If you’re anything like me, you probably got behind on things in the month of December. Around the holidays, I always find it tough to keep up with everything at work on top of everything with the family and also reading about every news story that inevitably pops up near the end of the year. This week, I did some catching up and wanted to share a selection of reads that aren’t new news but were newsworthy and you may have missed in the holiday rush.
Starbucks Rewards Devaluing February 2023
One Mile at a Time covers a devaluation that has nothing to do with travel and everything to do with travel all at once: the coming devaluation to Starbucks Rewards. This news came out a couple of weeks ago, but I’m including it here as a reminder that you’ve got two weeks left to burn your Starbucks points (which might be especially relevant to those who linked their Delta account to Starbucks for a bonus late last year). Of course the devaluation kicks in just as I finally got a Starbucks about 30min from home, but I guess I should be happy that I’ll be able to redeem 50 stars for a hot coffee with a shot or two of espresso and all of the fixins a few more times with my remaining points.
IHG Releases More Information About Iberostar Beachfront Resorts
This is also news from last month, but this post from Loyalty Lobby is worth a read if you’re a fan of all-inclusive resorts since IHG will be adding a number of properties this year in Spain and the Caribbean along with a couple in Brazil. We don’t yet know what awards will cost at these properties as they only show up with a link to the hotel’s direct site when searching at IHG’s site for the time being. However, they are expected to be fully rolled into IHG by the end of 2023. I’m sure these will probably be a good use of the IHG Premier’s 4th night free, making stays in 4-night increments ideal.
Free Chrome Extension Quickly Adds All Available AmEx Offers & Chase Offers
I am always hesitant to add extensions to my browser and/or give anyone access to information in my bank logins, but this extension does look interesting and from the comments at Doctor of Credit it sounds like it has many happy users. I like that the developer seemed to be pretty active in answering questions in the comments also. Personally, I’ve been hesitant to push the limits with Amex in terms of adding Amex Offers to multiple cards. The Amex Points Parade has been marching with vigor these past few years and I just don’t feel like an extra $50 here or there is worth losing out on the chance to march along to the beat of that drum, so I’m passing on this for now. However, I can certainly see the appeal.
Don’t Have TSA PreCheck? This Is the Hack You Need to Know
The very definition of “not news” comes from Yahoo News as they reported on something I’ve known for a long time (maybe even a couple of years?) but had nonetheless forgotten about: Staples sells TSA PreCheck. I remember taking a picture of a sign advertising this quite a while back, but I never wrote about it. Now that I have CLEAR, I guess I’ll consider TSA PreCheck. Note that this is unnecessary if you have Global Entry, but I just don’t see myself going through the hassle of Global Entry any time soon given the need for appointments or the stars to align for an interview on arrival, etc. I’ll keep using the (free) Mobile Passport app and skip Global Entry until either other people start discovering Mobile Passport or the Global Entry process becomes less annoying.
World of Hyatt Adds All-Inclusive Leisure Options in Europe
The all-inclusive craze expands in Europe with several Hyatt options opening in 2023 and 2024. Personally, I don’t really see the appeal (for Americans) of all-inclusives in Europe. I haven’t been to the areas of the new locations, but in my mind the idea of an all-inclusive is to relax at the resort and enjoy some sun and sand without really leaving the resort, but why fly all the way to Europe for that when you can have that experience just a few hours away in Mexico / the Caribbean? Clearly, I’m in the minority on this as we’ve seen other brands (like IHG above) taking a similar strategy, but I would expect this to be more appealing to Europeans given the distance.
Nick–for what it’s worth (probably not much, but it is at least a data point), we will do nearly anything to keep our Global Entry/TSA Precheck. Our family travels a lot and it means generally (at least 90%+) no more shoes off, no pulling out liquid bags, and no taking out electronics. Other than reducing the hassle factor, it is also a huge time saver. So many times, the combination of Clear and Global Entry/TSA Precheck has let us clear security in literally 3-5 minutes (YMMV). This also gives us the ability to visit lounges at airports in different terminals or different wings that require going through security a second time (thinking of you, Miami). All this for the inconvenience of dealing with the interview (which takes less than 15 minutes) at most once every five years, and upon renewal, my wife and I were able to do our interviews on-line. It’s also free since virtually every premium credit card will reimburse for it, so we just use a different premium credit card to pay for each family member. Our experience is that all of our family’s in-person interviews have run on time. Although my wife and I have Clear reimbursed by AMEX Platinum, our kids don’t travel enough to merit the cost of Clear. However, as far as Global Entry/TSA Precheck, I have enough premium credit cards that it is free and a total no-brainer for our family. The biggest hassle to me is remembering on the form all of the countries I have visited during the past five years. I’ve never used Mobile Passport but our most recent experiences with Global Entry have been that it has taken us about 30 seconds to enter the country and clear customs. Again, for what it’s worth.
One more DP for you, re: Global Entry — You don’t actually have to make an appointment. If you complete the form and show up at an office they almost always have time for walk-ins. I not only did it that way in ATL, but everyone I’ve told about it did the same. The whole thing, including my wait time, interview and fingerprinting took less than 25 minutes. Obviously, if everyone starts to do it it will no longer work, but for now I think it’s still a good hack. And, +1 for not wanting to live without GE. I just renewed (online) last year and it was a piece of cake.
So in terms of the no liquids or electronics out of the bag, most of the domestic airports I’ve visited over the past year (which is an admittedly small sample size), including my home airport, have the new machines where nobody takes anything out of bags anymore. I agree that’s very nice, but I imagine that if my local airport has the new machines, most will be getting them if they don’t already.
In terms of time savings on re-entry, I think I’ve only once had two people in front of me for mobile passport. Otherwise it is at most one person already at the desk with the immigration agent. And that’s coming in at major international gateways. The time savings on my trips (which, while still I guess a relatively small sample size, isn’t an insignificant number of trips as I’ve been using mobile passport for at least six years) would be negligible with GE. I often make it to the belt before the checked bags start coming.
I’m sure there will come a day when I wish I had GE, but it hasn’t come yet. The nearest airport for an interview is JFK I think (do they offer them at EWR?) and that’s anywhere from 3.5hrs one way without traffic to 5 or more depending on the day. I’m just not interested enough in GE to plan a day to drive all the way for that. Yes, I could try for an interview on arrival, but that’s not guaranteed (and neither is the attitude of my kids being “cooperative” after a long international flight) and I think the conditional approval eventually expiries if you don’t do an interview, right? Seems like a hassle to me.
Don’t get me wrong, if it were just my wife and I, maybe I’d do it now that I broke down and got CLEAR. But as long as the mobile passport line continues to be at most 3 people long, and I guess really as long as I’m beating our bags to the belt, I don’t feel any urge to do it.
not sure you can do this with initial app but GE has interviews upon re-entering the US, no appointment needed.
Yup. I mentioned that in the comment you’re replying to.
does the fee get reimbursed by cards if one enrolls for TSA Pre at Staples?
Starbucks, just a reminder to use your own refillable cup(coffee) and get 25 stars on each visit.Plus stars for spend.Rewards add up much faster.
But then you can’t order in advance with the app, which is a big selling point for me.