MileWise 2.0 for iPhone! Now with Search, Price Alerts, and more
Finally! We know you’ve been waiting. MileWise’s real-time award flight search has come to the iPhone.
Search for flights in cash, frequent flyer miles, and hotel or credit card points. Find the best option for you with our WisePrice calculation, and complete your booking in-app or on your desktop later.
We’ve also added iPhone 5 and iOS6 support, rolled out a beautiful new design, and improved performance.
One small feature we’re especially happy with is the “Call Support” button in account details. For frequent flyers especially, when you need to get in touch with the airline, you really, really need to get in touch. And having to lookup a phone number is no fun. So we made a button.
You can find it in the App Store here: MileWise | iOS.
As always, please let us know what you think and what we can do better.
Combo Fares! Like Kayak’s Hacker Fares…but better.
Today we’re announcing Combo Fares — two one-way fares in cash, miles, or points combined into a single round trip.
Combo Fares can be much, much cheaper. But they also open possibilities for less-frequent travelers (who might not have enough miles for a full round-trip award ticket) to actually use your miles and points.
Let’s say you happen to live in Boston and last weekend you were looking for a last minute Friday-Sunday get away to San Francisco. The cheapest ticket was $626 on US Airways.
MileWise found a Combo Fare that pairs a $314 US Airways outbound ticket with a 12,500 United MileagePlus inbound ticket, for a WisePrice of $532. That’s a savings of nearly $100.
But we don’t simply combine cash with miles. We do a lot more. Fly out with Alaska miles and return using Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Or combine American Express with Starwood. We comb through millions of combinations to find the best options for you, and we’re expanding our coverage every day.
So check out Combo Fares! They look like this:
Fresh new design, more account details…and iPhone!
It’s a big day for MileWise! The team has been working hard on some great stuff over here, and we’re excited to show off what we’ve built.
Beyond an updated look and a more focused user experience, we’ve also got a couple surprise features.
One of the most common questions we get is “when are you going to have an iPhone app?”
We finally get to answer: Today!
Whether you’re a hard-core points junkie constantly checking their balances, or a harried traveler looking for quick access to account information, we’ve got you covered.
Track your balances, monitor account activity, and browse trips you can take using your rewards. We’ll even send you notifications when your balances change, or your rewards are in danger of expiring.
Accounts and Explore
Another thing we’ve heard is that while “Trips For You” can be fun to browse, they’re distracting when just trying to get a quick update on your accounts.
So we’ve created two tabs called Explore and Accounts. Beyond being more focused on what you actually want to do at any time, this logical separation has let us beef up each feature independently without cluttering up your screen.
The Accounts tab should feel familiar, but has gained a few nice features:
- Graph of your balance history over time
- Filter your accounts by category (Airlines, Hotels, Credit Cards, etc.)
- Account number, status, and expiration date always visible
- A Travel Profile that lets you customize MileWise to fit your personal preferences
The Explore tab is the new home for exploring trips you can take with your points, with a couple improvements. At the top are trips you can actually afford based on your current reward balances. At the bottom we show trips you can work towards, along with bars representing your progress towards earning the trip. In the future, we want to build tools to help you earn these trips even faster!
We’d love to hear any feedback. Stay tuned for more exciting announcements in the coming weeks.
Miles the Owl
Custom Mile and Point Values
While we’re always working to make our mile and point values even more accurate, individualized control is an absolute must for many of our frequent flyers.
So today we’re excited to announce that MileWise now supports entering your own reward values!
To activate this feature: sign into your MileWise account, click the settings icon in the upper right hand corner, and make any adjustments you’d like in the window that pops up.
Any changes you make will be instantly reflected in your search results, and list of accounts.
So try it out and let us know what you think!
Import your AwardWallet accounts into MileWise!
You gave feedback, and we listened. MileWise now offers seamless AwardWallet integration, enabling AW users to import all of their loyalty programs in 3 clicks!
Then, you can take advantage of all of the complementary MileWise features to maximize the value of your miles, points, and cash - for FREE!
Estimated dollar value of your reward balances
Based on smartly analyzing lots of data and your preferences to determine their real value.
One-click search and alerts for cash and award flights
Instead of visiting multiple airline, hotel, and credit card sites to find award prices, you can search for award inventory in a single search! MileWise will also have the best cash fares too (stay tuned for the “announcement”). And, if you don’t want to keep searching for “Saver” awards, just set a price alert, and we’ll e-mail you as soon as it opens up!
MileWise incorporates your reward balances, elite status, and miles earned to recommend flights that offer the best value - specifically for you.
Discover awesome trips
MileWise uncovers great deals to exciting places that are actually available & affordable based on your rewards.
We are constantly adding new features, and would love to hear how MileWise can help you travel smarter. Leave us a comment, or tweet at us!
Until next time!
-Miles The Owl
Ways to Pay for a Flight
There are 6 ways to use your money or rewards to book a flight. These methods differ in terms of how you use them, availability, value, and rewards earned.
- Money, such as U.S. dollars, is what you normally use to buy things.
- Rewards, such as frequent flyer miles like Delta SkyMiles, are earned for activity in a loyalty program. Rewards are valuable because you earn them for things you would do anyway, and then you can use them to “buy” things – like an iPod or a flight.
This is the traditional way you’ve booked flights – using your credit card. If there’s a seat available, you can buy it with money. You can also earn rewards for both the travel and the transaction. For example, buying a one-way, non-stop flight from NYC to SFO on United Airlines for $200 using an American Express credit card earns you about 2,500 United MileagePlus miles (United awards miles based on flight distance, whereas some airlines base it on price) and about 200 Amex Membership Rewards points (credit cards usually award a minimum of 1 point per dollar spent). But, using money can be expensive – especially on last minute fares.
