Three different airlines are offering a chance at 100,000 miles + $2500 cash when you register through their shopping portals. If you choose to do additional shopping through these portals you can earn more entries into the contest. Continue reading
Monthly Archives: September 2017
Multiple 100K Mile Giveaways
Q4 Bonus Categories Announced
As happens each quarter, three card issuers offer bonus categories for the following quarter. As of today you can finally register for all three.
Discover is offering 5% cash back at Amazon.com and at Target. Just log into to your account at Discover.com to register. You must register before you’ll receive the 5% cash back. Continue reading
Equifax Hacked – How You Can See If You’re Affected
Earlier today we learned that credit giant Equifax had been hacked leaving 143 million people vulnerable to identity theft as social security numbers, birth dates, addresses, etc. were exposed. Greg at Frequent Miler had this post about how to see if you’re impacted so I thought I’d pass the info along.
First, visit this Equifax link and enter the data shown below:
Then Greg and his wife both got this box displayed:
He takes that to mean their data is safe. When he clicked the ENROLL button he was taken to a page similar to this:
Unfortunately for me, I did not get the second box above but went straight to this third box. I don’t know if that means my data was affected or not but I will be monitoring it closely and visiting the FAQ site mentioned in the link to find out more as soon as I’m allowed..
Hilton Amex 100K Sign-Up Bonus is Back!
Every so often Amex offers a spectacular bonus for signing up for the Hilton Surpass Amex Card and now is one of those times. Sign up now, spend $3000 in purchases within the first three months after approval and earn a whopping 100,000 Hilton Honors points. Plus you earn a free weekend night award on the first year of membership.
This card earns 12x points for charges at participating hotels in the Hilton Portfolio like Hilton, DoubleTree, Hampton Inn, etc. There’s also a 6x bonus on spend at grocery stores, restaurants and gas stations.
While Hilton may charge a lot of Honors points for their award rooms, one nice thing is that you can redeem points for non-standard rooms. For example, in 2015 I redeemed a boatload of points for what was essentially a 2 BR condo in Fiji. Many programs only allow point redemptions for standard rooms or suites with only a single bed but we were able to get a room with a king + two twins.
Just by holding this card you get Hilton Gold status and if you spend $40,000 on the card in a year you’ll earn Diamond Status though it’s not recommended to chase Diamond status this way as the benefits aren’t that much better unless you’re staying at Hiltons a lot.
This card does come with a $75 annual fee and it does incur foreign transaction fees so it’s not great for international travel.
Remember that at the present time Amex is limiting bonuses to once per lifetime for a given product so if you’ve already received the bonus for this card, you’re not eligible for it again.
If you’d like to get this card, feel free to use my link. The link is good through October 4, 2017 and I will earn points if you are approved through this link.
20% Bonus (or more) Converting SPG Points to American Airlines
Starpoints, the currency of the SPG Hotel Chain, are usually considered the most valuable transferable points/miles currency out there. That’s because not only can the points be used at SPG hotels like Radisson, St. Regis, W Hotels, Westin, etc. but they can be transferred at a 1:3 ratio to Marriott for use at their hotels. In addition, SPG points can be transferred to a host of airlines at a 1:1 ratio – but when you transfer 20,000 points at one time, SPG gives you a 5000 mile bonus. Just take a look at all these partners!
From now through October 15, there is a promotion between SPG and American airlines where when you transfer points to AA, a 20% bonus will apply after the conversion. So if you transfer 20K points to AA, SPG gives you 5000 miles and you end up with 25K AA miles. Then a 20% bonus applies and you get another 5000 miles.
In addition, for each 100K miles transferred during this promotion, you get a 10K AAdvantage mile bonus. Now this must be done in multiple transactions over multiple days because SPG limits you to 79K points converted in a single day. So if on Day 1 you convert 60K points (resulting in 75K AA miles before the bonus) and on Day 2 you convert 20K points (resulting in 25K AA miles before the bonus) you’d not only get the 20% bonus each day (15K on Day 1 and 5K on Day 2), you’d then get an additional 10K bonus resulting in a total of 130K AA miles.
There are minimum transfer amounts based on your SPG status:
- Preferred (basic) members have a 2500 point minimum
- Gold members have a 1500 point minimum
- Platinum members do not have a minimum
If you’re in need of AA miles this is a great way to boost your balance quickly. The transfers are not instant. Research over the past couple of years seems to indicate it takes a minimum of 2 days and perhaps as many as 4 days for the miles to show up in your AA account. But you don’t have to wait for the miles to show up to initiate another transfer. So with the example above you could transfer the 60K points today and the 20K points tomorrow even though you wouldn’t see the miles reflected in your account until mid-week.
If you’re ready to transfer points, follow the link in the email you should have received from American Airlines or click here.
