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Category Archive for 'Miles & Points'

2 Days Left Until Southwest’s Companion Pass Becomes Much Harder To Obtain, Here’s How You Can Take Advantage Before It’s Too Late!

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

Update: There are just 2 days left to transfer hotel points to Southwest in order for them to help you earn a Companion Pass valid through 12/31/18!

Originally posted on 2/22:

On 1/1/17 Southwest stealthily changed their program rules without advance warning, removing hotel point transfers as a method to earn Southwest Companion Pass.

After an apparently controversial campaign to write to Southwest, file DoT complaints, and raise awareness of the change on social media, Southwest agreed to give a 3 month grace period to transfer hotel points and have them qualify to earn Companion Pass status. Southwest has posted about their change of heart here.

You can read Southwest’s response to people who filed DoT complaints here.

If you earn 110K Southwest points by 12/31/17 you’ll earn Southwest Companion Pass status that will be valid until 12/31/18. 

With a Southwest Companion Pass you’ll get to bring a companion with you for free on all Southwest paid tickets, Southwest award tickets, and Southwest tickets booked with AMEX or Chase points, though you need to call AMEX or Chase to actually book travel on Southwest. There is no limit to how many times you can use the companion pass.

Southwest still offers 2 free checked bags. Plus you can cancel revenue tickets with no charge and use the funds for a future flight. Point reservations can be cancelled for free with the points redeposited back to your account!

Until 3/31/17 Southwest will count hotel point transfers towards companion pass status. After that date they will no longer count.


It’s worth noting that points earned from Southwest credit cards will continue to count towards companion pass status, even after 3/31.

You can currently earn 50K points from both the Southwest Consumer Plus and Southwest Consumer Premier cards. You can also earn 60K points from the Southwest Business Premier card. However all are those cards fall under Chase’s 5/24 guidelines which makes them hard to get if you have been approved for 5 consumer cards within the past 24 months.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

After clicking on the Southwest Consumer Plus 50K card offer you can scroll down to find the offers for Southwest Consumer and Business Premier cards as well.


Hotel transfers made by 3/31 will combine with points earned from Southwest credit cards and paid flights to earn companion pass status by earning 110K points by 12/31/17.

In other words if you earn 60K points from hotel transfers by 3/31 and earn 50K points from opening a credit card in April you will still earn Companion Pass status.

Notes about transfers:
-Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards don’t count towards Companion Pass.
-You can’t transfer Starwood points directly to Southwest, but you can transfer Starwood points to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio and then transfer Marriott points to Southwest.
-You can transfer 50K Chase points to 50K Hyatt and 50K Hyatt points into 30K Southwest points and those points will count for Companion Pass status.
-You can transfer Chase points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.
-You can transfer points to another Marriott member to complete an award.
-You can transfer points to another Starwood member living at your address.

If you use the regular Marriott Rewards transfer chart you would need 310K Marriott Rewards points to transfer 110K Southwest points.

However you can get a much better deal with Marriott’s miles+nights. 270K Marriott Rewards points would give you 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. You’ll also earn Southwest Companion Pass status with that award!

A transfer of 90K Starpoints into 270K Marriott Rewards points will make that happen.

You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights package.

-It will take 2-3 days for the points to reach Southwest and your Southwest account will be updated to Companion Pass status within a few days of the transfer.
-The 7 night electronic hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.
-You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.
-The certificate must be used at one property for 7 consecutive nights.
-You can have the certificate issued in anyone’s name.
-You can use more Marriott points to get a higher hotel category certificate.
-The 120K Southwest points transfer is the best value, but you can save points with a lower package if you don’t need 110K points for the Companion Pass.
-You can upgrade your hotel certificate by paying the difference in points later on.
-Some agents will refund 45K Marriott points (15K Starpoints) if you return the 7 night stay certificate, but not all agents will do that.

You can view hotels by category and tier via the “find” button on this page.

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-120K Southwest points will net between $1,800-$2,400 of free flights. Thanks to the companion pass you can bring someone along for free, which will mean you can use those points for $3,600-$4,800 of free flights. Plus of course you’ll get a 7 night category 1-5 hotel stay. Not a bad deal for 90K Starpoints!

-If you wanted 7 nights at the tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Herzliya you would need 420K Marriott or 140K Starpoints for that stay and 120K Southwest points with Southwest Companion Pass Status.

-If you wanted 7 nights at the category 7 Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel you would need 330K Marriott or 110K Starpoints for that stay and 120K Southwest points with Southwest Companion Pass Status.

There is also a 5 night hotel+points option that can save you some Marriott points, but officially that’s only available for Marriott timeshare owners. 5 nights and 120K Southwest points would cost 235K Marriott points. That’s 35K fewer Marriott points than are required for the 7 night package. On rare occasions some reps will book the 5 night packages for non-timeshare owners.


Still short on points?

You can buy up to 30,000 Starpoints per year here with a current 30% discount. Points cost 3.5 cents each. You may be able to buy points for less than that on the grey market.

For example 20K Starpoints are on sale for $490 instead of $700 or 30K Starpoints are on sale for $735 instead of $1,050. That’s a cost of 2.45 cents per Starpoints instead of the regular 3.5 cents per Starpoint.

Of course you also earn miles for the purchase, which makes the real cost even less.

If you have a Starwood AMEX and buy 30K Starpoints for $735 you will earn 1,470 Starpoints for the purchase, so effectively you’ll pay $735 for 31,470 Starpoints, or 2.33 cents per Starpoint.

If you already have most of the Starpoints and will utilize the companion pass then buying some points is a no-brainer.

If you need more than 30K Starpoints you’ll have to buy them with a Starwood account of someone else from your household. You can freely transfer Starpoints between Starwood accounts that are located at the same address. Note that you need to wait 14 days from when you open a new Starwood account until you can buy Starpoints.

Even if you have no Starpoints, you can buy 86,000 Starpoints using 3 accounts for $2,107. With the Starwood AMEX you’ll also earn 4,214 Starpoints for the purchase, leaving you with 90,214 Starpoints.

Of course you won’t need to spend that much if you already have some Starpoints or Marriott points.

90K Starpoints can be converted into 270K Marriott points.

With Marriott’s miles+nights 270K Marriott Rewards points would convert into 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. You’ll also earn Southwest Companion Pass status with that award!

You’ll also earn Southwest Companion Pass status with that award and that will make your 120K Southwest points good for $3,600-$4,800 of free flights when you bring along a free companion.


American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser

-Until 4/5 only, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers a 35K point signup bonus.

-Until 4/5 only, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers a 35K point signup bonus.

-If you have the Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN you can call to have your Starwood account upgraded to Gold status which will then be matched to Marriott Gold as well!

-The Chase Marriott card offers 107,500 Rewards points (also transferable to 35,833 Starpoints) for spending $5,000 and adding an additional user card. After hitting the signup bonus it’s not worth spending on this card. You’ll get 3 Marriott Rewards points per dollar by spending on a Starwood card instead!
You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.


Will you try to obtain Companion Pass status before the hotel point transfer opportunity ends?

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JetBlue Raises Checked Bag Fees And How You Should Be Avoiding Them

Monday, March 27th, 2017

JetBlue has quietly gotten rid of the discount for paying for a checked bag online or at a kiosk for new tickets. Previously checked bags paid for online or at a kiosk were just $20, but now the first checked bag is $25.

Additionally they have increased the cost of Blue Plus fares that include a free bag from $15 to a range from $23-$50 each way.

Still with free WiFi, TV, and snacks, JetBlue is a great airline to fly.

Plus those bag fees can be avoided if you have a JetBlue Plus Card.

The reasons listed below show why it makes for even a casual JetBlue flyer to be a cardholder.

the-jetblue-plus-card
Here is what the card offers:

-A free checked bag for the cardholder and up to 3 passengers on the same reservation. That’s a value of up to $200 in waived checked bag fees per round-trip.

-30,000 JetBlue points for signing up and spending $1,000. JetBlue points vary in value, but that will be good for about $450 of free flights.

-10% points rebate every time you redeem your points. The rebate will post within 1 business day of using points. That effectively makes your points about 10% more valuable and bumps up the signup bonus value of the card to about $500 of flights.

-5,000 points upon every card anniversary. Combined with the 10% rebate that’s 5,500 points that are worth about $83 towards JetBlue flights. That drops the effective annual fee from $99 down to just $16.

-$100 annual statement credit when you book a $100+ JetBlue vacation package.

-If you spend $50K in a calendar year on the Plus card then you’ll get JetBlue Mosaic status for the remainder of the calendar year and for the following calendar year.
Mosaic status includes free changes and cancellations on JetBlue tickets for the Mosaic member and for everyone on their itinerary, 2 free checked bags, 15K bonus points for earning Mosaic status every year, free even more speed checkin and security access, early boarding, 3 additional points per dollar spent, free alcoholic beverages onboard, and a dedicated Mosaic 24/7 customer service line.

-2 points per dollar on groceries and restaurants and 6 points per dollar on JetBlue purchases on top of the 3-11 points per dollar that you earn for the flight itself, which makes for a very nice rebate on JetBlue flights.

-50% rebate for in-flight purchases of cocktails, food, JetBlue movies and other eligible purchases.

-No foreign transaction fees.

-JetBlue points never expire.

JetBlue also allows families to pool their points together.

 The JetBlue Plus Card’s signup bonus makes it well worth the initial $99 annual fee and the anniversary bonus makes it worth keeping the card despite the $99 annual fee. The free checked bags and the 10% rebate on award tickets seal the deal on a very solid card offering. And the very generous bonus points offered on JetBlue purchases is icing on the cake.

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In 2016 I Burned 2,446,000 Miles, How Did You Stack Up?

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

Some guys are great at recording all of their trips and the value of each mile burned. I’m not that precise, but I went back several years, tracked down my flights taken, and posted them on DDF for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

Last year I flew some 42,000 miles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s how I burned them:

January:
-5 OW first class awards on United from Cleveland to Honolulu via Chicago for the family and my brother as a babysitter: 250,000 United miles
-5 RT interisland stopover awards on Hawaiian from Honolulu to Kauai to Maui to Honolulu: 60,000 United miles
-7 nights for an Ocean view room at the Grand Hyatt Kauai: 150,000 Hyatt points
-7 nights for an Ocean View suite at the Grand Hyatt Kauai: 75,000 Hyatt points+$1,050+diamond suite upgrade

#ICanGetUsedToThis #WinterInKauai

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February:
-7 nights for a suite at the Fairmont Kea Lani Muai: Free with lifetime Platinum.

#NakaleleBlowhole #MauiNoKaOi

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-5 OW business class awards on United from Honolulu to Cleveland via Newark: 200,000 United miles

March:
-1 RT business class award on United and SAS from Cleveland to Svalbard via Newark and Oslo with stopovers in Bodø/Lofoten Islands and Paris: 127,500 United miles

#PolarBears #InTheWild #Svalbard #WildWildNorth #nofilter 📷 @MorrisHersko

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#AuroraBorealis #LofotenIslands #SkagsandenBeach #Norway #Otherworldly #nofilter

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-1 RT coach award from Newark to Svalbard on United, SAS, and Swiss via Oslo and Zurich with stopovers in Bodø/Lofoten Islands and London for our photography guide, “Something Fishy”: 60,000 United miles

Another #incredible #AuroraBorealis in the #LofotenIslands #Norway #nofilter

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-Oslo and Lofoten stays via Airbnb 50% off.
-2 nights for a room at the Park Hyatt Paris via Hyatt card signup nights.

#CityOfLights #Montmartre

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April:
-2 RT business class award from Cleveland to San Francisco via Chicago for Rafi and I to fly on the Queen of the Skies: 100,000 United miles.

What's the appropriate compensation for being #Downgraded from #747 #Captain to #CoPilot?

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-2 nights in a Fairmont San Francisco Suite: Free with lifetime Platinum.

#FatherSonTrip #GoldenGateBridgeAtNight

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June:
-1 OW coach award from Cleveland to San Francisco on United to watch the Cavs bring home the first Cleveland trophy of my lifetime: 12,500 United miles.

#WeAreTheChampions #AllInCLE #Allin216

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-1 OW business class award from San Francisco to Cleveland on United’s party plane back home just hours after the game: 25,000 United miles.

August:
-2 RT coach awards from Cleveland to JFK on American: 30,000 BA Avios
-2 RT first class awards from JFK to Vancouver on Cathay Pacific: 140,000 Alaska miles

#TonightsRide #GoFirstOrGoHome

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-2 nights for a room at the Fairmont Pacific Rim: Free with lifetime Platinum.

#SoakingUpTheView in the #SignatureOfuroRoom at #FairmontPacificRim

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-1 OW coach award from Cleveland to Chicago on American to play Softball in Wrigley Field: 7,500 BA Avios

#RBISingle #SPGMoments @ #WrigleyField #TeamDansDeals takes #Game1 14 to 5!

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-1 OW coach award from Chicago to Cleveland on United: 10,000 United miles
-4 OW coach awards from Cleveland to Newark via Boston: $400 and negative 304,000 JetBlue points
-2 nights at Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston: Free with lifetime Platinum.

#ThisDayIsForTheBirds #JetBlueFamilyMileageRun

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-4 OW coach awards from Newark to Kansas City on United: 40,000 United miles


-4 OW coach awards from Kansas City to Cleveland via Chicago on United: 40,000 United miles

December:
-2 RT coach awards from Akron to LaGuardia on American: 32,000 LAN kilometers

#Pastrami #Flatbread at #BoeufAndBun is out of this world!

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-1 private jet from Cleveland to Teterboro with helicopter transfer to the W.30th Street Heliport: 16,000 LAN kilometers

#SweetRide #ThisShouldBeFun

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Well this sure beats the #HollandTunnel #5MinutesNJtoNY

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-1 OW coach award from Newark to Cleveland on United: 10,000 United miles

Total= 1,385,500 miles and points redeemed for travel.

And of course I spent 1,060,500 Starpoints for 4 tickets to game 7 of the World Series and the right to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game.

Via DansDeals Facebook #FirstPitch #Game7 #WorldSeries #Jumbotron

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Total= 2,446,000 miles and points redeemed.

OK, to be fair I gained 304,000 JetBlue points back from their ridiculously lucrative promotion and United refunded 70,000 miles due to being downgraded from first to business from Chicago to Honolulu as they no longer allow carseats in 3 cabin first class.

But either way that’s over 2 million miles burned in 2016 and I’d call that a success. Though it would have been even more successful if it had hit 3 million with trips approaching the South Pole and North Pole in the same year. The miles aren’t getting any more valuable with age and I’m not getting any younger, so I’ll keep earning and burning whenever I get the chance.

Interested in seeing a post like this for previous years? How did you do last year? Hit the comments below and make your own map to post on DDF.

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Buy $300 In Mastercard Gift Cards From Staples This Week And Get A Free $20 Staples Gift Card Via Easy Rebate

Sunday, March 19th, 2017

If you buy $300+ in Mastercard gift cards from Staples between 3/19 and 3/25 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Staples gift card.

This is valid in-store only. Officially there is a limit of 1 rebate per household.

If you buy 2 $200 Mastercard gift card in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. (A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees).

Use your Chase Ink Cash, Ink Plus or Ink Bold card and get 5 points per dollar spent. You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. Plus you’ll get the $20 Staples card via Easy Rebate.

These Mastercards should have the PIN number in the package. They’re a bit trickier to use at WalMart, you need to hit cancel on the keypad after swiping it in order to change it to a debit payment before using it to load Bluebird, buying money orders, or using bill pay.

You can also buy money orders at various grocery stores and gas stations.

Or you can donate the gift card to charity and get a receipt for the full $200 face value.

Or you can give away a gift card as a wedding or Bar Mitzvah gift.

Or you can always use it for everyday spending.

HT: iz, via DDF

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Highest Public Offer: Earn 35,000 Starpoints Signup Bonus On Both The Starwood Consumer And Business AMEX Cards!

