This week, Greg and I continued our Facebook Live debate series and kept our streak alive of at least one of us not being home for the debate. This week, watch us disagree over speculatively transferring points and which card is the “best” single rewards card to have and to hold — then tell us your picks in the comments. See that video here:
On credit cards
Greg is wrong. We debated this in our Facebook Live discussion this week, but now I have to admit that I was wrong in that discussion, too. If Greg (or someone else) were going to use only one credit card, it shouldn’t be the Capital One Venture card or a cash back card. It should be the Amex Gold card. Hang on to your hats: I know you’re screaming that Amex isn’t widely accepted enough here or abroad to be the only option in your wallet. You’re right. And that’s why I’m going to be a miles and points heretic: Theoretical Greg should use the Gold card and pair it with a debit card from a bank that offers some sort of fraudulent charge protection or, ya know, use cash, for those times when Amex isn’t accepted. I say that because unless he spends something like $40K per year on travel, he would easily earn more points every year with the Amex Gold card with his regular dining and US Supermarket spend and some minimal supermarket MS sprinkled in for good measure. If Greg spends a few thousand every year on dining and maxes out the $25K cap on US Supermarket 4x, he’ll have well over 100K Membership Rewards points every year — probably enough for an ANA round-the-world business class ticket every stinkin’ year (or plenty of other business or first class options thanks to frequent transfer bonuses like those outlined below under the loyalty section of this post). Don’t get me wrong, it would be downright silly to have only one credit card, but if one insists on being archaic about the credit card scene, at least maximize your joy of free and earn a pile of points with the Amex Gold. You’d need that debit card backup for all the times when your credit card doesn’t work for some reason / gets lost / etc, so in hindsight I’d say to go Gold.
Citi has the oddest system amongst the major issuers in that when you close a card that earns ThankYou points, you set yourself up to potentially lose points that were earned with that specific card. Combining your ThankYou points makes it complex to know which points came from which card. Still, Greg recommends you combine your Citi ThankYou points and I totally agree. Read about why and what you can do to keep points alive instead in this post.
Sonesta? Spolestra? This card makes me want to take a siesta, which is an indication of how boring it is rather than reflecting its ability to earn points that put me in a hotel bed. This card is a snoozer in my opinion.
Amex transfer bonuses
Amex is offering a ton of targeted (mostly targeted) transfer bonuses. See: 40% to 50% transfer bonus to British Airways Avios from Membership Rewards (targeted), 40% or 50% transfer bonus: Amex to Marriott (targeted), 40% Or 50% Transfer Bonus From Amex To JetBlue (Targeted), and 20% transfer bonus: Amex to Qantas, which might stack and be even better. While speculatively transfers rarely make sense, I made the case in this week’s debate as to why I think the Avios or Marriott bonuses might make sense speculatively in some scenarios. That said, you generally only want to transfer if you have a valuable use in mind rather than limiting the flexibility of your points in the hopes of someday getting good value.
I wasn’t a fan of the Hyatt tie-in with Small Luxury Hotels of the World when it was announced. If my first SLH stay is any indication of what to expect at SLH properties (and I suspect it is), I can’t wait to stay at my next one. It surely doesn’t hurt that my first stay was in a castle built for the last German empress and where Dwight Eisenhower lived for 7 years during the occupation of Germany, meaning there was some interesting history at play. I think this place is cool enough to justify building an overnight stop in Frankfurt into your itinerary and renting a car to drive the 25ish minutes it takes from Frankfurt airport.
Stephen brings us a post this week with a hot tip: it is possible to extend the expiration of a Marriott free night cert. I wouldn’t hang on to a cert counting on this as it’s a favor any time someone helps you do something that’s not strictly within the rules. But overall, this is great news and a nice customer-friendly piece coming out of Marriott Bonvoy. Is Greg right? Is it time to give Marriott a break?
In cool tools you can use
Have you ever gotten off the subway in a major city and not known which direction you’re facing vs which direction you need to go? You know that feeling when you don’t see a street sign anywhere and you just have to wait to see where Google maps puts your dot after you’ve moved a bit? Speed up that process of self-discovery with Google Maps AR walking directions if you are invited to test it out (or if you buy a new Pixel 3a, this is a feature out of the box). This feature saved me a bunch of time in those initial moments of getting my bearings this week and I’m sure that Google will make it better (and more widely available) over time. See this post to find out more about how it works and might be helpful.
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.