Is it time to give Marriott a break? Is the Gold card great? This and more in our nearly Nick-Free Week in Review

Welcome to this week’s Frequent Miler Week in Review.  Nick is on vacation in Crete at the Domes of Elounda, but he did take time out of his busy resort life to participate in our new weekly Facebook Live debate.  In this video you’ll see us debate Marriott Bonvoy (Is it time to give Marriott a break?); the Amex Gold Card (great or not?); the 25K Marriott in Hawaii (transfer points from Chase? NO!!!);  Capital One’s latest transfer bonus (good enough to transfer prospectively?); and more.  Watch our debate here:

Amex Gold Card enhanced

This week, I published two posts about the Amex Gold Card.  First, I explained why I plan to cancel the card when the annual fee comes due: Amex Gold lost its shine (for me).  Next, I published info about the latest enhancements to the Gold Card: Amex Gold fights back with Boxed.com, and worldwide dining 4X.  The card’s new features are great, but they still weren’t enough to change my mind.  I actually think it’s a great card for many people, it just doesn’t fit my needs right now.  Meanwhile, as you’ll see in our video, Nick is firmly in the “keep this card” camp.

More credit card news

credit card point earning

Earn Delta statement credits without flying Delta

Delta’s credit cards are back with better than ever offers, most of which include statement credits for Delta spend.  In this post I explain how to earn those statement credits even if you don’t have any plans for Delta spend.

150K Hilton upgrade (check to see if you are eligible)

If you have either the no-fee Hilton card or the $95 Hilton card, you may be eligible to earn 150,000 points for upgrading.  Checkout this post for full details about why I think this is an awesome offer if you’re targeted.

Capital One transfer bonus to Flying Blue (2:1.8)

If you’re sitting on Capital One Miles you’ll be happy to hear that they’re out with a meaningful transfer bonus this month.  Now, instead of converting 2 Capital One “Miles” to 1.5 Air France Flying Blue miles, you can transfer 2 to 1.8.  Air France is a weird program with some great award opportunities and some very poor ones.  One of the best uses is to fly Air France business class one way to Europe for as few as 53,000 miles.  Also watch out for Air France’s promo awards where you can get even better value.  That said, I don’t recommend transferring Capital One “Miles” to Air France miles unless you have a plan in mind for how you’ll use them.

Luxury Lodging

Luxury in Budapest starting at 8K per night, and suites at 13K [Sweet-spot spotlight]

This new Hyatt in Budapest looks amazing.  The best part is that it is currently a category 2 Hyatt.  That means free nights for only 8K per night or free suite nights for only 13K to 16K per night.  Read the post for a trick to finding great award availability.

A 25K Kauai Hawaii Marriott worth booking today for a later stay

This Courtyard by Marriott is currently a pit… at least it has a huge pit where the swimming pool should be.  It’s undergoing massive renovations which are expected to be completed in the fall.  At that point it will be rebranded as a Sheraton.  In the meantime, it can be booked cheap.

Amtrak free companion fare in bedroom or roomette. Book by June 10th.

This isn’t a points deal, and it isn’t a hotel deal, and it’s not exactly luxury, but it’s still appealing to me.  I like to describe Amtrak bedroom trips as a strange kind of luxury. Bedroom interiors are old and run down, but there’s plenty of space for lounging and sleeping. And, having your own private bathroom is a great perk, even if it is tiny. Each sleeping car has an attendant who makes coffee and tea, helps with luggage, prepares your room at night, replaces wet towels, etc.  In my opinion, it’s a great way to travel… for one night.  Maybe two nights tops.

Other stuff of note

Almost #Bonvoyed: a cautionary tale on free night certs

Nick tells the story of how Marriott’s pathetic IT resulted in a lost 50K free night e-certificate.  Did Nick get his certificate back?  The title is a clue.  And that brings us to one of the top questions in this week’s video debate: are we being too hard on Marriott with all of this “Bonvoyed” stuff?  Playing Devil’s Advocate, I took the “give them a break” side of the debate.  Did I convince you?

Ebates working w/ Amex to bring Membership Rewards to current customers

Ebates offers a version of their portal that earns Membership Rewards points.  Currently, the only sanctioned way to get that version is to close your current Ebates account and open a new one.  For various reasons, you might not want to cancel your old account.  Fortunately, Ebates reports that they’re working with Amex to fix this issue.

3 Ways To Earn Additional Rewards When Booking Airbnb Stays

If you’re going to book an Airbnb stay anyway, you might as well earn rewards when you do so.  Stephen Pepper outlines three options for earning rewards with each stay.

That’s all for this week’s Week in Review.  Next week Nick will be back to explain once again why I’m all wrong.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Greg, I really like these discussions. Find myself agreeing with Nick most of the time…

Nick is right about the Gold. $25K spend at grocery is a doddle and can be negative cost at the two largest grocery chains (Albertsons/Safeway just wrapping up $10 off variable gc promo for example). That Gold was unlimited 4x for first ~6 months at a few favorite MS spots sure didn’t hurt.

By contrast, Ebates Visa Synchrony is a pita to use – has typically laughably-low credit limits ($6K for me) – and many report difficulty getting the card, which is ironic for such a crappy issuer. Another problem is buying gcs online typically requires 4-7 calendar days for charges to post (and then takes a few more days for cards to arrive) – which dramatically affects spend-ability on the card as the typically-small credit line is unavailable. I find I’m lucky to do 2.5 cycles a month – and even then I’m concerned Synchrony might close my account. No way am I able to spend $60K a month as you implied can be done – I’m lucky to do $15K and it requires constant attention to when difficult-to-predict charges will post that also requires constant payment scheduling to free-up the small credit line. For most people, that’s a significant downside vs a quick trip to the grocery store/cashout location.

As for Marriott, it’s a joke of a program unless you’re a top elite (you constantly praise Marriott as if people are spending 50-75 nights at hotels – that’s a tiny fraction of your readers). Hilton is far better for casual travelers who MS. Can earn Diamond for $40K spend on the Ascend which gets you ability to get unlimited best-room-available upgrades (including suites). 6x at grocery (often at negative cost) which means (worst-case) your points cost 0.2c – about half the their typical 0.4cpp value. After the demise of the SPG card with its 3:1 earn rate, there’s no reason to earn Marriott points (although I was targeted for spend $25K get 25K bonus, which – temporarily – brings back 3x bonus rate, which makes it competitive with 6x Hilton).