Simon Mall Increases Visa Gift Card Fees

Simon Mall Visa Gift Card

One of the few good things we’ve had going for us in the midst of a devaluation cluster**** has been the ability to manufacture spend with Simon Mall gift cards. At just $2.95 per $500, they’ve been a cheap and reliable ms tool. Sure, Simon Mall began imposing purchase limits both in store and online, but for the most part all was well. Reader Tim, who might as well be writing this blog with the number of breaking news items he sends in, just alerted me that Simon Mall has increased gift card fees to $3.95 each. 

It’s certainly not on the level of CVS no longer accepting credit cards for Vanilla Reload purchases, but it’s worth noting that Simon Mall gift cards are no longer the cheapest gift cards in town. While a $1 increase doesn’t sound substantial, it ads up if you’re buying large quantities. For example, if you’ve been doing $60,000 in manufactured spending annually, your gift card fees are increasing from $354 to $474. 

The new $3.95 fee is on par with what a Giftcardmall Visa gift cards at Safeway will cost you. Factor in Safeway’s gas rewards, category bonuses, and the occasional coupon deal and you may just be better off buying Visa gift cards at Safeway. These gift cards can still be loaded onto Bluebird, though I imagine you won’t be able to buy enough of these to warrant a police escort out of the store. That’s something I highly discourage you from doing anyway.

Since I’ve wrapped up my $82,000 spending challenge along with the other $22,000 I took on shortly after, this doesn’t really affect me. Outside of meeting spending requirements, I like to earn my miles through the Amex gift card/Amex for Target route. It’s much more convenient and who doesn’t love a trip to Target? With the 1.5% cash back from shopping portals, I’m just about breaking even on this method. To me, shopping portals pulling Amex gift cards was much more devastating than a $1 increase in gift card fees. Free ms is better than cheap ms. 

What are your thoughts on Simon Mall increasing their gift card fees? Does this affect your manufactured spending strategy?

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Preview: IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks List November 24 – February 28, 2015

InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort Source: Hotel website

InterContinental The Palace Port Ghalib Resort
Source: Hotel website

IHG Rewards Club has just announced a preview of the latest PointBreaks hotels, which can be booked for 5,000 points per night between November 24 – February 28, 2015. The complete list will be released on November 24, though the preview is pretty extensive on its own. The quality of this PointBreaks list definitely surpasses the last one, with two Intercontinental hotels and 16 Crowne Plazas. I’ve done the legwork and rounded up the Intercontinental and Crowne Plaza properties below:

More noteworthy than the quality of hotels are the locations. Whether you need a cheap airport hotel stay or are planning a winter trip to the Middle East, you’ll find lots of hotels to choose from in the preview list alone. Be sure to check back for the complete list on Monday morning. As usual, these bookings go fast, so if you’re interested in booking any of these hotels, you should do it as soon as the booking period opens up. 

Keep in mind that IHG limits each member to two PointBreaks bookings per hotel. This is actually a good thing, since it cuts down on speculative bookings and allows the rest of us a chance to get in on these discounted rates. 

If you’re short on IHG Rewards points, you can transfer them from your Ultimate Rewards account at a 1:1 ratio. These transfers aren’t instant in my experience, so you might want to do it at least a day before the booking period opens up. You can also buy 5,000 points for $67.50 or $35 using the Cash + Points trick. For future PointBreaks stays, consider picking up the long-standing 80,000 point IHG Rewards Club Visa, which gets you 16 nights at a PointBreaks hotel. The annual fee on that card is just $49, which is easily off-set by the annual free night cardholders get. 

So if you have an upcoming trip that falls within the PointBreaks booking period, be sure to check out the complete list on Monday and see if it can save you points or maybe cash on hotel stays.

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How to Get Your Kids Involved in Earning Points and Miles

I’m not a parent, but as the mileage manager in my family, I make sure everyone is doing their part to earn enough miles for family vacations. With the exception of my younger sister, everyone is over 18 and able to pull their weight and compensate for her. If your kids are a burden on your mileage account (and you mean that in the most loving way possible), it might be time to get them involved in the mile earning game. While they can’t get their own credit cards, there are a few things they can do now to contribute to your mileage balance:

Learn About Credit

It’s never too early to teach kids responsible spending habits and how credit works. When the time comes for them to get their first credit cards, they’ll be better equipped to handle it. Even if they decide to help out with meeting spending requirements instead, it’s good to know how credit cards work and what happens if you don’t pay them off on time. 

