In this Frequent Miler week in review, we recap this week’s posts through my lens. I’ve recently been on vacation and am just catching back up with what I’ve missed as I almost completely unplugged on Kauai and Maui for the better part of two weeks (which was fantastically refreshing and led me to firmly believe that there should be an FM presence on Southwest’s inaugural flights whenever they get their act together. If Greg isn’t available, I’ll be happy to take one for the team). Read on for this week’s recap.
In this updated 2019 version, we give you the run-down and comparison of the many flavors of Platinum card available from Amex. Which one is “best” just depends on your needs. See this post to find out which one suits you.
Call me crazy, but I’m not nearly as excited as everyone else about the Hyatt-Small Luxury Hotels partnership. I like an increase in footprint and variety of choice for members, and I like luxurious hotels….I’m just not convinced this venture is a win. In this post, Greg explains his irrational excitement about it. I’m on the other side of the fence: for starters, this partnership points to an imminent devaluation. I’ve said it before: How long is Hyatt going to allow these small indie hotels to have a greater perceived value (some at 40K points per night) than flagship Hyatt properties like the Park Hyatt New York or Tokyo (30K per night)? Further, while I imagine that some of these small hotels can be very luxurious and comfortable, I choose points programs like Hyatt and Hilton because I prefer the comfort of predictability and brand standards. Third, many of the hotels I’ve seen on the lists released just aren’t that expensive — spending 15K Hyatt points or more on a hotel that costs less than $200 per night doesn’t excite me. Take my opinion with a grain of salt as I’ve never been the boutique hotel type, and maybe my mind will change when I eventually stay at one of these places, but I’m just not sold.
One of the things I love most about Southwest Airlines is the lack of any change or cancellation fees. That came in handy for me just this week when a missed flight led to a domino effect of changed plans. Thankfully, I was able to change Southwest flights 3 times without penalty. All that is to say that I understand the appeal to having Platinum status or higher with Delta since it would give you similar flexibility with a global reach, but I wouldn’t be willing to pay much for benefits like the chance at maybe-upgrades and/or a free bag I could otherwise get with a credit card. Thus I appreciate Greg’s conservative valuations on status even though I still think they are more than I would be willing to pay unless I knew I’d suddenly be flying Delta often.
Having just gotten back from vacation, I’ll say that I’ve been exercising my Citi Prestige card (for 5x dining and travel) quite vigorously. I’ll keep it until my annual fee increases to the new $495 threshold. Once that happens, it’s likely to bite the dust. But my Business Platinum card is likely to beat the Prestige to the door as I just can’t possibly continue to justify it at the newly-increased fee, despite the probably-useful new Dell credit. Take a stab at Greg’s spreadsheet to find your own winners and losers before you get hit with your next annual fee.
Greg finally broke down and bought a Samsung Gear S3. We’ve both written about how awesome this thing is for mobile payments (though during my vacation I ran into a couple of errors that I haven’t figured out). Greg doesn’t seem to love his watch as much as I do (yet!), but I’ll say this: if you’re going to get this and want to like it for more than mobile payments, I think the secret is in finding a watch face you like. There are tons of free ones available. I was on vacation for most of the past 2 weeks and finally found one I love that clearly displays the time, date, step count, battery percentage, distance walked, heart rate, and has 1-touch links to the settings and to set an alarm. The most surprising thing for me has been how much it has encouraged me to walk more. As someone who has run two marathons, I’m not a stranger to fitness, though we’ve certainly become more distant acquaintances in the past couple of years. But these past two weeks, I’ve walked on average more than 5 miles per day, and I’ve found a desire to keep the streak alive. I expected to use the watch to earn credit card rewards – but if it also helps me to be healthier, that’s probably a more valuable reward than I expected.
Long-term readers likely know that we have a policy at Frequent Miler to publish the best publicly-available offers (i.e. we do not publish our own affiliate links at times when there are better public offers available). Sometimes, the difference is obvious. Other times, it may be less obvious. This post is a good example that illustrates our policy and how we go about evaluating the difference. It’s worth taking a look through the comments as well to see that the new “120K” offer could be misperceived as being better…even though it isn’t better than the standard 100K offer.
Reading this post about Greg’s nearness to Lifetime Platinum led me to check on my lifetime status situation. It turns out I’m still working on lifetime silver. Clearly, I’m not a Marriott guy. And yet I came out of January with 6 Marriott nights already on the books. Between 15 for a credit card, stays already booked, and a couple of unused free night certificates, I’m already looking at 35 nights this year without any effort at choosing Marriott on those one-off airport hotel stays or road trip overnights for the rest of the year. Since I have the ability to cash in 64,250 Capital One Venture miles for a $900 Marriott gift card, and I’ll then probably use that gift card towards those types of one-night convenience stays, I guess I’ll likely get myself close enough to 50 this year to make the effort at earning Marriott Platinum status, which feels crazy to me since I’ve never been a big Marriott guy and I was coming into the year with no intention of qualifying for Platinum status. Hilton has one shot at derailing this train: add guaranteed late checkout and some sort of suite upgrade as is being rumored and I might leave Marriott hanging at 35 nights and still short of lifetime silver.
That was this week at Frequent Miler. Check back soon for our week in review around the web and this week’s last chance deals.