Getting more from your mileage, which Marriott benefits to expect (searchable guide), and more

This week at Frequent Miler, we have a great new tool for figuring out your Marriott elite benefits, why you should be paying attention to Membership Rewards, how to save miles by adding a leg, and more. Read on for this week’s recap.

Marriott Platinum Elite: What to expect when checking in

Breakfast fruit tower at the JW Marriott Grand Rapids Lounge

Greg made a terrific tool for figuring out your elite benefits on Marriott stays. He input all of the various official information we have into a sortable table so that you can search for the brand you’ll be staying with and even the specific property to see if there are any exceptions. I’m disappointed with Marriott that a tool like this is necessary, but the bottom line is that it is and I for one am thankful to have it. Bookmark it, share it, use it, give your feedback.

6 calls, 6 different answers…customer service doesn’t always know best.

When a reader expresses confusion because we’re saying A and the customer service rep they spoke with said B, I often facetiously joke that if they call five times, they’d likely get 5 different answers. Little did I know how true it was. I had (what I thought was) a simple question. I called  customer service six times and got six different answers. It took until call #7 to get a response that exactly mirrored any of the previous calls. This example goes to show that it pays to read up and know your stuff and you’ll often get better information crowd-sourcing over the ‘net than you will by talking to anyone on the phone.

Leveraging the United Explorist Perk to save miles

You’ve probably heard of the United Explorist Perk. Maybe you even think you’ve got a pretty good handle on it. Let me ask you this: if a business class flight from Los Angeles to New York costs 35K miles and a business class flight from the Galapagos to Bogota costs 20K miles and an economy class flight from Cali to Bogota Colombia costs 8K miles, how many miles do you need to book all three flights? If your answer is anything more than 28K total miles, you should see this post.

International Roaming: AT&T / Verizon vs. Project Fi vs. T-Mobile vs. Sprint vs. SIMS vs. Hotspots

 

How do you stay connected when you’re abroad? For years, I bought a new SIM card everywhere. On multi-country trips, I was always worried I’d lose my home SIM card somewhere in the shuffle. These days, there are a lot of options — from a day pass with your home carrier to a hotspot you carry from country to country. Here, Greg reviews some of the options. Personally, I use T-Mobile. It’s slow abroad (they just added the ability to buy high-speed single day passes a couple of months ago, but I haven’t tried that yet). However, in my experiences, it’s worked fine for hailing an Uber / receiving and respond to email / driving directions, which are the main things I need. I love being able to just turn my phone on when the plane lands and be connected before I’ve arrived at the gate. But if you’re looking to do heavy web browsing or watch videos, one of these other options might work better for you…

Strengths Membership Rewards has over Ultimate Rewards

I love Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points have some great uses for me, but I think Membership Rewards is a highly underrated program. From frequent transfer bonuses to sweet spots like around-the-world in business class for 115K miles, Membership Rewards has some big advantages over Ultimate Rewards in my book. Don’t get me wrong — you won’t pry my Chase Ink Plus out of my hands any time soon. Amex doesn’t have a partner that can compete with the good value of Hyatt transfers for hotels, but this post has 5 things to love about Membership Rewards over Ultimate Rewards. With the possibility of 4x grocery and dining on the horizon, Amex could take a pretty strong position for many people.

Biding my Marriott time before returning to Hyatt

Marriott’s merger has not gone as smoothly has many would have hoped, but short-term opportunities have made it hard to ignore — so much so that even a professed Hyatt fanboy like Greg doesn’t intend to go after Hyatt status again until 2020. Logically, that makes sense. I’m in a similar boat in that I have a couple of weeks of Marriott stays booked for next year to take advantage of the new chart top-end sweet spot and my Platinum status. I think Greg’s rationale makes a lot of sense in this post, but here’s a question I’ll post to readers: if you had to choose, would you rather manufacture Delta elite status or Hyatt elite status?


That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for our week in review around the web and this week’s last chance deals.

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

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Amiksh Patel
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Amiksh Patel

Where can I find this tool

James
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James

I think the real issue for these new benefits will be how the hotels implement them. I copied this text from Flyer Talk about how the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort is implementing their breakfast offering.

“I was told that the platinum breakfast offering was “pastry of the day, a fruit cup, and coffee/tea” at Starbucks or their Whale’s Tale restaurant. Anyone tried that yet?”

That is a slap on the face of elites and throws the value of Platinum down the drain when it comes to these new benefits.