Happy Labor Day! Our Stay @ The Waldorf Astoria Chicago (Again)

Just got done with an amazing last minute forced redemption! When my wife signed up for the Hilton Honors Surpass card way back in 10 Sep 2017 she received the bonus of a free weekend night on 10 Sept 2018. However I went an entire year without using it until my quarterly audit of free nights revealed this old email:

I had only a 2 week window to redeem this free weekend night, naturally I went with the most expensive property I could find for a staycation:

Eight hundred and sixty five dollars! This seems insane by even NYC standards! I booked the lowest level room with the cert, but got this email from the concierge days before our check in:

Ms. (Dr. Derp)

Thank you for choosing the Waldorf Astoria Chicago for your upcoming getaway!

As a Hilton honors gold member, part of your benefits are a complimentary one level upgrade based upon availability upon your time of arrival.  Should an upgrade be available when you arrive, we will be happy extend this benefit to you!  If you wanted to secure a multilevel upgrade prior to your arrival, I would be happy to assist.

Upon reviewing your reservation, I am able to offer a upgrade of four tiers—putting you in the Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite
 for a difference of $140 per night.

The Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite, at a spacious 760 ft2  features a living room with Queen sleeper sofa and a beautiful walk-out terrace, private King bedroom, fireplace, corner views, additional powder room.  Please contact me if you would like to secure this enhancement. 

Furthermore, as your personal concierge, I am also happy to assist you with securing dining reservations, spa appointments, airport transportation, in-room amenities, and any additional preferences you might have.

May I note your estimated time of arrival? I look forward to speaking with you.

Warmest Regards,

Charlie Schumacher | Personal Concierge

WALDORF ASTORIA CHICAGO
11 EAST WALTON, CHICAGO, IL 60611
Telephone: (312) 646-1300
Charles.Schumacher@waldorfAstoria.com

Note that my wife is not DIamond since she has not opened a Hilton Honors Aspire card (yet) since she is just coming off her 5/24 fast. However she had gold because of her AmEx Platinum! Like a sucker I went for the $140 upgrade on top of mentioning that it was my wife’s promotion to O-5. I also pressed on the concierge about any amenities offered for a guest with diamond status and he had this to say:

Mr. & Mrs. (Derp),

Congratulations on your promotion!  May I send a complimentary bottle of Champagne to the room to help celebrate?

I’d be more than happy to secure your reservation for an upgrade, into our Deluxe One-Bedroom Suite.

Unfortunately we are only able to attach one profile to a reservation.  But the great news is on property both Gold and Diamond member receive the same benefits so no need to change the profile!

Will you by chance need restaurant recommendations?

No love for Diamond members, but upon check in we did get a nice deluxe one bedroom suite, and a bottle of $60 Chandon from Napa Valley (notably NOT Champagne, but I get it):

The dining in menu price for a bottle would be $60:

Oh well, at least a nice card came with the whole bottle:

The room was nice, but it had a balcony that looked over to an alley, but you could catch all the hijinx occuring on rush street below:

Not bad for $140 I guess, but I would be pretty pissed if I paid $860 for suite #1104! The tub was nice and deep and I had an entirely separate powder room to befoul! The fireplace and couch in the sitting area was a nice touch:

I wish it was a resort, just to be able to raid the minibar for the $250 in credits:

The Hilton gold status also came with free WiFi as well as a $30 credit for food:

We ate at Margeaux Brasserie for dinner, and they applied the $30 credit to that meal on checkout. It was a much better option since they gave little coconut muffins as a departing treat. I enjoyed it with my butler delivered coffee wake up call the next morning:

The butler was very nice and fetched more Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries and water bottles:

One unexpected amenity was a free book at turndown service:

I am not sure if I would have gone for the upgrade again for $140. Honestly I got kinda lost in the middle of the night in the one bedroom suite! It would be perfect for travel with large families.

In about a year I should have 6 of these weekend nights coming to me annually from my upgrade of lower tier Hilton Honor Cards. It might be better to book two simultaneous adjoining rooms to accommodate groups of people, rather than one giant room! What a good problem to have I guess. Do you prefer suites or adjoining rooms?

