Ed Pizza: Coors Light is not a beer, to be clear.
Summer Hull: Oh, no. It's flavored water.
Julian Kheel: Also, get Summer a microphone. Summer needs it even more than I do.
Summer Hull: I'll put it right next to the box of headphones.
Julian Kheel: Yeah, she can stack boxes. She can stack up boxes.
Speaker 1: You're listening to the Miles to Go Podcast. The go-to source for travel tips, news, and reviews you can't afford to miss. Now, here's your host, travel expert, Ed Pizza.
Ed Pizza: Hey, guys. Welcome back to the Miles to Go Podcast. And it has been one of the busiest weeks in travel that I can remember. We've had two major programs essentially blow things up. And the TLDR is, I think one of them is good and I think one of them is bad. And that's about as far as I think we've gotten. We're going to try and dive into both, but we have all four amigos back with us this week as I scroll clockwise around my screen. I've got Mr. Richard Kerr back again from Bilt Rewards. Hey, Mr. Kerr.
Richard Kerr: Howdy.
Ed Pizza: Summer Hull from The Points Guy.
Summer Hull: Howdy is my word, Richard. I live in Texas. Go back to Georgia.
Richard Kerr: I'm in Georgia.
Ed Pizza: Y'all.
Summer Hull: Y'all.
Ed Pizza: And Julian Kheel from CNN Underscored, obviously hanging out at a Waffle House.
Julian Kheel: Yes, here in our New York City Waffle House.
Richard Kerr: Have you ever been to Waffle House, Julian?
Julian Kheel: I have been to Waffle House because I don't know if you know this, I travel sometimes.
Richard Kerr: I remember those years ago we used to travel.
Ed Pizza: Do they have Waffle Houses in New York City?
Richard Kerr: No. I wish.
Julian Kheel: I'm certain they do not.
Richard Kerr: They don't.
Ed Pizza: Maybe they can throw it right alongside that Red Lobster in Times Square.
Julian Kheel: Oh, I love that. Do you know? I don't know if you know, I have platinum status at the Red Lobster. I do have platinum.
Richard Kerr: Julian loves talking about his Red Lobster status.
Julian Kheel: Listen... crosstalk.
Summer Hull: What is wrong with y'all?
Julian Kheel: Right? Listen, you got to get your status where you can, you get free rewards.
Richard Kerr: There is nothing better than overpriced mediocre seafood, I'll tell you what.
Julian Kheel: I don't know what you're referring to, Richard, because there's... I'm talking about Red Lobster, so yeah.
Ed Pizza: All right, well, so let me tee up the Marriott thing quickly and then we'll dig into it because it's... I mean, while there's a lot of information, there's not a lot of information. The headline is that Marriott is essentially eliminating award charts and they're kind of going to do it herky-jerky style in two chunks. They're going to in March of '22, so just about four months from now, four and a half, five, they're going to move to more dynamic award chart pricing in the categories, which is frankly, something that they already do. But 3% of the properties, we're expecting probably 200 properties in top category A will essentially be unchained from the chart, can price awards at whatever they want. And then come the end of '22, beginning of '23, there will be no more award charts and properties can price their inventory at whatever they feel like.
So this is essentially a slow car wreck version of what Hilton did, call it six or seven years ago. And so here's where we stand, guys. And I think I'm going to take something that Richard said to me, or actually, I think it was Julian who said to me when we were talking about lining up for the show and it was he remembers Summer essentially sitting there being super angry when Hilton did this. And so I guess to that point, Summer, I mean, does this turn you from someone who stays at Marriotts on a somewhat regular basis to somebody who's checking out?
Richard Kerr: Pun intended on checking out.
Ed Pizza: You like that? I'm a podcaster, man. I do this for a living.
Summer Hull: You should write headlines too. So it was more of a shock when Hilton did it than when Marriott did it. So I think that that shock factor probably played into an outsized reaction the first go around, but I still don't think it makes sense. I'm sure it makes sense for some bean counter somewhere, but what drives loyalty is those aspirational redemptions. And we obviously don't know what's going to happen yet. But if those become out of realm, why in the holy Moses would you want to stay at some of these Marriott properties and continue to chase status? Free breakfast is nice, but you don't even get that at all their hotels. So I don't know. This one's kind of weird for me, to be honest, even though it's not a shock.
Ed Pizza: Well, and I'm going to follow up on something you said there, because you talked about the chasing status piece. As you say, we probably all knew award charts were going to get bad, but when you look at this, Julian, as you take away that piece of it, the aspirational stays, as Summer says, for something less than a million points, do you think this really impacts the people that are going to be chasing elite status with Marriott?
