American Express

Increased SPG Card Sign-Up Bonus!

Starwood Preferred Group (SPG) Starpoints are among the most flexible currencies on the market, which is why both Ben of One Mile At A Time and Brian, The Points Guy, value them at over 2 cents apiece.  About once a year they offer an increased sign-up bonus and that time is now!

In addition to using these points at SPG hotels, they can be transferred to over two dozen airlines at a 1:1 ratio – and if you transfer 20K points at a time they’ll tack on a bonus 5K points!  Other airlines are available at less favorable ratios.

SPG points can also be transferred to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio (1 SPG = 3 Marriott) and used either for stays at Marriott hotels or transfer them to other airlines.

Here are the airlines where you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio:
spg-1-to-1-partners
Here are the other airlines:
spg-other-partners
The Air New Zealand transfer rate is a horrific 65 SPG points = 1 Air New Zealand Airpoint so you want to make that a transfer of last resort. GOL Smiles and United MileagePlus both transfer at a rate of 2 SPG points = 1 frequent flyer mile.  Might do in a pinch but again, you’d try to avoid it.  Since LATAM uses kilometers for their currency the transfer rate is 1 SPG point = 1.5 LATAM Pass mile.

If you choose to transfer your points to Marriott, they are best used at Marriott properties but they can be transferred to airlines as well.  However the airline transfers are usually at a terrible transfer rate so I do not recommend this method.

The normal sign-up bonus for this card is 25K points but if you are approved by April 5th and meet the minimum spend, here’s what you can earn:

25,000 bonus Starpoints after using the new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after making an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.

That’s a maximum of 35K Starpoints which is the biggest bonus ever for this card.  Note that those “first 3 months” and “first 6 months” are dated from the date of approval, NOT the day you activate the card.

The card has no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

There are business and personal versions of this card though I can only refer you for the personal card.  If you allow me to refer you and are approved, I will receive a 5,000 point bonus for doing so.  Just drop me an email at 2btraveling@gmail.com.  All I need is your first name and an email address!

Categories: American Express, Credit Cards, SPG Amex | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Bonus Starpoints for SPG Amex Cardholders

Today I received an interesting email from Starwood.  By enrolling in their latest promotion I can earn 5,000 bonus Starpoints if I spend $5000 on my SPG American Express between now and the end of the year.  This is a no-brainer for me.  I make sure I put enough spend on my SPG card each year to maintain Gold status with them so I should easily reach this goal by the end of the year, even with time off for vacation and holidays.

Here is the email I received:
2016-10-05-starwood-email

Continue reading

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Get Bonus Miles When Transferring Membership Rewards to Avios

British Airways logo

Avios are the currency of the British Airways Executive Club that can be useful in different ways. Since Avios pricing is distance-based, they’re super-useful on non-stop shorthaul flights as the shortest flights cost only 7500 Avios.  Since each leg of a flight is priced separately, the more connections required, the more Avios required.  For this reason, and the fact that on international flights BA passes along the fuel surcharges, they’re not as useful for international flights.  There are exceptions to this general rule however: BA’s booking window opens up a couple of weeks before American’s does, giving those with Avios first crack at award seats on certain carriers.  For example, I was able to use Avios to book a first class seat on a Qantas flight to Australia before it was available to AA members.  I had to pay the fuel surcharges but since premium cabin seats are so scarce on Qantas, I thought it was worth the cash required to obtain that seat.

Normally you can transfer American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points to Avios at the rate of 250 MRs to 200 Avios.  But from now through October 10, 2016 you’ll earn a 50% bonus when transferring MRs to Avios. So transfer 250 MRs and get 300 Avios.  To make the transfer, log into your Amex account and indicate the number of MR points you want to transfer.  The website will show you how many Avios you’ll receive.

All transfers are final so if you’re transferring for a specific flight, be sure there is award space available.  If you’re planning to use the Avios on a BA partner flight you’ll need to be sure the available award space is at the saver (cheapest) level.

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1000 Free Delta Miles (targeted)

If you hold one of the co-branded Delta American Express cards, check for an email offering 1000 free Delta miles.

2016-07-20 Delta email

The email reminds you of all the perqs of the card and when you click on the link it will take you to this web page:

2016-07-20 Delta webpage

Simply enter your SkyMiles number and you have your miles! A nice way to add to your mileage stash.

Thanks, Delta!

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Need A Credit Card?

I earn far more miles from credit cards than I do from flying or from hotel stays. Credit card sign-up bonuses can give a big boost to anyone’s account! While I’m not one of the big bloggers who gets a cash comission from the credit card issuers, the credit card companies will allow regular members to receive a referral fee (of points/miles) if they refer someone to the card.

