Thursday, May 23, 2019

Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Edmonton South

The past few months have been pretty hectic in the Rewards Canada household for our kid's activities. One of those is competitive volleyball and it took us to Edmonton a couple of times for tournaments and our new team has the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Edmonton South as their home base.

Previous years with a previous team had us a little further south at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Edmonton South (read my review here) so this was a new hotel for us to stay in. The location is a little closer to the volleyball venues than Towneplace Suites but not by a big factor.  The Holiday Inn Express is quite a bit older than the Towneplace Suites which only opened in 2017 but overall it isn't too bad of a hotel but not great either.  The first thing I will say is that the breakfast however is one of the best we've had in these lower to mid level hotels that have the free breakfast option! There were multiple meat options, the eggs actually tasted real and there were lots of food options to choose from. The service as well from the people looking after the breakfast room was great!

The rooms themselves were pretty decent for a Holiday Inn Express - better than the last one I had stayed at in Lethbridge a few years prior. My first of two complaints of the room is that I did find the mattresses to be really hard which didn't make for the best sleep:

There is lots of room in the two queens rooms which in part is thanks to (or maybe no thanks to) a small dresser and small TV:

 The rooms also have a mini-fridge, microwave and Keurig Coffee machine:

The bathroom and toiletries were standard for an HI Express. Good thing was that for both stays the bathrooms were very clean and showed that they were well cared for by the housekeeping staff:

As I mentioned above I had two complaints, the second shows that this location is somewhat older and that there weren't a lot of electrical/USB outlets. Sure you don't need 20+ outlets like we found in the Comfort Suites Regina (read our review here) but there may not be enough if four people stay in the room. In the pictures below you'll see four available plugs and the one by the TV isn't the most convenient and there is only one in the lamp on the nightstand.

Overall the hotel isn't too bad of a hotel. It's not the best place I've ever stayed at but it isn't one I wouldn't return to if asked to stay there. Both times the hotel was very busy on the weekends we were there with lots of sports teams (volleyball, hockey, curling and more) so you can expect the breakfast area to be busy and that just reminded me of a third complaint - I know I said I only had two but I just remembered this one. This hotel has some of the slowest elevators ever! The two elevators take forever to move up and down and when you add in dozens of kids and parents of many sports teams  you'll want to head straight for the stairs unless you have hours to spare. I used the stairs all the time despite staying on the fourth and fifth floors. Ain't nobody got time for slow elevators!

Hotel details
Holiday Inn Express & Suites Edmonton South (Book here)
Points required for a free night 20,000 Points
Points+Cash rates: 10,000 Points + C$80 or 15,000 Points + C$44

Talk to us! Have you stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Edmonton South? What are your thoughts of the hotel? Or are you planning to and looking forward to it? Let us know below!

Title image via IHG, all other images are those of the authors.

Grab the TD First Class Visa Infinite Card now for an easy 80,000 points - it will get harder to get them come June

Another card change to let you know about - one we did give mention to in one of our daily updates a few days ago. On June 3rd the TD First Class Visa Infinite Card will come out with a new offer and it is not as good as the current offering. That means if you have been considering this card and were waiting to see if it might get better that's not happening. The current offer of up to 80,000 points will be changed. It will still be 80,000 points but a quarter of those points won't be seen until you've had the card for a year and pay the annual fee for it in the second year. As well to score half the points you'll have to spend more on the card when compared to the current offer. The good news is that it will still be first year free however.

The card matrix below shows the latest offer on this card and may not be representative of the discussion above:

Radisson Rewards’ summer promo is here – earn 3,000 bonus points per night starting with your 2nd stay

Hot on the heels of our podcast episode on summer hotel promotions we learn of another promotion now! Radisson Rewards is now the latest hotel chain to reveal their summer systemwide global points promotion. This one is perfect for Canadians as there are lots of Radisson Hotel group hotels across our great country so you could line this offer up for your summer travels whether they be by plane, train, boat or car!

Much like its competitors they are only giving bonus points out when you complete multiple stays, which is two in most cases. This promo is quite lucrative though once you do get to your second stay as the bonus is 3,000 bonus points PER NIGHT. Ultimate strategy is to complete a cheap one night stay to get that out of the way and then focus on those stays after to earn the bonus points. Or even if you may only have one two night stay planned try to hotel hop. Stay at one hotel on night one and move to another for night two so you can score those 3,000 points.

