|Dubai, UAE, photo by Andrew Ingersoll|
This week’s winning tip goes to Chris N!
A side note: I am putting together a post for Rookies to try to address some of the things we do that irritate you experienced hackers — the things that have driven such a debate on whether or not it is even a good idea to spread the word on this game. Please help me educate the novice so we, too, can play well and contribute to this community. Submit your comments below and emails are always welcome.
Now for Chris’ Rookie Travel Tip:
If you apply and are approved for the American Express Platinum (personal) card, the $450 annual fee seems steep even if you are paying otherwise for either American’s, Delta’s or US Airway’s lounges/clubs. There are a lot of postings on the value of those towards the fee. However, if you apply in early December of this year, the value of this card is sufficient that I think you will more than get your $450 annual fee back over the next year.
- $200 reimbursement of incidentals in the remainder of 2011 (watch the timing). I use it for AA gift cards (keep under $100 each). See Flyertalk postings about the Platinum incidental reimbursements. The reimbursements are done on a calendar year: $200 reimbursement of incidentals in the beginning of 2012. Again, I use it for AA gift cards (keep under $100 each)
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points (special bonus good through the end of December for meeting $1000 spend in three months). Even if you do not use the airline lounges/clubs, at this point the net outlay is $50 ($450 fee, less $400 gift cards) assuming you can use the gift cards for other travel that you would have anyway. You’d pay $50 to get into the Admiral’s Club for one day so that would break even if you were to save even one visit.
Plus, you can get the 50,000 Membership Rewards points, which I’d conservatively value at $500 if not more depending on whether you use it to apply against a ticket or transfer to one of the partners such as BA, Hyatt, Delta, etc. So the use of the lounges/clubs and the Global Entry System ($100 credit for application fee) are all gravy! And if you wait until next November and register for the Small Business Saturday, that is another $25 credit at your favorite local restaurant that takes Amex cards. You typically get the card within 2 to 4 business days of being approved, so it doesn’t take long to swing into action.– Chris N
American Express Membership Rewards Points for Travel
Your best option for using membership rewards (MR) points is to transfer them into airline miles then use them towards an award ticket or upgrade. http://www.membershiprewards.com/ is the official Amex MR site.
Your points can be transferred into a ton of different frequent flier programs including; AirTran, British Airways, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Jet Blue, Virgin America, and Virgin Atlantic Airlines.
Where the value comes in: Transfer Bonuses.
They are always running transfer bonuses. For example, right now until January 31st, 2012, British Airways is offering a 30% transfer bonus on MR points. So every 1000 MR points you transfer become 1300 Avios. Not a bad way to get something extra. Different airlines are always coming out with transfer bonuses so wait until you are ready to book and then look for the best bonus deal. Here is the Link to the Transfer Points page.
Points Transfers Today:
Airtran — 1 A+ rewards credit = 1500 MR points. Note that after February 29, 2012, you will no longer be able to transfer MR points into the A+ rewards program. .
British Airways — Right now 1000 MR points = 1300 Avios 1:1.3 – Best Value Today!
Delta Airlines — 1000 MR Points = 1000 Delta Skymiles 1:1
Frontier Airlines — 1000 MR points = 1000 Early Returns Miles 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines — 1000 MR points = 1000 Hawaiian Miles 1:1
Jet Blue — 250 MR points = 200 True Blue Points 1: 0.8
Virgin America = 200 MR points = 100 Elevate Points 1: 0.5
Virgin Atlantic = 1000 MR points = 1000 Flying Club Miles 1:1
– Shannon, The Rookie
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49