Travel Bargains to Consider
Sept. 25 to Oct. 10, 2019


Hainan Airlines: China Roundtrips for $500 in Coach, $2,300 in Business Class
We are now used to seeing $250 roundtrip transcontinental coach fares and airfares below $400 to Europe. But sub-$500 roundtrip fares to China? That's, well, insane. Yet here we are. Hainan Airlines, which serves Beijing and Shanghai and also "secondary" cities in China's interior empire, has plenty of seats to sell. And its preferred method: Eye-catching fares on select days. And by eye-catching, we mean crazy cheap. How about $480 roundtrip in coach from Seattle or San Jose to Beijing? Or $511 roundtrip between Chicago and Beijing? To Chengdu, Changsha and Chongqing, the key cities in Hunan and Sichuan provinces, coach roundtrips are in the $500-$700 range. Prices are even more shocking in business class: as little as $2,319 roundtrip from Los Angeles to Chongqing, Chengdu or Changsha and the same to Xi'an. From the East Coast, it's $2,818 from Boston to Beijing. From New York, it's $2,855 roundtrip from New York to Chengdu or Chongqing. Restrictions and valid travel dates vary and, obviously, seats at these knockdown prices are limited. Information: The Hainan Airlines OFFERS page.


Marriott Bonvoy: So Many Cards, So Many Acquisition Points
Marriott Bonvoy now has so many credit cards spread out between Chase and American Express that even I've lost track of which one is which. (It certainly doesn't help that all the card names seem to start with the letter "B" because, I guess, someone at Marriott is into alliteration.) But if you don't have this one--the Boundless Visa issued by Chase--now's the time to grab it. Why? The acquisition bonus has been bumped to 100,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is reasonable ($95) and, if you hold on to it, you receive an annual free night certificate valid at any hotel up to the 35,000-point level. Information: the Chase BONVOY BOUNDLESS page.

Best Western: Two Hotel Stays Earn a Free Night
The dear, departed Faster Free Night promotion at dear, departed Hyatt Gold Passport has occasionally popped up elsewhere. Not nearly often enough, of course, but occasionally. Latest occurrence: Two stays before November 17 earn a free night at Best Western properties. There are some quirks. You can only earn one free night during the promo period. Best Western says it'll take as much as three weeks to E-mail your award voucher. Then you'll only have 70 days to cash in on the free night. One more caveat: The promotion is only valid at BW hotels in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean. Still, two stays for a freebie seems like a no-brainer. Advance registration required, of course. Information: the Best Western REWARDS RUSH page.

Amtrak: The Annual Double Days Promotion Offers, Um, Double Points
The only travel supplier that does less interesting and more predictable promos than Marriott--even Marriott must be tired of MegaBonus, you'd think--is Amtrak, the national railroad service. I've lost track of how many years the Amtrak powers-that-be have deployed the Double Days moniker in service of an equally hoary double-points offer. This year's version lasts from October 1 to November 16--considerably shorter than in years past--and awards double Guest Rewards points on as many as four train rides a day. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the EARN TWICE page.

Hyatt: Double and Triple World of Hyatt Points This Fall
After destroying member loyalty replacing Gold Passport with the much less rewarding World of Hyatt program, Hyatt has been desperate to get back on the frequent traveler radar. It has brought in several new chains to expand its woeful global footprint and occasionally returned to the promotion arena. This fall is one of those occasions. The Bonus Journeys promo offers triple points at Hyatt Place properties and double points at other Hyatts, Small Luxury Hotels and MGM Resorts. You can earn the bonuses until December 15 if you register in advance by October 31. One caveat: You cannot earn the bonus until your second stay in the promo period. Information: the EARN UP TO TRIPLE POINTS page.

