Steals & Deals for Jan. 22-Feb. 5, 2014
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LUFTHANSA: Here's the First Summer Business-Class Sale of the Season
Summer business-class sales haven't been super-spectacular in several years, partly due to increased demand, partly due to slightly crimped supply and partly because Continental Airlines used to be the most aggressive proponent of moving up front seats at big discounts. But to its credit, Lufthansa has become the Star Alliance leader in promoting summer business-class discounts early and often. And it's already out with its first summer sale. It won't be the last although prices may not go much lower. The opening price is $2,169 roundtrip (New York-Dusseldorf) and other fares include $2,439 (Boston-Stuttgart), $2,599 (Charlotte-Munich) and $3,029 (San Francisco-Amsterdam). The travel window on this sale is June 26 to August 29 for departures with returns permitted until November 29. You'll have to purchase seats by January 30, however, or wait until the next wave of fare sales. By the way, you should be able to find similar prices on all of the Star Alliance airlines, including United and Air Canada. Information: the TREAT YOURSELF page.

THIS WEEK'S OTHER NOTABLE BARGAINS
KOREAN AIR: A Nice Little Sale If You Want to Fly Transpacific in Coach
It's hard for me to recommend flying coach across the Pacific, but if you're going to do it, at least get a deal. Enter Korean Air, offering some nice prices for late winter and early spring flying if you book by January 31. Fares include an eye-opening $732 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Taipei and $880 from San Francisco to Seoul. It is also offering a $1,090 roundtrip between New York/JFK and Manila. The travel window is open for midweek flights until April 30. Information: the NEW YEAR SALE! page.

EVA AIR: Hey, We've Got Cheap Premium-Economy Fares
Korean Air may be willing to haul you across the Pacific cheap in coach (see above), but Taipei-based Eva Air has slashed the price of its premium economy cabin. Roundtrip fares for midweek flights from Los Angeles to Taipei are as low as $1,490 roundtrip. You can travel until May 14 if you book by February 28. From San Francisco, the midweek fare is $1,579 roundtrip if you book by February 2 and travel between February 17 and May 20. Information: the LOS ANGELES and the SAN FRANCISCO promotion pages.

LE MERIDIEN: Bonus Starwood Preferred Points for Winter Stays
About two dozen Le Meridien hotels in North America and French Polynesia--yeah, I know, weird geography!--are courting your custom with bonus Starwood Preferred Guest points. Until March 1, the first stay at any of these properties earns 1,000 bonus SPG points. Each additional stay at the hotels earns 2,000 bonus points. The catch? You've got to register by January 25. Information: the ENRICHING DESTINATIONS page.

CITI/AMERICAN AADVANTAGE: A Big Acquisition Bonus With a Reasonable Required Spend
Competition is good, even in credit cards tied to frequency programs. Because of a variety of factors, almost all of them due to pre-merger contracts, there are at least three banks issuing American Airlines and US Airways credit cards. That forces Citi, which eventually will be the last bank standing in the combined American AAdvantage program, to push harder to get your business. The result? A 50,000-mile bonus for taking its AAdvantage Platinum Select MasterCard. To earn the miles, you must spend $2,000 within three months of opening the account. That's a modest required spend for a bonus of that size. The card even waives the first year's $95 annual fee. Information: the EXPERIENCE TRULY REWARDING TRAVEL page.

AIR NEW ZEALAND: Rarotonga, Where the Deals Come Sweeping Down the Net (Again)
Air New Zealand promoted exceptionally cheap business-class fares to Rarotonga in the Cook Islands spasmodically this summer and fall using its nonstop flight from Los Angeles. The price was usually $1,999 roundtrip for those narrow travel windows. It must have worked, however, since Air New Zealand is now offering the deal for a gigantic chunk of 2015 (April 25 to November 15) at a slightly higher price ($2,210 roundtrip). You should know that the LAX-Rarotonga flights still use Air New Zealand's cradle-seat business class, not its newest flat-bed product. And there's only one flight a week in each direction, departing Sundays from LAX and just before midnight Saturdays from Rarotonga. Still, for a South Pacific getaway at such a low price, those aren't tough conditions, especially since there's only a two-day advance purchase restriction. Tickets must be purchased by February 3, an extended deadline. Information: the Air New Zealand SPECIAL OFFER page.

