$5 Rides with UberPOOL in San Francisco

Get $5 UberPOOL fares in San Francisco

Get $5 UberPOOL fares in San Francisco

Uber is offering $5 fares throughout San Francisco for UberPOOL passengers. For those who are unfamiliar with UberPOOL, it’s Uber’s carpool option that involves one driver picking up multiple passengers traveling along the same route. It’s cheaper than UberX, but what makes this promotion great is that you’ll pay just $5 even if no other rider joins you along the route you’re traveling.

The promotions also offers discounted UberPOOL fares for passengers traveling outside of San Francisco: Fares as far south as San Francisco International Airport (SFO) are just $15. This is about half the cost of an UberX ride and $2 cheaper than using SuperShuttle from most hotels in the city. If you’re in San Francisco during the promotion (note: a pr, you can save at least 50% on your ride to the airport and get a discount on intra-city rides that can really stack up during rush hour, when Uber fares can increase due to the length of time it takes to get from one place to another. While BART is certainly a convenient transportation option in San Francisco, Uber is a better option for shorter distances.

If the idea of sharing a ride with strangers doesn’t sound appealing no matter how cheap it is, you can earn free rides through Uber’s referral system. Start with a $20 Uber credit for signing up through a referral link and earn additional credits for referring your friends. When your friends take their first ride, you’ll get a referral credit, which is currently $20. I’m sure you can come away with a nice balance just by referring friends and family.

Thanks to you guys, I’ve got a decent stash of Uber credits saved up, which will come in handy on my trip to Detroit next month (I know – exotic). I don’t know about you, but I’m a danger to any major city with one-way streets, aggressive drivers, and relentless traffic. If I get to see a new city without stressing about driving down the wrong side of the street, finding parking, or any of that hassle, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

What do you think of Uber San Francisco’s latest promotion? Are you going to take advantage of it during your travels?

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70,000 Point Public Offer for the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard

Put your sign-up bonus to use at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort

Put your sign-up bonus to use at the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort

Update: The 80,000 point offer has been taken down, so the highest current available offer for the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard is 70,000 after $1,000 spent.

IHG has just increased the public offer for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card to 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within 3 months. The offer is good through March 31, 2015 and the card’s features and benefits are the same as usual:

  • A free night every year at any of the 4,700 IHG hotels worldwide
  • Platinum Elite status
  • 10% points rebate
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 annual fee for the first year; $49 annually thereafter

Previously, the highest public offer was 60,000 points, though the unofficial 80,000 point offer beats them both. There’s yet another offer of 60,000 points along with a $50 statement credit. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether 20,000 IHG points are worth more than $50. I would say they are, on the basis of PointBreaks alone and while I don’t subscribe to any kind of point valuation system, most folks value IHG points at a minimum of 0.4 cents each.

If you’re participating in IHG’s Set Your Sights promotion, then the 70,000 point offer may come in handy. While the promotion details vary, most people have the option to earn 2,000 points simply by applying for the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard. While this still ads up to less than 80,000 points, it might be a good option if you’re one activity short of earning the Set Your Sights Achievement Bonus (i.e. complete 6 of 7 activities and earn 15,100 points). 

Whichever offer you go with, the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard is a great card to keep long-term. The $49 annual fee is the lowest of any hotel rewards card (ignoring cards with no annual fee), especially since it gets you a free night at any IHG hotel each year – with no category restrictions. This free night itself is worth at least $100 if you use it at a suburban Staybridge Suites, though others go big and put the certificate to use at upscale properties like the Intercontinental Paris Le Grand, among others.

