1. Kroger and Harris Teeter are running another 4x fuel points bonus through Friday-Sunday on all third party gift cards, and through Tuesday with Happy gift cards. Unfortunately the fuel points resale market is rather weak right now after a series of tumultuous software updates at the fuel pumps and another two week long 4x sale that concluded a few days ago. (Thanks to GC Galore)
  2. Radisson Rewards has 30% off of “premium” hotel rooms in North America booked today in the Raddison mobile app for ios or android for stays through June 30. Premium hotel rooms are often just a few dollars more than a base room, so I think it’s still a deal even if you’re a base room person. UPDATE: Now live
  3. Do this now: Register for Wyndham’s current promotion, 7,500 bonus points after two stays through September 6.
  4. American Express is sending out physical mailers via USPS for two great sign-up bonuses:

    – 250,000 Membership Rewards for a new Business Platinum after $30,000 in spend in six months
    – 180,000 Membership Rewards for a new Business Gold after $20,000 in spend in six months

    If you get ahold of one of these, keep in mind that American Express doesn’t care who applies for the card as long as the applicant’s address matches the mailer’s address.

Now I just need AmEx to honor this, uhh, totally legit offer.

First, a mini Ventana Big Sur (a Hyatt / Alila property) review:

  • Great food, especially when you consider that it’s all included in the rack rate
  • Excellent value at 30,000 Hyatt points a night (my booked rate)
  • Probably a good value at 45,000 Hyatt points per night (current rate)
  • It’s not easy to get to (you’ll likely spend more time driving than you spent flying to northern California)
  • Three nights is about the perfect length
  • I’d give it four out of five stars, I may come back but it wouldn’t be anytime soon
  • And finally, it seems that most reviews and the hotel’s main web page don’t mention that the resort is partially “clothing optional” so do what you will with that info

Ok, with that out of the way, here are a few things to keep you occupied for the weekend:

  1. Staples is going to have $5 off of the $6.95 activation fee for $200 Visa gift cards. If you wait a few weeks they’ll probably bring back the fee free version so this is really only if your other spending avenues are dry. (Thanks to kawnipi)
  2. I’ve heard from multiple readers in Florida and Georgia that Publix has blocked Metabank Visa and Mastercard gift cards at their customer service desk in the same way that Safeway did last year. I’m guessing that $99 or smaller transactions will continue to work but haven’t heard definitely either way.

    It’s time to look for other regional grocers for a new liquidation channel.
  3. Southwest is rolling out end of June schedule changes this week and will likely start its July changes shortly, so now is the time to travel hack your way to cheap Independence Day travel with the schedule change trick.

    Don’t forget to layer this with 20% off of paid fares through Monday with Point.app, maybe a few times.

Have a nice weekend friends!

A clothing optional Big Sur squirrel.

It’s “alliteration (at the) Alila” day I guess 🤷‍♀️.

  1. The Point debit card will have 20x back on Delta, American, United, Southwest, and JetBlue purchases through through April 10 for up to $250 in spend per airline. (Thanks to Neil on the MEAB Slack for the correction from $500 in spend)

    If you don’t have immediate airfare plans, I’d book a main cabin fare on any of these airlines, wait a couple of days, and refund it to a travel voucher or wallet for future use.
  2. Hyatt is adding new all-inclusive brands and resorts to its portfolio. There’s a nice list at Doctor of Credit. A travel hacking tip: Hyatt’s all inclusive properties can get punitive with the number of points required to add a third and fourth guest. Instead, you’ll usually have good luck and a cheap up-charge by booking two with points and then calling the property directly to ask about cash rates for adding a third and fourth guest.
  3. The least sexy but potentially heaviest-of-hitters in the MEAB Unsung Hero family, the Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, sent out a new targeted spend offer for April, May, and June. This one is for 15% cash back or 15x ThankYou Points for between $500 and $600 in spend per month (up to $90 back each month) at gas, grocery, and restaurants; talk about a gimmie. The subject for my offer was: “Matthew, activate your 15% back in statement credits offer now“.

    For those keeping score at home: In March this card payed me approximately $270 in statement credits and 150,000 Shop Your Way Rewards points with various targeted stacked offers.

The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards card if it were a drink.

I’m focusing my efforts on tomorrow’s Travel Hacking in 2021 as Told By GIFs post and this is the slowest time of the year for our hobby, so let’s have two quickies to get us through Thursday:

1. Do this now: Register for IHG’s widely targeted Q1 2022 promotion. This is possibly the lamest promotion in all of 2021 with its one time 5,000 point award after two nights. (thanks to TravelBloggerBuzz)

2. MS hint: Many MS techniques will live and die by the expiration date of the card you’re trying to liquidate — cards that expire in 2028 or earlier may sail through, while 2029 or later expiration dates fail. When the calendar turns, usually you’ve got a whole new year of valid expiration dates. Huzzah for Saturday I guess.

As a corollary of the above, if got a failure when probing a particular liquidation method, you may be getting an expiration date related failure rather than a blanket failure, so that’s another dimension to consider.

The excitement for 2022 in this room full of LAN party gift card gamers is palpable.

1. I’m seeing a 30% transfer bonus for both Marriott and Hilton on my American Express Membership Rewards travel partner page. There’s a report on reddit of a 20% transfer bonus for Cathay Pacific’s Asia Miles too, though I don’t have that one. It’s likely worth taking a look at your own profile’s page to see what might be there for you.

