Unpublished treasures: Posts we never wrote in 2021

19

I often have an idea for post, sit down to start writing it, but then abandon it.  Sometimes I’ve lost enthusiasm for it.  Sometimes another topic grabs my attention.  And sometimes I realize that I simply don’t have much to say about the topic after all.  Those partial posts then forever live in limbo as drafts.  In combing through these drafts I found that Nick often does the same.  Even better, I uncovered quite a few gems that deserve their minute in the spotlight even if they were abandoned while half-baked.  Below you’ll find the best of our unfinished posts from 2021…

January 2021

MSP is key to low award fees (Use Virgin points, fly Air France or KLM)

Started by me…

This was a really cool find. I don’t know why I didn’t publish this.  I don’t know if this still holds true, but at the time I found that you can avoid surcharges by booking Virgin Atlantic awards on Air France or KLM to fly between Europe and Minneapolis (MSP).  Here are a couple of examples…

From MSP to Paris, pay only $5.60 to fly Air France:

But from IAD to Paris, pay $159.70 in economy or $294.80 in business class:

It works in the other direction too.  Fly Paris to Minneapolis and pay only 71 or 126 Euros (coach or business):

Fly Paris to Detroit and pay 197 or 364 Euros:

The best cards for people who aren’t traveling this year

Started by Nick…

Nick had a great intro paragraph, but that was it:

One of the most common statements I’ve heard regarding credit cards over the past 6 or 10 months has been “I’m not traveling right now, so I’m not interested in _______” (fill in the blank with a particular credit card, rewards currency, or benefit). This begs the question, “What are the best credit cards for people who aren’t traveling right now?”. Ironically, in many cases, I would argue that now is the time for travel rewards credit cards.

February 2021

Changing fortunes: Will Brex apply pressure to my Amex Gold holding?

Started by Nick…

Nick wrote almost two sentences before giving up:

Something I share with Greg is that I always find it interesting when the relative value of a credit card is directly influenced by some other credit card. I’m now finding myself at the point where I’m re-examining the long-term place of the Amex Gold card in my wallet thanks to”

The fee free Brex card offers 4x transferable points for dining.  So, I assume that Nick was thinking about how this feature made the Amex Gold card’s 4x dining less valuable in comparison.  I’m guessing that Nick didn’t finish his thought because Brex closed (but later reopened) his account (see this post for details).

April 2021

Build your own RTW adventure

Started by Greg…

I had the idea of cobbling together separate sweet-spot awards in order to build your own round the world award trip.  I still think that’s a great idea for a post, but for whatever reason, this is as far as I got (this example uses Virgin Atlantic miles):

Example 1: SEA-CDG-TYO-SEA

  • SEA-CDG Delta One: 50K
  • CDG-TYO ANA First: 60K (47.5K biz)
  • TYO-SEA ANA First: 55K (45K biz)

Total: 165K

May 2021

Big spend bonuses that are worth a look

Started by Nick…

Nick didn’t get very far into his intro: “The hands-down best return on spend comes from new credit card bonuses. However, at this time of year, it is not uncommon for readers to wonder” but he did list a few “interesting big spend bonuses”:

    • Best Western: Spend $5K, get 20K bonus points (plus 2x, so 30K points for $5K spend).
    • Hilton: triple points this year (Diamond with $20K spend. Stack on Surpass)
    • Choice: 4x everywhere until end of the year. Stacked with a big bonus, this looks good

I guess Nick decided that these weren’t worth a look after all.

JetBlue points worth less for Mint to London. Here’s how to get better point value

Started by Greg…

I didn’t have any actual writing in this draft, but there was some math showing that JetBlue points were worth only about 1 cent each for Mint (business class) to London whereas (in the example I documented) points were worth about 1.5 cents each for Blue (coach class) to London.

Sadly, I don’t remember what idea I had for getting better value flying Mint to London.  My guess is that I had in mind to book with Amex points using a Business Platinum card in order to get approximately 1.5 cents per point value.  I should have finished this post!

September 2021

Escaping Amex Pop-Up Prison

Started by Greg…

This draft has nothing but the above image in it.  That pop-up is what my son gets every time he tries to sign up for the awesome Amex Platinum 125K +15x offer.  Since July we’ve been putting regular spend on his Amex cards in order to try to escape pop-up prison.  So far, no dice.

I haven’t published this one yet because I was hoping to publish a success story with details about how it can be done.

Google Pixel dual-sim function for travel

Started by Nick…

Nick started this post with the following paragraph:

Staying connected continues to be of primary importance no matter where we are, so on our current Global Upgrade Certificate trip, I wanted to make sure that I would have high-speed connectivity. I thought that readers may find it useful to compare Google Fi and T-Mobile’s high-speed option side-by-side, I just didn’t realize how easy it would be: Google Pixel 3a and later phones (including my Google Pixel 4a 5G) are dual-sim capable. This means that I am able to have both T-Mobile and Google Fi active on the same phone at the same time, which makes it very easy to compare.