Julian Kheel: I haven't chased any hotel elite status in several years. And part of it is because I never, not never, but in recent years, I don't find the programs that valuable overall in the first place. And that goes towards how the industry is built. And the fact that most hotel properties are not owned by the chains versus airlines where they own all their planes or at least they run them under their own names. So I think what we're looking at here at is that Marriott and Hilton really control a huge number of properties and probably don't feel the need to actually offer a robust loyalty program anymore because they're simply competing on the fact that they have... There's probably three Marriotts in a general area that, under various brands, wherever you're going. And so you're going to choose it just because it's there and because you've got convenience and the loyalty part isn't a factor as much anymore. I think that's shortsighted, but that's, I think, the calculation they're making.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. So Richard, you've talked about some of your struggles with the program on the show over the last handful of months because we continue to have these things bump up with certificates, not being able to be used and honored benefits, things like that. When you look at this now, I mean, I guess first off, where's your Marriott balance or Marriott Bonvoy balance? I always have... It just sounds so weird thing. Where's your Bonvoy balance now and do you have any intention of continuing to try and accrue points? So aside the status piece, do you have any intention to accrue points in the hope of another reservation?
Richard Kerr: We talked a few weeks ago about these new Marriott offers and how huge they were, which kind of made my Spidey-Sense go off a little bit, turns out for a good reason. And I was thinking about picking one up. Now, I don't think so, but I still have 350,000 points left that started at 600,000 in 2000 whatever when we transferred SPG into Marriott and I'm still working that balance down years later because I just don't enjoy staying out of Marriott and I still have more certificates and now, they're extending my travel certificate I redeemed for in 2017 one more time. So this thing's going to be alive for five years before I finally use it. What this represents to me is it's been kind of known amongst the murmurs and the rumors in the industry that the property owners have not been happy with Bonvoy and the reimbursement rates that they get when people redeem points.
And they've played games for years, especially at these 3% of properties we're talking about to either high availability, make it not available. And then there's been confirmed reports of how upset these owners are, what they're getting reimbursed. So what this represents is that the property owners have won against Marriott corporate and the bean counters and CFO have overridden the loyalty team underneath the new CEO and said making the money and making the property owners who are ultimately Marriott's customers because they own so few of the hotels happy rather than people staying in Marriott. And that's just a sad day.
I mean, it's sad to see that they won over and that loyalty's just not going to be the most important thing going forward to get people in their door. And like Julian said, I think that's very shortsighted. You're essentially just making people free agents and you're making people go to OTAs, which is the one thing hotels work really hard at trying to get away from and get to those direct bookings so they don't have to pay those commissions. And I think this just all goes in their own direction of trying to achieve what they want to ultimately and what the customers want to.
Summer Hull: I mean, why wouldn't I go to hotels.com?
Richard Kerr: I have no idea. If you can get 10%? Yeah. If you get 10% back at hotels.com versus having to get 600,000 points to stay a Ritz-Carlton, I'm just going to hotels.com. I'm just going to do that.
Summer Hull: It's also weird timing because of the pandemic, it's really been an unintentional rise of lots of families I know booking homes now that really weren't before, or they were only doing that really rarely, but now, it's sort of become their go-to. So I don't know, man, I'm sure Marriott's smarter than me, but I have some doubts about this plan.
Ed Pizza: Well, I think part of the bet here on Marriott's part is that they've done enough to train us as customers. So as you say about going to hotels.com, for somebody who's been trained to go to the Marriott website to book on an ongoing basis, which sort of goes back to in the airline industry where I was just trained to start with American's website when I traveled with them exclusively, I think part of their bet here is that we're all just going to start there at their booking engine, that we're not going to gravitate back to the OTAs if we're a direct booker, if we have some level of loyalty status, but more to the point of what relationship we each have with this program going forward, we all know that credit cards are a huge part of how these programs make money. So Julian, I'll start with you. Do you have any Marriott cards in your wallet right now?
Julian Kheel: I have one left that was originally an SPG card and it will be on the chopping block the next time the annual fee comes up. It was on the chopping block the last time the annual fee came up when AmEx added that $10 monthly dining credit for the year because of the pandemic. Otherwise, it would already be gone. So yeah, I certainly don't see any reason to collect Marriott points at this point. I've done a couple of aspirational redemptions. It's always fun, but if it's going to be a million dollars a night, and I realize that we're not saying for sure it's going to be a million dollars a night, but if it's not going to be a redemption that I can get to within a reasonable amount of time, then I'm just not going to bother. There's other places I can put my credit card spend.
Ed Pizza: So Summer, same question for you.
Summer Hull: I still have a few. I think from a household perspective, so between Josh and I, we have a few. Some are legacy SPG, some are Marriott. And to date, we've gotten really outsized value, even from the 35K and 50K certificates with him. So I've had no reason to want to dump them, but like Julian said, time will tell on how bad this gets. I like to burn my points at fancy-pants places I can't afford. So if those become out of range, then that'll be my cue to reprioritize my wallet.
Richard Kerr: The one positive thing they did do is you can finally top up these certificates, but only to 15,000 points, which if you look at Ritz-Carlton, use a 50K cert, most of those nice properties right now start at 70,000 points. So you can't quite top it up enough to make it where you really want to use that 50K cert. But at least it's something. So that-
Summer Hull: Well, more so. That was cool as we knew Marriott. But if they're going to this variable, dynamic, no award chart land, you almost have to have that or those certificates become kind of useless.
