Yesterday, I was logged into my United Mileage Plus account and noticed that the United 55,000 targeted offer has once again returned!
For those of you not familiar, every couple months United will run a targeted promotion of the MileagePlus Explorer Card. I believe the last time it was live was in December.
The normal offer is typically 30,000 miles, however if you are logged into your United.com account and have some miles in your account, you will see an offer for 50,000.
For both offers, if you add an “authorized” user (which is free) and use that other card once, you will get an additional 5,000 miles! You can add anybody for the “authorized user” since they don’t ask for a Social Security Number.
There is a $2,000 minimum spend required in 3 months, but that is fairly easy to do!
How To Sign Up For The Offer
1. Log Into Your United.com Account
Once you are logged in, if you have miles in your account, you should see a banner for the 50,000 Explorer Card. However some readers are reporting below that even with miles in their account, they still can’t see the higher offer.
If you can’t see the banner, after you are logged in, you can go to TheExplorerCard.com and you should hopefully see the higher offer.
If you don’t have any United miles in your account, you might not see the 50,000 offer, so I’d recommend transferring in at least 5,000 from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
If You Already Signed Up For The Lower Offer
If in the last 90 days, you signed up for a United Mileage Plus Explorer Card and either got the lower 30,000 offer or didn’t get the additional 5,000 miles for adding an additional user, feel free to send a secure message to Chase and take a screenshot of this higher offer.
Quite a few readers have emailed me and said that this tactic has worked and they were bumped to the higher offer. Spending 5 minutes sending Chase a message for an additional 25,000 miles seems like a great deal in my book!
United miles are easily one of the best frequent flyer miles out there!
While United still engages in starnet blocking and it can be a pain to get Premium Awards on Asian Carriers, overall the program is pretty great and can be used to basically get you anywhere in the world fairly cheap (which is definitely not true of AA and Delta).
Not to mention that because United is a partner with Chase, you can easily earn 150,000 United miles in the span on a few months by getting the United MileagePlus Explorer, Chase Sapphire Preferred, and a Chase INK Card!
55,000 United miles is a fairly spectacular deal because after completing the $2,000 minimum spend requirement, you are at 57,000 miles, which is just 3,000 miles short of a free economy ticket to Europe (60,000 miles)!
I already got this card with the 55,000 bonus a while ago, so I won’t be getting it again, but I will probably have my parents sign up for it!
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A Reader sent me an email asking if the 100,000 Avios British Airways offer was still available and if there is a way to combine Avios between family members.
Unfortunately the 100,000 Avios offer isn’t available anymore but there is a 50,000 Avios offer. If you are interested in that, you can find it here. (If it doesn’t come up, then try searching for it.)
As for the 2nd question, there is a way to combine Avios between family members using a Household Account.
British Airways Avios are already one of my favorite currencies for domestic redemptions. However when you add in the Household Account, they become even more valuable.
The Value of Household Accounts
Household Accounts are probably one of the most valuable features that a frequent flyer program can allow, hence why not all airlines allow them.
In fact, to the best of my knowledge, British Airways is one of the only major airlines that allow Household Accounts.
Household Accounts basically allow you to pool all your family members miles into one account, which makes these types of accounts extremely valuable for a few reasons:
1. Booking Tickets
With most airlines, because each person’s miles are in their individual frequent flyer account, when you book award tickets, you have to book them separately via each person’s account.
While this isn’t a huge deal, it can be annoying having to book each itinerary separately.
With British Airways since all the Avios are in a single Household Account, when you book a ticket, you just select which family members are flying and add them to the itinerary.
2. Transferring Miles
Household Accounts are also useful if you have Avios and want to transfer them to someone else.
I had this exact issue with United last year when I needed to transfer 10,000 miles from my Mom’s United account into mine.
Since United doesn’t allow Household Accounts, I was forced to pay $150 to transfer the miles between the accounts.
Had the award ticket been with British Airways, since all the Avios are already in one Household Account, I wouldn’t have had to do any transferring and could have just used my Mom’s Avios.
3. Traveling With Kids
In my opinion, probably the biggest benefit of Household Accounts is to people who travel with kids.
My Parents are from India and when I was younger, every few years my entire Family would go visit India.
Unfortunately I am not sure my parent’s got us frequent flyer accounts when we were younger, so my brother and I probably missed out on 100,000+ miles over the years.
Obviously there is no separate designation for children’s frequent flyer accounts and adult accounts. It is for this reason that many parents don’t ever sign their kids up for a frequent flyer account because the kids will never earn enough miles on their own for an Award Ticket.
