It’s been over a week since my last post, so I’m going to just hit some highlights and hopefully go a little deeper into them in individual posts in the near future. This summer has been particularly busy for me with trips and all of the sports leagues I participate in, so I’ve barely had enough time to keep my own churning and finances optimal, let alone share it with the world! Despite the time crunch causing me to miss a couple amazing offers (I’ll get a 100k Plat someday…), I’ve managed to book a couple awesome trips and start accumulating hotel points for our honeymoon. Let’s dive into what’s on my mind in the world of churning right now.
Sharing the Churning Love with Family
As I discussed in a previous post, I’m currently earning more miles than I can actually use on myself. Talk about a good problem to have! Anyway, the current surplus has allowed me to share some of the benefits of churning with my family who isn’t quite as eager as I am to sign up for a bunch of credit cards. Earlier this summer, my parents flew out to visit us and were able to take advantage of one of my Alaska Airlines Companion passes I obtained as the annual benefit (you also get one upon signup!) of the Alaska Airlines credit cards. I didn’t foresee myself using it before it expired and it was an easy way for them to save a few hundred dollars on their flights.
More recently, I was able to fly my brother out to Seattle from the midwest and we spent the whole weekend at PAX. If you haven’t heard of it, PAX is a huge video game and board game (and more!) convention that fills up the Seattle Convention Center and the surrounding hotels once a year. With some leftover Delta miles that I topped off via a transfer from Amex’s Membership Rewards, I was able to find cheap availability and a roundtrip flight for the standard 25k miles and $11.20!
Aside from being able to help family with flights, I also gifted my parents the two United Club Passes that came with the United credit card for their long layover in LAX. Once again, I didn’t think I would be able to use them before they expired and was happy to provide the airport lounge experience (I still have yet to actually visit a lounge myself, but should be able to in a couple weeks!) to my parents.
All in all, none of these are amazing redemptions or spectacular uses of travel benefits, but I find it awesome that I can share some of the fringe benefits of churning with family. Next time you have some passes or extra miles and points lying around, don’t forget that it’s often possible to share those perks with family and friends.
New Hotel Promotions
IHG, Hilton, and Marriott all recently announced their latest hotel promotions that will take place through the last quarter of the year. While Hilton and Marriott’s both seem to focus on increasing the number of points you earn on regular stays, IHG is once again a very customized promo that may yield huge benefits for some. I recommend registering for all 3 because you never know when a paid night might pop up last minute, but it’s probably not worth going out of your way for the Hilton and Marriott promos. The extra points are great if you’re going to be staying there anyway, but don’t justify going out of your way or changing travel plans to take advantage of.
The IHG promotion on the other hand can be very generous depending on which version you are targeted for. I was targeted to earn 54,700 after a specific combination of 5 nights (3 Holiday Inn stays and at least 1 weekend stay) which is decent value. Even just doing a single night towards the promotion would earn me just over 10k points, so it might be worth checking into a hotel on the way to work just for the points. I haven’t crunched the numbers yet, but there may be mattress running potential here. Look out for a post soon with my in depth analysis.
While my targeted offer seems pretty solid on the surface, the offer they are targeting new members with is fantastic. Becky didn’t have an IHG account yet, so we registered a new one and checked out what she was targeted for. Much like others have reported, the offer is a very simple stay two nights, get 1 night free AND it can be repeated twice for a total of 2 free nights after 4 stays. This works out fairly similarly to the Into the Nights promotion from earlier this year in which we went out of our way to stay 3 nights at Holiday Inns in order to get 2 free nights to any IHG property. We’ll actually be using those free nights at the NYC Intercontinental later this month! For spending ~$350 dollars on 3 hotel nights, we’re going to get 2 free nights in downtown Manhattan that normally retail for over $500 per night!
SPG also has a mini-contest promotion thing going on that allows you a chance to instantly win points, nights, or other prizes. I’ve yet to win with either of our SPG accounts, but it only takes a minute to play if you’re feeling lucky. Each SPG account can play twice per day from now until the end of September if you want to try your luck at winning a nice little bonus.
Assuming we can make a plan to use the free nights from the current IHG promotion before they expire at the end of 2016, there’s a very good chance we’ll go out of our way to stay at a few IHG properties. Stay tuned for a more in depth analysis of both of our IHG offers and how we plan to maximize them. Here’s links to the three promotions I mentioned and it never hurts to register, even if you don’t foresee yourself staying at a specific hotel in the promotion time frame:
Current Credit Card Offers
We’ve signed up for a few cards in the past couple months, but the great offers just haven’t stopped coming out. Not too long ago, we each signed up for the Chase Hyatt Card that offers 2 free nights at any Hyatt property. Our plan was to use them for an all-inclusive resort and after the second set of nights posted, we called in to make a reservation for 4 nights in Cancun. The process of booking over the phone was easy and there was no problem combining the 2 nights from each of our accounts into a single reservation. We booked our flights using our Southwest Companion Pass and just like that we had an awesome vacation planned!
After the Hyatt cards, I jumped on the Citi Prestige which I covered in this post and Becky grabbed an Amex Everyday card to keep our MR alive after we cancel the Premier Rewards Gold card. The Citi Prestige has a lot of great travel benefits that we plan to maximize and the Everyday card is a good filler card that came with a modest 10k MR signup bonus to go along with the nice benefit of having a no annual fee MR card.
More recently, we were too slow to take advantage of the 100k MR Amex Platinum signup offer, but maybe we’ll get lucky the next time it comes around. If you follow churning news at all, I’m sure you’ve heard about the SPG card’s increased signup bonus. If you haven’t heard, the normal signup bonus has been increased from 25k SPG points up to 30k SPG points on both the personal and business cards. Our honeymoon location has numerous SPG properties, so one of my current goals is to accumulate enough SPG points for 10+ nights. As the fifth night is free on award bookings, we should be able to get a ton of value out of the points on our trip.
I picked up a personal SPG card earlier this year with the 25k bonus, but I’ll refer Becky for her own card in the coming week (the increased offer expires Sept. 14th) for an additional 35k points (30k signup bonus + 5k referral bonus). I also plan to pick up a business SPG card in the same time frame, so hopefully my first business application with Amex goes smoothly. After it’s all said and done, we should have over 100k SPG points which we should be able to redeem for several thousand dollars worth of hotel nights! SPG points also have the benefits of being transferred at a good rate to many different airlines which is why most people value them very highly.
The last couple of months have been pretty busy, but I still find time to check out the latest churning news to stay on top of the great bonuses and promotions. Even just spending an hour or two per week on this hobby would yield multiple entirely free vacations per year! I just can’t get over how amazing credit card signup bonuses are and I hope they continue to be as lucrative going forward, there’s just so many I have yet to sign up for despite already having 18 to my name! As a full year has come around since my first rewards card application, I’ll now have to answer the keep, downgrade, or cancel question every month or two from here on out. Most of the cards are hard to justify keeping past the first year, but there’s a few winners in there that more than make up for the cost. Until next time, best of luck with your own travel hacking adventures.