I’m sure you’ve heard that United “MASSIVELY” devalued its award ticket prices in a “disappointing“, “heartbreaking“, “major” way yesterday. Yes, it sucks, and yes you should be unhappy about the situation. But, events like this are unfortunately the most predictable occurrence in travel hacking, even more so than Frontier having another failed dartboard route or LHR imposing punitive premium cabin surcharges. We know that it’s going to happen.

One of the most interesting pieces of advice I got as an adolescent was from an investment banker with a brand new Jaguar. As 15 year old grocery clerk me loaded groceries into his trunk, he said “If you can’t make a profit when you absolutely know something is going to happen, then I don’t know what to tell you”. He was completely right and the advice is sound (he was talking about death by the way, you know, upbeat and stuff like all investment bankers).

For travel hacking, we might have to stretch the definition of profit a bit when we apply the logic to award bookings, but we can do it. Here’s how we “make a profit” when we know a devaluation is going to happen:

  • Book early, book often – if there’s a devaluation, already issued tickets don’t go up in price and most award tickets are refundable for no-fee or for a very small fee
  • Keep your points in a flexible program like Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards until the moment you need to book
  • Book with alliance partner miles when prices are lower
  • Don’t let your points balances grow into seven figures and beyond, and especially don’t let that happen in multiple programs (I failed here, big time)
  • Focus on cash back once you’ve got enough points for the current booking window’s trips (it turns out cash is fungible)

Happy Thursday!

Next up: Determine whether this is a devaluation. Actually never mind, I don’t care.

  1. Do this now: Register for Hyatt’s Journey Across Canada promotion for 2,000 bonus points per stay on up to 10 stays between June 1 and September 6. They really missed the mark on naming this one, I mean, “Maple Milestones”, “Poutine Points”, and “Loonie Lodgings” are all right there for the taking.
  2. Southwest has a 25% discount for paid and award holiday travel from July 3 through July 7, booked by the end of day today. Use promo code J4SAVE.

    The real question we should be asking is whether or not Southwest flys to Canada to combine the above promotion with this one? Alas, I guess we’ll never know because we’re not going to try after Hyatt’s stupid promotion name spoiled the whole thing.
  3. Citi ThankYou Points is running a 25% transfer bonus to AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue through June 17. Use this program for:

    – Domestic economy on Delta
    – Business class to and from Europe
    – Short haul within Europe

    And, don’t forget about the program’s rotating promo awards.
  4. Check this link for a targeted upgrade to the business American Express Platinum card from the Gold or Green with 140,000 Membership Rewards after $10,000 in spend in three months. (Thanks to FM)

Hyatt’s Maple Milestones challenge coin (which doesn’t exist, but absolutely should).

  1. JetBlue has an award ticket sale of 20% off for bookings completed today for travel through June 21. It does exclude transatlantic and Mint redemptions though.
  2. Office Depot/OfficeMax stores have $15 off of $300 or more in Visa gift card purchases in store through Saturday. For best results:

    – Link your credit cards to Dosh
    – Try for multiple transactions back-to-back
    – Try for the lower fee Everywhere cards, assuming you can liquidate them
    – Experiment with bigger stacked bonuses

    These are Pathward gift cards and are throttled for PIN transactions at $480 in aggregate per store per six minutes generally.
  3. The Wyndham Business Earner card’s sign-up bonus has been increased to 75,000 bonus points total, 50,000 after $3,000 in spend in three months, and another 25,000 after $10,000 spend in the first year.

