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Monday 29 January 2018

How to Justify An AMEX Platinum Business With 75K MR Points--A Must Have Credit Card

Click the above pic to get to the application page for the 75K (as opposed to 60K) Membership Rewards bonus (plus I get a referral--thanks :) )
SOOOO many reasons...

If you can manage to spend $5K in 3 months on the card, and I`ll explain how it isn`t that hard to do, you will earn a threshold bonus of 75K Membership Rewards points, that is worth:

75K Aeroplan points plus the over 6250 points you earn for spending the minimum $5K, is enough for 1 return trip ticket to Tel Aviv.  Of course, you wouldn`t use Air Canada for that as you`d get hit with fuel surcharges, but with 1 stop in Newark on United, Istanbul on Turkish Airlines, or other fuel surcharge-free options, it`s a great way to spend your points.


75K British Airways Avios points (or more if AMEX is having a conversion bonus, which they do every year).  Lately, these points, I have found to be useless personally, but I have set routes that I look for and they involve airlines that Avios has very limited options with, including American Airlines.

37.5K SPG Points--the most lucrative hotel points program around, that can be converted to one of over 40 airline point systems.

From SPG, convert instantly in your SPG account (after linking it to your Marriott account) to 112.5K Marriott points. That`s more than enough for a 5 night stay at a Category 5 hotel.

$750 worth of points that you could use towards any transaction you have made on the card.  This is NOT the best use of the points.  You are better off selling them to someone who will buy them, for as much as 1.3 cents to the point, so a $399 annual fee, IF you cannot write it off for business, will cost you 30K of your 75K points to avoid having to have paid for that annual fee out of your own pocket.

You don`t need to have a big business--even being a self-proprietor for a starting business will suffice.  Selling things on Amazon or EBay and charging the card for the shipping of items is legit enough.  Your company name IS your name.

The card comes with terrific benefits such as:

  • Starwood Gold Status.  This means Marriott Gold Status as well.  All of this means upgrades that naturally occur when you arrive at the hotel.  For those with families, it is totally worth calling or emailing the front desk manager or general manager and letting them know you`re staying on points and have a family that would have a hard time fitting in a studio suite, which is what you booked on points, and would like them to consider upgrading you ahead of time so you will be rest assured that there will be room for your whole family when you arrive.  MANY managers will do this, except in Florida, where if it is during peak season, they will NOT do it as they will sell those rooms with cash. You could get Gold status by spending 50 nights at Marriott properties over a year, or by spending $30K on the AMEX SPG card, but this is the easiest way to get it.
  • A concierge service to get them to make dinner reservations, find you a horse to buy it Europe, a swing that has a cover and the seats go down--you name it, they will find it for you--even give them your budget.
  • Free membership in the Hertz Number One Club Gold, with a free car class complimentary upgrade and preferred car rental courtesies at over 590 worldwide locations.
  • Either 50% a business class ticket when flying when buying two or only pay the taxes on the second one, depending on the airline.  You have to call them at 1-866-801-4302 to take advantage of this, but that`s only if you fly business is it worth it AND if there is two of you flying.
  • Access to lounges for FREE! Plaza Premium lounges around the world with any boarding pass for the day, Admirals Club American Airlines and Delta lounges for you, your spouse, and 2 children or more (depending on the lounge and how flexible they are for more than 2) with a boarding pass for that day with one of their airlines.  They also pay for your coveted Priority Pass Lounge basic membership, but that bites, as you will still pay for that lounge--$27 per visit per person.  So that one is not a great option--and no-no access to the AMEX Centurion lounges--not unless you have a US platinum business card or a personal card (crazy high fee without the benefits that can justify it in Canada) 

Typical benefits that premium cards have, this one has too, including:
  • Doubling your warranty
  • 90 day protection in case of loss, theft or damage
  • Trip interruption insurance, trip cancellation insurance, emergency medical up to 15 days on each trip if you`re under 65
  • $500K Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Buggage Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance
  • Hotel or Motel Burglary Insurance
How do you spend $5K on an AMEX--well it`s not that easy unless you do a lot of business on the road or you buy things from national businesses--or buy gift cards for groceries
Grocery gift cards through Yesodei Hatorah  accept AMEX, and they will send it to your home.
All the hardware stores--Home Depot, Lowes, etc.
Most national pharmacies such as Shoppers and Rexall
Any travel related business--car rentals, hotels, etc.
Many dentist`s offices, if you push them--they don`t like to accept it as they lose a bit more on the merchant fee, but you can give them or choice of AMEX or you could look for another dentist that WILL accept AMEX.
Retirement homes.  If you could get mom to send you a cheque while you pay for her stay at a retirement home, you`ll reap the benefits and in return, maybe pick up the phone once in a while?

The $30USD IHG Point Breaks Are Out--With One BIG Disappointment

Every 3 months, the Intercontinental Hotels Group, which includes Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, and extended stay hotels such as Candlewood Suites and Staybridge Suites releases a limited number of hotels that instead of charging 10K +++ IHG points per night, they only charge 5K IHG points.  Well, until now.  Now, while some hotels are still 5K, others are now 10K, while still others are 15K IHG points.  One may think this is a horrible thing--and it is.  The only positive is that you would think they`d include lots more hotels, as well as high end ones at the 15K point level (instead of 35K) but they are limited ones where I know I have NO interest staying in.  This is a form of devaluation and I for one, will do nothing about it, but kvetch.  Perhaps in upcoming point breaks, they will include more lucrative markets but I HIGHLY doubt that.

