About Travis

Travis has been playing in the world of miles and points for over a decade. At one time or another he has held status on just about every major domestic airline and hotel program. He has visited all 50 US states and over 50 countries. Nowadays he travels almost exclusively with his wife and three young children.

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How Amex’s Plan To Reduce Lounge Crowding May Actually Make It Worse

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Earlier this month, American Express announced that the guest policy for their network of Centurion Lounges would be changing as of March 30th. Whereas Platinum members could previously bring in two guests or their immediate family, they’ll now only be allowed two guests, period. This is presumably being done to alleviate crowding, which can certainly be a problem at times.

Yet it’s hard for me to believe that restricting families is really going to fix the issue. And in fact, I’m going to argue this silly policy is actually going to make things worse.

I’ve had The Platinum Card® from American Express for a while now in part because my family gets pretty good value out of the lounges.

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Review: Sampling Every Dish At The United Polaris Lounge

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I’m not going to lie, traveling as a family with three kids five and under is a lot of work. Quite often it means not getting to use some of the airline or lounge amenities — like daybeds or even showers — that you otherwise would.

But once in a while there can also be real advantages to having five mouths to feed. Like being able to sample literally every dish on the United Polaris Lounge lunch and dinner menu.

As luck would have it, we had another opportunity to visit the United Polaris Lounge Chicago about a month after our Oslo trip. And this time, we got to experience the full sit-down dining experience.

So rather than doing a full review of the lounge, I’m going to focus exclusively on the a la carte dining experience.

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Limited Time: Earn Double Plastiq Referral Credits

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I’ve been using Plastiq for quite a while to occasionally pay bills with a credit card that I otherwise could not. I’ve used them to pay our mortgage, insurance, electric bill, and property taxes, all bills that I used to grumble about not being able to earn miles and points for.

There are fees involved, of course, so I don’t always use Plastiq, but there are plenty of times where it can really make sense. Like if you need to meet the minimum spend requirement on a newly acquired credit card, for example. At any rate, you need to make a conscious decision and crunch your own numbers to see if it’s a good deal.

Plastiq also has a nice referral program. And for a limited time, it’s even better. But first, let’s review how it works.

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5 Predictions For World Of Hyatt

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This week is the launch of the new World of Hyatt program. I’ve been talking about some of the changes to the program over the past week. If you’ve followed along, you know that I’m not a fan. Be it the high qualification requirements given their small footprint, the swap of tiered-award nights for amenity points, or the diluted breakfast benefits, I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense. But it is what it is.

For better or worse, a lot of my travel so far this year has taken me to Scandinavia, a land completely devoid of Hyatts, so I’ve only recently been sharpening my pencil to determine if requalifying as a Globalist makes sense. Or will even be possible. That’s why I’ve been breaking down the program piece by piece this week, even though we’re partway through the qualification year.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post my predictions for the World of Hyatt program. As you read this, keep in mind that these are just my opinions. I don’t know anyone at Hyatt. I haven’t been on any blogger conference calls. And I’m not speaking for Team OMAAT.

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I “Got” My First World Of Hyatt Complimentary Suite Upgrade As A Globalist!

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I’ve been writing a lot about World of Hyatt lately, in anticipation of the big launch that occurred yesterday. As a longtime Diamond member, I’m concerned about the value proposition of the new program in light of the various devaluations.

Obviously the newly raised qualification levels are problematic for many of us given Hyatt’s small footprint, but I’m also concerned about the diluted breakfast benefits and the swap of welcome amenity points for tier-based free night awards with a short expiry.

But on the flip side, I’m super excited about the prospect of unlimited complimentary suite upgrades.

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Choice Hotels Spring Promotion: 8,000 Bonus Points After 2 Stays

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My family recently got back from our trip to Norway where we stayed at a couple of awesome Clarion Collection hotels including Hotel Bastion and Hotel Folketeateret in Oslo. These hotels, which are part of the Choice Hotels, are easily some of the best in the country. They include breakfast, dinner, and an afternoon snack, which can be a real game changer for families given how expensive Norway is.

The best part is that they can be booked on points.

Back here in the U.S., Choice Hotels don’t get a lot of attention. In fact, they are often scoffed at and I must admit that their brands like Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, and just about every other Inn (except those with a red roof) aren’t all that exciting. On the other hand, they are sort of everywhere, so if you’re taking a road trip and want to earn some points, a Choice hotel might be the only option.

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Act Fast! $30 Off A Hotel Through Travelocity

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If you follow along much here at OMAAT, you know that there is basically a running debate as to which cellular provider offers the best international data plan. On one side is T-Mobile which offers unlimited, albeit possibly slow, data at 120 countries around the world. Ben recently switched to T-Mobile and he seems to love it. On the other is Google’s Project Fi, which has $10 per gigabyte data both home and abroad. Tiffany is a big fan and I recently switched myself.

Well, it seems that T-Mobile might just win the day. It turns out that there is a little discussed feature called T-Mobile Tuesdays. This is an interesting program where their subscribers get some pretty awesome discounts on random stuff like e-books, movie tickets, and even pizza. Obviously, I don’t know too much about it as I’m not a subscriber.

But it turns out that today’s T-Mobile Tuesday deal is available to everyone and it’s pretty good. For a limited time, you can save $30 off a Travelocity hotel or flight + hotel booking, with no minimum.

