AwardGuru Unlock and opti-maxi-mize the value of your miles and points…


*Hot Offer* Stay one night and Get one night free with Club Carlson (Radisson group of hotels)

Club Carlson is giving away up to 50,000 nights to celebrate the U.S. debut of Radisson Blu with the opening of our new Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago.

Register for their Big Night Giveaway promotion and stay at a Radisson® hotel in the U.S., Canada, or Caribbean through December 30, 2011 to receive 50,000 bonus Gold Points®. That's enough points for a free night at any Radisson hotel worldwide!

Hurry, this offer is a limited offer. The first 50,000 guests who complete the Promotion Registration will receive 50,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of the Qualifying Stay.

Learn more & register today.

Here is the link to Club Carlson's award table. Interestingly, Club Carlson also has good Points + Cash program. Redeeming points for award nights offer you the best value for your points.

You can also use the points for redeeming for Gift Cards, Vacations and Converting to Miles to over 20 different Airline Partners but all these redemptions don't offer the best value for the points.

"The first 50,000 guests who complete the Promotion Registration will receive 50,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of the Qualifying Stay"

Please note that terms state that the stay must be completed at a "participating Radisson or Radisson Blu".

Also, please note that you will actually get more than 50,000 points, because you can get 2000 points for booking online plus you also get 20 points per dollar on your bill. Plus, if you are new to Club Carlson, you can get 2000 points by signing up using this link. Thus, you could potentially end up with 54000 points+ which would get you up to 6 nights at a Category 1 hotel.

You could also sign-up for the Club Carlson using the code OPBCSL11 which will get you Silver Elite status with them for a year.

Go ahead and register right away!


EXCLUSIVE! Earn up to 40,000 Choice Privileges points when you apply for Choice Privileges Visa Credit Card (still active, was supposed to end November 30)

Update, December 5, 2011: As long as the link for the application is active, this offer should remain active as reported in post# 23 of this thread. I will update the link as soon as the offer is dead.

Update, Nov 13, 2011, 7:30 AM: Beware! Barclays will deny card application for all non-immigrant legal residents of the US

Update, Nov 11, 2011, 7:00 AM: Some users reported a broken link. The link has now been updated. Please let me know if you still continue to have issues.

I would really appreciate if readers could provide feedback about their experience by posting comments. Would love to hear if the link worked for them and if they were approved or denied. This would help other readers.

You can now earn up to 40,000 bonus Choice Privileges points (24,000 after first use and 16,000 more after your first stay paid with this card) when you apply for Choice Privileges Via Signature card offered by Barclays Bank. The card has no annual fee.

Please note: The link takes you directly to the application page which does not show offer details. So, here is the offer showing Choice Visa 40K.

Under Choice current award structure, 40,000 points can get you up to six free nights at their lowest award level requiring 6,000 points per award night. The best value of Choice Points is to use them for award nights at hotel properties outside the US (especially Europe).  Another good option is to use Choice points for the their luxury properties like Preferred Hotel Group and Barcelo hotels. Choice program also has other redemption options like gas gift cards, dining gift cards, car rental and other travel related gift cards and ability to transfer points to a bunch of Airlines' Frequent Flyer programs.

Note that you will earn 24,000 bonus points after your first purchase and rest 16,000 only after your eligible stay paid with this credit card. As copied and pasted from offer's terms and conditions:  card-members will earn an additional 16,000 points after their first paid stay with their new Choice Privileges Visa Signature card at a Comfort Inn® , Comfort Suites ®, Quality®, Sleep Inn®, Clarion®, Ascend Collection®, Cambria Suites®, MainStay Suites®, Suburban Extended Stay®, Econo Lodge® or Rodeway Inn® hotel in the U.S.

With the Choice Privileges Visa Signature card, you'll also earn:

  • 15 points per $1 spent at 4,200 Choice Privileges locations.
  • 5 points per $1 spent on additional Choice Privileges points and Choice Hotels gift cards.
  • 2 points per $1 spent on everyday purchases such as gas and groceries.
  • Automatic Elite Gold status.

