Pointshound, Amtrak, Skiplagged, Updated signup bonuses

I'm heading to Chicago for a long weekend tomorrow, so updates might be spotty for the next few days. There's one newish technique I'll be checking out while I'm there, so watch for that update this weekend or early next week. In the meantime, here's a rundown of some quick hits which probably don't deserve their own blog posts, but which I wanted to bring to my readers' attention.

Pointshound Points Posting

I wrote a few posts back in July when Pointshound first launched their "double up" rates, which allows you to earn both bonus airline miles through Pointshound and elite qualifying nights and regular points with many of their hotel partners. These stays also qualify for hotel promotions

My feeling was that if you were planning to book through your hotel's website, and Pointshound offered the same nightly rate with the same cancellation policy, you may as well also earn a few hundred airline miles for your booking as well. I also was the first to reveal a simple technique for instant Pointshound Level 3 status, earning around twice as many miles per night on "double up" bookings, and somewhat more than that on standard (non-double up) bookings.

I haven't written about Pointshound recently because, frankly, my airline miles didn't post, and I wasn't interested in sending any more business to a sub-par operation. It was a good idea, but if they couldn't implement it correctly, I was fine waiting for someone who could (Rocketmiles is currently making a run at part of their market segment).

Imagine my surprise when I got a stream of e-mails on November 7 notifying me that my points had posted for 5 separate reservations. To be clear, these were "double up" reservations for August 30 - September 2, 2013. By my math, that means my points posted 9.5 weeks after checking out (in fairness, I did receive my "double up" hotel points and elite night credits for the stays immediately; just not my Pointshound airline miles).

So who knows, maybe Pointshound has managed to get their act together. File this under developing...

Amtrak Bonus Points with Google Wallet

I love Amtrak Guest Rewards points, which I value at between 3 and 6 cents each, depending on my planned redemptions (making them easily one of Chase's most valuable transfer partners). So I can't help but pass along this opportunity to earn 500 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for linking your AGR number to a mobile Google Wallet account.

Unfortunately, as far as I can tell you do need to own a smartphone, download the Google Wallet app, and add Amtrak Guest Rewards as a loyalty program to the app. All this takes a few minutes and is about as much fun as you would expect. You can unlink your AGR account once your points post, however, and they are worth between $15 and $30, depending on your redemption. To put it slightly differently, you would need to spend $250 on Amtrak or book 5 one-way tickets to earn the same number of AGR points.

Skiplagged for Hidden City Ticketing

There is a whole world of travel hacking that I simply don't have the time or patience to master. It involves things like fuel dumping and "hidden city" ticketing. The former technique is too complicated to explain here, but the latter is simple: sometimes it's cheaper to book tickets to places you have no intention of visiting, which happen to have stopovers in the city you actually intend to visit. As long as you don't check bags (which would be checked to your final destination) you can just leave the airport at your "intermediate" destination.

You can save real money doing this, but domestic airline tickets typically aren't expensive enough for me to spend time checking every possible permutation of hidden city ticketing.

Skiplagged is a new website that aims to take care of all that mindless searching for you, and it's going to become a regular stop for me, along with Kayak and ITA Matrix when I'm searching for paid flights. Their homepage has some examples of hidden city ticketing that you can book today, if you're so inclined, that offer (in some cases) substantial savings.

Updated Signup Bonuses

Here are a few updated signup bonuses you'll find on the site:

As my readers know, I don't receive any kind of bonus, referral credit, points, recognition or anything else of value if you sign up using these links, which are not connected to me in any way, shape or form. I provide them only as a service to my readers.

On the other hand, if you find the blog helpful, consider buying my ebook, The Free-quent Flyer's Manifesto, leaving a review on Amazon.com, and telling your friends and family about the site! It's the only advertising I have and it means the world to me.