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Why You Might Want To Claim Missing Hyatt Welcome Amenity Points Soon

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Under the soon-to-be defunct Gold Passport program, Hyatt Diamond members receive a welcome amenity at the start of their stay. For properties within the United States, this consists of either a food and beverage amenity or bonus points. I’m not much of a drinker, so I pretty much always take the points, either 500 at Hyatt House or Hyatt Place or 1,000 at the full service hotels. Sadly, the welcome amenity will not be a part of World of Hyatt which starts on March 1.

At any rate, these welcome amenity points are supposed to post automatically to your Gold Passport account along with the rest the points from your stay. That said, I find that this doesn’t always happen, especially at the limited service properties. Apparently this is a common problem, as Hyatt even has a policy where you get 50% more bonus points if you have to call.

As much as I like points, calling just for 750 points might not be worth the effort. So my strategy has been to go over my account about once a year, identify all of my stays where the points failed to post, and then call them in at once. It’s the modern day version of balancing your checkbook. I just did so yesterday and I’d recommend you do so as well.

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Earn Shiploads Of United Miles Renting Cars From Hertz

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I don’t rent cars all that often, but when I do, I like do earn shiploads of miles. Like enough miles that the car rental ends up being practically free.

As crazy as it sounds, this is actually possible thanks to a partnership between United and Hertz and a promotion that they’ve been running for a while now. It’s actually so good — at least for high status United flyers — that I don’t know why it doesn’t get talked about more.

This offer has been slated to end several times in the past, but always seems to get a reprieve for a few more months. This time it was extended until May 31, 2017.

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Hyatt’s New Globalist Breakfast Rules Won’t End Well

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I’ve been digging into the World of Hyatt program lately as it’s about to launch on March 1. As you might have figured out by now, I’m not a fan. Mostly I think the qualification requirements are insane for a hotel chain that has around 700 properties worldwide.

That said, assuming you can get to 60 nights per year, there are some things to like about the new program. The unlimited complimentary suite upgrades are a really nice perk, at least in theory. I travel a lot with my family and the three most important features for us — be it on the plane, at the hotel, or in the rental car — are space, space, and more space. So if this works as advertised, it’ll be great.

But it’s not all fun and games even for top-tier Globalists as devaluations and gotchas lurk around every corner. Some of these changes, like the diluted breakfast benefit, just don’t make a lot of sense to me.

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World Of Hyatt May Encourage You To Stay Somewhere Else

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Hyatt is scrapping their Gold Passport program in favor of World of Hyatt starting on March 1. The new program has a few changes that you might like, but it’s also chock full of hidden gotchas and devaluations. I’ve been busy practically since the day it was announced and haven’t really had a chance to think about it much until recently.

In fact, it was the “Welcome to Globalist” email that sort of motivated me to write about it. And, given the response in the comments, I’m not the only one who finds this program insanely confusing. I mean, when many of the top miles and points bloggers don’t even know something so simple as the requalification requirements… well, you get the idea.

Anyway, there’s another hidden gotcha in the new program, this time concerning the policies surrounding the free night awards and Diamond Suite Upgrades. Here’s how you might find yourself in the situation where Hyatt’s loyalty program actually encourages you to stay with someone else. Crazy, eh?

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Earn Miles (Or Make Money) For Rent & Mortgage Payments

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Plastiq is a good way to pay bills with a credit card that you otherwise couldn’t. This lets you earn miles and points while paying your rent, mortgage, insurance, electric bill, property taxes, or a variety of other bills for which the provider doesn’t accept credit cards.

I’ve been using the Plastiq service on and off for the past year or so and have had a really good experience overall. There are fees involved, of course, so you need to make a conscious decision as to whether to use Plastiq based on your own personal value of the miles and points you’ll be earning.

That said, Plastiq has an offer out now that could make the decision to pay your rent or mortgage a little easier depending on your situation.

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Hyatt’s New Globalist Status Requires Even More Nights Than We Thought

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We’re only days away from the launch of the new World of Hyatt loyalty program. As we learned last fall, World of Hyatt will replace Hyatt Gold Passport starting on March 1. I’m in the midst of putting together my thoughts on the new program — spoiler alert, I’m not impressed.

There are a few things to theoretically like in the new program, particularly if you hold top tier status. Globalists, as Hyatt has decided to call them, will get unlimited complimentary upgrades to suites in addition to the four confirmed suite upgrades of the past. Perhaps I was prescient when I wrote “4 Free Upgrades Are Better Than Unlimited Suites, Really” a year ago…

Anyway, that’s about the extent of the good news. There are at least some positives to look forward to for those who can maintain top-tier status, but getting there is going to be a challenge. In fact, it’s arguably harder than most of us thought it was going to be.

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Is This The Best Hotel Room TV Setup Ever?

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I don’t usually get too excited about hotel room TVs. In fact, it’s pretty rare for my family to ever turn them on. Maybe if we’re in a foreign country, we’ll watch a cartoon so the kids can have a cultural experience, but that’s about it.

I suppose some will say that the hotel room TV is going to go the way of the desk because millennials just don’t use them. Call me old school, but I still prefer to watch TV on a big screen. And I also like to listen to it. Like really listen with real speakers, not uncomfortable earbuds or tinny laptop speakers.

The problem is that flat screen TVs are notorious for having awful sound. There just isn’t space to fit a proper speaker. So you end up with undersized cones that are typically pointed to the side, or worse, out the back. I remember being at a Hyatt Place where my wife — who was trying to sleep in the bedroom area — could hear the TV better than I could even though I was sitting right in front of it.

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