Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hainan Airlines Fortune Wings Status Match Challenge - Airline and Credit Card Elite status matching!

Hainan Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines Fortune Wings have brought back their elite status match challenge that we saw in 2016. You will need to complete flights on Hainan Airlines (or any of their subsidiary airlines) or even Alaska Airlines to earn status faster than if you don't take part in the challenge. What is interesting, is that you may not have to hold status with another airline but hold 'status' with a credit card. How that works exactly is unknown, if you have a Platinum, Infinite, World Elite, Signature credit card does that mean your eligible? It does appear that way! Or does it mean airline status you've earned via a credit card? The terms don't clarify this. The Alaska Airlines component is awesome which means you don't even have to set foot in China, you could funnel your Alaska Airlines flights to Fortune Wings for this challenge.

Anyways you'll need to email Fortune Wings stating you want to do the challenge and tell them what level you want to achieve:

As you can see you'll have a little over 3 months from the day you want to start the challenge (you can specify the date) to complete the flight requirements. To compare, without the challenge you would need 50,000 points or 40 qualifying flight sectors for Gold or 30,000 points or 20 qualifying flight sectors for silver.

Offer details:
Fortune Wings Status Match Challenge - If you currently hold elite status on any other airline or airline alliance, with a platinum or higher elite credit card status on bank, you can participate in the Fortune Wings Club Elite Challenge to earn Fortune Wings Club elite (VIP) status. You will also receive a boutique gift when you complete the challenge! Full details Until Dec 31, 17

The Challenge period
Gold Level Challenge
Silver Level Challenge
100 days
12 base segments or 15,000 base points
6 base segments or 9,000 base points

Here are details on how you apply for the challenge:

Terms & Conditions:
1. A member who applies for this Challenge must have a currently valid elite status (silver or equivalent) or higher membership level on other airline/airline alliance/credit card VIP cards.
2. Members cannot start the challenge before the date of application, and the application cannot be cancelled. Members can only apply for a challenge again after the challenge period.
3. Members who have participated in the challenges in 2015 and 2016 and successfully upgraded cannot participate in the challenge this year. The members who successfully upgrade in this challenge cannot participate in it again within two years.
4. The Elite Gold challengers need to confirm whether they are willing to upgrade to the Elite Silver in case of failing the challenge during application. If yes, they will be upgraded to the Elite Silver after the challenge period in case they fail the Elite Gold challenge but are qualified for the Elite Silver challenge. Otherwise, it will be considered as failure by default and members may apply for the challenge again.
5. It is not real-time upgrade after reaching the standard. Members can enjoy their corresponding VIP privileges after the successful upgrade, and meanwhile their original membership level will become void automatically.
6. The validity of gold or silver card elite status earned in the Challenge is from the month the card was issued until the following month of the second year.. Members may keep their elite status if they achieve the qualified mileage requirement within the validity period of the elite card.
7. Elite members who upgrade via the challenge will not enjoy the Seat Upgrade Coupon when level achieved or maintained, and Points Over-draft privilege, that elite members who upgrade normally enjoy.
8. The 50% OFF domestic electronic upgrade coupon will be used only to domestic HU/CN operated flights and is valid for six months from the date it is posted into your account. Please consult hotline950717 for specific usage regulations.
9. Please check your account periodically to ensure you are credited with flights flown. Missing mileage should be claimed promptly as it will be used to determine your qualification to elite status.
10. According to this policy, only members themselves can apply for the challenge, and the recommenders cannot replace members. The materials of recommendation must be provided during the application process, which cannot be submitted afterwards. The recommenders’reward for their recommendation will be issued to them after the successful upgrade of the challengers. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

March 23 Update: AIR MILES halts in-store Cash Miles redemptions, new Meet the Collectors interview & Chelsea Toronto Aeroplan bonuses

News, Tips & Tricks
Most of today's news has been covered in separate blog posts, see the 'Posts since our last update' section below.

We missed out a small but important program on our Expiry and Inactivity Rules of Canadian Loyalty Programs feature, Porter Airlines VIPorter! The program is now on the list with their 24 month inactivity rule.

