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ALERT: Possibly your LAST CHANCE at 75,000 AMEX Points! Click here to read why!.

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Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Best Welcome Bonuses (ENDS SOON)


MUST HAVE #1 : AMEX SPG Business and/or Personal
Limited Time Offer, ends October 18th, 2017
25000 SPG Bonus for either card after spending $1500 in 3 months
After October 18th, the bonus will drop back down to 20K SPG

Click above on the left image for the business, and on the right image for the personal card, to be taken to the respective application page if you are interested.

SPG points are the most versatile hotel points to have--for the moment, putting aside the possibilites of using them for an SPG hotel affilate stay, or converting them instantly at trip the value to Marriott by merging your points, they are SOOOOO useful for converting them to airline miles to achieve your vacation goals--and with 1 SPG point per Canadian dollar spent, it's the best card to use regularly to get the points you'll need to get free stays or airline points to fly for almost free.

The Business has a $150 AF, but if you can write it off for tax purposes, or if you find it's not working for you after you have it, after you hit the spending threshold of $1500, and you want to apply for the personal one, they will refund you the AF within 60 days of approval, and after that, refund you on a prorated basis.  If you did that, you'd get the 20K SPG pointswelcome bonus  at no cost for the business, then get another 20K if approved, after hit THAT spending threshold of $1500.  If you have an AMEX credit card (as opposed to a charge card), AMEX has a policy of not allowing a member to have more than 2 credit cards with them (charge cards, there is no limit), so if you have one, and you get the SPG business card, and then realize you want the personal card, they'll make you cancel one (for example, the business one you got), if you want to get approved for the personal one.  The AF on the personal SPG is $120 ($30 less than the business card).
The advantage to the personal, is if you spend $30K on the card in one year, you get SPG Gold status, which allows FREE UPGRADES at hotels, and as Marriott merged with them, you'll instantly get Marriott Gold, which also allows free upgrades!
Example:
You book a stay at a Marriott extended stay property, such as a Residence Inn.  It's a category 5 hotel.  You have a big family, and you wish to get yourself into a 2 bedroom suite.  You book a studio or 1 bedroom suite using your points at that hotel.  You cannot use your points to get a 2 bedroom suite directly. With Marriott Gold, you can call and speak to the front desk manager, and you may be able to charm them into upgrade you ahead of time.  Explain you have a large family and can't comfortably show up at the hotel, hoping they'll be able to upgrade your family of 5 or 6 into a 2 bedroom from a studio at the last minute only to find out they're all booked up.  You can go on Trip Advisor and find out about the hotel.  Not just find out how it rates, but find out if the front desk manager or general manager has responded to reviewers.  Many times, they will give their name, at which point, you have a contact name that you can connect with at the hotel when you call.  Be friendly and persuasive, and they may just upgrade you to a 2 bedroom suite at no extra cost, ahead of time!  Good luck doing that with a Florida or California property--much harder to do for free, and ahead of time.

MUST HAVE #2 AMEX Gold Personal & AMEX Platinum Business (or the AMEX Gold Biz)



75K Welcome Bonus, AF is $399, which can be written off in many cases
40K Welcome Bonus, AF waived the first year

Click on the pic above to apply for the card of your choice, with the business platinum's
HIGHEST 75K Welcome Bonus!

The AMEX Business Platinum card, which, if you have some very small business on the side, let's say you sell items on eBay for friends/family and make a couple bucks off of it, you're technically a self-proprietor, and can apply for the card as such.  You may not qualify to write off the annual fee as a business expense, but the 75K AMEX points you'll get, you could choose to use a purchase that you make worth $400 to be paid back to you, to make up for the AF of $399.  With this card, you get 1.25 AMEX points, which if you wish to directly switch them to either Avios or Aeroplan, is a better option than the SPG.  But of course, you can convert AMEX points, as mentioned above, to SPG at a 50% conversion rate (that's a better rate than even US AMEX cardholders can get!).  The AMEX Gold Biz waives the first year AF, only gives 1 point per dollar of spending and still has the same spending threshold of $5K in 3 months.

Merging your Marriott and SPG accounts is easy.  You can do it directly on the website, though switching your points from SPG to Marriott involves merging your accounts (assuming you already have a Marriott account, SPG account and even a Ritz Carlton account).  Once you have at least the SPG and Marriott account, click here for info on how to do it, and then same link, on the same page to convert from Marriott Rewards to SPG or the other way--you can do the same on SPG's account (though it's also hard to find).
 EXTRA INFO:

The merged SPG Marriott chain will be called Marriott Hotels in the future with 1 point system, as of 2018.
Until then, here's the good and the bad:
Good:

  • If you have United Gold status, that would give you Marriott Gold, but now, will also get you SPG Gold--and Gold allows for upgrades for hotel stays on the day of arrival, and with some properties, for good reasons (large family, need a larger unit) in advance on point stays--that's been my Marriott experience--not with SPG but that's due to a lack of experience with them
  • Totally transferrable points back and forth between the two systems after merging your accounts, as mentioned, at 3 to 1 with SPG being the more valuable point system so that if you need more points for a stay at a Marriott property and you have some SPG points (or vice-versa), you can switch them to have enough for a stay.  Click here to be redirected to link your two accounts from SPG.  Click here to be redirected to link your two accounts from Marriott.
  • You can switch from AMEX points to SPG (at a 1:2 ratio-eww) but then triple them to Marriott! So, 50K AMEX points=25K SPG=75K Marriott!  Now, Marriott properties differ in number of points for a stay from 5K (a low end hotel) to 70K for a crazy "Tier 5" Ritz Carlton-type experience so for 10K per night, for example, you can get a decent long-term stay property with a full kitchen (some TownePlace Suites), and as with both chains, the 5th night (paid with cash OR points) is free.  Those suites (as with Residence Inn Suites) all come with a full kitchen, many with a pool and free breakfast.
  • The higher status carries in both chains so if you're platinum with Marriott, you're now platinum with SPG and IF you were SPG Platinum, you're not only Marriott Platinum now, but with Marriott Platinum comes United Silver status, which means a free piece of checked-in luggage on any Star Alliance flight!
  • If you apply for an AMEX SPG card, you'll get TRIPLE the value in the Marriott chain!  Click here for the latest AMEX SPG offers.  Click here for the quickest way to get AMEX Membership reward welcome bonus points
  • If you already have an SPG AMEX card in Canada, you're getting 1 SPG point per dollar, but that means you're getting the equivalent of 3 Marriott points for every dollar you spend!  That means the Chase Canada Marriott is good for the welcome bonus of 50K (with the available link) but not for actual spending on the card--at triple the value, use the SPG AMEX card (though it's of course not as accepted as the Chase one as the Chase one is a Visa)
  • While switching from SPG to United was an option, it was a bad one with a poor ratio, but now, if you switch your points from SPG to Marriott at triple the value, you can switch them from Marriott to an airline, such as United, even with a bonus, PLUS 7 free nights at Marriott properties using a superior program Marriott offers called Marriott's Miles and Nights. For example, if you wish to switch your points to United, switch 90K Starwood points to Marriott, worth 270K Marriott points, and get 132K United miles (AND a week at a Marriott, category 1-5 FREE)--as you may know United never charges fuel surcharges so if you are looking for a flight on Air Canada to another continent, say, YYZ-Tel Aviv, that would be a direct AC flight, you'd normally pay at least $650 for the return flight per person, but if you flew with United miles on AC, you'd pay no fuel surcharge--of course, the question always is if there's availability--and that can be sketchy.  Go on the United website to see if there's availability fo the flight of your choice on different dates first before going through with such a transfer.  For 270K Marriott points, the switch is worth 7 free nights at any category 1-5 property, meaning you're not only getting 132K valuable United points, you're also getting the value of between 30K to 150K Marriott points depending on the category number you stay at (each category, starting at category 1 is 5K, increasing by 5K point increments per category number, including Tier 1 which is another way of saying category 10, and so on. If you have even more Marriott points, you can stay in higher category hotels for your 7 night stay. See below, from the Marriott website:

Take advantage of an excellent vacation value. Exchange your points for a week of hotel accommodations with airline miles included. Refer to tables below for point requirements.

Please call 1-800-321-7396 to order any of the travel packages below.

Marriott Rewards Logo
 Hotel + Air Package:
Enjoy more miles from RewardsPlus from Marriott Rewards® and United MileagePlus®.
You’ll receive 10% more MileagePlus miles when you redeem for a Marriott Rewards Hotel + Air Package, up to 12,000 more miles. Your bonus miles are shown below. Discover all the advantages of RewardsPlus.
7 Nights + 55,000 Miles7 Nights + 77,000 Miles7 Nights + 110,000 Miles7 Nights + 132,000 Miles
Category 1-5200,000 | View220,000 | View250,000 | View270,000 | View
Category 6230,000 | View250,000 | View280,000 | View300,000 | View
Category 7260,000 | View280,000 | View310,000 | View330,000 | View
Category 8290,000 | View310,000 | View340,000 | View360,000 | View
Category 9320,000 | View340,000 | View370,000 | View390,000 | View
Tier 1-3350,000 | View370,000 | View400,000 | View420,000 | View
Tier 4-5470,000 | View490,000 | View520,000 | View540,000 | View

Hotel + Air Package 1:

7 Nights + 50,000 Miles or Avios7 Nights + 70,000 Miles or Avios7 Nights + 100,000 Miles or Avios7 Nights + 120,000 Miles or Avios
Category 1-5200,000 | View220,000 | View250,000 | View270,000 | View
Category 6230,000 | View250,000 | View280,000 | View300,000 | View
Category 7260,000 | View280,000 | View310,000 | View330,000 | View
Category 8290,000 | View310,000 | View340,000 | View360,000 | View
Category 9320,000 | View340,000 | View370,000 | View390,000 | View
Tier 1-3350,000 | View370,000 | View400,000 | View420,000 | View
Tier 4-5470,000 | View490,000 | View520,000 | View540,000 | View
Participating Airlines: Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic

Hotel + Air Package 2:

7 Nights + 35,000 Miles

7 Nights + 50,000 Miles7 Nights + 70,000 Miles7 Nights + 85,000 Miles
Category 1-5200,000 | View220,000 | View250,000 | View270,000 | View
Category 6230,000 | View250,000 | View280,000 | View300,000 | View
Category 7260,000 | View280,000 | View310,000 | View330,000 | View
Category 8290,000 | View310,000 | View340,000 | View360,000 | View
Category 9320,000 | View340,000 | View370,000 | View390,000 | View
Tier 1-3350,000 | View370,000 | View400,000 | View420,000 | View
Tier 4-5470,000 | View490,000 | View520,000 | View540,000 | View
Participating Airlines: Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines

Hotel + Air Package 3:

7 Nights + 50,000 Rapid Reward Points7 Nights + 70,000 Rapid Reward Points7 Nights + 100,000 Rapid Reward Points7 Nights + 120,000 Rapid Reward Points
Category 1-5200,000 | View220,000 | View250,000 | View270,000 | View
Category 6230,000 | View250,000 | View280,000 | View300,000 | View
Category 7260,000 | View280,000 | View310,000 | View330,000 | View
Category 8290,000 | View310,000 | View340,000 | View360,000 | View
Category 9320,000 | View340,000 | View370,000 | View390,000 | View
Tier 1-3350,000 | View370,000 | View400,000 | View420,000 | View
Tier 4-5470,000 | View490,000 | View520,000 | View540,000 | View
Participating Airlines: Southwest Airlines

Hotel + Air Package 4:

7 Nights + 25,000 TrueBlue or Elevate Points7 Nights + 35,000 TrueBlue or Elevate Points7 Nights + 50,000 TrueBlue or Elevate Points7 Nights + 60,000 TrueBlue or Elevate Points
Category 1-5200,000 | View220,000 | View250,000 | View270,000 | View
Category 6230,000 | View250,000 | View280,000 | View300,000 | View
Category 7260,000 | View280,000 | View310,000 | View330,000 | View
Category 8290,000 | View310,000 | View340,000 | View360,000 | View
Category 9320,000 | View340,000 | View370,000 | View390,000 | View
Tier 1-3350,000 | View370,000 | View400,000 | View420,000 | View
Tier 4-5470,000 | View490,000 | View520,000 | View540,000 | View
Participating Airlines: JetBlue Airways and Virgin America

For those unaware, Here's an explanation of the short forms:
AMEX= American Express Membership Rewards Points, which can be converted to other programs easily.
SPG=Starwood Preferred Guests, now, its hotels are part of the Marriott chain of hotels.
Marriott=Marriott points, which can be earned through numerous ways now.
SWA=Southwest Airlines, a US based airline that flies out of Buffalo, gives free snacks, 2 checked bags per person for free, and amazing cancellation policies, beyond any other airline.
United= United Airlines points, a US based airline that charges no fuel surcharges on overseas airlines, including when flying with a fellow Star Alliance carrier, such as Air Canada.  For example, flying Air Canada from Toronto to Tel-Aviv with United miles, means saving about $700 in fuel surcharges.
JetBlue= JetBlue Airlines, a US based airline, that has cheap flights out of Buffalo Airport, and goes to many locations that Southwest does not (though JetBlue doesn't fly south of Nashville--SWA "owns" them in that regard).
AF =  annual fee
Okay, here comes the math:
1 AMEX = 0.5 SPG
1 SPG = 3 Marriott
90K SPG = 270K Marriott = 120K SWA + 7 nights @ Category 1-5 Marriott hotel for free
OR 270K Marriott = 132K United + 7 nights stay
OR 270K Marriott = 60K Jetblue + 7 nights stay
OR 270K Marriott  = 120K for any of the following airlines + 7 nights @ Category 1-5 Marriott stay:
Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
Crazy=Turning them into Air Canada Aeroplan points because:
180K AMEX = 180K Aeroplan > 180K AMEX = 90K SPG = 110K Aeroplan or 120K Aeroplan + 7 Nights unless you really want the 1 week stay, in which case its worth it. Explanation later.
OR 270K Marriott = 80K for any of the following airlines + 7 nights @ Category 1-5 Marriott stay:
Aeroflot, airberlin, Air China, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, ANA, Asia Miles, Asiana Airlines, Avianca-TACA LifeMiles, China Eastern, China Southern, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Japan Airlines, Jet Airways, Korean Air SKYPASS, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More, Multiplus, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Saudia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways Voyager, TAP Air Portugal, Turkish Airlines 
Some of these airlines, including South African Airways and Turkish Airlines, charge no fuel surcharge for international flights. Click here for more info on the Marriott & Miles deals.
While the Marriott takeover of SPG is yet incomplete, and AMEX continues to offer the SPG AMEX card, giving you 1 SPG point per dollar, you're obviously way better off with this card than the Chase Canada Marriott Visa card for everyday spending.  Of course, it doesn't help that AMEX is NOT accepted at a lot of everyday spending type of places, but even for the welcome bonus, the AMEX SPG card is the best card to have for spending.

So what cards must you apply for if you can handle credit cards?