I’m realizing this piece is starting to read like an ad, but I’m not getting compensated and have no affiliate relationship with IHG Rewards Club or Chase. Just thought I’d make you aware of the best public and non-public offers for this card…and hit my daily post quota (I’ve set the bar pretty low at one per day). ;)

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Last Day to Book Hyatt Stays Before Category Changes

Staying at the Park Hyatt Maldives will require 30,000 points per night rather than 25,000

Staying at the Park Hyatt Maldives will require 30,000 points per night rather than 25,000

On January 22, Hyatt’s hotel category changes will go into effect. Those of you who have an upcoming Hyatt stay might want to check the list and consider booking hotels now, before the point requirements increase. Some of the 22 hotels moving up in category will increase by as much as 25%, which is a pretty substantial amount. On the other hand, more than twice the number of hotels (48 to be exact) are moving down in category. If you’ve booked a hotel that is moving down in category, you can request a refund for the difference. The cut-off time for booking under the old redemption levels is 12:01 AM (CST) on January 22, 2015.

Hotels Moving UpHotels Moving Down
Category 1 to 2

  • Hyatt House Raleigh North Hills 

  • Hyatt Place Denver Tech Center

  • Hyatt Place Denver-South/Park Meadows 

  • Hyatt Place Nashville Airport

  • Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport

  • Hyatt Regency Dongguan

  • Hyatt Regency Greenville

Category 2 to 1

  • Hyatt House Colorado Springs

  • Hyatt on Main, Green Bay

  • Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport

  • Hyatt Place Baton Rouge/I-10

  • Hyatt Place Ft. Myers

  • Hyatt Place Germantown

  • Hyatt Place Greensboro

  • Hyatt Place Greenville/Haywood

  • Hyatt Place Memphis/Primacy Parkway

  • Hyatt Place North Charleston

  • Hyatt Place Orlando Airport 

  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Mary

  • Hyatt Place Roanoke Airport/Valley View Mall

  • Hyatt Place Salt Lake City Airport
Category 2 to 3

  • Excalibur

  • Hyatt House Miami Airport

  • Hyatt Place Dewey Beach

  • Hyatt Place Long Island/East End

  • Hyatt Place Portland - Old Port

  • Hyatt Regency Santa Clara

  • Hyatt Regency Toronto

Category 3 to 2

  • Hyatt Bangalore

  • Hyatt House Charlotte/Center City

  • Hyatt House Cypress/Anaheim

  • Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown

  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Convention Center

  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Universal

  • Hyatt Place Saratoga/Malta

  • Hyatt Regency Chennai

  • Hyatt Regency Chongqing

  • Hyatt Regency Gurgaon

  • Hyatt Regency Jinan

  • Hyatt Regency Montreal

  • Hyatt Regency Osaka

  • Park Hyatt Chennai

Category 3 to 4

  • Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

  • Grand Hyatt Taipei

Category 4 to 2

  • Grand Hyatt Shenyang

Category 4 to 5

  • Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar

  • Grand Hyatt Macau

  • Park Hyatt Seoul

Category 4 to 3

  • Grand Hyatt San Antonio

  • Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi

  • Hyatt Regency Bethesda

  • Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam

  • Hyatt Regency Delhi

  • Hyatt Regency Louisville

  • Hyatt Regency Mexico City

  • Hyatt Regency Orlando Intl Airport

  • Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six

  • Hyatt Regency San Antonio

  • Hyatt Regency Savannah

Category 5 to 6

  • Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht

  • Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee

Category 5 to 4

  • Grand Hyatt Washington

  • Hyatt French Quarter

  • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa

  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

  • Hyatt Regency La Jolla

  • MGM Grand

Category 6 to 7

  • Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa

Category 6 to 5

  • Mandalay Bay

  • Park Hyatt Washington

For other upcoming loyalty program deadlines, check out my list of things to do before the end of January.

