At the beginning of each year, there is usually lots of stuff to do for travel hackers. Many of you will begin planning out your points strategy to make those bucket list vacations happen. It takes a lot of work, which is why it’s important to stay on top of deadlines. Here are six things to do before the end of January.
❑ Organize This Year’s Credit Card Churns. I’m no longer churning credit cards on a regular basis – when a good sign-up bonus comes around, I jump on it. However, if you’re a regular churner, now is the time to start organizing each quarterly churn. This may become difficult, with both American Express and Chase limiting sign-up bonuses to one time and every two years, respectively. However, Citi, Bank of America, and Barclays are still game. U.S. Bank has a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to our hobby, so if they approve you a card like the Club Carlson Visa Signature, take it and be grateful.
❑ British Airways Avios 40% Transfer Bonus. Membership Rewards is getting stingier with their transfer bonus promotions. In the past, British Airways transfer bonuses topped 50% but right now they’re offering 40% through January 31, 2015. Not quite something you should unload all of your Membership Rewards points over, but a deadline worth keeping in mind if you anticipate redeeming Avios in the near future.
Membership Rewards points transfer to British Airways in 1,000 point increments at a 1:1 ratio. They’re good for short-haul flights on partner airlines (American and US Airways), and an especially good value for West Coast flights to Hawaii. If you want to bulk up on British Airways Avios for upcoming travel, consider doing so before the January 31 deadline. There’s no guarantee that a higher offer may come along, so proceed with that in mind.
❑ Book Hyatt Hotels Before the Category Changes Set in. On January 22, Hyatt will implement some changes to it’s award chart: 22 hotels will be moving up in category, while 48 are moving down. Notable properties going up in category include the Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht and Hyatt Regency Nice, which will both go from 20,000 points per night to 25,000 – that’s a 25% increase in points, which is pretty substantial. Perhaps the most unsurprising change is the Park Hyatt Maldives moving from Category 6 to top-tier Category 7. It’s one of the most aspirational and expensive Hyatt properties, so moving it up makes absolute sense. Nonetheless, if you’ve had the Park Hyatt Maldives on your bucket list, you may want to book it before January 22 to save 5,000 points per night.
|Hotels Moving Up||Hotels Moving Down|
|Category 1 to 2
||Category 2 to 1
|Category 2 to 3
||Category 3 to 2
|Category 3 to 4
||Category 4 to 2
|Category 4 to 5
||Category 4 to 3
|Category 5 to 6
||Category 5 to 4
|Category 6 to 7
||Category 6 to 5
❑ Update Your Airline Choice for the $200 Airline Fee Credit. It seems like just last week you were claiming your annual $200 Airline Fee credit and now it’s time do it again. Except, some of you did claim your credits a little over a week ago (hopefully before January 1) and you’ll be glad to finally justify that $450 annual fee you had to pay for the card. Be sure to claim your credit by buying airline gift cards in $50 increments. If you don’t like the airline you picked last year, you have until January 31 to choose another one.
❑ Activate the Chase Freedom Bonus. If you haven’t done so already, be sure to activate this quarter’s Chase Freedom bonus category. Through March 31, 2015 Chase Freedom cardholders get 5% cash back/5 points per $1 spent at movie theaters, Starbucks, and grocery stores. Chase specifically excludes Walmart and Target, which is too bad because it certainly would have made trips to Walmart less horrendous. Plus, getting 5 points per $1 for Amex for Target loads would be nothing short of ideal – at least for me.
❑ Use Your Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade Awards. Suite Upgrade Awards don’t expire until February 28, but you might want to get a head start in trip planning if you want to put them to use. Simply book a paid or Points + Cash stay and then call Hyatt Gold Passport customer service to apply the upgrade. Each Suite Upgrade Award is good for upwards of 7 nights per stay, so you could be giving up 28 nights in a suite by letting them expire. If you’ve managed to obtain status through 2016, four new Suite Night Awards should appear in your account during the first week of March.
❑ Link Your AAdvantage and Dividend Miles Accounts. Starting January 8, members can begin linking their American AAdvantage and US Airways Dividend Miles accounts. Simply login to your frequent flyer account (either one will do) and you’ll see a prompt to get the process started. If you’re logged into your AAdvantage account, you’ll be asked to enter your Dividend Miles account number, vice versa if you’re logged into Dividend Miles.
What are some of your checklist items for January? Please share in the comment section.
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