RIP, 80K IHG BONUS, SORT OF: Points and Pixie Dust broke the news that the IHG Rewards Club Visa card (you’re no longer allowed to call it the Priority Club card) is no more, as Chase has switched it over to MasterCard. That wouldn’t be a big deal were it not for the fact that there was a super elite double top secret 80,000-point offer on the old Visa card that was known about only to the chosen few of the points and miles movement. [Read more…]
FREE BOOK: My super-awesome book, What Credit Card Should I Get?, is free today (Thursday, August 29) and tomorrow (Friday, August 30). These are the last two free days I have for Kindle, so download now or forever hold your peace. As a reminder, you don’t need to own a Kindle to get the book (or any other Kindle device, for that matter) since you can view it from your Amazon account.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Kindle, they have tons of free books every day. Check here to see the most-downloaded free books at any given time.
NEW PRIORITY CLUB POINTBREAKS: The best part of the loyalty program for Priority Club (which consists of Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, and a few others) is the Pointbreaks promotion, which lets you get rooms for only 5,000 points per night. The list of eligible hotels is updated every few months, and the new list is here. The best ones disappear quickly, so act now if you’re interested.
HOW TO CANCEL AN AMEX CARD: If you’re one of those people who likes to sign up for credit cards because of the sweet bonuses, you’ll eventually end up having to cancel some of those cards. Fortunately, Matt from Saverocity has given this matter more thought than anybody I’ve ever seen, and he has an entire article up about the ins and outs of canceling an Amex credit card. If you have any Amex annual fees coming due in the next year, I highly recommend reading his article.
A HEARTWARMING TALE OF CORPORATE ARBITRAGE: I just loved this story from Quora:
Herbert Dow founded Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan when he invented a way to produce bromine cheaply. He sold the chemical for industrial purposes all over the US for 36 cents per pound at the turn of the 20th century. He couldn’t go overseas, however, because the international market was controlled by a giant German chemical cartel that sold it at a fixed price of 49 cents per pound. It was understood that the Germans would stay out of the US market so long as Dow and the other American suppliers stayed within its borders.
Eventually Dow’s business was in trouble and he had to expand. He took his bromine to England and easily beat the cartel’s fixed price of 49 cents per pound. Things were okay for a while until a German visitor came to Michigan and threatened Dow that he had to cease and desist. Dow didn’t like being told what to do and told the cartel to get lost.
Shortly thereafter German bromine started appearing for sale in the US for 15 cents per pound, way below Dow’s price. The cartel flooded the US market, offering the chemical way below their own costs, intending to drive Dow out of business. But Dow outsmarted them. He stopped selling in the US market entirely and instead arranged for someone to secretly start buying up all the German bromine he could get his hands on. Dow repackaged it as his own product, shipped it to Europe, and made it widely available (even in Germany) at 27 cents per pound. The Germans were wondering 1) why wasn’t Dow out of business and 2) why was there suddenly such demand for bromine in the US?
The cartel lowered its price to 12 cents and then 10 cents. Dow just kept buying more and more, gaining huge market share in Europe. Finally the Germans caught on and had to lower their prices at home. Dow had broken the German chemical monopoly and expanded his business greatly. And customers got a wider range of places to buy bromine at lower prices.
Dow went on to do the same trick to the German dye and magnesium monopolies. This is now the textbook way to deal with predatory price cutting.
DON’T FORGET: My Nobel Prize-winning book, which has also been nominated for three Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, a Grammy, a Pulitzer, and an ESPY, is available free on Amazon until roughly midnight PST tonight. If you don’t download it, then you’ll feel left out of the office water cooler conversation on Monday. Don’t make that mistake.
NEW POINTBREAKS: Priority Club has its new list of Pointbreaks out, sort of. For those of you not familiar with Pointbreaks, it’s a promotion Priority Club does every few months where you can book certain hotels for only 5,000 points per night. Sometimes it’s an okay value, and sometimes it’s an exceptional value, and the exceptional values tend to disappear fast.
Priority Club hasn’t updated its official Pointbreaks page yet as of press time, but they should be updating any time now. Here’s a list from Loyalty Lobby. The rooms are currently bookable at the 5,000 point per night rate, so go for it!
AUF WIDERSEHEN, LUFTHANSA 50,000?: There are reports that the Lufthansa Miles and More 50,000 mile offer may end this Sunday. It’s one of the few good affiliate links I have, so by all means gather your friends and apply for the card, and then you can all enjoy flying across the U.S. in business/first for only 17,000 miles, which seems to be the attraction for this offer.
HOW TO GET A FIRST CLASS TRANSCONTINENTAL SEAT FOR $350: Speaking of Miles and More, if you don’t want to sign up for credit cards, here’s a way to buy into some M&M miles and effectively buy the aforementioned first class cross-country ticket for $350.
DID I MENTION I WROTE A BOOK?: Yes? Okay then.
