Listen To Bloggers But Think for Yourself!

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First, the United 55,000-mile bonus with $50 statement credit is supposed to expire today. It doesn’t get better than that. Grab it now if you can (remember the new 2-year bonus rule).

Second, yes, I know the title of this post might sound ridiculously obvious, but bear with me for just a moment.

A couple of days ago, Drew from Travel Is Free wrote this post:

Please, Stop Listening to Bloggers and Getting Crappy Rewards Cards!

You should read the post and the comments to it, but here are some pointers he made that I have to comment on.

1. The Amex Delta 50K-miles offer is sh*t.

2. The Chase Marriott 70K-offer is sh*t, also.

No, he didn’t put it exactly the same way, but I’m citing by memory. 🙂

To that, I politely told him that he was fundamentally wrong.

To that, he graciously replied that we’d have to agree to disagree.

Fair enough.

Before I continue, though, let me say this: I absolutely love Drew’s blog and his writing style. He dissects loyalty programs, studies and experiments with their clandestine and Byzantine rules, and reverse-engineers them to make them–no, not easy to understand–but explainable to normal and lazy people. Just like yours truly here.

That means one thing; if you have time for only one blog to read, read TIF. Yes, even at the expense of my own. 🙁

So, now I hope you realize that when I said to a blogger who I like and respect, that he was fundamentally wrong, I wasn’t just throwing cheap punches. Let me explain.

The American Express Delta 50K-Miles Offer with $50 Statement Credit

My opinion is this. It [almost] never gets better than this and you must grab it while you can.

If you think for a moment that I am a Delta SkyPesos fan boy, you might’ve never read this:

Delta Smacks United

And this:

SkyClub Comedy Club. Delta Rocks Again!

And this:

Delta Airlines, Hotel, and Casino

Or this:

Delta Stole My Five Tiers Ideas for Their 2015 Redemption Chart

So, after everything is said about Delta, how dare I steer my unsuspecting readers to apply at my non-affiliated Delta credit cards link?

Here are seven reasons how.

  1. You must diversify.
  2. Delta miles are hard to get.
  3. This is the second highest public bonus I’ve ever seen (the one-time 70,000-mile offer was never public).
  4. Low $1,000 spending requirement.
  5. Delta allows a domestic stopover.
  6. Delta has good availability to London.
  7. Delta is introducing one-way awards starting next year. That alone might be a game-changer.

But forget about all seven reasons. Here is the eighth and more important reason why Sky Pesos are in reality worth more than you might think. I’m borrowing this from my next post (because it is an interesting topic that warrants more digging into).

There is this shadowy group of people and travel agencies that will buy your miles and points from you to book travel for their clients.

Just to answer the question you haven’t asked yet, no, it is not legal. I mean, selling your miles and points won’t land you in jail, but it is against the policies of all loyalty programs that I know of. If you are caught, you can lose your frequent miles account and your miles will be forfeited. It’s that simple.

But this is not about legalese. The facts are simple. Those miles brokers routinely pay 1-1.2 cents for SkyPesos. Not much? Maybe not, but they pay the same price for United miles, too.

In what world, you might ask, SkyPesos are worth as much as United? Well, apparently, in the world of hard, cold cash. These brokers are not a sentimental bunch. If they weren’t sure they would be able to fetch a business class ticket for your SkyPesos, they wouldn’t be doing that.

I don’t have an explanation for this because redeeming Delta miles is indeed a big headache. Maybe, the demand for Delta flights is higher than for United due to better planes, better amenities and better service. Or it might be that the brokers expect that redeeming SkyPesos would become easier in the future with the introduction of one-way awards. In any case, if these guys don’t shy away from Delta miles, neither should you.

Just saying.

There are currently two Gold Amex Delta 50K-offers for Personal and Business cards. They are valid until September 8. I would grab both. There is also a Platinum 50K-offer, but the AF for the first year is not waived.

