Secretary of State Hillary Clinton broke a record this week – she’s visited more countries during her tenure than any previous Secretary of State, adding Mongolia and Laos as the 101st and 102nd nations she’s set foot in over the past three and a half years.
Of course, Clinton doesn’t have to pay for these trips herself; the taxpayers pick up the tab, since travel is part of her job description. Still, the travel experts at Credit-Land.com wondered whether the government could save itself – and us – a few dollars by using a frequent flyer credit card to book Clinton’s trips around the globe.
The Million-Mile Mark
Clinton’s latest trip through Europe and Asia was nearly two weeks long and 27,000 miles long, but that’s just a fraction of the miles she’s covered since being appointed to her post. She’s flown an estimated 843,839 miles – in first class, we assume. Since she’ll be holding on to her job for another six months before her term is up, it’s reasonable to assume she could top the million-mile mark before she leaves her cabinet post.
How many frequent-flyer miles could she have cashed in, and how much money could she have saved, if she’d used a frequent-flyer credit card to fly those one million miles?
One of the ways to calculate that is to look at round the World packages offered by airlines alliances. For example, SkyTeam offers a Round the World Fare which provides economy, business, and first class seating for a set of flights in a single direction around the World. “Our calculations for a first class flight on a 26,000 miles trek packagearound the globe, was based on SkyTeam World Fare that limits your destinations of up to 16 cities. In our calculations we chose 12 cities, a most simple route around the World, and used the SkyTeam World Fare booking engine to generate a package price of approximately $17,000.” – says Michael Germanovsky, editor-in-chief at Credit-Land.com– “Since an average international, first class flight, going one-way, can be booked with about 60,000 frequent flyer miles, we can estimate that a transition through 12 cities across the World, could be redeemed at approximately 720,000 frequent flyer miles. Since Clinton visited 102 cities, the total amount of miles to finance her trip may equal to about 6,120,000 frequent flyer miles.
Considering that most credit card programs earn 1 mile for $1 spent; we can poke fun at the Clinton’s run State Department proposed plan to provide 50 million dollars in financial aid to SE Asia; by imagining that at least $6 million of this aidcould be paid with a frequent flyer credit card, to fund Clinton’s travel galore.” – Germanovsky says.
American Express for Secretary of State?
Daniel I. Tulbovich, travel expert at Credit-Land.com, says that American Express is a good choice for people who travel frequently and need flexibility to book tickets on different airlines.
“Some airline credit cards only allow you to use your miles on their airline and the airlines in their alliance – Star Alliance, oneworld, or SkyTeam. American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to any airline, allowing maximum choice and flexibility for your itinerary,” says Tulbovich.
He goes on to explain that since American Express partners with one airline from each of the three major alliances, it’s easy to transfer points to the airline that’s a member of the alliance you’d like to use for your trip.
“For example, if you want to go to France, the first country on Secretary Clinton’s most recent itinerary – you can transfer your American Express Membership rewards points to Delta, which is a member of SkyTeam,” says Tulbovich. “Air France is also a member of SkyTeam, so then you can use your points to book a ticket on an Air France flight. It’s very easy, once you understand how it works.”
SkyTeam Around The World Fare
If you want to follow in Secretary Clinton’s footsteps, you may want to consider booking a Round the World Fare yourself. Here is what you need to know:
The airfare is valid for Round the World travel to and from countries in South West Pacific, Africa/Middle East, Asia, Europe, North America and South and Central America served by the participating Star Alliance member carriers. The Airfare is valid on the flights of all Star Alliance member carriers, including:
Adria Airways (JP), Aegean Airlines (A3), Air Canada (AC), Air China (CA), Air New Zealand (NZ), ANA (NH), AsianaAirlines (OZ), Austrian (OS), AviancaTaca (AV/TA), Blue1 (KF), Brussels Airlines (SN), Copa Airlines (CM), Croatia Airlines (OU), EGYPTAIR (MS), Ethiopian Airlines (ET), LOT Polish Airlines (LO), Lufthansa (LH), Scandinavian Airlines (SK), Singapore Airlines (SQ), South African Airways (SA), SWISS (LX), TAM Airlines (JJ), TAP Portugal (TP), Turkish Airlines (TK), THAI (TG), United (UA) and US Airways (US).
“The great thing, as confirmed with SkyTeam, you can use credit card frequent flyer milesto purchase the Round the World Fare.” – says Germanovsky.
A Little Legwork Required
On the other hand, you may wish to build a flight itinerary yourself. This way you are not limited to connections that a world tour package can offer. However, to do the actual booking may take some effort.
American Express Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed at a rate of one point per mile, but how many points a flight will cost depends on which airline you book your ticket through. “The same exact flight could cost 40,000 points or 60,000 points. If you know what you are doing, you’ll call around and find out which airline will give you the best price,” explains Daniel I. Tulbovich. “You can book your Air France ticket through any airline that is a member of SkyTeam.”
Since it pays to do a little homework to find out which airline will offer the best value for reward redemption –an assistant cabinet post could be created for the next Secretary of State – the Assistant Secretary of Frequent Flyer Credit Cards, perhaps? If the new appointee needs help figuring out how which credit cards offer the best travel value, and how to navigate the frequent flyer system, she can rely on the experts at Credit-Land.com to answer any questions.