La Compagnie: Roundtrip to Paris for $1,400 in Business Class
Paris-based La Compagnie is the last of the boutique carriers plying the North Atlantic. It even survived this month's bankruptcy of sister carrier XL Airlines. But competition is on the way with two French airlines--one low fare and one full service--promising flights next summer on the Newark-Orly route, La Compagnie's only run. The airline's response: $1,400 roundtrips on its two-daily flights outfitted with 74 angled-flat beds. That price is at least $100 cheaper than last year. Seats at this fare are available for most of the fall and winter. Information: the La Compagnie OUR SPECIAL DEALS page.


Hilton Honors: The Endless Double Points Promo With a Card Twist
Hilton Honors points are among the least valuable currencies around--you're a "winner" if you can score a half-cent of value on awards--so Hilton has been routinely running a double points promotion for the last few years. But even that gimmick is wearing thin, so this promotional period comes with a twist: triple points if pay for your stay with an American Express Hilton card. The Power Up promotion is valid on stays from September 9 through January 5. Advance registration is required, of course. Information: the Hilton POWER UP YOUR POINTS page.

New York Hilton: Arrive Late, Leave Late, Because New York
Hotels have begun experimenting with check-in and check-out hours, but the New York Hilton may have the most unique take. The massive Rockefeller Center hotel--it has almost 1,900 guestrooms--now offers a package with a midnight check-in time and a 3 p.m. check-out time. The City That Never Sleeps package is pitched as a practical alternative for partygoers and visitors to New York who don't need a room until late-night. But it could work for late-arriving business travelers, too. The package includes two beverages at one the hotel's bars or lobby lounge and luggage storage. (Don't laugh, union hotels in Manhattan often charge for luggage storage.) Rates for the package start at $211 a night (day?), but that is misleading because the hotel imposes a destination charge, too. The package is available until December 31. Information: the Hilton ATTENTION NIGHT OWLS page.

Hotels: Maybe You'll Find Rate Savings With a Credit Card
Airline fares have been relatively flat in recent months, but hotel and resort rates continue to rise, precipitously in some destinations. Possible solution: hotel discounts offered by your credit card. Of course, all the specials below come with some caveats. Most hotels in the programs are in the luxury category. You must book directly at the card's special Web site. And you should always check that the rate you're paying is competitive with other offers.
      American Express Platinum Cards feature a Fine Hotels & Resort collection that covers more than 1,000 properties around the world. Bundled with the FHR rates are space-available room upgrades; check-in as early as noon based on availability and guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout; breakfast for two; free WiFi; and property-specific food and beverage credit or other amenity.
      Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection from Chase says it offers daily breakfast for two, free WiFi, as-available upgrades and check-in/check-out privileges. The program covers about 900 lodgings worldwide and guests receive a unique additional amenity--free meals, golf or spa treatments, airport transfers--from each property.
      Visa Signature cards claim to offer special rates at more than 900 properties. Perks include space-available upgrade; free WiFi; free breakfast for two; a $25 food and beverage credit; and late checkout.

Destination Hotels: Up to 35 Percent Off
You probably have never heard of Destination Hotels, a small firm that manages about three dozen upscale sun-and-ski hotels and resorts around the country. With its low profile and generic name, chances are you never even realized the firm existed until it was purchased last year by Hyatt. Destination joins World of Hyatt on August 20, but the chain has unleashed an interesting early-booking sale that predates the Hyatt debut. If you book by October 31, you can knock as much as 35 percent off nightly rates. Use the code COUNTDOWN to score the best deals. There are blackout dates and capacity controls, of course. The promotion claims the cheapest prices are available if you book by September 5. But if you can pick around the restrictions and the varying availability dates, there are some juicy deals. And a reminder: You won't receive Hyatt points until the Destination properties officially become part of the Hyatt loyalty program. Information: the WINTER BECKONS page.

Omni Hotels: 20-25 Percent Discounts for AAA Members
Like many chains, Omni Hotels offers a discount for AAA members. The saving is usually modest--about 5 or 10 percent--but Omni is now breaking from the pack. Use the chain's prepaid AAA rates and the saving is 20 percent at hotels in San Diego, San Francisco and Atlanta. It's even more--25 percent--in Washington, Chicago, Boston, New York, Dallas, Providence, Montreal and Toronto. INFORMATION: the Omni AAA SPECIAL PROMOTION page.

