Monday Musings: Free Points, Last Call for IHG Promotion, eBay Coupon Tip & Much 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) This is the last call for the IHG Priceless Surprises Promotion as per the official rules entries must be postmarked by February 15, 2016 and received by February 22, 2016 (make sure you register first!). I initially stated I was not going to participate but I was home watching the Super Bowl last night & considering I wasn’t going to do much else besides watch the game, this felt like a good time to write up up a few entries. I didn’t max out the 94 entries for me and my wife but did about 30 or so each instead. I should end up with around 15,000 IHG points or so per account.

IHG Priceless Surprise

2) Here are a possible 50 free Starwood Points. I wasn’t targeted on any of my accounts but others have had luck.

3) I actually laughed out at loud at this – you can earn miles for getting plastic surgery, with the most miles for a breast augmentation. No word on whether a larger size gets you more miles.

4) I posted last week that you have until March 17th to cancel your JetBlue American Express credit card if you want to get the signup bonus at any point on the new JetBlue Barclaycard.

JetBlue Conversion Date

5) There were some good comments on my post about getting a successful retention offer on my AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard. My offer was the annual fee waived + 5,000 AA miles for spending $1,000 in 90 days.

6) Last note – if you recently were targeted for a $50 coupon for selling 5 items on eBay, you should have received the $50 off coupon which expires today (or at least mine does). I didn’t have anything to buy with it so instead of wasting it on something I didn’t need, I just bought a $50 eBay gift card to lock in $50 off at eBay. This way I still get $50 off any purchase on eBay with no restrictions or having to worry about expiration dates.

New JetBlue Credit Card Details Released + Why You Should Cancel the American Express JetBlue Card Before March 17th

Earlier this week, several bloggers broke the details behind the new JetBlue credit cards (both a personal and business version) issued by Barclaycard starting in March this year. I highly recommend reading Doctor of Credit’s review of both cards as I find this the most through review I’ve read but here are a quick few highlights of the cards.

New JetBlue Credit Card

New JetBlue Credit Card

Personal Card:

  • 5% Points Rebate When Redeeming Points (no limit)
  • 4x earnings on JetBlue purchases (used to be 2x), 2x earnings on Restaurants/Grocery Stores, 1x earnings on Everything Else
  • $100 Companion Discount if converted from American Express & spend $500 by June 30th
  • 50% Discount on Inflight JetBlue Purchases
  • $40 Annual Fee (same as before)

Business Card:

  • 10% Points Rebate When Redeeming Points (no limit)
  • 6x earnings on JetBlue purchases (used to be 2x), 2x earnings on Restaurants/Office Supply Stores, 1x earnings on Everything Else
  • 5,000 Anniversary Points Every Year
  • Free Checked Baggage
  • $99 Annual Fee (was $40)

Compared to the American Express product, this is a semi-competitive card if you are a regular JetBlue flyer. With my home airport being JFK/LGA, JetBlue is an airline on my radar for domestic/Mexico/Caribbean trips so I plan on obtaining one, if not both of these cards at some point.

Speaking of that, last month I argued that if you are a current JetBlue American Express card holder you should consider canceling your card before the transition in hopes of being able to get the signup bonus on the new JetBlue card. We didn’t know when the transition was occurring but per this letter I just received from American Express (even though my account has been closed for 2 weeks), we now know that any open, existing American Express JetBlue card account will be transferred over to Barclaycard on March 21st. Additionally, March 17th is the last day to cancel the American Express card if you don’t want it converted to the Barclaycard version.

JetBlue Conversion Date

While it is still true we do not know for certain that Barlcaycard will offer a signup bonus on these new cards, I feel confident that we will see at some point a signup bonus of at least 20,000 TrueBlue points (and possibly more). This is not like the transition from the US Airways card to an AAdvantage card for Barclaycard – this is completely new account for Barclaycard and they have the ability to offer this card to new cardholders. Hence why I believe they will offer a signup bonus to entice new customers to get the card.

Hopefully Barclaycard will make the signup bonus known before March 18th so you can wait as long as possible before deciding on what to do with your current American Express JetBlue card. However if they do not, I would be willing to gamble on losing the $100 companion discount in hopes of getting a signup bonus at some point in 2016. I’ve already gone ahead and closed my card (and my wife’s) two weeks ago with no regrets.

What do others think of this strategy?

My Experience Getting a Retention Offer on the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard

In December 2014, my wife and I applied for one final US Airways MasterCard for an easy 50,000 miles before it went away for good and since then, that card has been converted to a Aviator Red card. Now a year later, the annual fee just posted on both my account and my wife’s so we rang up Barclaycard to see what retention offers were available.