Julian Kheel: Right?
Summer Hull: It's great, but it was greater without the changes.
Julian Kheel: Right. If you were going to be able to top off a 35K to a property that's 50K now, that's great. Unless that 50K property turns into a 75K property once the program changes.
Richard Kerr: Which I'm sure it will.
Julian Kheel: Probably. Yeah.
Ed Pizza: Richard, any Marriott cards left in your wallet? You had a Ritz card at one point.
Richard Kerr: Still have the Ritz card because of the $300 travel credits because of the primary rental insurance. And it actually has higher trip cancellation interruption protections than anybody else that I'm aware of. And it does come with a 50K cert. So just because you can't get that card anymore, held onto it, the upgrades are to Ritz-Carlton's only on paid nights, by the way, can be of great value if you find a good deal on Ritz. So still have that card left, but the rest of them, I've canceled in the last year.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Richard, just for the record, in case you're looking for trip cancellation, I've heard that the Bilt Rewards Mastercard does offer that benefit.
Richard Kerr: It does. At $1,500, but as a no annual fee card, we can't quite compete with the $450 Ritz-Carlton protections.
Ed Pizza: That's fair. I should go look this up, but I think that I had three Marriott cards going into the last handful of months here and I called to cancel one because I was going to spin up a second Delta card to try and work on Delta status. Marriott canceled two of my cards when I was on the phone with them by accident. Well, they canceled one that I asked them to and they canceled the second one by accident. I got an email later and I thought about going back in and telling them I wanted that card turned back on and then we had this news. Personally, I've got that one card in my wallet, but I don't know that I'll hold it because... And I've got some time to decide on that. I think the deciding factor goes back to something that Summer said, I guess if there's some value in the certificates.
And I think for me, specifically, I'll use Disney as an example, the Swan Dolphin and Swan Reserve are three properties that typically have been in that 50-ish thousand point range. So it's possible that the certificates might still work for those, but I don't know. And so that's really the only thing I could think of that I'll know on a year to year basis, I would consistently use a Marriott certificate for. So it's really the only thing I can think of in my wallet that would cause me to still hold a Marriott credit card. And so when you think of that collectively, and I know Summer said she's on the fence, but collectively, we're probably talking at least five Marriott cards that get canceled amongst the four of us and could be as high as seven or eight. It really does disconnect us from the brand in a pretty meaningful way.
Julian Kheel: I like that AmEx preemptively helped you out by canceling a second card though. You know what? You're not going to want this either. No, no. Trust us. We know things. You're going to want-
Ed Pizza: crosstalk have the press release in front of...
Julian Kheel: We're going to save you another call and you won't have to cancel this one too.
Ed Pizza: It is very efficient. I will give them that. But when I think about this, it's like, all right, so we've obviously got the path to move Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott, but at a very disadvantageous rate, as compared to say, moving them to Hyatt. So, I mean, if none of us have cards and some level of lifetime status for some us, I mean, what's our relationship with the Marriott brand going forward except on an extremely a la carte basis?
Richard Kerr: Well, I think if I'm going to get 10X Ultimate Rewards booking through the Chase travel portal, do I want 10X Ultimate Rewards or do I want Marriott points? I would probably book through the portal now rather than collect Marriott points if I had to go somewhere instead.
Julian Kheel: Absolutely. Yeah. And then you're going to turn around and if you really wanted to stay at that Marriott, you can get one and a half cents a point by redeeming your Chase points back through the Chase portals.
Summer Hull: Which is clearly where we're going with a lot of this, which is sad, but you can be sad or you can accept it and restrategize and move on that more and more the money we spend on travel is just coming back at a set rate to us that we can then decide to use however we want. And the faster we kind of integrate that into our strategy, probably the more successful we're going to be as these programs make wild changes.
Julian Kheel: Nah. I'm just going to sit here and be sad. I don't want to do all that work with restrategizing.
Summer Hull: Julian, get a beer and move on.
Julian Kheel: I'll think about it. You know what? I'll get a beer. That's crosstalk.
Richard Kerr: It's weird. I've gotten the best redemptions in the last three weeks out of Marriott points than I have in four years. And I don't know, the coincidence of it just is really weird. I don't think it's on purpose or anything. It's just so weird timing for me. So that has actually made me a little bit extra sad, even though I've been sitting on these points for forever.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I think of two things. First off, I'll say to the point of something that Summer said in the group text chat the four of us had this morning about United launched a bunch of new London service. And so there happened to be some safer inventory available inaudible next summer for Newark to London and with no real penalty for that sort of stuff being able to of change it pretty flexibly, at least into the foreseeable future until they change the definition of forever. It seems like that the way we're going to adapt for using points, as opposed to like Summer said, just booking through a portal and getting a set redemption option is to jump on these very small slivers of availability when they pop up. And that's going to be one of the ways that we would potentially maximize value in a Marriott program.