CHOICE HOTELS: Triple Points, But Not on the Weekends
If you're a Choice Privileges player, this promotion may appeal. You can earn triple points for each stay until February 18. But there's a catch: no weekend stays count. A qualifying stay must include a Sunday through Thursday night, but Friday and Saturday nights are right off. Registration is required, of course. Information: the EARN TRIPLE page.


HOTEL POINTS AND PRICE PROMOTIONS
HYATT: Gold Passport Jumps Back Into the Quarterly Bonus Promotion Game
After several years out of quarterly bonus promotion competition, Hyatt Gold Passport has returned to the game for 2015. They're not back with a bang since hotel occupancy is high and Hyatt's competitors aren't setting a particularly high bar (see below). In its Stay More Play More promo, Hyatt has gone the mass-customized route. You may be offered a simple 2,000 bonus points per stay or get some variation that requires a minimum number of stays for 20,000 or more points delivered in a bundle. You'll have to log in to see your particular offer. The promotional period lasts until April 30. You'll also have to register to play. Information: the STAY MORE PLAY MORE page.

FAIRMONT: Free Nights and Percent-Off Sales This Winter
The strange mashup that is Fairmont (a merger of the U.S. Fairmont and Canadian Pacific chains owned by a Saudi firm) would naturally have strange sales. So don't be surprised by its winter sale that promises "up to 15% off OR a free night" because neither claim is accurate. The hotels in the promotion actually offer discounts of 10 to 25 percent off their rates or they offer a free night when you purchase two or three nights. In other words, the effective discount is 10 to 33 percent. The promotion is valid for stays until April 30. Blackout days and payment requirements vary by property. Is the convolution worth it? Depends on whether you like the Fairmont property involved. Information: the SEASONAL SAVER page.

HOTELS: A Discouraging Start to the 2015 Promotions
Even as hotel occupancy firms up and nightly rates inch up, the major chains continue to offer regular frequent-guest program promotions. But they're often dreary reruns at best and diluted retreads of old names at worst. Sadly, the first promos for 2015 aren't particularly encouraging. I don't think any will lead you to switch your loyalty or book additional nights, but your mileage may vary.
    Marriott Rewards continues to use the MegaBonus moniker for its latest promotion, which runs from February 1 to April 30. MegaBonus wasn't that great when it was new and this version is even less rewarding. The publicly available offer is 25,000 points doled out 2,500 points per stay. But, as always, the MegaBonus is a mass-customized offer that differs based on your booking patterns and history with Marriott. You may be offered as much as 55,000 points. If you don't like what you get when you register (do it here), call Marriott Rewards and negotiate. One thing that is standard: You must register by March 31.
    IHG Rewards Club is pumping what it calls Set Your Sights, another mass-customized scheme that is based on activities: downloading its app, staying in particular chains, completing weekend stays, etc. At least in format, it's an exact copy of last season's Into the Nights promotion. It seems as if earnings are capped at 50,000 points for the January 1-April 30 promotion period regardless of the combination of tasks you're required to complete. And, of course, registration is required. You can do that here.
    Club Carlson may have the best of this tame/lame field so far. It is offering 15,000 bonus Goldpoints for each two-night stay and 30,000 points for each stay of three or more nights. The earning period is January 12 to March 29 when you register in advance.
    Starwood Preferred Guest is promoting a so-called Double Play. You'll receive double Starpoints for stays of two or more eligible nights and 1,000 additional points for every five nights stayed during the promo period. The earnings period lasts through April 15, but you must register by March 31. There's also a hefty list of properties opting out (view it here). I get the Florida and California opt-outs, but Chicago? Because we all want to be in Chicago in the winter without an incentive...

