|by Jason Steele|
Delta can’t seem to keep quiet for a few days without making changes to something that will affect us reward travlers. Today, the word comes forth that the “Always Double Miles” program is no more. Delta had offered double miles on many types of purchases, including home improvement, gas stations, drug stores. Now, that promotion will end as of the start of next year.
In the past, you could justify the increased number of SkyMiles needed for a Delta reward, by considering the always double miles program on your Delta Skymiles American Express. That day has passed. Unfortunately, nobody told the good people over at the American Express website, who still have a page up advertising this offer.
The Traveler’s Check Loophole Is Now Closed
American Express had been offering travelers checks with little or no fee. These checks could be purchased on your American Express card as a purchase, not a cash advance, and the purchase would accumulate reward miles or points. One could then deposit any unused traveler’s checks in their bank account. Many reward card holders were doing this in order to accumulate extra miles. So many, in fact, that American Express has since ceased to offer this feature to it’s card members.
While some openly mourn this loss, others cite the reward card guru’s abuse of this service as denying legitimate users the opportunity to utilize traveler’s checks. My view is the following: The credit card companies make the rules, we just follow them: It is their world, and we just live in it.
Ebay plus PayPal For Rewards
I always believe that the best reward is gained when you spend less overall, rather than just spending with the right card. I have made it a habit to check the prices of things on Ebay before I order something online or run out to the store. Nine out of ten times, whatever you are looking for can be found cheaper on Ebay.
The preferred payment method on Ebay has always been PayPal. Unfortunately, PayPal will default your payment to an automatic withdrawal from your bank account. Thankfully, you can use your credit card as an alternate source of payment. Unfortunately, PayPal tries it’s best keep you from using your credit card.
Here is the trick: First, log in to PayPal and enter your credit card information as a funding source. Every time you make a purchase, be sure not to confirm payment without choosing an “alternate funding source.” This option is somewhat hidden, and it is easy to miss it. Then you can choose your credit card instead of your bank account, before confirming payment. Sometimes, PayPal will even present another page asking you if you “are sure” you want to pay with a credit card. They will conjure up all sorts of reasons that they think you would be better off if the money was withdrawn from your bank account immediately, rather than a charge placed on your card. Yet by agreeing to the bank withdrawal, you are loosing any reward points as well as the free “grace period” received when you pay your entire balance in full. Finally, you would also miss out on the opportunity to demand a chargeback in the event that the seller doesn’t ship the item, and PayPal won’t refund your money.
Starwood Amex vs. Amex Membership Rewards
I have recently spotted a key difference in the two similar programs. I have always been a big fan of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card, while I have family members who love the Membership Rewards program. It turns out that the Starwood program will only allow you to transfer miles from your account to a frequent flier account in your name only. With Membership Rewards, you can transfer an award to anyone who holds a card in your account. The idea is, that if you are a little short of miles, and you want to top off your account, as long as the person giving you the miles will entrust you with an additional card from their account, they can transfer those miles to you.
Transferring Miles and Awards
Of course, one of the aspects of all reward systems that few people understand, is that any award can be redeemed for a ticket in anyone’s name. It is stil your account, with your miles, that you redeem for your award. When the ticket is issued, the person redeeming the award, you, can always choose who the ticket holder will be. This works great when one person is redeeming multiple awards for a trip with friends or family, or for gifting awards. The only thing you should avoid, is ing or selling awards between strangers on Ebay or Craigslist. Not only is this practice ripe for fraud, but selling awards is technically against the program rules of most airlines. Rumor has it that an airline could ask you at check in to identify the account holder that issued the award. If you cannot, the ticket can be invalidated and the award holder’s account could be frozen and confiscated.