Last week, Chase announced the Freedom’s 5% cash back (or 5x Ultimate Rewards points) categories for 2013! Yippee. I can’t believe 2013 is just around the corner. 2012 was a great year to earn points & miles, but I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store for us. Hopefully, more ways to earn valuable Ultimate Rewards...
Last week, I wrote about the new Ink Plus® Business Card coming out. Before that, I wrote a blog about getting 2-3-4 Ink Bolds. Great news: now it’s even easier to pad your Ultimate Rewards balance. If you’ve already applied for the Ink Bold, you can now apply for the new Ink Plus 50,000 offer under the same...
Happy Monday, Noobs. Today, I have a special treat to help beat the work week blues. Check out this sweet confessional video by Noob reader Chase, a musician from Austin, TX, and see how he is traveling the world Noob style- for pennies. Chase has, as he said, entered the “Noob Zone” and is balling out of control with...
Yep, more JetBlue love on this hump day.
Earlier today, I posted about a promotion JetBlue is running that ends today. You can book flights for as little as $59 each way, if booked by today for travel between 6/4/13-8/28/13. If you haven’t yet taken advantage of that opportunity, here’s more incentive.
If you’re not yet a TrueBlue member (JetBlue’s rewards program), you can receive a 7,500 point bonus for signing up and flying your first round-trip flight by 6/19/13. They offer one-way flights from as little as 5,000 points (plus taxes and fees), so that’s not too shabby.
Some important Terms & Conditions for this promo:
Offer valid for new TrueBlue members only. Must enroll as a TrueBlue member, register for this promotion at trueblue.jetblue.com/web/trueblue/jointrueblue, and purchase and fly a roundtrip JetBlue flight, all between now and 6/19/2013. Must enroll and register prior to booking. TrueBlue number must be entered at time of booking. New bookings only.
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to TrueBlue. So, if you have some Membership Rewards points collecting dust, you could use them to top off your TrueBlue account for a round-trip flight. The conversion rate isn’t great (200 TrueBlue points = 250 MR points), but it could still make sense for you.
If you’re looking for a way to earn Membership Rewards points, I recommend pouncing on one of the random LTO offers that come and go. The best public offers currently are the Mercedes-Benz, and The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN.
[I do receive a referral credit if you choose to apply through my link. Thank you for the support if you do!]
— Noob MasterRead More
Noob contributor, Ethan (a Marriott elite), updates us on the newest breakfast perks with Marriott.
If you’re a Marriott loyalist like myself, you probably know that the breakfast perks aren’t exactly the best in the business. But they got a bit better today for Gold and Platinum elites, when Marriott announced that they would start offering free continental breakfast for 2 people 7 days a week at JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance, and Marriott branded hotels.
Previously these benefits were only guaranteed during the week, and a few hotels had lounges open on the weekend. Now gold and platinum elites will be offered breakfast in the lounge if it’s open, and if the lounge is closed they can select from continental breakfast in the restaurant or 750 rewards points.
Unfortunately, the offer still excludes resorts, and also still does not open up breakfast benefits at Courtyard hotels, which is a huge gap in my eyes. Courtyards are mid-tier properties, and when everyone gets breakfast at most hotels below that (Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inns, and Residence Inns), it’s a tough pill to swallow when you stay 50 nights with the chain. I’ve written about some of my issues with Marriott, though they have been getting better and I have some higher-end stays coming up this summer.
This still doesn’t bring up Marriott’s standards to that of other chains, like Hilton who offer breakfast to gold members (which you can get by just having the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card) or Hyatt (The Noobmaster’s fave), who offers a full breakfast for up to 4 people, rather than just a continental breakfast for 2. That said, it’s still a step in the right direction, and for those like me who like weekend trips they can use points for, it offers a great opportunity to get breakfast on those weekends!
— Ethan CarterRead More
Sometimes it makes sense to purchase tickets (even though it goes against my nature), if there is a good enough deal out there. This may be one of those times. Honestly, I’ve never flown Jet Blue, but Jordan has, and she had good things to say.
They’re running a special on flights from 6/4-8/28, but they have to be booked by today. It looks like there are some great deals to be had if you have some peak travel plans. The only kicker is, the travel has to be on a Tuesday or Wednesday.
I looked at a flight from AUS to SFO on 6/19, and it would only be $99 one way. Not bad, especially for peak season.
I then looked at the same flight on Southwest Airlines for comparison, and the cheapest flight was $201. Yep, double the price.
So, this deal might make sense for you, if you have the cash to spare and you’re wanting to save your miles for another trip.
Hope this helps!
— Noob MasterRead More
Here are a few quickies:
1,000 free (not really) United miles w/ Small Business Network
I received an email last week from United, touting their Small Business Network and the perk of earning 1,000 United MileagePlus miles after enrolling.
