Yesterday it was United extending double elite qualifying miles to residents of Australia. United of course is competing with several carriers now in the US-Australia market (no longer just Qantas, and no Air Canada via Vancouver, Continental Micronesia to Cairns via Guam, and Hawaiian via Honolulu do not count).
Today, I see that Priority Club is introducing Any Hotel, Any Time cards in the Australia market and offering them at half price. You have to have an Australia address on your Priority Club account to take advantage of the offer, and can only ship the cards to an Australia address, so you do need to know someone in Australia.
Priority Club introduced the concept that you can be loyal to them, and take your rewards anywhere. Normally not a good deal, though, a $250 card costs 59,000 points (less than half a cent per point in value). But at half off ($250 card for 29,500 points) you get better than four-fifths of a cent in value and of course these are just Amex gift cards used to pay for hotel stays so those stays earn credit towards status and points towards promotions.
At a time when hotel rates are low, they can be a good value — an Interconitnnetal hotel redemption runs 40,000 points a night but most Intercontinental properties can be had for the same $250 you’d be spending 29,500 points for and since these are paid stays they earn credits and bonuses.
Or, pair the $250 gift cad with a Friends & Family pre-paid rate which doesn’t technically earn credits (though in practice seems to more often than not) and you have some really cheap redemptions. Consider then booking a better room than you’d otherwise get on your free night.
Of course, this half off redemption (which was offered in the US market at the end of 2007) is only currently valid for members in Australia, for shipping to Australia, so just one more reason to move to Australia I guess!