-Derp

Maximizing ROI from Hilton through the holidays

As Labor Day approaches, both the elevated Hilton welcome bonus offers I previously reported on and their current “Go More, Get More” promotions are coming to an end. I was glad to hear that several of you were able to sneak in at least one Surpass card to take advantage. Hilton has a new stay-with-us promotion titled “Power Up”. Regular Hilton Honors members will receive double points for every stay between September 9th, 2019 and January 5th, 2020.

Most of us have the benefit of not being regular HH members with the help of our annual fee Hilton Honors credit card (or multiple cards). Through the Power Up promotion, you’ll receive triple points on every Hilton stay.

Fine print is your friend

The FAQ gives a couple example breakdowns, but long story short you will earn 40x HH points for every dollar spent through the promotion alone. Those of us with Aspire cards will earn an additional 14x HH points for every dollar charged to your card (Surpass 12x, plain Hilton card 7x). If you’re charging your rooms during this promotion to your Surpass to meet your $4k minimum spend in 4 months, you’ll earn a total of an insane 52x points for every dollar you spend (54x with your Aspire).

This is on top of your Diamond benefits that you’ll enjoy at each Hilton property with your annual fee-waived Aspire card. I’m wrapping up my Go More, Get More promotion period this weekend on this 4-day weekend journey with the family (Hilton Hotels for 3 nights, Marriott hotel to finish off $300 annual credit for 4th night):

Hilton hotels in Europe have (for me) been historically solid with automatic upgrading to executive-level rooms or suites. The Hilton Florence Metropole (average price of 80 euros/night on all 3 stays for a King room) has done this on 3 separate occasions for me. Can’t beat unlimited liquor, wine, beer, and food for several hours on the top floor executive lounge of the hotel for less than a hundred bucks while racking up major points!

Let me know in the comments how you plan to take advantage of the new Hilton promotion, and don’t forget to register prior to September 9th under “My Offers” on your Hilton account.

5/24 Loopholes

Hey team! Greetings from the best country on Earth. Beyond excited to be part of this thing.

There have already been a few articles on this shared by DoC and TPG over the last few months, so I’ll keep this very brief and share where to learn more.

Chase is sending targeted offers to accounts that ignore 5/24. YMMV, but data points suggest that this works for more people than it doesn’t. I’m well into the LOL/24 range and I was just instantly approved for a Chase Freedom which I’ll product change to a CSR in 1 year.

It feels like Christmas!

People have gotten targeted for several different cards. Check your Chase account for the following:

-Flagged alerts (top left in browser) with an offer

-“Just for you” products on the left sidebar with an offer

-Black Star offers on your biz card accounts

There seems to be a higher chance of approval if the offer terms include a fixed APR rather than a range.

Bypass Chase 5/24 Rule On Business Cards With Black Star ‘Just For You’ Offers

https://thepointsguy.com/news/bypass-5-24-just-for-you-targeted-chase-business-card-offers/


https://www.doctorofcredit.com/new-way-bypass-chase-524-online-need-datapoints/

-McWolfe

Welcome McWolfe, and his AmEx Business Platinum Dell SOP

Welcome reader McWolfe who has graciously written and gave me permission to share his Dell SOP:

  1. Get multiple Biz Plats via product changes from Biz Gold and Biz Green. Put them on separate logins in order to opt into all the Dell credits. Edit: another option is to keep everything on one account and using secure chat to have customer service opt you for all your Dell credits.
  2. Check Amex offers for 10% back on Dell (rare, but eventually it’ll come along).
  3. Utilize the best current discount from the following 3 choices: Topcashback.com for up to 12% cashback on Dell, BeFrugal.com for up to 13% cashback on Dell, Rakuten.com (Ebates) for up to 10% cashback on Dell. Be aware those each have their own sign up bonus and referral program to take advantage of. I linked Derp’s referrals in each one if you’d like to support the site that way.
  4. Start a Dell loyalty account for up to 3% rewards and expedited shipping (6% rewards if financing. Can’t use a credit card for finance payments). https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-rewards-program/cp/dell-rewards-program
  5. Instantly get your Dell 10% Military Discount code here: https://webapp.dell.epsilon.com/CVM/coupons/register/militaryid?c=US&l=en
  6. Shop from the Dell Military site for lower base prices: www.dell.com/MPP/Fed
  7. Microsoft website military discount: look for a small link at the bottom of the page that says “Get Started.” https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/store/b/special-discount-terms
  8. Critical step: When buying Xbox gift cards to use at Microsoft, the GCs will be saved in your Dell Digital Locker with a 16-digit alpha-numeric code. In your Digital Locker, click on the link titled “Microsoft XBOX Live $100 Digital Gift Card” then scroll down and click on the blue button that says “Get Key” to generate a 25 digit license key. Finally enter this 25-digit key at https://redeem.microsoft.com/ to add it to your balance on your Microsoft account. You can then buy anything from the Microsoft website and select your Microsoft account balance as a payment method during checkout.
  9. I attempted to use Honey and Rakuten (3.5%) on the Microsoft purchase. Not sure yet if they’ll work since I paid with a GC balance. I’ll update the SOP as I learn more.

