Hacking the IHG offer, stacking sweet spots, flying up front for fewer miles than in back and more

Is that new IHG offer worth a 5/24 slot? Is it worth forgoing award stays for a year just to accumulate a ton of IHG points? Those questions answered, plus how to fly to Asia in biz class w/ a stopover in Hawaii for not many miles and how Capital One could take the CSR down in our weekly FM on the Air broadcast below.

For those who would rather listen during the morning commute or while you’re working, the audio of our weekly Facebook Live broadcast is also available for download as a podcast on all of your favorite services.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/frequent-miler-on-the-air/id1469319650


Google Play: https://play.google.com/music/m/I7hoxlbdqhwybn4go3ik4y2bpcm?t=Frequent_Miler_on_the_Air

On to our weekend recap of the week’s top stories:

From the Rumor Mill:

Cap One to take on Sapphire Reserve?

Can Capital One dethrone the CSR as the ultimate rewards card? Call me crazy, but I think they can. In this post, Greg says that this card probably won’t be interesting. I’m much more optimistic. In the past year, Capital One has added the ability to transfer Venture “miles” to anyone else, added transfer partners, debuted transfer bonuses where you’re getting nearly 1:1 (i.e. almost two miles per dollar on the Venture or Spark Miles cards!). Did you expect that 15 months ago? I sure didn’t. Know what else I wouldn’t expect? Capital One to make this card’s “miles” transfer 1:1. That’s the type of surprise that would turn the rewards card landscape on its head, especially if you could still transfer “miles” earned on a Venture card to this card. Would they….could they? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful for a surprise that big. Ball’s in your court, Capital One.

In award travel:

Book Turkish awards online: My bumbling experiments

This sentence sounds awesome: You can now book Turkish Miles & Smiles awards online for travel on United Airlines. Unfortunately, that sentence is missing a key word: maybe. Adding to the confusion I included in this post, I’ve now run into some trouble even booking a direct route over the phone (I tried booking a direct flight from Chicago to Honoulu that has eight available seats according to the Internet only to be told by three agents that there are no seats available on that flight). Color me confused. It’s still totally possible to book domestic US flights for 7500 each way, even to Hawaii, even for multiple passengers, and even online in some cases, it’s just hard to predict or understand what award space Turkish will see available.

Complete guide to Avios: British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus

I often hear people say that they have a mountain of Avios that have been sitting for years without any way to use them. I don’t get that at all. The next line is usually, “the fees are outrageous!”. I’m glad to now have a post to which to point those folks because there are many good uses for Avios that don’t involve flying British Airways to Europe and paying a mortgage payment in taxes and fees. For one, there’s Iberia business class for 34K each way between New York, Boston, or Chicago and Madrid (pictured above — quite nice for the price!). Then there are some RT flights within the US for 11K miles or to the Caribbean and Mexico for 17K (using Iberia Plus) or lap infant tickets for 10% of the miles needed for the adult award (using BA — can be a real value on Japan Airlines or Cathay Pacific). See our complete guide for complete details.

Domestic first class

Want to fly on United like this using just 12.5K miles one-way? You won’t want to use United’s miles to do it.

If you want to travel on Airline ABC, your best value for booking that is typically using miles from Airline XYZ. Contrary to what you may expect, it’s possible to get a much better deal by using a foreign airline’s miles to book domestic US first class tickets. The catch? Saver availability. The need to find saver availability in order to book using a partner airline’s miles is a near universal truth of award travel, but if you can find saver seats on the airline on which you want to fly, the bargains in this post should be possible.

In Manufactured Spending:

Simon changes my Marriott 50-night benefit

This suite at The Algonquin (Marriott Autograph Collection, New York) was huge by New York standards.

Truthfully, suites didn’t used to be very important to me. Sure, it’s nice having the extra space. I never disliked a suite. But before having a baby, a suite didn’t matter to me all that much. Now that I have a tiny human who sleeps infinitely better in a separate room (which means we all sleep infinitely better), I cross my fingers for a suite every time. One would logically think that I planned to take Suite Night Awards as my 50-night Marriott choice benefit. However, I had my sights set on Titanium status and therefore was sure I’d take the 5 extra elite nights — until my friend Simon came along and changed the dynamic. I still managed to mess this one up, so as every parent has said more times than they care to admit: do as I say, not as I do.

In new credit card offers:

25x IHG, 4x everywhere else + 125K points after spend w/ new credit card offer

Intercontinental Austin

The new IHG welcome offer is really intriguing. <–Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write. Leave it to Chase to make the decisions even more difficult for those under 5/24. Should you forgo award stays for a year and just pay for IHG stays to earn 25x for a year? The “earn and burn” crowd will cry, “Noooooooooooo!” — but the truth is that this offer could work out well in that manner. If your employer reimburses you for IHG stays, 25x for a year is hard to ignore. And that’s coming from someone who is not at all an IHG fan thanks to their lack of free breakfast status. Definitely one to consider — but don’t bother with the “4x everywhere” angle as IHG points are so cheap to buy that it’s a poor return.

Up to 75K Lufthansa Miles & More miles w/ new offer

Lufthansa business class is decent, but book it with someone else’s miles. Look at this card for other sweet spot awards.

Anyone who tells you to consider this card is going to talk your ear off about “Mileage Bargains”, the Lufthansa program that’s similar to (but probably better than) Flying Blue Promo Awards. Forget about that: you need to consider this for 71K Star Alliance business class to Asia and Oceania from North America. If you live on the West Coast, forget about that: use Turkish Miles & Smiles to get to Hawaii for 7.5K in economy or 12.5K in business and then pay 35K in business class to Asia if you can nab it. Economy class travelers, listen up: pay 7.5K Turkish to get to Hawaii and then pay 20K Miles & More to get to New Zealand / Australia / Oceania. Be on the lookout for a Miles & More post coming next week with a look at sweet spots that have me considering this card.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for Frequent Miler’s 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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Just a reminder – Kimpton hotels are now part of the IHG group. In Philly the Kimpton Monaco is right next to Independence Hall, so works very well for seeing historical sights in Philly.


Who’s going to spend cash just to get 25x at usually-crappy IHG properties? And your math is wrong – every dollar of spend gets back 12.5% not 20%.

If I spent $1000 of my hard-earned, already-taxed money (which means I have to earn ~$1500 pre-tax), I’m going to earn 25000 IHG worth a half cent each = $125?? You’d have to be out of your gourd to do that (or even suggest it).

For that same hard-earned $1000, can buy ~200+$1K gift cards/MOs ($3.95 + 0.88) using a mediocre 2% cb card and pocket $4000 in cash (less the $1K in fees).


My mistake – it’s 40x. So that $1K spend gets you 40K IHG worth $200 in.IHG points. Vs $3000 net cash if you spend that same $1K in fees to MS at Simon with a 2% card…

rick b
rick b

Guys, would it be possible to post time stamps on your future podcasts? As in at which point you get to which topic. I personally don’t care about hotel promos, but listen to everything else. Had to wait around to listen to the part about the first class discussion 🙂

Btw, IHG does have free breakfast at Holiday Inn expresses, plus cheap laundry service. Not an aspirational hotel, but they’re often fairly nice and can be expensive in certain locations in big cities or for US road trips.