I love that part of the game. I'd say a part of it that makes me the saddest is I think back to, I'm going to go back to the SPG days of the Hotel Danieli in Venice, which is one of the properties I've enjoyed the most for any Marriott or SPG stay I've had over whatever, 10 plus years. And it sure cost a lot of points, but it was an unbelievable stay. And it really created an indelible link between me and the brand. And that's one of those properties where maybe it doesn't fall in that 200 that get unhitched, but it's going to be right up near the top of that range. It's going to be wickedly expensive and I just... I think that's one of the things that you really lose.
And we started off with talking about that, that aspirational value, that dream of reaching for the brass ring and I think we're all sitting here saying, I covered this in a story that I wrote for Summer at TPG recently, like, "Hey, here's 10 properties we think you should book really quickly right now because come March, they're just going to be out of reach." Places like Al Maha or Bora Bora or the Maldives that a lot of folks just won't be able to afford anymore, which is... Yeah, that is a little bit sad when you figure out how much fun some of us have had at those places.
Julian Kheel: And I think it does. You're mentioning the old SPG program, which was a beloved program, but SPG was a smaller chain. And so they needed light in the same way that Hyatt's program, I think, it still has value because Hyatt is a smaller chain relative to the others. Again, I think Marriott and Hilton, they just don't feel like they need these robust inaudible. Not withstanding the individual owners, which I know Richard talked about, and it's certainly true as well. I don't know that those owners though, are looking at the long term picture. Maybe they don't see how just their one property is affected by the loyalty of a nationwide or a worldwide customer base. But it is. It may be not as much as the chain itself, but it certainly all has a ripple domino effect down the line over time.
Summer Hull: Yeah. And I think that Ed's right. I think that we're going to continue to have these slivers of fun opportunities that for the folks who are cued into podcasts like this, or The Points Guy and all the other points of miles sites, you're going to have a chance to still grab cool opportunities. They're just not going to last long. I just booked a trip to New York and I am going one way on Delta, the other way on United and used fixed value points to pay for it. And it was freeing and it was a better deal than the mileage programs could offer. And it freed me from one particular airline or the other, but I also just used United miles for lie-flat seats to Europe. So yeah, mix and match for now, grab those opportunities. Don't be sad. Just adapt and book your stays while you can.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I think to Julian's point, in the grand scheme of things, and this isn't exactly what you said, Julian, but it's a distillation of it. It's, "Hey, I think Marriott's betting that they don't necessarily need to cater to the loyal customers." That the road warriors or the people that stay with them frequently are either going to continue to do so at some rate of frequency or that they'll be able to fill those rooms with occasional travelers. So they don't need to spend as much to maintain the loyal base. So as they try to test that, I mean, obviously, the economy's going to get better and worse just like it has over every decade and the time that we've all been alive.
I think there will be opportunities for us as a group where maybe they aren't filling the beds as often as they need to at certain times. And so they do come back out and have offers, whether it's a big credit card offer, like the ones that are out there now, or special redemption offers like that Delta vacations thing that they did a couple years ago, which was an incredible deal, transfer membership awards points and essentially get double your value. I think there's going to be things like that, that they may activate periodically where we may get engaged briefly, but it's not going to create long term relationships.
Julian Kheel: Yeah. And will you even still be loyal enough or will the average customer be loyal enough to even notice those promotions when they happen? If they're no longer engaged with the program, then are they paying attention to those emails and such?
Summer Hull: No, they're paying attention to all the places we holler on the internet, I hope.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Well, that's true. And you're going to be hollering a lot less about some of these properties if they're out of reach. I mean, so again, shortsighted on Marriott's part.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. All right. So let me tee up the American Airlines changes, because that's the other big fire that we didn't expect to see coming out. And this one, I think is positive, but there's a stick figure in front of a building with an airplane and somebody needs to come in and color in the pictures and stuff like that so we know what the rest of this looks like. But at a high level, what American Airlines is saying is that, "Hey, elite qualifying miles and elite qualifying dollars, those things don't exist anymore." There's really only two main currencies if you will. There's redeemable miles that you earn for doing things with American, whether that's flying on a flight or buying something through a shopping portal, and you'll earn miles that you can then use to redeem for free travel."
And then there are these things that are called loyalty points. I think it's interesting that they didn't call them miles because clearly, they have no connection to distance whatsoever, but they're based on how much you spend. And there are a bunch of different to earn these. We're going to put a link in the show notes on this, because it would take a long time to explain all of the intricacies. But I think the high level is, the big headline is that you're going to be able to spend your way to top tier Executive Platinum status on American Airlines, but somewhat similar to Hyatt, and we don't have all the details on how American's going to do this yet, they're taking some pieces of that elite status, like system wide upgrades, which are very valuable for those that are able to redeem them, and they're saying, "Hey, you need to fly with us at least 30 times a year to earn those."
