Tag Archives: points

Should you jump on any of these daily getaway deals?

The US Travel Association runs an annual promotion called Daily Getaways that is meant to encourage US tourism. This year, they need it more than ever.

Despite who the organizer is, not all deals have to be used in the US. In the past they’ve had sales on US-based hotels, theme parks and car rentals. But they’ve also sold things like loyalty program points and gift cards, which can be redeemed at any property worldwide.

I was looking at this year’s offerings and saw a few items that I’m really tempted to pull the trigger on. You can see the full calendar of deals here, but here are some that caught my eye.

May 2nd- 250,000 Hilton points for $1,200 (236 available)

This is an opportunity to pay 0.48 cents per Hilton point. I know it is possible to buy Hilton points at 0.5 cents each when they run a 100% bonus sale, but the problem is you’re limited to buying a maximum of 80,000 points (pre-bonus) per account per calendar year. So you’d max out at 160,000 points, bought at 0.5 cents each.

This lets you get 250,000 points into your account at 0.48 cents each. To put things in perspective, you need 80,000/95,000 points per night at dream destinations like the Conrad Koh Samui or the Conrad Maldives (although recently I’ve only ever seen 95K point availability). I haven’t fully understood the ins and outs of the new Hilton redemption scheme, but my understanding is when you use the pay with points and cash option you can really maximise your value.

So if you’ve got an upcoming luxury vacation planned, you might want to consider crunching the numbers and seeing if buying points lets you enjoy a nice hotel for much less than what you’d be paying.

Image result for conrad maldives
Conrad Maldives

There is a maximum purchase of 1 set of 250,000 points per customer. You can buy a total of 5 sets of points in this promotion- the other sets come in different denominations as seen below. I find these less attractive though, given that you could get this amount or more during one of the 100% points sales, but it might be a way of circumventing the annual points purchase limit.

  • $144 for 30,000 points (450 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 3 per customer
  • $480 for 100,000 points (275 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 1 per customer

There is a line in the fine print that says “Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and must be a Hilton Honors member to participate.” , but I’m pretty sure that’s just in there for legal reasons. After all, this is a site meant to promote US tourism. What sense would it make if they didn’t let a non-resident claim a purchase?

Furthermore, other points buying offers (eg IHG, Hyatt) don’t have any such restriction. So I’m guessing this is a Hilton-side additional line of text, and I have doubts as to whether it really matters or not.

May 4th- $500 Marriott gift card for $400 (200 available)

Locking in a 20% discount on a future Marriott stay might also be an interesting idea. Marriott gift cards do not expire and can be used at any Marriott brand including the Ritz Carlton.

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

Marriott gift cards are not yet accepted at any of the Starwood brands, but it remains to be seen if that changes when the two companies are merged into one sometime around 2018.

It’s very hard to see how you can lose by buying some of these, if you’d be staying at a Marriott property sometime down the road anyway and seeing how the value doesn’t expire.

You can buy a maximum of 1 such gift card. Other denominations available include

  • $80 for a $100 Marriott gift card (1,070 available)- max purchase 3 per customer
  • $200 for a $250 Marriott gift card (252 available)- max purchase 2 per customer

May 5th- $1,000 Orbitz promo code for $650 (55 available)

This code is for use on hotels only, and can be used for stays any time before 31 Dec 2018.

I’m tempted to see this as a sort of omni discount code for any hotel you might fancy. It could be one of the better ways of getting a good deal at a place like the Conrad Koh Samui, or perhaps a Maldives overwater villa. Or it could help to offset hotel costs in expensive cities like London and Tokyo.

I think the concern is that if you buy this you’ll end up having to pay inflated OTA prices. But that doesn’t have to be the case- take the Conrad Koh Samui, where Orbitz is throwing up rates that are more or less similar to Hilton’s official site (US$663 vs US$647, the best rate I could find on Orbitz vs Hilton.com)

Orbitz site
Hilton site

There is a maximum purchase limit of 1 per customer.

May 10th- 72,000 Hyatt Points for $775 (25 available)

Buying 72,000 Hyatt points at $775 means paying 1.08 cents per point. Lucky over at OMAAT believes that Hyatt points are worth 1.5 cents each, so you’re actually getting a very good deal. It’s no wonder the Hyatt packages always sell out the first every time they appear on the Daily Getaways site.

Image result for park hyatt milan
Park Hyatt Milan

You could get a top tier property like the Park Hyatt Milan that costs 30,000 points a night, or US$324. Considering paid rates here start at US$650, you’d be getting substantial savings. Provided you’re the type of person who would have stayed at such a property in the first place, of course.

There are 3 other packages you can choose from

  • 24,000 Hyatt points for $260 (54 available, 1.10 cpp)
  • 30,000 Hyatt points for $330 (120 available, 1.08 cpp)
  • 40,000 Hyatt points for $415 (30 available, 1.04 cpp)

Conclusion

I think it’s well worth taking a look at the other deals on offer and deciding whether you can fit them into your travel plans.

I’m currently leaning towards the Orbitz travel voucher simply for its flexibility, but I’m guessing it will get snapped up rather quickly. I’ve set a calendar alert for when the deal goes on sale, and if you’re thinking of getting anything on offer I recommend you do the same.

