Priority Pass shakeup, how to find regional first & luxury hotels for fewer points, and more [Week in Review]


We rode a rollercoaster this week, with a huge shakeup on the Priority Pass landscape and a major downward trend for a business credit card that both had us feeling down. But also this week, we uncovered great ways to save points when flying regional first class and staying in luxury hotels via the Choice Privileges / Preferred Hotels partnership. Those topics and a lot more in this Frequent Miler week in review.

a roller coaster with people on it

This week on the Frequent Miler blog…

Chase Sapphire Reserve & Ritz-Carlton cardholders losing restaurant access from Priority Pass

a restaurant with a bar and stools

Just a week ago, I said that you’ll have to pry the Priority Pass from my Chase Ritz-Carlton credit card out of my cold, dead hands. A few days later, we found out that Chase is finally nerfing this benefit (to an extent) by eliminating restaurant access from their ultra-premium cards that offer a Priority Pass membership. Ouch.

Podcast: The Best Path to Priority Pass | Frequent Miler on the Air Ep248

Podcast Ep248

Big news came in this week on the Priority Pass front from more than one angle. In addition to Chase being set to eliminate Priority Pass restaurant access, the Hilton Honors Business Card is losing its Priority Pass benefit altogether. Moving forward, what are your best bets in terms of cards that offer the best Priority Pass benefits (i.e. including restaurant access) — and which cards might be flying under the radar that include enough visits to meet your needs? On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, we run down your best options.

What are the “must have” Chase cards?

a group of credit cards

Tim put together the latest set of Chase cards that you need to have. If you’re getting started in this game, it is essential that you develop a strategy for the Chase cards you need to have since it likely won’t be long until you can’t get any more Chase cards — so you want to lock in a strategy for getting what you want while you still can.

Huge changes to Amex Hilton Honors Business Card (No more free night, higher annual fee, and more)

a deck with a view of the ocean

I did not see this coming. Sure, I expected that the Hilton Honors Business Credit Card would be refreshed and couponified in the same way that we’ve seen Amex advance the couponification of their other cards. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that simple. It might have been an interesting situation if the only change were that this card lost its 6x bonus categories in favor of earning 5x everywhere (which is one of the changes that has happened). It would have been somewhat disappointing if the card furthermore lost Priority Pass (which it did). But also taking away the free night certificates at $15K and $60K spend — and doing it mid-year, even to cardholders who had recently opened the card with the expectation that they had the full calendar year to meet that spend, was an ugly change indeed. I just can’t see the long-term value proposition on this card anymore, though I’ve already started taking advantage of the short-term opportunity to earn 5x everywhere en route to a final free night certificate if I can meet $15K in calendar-year-spend by June 30, 2024.

Podcast: Preferred Hotels bookable ONLINE with Choice Points | Coffee Break Ep05

Coffee Break Episode 05

When Greg first wrote about the Choice Privileges / Preferred Hotels partnership a few years ago, I was lukewarm on it. As time has gone on, I’ve seen more and more very nice-looking Preferred Hotels properties that look even nicer when you consider the price points involved. Now that it is easy to check availability online and book these hotels online, I can imagine making use of it within the next year or two.

How to find Choice Preferred Hotel award availability

When it comes to finding availability for those Preferred Hotels, it is simultaneously more difficult than you’d expect but easier than we originally made it. Greg wrote a small masterpiece on finding award availability for using Choice Privileges points to book Preferred Hotels utilizing some ninja tricks. As it turns out, a reader found a far easier way to accomplish this feat, so Greg made a big update to this post. It’s nice that it will be far easier than we even expected to search for Preferred Hotels award availability.

Regional first class starting at 12,500 points (Sweet Spot Spotlight)

Did you know that you could sit up front and get free checked bags for just 12,500 points one way? Greg covers a sweet spot for using Qatar Airways Avios, which could be very handy within the US and possibly even to Canada and Mexico on American and Alaska Airlines. And it’s not just those two airlines where Qatar’s favorable chart for short oneworld awards could be of interest. If you want to check the distances for yourself, Greg even has the details on how to best do that.

Best ways to get to cities in the US and Canada using miles

a map of the united states

That Qatar Avios sweet spot above is far from the only game in town when it comes to getting a deal on award flights in the US and Canada. Thanks to dynamic award charts, your best bet for booking awards within the United States and Canada will at times be using miles from the airline you want to fly. However, there are still numerous opportunities to use foreign airline partner programs to book flights within the US and Canada at better rates than what you would pay to book with the operating airline. This post runs down all of your best options for booking flights within and between the US and Canada.

United miles pooling is now live – important things to know

United Airlines Miles Pooling

I thought I was going to be very excited about United Mileage Plus mileage pooling, but I couldn’t be much less excited about it. I hate that pooled miles can only be redeemed on United and United Express as that eliminates the flexibility of your miles, which greatly reduces their strength. As if that wasn’t enough, having no way to send miles back to the original account holder and setting them to be evenly distributed among pool members in the event that the pool is dissolved. There is just way too much complexity and inflexibility for me to be interested in this at all. I can imagine the use cases, but I don’t anticipate bothering with the potential headaches.

A return to Santa Claus Holiday Village

This review came through late, but hopefully it is better late than never. Over the holidays, I returned to Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland with my family. We had a blast in a winter wonderland with all the Christmas Magic one could want. While we of course got to Rovaniemi using miles and points, this isn’t a destination where you’re likely going to use points for the stay — but it’s the kind of place that I likely never would have thought to go if not for the games we play — and it will probably be a trip my kids never forget.

That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Keep an eye on this week’s last chance deals to be sure that you grab the best of them before they’re gone.

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