Frequent Miler https://frequentmiler.com Earn Miles Without Flying Fri, 14 Jan 2022 09:22:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.2 https://frequentmiler.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/cropped-frequent-miler-site-icon-1-32x32.png Frequent Miler https://frequentmiler.com 32 32 Marriott Travel Packages discontinued as of 1/19/22 https://frequentmiler.com/marriott-travel-packages-discontinued-as-of-1-19-22/ https://frequentmiler.com/marriott-travel-packages-discontinued-as-of-1-19-22/#comments Fri, 14 Jan 2022 00:45:07 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181352 As reported by View from the Wing, Marriott is discontinuing its “Flight and Hotel Awards” (colloquially known as “Marriott Travel Packages”) as of 1/19/22. These packages include a number of nights and airline miles and had already been devalued when Marriott and Starwood merged, but with the coming elimination of the Marriott award chart, the […]

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As reported by View from the Wing, Marriott is discontinuing its “Flight and Hotel Awards” (colloquially known as “Marriott Travel Packages”) as of 1/19/22. These packages include a number of nights and airline miles and had already been devalued when Marriott and Starwood merged, but with the coming elimination of the Marriott award chart, the demise of Travel Packages should come as no surprise.

While Travel Packages were once a great use of Marriott points (and Starwood’s similar Nights & Flights were also a great value), these Travel Packages haven’t been nearly as valuable for a long time. If you really wanted both to use your Marriott points for airline miles and you also really wanted to stay at a specific category of hotel and that hotel is also peak-priced and it additionally has seven consecutive nights of standard award availability, then you could save some points with Travel Packages (specifically, you could save 90K Marriott points over booking the hotel and converting points to airline miles if the hotel was at a peak price time, though you might do it yourself for less during off-peak times.

Of course, that all adds up to a pretty niche situation where these made sense. For a seven night stay at peak pricing, Travel Packages certainly are a pretty good deal if you want the airline miles. Marriott has quite an array of mileage transfer programs, many of which are not partners with other major transferable currencies. That is to say that the niche for these certainly exists — or I should say has existed, but the product will soon be no more.

I’m not entirely sure what will happen with Travel Packages once the award chart fades away this spring. Will they be valid for nights up to the equivalent standard or peak pricing at each category? Will you be able to add points to stay at a more expensive hotel like you will be able to with free night certificates? I have no idea, but Marriott set a precedent for how to handle this sort of thing by releasing very little information ahead of the change last time and then proceeding to offer the worst possible outcome initially (they reversed course a bit after enough blowback). This time around, they told View from the Wing that the change in terms and conditions that brought the coming demise to light was published prematurely. In other words, Marriott had no intention to announce this so far in advance as seven days. As the old saying goes, fool me once, shame on me….

If you have an ideal use of one of these travel packages in mind, by all means hop on the opportunity to book while you still can. I did briefly consider whether this made sense for me, perhaps for something like a return trip to Le Meridien Maldives. However, I ultimately decided that I wouldn’t have enough confidence in any specific trip to happen according to schedule and wouldn’t have enough confidence in whatever Marriott decides to do with these packages after the award chart goes to lock myself into a certificate with an unknown future.

I’ll admit to being a bit disappointed even though I didn’t find these packages particularly useful anymore just because there was the chance to get outsized value and to pick up miles that would otherwise be difficult to accumulate in large quantity like Japan Airlines Mileage Bank, Alaska Mileage Plan, or Asiana (though Asiana does have a potentially useful credit card). Some people will surely find transfers to such programs to be a best use of Marriott points once the award charts are scrapped in the coming months.

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Singapore extends status, delays mileage expiration https://frequentmiler.com/singapore-extends-status-delays-mileage-expiration/ https://frequentmiler.com/singapore-extends-status-delays-mileage-expiration/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2022 18:45:44 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181333 Singapore KrisFlyer has announced to members alerting them to an extension of elite status and a continued pause on the expiration of miles. The elite status extension may be of particular interest to anyone considering a transfer this month for Star Alliance Gold status because I think maybe you could score two years of status […]

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Singapore KrisFlyer has announced to members alerting them to an extension of elite status and a continued pause on the expiration of miles. The elite status extension may be of particular interest to anyone considering a transfer this month for Star Alliance Gold status because I think maybe you could score two years of status out of the deal.

Elite status extended and elite miles to roll over

In an email to members this morning, Singapore Krisflyer announced that due to reduced opportunities to fly in 2021, they are extending elite status set to expire between March 2022 and February 2023 by an additional year. As an example, this means that if your elite status was set to expire in October 2022, your status expiration date will now be moved out to October 2023. That’s obviously good news for anyone who has elite status.

The reason this may be particularly relevant for those considering a transfer to Singapore Krisflyer is that there is currently an opportunity to get Singapore Gold status (and therefore Star Alliance Gold status) with a transfer of 250,000 points to Singapore Krisflyer from your loyalty programs. I believe that status is good for a year, meaning that it would be set to expire during this promotion window. I then expect that this extention should apply and you would theoretically be looking at two full years of Star Alliance Gold status. The utility of that will vary based on your expected travel, but two years sounds better than one.

Elite miles earned during the 12 months leading up to renewal of status will roll over by being credited back to your account for your new elite year — so if you credited some flights to Singapore Krisflyer last year, they will potentially help you requalify for future status.

Miles expiration paused

Singapore is also extending the pause on the expiration of miles. No Singapore Krisflyer miles will expire during 2022. Instead, miles will be extended by six months at a time. In other words, if you have miles set to expire in March 2022, at the end of March those miles will first be extended to the end of September. Then, if still unused at the end of September, they will be extended again to the end of March 2023.

This is kind of a weird way to handle expiration. The end result is that the miles will ultimately get extended for a year beyond current expiration, but the six-months-at-a-time way of doing this seems like an unnecessary complication that will confuse people. I guess it’s set up this way to make people think their miles are expiring sooner in order to encourage redemption sooner rather than later?

This extension highlights the difficulty in speculatively transferring to Singapore Krisflyer. Singapore miles expire 36 months from the time they are earned / transferred in and new activity does not extend that expiration. It’s nice to see Singapore continue to extend miles right now, but you obviously can’t count on that a few years from now — so if you transfer, beware of expiration.

Bottom line

The one year extension of elite status is nice to see — hopefully many airlines will continue with the same this year as business travel is still far down from pre-pandemic levels. This should work out well for all those who have taken advantage of the chance to transfer miles to Singapore for easy Star Alliance Gold status since I believe all those who have already taken advantage of that should be eligible for an additional year via this extension.

H/T: Reader Kathy

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How many points are too many? | Ask Us Anything Live | Ep 41 https://frequentmiler.com/how-many-points-are-too-many-ask-us-anything-live-ep-41/ https://frequentmiler.com/how-many-points-are-too-many-ask-us-anything-live-ep-41/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2022 17:45:35 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181330 Greg joined in from the Miraval Arizona Desert Suite while Nick soothed his frigid jealousy with a massive cup of coffee (57:36). This month’s “Ask Us Anything” also brought up new concerns about the future of hotel loyalty programs (10:05), what to do with all those Amex Membership Rewards Points (and how much is too […]

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Greg joined in from the Miraval Arizona Desert Suite while Nick soothed his frigid jealousy with a massive cup of coffee (57:36). This month’s “Ask Us Anything” also brought up new concerns about the future of hotel loyalty programs (10:05), what to do with all those Amex Membership Rewards Points (and how much is too much…(25:30), and an update from Greg on what Miraval Arizona’s activity roster is like during Covid (55:32).

Watch the full episode below or click the timestamps for reach individual question in YouTube, and don’t forget to mark your calendar for the next episode on February 9th, at 9pm Eastern Time.

Click the timestamps below to navigate to each question in YouTube:

6:58 – My family has Citi Premier but I am unable to locate the Citi Merchants offers.

10:05 – Hey guys. Why does it seem the future of hotel loyalty programs are dying? The Hilton change has me upset.

14:28 – What’s your biggest point blunder/missed opportunity of 2021?

17:05 – If AMEX thinks my life is seven years long… Then when does AMEX think I was born? When I opened my account? When I received the sign up bonus? Or when I closed my account?

17:29 – Is the venture x the best card for p2’s that dont want to be bothered with points and miles?

21:28 – Thoughts on signing up for the HMBradley credit card, to allow 3% APY on up to 100k savings? Would amount to 2k incremental APY over 1% high-yield accounts. Of course this assumes they will not change the APY over the next year. And it would take a 5/24 spot so I am conflicted!

25:30 – How many amex MR points do you have saved up? I have about 500K in amex MR points and only saved up for ANA trip to Japan for me and the wife. Don’t know what else to do with the rest

30:02 – Hey Greg and Nick! Which is more worth a 5/24 slot, the Citi Premier or Capital One Venture X?

33:30 – Turkish Airlines, LAX to IST. A year ago ALL business class award availability disappeared. I’ve checked day by day… zero. Must be a technical problem. Any way to get Turkish to fix this?

35:25 – Also AA loyalty points, I did the Spot and Tango any opinion on the Naked Wines offer, it has this verbage you agree to make a $40 monthly contribution to your Naked Wines account

37:00 – To achieve Star Alliance Gold quickly, what airline should I credit my paid United flights? Is there any international carrier that I can credit flights to get to Star All Gold quicker than United?

39:46 – Hey guys, denied for Venture X with 720 score but within one month of CSP approval, hence reason given was time since recent inquiry is too short. How many months should I wait before applying again?

43:11 – When do you guys expect another Amex Platinum Annual Fee Increase after the recent increase?

44:32 – Is it ok to book for someone else using my Marriott FNCs? I won’t be there at all. Any difference between domestic vs international properties in terms of how this kind of booking is treated?

48:49– Recommend a route from Atlanta to Singapore. Would love to fly Singapore Air, but open. Direct flight or layover? Trip for 2023.

51:47 – Favorite cobranded Airline cards these days?

55:32 – Are there less activities available at Miraval currently due to the current Covid situation?

57:36– Nick – How many ounces is Nick’s cup, it looks bigger than your head. Might be an optical illusion because of the background.

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Which Hilton offer truly “Surpasses”? https://frequentmiler.com/which-hilton-offer-truly-surpasses/ https://frequentmiler.com/which-hilton-offer-truly-surpasses/#comments Thu, 13 Jan 2022 11:58:15 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181317 Yesterday, I published a post about dummy booking offers. Within that post was a section about the Hilton Honors Surpass card. I later realized that the several current offers available on the Hilton Honors Surpass card are all pretty interesting. It can be hard to decipher which is best (and with Hilton’s rumored permanent breakfast […]

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Yesterday, I published a post about dummy booking offers. Within that post was a section about the Hilton Honors Surpass card. I later realized that the several current offers available on the Hilton Honors Surpass card are all pretty interesting. It can be hard to decipher which is best (and with Hilton’s rumored permanent breakfast changes, the word “best” is clearly meant to mean “out of these offers” and no longer necessarily the best hotel card for mid-tier breakfast status). Greg and I recorded this week’s podcast early this week and we discussed these offers, so this post is something of a sneak preview into one segment of this weekend’s show where I sprung the offers on Greg to see which he picked as best. You’ll have to listen in to the show to hear his full thoughts, though the analysis here closely mirrors what we’ll say on the show. Which Surpass offer is the best offer? It’s not so easy to say.

Offer 1

This is the referral offer and we have had this one listed as the “best” offer on our Best Offers page for quite a while. But is it really the best?

Offer 2

The following offer was found while browsing the hotel Wi-Fi at a Hilton hotel. Hilton has displayed different credit card offers to those connecting to the hotel Wi-Fi for a few years now and there are several different Wi-Fi offers.

Offer 3

This offer was also found while browsing Hilton hotel Wi-Fi.

Offer 4

This final offer was also found while on the Wi-Fi at a Hilton property.

Which of the above is best?

To recap, the four offers are:

  1. 130K points after $2K + 50K points after $10K total spend
  2. 125K points after $2K + $100 statement credit
  3. $500 in statement credits for Hilton purchases (no spend requirement)
  4. 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton property (pending standard room availability)

I find these four offers very interesting because they are different enough so as to make it a bit difficult to decipher which is best. It certainly wouldn’t be easy for the average customer to know which offer is better at a quick glance. I imagine that’s part of the intent as Hilton and Amex try to determine which offer(s) are more popular.