    This card is largely (in)famous for it’s (1) 10% rebate on award stays, and (2) 8x earning at gas stations, which are both reasons that this one’s probably an Unsung Hero candidate. (Thanks to Rob)
  4. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, already an Unsung Hero, has sent a new round of offers for online spend by June 14. Offers we’ve seen:

    – $30 statement credit after $500 in spend (MS Ninja)
    – $50 statement credit after $750 in spend (me)
    – $70 statement credit after $1,000 in spend (Jacob M)
    – 225,000 bonus Shop Your Way points after $570 in spend (Sollavec)
  5. Some Hy-Vee stores have $30 off of $500 Mastercard gift cards in store starting tomorrow and running through Tuesday (ok, technically it’s $10 off of $150 but it stacks). Check your local Hy-Vee ad to see if your store is participating, and if so go ham. (Thanks to jerseyguy195)
  6. American Express has an (apparently targeted) transfer bonus from Membership Rewards to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles running through the end of the month for between 10% and 20%. To see if you’re targeted, you’ll need to login and navigate to the transfer page.

    Asia miles have good access to alliance award tickets before other partners, but their cancellation policy isn’t as generous as US carriers. (Thanks to DoC)
  7. Citi added Accor Hotels as a ThankYou Point transfer partner at a 2:1 ratio, which matches Capital One’s transfer ratio.

A different kind of deluge.

  1. A few of the airline Cartera shopping portals have cumulative spend bonuses for purchases through May 15:

    – United: 2,000 bonus miles after $400 in spend
    – Alaska: 2,000 bonus miles after $400 in spend
    – AA: 2,000 bonus miles after $600 in spend

    Bonus AA miles don’t count as loyalty points, but the unbonused portal earnings do. United and Alaska have card linked in-store earning too, but the stores are largely trash for manufactured spend. Unfortunately, giftcards.com is still absent from airline portals.
  2. Office Depot/OfficeMax stores have $15 off of the purchase of $300 or more in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday. Always experiment a bit here, but usually the games work better on the Visa side and the Mastercards are exactly as they seem. (Thanks to FM)
  3. FM notes that Air New Zealand is dumping business class award space for summer travel. This qualifies as an “ultra-rare” event but only because it just doesn’t happen that often, not because the product or service are stellar (both are perfectly cromulent though).

    Do remember that summer up here isn’t the same as summer down there and make sure you know what you’re getting into if you book something.

Happy Tuesday!

Stay alert! In New Zealand, winter penguins regularly cross the street to get to Office Depot Mastercard sales.

  1. Chase has three new bonuses for opening a business checking account by August 3, bringing new money into the account within 30 days, and maintaining it there for 60. The tiers:

    – $300 for $2,000 in deposits
    – $500 for $15,000 in deposits
    – $750 for $30,000 in deposits

    If you’re playing games with Chase cards, I very much suggest skipping these offers, but they can be a good option for less active players. Sometimes the codes can be sold after you can no longer sign up for them for what it’s worth.
  2. AA is selling status through targeted personal offers:

    – Gold for between $350 and $1,000
    – Platinum for between $1,000 and $1,800

    They’ll also sell you the status for miles at the exchange rate of $0.01 per mile. Since no one asked for my opinion, I’m going to, err, share it anyway: These prices range somewhere between meh and lol, or extrapolating geographically somewhere between Amarillo and Lubbock. (Thanks to VFTW)
  3. Delta has a SkyMiles sale for 34,000 miles each way in Delta One to and from Bogota, Columbia. When booking double check that you’re not getting a standard domestic first class seat, unless you’re a masochist of course.

Have a nice weekend!

Pictured: AA’s premium status shop somewhere between Amarillo and Lubbock.

  1. Check chase.com/mybonus for new targeted spend bonuses through July 31. We’ve seen:

    – Ink 5,000 bonus points for $5,000 in spend up to three times
    – Ink 15,000 bonus points for $15,000 in spend up to three times
    – Southwest Business: 5,000 points for every $5,000 in spend up to three times

    (Thanks to nutella and Chad)
  2. The Capital One VentureX Business card has been unavailable for most of 2023 while Capital One retooled aspects of the card (like renaming it from the Business Spark Elite Miles card), but it’s now available again through a small business banker. The sign up bonus is tiered:

    – 150,000 bonus miles after $30,000 in spend in three months
    – 150,000 additional bonus miles after $500,000 in spend in 12 months

