Before we get into the nitty gritty, a quick reminder that this is the last day to transfer from MR program to Avios and get a 50% bonus. If you don’t know what MR and Avios stand for, you don’t need to worry about it.
Anyway, as you’ve probably heard by now, Amex is on a roll lately with Delta and Hilton co-branded credit cards. Of course, there is also uncertainty when it comes to Amex Starwood Preferred Guest card. Will they increase the bonus to 35,000 points or permanently change it to “2 free nights” after 10/19/2016? Your guess is as good as mine. Additionally, the sign-up bonus on Amex Business Platinum Card has been increased (sort of).
There is another wrinkle. According to Doctorofcredit, Amex plans to introduce a premium card that would compete with Chase Sapphire Reserve. To be clear, at this point it’s just a rumor. We don’t know when or if this will materialize and what kind of bonus they will be offering.
Let’s assume that you already got Chase Sapphire Reserve and are close to finishing minimum spending on that offer. You might be looking at Amex bonuses and are not sure which one to pick. Keep in mind, you can only receive one Amex bonus/per card/per lifetime, so choose wisely.
Worth it or worthless?
First things first. If you’ve been around this hobby for few months, you’ve probably heard that Delta miles are worthless and Hilton points are worth very little. That is not true! The correct statement is that those currencies are worth very little to some and a LOT to others.
Delta program has improved considerably over the last few years, and one-way redemptions are now allowed. Additionally, some routes cost as little as 5,000 miles one-way, which is a tremendous bargain compared to AAdvantage and United Mileage Plus. Delta program is a hybrid: a mix of revenue-based and traditional fixed pricing rolled into one. IMO that’s good news for most regular families.
Sure, sometimes you’ll come out ahead, and other times, the pricing will be astronomical. It won’t be worth it to burn Delta miles every time you need an award ticket, but you should always check anyway. Few months ago I put together a post on ways to get to Alaska, and Delta had the best economy award availability from Florida.
Most people who hate Delta currency are primarily after business and first-class award redemptions. That’s Delta’s achilles heel. If you need economy seats, Delta will usually beat AAdvantage and will rival Mileage Plus when it comes to award availability. And don’t forget, if you have a co-branded Delta credit card, you can always burn Delta miles on revenue flights at a penny each. That’s a unique advantage of SkyMiles and a guarantee that you’ll be able to get some value out of them.
The same principles apply to Hilton currency. It’s true, some properties are exorbitantly expensive on points. That said, there are plenty or hotels that cost 10K-20K points per night, and you’ll get 5th night free. There aren’t that many category 1 (5,000 points per night) hotels in US, but they do exist. Check Awardmapper for general idea on where to find them (just unselect other chains and zoom out).
My reader TropicGal has pointed out this cool trick on how to sort Hilton hotels by category and country:
For Category 1: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=1
For Category 2: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=2
For Category 3: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=3
For Category 4: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=4
For Category 5: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=5
For Category 6: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=6
For Category 7: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=7
For Category 8: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=8
For Category 9: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=9
For Category 10: http://hhonors.hilton.com/en/hhonors/rewards/search_result_reward_levels.jhtml?hhonorsRewardLevel=10
I have found a few Hilton beachfront properties in Florida that cost 30K-40K points per night, which is on par with IHG and Marriott.
Here are just a few examples:
Doubletree Beach Resort North Tampa It’s a category 7, so costs between 30,000-60,000 points per night, depending on the time of the year. The rooms have two queen beds. This property looks very nice and gets good reviews.
Doubletree Suites Melbourne Beach Oceanfront hotel The cost is 40,000 points per night; 30,000 in the off-season. All rooms are suites (fit up to 6) and face the ocean.
Most importantly, Hilton footprint in US is outstanding, so you will have no problem burning your points on another hotel in case your original plans change.
Choosing the right Delta offer
Let’s say you have specific plans for Delta miles and want to apply fro one of the increased offers. Which one to pick? Normally, I would suggest the 50K offer without the annual fee. However, I think it could make sense to consider Platinum Delta SkyMiles credit card instead. While there have been higher targeted offers in the past, this is the highest public bonus and it’s pretty good.
Here are the details on personal version:
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 70,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- Earn a $100 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer ends 11/09/2016.