Delta Gold CardI’m a little late putting this one out there, but from now through this Tuesday, November 17, 2015, if you’ll allow me to refer to to the Gold Delta Amex card, I’ll earn bonus miles if you’re approved. You’ll get 50,000 bonus miles after using the card to make $2000 in purchases within the first three months after the approval date (not the date you receive the card). If you make a Delta purchase with the first three months you’ll also get a $50 statement credit. To refer you, just send me your first name and your email address to 2btraveling@gmail.com.

NOTE: You may be able to get an offer for 60K miles + $50 statement credit. You can find instructions here. Also, it is not open to those who currently have this card or have had it in the past. I believe the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year but cannot guarantee that.

Marriott Credit Card
If you don’t need Delta SkyMiles, what about hotel points? I’m also allowed to refer folks for the Chase Marriott Visa. I value this card if only for the reason that it offers a free night stay each year that you renew the card. The free night is good at any category 1-5 Marriott, so that pays for the annual fee right there. This card does not have foreign transaction fees, making it a good one for international travel.

In addition, this card earns 2x points for purchases from airlines, car rental companies and restaurants and 5x points for Marriott purchases. Plus for every $3000 in purchases, you get one credit toward elite status – that’s in addition to the 15-night credit you get each year at your account anniversary!

You’ll get 50,000 bonus points if you spend $2000 in the first three months after account approval. The annual fee is waived the first year and is only $85 after that.

If you think you’d be interested in this card, just send me an email at the address above and I’ll send you the phone number and the codes you need to get this offer.

Note that there is an alternate version offering 80K after $3K spend, but the $85 annual fee is not waived. Application Link. I won’t get bonus miles for this but it is a better offer so I wanted to be sure it was out there. Neither of these offers is available to those who currently have the card or have received the new cardmember bonus in the last 24 months.

Categories: American Express, Chase, Delta, Delta Amex, Marriott, Marriott Rewards Card | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Limited Time Sign-Up Bonus for Starwood Amex

SPG AmexAbout once a year the SPG Amex offers an increased sign-up bonus of 30,000 points, which is 5,000 more points than normal.    This year the time is now through September 14, 2015.  Note that you must be approved by September 14th to receive the bonus, not just apply by that date.

If you’ll allow me to refer you for a personal card, I’ll get a 5,000 point bonus as well, once you’re approved.  Just send an email to 2btraveling@gmail.com.  All I need is your first name and the email address where you’d like the invitation sent.

Starwood points are extremely valuable, not only as hotel points but also because of their value in transferring to a whole host of airlines.  In fact most airlines transfer at a 1:1 basis and when you transfer 20,000 points at a time, you receive a 5,000 point bonus so that you end up with 25,000 points in your airline’s frequent flyer account!

And Starwood has recently given the card a make-over, changing it from the familiar maroon to a snazzy purple design that includes chip + signature technology.

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Two Starwood Opportunities

SPG Logo
Starwood Preferred Group is the hotel group for hotel brands like Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, Four Points, Le Meridian, aloft, element and W Hotels. While Starpoints are incredibly valuable, they’re not necessarily easy to earn, other than by staying at one of the hotels.

Right now Starwood is running a promotion where you can earn 1000 Starpoints for every weekend stay between now and August 31, 2015. All you need to do is register and start collecting bonus points. A weekend stay is defined as a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, except in the Middle East where it’s defined as a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night.

One of the great things about Starpoints is they have a number of airline partners, including airlines that are not partners with American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards. Look at all these airlines:
SPG Airline Partners

Most of these partners transfer at a 1:1 ratio. The exceptions are Air New Zealand (65:1), LAN Airlines (1:1.5) and United Airlines (2:1). Obviously you want to stay away from transferring to Air NZ and United unless you’re desperate to top off an award.

In addition, most of the airlines offer a 5,000 point bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints. So 20,000 Starpoints becomes 25,000 American Airlines miles after the transfer.

From now through August 7, 2015 there’s an additional 20% bonus for transfers to American Airlines. This means in addition to the standard 5,000 point bonus, you’d end up with an additional 5,000 miles in your AA account. For example:

20,000 Starpoints = 20,000 AAdvantage miles
5,000 Standard SPG bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
AAdvantage 20% mileage bonus = 5,000 AAdvantage miles
Total = 30,000 AAdvantage miles

That’s a great deal if you have plans for redeeming your AAdvantage miles. It’s not worth making a speculative transfer because the main thing that makes Starpoints so valuable is their flexibility.

Starpoint transfers are not instant, so if you find seats on the flights you want, put them on hold until the transfer is completed. The terms and conditions state it may take up to 7 business days for the points to transfer. That can be an eternity when you’re trying to get the last award seat or two on your flight, so plan accordingly.

Note that that 5,000 point bonus is awarded only when 20,000 points (or more) is transferred in the same transaction. So you can’t transfer 5,000 points today and 15,000 points tomorrow and expect to get the bonus.