To make the offers easier to compare side-by-side, it probably makes sense to think of them in point equivalents by turning statement credits above into Hilton points. Since Hilton so frequently sells points for 0.5c each (as they are right now), that’s the metric on which I based the conversion of statement credits for the sake of comparison. Thought about as all points, the offers look like this:

  1. 130K after $2K + 50K after $8K more
  2. 145K after $2K
  3. 100K no spend
  4. 190K (questionable valuation) after $2K

Let’s now compare side-by-side starting at the top:

  • Offer 1 vs Offer 2: Offer 2 is clearly better for someone who will only spend $2,000. Offer 1 makes sense for someone who will spend $15K for a free weekend night certificate anyway, but if you were going to stop at $10K spend then keep in mind that you would be looking at 35K additional points over offer #2 with $8K additional required spend.
  • Offer 2 vs Offer 3: Offer 2 awards “more points” than the statement credits from offer #3, but is it worth spending $2K for a 45k bump in Hilton points? Honestly, I think so. Even at a value of just 0.4c per point, that’s worth $180 which when combined with the card’s ordinary earnings makes for a return on spend that is still pretty good and the points remain flexible and valid for a long time rather than statement credits that are only valid for a year
  • Offer 2 vs Offer 4.The valuation for offer #4 above is a stretch that assumes you use the two certificates at properties costing 95K points per night. Further, the certificates expire in a year (and must be used on weekend nights). If you’re missing out on 5th-night-free savings by using the certificates, their value drops as well. I therefore think that unless you have a surefire plan to use these certificates at really strong value, I’d rather have the points.

I think offer #2 is best for anyone who is only going to spend $2K. Keep in mind that the offer doesn’t really award 145K points but rather 125K and a $100 statement credit, but since Hilton points are so frequently on sale for half a cent each we can interpret that $100 as being worth 20,000 points.

While I know that some will see the offer for 2 free nights and feel like that is better because the nights are uncapped, keep in mind that the free night certificate offer is only better with a pretty limited set of circumstances. The 190K valuation assumes using the certificates at a top-tier 95K per night property (keep in mind that standard rooms at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives go for even more, but other hotels top out at 95K). But that 95K value also assumes a number of other things: that you find a 95K hotel where you want to stay that is available for award stays on the weekend and where you wouldn’t have otherwise booked a 5-night stay. That last point is key: since the 5th night is free on an award stay booked with points, a five night stay averages 76K per night — meaning two nights are worth about 152K points in a 5-night scenario. That’s not much over the 145K “value” of offer #2 and it locks you in to two certificates that are only valid for one year. I wouldn’t give up the flexibility of points that can be kept alive and split up differently as circumstances dictate for an additional 7K Hilton points in value.

In a pre-pandemic world, I probably would have looked at these offers and committed myself to planning a trip around when I found availability for two weekend nights at a place like the Conrad Bora Bora or Waldorf Astoria Maldives. That’s due to a combination of the fact that I enjoy far more flexibility to travel than most people do and because it was more realistic to wing it on international travel in that previous time in our lives before red list countries and quarantine requirements, etc. In a world in which I have no idea what travel restrictions may be in place a couple of months from now when the certificates are issued and even less of a clue as to what things will look like 6 or 8 or 10 months from now, I just don’t feel like two free night certificates make much sense. I can’t really plan a future trip around using them right now. Sure, I could probably commit myself to making a last-minute booking when award availability opens for like a week in the future, but I’m not feeling the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pans trip planning right now. I’d sock away the points for a rainy day.

All of that makes it sound like I prefer Offer 2 (125K points + $100 statement credit) over the rest of the options. That is true if you only want to spend $2,000. And that’s not unreasonable: people often (correctly) point out that big spending requirements like the additional $8K for the second tier of Offer #1 aren’t worth it because that $8K in spending could alternatively be used to trigger two or three more welcome bonuses on other cards. That’s totally true. If you’re willing to open more cards and don’t have unlimited capacity for spend, you have to carefully consider whether a big spend bonus makes any sense.

I imagine that many people who get the Surpass card intend to do $15K spend per calendar year because that amount of spend yields a free night certificate. If you focus your $15K spend in categories that earn 6x points, you’ll end up with 90K points and a free weekend night certificate. In an ordinary world, I would say that is a solid return given that the Hilton points are worth about $450 (an equivalent of about 3% back) and the free night certificate is easily worth $200 or more even if not used to absolute maximum value. Given that this is one of the rare instances where it is worth spending money on a hotel card, I could certainly see some people still going after that free night certificate spend and if that’s the case then I think it makes sense to get the extra 50K points from Offer #1 by doing $10K of that spend in the first 6 months of having the card. That’s why we still have the two-tiered offer listed as out best offer and the other offers listed as alternatives, though I could probably be convinced to put the 125K + $100 offer as the headline offer.

Bottom line

Clearly, “the answer” is anything but clear. Debates like these are part of the fun that usually happens behind the scenes at Frequent Miler. While our Best Offers page is powered by a spreadsheet that makes most of the decisions as objectively as possible, there are times when things come down to a judgment call like this. On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, you can listen in as we work through that same analysis live. While I don’t imagine that either of us will apply for a Hilton card any time soon (and given the rumored breakfast changes, we probably aren’t alone in that), we enjoy thinking about this stuff and hopefully readers find it useful that we do because our aim is always to help you get the best deal.

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Radisson Rewards International: Earn Bonus Points On Paid Stays, Save 15% On Award Stays https://frequentmiler.com/radisson-rewards-international-earn-bonus-points-on-paid-stays-save-15-on-award-stays/ https://frequentmiler.com/radisson-rewards-international-earn-bonus-points-on-paid-stays-save-15-on-award-stays/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 22:45:04 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181268 Radisson Rewards is running a couple of new promotions, one offering bonus points on paid stays and one offering a discount on award stays. These promotions are for properties outside of the Americas (Radisson Rewards has split into two regions). The Deals January Sale – Earn 2,000 bonus points on stays of 2+ nights at […]

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Radisson Rewards is running a couple of new promotions, one offering bonus points on paid stays and one offering a discount on award stays.

These promotions are for properties outside of the Americas (Radisson Rewards has split into two regions).

Radisson Rewards 2,000 bonus points on 2+ nights

The Deals

  • January Sale – Earn 2,000 bonus points on stays of 2+ nights at Radisson Rewards properties outside of the Americas.
  • Award Sale – Save 15% when booking award stays at Radisson Rewards properties outside of the Americas.

Key Terms

  • January Sale
    • The January Sale Offer consists of discounts at the time of booking on certain Retail Rates including breakfast on Eligible Stays at select participating Radisson hotels (“Participating Hotels”). To be eligible for The Offer, guests and members must book the specific rate during the Booking Period and consume reservations during the Stay Period referenced below. By participating in the Offer, you agree to these Terms and Conditions.
    • An Eligible Stay is defined as a stay of one or more consecutive nights at the same Participating Hotel, regardless of the number of check-ins or check-outs that occur during that stay. Eligible Stays must be booked between January 4, 2022 and January 31, 2022 (“Booking Period”) and consumed on Eligible Nights between February 3, 2022 and December 31, 2022 (“Stay Period”) (together, the “Promotion Period”).
    • Eligible Nights is defined as Friday, Saturday & Sunday nights at Participating Hotels in Europe and Africa; Thursday, Friday & Saturday nights for Participating Hotels in UAE, Kuwait, KSA, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, and Libya. For the participating Edwardian Hotels, the offer is valid every day of the week.
    • Members will earn 2,000 bonus Radisson Rewards points per booking of minimum 2 nights based on Eligible Bookings at Participating Properties during the Promotion Period.
    • The 2,000 bonus points will be awarded to accounts within 60 days after the end of the promotion. Bonus points are in addition to the standard points per U.S. dollar issued based on the standard tier proposition. Only one Radisson Rewards account may earn bonus points for a booking. Individual accounts only.
    • Bonus points will be awarded per booking of min 2 nights. Consecutive night stays within one booking will be considered as one booking. Members may also benefit from additional Radisson Rewards promotions running in parallel to this offer unless exemptions are explicitly stated in the promotional terms and conditions. The Offer is subject to the complete Radisson Rewards Terms and Conditions.
  • Award Sale
    • Book by 18 January 2022.
    • Stay by 31 December 2022.

Quick Thoughts

In April 2021 Radisson split their loyalty program into two parts – Radisson Rewards Americas and Radisson Rewards, the latter of which covers properties in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. The key thing to be aware of with these promotions is that they’re only eligible on stays outside of the Americas.

As part of the January Sale promotion, Radisson is also advertising discounts of up to 25%. I’m not sure if those are legit savings or not, but the 2,000 bonus points you’ll earn on stays of two or more nights is on top of those savings.

The 15% discount on award stays could be useful too. When splitting the program in two they also reduced the number of category levels for award stays. This discount reduces the cost of those stays as follows:

Radisson Rewards 15% award sale chart

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(Targeted) Different Spending Offers On Many Chase Cards https://frequentmiler.com/targeted-earn-5x-on-chase-cards-at-amazon-grocery-stores-restaurants/ https://frequentmiler.com/targeted-earn-5x-on-chase-cards-at-amazon-grocery-stores-restaurants/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 20:45:21 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181260 Chase is back with another round of spending offers, giving 5x points/miles in some very useful categories for some cardholders along with other types of offers. The Deal Chase is offering different deals for targeted cardholders. Spending offers include: Earn 5x miles/points on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in the following categories on targeted […]

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Chase is back with another round of spending offers, giving 5x points/miles in some very useful categories for some cardholders along with other types of offers.

Chase 5x spending offers

The Deal

  • Chase is offering different deals for targeted cardholders. Spending offers include:
    • Earn 5x miles/points on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in the following categories on targeted Chase cards:
      • Amazon
      • Grocery Stores
      • Restaurants
    • Spend $6,000 & earn 6,000 bonus miles/points.
    • Spend $3,000 & earn 5,000 bonus miles/points.
    • spend $5,000 & earn 15,000 bonus miles/points.
  • Direct link to registration.

Key Terms

Terms below are for IHG cardholders; terms should be similar on other cards.

  • To be eligible for this bonus offer, you must activate by 03/31/22 11:59 p.m. E.T.
  • You will earn 5 points total for each $1 spent in the Amazon.com, grocery store, and restaurant categories on up to $1,500 in total combined purchases from 01/15/2022 to 03/31/2022.
  • Total points shown are the maximum you will earn on those purchases during the promotion, regardless of what you already earn on those purchases in your rewards program.
  • For more information about Chase rewards categories, see chase.com/RewardsCategoryFAQs.
  • The Amazon.com category includes purchases made at Amazon.com (including digital downloads, Amazon.com Gift Cards, Amazon Fresh orders, Amazon Prime subscriptions, and items sold by third-party merchants through Amazon.com’s marketplace) and Whole Foods Market (including physical Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market 365 stores, and the website accessible at www.wholefoodsmarket.com(Opens Overlay)).
  • The Amazon.com category does not include (i) purchases from merchants using Amazon Pay, (ii) purchases made at international Amazon retail sites (including but not limited to Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, or Amazon.co.jp), or any other website operated by Amazon, (iii) purchases made at international Whole Foods Market sites, (iv) purchases of Whole Foods Market or Whole Foods Market 365 products or services through third-party sites such as Eventbrite, Instacart, Google Express and Shipt, (v) online purchases of Whole Foods Market or Whole Foods Market 365 gift cards (including through buyatab.com), event tickets or classes, (vi) purchases from certain third-party vendors operating at Whole Foods Market sites, (vii) purchases of massage services at any Whole Foods Market site, or (viii) purchases from Spa@Ink, in each case in Amazon’s sole discretion.
  • Qualifying Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh purchases will only earn the bonus in the Amazon.com(Opens Overlay) category and not in the grocery store category.
  • Purchases posted to your account with a transaction date during the offer period are eligible for this offer.
  • Delays by the merchant could extend the transaction date beyond the offer period.
  • Please allow up to 8 weeks after qualifying purchases post to your account for points to post to your account. (“Purchases” do not include balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.)
  • To qualify for this bonus offer, account must be open and not in default at the time of fulfillment.
  • This bonus offer is non-transferable.
  • Eligible credit cards: IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card or IHG Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card.

Quick Thoughts

These offers appear to be highly targeted. Doctor of Credit reports these offers are being found on Hyatt, Southwest and Disney cards, as well as Freedom cards. The fact that some are seeing it on Freedom cards is surprising as I think past spending offers such as these were only available on cobranded cards rather than Ultimate Rewards-earning cards.

My wife and I don’t have Southwest or Disney cards and we weren’t targeted on our Hyatt, Freedom, Freedom Flex or Freedom Unlimited cards. The offer did appear on my no-fee United card though, while my wife had it on her IHG Premier card. I didn’t bother to check my IHG cards or her IHG Select card seeing as we wouldn’t put any of this bonused spend on those cards because we have many other cards with more lucrative earning opportunities in all these categories than 5x IHG Rewards points.

It could be much more interesting on other Chase cards though. For example, earning 5x World of Hyatt points is a great return in these categories, especially if you’re spending towards two elite nights for every $5,000 of spend and/or $15,000 spend for a category 1-4 free night certificate.