- Check your first bag for free and save up to $50 on a round trip Delta flight, settle into your seat sooner with Priority Boarding, enjoy 20% savings on eligible in-flight purchases in the form of a statement credit.
- Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile on every eligible dollar spent on purchases.
- Use miles towards flights, seat upgrades, car rentals, merchandise, gift cards, and more.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual fee of $195 is not waived.
- Direct Application Link
Business version is identical , except you’ll have to spend $5,000 in 3 months. It does pay me commission, and you can read about it here The current offer on Gold Delta SkyMiles Amex card comes and goes (see more details here), so I would pick Platinum when given a choice. Note that there is also a business version of Gold card.
To put this bonus in perspective. Let’s say you’ll get personal Platinum offer. After you meet minimum spending requirements, you’ll have 73,000 miles. Transfer 2,000 MR or 2,000 SPG points, and you’ll have enough for 3 economy roundtrip tickets to Alaska. A good deal? You betcha. If you utilize $100 statement credit, you’ll end up with only a $95 fee.
These vistas can be yours for only 25,000 Delta miles
(Fine print: price is per person, availability is not guaranteed, taxes are not included)
In case you haven’t heard, Delta has also just announced a sale on award flights to Tokyo. You can fly for as little as 25,000 miles one-way in economy. Details here While you won’t be able to utilize this particular sale if you decide to sign up for Amex Delta card, it’s further proof that the program is far from worthless.
Choosing the right Hilton offer
Personally, I would only apply if I had concrete plans to use the bonus, but it’s up to you. There are two offers to choose from and neither pays me commission.
1) Hilton HHonors Surpass Credit Card from American Express
Earn 100,000 Hilton HHonors points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your card in your first 3 months of card membership. Offer ends 11/30/2016 Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product. You’ll get complimentary Gold status. Annual Membership Fee: $75
2) Hilton HHonors Credit Card from American Express
Both of these offers have appeared a few times over the last year, so I don’t think it’s critical to jump on either one. But suppose you really, really want Hilton points. Which offer you should choose will largely depend on how many points you need and whether you will be able to benefit from Gold status (free breakfast and upgrades at most Hilton properties).
It will also depend on your ability to meet minimum spending requirements. Assuming it’s a wash, I would probably go with Surpass. You never know when Gold status may come in handy even if you have no use for it in the immediate future. And getting 25,000 extra points for $75 (annual fee), isn’t too bad of a deal even without Gold status. Additionally, I believe it’s unlikely for Surpass offer to go up, while their no-annual fee version has some wiggle room.
Keep in mind, that the bonus on Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card has been recently increased to 75,000 points. There is no annual fee. It does pay me commission. This may be a better option since you can apply for this card again (and get the bonus) after it’s been closed for 24 months. Read my post for comparison of all three Hilton offers.
Is current offer on Business Platinum Card from American Express Open a hot deal?
I don’t think so. Too many hoops to jump through. Here are the details on the offer:
- Limited Time Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points. Offer expires January 25, 2017.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- New: Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That’s 1.5 points per dollar, on each qualifying purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- Plus, continue to get one point per dollar for qualifying purchases under $5,000.
- New 50% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 50% of the points back.
- New: You can also receive 50% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
- You can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Annual fee of $450 is not waived.
- The offer pays me commission.
Don’t get me wrong, getting 100K Membership Rewards points is great deal. But as you can see, you have to spend $15K in order to get the full bonus. Additionally, MS is specifically excluded, so don’t even think about buying prepaid Visa gift cards. Hence, this will only be of interest to those who have a legitimate business and can generate enough spend via regular expenses. You know, the way it should be!
If you have no plans for Delta miles, Hilton points or Membership Rewards
Then you, my friend, might be better off skipping all of these offers for now. If Amex card rumor does materialize, it will possibly rival sign-up bonus on Chase Sapphire Reserve. American Express really needs to do something spectacular in order to to compete with Chase in premium card market. Will it? And most importantly, will it do a round of clawbacks like it did with recent Platinum offer? I sure hope not.
Of course, there is also huge uncertainty with Amex SPG offer, and I have no clue on whether to recommend applying for 25,000 points or waiting it out. We know that eventually SPG cards will be discontinued. This one will have to be your call. I don’t have a crystal ball. It rhymes.
Readers, which offer are you considering?
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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.