The game changes so quickly, it was all about airline miles before, but loyalty sucks and the consumer knows it. With ever devaluing miles, mile expiration, and so many new rules and fuel surcharges, it’s very easy for a program like Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) and American Express Membership Rewards (MR) to become populat with offering an airline independent points system. Even Wired magazine lays out why the system is so convoluted, and unattainable with the new unfortunate trend of Qualifying Dollar requirements. It’s not enough you spent 50,000 ass in the seat miles on a United flight, but you now need 4 segments as well as dropping $6,000 a year just to qualifying for premier gold.
Like all bad, demanding, and outright abusive relationships, many of us have dropped our loyalty. Even The Points Guy has re-evaluated transferring MR points for redemption. Why dedicate your loyalty to a single airline company? AmEx has a system of Centurion Domestic lounges being built up along side access to international Priority Pass lounges. With the fee waivers for luggage, and the free Uber, you get the first class experience while flying the basic bitch seat. The game is now about credit card points that you can use to book any airlines. We are now free from marrying a single airline, and just causaly date them from trip to trip.
These new poertals are just as good as Orbitz or Priceline in finding flights. Let’s take a look at the ORD to HKD flight I just booked:
Booking with Orbitz and CheapOAir:
Both sites just give you the exact same fare of $731.86. You could of just gotten this booking directly with United and then getting 5x points with the Personal Platinum card. At current redemption level at 2 cents a point you would of actually earned 3,659 MR points worth $73.18 in travel when booking with AmEx Business Platinum (10% Rebate). Now for those Chase Sapphire Reserve you would of gotten 2,195 UR points worth $33 in travel when booking (4.5% Rebate).
Seeing how your using Orbitz or Chepo air to book, I can only assume you haven’t flown since 2007. The only benefit for booking with Orbitz, Priceline or some other shitty travel search engine is to have to deal with a third party agent with any changes as calling United directly will be fruitless. You will be on one cell phone with Orbitz and your spouses phone with United just to fix any reservation issues. Good luck with that!
Booking with United with Cash:
Exactly $731.86 direct from the source, not a cent more. I hope next time you are even thinking of using Orbtiz, ask yourself if you really are getting a deal. Most likely not, and I hope every one of these places, that have exploited people’s stupidity and laziness to just go away. Don’t think you are someone special because you discovered ChaepOAir, or Priceline. Your 62 year old Aunt Sue uses these stupid sites because she thinks she’s so hip and cool. Don’t waste your time! At least booking direct with united earns you the point bonus for AmEx Pt and Chase Sapphire Reserve (and preferred)
Booking with United with Points:
Wide Open Saver Fares Each Way:
But $52 in fees on the way back:
For 80,000 United Miles (You can Transfer 1:1 from Chase UR) and subtracting the $52 we only get 8/10 ths of a cent per UR point or United mile. Terrible redemption here.
Booking with Chase Ultimate Rewards:
Since every Frequent Flyer Program is gutted and devalued (not Avios yet) you are better off using the portal on the chase site. Here you can book the same $731.86 ticket for 48,790 UR points. Much better than transferring UR to United. Now you get 1.5 cents per point, twice as much as using United miles.
Booking with AmEx via Platinum Business:
You knew the natural progression of this post is to get you to sign up for the AmEx Business Platinum Card. Forget the bonus if you don’t want to bother with the $5k and $10 spends, but focus on it as just a tool to burn up all those precious MR points you have lying around. Earn your points with the PRG 3x on airfare, 2x on dining, (5k targeted bonus when you add an AU and they spend $500), or even 5x with Personal Platinum on Airfare. Then pool the points and use this AmEx Pt Business Card to book flights on the portal. If you book with the airline you select for the $200 bonus then you will get 50% of you booking back!
Here is the bonus applied just days after booking. Since it was charged on the credit card, and then reinbursed, I will get all the miles and spend I need toward a Premier Status I no longer care about.
Even if I wanted to pay cash, it is the exact same price as the United site. With points I pay one cent per point so $731.86 costs 73,186 MR points. I go ahead and book with points and pick my Business Pt card to get 50% back within two days! Essentially making the booking cost 2 cents per point. 36,593 MR points being the total cost!