This offer is valid through November 30, 2011.


10,000 Wyndham Rewards points + 3 Days and 2 Nights + 1 future night for $99 per package – Escape for the Holidays!

Following up on my previous posts for 7,000 SPG points plus 6 days at Westin Kaanapali deal for $798 as well as 7,000 SPG points plus 5 days in 1-Bedroom villa at the Westin Mission Hills Resort & villas for $389, I would like to add another deal along similar lines. This time, it is from Club Wyndham. This deal offers 10,000 Wyndham Rewards points plus 3 days, 2 nights for $99 per package. You also get a “Spend A Night on Us” rebate coupon for up to $100.00 cash back on a one-night stay in a Wyndham Worldwide hotel (subject to certain specific hotels and additional redemption instructions available on the coupon).

I find this to be a good deal considering like the previous one as it gets you 10,000 Wyndham Rewards points which gets you 1 free night at their Tier 2 property plus the 2 nights at one of the resorts. Here is the list of properties where you can get these 2 nights. Most of the hotels and resorts on this list are 3 stars or higher like Harvey's Resort and Casino in Lake Tahoe, Harrah’s Atlantic City or Wyndham Riverfront New Orleans.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated to the promo in any ways and do not stand to gain from the promo. Further, I would like to bring it to readers attention that this deal is part of a timeshare promo and you will need to attend a two-hour on-site presentation.

Get your 10,000 Wyndham Rewards points + 3 Days and 2 Nights + 1 future night for $99 per package and Escape for the Holidays.

Click here for terms and conditions of this timeshare promotion.


Transfer Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to Hilton HHonors at 1:2 ratio

You can now transfer Virgin Atlantic's Flying Club miles to your Hilton HHonors account at 1:2 ratio, i.e., 10,000 HHonors points for every 5,000 Flying Club miles transferred. Like HawaiianMiles, Flying Club miles can only be transferred in multiples of 5,000 miles and the transfer carries no fee. The webpage on Virgin's website is not updated yet as it still shows 1:1 ratio but if you can them, the agent will confirm that the ratio is 1:2.

Interestingly, you can transfer Flying Club miles earned from any source including American Express Membership Rewards points. What this means is you can transfer AMEX MR points to Virgin and then move them to Hilton thus earning you 2 Hilton HHonors points for every AMEX MR point. And AMEX and Virgin have often had the transfer bonus promo in the past like bonus 20% or 30% miles when you transfer your AMEX MR points to Virgin.

Hilton HHonors has some fabulous properties at exotic locales like Conrad Maldives, Hilton Iru Fushi Maldives, Hilton Los Cabos, Hilton Bora Bora, Hilton Moorea, Hilton Mauritius, Hilton Seychelles, Conrad Bali, Conrad Koh Samui, and many many others.

And if you hold a Hilton American Express card, you can use their special AXON6 and AXON7 whereby you can get 4 nights at Category 7 hotels for 145,000 Hilton points only and 4 nights at Category 6 for 125,000 Hilton points only. Basic free version of AMEX Hilton card comes with free Silver status at Hilton and up to 40,000 Hilton HHonors points bonus. And if you get AMEX Hilton Surpass card, you can get free Gold Status for 1 year and up to 60,000 bonus Hilton HHonors points.

I have been a loyal Hilton HHonors customer for last 8 years and have been extremely happy with their loyalty program. I have accumulated a wealth of knowledge and information about Hilton's program and their properties. Feel free to post your questions and comments and I will be happy to help.

See this thread for some other interesting free or cheap transfer option between rewards programs.


Earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points for every stay at Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft or Element by Westin

Until November 15, earn 1,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for every stay at participating Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft or Elements by Westin. Registration is required. One night stays are eligible for this promo. From Terms & Conditions on their website:

"An eligible stay is defined as one or more consecutive nights paying a qualifying rate in the same hotel regardless of the number of check-ins or checkouts that occur and post to the member's Starwood Preferred Guest® account."

