We are excited for Frequent Traveler University this weekend, mostly for the free coffee at Starbucks courtesy of Million Mile Secrets. Look out for our review next week.
Speaking of Million Mile Secrets, this week they taught us how to use elite traveler security lines by fooling the TSA with a flashy frequent flyer card. The comments section of the post heated up quickly, with people throwing around fighting words as they tend to only do anonymously on the internet. Our favorite comment was by E, and we quote: “OK Seems some incentive is needed for the loser line cutters. When i’m in the line (Either one) and I see Darious and or Emily i will call them out in Pubic.” That’s taking it a bit far, don’t you think?
Everybody is talking about getting rid of virgins by way of a Hilton, or something like that. Kinda reminds us of high school.
In a feat we didn’t think possible, The Points Guy runs through some ways in which Delta’s Skymiles program could get even worse.
In case you somehow hadn’t heard, THE CHASE FREEDOM CATEGORIES FOR 2013 ARE NOW AVAILABLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thankfully, our dealer was recently reclassified as a “drugstore,” so the first quarter is already looking good for our Ultimate Rewards balance.
The Mr. Pickles is back to blogging. As practitioners of the occasional blogging hiatus ourselves, we understand the need for a break, but it is very good to have him back. Here he reminds us of an oldy but goody (and unfortunately deady). We used the diamond ring thing to prank propose to numerous girlfriends. They didn’t think it was funny, but we earned a lot of points.
The Points Guy outlines a fairly surefire way to get your PayPal account shut down, in case anyone was looking to do that without actually having to contact PayPal.
Frequent Miler issues a rare review of card benefits specifically for domestic travel, and an even rarer trip report. We find the comparison of Delta and Cathay Pacific downright offensive, but then again, we haven’t flown Delta since they updated their award booking procedures.
Last, but by no means least, the Points Envy travel blog contest will close at 5pm PST today. Winners will probably be announced sometime in the next week, or at some point after that.
Just in time for Hanukkah, word has it that there will soon be a way to save some serious gelt when traveling to Israel. According to an industry insider, El Al and other major airlines with service to Tel Aviv are planning to reduce the points required for award flights to Israel by as much as 90%! Oddly, only flights bound for Israel will be eligible for the discount, as flights leaving the country will still be full-price. We have no idea why, but these inbound redemption costs are dropping like Arab armies during the Six-Day War. If you like aggressive taxi drivers and hummus, this one is a no-brainer.
Given these circumstances, we plan on using 2970 Matmid points (a Membership Rewards transfer partner) for a roundtrip LAX-TLV first class ticket. All told, this is a great opportunity to visit what some religious fanatics refer to as “the Holy Land.” We, of course, have always reserved that term for the Lufthansa First Class Terminal in Frankfurt, but to each her own.
Act now, because there’s no telling how long this deal will last. See you all in the King David lounge!
Don’t miss out!
Points Envy had a blast at the StarMegaDo4 this week. It was a wonderful chance to see how the sausage is made at United and to finally meet some of the most infamous points bloggers around. Most importantly, it was nice to have easy access to the buffet line from which said bloggers were all eating. Our last experiment failed, but we will rule this world yet!
The miles blogs have been filled with talk of an upcoming 30% Membership Rewards transfer bonus to British Airways, but the bonus does not begin until December 3. This reminds us of the way our dead parents used to start mentioning Christmas in November. This type of teasing did not end well for them.
Points Envy brought you an exclusive look, via Lucky (via Gary), at a 25% award redemption sale in the Avios program.
Dan’s Deals provided an excellent guide to maximizing this week’s Staples promotion whereby you receive a $15 Staples Gift card for every $100 Visa or Mastercard gift card purchased. So far, we have bought $30,000 worth of gift cards at our local Staples stores, and this afternoon we are flying to Nebraska to visit a few more Staples. Nobody in Nebraska is in the game yet, right? We assume it is like living in the 1990s there.
As predicted, Lucky has given us the beginnings of a stellar review of Lufthansa first class. Not to be outdone, MommyPoints also flew the most German of all airlines this week, and the full review of her A380 trip is forthcoming.
Million Mile Secrets provided a nice rundown of some ways in which to maximize the fourth quarter Chase Freeom bonus on hotels and airlines by purchasing gift cards. We plan on using this method to max out the $1500 bonus on all sixteen of our Freedom cards.
