Monday Musings – Walmart Sucks, Hilton Status Match Success, Reselling Notes & 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. You know the recent $15 off $35 offer Amex Offer at Walmart.com? Well, I got it on 7 cards between my wife & I and since I don’t shop at Walmart, I tried to buy e-gift cards to resell. However, Walmart is cancelling every e-gift card offer after initially letting it go through.

E-Gft Card error

After this happened twice, I called up to complain and was told “if you never placed an order online with Walmart.com before with that specific card, you cannot buy e-gift cards”. This is apparently done to combat fraud. Umm, what a load of crap! I think this is Walmart intentionally doing this in response to the Amex Offer deal to prevent people from gaming it with gift cards and reselling them. Remember, this happened with the Sam’s Club Amex Offer which was $20 off a $20 purchase offer and people had issues buying gift cards. Shame on Walmart for these garbage tactics. I should be able to buy physical gift cards and hopefully I can complete this offer that way. 

2. Apparently there is one hotel chain that can run a successful status match and that hotel chain is Hilton. I got this glorious email on Saturday.

HiltonDiamond

I matched my IHG Platinum status (which isn’t even top tier and I didn’t even have a stay this year) and got my Hilton account upgraded from Gold to Diamond. The real benefit for me is now I can cancel the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card and save the $95 annual fee. Hey Hyatt, this is how you run a status match program!

3. I have been getting more and more involved in reselling both with merchandise (heavily based on electronics) and gift cards. I’ve been meaning to come up with a good tracking system to know my total profits and I saw this timely post from Miles Per Day. Great idea to use Google Forms to feed a spreadsheet and I plan on using something  similar after seeing this post – Thanks Vinh for the idea!

4. Today is the last day to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to Amtrak. I don’t use Amtrak enough to make it worthwhile for me but I would read this post by Frequent Miler who does a great job breaking down whether you should make the transfer or not. Remember the Amtrak Rewards Program is changing on January 24th so if you have any intention of booking a sleeper room, do it before then!

5. Lastly, I updated my post about the refer a friend bonus on the Amex Hilton Surpass to mention there is now an 80,000 point offer on the card and under no circumstance, should anyone try the refer a friend for this card.

Update: 3x eBay Bonus bucks today and tomorrow. Check your emails or eBay account! 

  

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 HHonorMyStatus@hilton.com 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.

HyattEmailResponse

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)

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.

Freedom

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

Residence

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!

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

Paris

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.

Monday Musings – First Class Hawaii Awards, IHG Promo Hack & More

As a reminder, Monday Musings is a new 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. I am not at all surprised to see Discover enforcing the “no gift cards” as part of their lucrative Apple Pay promotion. They added it after the start of the promotion so I took that as a sign that they had figured out what each purchase contained (maybe with Level 3 data?). I don’t have a Discover card but those affected are asking to submit receipts if they want to contest it. Good luck to all those affected.

2. I’m sure some of you have seen the hack with IHG’s Surprise Promo but if you have not, instead of staying at an IHG hotel to be eligible, you can mail in entries with very specific instructions such as hand writing an entry on 3 x 5 index cards and mailing them individually. I first saw it here and it looks like you could net ~47,000 IHG points for a few hours of work + ~$46 in postage. I have no intention of participating as hand writing 94! 3 x 5 index cards seems like a punishment to me…I’ll save my time for something more valuable.

3x5_Notecard

3. I’m already sick of all the posts about the rumored upcoming AA changes. I get posting about the rumor especially since it is coming from a legitimate source but any more posts after that is pure speculation. Let’s wait for the real announcement shall we? As for my take on the rumored changes?  – Eh, I don’t care about them. I’ll care when the award chart is devalued which will happen sometime in the next year.

4. I’ve been working on an first class award to Hawaii from the East coast and it is tough to find anything halfway decent for next spring. The focus was on lie-flat seats on United from either IAD or EWR but that was a miss. Next was focusing on AA and trying to fly on AA’s 321T that flies JFK – LAX (or SFO) but also a dead end. There is plenty of time to go before this trip so I’m not concerned yet.

5. I didn’t mention it above because it is not a viable option but Delta has obscene rates for a first class flight home from Hawaii. Here is a search for a one way flight from HNL to NYC for 1 passenger next April. 65,000 miles is the lowest over a whole month! Skypesos indeed.

DeltaSucks