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.

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.

Monday Musings: RIP Serve/Bluebird, Recommended Blogs, Last Call for Hilton Status Match & More

Monday Musings have returned after a two week hiatus. 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. Let’s get the big news from Friday out of the way since I haven’t commented on it – the massive, widespread Serve & Bluebird shutdowns. This day was inevitable as this manufactured spending method lasted a lot longer than I ever thought though I am surprised how quickly the end came about with absolutely no warning signs. This was “easy” MS for many and with its demise, I see a few ways this plays out with how people proceed.

  • Turn to reselling – I agree with this post that reselling is the new more “mainstream” MS item for 2016.
  • Network/Join a MS group – The best MS methods are underground and will never see the light of day on the blogs. It won’t be easy finding them but networking your way into a group will present itself with the best MS opportunities.
  • Retire – Personally, I think there will be a lot of people who loved the ease of Serve/Bluebird who won’t look for additional MS methods unless another similar easy approach comes up (such as Redbird a few years ago).

Goodbye Bluebird

Adios Bluebird/Serve!

I should note some people still have access to their accounts (myself included) as you either didn’t heavily MS on it or didn’t load it online with a credit card. The timing is sort of funny for me as I literally received my new BBVA Compass NBA card on Saturday which can load Serve online. I guess the play is to hit it as hard as possible before I’m shut down? I’ll be the guinea pig and report back how long I’m able to keep my account alive.

2. Adding to the MS troubles this week, the limits on the Nationwide Buxx have dropped to the point where it makes no sense to continue using this as a viable MS method. You used to be able load $500 a week from your credit card for a $2 load fee and you could easily liquidate it by paying your Citi credit card or withdrawing from certain ATMs. The limit has now dropped to $200 with the same $2 load fee so this is another “easy” MS avenue that is now basically dead. Last week was a rough week for MS’ers.

And goodbye to you too NW Buxx!

And goodbye to you too NW Buxx!

3. I’m catching up on some older items but this post from Mile Nerd is a must read – What To Look for In a Blog in 2016. He makes a solid case on what to look for in a blog and I’m honored to make his recommended list. He only listed a handful of blogs, all of which I have been reading for years and I agree with him they are must follows.

4. Today (1/11/16) is the last day for the Hilton Status Match. Instead of emailing Hilton, you can now do this online at this link. If you have top tier status at another hotel chain, I highly recommend matching to Hilton even if you don’t have any Hilton stays planned. I matched my wife’s account even though I doubted she would have any Hilton stays but something came up and she will be using it for the first time in April. So lesson learned – always match when available.

5. Sometime later this week or next, I plan on posting on my latest App-O-Rama and some cards that hit the chopping block. These posts are always popular with readers even though I’ve made the argument you shouldn’t follow what I do since we are in different places with respect to the points/miles game and most likely have different travel goals. Either way, keep an eye out for these posts.

Monday Musings – How to Get a Retention Bonus, Hyatt Diamond Success, & More

My Monday Musings are a little light today and I expect my posts in general to be a bit more sporadic until New Year’s as I will be enjoying the holiday season. That said, if another deal like the Etihad mistake fares around Christmas 2014 occur again, I’ll make sure to get a post up or at the very least, tweet about it from @PointsCentric.

1. I was interviewed for an article about retention bonuses on CreditCardForum.com and I thought the piece was well done. Another blogger, Miles to Memories, was also interviewed for the article and between us, I think we gave some great tips and tricks on how to evaluate and handle a retention call. I highly recommend reading the article or at least bookmarking it the next time you go to cancel a card.

2. Finally, after several back & forths with Hyatt over the past month, I am now officially a Hyatt Diamond member after a successful match of my Hilton Gold status! As most of you know, Hyatt has tightened this status match to currently be for SPG Platinum members who have stayed 20 nights this year. However, I submitted my request for a status match the morning this promotion was announced and argued with Hyatt that they should honor my request because I submitted it before the terms of the offer were changed.

I won’t get into details on the exchanges with them but in short, I basically presented my argument on why Hyatt should match me as I had followed the rules of the promotion at the time I submitted it and it was unfair to change the terms after I already submitted my application. The Gold Passport team kept refusing the match but once Hyatt got their consumer affairs team involved, my account was finally upgraded. This obviously isn’t replicable unless you submitted your request before noon EST on 11/20 (which is when Hyatt told me the terms of the offer changed). If you did, I would push for the status even if you’ve been denied. In the case, perseverance was key. I’m excited to try my new diamond status at the Grand Hyatt Kauai next year.

