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Point Me to the Miles

Navigating the Path to Great Travel

Archive for the category “American Express”

‘Round the Blogosphere: 75,000 AMEX Points, One-Day-Only

Gary of View from the Wing posted that you can earn 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for signing up for a Business Premier Rewards Gold Card, today only.

Of course, this is after $10,000 in spend in 4 months.  So while the required spend is not insignificant, as Gary points out, the bonus is VERY SIGNIFICANT!

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American Express Referral Bonus Update

I recently wrote about American Express member referral offers, which were actually better than the publicly-available sign-up bonuses.  These private bonuses were set to expire (and did) on February 13 but the good news is that there are some new offers through the end of this month.

Below are the new sign-up bonuses with their respective links, for the Platinum and Premier Rewards Gold cards.  I think both of these cards are well worth it.  The Platinum card more than pays for itself, and the Gold has great earning potential for use with everyday spend.  For more information on the basic membership benefits of each of the cards, see this previous post.

American Express Platinum:

Bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards for spending $3,000 in 3 months

Eligibility:  For referrals submitted my March 1, with applications submitted by March 15, 2012

Updated American Express Platinum Sign-Up Offer

Card members are now limited to a total of 5 referrals for the Platinum card, but the good news is that the bonus has been increased to 20,000 Membership Rewards points.

 

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card:

Bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $2,000 in 3 months.

Eligibility:  For referrals submitted my March 15, with applications submitted by March 31, 2012

Existing card members can find referral offers at americanexpress.com/referplatinum.

If you are interested in signing up for either card and would like a referral, I would be ecstatic if you would email me your address at bryce.burchfield@gmail.com.  Feel free to comment if you have a referral bonus (especially for the Platinum) card that you would like to share.

Full Disclosure:  I do not receive a cash referral bonus for anyone using these links.

Hat tip to One Mile at a Time.

Expedited TSA Screening Initative Set to Expand

For many, the idea of flying conjures up images of nosy TSA agents, long security lines and stress.  But for many that may soon change, as the TSA has announced they will feature the expedited “Pre-” screening at over 3 dozen airports by the end of the year.

The improved process is geared toward making the security screening process  for participating members be more hassle free and longer require the removal of shoes, belts, and laptops from their bags.

But make no doubt, security will always be paramount for the TSA:

“[We]  will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening in order to retain a certain element of randomness to prevent terrorists from gaming the system.”
 

A full list of participating airports can be found on the TSA’s website.

This program is already available to frequent flyers and members of the Trusted Traveler Program, such as Global entry, in airports such as Atlanta, Dallas, L.A., and Miami.

While members of Delta Air Lines and American Airlines are eligible to opt-in, Alaska Airlines, US Airways and United Airlines will be soon be added in.  Eligible elite members of these programs are contacted with an invitation to join the TSA Pre-.

 

If not selected for the program by any of the participating airlines, members can apply to enroll in Global Entry  through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Trusted Traveler Program.  There a couple of additional programs available–mainly for travel within North America, but Global Entry provides an expedited security process when returning to/traveling within the United States.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection Trusted Traveler Program

The application fee for Global Entry is $100, but is waived for American Express Platinum cardholders.  I have to admit that I have greatly considered procrastinated on applying for this myself.  But after hearing a number of great experiences-including tales of 5-hour waits avoided, and now hearing this news, I acted today and finalized my application to the Global Entry program.

This is great news for the frequently flying in general, and to anyone who would like a little less groping security hold-ups!  Hopefully the Pre-Check lines don’t soon more crowded than the regular security lines themselves, though.

But make no doubt, security will always be paramount for the TSA:

“[We]  will always incorporate random and unpredictable security measures throughout the airport and no individual will be guaranteed expedited screening in order to retain a certain element of randomness to prevent terrorists from gaming the system.”

