Hello from Tobago!
Travel Freely With Caroline is the all-new monthly newsletter giving you the most important points and miles news from the past month AND offering some serious travel inspiration from Caroline – both in terms of how to get somewhere with miles and a few tips on things to do.
The Big News
If you’re a fan of Airbnb, there’s a new way that you can earn more back for your stay! You’ll be able to earn 3 British Airways Avios per dollar spent on Airbnb bookings in addition to the points you earn from your credit card! I’m a huge fan of Airbnb because I love having more space, a kitchen, and a local feel to a place, so I highly recommend considering Airbnb if you haven’t tried it yet!
You can now redeem Alaska Airlines miles for Aer Lingus flights. It’s not necessarily the best use of Alaska miles, but it’s always nice to have more options. It costs 30,000 – 80,000 Alaska miles each way to book an economy award or 60,000 – 280,000 Alaska miles each way for business class between the US and Europe. The low end of those ranges are worth considering, especially when you consider you could have a stopover in Dublin for no extra cost.
Citi has announced that they will drop almost all travel protections from almost all credit cards. This includes trip delay coverage, lost baggage coverage, and even the auto rental insurance coverage that comes with most cards these days. After these changes go into effect in September 2019, and it will no longer make sense to use Citi cards to book travel because you’ll be missing out on a host of protections that are offered by similar cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Air Canada Aeroplan has made some changes to their redemptions, but they’re not all bad. Notably, redemption rates have not changed. You can now cancel award tickets within 24 hours of booking for free (Aeroplan used to charge $30CAD for this) and it’s now possible to refund award tickets (for a fee) within 21 days of travel with a reduced $125CAD fee if you do it online. On the negative side, Aeroplan is getting rid of their around the world award chart and after September 1, 2019 you will be limited to one stopover or open jaw on a roundtrip booking. Air Canada currently allows two stopovers or one stopover and one open jaw on award tickets.
The Little Bites
There’s a new Chase Freedom Student Card. It’s available in-branch to people between the age of 18 and 24 and comes with a $50 sign-up bonus. This is a great way to get a college student started with Chase. If you need to build up credit or looking for your first card, the Chase Freedom Unlimited has an awesome 3% cash back (or 3x points) offer going right now.
The British Airways Visa Credit Card has an increased sign-up bonus of 100,000 British Airways Avios. This is for big spenders because the initial bonus is 50,000, and you have to spend $20,000 in your first year to hit the second tier of 50,000 Avios.
The Citi Double Cash Card is going to have the option to convert to Citi ThankYou points. We’re still waiting on the full details of what this will look like.
Japan Airlines award flights are now bookable directly on American Airlines’ website. Previously, it was required to call American Airlines to book award flights with Japan Airlines.
Citi has introduced 48-month language to the bonus terms for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Credit Card. That means you won’t be able to earn the bonus if you have in the last 48 months. Previously, you only had to wait 24 months after opening or closing a card to receive a new bonus. This is updated in the CardGenie.
Sun Country Airlines will no longer charge change or cancellation fees as long as you are more than 60 days away from the departure of your flight.
There’s a new card from American Express called the American Express Business Business Cash Card that earns 2% back on the first $50,000 in purchases per calendar year.
Travel With Caroline
I’m currently sitting at an ocean-front restaurant in Tobago waiting for some fresh ceviche and a piña colada. Being a digital nomad definitely doesn’t suck! I only ended up in Trinidad and Tobago because after reaching Georgetown, Guyana overland from French Guiana, flights to everywhere else were very expensive. I need to get to Peru, but I had two spare weeks to play with so I had the ability to hop over to Port of Spain, Trinidad, and now I’m in Tobago. Tomorrow I head back to Trinidad for a few days and then I’ll be in Curaçao before I fly to Cusco, Peru.
I’ve been traveling with my good friend Aaron for the past two weeks. We took Air France’s Caribbean Island Hopper flight from Miami to Cayenne, French Guiana via Haiti, Guadeloupe, and Martinique. We spent a couple of days in French Guiana (which is actually part of France!) and then crossed to Suriname overland. In Suriname, we stayed in the capital, Paramaribo, for a few nights and also stayed in a lodge on the Suriname river! We even spent a night sleeping in hammocks in the jungle. And then we completed one more over-land crossing to get to Guyana where we spent another couple of days.
As far as flights go, this wasn’t the cheapest trip ever. We really wanted to fly Air France’s Caribbean Island Hopper flight and shelled out about $430 each (one-way!) to do so. Mileage redemptions typically start at 45,000 miles for this flight, so it didn’t make sense to use miles. The flights to Trinidad, Tobago, and Curaçao were all reasonable cash flights. We paid $103 to Trinidad from Georgetown, $48 roundtrip to Tobago, and I paid $160 to fly to Curaçao. I redeemed Bank of America points for my flight to Curaçao.
And from Curaçao to Cusco, Peru, I was able to redeem just 12,500 United miles plus around $80 in taxes! It would have cost me 40,000 United miles + tax to fly straight from Georgetown.
If you want to check out more of my adventures, follow me on Instagram (@caroline.lupini).