Travel Hacking

What’s New?

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, so I figured the best way to kick things off is with a recap post. A lot has happened points-wise in the last month and I’m just starting to catch up on things myself. From fare deals to hotel mergers and even blog news, there’s a lot to go over. Here’s what’s new with the blog and points and miles stuff:

Get this travel blogging thing right and this could be your office

1. The Plastic Merchant

Last month, The Plastic Merchant went radio silent after a bunch of checks bounced. There was an email from TPM staff, letting everyone know that Mike was in the hospital and the payment issues would be resolved shortly. As far as I can tell, people still have not gotten paid.

In the midst of all this, I received confirmation from a source purporting to know Mike that he was in fact hospitalized. And because he’s so involved in this business, his staff was unequipped to handle the payment issue on their own. As I previously stated, I think this explanation is ridiculous. Not because I don’t believe the hospital story but because of it. If you’re running your business in such a fashion that it can’t operate without you, that’s a problem. Especially when your customers are losing their shirts over it.

The same person also does business with The Plastic Merchant and read my post on the The Plastic Merchant fiasco. He informed me that if people began liquidating sold gift cards to recoup their TPM losses, “we will go after them.” It really pissed me off, especially since TPM is the culprit in all this. This kind of remark is ill-timed and completely insensitive to the financial hole these people are finding themselves in. If this other company was being affected by TPM customers cashing out gift cards in an attempt to recoup massive losses, they should be going after TPM.

The whole situation is awful and I can’t believe the nerve of this person to kick people who are already down, while completely absolving TPM of responsibility. I have very little free time these days and having someone waste 45 minutes on an insanely hectic day to threaten my readers was not appreciated.

2. Affiliate links

A couple of weeks ago I got approved as a Barclay affiliate. Translation? Prepare to get bombarded with posts about the Barclay Premier Arrival card. Just kidding. I wrote glowingly about that card long before I had affiliate links (and despite the negativity that post generated), so I’ll continue to write about it when it’s appropriate. For the most part, the only intrusive promotion you’ll notice are the Barclay ads on the site. As usual, I appreciate your support, regardless of whether you use my referral links or not.

3. The Hyatt Credit Card

Last week, Hyatt announced a brand new Chase credit card and it’s pretty awesome. The new World of Hyatt Credit Card is definitely an improvement over the old card, with the following benefits:

  • 40,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in 3 months.
  • Earn 20,000 Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 total on purchases within the first 6 months of account opening.
  • 1 free night at a Category 1-4 hotel for renewing your card every year.
  • 1 free night at a Category 1-4 hotel for spending $15,000 in a year.
  • Automatic Discoverist status.
  • 2 additional qualifying night credits toward your next tier status every time you spend $5,000 on your card.
  • 4 points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels, including restaurants and spas.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on local transit and commuting (taxis, mass transit, tolls and ride-share services), dining, airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, and gym memberships.
  • 1 Bonus Point per $1 spent on all other card purchases.
  • 1 free night at a Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel when you spend.

That’s a ton of stuff, so let’s skip to the best part: You can earn top-tier elite status via credit card spending and earn up to two free Category 1 – 4 nights every year. That’s pretty awesome for a card with a $95 annual fee. When I heard rumors of a new Hyatt credit card, I thought for sure they would go the Hilton route and introduce a premium card with a ~$450 annual fee. With a lot of premium cards, you’re stuck trying to justify the cost with benefits that you’re actually paying for, like airline fee credits and lounge membership. With the new Hyatt Card, that’s not the case – you really get a lot of bang for your buck.

4. Starwood – Marriott Merger

In August, Starwood and Marriott will debut a combined award chart. It’s mostly good news, since top-tier awards are going to cost 50,000 – 70,000 points per night. You might wonder why that’s so great, considering a current top-tier SPG free night award tops out at 35,000 points. However, considering SPG points transfer to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, that top-tier free night will only cost you 20,000 points per night. Factor in the 5th night free and you’re down to 16,000 points at a hotel like the St. Regis Maldives, where a standard award night gets you an overwater villa.

