Quick Deal: 500 Bonus Hyatt Points for Each Mobile Booking

Hyatt recently announced a special 500 point bonus offer to entice customers to book hotel stays through the Hyatt App or Hyatt Mobile App. This offer is good for all stays through September 30, 2015. I don’t believe any registration is required.

Hyatt500Bonus

It appears that each stay booked via a mobile method mentioned above, except for stays at M Life hotels and resorts, is eligible for the 500 point bonus with no limit of how many bonus points one can earn. The only limitation is you can only earn one 500 point bonus per stay, even if you book multiple rooms. Award reservations are not eligible for the bonus.

This is a nice little bonus offer from Hyatt just for booking via a phone instead of a computer or calling Hyatt customer service. If you have any upcoming stays with Hyatt in the next 2 months, make sure to book them via your mobile device. And if you have a stay previously booked and the rate hasn’t changed, I would cancel it and rebook via a mobile device to pickup an extra 500 points.

Here are the complete terms of the offer:

“To earn 500 Hyatt Gold Passport points under this offer, you must book a new stay on an Eligible Rate through the Hyatt App or the Hyatt Mobile Site. Both reservation and stay must be made and completed August 1, 2015 through September 30, 2015 at any Hyatt hotel, excluding M life resorts. Eligible Rate is defined in the Hyatt Gold Passport terms and conditions. All hotel reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance.

Hyatt Gold Passport membership at time of stay is required and members must provide their membership number and be a registered guest of the room. Membership is free and enrollment is available at goldpassport.com or at a participating hotel. Only one 500 point bonus may be earned per member, per stay, regardless of how many rooms are booked. This offer is subject to the complete terms and conditions of Hyatt Gold Passport. Please allow 2-3 weeks after stay is completed for points to be credited to account. “

Quick Deal: 5,000 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for a Free Solar Energy Consulation

NRG Home Solar is offering 5,000 American Airline AAdvantage miles for setting up a FREE consultation to discuss a solar energy solution for your home and an 25,000 additional miles if signup and install solar panels.

NRGSolar

I’ve been aware of other offers to switch energy providers or signup for other solar energy providers but those all required some sort of purchase. This is the first offer I’m aware of where you can earn miles simply for meeting with them. You can request a consultation online or call them at 1-888-537-7898 and mention offer code AAL30k.

The requirements to be eligible for the consultation are:

  • Must be a resident of California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey or New York
  • First time NRG Home Solar customer
  • Own a “solar-feasible roof”

I’ve read through the fine print of the offer and it seems as long as you qualify for a free consultation above then this should be an easy way to earn 5,000 AA miles which I value at around ~$75. I’m not sure how much time you will need to commit to the consultation (which is at your house, I can’t imagine it’s more than an hour or so), I’d say this is probably worth considering if you have some free time and don’t mind the inevitable hard sell.

Is Bank of America Cracking Down on the $100 Alaska Airlines Statement Credit?

For a long time, it was easy to get approved for multiple Alaska Airlines cards in a day until Bank of America recently started cracking down on that. Even better was that you could usually find a direct link for the card that had a $100 statement credit so Bank of America would literally be paying you to acquire 25k Alaska Airline miles. The $100 statement credit offer was suppose to be for those who purchased an Alaska Airlines flight but it was possible to attempt a dummy booking and you would usually see the offer right before you would have to pay for the flight. It has come to my attention that that Bank of America might be cracking down on those who signed up for the card with the $100 statement credit without purchasing a flight as I know of at least one report now that Bank of America refused to issue the $100 statement credit.

PointsCentric reader Kenny recently commented on this post how he was refused the $100 statement credit after spending $1,000 on the Alaska Airlines credit card. He disputed this with Bank of America who in turn sent him a letter officially denying him the $100 statement credit. Kenny has allowed me to share a snapshot of that letter below.

