Endless La Labo Santal 33 @ The Chicago Park Hyatt

My wife got the Chase Hyatt card a year ago and it was times up for using the two free nights that it came with. I HAD to settle for the Park Hyatt overlooking the Chicago Water Tower since I used all of my leave days up for the year. The room was just alright, but the pool was awesome, and I used the in room iPad and ordered a shit ton of La Labo Santal 33.

In the end nothing could compare to the Tokyo Park Hyatt, but what can you do? Take advantage of Japanese location of American hotel brands if you are ever stationed over there! Use my Hyatt link if you want to get your own MLA waived Hyatt card.

-Derp

AmEx Plat $50 Saks Bonus: Gift Cards Work When Bought In Person

I got the datapoint I was looking for regarding reimbursement for $50 Gift cards under the new Saks 5th Ave Deal with Personal Platinum:

  1. I added the Saks Deal to my AmEx Personal Platinum (referral link here)
  2. I then linked my card to Ebates for 4% cashback
  3. I then bought a $50 gift card in store and had the charge reimburse two days later

Next step is to hit up the rest of the cards and merge all these $50 cards together into a giant gift card, but I will have to do this in January as I tapped out the other 12 cards on stupid crap.

-Derp

Churning Restrictions Come to AmEx SPG Cards

BLUF: If you have the Chase Ritz Card, you wont get the BONUS for the SPG Lux. You can get the card, but no bonus!

I was all ready to get my SPG Luxury Card this coming Wednesday 01 Aug 2018 only to be hit by this news posted on view from the wing.

Turns out AmEx and Chase will be sharing their lists of current card holders and bonus dates with each other in determining who will get a bonus or who will not. Since both my wife and I just got the Ritz Card, and we have no intention of ever giving it up, we will never ever be eligible for the SPG Luxury Bonus (which might be really crappy anyways). However it still benefits me in getting the card since it would give me a free 50k night and $300 credit per year.

This new rule is great for all you Starriott Virgins out there that don’t have any of the Chase products or previous SPG product. The bonus restrictions extend to the basic bitch Marriott Cards as well:

The new restriction has relieved me of the burden of getting a new card just for the bonus. I am going to simply product change my wife’s SPG personal card to the new SPG Luxury card so she can achieve 4/24 in July of 2019. 

In the mean time I am going to sit on the sidelines and watch ya’ll churn. Fee free to share any datapoints of these sweet cards everyone has out there!

-Derp

Two’s a Crowd: Ritz Card Replaced by SPG Lux

 

You Will NEVER See This Again

In the end there can only be one! As of today you cannot apply for the Ritz Card from Chase. As I reported in my previous post, Chase and AmEx agreed to split up the duty of the new SPGMarriottRitzCarlton (Stariott Rewards) points system by having Chase offer all the normie basic bitch card (Marriott Premier Plus) and AmEx would only offer the high end product (SPG Luxury card). I am still not sure about the end game of the SPG Biz and Personal SPG cards, it could have the same fate as the Ritz by 18 August 2018 when the merger is complete.

I guess Chase was true to their word by killing off the chance to apply for the Ritz Card today. I am planning on AmEx doing the same since they got rid of the referral bonuses for all their SPG products months ago. We should have seen this coming after giving the Ritz Card new perks to existing card holders to make it equable to the SPG Luxury. Not sure if you are able to product change a Marriott Card to a Ritz card, which would be awesome.

So good for you readers out there that got the Ritz card before today’s shutdown! Bonus points for those that saw this coming and downgraded their non MLA covered card to a Marriott card, and gotten a new Ritz card covered under MLA. That is the gift you get for being a reader and a doer. Always taking action as these offers don’t last very long!

I am still hopeful for a back door upgrade from the Marriott, but honestly don’t have FOMO on this one because the two cards are exactly the same. Both the New SPG Lux and Ritz earn 6x Marriott, 3x dining, 3x airlines, 2x everything else. Both get $300 (Ritz on flight amenities, vice SPG on Marriott hotels), both cards also get one free 50k night every year. The only plus is the Ritz is solid metal, comes with 3 club level upgrades, both have PriorityPass but the Ritz has unlimited guests, and Ritz also has the benefit of $100 off any pair of domestic tickets with Visa Flight Discount.

It would be nice to have both, but honestly it’s no big deal since you were not enticed to get the Ritz in the first place.

Now for those that thought churning and this site were a waste of time, add this most recent closure to the 0% APR on a $10k loan with the Gold Lux Card I reported 3 years ago. Who needs free $1,000 anyways? You are always bragging on how great your Facebook and Bitcoin are doing:

Who needs free hotel stays and money and flight and hotel credits when you have a yacht, amirite?