GLOBAL AIRLINE DEALS TO CONSIDER
PARIS: Cheap Premium Fares Because Travelers Never Come in Winter
A week after the Charlie Hebdo attack and horrific murders in the Kosher market, the world is full of people claiming "Je Suis Charlie" and pledging solidarity with the City of Light. But travel there? Not so much. It isn't that people are afraid to fly, you understand, it's just that this is the time of year when travel to the French capital is historically at its lowest ebb. Add two niche carriers serving Paris from the United States and you have some historically low premium-class fares, too. Here's what's on offer now.
    Air France is offering seats in its premium-economy class for as little as $1,376 roundtrip. That's the price from New York/Kennedy, but fares from other cities are equally attractive: $1,606 roundtrip from Boston; $1,636 from Miami; $1,641 from Minneapolis and $1,706 from Los Angeles. Tickets must be purchased by January 21, but travel is permitted through March 26. There's a 14-day advance purchase and a rather stiff 10-day minimum stay. Information: the PREMIUM ECONOMY OFFERS page.
    OpenSkies, the boutique British Airways carrier that flies to Paris' Orly Airport from Newark and New York/JFK, still offers the best deal in the sky: the Prem Plus cabin configured 2x2 with 47 inches of legroom. It has set its winter season (January-March) premium-economy fare as low as $1,553 roundtrip. Tickets must be purchased by the end of January and the lowest fares require a Saturday stay and a 14-day advance purchase.
    La Compagnie, the new kid on the New York-Paris block, continues to look for traction in the market using the tried-and-true trick of ridiculously low business-class fares. After trying to raise its "sale" price to $1,598 roundtrip earlier in the month, it's now selling seats as low as $1,400 between Newark and Paris/CDG. You can travel through February 28 if you book by January 30. Information: the SPECIAL OFFERS page.

MILAN: An Odd Player Makes Milan The New London of Cheap Fares
Not too long ago, when travelers wanted a cheap coach flight to Europe, they started a search in the New York-London market. But high aviation taxes on the British end and too many pond-pounding bankers have made New York-London flights surprisingly pricey. So where are the cheap fares now? Believe it or not, New York-Milan. Ever since Emirates launched a daily flight on the route last year, coach prices to Milan have plummeted. They are now the cheapest in Europe and cheaper than flying to Rome by hundreds of dollars. Alitalia, the route's incumbent, is selling tickets for as little as $659 roundtrip this winter. Emirates, which started the price war, is also at $659 roundtrip, too. And Lufthansa is charging $659 roundtrip on its Star Alliance/code-share partner United's Newark-Milan nonstop. The restrictions are relatively light: assume you have to book 14 days in advance, travel midweek and include a seven-day stay. Tickets must be purchased by early February.

HAINAN AIRLINES: Insanely Cheap Coach Fares to Beijing Get Even Cheaper
Hainan Airlines, generally considered the best of the mainland China-based carriers, is now thisclose to giving it away in coach. Its latest promotion: Just $480 roundtrip on its Boston nonstop between March 10 and May 7. There is also a $930 fare on certain dates until July 31. It has also slashed fares on its Seattle-Beijing nonstop. Now it's just $559 roundtrip for travel between January 18 and May 4. That's about $120 cheaper than its previous best offer of $680 roundtrip, which is still available for flights into July. But it doesn't end there. Hainan has posted a $760 roundtrip fare from Chicago/O'Hare for flights between March 10 and September 7. There are hefty restrictions, of course, but only a 3-day minimum stay. Now coach on long-hauls stinks, of course. But at this price, buy two seats together (make sure to call and inform the airline of your plans) and create a poor man's business class. Information: the Hainan OFFERS page.

INDIA: Stagnant Economy Means Outstanding Travel Bargains
Years of economic malaise haven't just meant that India's Congress Party got an unprecedented shellacking in this spring's elections, it also means that airlines, who've frantically expanded on the subcontinent, are promoting heavily.
    Emirates, for example, is promising as much as 60 percent off business-class fares until the end of March so long as you book 14 days in advance and lock in tickets before March 2. Fares start as low as $4,278 roundtrip from Boston and include $4,699 from Washington/Dulles, $4,762 from New York/JFK, $4,768 from Chicago and $5,062 from Los Angeles. You must change planes in Dubai, of course, but the sale is common rates for all Emirates destinations in India, including Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai. There are no blackout dates, but the lowest fares require a 14-day minimum stay.
    If you're willing to fly via Frankfurt or Munich, Lufthansa is offering midweek coach fares as low as $769 roundtrip. That price applies to New York-Chennai flights and other fares include $849 roundtrip (Boston-Mumbai), $899 (Los Angeles-Chennai), $999 (New York-Mumbai) and $789 (Houston-Delhi). Tickets must be purchased by January 6, but travel can begin as early as January 5 and returns can be as late as July 30. There is a Saturday stay requirement.
   Jet Airways, the Indian carrier that operates via a hub in Brussels, is offering notable coach fares from its Newark gateway. Prices are as low as $876 roundtrip to Mumbai and $909 to Delhi if you book by January 7. Travel is permitted between December 30 and May 15. Jet is also promoting extraordinary business-class fares from its Toronto gateway. Prices are as low as C$3,664 roundtrip to Bengaluru, C$3,690 to Mumbai and C$3,724 to Delhi. The travel window is open until November 15 with very few restrictions.