Alaska100Denial

This is the first I’ve heard about this so I don’t know yet if this is an outlier case or the new trend. It could also be possible the reader thought he signed up via a link with the $100 statement credit but actually didn’t (it did say in the letter he signed up via the Alaska Airlines homepage). Personally I think that’s unlikely – it’s very obvious when you signup for the card whether there is a $100 statement credit or not. 

The timing of this is quite interesting as I recently got 2x Alaska cards with the $100 statement credit back in May. I met the $1,000 spend requirement on one card early in May and got my $100 statement credit. However for the other card I actually just met the spend requirement this past weekend. I will keep you updated if that $100 credit posts. 

There are several things to take away from this:

  • Alaska Airlines must be providing BofA this information as BofA would not be able to tell if you actually purchased a flight.
  • If this is indeed a new policy, does it impact any card that has not met the minimum spend yet? I should be able to determine this if the credit posts to my second card.  
  • Unless it does post and that leasd to this question – Does it affect cards that were applied for after a certain date? I need to ask the reader who shared this when he applied for the card. 
  • At the very least, there is now some risk you would be wasting a $1,000 of spend on this card. Since your return is about 10% (little less unless you spend exactly $1,000), I would still chance it for now until I see other reports confirming this. 
  • Lastly, even if the $100 statement credit never posts, I’d still be happy earning 25k Alaska miles for a $79 annual fee. 

Let this serve as a reminder that the Hobby (corrected link to the Rolling Stone Article) is always changing and evolving. What works today, may not work tomorrow.

Has anyone else run into this issue? 

(HT to Kenny for alerting me of this issue)

 

Award Trip Breakdown: Our Antigua Flights & Review of the Big Banana (Club 1761) Lounge

We got back last week from our short 4 night stay in Antigua over the July 4th weekend and I’ll start by giving a quick recap of our flights as well as a review of the Big Banana (Club 1761) Executive lounge, a Priority Pass affiliated lounge in the Antigua V. C. Bird International Airport.

I wrote how I booked these flights earlier by using the American Airlines Award Mapper tool to help me plan a trip to the Caribbean over the holiday weekend. I booked these roundtrip flights using only 20,000 British Airways Avios per person instead of 35,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles that American would have charged.  I won’t go into too much detail as no one wants to read about a run of the mill economy class flight to the Caribbean but in case you didn’t know, American Airlines tends to fly some of their oldest 737s and 757s on these routes. Our flight to Antigua was uneventful but was on a old 737-800 that had seen better days. We did have lounge access to the Admirals Club at JFK T8 but due to timing, we didn’t have a chance to check it out.

AAFlightfromAntigua

No jetways in Antigua

The way home has a little more to discuss as we had lounge access again, this time thanks to my Priority Pass membership that came with my Citi Prestige card. After clearing security, the seating area at Antigua V. C. Bird International Airport is quite dismal. It opens up to a relatively small seating area in the center of the terminal that has a few gift shops and a food counter. Interestingly, you are not allowed to proceed to the gates until they call boarding and they do that since the gate area isn’t like a traditional gate area – it is basically 4 doors (4 gates) right next to each other with no seating in that area at all.  In short, you don’t want to spend a lot of time in this airport as it is quite small and outdated though a new terminal should be opening soon from what our driver told us on the way to the airport.

Anyway, we felt lucky to escape to the lounge which was a quick walk upstairs. I don’t have a picture of this but when you got to the top of the stairs, it was a ghost town. Just a bunch of empty chairs and a vending machine that was chained up. There was literally no signs of life upon entering this floor. However, off to the left & tucked away in the corner was the lounge entrance which could easily be missed.

We walked into the lounge and I was immediately hit with some sort of odor – I don’t know whether it was related to the humanity, stale air or what but it wasn’t the most pleasant. We decided to stick it out as sitting downstairs in the crowded terminal wasn’t appealing either. Upon entering I presented my Priority Pass card and we were promptly admitted with the host leading us to a couch area and asking us for any drinks which I thought was a nice touch.