-Derp

Chase Southwest Priority Card = MLA AF Waiver

One savvy new LT who is under 5/24 applied for the Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Card the day it came out, and she got her MLA waiver letter today:

The card is worth applying for as it currently comes with 65k points with $15k spend. These points are worth $650 in Southwest flights. On top of that you get $75 a year flight credit, 7.5k Southwest miles and the $149 annual fee is waived for military. Another no brainer card like the Ritz, United Club, Marriott Premier Plus, Sapphire Reserve, and IHG cards.

So if you were wondering, the MLA has been generously interpreted from the good folks at Chase even for their new Southwest card!

Since I fly out of STL or MDW maybe 4 times a year tops, I would have taken full advantage of the 4 free upgrades per year when you charge the priority boarding bought at check in. Unfortunately I am at 27/24 right now and I could never get the card.

-Derp

AmEx $50 Reimbursement for Saks Gift Card Datapoint & Possible Strategy

UPDATE: On 27 July 2018 I got reimbursed for a $50 gift card I bought in person on 25 July 2018 in store. I also got 4% back by linking the card to my Ebates account:

Reader ArmyGrunt07 asks:

Has anyone tested if the gift cards are actually ineligible or if they are “ineligible” like the airline gift cards are but still get credited back? Also, from what I’ve seen so far, the minimum gift card available online from Saks is $150 but a credit back under this program would still effectively be a 33% discount on a future $150 purchase…

The same question has been asked on other sites about applying the same loophole that we have enjoyed with $50 Delta Gift Cards, $200 Southwest Gift Cards, and $100 American Airlines Gift cards to the $50 Saks benefit. If you are not aware AmEx is explicit in their terms saying that Gift Cards are not covered for their annual $200 airline benefit for the AmEx Platinum. However when we buy gift cards, done in the right amounts (4x$50 for Delta, 2x$100 for American, or a single $200 Southwest) the charges have been consistently reimbursed due to the lack of unique coding between airline fees and a gift card. I could not find an adequate datapoint out there for Saks 5th and the new $50 credit, so I went ahead and sent my brother to an actual brick and mortar Saks Fifth Avenue location to buy a $50 gift card as my AU.

Note that online you can only buy a $150 gift card as the smallest denomination.

In store you can buy any amount and they wrap it up really nicely. I also got him to ask the cashier if a single purchase can be split over multiple cards. They said yes to that, so technically you could buy a $200 item directly and split it over 4 AmEx Platinum cards to capture 4x $50 credit.

The charge has shown up on my account as pending. It’s too soon to tell if a gift card has been reported to AmEx, or if I get reimbursed at all. Keep checking this article for a result either way. If I get $50 back then it might be feasible to buy 13 $50 gift cards in January, and then another 13 cards in July for a whopping $1,300 in gift cards to buy these cool boots for my Type III NWUs (pretty sure not authorized… yet):

I asked the online CSR in a chat regarding the max number of gift cards that can be used in a single transaction, and if we could reload a gift card multiple times at $50 a pop:

There you have it, you can only use 9 gift cards and they can’t be reloaded. However the idea came up regarding combining cards and here is what they said:

Here is the plan, if the gift card gets reimbursed then we might just have to buy $50 card and combine it to a mother card in store. We do this multiple times twice a year till I have a $2,600 over two years and buy myself something nice like this:

Honestly that is a lot of work and I think I’m just going to buy little small crappy things online at $50 a pop to be sent for free via shop runner. Regarding food, my brother said he didn’t see any candy or smaller food items for sale. He did say the store was huge and there very well could have been a candy section. More to come on that. If you have not gotten the AMEx Platinum, there are 100k MR offers out there, but you can use my link here to get 60k with $5k spend in 90 days and toss some points my way. Keep in mind the $550 annual fee is waived for AD and Reserve Military members.

-Derp

Booking Ritz Before Category 8 Arrives in 2019

According to the Marriott site:

An eighth category will be added in early 2019. Until then, Category 8 hotels will be available at Category 7 pricing.

It is high time you book these Ritz hotels at 60k points before the rate goes up to 85k next year:

The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami USA
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park USA
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch USA
The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman Cayman Islands
The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong China
The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto Japan
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe USA
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples USA
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas Virgin Islands (US)
The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo Japan

Till then the other Ritz properties look decently attainable, keep in mind the new SPG Lux and Ritz Caerd holders get a 50K room for free each year:

You can see there are plenty of 50k Ritz properties:

