The Latest in Travel Rewards News

News on points, miles, credit cards, loyalty programs, airlines, hotels and more from NerdWallet writers.

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July 20 - American Airlines and JetBlue Elite Benefits Start This Fall

American Airlines and JetBlue's "Northeast alliance" continues to expand. Starting this fall, American AAdvantage and JetBlue TrueBlue members with elite status will start receiving reciprocal benefits when they fly with the partner airline. These benefits include priority check-in, security and boarding, plus up to two complimentary checked bags. As part of the partnership, members of the two loyalty programs, even those without elite status, can already earn miles or points when flying on the opposite airline.

July 13 - Hyatt and American Elite Members Can Participate in Reciprocal Benefits Challenges

Hyatt and American Airlines members with elite status have an opportunity to snag status benefits on both programs if they complete certain challenges. World of Hyatt Discoverist, Explorist and Globalist members can register by Sept. 30, 2021, and complete the qualifying challenge (involving flying on eligible American Airlines flights) within three months of registration to upgrade their AAdvantage status through January 2023.

Meanwhile, AAdvantage elite members can register by September 30, 2021, to start a free trial of Hyatt Explorist status for 90 days following registration. To gain Hyatt status, AAdvantage members will have to book some number of eligible stays at a Hyatt property as part of the status challenge. Upon completion of the challenge, AAdvantage elite members will earn World of Hyatt Explorist or Globalist status through February 2023.

July 12 - Capital One Announces New Airport Lounge, Transfer Bonuses

On top of airport lounge locations at Dallas-Fort Worth and Washington-Dulles, Capital One also has plans to open a new lounge at Denver International Airport. The Denver lounge, which will be more than 11,000 square feet, is set to open in 2022. Some of the amenities include relaxation rooms for napping, showers, private meeting rooms and lockers. Passengers might also recognize the local brands served on the food and beverage menu. Capital One credit cardholders will be able to access the lounge at different rates, depending on their card.

Capital One is also running some other transfer bonuses to two of their airline partners. From July 12 to Aug. 8, Capital One Venture and Spark Miles account holders will receive a 20% bonus on all miles transferred to Aeromexico’s loyalty program. With this bonus, 1,000 Capital One miles can be converted into 1,200 Aeromexico Club Premier miles. For the month of August, cardholders who earn Capital One miles will receive a 33% bonus on transfers to British Airways Avios, making the transfer ratio a favorable 1:1.

July 9 - Airlines Will Have to Disclose Fees Under New Executive Order

President Joe Biden signed an executive order today that will require airlines to be more transparent with fees. The directive orders the Department of Transportation to enact new rules for airlines to disclose fees for baggage, changes and cancellations. Airlines will also have to refund fees when services aren't provided properly.

For example, you would get a refund if your bags are late or if your in-flight Wi-Fi doesn't work. The order is intended to give consumers more information about what they're paying for and spur more competition among airlines. U.S. airlines collected a whopping $8.6 billion in fees in 2019 before the pandemic temporarily halted travel and airlines started to abandon change fees.

July 1 - Chase Launches 5x on Groceries on Freedom Cards, Bonus on Marriott Transfers

New Chase Freedom Unlimited® and Chase Freedom Flex℠ cardholders have opportunities to earn more rewards on groceries when they apply starting today. Approved applicants will receive 5x back on groceries on up to $12,000 spent in the first year of card membership.

In addition, new and existing Chase cardholders can take advantage of two summer offers on travel. The first is a $0 fee and no interest when you use My Chase Plan to set up a payment plan for travel purchases before Aug. 31. This plan could help you pay off any travel purchase of more than $100 in monthly installments over a period of up to 18 months. For a limited time, Chase Ultimate Rewards® will also be worth 50% more when you transfer them to Marriott Bonvoy. This offer is also valid on transfers through Aug. 31.

July 1 - The Platinum Card® from American Express Raises Annual Fee and Enhances Benefits

The standard for high-end travel credit cards is raising the bar ... and the annual fee. The Platinum Card® from American Express's new applicants will have to pay a steep $695 annual fee. Existing cardholders will have to pay the increased fee when their card renews after Jan. 1, 2022. Terms apply.

In return, cardholders will get some additional or enhanced benefits, including some non-travel-related:

  • A $200 hotel credit.

  • $179 Clear credit.

  • $240 digital entertainment credit.

  • $300 Equinox credit.

  • Cell phone protection.

Terms apply.

In addition to the existing airline, Uber and Saks credits, cardholders could get more than $1,400 in value with the new benefits on the card. Learn whether The Platinum Card® from American Express is worth the annual fee.

To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

June 29 - American Adds Two Options to Retain Elite Status

American's elite-retention efforts have been underwhelming so far this year. But, that changed today. American launched two new shortcuts to help existing elites retain their AAdvantage elite status through Jan. 31, 2023, and both options are quite achievable. Travelers even have the opportunity to extend existing AAdvantage elite status without taking a single flight.

American Airlines AAdvantage members that held elite status as of Jan. 1, 2021 can now retain that elite status through Jan. 31, 2023. To do so, elites need to complete one of two challenges:

  • Spend $15,000 on an AAdvantage credit card (between July 15 and Nov. 15, 2021).

  • Earn 2,000 EQD through flying (between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31, 2021).

June 14 - Chase Freedom Flex℠ Bonus Categories For Q3 Announced

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ will start earning 5% back on grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target) and select streaming services starting July 1. This bonus will only apply to the first $1,500 spent in these categories between July 1 and Sept. 30, 2021, and cardholders must register to be eligible. Registration opens June 15, 2021.

The Chase Freedom Flex℠ is a rewards card with quarterly rotating bonus categories. Past bonus categories this year have included wholesale clubs, gas stations internet, cable and phone services. In addition to the rotating 5% back, this card earns 5% back on travel booked with Chase, 3% back on dining and drugstores, and 1% back on everything else.


How to Maximize Your Rewards

You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:

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