Archives for May 3, 2018

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card: 75,000 Bonus Points Offer

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card is the new co-branded card from Chase and the newly-merged Marriott/Starwood/Ritz-Carlton rewards program. The current bonus is 75,000 bonus Marriott Rewards points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Here are the card highlights:

  • Earn 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 within the first three months.
  • 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • 6X points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
  • 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
  • Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
  • Get upgraded to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
  • 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • Free in-room, premium internet access while staying at participating Marriott Rewards® and SPG® Hotels.*
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • $95 Annual Fee.

Note the following:

The product is not available to either:

(1) current cardmembers of the Marriott Rewards® Premier or Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus credit card, or
(2) previous cardmembers of the Marriott Rewards Premier or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.

If you have the old Marriott Premier card, click here for a targeted upgrade offer to this card. You can also call the number on the back of your card.

The Marriott and Starwood merger is now complete, and you can use these points at either Marriott properties (Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance Hotels, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Springhill Suites, Fairfield Inn & Suites) or Starwood Properties (Westin, Sheraton, The Luxury Collection, Four Points by Sheraton, W Hotels, St. Regis, Le Méridien, Aloft).

Here’s the new award chart information:

You could use 70,000 points on two free nights at a Category 5 hotel like the Courtyard Waikiki Beach in Hawaii on a standard date, or you could get 4 free nights at a Category 3 hotel like the Residence Inn Austin Arboretum.

You can still turn your points into airline miles with a bonus. 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 airline miles. Similar to the old Starwood bonus structure, they will add 15,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles.

Finally, Marriott points are also convertible to gift cards, but it takes 60,000 points to redeem for a $200 gift card for Marriott or retailers like Best Buy, Home Depot, or Nordstrom. That ratio isn’t all that great so you’ll definitely get the most value via hotel night redemptions or airline miles transfer.

After your account anniversary and paying the $95 annual fee, you’ll get an Anniversary Free Night Award automatically deposited into your account within 8 weeks. The Anniversary Free Night Award is valid for a one night hotel stay at a property with a redemption level up to 35,000 points. Getting $95 value out of hotel night is pretty easy to achieve, as long as you use it before it expires after 12 months.

Bottom line. The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card is an updated version of their Premier card and is currently offering 75,000 bonus points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. As with all hotel cards, the value is dependent on your unique travel preferences. If you stay at Marriott/Starwood properties regularly, the free annual night award should easily cover the annual fee. If you have the old card you may be able to get a bonus for upgrading.

Open University: UK-Based, Regionally US-Accredited Online Bachelor’s Degrees

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

ou200If you are interested in online college education, definitely read How Open University Works: An Insider’s Perspective by Manoel Cortes Mendez. The Open University (OU) is a public, nonprofit UK university that was founded in 1969 with a focus on distance-learning. I was not familiar with the OU at all before reading this.

In this article, I retrace my steps at the OU, from enrollment to graduation. The goal is twofold: first, to give you a sense of what it’s like to study with the OU; second, to highlight particular aspects of the OU experience that aren’t readily apparent from the outside, but that every prospective student ought to know.

The author earned a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the OU, spending a total of $18,000. He is now halfway through the Online Masters in Computer Science from Georgia Tech.

Unlike most Open University (OU) students, who are usually in their mid-thirties, I joined the OU in my early twenties. I chose the OU over a brick university because I had started working full time after high school, and I wanted to continue working during my university studies. Furthermore, I lived in Belgium, but I envisioned my career in the US. So I wanted to study in English and my degree to be recognized internationally. As it happens, the OU is one of a handful of UK universities to be fully accredited in the US. That settled my choice.

Here’s how that was possible:

Despite its unconventional mode of delivery, the OU is on paper a university like the others. More precisely, it’s a recognized body in the UK, which is british legalese for fully accredited. And it’s one of the few UK universities to also be regionally accredited in the US. So if after your OU degree, you want to pursue further studies in a brick university, you can. And this includes prestigious universities. For instance, one of my OU classmates went on to study a master’s degree in computer science at Oxford University.

In other words, a degree from Open University has a certain level of respect and reputation for high-quality education (at least in the UK) that is not present at many for-profit US universities. Would it be possible for there to be an equivalent institution in the US? How many US residents have gotten undergraduate degrees at Open University? I bet they would get more foreign applicants if they renamed it to something that sounds traditional like “London-Bletchley University”.

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