Additional notes:

  • I’ve had 100% success so far with reimbursements on Xbox gift cards ($600 total over 7 GCs).
  • Multiple Reddit DPs of individuals having 5-6 Biz Plats. Seems like they get harder to get after 3-5. I encourage you to tread lightly.
  • I successfully used the Dell SOP to buy a $570 Dell laptop for $76 out of pocket, and a $481 Samsung Galaxy S9 phone from Microsoft for zero dollars. Details and Screenshots are below.

I bought my P2 a Dell laptop so she can work on her grad school courses. The figures are below. Note – the “instant discount” just means it was on sale on the Dell website.

I bought myself a new $481 phone from Microsoft for $0. Screenshots of the Microsoft process are below.

Looking forward to reading articles from two new writers!

-Derp

Today is National Cheap Flight Day…

…but for us, everyday is Free Flight Day (on points)! My wonderful wife texted me to let me know that there is yet another made up national holiday to make us consume more. It turns out this is the time between summer vacation and winter holidays that people don’t go anywhere. I used Google flights to figure out if there is in fact cheaper flights today.

ORD to Syracuse for $77 RT on Frontier!

There are a few deals out there, and some dedicated sites to finding the best deals of the day. If you find any please comment below, just make sure you use your AmEx Personal Platinum card to get the 5x MR when booking direct with the airlines.

-Derp

All-time High Hilton Welcome Bonus Offers expiring 8/28

Good afternoon from Europe Derp Report readers! Excited to be on the team and providing you all with what I hope will be valuable information.

Recently the AMEX Hilton Ascend card was reverted back to its old name: Hilton Surpass. With this roll back came a welcome offer with the card that can be supremely valuable:

Welcome bonus offer

The 130k points would be solid by itself, but the free weekend night is the icing on the cake (and of course we are exempt from the $95 annual fee). This eliminates the one year Aspire upgrade wait for those of us racking up 2, 3, or even 4 Hilton cards. On top of this, you have an extra month added to the typical 3 month offer meet timeline! This kind of extra time can be key for the military churners who live overseas and have to wait 2-4 weeks for their cards to arrive in the mail. I’ve found over the last 8 months that I usually only have 2-2.5 months to meet minimum spend times due to the slow mail receipt out here. More on how I overcome the odds to track progress and meet spend on 2-3 overlapping card timelines in a future article.

In addition to the Surpass card, the AMEX Hilton Business card has the same welcome offer with the same timeline for minimum spend. The plain AMEX Hilton Honors card has an elevated welcome offer of 90k points for $2k spend in 3 months. Remember these all expire in less than a week on 8/28, so choose wisely! Even if you have zero AMEX Hilton cards, it would be wise to snag the Surpass now prior to the Aspire just due to this appetizing welcome offer.

Snag yourself an extra free night to use on amazing properties whether you’re stateside or Europe. I’m personally racking up three of the free nights this year (one with the Aspire, two from Surpass – one mine, one my wife’s) to use at this gem:

Remember your weekend nights work for Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. If you want to do a week-long getaway, you’d be wise to start on a Friday or Saturday night, use 2 or 3 weekend night certificates and book the remaining 5 days with points (buy 4 nights with points, get the 5th free).

If you decide to go with any Hilton card, be sure to use derp’s referral links on the Beginner’s Churning Guide or Optimal Perpetual Wallet Holdings pages.