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

Update: There are less than 2 weeks left to apply for the Starwood AMEX cards with this limited time bonus. With the Marriott and Starwood programs set to combine next year this may be your last chance to apply for a Starwood AMEX with an increased signup bonus!

Originally posted on 2/16:

Related posts:
-Top 5 Methods Of Transferring Starpoints Into Miles; Get A Mileage Transfer Bonus As High As 76%-230% From Your Starpoints!
-SPG AMEX 35K Limited Time Offer: Here Are The Ways You Can Use Your Starpoints For Starwood And Marriott Awards
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
The Ultimate Israel Mileage Award Chart

Getting To Israel Using Starwood Starpoints, 2017 Edition
Starwood Adds A 34th Airline Transfer Partner And It’s Excellent For Awards To Israel!
Check To See If You Are Targeted For A Starwood AMEX Consumer Spend Bonus

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.


Consumer 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Business 35K Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

This is a limited time offer scheduled to run until 4/5/17.  It offers 40% more points than the standard offer!

Typically there is only one limited time offer on the SPG card per calendar year, so there’s no better time to apply than now.

The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year on both cards.

For the consumer card you will get 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $3,000 within 3 months. Plus you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending another $2,000 within 6 months, for a total of 35,000 bonus Starpoints and at least 40K total Starpoints. The terms state that if you have had the consumer card before you will not get the bonus for the consumer card again.

For the business card you will get 25,000 bonus Starpoints after spending $5,000 within 3 months. Plus you’ll earn an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints for spending another $3,000 within 6 months, for a total of 35,000 bonus Starpoints and at least 43K total Starpoints. The terms state that if you have had the business card before you will not get the bonus for the business card again.

You can apply for and get the bonus for each of these cards if you haven’t had them before.

If you have only had a consumer card you can get the points for business card and if you have only had the business card you can get the points for the consumer card.


Spending on the Starwood card:

The Starwood card remains a very good card for general spending.

While there are other cards with better bonus categories, the Starwood card is strong for general spending as Starpoints continue to be the most valuable mileage currency thanks to excellent uses at hotels and the 25% bonus for transfers into dozens of airlines.

There are no foreign transaction fees on the Starwood cards.

Starwood also allows members at the same address to transfer points between their accounts for free. Best of all making a transfer like that extends the life of your points by another 18 months.

There are thousands of uses for Starpoints, some of which have been over 50 cents each for me at hotels, but I aim for a minimum value of about 2.2 cents per point and am happy when I’m able to exceed that level. It’s not hard to reach a value of that level at hotels and you can transfer 20K miles into 25K valuable miles from airlines like Aegean, Alaska, American, and dozens of other programs. If you are able to obtain a value of 1.75 cents from those airlines then that imputes a 2.2 cent value for Starpoints as well. The miles won’t sell on the grey market for that price, but miles are always more valuable when you use them yourself for travel.

The Starwood card earns 2 Starpoints per dollar at Starwood hotels, or a 4.4% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint. It also earns double points on SPG hotel bedding and when you buy Starpoints. It earns 1 Starpoint per dollar everywhere else, or a 2.2% rebate at a value of 2.2 cents per Starpoint.


More valuable than ever thanks to the Marriott merger:

Marriott completed their purchase of Starwood last year and they treated Starwood members better than anyone could have hoped for thanks to a transfer ratio of 1 Starpoints:3 Marriott points.

I’ll write more about the best Marriott uses in a separate post.


American Express benefits and the annual fee:

There’s $95 annual fee is waived for the first year. Aside from the valuable points you’ll earn from signing up and spending you’ll also have access to awesome AMEX benefits:

The card also carries American Express’ awesome top-notch protections that are light-years better than any other banks. Most other banks always look for a way to get out, but that’s not the case with American Express.

-If you need to return an item up to $300 and a store won’t take it back due to a time limited or final sale policy, AMEX will gladly refund you thanks to return protection. The vast majority of the time you’ll even be able to keep the item, but if you do need to send it back the return shipping will be free. That’s a far more generous policy than any other bank offers. This benefit is valid for $1,000 of returns per card per calendar year.
–If a store charged a restocking fee to return an item then AMEX will cover it, up to $300/item, as part of their return protection coverage.
-You get an additional year of warranty coverage and if you have any issue in the extended warranty year they’ll pay to have it fixed or refund your entire purchase price without a hassle. This benefit is far more valuable than warranty benefits offered by other banks.
-If you need to dispute a charge there’s nobody who makes it easier or as pain-free as American Express does. It’s the easiest dispute resolution process in the industry by leaps and bounds and you can do it all online.
-If your item is stolen or broken within 90 days you’ll be covered.

See this post to see just how amazing AMEX benefits can be.


Spend Threshold

You can pay your federal taxes for a 1.87% fee. The Starpoints are worth more than 1.87 cents each, so that’s a no-brainer if you’re trying to meet a spend threshold to earn the signup bonus points.

If you overpay your taxes you can request a refund or apply it to your next year’s taxes.

My local gas company allows me to prepay up to $1,000 on a credit card for a $1.65 flat fee. That’s a great way to earn miles and help meet a spend threshold. My electricity supplier allows me to pay with a credit card for free as long as I am enrolled in autopay. I used to prepay 5 months of rent on a my credit card (it’s easier in Cleveland where that’s just $800/month) for a $19 flat fee. You’d be surprised to see what you can charge to your credit card!


Sheraton Club Lounge Access:

The Starwood business card gives free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels.

There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv for example.  If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea. A free night at the Sheraton Tel Aviv is 12K points, 6K points+$110, or 9.6K points per night on a 5 night stay.


Premium Internet Access:

With either Starwood card you now get free premium in-room internet at Starwood hotels. All SPG guests get free internet, but cardholders will now get the faster version for free.


Unlimited worldwide Boingo WiFi:

With either Starwood card you now get free unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi worldwide, perfect for avoiding confiscatory rates at airports when traveling.  Search from over 1 million hot-spots here.

Enroll for free Boingo access here.


Business vs Consumer Platinum card:

In addition to the Starwood business card offering Sheraton Lounge access, the business card also offers Starpoints plus Open Savings rebates on purchases from Fedex, HP, Hertz, and more.

AMEX business cards don’t appear on your credit report. That’s good for several reasons.

First of all they won’t count against your 5/24 count for opening new Chase cards. Only cards on your report that have been opened within the past 24 months count for that.

Second, when you spend money on personal cards your credit score will be hurt even if you pay your bill on time. A whopping 30% of your credit score is based on credit utilization. You can pay off your card bill before your statement is generated to avoid that, but that takes effort and laying out money well before you have to. Additionally it’s good to have the statement close with a couple dollars to show the card is active and being paid every month. On an AMEX business card it’s just not reported, so you can wait until the money is due without it having a negative effect on your score.

Third, if you close a business card it won’t ever have an effect on your score.

You may already have a business that needs a card to keep track of expenses. For example if your name is Joe Smith and you sell items online, or if you have any other side business and want a credit card to better keep track of business expenditures you can just open a business credit card for “Joe Smith Sole Proprietorship” as the business. You don’t need to file any messy government paperwork to be allowed to do that.
Just be sure to select “Sole Proprietorship” as the business type and just use your social security number in the Tax Identification Number field


Elite Status and Crossover benefits with Delta and Uber:

Just by having a Starwood card you earn Preferred Plus status.  This status earns you the right to checkout at 4pm at Starwood hotels and get upgraded to preferred rooms.

If you spend $30,000 in a year on either Starwood card you earn Gold status.  Gold status gets you more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points.  You can also get gold status for free with no spending requirement by opening The Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

When you have the Starwood card you also get 5 elite qualifying nights and 2 stays for each Starwood card that you have that count towards earning Gold or Platinum status!

Starwood Gold and Platinum elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.

And all members can earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides as well after making a single SPG stay.


Read this post for more about Marriott elite benefits, the best ways to use your Starpoints, and more about the best ways to use the Marriott program!

Where do you like using your Starpoints? Hit the comments!

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2 Days Left To Join The Chase Class Action Settlement If You Lost Points When Your Account Was Closed

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Chase Class Action Settlement

After a rash of Chase shutdowns several years ago I wrote a post called “What Not To Do: How To Avoid Having Your Account Closed

Chase used to confiscate points after a shutdown, though they generally stopped doing that a while ago. Some people did have success getting compensation for lost points via small claims court, though you don’t typically hear about those cases as the settlement includes a non-disclosure agreement.

However if Chase did shut down your account between June 2009 and today and you were never compensated, you can file a claim via the link above no later than this Friday, 3/17 in order to get compensation for lost points.

The exact compensation will vary based on the number of claims.

HT: JTZ, via DDF

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Get A 20-30% Bonus When You Transfer Hotel Points To Air Canada Aeroplan, Transfer Starpoints To Aeroplan With A 108%+ Effective Bonus

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Get A 20-30% Bonus When You Transfer Hotel Points To Air Canada Aeroplan

If you transfer hotel points to Air Canada’s Aeroplan mileage program from 3/13-4/17 you’ll get a bonus:
-Convert 2,500-99,999 miles and get a 20% bonus.
-Convert 100,000-199,999 miles and get a 25% bonus.
-Convert 200,000+ miles and get a 30% bonus.

-The total amount converted from all hotel partner will be added up in order to determine the bonus.
-The bonus miles will post to your account by the end of May.

By far and away Starwood and Marriott have the best transfer options. Unfortunately the bonus does not apply for Membership Rewards transfers.

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX currently have limited time offers to earn 35,000 signup Starpoints (105K Marriott pointseach with no fee for the first year.

The bonus stacks with Starwood’s 25% bonus as follows:
-20K Starpoints will transfer to 30K Aeroplan miles (50% effective bonus)
-80K Starpoints will transfer to 125K Aeroplan miles (56.3% effective bonus)
-160K Starpoints will transfer to 260K Aeroplan miles (63% effective bonus)
You can convert Marriott points to Starwood at a 3:1 ratio.

Marriott’s miles+nights makes for a great redemption:
-90K Starpoints (270K Marriott points) will transfer to 150K Aeroplan miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel, plus you can get back 15K Starpoints (45K Marriott points) for cancelling the hotel booked with a certificate, making the effective cost 75K Starpoints for 150K miles (100% effective bonus).
-180K Starpoints (540K Marriott points) will transfer to 312K Aeroplan miles and 2 stays of 7 nights each in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel, plus you can get back 30K Starpoints (90K Marriott points) for cancelling the hotels booked with the certificates, making the effective cost 150K Starpoints for 312K miles (108% effective bonus).

Of course if you use the hotel certificates the effective bonus can be much higher than that.

A breakdown of Aeroplan policies:

The good:
-Air Canada has one of the best lap child policies out there. You pay a flat fee of just $50 in coach, $75 in premium economy, $100 in business, or $125 in first for a lap child. Compare that to 10% of the paid fare with other airlines and you can save a small fortune, especially if you are flying in business or first class.
Aeroplan’s Star Alliance award chart has some bright spots, though not as many as it used to. A business class flight from North America to Europe or South America is 55K miles each way while first class is 70K miles each way.
-Air Canada generously allows for a free stopover within North America and 2 free stopovers when flying to another continent, so you can check out up to 2 cities for as long as you want in addition to your final destination.  If used properly you can create for yourself a mini round-the-world trip, all for the single award rate of flying to your final destination. So for just 110K miles you can fly in business class to 3 European cities and stay in each for as long as you want. Or for 160K miles you can fly to Australia in business, with stops in Europe and in Asia along the way for example.
-There are no expedite/close-in fees.

The bad:
-There is a C$100 charge to change or cancel an award ticket and a C$250 charge to cancel within 21 days of departure.
-Awards can’t be held.
-Premium class travel to Israel and the Middle East is pricey at 165K for business and 230K round-trip for first class. That’s higher than every other region in the world. Some agents may allow you to stopover in Israel on the way to another region for the lower cost of flying to the other region.

The ugly:
-Air Canada charges a fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Adria, Air Canada, ANA, Asiana, Austrian, LOT Polish, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal, and THAI. (There is no fuel surcharge if you redeem their miles for travel on the following carriers: Aegean, Air China, Air India, Air New Zealand, Avianca/TACA, Brussels, Copa, Croatia, EVA, EgyptAir, Ethiopian, SAS, Shenzhen, Singapore, South African, Swiss, Turkish, and United)
-Air Canada miles require activity every 12 months to keep them active.

HT: Baglach, via DDF

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Top 5 Methods Of Transferring Starpoints Into Miles; Get A Mileage Transfer Bonus As High As 76%-230% From Your Starpoints!

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Starwood Consumer 35K (105K Marriott) Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

2
 

Starwood Business 35K (105K Marriott) Limited Time Offer:
-Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

amexbusstarwood960x680
 

Read more about these limited time SPG card offers offering 40% more points than normal in this post and about how to redeem them in this post.

-The Marriott card offers 87,500 signup points, Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.


Now that you can transfer Starpoints into Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio there are more ways than ever to turn your Starpoints into miles.

In no particular order, here are 5 great ways to turn your Starpoints into miles:

-The first way is the traditional transfer of Starpoints into miles at a 1:1 ratio or a 20K:25K ratio to dozens of airlines, an effective 25% transfer bonus.

In parenthesis you can see if American Express Membership Rewards (MR), Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR), or Citibank Thank You (TY) points transfers to the airline as well. If no other program can transfer points to that airline it will say not applicable (NA)

OneWorld Alliance:
Air Berlin: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
American: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
British Airways Avios: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, UR)
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
JAL: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
LATAM: 20,000 Starpoints=37,500 kms (NA)
Qatar: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)

Skyteam Alliance:
AeroMexico: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Alitalia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
China Eastern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
China Southern: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Delta: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Korean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (UR)
Saudia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)

Star Alliance:
ANA: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Aegean: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Air Canada/Aeroplan: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Air China: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Air New Zealand: 20,000 Starpoints=385 points (NA)
Asiana: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Avianca/TACA LifeMiles: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Lufthansa Miles & More: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Singapore: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Thai: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (TY)
United: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (UR)

Unaligned:
Alaska: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Emirates: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Etihad: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY)
Gol/Varig Smiles: 20,000 Starpoints=12,500 miles (NA)
Hainan: 20,000 Starpoints==25,000 miles (NA)
Hawaiian: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR)
Jet Airways: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)
Virgin Atlantic: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (MR, TY, UR)
Virgin Australia: 20,000 Starpoints=25,000 miles (NA)

-The second way is with Starwood Nights & Flights. You can get 50K miles with dozens of airlines and stay 5 nights in a SPG category 3 hotel for 60K Starpoints. Or you can get 50K miles with dozens of airlines and stay 5 nights in a SPG category 4 hotel for 70K Starpoints. If you were staying for 5 nights in those hotels anyway it’s like using 32K Starpoints for 50K miles, an effective 56.25% transfer bonus.

-The third way is by transferring points to Marriott and transferring points from there to an airline.

The 2 most compelling offers there are:
-18,667 Starpoints would transfer into 56K Marriott points which becomes 25,000 United miles, an effective 33.9% transfer bonus.
-23,333 Starpoints would transfer into 70K Marriott points which becomes 25,000 Southwest miles, which qualify for Companion Pass status if initiated by 3/31. That’s an effective 7.1% transfer bonus.

-The fourth way is by transferring points to Marriott and using their nights and miles option.

You can read more about the option in this post.

-90K Starpoints would transfer into 270K Marriott points which becomes 132,000 United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.
-90K Starpoints would transfer into 270K Marriott points which becomes 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel and 120,000 miles for Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska, American, British, Copa, Delta, Frontier, GOL, Hawaiian, Iberia, Southwest, or Virgin Atlantic.

It’s hard to impute a value of the transfer bonus as this includes miles and nights, but let’s attack it from 4 different angles that will show the highest possible valuation, a reasonable stay valuation, a dirt cheap stay valuation, and the lowest possible valuation.