Marriott Rewards: 2,000 Bonus Points a Stay at Select Courtyards
I asked on Twitter recently how to tell the difference between the various Marriott-branded select-service brands when they all use similar bathroom amenities, soft goods and other material. Apparently Marriott Rewards also gets that it doesn't offer much differentiation these days. Its "solution?" A 2,000-point-per-stay bonus when you book select Courtyard by Marriott properties. Use code 53M to grab the extra points. No, that won't change your world, but never walk away from extra points. Information: the COURTYARD 2K EVERYDAY page.


Finnair: A Free, Five-Day Stayover in Helsinki
As nice as Helsinki's airport in Vantaa is, Finnair can't rely solely on O&D traffic to the Finnish capital. It needs to operate Vantaa as an international hub and thus it offers extensive connections from the United States to Russia, Europe and even the Far East. And to bump up the airport's appeal as a connecting facility, Finnair has revamped and reintroduced its stay-along-the-way promotion. The new offer allows up to five days stayover in Finland. The airline has also collected a series of optional Finland travel experiences to help you fill your layover time. They include urban getaways, tours and trips in Finland's three largest cities (Helsinki, Espoo and Vantaa) as well as Lapland-related options. Prices for the add-ons start at 12 euros. One caveat: You can only claim a stayover in one direction of a roundtrip, so plan carefully. Information: the STOP & BREATHE page.

Amex Membership Rewards: 40 Percent Avios Transfer Bonuses
The allure of Avios as a frequent flyer currency has always eluded me, but I know several JoeSentMe members use it quite successfully. So this one's for you. Until October 1, American Express Membership Rewards offers a 40 percent bonus on transfers to Avios for the British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus plans. (All three carriers, like the Avios program, are owned by the International Airlines Group.) That means 1,400 Avios points for each 1,000 Membership Rewards points transferred. If you've figured out how to win with Avios, now's the time to bulk up--although transfers on spec are never a wise idea. Have a specific use for the transferred points in mind. The 40 percent bonus offer will appear when you log into your Amex account and click on Membership Rewards transfers. The minimum transfer is 1,000 Amex points.

KLM: Under-the-Radar Business Class Sale Rates Worldwide
Even though KLM kicks in most of the profit of the combined Air France/KLM, the Dutch side remains distinctly under the radar when it comes to publicity. In other words, prepare to fly over its Amsterdam/Schiphol hub if you're looking for business class bargains. From New York/JFK, sample prices include $2,059 roundtrip to Frankfurt, $3,148 to Accra, Ghana, and $2,716 to Delhi. From Miami, it's $2,353 to Barcelona roundtrip and $2,541 to Delhi. From San Francisco, it's $2,358 roundtrip to Madrid and $2,919 to Chennai, India. There are similar sale prices from all 12 of KLM's U.S. gateways. The KLM site offers a handy month-by-month bar chart of the fares and then day-by-day breakdown of availability. It's a slick way to find the lowest fares. Information: the KLM BEST OFFERS page.

Etihad: Two-Day Free Stay in Abu Dhabi Through the End of the Year
Etihad Airways doesn't seem to have much of a future. It is dwarfed by its Dubai-based neighbor Emirates, its strategy of buying into weakened European airlines collapsed and the royal family that owns the carrier is losing patience with endless losses. Which is a long-winded way of explaining why Etihad is desperate to figure out an angle to get Americans to fly over Abu Dhabi. The current angle: free two-night stopover in Abu Dhabi, including lodging at several of the city's excellent hotels. The stayover needs to be booked by December 1 for travel until December 31. That offer is for coach flyers, by the way. Business and first class travelers and customers in Etihad's The Residence, the over-the-top private double cabin, have their own offer. Information: the Etihad STOPOVER IN 2019 page.