I value AMEX MR points at least at 2 cents per point. And for redemptions, AMEX MR points can be worth a lot more if you opti-maxi-mize them.


Get Free Nike Golf Gear by staying at Crown Plaza

Crown Plaza Hotels and Resorts announced this rather interesting and unusual promo where a customer can get Nike Golf Gear by staying at their hotels until Dec 31, 2011.

Registration is required in order to participate in this promo. Gold gear awards start with 2 nights stay (Nike 20XI balls) and continue up to 30 nights that gets you a full set of Irons (Nike SQ MACHSPEED iron).

If you have any stays planned or are planning for your business, vacation or pleasure trips,and if you value these Nike Golf Gears, you might want to opt-in to this promo.

Remember, you will also earn Priority Club points for all your stays.


Best redemptions for Hawaiian Airlines miles

Having posted the Hawaiian Airlines Airfare deal as well as the 35,000 bonus HawaiianMiles credit deals, I thought to talk about two good uses of HawaiianMiles.

Before I talk about two obscure "good deals" using HawaiianMiles, I want to mention that if you want to fly Hawaiian Airlines between west coast and Hawaii using miles, there are very few options  other than using HawaiianMiles. AA, UA, CO, DL and US allows only inter-island flights on Hawaiian Airlines and not US Mainland-Hawaii flights on Hawaiian Airlines. One partner that I know that allows Mainland-Hawaii flights is Virgin Atlantic Airways but their mileage requirements are 25% higher than when using HawaiianMiles (however, if you have Virgin Atlantic's credit card, you earn miles at 1.5 miles per $, more on this at another time). Edited on 11/2/2011: AA now appears to allow redemptions on Hawaiian Airlines between US and Hawaii and not just inter-island flights.

So, apart from using HA miles for Hawaiian Airlines flights, what else is a good use of these miles? Two excellent values that I recommend to everyone is transfer to Hilton HHonors program and using HawaiianMiles for booking Virgin Atlantic Airways flights, economy as well as Business Class (best value).

For transfer to Hilton HHonors, the transfer ratio is very attractive at 2 HHonors points for every 1 Hawaiian Mile transferred, in blocks of 5,000 miles. Plus, there are no transfer fees involved. This means, you could apply for Hawaiian Airlines credit card that offers 35,000 bonus HawaiianMiles and transfer those to Hilton yielding you 70,000 Hilton HHonors points. Please note that HawaiianMiles earned by transferring AMEX MR points into HawaiianMiles program are not eligible for transfer to Hilton HHonors.

As for award flights on Virgin Atlantic Airways, these to me are a fantastic value. First of all, Virgin Atlantic's award availability to/from their US gateway cities is fantastic, both in coach and business class. Secondly, Hawaiian's award chart for Virgin Atlantic is attractive and even better than Virgin's own award chart. And third and importantly, HA charges no fuel surcharge for Virgin Atlantic awards.

Virgin flies to/from the following gateway cities in the US for travel to  and connecting onwards to India, Australia, Africa, Dubai and Asia:

  •     Boston - Logan International Airport
  •     Chicago - O'Hare International Airport [seasonal]
  •     Las Vegas - McCarran International Airport
  •     Los Angeles - Los Angeles International Airport
  •     Miami - Miami International Airport
  •     Newark - Newark Liberty International Airport
  •     New York City - John F. Kennedy International Airport
  •     Orlando - Orlando International Airport
  •     San Francisco - San Francisco International Airport
  •     Washington, D.C. - Washington Dulles International Airport

For one round-trip ticket on Virgin Atlantic using HawaiianMiles, you need only 50,000 and 100,000 in economy and business respectively to UK and 70,000 and 140,000 in economy and business to all other destinations. Compare that with at least 50,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for Los Angeles-London round-trip in coach, 200,000 in business class to Delhi or South Africa and 280,000 in business class to Sydney, Australia. And not to forget, huge fuel surcharge that you have to pay to Atlantic Virgin for these Virgin Atlantic mileage awards (can easily be over $1,000).