1. 7 nights at a category 5 hotel would normally cost 150,000 Marriott points or 50K Starpoints. If you were staying for 7 nights in those hotels anyway it’s like using 40K Starpoints for 132K United miles, an effective 230% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 40K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 200% transfer bonus.
2.
If you wouldn’t normally stay 7 nights at a hotel, but assign a reasonable value of 5K Starpoints per night, that would make the certificate worth 35K Starpoints. That means we can assign a value of 55K Starpoints use for 132K United miles, an effective 140% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 55K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 118% transfer bonus.
3.
If you wouldn’t normally stay 7 nights at a hotel, but assign a dirt cheap value of 3K Starpoints per night, that would make the certificate worth 21K Starpoints. That means we can assign a value of 69K Starpoints use for 132K United miles, an effective 91% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 69K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 74% transfer bonus.
4.
Some reps will allow you to return the 7 night hotel certificate for a refund of 45K Marriott points which you can transfer back to 15K Starpoints. You may need to book a hotel and cancel it in order to receive a 45K point refund. That’s not a good value for the 7 night hotel certificate, but if you won’t use the hotel stay then it’s better than nothing. If you return the certificate it’s like using 75K Starpoints for 132K United miles, an effective 76% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 75K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 60% transfer bonus.

Yes, that means even if you don’t use the certificate, you can still get 1.76 United miles per Starpoint. If you would make that hotel stay anyway you can get 3.3 United miles per Starpoint. If you value the free nights at 5K or 3K Starpoints each then you can get a value of 1.9-2.4 United miles per Starpoint. No matter how you slice it, that’s a great value for your Starpoints!

-The fifth way is by transferring points to Marriott and using their nights and miles option and finding a rep willing to sell you a 5 night package that’s officially intended for timeshare owners. Most reps won’t do it, but some will.

-78,333 Starpoints would transfer into 235K Marriott points which becomes 132,000 United miles and 5 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.
-78,333 Starpoints would transfer into 235K Marriott points which becomes 5 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel and 120,000 miles for Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska, American, British, Copa, Delta, Frontier, GOL, Hawaiian, Iberia, Southwest, or Virgin Atlantic.

Once again, it’s hard to impute the value of the transfer bonus, but this will show the highest possible valuation, a reasonable stay valuation, a dirt cheap stay valuation, and the lowest possible valuation.

1. 5 nights at a category 5 hotel would normally cost 100,000 Marriott points or 33,333 Starpoints. If you were staying for 5 nights in those hotels anyway it’s like using 45K Starpoints for 132K United miles, an effective 193% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 45K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 167% transfer bonus.
2.
If you wouldn’t normally stay 5 nights at a hotel, but assign a reasonable value of 5K Starpoints per night, that would make the certificate worth 25K Starpoints. That means we can assign a value of 53,333 Starpoints use for 132K United miles, an effective 148% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 53,333 Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 125% transfer bonus.
3. If you wouldn’t normally stay 5 nights at a hotel, but assign a dirt cheap value of 3K Starpoints per night, that would make the certificate worth 15K Starpoints. That means we can assign a value of 63,333 Starpoints use for 132K United miles, an effective 108% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 63,333 Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 89% transfer bonus.
4. Some reps will allow you to return the 5 night hotel certificate for a refund of 10K Marriott points which you can transfer back to 3,333 Starpoints. You may need to book a hotel and cancel it in order to receive a 10K point refund. That’s not a good value for the 5 night hotel certificate, but if you won’t use the hotel stay then it’s better than nothing. If you return the certificate it’s like using 75K Starpoints for 132K United miles, an effective 76% transfer bonus. Or it’s like using 75K Starpoints for 120K miles from the other airlines, an effective 60% transfer bonus.

Using those 4 different scenarios shows us that:
-If you value the hotel nights at the actual cost of redeeming points for the room that you’re better with the 7 night option than the 5 night option.
-If you value the hotel nights as something, but lower than the actual cost of redeeming points for the room that you’re better with the 5 night option than the 7 night option.
-If you plan on returning the hotel night certificate that the value for your Starpoints to airline mile transfer will be the same whether you use the 5 night or the 7 night option.

There are a few things worth noting about the 4th and 5th miles+nights redemption methods:

-You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights package.
-The miles will post within a few days of the transfer, regardless of when or if you use the 7 night certificate.
-The 7 night electronic hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.
-You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.
-The certificate must be used at one property for 7 consecutive nights.
-You can have the certificate issued in anyone’s name.
-You can upgrade your hotel certificate by paying the difference in points later on. For example if you wanted 7 nights at the category 7 Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel you would need 330K Marriott or 110K Starpoints for that stay and 120K-132K miles. If you wanted 7 nights at the tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Herzliya you would need 420K Marriott or 140K Starpoints for that stay and 120K-132K miles.

Do you transfer Starpoints into miles or so you use them other redemptions? Which transfer method do you use? Hit the comments!

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Final Day To Register For Chase Freedom Q1 Spending, Q2 Registration Begins Tomorrow

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Today is the final day to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories.

You must register for Q1 bonus spending at Gas stations and local commuter transportation by today and complete spending by 3/31.

Tomorrow you’ll be able to register for 2017 Q2 spending at grocery and drug stores from 4/1-6/30.

Chase Freedom is an excellent no annual fee card thanks to its quarterly 5% categories. While they call it 5% cash back, you’ll really get 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent which can be worth much more than 5% cash. For $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points over the course of a year (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

While Chase Freedom is a great card for the bonus categories, it’s not a great card for everyday spending. However the Chase Freedom Unlimited card also has no annual fee and is excellent for everyday spending.

You can also earn 10 points per dollar on up to $2,500 in hotel and car rental spending on the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards this month with no registration required.

Freedom or Freedom Unlimited alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline or hotel miles, but if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Ink Preferred card then you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to your favorite travel currency. You can read at the end of this post on great uses of Chase mileage transfers. The Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card can also keep your points alive for free if you do close one of those premium cards.

The value of the points will be based on where you use them, but if you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each then you’ll have effectively earned 10% back on those “5 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them!

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Buy $300 In Visa Gift Cards From Staples This Week And Get A Free $20 Visa Gift Card Via Easy Rebate

Monday, March 13th, 2017

If you buy $300+ in Visa gift cards from Staples between 3/12 and 3/18 you can send in an Easy Rebate online to get a bonus $20 Visa gift card.

This is valid in-store only. Officially there is a limit of 1 rebate per household.

If you buy 2 $200 Visa gift card in store you’ll pay $13.90 in card fees. (A $200 gift card and a $100 gift card would have $12.90 in fees).

Use your Chase Ink Cash, Ink Plus or Ink Bold card and get 5 points per dollar spent. You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

That’s 2,070 points for a $413.90 purchase. Plus you’ll get the $20 Visa card via Easy Rebate.

While Staples.com now carries $300 gift cards, I haven’t seen any reports of the $300 cards being found in stores yet, so that won’t help with this rebate.

You can use the gift cards to buy money orders at Walmart or at various grocery stores and gas stations. Just use the last 4 digits of the card as the PIN number to cash them out.

Or you can donate the gift card to charity and get a receipt for the full $200 face value.

Or you can give away a gift card as a wedding or Bar Mitzvah gift.

Or you can always use it for everyday spending.

HT: Iz, via DDF

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Delta Europe Coach And Business Class Award Sale

Monday, March 13th, 2017

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-Get free checked baggage and priority boarding on Delta if you have the Delta SkyMiles AMEX or the Delta SkyMiles Business AMEX. You don’t need to use the card for those benefits.

-Earn 5 points per dollar on the AMEX Platinum Card or 3 points per dollar on airfare with the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card or the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Card.


Delta Europe Coach And Business Class Award Sale 

How do you have a sale when you no longer publish the regular price?
Excellent question, but Delta has coach round-trips to Europe from 50K miles and business round-trips from 110K miles and there’s no doubt that award space is much better than American’s scAAmvantage.

-Book by March 14
-Travel from 8/1-10/31.
-Valid for round-trips only
-Blackout dates apply, use flexible award search to help find valid dates.

Sample business class flight:

cdg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sample coach flight:

vce

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HT: Rene

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Enroll Your United Credit Card In A Red Cross Benefit Program And Get 100 Miles

Monday, March 13th, 2017

Enroll Your United Credit Card In A Red Cross Benefit Program And Get 100 Miles

If you have a United credit card you can enroll via the link above to have United donate 100 miles to the American Red Cross for every $1,000 that you spend between 3/15-4/15. There is no cost to you.

As a bonus for enrolling, United will also give you 100 miles without any spending required. The free miles will post by 5/31/17.

Don’t have a United card? You should and this post explains why. Aside from free checked baggage on all fares, free carry-on bags on economy basic fares, and priority boarding on all fares, you also get significantly greater saver and standard level award availability. It also waives the flight spend requirement to get elite status, gives 2 free annual club passes, and allows elites to get upgraded on award tickets. Plus the signup bonus is currently 55,000 miles instead of 35,000 miles!

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice. Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site.

HT: yyonah, via DDF

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Last Chance For Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Signup Bonus; Get $2,100 In Travel!

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Update, 3/10: The 100K Sapphire Reserve offer available in Chase banking branches will end tomorrow.

Originally posted on 1/3/17


Related:
-Are Bank Points Overtaking The Value Of Airline Miles? 2 Hybrid Cards Allow You To Lock In The Best Of Both Worlds
-Building Credit And Credit Card FAQs: Your Questions Answered
-Earn 100K+ Chase Points On 1 Card; Here Are 22 Ways You Can Use Those Points!


The Chase Sapphire Reserve took the mileage world by storm last year by offering 100,000 signup points and a boatload of other benefits. Chase took a $200-$300MM loss just in the 2016 Q4 on the card, so it’s no surprise that the massive signup bonus is coming to an end.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site

Effective 1/12 the 100K online offer will go down to 50K for spending $4,000. The 100K bonus will still be available in branch through 3/11.

You can use the 100K points for $1,500 in travel or you can transfer them into airline miles or hotel points.

Note that if you have opened up 5 or more consumer credit cards in the past 2 years it can be difficult to get approved for most cards from Chase. Read more about 5/24 here.

Annual fee:

The card has a $450 annual fee which is not waived for the first year. The effective annual fee though is much lower thanks to the travel credit.

View more about the card after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Marriott 2017 Annual Category Changes; Combined Marriott And Starwood Award Chart

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Update: Today is the final day to book hotels before their rates go up.

Originally posted on 2/9/17:


Marriott 2017 Complete List Of Annual Category Changes

Book stays before 3/7 local hotel time to lock in current rates for future stays at hotels that are going up.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).  If you have a reservation at a hotel that is going down then just cancel and rebook the stay on 3/7 when this year’s category changes go into effect.

23% of Marriott hotels will changes categories. Of those 60% will become more expensive and 40% will become less expensive.

This list is subject to change and other hotels can still be added to it.

For example if you have a 7 night category 1-5 hotel certificate and want to go to Curaçao, you’ll want to reserve that before 3/7 when the Renaissance moves to a category 6.

View sample hotels changing in category and more on the Marriott/SPG program after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Starwood 2017 Annual Category Changes

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Update: Today is the final day to book hotels before their rates go up. Category changes can take effect local time, though agents over the phone may still be able to honor lower category rates today.

Originally posted on 2/9/17:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

Read about previous category changes:
Starwood 2016 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2015 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2014 Annual Category Changes
Starwood 2013 Category Changes
Starwood 2012 Category Changes
2011 Starwood Category Adjustments
-2010 had no Starwood category changes
2009 Starwood Category Adjustments
2008 Starwood Category Adjustments
Starwood 2007 Changes: Launch Of Worldwide Cash+Points Awards (The good old days of Starwood in Israel)
American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

————————————————————————-

Starwood 2017 Complete List Of Annual Category Changes (Click all to view all hotel changes)

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX currently have limited time offers to earn 35,000 signup points each with no fee for the first year.

Book stays before 3/7 local hotel time to lock in current rates for future stays at hotels that are going up.  Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).  If you have a reservation at a hotel that is going down then just cancel and rebook the stay on 3/7 when this year’s category changes go into effect.

325 SPG hotels are changing category this year. 63% of those will go down in category.

This list is subject to change and other hotels can still be added to it.

View the key hotels changing in category after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Check To See If You Are Targeted For A Starwood AMEX Consumer Spend Bonus

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX currently have limited time offers to earn 35,000 signup points each with no fee for the first year.


Several DDF members have posted that they were targeted for a spend bonus on their Starwood consumer card.

You can login to your AMEX account via this link to check if you are targeted.

If you are targeted and spend $5,000 on your SPG card you’ll get 10,000 total Starpoints. You need to enroll by 3/31 and complete the spending by 5/31.

My cards aren’t targeted this time, are yours?

HT: coralsnake, via DDF

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All About Singapore Airlines: Enrollment Bonus, Excellent Mileage Accrual On 3 Domestic Airlines, And A Valuable Award Chart

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Singapore Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance that is known for being one of the best airlines in the world. I’ve flown in coach, business, and first class on Singapore and the service in every class of service is without a doubt the best I’ve ever experienced. In fact coach service on Singapore has been better than business or first class service on other airlines.

After flying 19 hours nonstop from Newark to Singapore in business class I was actually sad to have the flight come to an end.

And it’s hard to beat their A380 double suites which can only be booked with Singapore miles:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They also have some excellent award chart bargains.

They did announce a devaluation for their own flights last week, but they cushioned it by announcing that they are eliminating fuel surcharges on Singapore flights and that they aren’t making changes to their excellent Star Alliance award chart. And the jump in mileage required is nowhere near what the domestic airlines have done for premium class award travel.


You can earn 500 miles by just signing up for a new account and using registration promotion (Exp: 4/14/17): JOINKF2017

The 500 points will post within 24 hours.


Singapore award bargains:
Singapore Airlines current award chart
Singapore Airlines award chart effective 3/23.
Singapore Star Alliance award chart

-A Singapore A380 walled-in suite from JFK to Frankfurt will be going up from 57,375 miles to 76K miles effective 3/23, but the $180 in fuel surcharges will be eliminated. You can only book Singapore suites with Singapore miles, but compare that to the 110K miles that United charges to fly from JFK to Frankfurt in Lufthansa first class!

In fact you can book that suite for just 75K miles with no fuel surcharges after 3/23 by adding on a Lufthansa leg from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv as their Star Alliance chart will be more advantageous to use than their chart for Singapore flights only.

A flight from Chicago to Singapore will actually be cheaper than from Los Angeles, NYC, or San Francisco to Singapore due to being able to use the Star Alliance award chart when combining travel on Singapore and another partner airline like United.

Suites availability between Singapore and Australia and New Zealand is excellent. So is availability from European cities like Zurich and Asian cities like Shanghai to Singapore.

Plus Singapore allows you to waitlist for saver award space on flights.

Singapore still allows a free stopover and open jaw on round-trip saver awards and you can add up to 3 additional stopovers for just $100 each by booking your award over the phone. If you book a standard award you can even get a free stopover on a one-way ticket.

Singapore has also applied for rights to fly to Tel Aviv themselves as well.

Singapore does charge fuel surcharges for most partner airlines, but notebly they don’t charge any for travel on United. Thanks to a generous Star Alliance award chart, that means it can be quite advantageous to use Singapore miles for United flights. However it’s worth noting that if you have a United credit card for expanded United award availability, that benefit only applies when using United miles and not miles from partner airlines like Singapore.

Sample one-way pricing using United miles vs Singapore miles:
-Domestic US first class on United using United miles is 25K miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 20K.
-A flight from the US48 to Alaska on United is 17.5K in coach and 30K in first using United miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 12.5K in coach or 40K in first class.
-A flight from the US48 to Hawaii on United is 22.5K in coach and 40K in first using United miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 17.5K in coach or 30K in first class.
-A flight from the US to Europe is 30K in coach, 57.5K-70K in business, and 80K-110K in first using United miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 27.5K in coach, 65K in business, or 80K in first class.
-A flight from the US to Israel is 42.5K in coach, 70-80K in business, and 90K-140K in first using United miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 37.5K in coach, 57.5K in business, and 75K in first class.

