ultimate rewards

Tag Archives for ultimate rewards.

My Last Chase Card: Just Applied for Chase Freedom Unlimited

Also see: 

UPDATE 3/31: I was denied. 🙁

Chase will soon (in April 2016) extend their restrictive 5/24 rule to all their card offerings, including co-branded and small business credit cards. And presumably to the new Chase Freedom Unlimited card when it launches online.

The 5/24 rule means if you’ve opened 5+ cards within the previous 24 months, you’ll be instantly denied for a new Chase card. I’m suddenly no longer their target market.

It’s the last week of March, which means this is my last crack at opening up that Chase Marriott Premier card or a Chase Ink Cash, for example.

Instead, I went with the Chase Freedom Unlimited, which will be available for online applications on April 7th, 2016.

However, you can apply in-branch or over the phone right now. (Or at the bottom of this page.)

So today, I strolled over to the Chase bank 2 blocks away on my lunch break (I still haven’t grocery shopped since getting back from Vipassana) and applied in-person for the new Chase Freedom Unlimited.

I love how the acronym for this card is, endearingly, FU.

Why I applied for the Chase Freedom Unlimited (FU)

Read More

United Miles Versus Singapore Miles: Which Star Alliance Partner Awards Are Cheaper With Each Program

I’m getting more into Citi’s ThankYou program recently (because Citi ThankYou points are so easy to earn).

And while I can’t totally abandon Ultimate Rewards (for access to United Airlines, British Airways, and Hyatt), I’ve been thinking of award flights where collecting Citi ThankYou points instead of Ultimate Rewards might actually make more sense.

Why Singapore Airlines miles?

Read More

16 Points & Miles Predictions for 2016

Happy New Year! I thought I’d hop on the bandwagon with the predictions. So here’s my effort.

"Everyone else is doing it, so why can't we?"

“Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t we?”

2015 was a crazy year

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

A portrait of the Fidelity AMEX card

Out and Out’s Points and Miles Predictions for 2016

Read More

3 Days Left to Save Money on Christmas Gifts With Amazon Prime!

Also see: 

There’s a lot going on with Amazon right now in terms of deals:

  • 10X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (10% cashback with Chase Freedom, if you activated the offer in time)
  • 10% cashback with Discover It (5% back now and 5% back after 12th billing cycle for new cardmembers)
  • Amazon’s own deals – which are fantastic

The chance to get 10X Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which turn into 10X United Airlines miles, 10X Hyatt points, 10X Southwest points, etc. when paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Ink Plus) is too good to pass up. It’s a big reason why the AMEX Jet.com offer is on hold for me.

adas

3 days left for Prime 2-day shipping

If you’ve put off last-minute gifts, this is a *perfect* weekend before Xmas to knock out last-minute shopping with Amazon Prime membership (you could even buy it today and start using it right away if you really wanted to!).

Tons of good deals

Read More

Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status

Also see: 

To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.

I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.

Booooo

Booooo

Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.

Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.

For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:

Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?

Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.

But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond

Read More

Chase Ink Plus Vs. Ink Cash: What Are the Differences?

Update: The Chase Ink Plus card is no longer available. Check here for the most current card offers

I haven’t written about the Chase Ink cards very much, but I’ve been thinking about picking up a Chase Ink Cash lately. I already have a Chase Ink Plus. It’s possible to get both because they’re technically different card products.

They have a lot in common. But there are a few differences that make or break the value you’ll get from them.

Biggest similarities

Read More

Discover it® Cashback Match™ Is an Amazing Cashback Card (For the 1st Year at Least)!

My new Discover It card came in the mail this week, in very nice packaging.

And I might have to change my tune now.

I’ve long heralded the Fidelity AMEX as the best cashback card.

But now I’ll refer to it as the best ongoing cashback card. Because, the 1st year at least, the Discover It has it beat by a mile.

I’ll still get great use out of the Discover It card the 2nd year, albeit much reduced.

The 1st year, this card is good for an easy $600, at least. And I’m even thinking this no annual fee card has the potential for over $1,000 back.

Getting the Discover It card

Read More

Use Avios for Connecting Flights to Save Money

I’ve been thinking about taking a trip down to New Mexico recently and it got me thinking about fare constructions and how to get to regional airports as cheaply as possible.

There's still lots of value to be had from Avios

There’s still lots of value to be had from Avios

The idea here is to fly on Oneworld into a hub city or cheap destination, and then use Avios for the (usually) more expensive, shorter leg of the itinerary.

LGA-DFW-ABQ

Read More

My experience renting a car in Ireland (Woof!)

Also see: 

Thinking about renting a car in Ireland?

Woof:
verb: to declare something bad, ugly, terrible, or nasty.
interjection: use as an expletive to express disgust or surprise.
Can be a replacement for damn that sucks!

Upon landing at DUB, I knew the next step was to go pick up the rental car.

So here’s how I did it (made the booking not picked up the car).

The booking

I ran a quick search on the Chase Ultimate Rewards website – they generally have fantastic rates on rental cars. That’s how I got such a good deal in Hawaii. Keep in mind that they ONLY service airport locations and you MUST pick up and return to the same location.

They quoted me at ~$325 for a 6-day rental. Not bad.

But when I hopped on kayak.com to compare and they had rentals pricing out at 9 Euros per day. And 85 Euros for the 6-day rental (~$97). Now that was a screaming deal. I booked a car at Dollar via priceline.com.

renting a car in ireland

My Kayak to Priceline to Dollar car rental booking – 85 Euros

My only criteria were:

  • 4-door (for ease of getting luggage in and out)
  • Automatic transmission
  • Unlimited kilometers (I wanted to drive a lot)

So, I did it. I thought I’d gotten a better deal than what the Chase Ultimate Rewards site was displaying.

