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Miles and Points Recap, Plus Rant from Cheapblackdad

1) The sign-up  offer on Amex SPG (personal and business) has been increased to 35,000 points, highest ever. See more details on the bonus at the top of this page. Looks like American Express is trying to get as many cardholders as possible before Marriott takeover.

This is an excellent bonus, and you should absolutely consider getting it because the card itself may be gone by the end of the year. Unfortunately, the sign-up bonus is only available to those who didn’t receive it in the past. This offer pays me commission if you apply via my affiliate link. You can also refer someone and get 5,000 SPG points per approval. This offer expires March 30th.

I wrote a post on SPG devaluation not too long ago. Even though many hotels in family-friendly destinations are now a bit expensive on points, there is plenty of value left. Plus, you can always transfer points to miles if that’s your preference. Last few summers, there was a special promo where you could get 30K AAdvantage miles for every 20K SPG points transfer. Also, see my post Is Amex SPG still worth renewing? You can find all SPG hotels and corresponding categories here  Scroll all the way down. Feel free to ask me any questions on this or any other card via email or comments.  (Hat tip to DoC)

2) The offer on Barclaycard Lufthansa Miles and More credit card has been increased to 50,000 miles. See details and link in my page Best credit card deals for family page. I debated on whether to add it there because minimum spending requirement is quite high at $5,000 in 3 months, and there are much better offers available. Plus, the annual fee of $89 is not waived. Still, for those who prefer to fly domestic routes via United Airlines, it’s worth a look.

If you can find lowest level “saver” flights on United, you can use Lufthansa miles for those same exact seats, very often at a  discount. For example: one-way flight within Continental US costs only 12,000 Lufthansa miles. See this post on Travelisfree for best uses. (Hat tip to this Reddit thread via DoC)

3) By now, you’ve probably heard about new Chase product called Freedom Unlimited Visa. In case you haven’t, Dan’s Deals has a good overview of this card. One of the commenters mentioned that his personal banker said it will launch on March 13th. I’ll have my own post on it at some point. Short version: for most middle-class families it’s probably a non-event, but could be kosher for those who insist on earning transferrable UR points.

4) As I’ve predicted, 50K miles sign-up links for Citi AAdvantage co-branded cards are still available. Once again, check my “Best credit card deals for family” page. This is the first place I update when a new offer pops up.

Speaking of AA card, I saw a tip on Doctorofcredit to secure message Citi and ask for an additional 10K miles (there are targeted 60K offers out there). The request was approved! And it only took 1 minute of my time.

Rant from Cheapblackdad

Those of you who have been following my blog from the start, probably remember that I used to rant every Friday. Like clockwork. Some rants were pretty good (I think), some not so much.  A few were downright moronic. #C’est la vie

Well, today I want to profile a rant from my reader Cheapblackdad who I’m sure, you are familiar with by now. Once he commented on my blog 9 times in one day, so I featured a post dedicated solely to his Cheap Black awesomeness

I’m still trying to get him to contribute regularly here and even offered to split my site in two sections : “Miles for white family” and  “Miles for black family” I don’t know why no one came up with this idea before? It would be the first segregated blog in the history of internets! BTW, this is the only photo we have of Cheapblackdad so far:

thumbs down

Here is what he had to say about it: “I always knew my past as a “thumbs down” model would come back to haunt me.” He might be the only hobbyist who does NOT want you to share special tricks with him. Anyway, here is his latest rant on the state of The Game, with bullet points. TPG who? Enjoy!

“1. If it all ended today, right now, at this moment, I’d be perfectly fine. I’d shrug, and then go work on one of my other hobbies. A lot of the complaining reminds me of something that always causes such interesting human reactions: free food. I always say “If someone else is cooking it or paying for it, I can’t complain about the meal.” I’m always so disappointed when people complain about the free food at meetings at work. Dude, we are eating free food while people across the globe are struggling to feed their families! Don’t complain! I’ve taken more trips in the past 2.5 years than many of the people in the community I grew up in take in a lifetime.

