Are you ready to pay $695 a year to hold a shiny credit card? Are other issuers going to follow suit? What is the deal with this incredible annual fee creep on the ultra-premium side while $95 cards have kept the same price tag for a decade or more? This week, Greg and I discuss whether the rumored Platinum card changes are going to be worth the hit to your wallet and where this trend is going. We also crunch the numbers on that IHG Ambassador deal and come to a surprising recommendation for a reader under 5/24 and looking for a new card. Watch, listen, or read on for more of this week at Frequent Miler.
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This week at Frequent Miler
In travel hacking
This was a fantastic reader tip that seems like a cool tool to keep in your bag of tricks. The prices for car dealership rental cars seemed a bit higher than what I’d ordinarily expect to pay for an airport or neighborhood rental, but in today’s crazy rental car environment of sky-high prices and in some cases empty lots and/or lines 100 people deep waiting for cars, the dealership route looks like a great alternative. The example I showed in the post even had airport shuttle service. The quality of experience likely varies some, but this is a hack that could save time and frustration nonetheless. Just remember that whatever you do you probably don’t want to give your primary phone number to a car dealer. Get Google Voice for this.
In loyalty programs
We’ve gotten many reports from readers about the difficulties they’ve had with booking United via Turkish, though a lot of the troubles these days are schedule-change related problems that would likely exist wherever you book. But a reader reported a cancellation story almost too ridiculous to believe. After reading it, I called to cancel my upcoming trip to Hawaii and it was easy breezy — I had the miles back in my account before I hung up and I didn’t have to pay a cancellation fee. In this post I explain that the most frustrating thing is that there’s no rhyme or reason as to why our experiences diverged so sharply.
Updated with more sweet spots and a few recent tips, this guide is a good reminder that Turkish can be difficult to deal with but can also be incredibly valuable – and not just for the North America / Hawaii sweet spot. You can get all the way to the Maldives in business class for 67.5K miles, to Nepal in economy for 34K or business for 52.5K, to the Middle East for 32K econ / 47K business class and more.
Did you know that you can fly (one route) to Europe in business class for 35K miles? Or that you could hack a return from Paris to Newark to pay 48K miles instead of the 63K sticker price? LifeMiles is full of sweetness for those who can look beyond the award chart sticker prices to slice and dice their way to a deal. This post covers both economy and premium cabin sweet spots that make Avianca an excellent transfer partner for solid value.
Sonesta hasn’t been resting during the pandemic, that’s for sure. They have continued to expand by scooping up and reflagging properties, ready to stake a claim to a small piece of the loyalty traveler pie. While I am overall in agreement with Greg that Sonesta is merely “almost” exciting, I can totally see how appealing it will be to those who enjoy some of the included properties – particularly when you consider the amenities of easy-to-get Elite status. I’ll keep sleeping on Sonesta for now, but one of these days maybe they’ll get me catching a siesta at Sonesta instead.
Singapore Airlines is offering easy Star Alliance Gold status when you transfer 250K points to their program. It’s easy, but in my opinion it just isn’t at all worth it for all but a tiny niche of travelers unless you’re already planning to make a Singapore redemption of nearly enough points (and given that Singapore isn’t open for most visitors and there are very limited destinations to which you can transit at the moment, you probably don’t need to be transferring a quarter million points right now to make a redemption). Truthfully, I wouldn’t even consider this if not for Brex points and a desire to hop on a status-match-go-round. The extremely limited benefits for me just aren’t worth tying up the points in a program where they expire in 3 years. I think I’m actually leaning against doing this promo unless something changes.
That’s it for this week at Frequent Miler. Be sure to check out this week’s last chance deals.