I’m not sure why Nick didn’t finish this, but I do think its an interesting topic.  Even if he didn’t end up actually comparing the speeds side by side, a post about how useful it is to have dual sim capability when traveling would be good!

Our experience getting into Abu Dhabi with the new vaccination requirements

Started by Nick…

During our trip to the UAE in September, we had quite an adventure trying to get into Abu Dhabi (and by “we” I mostly mean Nick).  Nick never finished this post maybe because we discussed it on Frequent Miler on the Air, or maybe because I wrote a bit about it here (under COVID Notes): The GUC stops here: Our incredible adventure.

October 2021

Hyatt’s rumored ultra-premium card: Greg’s predictions

Started by Greg…

We announced Hyatt’s new business card on October 6th.  Before that, rumors were swirling that Hyatt was coming out with a new premium card.  So, I started imagining what that premium card might look like.  I decided that it would be called the “World of Hyatt Millennium Card,” it would cost $495, it would offer a category 1-7 free night each year, etc.  All of that was wrong, of course, since they didn’t unveil a premium card at all.  But, in case Hyatt is reading this, here’s what you would have introduced had you decided to go for it:

Card Feature Current Card New Ultra-Premium Card
Card Name The World of Hyatt Credit Card The World of Hyatt Millennium Card
Payment Network Visa Signature Visa Infinite
Annual Fee $95 $495
Earning Rate 2X restaurants / cafes / coffee shops, airlines, local transit, fitness clubs and gym memberships; 4X Hyatt 3X restaurants / cafes / coffee shops, airlines, local transit, fitness clubs and gym memberships; 5X Hyatt
Free Anniversary Night 1 category 1-4 free night each year upon renewal 1 category 1-7 free night each year upon renewal
Free Night w/ Spend Spend $15K per year, get 1 category 1-4 free night Spend $40K per year, get 1 category 1-7 free night
Automatic Elite Status Discoverist Explorist
Automatic Elite Qualifying Nights 5 per year 10 per year
Elite Qualifying Nights w/ Spend 2 per $5K 2 per $5K
Hyatt Club Lounge Access Awards N/A 2 per year
Airport Lounge Access N/A Priority Pass Select
Other Travel Perks N/A Global Entry / TSA Fee Reimbursement
Travel Protections Good Excellent (Probably similar to Sapphire Reserve & Ritz)
Millennial Perks N/A Dining credits (Doordash)
Exercise credits (Peloton)
Streaming credits
Premium Experiences

Citi fights to reclaim my wallet [On my mind]

Started by Greg….

When Citi added 1 to 2 transfers to Choice, I was excited (and I still am).  I don’t know why I got distracted from writing this one, but here’s all I wrote so far:

Citi has an amazing collection of credit cards that earn ThankYou Rewards. If you’re willing to juggle a few cards in your wallet, you could easily earn 5X on many purchases, 3X on most other purchases, and 2X everywhere else. Throw in the Rewards+ card and you’ll also get a 10% rebate on reward redemptions. Despite all this, I had previously lost interest in earning ThankYou points. Other rewards programs were still more rewarding. Now, Citi’s addition of 1 to 2 transfers to Choice Privileges has me questioning my point priorities. Is it time to reverse course and double down on ThankYou points?

Booking, cancelling, rebooking Fine Hotels & Resorts

Started by Greg…

When Amex added annual $200 rebates to their consumer Platinum cards for Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection prepaid bookings, many wondered what would happen if you cancelled a booking for which you had already earned the rebate.  Would it be clawed back?  And, if so, what happens if you book again in the same year?  Will Amex give you the rebate again?

I had the opportunity to test these questions in real world bookings and I found the following:

  1. Amex is quick to rebate these bookings (I usually received credit within 1 day)
  2. Amex is quick to claw back rebates on cancelled bookings (usually within 1 day)
  3. Amex will correctly issue the rebate again if you book new after a claw-back.

Amex Gold vs Bilt

Started by Nick…

I find this kind of funny given that back in February Nick started but didn’t complete a post comparing the Gold card to Brex.  Now he’s on to a different fee-free card that begins with B (that’s fun to say… “fee free begins with B… fee free begins with B…”).

Here’s part of his draft:

I am obviously not a single credit card person, nor do I generally recommend a single credit card strategy. However, I recognize that some people will pursue a single-card strategy. For those who will, I don’t think the Sapphire Preferred is a wise comparison point to the Bilt card; I think the card that people in that position should really be comparing against Bilt is the Amex Gold card — and I think that the Gold card wins out for those with cheaper rent while Bilt wins out for those paying more in rent.