2. I’m just as frustrated with some of the lost opportunities as others, but it feels like many others honestly can’t imagine a life without the Game. Don’t people have friends, families? Cool hobbies other than this? Lawns to mow, communities to engage in? My life is so full of wonderful people and things, I really do not need much more than that. This free(ish) travel stuff? It’s the gravy on my Thanksgiving stuffing. I’d like the gravy, but as long as it’s cornbread stuffing, it really doesn’t need the gravy. Ran out of whip cream? That’s fine, the sweet potato pie doesn’t need it. One’s life and relationships should be good enough that one doesn’t need free travel so badly that when one loses it one mourns as if having lost a dear friend.

3. People in this Game can be mean! See TPG’s AMA on Reddit! Yiiikes!

4. The Bloggers giveth, and the bloggers taketh away. So many great bloggers got many of us going. It’s only right that they and open forums like Flyer Talk and, even more so, Reddit Churning, are killing it. The very sources that gave us the Hobby are killing it.

5. I’m a believer in being “good stewards” of the hobby. I used to be a strong proponent of sharing as much as possible. No more. The things I don’t know? No need to tell me! Got a cool points earning trick that feels like it could be shut down? Don’t share it!

6. I am so, so glad I never started chasing points via MS, or abuses like what folks were doing to Citi cards or the Alaska Airlines cards. The wave of shut downs, bans, and law enforcement confrontations has proven that a risk averse strategy is the most sustainable.

7. I have learned that travel is valuable enough to be paid for. Our household is fortunate to have two full time earners. I plan on stretching our points by paying cash quite a bit more, and consciously saving for trips along with our other saving goals.”

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Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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7 thoughts on “Miles and Points Recap, Plus Rant from Cheapblackdad

  1. Hah, I know the “Don’t share your ponts earning secrets with me!” is rather strange. An explanation may be due.

    It’s worth noting that companies leverage software and outside companies to sift through specific conversations and mentions of their brands, and topics relevant to their industry on social media, blogs, and message boards. Hence my reticence for folks to share some of the most loopholey loopholes.

    There’s plenty that is being shared across blogs and boards that is perfectly fine. But some things are just too juicey. I think Citi’s recent actions are an example of this. I think change is contagious. What I mean by that is that Citi may have shrugged at something like CC funding of CG, but when you add in the open conversations about CC funding, the WE loophole, people getting 10 Exec cards…it just makes you say “Wait…what else do we need to change?”

    Making a map of IHG’s PointsBreak properties? Helpful! A post on the best IHG pointsbreak properties? Brilliant. Advice on how to save on a ridiculously expensive Disney Cruise (I had to hold myself back on commenting on that post cuz I came THIS close to booking a Disney Cruise and then recoiled in disgust)? Awesome.

    But posts like “Citi is so dumb, here’s a list of the stuff I do that is not profitable for them hahahahaha look at me.” Stop that! We should be saying things like “Citi is brilliant. Whatever they are doing, they should keep doing it because they are a great card issuer and they add a lot of value to my life.” And then, talk the loopholes in face to face.

    This was inception esque, I went second level rant within a rant.

    • Cheapblackdad, thanks for stopping by! Pleasure to have you, as always. I told you once that I came back to blogging in part so I could read your rants/insights on latest hobby developments. And I wasn’t kidding! I actually knew what you meant by “don’t share tricks” statement. I do agree with you, actually. I think it’s a fine line, but when you start publishing posts on ways to abuse the system, it’s probably not wise. Citi example is a good one.
      Of course, some may argue that our whole hobby revolves around abusing the system, and that’s probably fair. Which why I would never tell other bloggers what they should or should not publish. The only time something is a clear no-no is when a post encourages folks to break the law or if it’s blatantly stolen from another site. I’ve seen it happen a number of times, and it’s disgusting. Of course, no names.
      Personally, I consider many tricks to be unethical and would never publish a post with detailed instructions on such topics. Anything that involves buying and returning products just for the sake of accumulating points is a deal-breaker in my book. Of course, I don’t mean to come off as preachy or superior. I just want to encourage people to be careful. Once you cross a line, it’s easier to do it again in the future, and go further and further in your quest of being an ultimate points king/queen.

