US cities with the worst bedbugs, world’s largest Centurion Lounge opens in Atlanta and are your credit card rewards taxable? (Saturday Selection)

7

The worst US cities for bedbugs, American Express opens up the world’s largest Centurion Lounge in Atlanta and are credit card rewards taxable? All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Orkin ranks US cities with the worst bedbugs

Image from a hotel room in Chicago.

Because I travel a ton, I live with a certain baseline dread of bedbugs. The critters have a certain innate “yuck” factor; little obligate beasts that emerge from the dark like mini-Draculas, feeding on the blood of their unsuspecting, slumbering hosts. I’ve been their prey on more than one occasion, the worst being at an airport Howard Johnson in Wichita, KS (my last dalliance with the brand), where I ended up with 20-25 bites over my legs and feet. Although you wouldn’t know it based on the Summer hysteria surrounding an “infestation” in Paris, bedbugs are everywhere, even though their prevalence dipped during the pandemic as travel slowed to a crawl (no pun intended). Unbeknownst to me, Orkin releases a yearly ranking of the worst cities in the US for bedbugs, based on their treatment data. I won’t spoil the reveal for this year’s winner (?), but lets just say that it rhymes with “Trivago.” This week, Your Mileage May Vary wrote a very helpful post covering Orkin’s rankings, complete with vivid graphics about the lifecycle and exponential growth potential of bedbugs. Um, thanks guys.

It’s 1099 season. Are your credit card rewards taxable?

It’s 1099 season again, and the bill for all of our referrals and bank account bonuses from 2023 has come due. On Monday, I went to the mailbox and found it chock full of letters from our dear friends at American Express. Each envelope contained a 1099 for $600-$1000, one for every Amex card that I maxed out on referrals last year. Amex used to be the only big issuer to send out 1099s for referral bonuses, but over the last few years Chase and Capital One have begun participating as well. For folks who are newer to points and miles, it can be confusing to understand why they’re suddenly getting all of these little tax forms, when they’d never received any in the past after taking advantage of credit card welcome offers. The credit card companies aren’t helping either, as we hear more and more strange stories of folks getting 1099s for bizarre stuff…including a reader who received one to account for a bag of coffee that Chase had sent him as an anniversary gift! Thrifty Traveler recently covered the ins and outs of taxable rewards, and how to deal with the 1099s that come your way.

Amex opens the world’s largest Centurion Lounge in Atlanta

(Image courtesy of the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

If you’ve ever been to Atlanta’s Hartfield-Jackson Airport (ATL), you know that “airport lounge” is the Southern term for “packed sardine can with a three hour line.” ATL’s lounge crowding is the stuff of legend and, during rush hours, the mass of humanity converging on Delta’s SkyClubs has to be seen to be believed. Given that ATL is the country’s busiest airport (by 20-30%, depending on the year), the unusual amount of pressure on all those free buffets and subpar cocktails is perhaps to be expected. But it still doesn’t feel great when you’ve spent $695 for an Amex Platinum card, only to see a Disneyworld-length line snaking its way from the entrance when you’ve finally arrived for your brief moment of respite. Things will hopefully be about to improve, as Amex has opened up its second ATL Centurion Lounge, the largest in the world….it even has outdoor terraces and a “whiskey bar.” In marketing materials, Amex repeatedly says that the airy interior design is based on Atlanta’s “moniker” as the “city in a forest,” a moniker that no resident has seemingly ever heard. Regardless, it looks like a sweet lounge and Award Wallet gives us a tour through the nooks and crannies before the masses arrive.

American offers non-saver Alaska award space…but it’ll cost you

Booking partner awards can be a confusing topic for points and miles newbies. “Tell me again why it’s better to book United flights to Hawai’i with Turkish Miles and Smiles?” It’s often cheaper to book flights on an airline using one of its partners frequent flyer miles than it is when you book using the company’s own miles. However, the downside is that most airlines only release the cheapest “fare buckets” to their partners, otherwise known as “saver awards.” This helps keep the prices low-ish, but also negatively affects availability. American and Alaska are bucking that trend. Recently, with almost no fanfare, Alaska award space via AA drastically increased, encompassing several higher-priced fare classes. This means that there’s a lot more choice for Alaska flights when you’re trying to use AAdvantage miles…but you’ll pay for privilege.

Want to learn more about miles and points? Subscribe to email updates or check out our podcast on your favorite podcast platform.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

7 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
chopsticks

I think there are very few people who spend more time in more different hotels/airbnb etc. than I do. I’m probably in different beds half the time. I’ve done this for years. To my knowledge, I’ve never encountered bed bugs. These stays skew to the higher end, but I also stay in moderate priced properties and a few “interesting” overseas properties. If I’ve never had a bed bug problem, I wonder how big a deal this really is. Especially since I haven’t encountered a lot of frequent travellers complaining.

Greg The Frequent Miler

Ouch. I think you just jinxed yourself.

Zeke

Bringing bed bugs home is my worst fear. Tim, you said you’ve encountered them more than once. How did you insure they didn’t come home with you?

Brian

Does anyone know why Chase issued a 1099 for the 5 50k FNC SUB? Or better yet, how to get them to recall it?

Last edited 4 months ago by Brian
Lee

The likelihood is that you’re stuck with it.

In general, points earned from purchases are not 1099-able. Points earned from other than purchases are 1099-able. The US Tax Court has ruled on this.

Points earned from other than purchases might include points earned from referral bonuses. Or, points granted upon the renewal of a card. *Technically*, free night certificates upon renewal. Etc., etc. Generally, a 1099 does not need to be issued unless the aggregate value of the foregoing exceeds $600 in a calendar year.

The 5 free night certificates (the sign-up bonus) ARE related to purchases. As such, they are embedded in the “consideration” of the transactions and should be excluded. But, I’d guess that Chase has FNCs coded as per se 1099-able. I’d guess that such categorization stems from card renewal FNCs. And, I’d guess it would be a challenge for Chase to segregate which FNCs are from card renewal and from a SUB. I’m not saying it’s correct or fair. I’m just saying that’s what I suspect is going on.

Brian

Thanks for the insight. One weird thing is that the amount on the 1099 does not seem to be consistent. I have a friend who earned the same SUB but had a higher value.

Last edited 4 months ago by Brian