DELTA AIR LINES: Cheap Domestic Updates for 90 Days
Business travel slows dramatically between mid-November and early March, so Delta is trying to lure you up from coach with cheap first-class upgrades. Of course, that might not be good news if you're hoping for an elite-status upgrade. But that is what it is and it shouldn't surprise you that Delta, like United before it, is trying to sell stuff to others that it may have promised to you free. Upgrade prices start at $49 one-way and are valid between November 22 and February 17. There are, of course, notable restrictions: Upgrades won't be for sale on Delta's transcontinental nonstops between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle. And you can't upgrade off coach tickets purchased in the lowest-priced (E or V) buckets or in straight Y, which has its own upgrade regimen. Information: the FIRST CLASS UPGRADE page.

Europe: Back to the Future (in Business Class) on Icelandair
Icelandair is launching seasonal service between Portland, Oregon, and Reykjavik next year. That will be Icelandair's 14th North American nonstop route and they connect at Reykjavik with service to 20 European cities. Those tidbits might not normally matter to business travelers, but it may be time to go back to the future. Icelandair was for decades popular with bargain hunters who scored low connecting fares via Reykjavik. Now Icelandair has quietly evolved into a carrier that offers low business-class fares to Europe, too. As long as you make that Reykjavik connection, business-class fares from East Coast cities to Icelandair's European destinations are as low as $2,200 roundtrip. And that's without much of an advance purchase or minimum-stay requirement. (Fares are higher from Midwest or Pacific Coast cities and to Icelandair destinations in Southern Europe.) Another nice perk: Business-class fares include a free layover in Reykjavik. But there is a major caveat: Business class on Icelandair's fleet of Boeing 757s isn't great. There are no flat beds and seats, configured 2x2, offer just 40 inches of legroom. Another consideration: Icelandair's Saga Club points aren't flexible. The carrier no longer partners with a U.S. carrier and only permits redemptions on Icelandair, Finnair or with Hilton or Radisson hotels. Still, when you need a last-minute ride to Europe, can't justify walk-up business fares on other carriers and want to avoid coach, check Icelandair.

GROUND TRANSPORT DEALS WORTH YOUR TIME
NATIONAL/SOUTHWEST: Quadruple Rapid Rewards Points for Three-Day Rentals
Southwest Airlines and National Car Rental have teamed up to offer an intriguing payoff for rentals if you need a car for three days or more. Instead of the standard 600 Rapid Rewards points, a three-day National rental before May 17 will earn 2,400 points. To score the quadruple points, rent a midsize or larger and use Contract ID code 5030924. Information: the SPECIAL OFFERS page.

AMTRAK: Three Winter Trips in the East Mean a Summer Freebie
Let's just say government-owned and bureaucratically marketed Amtrak isn't at the pinnacle of promotional activity. Still, its annual version of BOGO (okay, buy three, get one) isn't too bad. If you take six Acela one-way trips (or three roundtrips) before February 28, Amtrak will buy you back a roundtrip (or two one-ways) between July 1 and August 31. It is offering the same buy three (or six), get one (or two) promotion for trips on the slower Northeast Regional runs. You must register independently for both offers. Registration for the Acela offer is here and the Northeast Regional registration is here. There are some modest blackout dates on the freebies and some minimum-spend rules for the winter purchases.

AVIS/CARLSON: 9,000 Club Carlson Points for Three-Day Rentals
Car rentals are suddenly a valuable source of points and miles again thanks to the proprietary bonus deals that the rental chains are cutting with airlines and hotel chains. Avis, for example, has once again teamed with Club Carlson, the loyalty program of Radisson and Country Inns. The offer: three-day rentals from most airport locations earn 9,000 bonus points. Use code MUHA021. And, boy, are these guys convinced they're BFFs: The promotion is available until December 31, 2015. Information: the ALWAYS ROOM FOR MORE page.

