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2018-01-18T08:04:37.604Z
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Stretching from the Syrian border to the edge of the Red Sea, the Kingdom of Jordan has long been a cultural and travel crossroads.
Dreaming of heading to another city or country because of a chef or bartender who has made those places famous?
If you own an iPhone, Dell computer, Microsoft tablet -- or really, any digital device -- you're already more connected to Shenzhen than you might realize.

“Many of the listings that appear on this website are from companies which we receive This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone.”

Over the years, I’ve developed a love/hate relationship with hotel credit cards. I love signing up for them to earn a big signup bonus and enjoy booking free hotel stays with the points I earn. However, I never seem to want to keep these cards for the long run.

In the past few years alone, I’ve had the Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Ritz Carlton Credit Card, and both the personal and business version of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. The only hotel loyalty brands I have never dealt with are Wyndham Rewards and Club Carlson.

But there’s one hotel credit card I have kept for several years and basically plan to keep forever. This card is the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card, and I can’t think of any reason to get rid of it.

Why I Love the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card

There are several reasons I love this card and plan to keep it forever, but one of the main reasons is...

The following is the January 2018 edition of our favorite 10 credit card products available at the moment. The list is based on a combination of factors, including current welcome bonus offers, daily earning potential, transfer partners and bonus categories, along with the ability to redeem.

The number in parenthesis to the right of each card’s name is last month’s ranking for each card.

 

1 – Ink Business Preferred Credit Card (1)

Pros:

  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent in select categories each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases–with no limit to the amount you can earn.
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more – your points don’t expire as long as your account is open.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 Annual Fee.
  • Ultimate Rewards points earned transfer on a 1:1 ratio to Chase partners British Airways Executive Club, Singapore KrisFlyer, Korean Air SKYPASS, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Rewards and IHG Rewards Club.

Cons:

  • $5,000 minimum spend requirement to get the welcome bonus.
  • Annual fee of $95 that is not waived the first year.
  • As this is a business card, you must have a business to apply for this card.

 

2 – The Platinum Card from American Express...

Delta Air Lines and Airbnb have been partnering since 2016, and every now and then, the airline offers bonus miles on eligible stays. The promo is back, and for a limited time, you can earn up to 5X Delta SkyMiles per dollar spent with the vacation rental website.

New Airbnb guests who have not signed up for an account with the homestay network can register here and earn 5X SkyMiles per $1 spent on their first stay plus a one-time credit of $25 on bookings of at least $75, minus taxes and fees. An additional 500 miles will be awarded on stays with a minimum booking value of $75, and 1,000 miles will be awarded on stays with a minimum booking value of $150.

Existing Airbnb guests will earn 2X SkyMiles per dollar spent, but only new users qualify for the additional bonus.

To earn bonus miles, travelers must make a reservation via DeltaAirbnb.com by Feb. 28, 2018, and complete their stay by Feb. 28, 2019. Make sure to request a booking through the portal, otherwise, you will not earn the double or quintuple miles. Bonus miles will post after the stay is completed.

As always, user-to-user referrals offer a better discount of $40 to first-time Airbnb guests who book a stay with a value of $75. If you use my link, I will earn $20 toward...

Last year, I signed up for the only Delta credit card I have ever had – a Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. I signed up for the card when it was offering 70,000 miles, and I’m glad I did. Once I racked up the points, I was able to spend them on my husband’s flight to Dublin, Ireland for a trip we took over St. Patrick’s Day last year.

Sadly, this means I am all out of Delta Sky Miles now. But really, I see this as an opportunity. Since I’ve only had one Delta card and my husband hasn’t had any, we could rack up a bunch of miles in the Delta program if we both signed up for cards we are eligible for the next time a big signup bonus offer rolls around.

While Delta Sky Miles are constantly dumped on for their paltry value and Delta doesn’t even have an award chart, I still want to earn more Delta miles and plan to do so in the near future. Here’s why:

  • Delta just came out with a new nonstop flight from Indianapolis to Paris. My top reason for wanting more Sky Miles is selfish. My home airport of Indianapolis is coming out with a nonstop flight to Paris in May 2018, and I want to fly this new route in the near future. Right now you can find a ton of availability for around...

As of April 1, 2016, Citi became the exclusive credit card issuer for Costco, replacing American Express. With this change, all Visa cards are now accepted at Costcos, which is an interesting move, since there are a lot of Visa cards issued by banks other than Citi. Many would argue that Citi  overpaid for this deal, and that the real winner is Chase, given that they didn’t pay anything, but most of their cards are now accepted at Costco (since they’re Visa cards).

As part of this switchover, the new Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi was introduced. The card has no annual fee (assuming you have a Costco membership), and comes with the following return on spend:

  • 4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide, including at Costco (up to $7,000 per year), then 1%
  • 3% cash back on restaurant and eligible travel purchases worldwide
  • 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

This represented a nice improvement over American Express’ old Costco card, which didn’t offer bonus categories that were as generous. However, arguably this card still isn’t the best for the return it offers, as there are cards that offer more lucrative returns in just about all categories. Still, it’s a fairly well rounded card for Costco loyalists, especially given the lack of an annual fee.

