Just a few years ago, the audacity of a 100K offer was enough to propel the Chase Sapphire Reserve into the mainstream media. Today, eye-popping 100K offers are here, there and everywhere: are they here to stay? On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, Greg and I discuss whether or not we think that genie can be put back in the bottle and our take on the latest big offer increases. We also discuss the (now-dead) crazy Wyndham portal promo, Radisson’s latest weirdness, and a reader question about an interesting prepaid product. Read on for more of this week at Frequent Miler.
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This week at Frequent Miler
In credit cards & rewards
Rumored changes may soon be coming to the Amex Platinum card. Is it doom and gloom, or will you find the new slew of benefits more worthwhile? Personally, I’m not very excited about the expansion of monthly credits nor do I like the loss of the airline fee credits, particularly not with one of the replacements being a monthly fitness app benefit that doesn’t even fully cover the cost of the app. I find the rumored fitness app credit particularly interesting because I’m sure that not all Platinum cardholders work out and I’m equally sure that not all who do want to do it with an app and not all who want to do it with an app are looking for the same single app — it just seems like such a niche benefit that won’t carry enough value for many. The streaming credits are OK, but someone in the comments summed it up for me when they noted that it’s weird that Amex is taking what has long been considered a premium travel card and turning it into a very expensive monthly coupon card. I’ll keep it until the fee increases and hope to see some short-term benefit overlap, but I’m not sold on the new benefits. The current 100K + 10x offer is worth grabbing before things change.
Big new 100K+ offers
The headline of this week’s podcast was about the prevalence of large new six-figure offers, so I thought it might make sense to recap a few of those offers here for readers. In just the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen the Capital One Venture credit card launch a 100K offer, the standard offer on the Business Platinum card has increased to 100K – but then we’ve seen that many people are targeted for a 130K offer, and the United Quest card as launched with an offer for 100,000 United Mileage Plus miles. With Delta’s latest offers also creeping closer to 100K and JetBlue having recently made a 100K offer as well (since expired), it feels like we’re seeing a new normal where 100K is the headline to meet or beat, and that is exciting stuff for our hobby.
Big 100K offers aside, let’s not miss the forest for the trees and ignore the cards that are most rewarding on a day-to-day basis after the welcome bonus is earned and done. In that regard, I think the Altitude Reserve doesn’t get its due: the best card to use at Costco or likely at your mechanic, hairdresser, or many other in-person purchases is hands down this card. So why isn’t it in my digital wallet? I just don’t spend much in person. Readers pointed out in the comments that there are some situations where you can earn the Altitude Reserve’s excellent mobile payments return online and several tried to make the case as to why I should get it after all. You don’t see much love for this card in the blogosphere, but there is no doubt that it still has a fervent following – and for good reason.
Long before I learned how to earn and burn points and miles, I loved to stack for a good deal. What originally drew me to Frequent Miler were Greg’s guides to extreme stacking (and a desire to stack as many ways to score a discount as possible). All that is to say that I really enjoyed this post from Stephen Pepper this week as it is the new and updated guide that shows how to slice and dice the price by stacking discounts from the various tools in our belt.
In loyalty programs
UGH, IHG! What a ride we took this week with IHG Rewards Club. While we talk about our excitement over 100K airline and transferable currency offers on this week’s show, IHG made sure to remind us that 100K points just might not buy what it used to. After seemingly obliterating the value of their points without warning, they made an equally quiet change that restored some sense of order and value to IHG points. Unfortunately, I think this was just a sneak peek: we will likely see value continue to slide, just hopefully not quite as quickly as we did for a few days there.
As someone who is mostly uninterested in airline elite status, my eyes tend to gloss over with talk of waitlist priority and regional upgrades. Have I just been asleep at the wheel on regional upgrades? It turns out that those certificates are more valuable than I’d ever assumed. When Greg has talked about regional upgrade certificates, I had a mental image of regions being smaller than they are and thus regional upgrades less exciting. A certificate that enables you to be able upgrade any flight within all 50 states as well as some of the rest of North America (pending availability of course) is a more valuable benefit that I’d realized — and in this guide, Greg shows you the best uses.
From how to earn miles without flying to the elite status requirements in place for earning 2022 status, everything you need to know about United MileagePlus is here under one roof.
Virgin Atlantic points are easy to love because they are so easy to amass given Virgin Atlantic’s partnerships with most of the major transferable currencies. They are even easier to love because of a few highly valuable sweet spots. This week, they made themselves even easier yet to love now the sweetest of those sweet spots can be booked one-way. See the update here for more details.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Don’t forget to keep your eye on the coming week’s last chance deals.