THRIFTY/UNITED: Three-Day Midsize Rentals Earn 1,000 MileagePlus Miles
Hertz and its Dollar and Thrifty subsidiaries are now the exclusive rental partners of United Airlines. That means if you want to rack up the MileagePlus credits, you'll need to look to those rental brands. The latest deal: 1,000 United MileagePlus miles from Thrifty Car Rental if you rent a midsize or larger vehicle for three days or longer. The deal is available until June 30 when you use promo code UA31. Rentals must be reserved at least 24 hours in advance. Information: the PARTNER DEALS page.

AVIS: Quadruple American AAdvantage Miles Worldwide Until February 28
Mileage offers are drying up everywhere else, but there continue to be relative gold mines in the car-rent arena. The latest from Avis is quadruple American AAdvantage miles on virtually any rental worldwide. Use coupon code #MUAA088 for rentals before February 28. Information: the Avis WINDOW SEAT'S OPEN page.

ENTERPRISE: The Return of the $10-a-Day Weekend Rental
Even as it has rocketed to the top of the car-rental heap, Enterprise continues to do things differently. For starters, all of its locations are company owned, astonishing in this era of franchised everything. It has expanded rapidly at airports, but its roots remain in the we'll-pick-you-up local station. And many of those local stations close on Sunday with short hours on Saturday. The result: a ridiculously wonderful promotion that offers cars as low as $9.99 a weekend day, so long as you return the car on Monday. The $9.99 rate covers economy or compact cars. Larger cars are $14.99-$19.99 a day. The rates include 100 miles per day and are valid for rentals that start on Fridays. Best of all, the promotion is valid at local stations until May 20. Information: Enterprise's WEEKEND SPECIAL page.

NATIONAL: The Best Car-Rental Bonus Ever Is Back Again
Sometimes the old classics are the best and that's certainly true for National's OneTwoFREE promotion. Two rentals of a midsize car by January 31 earn a free rental night that you can use by June 15. As usual, National has thrown in a few wrinkles to pique your continued interest. You'll get credit for any size rental in Mexico, referring a friend who rents and some credit for downloading the National app and other social-media kinds of things. You can earn as many as 50 free rental days during the promotion. Advance registration and membership in the National Emerald Aisle program is required. Information: the ONETWOFREE page.

TRAVEL PACKAGES TO CONSIDER
SCOTLAND: Seven Islands, 11 Days--and David Rowell, Too...
As you surely know, Travel Insider David Rowell used to be a travel packager in an earlier life. And several times a year, he still hosts a select group of travelers on a trip he personally plans and conducts. This spring, Rowell is taking a party of favorites on a tour of the Scottish islands. And, boy, David does it right: transportation in a huge luxury coach for a small group; an expert driver and guide; stays in hotels and inns he personally chooses; daily breakfast; daily touring and nearly a dozen ferry rides; and visits to seven islands and some of mainland Scotland, too. The trip begins in Glasgow on June 8 and you're free to arrange your own flights (or cash miles for a freebie). Tour prices start at $2,995 each for two people traveling together. (There's a $495 single supplement.) Information: the SCOTLAND'S ISLANDS page.

SAN FRANCISCO: A Beer Tour, a Wine Reception and a Boutique Room
Kimpton Hotels, the well-regarded boutique hotel operator, was picked off by InterContinental this week for a cool $400+ million, so you might want to check out a Kimpton before it gets homogenized beyond recognition. Choice of the moment: The Hotel Triton just off Union Square in San Francisco. And to drown your sorrows over another independent hotel operator disappearing into the maw of the gigantic global chains, consider the Triton on Tap package. Besides accommodations, the bundle includes a bucket of craft beers on arrival; a pair of beer steins; and a tour of four San Francisco craft breweries. The tour covers Magnolia Dogpatch; Speakeasy Ales & Lagers; ThirstyBear; and Triple Voodoo. Hate beer? Well, there's always Kimpton's signature evening wine reception. To book, call 800-800-1299 and use promo code BEER. Information: the Hotel Triton PROMOTIONS page.