For more on points, miles, and free travel, subscribe to my blog (see “Subscribe” above “Recent Posts”) or follow me @PointChaserFacebook, or Instagram

Emirates Valentine Fares: $799 for Two Between JFK – Milan

Emirates $798 JFK - Milan

Emirates deal: $798 for two between JFK – MXP

 

Sometimes I think I could never live on the East Coast due to the humidity and freezing winters, but then deals like this come around and make me reconsider. As part of a Valentine’s promotion (despite Valentine’s Day being a month away), Emirates is offering round-trip economy fares between New York (JFK) and Milan (MXP) for as low as $400 per person. Tickets must be booked in fares to be eligible for the following discounts:

  • $799 for two economy tickets
  • $4,999 for two business class tickets
  • $7,999 for two first class tickets

I found fares as low as $798 for two (including all taxes), which is a great deal considering you could redeem 71,820 Arrival miles for it. That amounts to 35,910 miles per person or $17,955 in manufactured spending. Really, this is a better deal for East Coast residents heading to Europe than  off-peak AAdvantage or Dividend miles redemptions, considering the rate of mileage accrual.

Sample fares between New York (JFK) - Milan (MXP)

Sample fares between New York (JFK) – Milan (MXP)

As expected, there are a few restrictions on these discounted fares. First, these fares must be booked in pairs (in keeping with the whole Valentine theme) by 11:59 PM (PT) on January 22, 2015. The booking window is very short, but it applies to outbound travel between January 25 – May 10, 2015. The return flight must take place by May 31, 2015. Considering fares between New York and Milan go for around $700 per person during this period, Emirates is essentially offering a 2-for-1 deal. 

I did check a few popular travel dates around Spring Break (last week of March and the first week of April) and the fares are much higher. If your travel dates are flexible and you’re looking for cheap fares, this deal is about as good as it gets for a non-mistake fare to Milan.

Tickets must be booked at least three days in advance and a minimum stay of three days is required. No stopovers are permitted, but if you want to venture to a neighboring country, intra-Europe flights are fairly cheap. If fares are too high for an Arrival redemption, redeeming a distance-based award currency like British Airways Avios might be a good alternative. 

If you’re a West Coast resident like me, the extra miles required to get to New York (50,000 miles round-trip for two people in coach) pretty much ruins this deal for us. Adding an extra flight to New York would increase the manufactured spending cost per person to $42,955. At that price, it’s cheaper to redeem 35,000 US Airways Dividend Miles or 40,000 AAdvantage miles (36,000 for those with a Citi AAdvantage Platinum card). However, if you’re headed to the East Coast anyway and want to extend your trip to Europe, this Emirates deal is a cheap way to do it.

What are your thoughts on Emirates’ $799 fares to Milan? Are you going to take advantage of this deal?

For more on points, miles, and free travel, subscribe to my blog (see “Subscribe” above “Recent Posts”) or follow me @PointChaserFacebook, or Instagram

Are Points Earned via Credit Card Spending Worth the Annual Fee?

Credit card wallet

Reader @JGR sent me question on Twitter recently that I think is worth discussing further. He is considering downgrading his Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card to the Chase Freedom card. Based on the amount of bonus category spend he puts on his Sapphire Preferred card, he calculates the value of the points he earns at $175 per year. This clearly off-sets the $95 annual fee, so if he wanted to keep the card, he would be justified in doing so since he gets more value in the form of points than he pays for the annual fee.

I advised him that based on his point valuation, as long as he really does get $175 worth of value out of the Ultimate Rewards points from the Sapphire card, keeping the card would make sense. However, this brought to mind another issue: Is the ability to generate $175 in points worth keeping a card with a $95 annual fee? If he did just downgrade to the Chase Freedom card (which has no annual fee), he would still have the ability to generate $300 cash back/30,000 points through their quarterly bonus categories each year – without an annual fee. Granted, he may not hit this target since the categories vary each quarter and may not match up with his spending. Ultimately, he is earning $80 worth of value from the Sapphire Preferred card each year ($175 worth of points – $95 annual fee = $80). Can he earn $80 worth of points or cash back from the no-fee Chase Freedom card?

That’s a question many of you will have to consider when it’s time to decide which credit card to put on the chopping block. Recently, I’ve become more focused on downsizing my wallet and holding onto cards that are absolutely worth the annual fee. I’ll continue to take advantage of great card offers as they come, but I’m organizing a core group of cards that will stay in my wallet for good. Thus, I’ve been careful not to over value a card’s benefits and get stuck with hefty annual fees.