Posts since our last update:

Canadian Bonus Offers
Air Canada / Aeroplan
- Earn up to Quadruple Aeroplan Miles when you stay at the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. More... Until Jun 30, 17
- 1,250 Bonus Aeroplan Miles when you stay 5 nights at the Chelsea Hotel, Toronto. More... Until Jun 30, 17

Other Bonus Offers
China Southern Sky Pearl Club
- Earn up to Triple SkyPearl Kilometers when you stay at Mandarin Oriental Hotels Worldwide. More... Until Apr 30, 17

Iberia Plus
- Triple Avios when you subscribe to The Economist. More... Until Apr 30, 17

JAL Mileage Bank
- Earn up to 7,500 Bonus Mileage Bank Miles when you fly on American Airlines between Asia and the U.S.. More... Apr 1 - May 31, 17
- Earn up to Triple Mileage Bank Miles for stays at participating Hilton hotels Worldwide. More... Until Jun 30, 17

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AIR MILES Cash Miles in-store redemptions halted temporarily due to fraud

Loyalty program fraud has been making the rounds in the news recently with programs like PC Points having been breached. The problem is not new and the industry has worked diligently for many years to combat program fraud. In the early days it was travel agents adding their frequent flyer number to tickets of passengers they booked who weren't part of frequent flyer programs, then it was employees at stores swiping their collector cards when the person purchasing an item didn't present their card and more recently it is the online world with hackers hacking into loyalty accounts.

The latest entrant into the fraud world is now AIR MILES (they just can't catch a break can they?) and their in-store Cash Miles redemptions. Apparently some Cash Miles have been stolen and used for in-store transactions.

Dear Collector,

This note is to make you aware that through our regular fraud monitoring processes, we have identified irregular activity occurring within a small number of in-store AIR MILES Cash transactions, where Cash Miles have been stolen. The personal information of all Collectors remains protected and has not been compromised. We are working diligently to resolve the situation and have already contacted our retail Partners, the police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

While this fraudulent activity impacts only Cash miles and not Dream miles, the security of Collector Miles is of utmost importance to us and therefore we are sending this update to all Collectors. In a desire to protect AIR MILES Cash Miles, we have temporarily removed the AIR MILES Cash option for in-store purchases. Collectors are still able to redeem Cash Miles for e-vouchers online at airmiles.ca. These reward options include brands such as Staples, Starbucks, Cineplex, the Bay, and more.
As we work through this issue, we ask that you continue to protect the security of your AIR MILES Account by maintaining the confidentiality of your Collector and PIN number.

To view your balance or update your Account information please visit www.airmiles.ca.

I also wondered to myself when this may happen as is it is easy would have been easy to use these fraudulently.  I have used cash miles at places likes Sobeys to save $10 here and there and not once have I ever been asked to confirm whether the name on my card is actually me. So if you lose your wallet and someone gets your AIR MILES card or even easier just plugs in random AIR MILES Collector numbers into the website to see the card's balance that person can then go to any of these stores and utilize that number to get a cash redemption.  That was the beauty of in-store cash redemptions, they are so easy for the collector that they make sense but also being so easy makes them an easy target for the fraudsters.

AIR MILES says they are working diligently to resolve the situation which is great. I wouldn't be surprised if we see those merchants accepting AIR MILES cash to begin asking for identification or some way of inputting a PIN. And I hope, really hope that AIR MILES does away with the simple input a number and get your balance on their website, make all users type in their PIN before showing the account is valid and has a balance. This morning I logged in with just my AIR MILES number and this is what it shows

This means if anyone figured out or learned my AIR MILES number they would also see this and could have easily gone to one of the in-store redemption partners and redeemed my miles when the balance hit 95 (they haven't but I'm just hypothetically speaking)

Right now as a collector you don't have to do anything except check your account to make sure you weren't one of those who has lost miles.

Meet the Collectors: Young professional makes mile & point consolidation work to his favour

Today we bring you our latest Meet the Collectors feature. These are interviews with our readers, who are everyday Canadians like you, on what they are doing with their loyalty programs.

Anybody who’s truly serious about collecting points knows planning is key to maximizing their value. Choosing the most cost-effective flights, hotels, and even destinations for their affordability, or their points payoff, is key to making the most of one’s rewards experience.

Tell that to Charles Tam. Because of his job as a manager of regulatory affairs with Edwards Life Sciences in Mississauga, Charles flies over 25,000 miles annually, averaging 6-8 domestic business flights per year. This makes Charles’ story different from other points collectors, because he often isn’t able to plan his travels around maximizing points. Yet that hasn’t stopped him from saving for getaways and splurge purchases like any other seasoned collector.

Continue reading the interview here! 

