It’s almost summer, which means some of you will be scrambling to tie up lose ends before heading off on vacation. There are graduation ceremonies to attend, projects to complete way in advance before you can unchain yourself from your desk for two weeks, and some of you (or maybe just me) are in for a month of fasting in challenging conditions. To make it easy and give you one less thing to worry about, I’ve put together a list of points and miles related things to do before the end of June:
❑ Finalize Summer Travel Plans. I’m a procrastinator when it comes to making travel plans, but even I have most of my summer trip booked. I’m just waiting for the return segment to open up…and I’m deciding on hotels in Bali and considering changing the last stop from Kuala Lumpur to someplace else. But other than that, I’ve got this! So I’m not the best role model, but do as I say and not as I do by booking your summer travel well in advance.
If you’re hoping to travel to Europe, book your trip ASAP. Award space is incredibly tough to come by once the school years ends. Either book your departure for this week or keep an eye out for last-minute award space to open up. The easy route? Take advantage of cheap round-trip business class fares and charge them to your Arrival Plus card.
❑ Come Up with a New Manufactured Spending Strategy. With Redbird pretty much out of the picture, it’s time to do a walk of shame back to Walmart. Whether that involves reloading Bluebird or buying money orders, if you want to continue manufactured spending you’ll need to devise a new strategy. After taking a bit of a hiatus, I got bored out of my mind and desperately needed to get back in the game. Right now I’m working on something that’s a bit fragile and borderline shady (though not illegal) and it was passed on to me by someone else, so I’m not authorized to share it.
As I said in a recent post about travel hacking from abroad, look for local opportunities to earn miles. For example, in my area I can’t buy ReloadIT cards with a credit card but a few hours away at a Safeway store you can. My local post office won’t let me buy a money order with a PIN-enabled Visa gift card, but yours might. So explore local opportunities and don’t be dissuaded by negative experiences.
❑ Work on Annual Credit Card Spending Requirements. Once you’ve devised a new manufactured spending strategy, you might want to work on meeting annual bonus spend requirements on various credit cards. Notably, the Club Carlson Visa replaced the Bonus Award Night benefit with an annual free night certificate valid at U.S. hotels. Earning it takes $10,000 of spend per calendar year. If Club Carlson isn’t your cup of tea, you can earn a free weekend night at Hilton hotels after spending the same amount on the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card.
❑ Take Advantage of Category Bonuses. Many credit card category bonuses are coming to an end on June 30. One is a targeted offer for Alaska Visa Signature credit cardholders, who can earn an extra 2 miles per $1 (up to 2,5000 miles) on flights, hotels, cruises, and car rentals. If you activated the Chase Freedom bonus for the current quarter, you have until June 30 to earn 5% cash back/5 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on up to $1,500 worth of purchases at restaurants, Bed Bath & Beyond, H&M, Overstock.com. On June 15 you can start activating the next quarter’s bonus, which includes gas stations “and more.”
Those who prefer to earn bonus miles on non-category spend can take advantage of a 50% bonus on all spending charged to the Barclay AAdvantage credit card.
❑ Hotel Bonus Point Promotions. Those of you with summer travel plans will be glad to know that almost every major hotel rewards program has a great bonus point promotion going on. Club Carlson has several stackable promotions, some of which are coming to an end this month. Hilton is offering double points or miles through August 31, while IHG Rewards Club members can earn thousands of bonus points for themselves and a friend while simultaneously being entered into a sweepstakes to earn a free trip to Vegas. We have yet to hear from Hyatt after the disappointing Stay More, Play More promotion came to an end in April, but chances are if there is another promotion it will be more or less the same. Marriott’s Megabonus also ended on April 30 and will likely make a comeback this summer, if Marriott decides to run a bonus point promotion.
❑ 1,000 Free AAdvantage Miles. If you haven’t checked this item off last month’s list, you still have until June 12 to earn 1,000 free AAdvantage miles for taking part in AAdvantage University. Watch a few videos, take a few quizzes, and in 6-8 short weeks you’ll be 1,000 miles richer.
❑ Free Airport Lounge Access. There’s still time to claim your $10 discount code from LoungeBuddy by using my referral link or code (ptchaser). You’ll get $10 off on the purchase of a day pass and I’ll get $5 cash. You never know when you’ll get stranded at an airport and having club lounge access will come in handy.
❑ Register for a Points and Miles Conference. Whether it’s FTU or the Chicago Seminars, it’s worth attending one of these points and miles conferences at least once. You get to meet fellow travel hackers, learn a thing or two that don’t make it onto the blogs, and talk to your favorite bloggers in-person (though some of them make a run for it as soon as the presentation is over). I’ll be at the Chicago Seminars this year, which is geared more towards newbies. If you’re looking for more advanced content, FTU Advanced might be more your pace. Tickets to both events are still available, so if you can make the dates work you should definitely check it out.
Is there anything you need to check off your to-do list this month? Feel free to share it in the comment section.
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