The Chase Marriott 70,000-Point Offer

Drew makes a valid point that this is a Chase card, and you can never have too many great Chase cards. That is true, so if you are just starting with Chase, skip the Marriott until you have better ones: United, CSP, British, Ink, Southwest, and Priority Club. I would not apply for Hyatt and Fairmont unless and until you have firm travel plans to use the free nights from these programs within the next 12 months. So. in my opinion, your Marriott application should precede these two.

But if you are good with Chase and can afford one or two more application, let me tell you why the Chase Marriott card makes perfect sense to anyone, at least for now. That’s because you can double down on another great offer: the Chase Ritz Carlton 70,000-point card. I wrote about that phenomenal (and phenomenally underrated) product a little while ago here: Just Got My New Chase Ritz Carlton Card–Is It the Best Reward Card Ever?.

Simply put, if you have both, Marriott and Ritz Carlton (which are practically the same program), that’s 280,000 Marriott points bonus for two apps. That will buy you a week (with a 5th night free) at the most expensive Marriott hotel in the world. And Marriott points are not easy  to get by. Explain to me how this card is not a worthy sign up again?

Are you holding too many Chase credit cards? You shouldn’t. With the recent policy changes, you can get another bonus after 24 months, but you shouldn’t be holding the same card at the time of the application. So, trim your collection and start all over again.

So what is the point I’ve been trying to make here? I forgot. Oh, yes!

Bloggers are opinionated folks. Take whatever we say with a grain of salt and do what works for you. Including doing the opposite or nothing at all?

What say you? Makes sense?

Image By: Mike Licht

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6 Responses to Listen To Bloggers But Think for Yourself!

  1. Kumar says:

    The more i read your blog, more respect i have for your writing, Andy. How many bloggers out there have guts to say that if their readers have to choose their blog against Drew’s, please choose Drew’s blog? While i read your comment and Drew’s response, i can visualize what Drew was trying to accomplish in his post with high care for newbies but your point on Delta also is valid. And finding redemption options for both Delta and Mariott is PITA as you very well know. I think even for London, if you compare Delta vs United, Delta has fuel surcharges. So United is definitely better, which you too agree. Anyway, with these discussions that is currently going on in the blog space, i think readers who read all the opinions of all the good bloggers and also the comments section truly stand to gain. I have never seen such a great debate happening in this space until now with FM, Saverocity and all others joining. I LOVE THIS 🙂

    • Andy Shuman says:

      Thanks Kumar. But that’s only because I really like his blog. 🙂
      Have to disagree about London. First, no fuel surcharges on Delta. And second, I think, availability is quite decent even in J, and there is a chance to score a VX seat without YQ. The problem with Delta is that it’s hard to score round trip; so the introduction of one-way awards can breathe the new life into SkyPesos. We’ll see.

      • Kumar says:

        Andy – I tried searching for Delta flights to London from DTW, ATL, BOS during July 2015 and all searches (even that are operated by Delta) are returning 77.5-95k miles + 215.70 in taxes. This is really expensive compared to United or AA. Can you please help me on how to get rid of this 215.70 in taxes?

        • Andy Shuman says:

          Kumar it sure sounds like LHR taxes, not YQ. Are you sure UNited taxes are cheaper? If you can avoid flying out of LHR (or CDG for that matter) on the way back it will be much cheaper, otherwise it’s a reality. Delta does allow a stopover, so it’s not impossible.

          • Kumar says:

            Well, you are right, Andy. I again searched United and American one way from LHR and it is indeed LHR taxes. That seems to be the case with American as well. Delta and United taxes are almost same but American seems to be way high due to BA metal. Is there no way to avoid this other than avoiding flying out of LHR?

          • Andy Shuman says:

            Other than flying out of other London airports, like LGW, I don’t see how. I know Swiss is flying out of LGW, and I’m sure some other airlines too. But not anyone with a non-stop service to the US, AFAIK.

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