There are a couple of important things to note regarding how these spending offers are set up. For example, the $1,500 of spend offer is the total amount of bonused spend during the promotion period – it’s not on a per-month basis. I think a similar bonused spend opportunity in 2020 or 2021 was valid on $1,500 spend per month which is why it’s important to be aware of that difference.

The second thing to note is that even though you can register for these spending offers now, they doesn’t begin until January 15.

With past spending offers like this, it was possible for some people to register their cards several weeks later even though they weren’t initially targeted. It’s therefore worth trying to register your cards periodically in case that happens again. I’ve set a reminder to try registering our cards weekly, so I’ll update this post in the future if I have any luck.

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Excellent Availability In Emirates First Class From US To Dubai For 2 People https://frequentmiler.com/excellent-availability-in-emirates-first-class-from-us-to-dubai-for-2-people/ https://frequentmiler.com/excellent-availability-in-emirates-first-class-from-us-to-dubai-for-2-people/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 18:45:15 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181255 If you’ve been dreaming about the chance to experience Emirates First Class, there’s currently excellent availability for two people between Dubai and Washington Dulles, Houston and San Francisco. Availability is good from August to November 2022. For example, when searching for a week-long round trip from Dulles to Dubai in September, here are the results […]

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If you’ve been dreaming about the chance to experience Emirates First Class, there’s currently excellent availability for two people between Dubai and Washington Dulles, Houston and San Francisco.

Greg enjoying Emirates First Class while on the Maldives GUC trip with Nick last year

Availability is good from August to November 2022. For example, when searching for a week-long round trip from Dulles to Dubai in September, here are the results with +/-3 flexibility:

Emirates First Class Award Availability IAD-DXB

Note that Emirates displays the total mileage and taxes cost for the entire trip for all passengers for whom you’ve searched. In the above example, 545,000 miles sounds pricey, but that’s because it appears to be pricing out at 136,250 miles per person each way, with taxes of $181.20 per person to Dubai and $219.47 per person back to the US.

Emirates First Class Award Availability IAD-DXB breakdown

My wife and I flew Emirates First Class from Chicago to Dubai in August last year. That was booked literally at the last minute and was on their 777-300 which meant we didn’t get the full First Class experience with showers. Most (or all) of these flights should be on their A380 which means you would get to have a shower in the sky, along with sleeping in their suites.

Although booking these awards via Emirates Skywards isn’t cheap, the ability to book these award flights is made easier by the fact that Emirates is a transfer partner of all the transferable currencies:

  • American Express Membership Rewards
  • Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Citi ThankYou
  • Capital One
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Brex
  • Bilt

Most of those transferable currencies transfer instantly, with the definite exception being Marriott Bonvoy which can take ~3 days, although we don’t know how long transfers from Bilt take.

Considering how unusual it is to have this much First Class award availability, it’d be best to book ASAP if you’re interested in case it either all gets booked up or Emirates decides to turn off the tap.

h/t Thrifty Traveler via View From The Wing

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Amex Business Platinum Fee Going Up On 1/13/22: Save Yourself A Benjamin https://frequentmiler.com/amex-business-platinum-fee-going-up-on-1-13-22-save-yourself-a-benjamin/ https://frequentmiler.com/amex-business-platinum-fee-going-up-on-1-13-22-save-yourself-a-benjamin/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 14:45:29 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181228 Update 1/13/22: This change has been made and the fee is now $695. A few months ago, American Express announced that the annual fee on the Business Platinum card would be increasing by $100 from $595 to $695. Rather than implementing that change with immediate effect, they thankfully gave a few months advanced warning of […]

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Update 1/13/22: This change has been made and the fee is now $695.

A few months ago, American Express announced that the annual fee on the Business Platinum card would be increasing by $100 from $595 to $695.

Rather than implementing that change with immediate effect, they thankfully gave a few months advanced warning of that change. The annual fee increases tomorrow (January 13), so you’ll need to apply today if you want to save yourself a Benjamin by locking in the lower fee for the next year.

$100 Bill Cash Benjamin Franklin

Your application only has to be received by January 12 rather than approved, so in the unlikely event that you don’t get an immediate decision from Amex, you’ll still only be charged $595 if your application is subsequently approved.

Although you can normally only receive a welcome bonus once per card from Amex, they sent out a bunch of invitations in 2021 to add a Business Platinum card to your membership. The notable thing with these applications is that they had No Lifetime Language (NLL) which meant you could earn the welcome bonus again even if you’d had the card in the past.

Some of those invitations expired on December 31, 2021, but more recent invitations are valid through March 31, 2022. My wife and I both received emails a couple of weeks ago with that March 31 expiry date, but we both applied in the last few days to get our applications in before the annual fee goes up on January 13. My application was approved, but unfortunately it was just under three months since my wife was last approved for a NLL Business Platinum card and so they declined her application for having gotten the card so recently.

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Your old friend: the dummy booking https://frequentmiler.com/your-old-friend-the-dummy-booking/ https://frequentmiler.com/your-old-friend-the-dummy-booking/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 11:59:25 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=180802 With the dawn of the new year, I have spent a good chunk of time checking offers on our Best Offers page to make sure offer information and links were up to date. That process reminded me of the importance of reminding readers of the value an unheralded hero of credit card bonus hunting: the […]

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With the dawn of the new year, I have spent a good chunk of time checking offers on our Best Offers page to make sure offer information and links were up to date. That process reminded me of the importance of reminding readers of the value an unheralded hero of credit card bonus hunting: the dummy booking. Don’t be a dummy, start a dummy booking to check for a better offer.

Increased Offers

This process actually began in motion on New Year’s Day when I was booking a Hyatt hotel. During the process, I saw an offer for the World of Hyatt credit card that looked pretty interesting. I wrote about that offer here: Debating the Hyatt dummy booking offer.

In that case, the rest of the Frequent Miler team convinced me that the normal offer was ever-so-slightly better for most people, but in that post I explained why the dummy offer could be better depending on your situation.

In other words, in the case of the Hyatt dummy booking offer. In many cases, a dummy booking produces an objectively better offer. Whenever it is possible to link directly to the dummy booking offer, we do that on our Best Offers page — though in some cases, you’ll just have to go through the steps of booking to get an offer to pop up for yourself.

Here are some of the increased offers I’ve found since the new year began.

Air France / KLM

A dummy booking on the AirFrance.us website produced the following offer for the Air France KLM Credit Card, which was $100 better than the best offer we previously had listed.

That $100 statement credit certainly helps to offset the annual fee and then some. The key advantage of the Air France KLM card is that it keeps your miles from expiring. If you’ve never credited a flight to Flying Blue, you might not need to worry about that.

One thing that could make this card kind of appealing at the moment is the (ironic) chance to use toward the end goal of earning American Airlines elite status through SimplyMiles card-linked offers — though I’d only do that while spending toward the initial bonus.

Wyndham Rewards Earner

Stephen came across this offer for the Wyndham Rewards Earner Card while making a booking the other day:

The bump here is the $50 statement credit. We wrote a quick post about this offer here.

If you actually want to earn more Wyndham points, the business card probably makes more sense, but if you mostly value the 10% discount on awards this is a way to get it without an annual fee.

Celebrity Cruises Visa Signature Card

I found a very similar dummy booking offer to this one for both the Celebrity Cruise Lines card and the Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines card and updated both on our best offers page:

While I think that a cruise line credit card doesn’t make much sense compared to the many other more valuable rewards card offers on the market, the offer here makes for a decent cash back bonus at a $200 statement credit with $1K in purchases. Again, that’s not the best cash back bonus on the market, but it’s a reasonable deal for low spend for someone who cares more about cash back than other travel rewards.

Delta Gold SkyMiles card

While pricing out a business class flight to London, I found a surprisingly good Delta Gold SkyMiles card offer:

The statement credit for this targeted dummy booking offer requires a Delta purchase within the first 3 months. If approved, you could use your instant card number to book the flight you’re pricing out and get that $200 statement credit or you could make another Delta purchase within the first few months.

Even if you only value Delta miles at 1c each, this is a fantastic return on just $2K spend.

Note that there isn’t a way to directly link to this offer as you need to go through a dummy booking and check the box to apply — then the application box pops up over the Delta site in your browser on the payment page before entering payment info.

Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card

This example is probably debatable. During the booking process, I saw the following offer. Note that the layout is really poor in my opinion — it almost makes ie look like the card has no annual fee, but the left side bar is actually tabs for different cards.

That offer rewards 5,000 fewer points after $2K spend than the offer found on our Best Offers page, but that is more than offset by the statement credit. In fact, with Hilton’s current sale on points, the statement credit here could effectively buy 20,000 Hilton points (though you’d have to spend a minimum of $150 to get that 0.5c rate on points).

On the other hand, the offer on our Best Offers page adds a second tier of 50K points after $10K total spend in the first 6 months. Since this card has a couple of useful category bonuses and a free night certificate with $15K annual spend, I find the chance to earn more points more appealing. However, anyone who doesn’t want to spend toward the free night certificate may find the incremental return on spend less appealing and prefer the dummy booking offer.

Stephen also reminded me recently that there are a few different offers you may see while connected to Hilton Wi-Fi.

I’m not a big fan of the offer for statement credits on the Surpass, especially since it is only valid for statement credits at Hilton properties.

I’d rather have the points from the other offers above.

However, he also found an offer for 2 free weekend nights after $3K spend.

That offer could be better than the others if you knew you could maximize the value of the free night certificates. Booking a top-tier Hilton property that would otherwise cost 95K points per night (or the Waldorf-Astoria Maldives which ordinarily costs north of 100K points per night) could yield a ton of value on such little spend. On the other hand, keep in mind that Hilton free night certificates expire in a year. I wouldn’t want to lock myself in to the free night certificate offer right now with the travel situation still unpredictable, but in a normal world I would probably be pretty excited about this deal if I were planning to go somewhere like the Maldives or Bora Bora or even just an expensive hotel market city like New York or San Francisco. I have added a direct link to this 2 free night offer to the alternative offer section on our Surpass card page.

United MileagePlus Explorer

This is a good example of a dummy booking offer that is pretty clearly worse than the public offer in my opinion. During the booking process on United.com, I came across this offer for the United Mileage Plus Explorer card:

Unless you value United miles at less than one cent each, you’d be better off with the public 60K offer on that card.

American Airlines

It’s the same story with American Airlines: if you value miles at less than one cent each, the dummy booking offer (which is the same for either the American Airlines AAdvantage Platinum Select card or the Citibusiness AAdvantage card) could be better than the public offers on those cards, but in most cases I wouldn’t consider the dummy offer.

Bottom line

Keep in mind that whatever offer you see during the checkout process may not always be better than other publicly-available offers found on our Best Offers page and sometimes the relative value is debatable depending on your situation. However, if you’re thinking about a co-branded credit card, it can be worth at least going through the motions of a booking to see if you get an elevated credit card offer during the checkout process. We keep links to those offers on our Best Offers page when they are the best offer and it is possible to do so, but there’s no harm in double checking for a smarter dummy offer.

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Buy Hilton Points For 0.5 Cents Each Through 2/9/22 https://frequentmiler.com/buy-hilton-points/ https://frequentmiler.com/buy-hilton-points/#comments Wed, 12 Jan 2022 02:45:39 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=172491?republish=1641937539 Hilton has returned with a new sale that’s giving a 100% bonus when buying their points. That means you can buy Hilton Honors points for 0.5cpp with this sale. Past Hilton Points Sales 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through December 31, 2021. 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid […]

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Hilton has returned with a new sale that’s giving a 100% bonus when buying their points. That means you can buy Hilton Honors points for 0.5cpp with this sale.

Past Hilton Points Sales

  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through December 31, 2021.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through July 29, 2021.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through July 8, 2021.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through May 11, 2021.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through March 5, 2021.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through July 15, 2020.
  • 100% bonus (Buy points for 0.5 cents each). Valid through February 19, 2020.
The beach at the Conrad Bora Bora Nui. Standard room prices usually top $800, but standard room awards usually cost less than 90,000 points.  That means that rooms can be had for less than $450 per night with this promotion.

The Deal

Key Terms

  • Points purchased do not count towards elite tier qualification.
  • Points.com and Hilton Honors reserve the right to terminate bonus promotions at any time.
  • All purchases must be made through the Purchase page on HiltonHonors.com. Timing and order of purchases will be determined by Hilton Honors in its sole discretion.
  • The 100% Points bonus promotion is valid for purchases of 15K points or more up to a total of 80,000 points purchased (160K with bonus) and is available for purchases made between January 11, 2022, at 12:01am ET and February 9, 2022, at 11:59pm ET.
  • Members may purchase a maximum of up to 80,000 points purchase per calendar year (note that this limit is sometimes increased during sales, but not this time).
  • All purchases are non-refundable.
  • Offer is subject to change.
  • Offer cannot be combined with any other offer.
  • Points will be posted to the recipients Hilton Honors account within 48 hours of the completed transaction.
  • Purchased points do not count towards Honors status upgrades.