While we’re on the subject of the 1:3 transfer ratio, you should also know that all SPG point transfers to Marriott will become automatic in August. So if you’re planning to take advantage of the SPG airline transfer bonus, you might want to do it before that. With the merger coming up, I’m focusing a lot more manufactured spending spending on the SPG card than I normally would. That card is going away eventually, so I’m no longer concerned about a shut-down.

5. The Iberia deal

Did you get in on that 9,000 mile bonus deal from Iberia a few weeks ago? If so, then you’ll want to start planning your redemption ASAP. Points are supposed to post within 10 days of booking and will expire in December 2018. So if you haven’t done so already, start making travel plans to redeem these points as soon as they post. Award availability might be tough to come by, with so many folks getting in on this with the intention of an immediate redemption. One Mile at a Time has a great post on how to redeem your Iberia Avios.

6. Content updates

Readers have been asking me for a while now to update the Newbie Guide to Manufactured Spending as well as the Beginner’s Guide to Points and Miles. That is all in the works, so look for those posts to be republished in late July.

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  1. Beach Miles

    Always enjoy reading your posts.

  2. how do u get approved for affiliate links?

  3. Two things:

    1.) The airline bonus from SPG still exists after the August transition. Just FYI.

    2.) Are you worried that MSing on SPG Amex will result in your other Amex cards being shutdown?

    • Beach Miles

      Right now $1 spent on SPG card is worth 3 Marriott Points. Come August, $1 spent on SPG card will earn only 2 Marriott Points.

  4. The people that sold to TPM don’t have title to the cards regardless if the check bounced.

    UCC 2-403
    (A) A purchaser of goods acquires all title which the transferor had or had power to transfer except that a purchaser of a limited interest acquires rights only to the extent of the interest purchased. A person with voidable title has power to transfer a good title to a good faith purchaser for value. When goods have been delivered under a transaction of purchase, the purchaser has such power even though:

    (1) The transferor was deceived as to the identity of the purchaser, or

    (2) The delivery was in exchange for a check which is later dishonored, or

    (3) It was agreed that the transaction was to be a “cash sale”, or

    (4) The delivery was procured through fraud punishable as larcenous under the criminal law.

    (B) Any entrusting of possession of goods to a merchant who deals in goods of that kind gives the merchant power to transfer all rights of the entruster to a buyer in ordinary course of business.

    (C) “Entrusting” includes any delivery and any acquiescence in retention of possession regardless of any condition expressed between the parties to the delivery or acquiescence and regardless of whether the procurement of the entrusting or the possessor’s disposition of the goods have been such as to be larcenous under the criminal law.

    (D) The rights of other purchasers of goods and of lien creditors are governed by the provisions of Chapter 1309. and sections 1307.01 to 1307.40 of the Revised Code.

    The company/person making the threat against TPM sellers that choose to drain cards is in the right. The person that sold to TPM needs to work it out with TPM not the other way around. The gift cards could be sold 8 times down stream before getting in the end user’s hands. Now what went from 1 bad transaction is now 9 bad transactions because of someone trying to illegally get out of their end of the transaction. That’s why the law is written this way and it’s extremely naive to think a small company would want to eat tens of thousands of dollars or more when they have good title to the cards.

  5. Kyle – Good luck with that. If you take it to court, there will be a judgment on both sides. you will win back new gift cards after you make payment for them and no damages. No sympathy for bouncing checks.

  6. Look … all transactions entail some risk. Most proceed without issue. Sometimes, people are victims of fraud. Other times, people are victims of bad luck.

    If you sell a gift card to a vendor, you should be paid for the card in question. Yet, sometimes legitimate businesses file for bankruptcy, with no fraud involved, and customers get hurt.

    I get it.

    And it might not seem fair.

    Yet, I’m not sure about the ethics involved in trying to recoup a loss by liquidating proceeds from gift cards you already sold but have not yet (ever?) received compensation. As a non-lawyer, I won’t even delve into the legal arguments. There are other remedies to pursue.

    Sometimes, you just have to suck it up and move on … no matter how painful.

  7. Ron, I posted the legal arguments above. It’s not really an argument but fairly straightforward law. People’s personal ethics of making themselves whole at any cost are not reflected in the law without going through the courts. And if TPM is indeed bankrupt then you’re getting some fraction of what you’re owed if anything.

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