Now that I’m back safe and sound, I’m not so sure any more.

Pickup

Read More

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Boston

Hyatt Regency Boston reviews

Since the BOS-DUB flight on Aer Lingus tonight flies out of, um, Boston, I decided to build in a day to explore this culturally rich city. As a base, I decided on the Hyatt Regency Boston.

It’s a Hyatt Category 3 hotel, meaning it’s 15,000 Gold Passport points per night, and also eligible for use with the annual free night certificate given as a perk to cardholders of the Chase Hyatt Visa.

Since I’d already redeemed my annual free night certificate earlier this year at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I redeemed 15,000 Gold Passport points.

Daily rate was $313/night

Daily rate was $313/night

This saved me $313 for a one-night stay, which means I got a value of 2.1 cents per point – and meets my 2 cents per point minimum. However, since I’m a Chase Hyatt Visa cardholder, I’ll get 20% of those points back due to a promo they have going on right now until July 31st (but you had to register by March 31st). That gives me even more value out of the points redeemed – closer to 3 cents per point. Considering how easy it is to earn Ultimate Rewards points, I consider Hyatt stays one of the best uses of Ultimate Rewards – especially with this 20% discount going on.

Getting there and check in

After getting off the Amtrak train at Boston’s South station, it was a short 10-minute walk to the Hyatt Regency. The streets in Boston drive me absolutely batty. I’m a lover of the grid. Well-planned cities like Chicago and Phoenix appeal to my sense of order greatly. I can deal with New York’s mish-mash of a kinda-sorta grid. But Boston is something else altogether.

Once I found the Hyatt Regency, I entered through the sliding glass doors. You have to take an elevator up to the lobby on the 3rd floor, and from there, you have to take another elevator up to your room. So to enter and/or exit, you always have to take two elevators. This design feature/flaw was not my favorite thing in the entire world, and I can see how it could be confusing to some.

Ground floor entrance of the Hyatt Regency Boston

Ground floor entrance of the Hyatt Regency Boston

Check-in area on the 3rd floor

Check-in area on the 3rd floor

The desk agent was very, very welcoming and acknowledged that I was Platinum with Hyatt. After just a couple of minutes, we headed up to our room.

The room

Read More

Booking Dublin: A Change of Plans

Also see: 

Major change of plans is more like it.

Thanks to The Points Guy, I caught wind that an award I’d long had my eye on, BOS-DUB in business class on Aer Lingus, was widely available for booking with Avios points.

The good news: it still is.

I immediately transferred over some Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards (I love combining them when I can and British Airways is perfect for that – so is Singpore) to my British Airways account, and called in to book my dates.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Get ’em while they’re hot!

Throughout April and May, and possibly into the summer months, award availability is peppered here and there.

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus (Click to enlarge)

That screen shot was taken just now. There are still some flights out there.

The best way to book this is by checking availability on the United website, then by calling British Airways to book over the phone.

I called them post Avios-hack (to change a different set of flights), and my hold time was less than 5 minutes. In fact, I was all booked and set up with flights in under 15 minutes (pre-Avios hack).

If you’re interested in booking, you have either one month or when availability runs out, beginning today. The Avios program is changing on April 28th, and this particular award will go from 50K round-trip in business to 75K, which is a pretty staggering change.

I’ve been interested in experiencing Aer Lingus business class, and visiting Ireland, for a very long time, so it’s all very serendipitous.

But what about the Delta flights?

Of course I had a pretty severe schedule change with Delta.

The mighty schedule change

The mighty schedule change

I was willing to get down to DC to take advantage of an awesome fare that Delta had earlier this year. I was even thinking I could spend a day or two in DC, maybe catch the tail-end of the cherry blossoms. But when the Aer Lingus award availability came around, I was then willing to get myself to Boston, and am now thinking of spending a day there instead.

I called Delta and explained that I had a schedule change of over 4 hours, and that those times no longer work for me – could I please cancel and get a refund? They immediately canceled the ticket and said to expect a refund in 5-7 business days. Awesome. So those are done.

It was a great deal, but then again, so is the Avios redemption on Aer Lingus, and even more so now that it’s time-sensitive.

The 2 round-trip flights would’ve been over $10,000 had I paid for them. Instead, I got nearly 11 cents per point of value by booking with Avios. An incredible deal – get on it if you can!

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

Getting to Boston

Read More

I’m dumping the Chase British Airways Visa – and you should, too

For a long time, the Chase British Airways Visa has offered 1.25 points per dollar on non-bonus spend.

But starting April 30th, 2015, the card will become worthless. And you should dump it.

Rest in pieces

Rest in pieces

I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers saying how you can still get 50,000 Avios, without paying the annual fee of $95 the first year, and that the card is still worth it for that reason alone. No.

Dump it

I’ve long been a supporter of the Chase British Airways Visa. I’ve even toyed with the idea of putting $30,000 of spend through the card to trigger the Travel Together companion certificate, despite the outrageous (!!!) fuel surcharges. I even researched Fifth Freedom flights, in part to defend the usefulness of Avios.

But this new earning structure, combined with the changes to their business/first class award redemptions, renders the card completely useless.

In fact, many other cards offer better earning rates for British Airways Avios:

  • The Chase Ink Plus will continue to offer 5 Avios (Ultimate Rewards points) per dollar on office supply and telecommunication spend
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred will continue to offer 2 Avios per dollar on all travel (a very broad category already) and dining (also very broad)
  • The American Express EveryDay Preferred will offer 4.5 Avios (Membership Rewards Points) per dollar on all grocery spend up to $6,000 per year (after 30 transactions per month), 3 Avios per dollar on gas, and 1.5 Avios on all other spend – this alone beats the socks off the Chase British Airways Visa – and it has the same annual fee (!)

Other thoughts

Read More