The top deals of 2018

Yesterday, Greg published a post highlighting the top 10 posts of 2018 at Frequent Miler. Today, I wanted to do a more subjective highlight: the top deals of 2018. This list is totally subjective of course — I’m not basing this on page views, but rather on the deals that seemed hottest to me in 2018. What’s the value in looking back at deals that (in most cases) are no longer alive? It gives us something of a litmus test against which to compare the deals to come and some expectation about the deals to look out for in the coming year. In some cases, you have to be quick — and knowing what worked out well in the past can sometimes help us be at the ready to recognize and take advantage of the best deals in the future. Here are my top picks for 2018.

1) Crazy: 90,000 Avios for $183 (too good to last)

Iberia ran a promotion that sounded too good to be true: buy a flight, even a cheap (less-than-$20) flight, and get 9,000 Avios. You could repeat it 10 times and buy enough Avios to fly round trip in business class from New York, Boston, or Chicago to Madrid — and still  have enough left over for a domestic round trip of some sort. Of course, Iberia’s IT is far from great, so this didn’t work flawlessly for everyone. However, those who got in at the beginning got the best deal, and if they leveraged it properly, this was easily a thousand dollar win (or likely more).


2) WOW! Get a Google Fi phone & travel gift card worth the phone’s price

In almost any year in which that Iberia promo didn’t happen, this would have been an easy winner for deal of the year. For the better part of a day, Google offered the chance to get your choice of travel gift cards (from brands including Delta, Southwest, AirBnB, and more) matching the purchase price of a phone when you either ported over your number or added a line to your service. This meant you could buy a $999 Google Pixel 3 XL and get $999 in gift cards. Whether you sell one, the other, or both, or keep it all, this was a really terrific deal that I’m surprised lasted as long as it did.


3) [Expired] WOW: Get those Bose for a net ~$27 (sorta). Or tons of other deals amplified.

Remember Prime Day? It coincided with an offer from Amex to get 20% off when using at least 1 Membership Rewards point. And it just so happened that the Amazon system was running some funny math that day whereby you could purchase a $221 Amazon gift card and a set of Bose QuietComfort 25 headphones for a total of $247.99. For those who shop at Amazon often enough to consider an Amazon gift card almost the same as cash, this was a phenomenal deal. I didn’t buy this one, but kinda wish I did.


4) [Expired] Holy smokes… Chase Freedom Unlimited 3X everywhere first year

Talk about a hot deal: for a brief window, it was possible to get a new welcome offer of 3x everywhere for a year on the Freedom Unlimited. It didn’t last long, and I was actually too quick on the trigger this time (on the heels of a product change away from the Freedom Unlimited). But for those who got in, it was an amazing offer: 3x Ultimate Rewards points everywhere for a year is an amazing value. We can only dream of ever seeing this again.


5) The huge wins in yesterday’s Marriott announcement

Not gonna score this room for 60K.

Back in April, the morning after Marriott’s announcement regarding the future of the combined Marriott program, we reported on the fact that we’d been told that the top tier properties in the combined Marriott-SPG-Ritz program would cost just 60K per night (or 48K after 5th night free) through the end of 2018 (as we now know, that will last until March 2019). Many were skeptical. Some called us dreamers. I understand why: we were saying that some properties that had previously charged as much as the equivalent of 270K Marriott points per night would be massively slashed in price. We were just the messenger here, but it turns out we got the message correct. Being able to book top-tier Marriott properties for the equivalent of 16K “old” Starpoints per night has easily been one of the top deals of 2018 (though finding availability for some of the most popular hotels has been tough).


6) (EXPIRED) Expedia: 90% off some hotels / $100 off flights 12/13 at noon via app

Expedia ran this deal over Black Friday / Cyber Monday and it had sold out quickly, so I couldn’t believe it when this second time around the deal lasted for hours and hours. On the hotel side, it mostly applied just to non-chain hotels….but at 90% off, you could get some amazing deals (especially on suites / specialty rooms). If they ever run this again, I won’t ignore it.


7) [Dead] HOT deal: 5x LifeMiles with hotel bookings (30K on $390 booking)

The one that got away….this is the deal of 2018 that I really regret missing. LifeMiles was offering some huge returns on hotel bookings. At the time, I was tasked with making a couple of bookings for family members, so I had a need to book paid nights. I was just too slow; I hesitated over which properties to book and at what price and this one eventually died before I jumped. I’ll have my eye peeled for this one to come back again in 2019 and hope that I have a similar need for paid bookings if it does roll around again.