Best uses

  • 5th night free. Use points to book 5 nights for the price of 4. This benefit is valid on longer stays, so if staying 10 nights you’ll get both the 5th and 10th nights free. Hilton status is required to take advantage of this benefit, but you can get that with the fee-free Hilton credit card.
  • Save money on low category hotels. Hilton hotel awards start at 5,000 points per night, but those can be very difficult to find. 10,000 and 15,000 point properties are more common.  These would cost $50 or $75 when booked with purchased points or less if using the 5th night free benefit.
  • Stay at top tier properties for less. Most of Hilton’s top tier properties top-out at 95,000 points per night for a standard room. With this promotion, 95,000 points would cost you $475. That’s not bad for top tier hotels which often cost $800 or more.

Things to know

  • When you book nights with points, you will not earn points for the stay unless Hilton is running a promotion that awards bonus points per night/stay which includes award nights.
  • Most hotel taxes are not charged on award stays, so this can make the value of buying points even better. Arguably, this factor and the one above roughly cancel each other out.
  • Resort and destination fees are waived on award stays. This alone can make it worthwhile to use points instead of cash for your bookings.

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Pay taxes via credit card 2022 edition https://frequentmiler.com/pay-taxes-via-credit-card/ https://frequentmiler.com/pay-taxes-via-credit-card/#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2022 22:45:00 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=140323?republish=1641923100 Update: Reminder that 2021 Q4 estimated tax payments are due January 18, 2022. This post has been updated to reflect the latest changes to paying taxes by credit card in 2022. You might not like paying taxes, but when you pay taxes via credit card can be quite rewarding. The key is to earn credit […]

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Update: Reminder that 2021 Q4 estimated tax payments are due January 18, 2022. This post has been updated to reflect the latest changes to paying taxes by credit card in 2022.

You might not like paying taxes, but when you pay taxes via credit card can be quite rewarding. The key is to earn credit card rewards that more than offset tax payment fees. For example, if you’ve signed up recently for a card that requires large spend to get a big welcome bonus, paying taxes via credit card can be the solution.

Since last publication the following updates have been made: Updated credit card and debit card processing fees. Removed expired 2021 deals and deadlines.

Here’s everything you need to know about paying taxes with credit cards…

Pay taxes via credit card

Important due dates

2021 Tax Year Due Dates

  • January 17 2022: 4th quarter 2021 estimated taxes due.
    (Payable online from 10/15/21 to ?)
  • April 15 2022: End of year taxes due.

2022 Tax Year Due Dates

  • April 15, 2022: 1st quarter 2022 estimated taxes due.
    (Payable online from 03/01/22 – 05/15/22)
  • June 15, 2022: 2nd quarter 2022 estimated taxes due.
    (Payable online from 05/15/22 – 07/15/22)
  • September 15, 2022: 3rd quarter 2022 estimated taxes due.
    (Payable online from 07/15/22 – 10/15/22)
  • January 16, 2023: 4th quarter 2022 estimated taxes due.
    (Payable online from 10/15/22 – ?)
  • April 17, 2023: End of year taxes due.

Deals

Current Deals

Future Deals

  • Discover It will offer 5% back on PayPal (and restaurants) on up to $1,500 spend, July – September 2022.  PayUSATax allows payments via PayPal.  See the Pay with PayPal section below for details regarding working around a PayUSATax/PayPal bug.

Pay taxes via credit card: Key Info

Here is key information you’ll need to know about paying taxes with credit or debit cards:

Credit card fee 1.87% to 1.98%

The IRS maintains a list of companies that accept credit and debit cards towards tax payments. You can find the current information by clicking here. Currently there are three separate payment processing companies on the list. At the time of this writing, debit card fees range from $2.20 to $2.55 per transaction and credit card fees range from 1.87% to 1.98%. Alternatively, you can pay taxes via the Plastiq Bill Pay service, but that will cost you more: 2.85%.

Additional Info Direct from the IRS

The IRS page that lists options for paying by credit or debit card also lists the following “Additional Information”:

  • No part of the card service fee goes to IRS.
  • You don’t need to send in a voucher if you pay by card.
  • Card processing fees are tax deductible for business taxes.
  • You must contact the card processor to cancel a card payment.
  • IRS will refund any overpayment unless you owe a debt on your account.
    [Editor’s caution: In recent years the IRS has been very slow to do so]
  • Your card statement will list your payment as “United States Treasury Tax Payment” and your fee as “Tax Payment Convenience Fee” or something similar.
  • Federal tax lien releases can take up to 30 days after we receive full payment; liens may remain for other individuals who haven’t fully paid their portion.
  • When you pay while filing your taxes through online software, different card fees apply.

Two payment limit per processor

The IRS maintains a table of frequency limits for paying taxes via credit or debit card (found here). In general, they say you can make up to two payments per tax period per type of tax payment. For example, you can make 2 payments every quarter to your quarterly estimated taxes, and you can make 2 payments every year to your annual taxes. Important: In my experience, these limits are enforced per payment processing company. That means that you can really make up to 6 payments per tax period per type of tax payment (or more if you make Plastiq bill payments as well). An IRS advisor I spoke with several years ago did not think that there would be any problem with making more than 2 payments by using different processors. Since then, I have made more than 2 payments per tax period many times and never had any issues. That is, of course, just my own personal experience. I can’t guarantee that your outcome would be the same.

Twice as many potential payments when filing jointly

If you file jointly with a partner, you can make payments in each person’s name, separately.  These payments will still apply to the one overall tax return, but not always automatically.  According to reader reports, in some cases the IRS matches these payments to the combined return automatically.  In other cases, people have reported the need to call the IRS to ask them to combine the payments.  I recommend calling shortly after filing your annual taxes to ensure that the IRS has correctly applied both sets of payments to the same return.

Obviously if you are filing separately, you can each make your own payments without any issues.

No cash advance fees

I’m often asked whether credit card companies charge cash advance fees when paying taxes by credit card. The answer is no. All three official IRS payment processors agree (via their FAQ pages) that the payment is treated as a purchase not a cash advance. You can find FAQ info here, here, and here.

Unlimited payments via Plastiq

If you’re willing to incur higher fees, you can make an unlimited number of tax payments via the Plastiq bill pay service. Plastiq usually charges 2.85% to pay bills (including taxes) via credit card, but they occasionally offer lower fees via short term promotions. For details, please see: Plastiq Bill Payment Service.

To pay taxes via Plastiq, use Plastiq’s tax payment screen: plastiq.com/us-taxes.

Are tax payment fees deductible?

Fees are no longer deductible for personal taxes: Tax preparation fees used to be deductible when itemizing deductions for personal tax returns, but that is no longer the case.

Card processing fees are tax deductible for business taxes: This can substantially reduce your net cost of using payment services.

Tax payment history (how to see your info online)

Once you’ve made payments through online processors, Plastiq, or other means, you may want to see proof that the IRS received the amount you sent. You can view past payments by signing up here: irs.gov/payments/view-your-tax-account.

Reporting estimated payments

Estimated payments should be reported when filing your annual taxes. In my experience, if you make a mistake and forget to report some of these payments, the IRS will eventually catch the error and refund the difference.

How to pay end of year taxes

Tell your tax preparer or tax software that you’ll pay via check. Then, browse to the appropriate tax payment site (e.g. Pay1040.com, OfficialPayments.com, PayUSAtax.com, or Plastiq.com/us-taxes) to pay your taxes. There is no need to mail in the 1040V payment voucher.

What happens if you over-pay your taxes?

Overpayments will be refunded: The IRS will refund any overpayment unless you owe a debt on your account.  Update/Caution: In recent years the IRS has been very slow to refund overpayments.

How to request a refund if it doesn’t come automatically

Schedule an appointment with the Taxpayer Assistance Center by calling 844-545-5640.  When you finally speak to an agent, explain that you overpaid and would like a refund rather than applying the extra to next year’s taxes.  Hat Tip: Rapid Travel Chai via personal communication.

Do you need to mail in payment vouchers?

No. No payment voucher is required. You don’t need to send in a voucher if you pay by card.

Pay with Paypal

PayUSATax allows payments via PayPal.  Sometimes cards like the Discover It, Discover It Student, and Chase Freedom offer 5% rewards for Paypal purchases (up to $1500 combined spend per quarter).  Tax payments during these times should count!

NOTE: There is a weird issue with selecting to pay with PayPal on the PayUSATax website. When clicking the PayPal button, a screen flashes up and disappears.  But I believe I’ve found a work-around: Put in valid credit card information first (for any credit card) and then press the PayPal button.  When doing it this way, I got the PayPal screen to successfully load.

Pay with Samsung Pay & Google Pay

Some tax payment websites support mobile wallet payments such as Samsung Pay or Google Pay. The US Bank Altitude Reserve card earns 3X for mobile wallet payments, so it should be a great match. However, readers have reported that Samsung Pay and Google Pay are only supported through Visa Checkout and that this does not trigger the Altitude’s 3X rewards.

Amex Express Checkout

Since Amex is strict about not counting manufactured spending towards new credit card welcome bonuses, tax payments are a great alternative. The nice thing about Amex Express Checkout is that you can use it to make payments even if you don’t have your card. If you recently signed up for a new Amex card and added it to your online account but haven’t yet received the physical card, you should still be able to pay through Amex Express Checkout.

Top 5 reasons to pay federal taxes with a credit card or gift card

1. Profit

A number of credit cards earn cash rewards greater than 2%. One great option is to earn 3% cash back in your first year of card membership:

Since you’ll earn 3% cash back on both the base tax payment and the processing fees with the above cards, your profit will be slightly more than 1% of your tax payment.

Example:

  • $10,000 tax payment + 1.96% fee = $10,196
  • Cash back earned at 3% = $305.88
  • Profit = $305.88 – $196 = $109.88 (1.1% of $10K)

For more examples of cards that earn better than 2% rewards, see: Best Rewards for Everyday Spend.

2. Meet minimum spend requirements

If you recently signed up for new credit cards, chances are good that you have to spend thousands of dollars in order to earn the associated signup bonuses. Paying taxes is a cheap and easy way to accomplish that.

Below are some of the most valuable current welcome bonuses for consumer cards.  If you’re interested in business cards, please click here to see the best business card offers.

Click on a card for details; Press “Next” to see more offers:

Card Offer
The Platinum Card® from American Express
125K points + 15x when you Shop Small in the US & at restaurants worldwide
125K after $6K spend in first 6 months plus 15x on eligible purchases when you Shop Small in the US and at restaurants worldwide on up to $25K in purchases in the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$695 Annual Fee

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
100K miles + Up to $200 statement credit
Earn a one-time bonus of 100K Capital One miles after $10K spend in the first 6 months + a limited-time bonus of up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rentals charged to your card in the first year

$395 Annual Fee

American Express® Gold Card
75K Points + up to $250 back
75K after $4K spend in first 6 months plus 20% back as a statement credit on restaurant purchases worldwide for the first 12 months up to $250 back. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$250 Annual Fee

The Aeroplan® Card
2 50K Reward Certificates + Elite Status
2 50K Reward Certificates after $4K spend in 3 months + Aeroplan 25K Elite Status for the remainder of the first calendar year, plus the following calendar year. Note that reward certificates never expire as long as your card remains open

$95 Annual Fee

Chase Aer Lingus Visa Signature® Card
100K Avios
Get 100K Avios after $5K spend in first 3 months. Also get 5x on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL for first 12 months (then 3x) and 3x on hotels booked directly with the hotel for first 12 months (then 2x)

$95 Annual Fee

Chase Iberia Visa Signature® Card
100K Avios
Get 100K Avios after $5K spend in first 3 months. Also get 5x on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL for first 12 months (then 3x) and 3x on hotels booked directly with the hotel for first 12 months (then 2x)

$95 Annual Fee

Chase British Airways Visa Signature® Card
100K Avios
Get 100K Avios after $5K spend in first 3 months. Also get 5x on purchases with British Airways, Aer Lingus, and LEVEL for first 12 months (then 3x) and 3x on hotels booked directly with the hotel for first 12 months (then 2x)

$95 Annual Fee

Chase Freedom Flex
20K points + 5X grocery + 15 months 0% APR
Earn 20,000 points (worth $200 cash back) after spending $500 in the first 3 months + 5x Ultimate Rewards points (worth 5% cash back) on grocery purchases for 1st year (on up to $12K in purchases, excludes Target & Walmart). 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.

No Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). Even though this card is marketed as a cash back card, it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points which are redeemable for 1 cent each, or can be combined with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to get even more value. This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Chase Freedom Unlimited
20K points + 5X grocery + 15 months 0% APR
Earn 20,000 points (worth $200 cash back) after spending $500 in the first 3 months + 5x Ultimate Rewards points (worth 5% cash back) on grocery purchases for 1st year (on up to $12K in purchases, excludes Target & Walmart). 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases, then a variable APR of 14.99 - 23.74%.

No Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). Even though this card is marketed as a cash back card, it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points which are redeemable for 1 cent each, or can be combined with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to get even more value. This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

UBS Visa Infinite
Up to 100K points (call to apply)
50K after $10K spend in 3 months + 50K after paying 2nd year annual fee

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $495

Chase IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
125K + Free night
125K points + free night certificate valid for one night up to 40K points after $3K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $89

Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
60K miles
Earn a one-time bonus of 60K Capital One miles after $3K spend in the first 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: 100K: 50K after $3K in the first 3 months + 20K after $20K in the first 6 months [Expired 7/19/21]

Alaska Airlines Visa Signature
60K miles + $100 statement credit + Companion Fare
60K miles + $100 statement credit + Companion Fare ($99 + taxes) after $3K spend in 3 months

$75 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: Up to 67K miles: 42K miles + Companion Fare ($99 + taxes) after $2K spend in 3 months + 25K miles after $8K total purchases in first 6 months [Expired during 2021]

Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card
3 Free Night Certificates (up to 50K each)
3 Free Night Certificates (valid for a single night each up to 50K points) after $3K in the first 3 months + 10x on up to $2500 in combined spend at gas stations, restaurants, and grocery stores in first 6 months.

$95 Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).

See Also: Are you eligible for a new Marriott card?

Recent better offer: Earn 5 50K free night certificates after $5K spend in 3 months [Expired 10/28/20]

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
60K Points
60K after $4K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: 100K after $4K in purchases in the first 3 months

American Express® Green Card
50K Points + up to $150 back
50K after $2K spend in first 6 months plus 20% back as a statement credit on restaurant purchases worldwide for the first 12 months up to $150 back. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$150 Annual Fee

Chase United Explorer Card
60K Miles
60K after $3K spend in 3 months
(Offer Expires 1/26/2022)

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

Citi Premier Card
60K points
60K after $4K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: 80K after $4K spend in first 3 months

Chase United Quest Card
80K Miles
80K after $5K spend in first 3 months

$250 Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).

Recent better offer: Expired 9/23/21: 100K miles after $10K total spend

United Club℠ Infinite Card
100K miles
100K miles after $5K spend in the first 3 months.
(Offer Expires 1/26/2022)

$525 Annual Fee

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
50K points
50K after $4.5K spend in 90 days

$400 Annual Fee

Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
60K Points
60K after $4K spend in 3 months

$550 Annual Fee

Barclays JetBlue Plus Mastercard
50K Miles
50K miles after $1K spend and payment of the annual fee in 90 days

$99 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You could get a bonus 5K miles for using an employee code. Details here.

Recent better offer: Expired 2/4/21: 100K after $6K spend

Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® Plus Card
40K Points
40K Points after $1K Spend in 3 Months

$69 Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details).

Recent better offer: Expired 12/9/21: 100K (50K after $2K spend in 3 months plus 50K after a total of $12K spend in 12 months)

Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
40K Points
40K Points after $1K Spend in 3 Months

$149 Annual Fee

This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

Recent better offer: Expired 12/9/21: 100K (50K after $2K spend in 3 months plus 50K after a total of $12K spend in 12 months)

U.S. BANK ALTITUDE® CONNECT VISA SIGNATURE® CARD
50K points
50K after $2K spend in 120 days

No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

Chase Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card
40K Points
40K Points after $1K Spend in 3 Months

$99 Annual Fee

This card is known to be subject to Chase's 5/24 rule.

Recent better offer: Expired 12/9/21: 100K (50K after $2K spend in 3 months plus 50K after a total of $12K spend in 12 months)

Chase IHG® Rewards Club Traveler Credit Card
80K Points
80K Points after $2K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Click here to view details about a similar card: IHG Rewards Club Premier

Recent better offer: 100K after $2K spend in 3 months

Chase World of Hyatt Credit Card
45K points
Up to 45K: 30K after $3K spend plus 1 extra point per dollar for non-bonused spend, up to $15K spend in 6 months.

$95 Annual Fee

The Hawaiian Airlines® World Elite MasterCard® issued by Barclays
Up to 80K miles
Up to 80K miles: 60K after $2K in the first 90 days + 20K after a total of $4K spend in 6 months

$99 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You may be able to get 60K miles after 1st purchase via paper application distributed in-flight.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Credit Card from American Express
50K miles + 5K MQMs + up to $100 in statement credits
50K miles + 5K MQMs after $2K in purchases in the first 3 months plus up to $100 in statement credits for purchases at US restaurants in the first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$250 Annual Fee

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
20K miles
Earn a bonus of 20K after $500 spend in 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee

Alternate offer: Some people are targeted for a 40K offer. See this post for more detail.

Wyndham Rewards Earner Card
30K Points + $50 statement credit
30K points after $1K spend in first 90 days + $50 statement credit after first purchase

No Annual Fee

Citi Rewards+ Card
20K points
20K points after $1.5K spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Korean Air SKYPASS Visa issued by US Bank
30K miles
30K miles after $3K spend in 90 days

$95 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: 40K after $2.5K spend targeted (last reported 2/26/2016)

30K: 15K after first purchase + 15K after $2k spend in 90 days

25K: 15K after first purchase, 10K after $2K spend in first 3 months (expired 1/18)

United Gateway Card
20K Miles
20K miles after $1K spend in first 3 months
(Offer Expires 1/26/2022)

No Annual Fee

Hotels.com Rewards Visa Credit Card
Up to $250 in reward nights
Get two reward nights worth $125 each when you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Excludes taxes and fees. If your reward night costs less than $125, you won't get the difference.

No Annual Fee

Choice Privileges® Visa Signature® Card issued by Barclays
32K points
32K points after $1K spend in first 90 days

No Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: Up to 75K points + 4x everywhere: 50K after $1K spend in 90 days + 25K after $2K total spend in 180 days. 2 additional points per dollar for all spend until December 31, 2021 (for a total of 4 points per dollar on everyday purchases) [Expired 9/21]

Capital One Quicksilver
$200 Cash Back
One time bonus: $200 after $500 spend in 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee

Capital One SavorOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
$200 Cash Back
One time bonus: $200 after $500 spend in 3 months from account opening

No Annual Fee

American Airlines AAdvantage MileUp Card
10K miles + $50
Earn 10K AA miles + $50 statement credit after $500 spend in 3 months

No Annual Fee

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
75K points + up to $200 in statement credits
75K points after $3K in the first 3 months + up to $200 in statement credits for purchases at US restaurants in the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$450 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: None. This is the best offer we've seen.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
$300 back
$300 cash back as a statement credit after $3K in the first 6 months. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

$95 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: Up to $350: 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after $1K spend in 3 months. (Expired 5/3/17)

Discover it® for Students
$50 + First Year Double + $20/year
Get $50 after first purchase. All cashback earned in first 12 months will be doubled including 5% earned in rotating categories. Plus, get $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.

No Annual Fee

Delta SkyMiles® Blue Credit Card from American Express
Discover it Miles - Double Miles your first year
$100 + First Year Double
Get $100 after first purchase. All "miles" earned in first 12 months will be doubled. This makes this a 3% cash back card for the first year.

No Annual Fee

Verizon Visa Card
$100 in Verizon credit
Up to $100 in credit applied over 24 monthly wireless bills

No Annual Fee

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Credit Card from American Express
50K miles + 10K MQMs + $100
50K miles + 10K MQMs after $5K spend in the first 3 months + $100 back on US restaurant spend in first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$550 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Recent better offer: 80K miles + 20K MQMs after $5K spend in the first 3 months + up to $200 statement credit for purchases at select US furnishings stores in first 3 months. [Expired 5/5/21]

Chase Slate Edge
$100 Cash Back
Earn $100 statement credit after $500 in purchases in first 6 months

No Annual Fee

This card is subject to Chase's 5/24 rule (click here for details). Even though this card is marketed as a cash back card, it actually earns Ultimate Rewards points which are redeemable for 1 cent each, or can be combined with other Ultimate Rewards-earning cards to get even more value. This product is available to you if you do not have this card and have not received a new cardmember bonus for this card in the past 24 months.

Allegiant World Mastercard® Credit Card
15K miles
15K after $1K in first 90 days

$59 Annual Fee

Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

Alternate offer: You may be targeted for an offer including a $100 statement credit during a dummy booking.

BBVA
ClearPoints Credit Card
$100 statement credit
$100 statement credit after $1.5K in first 90 days. Note: This card is not available online without an invitation code. You may need to first open a checking account and then apply by phone or apply in-branch.

No Annual Fee

Discover it®
$50 + First Year Double
Get $50 after first purchase. All cashback earned in first 12 months will be doubled including 5% earned in rotating categories.

No Annual Fee

Manchester United Credit Card
Earn Double Points
Earn double points in your first year, up to 100K bonus points

No Annual Fee

Citi Double Cash Card

Recent better offer: None

3. Buy points cheaply

Several credit cards offer up to 1.5 transferable points or miles per dollar. In these cases, a 2% tax payment fee (rounding up a little) means that you can essentially buy miles for 1.3 cents each. Even better, some cards earn 2 transferable points per dollar for all qualifying purchases.  With these 2X everywhere cards you can essentially buy points/miles for 1 cent each.  Either way, if you plan to use your points toward high value awards, this is a cheap way to acquire those points.

2X Example:

  • $10,000 tax payment + 2% fee = $10,200
  • Miles earned at 2X = 20,400
  • Cost per mile = $200 / 20,400 = 0.98 cents per mile (round up to 1 cent per mile)

1.5X Example:

  • $10,000 tax payment + 2% fee = $10,200
  • Miles earned at 1.5X = 15,300
  • Cost per mile = $200 / 15,300 = 1.3 cents per mile

Cards that offer 2X transferable points per dollar:

Note that some cards offering 2x everywhere are not included below because their points are worth much less than airline miles. An example is that most Marriott cards offer 2x everywhere rewards.

  • Citi Double Cash: Earns 2 cents per dollar, uncapped. Cash rewards can be converted to ThankYou points, and when paired with a Citi Premier or Prestige card, those points can be transferred to a selection of airline and hotel programs.
    Card Offer and Details
    Citi Double Cash Card

    Recent better offer: None

    FM Mini Review: 2X rewards for all spend with no annual fee makes this card a winner. Earn 2X everywhere and redeem for the equivalent of 2% cash back or 2X ThankYou points. Pair with the Premier or Prestige card to make points transferrable to airlines.


    Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

    Base

    Earning rate: 2% cash back everywhere (1% cash back for each purchase + 1% when paying your credit card bill for that purchase)

    Noteworthy perks: 1X when you make a purchase + 1X when you pay for those purchases

  • Amex Blue Business Plus: Earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar on up to $50K spend per calendar year. Points can be transferred to a large selection of airline programs or to a few hotel programs.
    Card Offer and Details
    The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
    15K points
    15K after $3K spend in 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

    No Annual Fee

    Alternate offer: Some people have been targeted for an offer in their online account for 50K points after $15K in purchases in their first 12 months.

    Recent better offer: 20K after $3K spend in 3 months (Expired 6/21/17)

    FM Mini Review: 2X rewards for all spend (up to $50K per year) with no annual fee makes this card a winner.


    Card Type: Amex Credit Card

    Base

    Earning rate: 2X Membership Rewards points on all purchases, up to $50K spend per calendar year (then 1X thereafter). Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

  • Capital One Venture, Venture X, or Spark Miles. Capital One offers three cards that earn 2X “Miles” per dollar on all qualifying spend. These “miles” can be transferred to airline miles & hotel points, usually at a 1 to 1 rate. This means that the following cards are capable of earning 2X miles everywhere:
    Card Offer and Details
    Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
    60K miles
    Earn a one-time bonus of 60K Capital One miles after $3K spend in the first 3 months

    $95 Annual Fee

    Recent better offer: 100K: 50K after $3K in the first 3 months + 20K after $20K in the first 6 months [Expired 7/19/21]

    FM Mini Review: This card earns 2 "miles" per dollar, which are worth exactly 1 cent each toward travel. This makes the return on spend similar to a 2% cash back card (though in this case you must redeem your miles to offset travel in order to get 1 cent per mile). One big advantage over cash back: Capital One allows transfering their "miles" to airline miles & hotel points.


    Card Type: Visa Signature

    Base
    Other

    Earning rate: 2X everywhere.