For me, these are the two best ways to use your HawaiianMiles. Best bang for your buck. Go ahead and opti-maxi-mize your Hawaiian Miles.


Programs that allow transferring of points or miles on the cheap

1. American Airlines AAdvantage miles can be transferred for $30 processing fee for every transfer to:

  • Hilton HHonors program at 10,000 points for every 6,000 AA miles transferred.
  • Intercontinental Priority Club points at 4,000 points for every 5,000 AA miles transferred.
  • Diners Club points at 5,000 points for every 10,000 AA miles transferred.

2. Continental OnePass miles can be transferred to:

3. Delta SkyMiles cannot be transferred outside their program.

4. United Mileage Plus miles cannot be transferred outside their program.

5. US Airways Dividend miles cannot be transferred outside their program.

6. Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles cannot be transferred outside their program.

7. Hawaiian Airlines miles can be transferred to:

8. American Express Membership Rewards points (US version) can be

9. Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be transferred to:

  • Continental, United, British Airways, Amtrak, Intercontinental Priority Club, Marriott, Hyatt and Korean Air at 1:1 ratio.

10. Bank of America WorldPoints can be transferred to:

11. SPG points can be transferred to

12. Marriott Rewards points can be transferred to:

13. Hyatt Gold Passport points can be transferred to:

14. Best Western points can be transferred to

15. Hilton HHonors points can be transferred to

This post will be updated with more transfer options and more information on the those options.


Earn 70,000 Marriott Rewards points when you apply for a new Marriott Rewards Premier Visa Credit Card

You can now earn 70,000 Marriott Rewards points (after your first purchase with the card) when you apply for a new Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card. You will also receive a free night certificate valid at any of their category 1-4 hotels. Click here for explore the list of hotels within each category. You can get up to 11 free nights with 70,000 points as their free night redemption start at 7,500 points per night in Category 1 hotels. Please note that you get 5th night free when you redeem for 4 nights at a property. Marriott also frequently releases a list of hotels where they are running PointSavers promotion resulting in up to 33% savings in points for award redemption.

The first year annual fee is waived and will be charged $85 on card anniversary every year thereafter. And on every card anniversary, you also get a free night certificate at any of their category 1-5 hotels (plenty of good hotels) which will easily cover the annual fee. The bonus points, first year annual fee waiver and a free night certificate makes this deal really attractive. Points will post to your Marriott Rewards account after the statement closes in which you have at least one qualifying purchase. Please note that most qualified applicants will be issued a Visa Signature card which comes with no pre-set spending limit. To learn more about cards with "no pre-set spending limit" please visit my earlier post.

  • This card is among the very few cards out there that do not charge a foreign transaction fee (which can be as high 4% for some cards).
  • You will earn 5 points per $ spent at any Marriott Rewards properties (more than 3,400 locations).
  • You will also earn 2 points for every $1 spent on eligible dining, airline and rental car purchases.
  • You will earn 1 point per $ spent on all other purchases.
  • There is no limit to the number of Marriott Rewards points that you can earn.

Further, you can achieve your Marriott Elite Status Faster with Annual Credit and Everyday Purchases:

  • You will receive 15 Nights Credit toward your next Elite membership level every year upon account anniversary.
  • You will also earn 1 Elite Night Credit for every $3,000 spent on this card.

I value Marriott point at least at 1 cent per point and you can easily get 10-20 cents per point in value by redeeming at their high-end properties as well as by redeeming points for vacation packages which effectively lets you convert some of your Marriott Rewards points to most Airlines' miles at 1:1 ratio.

Chase is really turning the heat on with their extremely tempting card sign-up bonuses. And they have such a huge line of affinity cards that it's really hard to decide what to apply for. Unfortunately, for most of us, they only allow and approve one card application every 60-90 days.

Go ahead and apply for this awesome Marriott Rewards credit card offer.


