Possible Regret and A Couple Good Bonuses

I hope I don’t regret this

Until midnight last night, you could transfer SPG points to American Airlines or US Airways and receive a 20% bonus.  This was on top of the 25% bonus you already get for transferring SPG points to airlines.  I have just over 40,000 points, so I could have turned those into 58,000 AAdvantage miles.  (or Dividend Miles)

Conventional Wisdom in this game tells you not to transfer miles unless you have immediate plans to use them.  I don’t.  Plus I am pretty flush with AAdvantage Miles and Dividend Miles right now thanks to 3 Citi Executive cards and Matthew’s recent bump in business travel.  I have more than enough for my planned trip to Australia (in BUSINESS class) in 2016.  But this was a heck of an offer to pass up and one that may not return for some time.

I have lots of hotel points in other programs, so I don’t necessarily NEED SPG points for hotels; although you can sometimes find some Great Redemptions.

I would also probably not transfer the points to any other airline.  Except maybe Delta if I needed some points to redeem some of their ridiculously over-priced awards.

Too late now to do anything about it.  It’s just something I decided to think about this morning.  I will probably end up using my SPG points to stay at the Westin in Whistler, which is why I got the card in the first place.

westinwhistler

The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler

Rooms at the Westin Whistler are 16,000 SPG points per night during Christmas break and most of ski season, but you can find rooms for 9,000 points per night in late ski season.  As long as I have my SPG American Express card open, I will get the 5th night free when I book 4 on points.  So, I still need to earn 24,000 points to get enough points.  SPG points aren’t easy to earn, but if I concentrate some MS on the card over the next year, I should be able to do it.  (then I will watch for the inevitable devaluation)

A Couple Good Credit Card Sign Up Bonuses

Right now, Chase is offering the United Explorer card with an increased sign-up bonus of 50,000 miles after spending $2,000 in 3 months.  I would love to get this one, but Matthew and I just canceled our previous United Explorer cards in July of 2013.  The wait time for churning Chase cards is generally 24 months.  So hopefully next summer they will offer a similar bonus.  But if you have not had a Chase United Explorer card in the past 2 years-go for it!

Chase is also offering the Marriott Rewards Premier VISA card with an increased sign up bonus of 70,000 points PLUS 1 Free night at a category 1-4 hotel after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months.

Matthew and I will definitely be signing up for the Marriott card.  We both just canceled the basic Chase Marriott Rewards card, but this Premier card is a different product so we are eligible for the sign-up bonus even though it has not been 24 months.

Incidentally, I do not earn any commissions if you use the links above.  Those are just public links that I copied and pasted.

Happy Travels!

Run, Don’t Walk, To Sign Up for the US Airways Mastercard!

One of the Best Cards

On my page, Top 5 Credit Cards for Beginners, I listed the Barclay’s US Airways Mastercard as one of the best cards for beginners (or anybody) to get.

Application Link: US Airways Mastercard

You will earn 40,000 miles after your first purchase.  That’s it.  One and done.  Of course, Barclay’s would appreciate it if you would use their card often.  And you really should put one or two purchases on each of your cards every month, just to keep the banks happy.

usairwayscard

As you can see, in addition to the 40,000 miles, you will also get two companion certificates allowing 2 people to travel with you for only $99 each plus tax.  You also get Priority Boarding, a free checked bag and a US Airways Club day pass.  The $89 annual fee is not waived for the first year.  But $89 for 40,000 miles that can get you to the Caribbean or Hawaii – that’s a no-brainer.  You can also travel from the US to Europe in their off-peak season (Jan 15-Feb 28) for only 35,000 miles.  I have traveled to Europe in the winter many times and yes it’s chilly, but the sites are still there and the crowds are not.  It’s actually quite nice.

US Airways Award Travel Chart

All Good Things Must Come To An End

Unfortunately.  Yesterday I received a card in the mail from US Airways announcing changes to the program and the credit card after the merger with American Airlines.  These changes will most likely come in early 2015.

  • No more companion certificate.  Final companion certificates will be issued soon for current cardholders and they must be booked within 9 months and travel within 12 months.  If you apply for a card today, you will get your companion certificate after your first purchase.
  • Miles earned through credit card spend will no longer count towards Preferred Status.  When you spend $25,000 or more, they will convert 10,000 miles into Preferred Qualifying Miles toward 2015 status.  You must complete this spending by the end of 2014, as this will no longer be offered after the merge.
  • US Airways Club day pass and Membership Discount.  You will receive a Club day pass valid for 12 months to visit a US Airways Club.  But you will not receive a $75 discount coupon towards Club Membership.
  • First Class check in. Continue to enjoy First Class check-in until the end of 2014.

It’s Not All Bad News

There are some positive changes coming to the US Airways award program that are aligned with American’s AAdvantage Program.  These new benefits will be implemented in 2015.

  • 10% of your miles back.  This is a feature of American’s program that I really like.  When you redeem miles for award travel, you’ll receive 10% of your miles back into your account.  Currently US Airways offers a 5,000 mile discount on award bookings if you hold the credit card,  (i.e. 20,000 miles for a domestic ticket rather than 25,000) but only if you fly completely on US Airways metal.  I have never been able to do that.  Seems like American operated flights come up more often than not.
  • 25% off in-flight purchases.  Save 25% on your in-flight food and beverage purchases when you use your card.
  • $100 flight discount.  As a cardmember, you can earn a $100 flight discount each year in which you spend $30,000 or more in purchases and you maintain your card membership.  Not a great deal, in my opinion.
  • Additional redemption flexibility.  Enhance your award travel experience with redemption for one-way travel and First Class upgrades.

