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Today only: Earn 12x Amex Membership Rewards points on hotel bookings

Dec. 13, 2019
4 min read
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Today only: Earn 12x Amex Membership Rewards points on hotel bookings
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One of the fundamental elements of the points and miles hobby is to maximize every online purchase by going through a shopping portal. This doesn’t just apply when buying items online; you can also score bonus points, miles or cash back on travel purchases by using shopping portals.

And today's an excellent day to make hotel reservations as you can get up to a 24% return on your spending (based on TPG's valuations). Here's how.

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is offering up to 12% cash back at over 200 retailers today to celebrate 12 days until Christmas. As part of this sale, Rakuten is offering some excellent cash-back offers on hotel stays — which include:

  • IHG Hotels -- including:
  • Candlewood Suites
  • Crowne Plaza
  • EVEN Hotels
  • Holiday Inn Express
  • Holiday Inn
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations
  • Hotel Indigo
  • InterContinental Hotels
  • Staybridge Suites

The platform is also offering 12% back with a variety of other travel merchants, including CheapTickets, eBags, JanSport, Lands' End, SnapTravel and Viator.

That screenshot mentions 12% cash back, but I promised 12x American Express Membership Rewards points in the headline. Well, that's because Rakuten members can opt into earning Membership Rewards points instead of cash back as long as you have an MR-earning credit card.

At current TPG valuations, Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each. That means the 12x Membership Rewards return on these hotel reservations is worth around 24 cents per dollar spent. If you know how to maximize American Express Membership Rewards points, you can get even more value than that.

For example, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club during this month's transfer bonus to book first-class round-trip flights to Japan for as little as 70,000 Membership Rewards points. Taken to the extreme, you could spend $6,000 at IHG hotels during this Rakuten promotion to get 72,000 Membership Rewards points — enough for that round-trip first-class award on ANA when transferred to Flying Club.

ANA first class. (Photo by Zach Honig/TPG)

Or, you can book Delta One Suites to Asia for just 60,000 Flying Club miles -- which require a transfer of 47,000 American Express MR points during the transfer bonus. That would require less than $4,000 in spending at these 12x merchants today to get a Delta One Suite flight to Tokyo, Beijing or beyond.

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(Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy)

In a much more practical move, you can score United awards for cheap through Avianca's LifeMiles program, which was recently added as a 1:1 transfer partner of American Express Membership Rewards. Domestic United award flights start at just 5,000 LifeMiles. That means you can get a free United flight just for spending $420 on IHG hotels through this promotion.

Even better, since you're booking directly with the hotel through these shopping portals, you'll still earn hotel points, elite credits and the ability to use elite benefits.

Before you book, make sure to register for and check your IHG Accelerate offers so you can potentially earn even more bonus IHG points from the reservation. Then make sure you’re putting the purchase on the right travel rewards credit card to further maximize your earnings.

Although we haven't seen many IHG credit card spending offers recently, it's worth checking your American Express cards for Amex Offers and Chase cards for Chase Offers. If you don’t have any offers, use a card that maximizes your spending at IHG hotels:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve (3x on travel, 6%)
  • Citi Prestige® Card (3x on hotels, 5.1%)
  • Citi Premier® Card (3x on travel, 5.1%)
  • IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card (10x IHG points on IHG stays, 5% return)
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on travel, 4%)

Return percentage based on TPG valuations and not provided by issuers

The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Featured image by POIKE/GETTY IMAGES
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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