-A flight from the Middle East to Europe is 25K in coach, 45K in business, and 60K in first using United miles. With Singapore miles it’s just 17.5K in coach, 25K in business, or 35K in first class.

Singapore even still offers a round-the-world award, something that airlines like American and United have discontinued. A round-the-world ticket to 7 destinations is 180K miles in coach, 240K miles in business, or 360K miles in first/suites class.


Note that partner awards can’t be booked online, you’ll need to call Singapore to book at 1-312-843-5333.

You can search for Singapore award availability on Singapore.com, but you’ll have to use a site like United.com or Aeroplan.com to search for Star Alliance saver award availability. Note that United.com isn’t able to search for any availability on Singapore flights, though you can call United to book award travel on Singapore, though business and first class from the US isn’t typically available with United miles.


Award fees with Singapore miles vs United miles:
-There are no close-in fees with Singapore miles. With United miles there’s a $75 fee within 3 weeks, though there are workarounds for that.
-Date changes on Singapore flights are free and are just $20 on other flights with Singapore miles. With United miles changes are $75-$125.
-Award refunds are just $30 with Singapore miles vs $75-$125 with United miles.


Mileage Expiration:
This is the Achilles’ heel of the Singapore program.

United miles will never expire as long as you have activity every 18 months or have a United credit card.

Singapore miles expire 36 months after they’re earned. You can extend them for 6 more months by paying a $12 fee per 10,000 miles extended.
If your miles are expiring and you don’t have any travel plans you can also book an award before your miles expire and then change the award for up to 1 year from when it’s issued.

You can also transfer Singapore miles into Virgin Australia Velocity miles at a 1.35:1 ratio. Those miles never expire as long as you have activity every 36 months.


Mileage earning from JetBlue, United, and Virgin America flights:

While United only awards a paltry 5 miles per pre-tax dollar spent on flights, Singapore still awards flown miles for United flights!

For example United recently had a $379 fare from Newark to Zurich. That fare was $282 before tax and would earn just 1,410 United miles. However you can give United your Singapore mileage number and earn 7,890 Singapore miles, which is the actual distance flown for the K class fare.

When United matched El Al’s $749 winter sale from Newark to Tel Aviv the base fare was $662. That would earn just 3,310 United miles. However you can give United your Singapore mileage number and earn 11,384 Singapore miles, which is the actual distance flown for the K class fare.

You can view the amount of miles that Singapore will award based on your fare class here.

-Singapore awards 100% of the flown miles for most United coach and business class tickets and 125-150% of the flown miles in some business and first class fare classes.

-Singapore awards 50-100% of the flown miles for most JetBlue coach tickets depending on the fare class and 125% of the flown miles in mint class.

-Singapore awards 100% of the flown miles for most Virgin America coach tickets and 125% of the flown miles in first class.

You can check the actual distance flown on GCMap.com. For example a flight from Newark to Sydney via Los Angeles would earn 19,884 Singapore miles for travel in most United fare classes.


Points Transfers:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-AMEX Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, and Citi ThankYou points transfer at a 1:1 ratio to Singapore within 1-2 days.

-Starwood Starpoints transfer at a 20K:25K ratio to Singapore within 2-9 days.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers from all banks.

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX currently have promotions awarding 35,000 signup points each with no fee for the first year. 20K Starpoints can transfer into 25K Singapore miles with the permanent 25% transfer bonus.

-American Express Membership Rewards points transfer at a 1K:1K ratio to Singapore and can be earned from credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card or The Amex EveryDay Card

The Preferred card awards 1.5 points per dollar everywhere, 2.5 points per dollar on Uber, 3 points per dollar on gas, and 4.5 points per dollar on groceries if you make 30 transactions per month.

The EveryDay card awards 1.2 points per dollar everywhere, 2.2 points per dollar on Uber, and 2.4 miles per dollar on groceries if you make 20 transactions per month. This is the only no-annual fee card that can transfer points into real airline miles from any bank.

You can also earn Membership Rewards points from consumer charge cards like the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express, and from business charge cards like the AMEX Business Gold Rewards Charge Card (limited time 50K signup bonus) or The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.

The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express has no annual fee and has a limited time increased signup bonus. However you’ll need one of the Membership Rewards cards listed above to transfer points from that card into airline miles.

Citi Thank You Premier, Prestige, and Chairman cardholders can also transfer points into Singapore at a 1:1 ratio.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site

Chase cards that can transfer points into miles includes Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, Ink Preferred, Ink Bold, and Ink Plus. Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, and Ink Cash can also earn points, but you’ll need one of the aforementioned Chase cards to transfer points from those cards into airline miles.


Do you accrue Singapore miles when you fly on JetBlue, United, or Virgin America? Hit the comments!

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30% Off Starpoint Purchases; Should You Buy Points For Southwest Companion Pass, Cathay First, Emirates Shower Class, Or Niagara Falls Hotel Stays?

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser

-Until 4/5, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers a 35K point signup bonus.

-Until 4/5, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers a 35K point signup bonus.

SPG AMEX 35K Limited Time Offer: Here Are The Ways You Can Use Your Starpoints For Starwood And Marriott Awards


Starwood is offering 30% off purchases and gifts of 20K-30K Starpoints through 4/30.

For example 20K Starpoints are on sale for $490 instead of $700 or 30K Starpoints are on sale for $735 instead of $1,050. That’s a cost of 2.45 cents per Starpoints instead of the regular 3.5 cents per Starpoint.

Of course you also earn miles for the purchase, which makes the real cost even less.

If you have a Starwood AMEX and buy 30K Starpoints for $735 you will earn 1,470 Starpoints for the purchase, so effectively you’ll pay $735 for 31,470 Starpoints, or 2.33 cents per Starpoint.

There’s no reason to buy them speculatively at those rates. But it can definitely make sense if you have a specific redemption in mind.

If you need more than 30K Starpoints you’ll have to buy them with additional Starwood accounts. You can freely transfer Starpoints between Starwood accounts that are located at the same address. Note that you need to wait 14 days from when you open a new Starwood account until you can buy Starpoints.

Here are some ideas for those points.

Southwest Companion Pass:

If you earn 110K Southwest points by 12/31/17 you’ll earn Southwest Companion Pass status that will be valid until 12/31/18.

With a Southwest Companion Pass you’ll get to bring a companion with you for free on all Southwest paid tickets, Southwest award tickets, and Southwest tickets booked with AMEX or Chase points, though you need to call AMEX or Chase to actually book travel on Southwest. There is no limit to how many times you can use the companion pass.

90K Starpoints can be converted into 270K Marriott points.

With Marriott’s miles+nights. 270K Marriott Rewards points would convert into 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. You’ll also earn Southwest Companion Pass status with that award!

Note that points must be transferred by 3/31 in order for them to qualify for Southwest Companion Pass.

If you need more than 30K Starpoints you’ll have to buy them with additional Starwood accounts. You can freely transfer Starpoints between Starwood accounts that are located at the same address. Note that you need to wait 14 days from when you open a new Starwood account until you can buy Starpoints.

Even if you have no Starpoints, you can buy 86,000 Starpoints using 3 accounts for $2,107. With the Starwood AMEX you’ll also earn 4,214 Starpoints for the purchase, leaving you with 90,214 Starpoints.

Of course that cost is less if you already have Starpoints or Marriott points.

With that you’ll get 7 nights at a Marriott hotel, 120K Southwest points, and Southwest Companion Pass status that will make your Southwest points good for $3,600-$4,800 of free flights when you bring along a free companion.

Read more about this option and where you can use the hotel nights in this post.


United miles+Marriott nights:

90K Starpoints can be converted into 270K Marriott points.

With Marriott’s miles+nights. 270K Marriott Rewards points would convert into 132K United miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.

As mentioned before, even if you have no Starpoints, you can buy 90K Starpoints for about $2,107.

If you value the 7 night hotel stay at just $500 ($71/night) then you’re effectively paying $1,607 for 132,000 United miles. That’s a bargain at just 1.21 cents per mile.

Of course that cost is less if you already have Starpoints or Marriott points.

It’s worth noting that some agents will refund 45K Marriott points (15K Starpoints) if you return the 7 night stay certificate, but not all agents will do that.


Cathay Pacific Business/First Class to Vancouver or Asia and 7 nights in a hotel:

90K Starpoints can be converted into 270K Marriott points.

With Marriott’s miles+nights. 270K Marriott Rewards points would convert into 120K Alaska miles and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel.

As mentioned before, even if you have no Starpoints, you can buy 90K Starpoints for about $2,107.

Alaska charges just 50K miles to Asia in award winning Cathay Pacific business class and 70K miles in Cathay Pacific first class, where you’ll have the best seat and bed in the sky.

With 120K Alaska miles you can fly one-way in business and one-way in first class.

For example you can fly from the US to Taipei and get 7 nights at a category 5 property there. Or stay fly and at a category 5 JW Marriott resort in Vietnam. You can even stopover in Hong Kong once or twice for as long as you want with Alaska miles. That’s perfect if you want to have custom clothing made there as you can go back to have them fitted perfectly.

Don’t want to leave the continent?

A Cathay Pacific first class flight from JFK to Vancouver is 35K miles and a Cathay Pacific business class flight is 25K miles. 120K miles would be enough for a couple to fly there in first class and return in business class.


Discounted stays in SPG hotels:

Buying points for 2.33 cents each can make sense in pricey SPG hotels.

For example:

-The Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview is 3K Starpoints on weekends (That’s just $69 when buying Starpoints) and 4K Starpoints on weekdays ($93 when buying Starpoints) vs paid rates that can be more than $250/night! There’s even weekly Shabbos services and meals in the hotel in the summer and holidays!

 

-The S. Regis Bal Harbour can cost over $1,000/night after tax, but when using 30K Starpoints you won’t pay any tax, so your out of pocket rate will be $699:

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-The W Fort Lauderdale is 12K Starpoints ($279 when buying Starpoints) vs paid rates that can be more than $400/night.

-The S. Regis Rome is 20K Starpoints ($466 when buying Starpoints) vs paid rates that can be more than $750/night.


Emirates Shower Class:
Emirates A380 first class is also known as “Shower Class.”

Sure, you get your own walled-in suite and access to the onboard bar. But it’s the onboard shower that sets it apart.

You can fly it from JFK to Milan and by far the best way to book it is with JAL miles.

Emirates charges massive fuel surcharges when you use their miles, but Alaska and JAL can book you on Emirates without those fees.

However Alaska charges 360K miles to fly round-trip from JFK to Milan while JAL charges just 100K miles.

You can transfer 80K Starpoints into 100K JAL miles thanks to the 25% transfer bonus. It other words by buying Starpoints at 2.33 cents each you can fly round-trip in Emirates shower class to Europe for just $1,864!

Want a longer flight in Shower Class?
JAL charges 135K miles from JFK to Dubai round-trip to 155K miles from JFK to the Maldives via Dubai round-trip.


Of course there are endless other ways to use your Starpoints where it can make sense to buy some points to reach an award redemption. How do you use your Starpoints?

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Here Are The Changes Coming This Month To The AMEX Platinum Card; Comparison Of Consumer Vs. Business Card Benefits

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

-American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

AMEX will be making changes to their consumer Platinum Card effective 3/30.

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New benefits exclusive to the consumer card include:

$15 in monthly Uber credits:
Starting 3/30 a monthly $15 Uber credit will be added to your account. The monthly credit must be used by the last day of the month at 11:59pm local time.

You must have your AMEX Platinum consumer card listed as a payment method in your Uber account, but you don’t need to use the card in order to use the credit.

Every December you’ll get a $35 credit, making this benefit worth up to $200 per calendar year.

All AMEX cards that earn Membership Rewards points already earn double points on Uber spending.

Uber credits typically work for food delivery from Uber Eats, so I’d imagine that this credit will work for Uber Eats as well, but we’ll have to wait until 3/30 to confirm if it will work for that.

The Uber credits are only valid for use in the US.

Uber VIP status:
AMEX Platinum consumer cardholders will be upgraded to VIP status, which prioritizes your rides to better cars and drivers with more experience and higher ratings in select locations.

5 points per dollar on hotel and airfare:
In October AMEX added 5 points per dollar for airfare spending on their consumer Platinum Card.

Effective 3/30 you’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on hotels, but with a caveat. You’ll only get the bonus points if you book hotels at AMEXTravel.com

Metal card design:
Until now AMEX has only provided their Centurion “Black card” cardholders with a metal card, but AMEX will now provide Platinum cardholders with a metal card.
Existing cardmembers can request a metal card effective 3/30.

Free additional Gold cardholders:
Previously additional Gold cards have been charged at a rate of $45/year, but effective 3/30 those will be free.

Annual fee increase:
Effective for new Platinum Card applications made on 3/30, the annual fee will go up from $450/year to $550/year.

If you apply before 3/30 you will pay only $450 for your first year, but you’ll still get the new benefits on 3/30.

If you are already a cardholder and your annual fee is due before 9/1 then your fee for 2017 will be $450. If your fee is due on 9/1 or later than you will be charged $550 for your next renewal.

Fee for additional Platinum cardholders will remain the same:
You will continue to be able to add up to 3 additional Platinum cardholders at a rate of 3 cards for a flat $175 per year. They will each receive their own lounge access capabilities, elite status, and Global Entry fee refunds, but won’t get annual airline fee or monthly Uber credits.


The Business Platinum Card will remain at $450/year.

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Benefits exclusive to the business card include:

-A game changing 50% rebate when you redeem coach airfare with your choice of an airline and a 50% rebate when you redeem for business or first class airfare with any airline on amextravel.com.. Having the Business Platinum Card effectively turns all of your AMEX points earned on all Membership Rewards cards into “Hybrid” points by allowing you to redeem points for a value of 2 cents or more each for paid tickets or transferring them into real airline miles. The 50% rebate posts to your account within a day of redemption. You can get the 50% rebate whether you pay for the whole ticket or just part of the ticket with points.

-1.5 points per dollar on large purchases of $5,000 or more on the Business Platinum Card. You can earn up to 1 million points annually with this bonus. For example a $5K+ IRS tax payment will cost 1.87% (tax deductible for businesses) and will earn 1.5 points per dollar that are worth at least 3% towards travel with this card.

-Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi:
With the Business Platinum Card only, you get 10 annual Gogo flight passes to use on any flight with Gogo internet. You can enroll here for your free passes.


Read about the benefits that both cards offer and a comparison between the 2 cards after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Chase Freedom/Freedom Unlimited 10x Bonus Categories Added For March!

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Other Credit Cards” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site


Chase is offering 10 points per dollar on up to $2,500 in hotel and car rental spending on the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited cards this month.

Registration for this offer isn’t required. Booking must be made via ChaseUltimateRewards.com

You must use cash and not redeem points for the hotel stay or car rental in order to earn 10 points per dollar. This 10x promotion is only valid for travel booked in March, though travel can take place at any time. That’s a potential 25K points per card.

I maxed out this promotion last July on 3 Freedom cards and got 75K points. Since then I downgraded a Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom Unlimited, so potentially I can make 100,000 points off of this promotion. It’s all about playing your cards right 😉

They advertise the bonus as 10% cash back, but you’ll really get 10 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent, which can be worth much more than 10% cash. For example they can be transferred to a Sapphire Reserve card where they’ll be worth a minimum of 1.5 cents each towards travel or they can be transferred into airline/hotel miles. If you earn 25K points on Freedom/Freedom Unlimited and transfer them to Sapphire Reserve they’ll be worth a minimum of $375 towards travel and your effective rebate will be at least 15%.


