I hit the hotel programs that matter to me and the only airline program I know that allows consolidation is Hawaiian (mentioned in that post over there <—) … but that’s ok, we can still consolidate / leverage Bank Rewards points … which is where flexibility is king. Transfer to hotels, airlines, other people, buy Amazon.com gift certificates, or book travel directly and EARN more points … you name it you’ve got options. When it comes to frugal travel, last minute travel, family travel … flexibility is really what we want. If we can be flexible in our travel plans we can save a ton, and when we can’t be flexible having points that can flex for us get us a LOT further.
To some degree we’ve already covered the big three (with key bullets below each one):
- American Express Membership Rewards
- Lots of points transfer partners
- Cannot transfer Membership Rewards points between accounts
- Can transfer points to hotel / airline partners in accounts of other people’s names (so I can transfer from my MR account to my friend’s Delta account)
- Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Not as many transfer partners as MR, but has good options and coverage across all three major airline alliances
- Can consolidate points between family members (nothing actually stopping transfers to others … there is a disclaimer however saying don’t do it)
- Are not supposed to transfer points to hotel / airline partners in accounts of other people’s names … but it works. Again, disclaimer text
- Citi ThankYou Points
- Most valuable “cash” point. All of the bank rewards points allow you to use them as cash … and for travel if you’ve got a Citi ThankYou Premier card you’ll get 1.33 cents/point … that said, this is really about as good as it gets with ThankYou points.
- Hilton is the only transfer partner. One TYP gets you 1.5 Hilton Honors points. You’d do better converting some Hawaiian miles at a rate of 1:2 Hilton points.
- Can consolidate points between any other account (via phone call) but transferred points expire 90 days after transfer. When using points, the points that expire first are used first (which is nice here)
- U.S. Bank offers are tough to come by … and getting approved can be even harder, of course YMMV.
- Capital One doesn’t have a real points program. Their “miles” and “points” are effectively cash value towards travel. Their cards are cash back cards that are marketed as “points and miles”. All good and well. You’ll earn 1-2% “cash back” on their cards. If you’re the kind of person that keeps all your money in a savings account and never in the stock market or even a mutual fund then this is a good program for you. Its easy, and straightforward. You’ll never fly in business or first class, and certainly not out of the country in either one of those.
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day TopCashback is donating $50 cash (to be deposited to your TopCashback.com account) for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (along with your First Name, Last Initial, and Airport Code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post by TODAY at 11:59pm ET to be eligible to win. That gives you two days to win!
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