American Express Sign-up Bonuses

The smartest and most efficient way to earn miles and points is through credit card churning.  There are a couple of great sign-up bonuses for American Express cards, which are actually above the publicly-available bonuses, so I thought I would take a moment to share them.

The great thing is that in addition to you receiving the bonus for signing up for the card, as a referrer I also get a bonus.  Just send me your first and last name and I can send you a referral.

Listed below are the sign-up links, with some of the benefits for each card.:

American Express Platinum:

Bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards for spending $3,000 in 3 months

American Express Platinum Sign-Up

Bonus: 50,000 Membership Rewards for spending $3,000 in 3 months

Platinum Card Benefits Include:

  • Lounge Access – Delta, American Airlines, US Airways, Alaska Airlines in addition to 600+ Priority Pass Lounges worldwide.
  • $200 airline incidentals credit. You select one airline for the year where Amex will credit you back minor fees — like baggage fees, change fees, lounge day passes, telephone booking fees, and inflight food or beverage purchases.
  • Premium Car Rental Program – Complimentary access to Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental elite member benefits and upgrades.
  • Rental Loss/Damage Coverage One of my FAVORITE benefits-Use your card to pay for a rental car and decline their (PRICY) coverage, and for a small fee decline you will be insured from loss or damage to the car.
  • Free Global Entry. $100 fee waiver for sign-up, which expedites your re-entry into the U.S. when coming back from abroad.
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. Extra amenities, upgrades, late checkout at hotels booked though the program, bookable online.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. Good for 4pm late checkout, a 50% bonus on points-earning at Starwood hotels, and room upgrades when available

American Express Business Platinum:

Bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards for spending $5,000 in 3 months [Normal Offer]

American Express Business Platinum

Platinum Business Card Benefits (In addition personal Platinum benefits) include:

  • Platinum Office Program. Walk-in access to 1,000 full-service business lounges worldwide..
  • Premium Global Assist. Legal, Financial, and Medical emergency assistance, 24/7.
  • 24/7 Roadside Assistance.American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card:

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card:

Bonus: 25,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $2,000 in 3 months

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card benefits include:

  • Triple and Double Points. Triple points of airfare, double points on gas and groceries, one point per dollar on everything else.
  • Gold Card Concierge . Receive some of the best seats in the house with the Gold Card concierge:

Starwood American Express Card:

Bonus: 25,000 Starpoints for spending $5,000 in 6 months

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express

Starwood American Express Benefits Include:

  • Elite Status Credit. Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays toward SPG elite status.
  • Increased Starpoints per Stay. Receive up to 5 Starpoints for every dollar spent at eligible Starwood hotels & resorts

If you would like a referral, I would be ecstatic if you would email me your address at bryce.burchfield@gmail.com.

Full Disclosure:  I do not receive a cash referral bonus for anyone using these links.

Tip of the hat to One Mile at a Time.

Happy 2012 and Year In Review

Happy New Year to you!  If you believe in the Mayan calendar, spend all of your miles by the end of the year–they will expire during the apocalypse.  Just Kidding!

As far as travel goes, 2011 was a pretty good year for me.  While I did not do any international travel, I did travel a fair amount of domestic travel, which was nearly all for leisure.  Due to some upgrade savvy, most of this travel was in First Class.  In the coming weeks I will highlight some of these experiences in the form of trip reports.

At the start of the year, even before becoming a miles and points junkie, I made it a goal to obtain Medallion status on Delta for the first time.  Originally I thought I just might be able to make Silver Medallion.  (25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles or MQMs)  As it turned out, I ended up exceeding my goal and making Gold Medallion (50,000 MQMs despite flying only about 25,000 “Butt-In-Seat” miles.  HOW SO??

Thanks to The Points Guy, I got in on the 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus for new cardmembers, after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months.  I then immediately turned around and transferred all of those points to Delta.  Concurrent to this, Delta had a 50% bonus all AMEX Membership Rewards points transferred to Delta.  In addition, transfers of 100,000 or more AMEX points would earn 25,000 MQMs.  Because of these two promotions, I literally went from zero status to elite status overnight.  I will quickly mention here that I have enjoyed numerous other perks of the card–including elite-level rental car benefits, rental damage insurance, SPG Gold Status, and especially airport lounge access!