For those of you with IHG Points, HERE'S the current link to the hotels that are eligible for Point Breaks, but each hotel takes only 200 reservations and you can only book up to 2 reservations per hotel, for as long a stay as you wish, as long as the stay ends before April 30st, 2018.  That means you could stay at an IHG Point Break hotel for a week for 35K IHG points (at 5K points a night)!

For those who do NOT have any IHG points:

Now if you don't have any IHG points, you can exchange them with other point systems such as Aeroplan, through  You WON'T get value for your dollar, but it will get you your foot in the door.  You can exchange a minimum of 15K Aeroplan points for 10,588 IHG points (at today's exchange).  That's worth 2 free nights at an IHG property.  If you don't have enough Aeroplan points, you can always transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan instantaneously (if you have AMEX points--if you don't, click HERE to find out how to get AMEX points!

There's a trick through the IHG website which allows one to buy more points at a rate of $30 for 5K IHG points, a MUCH better rate thatn with Aeroplan.
You book a "Cash & Points" combo hotel stay through the IHG website after having the minimum 5K IHG points in your IHG account.
If you have less than 15K IHG points but more than 10K (such as by purchasing 10,588 with 15K Aeroplan points), you can book a stay at the Holiday Inn Auburn from September 4th to the 5th, with 10K IHG Points and $65USD cash.  When you cancel your stay, you won't get back the $65USD, but instead, you'll get an additional 10K IHG points along with the 10K IHG you used to make the reservation, meaning you paid $65 for 10K IHG points, or $32.50USD for enough points for a one night stay at a Point Break Hotel!   See below:

IHG® Rewards Club Reward Nights

  • FREE Cancellation until 6:00 PM local hotel time on September 4, 2017

  • No deposit required

  • Points + Cash bookings are charged immediately, and cancellations are refunded in points only.
* per night
View More Rates 

Choose the Crowne Plaza Syracuse, for example, same 1 night stay, and get offered $89 plus 15K IHG points for the stay, and when you cancel, you get back 15K plus the original 15K that you used, so you just paid $89 for 15K IHG points, less than $30USD for 5K points!  See below:

IHG® Rewards Club Reward Nights

  • FREE Cancellation until 6:00 PM local hotel time on September 3, 2017

  • No deposit required

  • Points + Cash bookings are charged immediately, and cancellations are refunded in points only.
* per night
View More Rates 

Book while you still can!!

Thursday 25 January 2018

Roundtrip Tickets On MegaBus for $3USD!

Megabus is currently offering on some of their routes, and some of their departures, tickets for $1USD each way.  You get free wifi, free movies, and electrical outlets. Many of the seats offered are only for one.  Put in a second person and the $1 deal is gone. You need to book this on the US Megabus website by clicking here.  Cities from Toronto include:
New York City
Washington, D.C.
Buffalo Airport

Flying out of BUF one way and back through Toronto?  This is a great option.  While it's an appealing price, know these routes are milk runs, so NYC takes 12 hours.  Yikes!
Book fast before their gone!

Thursday 18 January 2018

Hyatt Hotel Suites at Regular Point Rates

Currently, the Hyatt Hotels website is offering suites, including one and two bedroom suites at standard point rates.  You can use a combo of cash and points or just points.
Of course, you have to have Hyatt points to take advantage of this, and sometimes, depending on the property, it's not worth using points.
I'm not a big Hyatt or Hilton fan, as, at least Hilton points, costs for rooms tends to be way too high to earn through credit cards, by converting AMEX Membership Rewards points to Hilton, your throwing your money away.  Better to use the points for cash option with AMEX, book a room with your AMEX and pay the cost of it, then use your points in lieu of the cost--that way the cost is WAAAY cheaper in points, you GET Hilton points for your stay (as much as those are worth), and you get AMEX points for the transaction, even though you'll be using your AMEX points to pay for them.
Here's a list of some hotels that have reasonable point rates for suites:
Hyatt Place St. Petersburg Florida: 2500 points +$50. One Bedroom Suite. 700 sq ft.
Hyatt House Washington DC/The Wharf: 4000 points + $55. One Bedroom Suite. 468 sq ft.
Hyatt House Denver Airport: 4000 points + $55. Two Bedroom, Two Bathroom King Suite.
Hyatt House Bridgewater New Jersey: 8000 points. One Bedroom Conference Suite.
Hyatt Place Pittsburgh South/Meadows Racetrack: 4000 points + $55. King One Bedroom Suite w Sofa Bed. 670 sq ft.
Hyatt House Pleasant Hill California: 4000 points + $55. King One Bedroom Suite.
Hyatt Place Lubbock Texas: 4000 points + $55. King Bedroom Suite. 695 sq ft.
Hyatt Place Chicago/Midway Airport: 4000 points + $55. King One Bedroom Suite with Sofa bed. 675 sq ft.
Hyatt Place New York/Yonkers: 6000 points + $75. King One Bedroom Suite with Sofa bed. 388 sq ft.

Monday 8 January 2018

HOT! Toronto-San Fran non-stop on AC for $355CDN!!

Tuesday/Wednesday flights with returns on Tuesday/Wednesday are $355CDN on non-stop Air Canada flights from January through 'til mid-June.
Act fast as these prices will disappear!  The flights need to be booked in US$--for $281USD, which after forex fees comes out to around $355CDN.  Through Air Canada and CDN websites, it costs $16 more, so your choice.
Priceline is a great way to go, as you have until 11:29ET the next business day to cancel by, so if you book now, you'll have until 11:29ET to go back on the Priceline website to cancel your tickets if you wish to book now and think about it after.
See the availability on Google Flights here.  Click on a date to open up the calendar to see the prices for departures and returns. Prices to San Francisco direct are usually not this cheap, as you'll see when you open up the calendar.