This week at Frequent Miler, Greg used a spreadsheet to find CNB’s magical point-value formula, I posted a spreadsheet for tracking your gift card purchases, and we bought you some good intel on how to use Amex Offers and stack a deal with a couple of those offers. All that and more in our Frequent Miler week in review.
On Friday night, we published what looked like a great tip about how to get an easy Companion Pass via two Southwest business credit cards. It turns out we jumped the gun and were (probably) wrong. At this point, based on the most recent data available on other cards, it looks like that technique will not work after all. This post explains why we thought it would work, why we now think it won’t, and is our apology to readers for getting it wrong. We always strive to bring you the best tips we can and you can count on us to give it to you straight — even when we mess it up.
Are you scrambling at the last minute for a gift for your great Aunt Suzie in Ogallala, Nebraska? Greg will help you get a gift delivered to her door way below the sticker price. Is it a good deal compared to stopping by Suzie’s local Costco and swinging by her house with the fruits of your shopping cart? Of course not. But this way you save yourself a flight to Denver and 3 hours in the car to Ogallala and Suzie gets something that looks prettier than what you would have picked out. Everyone’s a winner.
Greg wrote our Complete Guide to Amex Offers several years ago and it has long had a wealth of information about finding and maximizing the value in Amex Offers. However, 2018 saw some changes on the Amex Offers front and it was time to do some editing and updating. Here’s the guide to what we know about Amex Offers as we head into 2019. While the landscape has changed, they still offer some great opportunities for excellent value.
The CNB Crystal Visa has often been called the best card you can’t get. Unless, of course, you earn a strong salary and can get to one of the [limited] branches to apply. However, if you can, this card is worth it for the benefits alone — it’s an annual money-maker. But then if you put some spend on it, how much are the points worth? The answer to that question has long been murky, trapped in a formula we didn’t know. Leave it to Greg to reverse-engineer the formula and figure it out so you’ll know exactly what you can expect to get on the redemption end, which isn’t all that bad.
Do you live in Europe? Do you have a distant family member or friend who does? It probably doesn’t matter — a reader explains in the comments that this won’t work here the way you want it to work here. But even if you could just get a friend over there to use it and link your card — well, it might be a fun way to earn some points.
If you’re a glass half full kind of person, you’ll find these changes to the World of Hyatt program to be a net win for anyone other than those looking to re-qualify for Globalist status. You’ll now earn stuff along the way and get rewarded sooner, and I’ll be happy with that. On the other hand, I’m surprised that Hyatt continues to ask more of its most loyal customers in the form of 60 nights to re-qualify rather than the 55 previously required for re-qualification. In a world where you can now sneeze on a Marriott from almost any piece of concrete in any city of at least 10,000 people, I’m kind of surprised Hyatt is making Globalists work harder to be loyal, but who am I?
If you’re going to manufacture spend, whether via Visa Gift Cards or merchant gift cards or anything else, staying organized is really important. Losing one or two $500 gift cards can wipe out proceeds for quite a while if you’re doing small volume. If you’re doing heavy volume, misplacing $10K or moving a few gift cards to the “used” pile by mistake is all too easy and can be disastrous. Mistakes happen — staying organized is important to minimize and catch them quickly. This spreadsheet isn’t the magic answer, but it’s a start you can adapt to fit your situation with a little tweaking. Indeed, the sheet I use includes a few more moving parts in multi-player mode, but I’m glad to have a system.
Are you better off transferring from Capital One or Ultimate Rewards? Does it matter whether you hold the Business Platinum or the Gold card? Greg lays out the opportunity cost of choosing to transfer one type of miles or another. There was some confusion in the comments, so to (hopefully) clarify: Greg is showing what you’re giving up if you choose to transfer any particular currency. It then stands to reason that your opportunity cost is highest when you transfer your most valuable currency to an airline or hotel. Therefore, it probably makes sense to transfer your least valuable currency first. Of course, your variables may…well, vary.
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.