Points, Miles & Life

Travel adventures on this earthly pilgrimage

Category: Amex (page 2 of 3)

Best-Ever Hilton American Express Card Offers

Credit card sign up bonuses routinely fluctuate. It is good to understand when you are getting in at the top of the wave rather than the bottom. In general, most airline cards should turn your head when they have an offer of 50,000 miles or more.

Hotel cards, however, are all over the map. You just need to understand each program and the value of its points currency. But…the good thing is most bloggers will let you know when the offers are at their best. And now is one of those times for the Hilton American Express cards.

Hilton Amex Card offer

The offer on the Hilton Card from American Express is 80,000 points after $2,000 in spending within the first 3 months of card membership. Features of this card include:

  • No annual fee
  • Earns 7x Hilton points on Hilton stays, 5x points on gas, groceries, and restaurants, and 3x points on everything else.
  • Hilton Silver status and ability to earn Gold status after spending $20,000 on the card in a calendar year.

The no-fee Hilton card is one of the “keepers” in my wallet. Because American Express only offers a sign-up bonus once per lifetime on their products, getting the Hilton card with this increased bonus is ideal. Once you have it, there is no reason to drop in, in my opinion, since you can’t ever get the sign up bonus again.

Link here (or hit me up via the contact me page for a referral).

Hilton Surpass Amex Card offer

The offer on the Hilton Surpass Card from American Express is 100,000 points after $3,000 in spending within the first 3 months of card membership. Features of this card include:

  • $85 annual fee
  • Earns 12x Hilton points on Hilton stays, 6x points on gas, groceries, and restaurants, and 3x points on everything else.
  • Hilton Gold status and the ability to earn Diamond status after spending $40,000 on the card in a calendar year.

The perks of the Hilton Surpass Card over the no-fee American Express Hilton card are slightly better since it grants you automatic Gold status with Hilton, and the earning is better as well. But there is a fee. However, if you have paid Hilton stays several times per year, you’ll probably come out ahead with this card.

Link here.

Both offers end 5/31/17.

The value of Hilton points

While these bonuses might seem huge in terms on the number of bonus points, they really aren’t all that spectacular. Don’t get me wrong, now is definitely the time to apply. But Hilton points don’t go as far as you might think.

Hilton hotels require anywhere from 5,000 to 95,000 points per night, which mean you could actually get over 20 nights out of the 100,000 point bonus offer (Hilton also offers a 5th night free benefit)! But the 5,000 and 10,000 point hotels are few and far between.

Honestly, I’m not even sure you can find them anymore after Hilton killed their award chart. But I haven’t really checked. In general, you should expect to pay anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 points per night on a “typical” hotel.

At this point, just view your Hilton points as worth about 0.5 cents each. This makes the bonuses worth roughly $400 and $500, respectively. This is a good card bonus, but nothing groundbreaking.

Again, if you’re interested in the no-fee Hilton card, shoot me a note via the contact me page and let me send you a referral link.

Only a few days left to get the best ever offer for the Starwood Amex cards!

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is my favorite hotel co-branded credit card. It doesn’t provide many perks, but it does have the best earning value by far of any hotel card.

The normal offer for both the business and personal versions of this card is 25,000 Starwood points, but currently you can sign up for a 35,000 point offer!

The offer for the personal version of the card is:

  • 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months
  • 10,000 Starpoints after spending an additional $2,000 in the first 6 months

The offer for the business version of the card is:

  • 25,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • 10,000 Starpoints after spending an additional $3,000 in the first 6 months

I know those spending requirements are high. But if you are able to do them, consider getting this card. It is likely to eventually be discontinued, due to Marriott’s purchase of Starwood Hotels.

You can use Starpoints for Starwood stays, or transfer to Starwood’s airline partners. You can also transfer them to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, so the bonus can also be viewed as a 105,000 Marriott point bonus. Both Marriott and Starwood allow you to book “nights and flights” packages, which is one of the best uses of these points, if you accrue enough.

Note that if you have ever had this card in the past, you’ll won’t be eligible for the bonus. Amex has a once-per-lifetime rule on card bonuses.

You have through April 5th to apply!

Blog Giveaways: Why Entering Never Hurts

Many of the larger blogs I follow routinely do giveaways. The most consistent are Million Mile Secrets and The Points Guy. They are near the top of the heap in the travel blogging world. Paying for a business or first class ticket, just to write a review, is par for the course for them, so coming up with the cash to host a giveaway is a non-issue for them. Heck, you could even get a $200 Visa card for simply supplying tips to The Points Guy.