No mention of those off peak awards that both carriers currently offer.  I have used the American AAdvantage off peak awards several times to travel to the Caribbean in the fall.

Do It Now

I can’t stress enough how great of a deal this US Airways card is.   Just do it.

Happy Travels!

Laura’s May 2014 App-O-Rama

App-O-Rama Results: 170,000 points

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a very conservative App-O-Rama’er.  (is that a new word?) If you are unfamiliar with what an App-O-Rama is, see this post.

Most people do five or six cards at one time, I usually do three or maybe four depending on how good the offers are.  At this time, we seem to be in sort of a drought of good offers so I only applied for three. Continue reading

Coming Home to Changes

We have just returned from a wonderful 3 week trip to Thailand booked entirely on Miles & Points.  Once all my bills come in, I will share with you the complete total cost of our trip, including meals, activities and transportation costs.

There were definitely some not-so-great moments on the trip, such as P getting sick, Hubby taking his iPhone for a swim and me getting an ear infection after our first dive.  But those small negatives in no way outweighed the many positives of the trip.  Over the coming weeks I will post some trip reports and hotel reviews AND how P met his school goals in science, culture, reading and math on the trip.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Wow…did many things change while I was gone.  I’m sure if you read other Miles & Points blogs you already know all about them.

The worst one for me was the decision by CVS to go “nationwide” with their policy of not accepting credit cards for purchasing Vanilla Reload cards.  That really hurts!

VanillaReload

My precious. No more.

In my area, it was already difficult to buy Vanilla Reloads with a credit card.  The 2 CVS stores in my area would sometimes allow it, depending on the clerk.  There was a sign on the register stating that they could only be purchased with cash, however, the register would still allow a credit card purchase.  So if you pushed the clerk a bit, they might try it.  But I was denied more times than I was allowed.  There were a few CVS stores in Ohio that would do it, and Hubby had some luck buying them in other states on business trips.  There are a few other retail outlets that will still allow you to purchase VRs with credit cards but sadly, none are in my area.  Hopefully I can have Hubby do some recon on his next business trip, as there are a few stores in Oklahoma City where he travels most often.

There are still other options to load your Bluebird card to pay bills.  Such as buying VISA gift cards from giftcardmall.com.  This is not a good option if you require immediate gratification, as it takes about a week to receive.  I usually only do 2 of these a month.

Yesterday I did a “test purchase” of a VISA gift card at Kroger.  I got burned once in the past with a Mastercard gift card I bought at Kroger.  I was stuck with the $500 gift card after it would not load to my Bluebird account.  (of course there are other ways to liquidate it, but it was still a pain) But I read recently that people have had luck with the VISA version of the card that looks like this:

VisaGiftCard_USBank

 

I bought a $50 card, which cost $4.95.  That’s kind of an expensive test, but it will be worth it if it works.  I plan to take it to Walmart today and try to load it to Bluebird.  Remember, you can load $1,000 a day and up to $5,000 a month to your Bluebird account and then use their online bill pay or checks to pay your every day bills such as mortgage, car payments, utility bills etc.

Award Program Changes

Both American Airlines and US Airways made some pretty big changes to their programs in the past couple weeks.  American did so without warning! Ouch!

One of the big changes at American was no longer allowing a stopover at a North American gateway city.  This didn’t really impact me personally because CVG isn’t an international gateway (for anyone).  But I could have made it work with some creative routing.  Basically if you lived in (or near) a city with international service on American Airlines you could basically book 2 flights for the price of one.  Your home city being your stopover.  This would only work in cities like New York, Miami or Chicago on American.  Partner airlines could open a few more possibilities but again, not for CVG.  I won’t get into any more details about how it worked because you can’t do it anymore.

American also changed the structure of their award chart and the names of their redemptions, but fortunately the miles required for awards did not change.  Only the names.  They also kept their “off peak” awards in place which was a huge relief to me.  I have used those several times for off-peak travel to the Caribbean.

US Airways Free Checked Bag

The US Airways credit card was unique in that it did not allow cardholders a free checked bag, which is usually a standard benefit of other airline credit cards.  That is changing on April 30, 2014.  If you have a US AIrways card with at least a $79 annual fee, you will receive a free checked bag for the primary cardholder and up to 4 companions.

One Bright Spot!

IHG announced that redemption levels for 100 IHG properties will be going DOWN on April 15, 2014 and that for the remainder of 2014, there will no increases in reward night pricing!  Yay! I have not yet seen a complete list of properties, which is surprising as this change takes effect today.  I am hoping that the property in Munich I want to stay at this summer is one of the 100 properties!  Once I come across a list, I will post it here for you!

Use Those Miles!

The fact that these American Airlines changes were made without any advance notice just shows how fast the value of your miles can change.  Earn ’em and burn ’em!   They may not be worth as much next month (or tomorrow) as they are today!

Happy Travels!