This week's wrap for frequent travellers

By Chris Chamberlin, February 19 2016

There’s plenty for Starwood Preferred Guest members this week with over 200 hotels changing reward categories on March 1 – increasing or decreasing the number of points needed for a free night – while anyone with a World MasterCard can also ascend to SPG Gold with just one stay.

Also in this week’s wrap, we take a look at the ANZ Rewards Platinum Visa which can earn you Virgin Australia Velocity points, and look at other cards which can also boost your Velocity balance when signing up for the first time.

Rounding things out are small changes to the Choice Privileges hotel loyalty program and up to triple points on Virgin Australia flights to Los Angeles and those taken on its partner Delta Air Lines when booked on a VA flight number.

Fast-track to SPG Gold with these five credit cards

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status usually comes as your reward for spending 25 nights or making 10 stays each year at hotels like Westin, St. Regis, Sheraton and W, but there’s a sneaky way to fast-track to Gold after spending just one night at a Starwood hotel.

Spend one night at the W Singapore hotel and wake up to Gold status...

That’s thanks to a nifty partnership between SPG and MasterCard where MasterCard World and World Elite cardholders can stay at any Starwood hotel in the Asia Pacific region (including Australia), pay for the stay using their eligible MasterCard and get one year of SPG Gold in return.

SPG Gold unlocks a number of useful benefits when staying at Starwood's worldwide network of hotels including a welcome gift of your choosing, room upgrades where available, a late check-out, bonus Starpoints and more.

Read more: SPG Gold fast-tack with World MasterCard

Earn double, triple Velocity points to Los Angeles

Virgin Australia Velocity members jetting to Los Angeles over the coming months can earn double points in economy or triple points in premium economy and business class when travelling with Virgin Australia or Delta Air Lines and booking on a Virgin Australia (VA) flight number.

First up, register your Velocity number via the promotion page, then book your Los Angeles trip by March 8 2016 on a Virgin Australia flight number – being VA7/8 from Brisbane, VA1/2 from Sydney or also VA6551/6552 from Sydney on partner Delta Air Lines.

Double or triple points will then be awarded on all trans-Pacific travel taken on VA flight numbers from now until May 31 2016 and then again between July 18 and September 16, although bonus points aren’t awarded on any connecting flights at either end.

February's hottest Velocity credit card sign-up deals

As summer prepares to leave Australia and visit Europe over the coming months, so too could you by taking out a new Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer-earning credit card and staking your claim to as many as 100,000 bonus Velocity points just for making the switch.

While you wouldn't apply for a new credit each and every month, it's natural that spending habits can change from time to time: and if that describes your situation, there's no harm in perusing the market for a card that could be a better fit than what's already in your wallet.

And, with so many bonus frequent flyer points on the table from a variety of banks, you could well find a new credit card to help grow your frequent flyer balance every single day, joined by that great 'welcome' boost at the beginning of the journey.

Read: February's hottest Velocity credit card sign-up deals

Starwood shakes up hotel categories

Come March 1 2016 Starwood Preferred Guest members may need either more or fewer Starpoints to book a free night at hotel brands like Sheraton, Westin and W with 282 of the chain’s hotels switching between categories.

In Australia, the only change is the Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane which drops from Category 4 to Category 3 and subsequently commends fewer points per night, while further abroad the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Dubai also lowers from Category 5 to Category 4.

Other hotels, however, go in the opposite direction with The Westin Tokyo, The Westin Singapore and The Westin New York Grand Central hotels all rising from Category 5 to Category 6.

For a full list of the changes, head to the Starwood website.

Review: ANZ Rewards Platinum AMEX, Visa cards

Serving up a cool 50,000 bonus points to eligible new customers and giving a choice between four airline frequent flyer programs is the ANZ Rewards Platinum credit card combo, pairing an American Express and a Visa on the one account.

A higher earning rate on the AMEX means you can use it wherever it's welcome to earn the highest number of points, relying on the companion Visa everywhere else to still earn some points – just not as many.

Whichever card you use, other Platinum-grade benefits are also on the table including free international travel insurance, plus savings at hotels and restaurants via ANZ's optional and $35/year eDine program.

AusBT review: ANZ Rewards Platinum AMEX, Visa

Choice Privileges tweaks points earn and burn

Choice Privileges, the loyalty program of hotels like Comfort, Quality and Clarion, is now dishing out extra points for midweek stays with guests picking up an extra 500 Choice Privileges points or 100 frequent flyer points per stay with airlines like Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Members will also now earn 10 Choice Privileges points per US$1 spent at all brands in the chain, including Econo Lodge which doled out fewer points.

Points earned will expire in a similar way to Qantas Frequent Flyer, being 18 months from the date you most recently earned or redeem points: so if you continue to pile your points up, even just once a year, your points now won’t expire.

Also read: Earning frequent flyer points via Choice Privileges

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!


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