New week, new Middle Age Miles News & Notes column – several interesting things to cover today:
1 – Visa Gift Card deal underway at Staples
From now through Saturday, January 18, purchase a $200 Visa gift card (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:
- Middle Age Miles: MS DP Series – Follow-Up Part 1 – Reviewing Episodes 1-4 (September 10, 2019)
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 (or a Chase Ink Plus business card if you still have one).
2 – Last 2 Days for Alaska Mileage Plan eShopping Portal Bonus
Last week, we wrote about the shopping portal bonus being offered by Alaska Mileage Plan. Today, we’re reminding you that we’re in the last 2 days of this offer, so use it today or tomorrow if you’re interested.
Basics of the two-tiered deal are:
- Spend $150+ and earn 500 bonus AS miles
- Spend $300+ and earn 1,000 bonus AS miles
As we mentioned, the offer is good on spend through Tuesday, January 14 (tomorrow).
At our baseline value of 1.5 cents per Alaska mile, this promotion gives you an opportunity to earn up to an extra 5% in points rebates by going through the Alaska portal and spending exactly $150 or $300.
For further analysis and our plan to use this offer with a gift card purchase, see our article from last week:
- Middle Age Miles: New Alaska Mileage Plan eShopping Portal Bonus – Our Analysis and How We’re Playing It (January 6, 2020)
3 – New Shopping Portal Bonuses from American and United
The American and United shopping portals have now followed in the footsteps of the Alaska offer, just one week later. Each portal has exactly the same offer, which is also exactly the same as the recent offer from Alaska:
- Spend $150+ and earn 500 bonus AA/UA miles
- Spend $300+ and earn 1,000 bonus AA/UA miles
Each offer is good on spend from now through January 21, 2020 (next Tuesday).
At our baseline value of 1.25 cents per mile for AA and UA miles, these new promotions give you a chance to earn up to an extra 4.16% in points rebates by going through the portal and spending exactly $150 or $300.
We’ll probably use the AA and UA offers the same way we used the AS offer; that is, with the purchase of a virtual Visa Gift Card (VGC) from GiftCards.com (GC.com). According to Cashback Monitor, portal rates today are the standard 1 mile/$ through the AA portal; and through the UA portal, 1 mile/$ if you have a United co-branded credit card and 0.5 miles/$ if you don’t:
Either way, doing these deals results in the ability to “purchase” points and miles at a discounted rate, or, depending on how you look at it, make a “profit” in terms of baseline points/miles value. See our article last week about the Alaska shopping portal deal for more details and analysis.
Importantly, we have confirmed data points from previous promotions during 2019 that VGC purchases from GC.com *do* trigger the portal bonuses on AA, UA and other shopping portals administered by Cartera.
4 – Marriott Re-Booking Some Award Stays at Higher Rates & Deducting Points Automatically
We haven’t endured this “Bonvoyed” experience ourselves, but we wanted to be sure to include a note about it to increase awareness, in case some of our readers didn’t pick up the recent Doctor of Credit and Frequent Miler articles.
Basically, Marriott has canceled some people’s award bookings, re-booked them at a higher points rate if the price has gone up (due to implementation of Peak pricing), and automatically deducted the additional points from the member’s account. This is ridiculous, unfair, and exactly what Marriott told us they *wouldn’t* do to members. At least most data points seem to suggest that if this has happened to you, Marriott will credit your account with the extra points needed to cover your stay. So, be sure to check your accounts, and call Marriott to fix the issue if needed!
For more information, please see these good articles:
- Doctor of Credit: Marriott Rebooking Some Award Stays at Higher Rates – Deducting Points Automatically – Check Your Account (January 10, 2020)
- Frequent Miler: Like a thief in the night: watch our for Marriott’s latest naughtiness (January 9, 2020)
5 – Marriott Hotels 5x AA Miles/$ Through AA eShopping Portal
We’ll follow that last piece of bad news about Marriott with a small piece of potentially good news – If you book a Marriott hotel now through the AA eShopping Portal, you can earn 5 AA miles per dollar.
This deal doesn’t have a listed expiration date that we could find, so we’d recommend booking today if you want to use this deal.
It should stack with the AA portal bonus offer that we discussed earlier; however, in our experience hotel stays booked through shopping portals are notoriously unreliable.
With any luck, this deal should work in connection with Member Rates. It won’t work with some other discounted rates like corporate rates. If it does work, it’s a nice little bonus, though.
6 – Marriott – Free breakfast at properties in Europe when you pay with Visa
When we were researching the Marriott-AA shopping portal deal, we noticed that there’s a promo code for free breakfast at Marriott hotels in Europe when you pay with a Visa card. Here are some key details:
- Book by: March 31, 2020
- Stay by: April 19, 2020
- Must use promo code when you book:
- Promo code C9E for Standard Rates
- Promo code 6ME for Member Rates
These rates should be available to stack with the 5x bonus on the AA shopping portal, as the offer and code are specifically listed on the Marriott offer page on AA eShopping:
We haven’t tested the rates to see if they’re really a good deal or not, but we thought this was an interesting enough deal to report here so Middle Age Miles readers can try it out!
7 – 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):
- Middle Age Miles: How to Save Money on Secondary Market Tickets with Ticket Club (May 14, 2019)
Ticket Club runs periodic 5% off promotions, and we’re seeing one today – save 5% when you enter code TCFSFUN5 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:
That’s all for “News & Notes” for today – we hope you’ve enjoyed this article and learned something that will help you!
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