It’s almost 2018, and there are several opportunities you should look at before the end of the year where you’ll miss out.
10x Promotion With The Cobalt Card
The American Express Cobalt Card has a 10x bonus on Grocery and Dining purchases until December 31. You earn 10 Membership Rewards points for each dollar you spend in these categories, an absolutely incredible rate. It’s by far the best credit card spending bonus I’ve seen. The cap per credit card is $2,000, for a total of 20,000 points. Normally, you still earn at a pretty good rate – 5 points per dollar with no limit, which is why I suggest that this card is a good fit for everyone.
Most credit cards only give you 1 point per dollar. For just spending $300 monthly on groceries/dining, you earn an additional 1200 points. Annually, this adds up to 14,400 points in a worth a minimum of $144. The current signup offer is 40,000 points, and this ends January 31, 2018. You get 10,000 points with $3,000 of purchases within your first three months of card membership. Additionally, the other 30,000 points come as a monthly bonus, divided into 12 months. This means you get 5,000 bonus points by spending $500 per month.
You can easily maximize the bonus by purchasing gift and prepaid cards at your local grocery store. Most stores carry cards ranging from electronic stores to gas stations to clothing retailers, making it easy to complete the spend. By purchasing gift cards, you are basically earning 10 points per dollar on all purchases with your gift cards. As well, there are prepaid cards come in very handy if you use them on non-bonused spend like medical or insurance expenses. For more details, reach out me if you need tips.
Keep in mind that the Cobalt Card does not transfer directly to airlines. If you are looking for Aeroplan miles or British Airways Avios, the alternative card to get would be the American Express Gold Rewards Card, which comes with a bonus of up to 30,000 Membership Rewards Points.
SPG Points Purchase Promotion
SPG is offering up to a 35% discount when you buy points before December 29. If you buy 5,000 or more, each SPG point will cost you 2.28 cents apiece. Starwood points are one of the most flexible, so I could purchase even speculatively because there are many ways to get more value than the cash outlay.
This promotion is a great way to instantly top up your balance if you need more for a specific award. There is a limit of 30,000 points you can buy with this promotion but you can sidestep this by using another SPG account. The trick to transfer an unlimited amount of points between SPG accounts makes it very easy to consolidate points if you need to.
SPG points have some incredible airline redemptions, including Emirates First Class with JAL Mileage Bank or Etihad First Class with Asiana Club, among others. Since SPG transfers at a 1:1 ratio with additional 25% bonus every 20,000 miles, you can indirectly buy airline miles for just 1.82 cents. This is an incredible rate – even cheaper than, for example, when Alaska MileagePlan runs their own sales.
Alternatively, there are fantastic hotel redemptions with SPG, such as the SPG 35% Resort Discount. I booked the Al Maha Resort and Spa, a Luxury Collection property easier each year. I redeemed 38,000 points per night instead of the normal $1,500 room rate. It’s a marvellous experience, and I highly recommend it. You can also transfer at a 1:3 ratio to Marriott, offering one of the best high value redemptions with Hotel and Air packages. If you like luxury hotels, SPG points should be part of your points portfolio.
American Express Platinum Travel Credit
One of the unique benefits of the American Express Platinum Card is the $200 travel credit they offer. This is per calendar year, and thus, you must redeem it before December 31. This has to be through the American Express Platinum Travel Service, which is a full-service travel agency. You can basically book anything – flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more.
I like to redeem this credit on Fine Hotels and Resorts rates. This is because you usually can’t book them anywhere else. Typically. FHR rates are the same price as the best flexible rate at a hotel. However, you get added benefits like upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, breakfast, and a food or spa credit (usually $100). Percentage-wise, the rebate from these bookings increases with a lower hotel rate. Fine Hotels and Resorts rates include many luxury hotel brands, so it stacks well if you also have elite status.
If you redeem your travel credit now, then you receive another one on January 1, 2018. Effectively, you get $400 in your first year as a Platinum Cardholder. In addition to other impressive status benefits and a 60,000 signup bonus, it’s one of the best cards to get for frequent travellers.
Double-Checking Elite Status Qualification
If you have elite status with airlines, hotels, or car rental companies, you should check that you meet the requirements to requalify for next year. This is especially true if you have put additional effort into being a top-tier elite.
Specifically, for the Fairmont President’s Club loyalty program, I suggest adding the fast-track requalification code as those expire Dec 31. You can use these on your account if you have the American Express Platinum or Business Platinum Card with enrollment code PLAT5. This allows you to get Platinum status just with 5 nights instead their normal 30 night requirement.
To be thorough, look at all your previous stays and flights for this year to make sure they posted currently. If not, you should reach out by phone ASAP to get that rectified now instead of 2018. If you realize you’re just short, consider completing extra travel. This can be either with a mileage or mattress run. Airline fares are pretty high until the end of the year, hence a hotel booking (mattress run) makes more sense as rates are often low during this period except New Years Eve.
A simple way to calculate whether this is worth it is with the following formula: Value of Additional Elite Benefits + Points Earned > Costs. I use these terms because the numbers are highly variable depending on the situation. Now, I’ve requalified for Hyatt Globalist and Fairmont Platinum already, so I’m good to go for 2018. I hope you are too!