Yes, the American Express Platinum card offers $200 in airline fee credits along with a range of benefits that some would argue are worth more than the $450 annual fee. However, those are benefits that I wouldn’t utilize if it weren’t for the fact that I was spending $450 to access them. Does that make sense? Sometimes we assign false value to things so we can justify paying for them, when really it puts us in the red. I don’t check bags if it’s going to cost me $200 per year and I’m too lazy to go down to the Global Entry office for the interview. So really, paying $450 for a card that has benefits (or rather, conveniences) that I otherwise wouldn’t pay for isn’t a wise investment for me.

The point of this post is to remind you to not get too caught up in how other people value credit card benefits. It’s something I’ve done before and I want to warn against it. Always consider the alternative and whether the perks gained from a credit card are worth paying, and whether you can find something similar elsewhere with a lower cost.

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New Year’s Eve at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco

View from my room at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco

View from my room at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco

The Grand Hyatt San Francisco is located on Stockton Street, just steps from Union Square. It’s the perfect place to stay if you’re looking for the tourist experience or just want to take advantage of the city’s shopping scene. The Powell BART station is just a few blocks away and if you want to venture out further, the area is crawling with Uber drivers. New Year’s Eve rates topped $600 per night, but my out of pocket cost for two rooms was just 40,000 Hyatt points and $0.

The lobby of the Grand Hyatt is warm and welcoming, with three seating areas furnished with comfortable couches, fireplaces, some interesting art installations, and a huge Christmas tree. It felt more like a ski lodge than a hotel in the middle of a city. While Hyatt will be implementing free wifi worldwide, starting in February 2015, the Grand Hyatt is already offering this perk to all of its guests.

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Hyatt Gold Passport Stay More Play More Promotion: Worth the Hype?

Hyatt Gold Passport Stay More Earn More

Hyatt has been hyping up the latest Gold Passport promotion, releasing teasers and calling it “one of the most generous” promotions they’ve ever run. The registration page is now live and the offer I received is pretty much on par with the promotions Hyatt has run in the past: 1,000 – 2,500 bonus Gold Passport points per night, depending on the number of nights completed. The breakdown is as follows:

Stay Earn Total Points Earned
  5 Nights +   5,000 Points 5,000
10 Nights + 10,000 Points 15,000
15 Nights + 15,000 Points 30,000
20 Nights + 20,000 Points 50,000

This is nowhere near as generous as Club Carlson’s “Extend Your Stay, Earn 30k” promotion, which pays out 30,000 Gold points after three nights – enough for 1-3 nights at a Club Carlson hotel, depending on the category. Hyatt’s Stay More Earn More promotion on the other hand, gives you a free night at a Category 1 hotel after five nights.  

The promotion is valid on stays between January 15 – April 30, 2015. Based on the terms, it doesn’t seem like Points + Cash awards qualify for the bonus. The obvious solution here is to charge hotel stays to your Arrival Plus card and use Arrival Miles to off-set the cost. However, I wouldn’t recommend mattress running just for the 1,000 – 2,500 bonus points alone.

Combining Stay More Earn More with the Hyatt Diamond Challenge

For those planning on taking advantage of the new Hyatt Diamond Challenge, this promotion can make it more lucrative. You’ll need to figure out whether completing the Diamond Challenge purely on paid stays (as opposed to the cheaper Points + Cash alternative) makes sense for you. As I’ve previously explained, the new Hyatt Diamond Challenge is pretty much the same as the old one, except elite benefits don’t kick in until after the challenge has been completed. Participants will continue to earn 1,000 bonus points for the first six nights along with Diamond status after 12 stays. Combined with the Stay More Earn More bonus (assuming it’s the same offer I’ve outlined above), you’ll be earning a bonus of 2,000 points per night on the first 5 nights.