Offer details:
Earn 3,000 Bonus Radisson Rewards points for stays at all Radisson Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites by Radisson hotels worldwide starting with your second stay.  Full details, online registration and booking. (Registration is required) May 27 – Aug 31, 19
Maximum of 120,000 bonus points awarded per member during the promotional period.

Once registered you can simply book your stays online at: Country Inns & Suites, Park Inn, Park Plaza, Radisson, Radisson Blu, Radisson Red, or The Radisson Collection.

Here are some other offers to look at as well:
  • 1,000 Bonus Points and up to 15% off for stays at the participating Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn by Radisson and Country Inn & Suite by Radisson hotels in Asia Pacific. Full details & online booking
  • 2,000 Bonus Points for stays on the Park and Stay Package at Country Inn & Suites® by Radisson at participating hotels in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Full details & online booking
Find our complete list of Radisson Rewards bonus points offers here!

May 23 Update: Save up to 15% on Air Canada flights with the latest Amex offer and more changes coming to the Cobalt Card.

Check your emails for a new Air Canada discount from American Express! I received mine via the Platinum Card and it offers an exclusive discount code for up to 15% off any Air Canada flights:
• 15% off Standard, Flex, Comfort, Latitude, Premium Economy and Premium Rouge
• 10% off Air Canada Signature Class and Business Class
Bookings must be made between May 23-30, 2019 for travel to be completed between May 23 and June 20, 2019 or between September 10 and December 15, 2019.

This offer holds true to our mantra that we have held true for 18 plus years here on Rewards Canada in that you should always have a credit card from all three issuers - Visa, Mastercard and Amex as each of them come out with exclusive offers like this!

Also on the American Express front, Rewards Canada reader Steve C. asked us via Twitter about notes on the most recent American Express Cobalt Card statements. Those notes state a clarification on how points are awarded and that they won't be awarded on cash equivalent transactions such as gift cards (purchase and reloads) and also changes coming to the insurance package on August 1st that mention Trip Interruption and Cancellation Insurance. If you have the card you know those two insurances aren't included on the card at this time so it appears they may be added. As to the points issue on gift cards, my take is that they want to crack down on reloadable prepaid Visa/Mastercards that allow you withdraw cash from them via ATMs as their definition of Cash Equivlaent Transactions is something that can be easily converted to cash. If you buy a gift card for Boston Pizza,  Sport Chek etc. at a grocery store to earn the 5x points that should still count as those cards cannot be easily converted to cash. I have reached out to American Express on both regards and will report back once I have further clarification on these changes!

Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals

IHG Global Sale! Book now and save up to 20% at thousands of IHG® Hotels & Resorts worldwide when you book between now and July 31st.! Full details

Remember to visit Rewards Canada's Travel Booking site to book travel directly with many of your favourite airlines, hotels and more!

Canadian Bonus Offers

Emirates Skywards
- Triple Skywards Miles when you register and book your Emirates or flydubai Business Class and First Class flights out of Toronto or globally by May 26 for travel June 20 to September 5, 2019. More... Book by May 26 for travel Jun 20 – Sep 5, 19

Red Roof RediRewards

- Earn 6,500 Bonus RediPoints when you complete 2 separate stays at any Red Roof location, including The Red Collection and Hometowne Studios by Red Roof in the U.S., Japan, Brazil and Canada (if the Canadian location opens on time) More... Jun 1 – Aug 31, 19

Other Bonus Offers

British Airways Executive Club
- Triple Avios when you subscribe to The Economist. More... Until Jun 30, 19

Preferred Hotel Group iPrefer
- 5,000 Bonus iPrefer Points and up to 50% off suite and club rooms at six participating hotels in Tokyo. More... Book by Jun 21, 19

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- 5,000 Bonus ROP Miles when you join Royal Orchid Plus and complete your first Thai Airways flight. More... Until Jul 10, 19

United MileagePlus
- 5,000 Bonus MileagePlus miles when you book vacation packages at select Hilton Hotels in Ft. Lauderdale NYC, Maui, Phoenix, Oahu, San Diego, Orlando, Chicago, San Francisco. More... Book by Jun 6 for travel until Dec 31 , 19

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Earn Triple Skywards Miles when you fly in Business or First Class out of Toronto on Emirates

Needing to book an Emirates flight out of Toronto or anywhere Emirates flies globally for that matter? And planning to fly in Business Class or First Class? Then you'll want to register for this offer and book it by Sunday to earn Triple Skywards miles on those flights!

