So you like staying at fine hotels, eating fine food for free, scrounging down a scrumptious breakfast, and checking out when you feel like it sometime in the afternoon? We’ve got you covered. On this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air, we discuss ways to rock that $200 Fine Hotels & Resorts credit — or the multitude of other ways to get great benefits on your paid stays.
Listen or watch below — or read on for more from this week at the blog, including how to find those deals on your own, the top picks of some easy pickings in six-figure credit card bonuses, inspiration for your Northern Michigan vacation, and more.
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This week at Frequent Miler
Getting the elite experience without elite status via credit card & preferred partner hotel booking programs
Hotel elite status isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. That statement feels especially true when you look at the benefits of booking through the right preferred partner programs: you can often lock in things like full breakfast for 2, a $100 credit, guaranteed late checkout, and still earn hotel points and elite credit. With a couple of these programs, you can even get a confirmed upgrade to the next room category at the time of booking (including to suites in some cases!). We’ve added a few programs to this post, including one that gives you the option of room service breakfast or restaurant breakfast and another that allows a 24hr check in clock so you can arrive early without worry. There are a lot of ways to rock elite-like benefits at fine hotels.
Since Amex debuted the new annual $200 statement credit for a prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts booking on the Platinum card, I’ve heard some people bemoan how the included hotels are exorbitantly expensive. While it is true that you can probably find hotels through Fine Hotels & Resorts that cost more for a night than your monthly mortgage payment, I have often booked FHR properties that cost less than $200 for a night (and with a terrific suite of benefits). In this post, I set out to find and list out hotels that can be found for $250 or less under the assumption that most of us would be happy to find a place that comes out to net free or close to free given the quality and benefits. That proved a bit harder than I expected — until Greg swooped in for the save….
In response to my first attempts to seek out Fine Hotels & Resorts deals, Greg made it easy to search on your own. With a brilliant tip about using the Google Hotels calendar view to find cheap dates, it is easy to see at a glance whether a particular property is going to fit the budget you have in mind. Believe it or not, there are actually many properties in the US where that new Platinum $200 credit could get you a free night. As Greg mentioned on the show, this could make for a great staycation opportunity if you happen to have one near home since you’re looking at potentially free dinner, free breakfast, and a guaranteed 4pm late checkout to ease your way out the next day. While the FHR footprint is surprisingly small by some measures, it seems that no town is too small to potentially find a Fine Hotels property where you least expect it — thanks to the search tool I found one I hadn’t known about in a small town of just over 4,000 people in upstate NY.
You’ve surely heard Greg rant about his beloved Inn at Bay Harbor before. He’s been going there every summer for a decade — even multiple times this summer. All the pictures on social media finally made my wife demand that we go to this stunning utopia in Northern Michigan. In a stroke of luck, I was able to snag a summer 2022 reservation before Greg published this review and you guys booked up all of the other availability that isn’t during frozen tundra season. If you’d like to read all about what you’ve been missing and why you should pay peak pricing near Petoskey, see this bottom line review.
A number of ultra-premium credit cards come with return protection. With this benefit, you typically have at least 90 days from date of purchase to change your mind; if the retailer won’t accept a return, your credit card has your back….or at least it should. In my case, it didn’t work out: I returned my ~$400 item to the claims processing warehouse and they claimed that it was broken. I know it isn’t, but proving that from across the country (and assuming they probably don’t have the necessary items with which to test it) is tough. At this point, my claim has been denied and I’m following up to see if I can appeal or if they intend to return my “broken” equipment. Right now, I’m out both the money and the item and that is not the outcome I’d expected.
July continues the absolute points bonanza. If there is a Golden Age of credit card intro bonuses, this feels like it has to be it. We’re at a point where 100,000-point airline credit card bonuses are an after thought thanks to amazing bonuses available on transferable currency cards. See Greg’s latest top picks to sort through your options and pick up your easy points while there is easy pickings.
While we don’t typically include quick deal posts in the week in review, this one seemed like a big enough deal to make it worth a highlight for those readers with Bank of America Platinum Honors status: Bank of America is launching a brand new credit card that is essentially a cash back version of the Travel Rewards card. What makes that notable is that for those with Platinum Honors status, this will be a flat 2.625% cash back credit card with no annual fee, which makes the Premium Rewards card’s $95 annual fee unnecessary unless you use it for a lot of dining and travel (and even then you could easily get 4% dining with no annual fee, so it really only possibly makes sense for travel spend). This card isn’t yet available for new applicants, but Bank of America is emailing some current Cash Rewards and Travel Rewards cardholders and offering a $200 bonus to product change with no new application / credit check. A $200 bonus with no 5/24 impact is easy money for those who can grab it. Note that this new Unlimited Cash Rewards card won’t be appealing for those without Preferred Rewards status since its base earning rate will only be 1.5% back before elite bonuses.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Don’t forget to keep an eye on this week’s last chance deals.