If you would like to be considered for our Meet the Collectors series please contact us at info@rewardscanada.ca

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

March 22 Update: Crediting Hertz rentals to Flying Blue can be lucrative, SEA Centurion lounge expansion open & Double Asia Miles out of Canada

News, Tips & Tricks
Over on The Points Guy they posted that the American Express Centurion Lounge expansion in Seattle opened today. No longer is it considered a 'Studio' lounge but now it is a full fledged Centurion Lounge. As Canadians we can use the lounge for no charge with The Centurion Card from American Express or The Platinum Card from American Express (remember to grab it today if you don't have it as the spend requirement is only $1,000 whereas tomorrow it will be $3,000). You can also access the lounge with other Amex cards but you'll have to pay $50 per person. Find out more about the lounge here.

In February Air France KLM's Flying Blue changed their earn rate for Hertz car rentals. No longer is it a flat rate of miles per rental but it has moved to a revenue based format. That is you'll earn 5 Flying Blue Miles per Euro spent on each Hertz rental (or converted currency equivalent). Not so good for those short one day rentals that may not cost very much but it could prove to be very lucrative if you rent for long periods or rent expensive vehicles like SUV's and premium cars. For example if you have a week long rental that costs about 600EUR you'll earn 3,000 base Flying Blue Miles. Under the old earn rate you would have only earned 800 miles. Compare this to many other programs that only offer 250/500 miles per rental or 50 miles per day of rental and you can quickly see why you may want to credit Hertz rentals to Flying Blue. Remember though, to keep Flying Blue miles current you must fly Air France, KLM or SkyTeam once every 2 years.  Find out more here.

Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals
Book the Hilton 72-Hour Sale today! Save up to 20% off your April & May weekend stays. Stay at participating hotels April 14 - 17th and May 25 - 30th in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada. Hurry, sale ends today! Find out more here.

Canadian Bonus Offers
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Double Asia Miles when fly one-way or round-trip with Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy or Economy Class from Canada to Hong Kong or via Hong Kong to worldwide destinations. More... Register & book by May 31 for travel Jul 1 - Sep 30, 17

Other Bonus Offers
Aeroflot Bonus
- Triple Bonus Miles for stays of 3 or more nights at participating Jumeirah Hotels in Dubai. More... Until Apr 30, 17

American AAdvantage
- Earn up to 115,500 Bonus AAdvantage Miles when you buy miles. More... Until Apr 13, 17

Marriott Rewards
- 1,000 Bonus Rewards Points when you stay 2 nights or more Thursday-Sunday at 34 Marriott locations in Southern California. More... Until May 25, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT for stays at Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites or TownePlace Suites in the Dallas Ft. Worth area. More... Booking Apr 5 - Jun 28, 17

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Double Asia Miles when you fly Cathay Pacific out of Canada in Economy/Premium Economy this summer

Cathay Pacific is encouraging early bookings for summer travel out of Canada with their latest Asia Miles flight offer. You can earn Double Miles if you book Economy or Premium Class travel by May 31 for travel during the high summer season. No love for business or first class but then again those classes currently have a bonus running until the end of April.

Offer details:
Double Asia Miles when fly one-way or round-trip with Cathay Pacific in Premium Economy or Economy Class from Canada to Hong Kong or via Hong Kong to worldwide destinations. Register Online (Registration is required) Register & book by May 31 for travel Jul 1 - Sep 30, 17

If you aren't a member of Asia Miles yet and join during this promotion and complete the promotion you'll get an additional 500 Asia Miles.

RBC Infinite Avion
RBC Visa Infinite Avion

• Ability to book flights with any airline with no blackout periods, extremely useful when there are no seat sales
• 15,000 Point sign up bonus 1.9% balance transfer and cash advance rate for the first 10 months
• Up to a 2.3% return on your spending depending on which reward ticket you book
• Option to transfer RBC Rewards Points to WestJet Rewards, British Airways Executive Club, American AAdvantage, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
• Look for the transfer bonus to BA several times per year!
• A complete suite of insurance coverage and benefits
• Unwritten ability to redeem for Business Class tickets although at a lower rate of return when compared to the Avion Reward chart

Apply Now

March 21 Update: You can now redeem WestJet companion vouchers online, U.S./U.K. electronics travel ban & more!

News, Tips & Tricks
quietly launched the ability to redeem the companion vouchers online that come from the WestJet RBC MasterCard. Great news for those of you who didn't like calling in to book flights using the voucher!