Name Location Now After Aug 2018 Category
The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty Kazakhstan 30,000 25,000 4
The Ritz-Carlton, Chengdu China 30,000 25,000 4
The Ritz-Carlton, Haikou China 30,000 25,000 4
The Ritz-Carlton, Tianjin China 30,000 25,000 4
Penha Longa Resort Portugal 40,000 35,000 5
Sharq Village & Spa Qatar 30,000 35,000 5
The Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo Egypt 30,000 35,000 5
The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai China 40,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal United Arab Emirates 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street China 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami USA 40,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan Indonesia 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place Indonesia 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester USA 40,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana Kazakhstan 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore India 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing China 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland USA 40,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Doha Qatar 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain USA 40,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou China 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul Turkey 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur Malaysia 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh Saudi Arabia 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen China 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner USA 30,000 35,000 5
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg Germany 30,000 35,000 5
Al Bustan Palace, A Ritz-Carlton Hotel Oman 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Jeddah Saudi Arabia 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, Miami USA 60,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes USA 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton Sanya, Yalong Bay China 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Abama Spain 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta USA 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Bahrain 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Bali Indonesia 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Berlin Germany 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Budapest Hungary 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Cancun Mexico 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Denver USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai International Financial Centre United Arab Emirates 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya Israel 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi Malaysia 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Macau China 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Marina del Rey USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow Russia 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City USA 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Philadelphia USA 50,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Santiago Chile 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota USA 60,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, St. Louis USA 40,000 50,000 6
The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna Austria 50,000 50,000 6
Hotel Arts Barcelona Spain 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva. Switzerland 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach United Arab Emirates 50,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert United Arab Emirates 50,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong China 70,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba Aruba 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Boston USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai United Arab Emirates 70,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui Thailand 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Los Angeles USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal Canada 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Okinawa Japan 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Osaka Japan 50,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco USA 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Puerto Rico 60,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach USA 70,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto Canada 50,000 60,000 7
The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, DC USA 60,000 60,000 7

Remember you can dump AmEx MR or Chase UR into your combined account to book the Ritz!

-Derp

SPG Lux Comes 01 Aug 2018

Frequent Miler has an article written on preparation for the SPG & Marriott points system merger next week. The biggest thing I wanted to get out of the way is booking hotels that will be going up in price such as the Ritz-Carlton Toronto from 50k a night to 60k a night! All the point tier changes can be found here.

I combined the points between my Wife, Mom, and myself by using the SPG household sharing since we all have the same address. I first converted each of our Marriott points over to SPG at a 3:1 ratio, then I combined them to my mom’s account.

Before the transfer I topped off the accounts 333 SPG points using 1,000 MR to bring the balance to the closest 1,000 since you can only transfer in 1,000 point increments. What I ended up with is 2 free nights at the Ritz using 100k in leftover points!

Now in preparation for the new SPG card I need to decide which AmEx card to kill:

  1. Blue Cash Preferred
  2. Delta Platinum
  3. Delta Reserve
  4. SPG Busisness
  5. Hilton Honors Aspire

It seems unlikely that SPG Business would be convertible to another SPG Luxury so there would be no point in me getting rid of another card just to hold on to both the SPG Luxury and the SPG Business. If we look at the new SPG Business perks they are as follows (with my unique commentary):

NEW! Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card account anniversary. Award can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 points) at a participating hotel. Select hotels have resort fees.

35k points gets you a decent hotel room, including these Ritz hotels:

The Portman Ritz-Carlton, Shanghai
The Raphael Hotel, Autograph Collection
The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal
The Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Financial Street
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami
The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Mega Kuningan
The Ritz-Carlton Jakarta, Pacific Place
The Ritz-Carlton New York, Westchester
The Ritz-Carlton, Astana
The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore
The Ritz-Carlton, Beijing
The Ritz-Carlton, Cleveland
The Ritz-Carlton, Doha
The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain
The Ritz-Carlton, Guangzhou
The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul
The Ritz-Carlton, Kuala Lumpur
The Ritz-Carlton, Riyadh
The Ritz-Carlton, Shenzhen
The Ritz-Carlton, Tysons Corner
The Ritz-Carlton, Wolfsburg

However 50k points with a new SPG Lux card would get me so much more!

NEW! Complimentary Silver Elite status: Earn Gold Elite status after making $30,000 in eligible purchases on your Card in a calendar year
I assume that we will continue receiving Gold/New Platnium Status with our SPG and AmEx relationship so this is worthless
Coming in 2019: Each calendar year you can receive credit for 15 nights towards the next level of Elite status. Limit one 15 Elite Night Credit per Marriott Loyalty Program member. Benefit is not exclusive to Cards offered by American Express. Terms apply.
(See above) I don’t plan on staying at hotels enough to earn any organic status.
Free, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
We already get this with out AmEx Plat
Receive free in-room, premium Internet access while staying at participating SPG and Marriott Rewards hotels. Booking requirements apply.
I also believe we get this with out gold status
So the SPG Biz may be worth it for the free 35K night per year, but I don’t see value in it since i can get 50k free with the SOG Lux. I don’t want to get rid of my Blue cash as I have had it for 12 years now and it is an anchor for my credit history. I can always use the companion passes from my Delta Reserve and Plat cards, and Hilton Honors Surpass is awesome for their $250 in airline gift cards and another $250 for resort spend. Here is my end game:
  1. Delta Reserve
  2. Delta Reserve (Upgrade from Platinum)
  3. SPG Lux (replacing Business)
  4. Hilton Honors Aspire
  5. Blue Cash Preffered

