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Middle Age Miles

Middle Age Miles News & Notes 11/11/19 – Great Rakuten-IHG 11%/11x deal; GC deals at Safeway & Staples; Millennium Hotels; Ticket Club; Airline shopping portal bonuses

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We wanted to be sure to get a News & Notes article out this morning to capture any Veterans Day/Singles Day deals. We were hoping for more travel-related deals for this holiday, ahead of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, but the offerings we’ve seen so far are pretty narrow. We lead off our article with a sledgehammer of a portal deal from Rakuten on IHG bookings made today.

But more importantly, Middle Age Miles salutes all of our Veterans and active US military members. From the bottom of our hearts, we appreciate the sacrifices you and your families have made for us.

Korean War Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC

1. Rakuten-IHG – 11%/11x MR points on all IHG bookings, today only

The fantastic deal that leads off today’s News & Notes is from the Rakuten (formerly Ebates) shopping portal – get 11% cashback or 11x Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points on bookings at all IHG-brand hotels made today through the portal.

You might remember from our article last week about IHG’s Chainwide “Up To 4x” bonus points promotion that we predicted that we’d see a 11%/11x portal offer for IHG today – and now we have it.

The 11%/11x portal bonus for IHG is about as good as it gets. We recall a day or two where Rakuten earnings for IHG have been 12%/12x, but those are few and far between. Today is the day to jump on any IHG bookings you may need any time in the foreseeable future.

Remember that if you have an MR-earning Rakuten account, our baseline value for MR points is 1.5 cents each. That amounts to a 16.5% points rebate, just for the portal earnings. These will stack with your regular IHG points earnings (including elite status bonuses and rewards from paying with a credit card). In addition, depending on the dates of your stay, the portal earnings will stack with as many as 3 additional ongoing IHG promos.

  • Until 1/31/2020, stack with the “Up to 4x Bonus Points” promotion
  • Until 12/31/2019, stack with current individualized “Accelerate” offers
  • Until 11/30/2019, stack with the ongoing promotion for stays at IHG’s InterContinental hotels

We’ve covered each of these promotions thoroughly in previous articles:

If you haven’t already signed up for a Rakuten account, we’d love it if you’d use our referral link, which will give you an extra $10/1,000 MR points after you spend your first $25:

2. New Safeway/Just 4 U MCGC deal – $10 off on GCs of $100+

The Deal: Purchase $100+ in Mastercard Gift Cards (MCGCs) at a Safeway chain store, and get $10 off. Good through 11/23/2019. 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, and it’s enforced automatically by the Safeway/Just 4 U systems.

We saw some mention in a Frequent Miler article that this deal may be regional. It’s also important to note that we found this deal under the “Special Offers” section of our Just 4 U account, not the “Gift Cards” section, so be sure to look for it in the right place!

As usual with these types of Just 4 U deals, 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 some risk if you violate the express terms and conditions.

Even though this offer is good through 11/23/19, 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 MCGC each time we use this offer. For these MCGCs, 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.

Importantly for those who use online liquidation methods, the Metabank MCGCs from Safeway-brand stores work for 1% payments on Plastiq!

What Card(s) Are We Using? For most of our purchases for this deal, we’ll using an Amex Hilton Surpass card, 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).

For some other purchases for this deal, we’ll be using an Amex Gold personal card. Part of the rationale is to balance out our spend so that we’re not hitting a single card with multiple Tom Thumb transactions around $500 in a single day. The return with the Amex Gold card is actually higher than on the Surpass card, 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.

3. Visa Gift Card deal at Staples continues this week

This one’s a reminder of the ongoing Visa Gift Card (VGC) deal at Staples that started last week and is continuing into this week.

From now through November 16, purchase a $200 VGC in-store from Staples, with no purchase/activation fee. There is a limit of 1 per customer. Our local Staples in the North Dallas area enforces this limit on a per-day basis (or at least a per-visit basis). YMMV.

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:

Best-in-class earnings at Staples for this deal would be with a Chase Ink Cash business card for 5x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points per dollar.

4. Millennium Hotels Singles Day Deal

This deal won’t apply to many people, but it seems to be as good of a hotel deal as we’ve seen for Singles Day (save for the Rakuten-IHG portal deal), so we wanted to feature it in case it helps anyone.

My Millennium loyalty program members who book by late afternoon today can get 22% off their stay at any Millennium hotel in Asia and the Middle East. In addition, you’ll earn 2x Millennium points for two-night stays, and 3x Millennium points for stays of three nights or longer.

Note that if you’re in North America, you’ll need to book this promotion by late afternoon today. The promotional materials display an end date of 11/12, but because of the timing of the promotion, the booking deadline is actually 7:59 pm Eastern time / 6:59 pm Central time today (11/11).

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

If you’re interested in this deal, you’ll probably want to go through a shopping portal such as Top Cashback or Rakuten, rather than going first to the promo page. According to Cashback Monitor, TCB is offering 5% on Millennium Hotels and Resorts today, and Rakuten is offering 2.5%/2.5x MR. We believe you should be able to click through these portals into the Millennium booking engine and book the discounted “Singles Day” rates.

When we were looking at this Singles Day promotion, we also noticed that Millennium has another chainwide promotion that’s similar, but without the very limiting geographic restrictions of the Singles Day deal – it’s only 15% off, but it still has the points-multipliers of 2x for stays of 2 nights and 3x for stays of 3 nights or more. Here’s the landing page for that promotion:

5. Ticket Club 5% Off Code – Today Only

In case you’re not familiar with it, Ticket Club is a ticket resale site where you can purchase tickets with no service fees (if you have a membership, which you can get for free; read our article for details). We’ve written about Ticket Club here (non-sponsored post, and we’re not affiliated with Ticket Club in any way):

Ticket Club runs periodic 5% off promotions, and we’re seeing one today – save 5% when you enter code TCFSYK98 at checkout. The code is good for today only, so jump on this deal if you’re needing to purchase event tickets on the secondary market!

In addition, we believe that you can also get $10 cash back on your purchase from Ticket Club if you go through the Top Cashback shopping portal. If you’re not already enrolled with Top Cashback, we certainly appreciate it if you use our referral link:

6. Reminder about Airline Shopping Portal Bonuses

You may remember that last week we wrote an in-depth article about several airline shopping portal bonus deals, including strategies on how to maximize them using purchases from GiftCards.com:

All of the airline shopping portal bonus deals are still ongoing this week, so you still have time to complete them. The Alaska, American, Southwest and United deals are valid through 11/21, but note that the Delta deal expires on 11/14 (and the UPromise cash back deal already expired yesterday).


Happy Veterans Day in America, happy Singles Day to our Asian friends, and all our best for a good day and week to come to all of our other readers.


At Middle Age Miles, we love to bring you travel, credit card and points-and-miles information that you can use to help make your travel dreams come true. To see all of our tips and insights, please Like and follow us on social media at:

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