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Middle Age Miles

Middle Age Miles News & Notes 10/28/19 – Safeway VGC deal; IHG PointBreaks; Apple shopping portal offers; Silvercar Amex Offer; AA new routes to NZ; Southwest schedule extension on Wed 10/30

Here are some Middle Age Miles News & Notes for this fine Monday, while we continue to work through what our strategy might be for the newly-revamped Amex Green personal card:

1. Safeway/Just 4 U – $10 off when you buy $100+ in VGCs

The Deal: Purchase $100+ in Visa Gift Cards (VGCs) at a Safeway chain store, and get $10 off. Good through 11/9/2019. Must add the offer to your “Just 4 U” account prior to using the offer, and you must provide your Just 4 U card or the phone number associated with your account when you check out. Limit 1 offer/use per Just 4 U account during the promotional period. This limit applies even for different dates/stores/transactions.

Note that the official terms & conditions say that “Offers are limited to one per customer” and “Using multiple accounts to exceed limits on offers and promotions is not permitted.” Note that it is possible to have multiple Just 4 U accounts, each associated with a different phone number. That said, you are at risk if you violate the express terms and conditions.

Even though this offer is good through 11/9/19, be sure to go ahead and load it now. Safeway/Just 4 U typically removes the ability to add this type of offer about a week before the offer ends.

How We’re Playing It: This offer works on variable-load cards, so we’ll be buying a $500 variable-load VGC each time we use this offer. For these VGCs, the regular purchase/activation fee is $5.95 per card. Thus, with the $10 discount, the total for a $500 card comes to $495.95. Philly and I each have a Just 4 U account. In our area, the best store to use this deal is Tom Thumb, and we have several within reasonable driving distance from our house.

What Card(s) Are We Using? Right now, we’re using an Amex Hilton Surpass card for this deal, because we’re working on hitting $15,000 in spend on the card before the end of calendar year 2019 in order to earn a Hilton Free Weekend Night certificate. (See our recent article about Our Amex Hilton 2-card Aspire-Surpass Upgrade-Downgrade Strategy for more details.)

The Surpass card earns 6x Hilton Honors points per dollar for spend at US supermarkets. At our baseline value of 0.5 cents per Hilton point, that’s a points rebate of about 3%. In addition, each transaction with this deal covers about 1/30th of the $15k spend for a free night certificate. If we semi-arbitrarily say that we’ll get about $300 in value for the certificate, then doing this deal is worth about another 2% for a total of 5% rebate (1/30th of $300 is $10, and $10 is 2% of the ~$500 purchase price).

If we weren’t working on the spend for the Hilton Free Night certificate, we’d be using an Amex Gold personal card. The return with that card would actually be higher, but it has a cap of $25,000 per year for US supermarket spend. On the Gold card, we’d earn 4x Membership Rewards (MR) points per dollar. At our baseline value of 1.5 cents per MR point, we’d get a points rebate worth about 6% when using the Gold card.

Another reasonable option for those who hold this card, would be the Amex Everyday Preferred card. This card earns 3x MR points at US supermarkets, up to a $6,000 annual cap. And if you make at least 30 purchases in a month, you receive a 50% bonus that would take the return up to 4.5x MR points per dollar. At 1.5 cents per MR point, that would be a great points rebate worth about 6.75% when using the Everyday Preferred card.

2. IHG PointBreaks List released today

IHG’s Crowne Plaza in Limassol, Cyprus, is one of the properties available for 15,000 points per night in IHG PointBreaks [image courtesy IHG/Crowne Plaza Limassol]

The IHG PointBreaks promotion allows you to book certain IHG-family hotels for 5,000, 10,000, or 15,000 IHG points each for a limited time. At our baseline value of 0.5 cents per IHG point, that’s the equivalent of $25/$50/$75 per night for these rooms, which can be a great deal. The list is live now, and the deal is good for stays through January 31, 2020.

Lucky at One Mile at a Time has the full list of participating properties and all the details here:

There are 4 InterContinental hotels on this PointBreaks list, in Cartagena, Colombia; San Jose, Costa Rica; Nairobi, Kenya; and Johannesburg, South Africa. If you’re vacationing in Europe over the next 3 months, we also see some interesting properties including the Crowne Plaza Geneva; Holiday Inn Zurich-Messe; Crowne Plaza Limassol, Cyprus; Holiday Inn London – Heathrow Bath Road; Holiday Inn London – Gatwick Airport; and the Holiday Inn Warsaw City Centre.