Hyatt’s Stay More Earn More promotion isn’t terrible, but it also doesn’t live up to the hype. Dubbing it “the most generous” promotion Hyatt’s ever run is definitely an exaggeration, considering their 2010 Welcome Back promotion paid out 5,000 points or a free night after every two stays. 

What are your thoughts on Hyatt’s Stay More Earn More promotion? Will this affect your travel plans and hotel bookings this quarter? 

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Points and Miles Checklist: Things to Do in January

Things to do checklist computer 2

At the beginning of each year, there is usually lots of stuff to do for travel hackers. Many of you will begin planning out your points strategy to make those bucket list vacations happen. It takes a lot of work, which is why it’s important to stay on top of deadlines. Here are six things to do before the end of January.

Organize This Year’s Credit Card Churns. I’m no longer churning credit cards on a regular basis – when a good sign-up bonus comes around, I jump on it. However, if you’re a regular churner, now is the time to start organizing each quarterly churn. This may become difficult, with both American Express and Chase limiting sign-up bonuses to one time and every two years, respectively. However, Citi, Bank of America, and Barclays are still game. U.S. Bank has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to our hobby, so if they approve you a card like the Club Carlson Visa Signature, take it and be grateful.

❑ British Airways Avios 40% Transfer Bonus.  Membership Rewards is getting stingier with their transfer bonus promotions. In the past, British Airways transfer bonuses topped 50% but right now they’re offering 40% through January 31, 2014. Not quite something you should unload all of your Membership Rewards points over, but a deadline worth keeping in mind if you anticipate redeeming Avios in the near future. 

Membership Rewards points transfer to British Airways in 1,000 point increments at a 1:1 ratio. They’re good for short-haul flights on partner airlines (American and US Airways), and an especially good value for West Coast flights to Hawaii. If you want to bulk up on British Airways Avios for upcoming travel, consider doing so before the January 31 deadline. There’s no guarantee that a higher offer may come along, so proceed with that in mind.

❑ Book Hyatt Hotels Before the Category Changes Set in. On January 22, Hyatt will implement some changes to it’s award chart: 22 hotels will be moving up in category, while 48 are moving down. Notable properties going up in category include the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht and Hyatt Regency Nice, which will both go from 20,000 points per night to 25,000 – that’s a 25% increase in points, which is pretty substantial. Perhaps the most unsurprising change is the Park Hyatt Maldives moving from Category 6 to top-tier Category 7. It’s one of the most aspirational and expensive Hyatt properties, so moving it up makes absolute sense. Nonetheless, if you’ve had the Park Hyatt Maldives on your bucket list, you may want to book it before January 22 to save 5,000 points per night.

Hotels Moving Up Hotels Moving Down
Category 1 to 2

  • Hyatt House Raleigh North Hills 
  • Hyatt Place Denver Tech Center
  • Hyatt Place Denver-South/Park Meadows 
  • Hyatt Place Nashville Airport
  • Hyatt Place Pensacola Airport
  • Hyatt Regency Dongguan
  • Hyatt Regency Greenville
Category 2 to 1

  • Hyatt House Colorado Springs
  • Hyatt on Main, Green Bay
  • Hyatt Place Albuquerque Airport
  • Hyatt Place Baton Rouge/I-10
  • Hyatt Place Ft. Myers
  • Hyatt Place Germantown
  • Hyatt Place Greensboro
  • Hyatt Place Greenville/Haywood
  • Hyatt Place Memphis/Primacy Parkway
  • Hyatt Place North Charleston
  • Hyatt Place Orlando Airport 
  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Lake Mary
  • Hyatt Place Roanoke Airport/Valley View Mall
  • Hyatt Place Salt Lake City Airport
Category 2 to 3

  • Excalibur
  • Hyatt House Miami Airport
  • Hyatt Place Dewey Beach
  • Hyatt Place Long Island/East End
  • Hyatt Place Portland – Old Port
  • Hyatt Regency Santa Clara
  • Hyatt Regency Toronto
Category 3 to 2

