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What is your favourite credit card?
Currently, the American Express Cobalt due to its rich earning power of 5x on eligible restaurants, bars, grocery stores and food delivery. As a card holder, you also get offers to select promotions (advance movie screenings), and I just love the versatility of the card (statement credit towards travel, transfer to the Marriott Bonvoy program, statement credit for Ticketmaster events, and the Fixed Points Travel Program). With the upcoming devaluation coming into effect on August 20, 2019 of a $30,000 annual cap on the 5x category, I will be staggering my spending with the American Express Gold Rewards Card. The latter card happens to have a earning rate of 2x on groceries and travel, which is directly transferable to popular loyalty programs like Aeroplan and British Airways (Avios). You can apply for either of the cards by clicking on the links above.
What has been your favourite flight you've taken using miles?
First Class on Japan Airlines. My opinion might be biased due to being a foodie. They have my favourite bedding to date of any airline in the sky. Japanese service culture is always phenomenal. The availability to book JL F is generous. As someone that has a fixed schedule, my flexibility tends to be +1/-1 on my desired dates. If booking 330+ days out, you can almost guarantee you will get a seat (sometimes even two) on the desired route. Booking can be done with the Alaska Airlines website using Alaska miles for either 70k or 75k if continuing onto other parts of Asia and just desire to use Japan as a stopover. The taxes and fees vary, depending on your departing hub, but should not exceed $100CAD.
What has been your favourite hotel you've stayed at on points?
Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, no contest. I have stayed in over two dozen Category 8 hotels and this is the sole property I would place into a Category 9 on its own. The full board meals, daily activities, Bulgari toiletries, just wow. I booked it when the nightly rate was available for 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points. I intend to return in the foreseeable future at the current rate of 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points.
What has been your worst hotel or flight experience using points or miles?
ITC Mughal, A Luxury Collection Hotel, in Agra. At the time, Marriott was offering a 20% discount on dining for Platinum members across their properties in Asia. The hotel refused to acknowledge this discount until I brought up the website and showed them listed as a participant. Normally as a Platinum member, I select free breakfast as my welcome gift. Because the award redemption rate already had breakfast included, I opted for extra points instead. However, the hotel insisted that free breakfast could only be provided if I selected it as my Platinum amenity. Again, I had to show them the terms of my reservation.
Through experience, elite-qualifying nights normally take at most one week after the hotel stay to post. Unfortunately, it was only after 10 weeks of many calls and emails, that the elite nights were finally credited. The only real positive was that the nightly rate was only 12,500 Marriott Bonvoy Points, so the value was great. I imagine that most of these issues were probably linked with staff not familiar with the Marriott side of things as this was only a couple months after the Marriott and Starwood integration.
What is your biggest regret since starting this hobby?
When starting, to have not educated myself more on award redemption "sweet spots". Keep in mind there were hardly any blogs at the time, so finding the nitty-gritty details were often left to FlyerTalk. Not realizing the various alternative routings (max mileage permitted) that can be achieved when playing around with your originating hub, as well as the potential savings that can be made with avoiding select airlines to reduce carrier fuel surcharges.
What is your best piece of advice for those who are interested but haven't started in this hobby yet?
It is an ever-changing community. If history is any indication, devaluations are always on the horizon. Get started sooner than later. Have a goal, don't signup and collect points blindly. See what miles and points are required to make your destination of choice a reality. Most important of all, don't get caught up with spending beyond your means. The last thing you want to be doing is making unnecessary purchases to meet a spending requirement and unable to make the payments in full.
What is your favourite Vancouver hotel?
This will be biased since I have only ever stayed at one hotel in Vancouver, the JW Marriott Parq in the Spring of 2019. There was a rate going for $200 that stacked with a StayVancouverHotels promo ($125 Amex GC), for $75, off-set with my AMEX Cobalt for 7,500 MRS. It was a no-brainer to check out a property I have heard great things about.
What upcoming trip are you most looking forward to?
Returning to the Maldives in the fall and spending a weekend at the St. Regis at the former 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points nightly rate.
Jason was introduced to travel at a young age. His parents are world travellers so it was only natural he would follow in their footsteps. He took his first international solo flight to Europe at age 14 (pre 9/11). Applied for his first credit card at the age of 19 as he had heard of the miles & points game and couldn't wait to get started. Over a decade later, he has traveled to over 100 countries around the world and always seems to have another adventure plotted around the corner. His wife tries to accompany him whenever she can, but sometimes it’s a bit too hectic as he has a tendency to travel frequently, even if it's just for a brief weekend getaway.