This week at Frequent Miler, we looked at the top cash back credit card combos and whether you should even both with category bonuses — after all, you could be earning 10x or more while making your minimum spend. Also find posts below on a great place to use your Hilton certs domestically, planning a luxury trip on more than a million points, and more.
Do categories even matter, or should you just focus on signing up for new cards and meeting minimum spend? Greg demonstrates some math that may be surprising. I’m not quite as dedicated as Greg is to separation of minimum spend from regular purchases, but I personally never use spend that would otherwise be a category bonus for reaching minimum spend. I tend to do all of my minimum spend on unbonused categories so that I can have the best of both worlds: big bonuses on unbonused spend and category bonuses in all the right places.
We’d heard that Citi was going to slash the 4th night free benefit significantly, but we didn’t know just how hard they would gut it. Starting September 1, 2019, you will only be able to make 4th night free bookings via thankyou.com. That means no hotel points, no elite credit, no elite benefits, no AAA rates, no best rate guarantees, no bueno. The savings of a 4th night free over other options will quickly evaporate at that point. The good news is that we have quite a bit of advance notice. See this post for other changes — most expected, but not quite all.
A family member recently reached out because he wanted to plan a trip using his Amex points, but Amex Travel told him he only had enough to cover about half of his trip. I just about spit out my coffee when I realized they had told him that a ~2 week trip to Spain and Morocco would cost double his balance of 1.25 million points. In this post, I lay out how he could get an even better trip and still have half a million points or so to spare.
The Joy of Free makes earning points and miles fun. But that Dom Perignon you’re sipping in first class wasn’t free as you could have earned cash back instead of miles and bought yourself a bottle or two to enjoy at home. See this post for how you could be earning 2.62% cash back as a baseline — or more with some maximization. The opportunity cost of points can be steep.
If you’ve wondered where you can go domestically to use your Hilton Aspire weekend night certificates and/or your annual resort credit, I have your answer: the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. The rooms are fantastic, the service is the best I’ve gotten in the US, and right now you can stack an Amex Offer with your benefits and get a pretty solid deal. See this post for how I did it and how it was.
A few years back I probably could have made it work to play softball at Wrigley Field for a few thousand Starpoints, but I let that one slip away. I’ve often read the stories about experiences people have redeemed points for, but I’ve never redeemed for one of these. Greg summarizes the “experience” markets for all of the major loyalty programs including what they tend to offer and how far in advance you should look. Someday, the stars will align on catching an auction just before close. If that interests you, take a look here.
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.