  • Hyatt Bangalore
  • Hyatt House Charlotte/Center City
  • Hyatt House Cypress/Anaheim
  • Hyatt Place Charlotte Downtown
  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Convention Center
  • Hyatt Place Orlando/Universal
  • Hyatt Place Saratoga/Malta
  • Hyatt Regency Chennai
  • Hyatt Regency Chongqing
  • Hyatt Regency Gurgaon
  • Hyatt Regency Jinan
  • Hyatt Regency Montreal
  • Hyatt Regency Osaka
  • Park Hyatt Chennai
Category 3 to 4

  • Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo
  • Grand Hyatt Taipei
Category 4 to 2

  • Grand Hyatt Shenyang
Category 4 to 5

  • Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar
  • Grand Hyatt Macau
  • Park Hyatt Seoul
Category 4 to 3

  • Grand Hyatt San Antonio
  • Hyatt Capital Gate, Abu Dhabi
  • Hyatt Regency Bethesda
  • Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam
  • Hyatt Regency Delhi
  • Hyatt Regency Louisville
  • Hyatt Regency Mexico City
  • Hyatt Regency Orlando Intl Airport
  • Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six
  • Hyatt Regency San Antonio
  • Hyatt Regency Savannah
Category 5 to 6

  • Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht
  • Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Mediterranee
Category 5 to 4

  • Grand Hyatt Washington
  • Hyatt French Quarter
  • Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa
  • Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
  • Hyatt Regency La Jolla
  • MGM Grand
Category 6 to 7

  • Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa
Category 6 to 5

  • Mandalay Bay
  • Park Hyatt Washington

❑ Update Your Airline Choice for the $200 Airline Fee Credit. It seems like just last week you were claiming your annual $200 Airline Fee credit and now it’s time do it again. Except, some of you did claim your credits a little over a week ago (hopefully before January 1) and you’ll be glad to finally justify that $450 annual fee you had to pay for the card. Be sure to claim your credit by buying airline gift cards in $50 increments. If you don’t like the airline you picked last year, you have until January 31 to choose another one.

❑ Activate the Chase Freedom Bonus. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom bonus category. Through March 31, 2015 Chase Freedom cardholders get 5% cash back/5 points per $1 spent at movie theaters, Starbucks, and grocery stores. Chase specifically excludes Walmart and Target, which is too bad because it certainly would have made trips to Walmart less horrendous. Plus, getting 5 points per $1 for Amex for Target loads would be nothing short of ideal – at least for me.

❑ Use Your Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards. Suite Upgrade Awards don’t expire until February 28, but you might want to get a head start in trip planning if you want to put them to use. Simply book a paid or Points + Cash stay and then call Hyatt Gold Passport customer service to apply the upgrade. Each Suite Upgrade Award is good for upwards of 7 nights per stay, so you could be giving up 28 nights in a suite by letting them expire. If you’ve managed to obtain status through 2016, four new Suite Night Awards should appear in your account during the first week of March.

❑ Link Your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles Accounts. Starting January 8, members can begin linking their American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles accounts. Simply login to your frequent flyer account (either one will do) and you’ll see a prompt to get the process started. If you’re logged into your AAdvantage account, you’ll be asked to enter your Dividend Miles account number, vice versa if you’re logged into Dividend Miles.

What are some of your checklist items for January? Please share in the comment section.

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Two More Reasons to Choose Barclay Aviator Red Over Citi AAdvantage Platinum

Photo credit: Aero Icarus / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: Aero Icarus / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Last month, I expressed my intention to cancel my Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, among a few other cards. I’ve had way too many security issues with Citi and the slightly lower annual fee on the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator Red card makes it a better fit for me. Recently, I’ve become more and more convinced that choosing the new Barclay AAdvantage card over Citi’s AAdvantage Platinum is a good move. 