Both the Freedom and Freedom Unlimited are excellent no annual fee credit cards.

The Freedom card earns 5 points per dollar on $1,500 in quarterly spending. You can click here to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom 5% categories. With $1,500 in spending per quarter you will earn at least 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points over the course of a year (7,500 points per quarter at 5 points per dollar spent).

2017 bonus categories:
Q1: Gas stations and local commuter transportation
Q2: Grocery stores and drugstores

The Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5 points per dollar everywhere with no cap, an excellent card for everyday spending.

Freedom or Freedom Unlimited alone can’t transfer points into much more lucrative airline or hotel miles, but if you or your spouse has a Sapphire Reserve, Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold, Ink Plus, or Ink Preferred card then you can transfer points from Freedom to one of those cards and from there to your favorite travel currency. You can read at the end of this post on great uses of Chase mileage transfers. The Freedom or Freedom Unlimited card can also keep your points alive for free if you do close one of those premium cards.

The value of the points will be based on where you use them, but if you use those points for a trip worth where they are worth 2 cents each then you’ll have effectively earned 10% back on those “5 point categories.” The sky is the limit of the value of airline miles as they aren’t tied to the cost of a ticket. That’s good for people in the know and bad for those who are not. 1 mile can be worth 0.25 cents or it can be worth 25 cents, it all just depends on how you use them!

HT: stooges44, via DDF

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Combine Singapore Flights With Star Alliance Flights To Save; JFK To Tel Aviv In Singapore Suites Will Be Cheaper Than JFK To Europe!

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Related:
Singapore Airlines current award chart
Singapore Airlines award chart effective 3/23.
Singapore Star Alliance award chart


Earlier today I noted that the award chart for Singapore Airlines is getting pricier but that their Star Alliance chart won’t change.

It’s worth noting that if you fly on Singapore and a partner airline that you’ll use the Star Alliance award chart.

In the past that meant paying more miles and losing out on the 15% online discount as you need to call Singapore to book partner award travel.

When I booked travel to Paris via Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines in the past I booked an award ticket with Singapore and made a separate award on United for the intra-Europe flights.

Now it will often be the same or nearly the same price to add partner award flights on the same award as the Singapore flights by calling up Singapore and using their Star Alliance award chart.

In fact with the new pricier Singapore award chart you can even save miles on some routes by adding on additional partner award flights and using the Star Alliance chart!

Best of all if you wait to book until 3/23 you won’t pay a fuel surcharge for the Singapore Airlines flights! This is actually the opposite of a devaluation for the Star Alliance award chart!

And of course you can get a free stopover as well if you want to take one along the way. Singapore Airlines allows mileage transfers from AMEX, Chase, Citi, and Starwood, making them a great option for awards.

For example:
-A Singapore suites flight from JFK to Frankfurt is currently 57,375 miles but is going up to 76K miles.
-A Singapore suites flight from JFK to Frankfurt connecting to a Lufthansa European style business class flight to Tel Aviv will remain 75K miles.

-A Singapore business class flight from JFK to Frankfurt is currently 48,875 miles but is going up to 65K miles.
-A Singapore business class flight from JFK to Frankfurt connecting to a Lufthansa European style business class flight to Tel Aviv will remain 57,500 miles.


-A Singapore first class flight from San Francisco to Singapore is currently 91,375 miles but is going up to 118K miles.
-A Singapore first class flight from San Francisco to Singapore connecting to an EVA business class flight to Taipei will remain 100K miles.

-A Singapore business class flight from San Francisco to Singapore is currently 68K miles but is going up to 88K miles.
-A Singapore business class flight from San Francisco to Singapore connecting to an EVA business class flight to Taipei will remain 87.5K miles.


-A Singapore suites flight from JFK to Singapore is currently 95,625 miles but is going up to 120K miles.
-A Singapore first class flight from Chicago to NYC on United and connecting to a Singapore suites flight to Singapore will remain 112.5K miles.


Post what other Star Alliance routes you find where you can save miles by adding a partner flight!

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Singapore Airlines Award Chart Changes: A Merciful Devaluation

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

Singapore Airlines allows mileage transfers from AMEX, Chase, Citi, and Starwood, making them a great option for awards.

They have an excellent Star Alliance partner airline award chart that still allows for a free stopover. You can also fly one-way for half the miles listed on the chart.
The great news is that the Star Alliance award chart will not be changing. There are fuel surcharges that vary by airline, but none are charged for travel on United and there are lots of bargains compared to the United award chart. Plus Singapore doesn’t charge any close-in fees.

However effective for travel booked on or after 3/23 the award chart for traveling on Singapore will get pricier. Here is the current award chart and here is the new award chart. You can lock in future travel at the current rates and you can change travel dates for free. You can also cancel and refund an award for just $30.

I love that they’re honest and say, that “Revisions to Saver Award levels in the Singapore Airlines and SilkAir Award Chart have been made to ensure that flight rewards remain sustainable yet competitive. We had last made adjustments to award levels in various zones in 2012.”

That’s so much better than American, Delta, and United spinning their devaluations as customer enhancements.

Award rates for travel on Singapore are going up and the 15% online booking discount is being eliminated. In the good news department Singapore will no longer have a fuel surcharge for their own flights.

In other words lets say you want to book a private walled in suite from JFK to Frankfurt:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Currently that would cost 57,375 miles plus $23 tax and $180 in fuel surcharges when you book that online.

Under the new award chart you’ll pay 76K miles plus $23 in tax. That’s an increase of 18,625 miles, but it’s cushioned by the elimination of the $180 in fuel surcharges.

That’s still a devaluation, but considering the elimination of fuel surcharges and the Star Alliance award chart being left unchanged I’d call that a devaluation made with mercy.

HT: EJB, via DDF

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Roundup Of Citi Limited Time And Expiring 50K-75K Credit Card Offers

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site

-Until the offer is pulled today or tomorrow, the Citi AAdvantage Consumer Mastercard and Citi AAdvantage Business Mastercard are each offering 50,000 AA miles for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

Both cards have their $95 annual fee waived for the first year.

-They both offer priority boarding and a free checked bag for you and 4 companions.

-The consumer card also offers a 10% rebate of miles spent on award tickets, up to 10K miles rebated per year.

Both cards qualify for 7.5K off discounted awards to rotating destinations. For example a round-trip flight from NYC to Palm Springs would be 17.5K miles after the discount. Short-haul flights are discounted by 2K miles, so a round-trip flight from NYC to Montreal would be 13K miles after the discount.

-Both cards have no foreign transaction fees.

You can get a Citi American consumer signup bonus as long as you haven’t opened or closed an American consumer card in the past 24 months. You can still get a bonus if you have an open American consumer card.

You can get a Citi American business signup bonus as long as you haven’t opened or closed an American business card in the past 24 months. You can still get a bonus if you have an open American consumer card.

American’s award availability got significantly worse last year, but as of late it’s been on the upswing, especially close-in:

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-The Citi Hilton HHonors card is offering 75K Hilton points for spending $2K in 3 months for a limited time only.  There’s no annual fee. You’ll also get Silver elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which allows access to 5th night free awards and other benefits. If you spend $20K/year you’ll get Gold status. This card has no annual fee.

You can get a Citi Hilton consumer signup bonus as long as you haven’t opened or closed an Hilton consumer card in the past 24 months. You can still get a bonus if you have an open Hilton consumer card.

There’s no limited time offer for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, but it’s a great card as it which gives 2 free nights (officially for use on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays) at any Hilton in the world (including the excellent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, the Conrad Maldives, the Grand Wailea Maui, or the Conrad  Bora Bora Nui.). It also gives Gold elite status for as long as you’re a cardholder, which gets you free breakfast.

At the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem we were treated to a fantastic daily breakfast, which is free for Hilton Gold and Diamond members. There is a mind-boggling quantity of awesome kosher food there, from dozens of daily hot dishes to hard cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries to fresh squeezed juices, as well as on-demand dishes like french toast, pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Unlimited wine, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and espresso drinks are included as well!

Gold and Diamond members get upgrades, food and drink amenities, late checkout, and other great benefits. Their Friday night Shabbos meals are pricey, but are well worth the expense (DDFers agree with that take as well), and the in-house restaurants are excellent as well.

With a breakfast like this, you may not even be hungry for dinner…

 

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If you spend $10K/year on the Hilton Reserve card you’ll get a free anniversary night (officially for use on Fridays, Saturdays, or Sundays) at any Hilton and if you spend $40K/year you’ll get top-tier Diamond status, which confirmed room upgrades and space available suite upgrade at hotels like the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. This card has a $95 annual fee.

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Signup For A New JetBlue Mileage Account And Get 5,000 Bonus Points After Taking A Paid Flight

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017

Related: Which JetBlue Card Is Right For You?


Signup For A New JetBlue Mileage Account And Get 5,000 Bonus Points After Taking A Paid Flight

If you enroll in a new JetBlue TrueBlue account via the link above and then purchase and fly on a one-way or round-trip JetBlue flight by 4/16/17 you’ll get 5,000 bonus points.

Not quite the same as 75K points, but less hoops to jump through this time 🙂

HT: Yaalili, via DDF

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Schedule Change On A Partner Airline Award Ticket? It’s Going To Take A Whole Lot Of HUCA, But Don’t Give Up!

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

I book dozens of trips a year, but have never had quite the experience like this one.

But I live by my HUCA motto. Hang Up and Call Again until you get the answer you need. I needed every bit of that motivation to solve this case.

I’ll be spending this Pesach in Whistler and have been looking for the best tickets to Vancouver for some time.

Back in 2012 I flew with Mimi and Rafi for zero miles out of pocket in Cathay Pacific First Class from JFK to Vancouver and in Cathay Pacific Business Class from Vancouver to JFK thanks to BMI handing out free miles for opening accounts and allowing free Avios transfers to BA.

Last August Mimi and I flew from JFK to Vancouver and back in Cathay Pacific First Class again, not free, but still a bargain with Alaska miles. Cathay Pacific’s first class is easily the best seat and bed in the sky.

I love Vancouver and it doesn’t hurt to have an amazing flight:

#TonightsRide #GoFirstOrGoHome

A post shared by @dansdeals on

 

Amazing food:

It's #HardToBeat #Steak on #GarlicBread

A post shared by @dansdeals on

 

And an amazing hotel in the Fairmont Pacific Rim, made even better thanks to my lifetime free suites, bottles of scotch, and massages at Fairmont hotels:

#SoakingUpTheView in the #SignatureOfuroRoom at #FairmontPacificRim

A post shared by @dansdeals on

However Cathay typically opens award space closer to the flight, and I needed to have confirmed flights for Pesach.

Read about the pickle I got myself in and the HUCAs it took to resolve everything after the jump:

 

(more…)

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Discounted United Awards To Mexico

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Related: 55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card


Discounted United Awards To Mexico

United awards to Mexico are on sale for 30K miles round-trip instead of 35K miles.

-Travel valid between Canada or the US49 and Mexico.

-Book by 2/24

-Travel between 4/29-5/26

-Travel valid only valid on United in coach.

-Round-trip or Open-Jaw travel is required, but you can get the discount on half the trip (2.5K miles) if one of the dates falls within the promo period.

Double open-jaw example for 30K miles:

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HT: SOS, via DDF

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HURRY! Excellent Coach And Business Award Availability On Air Canada’s New Montreal-Tel Aviv Route!

Thursday, February 16th, 2017

Related: 55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card


Award tickets to Israel are notoriously hard to find. “Hybrid points” are often the best bet for Israel.

But Air Canada has just loaded their new Montreal to Tel Aviv route. Award availability from Montreal to Tel Aviv is incredible. The return from Tel Aviv to Montreal is not as good, but is very decent for direct flights between North America and Israel.

Business class on the A330 is a 1-1-1 configuration with direct aisle access for all seats.

Coach has a 2-4-2 configuration.

Flights from Montreal to Tel Aviv operate on Sundays and Thursdays and flights from Tel Aviv to Montreal operate on Mondays and Fridays from June 22nd until October 16th.

The Montreal-Tel Aviv flight departs at 6:35pm and arrives 12:15pm the next day. The Tel Aviv-Montreal flight departs at 1:55pm and arrives 6:20pm the same day.

Orthodox Jews will want to be sure to check Shabbos times before booking the Thursday/Friday flights.

The following dates have at least 8 saver award seats in both coach and business class from Montreal to Tel Aviv:
June 22, 25, 29
July 2, 6, 9, 13, 16, 20, 27, 30
August 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20, 27, 31
September 7, 14, 17, 21, 28
October 1, 5, 12, 15
Other Sundays and Thursdays do have saver coach award seats from Montreal to Tel Aviv and 8/24 has 2 saver business seats.

The following dates have at least 8 saver award seats in both coach and business class from Tel Aviv to Montreal:
June 23
July 7, 14, 21, 28
August 4, 11, 18, 21
September 11
October 16
Other Mondays and Fridays do have saver coach award seats from Montreal to Tel Aviv.

These dates will sell out quickly, please post a comment if a date is no longer available.

For example there is award space to fly your whole family from NYC to Tel Aviv for Sukkos in business class. With United miles it would cost 85K miles in coach or 160K miles in business class, round trip per person:

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-You can transfer miles from Chase Ultimate Rewards to United (1:1 ratio) instantly. Awards can be cancelled for free within 24 hours. United never collectes fuel surcharges. After 24 hours non-elites will pay $75 to cancel awards more than 60 before a flight or $125 within 60 days of a flight. Awards can be booked online.

-Air Canada charges 80K in coach or 165K in business class round-trip and they’ll also tack on some $750 in taxes and fuel surcharges for Air Canada flights. Points transfer instantly (1:1 ratio) from AMEX. Transfers from Starwood (20K:25K ratio) can take 2-10 days. Awards can be booked online.

Singapore charges 75K in coach or 115K in business class round-trip. But they’ll tack on $735 in taxes and fuel surcharges for Air Canada awards. You can transfer points from AMEX, Chase, or Citi at a 1:1 ratio, but it will take a day or 2 for points to show up. Transfers from Starwood (20K:25K ratio) can take 2-10 days. You can call Singapore to book at 1-312-843-5333.

-ANA charges just 65K miles in coach or 104K miles in business class round-trip. Best of all they don’t charge fuel surcharges for Air Canada flights, taxes will be $66 from Montreal, or less from the USA. Unfortunately it can take 1-3 days to transfer points from AMEX to ANA (1:1 ratio) and transfers from Starwood to ANA (20K:25K ratio) can take 2-10 days. Awards can be booked online, though flights with connections may need to be booked over the phone.

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-Aegean charges a mere 60K miles in coach or 90K miles in business class round-trip and you’ll need even fewer Starpoints than that thanks to the Starwood 20K:25K transfer ratio. Factoring in a 25% discount that’s effectively 48K Starpoints in coach or 72K Starpoints in business class round-trip. They also don’t charge fuel surcharges for Air Canada flights, taxes will be $88 from Montreal, or less from the USA. Transfers from Starwood can take 2-10 days. You can call Aegean to book at +30-21-0626-1000.


Join the 80,100+ people who follow @DansDeals on Twitter and you’ll get a tweet when a deal is posted on DansDeals.com!
You can even have Twitter send you a text message whenever a new deal is posted.

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Get A 100% Bonus When Purchasing IHG Points; Lock In PointBreaks For $28.75/Night And Hotels In Israel From $57.50/Night

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

IHG: Get 100% bonus points through 2/17.

An IHG account is required, you can join here for free.

IHG normally sells points directly for 1.15 cents each. You can also transfer points from Chase, but that’s a criminal use of Chase points. Of course there’s a hack to buy their points at .7 cents each but with the current sale you can buy them directly for less than that without jumping through hoops. And that hack requires that you have points to start with.

IHG will double all the points you purchase, but to get the lowest rate (.575 cents per point) you’ll need to purchase at least 26K points which will be doubled to 52K points for $299. Of course you’ll also earn points on your credit card which will make the effective rate less than .575 cents per point.

