Wyndham Grand Chicago on Wacker To Become Sonesta

The view from the Former Wyndham Grand Chicago

My sources are saying the Wyndham Grand Chicago on Wacker Drive is changing hands from one weirdo brand to another!

The Wyndham Grand located right on Wacker Drive in Chicago (the one next to London House) is going to become a Sonesta property on 01 November 2019. This means I will have to delve into the dark world of Bank of America Credit cards (again) just to have the same status.

I currently have the BoA Alaska Airlines Bank of America credit card, which had its annual fee waived for MLA one year, but never again! So, I am wary of any new BoA products since they don’t consistently or persistently waive for MLA.

I will however miss the free food tours, suite upgrades, and in room amenities I enjoyed while using all Wyndham points to book a room as part of the Wyndham Diamond status match with Hilton Diamond or Cesars Diamond Match with Founders Card. When you are Wyndham Diamond, each stay comes with a free local amenity such as a guided tour!

The only remaining Wyndham property will be the La Quinta By Wyndham on Franklin St. I stayed at this property last night, and it was quite unremarkable. Service was good, I got the 3 hour food tour again, but gave it to my mom. The only amenity was a bar of chocolate and bottle of water. However I got the corner king room which was about $206 a night. Breakfast was a buffet with hot biscuits, gravy, waffles, and hard boiled eggs with sausage patties.

That room cost me 30k points! Now that redemptions are not fixed to 15,000 points, the whole Wyndham redemption is kind of devalued. This along with the fact that Barclays Bank does not waive for MLA makes this a non ideal card to have. I rather have perpetual nights with Hilton and Marriott using my CARDPERSMAN Plan here.

The lack of pool was also a bummer, I was able to see the Hyatt place from my room which got me thinking of pushing the Hyatt card by Chase as one of th 5/24 must get cards. This would at least get you a free annual night here, but at the expense of the United Club card or even CSR #3 via Freedom.

The $300 travel credit would however be more than enough to cover the cost of one night. Thoughts?

-Derp

5 Hours in Branson From ORD for $30 RT on Frontier

Last year I went to see an amazing Christmas Themed show at Dolly Parton’s Stampede in Branson, MO. It was part of a mileage run so that my mom could make AA Platnum status before the year was up.

I flew ORD into Springfield, MO and drove an hour to see the show, but it turns out Frontier has a flight every Wednesday and Saturday from ORD to Branson!

Branson Airport Route Map

The flight is only $15 a segment!

The fare comes out to $1.15 a person round trip with the rest as taxes. Here is the breakdown for a pair of tickets:

I mapped it out and from Branson airport it is a 18 min car ride to the theater:

Best part is the flight arrives at 4 pm and departs returns at 9:35 pm making it perfect for the 5:30 pm show:

The military discount was $3 on advance tickets, not sure if it is higher if bought in person. This is last year rate:

Here is what they are charging for the weekend:

It was a dinner and a show, with tiny chickens all around:

Now on departure, Frontier is unique as it is a domestic airline that departs from ORD Terminal 5 (international) which has these two lounges:

Since the flight departs at 14:20 on a Saturday, I would get access to both lounges. While onboard FRONTIER airline, you get:

  • One free personal item
  • One free carry-on bag
  • Two free checked bags (no need for a 5 hour trip)

With this flight, I could finally exhaust my $300 inflight benefit on my Ritz card or $100 on Gold, $200 on Platinum, or $250 on Hilton Aspire AmEx card. This can be spent picking actual seats or on food. I am looking at Double Happy Hour (4 adult beverages, 2 mixers or soft drinks, 2 snacks) for $29.99! If I can pick seats at check in that should be a good way to spend most of the credit on a $30 RT flight, however I don’t know if showing your CAC at check in person would waive the seat selection fee.

Has anyone out there flown Frontier?

-Derp

AmEx $200 For In Lounge Dining?

Edit: Thanks Gary for the pingback!

Congrats to the newly minted O-6 reader that just reported to me that he was reimbursed for on the ground dining at the Admiral’s Club. This goes with several reports on flyertalk: here& here

cyncyn129 , May 8, 19 9:07 am:
Seems that purchases at the AA Admirals Club are reimbursed. Both myself and my wife (AU) got drinks at the Club, used our Amex PLT, and refund was posted to our account.

Segments , Jun 6, 19 10:55 am
Quote:Originally Posted by mia
Purchases of an Admirals Club membership or passes are covered, but purchases of food and drink inside the clubs has been inconsistent. At one time AA was using a different (outsourced?) merchant account for those, but that might vary by location.Reimbursed for food purchase in AC ORD H/K last week.

I will try it out with my new AmEx Platinum, and my soon to be upgraded former Personal Gold AmEx. In the meantime check out the menus here and here. I’m planning on buying a few Sparkling Split bottles of the Mionetto Prosecco if they don’t open them!

I recently came across a $25 Moët & Chandon vending machine at the Ritz Carlton Philadelphia. It was located in the lobby and you buy the tokens at the bar:

I wondered if this would come off my $300 Bonvoy Brilliant credit

I am a sucker for tiny bottles of free booze!

-Derp

Thanks for 250,000 Page Views!

A quarter million thanks to all the readers out there for a quarter million page views! Since I started tracking the site traffic in May of 2017 I never thought I would have such a following. There is quite demand for such information out there, and I am glad that this site has been a wealth of information to the military churners out there! I am currently working on www.thepointscommander.com to bring a more standardized approach to this very confusing and vast project. Any thoughts on the CARDPERSMAN instructions?

The outline is there, let me know if its a project worth developing!

-Derp

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