This week at Frequent Miler, we looked at shortcuts to elite status and hotel searches, compared premium hotel cards, and got some clarity from Amex regarding eligibility for welcome bonuses. All that and more in this Frequent Miler week in review.
I felt like Greg went too easy on the SPG Lux card; in my opinion this one is the Hilton Aspire by a landslide. Sure, it’s possible to come out ahead with either card, but it’s not even a close race in my opinion if we’re determining the better card. It’s true that if you have no interest in a Hilton resort, you can’t max out the credits on the Hilton Aspire. But if you don’t think you’ll spend at least a couple of nights per year at a Hilton resort, I’d wonder why you were considering a $450/yr Hilton credit card; I’d argue that anyone in the target market for either card likely already spends the $250 or $300 per year to max out the hotel end of the credits. Greg makes a good point that the Hilton card’s certificate is limited to weekend nights. That said, if you give me a free night anywhere in the world, I’m probably not going there on a Tuesday night. I want this kind of certificate to use it on a special trip, which usually includes at least one of the three weekend nights each week. In my opinion, the Hilton certificate is much better despite only being valid 3/7 of the week since I could use it at the top properties in the most expensive cities — and get free breakfast / lounge access there to boot! But let’s say that the SPG and Hilton free night certificates are equal value for argument’s sake and let’s further say that the SPG card wins by fifty bucks on the hotel credit, the Hilton card still comes with a $250 airline credit and Diamond status. And it earns more in its bonus categories to add insult to injury. Hands down Hilton Aspire. See this post for Greg’s analysis.
Plastiq offers a very good referral promotion for new members and they are currently running a great promotion with Masterpass where you can earn virtually free rewards if you can split your payment into parts. Someone asked me if you can stack those two things together for even more savings — see this post for more on all of the above.
Amex Offers add a ton of value to Amex cards. One or two really good offers can go a long way toward mitigating the annual fee on many cards. But if you want to get the best offers, you’ll have to diversify and go into things with a plan. See this post for tips on getting the best offers.
Amex’s new language limiting welcome bonuses looked like bad news because it is so incredibly vague and open to interpretation as written. Thankfully, Amex isn’t keeping us in the dark: at least on consumer applications, they have created a pop-up tool that will let you know whether or not you are eligible for the bonus before you’ve submitted the application. See this post for more info.
When I get stumped with a property where I’m not finding availability, I tend to keep re-running my search a couple of times a day until I find what I’m looking for. This tool I stumbled on earlier this week is going to save me a lot of time over the long run. I now have an easy list of links to click for the properties / dates I’m looking to snag if and when they become available. See this post for the link to the tool.
McDonald’s must be a huge fan of Marriott’s new breakfast policies. When I need to consult a chart to figure out whether or not I get breakfast, a sausage McGriddle starts sounding better and better. They made a sandwich out of pancakes. And cheese. And it’s like two bucks whether I spend three nights a year at a Days Inn or three hundred nights at the Park Hyatt. Hopefully, someone at Marriott is reading these posts about breakfast and creating a much simpler chart: Status A = free breakfast. Status B = no free breakfast. That’s all we really want.
The need to carry a breakfast cheat sheet aside, Marriott Platinum Elite status is relatively easy to attain this year and will provide a pretty solid set of benefits (especially when you consider the value of breakfast / lounge access at some of the better SPG properties and at resorts). It’s so easy to get that even though I don’t often stay at Marriott properties and I’ll gripe about the lack of breakfast at Courtyard, I’m likely to go for this status to be able to leverage it at some of the off-the-charts properties next year and/or for a 7-night stay via a travel package or two. See this post for
15 14 shortcuts (it seems the status challenge is dead).
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.