For my diehard Razorback friends in Arkansas who’d like to see the Hogs play Missouri in Little Rock on the Friday after Thanksgiving (Nov 29), check out the Staybridge Suites Little Rock-Medical Center. It’s available on November 28-30 for only 10,000 IHG points per night, and it’s within reasonable walking distance of War Memorial Stadium.

3. Apple – Big shopping portal offers today only

AAdvantage eShopping 10x offer at Apple, today only

If you’re in the market for any Apple products, including the Apple Watch Series 5, today’s a great day to purchase through a shopping portal. Several portals have significant promotional rates for Apple, today only:

  • UPromise: 10% cashback
  • American AAdvantage eShopping: 10x AA miles
  • Alaska Mileage Plan Shopping: 8x AS miles
  • United MileagePlus Shopping: 8x UA miles

4. Silvercar – Amex Offer $100 back when you spend $450+

If you like renting sweet Audi vehicles from Silvercar, there’s a new Amex Offer out that’s widely available – receive a $100 statement credit when you spend $450 or more at Silvercar by 2/22/2020.

Some key details are:

  • As usual, you must enroll your Amex card in the Offer and use that card to pay
  • You can use multiple transactions to meet the $450 threshold
  • Your rental must be returned and completed by 2/22/20 to qualify

Even with this Offer, though, remember that with rental cars you may prefer to pay with a Visa card that includes primary collision damage waiver coverage, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve (which earns 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) or the US Bank Altitude Reserve (which earns 3x US Bank points per dollar). You’ll have to weigh the coverage benefits versus the potential savings from using the Amex Offer.

5. New AA Routes to New Zealand coming in Fall 2020

This morning, American Airlines announced two new flights to New Zealand, beginning in late October 2020 – DFW-to-Auckland (AKL) and Los Angeles (LAX) to Christchurch (CHC). The seasonal flights will run through late March 2021. Tickets go on sale starting November 30, 2019.

Gary at View From The Wing has the details here:

These flights will be during the warm season in the Southern Hemisphere, so they’ll be at a good time to travel. Middle Age Miles hasn’t ever been to New Zealand, but we’d love to go! A direct flight from DFW to Auckland might be just the tickets. We’ll hope to see some award availability on these flights, although we’re not terribly optimistic.

6. Southwest set to extend schedule on Wednesday morning (Oct 30)

On Wednesday morning (October 30), Southwest is set to open its schedule for sale through June 6, 2020. The current schedule-end date is April 13, 2020, so this will extend the schedule by almost 2 months.

The upcoming schedule extension covers the time immediately after many schools get out in May, as well as the Memorial Day holiday weekend. If you’re in the market to book flights for these times, jump on them right away when Southwest opens the schedule on Wednesday morning, then take advantage of Southwest’s liberal change & cancellation policies later if needed.

Helpful Reddit Churning member SouthFayetteFan watches the Southwest schedule releases carefully and reports that the timing of the three most recent Southwest schedule releases has been as follows:

  • Release on 9/26/19 went live at 7:30 am Eastern / 6:30 am Central
  • Release on 8/15/19 went live at 10:41 am Eastern / 9:41 am Central
  • Release on 5/30/19 went live at 9:20 am Eastern / 8:20 am Central

7. Sephora returns to Dosh cashback app

Middle Age Miles sister Cymber was excited to see that Sephora returned to the Dosh cashback app a few days ago after being absent for a while. The Sephora cashback rate is 5% if you purchase on a card that’s linked to your Dosh account, with a cap of $10 per day.

This one isn’t really a points-and-miles or travel play, but Cymber was excited. At least she can look and smell good on all her travels for a little less now!


That’s all for today. We hope you’ve found some useful information here. We’ll be back later this week with more Middle Age Miles News & Notes!


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2 thoughts on “Middle Age Miles News & Notes 10/28/19 – Safeway VGC deal; IHG PointBreaks; Apple shopping portal offers; Silvercar Amex Offer; AA new routes to NZ; Southwest schedule extension on Wed 10/30

  1. MAM's Little Sister

    Hey, it’s a stacking “cash in your pocket” win when you go through a shopping portal (TCB was 8% cash back on Sephora last week), plus the points/MR/miles you earn on your preferred purchasing card that’s linked to your Dosh account. But now we’ve scared the Dosh offer away and have to wait verrrrry quietly for it to return to Dosh. Thanks for humoring your little sis — surely you have a few readers who also like to save money while they look pretty and smell good during their travels. 🙂

    1. Craig at Middle Age Miles Post author

      You are becoming the deal-stacking guru! I need to have you write the articles 🙂

      FYI – Sephora is still on Dosh for me, and it’s been on there consistently since this past weekend when you gave me a heads up about the deal. Weird that it disappeared for you again. Must be a YMMV situation.

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