About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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IT’S BACK: Biggest Ever Sign-Up Bonus On The SPG Amex

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Yay, it’s back! Last year American Express offered the biggest ever sign-up bonus on the SPG Amex, and it’s back again now, for the second time ever. The normal sign-up bonus on these cards is 25,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend. In the past we’ve sometimes seen 30,000 Starpoint sign-up bonuses. And now we’re seeing a 35,000 Starpoint sign-up bonus, which is the biggest sign-up bonus ever. These increased sign-up bonuses are valid through April 5, 2017.

As stated above, at the moment we’re seeing a sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints, which is the highest bonus ever. Here are the details of the sign-up bonus:

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The First Credit Card To Apply For If You’re New To Miles & Points

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I don’t think there’s a single “one size fits all” credit card. It all depends on what categories you spend most in, how much you spend, and what kind of rewards you’re looking for.

There are certainly cards that offer a compelling return for a vast majority of consumers, like The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, which offers triple points on U.S. groceries (on up to $6,000 of spend per year), double points on U.S. gas, and a 50% points bonus when you make at least 30 transactions per billing cycle. Cards like that help points add up quickly for the average household.

Then there are cards that offer perks that more than justify the annual fee for a vast majority of consumers. For example, the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card offers an annual free night certificate valid at any of IHG’s 5,000+ hotels, which more than justifies the card’s $49 annual fee, in my opinion. You’d be hard pressed to not get $49 of value out of that.

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Well, I Guess I’m Not Flying Arik Air Anytime Soon…

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I’ve long been intrigued by Arik Air, which is Nigeria’s largest airline. Last year I listed them as one of the “6 totally random airlines I want to fly.”

They operate a flight between New York and Lagos, which is the route on which I was hoping to fly them.

Well, it looks like the airline is having slight financial problems. By that I mean that they’ve just suspended their flights to London, New York, Johannesburg, etc., and apparently over two thirds of their fleet is no longer operating.

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Cathay Pacific 777 First Class In 10 Pictures

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Hello from London!

I just flew Cathay Pacific first class from Hong Kong to London, which was fantastic as always. I’ve reviewed Cathay Pacific first class many times before, so won’t be doing a full review again. Instead I’ll just share my general thoughts, especially in light of the recent minor first class service changes that Cathay Pacific has made.

Cathay Pacific’s 777 first class cabin consists of just six seats, spread across two rows in a 1-1-1 configuration. While Cathay Pacific doesn’t have fully enclosed suites, they do have among the most private and spacious first class products out there. I don’t think I’ve once found myself wishing that the seat had a door — that’s how private it is.

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LifeMiles Is Offering A 125-135% Bonus On Purchased Miles

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LifeMiles has just launched their latest promotion on purchased miles, valid through February 28, 2017.

Through this promotion, LifeMiles is offering up to a 125% bonus on purchased miles. This is a tiered offer, where you get a bigger bonus the more miles you buy, as follows:

— Buy 1,000-50,000 LifeMiles, get a 100% bonus (~1.65 cents per mile)
— Buy 51,000-100,000 LifeMiles, get a 115% bonus (~1.53 cents per mile)
— Buy 101,000-200,000 LifeMiles, get a 125% bonus (~1.47 cents per mile)

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I Made An American Agent’s Night By Redeeming Miles

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I’m on a bit of a crazy trip at the moment (I’m excited to eventually share the reasoning), and am enroute from Asia to Europe. Long story short, I saw a flight with four Cathay Pacific first class award seats, which is exactly what we needed. This was two days before departure, and not a single seat was taken in the first class cabin at the time.

For those of you not familiar with Cathay Pacific, they have just six first class seats on the 777. Typically they make up to one award seat available in advance, and then closer to departure they’ll often release more seats. You often see an extra seat, and sometimes even see two seats closer to departure.

However, four seats at a time — and more specifically, a completely empty first class cabin two days before departure — is extremely rare.

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How Much Did IHG Pay For My “Free” Hotel Night?

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As I explained yesterday, I just redeemed my IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card annual free night certificate for a stay at the InterContinental Hong Kong. The card has just a $49 annual fee and offers an annual free night certificate valid at any IHG property, with no category restrictions.

So in my case I had an overnight in Hong Kong, and it’s tough to beat the InterContinental Hong Kong for that purpose, given its location. Since I was redeeming my annual certificate, the stay was completely “free” — there were no taxes and fees, or anything.

However, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered how much this free night is really costing IHG. Yesterday I checked my reservation through IHG’s mobile website, and it listed a price. Specifically, it said that the stay cost 504HKD, or a total of ~555HKD including tax and service charge. That comes out to ~$72. That’s the internal reimbursement rate that IHG is paying the hotel.

