Middle Age Miles

Middle Age Miles News & Notes 9/19/19 – AAdvantage; AA-Hyatt; Dosh-Sam’s Club; Best Western; Alaska PAE sale; Southwest schedule release info

Let’s jump right in to an interesting collection of Middle Age Miles “News & Notes” for today:

1. AAdvantage 25% Bonus on Some Hotel Point Transfers

AAdvantage launched a new promo with a 25% bonus for converting hotel loyalty points from Best Western, Choice, IHG and Marriott Bonvoy into AA miles:

  • End date for promotion: 10/30/19
  • Must register in advance with registration code HT925
    • Register by logging in to your AAdvantage account, going to “Your Account” and then “Promotions,” and then clicking through to the “Convert hotel points to miles” promotion
  • Conversion rates:
    • Best Western (BW)
      • 5,000 BW Rewards points = 1,000 AA miles + 25% bonus (1,250 AA miles)
    • Choice Hotels
      • 5,000 Choice points = 1,000 AA miles + 25% bonus (1,250 AA miles)
    • IHG
      • 10,000 IHG points = 2,000 AA miles + 25% bonus (2,500 AA miles)
    • Marriott Bonvoy
      • 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 10,000 AA miles + 25% bonus (12,500 AA miles)
      • 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points = 20,000 AA miles + 25% bonus + additional 5,000 bonus AA miles (30,000 AA miles)

In general, we’re not big fans of converting hotel points to airline miles. The conversion rates are generally terrible and we generally get far better returns using hotel points for actual hotel stays. In addition, in our case, we already have far more AA miles than hotel points.

Particularly here, the Best Western, Choice and IHG conversions seem like really bad deals even with the 25% bonus. Our baseline value for each of these hotel currencies is 0.5 cents per point; whereas our baseline value for AA miles is 1.25 cents per point. The conversions for these 3 programs are usually 5:1; they become 4:1 with this promotion. That means that, in the abstract, you’d be trading 2 cents of value (4 * 0.5) to receive 1.25 cents of value. The only time this conversion makes sense is if you have “orphaned” BW, Choice or IHG points that you’d otherwise never use.

The Marriott conversion is a bit more interesting, if you’re converting 60,000 points into 30,000 AA miles. (We’re not sure if you get a 25% bonus on top of the 5,000 bonus miles when you convert 60,000 points. If so, you’d end up with 31,250 AA miles instead of 30,000.) In that situation, the conversion rate would be 2:1. At our baseline value of 0.7 cents per Marriott point, the conversion with bonuses is close – 1.4 cents of value (2 * 0.7) in Marriott points to receive 1.25 cents of value in AA miles. That’s a conversion rate that’s at least somewhat reasonable and may be of value to some people.

For us, we registered for the promotion, but we’ll almost certainly sit it out.

2. Targeted AA-Hyatt Promotion to Earn AA Rewards

This morning, Philly had a new and quite interesting promotion in her AAdvantage account, giving her a chance to earn a “special reward” by flying AA and staying with Hyatt. Here are the basics:

  • Offer is targeted – only for members who receive the offer directly from AA
  • Register by October 8, 2019, before you travel/stay (promo code FP19E)
  • Requirements, which must be completed by December 20, 2019:
    • Fly and earn 3,000 Elite Qualifying Dollars (EQDs) on flights marketed by AA and operated by AA, American Eagle, British Airways, Iberia, Finnair or JAL
    • Earn at least 1 AA mile on a qualifying Hyatt stay and/or experience
  • Reward is a choice reward of either:
    • 6 500-mile upgrade stickers; or
    • 10,000 bonus AA miles
  • You must make your choice by 1/13/2020

We’re not sure if Philly’s targeted offer is individualized, or if all targeted AA members received the same offer. I was not targeted and did not receive any AA-Hyatt offer at all.

In any event, check your email and AA accounts for a new targeted AA-Hyatt promo!

Our general observation is that this is a lot of spend and activity required for a relatively modest return. 3,000 EQDs within 3 months is a very high amount of flying. To put it into some perspective, that pace extrapolated over a full year would put you very close to achieving Executive Platinum status. No one should be going out of their way to spend extra on AA in order to achieve these relatively modest awards. You can purchase 500-mile upgrade stickers for $40 each, so those have a maximum value of $240. To Executive Platinum and Platinum Pro members, the upgrade stickers really aren’t worth much of anything as they already receive unlimited complimentary upgrades based on availability. As for the 10,000 AA miles, at our baseline value of 1.25 cents per mile, they’re worth about $125.

We could see a situation where someone who’s already flying enough to earn 3,000 EQDs during the promo period, but doesn’t normally stay at Hyatts, might consider moving a stay to Hyatt or even making a 1-night mattress run to pick up the 10,000 AA miles.

For Philly, we think she’ll satisfy the qualifying requirements organically, between our planned flights and one night at a MGM/MLife hotel that we’re putting in her name in order to get extra Signature Travel benefits. So, we’re very happy to take down a bonus of 10,000 AA miles from this promo!