With British Airways Household Accounts, since you can combine your Avios into one central account, if a family of 4 goes from the U.S to India on British Airways, instead of 4 accounts that have 16,000 Avios in them, you would have 1 Household Account with 64,000 Avios (16,000 x 4)!
Who Can Join A Household Account
British Airways is fairly explicit on their website to not include the word “family” when describing Household Accounts.
To qualify for a Household Account, you just have to be registered under the same permanent mailing address.
I read the fine print and couldn’t find anything that said you had to be legally married, have the same last name, or anything like that to be included in a Household Account.
As long as you live under the same roof, you qualify.
Also up to 7 people total can be included under one Household Account.
How To Sign Up For A British Airways Household Account
First thing you need to do is to log into your British Airways frequent flyer account at BritishAirways.com
Once you are logged in, click on the the “Manage My Account” tab on the sidebar.
It will expand and allow you to click on “Apply / change my Household Account”
Once you click that, it will ask you if you want to “Apply now for a Household Account” or manage an existing account.
Click on “Apply now for a Household Account.”
In the future, if you need to add or remove anyone from your Household Account after it has been set up, you would click “Already set up? Manage your account” button.
Once you click on “Apply now for a Household Account”, it will take you to the page to add your family members.
Technically, your family members don’t have to be registered with British Airways just yet. So you can always hit the no button and it will ask you to input their email and it will invite them to join British Airways.
Once you enter your family member’s BA frequent flyer numbers as well as their last name, it will send them an email confirmation asking if they would like to join the Household Account.
Once they accept, their Avios Points will be added to the Household Account.
After you have added everyone to your Household Account, when you go to book a flight with your Avios, all your family members will be included at the bottom. You just select who all is flying, and it will do the rest.
Also on the right side of the screen, it will show your individual Avios, as well as the total balance of the Household Account.
If there is one drawback to the British Airways Household Account program, it is that once you have created a Household Account and added your family to it, you can’t book tickets for anyone that is not part of your Household Account.
For most people that isn’t an issue but if you are booking an Award Ticket for a friend, etc, it might be a problem.
Of course, in a worst case scenario you could always just add your friend to your Household Account…
All in all, the British Airway Household Account is an excellent way to pool all your family’s Avios in one place. Between myself and my Parents, we have over 200,000 Avios pooled together in our British Airways Household Account.
Now if only British Airways would drop the ridiculous fuel surcharges…
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When new Readers or Friends ask me if they should sign up for a new Credit Card to earn Frequent Flyer Miles, the first thing I always ask is if they pay they current Card balance in full every month.
The reason for this is that many times the interest and late fees on a Credit Card balance can easily wipe out the value of any miles you earn from the Sign Up Bonus. I talked about all of this in my post on credit card debt and how to get it under control.
Remember that Banks wouldn’t offer huge Sign Up Bonuses if Credit Cards weren’t profitable for them. For every one of us that only opens a Credit Card to get Miles and then closes it before the Annual Fee comes due, there has to be another Cardholder on the other end who is generating so much interest and fees for the Bank that the Bank doesn’t mind “subsidizing” our travel.
That being said, you obviously should never get a new Credit Card if you can’t make the monthly payments. However, what happens when you can afford to make the payments but accidentally forget to pay one month?
More Money Credit Cards, More Problems
In spite of having 15+ Credit Cards, I have never missed a single payment on any of my Credit Card or ever even paid 1 cent in interest……..until yesterday!
I got my first Credit Card when I was 18 (or 7 years ago), and since then have been religious about paying my Cards on time. I use Mint.com to track my spending and have email and cell phone alerts for all my Credit Card accounts notifying me of suspicious activity and if a payment hasn’t been made on time.
Well yesterday, thanks to a little technological mishap at Chase.com, my perfect record was ruined!
A few months ago, I got the Hyatt Credit Card. Since I was a Diamond Member from the SMD4, by signing up for the Card, I got 2 Free Nights in a Suite which is a $2,000+ value.
When I signed up for that Card, I already had 4 Chase Personal Cards and 2 Chase “Business” Cards, so I was surprised that I was instantly approved for the Hyatt Card.
I went ahead and did a $1,000 Amazon Payment as soon as I got the new Hyatt Card and then put the Card in my drawer to collect dust.
Every single one of my account statements for all my Credit Cards and Bank Accounts are paperless but when you sign up for a new Credit Card, the default option is U.S Mail.
Normally after I am approved for a new Chase Card, the new Card will show up in my Online Chase Account Portal even before the Card arrives at my Door.
Well for some reason or the other, Chase never added my new Hyatt Card into my Online Account…
Yesterday I was looking through some snail mail on my desk and noticed a Chase Credit Card Statement, so I decided to open it and got quite the surprise!
