Refer a Friend Offer Now Available for the Barclays US Airways MasterCard with 50,000 Mile Bonus!

Barclays is really going all out to acquire new cardholders before it can no longer issue the US Airways MasterCard as they have not only raised the signup bonus on the card to 50,000 miles and will give you $25 to switch to paperless statements but they are now allowing existing cardholders to refer others to the card for either a 5,000 mile or 10,000 mile bonus! I have never heard of a refer a friend program from Barclays before so this is great news for cardholders. This offer does appear targeted as I got a 10k refer a friend offer but a follower of mine only reported a 5k refer a friend offer. Check your email for your offer!

BarclaysReferaFriend

Per the terms of the promotion, here is what you need to know:

  • You will receive either 5,000 or 10,000 miles per every approved account up to 50,000 bonus miles.
  • Your friend will receive the offer for 50,000 miles after first purchase. There is no 10,000 anniversary bonus on this offer. See this post for that link with the 50k + 10k offer which is meant for Preferred members but will work even if you don’t have Preferred status and are instantly approved.
  • Your friend must apply and be approved by January 18th.

This is the second best offer on the card now behind the 50k + 10k which is aimed at Preferred members. I recommend going for that offer before this one as the 10k anniversary bonus is worth it. However, I have heard reports that if Barclays does not automatically approve you and you have to call the reconsideration line, they may not approve you if they see you are in fact not a Preferred member. If you are risk-adverse, I recommend going just for this 50k offer since it is open to anyone and you can call reconsideration if not automatically approved and still have a good chance to get approved.

Feel free to email me at ralph@pointscentric for a referral or leave a comment and I will send you an email. Again, only apply for this if you are not a Preferred member and are risk-adverse!

Also I am giving away my 20% off award flights code on Southwest – click this post for details!

Thanks for the heads up to my Twitter Follower @4321ka!

And Now Lots of Hyatt News to Catchup On

I just caught up on the American Express news update but there is also lots going on with Hyatt right now. Here is a quick rundown of what is going on as I’m slowly catching up.

1. Hyatt Gold Passport 2015 Category Changes – Every year, Hyatt (and most other hotel chains) make some changes to their award program, mostly involving re-categorizing some hotels to either a higher or lower category. This year, Hyatt is the first chain to announce their changes and depending on how you redeem your Hyatt points, these changes are a mixed bag. In total, there are 48 hotels moving down a category (or more) and 22 hotels increasing a category. You have until January 22nd to make a reservation, even if it is for a future travel date, to lock in the lower points amount.

Click here to see the complete list of ALL Hyatt Gold Passport Category changes and as a reminder, here is what the Hyatt Award Chart looks like below.

HyattAwardChart

I won’t go over every hotel change but I’ll start with some of the key hotels decreasing by a category:

  • Park Hyatt Washington DC – Category 6 to Category 5
  • Gran Hyatt Washington DC – Category 5 to Category 4 (can now use annual free Hyatt night here)
  • Hyatt French Quarter – Category 5 to Category 4 (can now use annual free Hyatt night here)
  • Park Hyatt Chennani – Category 3 to Category 2

And here are some of the key hotels increasing by a category:

  • Park Hyatt Maldives – Category 6 to Category 7
  • Andaz Amsterdam – Category 5 to Category 6
  • Park Hyatt Seoul – Category 4 to Category 5 (can longer use annual free Hyatt night here)
  • Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo – Category 3 to Category 4
  • Hyatt Regency Nice – Category 5 to Category 6
  • Grand Hyatt at Bar Mar – Category 4 to Category 5 (this hotel hasn’t even opened yet!)

In short, even if the increases are only a few thousand points in some cases, if you have travel plans next year that involved one of these hotels, book the reservation now. Awards stays are cancelable up to a defined timeframe that varies per hotel (anywhere from a month to a few days before) so there is no downside to lock something in now. I am doing this with the Park Hyatt Maldives (stayed tuned for a future Award Trip Breakdown post on my Maldives trip next year).

2. Hyatt Eliminates My Elite Rate – If you were an elite member with Hyatt (and remember having the Hyatt Visa Card gives you Platinum elite status), you had access to hotel rates that were sometimes 20% lower than the daily rate via the My Elite Rate. Unfortunately, Hyatt is discontinuing this benefit in 2015. This was a new benefit rolled out in 2014 so the Hyatt corporate offices must have not deemed this worthy to repeat in 2015. If you booked a fair amount of paid stays with Hyatt, this could be a significant loss.