Good luck!
– wedstuntpuller

Changes To Derp Report: Welcome Wedstuntpuller!

I was blown away with the fact that reader wedstuntpuller is a fellow Sailor! He reached out to me and said this:

I know you are a busy dude especially being mil-mil with kids.  Your website single-handedly launched me to my current churning level, so I wanted to offer to give back by writing guest posts on big news or updates to cards/welcome bonus offers/etc.  I have entirely too much free time at work on shore duty out here some days.  Totally up to you to accept or reject, feelings wont be hurt either way.  I don’t want/need any credit or anything in return, just wanted to help give back since you have been so instrumental in my voyage to see and visit so many places in Europe already for next to nothing while racking up points!

It warms my heart to hear such success stories like this! It’s funny because we have a mutual friend that never got on board and continues to travel using his own post taxed money! The message must be spread so I decided to make him an editor. Looking forward to seeing his articles in the future.

If you would like to be a contributor to the site, send me a message below.

-Derp

Take AAdvantage Of Mailer Codes!

The drought is over! I finally got two mailer codes after a long period of not receiving any. Here is where I stand with Citi this year:

  • Feb 04, 2019 – Citi Platinum AAdvantage
  • Feb 26, 2019 – Citi Platinum AAdvantage
  • Apr 05, 2019 – Citi Prestige
  • Apr 28, 2019 – Citi Platinum AAdvantage
  • Jun 24, 2019 – Citi Business Platinum AAdvantage

Keep in mind the rules with witi as outlined in my previous post here:

Citi 1/8: Submit one application every eight days
Citi 2/65: 2 applications every 65 days

Application #1 = Day 1 (not impacted by any rules)
Application #2 = Day 9 ( to account for 1/8 rule)
Application #3 = Day 66 ( to account for 2/65 rule)
Application #4 = Day 74 (to account for 1/8 AND 2/65 rules)

Business cards: Citi 1/90: For business cards, one business card application every 90 days. Business cards count towards the 1/8 AND 2/65 rules. Business and personal cards are separate applications, unlike other banks.

I will have to wait 90 days after June 24, 2019 (September 22, 2019) since that is when I last got my Citi Business Card. The last card I got was my third Personal AA Platinum on April 28, 2019 which I am well past the 65 and 8 day limits.

I checked the application and it made no mention of the 24 month language. Looks like I will be getting my second Executive card! In the meantime look out for these mailers!


Reader wedstunt puller says:

I also get e-mails from them. Last one was on 16 July but with a 10-digit code. Here’s the text in the e-mail:
Earn 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles after making $2,500 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening with the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World EliteTM Mastercard®.

And my other friend got a business one that says:

Subject: XXXXX, you’re invited to our highest bonus mile offer – earn 65,000 bonus miles

Earn 65,000 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus milesafter $4,000 in purchases within the first 4 months with the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select®World Mastercard®. The annual fee of $99 is waived for the first 12 months.

-Derp

Get Rid Of Your Priority Pass From AmEx NOW!

If you have played your cards right (pun intended) you should have at least one other fee waived: Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, Chase Ritz Carlton, or the U.S. Bank Altitude Card. Most likely you never thought about getting the Priority Pass for these cards as you already have the one with your AmEx Platinum, well as of 01 August 2019 that AmEx based Priority Pass is cursed!

I just departed from Terminal 8 at JFK and stopped by the Bobby Van’s grill to get my free $28 burger and beer:

The diner right next to me was throwing a fit that his priority pass did not work, and how he was a very important man since he has an AmEx Platinum card. Turns out he failed to read the several emails sent out as well as the clear signage at the restaurant:

My waitress was clearly annoyed by all of the recent bad noise from this change. Turns out there have been a lot of upset patrons in the last two weeks!

She asked me to explain the difference in coverage and I ended up showing off my collection of priority pass cards of which I had written their sources on the back. I assured her once the new Centurion lounge in JFK terminal 4 is built, then all those pesky rich assholes will be gone!

If you have any of the other priority pass issuing cards you should get a non AmEx Priority pass to continue to enjoy the $28 credit at non lounge outlets:

There really is no advantage to have the AmEx Priority Pass, just continue to carry the AmEx Platinum card to get access to Centurion, Escape, and Airspace lounges.

-Derp