For those who have the 

It has been amazing to see British Airways’ transformation over the past few years, as they’ve gone from being a relatively full service airline to an almost ultra low cost carrier. While they still offer different types of experiences depending on the cabin you’re traveling in, they’ve added more seats to planes, have eliminated free food & drinks in shorthaul economy, etc.

I can’t say with certainty that many of their changes don’t make business sense, but there’s no denying that they’ve made the passenger experience worse.

In late 2016 we first learned about British Airways’ plans to densify many of their planes, including their 777s, A320s, and A321s. As we learned at the time, starting in winter 2017, the A320s are going from 168 seats to 180 seats, and starting in summer 2018, the A321s are going from 205 seats to 218 seats.

Now we have more details about the ways in British Airways is densifying their shorthaul fleet.


British Airways A320

Changes coming to British Airways shorthaul aircraft

Head for Points links to a post by FlyerTalk user MFCC, who has the details of the shorthaul changes coming to British Airways. For A320 and A321 aircraft that are being reconfigured with more seats:

  • The first 12 rows of seats on A320s, and first 14 rows of seats on A321s, will retain the current seats, and...

Yesterday I wrote about how 2017 was the safest year on record for aviation globally. In 2017 airlines had zero accident deaths on commercial passenger jets. This excludes props, and excludes cargo jets, so when you factor those in, there were a total of 10 fatal airliner accidents, resulting in 79 deaths.

While any tragedy is sad, that’s incredible when you consider how many hundreds of millions of people fly every year. An airplane is just about the safest place you can be. This is also an improvement over previous years, because as recently as 2005 there were 1,015 commercial passenger deaths worldwide (which is still quite good, when you consider how many people fly).

So, what made 2017 such a safe year for aviation around the world (yes, we’re talking everywhere in the world)? Per President Trump’s Tweet:

“Since taking office I have been very strict on Commercial Aviation. Good news – it was just reported that there were Zero deaths in 2017, the best and safest year on record.”

For one, there weren’t zero deaths in commercial aviation. There were zero passenger jet deaths, but that’s not the entire equation.

But if we can forget that for a second, I think we should...

Norwegian is one of the fastest growing transatlantic airlines, as they operate both 737 and 787 aircraft to a growing number of US destinations. This morning the airline put out a press release revealing their “biggest ever year of growth in 2018.”

Partly the press release just rehashes previous announcements, like that they’re adding flights to Austin, Chicago, and Buenos Aires, though there are two announcements that are new, as far as I know. One is good news, and one sounds like it may be bad news.

Norwegian is adding more Premium Cabin seats to their 787s

Norwegian has an interesting premium cabin product on their 787s. It’s called “Premium Cabin,” and featured 32-35 spacious seats in a 2-3-2 configuration. SeatGuru claims these seats have 46″ of pitch, while Norwegian claims these seats have 55″ of pitch (9″ is a big disparity). Daniel has reviewed this product in the past, and I’d like to try it soon as well, as it seems to be an exceptional value.

While this is essentially a premium economy product, in reality it’s much more spacious than that, as most premium economy products have somewhere around 36″ of pitch, or so. So they have at least an extra 10″ of legroom over what most of their competitors offer in premium economy.

Starting in 2018, Norwegian will introduce...

My husband and I are currently enjoying our annual New Year’s trip — it’s not my favorite time of year to travel for a variety of reasons, but it’s pretty much the only week of the year we can both reliably take a few days off, and getting to spend time together is more important than having a flawless or even luxurious experience.

For context, remember that we spent last year in a tent:

I tend to give a lot of grace to travel providers during this time of year. Most people do the best they can, most of the time, and approaching the busy season with kindness and understanding makes life better for everyone.

The last and first weeks of the year are busy — flights and hotels are often at capacity, in many cases with families or demanding once-a-year travelers, and I understand that resources can be strained. Maybe even increased staffing can’t adapt to the demand, or spaces weren’t physically designed for the number of people they’re trying to hold (see every gate area at ORD, as an example of that).

The flip side of that, of course, is that the New Year’s holiday happens at the same time every year, so it’s not like you don’t know it’s coming, and the influx in visitors means even more of an opportunity to make a great impression on a large number...

IHG Rewards Club doesn’t have a traditional category-based award chart. While IHG hotels have year-round award prices, they don’t belong to a specific category. Instead the cost of an award night is typically tied to which brand a hotel belongs to, and then there’s some variance within each brand.

It’s pretty normal for major hotel loyalty programs to adjust their award costs at some hotels on an annual basis. The logic is that the number of points required for a hotel is based on the average occupancy and average daily rate of the hotel, and there are all kinds of factors that can impact that, both micro and macro. So while not all hotels change category every year, it’s not unusual to see a few percent of hotels change categories.