And so they're sort of decoupling the status from other activities that you do. And I think of the four of us, Richard, you're the only one who's currently an Executive Platinum. So I'm going to start with you. I know we haven't had a lot of time to digest this news yet, but what do you think about what you know so far?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Well, first of all, American's has already made it really easy for those of us with status to requalify for all of '23 into January of '24, which I'm doing now. I just earned 2,000 EQDs before the end of the year and poof, you're Executive Platinum again. So I was a little bit worried about letting next year, until they announced this and now I'm good. Looking at this now, I mean, I like it. I'm never going to fly enough MQMs or get enough elite qualifying dollars to qualify for Executive Platinum flying back and forth from New York City. This gives me an opportunity to figure out a way to make it happen without having to spend hours and days away from the family doing mileage runs and whatnot. If I can shift spend, I can do it. If they have partners like a Bask Bank start to count, if transferring Bilt Rewards into American counts, wink nudge, wink nudge.
There's a way to figure us out and still be able to earn status. So while I was never going to do mileage runs and fly however many gajillion miles and spend that much money, now, I have a shot at it by looking at all these different ways. I use shopping portals, I have an American card. I can figure out like we do. So there's a way to make it happen. Whereas previously, there wasn't. So far, so good unless something unexpected happens that they haven't announced yet.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. So Summer, I mean elite status typically hasn't necessarily been high on your list for airlines. You've had United status over the years and I think you currently have at least Gold if maybe not Platinum in United.
Summer Hull: Platinum. Flirting with 1K, thank you very much.
Ed Pizza: Flirting with 1K, wink wink, nudge nudge. What do you think about what we know so far?
Summer Hull: Maybe Richard and I were reading different charts for this, but the way I read it, it's a whole lot of spending and or flying and or partnering. I mean, maybe there'll be a cool outsized partner option to ramp up your numbers. But I mean, for the normal person, which is what I am, it's a whole lot, y'all. I like the simplicity. I think that United's is so complicated right now, it makes your brain hurt. But that's a lot that you're going to have to do. So yay simplicity but holy God, y'all. That's a whole lot.
Richard Kerr: But the normal person is not supposed to be Executive Platinum, right? I mean, that's kind of the point of it.
Summer Hull: No, but I like the idea that a normal person who wants this can make it happen. And I don't know, that normal person's going to have to pick up some abnormal habits.
Richard Kerr: Like all of us.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. We all have abnormal habits here.
Summer Hull: God help them.
Ed Pizza: Which is unbelievably a great segue to Julian, Mr. abnormal habit himself.
Julian Kheel: What? Wait, what happened? What?
Ed Pizza: You're mostly a Delta guy and certainly, American has reduced their presence in your home market of New York. What do you think overall about what they're trying to do here?
Julian Kheel: Yeah, when I read the news, I tried to imagine, because I don't really fly American, but I tried to imagine how I would feel if Delta implemented something like this. And I think I'm kind of halfway between Summer and Richard, in that I have mixed feelings on it. If you look purely at the Executive Platinum level, and let's say that you don't generally spend on an American credit card, in that case, you're going to have to spend basically to make 200,000 loyalty points, assuming you're already Executive Platinum. So you're getting the whatever it is, times 11 bonus, you're going to have to spend roughly $18,000 on flights in 2022. And that is up slightly from, I believe the previous, Richard correct me if I'm wrong, was 15,000. Is that right?
Richard Kerr: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Julian Kheel: Right. So they've increased that. And again, if you're doing it purely on flights, then they've increased it. Now, the flip side is that you no longer have to worry about miles. You do have to worry about segments, but I think anybody spending $18,000 on American flights is probably flying 30 times. So that's a downside. If you are going to combine it, most people are not going to try and get elite status purely by credit card spending. But if you can add in some of that with a credit card, then obviously, that change isn't as big of a deal. So for me, and I actually enjoy doing mileage runs and I enjoy the flight itself and things like that, I think I would be... I don't know. Again, I'm still sort of mulling it over. If Delta did the same thing, I think I'd maybe be mildly disappointed, but also, like Summer was with Marriott, I probably would just be restrategizing versus crying into my beer.
Richard Kerr: Crying into my beer. Sounds like you've done that before. When's the last time? Tell me when's the last time?
Julian Kheel: Summer told me to get a beer from inaudible Marriott and so I just did. So I'm sitting there crying into my beer about Marriott. It's a Coors Light, Richard. Don't worry. It's a Coors Light.
Richard Kerr: Don't ruin it with your tears.
Julian Kheel: I'm sorry. crosstalk
Ed Pizza: Just drinking water. So here's the thing that I get stuck on a bit. I think about, and I understand that these aren't apples to apples comparisons, so I'm going to use United for just a second because Delta, I think has a significantly easier path using credit card spend than United does. And so this American thing, at first, I was like, "All right, sort of puts them in the middle." I mean, they've got a way you get there with credit card spend, you can still do it with flying and all that. But Julian, to your point about 30 segments, I don't disagree with you that 30 segments isn't a lot for a road warrior. If we think about it in terms of if you're not flying a connecting flight on every itinerary, that's 15 round trips. So maybe it's something more like 10 or 12 round trips, but essentially, it's going to be at least one trip a month on American. So I view that as a more than occasional traveler, but maybe not a hardcore road warrior.
