Archives for May 3, 2018

Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Card: New 100,000 Point Bonus

“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 new Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card is now available from Chase and the newly-merged Marriott/Starwood/Ritz-Carlton rewards program. They are launching with a limited-time offer of 100,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. Here are the card highlights:

  • Earn 100,000 Bonus Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
  • Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.
  • Earn 6 points per $1 spent at participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
  • 2 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.
  • Coming in 2019, 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
  • $95 Annual Fee.

Note: 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 isn’t fully complete, and so 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). Transfer points between the two programss at the ratio of 1 Starpoint = 3 Marriott points.

View the Starwood hotel category list here. You can still do airline miles transfers at a 1:1 ratio, with the bonus of 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 airline miles.

View the Marriott hotel award chart and category list here. Redeem 4 nights, and get the 5th night free. Hotels on their PointSavers list have temporarily reduced redemption costs. Also, don’t overlook the Marriott Hotels + Miles travel packages that include a week of hotel accommodations and airline miles.

In August 2018, there will be a new merged hotel night redemption chart. All Starwood points will converted be Marriott points, permanently. Each of the 6,500+ hotels will be assigned a Category number. There will be no blackout dates, but there will be seasons (off-peak, standard, and peak) from 2019 onward (just standard for 2018). Here’s the new chart:


In August 2018, Marriott Rewards points will also transfer to various airline frequent flier miles (3 Marriott points = 1 mile). Similar to the Starwood bonus structure, they will add 15,000 points for every 60,000 points you transfer to airline miles. 60,000 Marriott points = 25,000 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.

If you’ve gotten a bonus from this Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card within the last 2 years, please note the following:

The product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of the Marriott Rewards Premier or Marriott Rewards Premier Plus credit card, or (ii) 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 are an existing Marriott Rewards Premier customer and would like this product, please call the number on the back of your card to see if you are eligible for a product change.

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.

marriottpremBottom line. The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card is a newer version of their Premier card and is currently offering 100,000 Marriott Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. As with all hotel cards, the value is dependent on your unique travel preferences. This new offer is better than the previous one, so 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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