Not only had I not paid my previous month’s balance, but on top of that Chase had imposed a $25 late fee and $14.46 in interest.
In addition to that if I did not pay the Minimum Payment of $51 by 5/6/13, then I would get hit with another $35 Late Fee and my APR would jump to 29.99%!
Of course, the first thing I did after reading my Statement was to go online and see how I had forgotten to pay it.
When I logged onto Chase.com, I realized that Chase never added this new account to my Online Portal. That is why the Outstanding Balance was never picked up by Mint.com and I didn’t see on Chase.com that a payment was due.
What is even sillier is because the new account was never added to my Chase Online Portal, Chase never sent any email alerts informing me that a payment was due.
In case you are wondering, to add any Chase Account to your Online Portal, simply go to Customer Center and then click on Add Account.
When I tried to add my Hyatt Card to my Chase Online Portal, I got an error saying that I couldn’t add a Business Card to my Personal Accounts. Obviously the Hyatt Card is a Personal Card, so there must have been some miscoding in Chase’s systems hence why it was never added in the first place…
I logged into my Business Account and tried to add the Hyatt Card but got an error again.
However when I went back into my Personal Account, it somehow magically appeared and I was greeted with the following alert.
To make matters worse, because it was after 8PM and my payment was due on 5/6/13, if I tried to pay it online, the payment wouldn’t process until 5/7/13 (thus making it late again). Chase Online instructed me to call them to have the payment processed.
After getting a Chase Representative, I went ahead and paid everything that was outstanding and then explained the situation to the Representative.
He was fairly understanding and took a look at my account history. Since I have never missed a payment and have been with Chase for close to 10 years, he went ahead and waived the $25 late fee.
I asked if he could also waive the interest charges since I would have paid the Card balance if Chase.com had added the new card to my account in the first place. He said he wasn’t authorized to do so but would transfer me to someone else who could.
The Chase Representative who I was transferred to also looked at my account history and then went ahead and waived the interest charges!
Surprisingly, Chase handled the entire situation much better than I expected and put up no fight when I politely asked if they could refund the fees. So kudos to them for providing excellent customer service because I was definitely impressed!
Why Missing A Payment Can Be Bad
I was fairly luckily in that I actually opted to open my snail mail and saw that I was past due on an account. Obviously this wouldn’t have happened if Chase had just added the new account to my Chase Online Portal, but mistakes happen.
If some of you are reading this and wondering what is the big deal with missing a payment, the reason is simple. For Banks, missing a payment may be an indication of a change in your financial situation.
While you may have a perfect credit history, the Banks don’t know if the one payment you missed is due to you forgetting or if it is because you lost your job, etc.
Not surprisingly, missing a payment can have a negative effect on your Credit Score. According to research,
“Missing one credit card payment (a 30-day late), the person with 680 credit score would lose between 60 and 80 points, while the person with the 780 credit score would lose between 90 and 110 points.”
I am hoping that because I went ahead and paid the balance and Chase waived the fees, that there won’t be a derogatory mark on my Credit Score but we will see.
Additionally, if you miss a payment, the Bank (as you saw on my Statement) has the right to bump up your APR. In my case, the APR could go as high as 29.99%.
However, the most shocking thing about missing a payment is that according to Interest.com, the Banks can take away any Miles or Points that are associated with the Credit Card.
Chase and Discover seem to have the most stringent policy.
If a customer is 60 days late (Chase) or misses two payments (Discover), the customer loses all points, miles or cash rebates that they are due.
And once they’re gone, they’re gone. Paying the bill won’t reinstate the rewards, and neither company will allow customers to pay a reinstatement fee to get them back.
American Express also snatches back all points and rebates after just one missed payment. But it allows customers to recover forfeited points and rebates once their account is current by paying a $29 reinstatement fee.
Citi has a similar policy, except the reinstatement fee is only $15.
Capital One cardholders only lose miles or rebates earned during the billing cycle of the missed payment.
Bank of America seems to have the most lenient policy.
Cardholders forfeit points if they’re 60 days late with a payment. But once the account is made current again, they get the points back without paying a reinstatement fee.
Although Chase should have updated my Online Portal with the new Hyatt Card, it is my fault for not keeping a better record of what Cards needed to be paid and for not opening my snail mail more promptly.
While technology like Mint.com and email alerts certainly make life easier, it is easy to forget that they are not fail proof. Luckily, Chase was extremely understanding of the situation and it wasn’t a huge deal to get the situation rectified. However, it will take a few months to see what impact this missed payment will have on my Credit Score.
Going forward, as soon as I get a new Card, I am going to make sure it has been added to my Online Portal and enrolled in Auto Pay, just in case something slips through the cracks.
Has a similar situation happened to any of you?
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