Offer details:
Triple Skywards Miles when you register and book your Emirates or flydubai Business Class and First Class flights by May 26 for travel June 20 to September 5, 2019. Full details, online registration & booking. Book by May 26 for travel Jun 20 – Sep 5, 19

Can’t make use of this offer? Here are some other bonus offers to look at:
Click here to see our full list of Emirates Skywards Bonus Miles opportunities!

BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard now has a limited time annual fee waiver for the first year + 5% cash back for first 3 months

BMO has decided to sweeten the pot on the current sign up offer for their BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard. For the past few months the card has offered a welcome bonus of 5% cash back on all spending in the first three months up to a maximum of $200 cash back ($4,000 in spending) They have enhanced that offer by adding an annual fee waiver in the first year providing a savings of $120 which means you get the full value of that 5% welcome bonus. Simply apply for the card by November 30, 2019 to receive this welcome bonus.

Related:  BMO CashBack World Elite Mastercard Review
The card details, welcome bonus and limited time offers were correct at time of posting and are subject to change at anytime.

A week and half left to grab the best ever offer on the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card

If you haven't done so already, you only have eleven days left to grab the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card with its best ever offer. Until June 2nd you can get the card with a first year annual fee waiver and a 30,000 Aeroplan Mile welcome bonus. The 30K miles are split, 15,000 on first purchase and 15,000 more when you spend $1,000 within 90 days of account opening.

Here are the complete details for the card:

Remember as well, that we pointed out in this 'related' post how the 30,000 miles can be worth over $1,700!

Related: A look at how the current TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Card sign up offer of up to 30,000 miles can provide huge value! 

Don't fret too much however if you still don't know whether you should grab the card. As of June 3, the overall value of the card will remain the same however the requirement to get that value out of card will become slight more difficult, and I only mean slightly. For most people who can get this card, that increased requirement shouldn't be a big deal. Still if you want in on the 'best ever offer' for this card you'll want to apply for it by June 2.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

WestJet adds Priority Baggage for Gold and Platinum Rewards members

Back in March when the Rewards Canada family flew to the U.S. on WestJet we noticed something new on our baggage tags - Priority. In my discussions with WestJet I heard nothing of this but I figured it was part of the evolution of the airline's frequent flyer program and of course with them now having a Business Class product, it seemed like a logical progression. I didn't make too much of it as our bags were almost the last ones off the flight in Palm Springs despite the Priority wording. The flight back was not in Plus sorry Premium like we had to PSP but our bags still had Priority wording which made me think it may be tied to status rather than fare class. Once again the bags weren't out very fast. Obviously it was something new in the system that perhaps wasn't fully communicated yet to the baggage handlers. Now the only note of Priority was the actual black box with white lettering on the actual bag tag. There were no additional tags like seen on other airlines.

Fast forward to the May long weekend and we were flying WestJet once again. One way in Plus Premium again, and Economy on the return. Both ways the bag tags had the Priority wording but this time we had agents come up to the self serve kiosks to add in orange WestJet Priority Tags for the bags.

It seemed to work this time! Our bags were the first off in Regina and on the return they were within the first 10 bags on the carousel in YYC. I wasn't 100% sure why we got Priority tags on the flight back in Economy but that question was answered in an email sent out to Gold and Platinum members yesterday:

As you can see the Priority Baggage is an elite status benefit, not a fare class benefit although I would suspect flying in Business Class on the 787 will get you the Priority tags as well. Maybe one of our readers who has been lucky enough to fly the 787 in business (without status) could confirm this.

I applaud WestJet for adding another valuable benefit to their program to make it compete with the big airlines and programs from around the globe. Overall we are 50/50 for the service but then again the first two flights could have been before the baggage handlers even knew about this new feature.