2. It’s still raining gift cards, this time from Simon. Use promo code OCT21SAVE45 for 45% off of fees on bulk Visa gift card purchases. You can buy $1,000 Visa gift cards at Simon with low fees, and it’s a decent way to get some spend on Citi cards. As always, remember that American Express doesn’t give you points for spend at Simon.

These continue to work at mid-tier grocery stores and at several online processors. If you don’t have a way to liquidate, keep looking — they do exist.

3. Multiple independent sources are confirming that Hyatt’s peak/off-peak pricing will be implemented on October 26. That gives you six days to book award stays for March 2022 and later at the current prices. Don’t slack too long!

The new redemption chart is here, and unlike most loyalty award changes this one has some good with the bad — if you’re staying in Lubbock Texas on a Wednesday night in July (also known as “as off-peak as it possibly gets”), you might be able to get a night at the Hyatt Place for 3,500 points instead of 5,000 points.

Pictured: Your window view during your off-peak award stay in Lubbock, TX.

A post is brewing about the new American Express Business Platinum changes. Stay tuned, and in the mean time:

1. Staples has fee free $200 Visa gift cards through Saturday, limit five per transaction. It looks to me like this is just continuing last week’s promo for another week. They’re Metabank/BHN cards, so have a liquidation play in mind. Side note: I’m shocked at how many of these there have been this year; don’t expect it to last.

Remember to link your cards with Payce, sometimes it’ll pay 5% on Staples gift card purchases even though it’s not supposed to and definitely don’t contact support if it doesn’t work.

2. Office Depot/OfficeMax has 25% back in rewards on Happy gift cards, up to $25 total back. Buy one of these for $100 to max it out. Happy cards that swap to Home Depot or Gamestop are your best bang for the buck. (Thanks to GC Galore)

3. Do this now: Register for 1,000 AA Miles when you stay at a Hyatt in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Nashville, New York City, Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, or Washington, D.C. between November 1 of this year and January 31, 2022.

If you really wanted to game this promo, you could hop back-and-forth between different Hyatt hotels over the course of your travel and get 1,000 miles per night, effectively. Is that worth it? Sounds like a lot of work to me.

Painting a wall with a q-tip seems is mathematically the same amount of work required to hop back-and-forth between hotels for a week.

My general advice for promotions is register for them when you see them even if you think you’re not going to take advantage of the offer, and yes I registered for #2 even though I actually had to lookup which hotels were part of Choice (answer: seems like none I want to stay at, but I digress).

1. Register here for another Radisson bonus offer, which should stack with the other recent Raddison promotion. I’ll be staying at a Radisson in the next couple of weeks to take advantage of these offers, and it’ll be the first time I’ve stayed at a Radisson in years. This one is 3,000 bonus points for your first stay and 12,000 bonus points on your second stay between now and December 31.

2. Register here for a Choice hotels bonus of 2,000 points on two night stays and 5,000 points on longer stays between now and October 31. I won’t be staying at a Choice hotel for this promotion on purpose, but I’m still going to register in case I end up at one because someone hates me.

3. Register here for 500 miles from Delta. In theory you have to fly through LAX and scan a QR code to earn the miles, but in practice that may not be true. Bonus hint for making this even more likely to post: Have you noticed that cancelled reservations still show up in your Skymiles activity on the original day of departure?

4. Register here for 3,000 bonus points on your next stay at Wyndham properties. This program is a sleeper for most people but trust me, it can be very worth your time and it is something you can game.

Happy Thursday!

A sample Choice Hotel. Why wouldn’t you want to be here?

1. Do this now: Register for Radisson Americas’ current promotion, which is a free night certificate for each two nights you stay on points between now and December 31. The free night certificate is valid between January 17 and May 23 of next year and you can earn up to 5 free certificates. The certificate you earn is based on the award category:

  • Stay in a category 1, 2, or 3 hotel and receive a category free night 1-3 certificate
  • Stay in a category 4 or 5 hotel and receive a free night certificate for any hotel

2. Simon has another promotion for 40% off of fees with code SEP21FS40, and this applies to their $1,000 Visa Gift Cards. These are great for ginning up spend on your Citi cards for other shenanigans, just make sure you have a liquidation path fleshed out before you spend a bunch, and don’t use an AmEx because you won’t earn points.

3. Capital One has a new travel portal. Normally, I’d say something like: “Who cares? Booking through a third party travel portal is almost always a terrible idea. With hotels, you won’t get benefits from the rewards program and you’re likely to get one of the crappiest rooms at the property, and with flights when something changes you’re going to have to deal with the portal’s terrible customer service to make something happen.”

My response? “That’s all true, self, and great points too I might add.” However there’s a minor reason to book a flight with this portal: they say that they’ll automatically refund the fare difference if the price of the flight drops. If true, that’s pretty cool. They do use weird language “Did you book a flight to visit loved ones based on Capital One Travel recommendations? If the flight price drops, no problem.” I have no idea if that means there are only certain “recommended” flights to which this applies. If so, they’re a bunch of louses and they should feel bad about themselves. If not, this could be a nice feature. (Thanks to DDG via reddit)

A grey squirrel.
I was talking to myself about third party travel booking and then… squirrel.