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Advise wanted - JAL vs ANA milage program (when based in Japan)

Advise wanted - JAL vs ANA milage program (when based in Japan)

Old Dec 21, 22, 2:37 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Jul 2017
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Advise wanted - JAL vs ANA milage program (when based in Japan)

Hi all,

with traveling now becoming possible again, I want to revisit my approach to miles and actually stick to one program for once. I live in Japan so the 2 big airlines we have here ANA and JAL.
Mile-hacking isn't so much a thing here, and the credit cards you can sign up with don't give you more than a couple thousand miles sadly.

I looked into membership program of both companies and, especially in Japan, they look identical. The credit cards they offer are pretty much the same, and the fares they charge for domestic flights as well.

Cards:

The usual gist is: Pay around ~$100 a year for a "gold credit card" that gives you 10-25% extra miles, and each purchase you make gives you roughly 1 mile per 200 yen (~$2).
The more expensive ANA cards give you 200 yen = 2 miles ($150 membership fee a year) or even 200 yen = 3 miles ($800 membership fee a year)

JAL gives you the same 200 yen = 1 mile deal, but you can upgrade that for $30 a year to be 200 yen = 2 miles. Their card gives you access to the business checkin counter when flying economy which is pretty sweet

/edit: I just discovered that there are ANA Amex cards in Japan that give you about 30k miles for the normal one and 100k for the gold one. So there are options

Other considerations:
- Japan is crazy about point programs and you can often convert between a lot of them, including ANA and JAL miles. More point programs support converting to JAL miles (dpoint, ponta, rakuten) vs ANA (rakuten, tpoint)
- one strategy would be to rack up bonus points with these providers and swap over, if signup bonuses are swappable. Need to check this
- JAL gives you a 10% discount when purchasing at the airport in Tokyo
- JAL owns LCC zip air, ANA owns LCC peach air

So far to my naive eye, it looks easier to rack up JAL miles because more stuff is able to convert to their milage program, and the card looks a bit better than ANAs.
But I'm sure I'm missing a lot of detail here, what else should I be looking at when making a decision? Is there a clear winner?

Last edited by dvstr; Dec 21, 22 at 5:54 am
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Old Dec 21, 22, 7:47 am
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Are there differences in destinations served that will matter to you? Are you familiar with their alliance partners?
angetenar is offline  
Old Dec 21, 22, 9:43 am
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Depending on what the OP is hoping to get out of an FFP, consideration might be given to a different frequent-flyer program. For example, United's MileagePlus program has affiliated credit cards in Japan:

https://www.united.com/en/us/fly/mil...-partners.html

(United and ANA are both Star Alliance members. MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for flights on any Star Alliance carrier -- including ANA. Cash-paid ANA flights can be credited to MileagePlus.)
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Old Jan 10, 23, 8:29 pm
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Dang I didn't receive an email notification so forgot to check up on this thread... sorry and thanks for the replies!

Originally Posted by guv1976 View Post
Depending on what the OP is hoping to get out of an FFP, consideration might be given to a different frequent-flyer program. For example, United's MileagePlus program has affiliated credit cards in Japan:

https://www.united.com/en/us/fly/mil...-partners.html

(United and ANA are both Star Alliance members. MileagePlus miles can be redeemed for flights on any Star Alliance carrier -- including ANA. Cash-paid ANA flights can be credited to MileagePlus.)
Those cards look not bad at all, I didn't know about those! 100 yen (roughly $1) = 1.5 miles is a pretty sweet deal, I compared this to ANAs own cards, and to get a similar deal you'd need to go for the super high grade ones that cost like $800 a year. Even the amex gold card only gives you 100 yen = 1 mile. The cards with over $1000 yearly fee match up to 1.5 miles = 100 yen.
That's of course assuming that 1 ANA mile = 1 united mile and they have identical worth

Downside of this would be that I can't convert other point programs into united miles, while on ANA I could. That makes it pretty hard to judge if it's more viable to collect on ANA vs United, and don't want to fragment my collecting.

Anyone here in Japan? Curious to hear comments and thoughts on what the better deal is
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Old Jan 12, 23, 10:56 am
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Join Date: Feb 2022
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Other considerations:
1. what do you want to do with your points? Airlines have better award availability for their own flights, and only have access to limited partner awards
2. ANA doesn't allow booking one way award trips
3. ANA has fuel surcharges on awards, United does not
4. ANA allows you to book round-the-world award trips
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