    Noteworthy perks: Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® ⚬ Redeem miles for travel at value of 1 cent per mile ⚬ Convert "miles" to airline miles & hotel points ⚬ No foreign transaction fees

    Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
    100K miles + Up to $200 statement credit
    Earn a one-time bonus of 100K Capital One miles after $10K spend in the first 6 months + a limited-time bonus of up to $200 in statement credits for vacation rentals charged to your card in the first year

    $395 Annual Fee

    FM Mini Review: This card offers annual rebates that easily mitigate the fee for those who travel often and could be worth it for the lounge access and travel protections given the cost/benefit ratio. Authorized users are free and also get access to perks like Priority Pass, Capital One Lounges, and Hertz President's Circle status. The card earns 2 "miles" per dollar on most purchases just like the Capital One Venture Rewards card, which are worth exactly 1 cent each toward travel. This makes the return on most spend similar to a 2% cash back card (though in this case you must redeem your miles to offset travel in order to get 1 cent per mile). One big advantage over cash back: Capital One allows transfering their "miles" to airline miles & hotel points.


    Card Type: Visa Infinite

    Base
    Other

    Earning rate: 10X on hotels and rental cars booked via Capital One Travel ⚬ 5x on flights booked via Capital One travel. ⚬ 2X everywhere else.

    Noteworthy perks: Up to $300 in statement credits annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel ⚬ 10,000 bonus miles each year starting at first anniversary ⚬ Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® ⚬ Cell phone insurance ⚬ Trip delay / cancellation insurance ⚬ Primary CDW coverage Redeem miles for travel at value of 1 cent per mile ⚬ Convert "miles" to airline miles & hotel points ⚬ No foreign transaction fees

    Capital One Spark Miles Business Credit Card
    50K "miles"
    Earn a one-time bonus: 50K "miles" after $4.5K spend in the first 3 months from account opening

    No Annual Fee First Year, Then $95

    Note: Capital One Business cards DO count against Chase's 5/24 Rule

    Info about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

    Recent better offer: Earn up to 200K "miles": 50K after $5K spend in the first 3 months from account opening and an additional 150K after $50K spend in the first 6 months from account opening [Expired 1/27/20 and breifly available in 2021]

    FM Mini Review: This card is basically the same as the Spark Cash for Business, but rewards are intended to be used to offset travel purchases. One big advantage over cash back: Capital One allows transfering their "miles" to airline miles & hotels through many partners, and "miles" can be combined with other cards or other customers.


    Card Type: Mastercard

    Base
    Travel

    Earning rate: 2X everywhere ⚬ Earn 5X miles on hotel and rental car
    bookings through Capital One Travel

    Noteworthy perks: Redeem miles for travel at value of 1 cent per mile ⚬ Convert "miles" to airline miles & hotel points ⚬ No foreign transaction fees ⚬ Fee credit for either $85 TSA Pre✓® application fee or $100 Global Entry application fee

Cards that offer 1.5X points or airline miles per dollar:

4. Earn valuable big spend bonuses: elite status, free nights, companion pass, etc.

Many credit cards offer bonuses for meeting high spend thresholds. You can find a comprehensive list here: Best big spend bonuses. Here are a few examples:

  • Amex Delta Reserve or Delta Reserve Business: Spend $30,000, get 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (towards elite status). At $60,000, $90,000, and $120,000 you’ll get another 15,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles.
  • Amex Delta Platinum or Delta Platinum Business: Spend $25,000, get 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles (towards elite status). At $50,000 spend, get another 10,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles.
  • Southwest Plus, Southwest Premier, or Southwest Business: With Southwest, when you earn 125,000 points in a calendar year (including points earned from credit card spend) you get a companion pass good for an unlimited number of flights for the rest of that year and all of the next calendar year.
  • Barclaycard JetBlue Plus, or JetBlue Business: Spend $50,000 and get Mosaic status which offers free changes and cancellations; free checked bags; expedited security; early boarding; free drinks; enhanced point earnings; and 15,000 bonus points upon qualifying.

5. Liquidate Visa/MasterCard gift cards cheaply

Visa and MasterCard gift cards are debit cards. As such, they qualify for low flat fees for debit tax payments: $2.20, $2.50, or $2.55 (depending upon the tax processor you use). In other words, your cost to liquidate $500 gift cards will be approximately half a percent. That’s pretty cheap.

If you use $500 Visa/MasterCard gift cards, then you can pay the following amounts:

The biggest problem with this (besides the fact that what works and what doesn’t work keeps changing!) is the IRS imposed 2 payments per processor limit. This means that you can liquidate no more than 6 gift cards per type of tax payment.  In the past, Official Payments allowed more payments via phone.  Recent reports, though, indicate that this is no longer the case.

See also: Best options for buying Visa and MasterCard gift cards.

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Live from *Miraval Arizona*: Frequent Miler Ask Us Anything – Wednesday Jan 12th at 9pm ET. https://frequentmiler.com/ask-us-anything/ https://frequentmiler.com/ask-us-anything/#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2022 20:45:38 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=145376?republish=1641915938 Greg and Nick will be back with another round of Frequent Miler Live: Ask Us Anything on Youtube on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 9pm Eastern.  Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when we go live (you may have to turn on notifications).  As always, we’ll be there to discuss credit card […]

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Greg and Nick will be back with another round of Frequent Miler Live: Ask Us Anything on Youtube on Wednesday, January 12, 2022 at 9pm Eastern.  Please subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when we go live (you may have to turn on notifications).  As always, we’ll be there to discuss credit card rewards, award bookings, elite status, and more.  Have questions?  Join us live and ask away!  Meanwhile, feel free to check out our last Ask Us Anything, here:

More info

Join us once a month on YouTube Live. We’ll be there to chat, answer questions, and joke around.  See you there!

  • When: Second Wednesday of every month at 9PM Eastern Time
  • Where: YouTube Live (Subscribe to our YouTube channel to be notified when we go live — you may have to turn on notifications)

Have questions you want us to address?  Please comment below.  We’ll pick a few questions to answer right from the get-go.

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Better offer: Wyndham Earner 30K + $50 https://frequentmiler.com/better-offer-wyndham-earner-30k-50/ https://frequentmiler.com/better-offer-wyndham-earner-30k-50/#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2022 17:51:59 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181199 Stephen alerted me this morning to the fact that there is an increased dummy booking offer on the Wyndham Earner credit card that adds a $50 statement credit after first purchase on top of the standard offer. While I’d personally prefer to have the Wyndham Earner Business card, this card can still be a useful […]

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Stephen alerted me this morning to the fact that there is an increased dummy booking offer on the Wyndham Earner credit card that adds a $50 statement credit after first purchase on top of the standard offer. While I’d personally prefer to have the Wyndham Earner Business card, this card can still be a useful option for the 10% discount on awards.

The Offer & Key Card Details

Card Offer and Details
Wyndham Rewards Earner Card
30K Points + $50 statement credit
30K points after $1K spend in first 90 days + $50 statement credit after first purchase

No Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: Sign up for the bonus. Keep for the 10% award discount.


Card Type: Visa Signature or Platinum

Base
Dine
Gas
Grocery
Brand

Earning rate: ⚬ 5X Wyndham & gas ⚬ 2X restaurants & grocery ⚬ 1X everywhere else

Big spend bonus: 7,500 points each anniversary year after $15K spend

Noteworthy perks: Gold status ⚬ 10% discount on free night awards ⚬ Cardmember discount on paid stays ⚬ No foreign transaction fees

See also: Wyndham Earner credit cards review: Surprisingly strong

Quick Thoughts

The no-annual-fee Wyndham Earner card occupies a really interesting place in this space. On the one hand, if you’re mostly after Wyndham points, grab a Capital One Venture or Venture X card for a bonus that’s much larger and points that transfer 1:1 to Wyndham.

If you send much money at gas stations or on utilities and you value Wyndham points, get the Wyndham Earner Business card. Yes, it has a $95 annual fee, but the card earns 8x at gas stations and 5x on utilities. It also provides 15K points at each anniversary — which, if you value Wyndham points beyond about six tenths of a cent, is worth more than the $95 annual fee.

On the other hand, if you already have transferable Capital One miles on hand and you are mostly after the 10% discount on award bookings, getting that benefit without an annual fee might make sense. Whereas the welcome bonus here seems incredibly low in the current environment of 100K offers, the ongoing value of 10% back on award bookings could really add up if you have a lot of points to transfer to Wyndham and make this card a better deal than it appears on the surface.

While an extra $50 may not make a huge difference for everyone, there’s no doubt that $50 back after a single purchase is pretty nice on a card with no annual fee that still comes with a welcome bonus that could get you two nights in a 1-bedroom Vacasa vacation rental.

While I don’t expect everyone to run out and go after this offer, it’s certainly more appealing than the offer without the $50 credit if you were considering this card.

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Capital One Travel looking a lot better than expected . . . . https://frequentmiler.com/capital-one-travel-looking-a-lot-better-than-expected/ https://frequentmiler.com/capital-one-travel-looking-a-lot-better-than-expected/#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2022 11:59:32 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181141 When I sat down to write this post, I expected boring results. I wanted to write a post about Capital One Travel since Capital One Venture X Rewards Card cardholders get an annual $300 travel credit for travel booked via Capital One. I expected the Capital One portal to be reliably overpriced on hotels (which […]

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When I sat down to write this post, I expected boring results. I wanted to write a post about Capital One Travel since Capital One Venture X Rewards Card cardholders get an annual $300 travel credit for travel booked via Capital One. I expected the Capital One portal to be reliably overpriced on hotels (which isn’t a huge deal to me since I could use my travel credit on flights in a normal word). I was wrong. I tried a bunch of random stuff and while many hotels were not any cheaper through Capital One than through other channels, I was really surprised at how good the Capital One Travel Portal is in some instances, particularly considering the flexible cancellation policies. If you have a Venture X card or are thinking about getting one, check this out . . .

Wait — bookings are flexible and prices aren’t inflated?

Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner

A couple of months ago, I enjoyed a nice one-night stop at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner booked via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. The Ritz came to mind to check via Capital One and I looked up a single night later this week.

For the night I tried, Capital One Travel showed its rate of $303 for the evening, beating Expedia by $6.

While not a huge savings, it did turn out that $303 was also $6 cheaper than the price through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts. Obviously you’d get a $100 hotel credit, 4pm late checkout, and free breakfast for two via Fine Hotels & Resorts, making that a much better deal than Capital One Travel in this case.

Interestingly though, you could do even better. While the “standard” flexible rate is indeed $309 via Marriott.com, the “Member” flexible rate is $303 and the AAA rate, which is also flexible, is only $294.

In this case, Capital One didn’t fare great because of the value possible when booking via Fine Hotels & Resorts. Truthfully, when comparing against Marriott, Capital One Travel did pretty well, matching the discount given to Marriott Bonvoy members over non-members. But the AAA rate was a bit better than booking via Capital One.

That said, a savvy Marriott Bonvoy member will know that even without an Amex Platinum card, one could probably book through Marriott STARS and get FHR-like benefits using whatever credit card they would like.

Park MGM

I next decided to set Capital One up for failure (sort of) with an MGM booking. I first wanted to see how Capital One compared to a booking made through “The Hotel Collection” from Amex since Platinum cardholders get an annual $200 rebate on either Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings. I chose the Park MGM in Las Vegas during dates when I knew rates were cheap (for those who haven’t been to Las Vegas in many years, Park MGM is the remodeled Monte Carlo).

Capital One showed a rate of $62 per night (which it said was $1 cheaper than Expedia) for a two-night stay.

Sure enough, The Hotel Collection also showed $62 per night.

It looked like the going rate for the dates I selected was indeed $62 or $63 per night.

I then logged in to my MGM Mlife account. I’ve always found far better rates when booking directly with MGM and this time was no different. I have MGM Gold status by virtue of matching over from Hyatt. While I was known to hit the blackjack tables now and then 15 years ago, I’m pretty sure I didn’t even play a single hand of blackjack on my last trip or two to Vegas. I still get deeply discounted room offers.

Sure enough, I had an offer in my account for “up to one free night” at Park MGM. While none of the nights in the month I tried (September) were complimentary, the rate was indeed a lot cheaper at just $28 per night.

All of the rates above exclude the resort fee. When the new program launches on February 1st, I expect that I’d need to book direct through MGM to avoid the resort fee — at which point the gap in price with Capital One will only widen.

In fairness, this isn’t really a knock on Capital One as my Mlife price is a targeted deal, but I included this example to remind that Las Vegas is often much cheaper via the casino loyalty programs.

Hotel Mela Times Square on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s Eve is where things really started to turn around for Capital One. Take the Hotel Mela Times Square for instance. I don’t know anything about the Hotel Mela beyond the fact that it stretches the definition of “Times Square” in the same way that every other hotel within a 6-block radius of 42nd and Broadway does. On New Year’s Eve, it’s an expensive place to lay your head (as one would expect).

If you book directly through the Hotel Mela’s website, you’ll shell out $729 for a standard room.

If you book through Expedia without becoming an Expedia “member”, you’ll pay the same $729.

However, if you join the Expedia program, you’ll get 10% off for a price of “just” $656.

