re not going to deny you your bonus. But you never know.

  110. Hello Jeff: Do you still offer award booking assistance? I recall at first it was free, then name your own price, but I don’t see any info about it on your website. Thank you.

  111. Hi Jeff. I’ve been doing a little churning over the last couple years and managed to accumulate 140K aeroplan points and close to 8K airmiles rewards points. Sites like yours are definitely a great help. I had a question on the Chase Marriott Visa….I successfully applied for this card and converted the signup bonus points to aeroplan. My question is whether you have tried to churn this card as I see in the terms that they do say that the bonus is not applicable for previous or current Chase Marriott Visa card holders. Thanks

  112. I have a ‘real’ US$ Visa Signature credit card for over 5 years (issued through RBC Bank Georgia) and a US ITIN number – and a US physical address (a customs broker in a border town where my US purchased parcels are delivered) – and wanted to know if I stand a chance of getting other US$ credit cards from other US banks. I saw you mention you have a US SSN number – and wondered if that is an ITIN number.

    I would be interested in joining your closed group on credit cards…. and in return can provide you with some editing tips if you like.

    I would also like to find out if you offer a service similar to Lucky in helping travelers plan trips. I have plans to head to Australia and/ or New Zealand & currently have Aeroplan miles (which I hear are not good for Australia).

  113. I am trying to book
    YVR-DPS-BKK-MAD-YVR on one reward ticket mini-RTW. Is that possible? Any help or suggestions would be great! Thank you.

  114. Hi Jeff,

    As a Canadian, I really really really appreciate your blog to help us Canadians get the most out of our frequent flier miles and hotel points. I have been saving up for about 1.5 years and have the following:

    470K Aeroplan
    90K BA Avios
    93K HHonors
    40K Marriott Rewards
    44K TD Rewards
    26K BMO Rewards

    I have my 10 year anniversary coming up and was wonder WWJD (What Would Jeff Do?). If you had access to the points above and wanted to have have a once in a lifetime vacation of 4-6 weeks with 2 adults and a child. How would you blow your points? Not looking for specifics (I’ll pay for your service when the time comes) but just curious how you would stretch your points.

    As a follow up question, I have a TON of credit cards, all of which I would like to churn but with AMEXs new rules for 1 bonus every 24 months, what’s the best strategy to get more points if I already have all the cards your recommend?

    TD First Class Infinite Aeroplan
    AMEX Gold Personal and Business
    AMEX SPG
    AMEX Aerogold
    BMO World Elite
    Chase Marriott

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jayce,

      I’d probably use the Aeroplan for a mini-RTW, with probably an island destination, and a few major cities. Depends on your travel style – but most likely your Aeroplan balance is easiest to work with. In regards to churnability of cards, that depends on each specific issuer. As you know AMEX is now one lifetime bonus per card, although I’m not sure whether that’s actually enforced. TD requires do have applied at least 6 months ago. Chase and BMO also limit to once per lifetime, although Chase has not enforced this from other people’s experiences.

  115. Hi Jeff, Are there ANY Hotel credit card sign up bonus at this moment that would cover 5 nights in NYC. (Oct 17-22) . Its a very expensive place, even needing high points/night. I have never been there, any suggestions if you have for hotels, I really cant pay more than $200/night Cdn, UG ! thanks so much , susan

        • Thanks Roger and Jeff, I am not picky about the type of property, but I do want to be anywhere in the Manhattan area. I could even pay for a couple nights, will these cards have the rewards to me with 4 wks you think? Do you get a bonus if I go through your link, and which card should I go for, I can even sign up my husband , as I really don’t know a lot about points/hotels and how many you need. thanks so much !!

  116. Jeff,
    Do you think it is worth it to collect Aeroplan miles for someone in Billings, MT with the goal of 2 domestic trips and 1 international business trip every year. United flies out of Billings which would make it easy. I ask because the cost to MS UR through Staples and the time to liquidate $200 GC is a lot more than MR with the PRG. My main worry though is being able to find Aeroplan space without fuel surcharges.