Julian Kheel: But that's just for the choice benefits.
Ed Pizza: Correct.
Julian Kheel: Right. If you're just talking about gold status, you don't need to worry about the 30 segments.
Ed Pizza: Well, no, and that's what I'm getting to. So when you think about that in terms of number of segments, what they're saying is that if you give them $200,000 in credit card spent and you fly them once a month, you're probably not going to qualify for Executive Platinum. And that to me just seems, that seems out there.
Richard Kerr: Is the person flying once a month caring about status though? Who cares? crosstalk redeemable miles.
Ed Pizza: Well, maybe, but I mean, if you're going to put $200,000 on a credit card and not get what we think are going to be some of the juiciest parts of being Executive Platinum, why would you do that?
Julian Kheel: And so, wait, so just to clarify though, you would get Executive Platinum if you put 200,000. You just wouldn't get the choice benefits? Right.
Ed Pizza: Right. But we know at least at this point that the system wide upgrades are part of the choice benefits.
Julian Kheel: Totally. But the complimentary upgrades, like for domestic flying, you would still be atop of the list or near it based on your loyalty points, correct? That's the way crosstalk
Ed Pizza: You would be, but the other big benefit for me, and again, maybe it's just the way I travel, for me, the three biggest benefits of elite status were the system wide upgrades, and these aren't in descending order, just there are three that are most popular with me, just adding upgrades, free changes and complimentary upgrades. Well, we've already heard that the Swiss system wide upgrades, aren't going to be a part of it. From a complimentary upgrade standpoint, I'd argue that with the way that American and United, and even to some degree, Delta sell that front cabin, complimentary upgrades are becoming a bit of a dying breed.
Julian Kheel: Agreed.
Ed Pizza: And so you just start to look at it and say, "Well, what am I actually getting for my... If I'm going to put a bunch of spend on this card, but I don't end actually end up flying 30 segments?" I think, unless you can really get to 30 segments, I don't see why you'd put a lot of money on an American Airlines credit card, unless I'm somehow wrong and these choice benefits are going to be milk toast and not the meat of what status is now, because everybody gets free changes now, it's no longer a "benefit" of elite status, at least until they change it again.
Julian Kheel: Yeah. We just wrote a story on CNN Underscored yesterday about that you can now get elite status purely with your American credit card or can starting next year. And we specifically said in that story, "We don't really recommend that you put $200,000 a year on an American credit card. It's really not the best way to use your credit card and get rewards." But we also said, "In combination with some flights on American, or if you're going for a lower level of status like Gold, then maybe it could make sense." But I agree. I think if you were doing $200,000 on an American card and not flying 30 segments, that seems silly.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. Well, when I think about how Delta's put things together, I think they found a good way to use a large amount of credit card spend to dangle a nice carrot out there. And I used it this year to get diamond status by putting some disgustingly large amount of money on their credit cards. And that felt like it was worth it, but I didn't have that 30 segment minimum. And I haven't flown anywhere near 30 segments on Delta. So it just feels like American is gating this top tier at a lot higher level and forcing people to have a big commitment to the airline to get what I would say is a questionable amount of benefit.
Richard Kerr: I think Executive Platinum's still worth it. Even if you don't get system wide. I mean, I still have four system wide upgrades I've had for almost two years that I can't use yet. So nice to have, but I'll take the Executive Platinum treatment I've had going back and forth New York over those anytime.
Julian Kheel: So Richard, you would go for the Executive Platinum and not be worried about the choice benefits?
Richard Kerr: Yeah.
Julian Kheel: Even if you didn't get the 30 segments?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. Because it's making my day to day travel life more convenient. Don't get me wrong. This is why upgrades are awesome. And I hope I get the easiest and find a sweet deal for them. But getting upgraded essentially at booking every time in and out of Atlanta and so far with inaudible giving a call and unlike Delta, not having to wait two hours at the top tier line and get somebody to pick up the phone immediately to fix whatever's going on has been well worth it.
Summer Hull: Well, it's kind of like Hyatt. I've had Hyatt Globalist since early in the year when they made it really easy to fast track, but I haven't actually hit 60 nights. So I don't have all the perks, but I've sure enjoyed the heck out of Globalist in the meantime. So I'm with you. I'd take it even without the full suite of perks, if it makes life that much better.
Richard Kerr: What I'm hearing is it is wrong again.
Summer Hull: Well, that happens.
Ed Pizza: No, it doesn't.
Julian Kheel: Do you want to a beer, Ed? I'll send you a beer.
Summer Hull: Salty tears.
Julian Kheel: Yeah. Salty tears.