This method involves using rewards earned in an airline loyalty program. Many airlines refer to this method as Award Travel, and most airlines tier award prices into 2 or 3 categories like Saver and Standard. Standard Awards can be used for any available seat. The Saver price is usually ½ the Standard price, but only available for about 40% of trips. Redeeming miles may also incur additional fees, but can still be a great deal – especially for Business and First class tickets (60-100k miles can get you a seat that costs several thousand dollars). Award tickets can even provide stopover and date change flexibility.
Pay with Points
This method involves using rewards earned in a non-airline loyalty program, such as a credit card or hotel program. Points can be used for almost any airline and are always available (no black-out dates). Also, you can still earn travel rewards! For example, you can use your Amex points to book a Delta flight and still earn SkyMiles. This is especially great when you want to pay with rewards but still earn miles in order to achieve or maintain elite status. The redemption value of paying with points is usually constant – typically 1 cent per point.
This method involves moving rewards from a non-airline loyalty program into an airline loyalty program and then using the converted rewards. For example, you can transfer Starwood Starpoints into Delta SkyMiles. Sometimes, transfers provide exceptional value because of both a good miles price and a transfer bonus. For example, Starwood gives 5,000 bonus points for every 20,000 points transferred, so if you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to Delta, you’ll end up with 25,000 Delta SkyMiles. Unfortunately, most programs have a limited selection of transfer partners, and the transfer ratio isn’t always 1:1. Also, transfers aren’t always instantaneous, and the good miles price may go away before you can book the flight using your converted rewards.
This method involves 2 steps. First, Buy a coach class ticket, then Redeem Miles (or sometimes you can use a voucher) to get a premium class seat. Sometimes, the airline may also charge a several hundred dollar “co-pay”. Still, frequent travelers covet upgrades because they’re getting a Business or First class seat for super cheap, and they aren’t readily available.
This method involves using money and rewards in a single transaction. For example, if you don’t have enough rewards to book a flight, some programs will let you make up the difference with money, or conversely, let you apply some of your miles or points towards booking the flight. This way you can always use your rewards.
Clearly, it’s not easy to always know what to do. That’s why we created MileWise. We figure out all the prices and then rank them in terms of best value – for you.
We don’t currently show Upgrade and Combine prices, but we intend to soon. Stay tuned for our next post on how we calculate reward values.
— Sanjay and the MileWise Team
New Inventory: Capital One, Chase, and Citibank!
Exciting things are afoot at the MileWise office.
In addition to American Express and Starwood, we now show results for Chase, Citi, and Capital One credit cards.
A lot of little details depend on the specific card you have, so if you’ve already added one of these accounts it’s important to update your Card Type.
We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible:
- From your Rewards Dashboard select a Chase or CapitalOne account
- Click Edit Program
- Select your credit card from the dropdown
It’ll look something like this:
We’ll also now shoot you an email if any of your points are about to expire, and suggest cheap and easy ways to keep them fresh.
As always, we love hearing from you. Check out the Forum, or stop into our Live Help for a quick chat!
Until next time.
Search: now with flexible date support!
posted by @nickmeyer
Exciting news ladies and gents.
After much sweat and toil flexible date search is live!
Check the “my dates are flexible” box and MileWise will grab a whole week’s worth of both depart and return cash and award fares. We then lovingly assemble the best prices across each date combination and put ‘em on a pretty chart.
The interface should feel pretty similar to what you’ve seen on airline sites. But in a few cases we’ve been able to make some big improvements.
For one - and this may sound a wee bit silly - we actually show award prices.
Some airlines, when faced with serving flex-date award results, will present you with a color coded calendar, like so:
Great start! Unfortunately, there are no prices.
Converting these cryptic yellow, green, and blue boxes into real prices requires deciphering this extensive chart:
And that’s just for the US and Canada!
Contemplating an international departure? Refer to one of fourteen regional award travel charts.
But it’s cool. We got this. We took these spreadsheets and cleaned them up, bought them some new clothes, and after a dab or two of cologne they came out all respectable.
What I’m saying is: we show actual prices. Not empty boxes.
Anyway. I’ll leave the rest for you all to explore.
How we used Node.js to build real-time award flight search
Phew! Long title.
Flight prices change really quickly, so we can’t cache results for very long. After 15 minutes or so, it’s highly unlikely the rock-bottom price you were eyeing is still available.
This presents a technology challenge: every time you do a search, we have to run out and scrape a bunch of sites to get the data we need to generate your results.
And we need to do it fast.
Traditionally you’d do this with multiple threads, worker processes and a message queue.
But Node’s asynchronous design lets us run real-time web scrapes mid-request without the architectural overhead of something like Django+Beanstalk. If we need to query 8 different APIs to source the data we need…no problem! We just fire off the requests, and handle the responses as we get them. Meanwhile, some Socket.IO magic streams results to the browser as we get them.
Initially, we tried doing all of this using Tornado, but writing asynchronous code in Python is like using your keys to open a beer bottle.
All this results in a more responsive user experience, and a lot of headache saved during development and administration.
Couple of other perks:
Being able to share code between browser and server comes in really handy. Frameworks like Browserify are fascinating, but we haven’t played with them much.
MileWise on GitHub
The disadvantage of the bleeding edge is that sometimes modules you take for granted in other languages just aren’t available yet (or don’t support your use-case).
Hopefully you’ll find some of this code helpful:
mongode - Thin wrapper around node-mongodb-native that provides a simpler alternative calling style and provides collection binding.
node-soap - Asynchronous SOAP client and server for Node.
Check us out at milewise.com! Or, email us at jobs[at]milewise.com if you want to help us make award search even better.
Edit: Follow the discussion on HackerNews here.
(You should follow us on Twitter)