Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees – Part 2

Last week, Joe from As the Joe Flies, Joe Cortez, and I convened to award the Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 End of Year Awards. Of course, this was a light hearted, and eggnog filled event. The actual podcast will be published in the near future, however we wanted to share the nominees ahead of time.

This post dovetailes with As the Joe Flies’ post on the Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees – Part 1, so definitely take a read there too.

Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees: Category 4 – The Deal of the Year

Discover’s 10x for Apple Pay

This is perhaps one of the most talked about promotions of the year. In fact, I even bought an iPhone to take advantage of it. The deal is this, you load your Discover card (which you hopefully have double cash back on, which makes it even better) into Apple Pay, then you go into your favorite stores, like Staples, Office Depot, Walgreens, and others, and pay via Apple Pay, and you get at least 10% cashback.

American Airlines’ $400 Mistake Business Class Fare to China

Earlier in the year, American Airlines had a mistake business class fare to China. Many took advantage of it, including Greg the Frequent Miler, who this year seems to be frequently flying. It was an absolutely awesome deal, because you could still upgrade to First, as many did. Of course, for those who just held their reservation, many found that American unilaterally cancelled it, although some were able to social engineer their way to a confirmed seat. Overall though, $400 for a business class trip to China is a huge deal.

American Express (AMEX) Offers

I think everyone would agree, this year was yet another great year of AMEX Offers. We also saw some of 2014’s innovations, including Offersbot, and SyncAssist get throttled by twitter. Regardless, there were some great offers, including $200 off a $1000 Virgin Atlantic purchase, $25 off a $200 Newegg purchase, as well as offers for Best Buy, Staples, and so many more.

Target Prepaid RedBird

I think many would agree, the Target RedBird was an amazing twist of fate. Here we were coming off of losses of Vanilla Reloads, and American Express and Target partner for this wonderful new pre-paid card, that for the first few months even allows credit card loads. Forget Visa Gift Cards! Go straight to Target, collect your points! Unfortunately, in the course of less than a year, the Target RedBird moved from the best thing since sliced bread, to requiring pin-based debit reloading (a la Visa Gift Cards), then going to cash only. RedBird’s death hurt many, new and old, but, it helped so many more.

Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees: Category 5 – Worst Move by a Loyalty Program

Hyatt Offering Easy Diamond Status to the World

This doesn’t take much explanation. Earlier this month, on the heels of the news that Marriott was buying Starwood, Hyatt saw the opportunity to get some of the high value, ultra loyal elites from Starwood Preferred Guest. Who could blame them? Well, it turns out, many current Hyatt Diamonds. Some current Diamonds reached out, requesting the match or some level of understanding, since they weren’t quite requalified, only to get a cold no in response.

Delta Award Charts Disappearing

Generally transparency is good, lack of transparency is bad. Well, Delta Airlines decided to side toward being less transparent. Earlier this year, they removed their award charts, leaving mile and point enthusiasts to guess whether they are getting saver space or not. We think there are 5 levels, last I heard, but, I’m not sure if anyone has anything more definitive than what Wandering Aramean has.

American Airlines’ AAdvantage Program going Revenue Based

Many dreaded this move, but the fact is that they made the move, following everyone United and Delta, and to a lesser extent Southwest, and probably others. The result wasn’t as bad as many feared, but it was still pretty bad. Some of the impacts include significant award chart changes–hitting premium cabins most–and the eventual revenue based earning sometime in 2016. If you want to fly to Southeast Asia in First Class, you may be needing 3 credit card sign-up bonuses, for example.

Marriott buying Starwood

We mentioned this earlier with the Hyatt nominee, but, Marriott has announced that it will buy Starwood Hotels, and with it, the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program. Many SPG loyalists are up in arms. Even non-SPG elites are up in arms. SPG points are some of the most–if not the most–valuable transferrable points in the community. Marriott buying up the program doesn’t bode well for the amazing value of SPG points.

British Airways removing 4,500 Avios point redemption in North America

I have to be candid here. I initially wrote that this was not the end of the world. A few readers (to their credit), made it pretty clear that I may very well have had my head where the sun does not normally shine. They weren’t wrong. Many people leveraged the 4,500 Avios point redemption for short award flights (such as DC to New York, for example). It was a fantastic deal. Certainly a sweet spot in British Airways distance based award chart. This was a pretty big hit to many folks.

So what do you think? Please leave your votes for each of the categories and comment if you think we missed anything.

4 thoughts on “Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees – Part 2

  1. Pingback: Saverocity Observation Deck 2015 Award Nominees – Part 1 – asthejoeflies

  2. Pingback: Episode 20 – 2015 Saverocity Observation Deck Awards | Saverocity Observation Deck

  3. Part of the problem with the “Worst Move by a Loyalty Program in 2015” is that there were just SO many awful moves, and even with your condensed list, each one is awful in their own special way. This makes choosing just one particularly tough.

    On the Hyatt front, this is annoying, but the most overblown choice. Diamonds will have a touch more competition for upgrades for a year or so, but every basic benefit is still completely intact. Deal with it, my fellow Diamonds, deal with it.

    The Delta vanishing chart trick is much, much more troubling. Going that far out of your way to intentionally hose your frequent fliers is just unconscionable. Impressively enough, it’s actually likely to get worse. The little ducklings of United, then American will doubtless “innovate” this as well, having recently discovered the magic of copy and paste. Wanna know an award price? Better have a Ouija board handy.

    American going revenue based is awful but not completely unexpected. American had a chance to stick with a traditional earning system, but instead chose to mAAssacre the program. After all of the talk by American about a mile flown being a mile earned, I’d really expected better. Just shows what I know. For a program that earns big bucks, it seems counterintuitive to do this, but obviously they think they can get away with it. More “innovation” through copy and paste.

    Marriott buying Starwood is only insanely bad if you’re a SPG fan. If you love your Marriott, this is a net gain for you. From the Starwood perspective, there are just so many things that suck about this. Starwood has hotels that actually look and feel different from each other, while Marriott has Courtyard. Marriott has done large scale ongoing devaluations, while Starwood has done comparatively few. Starwood offers top elites a suite if available, while Marriott promises no such thing. Starwood gives top elites free breakfast everywhere. Marriott gives elites free breakfast everywhere except where the elites actually want the free breakfast: at resorts. There’s much more, but this just sucks huge unless Marriott somehow decides to either just adopt the better program (SPG), or else run the programs as completely separate entities. Unless Marriott suddenly decides to become wildly more customer friendly for no apparent reason, this seems unlikely.

    British Airways eradicating the 4500 Avios awards in the US market was just bad. They took the absolute best single point of the entire program, and wiped it out completely. The best thing that can be said of this is that the next best value award is still around. For now.

    These changes vary from really annoying to truly evil. Taken as a group, these changes bode ill for the travelling public, and for mile and point fans even more. Here’s hoping for a better 2016.

    • @Christian – Thanks for your comment. I tend to agree. Delta’s vanishing chart sucks. Same thing with BA’s taking away 4,500 Avios awards… the others also hurt. but, perhaps less so. I join you in hopes for a better 2016, but, perhaps with cautious optimism!

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