You can purchase 60K points per member per year, so you can get up to 120K points with this promotion which would cost $690.

Note that IHG points require activity every 12 months, but you can just redeem for a hotel award and cancel it to extend the expiration for another 12 months.

IHG runs PointBreaks which allows you to book rooms at rotating hotels for just 5,000 points per night. That’s just $28.75 for a room if you buy points at .575 cents each. Those hotels rotate every couple of months.

Plus you don’t pay tax on award nights.

There are also good values to be had at high-end properties in NYC, London, Paris etc. For example an overwater bungalow in Bora Bora can go for as much as $1,000 with tax but costs just 60K points. That’s just $345 at .575 cents per point.

There are several IHG hotels in Israel. They won’t necessarily be a deal with this promotion, but they may be depending on the price of your desired travel dates.
Holiday Inn Ashkelon: 10K ($57.50 with this promo)
Crowne Plaza Jerusalem: 20K ($115)
Crowne Plaza Dead Sea: 25K ($143.75)
Crowne Plaza Eilat: 25K ($143.75)
Hotel Indigo Tel Aviv Diamond District: 25K ($143.75)
Crowne Plaza Haifa: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv Beach: 30K ($172.50)
Crowne Plaza Tel Aviv City Center: 30K ($172.50)
InterContinental David Tel Aviv: 40K ($230)

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United Lowers The Price Of Hawaii Awards!

Monday, February 13th, 2017

Related:

55K Miles For Signing Up For A United Explorer Card; On Expanded Awards, Excursionist Perks, And Why The United Card Is My Favorite Airline Mileage Card

The Ultimate Hawaii Mileage Award Chart And Everything You Need To Know About The Hawaiian Islands


Until today United has always charged 6K miles per Hawaii interisland leg.

The meant that if you booked an award from Newark to Maui via Honolulu you would pay:
-22.5K miles coach or 40K miles first from Newark to Honolulu
-6K miles coach from Honolulu to Maui
-6K miles coach from Maui to Honolulu
-22.5K miles coach or 40K miles first from Honolulu to Newark.

The round-trip award would be 57K miles in coach or 92K miles in first.

Singapore Airlines only charges 17.5K miles in coach or 30K miles in first to fly one-way on United between the US49 and Hawaii.
With the ability to transfer AMEX, Chase, Citi and Starwood points to Singapore, that was the way to go unless United only offered expanded XN saver award availability to Hawaii on your desired flights, which requires having a United credit card and using United miles.

However Singapore can’t redeem for travel on interisland flights, and separate tickets typically meant having to recheck baggage in Honolulu. That’s not much fun as Honolulu is a horrendous airport for rechecking baggage as you need to bring your bags to the interisland terminal to do that. Still, it was worthwhile to do the price differential.

However United has stopped charging extra for interisland legs! This makes the value proposition of using United miles to Hawaii much greater.

Plus you can even tag on a 3rd interisland leg as a free excursionist perk!

Just use the multi-city award search on United.com to piece it together. For example:

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And you can visit 2 Hawaiian Islands on one trip with 3 interisland flights for just 45K miles in coach:

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Or visit 2 Hawaiian Islands on one trip with 3 interisland flights for just 80K miles in first:

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Now that’s the Aloha spirit!

If only we could get United to bring back their Halfway to Hawaii in-flight contest…

HT: AJK, via DDF

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Transfer Hotel Points To British Airways And Get A 35% Bonus

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

Catching up on deals from this past week while I was on the road…

BA is offering a 35% bonus on hotel points transferred into Avios through 3/8/17.

-Bonus Avios can take 4-6 weeks to show on your account from the date of conversion.

For example:

-20K Starpoints normally transfers into 25K airline miles. With the additional 35% bonus you’ll get a total of 33,750 Avios.

-270K Marriott points (90K Starpoints) normally transfers into 7 free hotel nights and 120K Avios. With the additional 35% bonus you’ll get a total of 162K Avios. Read more about this redemption option in this post.

The value of Avios has been hampered over the past year due to the elimination of 4.5K short-haul awards within North America and scarce saver award availability on American.

However award availability has finally started improving on American of late.

Additionally the cost of a domestic first class award has gone down from 4 times the price of coach to 2-3 times the price of coach. For example a one-way flight from NYC to Chicago or Miami is 7.5K in coach or 15K in first class instead of the previous rate of 30K in first class.

Plus you can cancel Avios awards for just $5.60 each way up to 24 hours before the flight.

Of course there are dozens of airlines that you can transfer your Starpoints into and you can use them for hotel stays, so don’t transfer unless you have a need for the Avios.

HT: CZ60, via DDF and DoC

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Hilton Joining Delta In A Brave New Chartless Award World

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Delta eliminated their award charts 2 years ago.

They still have award charts, but they don’t publish them. That way they can devalue them without having to let their customers know.

I do have to give credit where it is due. Delta miles have actually become more valuable since then due to availability that is markedly better than American’s. But it’s very tough to get good value from Delta miles close-in and they don’t allow any international first class award redemptions.

For the most part I wrote off Hilton back in 2013 when they raised the costs of awards by more than 100%.

Today they announced that they will rebrand “HHonors” to “Honors.”

They’re adding a few new “benefits” starting in late February.

1. They will add flexible points and cash so that you can choose how many points and cash you want to use. Unfortunately it will only value your points at about 0.45 cents each, so there’s no special value there. Most points+cash options are valuable because they offer an outsized value for your points. This will not.

2. You’ll be able to transfer 500K points/year to up to 10 other members and receive 2MM points/ year from other members. That’s a nice additional to the program. They claim that’s unique in the industry, but it’s not. Hyatt, Marriott, and Starwood all offer that ability in one form or another.

3. You can use points for Amazon. This is sure to be a dreadful use of points.

4. Diamond members who have had status for 3 years and 250 qualifying nights can get a free one-time extension of their status. Hilton gives away Diamond status rather easily and it doesn’t offer benefits like those offered by Hyatt and Starwood.

They’re not advertising this part, but Lucky reports that they will also eliminate their award charts. Currently Hilton has a 10 category award chart. They won’t charge more than 95K points/night for any hotels, at least for now. And it’s likely that they’ll maintain internal unpublished categories as Delta does. But this way they’ll be able to charge more points for hotels without having to notify their customers that they are going to require more points in the future.

At least with the other hotel chains there is advance notice provided when hotels are going to change cateogries and there is an opportunity to make reservations before that happens. Collecting points in a program that doesn’t care to maintain a public award chart and let their customers know about devaluations is well, pointless.

Here’s hoping other programs don’t follow their lead. Luckily today’s “Hybrid cards” safeguard AMEX and Chase points from airline and hotel devaluations.

The only reason I even pay attention to the Hilton program at this point is because the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is by far my favorite hotel in Israel.

HT: yuguy, via DDF

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Convert Virgin America Miles Into Alaska Miles At A 1:1.3 Ratio; Check Your Account For 10K Bonus Miles!

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Update: Check your emails for an offer from Alaska Airlines to Virgin America account holders to open an Alaska mileage account and earn 10K miles or $100 off an Alaska flight.

Some people’s offers require that you open an account by today while other people’s offers are valid in February.

I got 10K bonus miles and my wife and kids did as well thanks to having Virgin America account from the JetBlue PointsMatch offer. Talk about the deal that keeps on giving!

If you had a Virgin America account as of 12/5 and didn’t get 10K miles in your Alaska account or get an email to claim 10K miles you can call Alaska and ask about the promotion.


Originally posted on 1/9/17:

You can now convert Virgin America miles to Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio here. Points transfer instantly.

There are lots of great uses for Alaska miles.

Note that this is a one-way street. The only reason to transfer now is to redeem an award with Alaska. Otherwise you can let your points stay on the Virgin America side and wait until you need Alaska miles or until they forcibly transfer all points over to Alaska.

In other news, people that had a Virgin America account as of 12/5 also got a nice surprise in their Alaska account. Here is the gift I found in my account:

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If you only have a Virgin America account and not an Alaska account you should get an email asking you to open an Alaska account to claim your choice of 10K miles or $100 off a flight.

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IHG Pointbreaks Now Bookable For Stays Through April, Hotel Rooms From $31/Night

Monday, January 30th, 2017

IHG PointBreaks Linky

IHG Booking Linky

-The current list is valid for stays through 4/30/17.
-Hotels can sell out of discounted rooms quickly and only a limited amount of rooms are available per night.

You can book up to 2 reservations per hotel. There’s no limit to how long each of the stays can be.

You can stay in any PointBreaks hotel for 5,000 IHG points.

IHG sells 5,000 points for $67.50 (or less via targeted offers after you sign in). My account is targeted for a 75% bonus on purchases of 15K+. I can purchase 35K points for $250 or just $35.71 per 5K points.

If those points don’t post instantly you can call IHG to get a points loan based on your purchase confirmation number in order to quickly grab a room. Alternatively you can transfer 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to IHG, though transfers are not instant. It’s a terrible use of Ultimate Rewards points (as they’re were more than twice that to brokers or when transferred to other airlines or hotels), but it allows you to start buying points for 0.7 cents each.

If you already have IHG points in your account then you can buy points on the cheap via making a cash and points booking.

Be sure to click on the rules during the checkout process to make sure that the room is fully refundable (almost all are):

-The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Meadowlands allows you to redeem 5K points and $70 for a night, just click “more options” and then select rewards nights. If you cancel that night you’ll get back 15K total points, so you’ll have effectively purchased 10K points for $70, or just $35 per 5K points.

-The Candlewood Suites Secaucus allows you to redeem 10K points and $99 for a night. If you cancel that night you’ll get back 25K total points, so you’ll have effectively purchased 15K points for $99, or just $33 per 5K points.

-The Crowne Plaza White Plains allows you to redeem 10K points and $125 for a night. If you cancel that night you’ll get back 30K total points, so you’ll have effectively purchased 20K points for $125, or just $31.25 per 5K points.

Where can you stay for 5K points?
The full current list is here, but here are a few samples:
-Candlewood Suites Disneyland Anaheim, CA
-Crowne Plaza Stamford, CT
-Crowne Plaza Edison, NJ
-Staybridge Suites Stroudsburg Poconos, PA

-Holiday Inn Express Pretoria, South Africa
-Holiday Inn Express Edmonton Airport, Canada
-Holiday Inn Frankfurt Airport, Germany
-Holiday Inn Nola-Naples, Italy
-Holiday Inn Panama Canal, Panama
-Holiday Inn Rosebank Johannesburg, South Africa
-Hotel Indigo Krakow, Poland
-Intercontinental Real Sando Dominigo, Dominican Republic
-Staybridge Suites Calgary Airport, Canada

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Is It Worth Paying 1.87% To Pay Your Taxes Via Credit Card?

Sunday, January 22nd, 2017

On the IRS website you can find a processor that charges 1.87% to process your tax payment via credit card.

It can definitely make sense to pay your taxes via credit card if you are signing up for a card and are trying to reach a spend threshold that you won’t be able to reach without some help.

But what about if you don’t have any spend thresholds to meet?

-If you pay at least $5,000 in taxes on your Business Platinum card you’ll earn 1.5 points per dollar spent. Those points are “hybrid” points. You can transfer them into real airline miles from any alliance. Or you can redeem them for paid travel. Thanks to the 50% points rebate those points will be worth at least 2% each, meaning you’ll be earning at least 3% back for the spending.

The $5,000 tax payment will cost you $93.50, but you will earn 7,641 points worth at least $152.82.

Update: 100K Offer Expired! If you open the Business Platinum card during the 100K limited time offer that’s ending on 1/25 and spend $15,000 on taxes you will pay $280.50 in fees. You will earn the 100K signup bonus plus 22,922 points for spending, for a total of 122,922 points that are worth at least $2,458.44 towards airfare.

That tax payment fee may be tax-deductible, you should speak to your tax preparer about that. If you can deduct the fee that changes the math based on your marginal tax rate.

You can also request a refund for any overpayment when you file your taxes and the IRS will cut cut you a check or a direct deposit into your checking account.

The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card offers 1.5 points per dollar everywhere if you have 30 total transactions that billing period. The card also offers up to 4.5 points per dollar in categories like groceries, gas, and Uber. A $5,000 tax payment will cost you $93.50, but you will earn 7,641 points transferable to airline miles. If you have a Business Platinum card you can also use them with the 50% points rebate on paid airfare.

The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express OPEN has no annual fee and offers 2.3 points per dollar during the first year the card is open on up to $50,000 in purchases.  A $5,000 tax payment will cost you $93.50, but you will earn 11,716 points. After the first year you’ll earn 1.3 points per dollar or 6,623 points. You’ll need an AMEX Everyday, Gold, or Platinum card to transfer those points into miles. If you have a Business Platinum card you can also use them with the 50% points rebate on paid airfare.

The Amex EveryDay Credit Card is the only no-annual fee card that can transfer points into airline miles.  It offers 1.2 miles per dollar spent. A $5,000 tax payment will cost you $93.50, but you will earn 6,112 points transferable to airline miles.  If you have a Business Platinum card you can also use them with the 50% points rebate on paid airfare.

-The Chase Freedom Unlimited card earns 1.5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent. If you have a Sapphire Preferred/Reserve or Ink Bold/Plus/Preferred you can transfer those points into airline miles or hotel points. If you have a Sapphire Reserve you can also redeem those points for 1.5 cents each towards travel. A $5,000 tax payment will cost you $93.50, but you will earn 7,641 points transferable to airline miles if you or an additional user have one of the aforementioned card or useable for $114.62 towards travel with a Sapphire Reserve.

-The Starwood Consumer AMEX and the Starwood Business AMEX have the ability to transfer points into dozens of different airlines at a 20K:25K ratio, effectively 1.25 miles per dollar spent everywhere. If you owe $20,000 in taxes and pay for it on your Starwood card you’ll pay $374 and you’ll get 20,374 Starpoints which can be transferred into 25,374 miles. If you spend $30K/year you qualify for SPG and Marriott Gold status.

-The Discover it Miles card gives 3 “miles” per dollar everywhere for the first year that you have the card.  They’re worth 1 cent each, so you’ll come out 1.13% ahead of the 1.87% tax processing fee.

-The Barclaycard Arrival Plus gives 2 points per dollar plus a 5% rebate on redemptions, so you’ll come out .18% ahead of the 1.87% tax processing fee.

-The Citi Double Cash card gives 2% cash back, so you’ll come out .13% ahead of the 1.87% tax processing fee.

Other cards offer benefits for hitting annual spend thresholds.

-The JetBlue Plus World Elite Mastercard offers mosaic status for spending $50K annually. Mosaic status includes free changes and cancellations on JetBlue tickets for the Mosaic member and for everyone on their itinerary, 2 free checked bags, 15K bonus points for earning Mosaic status every year, free even more speed checkin and security access, early boarding, 3 additional points per dollar spent, free alcoholic beverages onboard, and a dedicated Mosaic 24/7 customer service line.

-The Delta Platinum and Reserve consumer cards and Delta Platinum and Reserve business cards offer elite qualifying miles for meeting annual spend thresholds. If you spend $25K/year you’ll also waive the requirement to spend a minimum amount on Delta flights to earn elite status.

-Spending $25K/year on the United Explorer card earns 10K bonus miles and waives the requirement to spend a minimum amount on United flights to earn Silver, Gold, or Platinum elite status. The United Club card offers 1.5 miles per dollar everywhere. Both United cards give access to expanded saver award availability, priority boarding, and keep your miles from expiring for as long as you’re a cardholder.