3. Dosh 5% at Sam’s Club (+$20 cash back on memberships)

For a “limited time” (we don’t see an exact ending date), Dosh is offering 5% cash back at Sam’s Club. The offer says that it’s available on “your next in-store purchase.” This suggests that it’ll be a one-time use, although it remains to be seen whether it’ll be limited to one-time in practice. The Dosh offer for Sam’s Club is still capped at $15 max cash back per day.

In our experience, Dosh offers have worked for purchases of VGCs and MCGCs at Sam’s Club. We chronicled one of these experiences in Episode 5 of our Manufactured Spend Data Points (MS DPs) series:

With this new 5% deal and in light of the $15 cap, it seems like the play would be to purchase one $250 GC. Including the $4.88 fee, the total purchase price would be $254.88, and you’d receive $12.74 cash back from Dosh. You’d also receive credit card rewards on whatever Dosh-linked card you used to pay.

The Dosh-Sam’s Club promotion also has a second prong – $20 cash back on memberships, which may also be helpful to some people.

4. Best Western – Double points for international stays

Earlier this week, we reported on numerous hotel points promotions for Fall 2019, including a Best Western Rewards promo for a free night after 2 stays in the US, Canada and the Caribbean:

Last night, courtesy of Loyalty Traveler, we learned of an additional Best Western Rewards “double points” promotion for stays outside the US/Canada/Caribbean:

  • Registration is required, prior to your first eligible stay
  • Earn unlimited double points during the promotion period
    • The promotion terms & conditions do not say whether doubling applies only to base points, or if elite status bonuses are also doubled – unless we see a data point to the contrary, we’d assume that only base points are doubled
  • Applies only to Best Western stays outside of the US, Canada and the Caribbean Islands
  • The promotion period runs from 9/16/19 through 11/17/19
    • Any stays that have a check-in date that overlaps the last day of the promotion period will count toward the promotion
  • As usual, stays booked through online travel agencies or tour operators do not qualify

Here’s a link to the landing and registration page for the promotion:

Best Western stays typically earn 10 points per dollar. At our baseline rate of 0.55 cents per BW point, the base points would result in a points rebate of about 5.5%, and the “double points” bonus would add another 5.5%, for a total points rebate of about 11% (before considering elite bonuses). In light of all the other Fall 2019 hotel promotions, this one probably isn’t worth moving stays, but definitely register for the promotion, just in case. At Middle Age Miles, we don’t want to leave any points on the table!

5. Alaska Airlines – 25% off flights from Seattle-Everett (Paine Field / PAE)

For today and tomorrow only (September 19-20), Alaska Airlines is offering 25% off for all flights from Seattle-Everett Paine Field (PAE). Rules are simple:

  • Use the specified discount code
    • Hopefully the link works; if not, go to the Alaska site and enter code 2T8W8EK16HXKS012631
  • Book by 11:59 pm Pacific time on 9/20/19
    • That’s 2:59 am Eastern / 1:59 am Central time on 9/21/19
  • Travel is valid through February 12, 2020
  • Blackout dates are 11/21 through 12/2/19, and 12/19/19 through 1/7/20

Yesterday, Alaska was having technical difficulties with the link and the discount code, but things seem to be in order as of today.

Alaska currently flies to 8 western destinations from PAE, with 2 more to come during the period when flights can be booked under this promotion:

  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Los Angeles (LAX)
  • Orange County (SNA)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Portland (PDX)
  • San Diego (SAN)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • San Jose (SJC)
  • Palm Springs (beginning 11/5/19) (PSP)
  • Spokane (beginning 11/4/19) (GEG)

We haven’t been to Paine Field (north of Seattle) yet, but we hear that the terminal is very nice and the airport is compact and easy to use, especially compared to SEA. This might be a very nice promotion for those who can use it!

6. Southwest Schedule Extension to Come in One Week on September 26

Southwest is currently accepting reservations through 3/6/20. One week from today, on September 26, Southwest plans to open its schedule for sale through 4/13/20. This schedule extension includes Spring Break dates when lots of people want to travel, so we wanted to give you a heads-up in advance of the upcoming schedule release!

Southwest schedule release dates are always subject to change. If you want to check the flight availability dates and next scheduled release, you can always go to Southwest’s “Check Flight Schedules” page here:

Typically, the new flight dates open for sale during the very early morning on the scheduled release date. You’ll want to be ready to go early next Thursday morning (9/26) if you want to lock in your 2020 Spring Break flights!

7. Quick Reminder – Always Check Your Existing Hotel Reservations for Price Drops!

Finally, just a quick reminder from Middle Age Miles to periodically check your existing hotel reservations for price decreases. If you’ve booked a rate that can be canceled without penalty (as we recommend in most situations), you can always cancel and re-book at the lower rate.

Yesterday, we noticed a price drop on our hotel for our Fall 2019 European vacation (on a rate that we thought was already spectacularly low), and we saved about 60 Euros by cancelling and re-booking. Woo hoo!!!

That’s a wrap for today. It’s time to head out to DFW to pick up Middle Age Miles daughter KB, who’s coming into town from Denver to visit for the weekend (on a sweet mileage redemption using BA Avios, by the way!). We hope we’ve given you some interesting and useful News & Notes for the day!

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