Category Archives: Good Idea For The Week

Good Idea For The Week

Have SPG points and an upcoming Jetblue flight? Today’s your lucky day

I hate wasting people’s time with articles that are irrelevant to them, so I’m going to tell you upfront that this article does not apply to you unless

  • You have 40,001 Starpoints in your account now (if you have less than this, you might still want to read on for a good SPG/Virgin/SQ trifecta opportunity)
  • Your travel schedule allows you to take a roundtrip Jetblue flight by 31 Aug 2016
  • You see yourself taking a few more flights with Jetblue in the near future

If these conditions do apply to you, I think today might be your lucky day.

The context

Jetblue no love Virgin America. Virgin America mergy mergy with Alaska Airlines, create big west coast airline. Jetblue worried. Jetblue launch promotion to convert Virgin America frequent flyers to Jetblue’s program.

Get out of the red and into the blue with our white-hot points match. hashtag Go Forth With JetBlue.

This promotion matches your Elevate points with an equivalent number of Jetblue TrueBlue points. The ratio is 1:1 or better. This means you keep both your current Elevate points plus you get TrueBlue points.

You only need to register for this promotion and take one round trip Jetblue flight by the 31st of August 2016.

The opportunity

Virgin America Elevate points transfer at a 1:1 ratio with SPG points. If you transfer 40,001 Starwood points to Elevate, you will get 50,001 Elevate points (because SPG gives you a  5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 SPG points transferred)

After you take your Jetblue flight you will have 50,001 Elevate points and 75,000 Trueblue points. Trueblue points have a value of ~1.4 US cents each, so you’re talking US$1,050 of value towards travel with Jetblue.

What about the Elevate points? There’s options for that too

Redeem SQ awards without fuel surcharges

SQ has a partnership with Virgin America that lets you redeem Elevate awards for SQ flights.

The catch here is that Virgin America has access to the same bucket of premium cabin award space that Star Alliance partners have, i.e. zero. So don’t expect to redeem suites or long haul first/business class products this way. At best you will get SQ’s regional business class on the A330 to places like BKK.

BUT if you’re looking at redeeming economy awards this might be a great deal because Virgin America doesn’t charge you fuel surcharges for SQ tickets. The advice below does not represent a departure from my stance that you shouldn’t redeem for economy in general- it’s just that prices are so low and there’s no surcharges that I think in this case it makes sense. 6,000 points for a roundtrip to Bali, anyone?

Here are some sample prices (round trip economy)

  • Singapore to Bangkok (6,000 points + US$51)
  • Singapore to Bali (6,000 points + US$27)
  • Singapore to Male (16,000 points + US$46)
  • Singapore to Tokyo (20,000 points + US$55)
  • Singapore to Sydney (20,000 points + US$141)
  • Singapore to Auckland (40,000 points + US$65)
  • Singapore to Zurich (40,000 points + US$72)
  • Singapore to Frankfurt (40,000 points + US$134)
  • Singapore to Paris (40,000 points + US$96)
  • Singapore to London (40,000 points + US$228- because of LHR’s ridiculous airport passenger duty)
  • Singapore to Moscow (40,000 points + US$50)

For reasons I don’t quite understand, I cannot price Singapore to USA on the website. I’m not sure if you can call in to Virgin America and book this (you’ll need to call in and book all partner awards anyway), but OMMAT suggests it is 35,000 points round trip economy.

Use it for travel with Virgin America’s other partners

Virgin America also partners with Emirates, Hawaiian, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia. You can play around with the award pricing here, suffice to say that if for whatever reason in the future you need to redeem a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney, you can’t get much better than 80,000 Elevate points and US$130.

Most of the flights originating from Singapore will be with Singapore Airlines (so see the above section), but there are also flights with Emirates from Singapore to Brisbane, Colombo,

Use it for travel on Virgin America

Elevate points have a value of ~2.2 US cents each, so you’re looking at US$1,100 of travel with Virgin America. Remember that Virgin America doesn’t have a distance based award chart for travel with Virgin America. The number of Elevate miles needed depends on the price of your particular route.

Wait long enough for them to be converted to Alaska Airlines miles when the Virgin/Alaska integration happens

This is probably the worst option of all given that who knows what will happen in the interim? The timeline for this is uncertain but likely to be 1-1.5 years away.

Conclusion

I think this is a great opportunity. Pity I don’t have any opportunity to fly Jetblue before 31 Aug but if I did I’d totally take them up on this. In fact, just writing this article has led me to consider transferring SPG points to Virgin America for their awesome rates on short haul SQ economy redemptions. 6,000 points + US$51 to Bangkok is much better than SQ’s 21,250 miles + S$160.

If you’re sold on the idea, do the following

  • Elevate® members must email a screenshot of their account dashboard to pointsmatch@jetblue.com by 7/4/2016. Screenshots must include first name, last name, and points balance.
  • Please include your TrueBlue number in the email. If you are not a TrueBlue member yet, sign up now.
  • Once we assess your balance and eligibility, we’ll email you to let you know if you’re officially registered for the promotion.
  • Then book and fly one roundtrip JetBlue flight by 08/31/16.
  • Enjoy your new TrueBlue points balance – and love for JetBlue!

Is The Entertainer good value for money?

entertainer

For the uninitiated, The Entertainer is a booklet of coupons that gives you 1 for 1 deals on dining, activities, hotels, spas and retail.

The Entertainer costs S$85 but if you use the code 2016MONEYSMART (I’m sure they doesn’t mind me reposting it, they probably earn a commission for every person who signs up using their link anyway) you get S$10 off as shown below.

entertainer2016

All the coupons in The Entertainer are valid for the calendar year, ie 1st Jan to 31st Dec 2016. Given that we’re already in May, does it still make sense to buy it?

