Playing the Travel Packages, 300K free points, and all the Marriott news that’s fit to print


This week at Frequent Miler, there was a lot of focus on Marriott. From the death of the Ritz and new restrictions coming next month on all of the cards to our predictions about how to play the Travel Packages, we’ve got posts on the different aspects changing in the coming weeks. If you’re tapped out on Marriott, see the posts about booking a better deal for a Hyatt all-inclusive as there were some good suggestions for that might come in handy for a future hotel booking anywhere. All that and more in our Frequent Miler week in review.

New Marriott / SPG card restrictions

Restrictions for new cardmember bonuses on the various Marriott and SPG cards have come to light and it isn’t pretty: those who have or have had one of the many flavors of Marriott/Ritz/SPG cards will find themselves locked out of a number of new card options (varying a bit depending on which card you want and your exact history in terms of when you opened, earned any bonus, and whether or not you still have it open). Long story short: they are going to make it hard for credit card enthusiasts to pick up points from bonuses. See the post for more details.

Banking travel certificates for future luxury

Did Greg stumble on a hint for how to get outsized value from your Travel Package certificate? I agree with Greg on most things, and not just because he’s the boss. But in this case, I didn’t interpret the email he references the same way he did. I thought to myself, “Of course they are encouraging members to attach the certificates before the 18th. That way they can somehow weasel out of refunding the points for those people.” That said, I don’t really have a plausible theory about what will happen to a certificate attached to the Domes of Elounda today that is unattached in September. Greg’s theory might influence how I handle mine because he’s right more often than he’s wrong.

Hunting for the best redemption: Hyatt, UR, or Citi Prestige?

I might book an upcoming stay at the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos. Since it is an all-inclusive resort where status benefits might not make much of a difference, I started kicking around some of the possibilities when using different kinds of points rather than spending cash out of pocket. See this post for my initial thoughts and then see….

The two better methods to book the Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

A couple of points made in the comments on my previous post led me to post an update with what would probably be the two best ways to book this stay….if only I had the right combination of cards. Many readers could have the right stuff — see this post to find out how you can use some currencies that get less attention to get the best deal.

Travel packages bookable through August 17th. Marriott & SPG to tie the loyalty knot on Saturday August 18th

We have dates! Travel packages are bookable through the 17th and the 18th will be so chaotic that you’ll want to be doing anything but calling Marriott repeatedly to find out if you can book that over-water bungalow in the Maldives for 60K points per night yet. Seriously, there’s no need to keep making that call and overwhelming the system during a period of chaos and mass confusion. You want to be far away from your phone, enjoying your Saturday afternoon. Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to let cha know as soon as I’m able to book…. :-D. I know this for sure: August 18th won’t be a fun day to be a Marriott employee.

Ritz matches best-in-class Sapphire Reserve travel protections. CNB, not so much.

Ritz Carlton card

Having been a Ritz cardholder for a couple of years, I’ve known that the travel protections on the card are excellent (and matching the CSR), though most travel has still gone on my Prestige card for what used to be even more generous protections (while the Prestige offers coverage after a shorter delay, their shenanigans in defining a “delayed trip” makes it seem that they are less generous than they once were). Those who recently opened the Ritz card will be happy to know that they can spend on travel with this card and still have excellent coverage.

Ritz-Carlton fee credits: What works? (reader data needed)

Since many readers have recently signed up for the Ritz-Carlton credit card (no longer available for new applicants), we made a resource page to track what works for the $300 in annual airline fee credits. The chart has been updated — feel free to add your datapoints so we can continue to fill it out.

300K Radisson Rewards Giveaway

Spend a night here at the Radisson Blu Maputo and still have 30K left over from this contest.

Would you like 100,000 free Radisson Rewards points? Of course you would. And that’s what Greg figured when the good folks at Radisson Rewards offered two packages of 100K points to give away, Greg not only agreed to do it, but he asked for a third package. So there you have it: three lucky readers are going to win 100K each. But you’ve gotta be in it to win it.

What will happen to existing Marriott Travel Package certificates?

The opening sentence of this post is absolutely true — every day we get asked about the future of existing Marriott Travel Packages. Wouldn’t we all love to know. The fact that we know everything else about the merger but this doesn’t seem meaningless to me. I don’t fully buy the explanation that Marriott hasn’t finished implementing the IT solution — and while Greg is 60% confident in the outcome he outlines here, I claimed in the comments to be at least 68.5% confident. Each day that goes on with no word from Marriott inches me a few tenths higher. Nobody knows — or at least nobody who knows is willing to say — but I don’t think we’ll all be sorry when the dust settles. But the fact that nobody wants to hear is this: I don’t think we’re going to know until it’s too late to make a move. I don’t blame anyone who isn’t willing to take a leap of faith, but I’m plugging my nose and closing my eyes and taking a deep breath as I plunge into the deep end with the faith that I’m more likely to swim than sink.

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

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