Still too rich for your blood? Capital One’s got you covered. They’re charging $394 for New Year’s Eve at the Hotel Mela.

And even on New Year’s Eve and at that deeply discounted rate, the cancellation policy via Capital One is free cancellation up to two days before arrival. That’s not quite as good as the free cancellation up to the day before arrival when booking directly via the Hotel Mela, but it’s better than I would expect for a hotel in the vicinity of Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Crazier still, Capital One isn’t giving themselves much credit for this deal. Whereas in many instances, they display a little green banner showing the total savings when they are even just a dollar per night cheaper than Expedia, they didn’t mention at all on this listing that they were $262 per night cheaper than Expedia’s members price.

Are you going to need to stay at the Hotel Mela on New Year’s Eve for $394? Probably not, but the huge price discrepancy there is certainly interesting and means that there is even more room than I’d expect for Capital One to beat the traditional OTAs on indie / boutique hotels.

Hyatt Place Flushing / LaGuardia

While not as impressive a discount, this one surprised me even more than the Hotel Mela. I pivoted to New Year’s Eve via Hyatt and I picked a hotel where you surely will not spend New Year’s Eve unless your flight gets cancelled: The Hyatt Place Flushing / LaGuardia Airport. To be clear, that’s not a knock on the Hyatt Place, it’s just not the place to be on New Year’s Eve (pro tip: the last time I stayed, I booked a parking space in the hotel’s garage via either ParkWhiz or SpotHero for less than the hotel charges for parking).

What surprised me here is the rate that Capital One is offering and its cancellation policy. Capital One Travel shows this hotel for $331 per night on New Year’s Eve.

According to the graphic in the bottom left of that screen shot, that’s $39 per night less than what Expedia was charging (which I can confirm). I went to Hyatt.com and I could see that Capital One is offering a rate that matches Hyatt’s Members Advance Purchase Rate.

See the cancellation policy on the $331 rate via Hyatt.com above — it is fully nonrefundable. Digest that for a second. A rate of $331 that you can’t get back is the special deal Hyatt is offering just for World of Hyatt members who are willing to trade away flexibility for their members-only savings.

But those World of Hyatt members who value both saving money and flexibility should at least consider booking via Capital One. No, you won’t get elite credit or benefits or hotel points, but you will get free cancellation until December 28th (and even if you cancel after that you’re still not subject to losing 100% as it shows a $223.96 cancellation penalty).

I found that really interesting. I’ve often questioned the value in loyalty programs for those who primarily stay at limited-service properties like Hyatt Place where there are few loyalty benefits if any. If you’re able to get the value of Hyatt’s advance purchase rate without the punitive cancellation policy, booking via Capital One could certainly make sense.

That said, keep in mind that official Hyatt policy is now that free breakfast is only for those who book direct. Theoretically, you won’t get free breakfast at a Hyatt Place when booking via Capital One (enforcement on that probably varies, but I haven’t stayed at many Hyatt Place properties since that policy changed). Still, imagine the same scenario with a Residence Inn or Hampton Inn or other limited-service property where everyone gets free breakfast. Capital One could be a great option.

Four Seasons Abu Dhabi

This hotel came to mind because Greg and I had an excellent short stay there this past fall. The price difference here is tiny, but what is this sorcery? Sure, it’s only four bucks, but Four Seasons is famous for not discounting their rooms. How is Capital One underselling them by four bucks?

Of course, your best bet on a stay like this is to do what we did and book via Fine Hotels & Resorts so you can get free breakfast and a $100 hotel credit.

Stay on a Thursday night. Get Friday brunch with your credit. Don’t argue.

This is *just the appetizer course*. There was an entree course and a dessert course to follow (we skipped dessert!).

Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi

I pivoted from the Four Seasons to the Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi because I knew this hotel is often available pretty cheaply and I wondered whether Capital One would have an even better price.

In this case, Capital One yet again offered a surprising savings. The Ritz was just $147 via Capital One on my sample date.

At first glance, that only looks $3 better than Expedia.

However, the difference in cancellation policy once again makes Capital One much better. That $150 rate via Expedia is nonrefundable — you’ll need to pay $177 through Expedia to have a flexible booking.

Sure enough, booking directly through Marriott.com, prices matched Expedia: $150 nonrefundable or $177 flexible. There was also a AAA rate of $150 per night that was flexible (I frequently use AAA rates specifically because I often find that they match advance purchase rates while also being flexible).

Capital One’s rate was flexible, so it beat having a AAA membership by three bucks.

Unfortunately, I kept running into an error when trying to move to the booking page. I actually ran into this same error a whole bunch of times on Capital One Travel, which got kind of annoying. The site seems pretty buggy still.

And of course in this case you would once again probably want to book this hotel either via Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or the Marriott STARS program rather than via Capital One for free breakfast and a $100 credit.

I mention the Marriott STARS program specifically because I know that the Ritz Abu Dhabi participates and it doesn’t require any special credit card to book and get free breakfast for two (a benefit that nobody gets with status at a Ritz property) and a $100 hotel credit. Capital One does eat into the value of that a bit since you will pay $27 more per night to book the FHR or Marriott STARS rate, but the combination of free daily breakfast for two people and the $100 property credit balance that out unless you’ve got a long stay where that $27 per nigh will add up.

See more about Marriott STARS and other preferred partner booking programs here: Getting the elite experience without elite status via credit card and preferred partner programs.

Bottom line

While I wasn’t aiming to cherry-pick properties for this post, my eye was obviously drawn to opportunities where I spotted savings. I skipped over many instances where the savings of booking through Capital One would only be a buck or two or where prices were merely equal. However, even a savings of a buck or two is a remarkable advantage over Citi’s hotel pricing and is notable when you consider that most bookings appear to be flexible / cancellable. Overall, I am very impressed: in many instances, I wouldn’t give up anything but elite benefits/credit by booking through Capital One. While I enjoy my hotel points and elite status, I’ll be happy to use a Capital One Travel credit here and there whether for a limited-service property where benefits don’t matter much or one of the outliers where Capital One comes out far ahead.

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$77 each way between Hawaii and Los Angeles [Select dates until March] https://frequentmiler.com/77-each-way-between-hawaii-and-los-angeles-select-dates-until-march/ https://frequentmiler.com/77-each-way-between-hawaii-and-los-angeles-select-dates-until-march/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 21:30:49 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181148 Dan’s Deals notes $77 fares between Los Angeles and Honolulu or Maui on both Delta and Hawaiian Airlines. These are basic economy fares, but if you’re based on the west coast and looking for a little “aloha”, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this. The Deal Delta and Hawaiian airlines are both offering tickets between Los Angeles […]

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Dan’s Deals notes $77 fares between Los Angeles and Honolulu or Maui on both Delta and Hawaiian Airlines. These are basic economy fares, but if you’re based on the west coast and looking for a little “aloha”, it doesn’t get much cheaper than this.

Sunset in Maui as seen from my balcony at the Hyatt Regency Maui a couple of years ago.

The Deal

  • Delta and Hawaiian airlines are both offering tickets between Los Angeles and Honolulu or Maui for just $77.50 on a number of dates between now and early March
  • Direct link to Google Flights to search

Quick Thoughts

Dan shows a bunch of available dates between January and March. Rather than reinvent the wheel here, I recommend either going over to Dan’s Deals to read his post or simply going to Google Flights.

The cheapest fares are pretty widely available in February apart from President’s Week and the sale prices end in early March.

The nice thing is that you can book these fares through credit card portals. This could be a great use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points (Sapphire Reserve cardholders would pay about 5,133 points) or Amex Membership Rewards points if you have the Business Platinum and Delta or Hawaiian is your 35% rebate airline (keeping in mind that rebate is limited to 500K points per year). New Capital One Venture X cardholders might consider using their $300 annual travel credit to cover two round trip tickets (I did verify that the $77.50 fares show up there). There are lots of ways to play this.

We’re obviously still in very uncertain times, so I’d probably be hesitant to book a basic economy ticket for travel in the near term. That said, I know that many people are traveling and this sale will probably appeal to those who are.

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[Ending Soon] 80K Citi Premier bonus https://frequentmiler.com/citi-premier-80k-bonus/ https://frequentmiler.com/citi-premier-80k-bonus/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 20:45:00 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=171765?republish=1641829500 Update 1/10/22: The 80K bonus on the Citi Premier card has been live since last July and we’ve been told that the offer is ending soon. If you had this card and offer on your mind, you should apply sooner rather than later. The original post follows. This morning, we published a Citi Premier Complete […]

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Update 1/10/22: The 80K bonus on the Citi Premier card has been live since last July and we’ve been told that the offer is ending soon. If you had this card and offer on your mind, you should apply sooner rather than later. The original post follows.

This morning, we published a Citi Premier Complete Guide. Since publication, the welcome bonus on the Citi Premier card has increased to an all-time high of 80,000 Thank You points after $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. That’s an awesome offer for those interested in Citi ThankYou Sweet Spots. Doctor of Credit notes an odd term added at the bottom of the application page, but it isn’t actually new and I don’t think it is cause for concern.

The Offer & Key Card Details

Card Offer and Details
Citi Premier Card
60K points
60K after $4K spend in 3 months

$95 Annual Fee

Recent better offer: 80K after $4K spend in first 3 months

FM Mini Review: Very strong earnings for spend. Excellent bonus categories. Points transferable to select airlines. Recommend pairing this card with Citi Double Cash and Citi Rewards+. Sadly, this travel card doesn't provide any travel protections.


Card Type: Mastercard World Elite

Base
Travel
Dine
Gas
Grocery

Earning rate: 3X grocery ⚬ 3X dining ⚬ 3X gas stations ⚬ 3X flights, hotels, travel agencies

Noteworthy perks: Transfer points to airline partners ⚬ $100 Annual Hotel Savings Benefit

See also: Citi ThankYou Rewards Complete Guide

Quick Thoughts

The bonus here is excellent; at a base level, 80,000 ThankYou points can be redeemed for $800 in cash back. That’s an awesome return. Better yet, you can transfer to partners for far more value. This new bonus would be more than enough for five round trip tickets to Hawaii from the mainland US if you’re able to get Turkish Miles & Smiles to work. The bonus could also get you to a number of regions in the world in business class at least one way — it is clearly a solid bonus. In fact, if you did the entire $4K spending requirement at restaurants and grocery stores (at 3x), you would have enough points for a round trip business class ticket to Europe via Turkish Miles & Smiles and nearly enough for round trip business class to destinations in the Middle East and Africa.

However, Doctor of Credit points out that a term has been added to the application page. At the very bottom of the offer landing page, there is a paragraph that begins with this sentence:

Bonus ThankYou® Points are not available if you received a new cardmember bonus for Citi Premier® Card within the first 3 months of account opening.

It was unclear to me exactly what that meant until Mark Ostermann reminded me of his Miles to Memories post of late last year about this new terminology. In other words, this terminology isn’t new. I don’t believe this terminology was meant to restrict the bonus to once per lifetime on this card (or else we would have had data points indicating as such over the past ~9 months).

Overall, eighty thousand points after $4k in purchases in a terrific offer on the Premier. It is unfortunate that Citi’s primary travel rewards card isn’t a good travel-booking credit card ever since Citi decimated all of the major travel protections that the card used to carry. That makes it hard to justify a Premier as the primary card in a rewards credit card wallet, but as a compliment that diversifies your point holdings while offering excellent return on both grocery store and dining spend, this is certainly worth consideration.

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$50 back on $250 at Marriott with new Amex Offer [enrollment required] https://frequentmiler.com/50-back-on-250-at-marriott-with-new-amex-offer-enrollment-required/ https://frequentmiler.com/50-back-on-250-at-marriott-with-new-amex-offer-enrollment-required/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 18:45:48 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181137 There is a new widely available Amex Offer out today that’s good for $50 back when you spend $250 or more at Marriott properties in the US and US territories, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. The Deal Get $50 back when you spend $250 or more at Marriott properties in the US and US territories, […]

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There is a new widely available Amex Offer out today that’s good for $50 back when you spend $250 or more at Marriott properties in the US and US territories, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The Deal

  • Get $50 back when you spend $250 or more at Marriott properties in the US and US territories, Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean with a targeted but widely-available Amex Offer (enrollment required)

Key Terms

  • Expires 3/31/22
  • Valid at Marriott properties in the US and US territories as well as Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean
  • Excludes gift card purchases and online retail purchases
  • See offer for full terms

Quick Thoughts

Getting $50 back on $250 is a nice 20% savings that could certainly be worth grabbing if you’ll have any paid Marriott stays within the validity of the offer.