Qatar Airways: Price-Fixed Business Class 'Sale' Apparently Permanent
Several times this year Qatar Airways has offered up putatively price-fixed business class sales to destinations around the world. Either it worked or Qatar Air's marketing team is out of ideas because the promotion has apparently become a comparatively permanent part of the carrier's fare structure. In case you've forgotten, Qatar claims that is has set a fixed-price business class fare structure: $2,450, $2,950, $3,450, $3,950 or $4,450 roundtrip. But, of course, there's much less there than meets the eye. Qatar falls back on "starting at" verbiage that means every ticket is, um, "market price." Still, there is a smattering of seats at each price point. Sample fares: $2,450 roundtrip on Atlanta or Miami to Delhi; $2,450 from New York/JFK to Tbilisi, Georgia; $2,950 on Los Angeles-Da Nang, Vietnam, or Chicago-Manila; $3,450 on DFW or Atlanta to Johannesburg or Miami-Hong Kong; and $3,950 between Philadelphia and Kathmandu. The best prices are available for midweek travel between July 29 and January 1. A seven-day minimum stay is required and there's a still, 90-day advance purchase requirement. And a reminder: All trips operate via Doha, Qatar Air's hub. Information: the Qatar Air BUCKET LIST EXPERIENCE page.

Alaska Airlines: Double Miles on Coast-to-Coast Flights Through 2019
Alaska Airlines continues to try to forge a new identity on the coast-to-coast flights it assumed in the Virgin America buy. Shorn of their white seats with 55-inch pitch and mood lighting, Alaska's flights are relying on a more-than-generous 41-inch pitch and lots of upgrades. Now another tactic: double miles on transcontinental flights until the end of the year. The only restriction: advance registration before your first transcon run. The double-miles offer is valid between San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco and East Coast airports from Boston to Fort Lauderdale. That includes New York (Kennedy and Newark) and Washington (BWI, Dulles and National) airports. The deal is also offered on routes where Alaska Air had flights before it purchased Virgin America. Information: the DOUBLE MILES COAST2COAST page.

British Airways: AARP Deal, Reduced Again, Extended Through 2020
British Airways isn't only hacking away at the quality of its in-flight product and its reputation as a premium carrier. It's also reducing the classic deals you can use to get discounts. Take its long-standing AARP deal. BA once offered as much as $400 off roundtrip. Now first and premium economy class discounts have been axed and we're left with $200 roundtrip off BA's outdated business class and $65 off its newly "densified" coach class. Also gone: the opportunity to twin the AARP discount with other BA promotions. Still, $65 or $200 off is better than a stick upside your head. And the current deal is now valid for travel until the end of 2020 if you book by January 31, 2020. The cost of entry: the $12 fee required to join AARP. And you must enter through the AARP portal to score the discounts. Information: the EXCLUSIVE AARP MEMBERS page.


Enterprise: The Return of the $10-a-Day Weekend Rental, Now $3 More
Even thought it sits atop of the car-rental heap, Enterprise continues to do things differently. For starters, all locations are company owned, astonishing in this era of franchised everything. It has expanded rapidly at airports, but its roots remain in the we'll-pick-you-up local station. And many of those local stations close on Sunday with short hours on Saturday. The result: a ridiculously wonderful weekend promotion. For years, the buy-in price was $9.99 a day. This year, however, the lowest rate is $12.99 so long as you return the car on Monday. The $12.99 rate covers economy or compact cars. Larger cars are $14.99 (for intermediates) to $19.99 a day (full-size). Those prices are unchanged from previous years. All rates include 100 miles per day and are valid for rentals that start on Fridays. Best of all, prices are valid at participating local stations until May 20. You'll find some holiday blackouts, but, otherwise, it's open season for cheap cars for a weekend jaunt. The promo code is WEEKEND SPECIAL X. Information: the Enterprise GREAT WEEKEND CAR RENTAL RATES page.