You will earn 1,000 miles after you spend enough through United’s network partners to earn 100 miles by August 17, 2013. You will have to spend at least $10 to earn 100 miles, which will trigger the 1,000 United miles. Not terrible or great. Just, ehh.
There are promises that you will be able to eventually transfer your business miles to your personal account. This is a perk, but I will just keep my business spending through my personal account.
You can sign up as a sole proprietor, so that’s good news for those people who have businesses that aren’t incorporated.
Here are the full terms and conditions from United’s website:
This account will be separate from personal MileagePlus member accounts. Subject to terms & conditions and program rules.
*Enrollment bonus terms and conditions
- To qualify for 1,000 mile bonus, prior to 11:59PM CENTRAL on August 17, 2013, a business must:
- Enroll in MileagePlus Small Business Network
- Complete qualifying earning activity for 100 miles or more with Small Business Network partners
- Member must be a business that is duly organized and validly existing in the United States under the laws of the jurisdiction of its organization
- Offer subject to terms & conditions of the MileagePlus Small Business Network
- Bonus offer available one time per member account
- Earning points in connection with United PerksPlus will not count as qualified earning activity toward earning the enrollment bonus.
New Ultimate Rewards warning?
A few months ago, I wrote about Chase closing down Ultimate Rewards accounts for illegal transfers. You’re allowed to transfer points to same household members, but no one else. At the time, it seemed like it was still ok to transfer UR points out to travel partners outside of our household, but now I’m not so sure.
I was transferring some of my Ultimate Rewards points to one of their travel partners and noticed the warning on the confirm transfer page:
“Ultimate Rewards point transfer features are designed to allow our cardmembers to take advantage of the rewards they earn. The features are not intended to allow transfers to third parties other than a spouse or domestic partner of the cardmember. Transfers to unauthorized third parties or any other abuse of the Ultimate Rewards program may result in suspension or termination of the ability to participate in the program and forfeiture of points already earned.”
Maybe it’s been there for a while and I haven’t noticed, but it’s just a reminder to only transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to household members UR accounts and/or their loyalty program accounts.
I love the flexibility Jordan and I have with our Ultimate Rewards points earned from one of our many Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Bold® Business Card, or Ink Plus® Business Cards. I’m sticking to only transferring points between our accounts, because it would be a crushing defeat if my Ultimate Rewards accounts were shut down.
Hyatt House new additions
Hyatt House had a PR release yesterday, announcing their new Very Important Residents (VIR) and two new additions for all members.
The new VIR program is for guests who have stayed 30+ nights at a Hyatt House. If that’s you, you’d receive these bennies:
- Personalized service: From learning guests’ personal preferences to building a relationship with them during their stay, each property is committed to making guests feel like they’re right at home.
- Pick-Your-Suite: Guests will have the opportunity to pick their own suite from available rooms in their room type at the time of their arrival.
- VIR Key Card: Each key card will reflect guests’ VIR status so that hotel staff can quickly recognize a VIR guest and provide them with above and beyond personalized service.
- VIR Tour: A personalized hotel tour from hotel management staff.
- “Favorites” Folio: A place to make note of guests’ likes, dislikes and special requests so HYATT house can personalize their stay in every way, every time.
- Grocery Shopping Service: By providing a grocery list to the House Host, the staff will stock guests’ refrigerators and kitchens with their favorite food items before their arrival or for when they come home.
- Grub Stub: Redeem for a $10 food and beverage credit from the H BAR or the Guest Market.
- Scrub Stub: This voucher can be redeemed for one washer and dryer cycle.
- VIP Welcome Amenity: Guests can select an amenity of their choice to be waiting for them when they arrive.
I’m kind of intrigued by the “grocery shopping service.” A refrigerator stocked with beer and ice cream is the way I want to be welcomed.
The other new announcements are:
The Morning Spread
The new complimentary Morning Spread offers a build-your-own Omelet Bar, oatmeal, yogurts, fresh fruit and other breakfast goodness. Guests will also find more balanced items, including vegetarian and gluten-free options. As always, breakfast is free for guests and served daily at HYATT house.
Hyatt Has It – Borrows
From curling irons to cell phone chargers to blenders – these commonly forgotten items are now available to borrow from House Hosts. An expanded list of items to borrow will be available June 1, including family-friendly board games, noise machines and laundry baskets.
Good news for those of you who can’t sleep without a noise machine. We’re those people.
I always like seeing Hyatt increase its benefits. I’ve never stayed at a Hyatt House, but if I was a road warrior and had the added VIR bennies, it might sway me to at least try them out.
— Noob MasterRead More
Every summer, Jordan and I meet family in Mexico for a quick all-inclusive escape from the daily grind. This is mostly awesome, but usually we have to connect to and from Mexico, since there aren’t non-stop flights available (not awesome).
