I’ve been very busy as of late, and unfortunately the blog takes a back seat to things like work, family, and sleep. But anyway…
PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ: The 70K Marriott offer has apparently just expired, but there is still a potentially lucrative 70K Ritz-Carlton offer out there, and in case you didn’t know already you can use Marriott’s points at Ritz-Carlton and vice versa. Andy at Lazy Travelers has fallen in love with this offer and has a great rundown on it:
- 70,000-points bonus, and the points work for Marriott, too;
- Gold Status for the first year and reciprocal elite benefits for Marriott;
- Low spend: $2,000/3mths;
- Complimentary airport lounge access for you andthe guest;
- The $300 annual credit for airline incidentals including Global Entree (raised from $200) per calendar year!!!
And if you use the code F53K on the phone (and only on the phone) you will have all the above with no annual fee [normally $395] for the first year.
So if I’m reading that correctly, you get the 70,000 bonus points, plus then $300 credit for incidentals this year, plus the $300 credit next year. Depending on how you value Marriott points, that’s a thousand dollar sign-up bonus. Thanks to Andy for writing this one up! And thanks also for giving us the Flyertalk link for those who want to research this more. [EDIT: A commenter below as well a recent post on Flyertalk reported that the offer is by invitation only, so this deal may already be dead, alas. EDIT 2: Maybe not! Andy reports that you may have to talk to multiple representatives before you get somebody who knows how to sign you up for this offer ]
NOT NEARLY AS GOOD, BUT STILL: There’s a decent Delta offer out there as well: 50,000 miles + a $50 statement credit.
CAESARS’ TOTAL REWARDS PROGRAM: Scott at Hack My Trip has a nice rundown of the Caesars’ Total Rewards Program. The bottom line:
Most of the rewards, as always, will go to those who gamble a lot. I view elite status as a way to make the trip more enjoyable by cutting through all the crowds. Blowing loads of money at the blackjack table to earn status doesn’t make sense to me. It might make sense if I could focus my expenses in certain areas, such as choosing to dine at participating restaurants and concentration my (limited) gambling at certain casinos.
To be cost-effective, the Founder’s Card is the best approach to earning status with Total Rewards, though I’m not convinced the benefits are worth it. Platinum status with M life is an easier sell because it’s included with my Gold Passport Diamond status.
What’s the Founder’s Card, you ask? It costs $295 per year and gives you Diamond Status; here’s the Flyertalk thread. Note that there’s also a less fancy Caesars’ card, the Total Rewards Visa (which I wrote about here), that gives you Platinum status and lets you earn status beyond that with credit card spend. I’m a long way from any casino, so unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I’ve never had reason to look into this program too deeply.
THE FUTURE OF FREQUENT FLYER MILES: Hack My Trip has had some good stuff lately–I liked this informed, analytical post by some M&A dude named Eric about what the future holds for frequent flyer programs:
The banks themselves are setting up a competitive environment for “most valuable” points. It’s not just AMEX’s game anymore. Expect more to enter. Ten years ago, AMEX was undoubtedly the power player in the meta-points game. But it got complacent and lost a few partners due to mergers. Continental went over to Chase and Chase went for the jugular. Citi and Barclays now want in on the game and even US Bank is starting to offer more on the credit card front. Just wait for Barclays Arrivals points to become transferable. While this market is still pretty nascent, the banks are clearly seeing the marketing potential of flexible points and see a very healthy market segment of mobile young professionals and families to shower these points on. Chase has made incredible gains against AMEX on offering very competitive cards and (along with Citi) has essentially forced AMEX to start operating its own lounge network. As these meta-programs develop, expect to see more partners across hotels, car rentals and even things like Uber or AirBnb. Frequent flyer miles are still in the aspirational category for most consumers and aren’t seen as real money, so banks will focus on offering redemptions for things that people WANT, not NEED. Air travel isn’t even mentioned on Membership Rewards main site. So more concert and golf experiences are in everyone’s future, as well as those ubiquitous shopping portals.
If that sort of thing appeals to you, go read the whole post.