My take on everything new as of early May 2019

There are tons of things going on right now in the points & miles space.  In this post, I’ll touch on each one to let you know my one-liner: Is it good or bad?  And, what will I do about it?  OK, I guess that’s a two-liner.  Come on, no need to be pedantic.

Easy 5X

Fee-free Visa Gift Cards at Staples next week

Staples keeps rolling out these fee free Visa and Mastercard deals.  That’s awesome for those with Ink Cash or Ink Plus cards since both offer 5X at office supply stores.  But, you know what?  I’m not going to bother.  In Ann Arbor, the gift card racks are always completely depleted before I get there.  Plus, I’m perfectly happy getting 4X every day from home even if it’s not fee free (see: In one fell swoop, Ebates shakes up portal and credit card rewards).

Lots o’ Radisson points

Highest-ever 120K Radisson card offer

I like the Radisson card in a weird kind of way.   I never actually use the card.  And I hardly ever stay at Radisson properties.  And the points are rarely worth much more than about a third of a cent each.  But this card offers Gold status plus 40,000 bonus points every year that you renew.  So, even if you sock-drawer the card after meeting minimum spend, it’s a great card to keep around for those rare occasions when you want to stay in a Radisson hotel.  Normally I’d recommend the business version of this card for it’s lower annual fee ($60 vs. $75 with the personal card), but this personal-card-only welcome offer is hard to pass up.  That said, I already have both the personal and business cards and don’t want or need another, so I’ll pass this one up.

20K easy points: Targeted Radisson spending offer

This offer from US Bank interestingly mimics the types of offers that we see frequently from Barclays.  Sadly for me, I wasn’t targeted for it, otherwise I would spend the required $500 per month for those bonus points.

 

Amex wants you to fly up front

Amex International Airline Program now bookable online

I love this. To me, this is a major enhancement to Amex Platinum cards.  Amex already offered Platinum and Centurion cardholders discounts on premium cabin international flights from the US.  Previously, though, you had to call to find out whether a discount was even available at all.  Plus, they technically were supposed to charge a $35 phone booking fee (but they frequently waived that charge).  So, it’s awesome that we can now find these ourselves online.  As more and more airlines roll out new premium economy products, this perk has become more and more applicable. Plus, many airlines allow using miles to upgrade from any premium economy fare to business class.  So, if you’re an Amex Platinum cardholder, you can buy premium economy for less (sometimes for less than regular economy), and may be able to upgrade to business class for a reasonable number of miles (depending upon the airline you booked — they each have different upgrade rules).

Use Amex Membership Rewards to upgrade your flight (actually don’t)

Amex will now let you upgrade select flights using Membership Rewards points.  That sounds exciting, but it’s not.  Basically, if the airline has a cash upgrade offer, Amex will let you upgrade with points for a penny per point (with most Amex cards — with some, you’ll only get half a cent value per point).  1 cent per point is not good.

30% transfer bonus: Membership Rewards to Virgin Atlantic

This offer surfaces once each year, and I’ve taken advantage of it each time over the past 3 or 4 years.  Even though I have a very healthy stash of Virgin Atlantic miles, I’ll probably transfer in even more with this deal since I find myself using these points regularly.  Virgin Atlantic points have a number of specialty uses, but the one that is most practical to US based travelers is the ability to book Delta flights at award prices that are often considerably less than Delta charges.  Unfortunately, Virgin Atlantic charges separately for each leg of a flight, so non-stop flights are best.  Those who live near a Delta hub may especially find excellent value in Virgin Atlantic points.

Slightly Bonvoyed

Marriott Points Advance Policy Change: No Longer Available If You Have Sufficient Points

This is a nuisance.  One of Marriott Bonvoy’s best features is that you can book an award stay even if you don’t have enough points available.  And you can still do that, as long as your stay is more than 30 days in the future.  What you can’t do anymore is book a Points Advance award if you do have enough points in your account.  As Philip Harmonic pointed out on Twitter, Points Advance reservations are really handy for situations where you’re waiting for free night certificates to post to your account, but you want to lock in your booking before the hotel fills up.  Thankfully there’s an easy work-around: spend down your points on a dummy booking as far out into the future as possible, then make your Points Advance bookings, and later cancel the dummy booking to get your points back.

Daily Getaways 2019

First 3 Weeks Of Offers Announced

Daily Getaways 2019 Choice Privileges Points

The Daily Getaways are a set of travel deals available in limited quantities. Each day, for several weeks, a new deal will become available at exactly 1 pm ET. The bad news is that the most popular deals sell out instantly.  The good news is that most of these “deals” aren’t really worth bothering with anyway.  I do like buying Choice points at a big discount, though, so I’ll probably set a reminder on my calendar for that one.

