The benefit multiplier effect


Benefit Multiplier EffectMiles to Memories recently wrote about the powerful combination of AA elite status, plus the Citi Prestige card, plus the Citi AT&T card.  To me, the AT&T card benefits (3X points for online shopping), are a side note to the real story: The Citi Prestige card enhances the value of ThankYou points when used with American Airlines.  That makes it cheaper to get or maintain AA elite status.  And, AA elite status makes flying AA more tolerable (upgrades, etc.) and increases the number of miles earned on flights.  Top level AA status also makes AA miles more valuable since it means free award changes and re-deposits, and better award availability.

In Shawn’s post, he gave examples in which it has been possible to earn as many American Airlines miles for a flight as the number of ThankYou points spent to buy the flight.  Later this year, when AA moves to awarding miles based on the price of the flight, rather than miles flown, the math will change for the worse, but the general idea won’t: the combination of the Prestige card with AA elite status will still be quite rewarding.

Borrowing from an economic term, I decided to call this the “benefit multiplier effect”.  The idea is that a particular benefit (such as the Prestige card’s enhanced value towards AA flights) can have downstream benefits (cheaper AA elite status), which in turn leads to further downstream benefits (earn more miles, miles more valuable, etc.).

That got me to wondering… Where else do we see this benefit multiplier effect?  Here are a few that come to mind…

IHG credit card –> Higher point value + Platinum status –> Earn more points –> Hilton Diamond match –>…

Chase’s IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card not only offers a free night each year at any IHG property, but it also gives the cardholder IHG Platinum status and an automatic 10% rebate on award nights.

This benefit multiplier effect is simple.  The IHG card makes your points worth more; and Platinum status makes points easier to earn, and may enhance your travel experiences:

  • The card’s 10% rebate on awards makes points worth about 11% more
  • Platinum status:
    • Earn 50% more points than non-elites for paid stays
    • Enhanced travel experience: free room upgrade (subject to availability), other perks vary by hotel

Incidentally (and ironically), the card can improve point earnings and travel experiences at other hotel brands too!  IHG Platinum status can often be used to status match to mid-tier or even top tier status with other chains.  For example:

Marriott Platinum –> United Silver + 50K United Offers –> Hertz Five Star status

United 50K offerThere are a few ways to get to Marriott Platinum status (see: Shortcuts to earning and renewing Marriott elite status).  Once obtained, you will earn more points for paid stays and receive benefits during stays such as free breakfast (except at resorts), a welcome gift, late checkout, etc.

In addition, with Platinum status, you can take advantage of Marriott’s partnership with United, called “RewardsPlus”.  Via RewardsPlus, Marriott Platinum members can sign up for United Silver status for free.  With United Silver status you get free access to Economy Plus, free domestic upgrades (when available), priority check-in & boarding, reduced award fees, a free checked bag, etc.

A downstream benefit of United Silver status comes from Chase: While the usual signup bonus offer for the Chase United Mileage Plus card is 30K miles, United elite members are regularly targeted for the 50K offer.  With my United Silver status, for example, all I had to do was log into my United account to find the 50K offer shown to the right.

And, United partners with Hertz, so you can then use your United status to sign up for Hertz Five Star status (which offers a free car class upgrade), bonus points, etc. (details here).

What else?

I’m sure there are many similar examples of “benefit multiplier effects”.  Can you think of any good ones?  Please comment below.


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Craig Baker

How about the Benefit Multiplier Effect with the original Citi AT&T card, Citi Prestige with the United MileagePlusX portal plus Chase United MileagePlus card 25% bonus? The MileagePlusX portal makes everyday spend into 3X TYP via the AT&T card and is a good way for bonus points in both programs with the same spend for those of us with no status on American or United, especially when transferred to American via the Citi Prestige.


Similar idea, I obtained Virgin Atlantic points from a Bank of Anerica card, then transferred 10,000 to IHG, which made me a gold elite at IHG, which increased the offer for an IHG card from 60,000 to 80,000 points, the application for which was part of my accelerate offer and, along with a single night stay, generated 45,000 points from the offer. If I hadn’t already been Hilton Diamond, it would also have allowed me to match to diamond.