Booking a great trip and comparing reality with expectations


Welcome to this week in review at Frequent Miler, where we recap the main stories we’ve covered since last weekend.

Booking a luxury trip with points and deals

Congrats to the grad — Greg’s son recently graduated from high school and was accepted to study at the University of Michigan. In a trip that sure puts to shame my senior class trip to Six Flags New Jersey (shout out to Trenton!), Greg shows us how he and his wife were able to treat their son to a really cool trip to San Diego to celebrate this milestone. Thanks to leveraging everything from points to luxury hotel benefits, Greg was able to use the right stuff to make a memorable family moment. If that’s not the point of the points, I don’t know what is. Read on for more!

Fine Hotels & Resorts + Points

If you’re an Amex Platinum card holder, one of the great ancillary benefits is Fine Hotels & Resorts. In some cities, these can be a downright steal (and unlike most 3rd-party bookings, they generally earn points/elite credit/elite benefits in addition to the valuable add-ons provided by booking through FHR). Greg explores what happens when you combine an FHR stay with a night paid on points. This is something I also tried last year at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua in Maui — with similarly-confusing results. A couple of notes I’ll add from my experiences: you can book up to three rooms per cardholder with FHR benefits. It is possible to book night #1 in spouse #1’s name and night #2 in spouse #2’s name (assuming both are Platinum card holders). Read on to hear about Greg’s experience trying to extend/maximize his dining credit. Props to Greg’s son for his room service breakfast order. I just want to see a picture of what a $113 room service breakfast for one looks like.

Is Plastiq 3X dead?

Say it ain’t so! Looks like many are mourning the passing of an easy opportunity for 3X on some cards. All hope is not yet lost, but the landscape is certainly changing for easy Plastiq 3X. Data points are still pouring in. Check out this post for more information about what might still work and subscribe to the comments as data continues to be collected thanks to our readers.

Last call for Citi Hilton cards?

Last week, it was announced that Amex will become the sole issuers of Hilton’s credit cards in January. Citi is going to be migrating cardholders to something else (we don’t yet know what). Your last chance to open a Citi Hilton card is likely here if not already gone. I just tried a number of browsers and modes and I can’t seem to get the Hilton Reserve link to work any longer, but both no-fee Hilton cards are still working despite being removed from Citi’s list of cards online. If you’re interested, now is definitely the time.

Membership Rewards Questions Answered

How many Amex cards can you have? Can you combine your points with a family member or friend? What are the product change options? Can you product change from a more expensive card to a less expensive card? Get these questions and more answered here.

Stack at Gap: 19.5x + 40% off

This one is more quick deal than regular post, but it illustrates how you can take advantage of one limited-time Quick Deal (like this week’s Office Max / Depot Visa Gift Card instant rebate) which another limited-time offer (like increased MileagePlusX app payout at Gap). Combine those two things with a portal and a coupon and it might be time to go shopping.

Fairmont Grand Del Mar: Is it as good as advertised?

What makes a hotel great? If you posed this question to ten different travelers, I would almost guarantee that you would get at least six or eight different answers. In the end, I think the measure of greatness is how the reality of our experience compares with our expectations. In this post, Greg shows how his expectations were shaped heading into his stay at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, and how the hotel fared in comparison.

The Fine Print: Beating Citi in Arbitration, What It Means for You

If I picked up your wallet, took $200 out, and turned around to walk away, how far would I make it before you stopped me? Luckily for his client, Alex Bachuwa’s answer to that question is “not far.” Alex shows us how he helped his client take on Citi’s nonsensical interpretation of its own retention offer.  Read on for the details of the case as I think many of us could have found ourselves in Alex’s client’s shoes.

Hacking Walt Disney World

In 2015, Greg shared some great tips he got from the Russian government a Disney Hacking Expert. Many of the tips focused on techniques to save you some time at the park. One thing that will not save you time: getting your Disney account shut down and/or disabled. Read this post for what to avoid.

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

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