Another big promotion for me this past year was the Radisson Big Night Giveaway.  As I mentioned already, a phantom stay netted me 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points–good for at least one night at any Radisson hotel in the world.  High off of my success, I tried it again with a new Club Carlson account.  I have not seen the points post just yet since the “stay” was only a few days ago, but they did charge my credit card for the stay which gives me some hope.  We will see if I can get 50,000 more points.

The final big points haul for me of 2011 was actually a little bit of a surprise.  Back in November I applied for and was accepted for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  For spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months there is a 50,000 point bonus–which is still active. In addition, there is a 7% bonus on all earned points during a calendar year.

However, due to some confusion about my address I waited and waited for the card to arrive, but it never did.  Finally at the beginning of December I got a hold of them (I am always amazed at the immediate response once receives when calling them….listening AMEX???) and everything was straightened out.  When I called to activate the card, I was informed I had until mid-February to meet the spend requirement.  I quickly pointed out that due to their error I had only just received the card, and should get an extension.  They obliged, and I received the card just in time to do my Christmas shopping.

After only about two weeks of use I am roughly halfway to meeting the $3,000 spend threshold.  But here is this crazy part.  Via AwardWallet I was informed that my Chase Ultimate Rewards Account had changed to 50,000 points.  I wondered if this was a mistake and logged, to see it listed as “an” adjustment. I have made a couple of payments already, but most of it is not yet paid off.  I know this will earn me 3,500 based on the card’s 7% annual points bonus, but maybe I still have a chance to get in on 50,000 more points.

Also, I bought US Airways 90,000 miles (for around $1,300) this past summer.  I plan to top off my account to 120,000 and then redeem for a First Class ticket to Asia (Tokyo) with a stopover in Europe (Rome) either this year or next year.

Thus, 2011 has been a decent points haul for me.  With some points still pending, I am looking at about 400,000 – 500,000 points and miles earned this past year.  I know of many points junkies like Frugal Travel Guy and One Mile At a Time who gain 900,000 miles and points constantly churning credit cards, but I am pretty satisfied.  When it comes to miles and points I am pretty soft core–I don’t do a ton of Credit card churns (the two I have gotten I intend to keep for a while) and don’t do many mileage runs.

I think of the miles and points I have earned, as a real asset.  I am currently unemployed and really appreciate knowing that I can still have some aspirational travel ahead of me in 2012 and beyond.

It Never Hurts to Ask For Points…

FlyerTalk is a great and wonderful tool for miles and points junkies like myself.  While I am still fairly new to it (JimBobDuggarIsABusyMan is my handle) I have found it to be a wonderful community, great for sharing information on all things travel, including eluse “targeted offers.”

A couple months back I remember hearing on FlyerTak about a deal for 5,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for simply using their web toolbar.  I downloaded it immediately, but was disappointed when the points never posted.  So, like any points junkie would do, I called them back a week or two later to inquire.  It was a targeted offer to certain people who had an account for 6+ months (unlike me) and had recently expired.

However, by using The Points Guy’s”It Never Hurts to Ask” philosophy of leveragging your loytalty to obtain points, I blatantly asked if I could as a “loyal American Express card-holder extraordinaire” I could receive points as a courtesy.  Not expecting a whole lot, I was surprised and delighted to be informed I was receiving 1,000 Membership Rewards Points as a one-time bonus!

This illustrates that while it is important to not to be pushy, it hardly ever hurts to ask, If you are giving a company business by spending your hard-earned money with them, it is fair game to ask for a little bit in return.