This means $250 in flight gift cards every year, $250 at Hilton Resorts, $300 for Marriott rooms and amenities, 1 free night at Marriott worth 50k points, 1 free night at Hilton every year, and one Delta companion pass for first class.

Now lets look at what my wife is holding:
  1. AmEx Everyday Preferred
  2. Delta Platinum
  3. SPG Personal
  4. Hilton Honors Ascend

End game for her would be waiting till end of 2019 when she is free and clear at 0/24 to get these Chase cards:

  1. Chase United Club Card
  2. Chase Sapphire Reserve
  3. Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus
  4. Chase Southwest Priority
  5. Chase Freedom

and then this one US Bank Card:

  1. US Bank Altitude card

The fun now begins, with 5/24 exceeded she would then use her free space to get a SPG Lux, then upgrade her SPG to another Lux. She would then get a Hilton Aspire to replace her Everyday Preferred, and then upgrade her Ascend to another Aspire. Then to top it off she would get a new Delta Reserve to replace her Platinum. The end profile will look like this:

  1. Hilton Aspire
  2. Hilton Aspire (Was Ascend)
  3. SPG Lux
  4. SPG Lux (Was personal SPG)
  5. Delta Reserve (Was Platinum)

This means $500 in flight gift cards every year, $500 at Hilton Resorts, $600 for Marriott rooms and amenities, 2 free nights at Marriott worth 50k points, 2 free nights at Hilton every year, and one companion pass for first class. When we add it all up we get this grand total:

  • 3 Hilton Aspire worth 3 free Hilton nights, $750 Hilton Resor Credit and $750 in airline gift cards
  • 3 SPG Lux worth 3x 50k nights and $900 in Marriott Hotel Stays
  • 3 Delta Reserve worth 3 first class companion passes
  • 1 Blue card for 6% cash back at the commissary
  • 9 x $450 + $95 = $4,145 in annual fee waivers per SCRA

I think this should cover a modest travel budget for a year. I had previously outlined my plan here , and that’s churning with a long term plan my friend!

-Derp

 

Possible AmEx Upgrade Shutdown? No!

UPDATE: Alex got to upgrade his Biz Gold to Biz Plat with the good old HUCA method. He writes:

Just called a second time and that csr was able to upgrade my card. Your advice about hanging up and dialing second time actually worked.

Reder Alex asks:

Hi Derp, do you know about any changes to upgrade procedures of business cards? I have business gold that I had for 15 months and I just called to amex but wasn’t able to upgrade the card. The lady tried to upgrade the card but it won’t let her do it. After she spoke with supervisor she told me that no more upgrades are allowed to platinum cards. Have you heard about it or maybe have experience working it out?

I upgraded my Business gold to a Business Platinum some time in 2016 by simply calling in and asking. A cursory search on google comes up empty on reports of this shutdown, but an article on Ask Sebby verifies this procedure. I was getting worried myself so I went ahead and asked about upgrading my Green to a Platinum at the one year mark in October 2018. I got this response:

I will certainly publish my datapoint this October, in the mean time I need some information from you all. We just need a depository of data points to see what changes work. If you have any recent experience in product changing any AmEx product, please comment below! State the time you had the account open, what product you turned into what, and how you contacted AmEx to get the upgrade.

-Derp

OPEN Lounge Has CLOSED at Chicago’s McCormick Place!

Closed as of June 2018

I was hoping to check out the little slice of heaven that was the AmEx OPEN lounge at Chicago’s McCormick Place durning the TradersEXPO this weekend only to be given the news that the lounge has closed as of June 2018. I sent an email to the rep to see if it would be open and I got this response:

Hi Derp,

This is Bradley Bean responding on Andrea’s behalf as I now receive her emails. Unfortunately, the American Express Business Lounge at McCormick Place is no longer open as of June 2018.

We greatly appreciate you stopping by over the years and hope you enjoyed your experiences at the Lounge. The Lounges at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Javits Center in NYC are still open, so keep an eye out for us if you’re ever at a show at one of those locations.

Thanks,

Bradley

Oh I will miss your tiny bagged snacks and super thick plastic cups!

I guess I will just have to head on over to the Greater NY Dental Meeting in November to get my fix!

-Derp