3. Points & Cash Awards Will Continue in 2015 – The other benefit Hyatt rolled out last year was allowing customers to book hotel rooms using fewer points with a set co-pay that varied based on the category level of the hotel. The good news is Hyatt is continuing this in 2015 and not making any adjustments to the Points & Cash award chart. I have taken advantage of this benefit several times at the Andaz Maui where a room only costs 12,500 points + $150 which is fantastic for a hotel that can average $600 a night, if not more. This is a great perk and I’m glad it is here to stay. As a reminder, here is what the Points & Cash Award Chart looks like below.

HyattP&C

4. Hyatt Guarantees Bed Type to All Customers – Previously, Hyatt only guaranteed the reserved bed type to elite customers so if you reserved a King bed, you would be guaranteed that upon arrival. However, per Hyatt, only 0.1% of all customers didn’t receive their reserved bed type so they are now guaranteeing the reserved bed type for all customers now, not just elite customers. This isn’t especially newsworthy since the odds are so small of it happening but it is a positive (albeit small impacting) change.

Lots of American Express News – Here is a Quick Rundown of What You Need to Know

There has been a LOT of news, promotions and changes related to American Express and some of their partners in the past week or so. I’m bit behind in posting about all of these so I’ve consolidated the major announcements below with my quick thoughts on each.

1. There will be no limits on transfers to Delta SkyMiles from American Express – Earlier this year, I posted about a new policy that Delta was going to institute starting January 1st that you would only be allowed to transfer 250k American Express Membership Rewards Points to Delta each year but now Delta is rescinding that announcement.

Delta apparently entered into a new contract with American Express so this seems to be the most likely reason this restriction will no longer be implemented.  It was a terrible policy to begin with because 250k is too low a limit to cap transfers at annually – that wouldn’t even cover two business class tickets to Asia or Australia and it literally just covers enough for two business class tickets to Europe. I don’t transfer to Delta often but it is nice to see this policy not enacted.

2. American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass Credit Card 80k Bonus – I first saw this at Doctor of Credit, but American Express increased the bonus on the Surprass credit card to 80,000 HHonors points over the standard offer of 60,000 HHonors points. Here is a link to the offer.

Surpass80k

Here are the key details of the offer –

  • 80,000 HHonors Points after spending $3,000 in 3 months
  • You earn Hilton Gold Status for having this card (i.e. free breakfast, bonus points etc.)
  • Annual fee of $75 NOT waived in the first year
  • This card earns 12x points at Hilton hotels, 6x at restaurants, supermarkets and gas stations and 3x everywhere else.

In short, this is a decent offer but not one to jump on unless you need Hilton points. Remember Hilton points are severely devalued and 80k points doesn’t even cover one night at a top end hotel (though can cover 2 nights at mid tier hotels potentially). I still think the Citi Hilton Reserve is a better offer with two free nights. There is also a no fee Hilton card from Amex that currently offers 50k points + $50 statement credit. 

3. New Point Earning Structure on American Express Business Gold Rewards Card – Previously, this card offered 3x points on airfare, 2x points on gas, advertising, hardware/software purchases and shipping and 1x elsewhere but now American Express will let you choose which category earns the 3x bonus points! This is a great change as I (and I imagine may others) don’t spend a lot on airfare so it is great to have a different choice to earn 3x points at. The following categories are eligible to be chosen for 3x points and the ones you don’t choose will earn 2x points.

  • Advertising in Select Media
  • Gas Stations
  • Airfare (when purchased directly from the airline)
  • Shipping
  • Hardware, Software and Cloud Computing purchases from select vendors

I actually don’t spend a ton on any of those categories so I will most likely choose the gas station option since I already earn 2x airfare from my Sapphire Preferred card.

4. American Express & SPG Team Up for 500 Point Bonuses on Mobile Bookings – If you book your next Starwood stay via their mobile app and pay with an American Express Card (like the SPG Amex) you will earn an additional 500 Starpoints for the booking. Here is the link for more information on this promo.

SPGMobileBonus

This bonus can used for up to 3 times and stays must occur between now and March 31, 2015. Make sure to register for this promotion (members are not automatically enrolled).

5. New American Express Partner Air Bnb – Amex has teamed up with Airbnb to allow customers to use Membership Rewards points for Airbnb gift cards. The gift cards are available in $100 and $250 increments and cost 10,000 & 25,000 MR points respectively, yielding a value of 1 cent per point.