HyattDiamondSuccessEmail

3. Speaking of Kauai, I finally got my first class Hawaii award flights I mentioned a few weeks ago booked. I’ve been monitoring United award space between EWR-HNL like a hawk (checking several times daily) and I finally saw space open on a Sunday red-eye home. I took a chance and instead of booking it right then and there with United miles for 40k miles per person, I transferred Citibank Thank You Points to Singapore to save 10k miles per person. I had to wait about 26 hours for the transfer but lucky for me, the award space was still there. Right now we are planning on spending 3 nights in Honolulu and 6 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai. For Honolulu anyone have recommendations for a nice hotel?

UAFirstClassHawaiiSeat

UA BusinessFirst EWR – HNL Seats

4. I’ve pretty much stopped all reselling activities until the New Year. I’m relatively new to reselling & I might be overly cautious by doing this but I am worried about the Christmas hangover on sales and the increased threat of returns. If I see a screaming deal, I might jump on it but for now I’m content to sit out a few weeks and start fresh for 2016.

5. Lastly, I thought this was an impressive article on hacking movie tickets. I’m not a movie person (seriously, the list of classic or “must-see” movies I haven’t seen is quite embarrassing) so this isn’t for me but still nice to know if you are into movies.

Monday Musings – Craigslist Reselling Fail, AwardWallet Love & Please Don’t Get the Premier Rewards Gold Amex Now

1. If you’ve followed my posts over the past few months, I’ve talked about how I have been using reselling as a way to increase my manufactured spending and for the most part, I’ve had a lot of success. However, this past weekend I tried selling a laptop on Craigslist and got a pretty interesting exchange out of it.

The quick backstory is a guy named Alex emailed about the laptop asking some normal questions about it and after a few email exchanges, he wanted to come by to pick it up. I said no problem and that morning, we exchanged cell phone numbers. Without any other communications, this is what happened:

CL Fail

Umm…what? I have so many questions. Was this guy just a prankster? Or was this text meant for someone else? Did he think I was into him (for the record I’m happily married)? So many unknowns but after being annoyed that he wasted my time, I got a good laugh out of the whole situation. And I imagined to unload the laptop on Amazon the next day so I did get the last laugh.

2. I love AwardWallet – it’s by far the easiest way to track the balances and expiration dates of all my (and my wife’s) airline and hotel loyalty accounts in one place instead of having to log into each and every account. From this post, I learned Award Wallet can actually do a lot more and track your rewards for stores like Best Buy, Staples, CVS and even monitor your cashback balances at shopping portals like Topcashback, Shop at Home and eBates. Very cool feature I didn’t know about that will save even more time now. If you haven’t signed up for AwardWallet yet, I highly recommend it. And if you’d like an invite to AwardWallet’s new beta version let me know – I have a few invites I can share.

AW Beta

3. I refuse to link to this post since its only purpose as a post was to serve as an advertisement but Ben at One Mile at a Time posted why you should get the American Express Premier Rewards card now. His argument, as I read it, basically stated to get the card now because 1) the 25,000 point signup bonus is basically as good as it gets since American Express doesn’t have large signup bonuses anymore and 2) you can get the $100 airline credit for both 2015 and again for 2016 in your first year as a card member.

I’ll start with the second point above in which Ben is absolutely correct but he fails to mention you can always double dip on this $100 credit in one membership year. Let’s say you waited until Feb. 2016 to get the card, you can still double dip on the credit in 2016 and 2017 while it is still just one membership year. So his argument to get the card now fails since this double dip is almost always available. If he argued for a potential triple dip, I might have bought that as a legitimately good reason.

For his other main point, I think it is a poor idea to just settle for the standard 25,000 point signup bonus. Remember, American Express will only give you the bonus once a lifetime so ideally you want to make each applicaion count and apply for the card at or near its peak. So why rush to get it now as he says since the signup bonus is only 25,000 points which you can get at almost anytime? I wouldn’t settle for less than 50,000 points on this card unless I was in a crunch for MR points. I think for a “prominent” blogger Ben is giving some awful advice here.

4. Lastly my mini, trivial rant of the day. Why do transfers from different banks to the same frequent flyer program (in this case Singapore Krisflyer) take different amounts of time? I think the answer relates to how the bank processes it but it’s kind of crummy that Amex can send my points over to Singapore in just hours while for Citibank I am waiting over a day now. Yes, I know that’s well within the expected timeframe of 1-2 days for Citibank but it’s frustrating when one bank can do the same exact thing much better. Fingers crossed the award space doesn’t disappear. 

P.S. Don’t get forget today is the last day to book any Hyatt awards before Hyatt takes the Gold Passport loyalty program offline for a few days. If you don’t book today, you must wait until Dec. 19th to book any type of awards or even access your account.