Middle Age Miles

Middle Age Miles News & Notes 9/27/19 – Raise/TCB; Barclays cards benefit changes; Staples fee-free VGCs; Hyatt; Adria; Southwest route news; Delta/LATAM; Vegas cab flat rates coming soon

middle age miles news notes 9/27/19 raise top cashback barclays card benefits staples visa gift card promo hyatt new hotels adria airways southwest new routes delta latam las vegas flat taxi fares to airport

This week we’ve been traveling to Seattle, so we’re a little behind on News & Notes for the past couple of days. Let’s do a quick catch-up of some interesting tidbits we’ve seen during the latter half of this week, starting with a great promo from Raise that’ll only work today:

1. Raise – $10 Off + 8% at Top Cashback – Today Only!

There’s a terrific stacking opportunity to purchase discounted gift cards on Raise.com:

  • 8% cash back when you go through Top Cashback (TCB); plus
  • $10 off at Raise.com when you spend at least $125, using the promo code EVERYTHING

Both deals end today, so act quickly to save some money!

We would note that in the past, we’ve had a challenge with getting our cash back from TCB on a large purchase from Raise (several hundred dollars), but we haven’t had problems getting the cash back on smaller deals like this one where you’ll likely be spending no more than a couple of hundred dollars. And, as always, be mindful of the lifetime limits when using shopping portals for purchases through Raise.

If you haven’t signed up for either Raise or Top Cashback, we certainly appreciate it if you use our referral links:

2. Benefits Changing on Some Barclays Cards

We wrote earlier today about some important changes that Amex will be making soon to the travel insurance and purchase protection coverages on its cards. Along the same lines, we also received an email notice this morning that Barclays is making several changes to the benefits on our AAdvantage Aviator Silver Mastercard, effective 11/1/2019. We understand that these changes will also apply to other Barclays cards such as the AA Aviator Red card and the Arrival+ card.

Here’s a quick summary of the Barclays changes, as best we can tell at the moment:

  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver coverage “will be enhanced”
    • We’re not sure what will change, as we can’t find the information in the email or on our card benefits page.
    • In any event, this is immaterial to us as we’ll continue to use our Chase Sapphire Reserve for car rentals, for 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points earning plus primary collision damage waiver coverage (that recently came through for us big-time on a damage claim on a rental in Europe).
  • The Identify Theft benefit “will be enhanced”
    • Our email says that, for example, we “will now have access to an online monitoring dashboard and resolution features that scour the internet and Dark Web for compromised credentials and financial account takeover.”
    • It remains to be seen whether this benefit will be useful. For the moment, we’re skeptical – but we’ll see.
  • We will become eligible for Cellular Telephone Protection
    • This “provides coverage for certain damage to or theft of your cell phone effective November 1, 2019.”
    • We won’t use this benefit either. We will continue to use our Chase Ink Preferred card to pay cell phone bills, for 3x UR points earning plus insurance coverage (which we’ve also recently used).
  • Several existing benefits will be removed; however, claims can be submitted for eligible purchases made through October 31, 2019:
    • Extended warranty
    • Price protection
    • Purchase assurance
    • Satisfaction guarantee
    • Trip delay benefits

These Barclays card changes are uniformly bad for us. As you can see from our notes above, the new coverages aren’t useful to us, and we doubt that the Identify Theft benefit will be valuable. On the other hand, the protections that are being removed, while we’ve never actually used them with Barclays, could potentially be very valuable. We consider these to be very negative changes overall.

3. Staples – Buy $200 Visa GCs with No Activation Fees, Sept 29-Oct 5

Visa Gift Card from Staples

Hat Tip to Stephen at GC Galore for this deal. In short, buy a $200 Visa gift card (VGC) in-store from Staples from September 29 through October 5, with no purchase/activation fee. There is a limit of 1 per customer. Our local Staples enforces this limit on a per-day basis (or at least a per-visit basis).

We’ve written a fair bit recently about VGC deals at Staples in our Manufactured Spend Data Points (MS DP) series. For Staples deals, you can find the most up-to-date information in this article:

Finally on this deal, we’ll remind you that there’s a current Amex Offer for Staples that expires on Monday (September 30), that you should use for this deal if you haven’t used the offer yet. That Offer is for a $10 statement credit when you spend at least $40 (or alternatively, your Offer may be for 1,000 MR points when you spend $40+). Beyond that, best-in-class earnings at Staples would be with a Chase Ink Cash card for 5x UR per dollar.