Two Terrific Offers from Amex
If you have Amex cards you know that each card gets targeted offers that can range from fixed dollars off a purchase, percentages off a purchase, bonus reward points for certain purchases or additional points per dollar spent. Recently two offers have shown up that I think are worth mentioning.
Spend $100+ at Supermarkets, get 1,500 Membership Rewards Points
This offer should be a piece of cake for just about anyone. Spend $100 in a single transactions or multiple transactions between now and when the offer expires on 11/30/17 and get 1,500 additional Membership Rewards points. There’s not even a need to do manufactured spending on this as even those of us who don’t cook can spend $100 in three months!
Spend $150 or more, get $100 back at AT&T Small Business Wireless
This one is highly targeted and I’m not 100% sure it will work for me but I’m going to try it anyway. As the title indicates, spend $150 or more in a single transaction with AT&T Small Business Wireless and get a $100 credit. My cell phone is a personal one, not for my small business so I don’t know if it will work or not and my cell phone bill is less than $150 but I’m going to try to pay a month ahead just to see if it will work. At worst I’ll still get one point per dollar but it’s worth a shot for $100.
Buy AA miles for a Penny Apiece
If you own one of the American Airlines Aviator credit cards issued by Barclays, check your account to see if you’ve been targeted for the new Flight Cents program. Flight Cents is a program where your purchase is rounded up to the nearest dollar and you earn one AAdvantage mile per cent.
So if your purchase comes to $17.46, your credit card statement will reflect $18 and you get 71 AAdvantage miles for your purchase: 17 for the purchase and 54 miles purchased for the 54 cents that were rounded up.
This pilot program runs October 1 – March 31 and you must register your account by September 30th by selecting the max number of dollars that can be rounded up in a month with the maximum being $500, which would net 50K miles.
This will certainly make me look at using my Aviator card more frequently during this time period despite the fact that my largest stash of airline miles is currently with American.
Were you targeted for this or a similar offer?
H/T: View From The Wing
Lodging Review: Hyatt Regency New Orleans
A weekend convention I was attending was held in New Orleans recently. I was pleased to learn it was to be held at the Hyatt Regency since I have low-level status with them as a result of my Chase Hyatt credit card. I was even more pleased to learn that this is a category 4 hotel, which meant I could use the free night certificate that I earn each year simply by paying the annual fee on the card.
We arrived about 8:30 PM after the long drive from Memphis. Valet parking is $40 per night so we opted for the self-park around the corner that was $25 per night. Fortunately the self-park garage has direct access to the hotel so this made it quite convenient.
Though there wasn’t much of a check-in line, I still went to the elite line where I was the only person and once a staff member was freed up, she called me right over for assistance. She did thank me for my loyalty and confirmed I’d asked for an accessible room. When I said that I didn’t really need that (it was just what had been assigned to me when redeeming the certificate) she proactively decided to look for an upgrade. I was assigned a room on the 11th floor and even given club access. That was great because as a Discoverist, I don’t normally get free breakfast but because she’d assigned me a suite, I now had it!
Getting to the elevators from the front desk is a little bit of a trek because this is a convention hotel so while the front desk was on the ground floor, it was actually necessary to take escalators up to the third floor to be able to reach a point where we could get on the elevators.
The elevators in themselves are a bit tricky but fortunately there was a staff member on hand to assist, as there was both evenings were there while lots of folks were checking in. (Smart move, Hyatt.) We weren’t the only ones learning how to make them work! There are two banks of elevators: A/B/C/D and E/F/G/H. Both sets go to level 3 (the main level) and level 5 (pool) but A-D are for the lower sets of floors while E-H go to the higher sets. And only F and G go to the 32nd floor where the club and gym are found.
To access a floor, you scan your room key underneath the keypad. It will automatically light up your floor but if you want to go to a different one (like the club) then you select that button instead. Once it knows which floor you want, it will assign you to one of the elevator cars. This usually worked pretty well. The only time things were really crowded was when we were all heading downstairs to the convention at once.
The hotel is shaped a bit like an X but the “legs” of the X curve a bit more than the ones of the letter do. I followed the signs toward my quarter of the X. The entire atrium is open and you can look right down on one of the restaurants. I kept walking almost to the end of the hallway before coming to my room, 1124.
The door opened into a hallway with the closet immediately to the left, followed by the bathroom.
At the end of the hall was the living area that featured a sectional sofa (not a sleeper, however) with a desk and a wall-mounted TV. Mine was a connecting room so to the far left, beside the desk, was the connecting door.
To the right was a wall with an open doorway into the bedroom. I had a king bed with two built-in side tables. Against the wall between the living area and the bedroom was a tall chest upon which the TV sat. The chest contained the mini-fridge (with 2 liter-size bottles of water – complimentary thanks to my Discoverist status) and the safe.