BITCOIN PREPAID CARD: I have a soft spot for superfluous financial products, so here’s the Bitcoin prepaid card. Why would you want to get this card? Because it has the word “bitcoin” on it, apparently. I’m not even sure if it’s available to Americans, anyway. From the write-up at CoinDesk.com:
Don’t get too excited though, as this card does not let you transmit bitcoin via the card. Despite the website’s UK top level domain, the company informed us that the card primarily holds Euros.
When we contacted The Bitcoin Company, who are offering this card, a representative told us, “The card works as a normal prepaid credit card. The difference is users can buy it with bitcoins, and fund it with bitcoins.”
There are also some significant fees involved:
There’s an initial fee for ordering the card too, which will currently set you back 0.787139 BTC, which at the exchange rates of the time of writing, 58.55 EUR (nearly £50 GBP). The card also has the option to transfer funds via SMS.
I’m not very good with conversions from European measurements, but by my calculations you will have to pay over 38 hectares per bushel just to get this card. Not worth it!
NEW POINTBREAKS: Just a reminder that the new Priority Club Pointbreak list is out. If you’re not familiar with it, this can be one of the best values in hotel point redemptions. Every hotel on that list is only 5,000 points per night through June 30. The catch is that the good ones get snapped up very quickly, so if you see something you like, prepare to act quickly. People have been known to plan vacations around Pointbreak deals. If you don’t have enough points in your account, don’t worry: Milevalue explains the loophole that lets you buy 10,000 points for $70, meaning that you can get hotel nights for only $35!
Speaking of Priority Club, they’re changing their name to “IHG Rewards Club”. We don’t understand the reasoning behind the name change, but we’re guessing the internal memo justifying the decision contained terms like “synergy” and “brand equity.”
In any case, IHG is also making some changes to the program as well, including free internet for Gold and Platinum members (note that Platinum status comes with the Priority Club credit card). Hopefully this is a sign of better things to come rather than the devaluations we’ve seen recently? Outside of the Pointbreaks, IHG’s program doesn’t interest us too much, so we’re hoping that will change.
WHEN 12% BACK ON YOUR TRAVEL PURCHASES ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH: Yesterday we posted about how to get 12% back on your travel purchases with the Travelocity Amex, but writer Jason Steele contacted us and pointed out that it’s possible to do better. As he wrote on The Points Guy’s website in January:
Perhaps the highest earning strategy I can come up with would be to use a Travelocity American Express card to make purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal of a Sapphire Preferred card. You could receive 1.07-3.21 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent while earning 5 Travelocity Rewards points per dollar.
Travelocity gets you 2 points per dollar spent on the UR portal, plus there’s a 7% annual bonus, bringing the total to 2.14 points per dollar. And since those points can be converted to the United, British Airways, or Hyatt programs (as well as some others), they’re certainly more valuable than one cent each.
We’ve had no problem getting two cents of value per point from British Airways Avios, so those two extra UR points per dollar bring the total to 14%. Very nice! And thanks, Jason, for bringing this to our attention.
LEAST-VISITED COUNTRIES: Hope you find this as interesting as we did: it’s a list of the world’s 25 least-visited countries. #1 is Nauru, in case you were wondering. What better way to one-up your fellow travelers than by visiting a few of these?
ANOTHER 10% CREDIT CARD SPENDING BONUS: Thanks to Maximizing Money for bringing an obscure but interesting card to our attention. It’s the Ace Rewards Visa card, it’s issued by U.S. Bank, and it’s interesting because you can apparently get 10% back on quarterly promotions.
If you’re not a fan of hardware stores, you should know that the 10% back takes the form of credits at Ace Hardware stores. But then, if you’re a homeowner, you’ll know that it’s not too hard to spend whatever rewards you might accrue.
There isn’t much information available about this card. U.S. Bank does not tell you what the quarterly promotions are unless you are an Ace cardholder. However, this Fatwallet thread from last year mentions that the 2012 Q3 categories were office supply and clothing stores, and that the Q4 category was travel. 10% bonus rewards were capped at $150.
One final note: if you’d be interested in this but there aren’t any Ace Hardware stores around you, be aware that not all Ace Hardware stores are called that. We checked the Ace store locator and were pleasantly surprised to find that the independent hardware store near us is actually an Ace store.
THE EIGHT-DAY LEUKEMIA CURE: Folks are worried that health care will bankrupt our country, but we’re more optimistic than most, at least for the long-term. We’re finally starting to understand biology at the molecular level and there will be all sorts of previously unthinkable advances which will both improve our quality of life as well as cut costs dramatically. For starters, how about the ability to cure leukemia in eight days:
WITHIN just eight days of starting a novel gene therapy, David Aponte’s “incurable” leukaemia had vanished. For four other patients, the same happened within eight weeks, although one later died from a blood clot unrelated to the treatment, and another after relapsing.
The cured trio, who were all previously diagnosed with usually fatal relapses of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, have now been in remission for between 5 months and 2 years. Michel Sadelain of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, co-leader of the group that designed the trial, says that a second trial of 50 patients is being readied, and the team is looking into using the technique to treat other cancers.
Read the whole article here. Don’t listen to the naysayers, the future’s going to be pretty sweet.