Only you can answer that question, because the value you get depends on your pre-existing lifestyle spending patterns. If you’re the type who doesn’t really like eating out or in general spends very little money on activities/ spas, you certainly shouldn’t let this change that.

But if you already set aside a certain amount of money to indulge in these things, you can still save a lot by buying The Entertainer now.

Below I’m going to highlight some of what I think are the better deals

Dining

The Fat Cow

I do not use the term “life-changing” lightly (I believe the 2 life-changing experiences I have had this year are The Conrad Koh Samui and the discovery of muskmelon), but The Fat Cow is without a doubt life-changing.

fatcow

This restaurant serves some of the finest Japanese beef to ever make it to our shores, and although it’s not cheap (for the best experience, skip the Australia/US offerings and go right for the Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye @ $120), the 1 for 1 voucher will at least put it in the “splurge” category (as opposed to the insane category)

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Oh, and you cannot miss the Fat Rice, which is every bit as good as it sounds

fatrice

Protip: If you are craving Fat Cow but don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket you can go for their lunch menu, where $45 buys you a Fat Cow donburri. The beef won’t be as good as the ala carte cuts, it’s still tremendous value all things considered.

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Ristorante Amarone & Gattopardo

Pasta Mancini, used at Gattopardo

Those who know me know I love my pasta. And am obsessive about it. And that I can spend an hour talking about the differences between bronze-drawn and teflon-drawn pasta, why you should never eat Barilla (much less San Remo which by the way isn’t even an Italian brand) and how you identify a good Italian restaurant (they don’t use Barilla). A great primer on the subject can be found here

San Remo pasta. Not actually from Italy.

 

Till then, know that Amarone and Gattopardo  are on the Milelion’s approved list of Italian eateries and they both have 1 for 1 with The Entertainer.

Amarone at Capital Tower

I realise each person’s dining preferences differ so you should definitely read through the list of restaurants yourself and see if there are 1 or 2 big ticket restaurants where the savings from 1 meal could pay for the cost of The Entertainer itself.

Hotels

Conrad Koh Samui Residences

I mentioned in my article on how to hack the Conrad Koh Samui that the (more expensive) Conrad Koh Samui residences are covered under the 1 for 1 stay voucher. If you’re able to find 3 other people to go with you could still stay for as little as S$280 a person a night. Which, considering the usual S$1,000+ rates isn’t that bad.

Other beach destinations

Shangri-la Maldives

There are also many great hotel deals in beach destinations like Phuket (Banyan Tree, JW Marriott etc), Bali (Fairmont Sanur, Pan Pacific Nirwana) and the Maldives (Banyan Tree, Shangri-la, the Taj). If you’re intending to honeymoon in one of these locations then you should see whether you can make these discounts work.

The only caveat I’d add here is that the 1 for 1 deals might not be a great idea in the Maldives, where the best resorts are located on private islands only reachable by seaplane (~US$500 per person). So unless you’ve got the financial firepower to stay at that particular place your whole trip it doesn’t make sense to stay only 2 nights. Contrast this to a place like Phuket or Koh Samui where you can (relatively) easily resort hop after your 2 nights are up. I suppose you could always get your partner to make a booking as well and enjoy 4 nights for the price of 2 though.

Banyan Tree Maldives

Note that the conditions of the voucher require you to book the first night as the “Best Available Rate”. This refers to a refundable rate, so while I’m pretty sure that 2 x Prepaid-rate room nights will still cost more than 1 x Best Available rate room night, it does make sense to check and see how much of a deal you’re getting

In this example from the Conrad Koh Samui Residences, you can see that the lowest rate available is a prepaid THB 34,425 a night, but the BAR is THB 45,900. Therefore, your savings aren’t technically 50%, but more like 33% (based on 45,900 vs 34,425*2)

kohsamuiprice

Activities and Spa

Not my area of specialty, but there are a large number of buy 1 get 1 free treatments. No guarantee that they’re the sort of places that won’t engage in hard-sell tactics, but there are some reputable names here like Adeva .

Similarly, there is an extensive list of couples activities that you can do on weekends.  Examples include Aqua Spin, BreakOut Games, Climb Asia, Combat Skirmish, Expat Kitchen, LilliPutt Indoor Mini Golf and Forest Adventure.

Conclusion

According to the app I’ve saved more than $500 already this year (although you could make a good argument about how that’s an illusory saving if it made me buy things I would not otherwise have) and I’m definitely going to renew it for 2017 when the time comes.

If you’re planning an upcoming big ticket hotel or restaurant spend, it’s worth it to check out whether you can use The Entertainer to save some money.

Can you earn miles with Ezlink top ups?

Maybe I’m just not very observant and this has always been around, but I was at Raffles City a couple of days ago and just noticed this in the carpark

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I never knew we could use credit cards to top up our Ezlink card on an ad-hoc basis. The sign says Visa but it says on the right panel that Mastercard works too.

I know that as per the T&C of most card issuers, EZ-Reload transactions do not earn points. However, I think these ad-hoc top ups code differently.

There was no top up fee to use this terminal, so if this does end up in me getting regular points (I used my DBS Altitude Visa so that’ll be 1.2 miles per S$1), this could be the start of something interesting. I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to call it a manufactured spend opportunity, but…

I’ll report back if I do earn points on this transaction. It most definitely isn’t an online one, though, so don’t think about getting 4 miles with the DBS WWC.

I am told that these pay points can be found at all Capitamalls carparks, for those of you who want to try it yourselves.