We started and finished this month with FTU on our minds: First, we announced the June FTU Advanced Minneapolis and then we closed out the month with a great weekend at FTU Advanced Seattle — thanks to those who were there!
February has seen some exciting signup bonuses come and go, but one thing has remained the same: airfares, especially to Europe, have been very competitive. A few examples can be found here, here, and here. And it’s not just economy class! Great business class sales are happening as well. While several of these sales may be over, it’s great to see a steady supply of lower prices. It gives us opportunities to visit Europe cheaply and/or to position for award chart sweet spots.
On the earning side, we continue to find ways to extreme stack promotions and benefits to earn a pile of miles, whether by buying flowers or paying your bills, there are always ways to earn large numbers of miles without flying.
Loyalty Program News
Today marks the end of a Hyatt Gold Passport program that has been well-loved for many years. While there are things to love about the new World of Hyatt program and certainly some things to hate, I think we can all take a moment to appreciate a program that offered a ton of value and some great benefits for a long time. Starting tomorrow, many top-tier Hyatt members will never again enjoy the opportunity for this moment:
“But I’m a Globalist member” just doesn’t have quite the same ring.
In the new Hyatt program, highlights include a free night certificate for any Hyatt in the world that is scheduled to be issued to Globalist members tomorrow and suite upgrades on both paid and award stays. Mid-tier Explorist members will get 4 club upgrades per year, one of the key benefits of Diamond membership in the old Gold Passport program. Unfortunately, the new qualification requirement for top-tier Globalist status will be 60 nights per year, up from a minimum requirement of 25 stays last year. Additionally, there will be no more welcome amenity for top-tier members.
Not to be outdone, this month Hilton joined the party and announced changes to the Hilton
HHonors program. This month marks the end of the Hilton category chart and the migration towards a completely revenue-based point structure, including the ability to pay with cash + points in any ratio. Hilton claims that the high season price for hotels will not increase from the maximum prices we see today, but the price may drop in low season. If you believe that, I have a piece of oceanfront property to sell you in Bolivia. Going forward, I think the only chance for extracting outsized value at Hilton properties will be booking during special events periods (before Hilton gets around to adjusting rates up). Think events like New Year’s Eve, festivals, spring break periods, and sporting events. While I generally prefer redeeming points in these types of situations (when I would otherwise be unwilling to pay the cash price), it’s unfortunate that opportunities to redeem for good value are decreasing.
But it’s not all bad news in loyalty today: Delta Diamond Choice benefits have some actual enhancements, and Greg tells you what to choose and when to choose them.
Credit Card News
The big new signup bonuses to come out this month were the 35K point offers on both Amex SPG cards. Surprisingly, neither card made our top 10 offers for February 2017. However, the bonuses are compelling considering flexibility of Starpoints. These points can be transferred to most airlines 1:1 with a 5,000 point bonus when transferring 20,000 points. They can now also be transferred to Marriott at a very favorable rate: 3 Marriott Rewards points for 1 Starpoint, making the 35,000 point signup bonus worth 105,000 Marriott Rewards points. What’s more, the future of these cards is uncertain. With the Marriott-Starwood merger completed and loyalty programs set to combine sometime in 2018, this may be the last chance to get an increased offer on the SPG cards.
New this month, Cathay Pacific has introduced a credit card with a 25K mile signup bonus. Greg helps you see if you should be inspired to get it, but I think this one mainly appeals to a small subset.
Best of Frequent Miler
Don’t miss these Frequent Miler posts from February 2017!
- You’ve Gotta See This
- The Fine Print: Don’t Let Arbitration Ruin Your Wedding
- The Fine Print: The Consumer Strikes Back
- Freedom Unlimited Plan Thwarted
- From Sapphire Preferred to Freedom Unlimited, No Waiting
- Should you call when your application goes pending?
- How to know which credit card to use
- Chase Hyatt credit card now offering Explorist status for $50K spend
- The 150,000 point offer everyone should avoid
- Is it foolish to use hotel cards for everyday spend?
Manufacture Spend / Meet Minimum Spend Requirements
- Targeted Plastiq promo: No service fee for 2 months when scheduling 6 months of mortgage/rent payments
- $2500 in fee free credit card spend for business card holders
Miles, Points, and Travel
- Who is eligible to for Marriott’s Elite Status buy back?
- My 2017 Elite Status Plans
- Business Class for Two: Cathay Pacific Companion Ticket Awards
Best current credit card offers
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 100K after $4K spend (in-branch only)
- Chase Ink Business Preferred: 80K after $5K spend ($95 annual fee waived if you sign up in branch)
- Chase Sapphire Preferred: 50K after $4K spend + 5K for adding an authorized user
- CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card: 70K offer in-branch only
All of the above offers and many more can be found on our Best Offers Page.
More Deals worth checking out
- Hot: Dallas to Madrid for $386 RT on Delta
- Even Hotter: New York to Paris direct for $297 RT on British Airways/Open Skies
- Europe on Sale: Seattle to Amsterdam for $325 RT, Paris for $340
- Singapore Business Class from New York, Houston, and LA
- Europe DIRT CHEAP with discount carriers
About Month In Review
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