Hilton Honors (read all about the recent changes HERE) is currently running a 100% bonus on Hilton Honors Points with a minimum purchase of 5,000 Hilton Honors Points. Using these points effectively can essentially cover your stays in properties like the Hilton Tokyo and the Conrad Tokyo where a room may be expensive in dollars but reasonable as a redemption night.
At the time of writing, it appears that my account can only purchase a maximum of 80,000 Hilton Honors Points each year (I understand that some accounts in the United States are eligible to purchase up to 160,000 Hilton Honors Points). Hilton Honors Points are typically sold at US$10 (approx. S$14) per 1,000 block but you do benefit from a 100% bonus if you buy at least 5,000 points - it is therefore possible to buy 80,000 + 80,000 Hilton Honors Points for US$800 (approx. S$1,123). Make sure you charge this transaction to the DBS Woman's World MasterCard to earn 4 miles per dollar - you can essentially earn at least 4,500 miles from this transaction.
If you are thinking about converting Hilton Honors Points to miles, don't. The rate of exchange is terrible and you are better off keeping them for free nights at aspiration properties.
Taxis in Japan are notoriously expensive and most travellers try to avoid them at all cost. There is usually no issue since the buses and trains are amazing but on a few recent trips, I have found myself taking a taxi because I was either rushing for time, or the buses just did not operate at a time that was suitable to my schedule. JapanTaxi is a tourist-friendly app that allows you to estimate your taxi fare in Japan, make a reservation or call a taxi immediately - payment can also be done online with your credit card (including Apple Pay) so you do not have to sweat the small things. If you have not utilised this app before, using my referral code will save you ¥1,000 (approximately SGD 12) on your first ride!
With Marriott Bonvoy now in full swing, the terms and conditions of the loyalty have also been updated accordingly. The wording in the refreshed T&Cs now state that ten elite nights per calendar year will be awarded to the Member for his/her first group, event or meeting.
Hyatt has just published their annual award chart updates that will take effect on 18 March 2019 - the number of World of Hyatt points required for a free night will change at some hotels. As you may remember, Points + Cash rates are now less attractive as members are required to pay 50% of the Standard Rate for standard rooms. In general, most of the affected hotels in Asia will be experiencing a reduction in hotel category (meaning it will cost you less points for free night) but hotels in Japan and South Korea in particular will see an increase in the number of required points in the near future.
The combined loyalty program of Marriott International properties will soon be relaunching under the new Marriott Bonvoy program name. Ever since the loyalty programs merged back in August 2018, I have not gotten a single suite upgrade (despite being Platinum Elite) on stays where the suites were available at check-in.
China is one of my favourite countries to visit in recent years and having been there at least five times now in the last couple of years, I have grown to embrace the modern technologies and conveniences that seem to be integral in everyone's lives. There are ways to get around the Great Firewall of China (so you can still access sites like Google and Instagram even when you are there) and honestly, there is just so much to see and do in Beijing particularly. With all that being said, I have always been extremely interested to get my WeChat Wallet set up so I can actually use it while I am actually visiting.
As a travel writer who is always on the go, I find myself struggling with large image file sizes from the photos that I take for my extensive hotel reviews as well as trip reports in premium cabins. While I do like the images that I get with my trusty DSLR, editing them and publishing articles on the go have not been an easy journey (especially when visiting smaller cities with less-robust infrastructure). One of the applications that I use quite extensively is JPEGmini which is a patent-pending photo recompression technology that significantly reduces the size of images (up to 80%) without affecting the perceptual quality.
Approximately two years ago, I wrote an article about an exhaustive list of credit cards that you can get in Singapore which will get you into airport lounges for free. While the changes over the years have not been significant enough to warrant an update, I have decided to rewrite the article today so that it remains current - the table below shows all the credit cards in Singapore that you can apply for that will get you into airport lounges for free.
Accor Plus is a paid membership run by AccorHotels that offers a variety of benefits ranging from room rate discounts to dining discounts of up to 50% off at over 800 hotels and 1100 restaurants in 18 countries across Asia Pacific. Members will be able to enjoy at least one complimentary night at iconic hotel brands such as Fairmont, Sofitel, MGallery, Pullman and Novotel. To decide whether or not you should sign-up for this membership, I have put together a list of perks that you should know about before making that decision.
Last week, I wrote a short guide about Grab's two new subscription passes - the Flat-fare Ride Pass and the Short Commute Pass. If you are curious to know more about these subscriptions and would like to know which one suits you better, check out my cheat sheet to find out. Grab pulled the Flat-fare Ride Pass shortly after that, claiming that it was 'sold out' but honestly, how do you introduce something like that and have them sell out after a few days. While I personally did not subscribe to any one of these monthly passes, I recently found out that the Flat-fare Ride Pass vouchers can be exploited which leads me to believe that that could actually be one of the factors that led to the decision to pull the subscription from the platform.
In case you are not aware, Grab has quite recently launched two new subscription passes on top of the GrabClub passes. Targeted at regular Grab users, the brand new Flat-fare Ride Pass and Short Commute Pass offers potential discounts to users who understand their own traveling habits. There are two versions in each one of these plans and the only differentiating factor is the number of ride vouchers - light and heavy gives you 10 and 20 ride vouches respectively (and you have 30 days from the date of purchase to use them).