How to turn a $95 card into 4 ocean cruises

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It’s currently at least theoretically possible to get a single card that costs $95 per year and turn it into four free cruises — and maybe even more. This week, Greg and I talked about the steps to make that all happen for those interested in cruising for next-to-nothing (along with Hyatt’s “crazy” new promotion, the awards Greg almost booked, and more).

Elsewhere on the blog this week, you can read about an intriguing budget option in the Maldives, the value of Delta’s elite benefits, the best sweet spots for the current Citi transfer bonus, and a lot more. Watch, listen, or read on for more from this week at Frequent Miler.


00:50 Giant Mailbag
3:05 Card Talk
11:52 Mattress running the numbers & What crazy thing….did Hyatt do this week?
19:33 Greg almost books Qantas First Class
22:10 Main Event: How to turn a $95 card into four ocean cruises
57:44 Question of the Week: Pop quiz — which chains offer compensation when you get walked?

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This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

Tips for new cruisers from new cruisers

With three cruises taken in the past 4.5 months (and considering at least one more this year), my wife and I have begun to pick up on things we wish we had known. Experienced “frequent floaters” could tell you all of the things in this post without reading it, but if you’re as new to cruising as we were, you may enjoy picking up on a couple of tips that can help you make the most of the many “free” cruise opportunities we’ve seen as of late.

Maldives On A Budget: Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives

Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives - Garden View Villa outdoor seating area (image courtesy of IHG)
Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives – Garden View Villa outdoor seating area (image courtesy of IHG)

Stephen highlights what could be a great value property in the Holiday Inn Maldives. During my honeymoon, we made a stop in the Maldives. My wife had no interest in a sea plane, so at the time I only considered this property and the Sheraton. I don’t remember the reviews of the Holiday Inn being as glowing at the time, but it certainly does look like reviews have been excellent for the past couple of years. My stay at the Sheraton was a solid “fine”, but at the time I said that I didn’t get the appeal of flying halfway around the world what felt like a nice beach, but nothing all that special. After having also visited Le Meridien, I’d be hesitant to travel all the way to the Maldives and not get the very isolated, need-a-sea-plane-to-get-there resort feel, but if I were considering two resorts (as Stephen is), I would be as intrigued as Stephen is in checking this place out.

Delta’s New Choice Benefits for Platinum and Diamond Elites

Delta Credit Cards

Delta is adding a number of new “choice benefit” options for Platinum and Diamond members who earn elite status this year. Greg has the low-down on the options — including which ones are worth considering and which likely make no sense at all.

What is Delta elite status worth?

Delta Air Lines Greg in Delta One

Greg has updated the valuations of Delta elite status given the difficulty of using upgrade certificates and the additional value of the newly-added choice benefit options written about above.

From Citi to SAS EuroBonus, the long way. Are there sweet spots?

A reader in our Facebook group brought up the idea of doing a multi-step transfer to effectively convert Citi ThankYou points to SAS EuropBonus miles. The ratio isn’t great, but are there any sweet spots that could be worth it despite the poor ratio? Maybe. The best sweet spots likely aren’t terribly useful, but in the right circumstances they could provide very reasonable value.

Best uses for Virgin Points across Virgin Atlantic & Virgin Red (Sweet Spot Spotlight)

With the current 30% transfer bonus from Citi to Virgin Atlantic and the addition of Virgin Voyages as a very good option for using Virgin points, Greg has updated this sweet spot post to reflect the best uses of them (which equate to some great reasons to take advantage of the transfer bonus if any of these sweet spots are handy for you).

Bottom Line Review: Hyatt Regency JFK Airport At Resorts World New York

Hotel Review Hyatt Regency JFK Airport At Resorts World New York

Given that both Stephen and I stayed at this property at the end of our 3 Cards 3 Continents trips, I can’t believe that neither of us had reviewed it previously. I concur with Stephen’s assessment that this is quite a nice Hyatt property, though I’m not totally convinced that I’d pay the ~$20-$25 each way for an Uber between the airport and property for an overnight again — and if you really want to be in Manhattan, this property wouldn’t be a good choice at all. Still, if you want a nice Hyatt and you don’t mind the added cost to get here, it’s a great option to have.

Centurion Lounge Seattle

Now that Amex has stopped allowing guests for most Platinum card holders, you may actually be able to get into the Centurion Lounge Seattle (my understanding had been that it was plagued with overcrowding in recent years). Greg recently had a chance to visit and reviews the experience here.

