Why I Cancelled My American Express Platinum Card

There are so many reasons to keep the American Express Platinum card. The $200 yearly airline fee credit. The $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Pre-Check credit. The $200 yearly UBER credits ($15 per month and an additional $20 in December). Centurion Lounge access. Saks Fifth Avenue credit. Priority Pass.

There’s just one reason the cancel the card. Five Hundred and Fifty Dollars.

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Is It Worth The Extra Money To Book A Room Directly From The Hotel Website?

The hotel chains have spent a lot of money on marketing to try to get you to book a hotel room directly with them by using their website or app and have gone with the “carrot and stick” approach to achieve that goal. On one hand, they’ve gone out of their way to market special low “Member Exclusive Rates” that are only available to members of their loyalty program and “Best Rate Guarantees” that tell you if you find a cheaper rate after booking with them, they’ll match it and lower the rate even further. At the same time, the hotel chains penalize you for booking anywhere except directly with them. Some of these “sticks” are they don’t give you any recognition of your loyalty status or let you earn any points in their program when staying on externally booked stays. They’ll also only give perks like free Wi-Fi if you’ve booked directly with them.

When I say you need to book direct with the hotel, I mean you use the hotel’s website, the hotel chain’s website, the smartphone app for the hotel chain, or by calling the hotel to make a reservation.

When I mention using an “external” website, that is basically everything else. Websites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotels.com, Priceline, Hotels Tonight, Hotwire and Booking.com are just some of them. If you’re completing the booking anywhere but with the hotel, it’s an external website.

Hotel search engines like Trivago, Kayak and TripAdvisor show you prices directly from the hotel as well as from external sites, so it’s best to use something like that to see who has the cheapest price.

So, should you only book your hotel rooms directly with the hotel even if an external site is less expensive?  Continue reading “Is It Worth The Extra Money To Book A Room Directly From The Hotel Website?”

Even I Can Get Lured Onto The Loyalty Hamster Wheel

loyal

adjective  loy·al  \ ˈlȯi(-ə)l \

Faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

That’s the Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of loyal. I think it’s important to remember this when we talk about loyalty programs. Whether it’s airlines, hotels, rental cars, restaurants, gas stations or Amazon.com, the goal of these programs is to make you loyal to their product. Even more, they’re designed to increase how loyal you are and they’re really good at it.

It used to be that you were loyal to a company because of the product they offered. That might be due to any of these reasons:

  • Price
  • Quality
  • Service

Companies decided that instead of competing only on those areas, they wanted to add another variable and the loyalty programs were created. Over the years, the programs have added many reasons for you to be “loyal” to them. Some can be viewed as rewards but others can often look more like punishments for not being loyal.

  • Discounts for members of programs
  • Special treatment on the phone and in person with dedicated staff for members
  • Upgrades to the product received
  • Free perks for members (when buying directly from the company)
  • Rewards (when buying directly from the company)

I can see the last two as being extras for members but they can also be seen as punishments for those who look for a lower price elsewhere. You might pay more by booking directly but that’s what you need to do to prove loyalty. But wait, I thought I was getting rewarded for loyalty, not having to prove that I’m loyal by paying extra. That’s not how it’s supposed to work?!?!?!

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Sometimes You Need To Fight With Your Hotel To Get Your Elite Benefits

Hotel elites get perks as a result of their hotel stays or through some other magic done with a combination of spending large amounts on co-branded hotel credit cards, status matching arbitrage and something about running around with mattresses.

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I’d call this Pairs Mattress Running

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