Airbnb

I personally won’t use this option and I don’t recommend it either unless you are a heavy user of Airbnb and cannot find any other way to use your MR points. I use my MR points for flights by transferring to British Airways most often. For example, it cost only 10,000 British Airways Avios to fly from JFK to Antigua and I guarantee that flight will always be over $100 (try closer to $300). That obviously is a very specific example but similar values are out there for flights with BA’s program and I’ll take a several hundred dollar flight instead of a $100 credit to Airbnb.

6. $5 for Downloading American Express Mobile App (Targeted) – Some customers are eligible to receive a $5 statement credit for downloading and logging into the American Express app on your phone – tablets/iPads will not work for the purpose of this promotion. Many people reported getting an email about this from Amex but it doesn’t hurt to try and replicate this offer if you didn’t get the email.

If you ever logged into the Amex mobile app, you will not be able to get this $5 statement credit. You must download the app between now and 12/31/14.

Just Say No to the New TravElite Credit Card

I receive a lot of “credit card spam” in the mail but I always open each envelope just in case I find something worthwhile. Going through this spam mail this weekend, I noticed a new credit card I never heard of called the TravElite card in some fancy packaging. I opened it to find out that it offered 3x points on airfare and hotel purchases (hmm better than the Sapphire Preferred) and 1.5x points on everything else (hmm just like Mileage Plus Club Card). It also offered a $100 airline fee credit annually  and a $100 credit for Global Entry. There was a $99 annual fee (not waived) but all those perks certainly got my attention.

TravElite Card Mailer

TravElite Card Mailer

With my hopes high, I dug a little more into the card. It was an American Express card but issued by the First National Bank of Omaha which I’ve never heard of. My first thought was maybe this smaller bank was issuing a premium credit card to compete with the big banks in the industry so this was good news since I could always use a card that is not from the Chase, American Express & Citibanks of the world. The next question was how is the rewards program since that is what ultimately matters.

Alas, this is where I started seeing the downfall of this card. Per both the mailer and their website, “You can check your point balance and redeem points for rewards like travel, gift cards, merchandise or cash back as a credit to your account.” No mention of transferring points to any frequent flier programs so this looks like your ordinary cash back credit card. I couldn’t find any information related to the rate of cashback but I think it is safe to assume its $.01 per point. While a setback, if this card had a large signup bonus it might be worth it for the first year and than I could just cancel it.

Ah the final nail in the coffin – there was no signup bonus. Without a signup bonus, the most value you could extract from this card would be $100 in the first year and that assumes you need to still apply for Global Entry (since the $100 airline fee credit offset sets the annual fee). Going forward, this would be an awful card to put any spending on since you’d be paying a $99 annual fee for the right to earn 1.5% cashback on all purchases outside of airfare and hotels. You’d be much better off with the no annual fee, 2% cash back Fidelity Amex with a $50 signup bonus or even the Barclay Arrival Plus.

If it wasn’t clear already, this is an awful credit card to signup for. I personally look for at least $300 in value for opening a credit card and that is usually covered by the large signup bonus associated with most cards. This card doesn’t offer one so ,if you see this offer in your mailbox don’t fall for the snazzy packaging and safely send it to your paper shredder.

I’m Back, Relaxed and Ready to Roll

I’m slowly coming to grips that I am no longer on vacation after an amazing anniversary trip that took us to Bali & Phuket and really served as an eye opening trip for us. It was our first time in Asia and instead of staying just at the resorts, we went into the countryside on some days and saw how the locals lived and their way of life. I’ll have more in an upcoming trip report as it was a great experience but I’m ready to get back to a more normal posting schedule here on PointsCentric.

While taking some time to relax, I have decided to make a few changes at PointsCentric, which I think will improve the site and enhance the reader’s perspective. Some of the changes include:

  • Changing the structure and packages of my Consulting Services & Award Booking Services to make it more clear and concise for readers
  • Improving & updating the About Me page with new trips and more tips how we booked some of our past trips
  • Enhancing my Points & Miles 101 series with new posts and updates to previous posts while adding a dedicated link for all these posts
  • Adding more questions (with answers) to the FAQs
  • Posting a Point & Center update at least weekly (unless it has been an extremely boring week in the world of points and miles)
  • Some minor cosmetic updates including the new header which has already been updated

Furthermore, I will wrap up the last section of my Puerto Rico Trip Report and begin a new trip report featuring our first class flights, hotels and activities in Bali and Phuket.

Until then, here are just a few photos from our trip. IMG_1403 IMG_1409 - CopyIMG_1414 - Copy