IHG’s new promo

IHG Accelerate Q2/Q3 2019 Promo: Discover Your Targeted Offer

IHG Accelerate Q2-Q3 2019 Make Every Stay Count

Lots of people, including my son, have been unable to register for the latest IHG promo.  But my wife and I registered with no problem.  Both of us had pretty good offers, but my wife’s are really good in my opinion.  She’ll get 18,000 points if she stays at two brands; plus 5,600 points for staying at two IHG hotels; plus 6,000 points if she books two stays with the IHG App.  She could also get 12,000 points for completing 2 weekend stays (of at least 2 nights each), but I don’t think that’s likely to happen.  So, if I’m reading her offers correctly, she could rack up 18,000 + 5,600 + 6,000 = 29,600 points with just two one-night stays as long as she chooses two different brands.  I don’t value IHG points enough to want to mattress run for those points, but I could imagine us diverting some plans towards IHG if their hotels meet our needs anyway.

Citi’s 25% bonus ain’t all that

How much spend justifies that 25% ThankYou bonus?

Citi has been targeting people with an offer to get an extra 25% in ThankYou points from your Prestige, Premier, or Preferred card if you open a particular banking product.  Nick makes a great case against accepting this offer.  And, I agree 100% with his logic.  Still, the idea of earning 6.25X on my Prestige card for dining and flights is very appealing.  Luckily, I wasn’t targeted for this, so I don’t have to decide.

British Airways Avios devaluation

Devaluation looms: British Airways announces changes from May 30, 2019

Bummer.  Early indications show that this devaluation may not be as bad as we feared, but it still means that we’ll spend more points than before for the same awards.  Boo. 😢

Chase 5/24 workaround

New offers bypassing 5/24 (black star “Just for You” offers)

Do these things really exist?  Chase’s “Just for You” credit card offers seem to be the only solid way around 5/24 anymore.  And now they’re available for business cards too.  Unfortunately, despite managing accounts for multiple family members, I have never, ever seen one of these offers.  Still, this is a great opportunity if you’re targeted.

Ebates 20X!

Mark it on your calendar.  Monday May 6th is Ebates’ 20th birthday.  To celebrate they’re planning to offer 20% back at a large number of stores.  This is much more exciting, of course, if you signed up for the Membership Rewards version of Ebates.  In that case, you’ll earn 20 Membership Rewards points per dollar at participating stores!  See: In one fell swoop, Ebates shakes up portal and credit card rewards.

Personally, I’m hoping that Dell will be 20X since we currently have two Business Platinum cards in the family, and each offers $100 Dell credit per 6 months.  We only have until the end of June to do so.  If Dell is at 20X via Ebates on Monday, I plan to click through and buy $200 worth of stuff with the two Business Platinum cards.  This way, I’ll get that stuff for free (thanks to the Amex rebates) and I’ll get 20 x 200 = 4,000 Membership Rewards points.  Deal!

Hat Tip: Tagging Miles.

Regarding comments: Comments posted at the bottom of Frequent Miler pages and posts are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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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Chris
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Chris

Great summary Greg. I had forgotten about a few of these. Another reason I start my days with your blog and a cup of coffee in hand.

Sophia
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Sophia

Love this kind of post!

toomanybooks
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toomanybooks

The Radisson card benefit of a free night with $10k spend (3x a year) on top of the regular 5 points per dollar can make it worth putting $10k or $20k or $30k on it. Plus they run bonuses like the current 20k if you spend $500 a month for May, June, July.

That can be a very valuable room (e.g. Lollapalooza or big convention in Chicago).

But you have to be going to a specific US city to max it out. Hoping Radisson reopens in NYC.

Gouda
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Gouda

I love this post. Keep them coming!

MalMel
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MalMel

Great info as always. Do you think using points for the Amex fly up front option is not a good idea even when using the Business Amex getting the 35% rebate?

Nick Reyes
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I think you’re confusing two different things.

Business Platinum cardholders can get a 35% rebate when using Membership Rewards points to buy business or first class tickets on any airline (or economy on the 1 domestic US airline they choose each year). That’s a good deal.

What Greg was writing about in this post is a new thing Amex has just rolled out — they are now partnering with another program to allow you to bid on upgrades on flights you’ve already booked (with cash presumably). In other words, you say, “I booked an economy class flight from Chicago to Barcelona. I’m willing to pay $800 to upgrade to business class” and the airline decides whether or not to accept your bid. Amex is just now giving you the option to use Membership Rewards points instead of cash to make that bid — and they’re offering you *at best* 1 cent per point to do it (i.e. 80,000 membership Rewards points in that made-up example). That’s an oversimplification, but gives you the idea anyway. To my knowledge, there’s no rebate on that.