-Lots of other cards have threshold bonuses. The Chase Hyatt card gives elite night credits if you spend $20K or $40K, though that ends in February. The Chase Ritz Carlton card gives Marriott and SPG Gold status for spend $10K/year and Platinum status for spending $75K/year. The Chase Marriott gives an elite credit for every $3,000 spent. The AMEX Hilton and Citi Hilton cards award Gold status for spending $20K/yead and the AMEX Hilton Surpass and Citi Hilton Reserve award diamond status for spending $40K/year. The Citi Hilton Reserve also gives a free hotel night for spending $10K/year. The Chase Southwest cards give companion pass status if you earn 110K points in a year. The Chase Fairmont gives a free night for $12K/year. The Citi AA Executive card awards 10K elite qualifying miles for spending $40K/year. My grandfathered Ink Bold Exclusives card gives 167,500 miles if you spend $100K/year, etc, etc.

Is it worth it? It all depends on what you do with your miles.

Mimi and I flew to NYC last month on a last-minute ticket that would have cost $1,100. Not a bad deal for 15K Avios.

The value of airline miles is huge if you fly last-minute, one-way, or in business or first class internationally.

57.3K points transferred to Singapore is enough for a ticket in a private couples suite on an A380 one-way from JFK to Frankfurt.

With hybrid points you can always get a great value by using the points directly for paid tickets or you can transfer them into airline miles so that you are always be a step ahead of the airline’s game. Transfer points when outsized award values are available or redeem directly for paid flights when they are not.

Of course there are much cheaper ways of manufacturing spend to buy miles for less, but considering that this takes zero effort, it’s not a bad deal.

You can make 2 payments per credit card processor for each quarterly estimate or for your year end bill. You can make another 2 payments each time by using a spouses name to pay.

You can also pay with a debit card for a $2.25 or $2.59 flat fee in case you have a mileage earning debit card or gift cards to cash out.

Do you pay your taxes with a credit or debit card? Or is it too pricey of a method to buy miles? Sound off in the comments!

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IHG 2017 Category Changes

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Update: Today is the last day to book under the current award chart rates.


Originally posted on 12/28:

IHG’s 2017 category changes go into effect 1/15/17.

Hundreds of hotels are chaning categories and the vast majority are getting more expensive.

If you want to lock in lower rates but are short on points you can buy points from IHG here. Once you have 5,000 points in your account you can buy points via the method described here for $31 per 5K points.

Sample hotels getting more expensive (Book these now):
-Staybridge Suites Thornhill Toronto: Was 15K, now 20K
-Holiday Inn Tbilisi, Georgia: Was 15K, now 20K
-Holiday Inn Lisbon: Was 15K, now 25K
-Holiday Inn Express & Suites Fairbanks: Was 15K, now 25K
-Holiday Inn Amsterdam Area Towers: Was 20K, now 25K
-Crowne Plaza LAX: Was 25K, now 30K
-Holiday Inn Montreal Downtown: Was 25K, now 30K
-Holiday Inn Auckland: Was 25K, now 30K
-Holiday Inn JFK: Was 25K, now 35K
-Holiday Inn LGA: Was 25K, now 35K
-Holiday Inn Aruba Resort and Casino: Was 30K, now 35K
-Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kailua-Kona: Was 30K, now 40K
-Intercontinental Prague: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Manhattan-Financial District: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Cancun: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Old Sydney: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre: Was 35K, now 40K
-Holiday Inn Niagara Falls: Was 35K, now 40K
-Intercontinental Porto, Portugal: Was 35K, now 45K
-Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City: Was 50K, now 60K
-Intercontinental Boston: Was 55K, now 60K
-Intercontinental Washington DC The Willard: Was 55K, now 60K
-Intercontinental Sydney: Was 55K, now 60K

Sample hotels getting less expensive (Wait until 1/15 to book these):
-Holiday Inn Helsinki : Was 25K, now 20K
-Holiday Inn London West: Was 30K, now 25K
-Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Center: Was 30K, now 25K

Which hotel’s category change will affect you the most?

HT: moe8555, via DDF

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Final Hours To Earn 100K+ Chase Ultimate Rewards Points On 1 Card; Here Are 22 Ways You Can Use Those Points!

Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s whopping 100,000 point bonus ends this afternoon for online applications.

You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Here’s How To View Credit Card Offers On This Site

You need to spend $4,000 to get the bonus within 3 months, though the card counts the $300 in refunded travel expenses and $100 in refunded Global Entry/Pre-Check fees towards the $4K. If you visit Priority Pass lounges before you get your physical membership card you can get those charges refunded and they will also count towards the $4K. The Newark Art & Lounge used by El Al is located before security and doesn’t require a boarding pass. You can stop in there for free kosher food and wine at any time!

When you’re done spending $4,000 you’ll have between 104K-112K points depending on your spending categories.

If you and your spouse each signup you can quickly have double that. I helped a friend apply and get approved for a Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, and an Ink Business Preferred card via 3BM and now he has a quarter million points!

What can you do with the 104K-112K points you’ll have after opening a Sapphire Reserve and meeting the spend threshold?

There are endless possibilities, but here are 20 in no particular order.

Point transfers to all airline and hotel partners are at a 1:1 ratio.

1. You can redeem them for $1,100 in cash.

I hope you don’t, but the option is available if you just want to take the cash and run.

2. You can redeem 110K points for $1,650 in travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you redeem for travel at a value at 1.5 cents per point, a 50% bonus from cards like Chase Freedom. (Or course you can still spend on Freedom to earn 5 points per dollar and then transfer them to Sapphire Reserve to make them worth 1.5 cents each).

You can transfer points from your other cards and from cards belonging to your spouse or additional cardholders to your Sapphire Reserve as well to redeem them for 1.5 cents each.

That includes airfare, hotels, car rentals, or travel activities redeemed via the Chase travel portal.

You can also call to book awards not found on the portal, like to book Southwest flights.

You can save tons of miles this way when redeeming for inexpensive coach flights.

The same United flight that is 49.9K Chase points…

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…would cost 170K United miles+$46:

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The same Delta flight that is 49.9K Chase points…

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…would cost 140K Delta miles+$46:

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3. You can transfer points to United to book 11 short-haul one-way awards (10K each) or 8 long-haul domestic one-way awards (12.5K each).

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Even last-minute flights are just 10K-12.5K miles. I’ve redeemed for last-minute flights that would have otherwise cost more than $1,000 for 10K miles, talk about a good use of miles!

4. You can transfer points to Korean to book 4 round-trips to Hawaii (25K miles) on Delta or 5 round-trips to Alaska on Alaska Airlines (20K miles).

There are no fuel surcharges.

JFK-Honolulu nonstop for 25K miles round-trip:

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The 25K coach award and 45K first class award within North America applies for any travel within “Mexico, United States (including Hawaii), US Virgin Islands, Canada, and Puerto Rico” Read more about this option here.

5. You can transfer points to Korean to book a first class suite from JFK to Asia or Asia to Tel Aviv for 80K miles:

You can fly in a Kosmo 2.0 walled-in suite on a brand new 747-8 from JFK to Seoul for just 80K miles+$104. If you were paying cash for the flight it would set you back over $10,000, so this is a value greater than 12 cents per mile:

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80K miles plus $23 is enough to fly in first class from Seoul to Tel Aviv. Or fly from Asia to Tel Aviv for 35K in coach or 62.5K in business.

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6. You can transfer to British Airways for 24 one-way international short-haul awards (4.5K each) or 14 domestic short-haul awards (7.5K each).

You can fly short hauls like London-Milan, Iguazu Falls-Sao Paulo, Johannesburg-Victoria Falls, Hong Kong to Taiwan, Melbourne to Sydney, and between most cities within Europe for 4.5K Avios.

You can fly between New York and places like Bermuda, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Orlando, Montreal, Pittsburgh, or Toronto, or between Miami and the Bahamas or Cancun, or between LA and Cabo on OneWorld partner American.for 7.5K Avios.

7. You can transfer to British Airways for 7 one-way domestic first class short-haul awards (15K each).

These used to cost 30K Avios as American coded their domestic first class flights as true first class, costing 4 times the price of coach. Now they have been reclassified as business class which means it only costs twice the price coach.

There are no fuel surcharges.

If you find nonstop MileSAAver award space on AA.com then BA can book it. For example NYC-Miami in business class is 25K AA miles or just 15K BA Avios. Plus BA only charges $5.60 to refund your award versus $150 to refund an AA award.

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8. You can transfer to Singapore for 5 one-way flights on United in a lie-flat business class bed between Newark and Los Angeles or San Francisco (20K miles each).

Singapore only charges 20K miles each way for domestic business or first class on United. The same rates apply for United’s premium service between Newark and Los Angeles or San Francisco!

There are no fuel surcharges.

9. You can transfer to Singapore for 2 one-way flights in a couples suite between JFK and Frankfurt.

You can fly in Singapore suites class from JFK to Frankfurt for just 57,375 miles one-way with the 15% online booking discount that is applied after selecting a flight.  This is truly an aspirational award and Singapore service is second to none.  You’ll even have access to the Virgin Clubhouse in JFK with good kosher meals as well.

Fuel surcharges are about $200.

You can read my trip report on flying Singapore to Paris here.

There are single and double suites available. This is the double:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. You can transfer miles to British Airways for 9 one-way nonstop from the West Coast to any Hawaiian Island.

You can fly from the west coast nonstop to Hawaii on AA or Alaska for just 12.5K Avios each way.

Note that you must call BA to book awards on Alaska.

There are no fuel surcharges.

11. You can transfer to Hyatt for 4-9 nights in resorts like the Park Hyatt Maldives.

The Hyatt award chart is great for high-end hotels.  It caps out at 30K points for real gems like the Park Hyatt Sydney, the Park Hyatt Paris, and the Park Hyatt Zurich that can go for $1,500 per night.  Other hotel chains charge double, triple, or quadruple that amount of points for their high-end properties and they’re not nearly as good as the Park Hyatt chain.

Park Hyatt Sydney

A real sweet spot for Hyatt points are cash and points for category 6 hotels. These include real gems like the Park Hyatt Maldives, Grand Hyatt Kauai, the Andaz Maui, the Confidante Miami Beach, the Hyatt Carmel Highlands, and the Andaz 5th Avenue.

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Andaz Maui

The Park Hyatt Maldives can also go for $1,500 per night but it’s just 25K points!

 

You can stretch your points even farther by using just 12,500 points plus $150 per night for a category 6 hotel.  Best of all it’s considered a paid stay, so you qualify for promotions and can use suite upgrade certificates.

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There are also incredible uses for lower categories.

Category 3 hotels include the Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach Honolulu, the Hyatt Place LaGuardia, the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, the Hyatt Palm Springs, CA.

You can stay in a category 4 property for just 15K points or 7.5K points+$100 in hotels like the highly rated Andaz Papagayo Resort in Costa Rica, the Hyatt Centric South Beach Miami, the Park Hyatt Toronto, the Hyatt Regency Kowloon, Hong Kong, the Park Hyatt Seoul, or the Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile.

Category 5 hotels include the Andaz West Hollywood in LA, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort an hour south of LA, the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort just north of San Diego, the Hyatt Regency Maui, the Hyatt Place NYC, and 2 of my favorite Hyatt hotels, the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, and the Park Hyatt Melbourne.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

12. You can transfer points for 2 or 3 one-ways from Bangkok to Sydney.

Want to get to the Park Hyatt Sydney and see the opera house from your bed?

When Mimi and I flew around the world in 2010 we started off in Thailand and then flew down under to tour Australia for a few weeks.

It’s just 40K miles for a 10 hour flight in Thai first class from Thailand to Australia. You’ll even get an hour long massage for free in the Bangkok first class lounge.

There are no fuel surcharges.

13. You can transfer points to Korean to fly round-trip from Australia to New Zealand in an Emirates First Class A380…with a shower spa onboard.

While you’re down under, hop from Australia to New Zealand in gilded style on Emirates and brag about taking a shower 39,000 feet in the air.

An A380 first class flight from the US to Dubai would run 210K Korean miles.  There are cheaper ways of doing that with miles from JAL, though you’ll need Starpoints to transfer to JAL.

14. Transfer to Hyatt to help earn a Southwest companion pass.

Until 3/31 you can transfer hotel points to Southwest and they will count towards the 110K points needed to earn a companion pass valid for unlimited uses 12/31/18.

While transfers from Chase don’t count for companion pass, transfers from Hyatt do.

50K Chase points transfers into 50K Hyatt points. 50K Hyatt points transfers into 30K Southwest points and those points will count towards the 110K requirement.

If you transfer 100K Chase points to Southwest via Hyatt you’ll have 60K points towards the 110K requirement.

If you don’t have any Starpoints or Marriott points to transfer to Southwest you would need 200K Chase points which would become 120K Southwest points via Hyatt and you would have the companion pass.

Points earned from the Southwest credit cards also count towards the 110K requirement.

15. Transfer to Southwest points.
There are no aspirational awards with Southwest, but you will get a decent value per point towards award travel.
Plus you get 2 free checked bags, free flight changes and flight cancellations. You can even get a point refund if the price of your flight goes down. There are no fuel surcharges.

A flight from Long Beach to Vegas is just 987 points+$5.60 one-way, a value of 2.4 cents per point. And it can be cancelled at any time with no penalty!

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16. Transfers points to Singapore and fly round-trip on United between the US48 and Alaska for 25K miles in coach or 40K in business class.

United charges 35K miles to get to stunning Alaska in coach and 60K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 25K or 40K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Never thought of going to Alaska?  Read Something Fishy’s epic trip report with his trademark stunning pictures and you’ll want to start planning a trip.


Photo credit, Something Fishy, Trip Report part 2.

 

17. Transfer points to Singapore to fly round-trip on United between the US49 and Hawaii for 35K miles in coach or 60K in business class.

United charges 45K miles to get to the paradise also known as Hawaii in coach and 80K in business.  Transfer miles to Singapore and they’ll book those same flights for just 35K or 60K.

There are no fuel surcharges.

Need some inspiration for a Hawaii trip? This should keep you busy for a while:

DansMeals: Hawaii For The Kosher Traveler:
Part 1: General Info And The Island Of Oahu
Part 2: The Big Island of Hawaii
Part 3: Maui
Part 4: Kauai

Trip reports and posts on Hawaii:
-Trip Notes: Maui No Ka ‘Oi (2014)
-Trip Notes Kauai: Heaven On Earth (2014)
-The Hawaiian Islands. (2011)
-Traveling To Hawaii…With A 5 Month Old (2011)
-View From The Room (2011)
-Pearl Harbor…70 Years (2011)
-Shaloha! (2011)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Kauai (2009)
-Hawaii Trip Notes: Oahu (2009)

DDF forum threads:
Hawaii Master Thread: General Questions And Which Island To Visit?
Big Island Of Hawaii Master Thread
-Kauai Master Thread
-Lanai, Molokai, and Niihau, Hawaii Master Thread
Maui Master Thread
-Oahu Master Thread
-Links to trip reports from other DDF members.
-Something Fishy’s Maui trip report.

18. Transfer points to Singapore and fly one-way on United between the US and Israel for 37.5K miles in coach or 57.5K in business class.

Singapore charges fuel surcharges on most airlines, but not on United.

While you may be better off redeeming points for a round-trip, one-way tickets are notoriously expensive and can be a great use of a mileage redemption.

Note that if you want to travel on other airlines you may do better transferring to United, where fuel surcharges are never collected.

You’ll need to call Singapore to book.

19. Transfer points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue to book travel to Israel for 12.5K-18,750 miles each way.

Air France and KLM have monthly promo awards where you can book travel to/from the US and Europe, Israel, or Russia for just 12.5K or 18,750 miles each way in coach or 46,875 miles in business class.

You can view this month’s promo awards here.

Fuel surcharges can add $90 in coach or $220 in business.

20. Transfer to United for the excursionist perk.

Sure you can use 85K miles to fly from Tel Aviv to NYC.

But why not make life more interesting and fly to NYC and Alaska for the same amount of miles thanks to the excursionist perk.

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21. Transfer to British Airways and fly from JFK to Vancouver in Cathay Pacific business class for 37.5K Avios or first class for 50K Avios.