On one bedside table I found this note. I think this is a great idea, even though I did not use either product. This hotel is right beside some venues that could be used for concerts and noise could be an issue at times. The hotel has implemented a quiet period in its hallways after 9 PM but we all know that can be ignored if there are intoxicated folks around.
You’ll notice that I did not describe any sort of chest with drawers and that’s because there wasn’t one. There was no luggage stand either, though there were a couple of stools/footrests in the living area that could have served the purpose. I’ve heard that some properties are skipping chests with drawers because people tend to leave more things behind in drawers.
There were a couple of shelves below the safe in the bedroom and inside the closet were several shelves on one side and there was the overhead shelf that ran the length of the closet. There was also a laundry hamper in the closet, not something I believe I’ve ever seen before in a hotel. The whole arrangement just struck me as strange but since I was only there for two nights it didn’t bother me too much.
The bathroom had the vanity and sink on one side (I liked the stainless features), the toilet in the center and the walk-in shower on the other side. My first complaint about the bathroom was the lighting. It was extremely dim and yellow. Yes there was a lighted makeup mirror which helped up close, but the wall lights gave the whole bathroom a sickly glow. My other complaint is the water pressure. I thought perhaps it was a fluke on Saturday morning when there wasn’t much pressure but I had the same issue on Sunday. I like a very strong shower pulse and this just didn’t get it done, especially since the water at this hotel is EXTREMELY soft, which meant it was quite difficult to get the soap off your hands and body whether taking a shower or just washing your hands. The shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and bar of soap already occupied the shelf in the shower. It’s nice that the shelf is big enough to accommodate all that at once. But that still left me nowhere to put my razor and shave gel except on the floor. An additional shelf would be a good step up as would some sort of low shelf to prop my leg while shaving.
Toiletries were KenetMD brand which I have typically associated with Hyatt Place and Hyatt House. I liked that there was a choice of a bath bar and bath gel. The shampoo and conditioner weren’t great but got the job done.
I only sat on the sofa for a little bit but in looking at it later it seems to have been well-used during its life and refreshing the seat cushions wouldn’t hurt.
The bed was quite firm but was still very comfortable. I loved that there were two easily-accessible plugs on either side of the bed!
The desk also had easy-to-reach plugs on its side. Kudos for that!
The thermostat was easy to operate and thankfully could be set below 68F. I like to sleep in a cold room and that made it much easier. I was a little amused/frustrated that in the mornings when I’d turn the thermostat up, that I had to bump it up just a few degrees at a time. If I tried to jump straight from 66F to 72F, it would turn on the heat instead of just allowing the room to gradually warm.
I was thankful for the upgrade but I do think there are a few small things that could be done to improve the experience.
The pool is located on the 5th floor and you must use your keycard to gain access. From there it’s down a flight of stairs so I don’t know if it’s totally handicap accessible though there may be an entrance from a different direction. The pool deck is fairly large and from 8-10 on Saturday mornings there is some sort of free exercise class there. The deck is right amid a number of tall buildings so I don’t know how much sunlight it actually gets. But the famous New Orleans humidity was in full force, even at 8 AM.
The gym is on the 32rd floor, across from the Regency Club. The room follows the curve of the building and offers views of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome (home of the NFL’s Saints) and the Smoothie King Center (home of the NBA’s Pelicans). There were a number of treadmills, some elliptical machines, a few bikes, a reasonable selection of weight machines as well as hand weights and other assorted accessories. I got there just before closing time and it was empty on Friday night but each of the next two mornings there were several folks making use of it while I ate breakfast.
The Regency Club is also on the 32nd floor and offers city views in the opposite direction from the gym. I was disappointed in the selection as there was not much in the way of hot food at all. Oatmeal and grits were the only hot foods. There were about 5 kinds of cereal and a good selection of fruit, both bite-sized and whole, and a small selection of pastries and breads. Several types of juices were available as were coffee and tea, but that was it. Breakfast is offered 5:30-9:30 AM Monday-Friday and 7:00-10:00 AM on the weekends.
They offer mid-day snacks 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM and hors d’oeuvres 5:00 PM – 9:00 PM daily but I did not visit during either of these times. I should have gone been there during our convention’s one long break as it wasn’t long enough for a proper lunch and all the grab ‘n go places had huge lines. Wish I’d remembered this was open!
The Hyatt Regency New Orleans is on Loyola Avenue and is super-convenient to the Superdome and the Smoothie King Center. However there’s not a huge selection of restaurants in the area (or so I was told) and that surprised me. For the one night I had dinner, we ate at the in-house seafood restaurant, which was quite good and fairly reasonably priced (that is to say, a little more than I’d spend if I was just going out by myself for dinner here at home).
If our convention selects NOLA as its site for next year, that will be fine with me and I would be happy to stay here again.