American/Avis/Budget: 5,000 Advantage Miles for Three-Day Rentals
Depending on the season, American Airlines and Avis/Budget are awarding either a piker's purse of bonus miles (500 per rental) or treasure trove of as many as 5,000 miles. We've just veered back into treasure-trove territory. Until October 15, Avis and Budget will award you 2,500 AAdvantage miles for a three-day rental of a standard-size vehicle. Bump up to the premium classes (including larger SUVs and lux convertibles) and you can earn 5,000 miles for a three-day rental. Use code use AWD #K817127 on Avis rentals and BCD #U072437 for Budget rentals. This is essentially the same offer the firms have offered during this time period in the last two or three years. Information: the American 5,000 BONUS MILES page.

National: Best Car Rent Bonus Ever Returns With New Twists
Sometimes the classics are the best and that's certainly true for National's iconic ONE TWO FREE promotion. Even though car rentals aren't the force they once were and even though National has added complicating bells and whistles over the years, the core of the promotion remains the same: Two rentals of a midsize car (this year by February 29) earn a free rental day that you can use by June 15. The points-based system offers 300 points per qualifying rental. It takes 600 points for a freebie. This year's wrinkles: You'll receive 25 points for downloading the app and 75 more points when you book using the app. Renting in Europe or Latin America will each garner a one-time 300-point bonus. There's a 300-point bonus if you rent in three countries during this year's promo period. You'll even get a one-time bonus of 300 points for adding SiriusXM to your rental. There are plenty of other points-adding touchstones this year, too. A perk missing this year: Rentals from Enterprise, National's parent company, do not earn points. Advance registration is required. Information: the EARN TO THE MAX page.

Marriott/Hertz: 2,000 Bonvoy Points for Multi-Day Rentals
With car rentals sagging in the face of widespread adoption of ride-sharing services, rental firms have been partnering up with airlines and hotels for big bonus offers. That's especially true of Hertz, which these days has a mediocre reputation thanks to repeated service glitches. If you can handle Hertz, it has teamed up with Marriott for a bushel of Bonvoy bonus points. On two-day rentals, you can earn 2,000 points. The deal is valid through the end of the year on rentals in North America, Puerto Rico, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Use discount codes CDP#154080 and PC#204918. The offer is valid through December 31.

United/Hertz: Worst-in-Class Providers Offer Really Big Bonuses
What do Hertz and United Airlines have in common? Lessee, both operations run poorly. A former top United exec was ousted as Hertz chief executive for doing a lousy job. And United once actually owned Hertz. Other than that? Both are desperate for new customers. The solution: gigantic bonuses for even two-day rentals. Until October 31, book a mid-size or larger Hertz car at for at least two days and you'll receive a 1,500-mile bonus atop the 500-1,250 miles you'd normally earn as a member of MileagePlus. That means as many as 2,750 miles for rentals as short as two days. Sound familiar? It should. It's a re-introduction, extension and slight rejiggering of a promotion that the two companies have continually offered for about four years. Information: the BOOK YOUR CAR THROUGH UNITED.COM page.

National/Southwest: Quadruple Rapid Rewards for Weekly Rentals
Southwest Airlines and National Car Rental have teamed up to offer a bigger payoff for rentals if you need a vehicle. Instead of the standard 600 Rapid Rewards points, a two- or three-day National rental will earn 1,200 points. Rentals of 4-6 days will earn 1,800 points. Weekly or longer rentals will score 2,400 points. To score the points, use Contract ID code 5030510. Bonus points are valid on rentals until January 31, 2020, with one-day advance reservation. By the way, if this sounds familiar, it is exactly the same deal that ran all of last year. Information: the RAPID REWARDS PROMOTIONS page.