If you won’t be staying at a Marriott property for a while, it might still be possible to lock in this savings. While offer terms suggest that this isn’t valid on gift cards, in the past a gift card purchased at the front desk of a Marriott property has worked to trigger the offer. The challenge is first finding a property that sells gift cards at the front desk and then finding an employee who knows how to sell them. Then you can also look forward to a perplexed employee who is “pretty sure we can’t take gift cards” and unwilling to call the manager as she hunts and pecks around the computer to try to figure it out herself while the kids are packed in the car and getting antsy to leave. If only last month were the first time I’d run into that…. (yes, she was eventually very excited to have figured it out)

The solution to that problem of course is stopping by the desk with your gift cards well ahead of checkout time. I know that but have still made the mistake of trying to pay quickly with a gift card at the moment of checkout and it’s just rarely a smooth endeavor. Still, if you can accept the challenge in finding gift cards to buy and the challenge in using the gift card to pay, your reward is fifty bucks more in your pocket and that’s certainly not bad.

I may just have a couple of Marriott stays within the window here and so I’ll sync this one up and see if I can find a use naturally. If not, I know of a hotel not that far away that sells gift cards — I’d just rather use this one naturally and save myself fifty bucks and some time if I can.

H/T: Doctor of Credit

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$10 back at Uber up to 4 times with Citi Merchant Offer [Targeted] https://frequentmiler.com/10-back-at-uber-up-to-4-times-with-citi-merchant-offer-targeted/ https://frequentmiler.com/10-back-at-uber-up-to-4-times-with-citi-merchant-offer-targeted/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 16:45:14 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181114 The Deal There is a new Citi Merchant Offer out that’s good for $10 back on any Uber trip purchased through the Uber app through 2/28/22. This offer can be repeated up to four times. Key Terms Expires 2/28/22 Can be redeemed up to 4 times per person Quick Thoughts This looks like a nice […]

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The Deal

  • There is a new Citi Merchant Offer out that’s good for $10 back on any Uber trip purchased through the Uber app through 2/28/22. This offer can be repeated up to four times.

Key Terms

  • Expires 2/28/22
  • Can be redeemed up to 4 times per person

Quick Thoughts

This looks like a nice deal if you’ll be using Uber over the next month and a half.

H/T: Reader Justmeha

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New Aadvantage and United Mileage Plus Shopping Portal Bonuses https://frequentmiler.com/new-aadvantage-and-united-mileage-plus-shopping-portal-bonuses/ https://frequentmiler.com/new-aadvantage-and-united-mileage-plus-shopping-portal-bonuses/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 14:45:39 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181053 American Aadvantage and United Mileage Plus Shopping are both offering new portal bonus promotions starting today. These are both worth factoring into your portal payouts, with the Aadvantage bonus a nice addition to the AA Loyalty Games we’ve started playing. United Mileage Plus Shopping The Offers Spend $100, earn 500 bonus miles Spend $300, earn […]

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American Aadvantage and United Mileage Plus Shopping are both offering new portal bonus promotions starting today. These are both worth factoring into your portal payouts, with the Aadvantage bonus a nice addition to the AA Loyalty Games we’ve started playing.

United Mileage Plus Shopping

United Shopping Portal Bonus from 1/10-1/19

The Offers

American Airlines AAdvantage eShopping

New Aadvantage Portal Bonus from 1/10-1/20

The Offers

Quick Thoughts

The Aadvantage deal is especially useful as it will stack with other offers like the Spot and Tango bonuses Greg wrote about as well as with Simply Miles.  Keep in mind though, these types of portal bonuses DO NOT earn loyalty points, only redeemable miles.  As always, check a site like cashbackmonitor to compare to other portal offers.

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Cards with benefits: Some of Nick’s favorite credit card features https://frequentmiler.com/cards-with-benefits-some-of-nicks-favorite-credit-card-features/ https://frequentmiler.com/cards-with-benefits-some-of-nicks-favorite-credit-card-features/#comments Mon, 10 Jan 2022 11:59:24 +0000 https://frequentmiler.com/?p=181104 Some credit cards have great rewards for daily spend, others offer excellent category bonuses. Many ultra-premium cards are heavy on perks. I’ve often said that you get an ultra-premium card for its features, not for spending, but the truth is that great perks aren’t limited to ultra-premium cards. There are plenty of cards with annual […]

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Some credit cards have great rewards for daily spend, others offer excellent category bonuses. Many ultra-premium cards are heavy on perks. I’ve often said that you get an ultra-premium card for its features, not for spending, but the truth is that great perks aren’t limited to ultra-premium cards. There are plenty of cards with annual fees of $100 or less that carry perks that are worth far more than the annual fee. In a post a few days ago, a passing mention of a favorite benefit led to Grant of Travel with Grant to suggest a post on my favorite credit card benefits and I thought it was a good suggestion. Here are some of my favorite card benefits.

Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

It’s kind of funny, but my favorite standard credit card feature comes on a card that I don’t even have: The Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Companion Fare. I’ve only gotten one or two chances to use the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare, but it can be an incredible value.

At a base level, the companion fare could save you a bundle when prices are high and you need to fly as a pair, but the companion fare can get a lot more interesting than a simple round trip. You can get really creative with the routing and get a lot of flying for a reasonable price. Adding to the value, both travelers earn miles based on distance flown. I’ve previously shown how you cover quite a lot of ground and earn a lot of miles with an Alaska Companion Fare. Consider the example itinerary below. This specific itinerary is from an old search years ago (as you can see, it includes a Virgin America result), but it demonstrates a fantastic value considering it covers 15,801 miles of flying for less than $650 per passenger.

At a minimum, an itinerary like that would earn 15,800 redeemable miles each. A mid-tier MVP Gold member earns a 100% bonus for a total of 31,600 redeemable miles. Top-tier MVP Gold 100K members would earn a 150% bonus for a total of more than 39,000 redeemable miles. That’s a pretty terrific return for the cost of admission.

Read more about the Alaska Airlines Companion Fare here.

Wyndham Earner credit cards: 10% off on awards

The Wyndham Earner credit cards — the base no-annual-fee Earner card, the $75 Earner Plus and the $95 Earner Business — all come with a 10% discount on awards. That can be an excellent benefit that repeats again and again.

I love that this is a discount rather than a rebate since it means that you do not need to have extra points in your account to take advantage of the benefit. It is also terrific that the discount applies to Vacasa bookings — meaning that 1-bedroom Vacasa vacation rentals cost just 13,500 points per night with this benefit (and multi-bedroom units enjoy the same 10% discount in points).

While this benefit is available even on Wyndhan Earner personal card that has no annual fee, I still find the Earner Business card to be the most compelling value of the three Wyndham credit cards. For starters, you get 15,000 bonus points at anniversary (despite Wyndham’s point expiration policy, these remain more flexible than a free night certificate). It also carries excellent category bonuses like 5x utilities and 8x (!!) at gas stations. This could be a great card to generate Wyndham points and then it helps you save points on redemptions to boot.

If you end up redeeming a lot of Wyndham points, the 10% discount courtesy of the Wyndham Earner credit cards can be highly valuable over the course of your redemptions.

Purchase Protection

I dropped my brand new Pixel 4a 5G in a driveway a week after buying it. Amex gave me my money back.

Purchase protection is an underrated consumer protection.

Many credit cards come with some sort of purchase protection that offers coverage against damage or theft for a period of time after purchase. Many American Express cards — including no-annual-fee cards like the Blue Business Plus or Everyday card — cover purchases against theft or damage within 90 days of purchase up to $1,000 per purchase (some ultra-premium cards like the Platinum card cover purchases of up to $10,000). I wrote about my own experience with Amex Purchase Protection to cover a cell phone that I dropped a week after purchase. Amex paid out my claim for the full purchase price promptly and without difficulty.

Just recently, we had to buy a new washing machine. Several family members were trying to lower the machine from outside the house into the basement via the basement doors in a way that may not have been classified as “safe”. At a break in the action, I reminded everyone that nobody needs to be a hero if we started to drop it because we bought the thing on an Amex card with purchase protection. We could get our money back if we damaged the machine. Thankfully, we were able to lower it into the basement successfully without losing any limbs or damaging the machine, but the peace of mind was nice.

It’s notable that coverage may vary by card. For instance, while the Blue Business Plus and Everyday card cover theft or damage, the ultra-premium Platinum card also covers loss within the first 90 days. I don’t know why all of our pacifier purchases didn’t go on an Amex Platinum card!

Price protection

Capital One World and World Elite Mastercards and Visa Signature Business Cards still offer purchase protection.

Once a common credit card feature, price protection has been stripped from most of the major rewards credit cards on the market. However, some holdouts remain and this unsung hero of a benefit can save you your annual fee a few times over if you’re a savvy shopper.

The way price protection works is if you buy an item with your card and you later find it advertised for a better price (whether at the original merchant or elsewhere), you can file a claim with the credit card issuer and get a refund of the price difference. In years past, I often did this with items that went on sale at the holidays and sometimes saved hundreds of dollars on a single item that went on a deep discount.

While most issuers have axed price protection, our guide to the Best Credit Card Purchase Protections lists some cards that still carry the benefit. Terms tend to vary. For example, Capital One World and World Elite Mastercards offer coverage for up to $250 per claim and four claims per year filed within 120 days of purchase. I don’t think it would be uncommon to be able to find an item you purchased today on sale for a lower price sometime in the next four months.

Capital One Visa Business Signature cards cover up to $500 per claim / $2500 per year and claims must be filed with 60 days of purchase. That’s a shorter window of opportunity, but the bump in maximum claim amount could certainly be useful.

Worth a mention here is that the Schwab Debit Card also carries price protection of up to $250 per claim and $1,000 per year with a claim window extending 60 days from date of purchase. While I obviously don’t generally recommend using a debit card for purchases, it could make sense if you don’t have other cards with price protection and you know you’ll make a claim.

One thing I love about price protection is that it doesn’t take into account portal rewards and since the refund comes from the credit card issuer rather than the merchant, I’ve never had it affect a portal payout after the fact. That sometimes presents opportunities to take advantage of better portal payouts while still getting the best price.

Cell phone insurance

I went for many years without breaking a cell phone. That’s a streak I’ve broken repeatedly over the past year and a half. Thankfully, credit card cell phone insurance has covered me.

While there was a time when I didn’t think credit card cell phone insurance was worth more than earning 5x on a Chase Ink card, I now have enough lines on my phone plan (7 lines thanks to T-Mobile offering free additional lines so many times in 2020!) that the number of phones covered makes me value the insurance more than a couple extra points. Your situation may be different.

The thing about credit card cell phone coverage is that not all insurance is created equally. I found that out the hard way when the $100 deductible on the Chase Ink Business Preferred card ate up a significant chunk of my claim. I was much happier with the $50 deductible on the Amex Platinum card (I guess I never wrote a post about my successful Amex cell phone insurance claim, but I did use it once already and it was fast and simple), but you don’t need an ultra-premium card for cell phone insurance when all Wells Fargo consumer cards — even those with no annual fee — come with insurance of up to $600 per claim and $1200 per year with just a $25 deductible. A better choice for those with a pricey phone is just about any World Elite Mastercard as those cover up to $1,000 per claim ($1500 per year) with a $50 deductible. We compared credit card cell phone insurance coverages in this post.

My poor luck has turned this benefit that I once overlooked into one that has come in handy a handful of times when my handheld device has dropped out of hand.

United expanded award availability

While I haven’t personally needed or used this feature in a long time, one benefit you’ll often hear praised (and for good reason) is the expanded award availability that can be accessed by United credit card holders. If you have a Chase United Visa, you get access to saver-level award seats on a wider selection of flights.

This can sometimes be very useful in times when dynamic pricing has made it tough to find available space through partners. Cardholders can log in and see a much wider range of flights bookable with United miles.

The best part about this benefit is that while it is available on all of the various United cards available for new applicants, it is also a feature on the no-annual-fee United card to which you can downgrade if you don’t want to pay the annual fee year after year.

Point Debit Card Rideshare Protection

This one isn’t a credit card benefit, but I’d love to see it become one. The Point Debit Card re-launched as a Visa card last month and one of the new benefits added is $500 in Rideshare protection. This benefit is essentially insurance that covers you for items left in a rideshare care when you pay with your Point card.

Since rideshare purchases already earn 3x (worth 3%) on the Point Debit Card, you don’t sacrifice rewards by using the card to pay for your Uber and you can get back up to $500 if you leave something behind in the car. I feel like it is only a matter of time before I do this and having some coverage when I do will be great.

Bottom line

These are far from the only credit card benefits that I enjoy, it’s just a list of some favorites that don’t individually get much air time but can each be worth a lot in the right circumstances. There are plenty of ultra-premium benefits I enjoy like automatic elite status and lounge access, but these mostly unsung heroes found on cards with lower fees can be every bit as valuable even if not as instagrammable as a lounge or elite upgrade. It’s worth considering benefits like these when deciding which card to get next or which cards are worth keeping if you know you’ll take the effort to leverage these side benefits to high value.

The post Cards with benefits: Some of Nick’s favorite credit card features appeared first on Frequent Miler.

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