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Cathay Pacific 777 Regional Business Class In 10 Pictures

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Yesterday I flew Cathay Pacific’s regional business class for the 4hr20min flight from Bali to Hong Kong. I won’t be writing a full review of the flight, though figured I’d share my brief thoughts on the experience.

The flight was operated by Cathay’s regional 777-300, which unfortunately doesn’t feature the same excellent first class and business class products found on their longhaul 777-300s.

The 777-300 has a total of 42 business class seats. These are spread across six rows in a 2-3-2 configuration. These seats are fairly new, so at least the cabin looks modern. It’s unfortunate when premium cabins have middle seats, though I suppose for a fairly short flight that’s not too big of a deal.

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Kim Jong-Un’s Half Brother Assassinated At Kuala Lumpur Airport

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Well, we’ve certainly seen some airport “attacks” over the past few years, though nothing quite like this. The older half brother of North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, was assassinated at Kuala Lumpur Airport this past Monday, while waiting for a flight to Macau. Per the New York Times:

“He seemed like an ordinary passenger in the departure hall of the airport for Malaysia’s capital, awaiting a four-hour flight to Macau. Moments later, he felt dizzy and was carried out on a stretcher, apparently dying from poisoned-needle punctures or perhaps a toxic liquid splashed on his face by two women who ran away.

The ruckus caused by the man’s death on Monday at the international airport for Kuala Lumpur was minor news until a thunderbolt from the South Korean and Malaysian news media a day later: The victim was Kim Jong-nam, 45, the estranged older half brother of Kim Jong-un, the unpredictable and ruthless leader of North Korea.”

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OMG: There Was A Valentine’s Day Flash Mob At My Gate!!!

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I’ve shared several videos of airport and airplane flash mobs over the years, though never in a million years did I think I’d witness one in person at an airport. Well, I guess if you fly enough…

I flew Cathay Pacific today from Bali to Hong Kong, and sensed something was a bit unusual. At check-in there were a bunch of heart shaped balloons, which didn’t seem too unusual for Valentine’s Day. I didn’t think much of it at the time.

Then I got to the gate a few minutes before boarding, and saw more heart shaped balloons. I also saw some photographers.

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I Scored A 5-Star Hotel In Hong Kong For $49 (Thanks To A Credit Card)

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The IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card is one of the all around most rewarding cards out there in terms of the perks it offers. As far as I’m concerned, this card should be a “no brainer” for a vast majority of consumers. The card has just a $49 annual fee (which is waived the first year), and offers three huge perks:

— You get an anniversary free night certificate every year, which is valid at any IHG property worldwide, pending availability; given IHG’s global footprint, that should justify the card for just about anyone
— You get IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you have the card, which gets you bonus points, room upgrades, etc.
— You get a 10% rebate on points redemptions, for up to 100,000 points back each year

The single biggest perk of the card is the annual free night certificate. While some other cards offer an annual free night certificate with category caps and lots of restrictions, the annual free night certificate on the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card can be redeemed at any IHG property.

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Earn 75K Hilton Bonus Points On A No Annual Fee Card For A Limited Time

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Link: Citi® Hilton Honors™ Visa Signature® Card Hilton is unique as far as their co-brand credit card agreement goes, in that they have cards issued by both American Express and Citi. They’re the only hotel chain where that’s the case, and that means there are four types of personal credit cards available to consumers. An…

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Great Deal: IHG Offering A 100% Bonus On Purchased Points

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IHG Rewards Club is offering their first non-targeted 100% bonus on purchased points for 2017. The bonus is valid for points purchases through February 17, 2017. Through this offer, IHG Rewards Club is offering a 100% bonus on purchased points when you buy at least 5,000 points in one transaction. This is as good as their bonuses on purchased points get.

If you max out this promotion and purchase 60,000 points you’d end up paying $690 and would get a total of 120,000 IHG Rewards Club points.

That’s a rate of 0.575 cents per IHG Rewards Club point.

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SUCCESS: I Got Approved For A 5th Amex Credit Card

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Historically American Express has limited each consumer to having four credit cards and four charge cards with them at any point, as I explained in my recent post about my 2017 American Express card strategy.

Many people have reported that the limit has been raised to five credit cards, though previously I didn’t find that to be the case. For example, last June I got denied when I applied for my fifth card, on account of having too many cards.

That led me to believe that my limit with Amex is four credit cards, though several readers insisted that the limit has been raised to five credit cards, so I figured I’d give it another try and apply for a fifth credit card.

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