Lounge3

View from the entrance

Seating Area

Seating Area

We had about 45 minutes to kill before boarding so I took a look at the food and beverage offerings. The bar (alcoholic drinks were complementary) had your standard selection of booze in addition to water and soft drinks available. The food however, left a lot to be desired. It basically consisted of fruit, cheese, crackers and some finger sandwiches but I got this impression this lounge wasn’t the cleanest and that kind of scared me away from the food. It wasn’t that the lounge was dirty per se but more I wasn’t sure proper hygienic precautions were taken with the handling of the food. It very well could be fine (and probably was) but I chose to stay away.

Lounge2

The lounge had Wifi and was reasonably quick so that helped pass the 45 minutes quite quickly until it was time to board. Remember how I said you wait in the middle of the terminal until they let you into the gate area to board? Well this became interestingly when my name was called butchered over the intercom.

You see I was using a mobile boarding pass which wasn’t an issue for security or immigration officials but was an issue for the agent guarding the gate area entrance. I explained I was called to the gate and she asked for my boarding pass. When I presented my phone, she was in disbelief that this my boarding pass and kept saying boarding pass at me. After standing there for a minute going back and forth, someone else came over and upon seeing my mobile pass, printed me out a paper boarding pass and I was admitted to the gate area.

SSSS

So why was I called over to the gate area? See that SSSS on my boarding pass? That meant I was selected for a secondary security screening selection in which they went through my carry-on, swabbed my hands and bags for explosives and gave me a quick pat-down. Protip: It helps to pay attention to them as I was instead staring outside at the planes and was promptly yelled at to pay attention or else. It was a not so nice end to my time in Antigua.

Our flight home was also uneventful though I was grateful for Global Entry as the immigration line was quite long when we entered the terminal. With no bags to pick up, we spend through the customs and we were on our way to the Air Train to head home.

Summary:

From the NY area, at least until JetBlue begins their non-stop service in November, you can’t beat the ease of the American Airlines non-stop flights to Antigua. With prices generally over $500 on this route, this is an excellent route to redeem Avios on and award space has been pretty available in the little bit I’ve monitored it. The lounge in Antigua is nothing to write home about but I guess it beats the terminal due to the free Wifi. Hopefully the unpleasant odor that was in the lounge was a one time incident and future experiences will be better.

Stay tuned for the final post of this Award Trip Breakdown in which I review the Sandals Grande Antigua and tell you everything you need to know about it.

The Latest App-O-Rama Results – An Easy 150,000 Miles + $200 in Airline Gift Cards for only $79

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is “what credit cards do you have?” so I thought I would share the results of my wife’s latest app-o-rama. While some will argue the following is outdated, my wife and I stick to applying for credit cards around every 91 days or so, though we do make exceptions if there is an amazing, limited time offer. Between the two of us, we have applied for 76 credit cards in the past 4 years and have only been denied twice (and for the doubters who think our credit scores are awful, they have actually gone up since we first started this). Safe to say this method hasn’t let us down so I don’t see any reason to change it.

My FICO score

My FICO score

 

Andrea's FICO score

Andrea’s FICO score

One last note before I get into what cards we applied for this time around. The cards we chose to apply for below matched our needs based on our future travel goals and what cards we were able to apply for/haven’t had before. I felt comfortable making this a smaller churn with only 3 cards but some people will only feel comfortable doing 1 card while others will do 8 at a time. The average person may or may not benefit from following our example below but if you want a personalized assessment of what cards to acquire based on your travel goals and credit history, please check out my consulting service.

App-O-Rama Results

Our main focus for this round of application was to increase our airlines miles. We’re sitting on millions of hotel points spread across several programs so I felt comfortable bypassing any hotel cards this time around. We ended up applying for two cards that offer flexible points in the sense they can be transferred to many different airlines (or could also be used to pay for tickets at a fixed value) and one card that offers straight airline miles. Without further ado:

1. American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card Offer of 50,000 points for spending $1,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $195 waived for the first year. Automatically approved (this is a charge card so no credit limit).

AmexPRG

Benefits:

  • $100 airline credit annually (based on a calendar year so can use this credit twice before the annual fee is due). This is where I am getting the $200 in airline gift cards.
  • 3x miles on airfare purchases
  • 2x miles on US gas purchases
  • 2x miles on US restaurant purchases
  • 2x miles on US supermarket purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases

The public offer on this card is only 25,000 points but if you open this link in an incognito window you might be able to get the 50,000 point offer to appear. It did not work in incognito Chrome for my wife but did in Firefox and Internet Explorer in their private browsers. We use Membership Rewards points for airline miles as MR points transfer to 23 different airline partners covering all major airline alliances and smaller airlines like JetBlue, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic & Virgin America.

Interestingly enough, neither Andrea or I ever held this card before so this was an easy decision to increase our Membership Rewards balance since she was able to generate the 50,000 point offer via a private Firefox window.

2. Citibank Thank You Premier Offer of 50,000 points for spending $3,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $95 waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $10,300 credit line.

CitiTYPremier

Benefits:

  • 3x miles on travel purchases
  • 3x miles on gas purchases
  • 2x miles on dining purchases
  • 2x miles on entertainment purchases
  • 1x miles on all other purchases

Citibank is making a strong push with its ThankYou points program recently and I find myself looking to increase our ThankYou points balance substantially. If you have a Prestige card, ThankYou points can be redeemed at a rate of 1.6 cents a point towards paid American Airlines tickets  (1.33 cents on flights on other airlines) and you would earn miles for flying on these tickets since these are considered ‘paid’ tickets. This is a pretty big benefit as you don’t have to worry about award availability though if you want to travel in premium cabins, this not the way to go. If you don’t have a Prestige card, then points can be redeemed for paid flights at a value of 1.25 cents a point.

ThankYou points can also be transferred to 11 airlines, including Singapore, Virgin Atlantic and Flying Blue which are probably the best values for transferring ThankYou points. The points also transfer to Hilton HHonors at a rate of 1.5 ThankYou points to 1 Hilton HHonors point. I could see myself transferring them to Singapore most frequently or using them for American Airlines flights as mentioned above since I have a Prestige card and my wife can transfer her points to me.

3. Barclays Lufthansa Miles & More World MasterCard Offer of 50,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. Annual fee of $79 NOT waived for the first year. Automatically approved with a $19,000 credit line.

Milesandmorecard

Benefits:

  • 2x miles on airfare purchases from Miles & More airlines
  • 1x miles on all other purchases
  • Annual companion ticket (though I don’t foresee us ever using this)

This card isn’t the most popular one out there but I wanted to add another card to this round of applications that wasn’t from Citi, Amex or Chase so I was left with a Barclays or Bank of America card. My wife just got 2x Alaska cards earlier this year and I wasn’t interested in the Virgin Atlantic card due to the high spending requirements so this left the Lufthansa card for us.

I got this card solely for the 50,000 miles with plans to use these miles for United flights, mostly to the Caribbean or domestic first class since those tickets are only 17,000 miles each way instead of the 25,000 miles United charge for the same exact flight. Miles & More also offers discounted award flights via Miles Bargain to Europe for only 30,000 miles so that could be an option though fuel surcharges are a deterrent there. Here is a list of the best uses for Lufthansa miles. For most people, I wouldn’t recommend this card until you’ve run out of options but 50,000 miles is the best offer I’ve seen on this card.

Summary

This was the absolute best case app-o-rama as I was shocked to see my wife get 3 auto approvals so she didn’t have to get on the phone to call the reconsideration departments. Auto approvals almost never happen anymore for either of us so I’ll take this as a pleasant surprise. For an out of pocket cost of $79 (the upfront annual fee on the Lufthansa card), my wife will earn 150,000+ points/miles plus $200 in airline gift cards. We do have to spend $9,000 in 3 months but a little manufactured spending will make this pretty feasible.

Full disclosure: I do not have any affiliate links and as such, there are NO affiliate links in this post. I have included links to the cards to make it easy for readers to access the card and learn more about them.