  117. can i use aeroplan miles to connect on a domestic carrier within brazil after flying united to GRU? nothing comes up on the aeroplan site. would i have to call? do they have access to azul? avianca brazil?

    thanks!

  118. Hey Jeff,

    I had a question about an aeroplan trip I am booking to Singapore (from Toronto) for the first week of January and back early May in economy. I won’t know the exact day I need to be in Singapore until November. Should I just book now and take the $90 hit to change flights if I need to? Also, I am flexible as to which airports I transfer from.

    I was also thinking of adding in a 3-4 day stopover somewhere beforehand as well as a 1 week trip somewhere in Asia in May… would an itinerary like this work?
    Toronto -> somewhere in Europe -> Dubai (Stop) -> Singapore -> Tokyo (Stop) -> somewhere in US -> Toronto

    Thanks.

  119. Hi Jeff,

    Ok, so I plan on a signup with 25,000 bonus of AMEX gold, me and my husband, each. After receiving the bonus, am I better off transfering the points to Aeroplan or BA (Avois) for a one way (there or back) from YYC to Dusseldorf , Germany (I am actually going to DRS, but any major airport can get me there.) I have many BA points to do the other end of the trip. So, basically, British airways, air berlin, / or air Canada / Lufthansa ? Which is my best bet for cost ? If I go BA I will use Premium. thanks so much ,Susan P:S: Do you get a credit if I use your link for signup?

    • Aeroplan is definitely better if you want to be going from YYC to Europe. Make sure you avoid airlines with fuel surcharges. Yes, I get some points if you signup for AMEX using my links. Thanks for your support 🙂

  120. Hi Jeff, I’m looking to buy ticket to Vietnam from Vancouver in late April. I am on the FFP of Skyteam, do you have any advice for cheap fares?

  121. Hi Jeff,

    We’re planning a trip from Ottawa to Vietnam next December. I’m thinking of doing YOW-HAN and then SGN-YOW. Can you recommend a stopover? We would love to include Siem Reap in there but I’ve read it’s not possible, any comments? Thanks!!

  122. Jeff this is likely a silly question and clearly you will guess I am a beginner however I was wondering If one can collect points with a pay as you go credit card? I am fearful of credit card debt so try to steer clear of credit cards however thought a pay as you go might be an option.

  123. Hi Jeff,

    I’m planning to fly to Singapore through HK with a departure date b/t Apr 28-30 on Cathay Pacific. Unfortunately, I am not too flexible with my dates but there are a few flights for selection for each route. So far, I found that Expedia offers the cheapest option, however, I do not want to commit until at the end of this week or next. I recall you mentioning that there is a website where you can check the LF of each flight, and then you can determine (from historical trends), when they will move seats to a bucket that charges a higher rate. Would you be able to tell me the link to that source?

    Additionally, if you have any suggestions on other tactics I can use to get a better deal, please let me know. Thanks a ton!

    Tim

  124. Hi Jeff,
    I am new at all this travel stuff… I am about to become a Booking Agent, so im looking for great tools… I found the Blog on the Aramean Tools, when i tried to use ONE WORLD ALERT SEARCH CREDENTIALS, it wanted me to login.. I had no idea what one world was.. researched it..found it it was kind of a universal id between alot of airlines.. the oneworld site said membership in any participating air line frequent flyer program would grant one word credentials for access.. ok.. so i joined British Airways Executive Club, then tried to access the one world alert search.. it wanted me to sign in like before.. I tried my first name (in the ffn space ???) sirname ( last name in that space) and my BA Eclub # …. well that sure didnt work… what am i doing wrong..lol

    http://wandr.me/account/oneworldqf

  125. Hi Jeff, been following your blog for a while now, excellent info! I am planning a trip in September/October 2016 yyc to Munich/Vienna and return Rome to yyc a month later. Two tickets will be Aeroplan and two paid, all business class or better. So far I seem to find yyc-ord-ist-muc outbound and something similar return. Does this seem like a valid routing? Secondly, is there a service in Canada that can help with the bookings if I run in to problems, or do regular travel agents handle this? Thanks!