I am writing this write now because I had a similar situation with Delta SkyMiles.  Some time back I heard that they had a  couple of birthday promotions this past year--including this one for April, where as a “present” of sorts.  As long as your birthday was registered in your profile, you simply had to fly one round-trip and would be credited between 1,000 and 2,000 SkyMiles.

Delta's Birthday Bonus Promotion for April

Having the blessing curse of a December birthday, I waited eagerly for my chance at some more cheap and easy SkyMiles.  Needless to say, my birthday came and went and I received nada from Delta.  So I sent an email to Delta’s customer service a message, making sure to play the loyalty card:

Delta,

It has been my pleasure to fly with you and my Gold Medallion status should reflect the loyalty I have gained to your company. Throughout the year I have been aware of the generous birthday bonuses of 1,000 SkyMiles that you have given out to members during the month of their birthday. I have eagerly awaited my own bonus since my birthday is this month, yet it has not posted yet. While I know that you are not contractually obligated to this, as a gesture of goodwill, would you please credit me with a SkyMiles birthday bonus? Thank you for your time,

Bryce (#xxxxxxxxxx)

Within a day or two they got back to me:

 
Dear Mr. Burchfield,
 
Like many airlines, we offer targeted promotions to specific customers and potential customers. We regret you did not receive the Birthday promotion. Unfortunately we cannot process credit for this promotion manually…
We would appreciate you providing additional information which will allow us to process your request for 1,000 bonus miles.  Please provide us with the promotional code information for the 1,000 bonus birthday miles you mentioned. We are unable to locate a promotional that does not require enrollment and/or travel to receive promotional birthday miles.
Our current Birthday promotion involves booking and traveling on a Delta Vacations package, is this the promotion others may have mentioned?

Now, I will admit this is where I should have done some homework.  I went and looked up the promotions I had seen before, and I had not realized some level of booking with Delta was required.  But have no fear, I replied back to them:

Unfortunately I cannot do anything to change the month I was born in, and as always I greatly appreciate the courtesies extended to me for being a loyal Delta customer.
 So will this offer me made available to me as a December birthday for bonus miles after my next flight the world’s leading airline–Delta?
 
Thank you very much for your time,
 
Bryce

Maybe being I was being a little pushy mentioning that I “appreciated the courtesies extended to me” and made reference to their own marketing as the “World’s Leading Airline,” but it worked.  I finally received this response:

Dear Mr. Burchfield,
 
Thank you again for contacting us.
 We do apologize for any confusion regarding the Birthday Bonus promotion. Currently we are not offering the promotion in question. I have however as a one time exception manually deposited 1,000 SkyMiles into your account effective today December 22, 2011. Please allow 24 hours for your account to reflect these miles.
Thank you for your support as a Medallion member and for trusting your business to us.  Be assured, we will make every attempt to serve you well; we are focused on the future and look forward to our continued business relationship.
Sincerely,
 
Shawna D
Medallion Desk
 

Which brings me to one more point.  This is not the first time I have been given some kind of “one-kind” exception.  There was a one-day deal this past summer where certain purchases made through the SkyMall earned 10 miles/dollar spent.  I needed some new headphones right away and so I jumped at the opportunity.

Needless to say, because of some confusion I only received 5 miles/dollar spent I grew unhappy and voiced (in a very nice and gracious manner:) my displeasure to Delta.

In return I received a similar e-mail, informing me of 1,000 bonus miles as “a one-time exception.”

So, the moral of the story is, if you have an issue and are willing to voice it, you can use it for your gain–provided you do so in a tactful manner.

Thank you again for contacting us.

We do apologize for any confusion regarding the Birthday Bonus promotion. Currently we are not offering the promotion in question. I have however as a one time exception manually deposited 1,000 SkyMiles into your account effective today December 22, 2011. Please allow 24 hours for your account to reflect these miles.

Thank you for your support as a Medallion member and for trusting your business to us.  Be assured, we will make every attempt to serve you well; we are focused on the future and look forward to our continued business relationship.

Sincerely,

Shawna Daniels

Medallion Desk

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