Last, but not least, our friend George was mentioned in a critical post by The Frugal Travel Guy, and has responded with a couple posts of his own. Rick then engaged George and his readers in a vicious catfight in the alley (aka comments section) of George’s most recent post. As a wise man once said: hate hate hate hate.
In a sad story this week, we have learned that Boston resident Alayna Croft has filed for divorce from her husband David after he decided in late February to apply for the American Express Platinum card without using her as a referral. “It was just the last straw for me,” said Croft, who noted that her husband of thirty-six years had also frequently failed to use the “correct” card when making various purchases over the past decade. “I don’t think that idiot even plans on using his airline fee credit either,” she continued, referring to the Platinum card’s annual statement credit of $200 towards fees (or gift certificates) on an airline of your choice.
American Express generally offers bonuses when a cardholder refers a new user and that person is approved. In this situation, Croft stood to gain 5,000 Membership Rewards points from her husband’s approval. Moreover, Mr. Croft could have gotten a 50,000 sign up bonus with Ms. Croft’s referral instead of the 25,000 bonus tied to the best publicly available offer. Prior to filing for divorce, Croft says she considered simply booking tickets at different award levels in the future – business class for herself and coach for her husband – in order to “teach him a lesson.” Ultimately, however, she decided that her husband’s “lack of consideration with the Amex referral just showed that he had lost all respect for [their] marriage.”
We report this heartbreaking story in the hope that you will be able to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Please, never apply for a new card without first checking whether your friend or loved one (or the writers here at Points Envy) might be eligible for a referral bonus as a result of your application. The world will truly be a better place for all when this shameless wasting of points finally comes to an end. In the meantime, we hope that Ms. Croft makes the right move with the couple’s points and miles balances heading into divorce.
If you are considering taking advantage of the new Membership Rewards 50% bonus on transfers to British Airways Avios points, you may be interested in the history behind the derogatory “Adios” nickname for BA’s recently-unveiled program. We caught up with Walter Thompson in Omaha, who was around for the first Chase BA 100,000-mile sign up bonus promotion.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” says Thompson. “I was searching through the AAdvantage Mall for something I could tolerate buying for bonus miles when I looked up to see my wife throwing away an envelope from Chase with a British Airways 777-300 on it.” After saving the envelope from its doom he ripped it open and nearly fainted from the offer within. He immediately logged on to FlyerTalk as user mAAdvantage and posted about the offer. Says Thompson, “Next thing you know, everyone and their mother was taking Chase up on the 100,000 offer.” As word spread in the frequent flyer community, thousands more cashed in on one of the most generous credit card sign-up deals of all time. We at Points Envy got three each.
But the offer was not unique, and when Chase brought back the 100,000 bonus in 2011, Thompson knew something was wrong. “Why would they be so generous after all the deserving people had already gotten it?” He claims to have foreseen the award chart changes that would ultimately devalue BA miles. “I was ready to give up on British Airways, and as soon as I saw talk online of the change to Avios points, I said ‘Adios,’ and I said it online.”
Sources at FlyerTalk have confirmed that mAAdvantage’s post was indeed the first to mention the word “Adios” outside the context of describing a trip to a Spanish-speaking country, but many still hesitate to offer Thompson any praise, usually citing what FlyerTalk user MilesHighness calls “the obviousness of the name.” According to MilesHighness, “Everyone thought of it when they heard about the change; so what if he posted it first?”
Such comments don’t rouse Thompson, who thinks the detractors’ jealousy is unproductive. In a recent post, he states: “Just to prove once and for all that I do think of these things way ahead of the curve, I am hereby unveiling the names ByeMiles and MileageMinus for Delta and United, respectively.” Thanks Walter, we would never have figured those out.
We are now able to confirm a story that has been making the rounds on FlyerTalk and other forums: a Chicago woman successfully used a simple secure message to obtain 250,000 MR points. “I didn’t really think it would work, but I figured I might as well try,” says Platinum cardholder Jennifer Gluck. Aiming for the sky, Gluck sent the following secure message:
Hello, I really love my Amex card and the Membership Rewards program. Given that I have been a loyal Amex customer for seven months, could I please have 500,000 Membership Rewards points? Thank you.
The representative apologized for not being able to satisfy this request, but instead added 250,000 points to Ms. Gluck’s account. As we should all know by now, it never hurts to ask! YMMV.