7,000 SPG points plus 5 days, 4 nights in 1-Bedroom Villa at the The Westin Mission Hills Resort Villas for $389

Following up on my previous post for the 7,000 SPG points plus 6 days at Westin Kaanapali deal for $798, I would like to add a similar deal for The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Villas. I find this to be a good deal considering like the previous one as it is for 5 days in their one bedroom villa with queen size bed and full size sleeper sofas. This deal also includes 7,000 SPG points which I value at the minimum at ~3 cents a point (thus $210 in value). Thus your total for 5 days at this fabulous resort in Pal Desert/Palm Springs area, CA (close to Los Angeles) comes to under $179.

Disclosure: I am not affiliated to the promo in any ways and do not stand to gain from the promo. Further, I would like to bring it to readers attention that this deal is part of a timeshare promo and you will need to attend a two-hour on-site presentation.

Get your 5 days, 4 nights in 1-Bedroom Villa at Westin Mission Hills for $389 + 7,000 SPG points

Just fill out the form to right of the webpage and somebody from Westin Promotions will get in touch with you. You do not need any invitation code or offer code. If they ask, just tell them that you got the information about this offer from one of your friends. Also note that room reservations must be made at least 60 days in advance and are on a space-available basis. Availability is limited. Holiday and special event periods are excluded.


A review of Amtrak’s Loyalty program – Amtrak Guest Rewards

Last week, I took a last-minute weekend getaway with my family that incorporated a trip on Amtrak back to Chicago on Amtrak's California Zephyr route aboard Amtrak's Superliner Sleeper Bedroom Cabin. I wanted to write a full-fledged trip report of my experience from booking that award using Amtrak points to the actual trip and travel on Amtrak (was my first long distance train journey in the US). But that trip report is taking its own sweet time to come together. I thought in the meanwhile, I will write a brief summary that is more related to award booking and opti-maxi-mizing the value.

For those who are not aware (I bet that would be most of the readers from outside of the Northeast Corridor), Amtrak has a frequent rider (flyer) program by the name Amtrak Guest Rewards. The program has rather some exceptional awards in its award charts. Amtrak Guest Rewards (AGR) has tiered awards in terms on zones and has a neat (though a little inaccurate) zone map on its website that comes in handy when planning an award redemption. Our Amtrak ride was from Colorado Grand Junction to Chicago Union Station. Although, the zone map shows our starting point in western region of the zone map, however, the phone agent booked us the trip using 1-zone award for 20,000 AGR points.

I have to admit that we had been contemplating taking an overnight trip on Amtrak (of course in a Sleeper Bedroom) using AGR points for the last 4 years. Finally got a chance, though on a short notice and we decided to go for it. I had already transferred/converted 30,000 Continental OnePass miles to 30,000 AGR points knowing that a much desired trip may happen soon. This transfer feature is one of the relatively unknown to most. CO program lets you convert CO miles to AGR point at 1:1 ratio in blocks of 5,000 miles at no charge.

AGR has some exceptional redemptions which can be highlighted from our award redemption. It cost us 20,000 AMEX MR points (transferred to CO before it ended) to book 3 of us in the bedroom. Paid reservation in this cabin would have cost us $1,275+ (not that I would have paid that). Thus, we got 6 cents per AMEX point worth of value and most of those AMEX points were earned at ~ 2.5 points per $ on average. Thus, I can boast that I got 15+ cents per dollar that I spent on my AMEX PRG card.

Back to AGR award table, their special routes are listed for 1,000 points in coach or 1,500 points in business, which to me is a steal, if you can make use of. Other exceptional value are the roomettes and bedroom awards in all category of awards alike, 1-zone, 2-zone or 3-zone as these will easily get you 5+ cents per point in redemption value. And of course, another excellent value is award in the northeast corridor, especially last-minute travel which can also fetch you 5+ cents per point in value.

One would ask, what about availability. Unlike awards on Airlines, Amtrak awards do not have limited availability but are rather bookable up to the last seat/cabin. Thus, as long as there is a seat/cabin to be sold for real $$$, they will book it for you using points. And unlike Airline awards, there are no taxes or booking fees. The best part is, you can cancel the awards for a full refund as long as you have not picked up your printed tickets from the station. Also note that all dining car meals and non-alcoholic drinks are included in your roommette or bedroom ticket.