AAdvantage-Aviator-RedBefore we called, I had already decided that I was willing to pay the $89 annual fee for both cards.  The biggest reason was for the 10% rebate of AA miles when you use this card to book any AA awards. You can get a maximum rebate of 10,000 miles per year per person which is worth ~$150 to me. Another main reason to keep the card for us was to hopefully get targeted for one of their bonus spend promotions which are usually quite lucrative. Lastly, we do have a handful of domestic flights on AA this year so the priority boarding and possibly the free checked bag benefit might come in handy though this didn’t factor much into my decision to keep the card. Notably I did not factor in the 10,000 anniversary miles as those already posted to our accounts and we’d be able to keep the miles even if we cancelled the cards.

I started with my card and called the number on the back of my card to start the process. I got a front line agent on the phone and once I mentioned I wanted to close my account, she immediately transferred me to the retention department at Barclaycard. There I had a nice gentleman named Tom whose goal was to try and keep me as a “loyal” Barclaycard customer.

He inquired why I wanted to cancel and I causally mentioned that I already have the competing the Citibank AAdvantage Platinum Select card (which may or may not be true anymore) that has almost identical benefits so why should I pay an annual fee on both cards. Without another word, he immediately offered to waive the $89 annual fee and additionally pointed out the annual fee on this card was only $89 while the one from Citibank was $95 implying I should cancel the Citibank card instead.

Aviator Red Annual Fee Waived

Annual Fee Waived

I told him I appreciated the offer to waive the annual fee but I wanted to know if there were any other retention offers that I was eligible for that included miles (it is important to be direct in what you are asking for). After giving him a minute to look at the “promotions page”, Tom came back with this beauty of an offer – 5,000 AA miles for spending $1k in 3 months. That’s a great offer as I am essentially earning 5x on all purchases up to $1,000 in spend and combined with the annual fee being waived, this would be an easy, free 5,000 miles for keeping a card I wanted to keep all along.

Once he confirmed that was the only offer with miles on my account, I accepted it and then asked him to check my wife’s account for a similar offer. After getting my wife to confirm her identity, we were able to skip all the nonsense about why she wanted to cancel the card and he simply just offered my wife the same exact deal (annual fee waived + 5,000 mile promotion) as me. Of course, she took it and we thanked Tom for essentially paying me and my wife to keep our cards open for another year (ok, I didn’t really say that last part).

Let this post serve as a reminder to always try for a retention offer even if you would be willing to pay the annual fee. For this card, I knew a lot of people have had success getting a retention offer so the odds were fairly high we would get the annual fee waived at a bare minimum. The 5,000 miles for spending $1,000 in 3 months is just icing on the cake. I will definitely be taking advantage of that to earn 5x for my non-bonus category spend. And if you happened to targeted (usually via snail mail) with an offer such as 15,000 bonus miles for spending $500/month over 3 months (or other similar offers), you can stack these offers to really rack up the miles without having to pay an annual fee.

Monday Musings – Last Day for 4,500 Avios Awards, 50k Citibank Premier Offer Still Available & Some Very Bad Blogging

I apologize for the lengthy delay between posts but between work and a few personal items going on, it has been quite hectic this past two weeks. Here is a very quick Monday Musings to catch-up on some bigger items I haven’t covered.

1) Today is the last day to book Avios awards within North America for only 4,500 Avios as starting tomorrow the flights will now cost 7,500 Avios. I personally recommend booking any potential flight today as it will only cost you the $5.60 in taxes to cancel the award and I don’t mind paying $5.60 to save 3,000 Avios in the event you need to cancel the award.

NewPricing

2) Remember the huge stink all the big blogs made about the 50,000 point offer on Thank You Premier ending? Their affiliate links might show only 40,000 points but here is the way to get 50,000 point offer still. Or via Dem Flyers, here is a direct link to the offer. Of course, no big blog will mention this.

3) Speaking of other bloggers, last week was an absolute clusterf**k for bad blogging. First we had the The Points Guy telling everyone to get the Chase UR cards (Sapphire, Ink & Freedom) WITHOUT even bringing up the 5/24 rule? How can you possibly write a post on that topic without at least mentioning that for the sake of your readers? That’s a rhetorical question, I know the an$wer$.

Then Twitter and the rest of the Internet exploded when PointChaser literally wrote about her illegal activity in regards to cashing out money orders (bought from using prepaid gift cards) and better yet, recommended it to her readers! I stayed out of the fracas online but you have got to be kidding me with this s**t! My tip: If you don’t fully understand what structuring is, then maybe you shouldn’t advise others on that topic. My 2nd tip: Don’t post about illegal activity in a public forum!

4) IHG devalued their program last week adding two new top tier categories costing 55,000 and 60,000 points a night. It looks the big hits are to popular hotels in major cities (no surprise there). If you want more info on the devaluation, check out this post.

5) I’ll end this post on a positive note – American has been releasing a lot of award space in premium cabins for travel to Europe or Asia. The best available space has been from LA, Dallas, Charlotte and Philly (the last two for European travel only). This is great timing before the big devaluation hits on March 22nd.

I’ll try to get back on a more regular posting schedule shortly – I recommend following me on Twitter @PointsCentric as I’m more likely to tweet out anything interesting or great deals I find there that I won’t get around to posting.