Cathay Pacific has the most comfortable seat, bed, and first class Pajamas in the sky.

You can fly in business class nonstop from JFK to Vancouver for 37.5K Avios in business class or 50K Avios in first class each way.

I’ve flown this route in 2011 and 2016 and it’s by the far the best flight within North America. Vancouver is also a fantastic city with amazing sights and great kosher food. I keep finding myself wanting to return and I’ll do just that for Pesach this year where I’ll talk more about some great redemption options.

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22. Bid on United exclusive experiences.

United auctions off some incredible experience with their miles.

Until I tossed the first pitch before game 7 of last year’s World Series I thought that my coolest use of miles when redeeming 25K United miles to steal 2nd base in middle of the 7th inning.

Another reader then bought their son a Bar Mitzvah present that he’ll never forget with their United miles.

Have you used United miles to bid on experiences yet?

 

Points can also be transferred to Virgin Atlantic, Marriott, Ritz Carlton, and IHG.

What is your favorite use of Chase Ultimate Rewards points? Hit the comments!

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No, Starwood Hasn’t Eliminated Transfers To Virgin America; Should You Transfer Your Starpoints Now?

Friday, January 6th, 2017

Update, 1/6: Today is final day to make transfers from Starwood to Virgin America. Those points transfer at a 20K:25K ratio. Starting on 1/9 you can transfer points from Virgin America to Alaska at a 1:1.3 ratio, making the effective SPG: Alaska ratio 20K:32.5K.

Update, 12/28: SPG has announced that 1/6/17 will be the last day to transfer points to Virgin America. Will you transfer points from SPG to Alaska via Virgin America at a 1:1.625 ratio before then?


Originally posted on 12/21:

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.


On Monday I wrote about an incredible use of Starpoints. You can transfer 20K SPG points into 25K Virgin America Elevate points. Effective 1/9/17 you’ll be able to transfer Virgin America points into Alaska miles at a 1:1.3 ratio, so those 20K Starpoints will become 32,500 Alaska miles.

That’s an effective 1.625 Alaska miles per Starpoint, an awesome transfer option considering:
The breadth of partners that Alaska has. They include American, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean, JAL, and Qantas.

-The very generous stopover and routing policies that Alaska has. You can get a free stopover on a one-way award. You can route from the US to Israel via Asia or from Hawaii to Asia via the US48, etc.

-The very generous award change and cancel policies. You can redeposit an award 60 days before a flight without any fees.

The very generous award charts that Alaska has.

A one-way flight to Europe or South America on American is just 20K coach off-peak, 30K coach peak, 50K business, or 62.5K first with no fuel surcharges.

One-way Flights to Asia on award-winning Cathay Pacific are just 30K coach, 35K premium economy, 50K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges.

One-way Flights to Israel on Cathay Pacific are 50K coach, 55K premium economy, 62.5K business, or 70K first with no fuel surcharges and a free stopover in Hong Kong if you want one. Cathay starts flying to Israel on March 26. You must call Alaska to book travel on Cathay Pacific.

You’ll effectively get 1.625 Alaska miles for each Starpoints, so just divide Alaska’s award rates by 1.625 to see how many effective Starpoints those routes will cost.

In other words a one-way business class flight to Israel would cost 62,500/1.625=about 38,461 Starpoints thanks to the 25% transfer bonus from Starwood to Virgin America and 30% transfer bonus from Virgin America to Alaska! A 40K Starpoints transfer would net 65K Alaska miles via Virgin America, more than enough for that award.

The big winners were those who already transferred Starpoints to Virgin America for the JetBlue Pointsmatch promo.

Several bloggers and DD readers have noted that Virgin America no longer appears on the SPG transfer page.

I reached out to Starwood and they confirmed that it’s merely a glitch and it will be restored:

 

I chatted with SPG and the agent confirmed that he would be able to transfer my Starpoints to Virgin America, despite the website glitch.

Of course eventually the transfer option will be eliminated as the Virgin America program is merged into Alaska’s. But until then, you can funnel Starpoints into Alaska miles at a great rate.

The only reason I haven’t done so yet is that I’m not sure how much I trust Alaska. They devalued their Emirates award chart without notice. They say they’ll never do that again, but if their American or Cathay Pacific redemption costs grow too high, do I really expect them to give fair notice?

It’s hard to say.

Alaska is also notorious for having a nasty audit department that heavily frowns on booking awards for others and credit card churning.

So I won’t proactively transfer Starpoints at this rate. But if you’re ready to book an award in the near future, it’s an awesome transfer ratio.

Then again, with new opportunities made possible by the Marriott merger such as new hotels, Southwest companion pass, and the recent United transfer bonus, there are more amazing uses for Starpoints than ever.

Will you transfer Starpoints into Alaska miles at a 1:1.625 ratio while the opportunity lasts?

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Redeem 90K Starpoints For 120K Southwest Points And Get 2 Years Of Southwest Companion Pass Status Plus 7 Nights In A Marriott Hotel!

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

Related posts (Read these first!):
-Roundup Of Combined Marriott And Starwood Award Charts With Sample Hotels, Extend Your Points Expiration, And More
-Transfer 18,667 Starpoints Into 25K United Miles Or 90K Starpoints Into 132K United Miles And 7 Nights In A Marriott Hotel!
-Marriott Completes Starwood Buyout; Link Your Accounts To Transfer Points, Match Elite Status, And Take Advantage Of Each Program’s Strengths!
-Don’t Make This Mistake When Transferring Starpoints To Marriott Points
-Mileage Expiration And Points Transfer Chart For 54 Loyalty Programs, How To Keep Your Points From Expiring, And How To Bring Them Back To Life After They’ve Expired


On Sunday, Southwest stealthily changed their program rules without advance warning, removing hotel point transfers as a method to earn Southwest Companion Pass.

After an apparently controversial campaign to write to Southwest, file DoT complaints, and raise awareness of the change on social media, Southwest agreed to give a 3 month grace period to transfer hotel points and have them qualify to earn Companion Pass status. Southwest has posted about their change of heart here.

If you earn 110K Southwest points by 12/31/17 you’ll earn Southwest Companion Pass status that will be valid until 12/31/18. 

With Southwest Companion Pass you’ll get to bring a companion with you for free on all Southwest paid tickets, Southwest award tickets, and Southwest tickets booked with AMEX or Chase points, though you need to call AMEX or Chase to actually book travel on Southwest. There is no limit to how many times you can use the companion pass.

Southwest still offers 2 free checked bags. Plus you can cancel revenue tickets with no charge and use the funds for a future flight. Point reservations can be cancelled for free with the points redeposited back to your account.

Until 3/31/17 Southwest will count hotel point transfers towards companion pass status.

After 3/31/17 only points from the Southwest credit cards, from flying on Southwest, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners will count. However hotel transfers made by 3/31 will combine with points earned from Southwest credit cards and paid flights to earn companion pass status by earning 110K points by 12/31/17.

Note:
-Transfers from Chase Ultimate Rewards don’t count towards Companion Pass.
-You can’t transfer Starwood points directly to Southwest, but you can transfer Starwood points to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio and then transfer Marriott points to Southwest.
-You can transfer 50K Chase points to 50K Hyatt and 50K Hyatt points into 30K Southwest points and those points will count for Companion Pass status.
-You can transfer Chase points to Marriott at a 1:1 ratio.
-You can earn Companion status from signup up and spending on Southwest credit cards.
-You can transfer points to another Marriott member to complete an award.
-You can transfer points to another Starwood member living at your address.

If you use the regular Marriott Rewards transfer chart you would need 310K Marriott Rewards points to transfer 110K Southwest points.

However it’s a much better deal with Marriott’s miles+nights. 270K Marriott Rewards points would give you 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott category 1-5 hotel. You’ll also earn Southwest Companion Pass status with that award!

A transfer of 90K Starpoints into 270K Marriott Rewards points will make that happen.

You must call Marriott at 800-321-7396 if you want to book a miles+nights package.

-It will take 2-3 days for the points to reach Southwest and your Southwest account will be updated to Companion Pass status within a few days of the transfer.
-The 7 night electronic hotel certificate expires in 1 year, though Marriott currently will extend them for 1 additional year if you contact them.
-You don’t need to choose the hotel at the time of a nights+miles redemption.
-The certificate must be used at one property for 7 consecutive nights.
-You can have the certificate issued in anyone’s name.
-You can use more Marriott points to get yourself into a higher hotel category or you can save points if you already earned Southwest points this year and don’t need 110K points for the Companion Pass.
-You can upgrade your hotel certificate by paying the difference in points later on.
-Some agents will refund 45K Marriott points (15K Starpoints) if you return the 7 night stay certificate, but not all agents will do that.

You can view hotels by category and tier via the “find” button on this page.

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-120K Southwest points will net between $1,800-$2,400 of free flights. Thanks to the companion pass you can bring someone along for free, which will mean you can use those points for $3,600-$4,800 of free flights. Plus of course you’ll get a 7 night category 1-5 hotel stay. Not a bad deal for 90K Starpoints!

-If you wanted 7 nights at the tier 3 Ritz-Carlton Herzliya you would need 420K Marriott or 140K Starpoints for that stay and 120K Southwest points with Southwest Companion Pass Status.

-If you wanted 7 nights at the category 7 Renaissance Tel Aviv Hotel you would need 330K Marriott or 110K Starpoints for that stay and 120K Southwest points with Southwest Companion Pass Status.

There is also a 5 night hotel+points option that can save you some Marriott points, but officially that’s only available for Marriott timeshare owners. 5 nights and 120K Southwest points would cost 235K Marriott points. That’s 35K fewer Marriott points than are required for the 7 night package. On rare occasions some reps will book the 5 night packages for non-timeshare owners.

You can buy Starpoints here if you need some extra points to top off your account.

American Express is a DansDeals.com advertiser

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $3,000 in 3 months.

-The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express offers 25K points for spending $5,000 in 3 months.

-If you have the Platinum Card® from American Express or the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN you can call to have your Starwood account upgraded to Gold status which will then be matched to Marriott Gold as well!

-The Chase Marriott card offers 87,500 Rewards points (also transferable to 29,167 Starpoints) for spending $3,000 and adding an additional user card. After hitting the signup bonus it’s not worth spending on this card. You’ll get 3 Marriott Rewards points per dollar by spending on a Starwood card instead!
You can view credit card offers by clicking on the “Credit Card Offers” tab on top of the DansDeals banner to view links for card offers. You can click on the link that says “View all card offers by issuing bank” and scroll down to view all card offers from the bank of your choice.

Will you go for Companion Pass status before the hotel point transfer opportunity ends?

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Southwest Relents, Will Allow Hotel Point Transfers To Count For Companion Pass For 3 More Months!

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

Update: Southwest has now posted this change on their website here.


On Sunday, Southwest stealthily changed their program rules without advance warning, removing hotel point transfers as a method to earn Southwest Companion Pass.

They timed that change exactly to the day when many people were waiting to transfer their hotel points in order to earn 2 full years of companion pass status.

Today they made matters worse by sending out emails congratulating people who didn’t get Companion Pass status for earning Companion Pass. That’s a whole new level of trolling.

I filed an official complaint about Southwest’s unannounced program rules change with the DoT and recommended that readers who felt that Southwest was being deceptive should do the same.

Many others took offense that I suggested taking that course of action. Some people felt so strongly that they even posted expletive filled messages.

Apparently sticking up for your rights and exercising free speech is now a bad thing. Would they feel the same if Southwest cut the value of their points in half without warning?

Others agreed with my approach and some even cancelled their Southwest credit cards due to their behavior.

I’ve had good luck with the DoT in the past. They helped me get a full refund and compensation for my cancelled American Airlines trip to London when they stranded us in JFK overnight.

The DoT responded to me as follows,

“This responds to your communication regarding Southwest Airlines. The U.S. Department of Transportation seeks to ensure that all airline passengers are treated fairly. Complaints from consumers are helpful to us in determining whether the airlines are in compliance with our rules and to track trends or spot areas of concern that warrant further action.

We will forward your complaint to the airline and ask the company to respond directly to you with a copy to us. Airlines are required to acknowledge receipt of a consumer complaint within 30 days and provide a substantive response to the complainant within 60 days. We will review the airline’s response. If you need to contact me, please include your name and case number (see above). I will make every effort to reply to your message within one business day.

If our review of your complaint and the response from the company discloses a potential violation of our rules, we may pursue enforcement action. Generally, we pursue enforcement action on the basis of a number of complaints which may indicate a pattern or practice of violating our rules. Your complaint may be among those considered and may lead to appropriate enforcement action including the assessment of civil penalties. However, we have no authority to order compensation for individual complainants.”

Zach Honig reports that Southwest has decided to relent rather than fight. Here is the statement they sent him,

“As we began the New Year on January 1, we took the opportunity to close a loophole in our Rapid Rewards Companion Pass terms and conditions related to transferred points from our Partners. This was an effort intended to clarify qualification requirements for Companion Pass, one of the best benefits in travel, as well as to protect the integrity and value of the Rapid Rewards program.
In doing so, we updated our terms and conditions which now clearly state that points transferred from hotel and car loyalty programs, and e-Rewards, e-Miles, Valued Opinions and Diners Club will no longer count toward qualification for a Companion Pass. Members will continue to earn toward Companion Pass benefits through paid flights flown on Southwest, Points earned through spend with Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit cards, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners.

Many of you have reached out to us since then, and we greatly appreciate your honest and candid feedback. Because we are a Company that values our Customers and believes in doing the right thing, we are offering a limited window for Customers to earn toward Companion Pass by transferring their loyalty points from these Partners.

To that end, points converted from the above mentioned programs will count towards a Companion Pass until March 31, 2017. This is a hard deadline and we will not be able to make any exceptions beyond March 31. If you have points with these Partners that you wanted to transfer, please do not wait. Make the transfer before the deadline.

We appreciate all of our Customers and look forward to seeing you onboard very soon!”


Sure it was a great opportunity, but personally I fail to see why this was a loophole. Regardless Southwest is well within their rights to change their program terms, provided they give advance notice. I applaud them for coming clean and making their customers whole.

I definitely think that the noise on social media as well as the DoT complaints helped the cause.

So there you have it. If you earn 110K points by 12/31/17 you will be able to take a companion with you for free whenever you fly on Southwest until 12/31/18. Until 3/31/17 it will count hotel point transfers towards companion pass status. After 3/31/17 only points from the Southwest credit cards, from flying on Southwest, and base points earned through transactions with Rapid Rewards partners will count. The companion pass works on paid tickets, Southwest award tickets, and tickets booked with AMEX or Chase points, though you need to call AMEX or Chase to actually book travel on Southwest.

The best hotel transfer options are:
-Hyatt, where 50K points will earn 30K Southwest points. You can transfer Chase points to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio.
-Starwood, where 90K points can transfer into 270K points Marriott points which will earn 120K Southwest points and 7 nights in a Marriott hotel. I’ve written about that option in the pass and will write more about that option shortly.

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Southwest Is Just Trolling Us Now

Wednesday, January 4th, 2017

On Sunday we learned that Southwest is no better than the network carriers when they stealthily changed their program rules without advance warning.

I thought that move was dirty pool. Airlines make billions of dollars annually selling their miles to banks, hotels, and other partners. They owe it to consumers to give notice when they want to move the goal posts.

Some commenters felt I was wrong for telling people to write to Southwest executive and to complain to the DoT about Southwest’s change without warning here..
I don’t see what is wrong with asking the DoT their opinion on mileage program changes that are made without warning.

But now Southwest is just trolling us.

This morning they sent out an email to tons of former Companion Pass holders with the subject, “Congrats! You earned Companion Pass”
Lots of DDF members got this email, despite no longer having a companion pass:

southwest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t get your hopes up. Southwest isn’t handing out Companion passes if you got the email and didn’t earn it:

Stay classy there Southwest.

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