  126. Hey Jeff, do you have much experience with Avios points? Amex currently has a nice transfer bonus. I’ve heard that if you travel partner airlines and avoid BA, you can save big on the taxes (which seems like the biggest downside from what I hear). And it looks like I can fly YUL-CDG for 54,000 points.

    But all this info is from US-based blogs. So I’m wondering if it works differently for us. Any thoughts to share? Thanks as always!

    • Avios is best for domestic, short-haul, direct flights. You are correct in that flying BA has very high fees. And you can fly YUL-CDG for around that price – however it is pretty hard to avoid BA for trans-atlantic flights. Your best bet is to use it on American on transborder routes such as Toronto – Miami and Vancouver – Los Angeles which are just 7,500-10,000 and tens of dollars in taxes.

  127. Hi Jeff,

    My friends and I have been playing the points game for a few years now and a perennial problem that we’ve faced is points redemption. It’s time consuming and absolutely frustrating! We’re trying to alleviate the pain by creating a tool that provides several features that will help with redeeming points for hotel and flights as well as help with managing award programs. Instead of being forced to visit numerous websites, our tool will perform all the searches and aggregate the results on a single page.

    We’d love to listen to any advice from an experienced points-traveler before we open our tool for public testing. It’d be awesome if you could give it a test run. Any thoughts, comments and suggestions would be much appreciated!

    Here is the link: http://www.pointimize.com

    We’ve finished the private testing of the hotel search feature and the flight search feature will be live in the next few weeks.

    Cheers!

    Adu

  128. Question: I’m planning a RTW trip for my family (2 adults 2 kids). I will probably end up paying $16K in flights. I’ve applied for a bunch of CC with bonuses recently (TD Aeroplan, Amex Gold, CIBC Aeroplan, RBC Avion…). Which CC is best to use for this big spend in terms of getting good useful points. I would love to be able to fly in style for one of our flights. 😉 which is harder to do when there are 4 people. Or should I just apply for the Amex Platinum with 75k bonus or the RBC BA credit card and get the $9k spend out of the way at once? Thanks for any tips.

    • RBC Avion has a 9k spend requirement, so it’s probably good to divert the majority of spend there. Otherwise, I’d recommend the AMEX Gold as that gets 2 points/$. Which cards do you have now?

      • So sorry, I did not see this reply until now… Thanks for taking the time.

        I have CIBC Aeroplan Gold, RBC Avion, TD Aeroplan, AMEX Gold, AMEX Business Gold and Marriott Rewards.

        We currently have 83K Aeroplan points, 20K Aeroplan coming, 193K Avion points, 11K Delta miles, 30K Marriott rewards, 29K AMEX points, 25K AMEX points coming.

        Kind of all over the place…and now don’t know how best to use them.

        I could apply for the RBC Avios card as well…

        Cheers

  129. Hey, I’ve been in the game for awhile now and have had some great redemptions using Alaska Miles. I picked up the Alaska MasterCard recently and have been combining with SPG transfers to bolster my balance, but I can’t seem to find any information at all whether the Canadian Alaska card is churnable, any insight? I know you can go through the US BoA version like crazy. Thanks.

  130. Hi Jeff

    I am a new guy in this area , and I am looking to apply for the AMEX Platinum card, I am wondering if your link will get expired any time soon?

    Actually I applied for the AMEX platinum card already and i saw your link after I applied. so now I will have to wait till the physical card arrived and cancel it then do another application through your link instead of activate the card .

    thats why i wonder if your link will get expired?

    thanks for taking your time ..

  131. Hi Jeff,

    I am a university student and have been with RBC for one year. BMO SPC airmiles Mastercard is ranked as the best student travel credit card according to some ratings, or BMO SPC Cashback MasterCard. I am currently with RBC Rewards VisaIs. Should I stick to RBC? Or is it worth switching to BMO now?