8) Now transfer Capital One miles (and 2 more partners added…at a poor ratio)

The ability to transfer Capital One “Rewards miles” to actual airline miles is easily one of the best deals of 2018. That’s not to say that these cards are compelling for everyone, but the value of a Capital One “Rewards mile” increased substantially thanks to the ability to transfer. You can suddenly get a business class flight for a number of points that may have previously only bought you economy class — and that’s a big win for Capital One customers.


9) (EXPIRED) Match M life to Hyatt Explorist NOW, skip extension and get club upgrades!

 

Hyatt ran a sneaky play in offering to extend status for a few months for some Explorists who had not re-qualified — the catch being that they would not get club upgrades. But it turned out that there was a hack to get on the status matching merry-go-round and both extend the life of your status and renew your club upgrades. This is a good reminder that it’s always wise to keep an eye out for status matching opportunities.

10) (EXPIRED) Get Fee-Free Plastiq Payments When Using Masterpass

Plastiq Masterpass No Fee

Thanks to Greg in the comments for reminding me of this one, which I wouldn’t necessarily place at #10 if I were writing the list anew. Plastiq eventually adjusted this promotion down to payments of $250 or less, but it was repeatable again and again. That made for an awesome deal if you could pay any bills in $250 (or smaller) increments since it was basically free rewards on those bills.


What did I miss? What was your top deal of 2018?

About Nick Reyes

Nick Reyes is a (fairly) regular guy with an animalistic passion for maximizing the value of miles and money to travel the world in comfort and style. There is little in life that he loves more than finding a fantastic deal and helping you shop smarter & harder to achieve your travel dreams.

More articles by Nick Reyes »

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Greg The Frequent Miler
Admin

Nice roundup Nick. One deal that would have made the top of my list was the Plastiq / Masterpass no-fee promotion that ran all summer. Here’s to 2019 and hoping for deals just as good as these!

mileshusband
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mileshusband

Redeemed 95 MCGC $200s @5X to pay college kid’s tuition, Hoping this promo returns.

Gene
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Gene

I partook in none of these. I guess I am finally succeeding at not wating so much time and energy on trivial things. The real deals are cheap business class flights and credit card churning. Little else is worth lifting a finger for.

Debit
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Debit

You are strong. I am weak. I will eventually get there. Most of these deals are a waste of time and evoke rationalizing emotions to justify them.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

I agree my friends don’t have time for this but I do .I sent my old ticket to them ORD>HNL $5.60 ..A lot of people not me need to get value out of a $95 cc .I love my Costco card and Ink visa no Bus. Class seat for me Great u can find a seat deal..
CHEERs

Jimmy
Guest
Jimmy

I now gave the chase ink, aa bus & chase reserve and am resign for new card. Thinking about the am ex platinum bus or southwest 2 cards which provides companion pass. Which would provide me more value? Thanks

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Look @ SW Premier card $149 really happy with $75 credit ,7500 points @ renewal and FOUR free A1>A15 when I Miss the 24 hr deadline .No need to pay for earlybird now for me.
Good Luck

Dan
Guest
Dan

You forgot the black Friday Hulu deal. .99 cents a month for a year. I cancelled my existing account and signed up my wife for a new account with a new email address. I went through AA link to get 1500 points but they declined me.

AlexL
Guest
AlexL

[Dead] Wow: Business class for $561 RT, Los Angeles to Shanghai on A350 w/ Hong Kong Airlines
==
This deal seems good, regret not taking it because of positioning flight.

Mark Schlagel
Guest
Mark Schlagel

Was able to get in on the Iberia 90K offer…was able to book ORD-MAD business RT for 68K (free promo miles) + $233 tax. Spending a month in Spain, Morocco and Egypt in April/May 2019. Thanks again for making this a reality!

Pam
Guest
Pam

Best thing about the #4 CFU 3x offer is it runs past 2018 til 4.19! I think it generated the most value of all & would put at #1. Easy to put all spend on it to earn well over $1k (the #1 spot est value).

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[…] from Frequent Miler shared his top ten deals from 2018. I got in on the deal for the Bose headphones (and love them!!!) but missed out on the number one […]