BUT, this year is different. Air Tran has a non-stop to Cancun from Austin, which makes me very happy. I didn’t have any Air Tran credits, but that wasn’t a problem. Since Southwest has acquired Air Tran, you can transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran (and vice versa).
I actually didn’t have Southwest Rapid Rewards points because I’ve exhausted most of them by taking advantage of our Companion Pass. But…Ultimate Rewards points earned from the Ink Bold® Business Card, Ink Plus® Business Card, or Chase Sapphire Preferred® cards can transfer into Southwest, which can be transferred into Air Tran. Winning.
If you’re looking for a killer beach getaway, AirTran has non-stop service to destinations such as Aruba, The Bahamas, Bermuda, The Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Here are some recently added non-stop routes:
- Chicago – Cancun
- Denver – Cancun
- San Antonio – Mexico City
- San Antonio – Cancun
- Austin – Cancun
- Orange County – Cabo San Lucas
- Orange County – Mexico City
And here’s how I transferred my Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran and booked Business class flights to Mexico…
Checking Air Tran for availability
If you’re not an A+ member, you can sign up here. After you create an account, log in and click on “book a reward flight.” Enter your dates and destination.
From there, you will see a calendar with availability. I like that Air Tran will show you 3 weeks of availability. You can also see if there’s coach or Business availability. Unlike Southwest, there’s a Biz class on Air Tran. You know I like that.
After seeing the dates you want, click “continue” and then decide between a one-way coach trip for (8) A+ credits, or Business for (16) A+ credits. My dates only yielded Biz class award availability, which is fine, but I was actually looking for economy since it’s only a 2.5 hour flight to Mexico. I usually save Business bookings for longer flights when it really counts, but hey, it’s peak season. Do whatcha gotta do.
Now that you’ve found the flights that work for you, it’s time to book (or transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to A+ credits).
Transferring Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran
You can get to the Southwest conversion site from the Air Tran site. Go to the My Account page and click Rewards Conversion in the top right corner. You will be directed to this page, where you can start transferring Rapid Rewards points.
Here’s the transfer table when transferring Southwest currency to A+ credits:
- 1,200 Rapid Rewards Points = 1 A+ Rewards Credit
- 1 Rapid Rewards Credit = 1 A+ Rewards Credit
- 1 Standard Award = 16 A+ Rewards Credits
- 1 Freedom Award = 32 A+ Rewards Credits
In most situations, you will probably be transferring Rapid Rewards points to A+, so it would cost 19,200 Southwest Rapid Rewards (Ultimate Rewards points) for a one-way in Business class (38,400 for roundtrip), or 9,600 points for a one-way flight in economy (19,200 roundtrip).
I highly recommend going for the cheaper option in economy and paying for preferred seating or the ability to select your seat, which you can do with Air Tran. Of course, if the trip is longer, then going for Business class could be worth it. I’m easily convinced to fly Biz.
Beware: Once you transfer Rapid Reward points to Air Tran, you can’t transfer them back as “points” – they will instead be transferred back as “credits.” Southwest credits are more restricting than points, so be sure before you transfer any points over to Air Tran.
Booking Air Tran flights
Once you have the necessary Air Tran A+ credits in your account, it’s time to book. Booking was pretty easy, even though the Air Tran site is very slow. I had to change the dates after I initially booked and that was really easy and didn’t cost me a thing. I did it all online and was done it 2 minutes. I like that.
I love that Air Tran gives me another option when I’m looking to fly to Mexico/Caribbean. Here’s Air Tran’s interactive flight chart. I found it pretty handy to see where they flew.
I don’t love that Air Tran doesn’t honor our Southwest Companion Pass, but that would just be too good. I guess I won’t be too greedy. I’m just happy to get a non-stop flight to Cancun from Austin. Really, any non-stop from Austin puts me in a good mood.
You can fly Air Tran Atlanta/Fort Lauderdale without having to transfer Southwest Rapid Rewards points to Air Tran, but that’s the only destination for now. Hopefully, they will open up more Air Tran flights that you can book with SW points on the SW wesbite soon. Also, watch out for bag fees when you book flights on Air Tran.
There is an Air Tran rewards credit card from Chase (of course). I’m not sure it’s worth a Chase inquiry, but you can read my review here. It may be going away once the Southwest-Air Tran merger is complete, but it could be used as a way to pad your Southwest account since you can transfer A+ to Southwest, too.
I hope this helps by giving you another way to use your Ultimate Rewards or Southwest Rapid Rewards points.
(Disclaimer: I do receive a referral credit for the cards mentioned in this post. Thanks for the support if you decide to apply!)
— Noob MasterRead More