This week on Frequent Miler on the Air, Greg and I dive into Delta elite status through award tickets, the latest interesting development in the chase for status 2021. I’ll be honest: I kind of ignored this news from Delta figuring that I’m probably not going to fly enough this year to earn status even from award tickets. On this week’s show, Greg showed me the shortcuts that might prove my assumptions wrong. I’m not yet sure how I’m going to run the set up, but if I can turn our GUC trip into Delta Platinum status (using Greg’s miles nonetheless!) it might be hard to pass that up. Follow along as we discuss that along with the nonsensical secret to keeping Air France miles alive, a great reader rental hack, and more on this week’s show below. Watch, listen, or read on for more of this week at Frequent Miler.
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This week at Frequent Miler
On a recent Ask Us Anything on Youtube, we were asked about what we were excited about in the second quarter of this year. The question was presumably about temporary bonus categories, but I think that question must have led Greg to consider the exciting developments in miles and points. With this list, he highlights some very interesting developments (even if I did roast him about that last one). At the current moment and no doubt influenced by current circumstances, I find the Wyndham vacation rentals (and with them the Wyndham business card) to be the most intriguing possibility to pursue in the near-term.
If you have Wyndham Rewards points, stop what you’re doing and Read. This. Post. Readers chimed in to give Greg tips about how to book Vacasa vacation rentals through Wyndham Rewards and it looks like you can indeed book some awesome properties for not-many Wyndham points relatively speaking. Whenever my points clear from my Wyndham shopping portal purchases, I have a destination in mind where I hope to book one of these vacation rentals myself. That Wyndham business card is suddenly looking hotter and hotter.
While Wyndham vacation rentals are drawing me in, there is no doubt that many readers are likely even more excited about earning Delta elite status with award flights. Inspiring the main event on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air podcast, the announcement that award flights will count toward elite status this year with Delta is terrific news indeed. While many people may not travel enough this year to meet the necessary thresholds, we talked on the show this week about the several shortcuts that could make it fairly easy to obtain meaningful Delta elite status this year thanks to this development. I totally agree with Greg that if airlines want to make award programs more revenue-based, this type of change only makes sense. Hopefully this gets extended into next year and United and American airlines follow suit as counting award flights toward elite status might just make their programs and points more exciting once again.
Did you get lost in the weeds during this week’s discussion of MQD’s, MQM’s and status boosts and get stuck wondering why we skipped over MQS’s altogether? Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Delta SkyMiles in a single resource. If you’ve enjoyed bookmarking our Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide or our other loyalty program guides from our Frequent Miler resource page, here is the latest addition to give you a handy reference tool.
One thing in Greg’s post about exciting points & miles news that excites me a lot less than it does him and it is this whopper from IHG. Touch, taste, smell, sight, hearing, and a sense of disappointment must be the six that IHG was going for when they launched the ability to book these seven properties that simultaneously symbolize the end of any semblance of an award chart in the IHG Rewards program. These properties do look nice, and some of them are reasonable as awards. Benefits of (purchasable) Intercontinental Ambassador status are surprisingly good. Unfortunately, it’s hard to focus on all that when one IHG property now costs about a quarter million points per night and some Holiday Inn Expresses cost up to 70K points per night. Boo, IHG. Boo.
If that little link at the end of the previous post didn’t draw you in, allow me to highlight IHG’s low point: a rural roadside Holiday Inn Express may now cost as many or more more points per night than the Intercontinental Bora Bora did just a year ago. That’s insane. A reader posits a pretty good theory in the comments that helps explain wide swings in price: it could be that IHG is pricing a lot higher as hotels near selling out (when they will presumably need to reimburse the hotel at a higher rate for an award room). The big disappointment here is it seems there is no ceiling for the average run-of-the-mill limited service properties, so you really never know what you’re gonna get when it comes time to redeem your points. There are still good values to be found, you just may need to hunt them out.
Alaska joined oneworld: No news on awards is good news, expanded partnership with AA is a win for many
It’s official: Alaska is a oneworld airline. Somewhat surprisingly (and yet somewhat expectedly), Alaska didn’t announce announce a new award chart yet nor anything particularly significant at its news conference announcing full membership in oneworld, leaving us to speculate on the many questions left unanswered. That’s probably good news for now because it means that any bad news award chart changes will (hopefully) be held off long enough for us to get some mid-2022 travel booked before changes are finalized. I expect that Alaska’s changes will be less bad than anticipated but less good than if they didn’t happen, so have your eye on the awards you want to book for next year before the other shoe drops. In the meantime, the expansion of the partnership with AA is good news for many.
A member of our Frequent Miler Insiders group recently experienced the type of nightmare scenario that makes anyone with kids shudder: at midnight he and his wife and two kids were left turned away from their overbooked hotel with no place to sleep and no rental car. That’s precisely the kind of situation that many of us play the loyalty program game in order to avoid, but everything failed to work as expected. While I’ve long known about Marriott’s Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, it wasn’t until Jon shared his negative experience with IHG that I’d have ever considered it as a reason to choose Marriott over the competition. Marriott’s reservation guarantee will now be at the top of mind for any anticipated late-night arrivals over the next couple of years.
The Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve card sit atop the ultra-premium card world, not only with their steep $550 annual fees and current high welcome bonuses but also because of popular benefits and valuable rewards programs. Ultimately, I think the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is the more practical choice for a greater segment of readers even though I prefer Membership Rewards over Ultimate Rewards because of the strength of Amex’s airline transfer partners. The key here is that the Platinum card comes with many benefits that you may not need and the Sapphire Reserve gives you excellent value for points without much effort. All that said, I’d take the Platinum card right now without hesitation given its amazing current intro bonus.
If you were concerned that you only had a few more weeks to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for grocery, dining, and home improvement purchases at a favorable rate, you can breathe a sigh of relief: Chase extended this through September 30, 2021. They did not extend the grocery category bonus, which is somewhat disappointing. That said, getting the chance to cash out points for 1.5c each for a few more months is still certainly a worthwhile trade.
Just an update here, but a good reminder to keep this page bookmarked as change fees and waivers continue to be important both in booking and rebooking your travel plans.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the updates in this week’s last chance deals.