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An underpublicized benefit for Hilton HHonors members!

hilton hhonors

Our hobby keeps showing up in political news! Today’s points-n-miles update comes to us from a Washington Post story about the Secret Service scandal:

IG investigators reviewed information that pointed to Dach. An agent said he saw Dach with a woman he believed was a prostitute, and another had information after reviewing records that showed he had registered a woman into his room.

Nieland’s team also found that hotel officials had waived a fee normally charged to guests staying overnight. Hilton Worldwide officials in Virginia said their records showed Dach “was not charged for additional guest as a benefit of Hilton Honor Member.” [emphasis added]

So there you have it, straight from HQ: hookers stay free at Hilton! (Or should they be referred to as “hhookers”?)

As some of you know, I recently got in trouble with the affiliate powers that be, so in an attempt to get back into their good graces, I’m going to try to spin this into some good marketing copy. Here goes:

The Citi ® Hilton HHonors ™ Reserve Card gets you complimentary Hilton Gold status, allowing you to bring Colombian ladies of the evening to your room — totally free! Also, the Hilton HHonors™ Surpass® Card from American Express comes with Hilton Silver status, which means you won’t have to pay a dime for some of South America’s hottest prostitutes to spend the night! And if your Cartegena hooker happens to accept plastic, you’ll earn 3 HHonors points for every dollar spent — meaning you’ll soon be on your way to a free night! 

Citi? Amex? What do you think — am I in?

 

Congress to clamp down on frequent flyer mile devaluations?

capitol

Over at CreditCards.com there’s an interesting interview with Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL). Grayson, like most members of Congress, is a frequent flyer, and he’s not too pleased with how airlines have treated their loyalty programs. Check this out:

Q: What specifically needs changing?

A: One element is the frequent devaluations. The programs went in some cases for decades without devaluing. Now, they do it once or twice a year. Another element is the lack of availability at the touted award levels. In some areas, you can look almost a year in advance and you don’t see a single seat available at the award level that the airlines claim is available when they are advertising these programs. Another element of it is changes without notice. Historically, airlines gave changes with a year’s notice. The National Association of Attorneys General recommended that be the standard, and now we’re seeing in some cases changes with no notice whatsoever. All of those activities are deceptive.

Q: What is it you would like to have done? Simply an investigation or are you looking for particular policy changes?

A: There is clear evidence at this point that there is misleading and deceptive activity on the part of the airlines. The frequent flier programs need to be reformed, either voluntarily or through regulation. The best case scenario is that everyone realizes — either voluntarily or through regulation — that there should be one year’s notice to changes in these programs, that there should be availability on every flight at the advertised levels and that the devaluations either stop or occur at very lengthy intervals, with some kind of business justification.

Grayson does not seem concerned with hotel or credit card rewards programs, only airlines:

Q: The majority of frequent flier miles are actually earned not by flying, but through credit card partnerships or other partnerships. Is part of the scope of this looking into other forms of miles and point currencies created by credit cards or hotel programs?

A: By far the largest of the loyalty programs that involve these kinds of arrangements are airline programs. This is the focus of activity. In recognition of that, the banks have paid literally billions of dollars to try to hook up with airlines to promote their frequent flier programs to credit card holders. Although credit cards are a very large part of the program, they aren’t the focus of the deceptive elements of the programs. The deception comes from the fact that they’ve essentially created a private currency, and the airlines are cheating their customers by devaluing it.

The whole interview, plus the background, is here.

What do you all think? Should the feds intervene in the frequent flyer frequent devaluations?

8% back with the Toys R Us credit card!

8% IS THE NEW 5%?: I received this notification from Toys R Us in my inbox a few days ago:

toys r us cc

This is apparently the new standard, not just a one-off promotion. $10 per $125 spent works out to 8%, which is pretty good, and this applies to Babies R Us as well. How good is it?

I went by the nearest Toys R Us to check out their gift card suppy. This is the extent of it:

toyrs r us gc rackSo unless you do all your spending at Applebee’s, Burger King, and Barnes & Noble, there is no “8% Everywhere” scheme in play here as far as I know. That said, I have only checked this one Toys R Us and I haven’t checked any Babies R Us stores yet, so who knows.

 

How many of your points and miles go unredeemed?

citi executive

I got to wondering how good people are at redeeming their points and miles, and a bit of googling returned this article about a study which claimed that one third of all your hard-earned loyalty earnings go unused.

Being the empirical sort, I set out to verify this for myself if possible. This involved going to the Discover 2013 annual report, which you can get here if you’re curious. The report doesn’t explicitly say how many points are earned or redeemed, but it does give a few hints. For starters, in summarizing its accounting for earned rewards, Discover says that a 100 basis point change in redemption would result in additional expenses of $13 million. 100 basis points is a fancy way of saying 1 percent, so this would imply total rewards earned, both redeemed and unredeemed, are valued at $1.3 billion. [click to continue…]

100 trillion point Chase Ink bonus! Plus a whole bunch of other stuff

CHASE INK STUFF: If you haven’t heard this from 100 other blogs by now: there’s a 70,000 point offer for the Chase Ink Plus. If you already have this card and know somebody who wants it, check your email and hopefully Chase will have sent you an offer to refer up to five people for this card at 10,000 Ultimate Rewards points per friend. If you don’t have this card and want it, and you don’t know anybody else who has it, and you like me more than all those other mean ol’ bloggers out there, get in touch with me and I’ll send you a referral code which will get me 10,000 UR points and get you a whole bunch of gratitude.

In other Chase Ink news: Dan’s Deals says that the Ink Bold–the charge card version of the Ink Plus–is going away. Apparently it’s no longer available in branch but remains available online.

DINER’S CLUB FOLLOW-UP: Following up on the Diner’s Club card introduction, Frequent Miler notes that you can go Diner’s Club –> Amtrak –> Choice Hotels to get 9 Choice Hotels points per dollar of restaurant spending. He also points out that you can get 10 Choice points per dollar at office supply stores using the Chase Ink Bold or Ink Plus via the UR –> Amtrak –> Choice route. Though do note that converting Amtrak points to Choice points requires Amtrak Elite status, plus Choice makes you reserve 30 days in advance, and I think the points expire after two years, so make sure you have your act together if you’re thinking about doing this.

I currently have 0 Choice points and things will remain that way for the foreseeable future. Though there are good values to be had, especially in Europe. For example, see Ric Garrido’s recent post on $6,000 worth of Norwegian hotels using Choice points. I think there’s a decent hotel or two in Venice as well.

HILTON HHONORS CCHHANGES: Ric also has a rundown on Hilton category changes if you’re curious.

IHG POINTBREAKS: Don’t forget that IHG Pointbreaks are now bookable for just 5,000 points per night. This remains one of the better deals in hotel loyalty programs. If you’re interested in Pointbreaks and don’t have the IHG credit card, please don’t forget that the top-secret 80,000-point offer is found here. Here’s the relevant Flyertalk thread for some more background on that credit card offer.

ADVANCED ROCKET SCIENCE STUFF: Some people are out there trying innovative stuff and are nice enough to share their results even if they fail. See, for example, the balance transfer attempt by Milenomics.