4. Other News & Notes of Interest

Here are a few more articles we’ve seen over the past few days that interested us enough to include them here:

We’ve covered World of Hyatt’s ongoing promo where you can earn 500 bonus Hyatt points for stays at new hotels, in this article. Patrick at Frequent Flyer Bonuses gives us 9 new hotels that Hyatt has added to the “new hotels” promo:

  1. Hyatt Place Waco South – Waco, Texas (11/6/19 to 2/28/20)
  2. Hyatt Place Wilmington Riverfront – Wilmington, Delaware (10/1/19 to 1/30/20)
  3. Hyatt Centric The Liberties Dublin – Dublin, Ireland (10/7/19 to 1/30/20)
  4. Hyatt Place Dubai/Jumeirah – Dubai, UAE (10/7/19 to 1/30/20)
  5. Hyatt Regency Dharamshala Resort – Dharamshala, India (10/13/19 to 1/30/20)
  6. Park Hyatt Kyoto – Kyoto, Japan (10/29/19 to 1/30/20)
  7. Great Scotland Yard – London, UK (10/29/19 to 1/30/20)
  8. Hyatt Place Huntsville/Research Park – Huntsville, Alabama (10/30/19 to 1/30/20)
  9. Hyatt Place New York City/Times Square – New York, New York (10/30/19 to 1/30/20)

Adria Airways is the national airline of Slovenia. It’s a member of Star Alliance, and we seriously considered flying on it during the Summer 2018 when we planned our trip where we ended up going to Prague and Dubrovnik. Slovenia is on our long-term list of places to visit, and the collapse of Adria will make it a little bit tougher to get there.

Starting on Saturday, March 7, 2020, Southwest plans to begin 2x daily service between Houston Hobby (HOU) and Cozumel (CZM). Tickets are now available for purchase on this route, through the end of Southwest’s current schedule on April 13, 2020.

Also, Southwest is adding new daily service between Sacramento (SMF) and Kahalui, Maui (OGG) on March 7, 2020. It will also begin flying daily mainland to/from Hawaii routes between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC), on the mainland, and Lihue, Kauai (LIH) and Kona, Island of Hawaii (KOA), in the State of Hawaii. See the Southwest press release for more details on these flights.

Other Southwest new-flight announcements included: (1) seasonal service on Saturdays nonstop between Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS); (2) daily service between Denver (DEN) and Des Moines (DSM); and (3) daily service between Atlanta (ATL) and Memphis (MEM) (2x daily every day except Saturday, which is 1x).

There were dozens of articles written about this bombshell development yesterday, so we won’t harp on it. We enjoyed this article by Rocky at Travel Codex best of the ones we read. This is a major blow to AA and OneWorld in South America, and it certainly hurts those of us who are majorly invested in AA/OneWorld.

Katherine at TPG reports that the Nevada Taxicab Authority board voted yesterday to implement flat rate fees between Las Vegas McCarran airport (LAS) and most destinations on the Vegas Strip. The new fare structure will be implemented on a rolling basis, with an official start date of 1/1/2020.

Zonal rates are proposed to be as follows:

  1. From Sunset Road north to Tropicana Avenue (Four Seasons, Mandalay Bay, Delano, Luxor, Excalibur, Tropicana) – $19
  2. From Tropicana Avenue north to Flamingo Road (MGM Grand, New York New York, Park MGM/NoMad, Waldorf Astoria, Aria, Vdara, Cosmopolitan, Planet Hollywood, Paris, Bally’s, Bellagio) – $23
  3. From Flamingo Road north to the Stratosphere hotel (Cromwell, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, LINQ, Harrah’s, Mirage, Venetian, Palazzo, Treasure Island, Wynn, Encore) – $27

In our view, this is a major positive development. The flat rate will incentivize Vegas cabbies to get you to your destination via the fastest route – not the one that will earn them the highest time-and-mileage-based fare. We’ve certainly paid higher rates than this on our cab rides from LAS to our hotels. And when you’re arriving into LAS, it’s *much* easier to catch a cab than an Uber.

We’re not so sure about return rides from the hotels to LAS, though. Most times, we find ourselves leaving when the Strip isn’t so busy, and it’s an easy ride to the airport (and, as best I recall, cheaper than these flat fees). It’s also easier to catch an Uber from a hotel (or at least most of them) than at LAS. So, we may still find ourselves preferring rideshare services for our return trips to LAS.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these “News & Notes” updates, and we hope you have a great weekend!

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