In an email exchange, reader Brenton pointed something out to me that I’ve completely ignored so far: Citi charges cash advance fees for American Express gift card purchases, while Barclays does not. Thus, using the Citi AAdvantage Platinum card is not an option for that particular manufactured spending activity, while the Barclay AAdvantage Aviator card will allow you to continue buying Amex gift cards without incurring cash advance fees. You can certainly argue that charging Amex gift cards to one of the Starwood American Express cards would be the better option due to the airline transfer bonus. However, for those who either don’t have that card or want to save their SPG points for hotel stays or transfers to other airlines, a co-branded AAdvantage card comes in handy.

Another reason to choose the Barclay AAdvantage over the Citi AAdvantage card? Bonus spend offers. I’m not referring to the quarterly 2,500 bonus miles on select category spending. Several readers, who are US Airways Mastercard holders, have reported receiving targeted spending bonuses as high as 20,000 miles for spending $700 in three months. Another reader was offered 15,000 bonus miles for spending $500 by February. If Barclays keeps this up once the card converts to the AAdvantage Aviator Red card, this gives it yet another advantage (no pun intended) over the Citi issued card. And as Brenton astutely observed, since they can’t acquire new cardholders once the US Airways card converts to AAdvantage, they may continue these bonus promotions to keep existing cardholders happy.

You can certainly keep both cards and I’ve previously made a case for doing so. However, if you’re looking to downsize your credit card collection and don’t know which one to keep, the above mentioned points are worth taking into consideration.

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Up to 30,000 Bonus Points with Club Carlson’s Latest Promotion

Radisson Blu Dublin, Ireland

Radisson Blu Dublin, Ireland

I guess I should have included Club Carlson on my list of things to look forward to in 2015 because they’re running a promotion that I can’t imagine any other hotel rewards program will top this quarter. Between January 12 – March 29, members who register for the “Extend Your Stay, Earn 30K” promotion can earn up to 30,000 bonus points, depending on the length of their stay:

  • Stay 2 nights, earn 15,000 bonus Gold points
  • Stay 3 or more nights, earn 30,000 bonus Gold points

The terms specifically exclude award redemptions, including Points + Cash, so only paid rates qualify for the bonus. The great thing about this promotion is that the bonus can be earned multiple times, so if you have two 3-night stays coming up, you’ll be earning 60,000 bonus points. This doesn’t even take into account the 20 Gold points per $1 earned by all members, elite bonuses, or 3-5 points per $1 paid out to Club Carlson credit card holders. It’s not quite the Big Night Giveaway, but at 7,500 – 10,000 bonus points per night you are earning upwards of a free Category 1 hotel stay for each paid night. With the last night free benefit from the Club Carlson credit card, your earnings can double. 

Whether you’re mattress running or have a legitimate 1-2 night stay coming up, tacking on a third night for the full 30,000 point bonus can be worth it depending on what you’re paying. Keep in mind point valuations (generally, Gold points are valued at 0.4 cents each) as well as the cost of earning those points through manufactured spending

The timing of this is promotion perfect for those of you who got in on Delta’s cheap fares to Europe. The Radisson Blu Dublin, for example, offers rates below $180 per night throughout January and February. Award redemptions go for 44,000 Gold points per night, which would require $8,800 – $14,666 in spending on the Club Carlson credit cards. With the last night free benefit, those number are cut in half assuming you book your hotel stays in 2-night increments. Be sure to compare those numbers to the amount of spend required on the Arrival Plus card to cover the paid rate. Then factor in the potential point haul from this promotion to determine whether it makes more sense to redeem Gold Points or pay with Arrival Plus miles.

Club Carlson has a huge portfolio of hotels throughout Europe, so you should have no trouble finding one in the cities that were included in Delta’s fare sale.

What are your thoughts on Club Carlson’s latest promotion? Are you planning on mattress running for the full 30,000 point bonus?

For more on points, miles, and free travel, subscribe to my blog (see “Subscribe” above “Recent Posts”) or follow me @PointChaserFacebook, or Instagram