I had a friend in college who didn’t so much as have her own debit card. Her parents discouraged her from even opening a checking account because of the risk that she might get herself into debt. Even when she got a job, she took her checks to a check cashing place and then paid for everything in cash. That’s playing it too safe and it didn’t work because she never learned how to manage her credit responsibly. By the time you’re 22 years old, you have to know how to handle credit if you’re going to be a responsible adult. Teaching your kids about how to use credit is a better long term strategy than avoiding it altogether, and it will make their future in the travel hacking game much smoother.

Checking Accounts and Debit Cards

If your child is responsible/old enough for their own checking account, you should look into options that allow them to earn earn miles. The UFB Direct Airline Rewards checking account has no monthly fees and comes with a mile-earning debit card. If your child has a job, they’ll need a place to deposit their earnings. While saving $10 per month on checking account fees may not sound like a big deal to most of us, it’s substantial enough to a kid earning minimum wage while working a part time job. They get a free checking account and you earn miles every time they use the debit card. Everybody wins.

Prepaid or Gift Cards

I wouldn’t go as far as adding your child as an authorized user on your credit card account. It has its advantages, but there are all kinds of ways it can go wrong. Instead, get them a prepaid or gift card, loaded with a set amount that they can use for their spending. Whether it’s gas money, back to school shopping, or paying for events like Homecoming or Prom, putting their allowance on a prepaid card ensures that you earn miles while your kids stick to their budget. 

While the American Express for Target prepaid card is great for easy reloads and ATM withdrawals, Visa cards have the advantage of being accepted pretty much everywhere. However, Visa prepaid cards tend to come with monthly fees, so I would opt for a customizable Visa card which allows you to add your kid’s name on it.

If you go the gift card route, be sure to take the following precautions:

  • Buy them at a bonus category merchant to maximize point earnings
  • Use coupons or cash back portals to minimize gift card fees (i.e. Safeway’s gift card promotions)
  • Stack your grocery store gift card purchase with gas rewards promotion
  • Write down the card number in case your child loses it and you need a replacement

Maximize Spending

Having been a kid not too long ago (give or take 10 years), I know how expensive raising them can be. The great news is that the majority of their spending occurs at bonus category merchants. Back-to-school shopping? The office supply store has you covered with 5 points per $1 on the Ink Plus card. Clothes shopping? Pick up some gift cards at Staples or check your quarterly Freedom card bonuses. Stocking up on school lunch items? The grocery store earns upwards of 6 points per $1. The bonus category merchants your kids shop with can translate into thousands of extra miles each year.

Most kids these days do some of their shopping online at their favorite retailers. They’ll come back and ask for your credit card number so they can buy that ubiquitous navy blue hoodie from Hollister or a new pair of Toms. In return for footing the bill, ask them to research the highest shopping portal payouts and use it to generate extra miles or cash back on their purchases.

Pay for School Trips and Events

My younger sister is on her high school debate team and every semester they have an event that requires hefty registration fees. I taught her well because when it came time to pay the $2,000 registration bill for the team, she brought me an envelope full of checks in exchange for my mile-earning credit card. I knocked off $2,000 in spending requirements and got reimbursed immediately. 

If your child’s school or outside activity has events like these, volunteer to make it easy by paying for it with your credit card and having everyone else reimburse you. If payment is required in the form of a check, load up your American Express Serve or Bluebird and use either Bill Pay or a physical check to send payment to a person or organization. School events and extracurricular activities can be a great opportunity to rack up extra points and miles.

Before you know it, your kids will be all grown up and playing this game harder than you. Until then, you can ensure their spending brings in enough miles to lighten the load a bit.

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Airports Where Uber Pickup is Allowed

SFO: One of the few airports that allows Uber pickups Photo credit: Foter / CC BY

SFO: One of the few airports that allows Uber pickups
Photo credit: Foter / CC BY

With Uber’s rapid worldwide expansion, more travelers are opting out of traditional methods of transportation in favor of the ease and convenience offered by Uber. Trips to and from the airport can be cheaper and more easily arranged than hailing a cab. While a number of airports prohibit Uber airport pickups, there have been numerous ways passengers and Uber drivers have gotten around it: Arranging pickups in nearby parking lots, the arrival area, having passengers sit in the front seat, etc. Still, I figured it would be helpful to have a list of cities that allowed Uber drivers to pick up passengers at the airport. In trying to figure this out, I realized there wasn’t a single list out there, so I decided to put one together.

