Travel Hacking Year End Checklist: Here is What You Need to Do Before January 1st

Year end is here and as such, there are several calendar year opportunities that you want to make sure you’ve taken advantage of before Thursday. Additionally, there are some limited time opportunities that may not be around much longer, so I’ve included those items below as well.

The clock is ticking...

The clock is ticking…

Here is a list of items you want to make sure you’ve taken care of before the clock strikes midnight on December 31st.

1. Spend the $200 American Express Platinum Airline Credit – Each calendar year, Amex Platinum cardholders (both personal and business) get a $200 airline credit to spend toward fees on a specified airline. You must first select the airline here and if you made a selection last year, it is automatically carried forward for 2014 (you can change this selection once a year in January). Even though the official language regarding this credit is meant to cover baggage fees, lounge passes etc., I always buy gift cards to make sure I fulfill this $200 credit, since I wouldn’t complete it on fees alone. Buying $50 Delta e-gift cards or $100 American Airlines gift cards does the trick. 

2. Spend the $300 Ritz Carlton Credit Card Travel Credit – Similar to the Amex Platinum above, the Ritz Carlton credit card offers $300 annually in travel credit for baggage fees, lounge passes, seat upgrades and other fees, but with two key differences: 1) The $300 credit can cover multiple charges from different airlines and 2) You have to call in to request reimbursement. This second part makes it a little trickier to use this credit for gift cards since they aren’t technically eligible for reimbursement and by having a person manually review every charge (as compared to the Amex Platinum where the credit is automatically generated) it is harder to get reimbursed for gift cards. There are two good threads that have some reports on people getting reimbursed for gift cards here and here. It seems buying gift cards in denominations of stated fees, such as pet fees and checked baggage fees have been working if you are willing to fudge the truth on what the charge is actually for if the agent asks. This is a YMMV scenario.

3. Book Hyatt My Elite Rate & Book via Hyatt Mobile App- I’ve covered this before but Hyatt is ending the My Elite Rate in 2015. If you have any known paid stays upcoming in 2015, you might want to lock in the My Elite Rate now and if you see it go cheaper or your plans change, you could always cancel as most My Elite Rates are cancelable up until a few days before the stay. In addition, the ability to earn 1,000 bonus points if you book a stay via the Hyatt mobile app is ending on 12/31.

4. Maximize Chase Freedom 4th Quarter 5% Bonus – The Chase Freedom Q4 5% Bonus is Amazon.com, Zappos.com and select Department stores. In these categories you will earn 5% cash back up to $1,500 in spend in these categories.  I’m a big Amazon shopper so I will always stock up on Amazon gift cards when the 5% bonus is active on the Freedom card to make sure I hit the $1,500 in spend. You could take a similar approach for department stores or Zappos by buying gift cards for future purchases.

5. Apply for the US Airways MasterCard  – I’m technically cheating on this one since I believe this offer will be around after 12/31 but now is a great time to apply for the US Airways MasterCard. This card is going away at some point in early 2015 (maybe January 18th?) and this is the final call to earn a signup bonus on this card. The current offers are 50,000 miles after first purchase that is valid for everyone and an offer targeted for Preferred Members that offers the same 50,000 miles + 10,000 miles upon renewal. I’ve heard several reports that if you apply for the offer meant for Preferred members but you aren’t a Preferred member and you do not get automatically approved, Barclays will no longer approve you for this offer if you call the reconsideration line. In that case, I recommend going for the standard 50,000 offer and remember there is a refer a friend offer ongoing.

6. Earn 500 Free Points from Virgin America – This is a pretty easy 500 points for a minute of work but this offer expires on 12/31. Here is the link to the offer as well as my write-up on the offer.

7. Check Your American Express Offers – Many good deals expire on 12/31/14 including $10 off Uber, $15 off Toys R Us, and others. If you didn’t register for some of these offers earlier, they may not appear in your account now and others were more targeted. However, for the ones you do have, check to see if any expiring 12/31 offers are worth taking advantage of.

8. Try to Earn 1,000 Free Hilton HHonors Points – Hilton HHonors is running a targeted promotion that gives users 1,000 free HHonors points for updating your email address. I wasn’t targeted as I got a message indicating they had my email address on file. This offer expires on 12/31 so I think its worth a minute of your time to see if your account is eligible for a free 1,000 points.

9. Take 10% off Hyatt Stays with Hyatt Gift Cards – I’ve discussed this deal previously and while the expiration date for this promotion isn’t known, it is widely assumed to be 12/31/14.

I’m sure I missed something here. What else are you doing before year end? Thanks to PointChaser for inspiration of this post.

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7 thoughts on “Travel Hacking Year End Checklist: Here is What You Need to Do Before January 1st

  1. great post!

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  2. Question from someone who made a complete rookie mistake… I miscalculated the time since my last applications were submitted and I applied for the US Airways card and was declined. I also made the error of not calling them right away since I realized at that time my date miscalculation. What do you think would be the best course of action now? Should I wait another 3 months before trying to apply for anything again? So annoyed and embarrassed but don’t want ot miss out on the great offers!

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  3. Just to update my post, turns out I was declined neither because of the timing or my credit status. I got a letter today saying the offer ( 5,000 plus 10,000 on renew date) is only offered to premier members of the US airways mileage plan thereby disqualifying me!

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  4. I keep hearing more about this situation happening to others and Gary at VFTW posted about this. I’ve stopped recommending the Preferred offer to non-Preferred members. I think you can actually apply for the card again in 30 days.

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  5. […] Travel Hacking Year End Checklist: Here is What You Need to Do Before January 1st  –  PointsCentric    Great list, today is the day, GO! […]

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