Ed Pizza: inaudible that Coors Light. And I do think Richard and I are in unique situations and to Summer to a lesser degree. Houston has a decent amount of lift to Dallas for American, but yeah Dulles is my home airport, and Atlanta is Richard's home airport. They're really not American strongholds. They're obviously fortress hubs for United and Delta. So I've always done well with American upgrades, complimenting upgrades out of here. Richard, I think you do very well out of Atlanta, but if you were based somewhere else, I don't necessarily know that would be the case. So I think I don't know that I would... I don't disagree with your use case on why you think Executive Platinum is valuable for you.
I think it becomes extremely situational. And I would argue for somebody who's in a hub, an American hub or a bigger metropolitan market, it's a significantly different experience than what you're getting. And I think Gary's a good example of that, of View from the Wing, who flies them consistently, is a high spend Executive Platinum and we were sitting on our way back from mosquito Highland in the Beef Island Airport. And they were telling them, "Sorry, we know your flights delayed, but we can't get you home any way else today. We might be able to get you home tomorrow."
Richard Kerr: Well, that's a factor of flight schedules. Not them not being willing to putting them on flights. I mean, that was what that was for. But also, Gary flies American and hates every flight. So I think I find that incredibly amusing as well.
Ed Pizza: Well that's because that's the network that's strongest out of his own airport. By the way, yeah, factor of network and schedule, sure. He was connecting through Miami. It's one of their biggest hubs and they couldn't find any connecting way to get him to Austin and they weren't willing... She wasn't proactive on trying to put him on another airline. Look, and I'm a huge Executive Platinum fan back in the day and a big American Airlines fan. I do think that that desk is a lot less effective than it used to be.
Richard Kerr: What else we got?
Ed Pizza: Wait, you don't want to argue with me more about it?
Richard Kerr: I mean, Executive Platinum's amazing. Whatever I got to do to figure this out and make it happen, no matter what I do for Delta in Atlanta, I'm sitting in the back of the bus and I'm competing with everybody else within this entire Southeast. So if I can literally get... And American finally re-upped their schedules between Atlanta and LaGuardia again and got the Embraers, which is my favorite flight ever. So I'm locked in here for the foreseeable future.
Ed Pizza: That is my favorite plane in the American fleet. Do they still have that little postage stamp of a Admirals Club in the A or T terminal or whatever?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. But it has a full bar and seating area and the agents in there go above and beyond every time to help you with inaudible. It's my favorite Admirals Club in the system and I'm not saying that just because I'm in Atlanta. It's great and it's not crowded. Every Sky Club you go in now, it's like, "Damn, I can't find a freaking seat." So go to inaudible American. inaudible Atlanta.
Ed Pizza: All right. Well, last question to wrap us up and we'll start with Julian. When you look at what we've got here, we just talked about getting rid of Marriott credit cards. Do you see anything here that makes you consider getting an American Airlines card for next year?
Julian Kheel: No, but that's only because American's not my airline. Again, if I'm reversing this and I'm saying, is Delta doing it? Then I almost certainly would get a Delta card if only to help be somewhat... Again, I wouldn't expect to get status entirely on my card, but I'd figure, "Hey, every little bit helps. And if I decide to throw a few bucks here and there on my Delta card, then it's helping me get the status." So if the situation were reversed, then yes, I probably would. But because I'm not American, I won't.
Ed Pizza: And just to clarify too, so you're not interested in picking up American as a backup status at this point, even if it was moving points in a Bask Bank account or something. You're all in on Delta?
Julian Kheel: Yeah. You know what, and that really comes down to that I just think Delta has a better operation.
Ed Pizza: No, that's fair.
Julian Kheel: In the end, right, when you're getting on a plane, the point is to get from A to B in the most expeditious way possible. And I think Delta is still doing that better than American.
Summer Hull: So you don't want to hate your flights like Gary does.
Julian Kheel: I don't. No. I'm going to pass on that.
Ed Pizza: Summer, how about you?
Summer Hull: Yeah. So kind of like Julian, I mean, American is a non-starter for me in Houston, personally, but kind of like Julian, if you put same variables but to my airline of choice, which is United on a Houston, I already have United cards and I use them try to earn PQPs towards status. So I'm sure I would continue to do the same in a world where they could count even more. So big fan of earning elite status progress via credit card spending. So sure, if I'm an American person. I'm just not.
Richard Kerr: Can I be honest? I still don't know what a PQP is.
Summer Hull: Oh, it's so convoluted. We could do a whole other crosstalk session on the wildness of United.
Richard Kerr: Can you send me messages like, "Hey, can you help me out?" I'm like, "I'll be honest. I still don't know how to earn those things or what they are."
Summer Hull: It's wild.
Ed Pizza: All I know is I have a lot of them and United keeps giving them to me this year when I don't need them. And I'm sure they won't let me roll them over like Delta will. Richard, you have an American Airlines card. You have the what, the Citi AA Executive card?
Richard Kerr: Yeah. And that's for Admirals Club access is why I carry that.
Ed Pizza: So based on what you hear with the American announcements right now, are you considering a Barclays AA card?
Richard Kerr: If they're doing the... Well, yes, I will consider it. Especially if they come out with the spend it once and get 60,000 miles. I'll take those redeemable miles and then yeah, I think simply, miles count. So that whole program, which you get Barclays for, so short answer is yes.