An Uber representative directed me to the Uber cities page and explained that every city with a flat fare for airport pickups was a good indicator of which cities allowed it. On the other hand, if the city listed a flat fare from the city to the airport only, it meant Uber pickups were not allowed. So I spent hours going through every city page, as well as double checking the Uber blog to come up with a complete list. Of the 224 cities served by Uber, only 58 allow official Uber pickups at the airport.

North America

Out of the 128 North American cities Uber operates in, just 19 of them allow airport pickup – that’s less than 15% of the cities on the list. This is far less than in any other region. The same goes for the number of cities for which Uber offers a flat fare for airport drop-off: There are just two that offer this.

While Denver doesn’t list a flat rate airport pick-up fee, according to this blog post, Uber began operating out of Denver International Airport in September 2014. The average fare between DIA and downtown Denver is $36-49. 

Washington DC also doesn’t list flat fares for airport pickup, something that will change with the passing of the Vehicle-for-Hire Innovation Act. Until that happens, Uber can be requested at Reagan National Airport (DCA) from Terminal B and C. Uber drivers can pick up passengers on the second curb at the arrivals level.

At Washington Dulles International (IAD), drivers can pick up passengers in the hourly parking area. Baltimore Washington International (BWI) is the only airport in the area where passengers can be picked up directly in the arrivals area.

Aside from these exceptions, Uber drivers can pick up passengers at airports in the following cities:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Halifax
  • Honolulu
  • Jacksonville
  • Los Angeles (Uber Black, SUV)
  • Madison
  • Nashville
  • New Jersey
  • New Orleans
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • Tacoma
  • Toronto
  • Washington, DC 

Flat fare to the airport only

  • Mexico City 
  • New York City (Only to Newark Airport)

Central & South America

Uber serves just nine cities in Central and South America. Five of them offer airport pickup:

  • Bogota
  • Cali – Colombia
  • Lima
  • Panama City
  • Santiago

Europe, Middle East & Africa

In Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Uber offers airport pickup in 16 of 48 cities. This includes some of the busiest airports in Europe. The Middle East and Africa are way behind, with each region offering just 1-2 cities in which airport pickups are officially allowed.

  • Amsterdam
  • Beirut
  • Gothenburg
  • Jeddah
  • Istanbul
  • Lisbon
  • London (London Heathrow, Gatwick)
  • Lyon
  • Milan
  • Munich
  • Paris
  • Rome
  • Saint Petersburg
  • Stockholm
  • Vienna

Flat fare to the airport only

  • Dubai
  • Lagos
  • Manchester
  • Moscow
  • Rotterdam
  • Warsaw

Asia Pacific

In the Asia Pacific region, airport pickup is allowed in 18 of 39 cities. In addition, six cities offer flat fares for airport drop-off. While Bangalore doesn’t list any flat fares on its city page, this September blog post indicates that it does. 

  • Adelaide
  • Auckland
  • Bangalore
  • Beijing
  • Chengdu
  • Guangzhou
  • Hangzhou
  • Hanoi
  • Hong Kong
  • Perth
  • Phuket
  • Shenzhen
  • Shanghai
  • Singapore
  • Sydney
  • Tokyo (Narita)
  • Wellington
  • Wuhan

Flat fare to the airport only

  • Bangkok
  • Jakarta Bangkok
  • Johor Bahru
  • Kuala Lumpur
  • Seoul
  • Taipei

This is what I was able to scrounge up with the information Uber gave me, along with my own research. I will be updating this list as more cities join the herd and begin allowing drivers to pick up passengers from the airport. If there is any city missing from this list, please share it in the comment section. 

As a reminder, Uber is offering $30 off your first ride when you sign up by November 23, 2014. After that, it will drop to $20. If you use my referral link, we will both earn a free ride worth upwards of $30.

