Is manufactured spending dead? A trip down memory lane and more.

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On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, Greg and I discuss a number of key topics, highlighted by a trip down manufactured spending’s memory lane, reviewing the many amazing opportunities that have come and gone over the past decade as we discuss whether or not MS is dead for good. I make a case as to why Greg’s newly-increased IHG value may be flawed, we talk Greg’s pandemic vacation and whether he’d do it again and more. Watch, listen, or read this week’s Frequent Miler week in review.

FM on the Air Podcast

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This week at Frequent Miler:

In hotel points:

12x Hilton vs 6x Marriott for non-manufactured spenders

Our Reasonable Redemption Values would suggest that 12x Hilton points are worth more than 6x Marriott points, but is that the entire story? Who should consider putting grocery spend on the Marriott cards while the return is increased? See this post for my full take.

What are IHG points worth now that they have dynamic pricing?

Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City
Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City (image courtesy of IHG)

Greg re-evaluates IHG points to give us a new Reasonable Redemption Value in this era of dynamic award pricing. Surprisingly, Greg found IHG points to be worth even more than before. However, I took issue with his methodology in Frequent Miler on the Air — I think in iteration 2.0, we’ll have to consider some resorts and other non-city-center-type properties to get a more balanced view of a reasonable redemption floor. Still, it’s encouraging to see points can be worth quite a bit more than the selling price.

IHG 40k Certificates: Use At (Nearly) Every InterContinental In The US

InterContinental New York Barclay
InterContinental New York Barclay (via ihg.com)

This is pretty cool: Stephen Pepper found that IHG credit card free night certificates, which work at properties charging up to 40K points per night, will work at most InterContinental Properties in the US (not necessarily every night of the week, but at least on some nights) thanks to the new dynamic pricing model. Stephen shows you the easy way to find qualifying nights and a couple of great values in this post.

Yes, the Ritz card *is* earning the grocery bonus, but it’s confusing.

A reader reached out because he hadn’t received grocery bonus points in his Marriott account based on spend he had done on his Ritz-Carlton credit card. That led me down a spiral of trying to uncover the mystery of my own points. I do think that the points will post correctly, but there may be a month-long delay on Ritz grocery bonus points – at least those earned from early in the bonus period.

In tools for your belt:

SeatSpy: An awesome tool for finding BA, Virgin, Air France, and KLM award flights

SeatSpy is a pretty awesome tool for the included airlines. When Greg originally wrote about this tool, it only worked with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Now that the tool has functionality for Air France and KLM, Greg has updated this post accordingly.

Sign up for cards you don’t want to get cards you do

There are a handful of “hidden” credit cards out there that are available — and worth having — but you have to know how to get them. Unlike cards available for new applicants, these cards require a product change. In this post, Greg shows you the path to take to get to cards that are no longer marketed but may have benefits worth keeping.

In pandemic response:

Pandemic vacation. Is it safe?

Relaxing on our balcony at the Inn at Bay Harbor

Last week, Greg took his first vacation since COVID-19 hit. He had a great time and his pictures will give even the most cautious among us some wanderlust. That said, this post (and the ones from One Mile at a Time to which he links) solidified for me that I have no interest in a trip to a hotel or eating in a restaurant any time soon. I told Greg during FM on the Air this week that I’m just not in a rush. I’ve had the chance to enjoy travel to many places and I know there is plenty of travel in my long-term future, so I’m OK with sitting it out for a year if need be. Walking around trying to avoid some of the guests in the hotel or wondering what rules have or haven’t been enforced here or there just doesn’t sound enjoyable to me. Like I said in the broadcast, I’m more inclined to consider buying a camper and to look for a slice of nature, so maybe there will be some guides to national parks to come down the road. In the meantime, I imagine Greg will venture out again and report back as to how his next trip compares.

How Frequent Miler (the business) is surviving COVID-19

Working at Frequent Miler is a pretty terrific job. I get to write about stuff I enjoy and help people stretch imaginary currencies into real trips that they might have once thought they would only imagine. But beyond the fact that I get to do something I enjoy and do it from where I want and when I want, there is something more important: I work for a great person here at Frequent Miler. I’ve often told people that as good a guy as Greg seems when you’re a reader, he’s an even better person to know and work for. His commitment to his blog, his readers, and his employees is genuine and that’s just not something you see every day. I really appreciated the supportive comments from so many of you on this post and I’m glad that others get to see a side of Greg that we see every day, including both his belief in this site and his generosity with his people. Here’s to weathering turbulent times and coming out stronger in the long run.


That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Check back for this week around the web and our month-ending last chance deals.

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Tony
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Tony

Absolutely love the podcast and your work. Have to say though, you talk poorly about IHG too much! People that stay at IHG are not just business travelers. As Greg mentions, Kimpton is an outstanding property. IHG has reliably great properties in a ton of locations – including internationally – and that is a real strength. If you just need a place to lie down, the Holiday Inn Express is there. If you want to do something nice, there is Kimpton and some decent Intercontinentals. I really do appreciate you talking about them a bit in-depth in the episode though.

One last point: I think maybe you focus too much on free breakfast. This is the cheapest meal of the day! Maybe just my opinion but it simply does not move the needle in terms of travel in most cases (Certainly not with respect to many of the others things you discuss). Thank you again.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

A lot of people work out of their hotel then go see the sites . Love my Holiday inn Express 0630 to 10 am great coffee and newspapers too in KONA,Hi.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

In regard to the “evergreen” posts, it will be great to have the update history, so people who read the previous version do not have to start from the beginning. I think DoC has something like that.

Greg The Frequent Miler
Admin

Good suggestion. I’ve started adding a “What’s New” section at the top right after the intro. One thing we try to do differently from DoC is to update those posts entirely so that someone reading new won’t have to be confused by reading things that are no longer true.

Mike
Guest
Mike

Loved the trip down memory lane. The mint thing was before I got involved, but everything else has been done in large quantity, starting with vanilla reloads! I remember keeping ~100 spares in the car for times when stores would be out of stock. Amex gift cards for up to 4% cash back through portals (I recall one of your posts attempting to identify the pattern of when the portals would have the 4% rate), and then loading those straight to redbird! Fun times

Ken
Guest
Ken

Good job. Next time be sure to mention the ATMs right next to to Target service desk where you could immediately cash your RedBirds into real cash. Also the Kiosks at Walmart that eliminated the need for personal interaction with employee when buying MOs with the VGCs. they were key to me.

Barry
Guest
Barry

Hi Greg and Nick. Thank-you for the podcast. I loved the recap of past manufactured spend opportunities. Sorry for the pun, but I think that COVID-19 may have killed Kiva as a manufactured spend opportunity too. I haven’t been getting paid back much for the past 2-3 months (maybe about 10% of what I was expecting). Prior to that, I was cycling about $5k per month through Kiva using VGCs purchased during office supply store sales.

I was just thinking about past opportunities. In the past I used Costcotravel.com to book a cruise. When I tried using a $200 VGC to pay for part of the remaining balance, the gift card got preauthorized for $1 and the $200 transaction failed. Funny thing is the $200 came off of the balance that I owed on the cruise. I repeated this a couple of times with the same result. This was many years ago and I was never contacted to pay the remaining balance.

Paulus Maximus
Guest
Paulus Maximus

I hit Reloadits and Redbird hard. Also, NW Visa Buxx. I miss my fake family of teens.

Brian
Guest
Brian

I think the best ever was when you could buy coins from the U.S. Mint at cost on your card and they would ship them to you for free. You then deposit the coins to your checking account and pay off your credit card.