Episode 58: Loyalty Program Changes at Marriott, Hyatt, American Airlines and More

Three major loyalty programs updated their schemes this week. We discuss this and more in this week’s No Annual Fee podcast…

Marriott Bonvoy Changes (Direct Link)

  • Doing away with award chart March 2022, points required will track cash price
  • Free Night Certificate Top Off limited to 15k, starts “early 2022”
  • Certificates/status extended again (FM)

Hyatt Peak/Off-Peak Goes Live

  • Gave a cursory look at booking some things last minute but…didn’t find award availability on the dates and destinations I checked
  • Seems like they’re one step behind Marriott in going to a scheme where the number of points required is tied to cash rate
  • Opinion: Overall the chart is still very favorable paired with UR 1:1 transfer

AA Makes Some Changes

  • Mostly affects how status is attained (can earn through cc spend now)
  • Award charts, especially partner, are thankfully unaffected

Citi to Choice Hotels 1:2 for Preferred Hotels (FM)

  • Link to check which Preferred Hotels are potentially bookable as an award
  • Some very high value properties listed but…
  • Awards can only be booked over the phone and it sounds downright painful
  • The award availability shown online is said to be unreliable (shows open, but you discover it can’t be booked until after a lengthy call)
  • Only standard double occupancy rooms can be booked (unclear whether families can finagle more spacious rooms)
  • Other than that…great deal! 😉

Chase Freedom Flex “Top Spend” for Additional Q4 2021 5x (Direct Link)

  • Only on the Freedom Flex 5x card (not the old Freedom 5x card, not the Freedom Unlimited)
  • Spend from the top amount among these (capped at $1,500) for the quarter gets +4x
  • Travel (including Transit), Dining, Home Improvement Stores, Grocery Stores (not including Target and Walmart purchases), Drugstores, Gas Stations, Select Live Entertainment, Select Streaming Services, Fitness Clubs.
  • The “normal” Q4 categories are WalMart and PayPal
  • Freedom Flex earns 3x on dining and drugstores every day
  • So if you already spent $1,500 at PayPal you wouldn’t have triggered the top spend +4x unless the merchant was one of the top spend categories, so you could have more work to do
  • But if you haven’t started it would seem optimal to either try to find a PayPal + top spend bonus category -or- do the PayPal separately then do the top spend in a category like drugstores or dining for 3x + 4x
  • Maybe I should be using Freedom Flex at drugstores more in general, for 3x URs uncapped. It’s about the same as Old Blue Cash if you value URs at 1.5 cpp and consider the $6,500 at 1% on that card to get to 5% cashback.
  • Whew, what a mind boggler. A shame the cap is so low on Freedom.

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About the author

– Written by Robert Dwyer, contributor at Milenomics. Connect with me on Twitter @RobertDwyer

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