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2015 was an incredible year in the world of miles and points! We laughed, we cried, we got carpal tunnel syndrome trying to earn award stays at top IHG hotels.
And we hope 2016 brings you and your loved ones even more travel, adventure, and lasting memories!
Let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable miles and points news we shared with you in 2015!
Best of Million Mile Secrets 2015
1. My Favorite Travel Card Now Comes With 10,000 More Points
Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred
Even if you’ve only been reading Million Mile Secrets for a short time, you likely know the Chase Sapphire Preferred is my favorite travel rewards card. And I was excited to see the sign-up bonus increase to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you complete the minimum spending.
This is the highest sign-up bonus I’ve ever seen with this card! And when you transfer to partners like United Airlines and Hyatt, it’s enough for 2 round-trip tickets anywhere in the US mainland, a round-trip ticket to Hawaii, or 2 nights at an all-inclusive hotel in the Caribbean!
2. Chase Ink Plus Card Sign-Up Bonus Increased to 60,000 Points
Link: Chase Ink Plus
In September we saw the sign-up bonus for the Chase Ink Plus go up to 60,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account. (EXPIRED.)
The Chase Ink Plus was already 1 of the most rewarding cards available, because you earn 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores, telephone, cable, and internet.
Yes, this is a small business card. But many folks qualify and don’t even realize it!
3. Chase British Airways Card Increases Total Bonus to 100,000 Points
Link: Chase British Airways
Chase was feeling extra generous towards the end of 2015, because they also brought back the Chase British Airways card’s 100,000 British Airways Avios point sign-up bonus! This is a deal that doesn’t come around often. (EXPIRED.)
You have to do a LOT of spending earn the total bonus, but you have a full year. And you can skip some of the spending requirements and still get a sweet deal!
In case you needed a little help using all those British Airways Avios points, I gave you tips on how to book flights to Alaska, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, Mexico & Central America, and South America.
4. Stay at 1 of IHG’s Top Hotels for Just ~$59
Earlier this month we learned that IHG’s Priceless Surprises promotion could be very lucrative for folks who have a little extra time and don’t mind a few hand cramps!
You can earn at least 500 IHG points per entry and each person can mail in up to 94 entries postmarked by February 15, 2016.
So for the price of postage and materials (~$59) you could earn 47,000 IHG points (or more!). That’s nearly enough for a stay at hotels like the InterContinental in Times Square or Bora Bora, which can cost over $1,000 per night.
5. Chase New Rules
The news from Chase wasn’t all good this year.
Over the summer, word started spreading the Chase was getting stricter with their credit card applications. So I called Chase and the customer service agent let me know that folks who opened ~5 or more credit cards (from any bank) within the last 24 months would likely have their application denied for these cards:
This was a disappointing development for folks who’ve been in this hobby for a while. If you’re new to this hobby I don’t think you have much to worry about, but I would focus on signing-up for Chase Ultimate Rewards cards first.
However, we still don’t have anything in writing and there are exceptions. I hope we’ll learn more details about these new application guidelines in 2016!
6. Citi Upped Their Game
Citi made fantastic changes to several of their reward cards which are now on my favorite deals list!
Did you sign-up for the Citi Prestige card this year?
Amazing perks, a unique design, and an increased sign-up bonus worth an $800 American Airlines flight AND $500 in airfare, made it 1 of the most talked about cards of 2015! (EXPIRED.)
We also saw the Citi ThankYou Premier card’s sign-up bonus increase to 60,000 Citi ThankYou points! And while this deal has expired, you can still earn 50,000 Citi ThankYou points with this card and much faster than you could in the past. (EXPIRED.)
And Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ MasterCard® cardholders had great news to share with their family and friends over the holidays! Authorized users now get Admirals Club lounge access.
7. Discover It & Discover It Miles Cardholders Earned $2,000+ Back (Ends Today!)
Both cards offered double cash back or double miles for new cardholders (or folks who previously signed-up) after the 1st 12 billing cycles. And you could earn a 10% bonus when you made in-store purchases using Apple Pay!
Folks were able to combine these 2 deals to earn over $2,000 in cash back! While these offers end today, I hope we’ll see more deals like this from Discover in 2016!
8. Wyndham Nixed Their Entire Award Chart for a Better One!
You won’t have any trouble figuring out how many Wyndham hotel points you’ll need to book your next Wyndham award stay, because they all cost 15,000 points now!
That includes hotels at popular tourist destinations like the Wyndham Grand Bonnet Creek in Orlando, all-inclusive hotels like the Wyndham Dominicus Palace, or top hotels like the Wyndham Koloa Landing at Poipu Beach Grand Resort.
So when the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Wyndham Rewards card increased to 45,000 Wyndham Rewards points, folks were eager to sign-up and use their points towards 3 free nights at any Wyndham hotel.
9. The US Bank Club Carlson Card Ended the Free Night Perk
US Bank Club Carlson cardholders used to get a free night when they booked 2 or more consecutive award nights at Club Carlson hotels. This was a terrific deal, especially in Scandinavia where there are more Club Carlson locations and hotels tend to be expensive!
But you’ll still earn 85,000 Club Carlson points when you complete the minimum spending. That’s good for 1 night at a top Club Carlson hotel. And by spending $10,000 on the card within 12 months, you’ll earn 1 free night certificate.
While this isn’t the great deal it was before, it could still be a good option for some folks.
10. We Started a New Series About You, Our Readers!
This hobby has changed our lives in so many ways! We’ve traveled the world and done things we never would have imagined.
And we started Million Mile Secrets to show everyday folks (not just those who can decode all the acronyms and secret handshakes) how they could do it too!
We love hearing about how our readers are using the tips, tricks, and tools they learned here for Big Travel with Small Money so we started a new Reader Success series.
Send me a note if you’d like to share your miles and points story!
In 2015 we learned when great deals go away, new ones come along in their place. We lost perks and gained others, award charts devalued, and better sign-up bonuses came around.
We’ve also shared our many of our personal experiences and travels with you in 2015. Our new Instagram page has photos from our latest trips to places like the Mexican Riviera, Djibouti, Paris, and Sudan. And with Daraius’ Diary I shared my thoughts on travel and life, my journey for peace and self-discovery, and our divorce.
While this has been a difficult time for Emily and me, we celebrate the love we shared and we’re excited for our new found friendship and partnership as we continue working together on the blog. We were also truly humbled to read the comments so many of you left us showing your support. We really do have the best readers and to thank you for reading we gave away over $10,000 in prizes this year!
Much like 2015, I expect to see lots of changes in 2016. We’ll keep finding new ways to earn Big Travel with Small Money and continue proudly telling y’all about the best deals, whether they earn us a commission or not!
What are your favorite miles and points memories from 2015?