Category Archives: Urgent News

Semi-Monthly Update (May 15, 2018)

Another update, another busy month!  Along with my household points and miles updates, there’s a [non]travel update and some important credit card news, including an offer expiring in the next 24 hours.  To say it’s busy season a work for me is an understatement, so please excuse the delay in getting this update published.

Household Points and Miles Activity for March and April

Here is two months’ worth of points and miles activity for us. Starting with March:

  • earned 4,035 airline miles
  • earned 3,850 hotel points
  • earned 7,598 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 1,099 Citi Thank-You points

And April:

  • earned 246 airline miles
  • earned 879 hotel points
  • earned 3,200 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 1,897 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 64 “other” points

Credit Card News

Just like my previous update last month, there is far too much going on with credit cards right now to fully detail here.  I’ll list a few highlights that you can research further if desired.

  • The American Express Delta cards (Gold and Platinum) are still available at elevated sign-up bonuses but only through a referral link.  The gold’s bonus is at 50k (not its highest ever) and the Platinum’s is 70k with a $100 statement credit (the highest I’ve seen this card).  The public offers are long gone and the referral offer ends tomorrow.  (Whether that means it is valid through tomorrow or that it expires tomorrow, I do not know.)
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred now has a second option for the sign-up bonus.  The new option offers the regular 50,000 Ultimate Reward bonus after $4,000 in spending in the first 3 months, but also offers an additional 30,000 points after spending $20,000 in the first year.  This seems like a huge spend for the additional points, but might be feasible for some people, especially if it’s your only card.  This second option does not, however, offer the 5k UR bonus for adding an autorized user that the original option comes with.
  • On top of the 5/24 rule and other restrictions, Chase now appears to be stepping up their game when it comes to actively going after churners.  These reports come around from time to time and the reporting bias is very evident, but the comments on this Doctor of Credit post are worth looking into if you’re the burn-and-churn type.  Chase has some of the most valuable credit cards out there in terms of sign-up bonus and other benefits.  My advice is to stay under the radar and try to not bite the hand that feeds.

Delta PlatApply for the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved!  This is the 70k offer referred to in the first bullet point above.  The Delta Platinum comes with a 70,000 mile sign-up bonus after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months.  The card has a $175 annual fee due up-front, but it’s partially offset by a $100 statement credit after a Delta purchase of any amount (baggage fee, award booking taxes and fees, gift card purchase – all count).  The referral offer ends tomorrow and the bonus goes back down.

Travel News


A total black hole.  That’s what Nicoleen’s and my vacation planning has become in the past couple months.  We can’t seem to get a coherent plan together.  We’re considering a family road trip; this fall or next spring might be time for another adults-only trip; and I’m not completely ruling out a summer Europe visit.  It’s all just ideas at this point, and that really bothers me!

Others, however, are not so inept:  ValueTactics guest stars Derek and Danie are leaving soon for a value packed week in Europe.  My parents have a few bucket list destinations in mind and I’ve been coaching them on which cards to get / points to go after to best serve their plans.

Free Travel Photo

In honor of Mother's Day on Sunday, I thought I'd post this photo of my mom and me in Europe in 1996, on my first trip out of the country. It isn't exactly an example of free travel (well, for 14 year old Ross it was!) but it definitely fueled my passion for travel. Thanks, Mom!

In honor of Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d post this photo of my mom and me in Europe in 1996, on my first trip out of the country. It isn’t exactly an example of free travel (well, for 14 year old Ross it was!) but it definitely fueled my passion for travel. Thanks, Mom!

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

Catch-Up Update (April 11, 2018)

My, oh my!  It’s been a while since my last update post and there is a lot to report.  So much, in fact, that I won’t even get to it all here.  There is a ton of news on the credit card front.  Nicoleen and I had a great time in Costa Rica and are working on some future trip plans.  A ValueTactics reader pulled off an amazing feat of free travel planning. . .  Let’s get into the update!

Household Points and Miles Activity for January and February

Here is two months’ worth of points and miles activity for us.  Starting with January:

  • earned 3,763 airline miles
  • earned 8,794 hotel points
  • earned 5,407 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 975 Citi Thank-You points
  • redeemed free annual IHG night for lodging worth $109.48
  • received $133.76 in travel expense reimbursement from Nicoleen’s Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • received $100 reimbursement (Global Entry application fee) from my Bank of America Premier Rewards card

And February:

  • earned 30,106 hotel points
  • earned 7,559 Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • earned 6,071 Citi Thank-You points
  • earned 105 “other” points

Credit Card News

There is a lot going on with travel credit cards at the moment.  It’s too much news to cram into an update post so I’ll simply list the highlights.  If any of these developments catches your eye, I’d encourage you to see what other bloggers and FlyerTalk posters have to say about it.

