Credit cards reporter Katie Genter: My 10 favorite TPG posts of 2019

Jan 1, 2020

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When I think about my favorite TPG posts, I think of two types of posts. First, I think of the posts I reference frequently, so I’ve included some of those below. Second, I think of posts I wrote. Some of these took a lot of effort, such as The ultimate guide to the best cards for each bonus category, or got a lot of traffic, like My first class seat was taken by an emotional support animal. But the posts that come to mind quickest are the ones that I really loved writing or that had a personal angle, so I’ve included some of those below as well. Here are my favorite posts from 2019:

18 flights in 16 days: Why and how I got Oneworld Sapphire status for 2+ years for less than $500

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
I grew very accustomed to watching the Malaysia Airlines safety video during my 18 flights in 16 days. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

As an American Airlines Executive Platinum elite, I don’t get lounge access domestically when flying American Airlines. So when Malaysia Airlines announced a Triple Everything promotion in fall 2018, I used the promotion to earn Enrich Gold (Oneworld Sapphire) status for more than two years for less than $500. Although I’m proud of how I maximized the promotion, I also had an excellent time visiting five Malaysian cities once and Medan, Indonesia, five times over the course of 16 days. Now I get to enjoy Admirals Club access and Flagship Lounge access when flying domestically on American Airlines due to my Malaysia Airlines status.

Related: Credit cards that can help you earn airline elite status

How to fly AA’s best lie-flat business-class seats without needing a passport

Dinner on-board our flight from DFW to MIA.
JT and I enjoying dinner on board a 777-200 flight from Dallas-Forth Worth (DFW) to Miami (MIA). (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

If you want to fly American Airlines’ best lie-flat business class seats domestically, JT Genter has you covered with a guide he frequently updates to show you when and how to make it happen.

Premium economy seats on some products are sold as Main Cabin Extra seats, which means these seats are free for Platinum, Platinum Pro and Executive Platinum elites — and American Airlines elites can try to upgrade from economy into lie-flat seats on these routes.

Related: Every American Airlines premium seat ranked from best to worst

I got $160 of food and drink included on a $153 stay in Chicago, and you can, too

Our dinner at the ETA Restaurant in the Loews Chicago Hotel.
Our dinner at the ETA Restaurant in the Loews Chicago Hotel. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) program provides elite-like benefits at select hotels to American Express card members with a Platinum or Centurion-branded card, including The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. When you book through the FHR program, you get various benefits including daily breakfast for two people, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and a unique property amenity valued at $100 or more.

Last March I was able to book a one-night stay at the Loews Chicago Hotel for just $153, including taxes and fees, through FHR. This was a great deal to start with, but I was able to maximize the breakfast benefit, $100 property credit, happy hour and a $10 dining coupon in my room to get food and drink during my stay that had a retail price of more than I paid for my stay.

Related: When to book through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts vs. Chase Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection

Hotels near Ikon ski pass resorts you can book with points

(Photo courtesy of The Westin Snowmass Resort)
The Westin Snowmass Resort has a very convenient slope-side location. (Photo courtesy of The Westin Snowmass Resort)

Hotels can be an expensive part of a ski vacation, so knowing which brands have properties near each Ikon resort and how much these properties cost in points and cash can be extremely helpful. I created this guide shortly after purchasing my first Ikon ski pass earlier this year and I’ve already used it to plan a few ski trips for myself this winter. If you’re looking to use hotel points from a particular brand, try searching the brand name in this guide.

Related: Best credit cards to use on ski trips

How to save up to 7,500 miles on domestic American Airlines awards now through January 31

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
Use reduced mileage awards to travel for fewer miles. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Select American Airlines cobranded credit cards, including the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard®, offer a perk that allows you to book reduced mileage awards. If you have an eligible credit card, can find saver award availability and are flying to or from an eligible airport, you can book a domestic round-trip for just 17,500 AAdvantage miles. If your flight is less than 500 miles nonstop, the cost is just 6,500 miles one-way or 13,000 round-trip.