It's been all over the news since last night, The U.S. travel ban on electronics in the cabin (save for cell phones and medical devices). This means items like tablets, laptops, etc. will have to be placed in your checked luggage. The ban is only for flights originating on select airlines from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa. Of course this will affect you if you are travelling on these flights via the U.S. but there is one Canadian flight affected. Royal Jordanian's flight to Montreal will be included since that fligth continues on to Detroit. There are reports now of ban to be put in place by the U.K. as well. No word yet if Canada will also put in a place a ban as many of the airlines affected do fly to Canada as well. Find our more from the DHS website

Our post about How to maximize value out of the RBC Avion Airline Award Chart has been a very popular page for us on the RC Blog so we have added to the main site for easier access and reading! You can find it here.

Posts since our last update:

Travel Deals
Hilton 72-Hour Sale! Save up to 20% off your April & May weekend stays. Stay at participating hotels April 14 - 17th and May 25 - 30th in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada.Hurry, sale ends Wednesday! Find out more here.

Canadian Bonus Offers

Other Bonus Offers
Alitalia MilleMiglia
- 1,000 Bonus MilleMiglia Miles for every Avis rental Worldwide. More... Until Apr 30, 17

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- 500 Bonus Asia Miles for stays at any Minyoun Hospitality Hotel. More... Until Jun 30, 17

Marriott Rewards
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points for stays at the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa More... Oct 2 - Dec 18, 17
- 1,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT when you stay 2 nights or more Thursday-Sunday at the TownePlace Suites Newark Silicon Valley. More... Booking Apr 7 - Jun 30, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points per stay on Thursday-Sunday nights (Friday or Saturday required) at the Chicago Marriott Suites Deerfield. More... Apr 8 - Jul 1, 17
- 2,000 Bonus Rewards Points PER NIGHT for stays at the AC Hotel Raleigh North Hills. Maximum of 10,000 bonus points per stay. More... Apr 5 - Jun 28, 17

Miles & More
- Earn up to Triple Miles & More Miles for all stays at any Best Western Hotel in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Hungary, Croatia, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. More...Until May 31, 17

Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Up to 50% QMiles Discount on Qatar Airways Privilege Club Award ticket redemptions for various routes via their "Easy Deals" offer. More... Until Apr 30, 17

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Marriott to add worldwide travel experiences for guests with PlacePass and surges past 100 million members

Marriott announced two major milestones this morning. Firstly, the hotel chain has surpassed 100 million members in their Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs. They join a league of programs that can be counted on one hand that have members in the nine figures. Secondly, they announced their investment into PlacePass, a online meta-search platform for in-destination experiences. Members will soon be able to choose from an additional 100,000 plus authentic local experiences in 800 destinations worldwide when they book direct on Marriott.com or SPG.com or their respective apps.
“The addition of PlacePass activities and tours beginning later this year reflects Marriott’s commitment to giving our guests a complete travel experience, whether they are in planning mode, staying in our hotels and even in-between stays when they’re thinking about travel,” said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. “We want our guests to count on Marriott to give them access to more of the destinations and things they love to do when they travel.”
One can assume that what will happen is after you complete your hotel booking with Marriott, Ritz or SPG you'll be offered a hand picked selection of activities and tours in your destination that you can add on to your trip. Marriott does not state whether this will be cash only options or if you will also be able to pay for them with points like you currently can with Marriott's Marketplace and SPG's Moments one of a kind experiences.

Here are just some of the examples of travel experiences provided by PlacePass:
  • Explore the filming locations for the hit series “Downton Abbey” on a VIP guided tour from London, including Highclere Castle and Bampton, the setting for Downton village.
  • Wrestle with a retired sumo wrestler in Tokyo, and get a behind-the-scenes look at the history of Japan’s national sport.
  • Get a taste of desert life in the dunes outside Dubai. Explore the dunes by camel or 4x4, then enjoy a sunset view of the desert and traditional Bedouin-style dinner. 
  • Explore Cambodia’s iconic temples on a sunrise mountain biking tour through the Angkor Archaeological Park.
  • Enjoy a private viewing of the crown jewels in the Tower of London, hosted by the museum’s Chief Exhibitor.
  • Perfect your pasta-making skills alongside a local Italian chef at a Tuscan farmhouse, a chateau in the Dolomites, or a Florentine cooking school.

While this is not a new innovation, you can go to PlacePass right now and book these tours and activities directly, the integration of it into Marriott's booking process give PlacePass a huge new market to tap into to! I'll be honest I never heard of PlacePass until Marriott sent us this press release and there are probably millions more who have not heard of them. For some of you I know you'll skip over the tour booking process when you reserve your room but for others the right experience may just pop up and you'll be able to book it easily with your hotel room rather than having to go to another website and complete another booking.

Click here to learn more about this new option coming to Marriott and SPG