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Hyatt Hawaii Promotion: Free Night + 10,000 Bonus Points

Hyatt Regency Maui

Hyatt Regency Maui

Through March 31, 2015 Hyatt is offering a free night and 10,000 bonus points on standard room bookings at Hyatt resorts in Hawaii. Members booking under this promotion will also receive complimentary buffet breakfast for two. At the Andaz Maui Wailea, members will receive a $75 daily resort credit instead of daily breakfast. The terms specify that the resort credit cannot be applied towards the room rate, tax, or the Morimoto Maui restaurant.

To take advantage of this promotion, you must book the Sunshine on Sale rate and use offer code 10KHGP at a participating Hawaiian resort. Blackout dates are December 24 – January 2, 2015. Each property has its own minimum stay requirements:

The free night is applied to the same stay during which it is earned. You may find that the promotional rate is sometimes higher than other rates offered and think the last night will be removed at check-out. That is not the case.

I did a few test searches for this promotion and found availability at the Andaz Maui to be scarce. I did find better availability at the Grand Hyatt Kauai, but the promotional rate was higher than the Advance Purchase rate. On February 2 – 7, the promotional Sunshine on Sale rate with the free night comes to $520 per night. With taxes and resort fees, the total is $3,074.58. Meanwhile, the Advance Purchase rate is $494 per night – or $2,931.67 with taxes and resort fees. So the Sunshine on Sale rate is higher by a total of $142.91 or $28.59 per night. For that additional amount, guests get complimentary breakfast, 2,000 points per night and the ability to cancel or change their hotel bookings if necessary. If you value Hyatt points conservatively at 1 cent each, the 2,000 Gold Passport points alone are worth $20. 

Diamond members, who receive complimentary breakfast regardless, should bypass the promo code and book the Advance Purchase rate if they don’t mind prepaying. In my experience “non-refundable” is relative, as I’ve gotten hotels to cancel these rates for me in the past without losing the money. However, this isn’t going to work for everyone, so only do this if you don’t anticipate your plans will change.

Before booking your stay, be sure to consult with this chart I put together, to determine whether you are better off redeeming points rather than paying cash for your stay.

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Highest Cash Back Portal Payouts on Hotel Bookings

Get upwards of 9% off at the Intercontinental Clement Monterey

Get upwards of 9% off at the Intercontinental Clement Monterey

With hotel rewards programs offering discounts and bonus points on paid stays, it’s a great time to book a year-end vacation. Aside from the great deals to be had, there are also some generous cash back portal deals that are worth stacking them with. Many of them exclude certain brands from earning cash back and often discounted rates like the Hyatt My Elite Rate aren’t eligible, so it’s important to weight the value of cash back portal payouts against the savings offered by non-eligible rates. That being said, below is an outline of the current highest cash back portal payouts offered on hotel bookings:

Club Carlson

  • Top Cash Back – 5% cash back (excludes Park Inn, Radisson Blue and Hotel Missoni)
  • Extrabux – 4% cash back (excluding Rad Park Inn, Radisson Blu, and Hotel Missoni)
  • Big Crumbs – 3% cash back (excludes Park Inn, Radisson Blu, and Hotel Missoni)
  • Ebates – 3% cash back at Radisson Blu and Park Inn, 2.5% elsewhere (excludes and Hotel Missoni)

Hilton

  • Bank of America Cash Rewards BankAmeriDeals – 10% cash back

Hyatt

  • Top Cash Back – 3% cash back
  • Ebates – 2.5% cash back
  • Extrabux – 2% cash back

IHG

  • Ebates – 9% cash back Intercontinental, 8% on all others
  • Top Cash Back – 8.5% cash back at Intercontinental, 5% cash back at Holiday Inn Express
  • Extrabux – 8% cash back (on all IHG)

Marriott

  • Top Cash Back – 5% cash back (excludes Ritz Carlton, ExecuStay, BVLGARI, Grand Residences)
  • Shop Discover – 5% cash back
  • Big Crumbs – 3% cash back (Autograph Collection, Riyadh Marriott, Aspen, Cosmopolitan)
  • Ebates – 2.5% cash back
  • Extrabux – 2% cash back (excludes Ritz Carlton, ExecuStay, BVLGARI, Grand Residences, Cosmopolitan).

Starwood

  • Top Cash Back – 3% cash back

While 2-9% cash back may not seem significant, it adds up when you combine it with discounted hotel rates, bonus point promotions, and credit card rewards. Keep in mind that if a hotel promotion requires you to enter a code to receive a particular discount and that code isn’t supported by the shopping portal you’re using, you won’t be earning cash back on the booking. In some cases, it makes more sense to forego the cash back in favor of a mobile booking bonus like the one offered by Hyatt or Club Carlson. It all depends on the rate you’re paying, so do double check and make sure you’re getting the most out of your booking.

To stay up to date on the highest cash back portal payouts, be sure to check cashbackmonitor and cashbackholic. They tend to offer the most comprehensive list, though they don’t list Shop Discover or Ultimate Rewards, which evreward does.

If you don’t have an account with the above mentioned cash back portals, here comes the part where I shamelessly plug my referral link:

Are you going to make use of these cash back portal bonuses, or will it be mobile booking bonuses all the way?

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50% Off Silvercar Rentals Between November 16 – 21

Get 50% off Silvercar rentals between November 16 - 21

Get 50% off Silvercar rentals between November 16 – 21

Silvercard will be offering 50% off car rentals in all of their markets between November 12 – 21, 2014. Simply use promo code GIVETHANKS during the booking process and receive 50% off. For those who aren’t familiar with Silvercar, it’s a premium car rental service that offers a fleet of Audi A4 and Q5 vehicles. These cars come equipped with a navigation system, SiriusXM satellite radio, Wifi hot spot, and toll tracking, to name a few. The entire car rental process is operated wirelessly through their mobile app. This includes booking and all the usual paperwork associated with pickup and drop-off. Another bonus is that they have a simple refueling policy: You get charged for the amount of fuel used, based on local rates plus a $5 fill-up fee. 

If you don’t like paper trails, exchanging false pleasantries with customer service agents, or getting fleeced for forgetting to refuel, Silvercar is worth looking into. Currently, they are available in just eight airports:

  • Austin (AUS)
  • Dallas Love Field (DAL)
  • Dallas Fort Worth (DFW)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • San Francisco (SFO)

This promotion is well timed with the $100 referral credit they’re currently offering. Members get $100 for every friend they refer who ends up booking a rental for two days or more. There is no earnings cap. Referring five people by the end of the year will trigger a $500 cash bonus. New members get $50 off first time rentals (the code is found in the mobile app message center) and another $50 cash after the rental is complete. If you’re a new member and want to sign-up, consider using my referral link.

I did a few random searches for rentals out of SFO and they were normally much higher than your standard rental. However, with the 50% off promo code, the rate dropped well below what other rental agencies are charging. The rates for a 2-day mid-week rental through Silvercar came to $130 with taxes. A premium car rental search on Kayak turned up rates of $72 per day, which is higher than the discounted rate offered by Silvercar. 

Factoring in the $100 discount ($50 off booking and $50 cash when the rental is complete), the Silvercar rate comes down to $30. It’s always best to compare Silvercar prices (and the features included) with other rental agencies. If you’ve wanted to give Silvercar a try, due to weariness of car rental agency drama or just because their cars look cool, then this is the perfect time to do it.

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Get 20% Off United Airlines Saver Awards to Europe

United offering 20% off Saver award flights to Europe

United offering 20% off Saver award flights to Europe

Through December 4, 2014 United is offering 20% off saver economy award tickets to select cities in Europe. These discounted awards are good for travel between January 12 – March 12, 2015. An award that would normally cost 60,000 miles roundtrip will be discounted to just 48,000 miles. Travel to the following airports qualifies for this promotion:

  • Amsterdam (AMS)
  • Brussels (BRU)
  • Frankfurt (FRA)
  • Geneva (GVA)
  • Hamburg (HAM)
  • London (LHR)
  • Munich (MUC)
  • Paris (CDG)
  • Zurich (ZRH)

In addition to limiting the promotion to the above mentioned cities, a few additional restrictions apply:

  • Discounts only apply to travel on Monday – Thursday.
  • Travel is only valid on United operated flights – code shares do not qualify.
  • Only roundtrip flights between the U.S. or Canada and Europe are eligible. Hawaii is excluded.
  • Open-jaws are allowed, as long as they occur in the same region.
  • Stopovers are not allowed.

You can combine a standard award with a saver award on a roundtrip, though only the saver segment will qualify for the 20% discount. Doing it this way would bring the cost to 174,000 miles roundtrip. Obviously a terrible value, since you can fly business class for less than that. 

While 48,000 miles compared to 60,000 for a roundtrip economy flight to Europe sounds like a good deal, it’s not the best out there. US Airways offers off-peak awards to Europe for just 35,000 miles roundtrip between January 15 – February 28. American Airlines’ discounted off-peak awards to Europe require 40,000 miles roundtrip and if you have a Citi AAdvantage Platinum card, you get 10% of the miles back, bringing the total to just 36,000 miles. American Airlines also offers more flexibility, with a 7-month travel period of October 15 – May 15. If you’re on the East Coast, British Airways Avios can offer even more value, with roundtrip flights between Boston and Dublin on Aer Lingus requiring just 25,000 miles roundtrip.

Redeeming AAdvantage miles to Europe is slightly more challenging, with award space being more difficult to find. Still, if you can swing it, save your United MileagePlus miles and use another reward currency. You can get more substantial discounts and flexibility in your travel dates.

If you’re going to book one of these discounted United awards to Europe, keep in mind that the cut off is 11:50 PM (CT) on December 4, 2014. 

HT: View from the Wing

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When to Redeem Arrival Miles for a First Class Ticket

United Airlines first class

United Airlines first class

At which point does it make more sense to buy a first class ticket rather than redeem miles? Cheap first class tickets (in the form of mistake fares or otherwise) don’t come around often. When they do, it’s always best to compare the mileage requirements vs. the low fare to determine which one is truly the better deal. The table below outlines first class redemption requirements for the major frequent flier programs and, based on the amount of spend that is required to earn those miles, I’ve outlined when it’s better to pay for a ticket out of pocket and/or redeem Arrival Plus Miles. The aim is to make sure you’re getting the best value out of your frequent flier miles.

The table does not take into account the value of certain frequent flier miles. Personally, I don’t subscribe to a valuation system, but generally airline rewards currencies are valued at 1.4 – 1.8 cents each.

It’s important to note that Delta does not offer a first class product on international flights, which is reflected in the table. Since US Airways will be merging with American Airlines next year, the Dividend Miles program will be discontinued and there may be adjustments to the mileage requirements posted by the AAdvantage program.

 Alaska American Delta United US Airways
US & Canada50,000 - 70,000 miles65,000 miles50,000 miles50,000 - 70,000 miles (distance under 700 miles)65,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus miles Ticket costs less than $1,110 - $1,555 Ticket costs less than $1,445 Ticket costs less than $1,110 Ticket costs less than $1,110 - $1,555 Ticket costs less than $1,445
Intra-State30,000 milesN/AN/A20,000 miles (distance under 700 miles)N/A
When to redeem Arrival Plus miles Ticket costs less than $666N/AN/ATicket costs $444 or lessN/A
Hawaii80,000 - 95,000 miles95,000 miles

45,000 miles saver
N/A100,000 miles80,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $1,775 - $2,110Ticket costs less than $2,110

or

$1,000
N/ATicket costs less than $2,223 Ticket costs less than $1,775
Mexico60,000 - 80,000 miles80,000 milesN/A80,000 miles60,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $1,330 - $1,775 Ticket costs less than $1,775
N/ATicket costs less than $1,775Ticket costs less than $1,330
Central America60,000 - 80,000 miles80,000 milesN/A80,000 miles60,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $1,330 - $1,775Ticket costs less than $1,775
N/ATicket costs less than $1,775Ticket costs less than $1,330
South America100,000 - 125,000 miles80,000 - 125,00 milesN/A90,000 -140,000 miles125,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $2,223 - $2,778Ticket costs less than $1,775 - $2,778
N/ATicket costs less than $2,000 - $3,112Ticket costs less than $2,778
Caribbean60,000 - 80,000 miles80,000 milesN/A80,000 miles60,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $1,330 - $1,775Ticket costs less than $1,775N/ATicket costs less than $1,775Ticket costs less than $1,330
Europe125,000 - 240,000 miles125,000 milesN/A160,000 miles

