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FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 3/4 [Monthly posting]
Section - [3-14] Credit Card Voucher Offers

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Several credit card companies offer vouchers for cheap airline travel
as an incentive to enroll students.

1. American Express.

   Students who apply for the standard green card ($55/year) or gold card
   ($75/year) will receive five "Travel Savings Certificates" if
   approved (within 2-3 weeks of receiving the card). Putting the
   vouchers to good use can easily result in your saving more than the
   cost of the card. Income and employment requirements for the gold
   card are waived for graduate students. 

   Three of the vouchers are good for travel anywhere in the 48
   contiguous United States on Continental Airlines or Continental
   Express. Each certificate is good for two roundtrip coach class
   tickets (same itinerary). If you cross the Mississippi the cost is
   $239/ticket; otherwise just $159/ticket. These vouchers are not good
   for travel to Florida between 2/12 and 4/30 and between 6/15 and 8/25;
   during those periods, you must use the special "Florida Certificate".
   The cost for tickets with this certificate is $239 for travel between
   Florida and destinations east of the Mississippi; $299 for
   destinations west of the Mississippi. The last voucher gets you $50
   off an international roundtrip coach class fare of $400 or more, or
   $75 off an international roundtrip coach class fare of $600 or more.

   Restrictions: Reservations for US domestic travel must be made and
   tickets purchased WITHIN 21 days of travel. The maximum stay is 14
   days and must include a Saturday night. Reservations for international
   travel must be made and tickets purchased at least 7 days before
   departure (or earlier, if required by the fare). The minimum stay is 8
   days and must include a Saturday night. All the certificates allow
   you to take along a student companion at the same price. The vouchers
   expire 1 year after issue.

   Although seating is limited, students report that they've had little
   trouble getting a last-minute reservation with the vouchers. They may
   have had to be flexible with their departure and return times and
   dates, but they've hardly ever had a problem getting to their
   destination. Traveling during off-peak times will increase your
   chances of getting a seat.  Don't expect to be able to get a seat
   around Christmas and Thanksgiving.  Tickets must be purchased using
   the American Express card. (Some students report success in using the
   vouchers with other credit cards.)

   The vouchers are not transferable, and the tickets are neither
   transferable nor refundable (and the airlines do check your
   student id both at the ticket counter and at the gate). To work around
   the non-transferrable restriction, use your first initial instead of
   your first name, and (if female) ask to have your maiden (alternately,
   married) name on the ticket (which allows you to substitute an
   arbitrary last name, if you're not bothered by the sleaziness).

   [Note: When travelling on Continental, beware of connections in
   their hub in Newark NJ.] 

   If you are a student, have an AmEx card and haven't received the
   vouchers, call the 800 number (1-800-582-5823 or 1-800-528-4800)
   and they'll send them out to your billing address. 

   [As of 9/1/93, USAir is no longer honoring the AmEx travel
    vouchers. As of 12/1/94, they seem to be honoring them again.] 
   Although the current AmEx tickets are for travel on Continental
   Airlines, USAir will honor them for travel on USAir (non-summer
   coupons only; you may use the non-summer coupons during the summer,
   however). Give the following promotion code to the travel agent 
   when using the AmEx/Continental vouchers for travel on USAir: 
   USAir seems less likely than Continental to check for student id.
   In general, USAir seems to accept coupons from almost any other airline.

2. Chase Manhattan VISA
   Same cost structure as the AmEx/Continental vouchers ($129 if you
   don't cross the Mississippi River, $189 if you do), but for
   travel on USAir. Maximum stay of 60 days (Saturday stay not
   required). Tickets must be purchased within 48 hours of reservation.
   Valid student id must be presented at time of ticketing.
   Blackout dates around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and some
   destination-specific days.

3. Citibank VISA
   The Citibank AAdvantage VISA/MC charges a $50 annual fee (not a great
   deal, when no-fee VISA/MC cards abound). Earns 1 mile for every dollar
   spent. (You'd need to spend $25,000 to get a free PlanAAhead ticket.)
   Given the annual fee, not that good a deal. If you decide to get it,
   wait until American runs their next sign up bonus (typically either a
   free round-trip companion ticket or 5,000 free miles). Note that it
   takes 4-6 weeks to get the companion ticket.

4. Bank One TravelPlus Visa Card
   With the TravelPlus Card, you accumulate one point for each dollar
   spent. These points may then be redeemed for tickets on any airline,
   with no blackout dates (14-day advance notice and Saturday night stay
   required). 12,000 points gets you a free round-trip ticket within a
   zone in the US (each zone about 1/3 of the US) and 20,000 points gets
   you a free round-trip ticket anywhere in the continental US. 30,000
   points to the Carribean/Mexico; 35,000 to Alaska/Hawaii; 50,000 to
   Europe; 75,000 to Asia; and 85,000 to Australia. The card costs
   $25/year for classic ($55/year for gold). You get 1,000 bonus
   points upon approval. Call 1-800-694-9596 for more information
   about the Bank One Travel Plus program (1-800-945-2023 is Bank
   One's customer service number). 

The June 1994 issue of Smart Money contains a review of frequent flyer
programs (page 120), including a summary of credit card mileage
tie-ins. The best way to find out about airline affinity cards is to
call the airline in question and ask.

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Top Document: FAQ: Air Traveler's Handbook 3/4 [Monthly posting]
Previous Document: [3-13] Hotel Frequent Flyer Plans
Next Document: [3-15] Telephone Companies

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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:12 PM