There’s a lot going on in the world of rewards programs in August. There were rumors that the Citi Prestige card was getting discontinued, which had me worried, but thankfully it turned out not to be the case. One thing that’s not a rumor? The Marriott-Starwood merger. It’s happening in a week and people are already unhappy with what’s to come. That’s to be expected, I guess, but it reminds me of an old post from a points blog that I can’t find anymore. It was titled something like “Be loyal to yourself: Create your own rewards program.”
The gist of it was that you shouldn’t be loyal to a single program and instead, should stay with hotels and fly with airlines that offer you the best deals. As for elite benefits, there are ways to hack your way to top-tier status without devoting all your travels to one program. I think that’s a good perspective for most of us who aren’t business travelers. Anyway, here are some of the tasks you should check off your to-do list in August:
Prepare for the Marriott-Starwood Merger
On August 18, Marriott and Starwood will officially merge into a single program. That means your SPG points will automatically transfer to Marriott. If you don’t want that to happen, you’ll want to transfer your SPG points to an airline program ASAP. I just transferred what’s left of my SPG balance (i.e. ~2,000 points) to Alaska, which is always a safe bet for me. Even if they drop their best partners or their premium awards get devalued, I can always use the points for a domestic flight.
Take Advantage of Amex Offers
I got targeted for some pretty good Amex Offers this month, though it certainly isn’t as lucrative as my May Amex Offers haul. On the travel side, I was targeted for $60 off $300 at Starwood and Kimpton hotels, along with $50 off $250 at Hilton. There’s also a bonus of 15,000 for spending $750 at Four Seasons, though to be honest I don’t think I’ll take advantage of it.
I also received a 3x point offer at Amazon from the Amex Platinum card, which I put to good use on a new carry-on bag and a few essentials for an upcoming trip. I got $5 off $25 at Staples, which will not go to waste. Best of all, I was targeted for $50 back on $200 spent at Frye. That offer expires in September, just in time for a new pair of fall boots. I might also just use it as a reselling opportunity, depending on if there’s a good sale going on.
The most practical discounts are probably 10% off at department stores (up to $10 back), grocery stores (up to $20 back), and office supply stores (up to $5).
Meet Spending Requirements
So far, I’ve met $50 out of the $25,000 spending requirement on my dad’s Amex Business Platinum card. To be fair, the card just came in the mail over the weekend. I’m pretty comfortable with my plan for how I’ll meet that spending requirement. In fact, I’ve found a few reselling opportunities that will enable me to shift the majority of my spending away from other activities.
My local Walmart cashier told me about how she has been reselling a very popular product. Her side hustle is going so well that her husband stays home and does it full time now. While I won’t be focusing on the same product, I think making the rounds at the place she suggested can help me come up with ideas. Before the card arrived, I came across some popular makeup products at Nordstrom Rack that I decided to pick up and sell for a profit. So far so good.
Earn Miles for Supporting Wildfire Relief
I live in the middle of wildfire country. It took me two hours to get home from work on Friday and when I was two exits away, the hills on the side of the freeway were completely black. A small fire was still burning by side of the road. It was pretty scary but luckily the fire in my area has been contained. People have lost their homes and are still being evacuated. If you want to help support the wildfire relief efforts, United is offering miles for donations to five different organizations. The Red Cross is always a safe bet. I’d also consider donating to regional organizations like the Shasta Regional Community Foundation. You’ll earn bonus miles depending on donation amount:
- 50 miles for donations of $50-$99
- 500 miles for donations of $100-$249
- 1,000 miles for donations over $250
American AAdvantage Shopping Portal Bonus
Through August 19, American Airlines is offering up to 1500 bonus miles when you shop select merchants through the AAdvantage shopping portal. This is perfect timing for back-to-school shopping or just those of us who have an online shopping obsession.
- Spend $150, earn 500 bonus miles
- Spend $350, earn 1,500 bonus miles
In my experience, American AAdvantage rates tend to be some of the best of any shopping portal, but I still recommend comparing payout rates on CashBack Monitor, CashBackHolic or EvRewards. These websites will check all shopping portal rates – cash back, airline miles, hotel points and even bank rewards portals.