    Thanks!

  132. Your link to The AMEX Platinum Card is only offering 60,000 points now – you should up date your page as it’s misleading.

  133. Hi Jeff,
    I will be flying with United Air “K” and “G” class fare, which frequent flyer program should I use, United mileage Plan or Aeroplan? If I am not mistaken United mileage plan credit 100% miles flown but I don’t know about Aeroplan.
    Thanks, Paul

  134. Hi Jeff, thanks for your fantastic article about manufactured spend with the Canadian mint. Would you mind sharing which bank in vancouver you have used to exchange the coins? And also up to what value have they been willing to exchange? Thanks!

  135. I have not seen a review about the Amex Reserve Aeroplan card, and I an curious how you feel it stacks up against the Amex Platinum? Appreciate your insight.

  136. Hi Jeff,
    I have a goal to get 4 J class seats on EK from SEA-CAI. I am willing to wait as long as it takes. Does EK release 4 seats at a time? How far out are seats released?

  137. Jeff,
    I recently moved to Canada and applied for the Gold rewards card. The application got rejected probably due to lack of sufficient credit history. I did check my score, and it is above 700 but obviously the duration of credit is the issue.
    I then read about Global Transfer option on your blog and I applied again, this time mentioning my existing American Express card number in the “Are you an existing American Express Cardmember?” field in the application. I called in after two days and the rep told me that the application was rejected again as it is a duplicate application as it is applied within 6 months of the previous application.
    I tried telling him about the Global Transfer option, but he was not helpful.
    I called in the Global Transfer number 1-800-711-5266 listed on https://www.americanexpress.com/ca/en/content/our-cards/moving-to-canada.html and even they were asking me to apply online and did not help.

    Any ideas?
    Thanks in advance

          • So I called in twice, spoke to two different agents and a supervisor.
            All of them say since I have a canadian credit file, I am not eligible for Global Card Transfer. I do have a cell phone and a $500 secured card which shows up on my credit report.
            I did tell the supervisor that the website itself says “If you have a Canadian credit file, it will be taken into account when processing your application.” But he insisted that I am not eligible.
            Oh well.

          • Odd, you should send in a complaint or push beyond a supervisor. I know if you Global Transfer to the US, you’re considered on the basis of any credit file you have in the US first, and then you can use your AMEX history in Canada. Unfortunately I’ve never done Global Transfer to Canada, so sorry I’m not able to be of more help.

  138. Can I apply for an Amex Platinum business card as an individual (i.e. I have no business) ? The bonus is better, and annual fees appear to be less?

  139. I’m interested in applying for the Business Platinum Amex card through your referral link, would like to confirm you have not reach your annual maximum yet.
    Also, how long do I have to wait to apply for Gold reward Amex again in order to get the welcome bonus, I cancelled it in January 2016.
    Thank you!

  140. In your mini raw post you mentioned “ANA tool and other paid programs ” for searching. I can’t find later posts referencing such tools. I am interested in a rtw something along the lines of Toronto, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, Toronto… no real particular order, and not necessarily all part of the rtw if exceeding the limits? Want to fly business class and use aeroplan. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

      • I would prefer to keep it at a mini rtw with the three most logical segments and pay for the balance of flights separately. Can you please advise re search tools, paid and otherwise. Thanks

  141. Saw your AMEX Platinum Post. Is there much difference in benefits from the Plat Small Business and Regular? Looks like mainly the $200 travel credit but Small bus plat is cheaper annually, but higher 3 month spend to get points.

  142. Hey Jeff,
    Have you found much use for the “50% off your companion Business Class ticket on AC” that is offered as an infinite privilege cardholder or can I pretty much say that this benefit is garbage? The only real flights that I can reasonably purchase are short haul one way flights from YVR to YYC or similar. But then again why pay 3x to 4x the cost of business just to use the coupon when the lowest business fare is cheaper and more reasonable. maybe I’m wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *