Monday Musings – Slow Week, More on Cyber Monday and a Useful Tip with Chase Freedom & Amazon

Welcome to this week’s Monday Musings. As a reminder, Monday Musings is a weekly series where I rattle off a few thoughts I have that mostly relate to points/miles, travel and I might highlight other posts/news/nuggets I found interesting from the past week. For those that are football fans and read Peter King’s MMQB, think of this as similar to his “A Few Things I Think I Think” section.

1. Felt like a slow week in the points & miles world (maybe due to the holiday?) but the biggest item to me was that Hilton is also offering status matches. I’m sure many of you are already Hilton Gold as there at least 3 cards that offer this benefit easily but if you are a top elite in another program, you might get matched to Hilton Diamond. Email to get started.

2. Speaking of status matches, Hyatt finally responded and let me know they can’t offer squat. I knew this was coming but still slightly bothered by the whole fiasco as I personally know others with the same status (SPG or Hilton Gold) who got matched to Hyatt Diamond. Oh well, on to the next one.


3. Not sure if it’s just me but I was sorely disappointed with the travel related Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. If you want to see the best deals available today, I recommend reading this post by Tagging Miles as this was the best roundup I saw specific to travel deals on Cyber Monday.

4. Last week I mentioned earning 10x per dollar spent on Amazon (up to $1,500) by using a Chase Freedom card and to maximize the promotion, I plan on buying gift cards to cover the amount I don’t spend on actual items. The tip I learned is even if you use gift cards for the majority of an order, as long as you put some amount on your Freedom card you are covered for extended warranty protection. (H/T to Reddit)

Happy Thanksgiving! (And Some Notes about Black Friday/Cyber Monday)

A very Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers and clients!

Some Random Notes I Want to Share on Black Friday/Cyber Monday Deals:

I am not expecting any amazing deals related to travel from either the airlines or hotel chains but I’ve included the links below for each “sale” I am aware of. For the airlines, Delta has a “Pre-Black Friday Sale” that discounts award tickets to 10,000 miles on some flights. Go to this link for the applicable flights and travel date restrictions. My one question is how can Delta have a sale on award flights when there is no published award chart stating what these flights normally cost?

I see that Starwood has a 30% off sale, Marriott matched that (starting tomorrow), and Hilton did the same as well though the travel dates are more limited. If you have upcoming stays that you know about, even if you already booked them, double-check the prices with this sale and you might be able to save a few bucks. Last year, I was able to score 50% off at Hilton Waikoloa Village in Hawaii (I got the new MAKAI rooms at around $120/night) but this year’s deals don’t seem to present the same opportunities.

Today has already started with some great deals on electronics from the usual array of retailers including Target, Staples & Best Buy. A lot of the good stuff is sold out already but I was able to pick up some iPad Mini’s 4 that I plan to resell on Amazon. With Staples, make sure to checkout with Visa Checkout this weekend for another $25 off.

I don’t plan on posting anything over this holiday weekend but I recommend following my Twitter feed @PointsCentric as I will be posting any amazing deals or opportunities there.


Monday Musings – Today Starts 10x at Amazon, No Hyatt Diamond Status For You, Free Miles and More

Welcome to this week’s Monday Musings. As a reminder, Monday Musings is a weekly series where I rattle off a few thoughts I have that mostly relate to points/miles, travel and I might highlight other posts/news/nuggets I found interesting from the past week. For those that are football fans and read Peter King’s MMQB, think of this as similar to his “A Few Things I Think I Think” section.

1. Today is the first day you can earn 10 points per dollar spent at Amazon (and some other online retailers) if you use your Chase Freedom. Speaking of the Freedom, the signup bonus is up to 17,500 points (or $175 cash back as advertised). Chase Sapphire Preferred is up to 55,000 points but if you have applied for more than 5 lines of credit in the past 2 years, forget about applying for these cards.


2. If you have either of one of those cards above, you should be able to refer others via Chase’s Refer a Friend program for some bonus points. I have both cards but for whatever reason, I cannot refer others (and it has been this way for over a year now). If you are interested in signing up, find a friend who has the card and let them refer you for the bonus points.

3. Last week was pretty rough for “The Hobby”. I’m talking of course about the American Airlines devaluation and the SPG-Marriott merger. With the AA devaluation, rates are drastically increasing for first class and business class awards which I can’t say is too surprising. If you don’t mind flying coach overseas, than this devaluation has only a minimal impact. Instead of rehashing everything, I thought this post showed some nice charts with the changes.

It is too early to speculate on the changes coming to SPG but based on prior mergers and consolidations, it most likely won’t be good news for us with sizable SPG balances. It also probably will be painful for SPG elites but I could care less about that since I don’t chase status. I am not going out of my way to spend down my SPG balance but if I had to wager, I will make sure I use or transfer my SPG points before they turn into Marriott points. I think Marriott’s reward program is garbage as its the only major hotel program I’ve never cared for. Lack of inspirational properties combined with high award rates (e.g. Courtyard Marriott for 50,000 points in the middle of nowhere)

4. Speaking of the AA devaluation, I found it strange to see bloggers claim how terrible the changes are but then try to sell a bunch of AA credit cards in the same post. Kind of two different messages, no?

5. In this week’s sign that credit card pumping bloggers make way too much money, The Points Guy paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $25k-$30k (update: he confirmed he did pay $32k) for a one way flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi to check out Etihad’s new First Residence (which contains a bedroom, living room, ensuite bathroom and private butler) on their A380. It looks amazing for sure but to drop that much cash for a one way, 12 hour flight is quite telling to how well he is doing. #PumpingPays


6. Hyatt offering a status match to Diamons turned into a giant clusterf**k as emails/tweets when unaswered for days until most people received an offer for Platinum status, myself included. Thanks but if you spent 2 seconds looking atmy  account Hyatt, you know I already have Platinum status. It seems unless if you contacted them when this first was announced, you might have received Diamond status before Hyatt changed the promotion. Timing is everything in this game but boo on Hyatt for the selective change of terms. 

M6. Lastly, here are 100 free Aeroplan miles.

Happy Monday!

Good Deal Alert: Save 10-15% on All Hyatt Hotels + Easy Hyatt Diamond Status Match

Update: Hyatt is now only matching to Platinum status unless you are top tier at SPG, Hilton or Marriott. 

There are actually two separate promotions going on right that anyone with future Hyatt stays should take advantage of. Let’s break them down.

1. Save 10-15% on All Future Hyatt Stays – It what appears to be an annual offering from Hyatt, through November 24th per this Flyertalk thread, Hyatt is offering 10% off gift cards, e-gift cards and certificate checks when using promo code GPGIFT15. Here is the link to purchase these gift cards or certificates.

HyattGiftCard HyattGiftCard

However there is a way to make this offer better if you have an American Express business card enrolled in OPEN Savings (such as the SPG Business or Amex Business Platinum cards). In years past, purchasing gift cards would qualify for the 5% discount offered by the OPEN Savings program for Hyatt purchases and I assume this will continue to be the case this year as well.  This is the last year you can use this benefit as Hyatt is leaving the OPEN Savings program on 1/1/16 so make sure to put these purchases on a card that is enrolled in OPEN Savings even if means giving up 3x Hyatt points for using the Hyatt Visa as I much rather earn 1 SPG point & get an extra 5% discount  instead.

This is a great way to lock in a ~15% discount (technically slightly less than 15%) on all future Hyatt stays. I am participating in this offer as even though I have a few Hyatt stays next year booked solely on points, this is a fantastic way to basically get 15% off all incidents at the hotel (food, activities etc.)

2. Easy Status Match to Diamond Status – The big news yesterday was that Hyatt has introduced a new status match to Hyatt Diamond status that will be quite easy for many of you to achieve. All Hyatt is asking for to get matched to Diamond status is proof of elite status at any other hotel chain with at least one eligible stay this year. Now many of us have some form of elite status from credit cards and most of them will work for this status match! If you have Hilton Gold (from the  American Express Surpass or Citi Hilton Reserve credit cards), IHG Platinum (from IHG credit card), Marriott Gold (from Ritz Carlton credit card) or Starwood Gold (American Express Platinum card), you can use that to get matched!

You can either send a DM to their twitter team @HyattConcierge but I recommend emailing Hyatt Gold Passport at with proof of your elite status, proof of at least one stay and your Hyatt Membership number. As you might expect, they are overwhelmed with responses so it is taking some time for them to respond so don’t expect a response right away. To be honest, this deal seems too good to be true but people are already reporting success so let’s hope it continues for everyone else!

Monday Musings – Paris, Record Time for Amex MR to Singapore Transfer & More

Welcome to this week’s Monday Musings. As a reminder, Monday Musings is a weekly series where  I rattle off a few thoughts I have that mostly relate to points/miles, travel and I might highlight other posts/news/nuggets I found interesting from the past week. For those that are football fans and read Peter King’s MMQB, think of this as similar to his “A Few Things I Think I Think” section.

1. Just an unconscionable and unbelievable act of terrorism Friday night in Paris. Truly scary and I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I was in Paris at that time. We went to Paris for the first time last year and loved the City of Lights. This act will NOT deter me from returning and I hope others visit to experience how great Paris is. #PrayforParis


2. I have plenty of experiencing booking Singapore awards for clients but this was the first time booking for myself and with no Singapore Krisflyer miles, I had to transfer them in. I decided to transfer American Express Membership Rewards to Singapore and I was fully expecting a 12-24 hour timeframe to wait for the miles to post. Instead, the miles posted in only 2 hours! I know this because I initated the transfer just after midnight EST and at 1:45 am EST, I received the email below. “My first transaction” was the miles hitting the account – I’ve never seen Singapore transfers happen this quickly so that’s pretty awesome. In reality though, Singapore probably processes these transactions once a day and I happened to submit my transfer right before the cutoff.

Singapore Email

3. Why did I need Singapore miles? I booked our outbound flights to Hawaii flying Newark to Honolulu nonstop on United in business class (with flat beds on their 767). I could have booked this for 40,000 United miles per person but the much better way to book this is with 30,000 Singapore miles per person. The cash price for this flight was $1,750 per person so I consider this a great use of miles.

4. Delta becomes the first US airline to try and sell their version of “premium economy” (called Comfort +) as a whole separate fare class (just like economy, business etc.) instead of just having it for paid or Medallion upgrades. Here are some FAQs about the changes. The notable change for travel hackers is that you can now redeem miles directly for a Comfort + seats. I can’t wait to see Delta charge 70,000 miles one way for ATL-LAX Comfort + seat. I’m only half kidding. #SkyPesos

5. I tried out Plastiq and signed up for a Nationwide Visa Buxx account (long overdue I know) this weekend as ways to increase manufactured spend. I won’t get too much into it now but will report back once I get a feel how things are going.