Giveaways by some of the smaller blogs are less common. Dan Miller at Points With A Crew has offered a few, and so has Summer Hull, who blogs as Mommy Points.

Mommy Points wrote a piece on her 7 Favorite Travel Moments In The United States. I honestly read it because I was truly interested to see what topped her list. What I didn’t know was that she was giving away an Amex Centurion Lounge Day Pass. You had to read through all the way to the bottom to notice that litle detail. To enter, you simply had to write a comment about your own favorite U.S. travel moment.

mommypoints-centurion_pass

As with most giveaways, I didn’t really expect to win. Still, when Summer tweeted that people could see if they had won, I had to check. I was floored when I saw my comment had been randomly chosen!

So Mommy Points mailed me a one-time pass to an Amex Centurion Lounge. The biggest catch is I only have until December 31 to use it. I currently have a trip planned where I can visit the Centurion SFO, but if that falls through, I am sure I could find a friend traveling over the holidays who will be able to enjoy it.

My Week In a Nutshell

Monday was a day off. I was able to put my thoughts together on my past year of travel. Quite fun. I also began working on our taxes. Not fun.

Tuesday was the day I called Amex. I had two recent applications with them, and since I have not received either card, I figured they may be attempting to mail the new cards to my physical address. Having only a P.O. Box to receive U.S. mail is a pain. More on this some other day. The Amex rep I spoke to was one of the nicest I have talked with in a long time. Kathy with United in our recent debacle still takes the 2015 trophy for customer service, though.

Wednesday was…all work. Next.

Thursday brought the first of the Priceless Surprises entries to my email inbox. A total of 43 showed up. By my tally, I earned 25,000 IHG points. Made my lunch break that day. If all my 94 entries are counted, I should be on track to bank right around 50,000 IHG points from the promotion.

Friday included a phone call into the Citi reconsideration line where I was politely and firmly told “no” by a representative when I asked her to take another look at my recent application for a Citi ThankYou Premier card. I simply had too many recent inquiries and newly opened accounts. I asked her how many was too many, and she told me that was “proprietary information.” Shoulda figured. I have 6 inquiries and 8 new accounts in the past 4 months. She did say more than once that “if it was only 1 or 2”, she could probably work something out. I am many months from having only 1 or 2 inquiries on my credit report, so it is unlikely that I will get approved for a Citi ThankYou card anytime soon. She didn’t give a window of interest, however, so I may also research other people’s experiences.

Friday also brought 2 more Priceless Surprises to my inbox. The only surprise here was the number. Why two? Where are my final 49?? My two game plays also answered another question: when will the points post to my IHG account? Answer: 2-3 weeks.

priceless_surprise_2

The Priceless Surprise game text was conveniently changed to answer my question.

Friday also was the day I got my Premium Rewards Gold card in the mail. I am not sure where I will use the $100 airline credit, but I was very excited to get this card. Although I have time to make a decision, I am hoping to transfer the 50,000 points from the sign-up bonus to 62,500 British Airways Avios before the bonus period ends!

Amex Kills Serve

One of the more popular tricks among “travel hackers” is manufactured spending (MS). In a nutshell, MS is spending that you are able to perform in a closed loop. You make purchases (nearly always gift cards), you liquidate the gift cards into cash,  you pay off your credit card. Rinse and repeat. You essentially get ‘free’ points for doing some legwork.

One of the primary cogs in a lot of people’s MS machines is the Amex Serve card. Or….was the Amex Serve card. American Express just cracked down an a large number of people that they determined had “unusual account behavior” and loading money into their Serve account was suspended. Amex then asked them to spend the rest of the balance off of their Serve cards and close the account. The email caused some serious waves for people on the MS boat.

I have never been into manufactured spending. I did have a Serve account, but my balance has been at $0 for months, and I did not receive the notice. Sometimes I will use a service like Plastiq if I need to hit a minimum spending goal, and paying $20-$50 for points usually worth 8-12x that is not a bad trade in my mind. It lets me take on an extra card (and the points thereof) sooner rather than later.

I am not sure what the future of manufactured spending will be for points and miles junkies. The travel hacking world has been changing a lot, and t is getting much harder to find “easy” ways of accruing points.

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