IHG Rewards Club tends to adjust their award categories on an annual basis, and in both 2016 and 2017 we saw them adjust the number of points required for various hotels. While IHG Rewards Club hasn’t yet officially announced an adjustment to the number of points required for stays booked in 2018, FlyerTalk user Lionheart stumbled upon a page that seems to show the updated 2018 IHG Rewards Club award prices.

We don’t yet know exactly when these changes will go into effect, though my guess is that it’s likely this pricing will kick in within a few weeks.

As noted by Point Me to the Plane, it...

As it’s now 2018, I think it’s time to reflect on one of the most remarkable things to happen in the airline industry in 2017. No, I’m not talking about the creative methods that airlines have used to add fees and remove passengers from overbooked flights, but rather I’m talking about safety.

2017 was the safest year on record for commercial air travel, as airlines had zero accident deaths on commercial passenger jets last year.

Now, I think it’s important to point out that the above “zero fatality” statistic is specific to jets (meaning it excludes props), and it’s specific to commercial aircraft (meaning it excludes cargo jets). In early 2017 we saw a cargo 747 crash in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, killing 39 people (four on the plane and 35 on the ground), and just yesterday we saw a Nature Air Cessna 208 Grand Caravan crash in Costa Rica, killing 12 people onboard.

Reuters notes that in 2017 there were a total of 10 fatal airliner accidents (all of which were prop planes or cargo jets), resulting in 79 deaths (44 passengers and 35 people on the ground). This is a significant improvement over 2016, when there were 16 accidents resulting in 303 deaths. Just to show how much safety has improved, as recently as 2005 there were 1,015 commercial passenger deaths worldwide, so that’s an incredible improvement.

To me it’s just a miracle how safe aviation is. While I realize planes are highly automated nowadays, there’s still a lot of...

Introduction: Easter In December
Review: Oneworld Lounge Mexico City Airport
Review: American Admirals Club Mexico City Airport
Review: Grand Lounge Elite Mexico City Airport
Review: LATAM Business Class 787 Mexico City To Santiago
Review: Santiago Airport Domestic Lounge
Review: LATAM Business Class 787 Santiago To Easter Island
Review: Explora Hotel Rapa Nui, Easter Island
Review: Activities At Explora Easter Island
Review: LATAM Business Class 787-9 Easter Island To Santiago
Review: LATAM Business Class 787-8 Santiago To Mexico City


Easter Island is tiny (especially when you consider how remote it is), at only 63 square miles, with a population of about 6,000 people. About half of those people are Rapa Nui, which is the indigenous population of the island.

Here’s the map of Easter Island that’s on the wall near the cafe at Explora, to give you a sense of the layout:

In this post I just wanted to briefly talk about the activities at the resort and my overall impressions of the island. There are no doubt better resources out there if you’re interested in learning more about the island as such (starting with Easter Island’s Wikipedia page), which is why I’m keeping this brief. I didn’t take notes about every...

With reduced oil revenue in the Middle East, we’ve seen all kinds of changes in the UAE, Qatar, etc. Businesses (including airlines) are being run in more of a sustainable way, and we’re seeing existing taxes being increased, and new taxes being introduced. For example, in the past I’ve written about how the airport taxes have increased in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Well as of today (January 1, 2018), the UAE has introduced a controversial new 5% VAT on purchases. This new tax applies to clothes, hotels, utilities, gas, etc. However, the tax doesn’t apply to everything, as medical treatment, public transportation, etc., are excluded.

If you’re planning on staying at a hotel in the UAE anytime soon, this means you can expect to pay even more for your room. While the UAE hasn’t had an across the board sales tax up until now, there has already been a municipality tax on hotel stays, which varies based on the Emirate you’re in. For example, in Dubai that municipality tax has been 10%, while in Abu Dhabi it has been been 6%. There has also been a 10% service charge on hotels, and an additional tourism tax and municipality fee.


Emirates Palace Hotel Abu Dhabi

For hotel stays as of today, you can expect to pay a further 5% on top...

While the new year can be depressing for those of us into miles & points, the good news is that it also means a new year of American Express airline fee credits, as those reset on January 1. Based on my card portfolio, it’s an opportunity to get hundreds of dollars of travel.

Which Amex cards come with airline fee credits?

The following cards offer airline fee credits, in the following increments (they’re offered per calendar year, regardless of what your cardmember year looks like):

What can the Amex airline fee credit be used for?

Per the terms, the annual airline credit can be used for airline purchases, excluding the following:

Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.

Anecdotally, however, many report having luck purchasing airline gift cards and having those reimbursed. For example, just a few days ago I purchased two $100 American Airlines gift cards, and they were reimbursed a couple of days later.

The American Express forum on FlyerTalk has individual threads dedicated to reimbursement reports for each airline, including Alaska