Credit cards reporter Katie Genter: My 10 favorite TPG posts of 2019
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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
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
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
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
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
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?
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
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:
- Marriott Category 1 and 2 properties
- Hyatt Category 1 properties in the U.S.
- Hyatt Category 1 properties outside the U.S.
- Hilton properties in the U.S. for 20k points or less
- Hilton properties outside the U.S. for 10k points or less
- IHG properties in the U.S. for 10k points
- IHG properties outside the U.S. bookable for 10k points
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
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
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
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
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:
- A solid experience with a few flaws: A review of JetBlue’s A321 in economy from Los Angeles to New York
- Friendly fifth freedom: A review of Air New Zealand’s 777-300ER in premium economy, LAX to London
- ‘Closest I’ve ever been to business class’: Singapore Airlines in premium economy on the A350-900ULR from Singapore to LAX
- In need of an oasis: Flying economy on a legacy U.S. Airways American Airlines A321
- Unfriendly skies: Flying United’s 787-8 in economy from Papeete to San Francisco
- Transcon treat: American Airlines’ A321T in business from Boston to Los Angeles
- Upper deck economy: A review of British Airways’ A380 from San Francisco to London
And, here are my hotel reviews published in 2019:
- Leaning luxury: A review of the Andaz Capital Gate hotel in Abu Dhabi
- Space to breathe in Orlando: Bluegreen Vacations Fountains, part of the Ascend Resort Collection
- Laid-back island vibes: A review of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Fiji
- Glorified motel on the grounds: The Beach at Atlantis in Nassau, Bahamas
- Down-to-Earth luxury: A review of the Loews Chicago Hotel
- For the kids: A review of the DoubleTree Resort by Hilton in Penang, Malaysia
- Luxe at 60 bucks: A review of the JW Marriott in Medan, Indonesia
- Ahead of the game: A review of the InterContinental Phu Quoc Long Beach Resort in Vietnam
- 5k points per night and no resort fees: A review of the Hyatt Regency Kuantan Resort in Malaysia
- Seaside seclusion in Malaysia: A review of The Westin Langkawi Resort & Spa
- Friendly, quirky and comfy: A review of the Hotel Indigo Birmingham Five Points South – UAB
- Basic Brooklyn at $39 a night: A review of the Gowanus Inn and Yard
- Luxury really is personal: A review of the Park Hyatt Beijing