Starwood allows a max of 79,999 points to be transferred in a single transaction. Both the SPG account and the airline account must have identical names. All transfers are one-way, non-reversible and non-refundable.

SPG CardOne way to rack up Starpoints quickly is with the SPG American Express card. Simply make $3000 in purchases in the first three months and you’ll earn 25,000 Starpoints – which will translate to 35,000 American AAdvantage miles if you earn the points quickly enough for the offer above. Otherwise, they will still be worth 30,000 miles on most airlines or you can use them at one of the hundreds of SPG hotels worldwide.

If you allow me to refer you for the card, I’ll receive a 5,000 Starpoint bonus if you are approved. Just send me your email address to 2btraveling@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to refer you.

Categories: American Airlines, SPG Amex | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Changes to Membership Rewards

Membership Rewards LogoMembership Rewards (MR) is the points program from American Express.  MR points can be accumulated via a number of their credit cards including the Premier Rewards Gold Card, Platinum Card®, American Express® Green Card, Blue Sky from American Express®, Amex EveryDaySM Credit Card and Amex EveryDaySM Preferred Credit Card. Some of these cards ean bonus points when shopping at certain merchants.

One of the great things about MR points is that they can be transferred to a number of travel partners including:

  • Aeroplan (Air Canada)
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Alitalia (1000:750)
  • Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) (1000:750)
  • Delta (1000:750)
  • Etihad (1000:750)
  • Hilton
  • SPG (1000:500)

One of my favorite uses for MRs is transferring them to British Airways as BA Avios are great for short haul trips on American Airlines as they transfer at a 1:1 ratio vs. some of the other ratios we see above.

Unfortunately that’s changing on October 1. Starting on that date the transfer ratio to British Airways (and Iberia, which also uses Avios) will be 250 MRs to 200 Avios, which is a 25% devaluation. While that won’t be a huge hit for short haul trips, it would make a big difference when using Avios for long haul trips, like my upcoming trip to Australia. I didn’t have enough Avios in my account and topped it off with MRs so I’d have enough to make the reservation.

I suppose this is to be expected as we’ve learned that nothing stays the same in the world of points and miles but it’s still disappointing.

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New Benefits for American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

PremierRewardsGoldCardAmerican Express has several cards that earn Membership Rewards (MR) points. These are a great currency that can be transferred to multiple frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio. Those programs include Aeroplan (Air Canada), British Airways Executive Club, Altitalia MilleMiglia and Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific). MRs can also be transferred to the Delta Skymiles and Ethiad Guest programs at a ratio of 1000 MRs to 750 miles.

The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card, meaning the whole balance is due each month, but it can offer terrific value if used strategically. Currently the card earns:

  • 3 points per dollar for flights booked directly with the airline
  • 2 points per dollar at US gas stations and supermarkets
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Starting June 1, 2015 the card’s benefits will expand to include:

  • 2 points per dollar at US restaurants
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • A $100 credit per calendar year on qualifying airline charges including incidental fees like baggage fees, itinerary fees, in-flight food and airport lounge day passes that are charged by the airline to the card

Cardholders will also now have access to a team of travel professionals to assist with travel needs. This can be great for items that points and miles won’t allow you to arrange for yourself.  Note that the annual fee is $175 after the first year.

These new benefits are nice though I’m disappointed that the 2x points at restaurants is only for US restaurants. If I wanted to take this card overseas that would be a category I’d definitely use but if it’s not going to earn me 2x points I have other cards that will.

If you already have this card you’ll see more details on your March 2015 statement.

If you don’t have this card, you can apply HERE. Be sure to check the card match tool to see if you can get a better offer.

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Frontier Airlines No Longer A Membership Rewards Partner Effective March 2015

Over the weekend I got my monthly statement for my American Express card that earns Membership Rewards points and it had this notice at the top of the statement:

Effective March 5, 2015 Frontier Airlines will no longer be a point transfer airline in the Membership Rewards program.  Any Membership Rewards points transfers for Frontier Airlines must be made by March 4, 2015.  These transfers will be considered final, non-refundable, and subject to the EarlyReturns program terms and conditions.  To transfer points to Frontier, please visit membershiprewards.com/travel.

This doesn’t impact me as I haven’t flown Frontier in years and only once.  Back before the recession they had daily service between Memphis and Denver.  Now, the service is no longer daily and not on Saturdays, which is when I’d want to travel them for ski trips, which is disappointing.  My one experience with them was flying to San Francisco (via Denver) and I quite liked the leather seats in their regional jets.  But that was many years ago and now, of course, I much prefer to fly up front or at least in an Economy Plus-style seat with more legroom.

So if you’d plan to transfer your Membership Rewards points to Frontier, now’s the time to do so!

Categories: Frontier, Membership Rewards | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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