  2. I think CBD makes a good point. I’m sure that banks are aware of many loopholes to their product and policies, either when they are initially set in place or discovered as a byproduct of normal operations/usage. But managers are always looking at the cost of making changes – will it negatively impact my bottom line? Will it limit my exposure to the eyes of federal regulators? I think a lot of the changes we’ve seen in the past few years are simply a result of an improving economy – not only with the banks but also the loyalty programs. Banks could tolerate loopholes and lenient policies when they were more desperate and had to compete harder for customers. Now that the economic climate is better and the revenue streams are flowing mightily again, they can afford to make changes without hurting their bottom line too much. It’s always about the money…and particularly in the area of manufactured spend, it could also be about threats of increased regulation/investigation (which ultimately costs the bank money for lawyers, compliance managers, etc.).

    When a blogger writes a good clickbait post about a loophole and it is so effective that it is picked up by aggregators like Business Insider i.e. “Fly First To The Maldives By Simply Opening A Checking Account”, the trick is read by a very wide audience and practically forces the bank to take action. In my opinion, the more responsible “titan” bloggers share the juicier tricks via e-mail newsletter instead of their front page to keep it somewhat out of the limelight. Unfortunately, a few of the big ones just can’t help themselves – it’s “Look at me! I’m so friggin’ awesome getting away with X from stupid bank Y and now I’m flying first class on Z to Maldives/Bora Bora/Dubai/wherever and back over the weekend. I’ll spend more time on this cool plane drinking Dom AND Krug than I do on the ground. I live the glamorous life! You can too – here’s a few application links!”. (Sigh).

    • @Erik Your rant rivals the rant from CBD! Well done. I definitely agree with you on not getting too cocky when it comes to various tricks and loopholes. I’m not referring to anyone in particular, but this industry reeks of arrogance and self-entitlement. If you are a miles and points blogger who is reading this right now, don’t worry, I’m NOT talking about you!!!
      In essence, it’s the principle of “don’t poop where you eat.” Although, I do that with IHG on a regular basis, but only because I think it can be a killer program with some tweaks and better training. If you are an IHG rep reading this, please, for the love of the hobby, fix your promos so they track properly.

      It seems hard to believe but bank reps are following my blog too. They are watching me…The other day I got an email from Citi rep asking me to publish some stuff. Why they are spending their valuable time on small fry like myself is beyond me. But it got me thinking, if they read my rants, they most definitely read the big guys too. Bloggers who are not in the “news” niche are in a tricky spot, especially those who write about M/S. I genuinely feel bad for them because the pressure must be insane. You have to constantly second-guess yourself because any wrong term or published trick will unleash the army of M/S warriors chewing you out in the comments section and message boards.

      When the blog is a source of livelihood, it’s only logical to try to bring in more traffic. More traffic=more money. You can’t increase it unless you a) write 10 posts per day, b) publish juicy, unique tricks that readers can’t find anywhere else. It’s a tricky spot to be in. If you rely on commission, you can’t just publish vanilla content like I do. I once wrote that miles and points industry is a cutthroat business. I wasn’t kidding. This place is quickly becoming “dog eat dog” world as bloggers are battling it out for the few readers who are still eligible for new Chase credit cards. Just wait till April, and if the new rules on co-brands kick in, all I can say is: get your popcorn ready!

    • @Uri Thanks for stopping by! I agree, life will indeed go on. I’ve said before that Miles and points hobby does not equal M/S or even churning cards. It’s about leveraging deeply discounted travel opportunities, and those will always exist. I may need to post less, but oh well!

  3. Pingback: Is Chase Freedom Unlimited Visa a Game Changer in The Game? – Miles For Family

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