Credit Cards: Hey, Big Spender: Get 100,000 Miles or Points
If you're paying attention to the smash-and-grab strategy of beating airlines at their increasingly rigged frequent flyer game, you jump on 100,000-credit offers when they come along. Both American Express and Chase have new ones--but you've got to be a big spender to score them. The Amex offer is for 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for taking a Business Platinum Card. You'll get 50,000 points for spending $10,000 in the first three months and 50,000 more points for an additional $15,000 in spend. And remember: Amex Platinum is great for perks and airline spend (quintuple points), but weak for everything else. Meanwhile, Chase's United Explorer Business Card is offering 100,000 MileagePlus miles. The spend requirement is $5,000 in the first three months for 50,000 miles and a total of $25,000 in the first six months for another 50,000 miles. The card is cheap on an ongoing basis ($95 a year) and okay for spending (two miles per dollar for purchases at United, at gasoline stations, restaurants and office supply stores).
Chase/British Airways: 100,000 Points and a Break on Reward Fees
I've never found Avios points--the currency for British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus--to be a particularly good value. But some do. If you're one of those flyers, pay heed to the revised Chase British Airways Visa Signature charge. It now will kick back up to $600 a year against BA's insanely high reward fees that top the $1,000 mark on transatlantic premium class awards. You'll receive a $100 statement credit for a coach or premium economy award and $200 for a business or first class award. You can earn the statement credit three times in a year. The card's other benefits haven't changed: a 10 percent discount when you book BA paid tickets through a Chase portal and the huge 100,000-point acquisition bonus. The bonus is 50,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months and 50,000 additional points when you spend a total of $20,000 in the first 12 months. The annual fee is $95 and you receive three points for spend on BA, Iberia or Aer Lingus, two points on hotel spending and one point on all other purchases. Information: the WORLD IS YOURS page.

Chase/InterContinental: Big Acquisition Bonus, Big Spend Incentives
Chase and InterContinental Hotels seem desperate to get an IHG Reward Club Premier card in your wallet. The acquisition bonus is huge: 125,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Then there are the ongoing spending incentives: 25 points per dollar spent at IHG properties in the first years and 4 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. Spending bonuses are substantially reduced after the first year, but the card is a great one-year get for the $89 fee. The card also confers automatic Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards. That doesn't offer much in the way of perks although it will get you an additional 5 points per dollar spent at IHG hotels. Information: the EARN 125,000 page.

Chase/Southwest: The Bonus Alone Gets You Close to a Companion Pass
The most prized "win" in the current frequent travel landscape is a Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. But it's not an easy win because only flying miles and credit card spend count toward the required 110,000 Rapids Rewards points. Which is why the Performance Business Credit Card, introduced this week by Chase Bank, is such an extraordinary "get." The acquisition bonus of 80,000 points counts toward the pass. To score the bonus, you'll need to spend $5,000 in the first 90 days you have the card. That's not a big hurdle, of course, but this might be: You don't qualify for the card if you have Chase's other Southwest business card or have received a bonus for that card in the last 24 months. The annual fee is $199, for which you'll also receive 9,000 points each additional year you have the card, triple points for Southwest spend and double points for charges on various social media and communications services. You'll also earn some WiFi and boarding privileges. Information: the Chase EARN 80,000 POINTS page.