PS- I know they’re selling IHG rewards points as well, but don’t take that deal. You can buy IHG rewards points cheaper when they go on sale.

Starwood Select Member Exclusive Bonus- did you get anything?

Starwood offers targeted member promotions from time to time on top of its usual quarterly promotions that are open to all. These present opportunities to earn additional lucrative Starpoints.

Via Loyalty Lobby, I’ve just learned that there’s another Select Member Exclusive ongoing. You need to click through to the website and register your SPG number to see your offer.

Registrations need to be done by 15 April, but stays can be anytime between 15 Feb and 15 May. As with all Starwood promos, you can earn credit “retroactively”. That’s to say, if I make 3 stays in Feb but only register in March, those 3 stays will count towards my  Feb-May tally.

Here’s the offer I got

Other people are reporting bonuses like

  • 3,000 Starpoints after the 3rd stay, 3,000 Starpoints after the 6th stay and 3,000 Starpoints after the 9th stay for a total 9,000 Starpoints bonus
  • Double elite stay and elite night credit
  • One free night certificate (up to Cat 5) after 3rd stay and 6th stay each, maximum of 2 free night certificates

Not everyone will receive an offer, but it only takes 5 minutes to register and find out.

Feeling lucky today?

Starwood Mystery Point Bonus- up to 50% off Starpoints

Starpoints are one of the most valuable points currencies out there because of the great redemption opportunities that exist. What’s more, they’re very hard for us Singapore-based travellers to earn. The only credit card route we have to earn Starpoints in Singapore is through American Express, at a really crappy ratio.

So whenever Starwood announces a sale on points, I get interested. This time round they’re offering a mystery bonus of up to 50% on points purchased before 31 Dec 2016.

Note that the wording is up to 50%. From what I understand, there are 4 offers available. Starpoints regularly retail at 3.5 cents per point, so depending on what offer you get you will be paying-

  • 25% off — 2.625 cents per Starpoint
  • 30% off — 2.45 cents per Starpoint
  • 35% off — 2.275 cents per Starpoint
  • 50% off — 1.75 cents per Starpoint

Guess what offer I got?

Pfffft. 78 nights this year and on track to hit 100, and I get 25%. Why do the ones we love hurt us the most?

If you got the 50% deal, I would advise you to absolutely buy the maximum number of points you can. 1.75 cents per Starpoint is a ridiculously good deal, given that you can typically get upwards of 2 cents per Starpoint value on hotel redemptions

Remember that you don’t just need to use Starpoints for hotels though, they can also be transferred to most airline FFPs (including Krisflyer) at a 1:1 ratio. What’s more, for every 20,000 Starpoints you transfer, you get a 5,000 miles, so that’s a 1:1.25 ratio.

The full list of airline partners is here.

Aegean Airlines 1:1
Aeromexico Club Premier 1:1
Aeroplan/Air Canada 1:1
Air Berlin 1:1
Air China Companion 1:1
Air New Zealand Airpoints 65:1
Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan 1:1
Alitalia MileMiglia 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1:1
American Airlines AAdvantage 1:1
Asia Miles 1:1
Asiana Airlines 1:1
British Airways Executive Club 1:1
China Eastern Airlines 1:1
China Southern Airlines Sky Pearl Club 1:1
Delta Air Lines SkyMiles 1:1
Emirates Skywards 1:1
Etihad Airways 1:1
Flying Blue 1:1
Gol Smiles 2:1
Hainan Airlines 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines 1:1
Japan Airlines (JAL) Mileage Bank 1:1
Jet Airways 1:1
Korean Air 1:1
LATAM Airlines LATAM Pass 1:1.5
LifeMiles® of Avianca 1:1
Miles and More 1:1
Qatar Airways 1:1
Saudi Arabian Airlines 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1:1
Thai Airways International Royal Orchid Plus 1:1
United Mileage Plus 2:1
Virgin America Elevate 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1:1
Virgin Australia 1:1

If you were to max out a 50% discount, you could essentially buy airline miles on any 1:1 partner for 1.4 US cents, which is very, very cheap.

For Singapore based flyers, this might present an opportunity to redeem some exotic cabin products that would normally be very difficult. For example, you could conceivably transfer to American Airlines or Etihad to book the Etihad First Class Apartment on the A380

Image result for etihad a380 apartment

Alternatively, you could convert Starpoints into Japan Airlines miles and use those to redeem Emirates First Class awards. This seems to be the only reasonable way to get them, now that Alaska has devalued their redemption rates.

Image result for emirates a380 first class

Image result for emirates a380 first class

What happens if you get the 30% or 35% offers? I’m a bit more indifferent about these. At 35% I might bite, if I had a confirmed redemption in mind and wasn’t just buying speculatively. Probably not at 30%, because there have been publicly available 30% sales before that anyone could take advantage of.

Anyway it’s a moot point for me because I’m definitely not biting at a 25% sale. The good news for those of you on the fence is that you have until the end of the year to decide, so there’s no need to rush to buy now.

A couple of people have asked me if there’s any chance Starwood will launch a cobranded card in Singapore. My answer to that is a flat no. The market here is just too small to make such an effort worthwhile. The best we can hope for is one of our banks adds Starwood as a transfer partner with a reasonable points exchange rate.