Analyzing Credit Card Bonus Offers.

As I was scanning down the page flagging hundreds of emails for deletion from my junk E-mail account, there were actually 4 emails that caught my eye.

  • An offer for a bonus on my Delta AMEX card.
  • An offer for a bonus on my wife’s Hyatt card.
  • A matching set of offers on our IHG cards.

                  

The Delta AMEX is offered by American Express and earns Delta miles.  The Hyatt and IHG are both credit cards issued by Chase that earn hotel points. Loyalty points programs are not created equal and neither are bank offers.  So let’s examine the offers.

Delta points

It is difficult to assign value to Delta points, because they got rid of their award redemption chart.  There was a time when I had no interest in Delta miles, but recently I have begun to appreciate Delta. I don’t think their miles have gotten any better, but many of the other miles programs have gotten worse.  At one time, US-Air was my favorite airline, but since they merged and became American, I can’t seem to find any good redemption options.  Last year I used 12,500 Delta miles to get from Fort Lauderdale to Roanoke.  Availability on Delta has been quite good lately when I have checked for flights.

Delta deal

The offer requires adding an authorized user, and earn 2500 miles when they spend $500.  So I add a card for JumpStart Jr., pay $500 in tuition, and earn 3000 delta miles.  The reward could be described as 6x on $500. Its value is dependent on your need/value for Delta miles. For me, the value is about one fourth of a one way flight to Florida.

Hotel points

Hotel points vary widely in their value, but are generally easier to redeem than airline miles.  Typically hotel chains sort their hotels into different categories and assign a price in points.   There are travel bloggers that attempt to assign value to different hotel points. Examining a variety of hotels near the Charlotte airport next Sat night is a decent judge in value for me.  The blue marks are Hyatt Places and they cost 5000 Hyatt points or $131.  The mustard colored hotels are Holiday Inns that cost 20,000 IHG points or $97.  The green hotels are Hiltons and range from 20,000 to 40,000 points and prices range from $89 to $151.

Hyatt deal

The offer is spend $4000 and get 4000 bonus points, so spending $4000 earns 8000 Hyatt points.  The offer is 2x on $4000.  Hyatt point are pretty valuable and this deal earns 2 Hyatt points per dollar spent.

IHG deal

IHG includes several brands like Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, and Crown Plaza.  The points are not very valuable based on the earlier hotel price example.  Mrs. JumpStart also has an IHG card, so we could do the deal twice.  The offer is get 600 bonus points when you spend $750.  This can be repeated each month for 5 months.  This deal could be 1.8x or 1.8 IHG points per dollar. This one is tricky though, because remember you must spend exactly $750 each month to get 1.8x.  If you spend less than $750 then you get 1x.  If you spend more it steadily lowers from the optimum 1.8x toward 1x.

Decision time

Delta.  I’m in.  Jr. gets a card.  Spend $500, get 3000 Delta miles and get one fourth of a flight from ROA to FLL.

Hyatt.  Maybe.  I might have a better opportunity for $4000 in spend.  Spend $4000, and get 8000 Hyatt points, which is enough for 1.6 hotel nights near the Charlotte airport.

IHG.  No way.  Carefully time $3750 spend over 5 months to end up with 6750 IHG points that will get me one third of a hotel night near the Charlotte airport.

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