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Emirates has been offering various bonuses for both business and first class purchases lately.  Now they have come up with their latest offer of double miles for business and first class that are ticketed before June 30th and flown by August 16th, 2012.

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This time the bonus miles offer is available only or FLEX fares i.e. deeply discounted business or first class fares do not qualify. You need to register for this offer before start of travel.

emirates-complimentary-hotel-dubai-mastercard

Also, if you book online and pay using a MasterCard, you are eligible for complimentary UAE Visa, if you need one, and two complimentary nights at the Armani hotel for first class passengers and a free night at the Address Dubai Marina.  This offer is valid for booking and flights from May 15th to September 30th, 2012. There is no FLEX fare requirement for this.

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Much of the discussion on the past few days have been about the SPG Platinum benefits update. Much less has been devoted to the new benefit of the SPG Gold status.

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Starting March 1st the Gold members will be eligible for Welcome Gift much like PLT members. Gold members can choose from:

•Bonus Starpoints. Get to the points. Receive 250 bonus Starpoints® per eligible stay at St. Regis®, Luxury Collection®, W®, Le Méridien®, Westin® and Sheraton® and 125 Starpoints per stay at AloftSM, ElementSM and Four Points® by Sheraton.
•In-Room Internet Access. Online. On us. Surf, stream and stay connected in the convenience of your guest room with free in-room Internet access for your entire stay.
•Complimentary Beverage. Cheers. Sit back and relax with your favorite cocktail in the hotel’s restaurant or bar.

Internet access is free for all guests at Aloft and Element hotels. There your choice is basically the bonus Starpoints or a complimentary cocktail. Some other hotels are offering free internet access to all hotels so you might want to check before choosing the amenity.

Still, my favorite golf member benefit is the guaranteed 4PM check out at non-conference and resort locations. You just need to let the front desk know that you require late checkout and it is yours.

Gold status normally requires 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year. There are often airline related campaigns where airline elite status holders are comped SPG Gold status.

SPG Gold status after one stay paid using a MasterCard in the Asia-Pacific region

Right now SPG and MasterCard are running a promotion for getting Gold status after one stay paid with a MasterCard in the Asia-Pacific regions. You can read more about the promotion on the Starwood’s website at www.spg.com/WorldMasterCardGoldUpgrade.

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It is time for February hotel promotion update. All the hotels have their promotions up and running again and some like Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group have several concurrent promotions that you can take advantage of.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. Note that you will receive 2000 bonus points for online bookings.

club-carlson-triple-points

Club Carlson “Triple Points – Faster Nights” Promotion – Triple Gold Points Worldwide

Hilton HHonors

Hilton has the most promotions running that you can combine together. You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

Register Your Visa and Get 1000 Hilton HHonors Points + 4000 Bonus for Spending $100

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders + 40K HHonors Points After Four Stays (For All?

You can choose one of these airline promotions as your double dip earnings partner. My personal favorite still is BMI that would earn 1k per night and up to three nights regardless of the Hilton brand.

hilton-hhonors-ana-triple-miles

Triple ANA and Double Emirates Miles for Hilton Stays Until March 31st

Airline Promotions for Air Canada Aeroplan, US Airways Dividend Miles, Lufthansa Miles & More and American Airlines AAdvantage

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

These are the two main promotions for the time. More Points promotion for extra points for each nights and more for weekend stays, and free night certificates for longer resort stays.

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

‘Resort Escapes’ Promotion – Free Night Certificate After Five Nights and Two After Ten Nights

Hyatt Gold Passport

Last month Hyatt didn’t have any promotions running besides the AA one that ended in the middle of the month. Hyatt’s latest promotion just started today. You can earn up to 44K extra points for 16 stays during the promotional period. That is extra 2750 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

Hyatt Announced Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

The first promotion for double points starting from your second stay and the 5/7/15 stays for 5K/10K/15K bonus points are combinable. The first one runs until the end of April and the second until the end of March. Note that you need to choose the bonus after 5, 7, or 15 stays. If you don’t meet the threshold, you won’t get the associate bonus.

Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

There is Anniversary bonus that you can combine with these two promotion. It is extra 1000 Priority Club points for every stay for 90 days after you register. Do not register before the date of your first stay to maximize the promotional period. The promotion code is 6102 and you need to register at http://www.priorityclub.com/register. Please note that I cannot guarantee if this specific promotion will work for your Priority Club account. It never hurts to try, right?

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

Remember that you can have only Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. You cannot have both. You can, however, switch between accounts as often as you wish just by calling the rewards customer service.

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Earn Free Night Certificate After Two Stays Promotion

Note that you can only register for the MegaBonus or MegaMiles promotion. There are number of different MegaBonus thresholds. Pick up the ones that fits you best, and call the Marriott Rewards customer service if you need to switch your targeted promotion to something else.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood has two different promotions that are both exclusive. The Better By the Night is valid in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The list of non-participating properties is rather long. Note that this is NOT valid in the Asia-Pacific region that has their own promotion.

Starwood Preferred Guest 1st Quarter 2012 “Better by the Night”–promotion

Starwood Preferred Guest Asia Pacific Promotion

The following promotion is valid in the Asia-Pacific region for two free night certificates after 9 stays. Must use MasterCard to pay.

‘Two Days of Happy’ – Stay 5 Nights Get One Free Night Certificate – Stay 9 Nights Get Two Free Night Certificates – 4MCFN

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Sometimes when you are withdrawing money from a foreign ATM, you are presented an option for the bank operating the ATM to do the currency conversion for you instead of Visa/MasterCard. Also, when paying for hotels or other expenses in a foreign country, you are often given similar option to pay in the currency of you home country.

You should ALWAYS decline these offers and here’s the reason why. The rates that are offered are NEVER markets rates. The bank operating the ATM or the bank who is handling the credit card machine is offering you a rate that is anywhere from 3% to 7% off from the actual market rate. This conversion is done for your “convenience”, when in fact it does nothing else than increase their fee income. It is better to let the network to do the conversion using the actual market rates. [click to continue...]

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When traveling, we more and more rely on debit and credit cards to pay for things and get money from ATM’s. All is good when things work. When something starts going south it is good to have back up plans in place.

Over the years I have had my wallet lost, card(s) deactivated due to merchant database compromises, Visa/MasterCard authorization systems not working etc. These are all manageable when you have alternative plans in place. [click to continue...]