ROME: Archeology, Food, Great Guides--and 10 Percent Off for Members
As you can see by the Elifant Tours Web site, the company's Rome tour from April 13-20 is a fine combination of archeological discovery, delightful dining, museum visits and personal discovery. The focus is on small-group, top-drawer experiences. Your base of operation will be an exquisite five-star hotel in the heart of Rome that you can't get with frequent stay points. You'll be met at Rome/Fiumicino airport (or train station) by a private car to whisk you to the hotel. And the guides, Maureen Fant and Elizabeth Bartman, have put together a wonderful series of site visits, private tours, food and wine tastings and extras in Rome and surrounding areas such as Ostia and the Pontina. The all-inclusive price is $6,900 a person, but Elifant is extending a 10 percent discount exclusively to JoeSentMe members. If you want to join the small group at the discount, contact Maureen and Elizabeth at Elifanttours@gmail.com and identify yourself as a JoeSentMe member.

OXFORD: So You Never Got to Be a Rhodes Scholar...
So you never got to be a Rhodes Scholar. Fear not because there is always The Oxford Experience, the summer session at Oxford University that offers dozens of week-long courses to travelers of all ages, social classes, intelligence levels and interests. One-week packages include the tuition and lectures for your course; lodging in Christ Church College dorms; and three meals daily. There are dozens of courses from which to choose, including studies in archeology, history, literature, politics, art and music. Courses are held in the morning, which leaves afternoons free for touring and optional excursions and evening for everything from whisky tasting to lessons in Morris dancing. At the end of the week, you even get a farewell dinner and something like a diploma. It's then up to you whether you want to run for the House of Commons or buy yourself a seat in the House of Lords. (Okay, I made that last part up, except, you know, the buying your way into the House of Lords.) Prices start at 1,260 pounds per person and upgrades to private accommodations with private baths start at 90 pounds each for two traveling together or 180 pounds if you go solo. The weekly sessions take place from July 5 to August 15. My choice for favorite course in the 2015 offerings? The Black Death because it sounds like something from a Monty Python or Black Adder skit. Information: the University of Oxford SUMMER SCHOOLS page.

NOTABLE CREDIT CARD ACQUISITION BONUSES
CITI: Price of Hilton's 'Best' Elite Level Is $95 Again--With Two Free Weekend Nights
Hilton has brutally devalued the Hilton HHonors program and its most-elite level, Diamond, is hardly better than HHonors Gold, which normally requires 20 stays or 40 nights a year. Gold Elite offers free Internet, room upgrades and continental breakfast. It's arguably Hilton's best elite level. And guess what: You don't even have to stay at Hilton even once to achieve its HHonors Gold. The Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa card includes Gold Level HHonors status and the annual fee is just $95 a year. You'll also earn two free weekend nights if you spend $2,500 during the first four months you have the card. So here's the best lodging strategy ever: Take the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Visa, pay the $95 annual fee, get Gold Level, earn and burn the two Hilton freebies--and then stay at Marriott, Starwood, Hyatt, Carlson or other hotels so you can earn elite status there. Book a Hilton Family property only when there are no other options. You'll still get Gold Level treatment and all of your other paid stays will be earning elite status elsewhere. Information: the EARN TWO page.

BARCLAYS/US AIRWAYS: Fastest, Cheapest Way to Get (Even More) AAdvantage Miles
With the merger of the US Airways Dividend Miles program into American AAdvantage due in the first half of next year, many flyers are thinking of exotic ways to earn miles fast. But sometimes the simple and direct way is the fastest, richest route. Case in point: The Barclaycard US Airways Premier World MasterCard. Once the merger is complete, Barclays won't be able to issue AAdvantage cards, so now is the time to act. For the price of the $89 annual fee, you'll now earn 50,000 US Airways Dividend Miles after your first purchase. (Yup, you read that right, no required spending. And, yup, that's up from 40,000 miles just a few weeks ago.) And, of course, those Dividend Miles will convert to AAdvantage miles on a 1:1 basis when the two plans merge. Information: the WORLD GOT BIGGER page.

CHASE: How to Get the $395-a-Year United Club Card for Free for a Year
The Chase United Club Card does well both as a must-carry credit card for perks (it includes a membership in the United Club) and one that earns lots of frequent travel points (1.5 miles per dollar spent). If the card has a drawback--besides being shackled to United Airlines, of course--it's the $395-a-year annual fee. But there is a way get the fee waived in the first year. It's pretty simple: Go into a Chase bank branch and apply for the card there. Branch bankers are empowered to waive the fee when you apply for the card in person.

This column is Copyright 2015 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2015 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.