Should I Try to Match Status with Every Airline and Hotel?

TPG reader Michael sent me a message on Facebook to ask about status challenges: “I have Platinum status with American Airlines and Gold status with SPG. Is there any reason why I shouldn’t try to match status with all the other carriers and hotel groups? I figure I might as well get benefits from every hotel and airline; Delta won’t know if I try…

When Can I Use the Citi Prestige $250 Air Travel Credit?

TPG reader Abhinav sent me a message on Facebook to ask about a credit card benefit: “Is the Citi Prestige airline credit available immediately after I get the card, or do I have to wait an entire calendar year before I use it? Also, does it ever expire?” Some travel rewards cards offer benefits that don’t kick in until the…

Should I Upgrade to First Class on a Transcon Flight?

TPG reader Lucas sent me a message on Facebook to ask about upgrades: “Is it worth paying 15,000 AAdvantage miles and a $175 copay to move from business to first on American’s A321T transcontinental service? Alternately, I could pay a $515 fare difference.” Domestic first-class service can be pretty lackluster, especially in comparison to the impressive premium cabins available internationally. However, there are…

Should I Apply for a Card if I Can’t Earn the Sign-Up Bonus?

TPG reader Nick sent me a message on Facebook to ask about getting a new credit card: “I’d like to sign up for Chase Sapphire Preferred, but I know I won’t be spending $4,000 in 3 months. Does it make sense to get the card even without the sign-up bonus?” Travel rewards credit cards offer a lot…

Which Flights Count Toward a Status Challenge?

TPG reader Jason emailed me to ask about the AAdvantage status challenge: “If I initiate a status challenge with American Airlines, do existing reservations count, or can I only count flights booked after the challenge begins?” Status challenges are a great shortcut to earning elite benefits with both airlines and hotels. By completing a specified amount of travel during the challenge…

Can I Stack Elite Status and Credit Card Baggage Benefits?

TPG reader Ken sent me a message on Facebook to ask about checked bags: “Can I combine the benefits of my AAdvantage Gold status and my AAdvantage Platinum Select card to get two free checked bags?” There are plenty of ways to avoid fees for checked baggage. Many co-branded airline credit cards offer a free checked bag for the cardholder…

Should I Redeem Citi ThankYou Points for Hotels on Expedia?

TPG reader Chad emailed me to ask about a new Citi ThankYou Rewards partnership: “Is there a way to maximize the value of ThankYou points by booking hotels with Expedia, or are there better options?” Citi’s partnership with Expedia extends back nearly a decade. For most of that time, the partnership has been defined by various co-branded credit cards, but it expanded…

Do I Have to Pay Taxes on Cash Back Rewards?

TPG reader Tina sent me a message on Facebook to ask about taxes: “Are cash back rewards that get deposited directly into a bank account taxable?” Credit card rewards can be incredibly lucrative; not only do the points and miles you earn from everyday spending offer a solid return, but also the top sign-up bonuses can easily be worth over $600…

Is Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve Better for Delta Flyers?

TPG reader Jimmy sent me a message on Facebook to ask about two premium credit cards: “I travel nearly every week, mostly on Delta. Which card offers better value in those circumstances: Amex Platinum or Delta Reserve?” Using the right credit card is an easy way to maximize the points and miles you earn on spending, but there are other factors to…

Should I Take a Mattress Run to Complete a Status Challenge?

TPG reader Hunter sent me a message on Facebook to ask about earning Marriott elite status: “I’m currently two stays away from completing the Marriott Platinum challenge. I normally spend about 50 nights each year with Marriott, but I don’t have any plans to travel before my challenge period ends. I found a local hotel where I can…