  • The American Express Delta cards (Gold and Platinum) are currently at 60k and 70k, respectively, for sign-up bonuses.  This is the highest I remember these bonuses ever going, so if you haven’t had one of these cards before, now might be a good time to apply.  The public offer expires tonight (read more here).  A ValueTactics reader currently has a referral link for the same offer on these cards, but it’s good until 5/16/18.  If you don’t apply today and are still interested in these offers, contact me and I will get the referral sent to you.
  • Chase’s IHG Rewards hotel card lost some of its potential value due to changes in the annual free night terms.  Check out my previous blog post for more info.
  • The same Chase IHG Rewards card is being replaced with a $29 annual fee version and an $89 annual fee version.
  • The Barclay Arrival+ went away.
  • Chase recently extended their “One Sapphire Policy” to their Southwest cards.  Getting both personal cards is no longer a possible way to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.  One personal and one business card is now the easiest combination good for that tactic.

I’ve been having a lot of credit card discussions with my in-the-game friends and family lately.  Planning card applications is becoming a real science in recent months and years.  Through these discussions some of us have formulated and acted on plans; in the coming weeks I have a feeling I’ll have some card applications of my own to report!

Travel News

cr-relaxYes, we had a great time in Costa Rica last month!  Since we had already stayed at the Andaz Papagayo Peninsula the previous year, we already knew the drill and were able to get right into relaxation mode.  The motto of our trip was:  There’s tons of stuff to do in Costa Rica, and we plan on doing none of it!  🙂  The goal was rest and relaxation and we got our fill.

Derek’s Feat

While their home state refused to let go of winter, Derek and Danie enjoyed the Arizona heat!

While their home state refused to let go of winter, Derek and Danie enjoyed the Arizona heat!

Stalwart ValueTactics readers Derek and Danie just returned from a warm-weather weekend get-away in Arizona.  Being stalwart readers, naturally they paid for their flights and hotel with points.  But that’s not the noteworthy part of this amazing feat of travel planning.

The noteworthy part is that Derek, in a frenzy, called me Friday mid-morning looking for some flight booking advice.  He had hatched a plan to get out of town for the weekend just that morning.  I helped him steer clear of some tactical errors and he continued his searching.  By late afternoon, he and his wife were on a free flight to Phoenix!  That’s hands down the fastest turn-around from concept to execution of a free vacation I have ever heard of!

Great job, Derek.  I’m tagging this post with Extreme Tactics just for you.  🙂

Recent ValueTactics Blog Posts

Major Downgrade to IHG Anniversary Free Night is the latest “big news” devaluation in the points and miles world.  It also marks the end of an era for free hotel nights, as I explain in the article.

Free Travel Photo


I thought it would be fitting to represent the last free free hotel night we used as the free travel photo.  Nicoleen and I used my IHG anniversary free night at the Crowne Plaza Northstar in Minneapolis back in January.  It was a convenient use of the free night but had I known then about the recent IHG free night devaluation I might have looked for a more valuable/interesting redemption.

Now you’re updated. Go employ some Value Tactics!

Semi-Monthly Update (July 5, 2017)

In this update: A Delta Amex promotion ending tonight, monthly points and miles totals from our household, travel news, and yet another YouTube delay (but hopefully the last).

Last Chance for Delta Amex 60, 70k Offers ENDS TONIGHT

The big summer rush of elevated credit card sign-up bonuses is starting to fizzle out like yesterday’s fireworks.  The Platinum gets you 70k Delta Skymiles and the Gold gets you 60k.  Today, July 5th, is the last chance for these two Delta Amex offers, which are the highest for each card, as far as I can remember.
Since Amex limits you to one lifetime sign-up bonus per card, now would be a good time to get either of these.  (Of course any card application should also fit into your overall card strategy.)  To see a few more details on these offers, check out this MileValue post.

