Middle Age Miles

Middle Age Miles News & Notes 10/7/19 – IHG points sale; Points.com news; UA shopping portal bonus; AA Vacations discount code for Europe

Happy Monday everyone! Let’s get you caught up on 4 News & Notes items from over the weekend and this morning:

1. IHG Points Sale [Targeted]: 80% bonus + 10% off = points for 0.5 cpp

IHG runs regular points-sale promotions, so fortunately we never have to wait long if we need to purchase points for a good redemption. The newest promotion, which we received by email on Friday is for a 80% points bonus, plus 10% off of our points purchase. The offer is good from now through 10/18/19 (which is 2 weeks after the promotion opened on Friday).

This deal basically matches IHG’s best points-purchase offers, as it comes in at a cost of 0.5 cents per point (cpp). However, this deal is structured a bit differently than the normal “best” offer that’s a straight 100% points bonus. A few things to note here:

  • One, the base rate for purchasing IHG points is 1 cent per point (if you purchase at least a certain number of points)
  • Two, the minimum number of points we need to purchase to get the cost down to 1 cent per point is 26,000 points
    • This threshold may be different for different people. We have IHG Gold elite status, which may determine our threshold. Perhaps others have higher or lower thresholds.
  • Three – thus, with this bonus, we have to purchase at least 26,000 points (which becomes 46,800 points after the 80% bonus) to get the best rate
  • Four, the maximum number of points you can purchase at a time through IHG is 100,000 points

So, as you’ll see in the screenshot below, our maximum purchase would be 100,000 points, which becomes 180,000 points with the 80% points bonus. The normal purchase price would be $1,000, but this is reduced to $900 with the “10% off” part of this promotion. 180,000 points for $900 equals a cost of 0.5 cpp:

Our baseline value of IHG points is also 0.5 cents per point, so this can potentially be a good deal. We still wouldn’t purchase IHG points speculatively, though, especially in light of recent program devaluations (which may cause us to revise our baseline value down soon). But, if you have a specific redemption in mind where you’d be getting more than 0.5 cents per point, you may be interested in this sale.

We were actually looking at a potential redemption where we would have been getting more than 0.6 cents per point on a future stay. Unfortunately, though, during the last few days (before we could finalize our plans), the space has disappeared. Back to the drawing board for us!

We’d also note that our offer seems to be targeted. We believe that some others (maybe IHG non-elites?) are receiving an offer that includes only the 80% points bonus, and not the part of the offer that has 10% off the purchase price. Be sure to check your personal offer to make sure you know the terms!

Remember that IHG points purchases are processed by Points.com. Points.com doesn’t qualify for bonus categories, so use a credit card where you’re earning a sign-up/upgrade bonus, working toward a big-spend threshold, or maximizing points for everyday purchases.

This is also the place where we usually remind you to go through a shopping portal (usually Top Cashback) to get to Points.com – but see our next item …

2. Points.com is gone from the Top Cashback shopping portal

Here’s an unfortunate development that you should be aware of – Points.com is no longer available on the Top Cashback shopping portal.

When we talk about points purchase opportunities where the purchases are processed through Points.com, we always remind our readers to go through a shopping portal. Recently, the best rates have consistently been through Top Cashback, where you could earn cash back, usually around 2% to 2.5%. Unfortunately, we noticed late last week that Points.com is now gone from the Top Cashback portal. Rats!

We aren’t very familiar with the shopping portals where Points.com may still be an option. Maybe Shop At Home or ExtraBux would be plausible options for Points.com purchases going forward? It looks like either of them would be 1% for purchases of IHG points at the moment (and we see welcome bonuses of up to $10 for Shop At Home and $20 for Extrabux) – but we have no idea how reliable these sites are.

3. United MileagePlus shopping portal bonus – 500 extra UA miles when you spend $200+

The United MileagePlus shopping portal has a new “Fall Bonus” where you can earn 500 bonus UA miles, in addition to your normal miles-earning, when you spend at least $200.

Key details include:

  • The promotion runs from today (10/7/19) through Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 11:59:59 pm Eastern time
  • The 500-mile bonus is one-time
  • You can qualify for the bonus with multiple purchases adding up to at least $200 during the promotion period (that is, you don’t have to have a single purchase of $200+)
  • Bonus miles may take up to 10 weeks to appear in your account
  • *No* registration is required

Our baseline value for United miles is 1.4 cents per mile (although that may be decreasing soon in light of the changes coming to MileagePlan redemptions next month). At that rate, the bonus miles would be worth about $7.00. Looking at it another way, if you spend exactly $200, you’d be getting an extra miles rebate of about 3.5%.

As always, be sure to check your portal options through Cashback Monitor to make sure you’re getting the best deal, even with the bonus. You can also consider whether the bonus makes a gift card purchase through GiftCards.com attractive to you, since GC.com is available through the United MileagePlus portal.

4. AA Vacations $250 discount code for Europe

AA Vacations is offering $250 off flight + hotel vacations in Europe through 8/31/2020, using the promo code 250EUROPE19. Here are the terms:

  • Applicable destinations: All destinations and all hotels in Europe
  • Minimum stay: 6 nights
  • Booking dates: Now through 10/16/19
  • Travel dates: Now through 8/31/2020
  • Blackout dates: 11/28/19; 12/25/19; 12/31/19; 4/12/20; 5/25/20; 7/4/20
  • Package must include round-trip flights
  • Multiple hotel stays are allowed so long as the total nights booked are 6 or more
  • The primary traveler will receive the standard 1,000 AA mile bonus for booking an AA Vacations package

This can be a good deal, but be sure to be aware of the blackout dates. Based on our experiments with AA Vacations, we believe that the promo code will not apply to any package that includes or spans any of the blackout dates. For example, an AA Vacations package to Europe from 12/18 through 12/24/19 will receive the $250 discount, but the same package from 12/22 through 12/28/19 (which spans the 12/25/19 blackout date) will not receive the discount.

Remember also that when you book hotels through AA Vacations, it’s a third-party OTA booking, meaning that you won’t receive hotel points or elite night credits, and you also probably won’t receive any elite status benefits you may have. That said, we often find in Europe that our best stay options aren’t with major chain hotels anyway, so this deal might make sense if that’s the case.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these “News & Notes” items for Monday. Stay tuned for more later this week!

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