AGR points can also be used for a bunch of other redemptions like gift cards, certificates, cruises at close to 1 cent per point. But really, the best value is in booking for Amtrak travel. And to all those who have not had a chance to ride Amtrak long distance in a bedroom, it was a memorable experience that we plan to do repeat, may be on another route. It was so much fun, comfortable, stress-free.

Sounds good, doesn't it?


Excellent Deal – Earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with new Chase Ink Bold Business Card

For a limited time, you can earn 50,000 bonus Chase Ultimate Rewards Points when you apply for a new Chase Ink Bold Business Card and spend $5,000 within the first 3 months. The annual fee for the first year is waived after which you will be charged $95 every year at account anniversary.  It is not necessary for applicants to be a registered business owner. Any consumer can apply for this card under “sole proprietorship” and use their own name as business name and put in the SSN for Tax ID.

Some of the key highlights of this card include:

  • Earn 50,000 Bonus UR Points when you spend $5,000 in 3 months.
  • Points can be used to purchase airfare at 1.25 cents per point. That's $625 towards airfare when you redeem online through Ultimate Rewards website.
  • Transfer your points to UA, CO, BA and Hyatt at 1:1 ratio, making it an excellent option to earn UA and CO miles (which are no longer easy to accumulate as AMEX points can no longer be transferred to CO as of October 1). I recommend converting the points to Hyatt points which are generally a better value than other Airline miles. An unadvertised benefit is that the points can be transferred to anybody else's account and names don't have to match making it easy to top-off the accounts for that elusive award.
  • Enjoy a one-year complimentary Priority Pass™ membership which gives access to over 600 Airline lounges across Airports in over 100 countries. Your first 2 visits are free every year after which your card will automatically be charged $27 per visit, per person.
  • Earn an additional cumulative bonus of 45,000 UR points when you spend $100,000 in the same calendar year, under the following structure. | Earn 7,500 bonus points when you spend $25,000 on your card in one year. | Earn 15,000 more bonus points when you spend another $25,000 on your card in the same year. | Earn 25,000 more points when you spend another $50,000 on your card in the same year.
  • There is no limit on the number of reward points you can earn. These points will never expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.
  • FREE employee cards or add-on cards
  • This is a Visa card and thus comes with the benefit of wider worldwide acceptance, wherever Visa and MasterCard credit cards are accepted.
  • First year annual fee WAIVED, $95 thereafter at each account anniversary.

Once again, please note that Chase INK BOLD is a charge card and not a credit card, so you pay in full each month in order to accrue no monthly interest charges.

Please note that this is a business charge card meaning that you will have to pay in full every month. Further, note that Business Cards do not fall under the new Card ACT and thus will not offer the same protection under ACT that personal cards do. It is because of this reason that we will see more banks offering Business cards with hefty sign-up bonuses in the coming months and will not be enforcing strict application reviews at the same time. They have to make money some way after all! As long as you are aware of this and understand the implications and are going to be paying off the balance in full every month, you may want to consider this offer. For most savvy people who like to milk the sign-up bonuses, and who use cards as a mode of payment and not a mode of credit, this offer is golden.


More info for the SPG Westin Kaanapali, Hawaii deal

Following up on my previous post for the 7,000 SPG points plus 6 days at Westin Kaanapali deal for $798, I would like to add a disclosure that I am in no way affiliated to that promo or stand to gain from the promo. Further, I would like to bring it to our readers attention that this deal is part of a timeshare promo and you will need to attend a two-hour on-site presentation.

Further, one of our readers emailed me as he was trying to get this deal but didn't know how to get it. To answer that, just fill out the form to right of the webpage and somebody from Westin Promotions will get in touch with you. You do not need any invitation code or offer code. If they ask, just tell them that you got the information about this offer from one of your friends.