Talking Points with Thrifty Traveler: May 4th

Talking Points With Thrifty Traveler

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Our weekly series, Talking Points with Thrifty Traveler, is designed to help readers answer any questions they might have for the Thrifty Traveler team. The questions can be anything from credit card points & miles, travel recommendations, flight questions, or anything you want us to answer. Have a question? Email me at [email protected] to be featured in our Friday Talking Points segment.


How do I complete checkout on the Delta website when I am using the pay with miles feature? – Mike D. 

Using the Delta Pay With Miles feature is one of our favorite ways to use your Delta SkyMiles. If you are not familiar with Pay with Miles, it is an exclusive benefit for card members who have the Gold and/or Platinum Delta SkyMiles or Delta Reserve credit card from American Express.

This benefit allows card members to use their miles, starting at just 5,000 miles, to discount the price of tickets. Regardless of the ticket price, a card member can reduce the cost of their ticket by $50 for every 5,000 miles. For example, redeeming 10,000 of your miles takes $100 off your fare, 15,000 miles takes $150 off, 20,000 miles takes $200 off, etc.

Using the Pay With Miles feature is a great way to take advantage of your Thrifty Traveler Premium subscription to compound your savings.

If you have one of the Delta co-branded credit cards mentioned above and at least 5,000 SkyMiles in your account, you will see the Pay With Miles option during the checkout process as highlighted below.

The best part? Pay with Miles tickets are eligible to earn Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs) and Medallion Qualifying Segments (MQSs) where standard award tickets are not. In addition, Pay with Miles tickets will earn mileage for the portion of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges remaining that is paid in currency after miles are applied to the ticket total.




I have the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. Which card should I be using for my Starwood/Marriott hotel stays? – Blake K.

This is a great question and one in which the answer is not black and white. The Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card earns 3X points on all travel, including hotel stays while the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) credit card earns 2X SPG points on all stays at both Starwood & Marriott hotels.

Because of the Starwood and Marriott merger that completed at the end of 2016, you are able to transfer SPG and Marriott points back and forth between the programs at a 1:3 ratio. This means that every SPG point you transfer into Marriott will effectively be 3 points in the Marriott program. Currently, you would earn 6X Marriott points for SPG & Marriott hotel stays if you pay with your SPG American Express card.

Just a few weeks ago, Marriott unveiled their plans for the future of the two programs. Come August, the programs will be combined and the SPG card will then earn 6X Marriott points for hotel stays and 2X points on everything else.

The question you need to answer here is whether you want 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points or 6X Marriott Points. What makes Marriott points valuable is the ability to transfer them to over 30 airline partners and book flights. When you do this, it will be at a 3:1 ratio which means 3 Marriott Points will equal 1 airline mile in the program you elect to transfer into. This means every dollar you are spending on hotels is effectively 2 airline miles if used in this manner.

I personally place a higher value on Ultimate Rewards points, so I elect to put my hotel spending on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and put all of my spending for categories that don’t earn a bonus on the Sapphire Reserve card (dining and travel) on my SPG card. I am doing this until August as all SPG points will convert into the Marriott program at 1:3. By doing this I am effectively getting 3X Marriott points for all spending, which I think is a pretty good deal.


How exactly does the Thrifty Traveler Premium service work? – Sara S.

Thrifty Traveler Premium is our subscription-based email service that delivers 1-3 international flight deals each day directly to your email inbox. These deals depart from over 75 US departure cities and you currently have the ability to set a region filter to tailor the deals you want to see. In the very near future, we will be rolling out airport specific filtering that will allow you to only get emails for deals that depart from the airports you select.

The service costs $30 a year and our subscribers average $250 to $300 of savings from each deal they book. Using the service to book one trip will cover the cost of the service for years to come.

To learn more about how exactly this works, see our YouTube video here. Want to subscribe to the service? You can sign-up here.


Bottom Line

Have a question you want answered? Send them to [email protected] to be featured in our weekly segment, Talking Points with Thrifty Traveler.


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