Ed Pizza: Yeah. And I think we've all talked about it, Bask Bank rolls us out. I would imagine a lot of us will be putting some money in a Bask Bank account just to earn some basic level of status. Although I have Lifetime Platinum status on American, which is worth...
Richard Kerr: Not much.
Ed Pizza: ... pretty much nothing. So I think I earn in an increased rate in the new program, but I still have to get there from dollar one, which should be hunky dory. Boy, a lot to digest in one week. Huge changes of two programs. One that I was never a big part of, which was Marriott and one that was my home for a decade as an Executive Platinum American Airlines.
Julian Kheel: Who's changing next? Who are we talking about next week? What's the news coming next week?
Richard Kerr: Alaska.
Julian Kheel: Alaska? What?
Richard Kerr: Tune in next time on the Miles to Go Podcast.
Julian Kheel: Just tune in next week. Yeah. There you go.
Ed Pizza: I'll make the prediction. I think we're going to hear at least one of Bask Bank or Bilt Rewards coming forward to say that their currency transfers are going to earn you loyalty points. That's what I'm saying.
Julian Kheel: If only we knew somebody at one of those companies who could tell us.
Summer Hull: Only. God.
Julian Kheel: Anybody know anyone at Bask Bank? I don't know-
Summer Hull: Anybody have some Coors Light we could ship somewhere?
Julian Kheel: I do. It's got some tears, but yeah.
Summer Hull: Are they sponsoring your podcast yet, Ed? Because they should after all of this.
Ed Pizza: No, but I'm going to buy you a six pack of Coors Light with my new Bilt Rewards Mastercards. It's what I used to send Fritos and beet chips to Richard yesterday.
Richard Kerr: It's true. Baseball snacks were excellent last night, Ed. That's why I'm here today.
Ed Pizza: And then your team got beat down. So you're going to be... You're one step closer to having to...
Richard Kerr: I tell you what, people were really quiet two nights ago when the Braves won. I wake up this morning and I've got 40 haters in my Instagram DMs talking trash about the Braves. I'm like, "Wait a minute."
Julian Kheel: It might have something to do with the fact that you spend most of your time talking about the Braves win, and therefore, everybody wants to maybe turn it around on you. I'm just saying-
Richard Kerr: Don't you guys have something better to do? crosstalk
Julian Kheel: I think that question goes both ways is what we're trying to say here.
Ed Pizza: Absolutely have something better to do and we're going to close with it just to put both of you on the spot again. Richard, because I don't know if you'll be on the show next week, what's your prediction for the World Series?
Richard Kerr: Yeah, I think it's the Braves in six. We got three home games, Atlanta is absolutely on fire. I've never heard an Atlanta sports crowd like it's been at home for the Playoffs games and I was at one a few weeks ago and I never heard Atlanta. So Braves in six.
Ed Pizza: Well, you've already won more games than the Braves won in '99 against the Yankees in the World Series. So you got that going for you.
Richard Kerr: I was too young to remember that year old.
Ed Pizza: Summer, what's your prediction?
Summer Hull: Oh, I don't know if it's the Astros' year, but I think they're going to put up a better showing than Richard might've initially thought. So either way, it'll be fun to see who has to pay up on our bet.
Ed Pizza: Julian, did you like how she got out of answering that question?
Julian Kheel: I know. Listen, I'll help her out. I'm going to agree with her. I'm going to say cheaters in seven.
Summer Hull: I love you, Julian.
Julian Kheel: You're welcome.
Ed Pizza: I got to go get my trash can lid, but until I bang that for next week's podcast, let's go around the horn and tell everybody where they could find you.
Richard Kerr: What did you just say?
Ed Pizza: Richard, tell folks where they could find you when you're not hanging out here.
Richard Kerr: Yeah. It's kerrpoints, K-E-R-R on social and always check out all the great stuff we're doing at biltrewards.com.
Ed Pizza: Summer.
Summer Hull: Howdy-ho. @mommypoints. M-O-M-M-Y points on Twitter, Instagram and all around. And then you'll find me and the stories that the awesome writers write over at The Points Guy every single day.
Ed Pizza: And Julian, Mr. Facebook himself from CNN Underscored.
Julian Kheel: You will not find me on Facebook, but where you will find me is on Twitter and Instagram @juliankheel. K-H-E-E-L. And please come check us out at CNN Underscored. You'll find us right at cnn.com, about a third of the way down the page or just cnnunderscored.com.
Ed Pizza: Awesome.
Richard Kerr: Julian's verified on Twitter now, ladies and gentlemen. Big round of applause.
Julian Kheel: I do. I'm a blue check.
Richard Kerr: Whatever that gets you in life.
Julian Kheel: I'm an annoying blue check now. So come and annoy me.
Ed Pizza: All right, guys. Thanks for all the time. I appreciate it. We'll do this again. Until we upload again, we've got miles to go.
Summer Hull: All right, losers. I'm going to go work.
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