The most useful aspects of JT‘s article are the maps showing which airports are eligible each month and the table showing the discount codes that you’ll need to provide the phone agent while booking.

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

Related: Choosing the best credit card for American Airlines flyers

How valuable is the Citi Prestige® Card’s 4th night free when booking midtier hotels though Citi ThankYou?

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
I stayed at the RLJ Kendeja Resort & Villas in Liberia on a Citi fourth night free recently. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

The Citi Prestige has been devalued multiple times this year, so many cardholders have been debating whether to keep the card. The card’s fourth night free benefit was devalued but not completely removed, so I decided to look at how useful the benefit is when compared to other booking methods at midtier and luxury hotels.

I recommend reading the two guides to determine whether the fourth-night-free benefit can provide value to you. In short, although the benefit can still be useful on some bookings, you shouldn’t assume that you’ll save money by using it. Instead, you should price out multiple booking options before deciding to use one of your two annual fourth-night-free benefits.

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.

Related: Complete guide to booking complimentary 4th night stays with Citi Prestige

How to get up to 25 award nights from 100k Marriott points

The hotel's garden overlooks Table Mountain.
The Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray’s garden overlooks Table Mountain. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

This guide started what quickly became my favorite series of 2019: stretch your points. The guides in this series present the most appealing low-category hotels for each hotel brand, so that you can maximize the number of nights you get from your points. In these guides, I show that there are some great hotels bookable for very few points per night, such as the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort in Malaysia for 5,000 Hyatt points per night or the Marriott Category 1 Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray.

Want to stretch your points? Check out all of my posts in the series so far:

Related: High/low travel strategy: Mixing luxury and budget travel on the same trip

45 hours, 8 states, 3 burgers, 1 cabin: Riding the rails from Portland to Chicago in an Amtrak roomette

The observation car on the Amtrak Empire Builder is a great place to watch the scenery. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Riding a train across the United States is a bucket list item, and something I’d considered doing for years. So, when Amtrak ran a roomette sale in December 2018 I decided to book. JT and I paid $448 for both of us to travel in a roomette from Portland, Oregon to Chicago, Illinois with all meals and access to a shower included. Although our trip had some issues, it was an experience I’d certainly do again.

Related: The best credit cards to use for train travel

Everything you need to know about carbon offsetting for your flights

Photo by simonlong/GettyImages)
Wind power is a popular and generally high-quality type of carbon offset. (Photo by simonlong/GettyImages)

I fly a lot, so carbon offsetting was a topic I wanted to research for myself. In particular, I wanted to find a trustworthy, high-quality method for offsetting my own flights. My own research turned into this article in which I explain carbon offsetting, discuss some airline offsetting programs and describe some other offsetting options. After writing the article, I offset the 236,601 miles that OpenFlights shows I flew in 2018 by donating $260 toward a wind power project on the Gold Standard website.

Related: How to be more eco-friendly while traveling

Your complete guide to Marriott elite breakfast benefits

Breakfast at the Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

Marriott has 32 different brands, so it can be difficult to remember what type of breakfast benefits are provided to Platinum and Titanium elites when staying at each one. Luckily, Ethan Steinberg created this one-stop resource for determining your breakfast benefits when staying at each Marriott type. I use this guide frequently when researching hotels, and highly recommend that you bookmark it if you are a Marriott Platinum or Titanium elite.

Related: Which Marriott Bonvoy credit card is right for you?

Honorable mention: Flight and hotel reviews

(Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)
The Andaz Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi is a great Category 2 Hyatt property. (Photo by Katie Genter/The Points Guy)

In 2019, I published 30 reviews of 13 hotels, seven airlines and 10 lounges. Every one of my hotel reviews, and most of my flight reviews, could have been included as one of my favorite posts from 2019. So, here are my flight reviews published in 2019:

And, here are my hotel reviews published in 2019:

Featured photo of the author on the Amtrak Empire Builder by JT Genter/The Points Guy.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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