220,000 miles on partner airlines
125,000 miles
When to Redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $2,778 - $5,334Ticket costs less than $2,778N/ATicket costs less than $3,556

or

$4,889
Ticket costs less than $2,778
Asia125,000 - 200,000 miles125,000 - 135,000 milesN/A160,000 - 180,000 miles

240,000 - 280,000 miles on partner airlines
120,000 - 160,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $2,778 - $4,445Ticket costs less than $2,778 - $3,000N/ATicket costs less than $3,556 - $4,000

or

less than
$5,334 -$6,223
Ticket costs less than $2,667 - $3,556
Middle East140,000 - 180,000 miles180,000 milesN/A180,000 miles

280,000 miles on partner airlines
180,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $3,112 - $4,000Ticket costs less than $4,000N/ATicket costs less than $4,000

or

less than $6,223
Ticket costs less than $4,000
Africa140,000 - 200,000 miles200,000 milesN/A170,000 miles

260,000 miles on partner airlines
150,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $3,112 - $4,445Ticket costs less than $4,445N/ATicket costs less than $3,778

or

$5,778
Ticket costs less than $3,334
Oceania/Pacific140,000 - 160,000 miles145,000 milesN/A160,000 miles

220,000-260,000 miles on partner airlines
140,000 miles
When to redeem Arrival Plus milesTicket costs less than $3,112 - $3,556Ticket costs less than $3,2203N/ATicket costs less than $3,556

or

$4,889 - $5,778
Ticket costs less than $3,112

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Should You Purchase Hyatt Points for a 30% Bonus?

30% bonus for buying hyatt points - a good deal?

30% bonus for purchasing Hyatt points – a good deal?

Through December 10, 2014 Hyatt Gold Passport is offering a 30% bonus on purchased points. The bonus applies to purchases of 5,000 points or more and up to 55,000 points can be purchased per calendar year. So should you purchase Hyatt points during the 30% bonus point promotion?Unless you have an upcoming stay that is less than a month away and absolutely need those points, I wouldn’t bother, for the following reasons:

No Category Bonuses

Hyatt Gold Passport point purchases are processed by Points.com, so you will not earn extra points for using a rewards card with a travel category bonus. It makes more sense to take the cash you’d spend on points and use it on a paid stay instead…

Money is Better Spent on a Paid Stay

The cost of purchasing the minimum eligible 5,000 points (which comes with a 1,500 point bonus) is $120. These points are enough for a Category 1 hotel. Considering a night at a Category 1 hotel goes for around the same amount, you’re better off paying for the stay outright rather than buying points. This way, you’re also earning points, which can add up during a bonus point promotion. 

If you’re just looking to top off your account for a higher category hotel stay or to bump yourself up to a better room, then it might make sense to buy points – only if the cost of buying points is significantly less than the cost of paying cash and if you would normally consider paying the cash rate. Sometimes people get too caught up in value and think, “I’m saving $1,000 at the Park Hyatt Paris, so buying $552 worth of points for a stay makes sense.” Only if you would, in fact, otherwise pay $552 for a hotel stay. Personally, I would never buy more than 1,000 – 3,000 Gold points. It just doesn’t make sense to pay more than $72 for points if I could instead use that money to cover a stay. Especially, with 10% discount Hyatt is currently offering on gift card purchases.

Book Points + Cash

Thanks to Hyatt’s introduction of Points + Cash awards, there’s rarely ever a need to top off your account for an award – or to book an all-points award, period. As I’ve outlined in a previous post, in terms of spending (manufactured or otherwise) it’s always cheaper to book a Hyatt stay on Points + Cash rather than redeeming a point award. With the fewer points required for a Points + Cash award, you’re better off saving that $72+ and putting it towards the cash portion of a P+C award than using it to earn more miles. Another advantage of booking Points + Cash? You’re eligible to earn points and use your Diamond suite upgrade certificates on your stay.

You Can Generate Points for Less

If you have a week or so before your Chase statement closes and before your stay needs to be booked, pick up a couple of gift cards to earn those points for less. Those 6,500 points selling for $120? You can earn the same number of points for $38.35 by purchasing Simon Mall Visa gift cards instead.

Under the present circumstances, when Hyatt is offering a generous bonus point promotion, a discount on gift cards, the option of Points + Cash awards, and the cost of generating points is far less, buying 5,000+ points really isn’t necessary.

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