Credit Cards: The Big Acquisition Bonuses Keep on Coming
As we've discussed frequently in recent months, the smash-and-grab strategy may be the only way to "win" the increasingly rigged frequency game. As you know, that entails taking a credit card for the big acquisition bonus, charging just enough to earn it, then moving on to another card. If you've been "playing," here are three more high earners with modest requirements:
      Bank of America/Sonesta Hotels: The under-the-radar Sonesta chain is out with its first card and the offer from Bank of America is rich: 60,000 points for spending just $1,000 in the first 90 days. You can also earn 5,000 more points for adding an authorized user in the first 90 days and a 30,000-point bonus if you spend $7,500 over the course of the first year. The $75 annual fee is waived in the first year. What do Sonesta points buy? Some of its limited-service extended-stay hotels are available for as little as 15,000 points. It has excellent resorts in sun zones (Arizona, the Caribbean, Texas, Hilton Head, Latin America) and prices are mostly in the 25,000-50,000 points nightly range. (It also has hotels in Boston, New Orleans, San Francisco and Philadelphia.) Information: the Bank of America SONESTA WORLD MASTERCARD page.
      Chase/Marriott: Marriott has both American Express and Chase pumping out cards under the Bonvoy brand. The latest is from Chase and is called the Marriott Bonvoy Bold. This one has no annual fee and you'll earn 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. Fly in the ointment: Chase and Amex collaborate and you may not get the card if you have one of several existing Bonvoy cards. If you care about ongoing earnings, the card offers three points per dollar on Marriott charges, two points for other travel charges and one point for everything else. Information: the 50,000 BONUS POINTS card.
      Citibank: Citi ThankYou points are flexible, transferring to a wide variety of airline programs including JetBlue, Singapore, Air France/KLM and others. Citi's basic card in the category, Citi Premier, is now offering 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. The card, with a $95 annual fee, offers three points per dollar on travel and gasoline charges, two points for restaurant and entertainment spend and one point on everything else. Information: the CITI PREMIER CARD page.

Chase: Honest, Sapphire Preferred Is Better Than Capital One Venture
The decision of Capital One to get into the points-to-airline transfer game has rattled Chase Bank, whose Ultimate Rewards points are the gold standard of bank currency. The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card has suddenly upped its acquisition bonus to 60,000 points and it is clear that Chase wants to make sure you don't defect to the Capital One Venture card. How do we know? The promotion page for the acquisition bonus is literally a comparison chart between Chase and Capital One. You should have a Sapphire Preferred card, so grab one now if you don't have one. Sixty thousand points is too good to pass up. The annual fee is $95, which Chase's chart admits isn't as good as Capital One's first-year fee waiver. Information: the EARN 60,000 BONUS POINTS page.

Chase: 80,000-Point Bonus to Take an Ink Business Card
As airline frequent flyer programs get less generous, smart travelers are banking miles with banks. Chase Ultimate Rewards points, for example, offer a 1:1 transfer to United, Southwest, several international airlines and some hotel chains, too. There seems to be less risk by banking points with Chase and moving them to your programs as the good deals--or award availability--warrant. One of the current stars in the wide Chase portfolio? The Ink Business Preferred Card. For the $95 annual fee, you'll receive an acquisition bonus of 80,000 points if you spend $5,000 during the first three months. You'll also earn three points per dollar spent on travel expenditures; shipping charges; payments for cable, Internet and phone services; and some advertising purchases. Information: the 80,000 BONUS POINTS page.


Oxford: Your Annual Shot at Being a Rhodes "Scholar" Is Complicated
Never got to be a Rhodes Scholar? Well, fear not. There's always The Oxford Experience, the popular summer sessions at the famed British institution. They offer dozens of week-long courses to travelers of all ages, social classes, intelligence levels and interests. One-week packages include tuition and lectures; lodging in Christ Church College dorms; and three meals daily. Courses are held in the morning, which leaves afternoons free for touring and optional excursions and evenings for additional learning--or just goofing off like a college kid again. All-inclusive prices this year start at about US$1,900 a person, cheaper than last year thanks to the plunging British pound. Weekly sessions in 2020 take place from July 5 to August 15. Among the five dozen or so offerings: the British monarchy since 1901, which would be the post-Victorian era; the art and history of English gardens; a course on the "black death" of the 14th century; and a course on the "meaning of life," but not the Monty Python kind. You can delve into 200 years of British crime thrillers, the history of Gothic horror novels or the golden age of British detective fiction; the music of Brahms or Russian opera; the works of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis; or even the history and landscape of Oxford itself. This year's wrinkle is registration. Oxford is so popular that courses sell out immediately after registration opens online. (This year's first registration day is September 30.) But send an E-mail to [email protected] and request a registration form and you get a leg up. Information: The OXFORD EXPERIENCE page.