This week's wrap for road warriors, high flyers and points fiends

By Chris C., July 31 2015
This week's wrap for road warriors, high flyers and points fiends

Whether you’re travelling to London or staying closer to home, hotel loyalty programs deliver great perks such as room upgrades and extra amenities to frequent guests.

This week, we take a look at two of those programs – showing travellers how to make the most of Shangri-La Golden Circle, and how to bag Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status after spending just one night at Starwood hotels like Westin, Sheraton and W.

Also in this week’s wrap, we detail how a lingering points balance in a hotel loyalty program could be turned into airline frequent flyer and put towards your next free flight or upgrade, and how applying for an ANZ credit card could land you enough points for a seat in first class.

Rounding things out for July, Star Alliance frequent flyers can now take advantage of new alliance-wide premium economy round-the-world fares to maximise their points, while Oneworld frequent flyers have a new reward option in AA’s Australian flights.

Booking AA’s Sydney-LAX flights with points

With American Airlines’ new flights between Sydney and Los Angeles now on sale, frequent flyers have a new way to use their hard-earned points when visiting the United States.

From a seat down the back in economy to AA’s office-like suites in first class, we’ll show you how to use your American Airlines AAdvantage miles – and soon, also your Qantas frequent flyer points – to nab a seat on AA’s new Sydney-Los Angeles flights.

Read: Booking AA’s Sydney-LAX flights with frequent flyer points

Free SPG Gold status for MasterCard customers

If you haven’t yet taken advantage of Starwood’s free upgrade to SPG Gold status for MasterCard World and World Elite cardholders, don’t fret: the deal has been extended until July 14 2016 for spenders whose wallets sport that super shiny plastic.

Included on that list are the Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards, Westpac Altitude Black, Emirates Citibank World and HSBC Premier World cards – serving up free SPG Gold status after a single stay, which in turn brings free room upgrades, late check-outs and more at SPG hotels.

Follow these seven easy steps and you’ll be in the fast lane to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.

Read: Starwood, MasterCard extend free SPG Gold status offer

Shangri-La Golden Circle: the unofficial guide

Going beyond most hotel loyalty schemes to offer top guests anytime concierge services, private in-room check-in and complimentary suit pressing, the Shangri-La Golden Circle program brings luxury to business travel.

Members begin by earning Golden Circle Award Points during their stays at Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, Kerry Hotels, Traders Hotels and Hotel Jen, but again in contrast to the others, you can also earn points at hotel restaurants, bars and spa facilities even when you’re not staying in-house.

Covering over 90 hotels in key business destinations including Sydney, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Shanghai and London, here’s what you need to know about Shangri-La Golden Circle.

Read: Shangri-La Golden Circle: the unofficial guide

Review: ANZ Qantas Platinum credit cards

If you mostly spend where American Express is accepted but want a backup credit card as a just-in-case, the ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum American Express + Visa combo could be just the ticket.

With Australia's highest earning rate on everyday American Express transactions, ANZ's Platinum cards also come with well-rounded insurance coverage for less than you'd pay for a higher-tier Black card, and a cool 50,000 bonus frequent flyer points to get you started.

That’s enough for an upgrade to first class on Qantas’ Sydney-Dallas flights – the world’s longest flight by distance, where sitting at the pointy end can make the time fly by.

Stretch out in first class with your ANZ Platinum credit card bonus points...
Stretch out in first class with your ANZ Platinum credit card bonus points...

Read: ANZ Qantas Frequent Flyer Platinum credit card review

Turning hotel points into frequent flyer points

While loyalty to a favourite hotel chain can bring perks such as free breakfast and room upgrades, frequent business travellers know that this isn’t always practical or even possible – some chains may not serve every city in your itinerary, or your employer may find a cheaper deal elsewhere.

That’s where it pays to be savvy and join every major hotel’s loyalty program: collecting a handful of points here and there, which can later be swapped for frequent flyer points and then combined with your existing balance to score a free flight or upgrade to business class.

Here’s what you need to know to turn your lingering hotel loyalty points into airline frequent flyer points with the major chains including Accor, Choice, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Shangri-La and Starwood.

Read: Turn your hotel points into frequent flyer points

Earn Star Alliance miles on round-the-world fares

Star Alliance frequent flyers are in for a boost to their points balance and their frequent flyer status with the launch of alliance-wide round-the-world fares in premium economy.

As an example, that allows you to book a Star Alliance trip from Australia to Asia, then Europe, then North America and then back home via New Zealand all on the one ticket – often for less than buying each flight separately, but while still earning miles on the lot.

We’ve got what you need to know, along with a sample premium economy round-the-world itinerary to minimise your costs while maximising your comfort.

Read: New Star Alliance RTW premium economy fares

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Chris C.

Chris is a a former contributor to Executive Traveller.

"This week's wrap for road warriors, high flyers and points fiends"

Good one! That sounds so much better!

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