    The card is effectively a 7x card for $30,000 in spend or a 2.6x card for $500,000 in spend which can absolutely make sense in the right circumstances. The card is also useful for its best in class Priority Pass program, has an annual fee of $395, and a very gamable annual travel credit of $300 making it an effective $95 annual fee card with mileage transfer to various airlines. (Thanks to The_Most_Hye and Shawshank for the typo fix on the early spend bonus)
  3. Citi is emailing targeted offers for spend bonuses through July 31 on many of its cards. Check for targeted email from Citi for one of the following:

    – 5x points on up to $500 in online purchases
    – 5x points on up to $500 in restaurant spend
    – 5x points on up to $500 at electronics stores

    These are slightly gamable if you like to live dangerously. (Thanks to Professor Horsey)
  4. There are a few transfer bonuses from American Express and Chase:

    Membership Rewards 25% to FlyingBlue through May 22
    Membership Rewards 15% bonus to LifeMiles through May 31
    Ultimate Rewards 25% to FlyingBlue through May 15
    Ultimate Rewards 30% to Virgin Atlantic through May 31
    Ultimate Rewards 50% bonus to Marriott through May 15, for saps

Happy Wednesday!

Both “living dangerously” and “avoiding structuring” in one.

  1. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, the goat of Unsung Heroes, has new targeted offers for 10% back at home improvement stores good once per month for May, June, and July. Offers vary, but we’ve seen:

    – 10% back on $600 or more in home improvement spend, limit $70 back (MEAB)
    – 5% back on $800 or more in home improvement spend, limit $80 back (Tyler)
    – 150,000 Shop Your Way points on $1,000 or more in home improvement spend (birt)
    – 7,000 Thank You points on $600 or more in home improvement spend (TV)

    Look, I’m not here to sell you credit cards and whether or not you apply or are approved I make exactly the same, $0, so understand this comes for a sincere place: If you don’t have this card, why not? It has no annual fee pays you between $1,600 and $2,400 a year with minimal effort.
  2. American Express has a card linked offer for 7,500 additional Membership Rewards with a $500 Delta gift card purchase.
  3. Marriott has a promotion for 40,000 bonus points on paid stays at Marriott Homes and Villas through September 9, but stays must be booked by Wednesday evening. There’s some noise about this one in the bloggersphere and while it’s a decent promotion and is better than the normal Marriott yardstick, at best this is worth about $220 so don’t go out of your way to stay at one of the few Homes and Villas properties just for this.
  4. Target has its regular promotion for $40 back online and $40 back in store for a new RedCard debit or credit card through May 27. Both versions are churnable, and the credit card might be more valuable than you think. Current datapoints suggest you’ve got to wait 10-15 business days between applications for auto-approval.
  5. Southwest has 30% off of round-trip paid fares for the next two weekends only using promo code 30OFF.

Happy Monday!

The yardstick to beat for Marriott Bonvoy’s promotions. This time they did too!

  1. Kroger is having a 4x fuel points sale on third party gift cards on Friday only. Brokers have already released capacity for the sale too.
  2. Meijer has 25,000 bonus points for a $250 third party gift card purchase through May 13, limit one per Meijer account, effectively a 10% rebate provided you can find something of $25 value at a quasi grocery-department store. Apple and Best Buy gift cards are your best option for resale rates.
  3. FM notes that you can now access Point.me lite through Bilt’s desktop website after logging in and clicking on the Transfer Partners tab. This lite version only searches Bilt’s partners which makes it useful but not a game-changer.
  4. JetBlue is launching JFK-AMS and BOS-AMS service in late summer, and they have great introductory premium cabin fares booked by today:

    – US originating round-trip flights: $479 economy, $1,899 Mint
    – AMS originating round-trip flights: $445 economy, $1,429 Mint

    If I were anywhere near the east coast I’d book two Europe trips with (1) an award ticket to Europe, (2) a paid JetBlue round-trip Mint ticket from AMS to the US and back, and (3) an award ticket home, but here we are.

Happy Wednesday!

If full point.me is was a New York steak, lite would be spam with weird stuff on top.