💳 Merchant offers, explained

Plus, another transfer bonus? In this economy??

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💳/🇨🇦 Canadian Transfer Bonus Alert: You can transfer Canadian MR Points to Marriott with a 30% bonus, meaning 1,000 points will get you 1,560 Bonvoy points… Check out our list of top Canadian cards to hop on this deal.

Good morning, and welcome back to Daily Drop, the most well-traveled newsletter on the planet.

I just counted, and this newsletter has been written from 75 countries around the world. And I’ve got the jet lag to prove it. 🤘🏼

Here’s what we’ve got on the docket:

💳 Credit card merchant offers, explained

One of the questions I often get asked is this one:

How do you justify having so many credit cards with annual fees? Isn’t it expensive?

And my answer is usually something along the lines of:

Yes. But the points I earn and the benefits of the card (like free night awards, elite status, travel credits, etc.) justify paying the fee and holding the card every year.

But there’s another factor that often gets overlooked when it comes to justifying credit card annual fees…

I’m talking about merchant offers.

A light green background with a graphic that has a had holding a cellphone with a heart, dollar sign, and gift

Here’s how these work:

Banks (like this one, this one, and this one, for example) will provide offers on different cards, which may take any of the following forms:

  • Earn x bonus points after spending y dollars at z merchant

  • Earn an x dollar credit after spending y dollars at z merchant

  • Earn x% cashback up to a total of y dollars at z merchant

These merchant offers are often based on factors such as which card you have, how long you’ve been with the bank, and how much money you spend on a card.

For example, if you have a Marriott card, you will likely get merchant offers for Marriott rather than other hotel chains.

Most of the time, these offers aren’t going to provide hundreds of dollars in value.

But they can certainly add up…

For example, I just checked my account for this credit card, which I just opened about six months ago.

A screenshot of how much Mike has saved from merchant offers on a card

As you can see, I’ve already earned more than $80 from merchant offers alone for a card that only costs $95 per year… and that’s only six months into holding it.

But you don’t have to inch your way toward racking of savings, either. Sometimes, merchant offers can be much heftier.

For example, I just received this one (on my shiny Canadian credit card) for $150 CAD (about $111 USD) cash back after spending $750 CAD ($554 USD) on United Airlines.

an example of a merchant offer for United airlines

If you’re traveling around the U.S., to South America, Europe, or Asia, $554 is not crazy to spend on United, especially when you’ll get more than a hundred dollars back afterward.

But you don’t need to spend money on airlines and hotels to take advantage of these offers either.

I get merchant offers for restaurants, rideshare apps, clothing stores, utilities, coffee shops, and more.

Various merchant offers from one example of a card

So here’s the bottom line:

Go into your credit card accounts and activate ALL of your offers.

At the very least, you might rack up a few bucks here and there on everyday purchases.

At the most, you’ll save hundreds of dollars every year and EASILY justify holding onto your cards for years without needing to stress about annual fees.

✈️ 25% transfer bonus to Avianca LifeMiles

Avianca LifeMiles might just be one of the most underrated programs of all time…

They have the lowest pricing for Star Alliance awards, even with partner airlines.

And sometimes, just sometimes, they offer a transfer bonus that lowers these prices even further.

Avianca LifeMiles is currently offering a 25% transfer bonus

That’s right folks, ANOTHER transfer bonus!

Until April 14th, you can transfer Thank You Points to Avianca with a 25% bonus, opening up some sweet redemption opportunities.

For example, if you enjoy flying United around the U.S., using LifeMiles is actually better than using United miles.

This flight from Chicago to Dallas on United only costs 10,000 Avianca miles (and still just $5.60 in taxes), or only 8,000 Thank You points with the current bonus.

An example of A united flight that costs 10,000 LifeMiles

United charges 15,000 miles for the same exact flight on the same exact date… basically, double what you can get with Avianca. 😑

Still not convinced?

That’s fine, I came prepared.

I’ve been looking at flights to get me back home to Toronto next month after my Qatar flight to Montreal.

Sadly, Air Canada is terrible, with this 40-minute domestic hop costing anywhere from 13,000 to 30,000 Aeroplan points.

An example of how out of control Aeroplan's pricing is

Thankfully, I can book the EXACT same flight for just… wait for it… 6,000 Avianca miles.

With the transfer bonus, that means transferring just 4,800 points over, which is about 1/3 the amount of points as Aeroplan at its lowest.

An example of an Air Canada flight using LifeMiles

What’s even weirder is that Avianca’s taxes and fees ($34 USD) are less than Aeroplan’s ($41 USD), even though this is a domestic Canadian flight on Air Canada… weird, eh? 🤔

So here’s the bottom line…

This is not just a way to save a few miles here and there.

This transfer bonus, combined with Avianca’s extremely generous pricing, will save you TENS of thousands of points and maybe even some cash money on taxes and fees.

If you have a card that earns Thank You Points, that’s great. You’ve done good work. And I couldn’t be more proud. 🥹

If not, you can easily get one now and still have time to use this bonus or the other amazing transfer bonuses they’ll offer down the road.

🤓 Travel Trivia Tuesday

Can you guess the top-ranked airport for food options, according to a study by Radical Storage?   

👇

Correct answer: Incheon International Airport, South Korea  

Incheon International Airport takes the crown as the top-ranked airport for food, with a whopping 270 eateries... pretty impressive, if you ask me!  

With a solid rating of 3.2 stars out of 5 (which is really good for airports) and below-average dish prices, this hub is great for both taste and budget.   

Plus, it's known for its cleanliness, which can be another rarity when it comes to airport food, sadly.   

The U.S. doesn't disappoint with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport taking the second spot, offering 36 eateries which cater to specific dietary needs.  

Nationally, the top 10 list looks like this:  

  1. Incheon International Airport, South Korea 

  2. Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, USA 

  3. Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, Taiwan 

  4. Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, USA 

  5. Jeju International Airport, South Korea 

  6. Narita International Airport, Japan 

  7. Haneda Airport, Japan 

  8. O’Hare International Airport, USA 

  9. Los Angeles International Airport, USA 

  10. Singapore Changi Airport, Singapore  

Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport has about 125 eateries and the highest average restaurant rating in the US at 3.7 out of 5 stars!   

Whether you're craving a comforting bowl of noodles at Jeju International Airport or indulging in authentic Taiwanese cuisine at Taoyuan International Airport, these food hotspots are an added bonus to your travels 

Want to read more about the best airport food? Find details here 

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That’s all for today folks… it’s amazing to see so many new transfer bonuses popping up.

It’s an easy way to multiply your points - and multiply your already-free travel. 🤗

Anyway, I hope you have a good day. Love you lots ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

52°22'35.4"N 52°15'17.4"W