Preparing for the end (of the year)


Don’t drop the ball before the ball drops: this week Greg laid out a list of things to do before the year comes to a close to make sure that you have reaped the rewards you are due. On our Frequent Miler on the Air episode, we check that list twice and talk about our own plans to button things up before crunch time arrives.

In this week’s posts (summarized below), Greg updated the best credit card combos and shared some of the top flight and hotel redemptions that he still has yet to check off his bucket list before Amex puts him six feet under again. Watch or listen to the show or read on below for more of this week at Frequent Miler.

1:35 Giant Mailbag
5:46 What crazy thing did American Express do this week?
9:57 Mattress running the numbers: Is the new Hyatt Bonus Journeys worth a mattress run?
18:15 Main Event: Preparing for the end (of the year)
1:01:25 Post Roast
1:04:35 Question of the Week: Can I use mobile check-in to pick up cheap elite nights?

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This week at Frequent Miler

End of Year Checklist for 2021

Are you ready for the inevitable end (of the year)? Have you used all of your 2021 airline fee credits, locked up elite status for 2022 and beyond, put yourself on the path to Companion Pass status and otherwise readied yourself to reap every benefit possible for this calendar year? This post that inspired this week’s podcast has everything you need to consider.

Becoming undead and grabbing over 250,000 points

Having spent some time on the beach and in the sun with Greg in both September and October, I can vouch for the fact that he probably isn’t a vampire. Unfortunately for Greg, Amex didn’t call me to double check. Fortunately for Greg, they were able to reconsider his 24/7 status and allow him some undead employees.

Awesome credit card combos w/ transferable points [Updated]

It is hard to argue against the compelling value proposition of a Capital One combo wallet these days with a net “free” ultra-premium card and strong earnings whether on unbonused spend or in popular categories. Indeed, I think the Venture X makes a strong case for being the best in a single-card wallet and for being the anchor in the best two-card wallet. As amazing as this is, it is only when expanding to card #3 and beyond that other ecosystems start to clearly outshine Capital One. That’s not to say that there aren’t reasons to have a different combo, but Capital One is certainly making it harder to justify ignoring them.

My most anticipated award stays

Come on, Greg. You *want* to stay in the path of this  type of sunset.

I missed my chance at a post roast on Greg’s list of most anticipated award stays! Greg points to some amazing-looking properties where I’d love to stay, but I have to disagree with his excitement about Hyatt’s upcoming Magma Resort Santorini and how he likes “that this one isn’t located directly in over-crowded Oia”. I get it — nobody wants to be nestled smack dab in the middle of a million tourists. That is, unless you’re in Oia. The hike from Fira to Oia features breathtaking scenery, but the sunset in Oia is the scene I’d most like to revisit in Santorini (despite the throngs of tourists). I stayed off the beaten path on my single trip to Santorini and certainly would do so again if paying cash, but if booking an award stay I would 130% be looking to use my points to stay at one of the Oia SLH properties. There’s no way I’m going to give Hyatt 30K or 35K points per night to stay somewhere on Santorini without that sunset.

My most anticipated award flights

EVA Air business class hors d'oeuvres
EVA’s business class catering looks more like first class than business class to me.

My list wouldn’t differ much from Greg’s in terms of incredible awards I’d like to fly, though I’d probably fit EVA business class somewhere on the list. It often nears the top of the list for best business class products in the sky and yet I’ve never flown EVA in business class (I did fly them in economy once within Asia). Taiwan’s other airline, China Airlines, has a gorgeous cabin (neither pictures I’ve seen on blogs nor my own seem to capture it well), but EVA is known for the entire package of seat, wine, food, and service. I’d also add Thai Airways First Class to my list and I’d probably remove Air France First Class only because I don’t want to pay for it even at the upgrade price.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye on this week’s last chance deals while making your list and checking it twice.

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@Greg and – don’t you only have 90 days to select your Hyatt choice reward (the points or $100 gift card)? I at least had 90 days to select if I wanted 10,000 points or an extra Suite Night Upgrade when I hit 70 nights. I do not know what happens if you go past the 90 days mentioned in the email, but I selected mine on day 89…

Greg The Frequent Miler

Yes, 90 days sounds right (if memory serves)


re: Buying gift cards in-store for the Saks Amex credit–have there been any recent data points of this happening? I know one (or two) people claimed this happened back in 2019, and it has been repeated by many blogs ever since. But I cannot recall seeing any data points since.

We have 3 Platinum cards in my household, and we have done this twice a year since early 2019. No clawbacks (yet). It is clear that tons of people do this. The last 3 times we have went in, when asking to buy a $50 gift card, the salesperson has said “Paying with an Amex Platinum, I presume?” They have all told me they get people every day coming in to do it.

Is there a risk of clawback? Sure. But there is using United TravelBank, buying a gift card at the grocery store with your Gold card, etc. Like a lot of Amex’s benefits, this is undoubtedly subsidized heavily by Saks. Personally I doubt this is a big concern for Amex, unless the RAT team already had you on the radar. I think its fair to warn people, so it’s use at your own risk, but IMO the relative risk is low.

A tip–if you have the Amex offer for $2 off $5 using tap to pay, Saks works. I ended up getting $52 credit for my $50 gift card a couple months ago.

M. A.

Whoever makes these thumbnails deserves a raise.


I need to use my B of A Premium Rewards card’s $100 credit.

What still works? I almost never buy airline tickets, but use award miles and I am not planning a trip in the near future. For AMEX credits I have been using Southwest – but BofA has never accepted those (like $25 or $49, etc.)

What will B of A accept?

a) Untited Travel Bank? $50 x 2. If so, what can these funds be used for in the next 5 years – award fees? Anything else of value if I don’t actually buy tickets?

b) AA gift cards? Are these eGift cards?

c) Alaska Airlines?

other suggestions would be welcome.


Wow. As an elderly man of a certain age you missed the opportunity to quote the Princess Bride in this podcast, or even Mark Twain. You’re friend here is only mostly dead! There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.