Hyatt Regency Orlando: Bottom Line Review

I drove past this property just last night as I am currently in Orlando and noted aloud that Tim had just reviewed this place. His review actually makes me think that we probably should have planned a couple of nights at the Hyatt Regency Orlando on this trip given that it seems to tick a lot of the boxes for our family travels these days. I’d always heard such positive things about the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress (and we enjoyed that property quite a bit late last year) that I hadn’t really considered this “other” Hyatt Regency. Maybe we will for our next trip to this area!


That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye out for this week’s last chance deals.

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Vic

What is the tool mentioned in the mailbag? I listed twice and didn’t catch the name?
Thanks.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Seats.aero. I wrote about it here: https://frequentmiler.com/seats-aero/

Cheri

I had gotten the free Carnival Cruise offer and booked for Sept. 2023. I have sent this offer to Royal, but have not gotten a response yet. I also submitted the MGM match to Holland America. They have sent an offer for $200 free casino play for 2 passengers. Do you think if I ignore this (not interested in this offer) they will send a better offer for the free cruise?

Frank

I tried to get a Caesars account and they say I already have one. I cannot sign in as it wants the account number to reset the password. So, I called and was told the only way is to go to one of their properties. Or to make a reservation and then call to have my Caesars number attached – which I did – but still no sign of the number at my end. So, again I called – this time to the property and asked for my number – and still they will not divulge it. Not likely to set foot in their hotels if that’s the attitude.

Seems like a catch 22. I presume once in the last 40 years I was a member …

jeffk

Nick – you never mention if the offer is for 2 people in a room, 2 people and 2 kids, or only 1 person per match with one Wyndam Card, to Ceasars to Carnival Offer? For my wife and I to both go free on the cruise, do we have to get 2 cards to begin with, one each?

Johnny

Also curious about this.

Lynn

It’s for 2 people in one room and you can pay extra for kids.

chadimus

I used my Hyatt Globalist to status match to get MGM Gold and then applied for Carnival account and submitting MGM Gold screenshot. Two months later I’ve only ever received some very basis promotions from Carnival, never anything approaching free. I wonder what I did wrong?

Lynn

I’ve read that it took several months for some people.

Lynn

My Holland America inside cabin offer is good until end of the year.

Stevenson

what did you submit to get this?

Lynn

MGM Gold

Tim

I tried doing this match in January with Caesars Diamond and MGM Gold. I went to Vegas last year and got the cards for both. My only offer was $500 off a carnival cruise. I haven’t cruised with carnival previously.

Stookey

Great work, as usual! Hey Nick, I respectfully suggest that instead of calling those that sail often “Frequent Floaters” you consider “Chronic Cruisers”. A “floater” is a term generally reserved for a dead body bobbing up and down in the Hudson River. Ok, maybe I’ve watched to many episodes of Law & Order, but still…

Last edited 1 month ago by Stookey
LarryInNYC

No, that’s completely accurate. My wife works on the river and there are one or two most years in the spring.

René

I think it has a very nice ring to it! 😉

Johnny

Frequent Floaters is a good indicator you need to change up your diet, it pays to look before you flush.

Rob

My Apple podcast also cut out after ~39 minutes, but I was able to listen to the whole episode on YouTube.

And just to confirm, yes you can do a Carnival FunMatch for 1 person. As Nick surmised, you just need to pay a $200 deposit, which you get back as a $200 onboard credit. You pay taxes and gratuities for just one person.

pawtim

Mine also cuts out after 39 minutes. Lots of minutes of silence after that. I’d like to hear the discussion no because I like cruising! I’m using podcast addict.

Dave Hanson

Thanks Nick,

FYI This week’s podcast errors out at 39 minutes. Playing from Google Podcasts. Perhaps needs to be re-uploaded?

Greg The Frequent Miler

I tried deleting the download and marking it unplayed and it still stops playing at around 39 minutes. It shows that the show is longer, but it just moves on to the next pod in my playlist when I try to listen past that time.

Dave Hanson

If I pick a portion past minute 39, I get an error, but when I start listening at minute 38, it now plays through to minute 42 without issue. That’s without marking it as unplayed first.

Will update if anything else shows wonky.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yep. Interesting. Same happens for me. If I try to find a location past 39, it simply closes and moves on to the next pod in my playlist

Oops. No, spoke too soon. Somewhere slightly after 40 minutes it died