Household Points and Miles Activity for May

My initial 25k bonus from my Starwood preferred Guest Amex hit last month.  There’s another 10k bonus waiting for me once I spend an additional $2,000 before September:

  • earned 27,858 hotel points
  • earned 3,485 Chase Ultimate Rewards

Travel News

I am very excited that my Euro2017 trip is less than a week away!  By no means the only thing I’m excited about, but one that’s been on my mind today, is my United Polaris business class flight from Chicago to Dublin.  I found this flight for 57.5k United miles + $8.10.  The exact plane I will be flying in is slightly older than the one in the video but all of the amenities are the same.  The Polaris lounge in Chicago will be the exact one pictured in this video:

I will be busy visiting with friends, wandering in the Alps, drinking good beer, and answering questions about U.S. politics, but I will try to find some time to get a field report or two up on the website.

YouTube Update

Ok, ok. . . this is getting silly.  What can I say?  It’s summer and there’s lots to do.  And launching a YouTube channel is no cake walk.  Here’s a screenshot I took minutes ago.  We’re getting very close . . . 
ValueTactics YouTube video production

Now you’re updated.  Go employ some Value Tactics!

Last Chance: Mere Hours Left to get 2 Hyatt Free Nights

Starting tomorrow the sign-up bonus on the Chase Hyatt card changes from 2 free nights to 40,000 points.  40k Hyatt points may get you more than 2 nights at low to medium end Hyatt properties, but there’s no question that the value potential of the 2 free nights is higher than the 40k points.

Consider this. . .

My wife and I each used our 2 free nights at the Maui Andaz at Wailea.  The value of those two night stays were around $1,075 each.  The same stay would have cost 50,000 Hyatt points.  This inspirational trip could be accomplished with the current bonus, but after tonight, the 40k bonus would not cut it.

maui andaz grounds 3

Speaking of inspirational, one of my bucket list dream trips will no longer be possible after tonight.  I’m talking about a 4 night stay (using the 2 free night bonus from 2 of these cards) at Park Hyatt Hadahaa in the Maldives.  In this extreme case, the 2 night bonus is worth over $3000!  – Read more about this proposed free night usage in my card review –

Of course there are many less-awesome Hyatt properties are under 20k points per night.  (And some notable “sweet spot” pricing on some more-awesome properties like the Andaz Papagayo for 15k per night.)  If that’s more your style, the 40k bonus that starts tomorrow might be a better deal for you, because you could get the 2 free nights and still have some points leftover.

But less-awesome hotels and limiting myself to sweet spot deals isn’t the reason I’m in this game-  I do this to stay at resorts where you would picture the Wolf of Wall Street spent his vacations!  So for me, the 2 nights deal is more valuable than the 40k deal.

If you want the 2 free nights,

You need to apply for the card tonight.  I don’t know when the actual change will occur, but to be safe I would get my app in before midnight Eastern Standard Time.  For a link to the application page and for the most up-to-the-minute reports on when the offer has changed, visit the flyertalk wiki and thread on this card.

NOTE: The Chase Hyatt card is NOT subject to the Chase 5/24 rule.  If you have over 5 new credit cards in the past 24 months, you will not be automatically declined.  However, the card will of course still count toward your 5/24 limit for future applications.

Information to help your decision

To see what other bloggers are saying about this bonus change, check out some of these blog posts.  Without these guys keeping tabs on this stuff, I would miss a lot of these news items, so I tip my hat:
Milevalue: LAST DAY FOR 2 FREE NIGHTS ON HYATT CARD: Sign Up Bonus Changes Tomorrow
One Mile at a Time: Last Chance At A Sign-Up Bonus Of 2 Free Hyatt Nights

HyattcardCard Review: Chase Hyatt
My full review of this card, including my valuation of the 2 night bonus which expires tonight. All the relevant card stats are also listed. At the end I include some help in deciding if and when to get this card.

Our Hawaiian Get-Away 2016hawaii-get-away
The dream vacation we were able to engineer, largely based on the free nights from the Chase Hyatt card.  In this post is a complete explanation of how we planned the trip and got thousands of dollars of free hotel stays from credit card bonuses.

Relaxing in Costa RicaA Long Weekend in Paradise . . . Why Not?
This trip to Costa Rica this February was how we used another valuable benefit of the Chase Hyatt card, the annual free night after paying the $75 annual fee.  Detailed valuation analysis is included here as well.

For some general advice on choosing credit cards for their bonuses, read my post on Which Card Should I Get?

Don’t Panic

Last but not least, don’t panic.  The Chase Hyatt card will by no means become worthless tomorrow when the bonus changes to 40k points.  The decision to get the card or not will pretty much remain the same.  If anything, the timing will be less important.

40k Hyatt points is still worth a whole lot.  But if you see the 2 free nights as an invitation to maximize some extreme value out of this card (as I do), then tonight is your last chance to do so!