Nick never finished this post, but I suspect that was because he changed direction and wrote this one instead: Contemplating the best card for a single credit card wallet.  This happens to me regularly too.  I start a post with a particular idea in mind and then the idea morphs into something else.  Usually when that happens, though, I simply change the post title and re-write stuff to go in the new direction.  In this case, Nick started over.

Look for more next year…

Did you like this round-up of unfinished posts?  Let us know in the comments below.  Maybe we’ll make this a regular end of year feature.

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Gwen

I did the the dual TMobile / Google Fi sim cards while I was abroad this year . It was perfect I used my TMobile (regular USA number for talk and text) and used Fi for mobile data. I tried TMobile data but it was so slow . I even paid for the enhanced speed one day and Fi was so much faster I just stuck with it for data.

ucipass

I also hope you finish the one about the RTW sweet spots.

Rob

Yes- definitely a great read … and gives ideas to research on our own if so inclined. Keep up the great work- and Happy Holidays.

DaveS

I hope you finish the one about the RTW sweet spots.

Jane

Enjoyed the first half of the article. I’ll finish the rest later 😉

EricF

Regarding the big-spend bonus on the Best Western cards, at your RRV of 0.54 cpp, the Premium Mastercard is a better deal than the standard Mastercard. The annual return with the Premium Mastercard at $5K spend would be (50,000 points x 0.54 cpp) – $89AF = $181, versus with the standard Mastercard 30,000 points x 0.54 cpp = $162. The premium card comes with Platinum Elite status as well. Minus the opportunity cost of $5K non-bonus spend on another card.

It is a small annual win as a keeper-card, but not enough for me to deal with paying another monthly bill at another bank where I don’t have cards already. Maybe for the SUB someday then I’ll keep it.

NK3

Interesting post!

Regarding the RTW post, the example you give talks about ANA TYO-SEA in First for 55K. They fly 787 aircraft on this route, so biz for 45k would be the top option. For the ANA US West Coast routes, SFO and LAX have 777 planes with First.

Grant

Hey Greg, thanks for sharing these unfinished gems. Did Stephen have any unfinished gems too?

In my case, if I lose enthusiasm about a topic or post, I usually delete the post and move on.

Happy holidays 🙂

Stephen Pepper

No unfinished gems from me I’m afraid. I mostly write Quick Deals, so it’s rare that I’ll start one and not finish it; if I do, I trash it as it’s usually because the deal has died before having a chance to publish it.

Jeremy

This is great. 🙂 We have hundreds of this sort of stuff too. Some are actually pretty far along, others, far less so. Best laid plans.

Seth

Schubert’s unfinished symphony still gets performed and enjoyed. I like these snippets of thought and information.

JoshF

Possibly interesting data point re: Amex Pop-up jail – I accidentally paid interest fees on one of my Amex cards 2 months in a row (thought I paid statement balances off, but did not), each finance charge was ~$100. I had been in pop-up jail for at least 8 months prior, trying twice a month for the Resy Platinum, but getting slapped down each time. About 5 days after I paid that 2nd monthly finance charge and applied yet again for the Resy Plat, I was approved! That was a glorious day… Maybe I just wasn’t a profitable customer to Amex until then?

Another Jeff

Google Fi=T-Mobile+Sprint(now T-Mobile)+US Cellular (small footprint) in the US. I look forward to when he has the opportunity to test it overseas 🙂

Brad

Clever article. Thanks for sharing!

Brant

There may be some unpolished diamonds in this pile of coal, but after reviewing them, I’d say that the impulse to leave them for posterity was a wise choice. The old axiom is “Publish or parish.” not “Publish and parish.”
You guys do a fantastic job of honing in on the more widely valuable opportunities for your readership, in my opinion. One of the beautiful things about a blog as opposed to the old printed magazine is there is no deadline and you can publish as much it as little as you want. However, quality matters. As your following increases each week, you’ve maintained a down to earth posture which is very appealing. I’ve been reading travel hacking blogs for over ten years now, and yours is one of the very few that continues to provide impactful content without selling out to corporate style gloss or self indulgent rants about obscure airline trivia. Yes, you know who I’m taking about. Thanks again for another year of great stuff which actually makes a difference in people’s lives!

Lukas

Perish?

Brant

It’s a countywide thing.

Lukas

Haha

Gubmintmole

Virgin Atlantic showing One way MSP to CDG for 15K points and $5.60 on May 10, 2022 standard economy. 25K and $5.60 on Jul 19, 2022. Could get a cheap Sun Country flight to MSP for cash then head to Paris.