Monthly Archives: April 2015

First Friday Is Here Again

CSPTomorrow is the first Friday of the month so by now you know that means 3x points on dining with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  But like I mentioned last month, it’s not the best option this quarter if you want to earn Ultimate Rewards points as the Chase Freedom card will get you 5x points this quarter – provided you’ve registered for the promotion.  And for those who prefer cash back, the Discover cards are earning 5% back on dining from April through June.Chase Freedom

If you only have the Sapphire Preferred, it only makes sense to apply for the Freedom card too.  There’s no annual fee so it’s one you can keep forever and as long as you have the Sapphire Preferred or one of the Ink business cards you can pool the Ultimate Rewards points and transfer them to your favorite frequent flyer or hotel program.

Categories: Chase, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Freedom, Sapphire Preferred | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Free 1000 AAdvantage Miles

2015-04-29 Free American MilesAmerican Airlines is offering 1000 free AAdvantage miles and an entry in a sweepstakes to earn two first class tickets anywhere they fly.  All that is required is that you watch six short videos extolling the virtues of the AAdvantage program.  You’ll earn 150 miles for each video and a bonus 100 miles if you view all of them.   Check your inbox for an email from American, click on the link and start earning miles!

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Not a Southwest Rapids Reward Member? Sign up now for free!

2015-04-29 Southwest Refer A Friend
Recently Southwest Airlines sent out an email allowing members to refer others and earn free Rapid Rewards points for doing so.  If you allow me to refer you to the program, I’ll get 500 points for doing so and you’ll get 250 points to kick off your account.  I can earn up to 2,000 points this way.  There is no charge to sign up but do be sure to use the same name as is on your government-issued ID so that there’s no confusion when you fly Southwest and have to go through airport security!

If you’d like to sign up, just shoot me an email at and we’ll get you on your way with 250 points.

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Earn United Miles for Donating to Nepal Relief

I just received an email from United stating I can earn miles for donating to the Red Cross in support of their relief efforts in Nepal:

2015-04-27 UA Red Cross

You can click on the offer to enlarge it but the highlights are:

  • 250 miles for a donation of $50-$99 USD
  • 500 miles for a donation of $100-$249 USD
  • 1000 miles for a donation of $250 or more

Donations must be received between now and 11:59 pm Central Time on 15 May 2015.

If you haven’t found a way to help out yet, here’s an easy way and you can earn miles in the process.

Categories: Star Alliance, United | Tags: | Leave a comment

New Benefits for American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

PremierRewardsGoldCardAmerican Express has several cards that earn Membership Rewards (MR) points. These are a great currency that can be transferred to multiple frequent flyer programs at a 1:1 ratio. Those programs include Aeroplan (Air Canada), British Airways Executive Club, Altitalia MilleMiglia and Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific). MRs can also be transferred to the Delta Skymiles and Ethiad Guest programs at a ratio of 1000 MRs to 750 miles.

The Amex Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card, meaning the whole balance is due each month, but it can offer terrific value if used strategically. Currently the card earns:

  • 3 points per dollar for flights booked directly with the airline
  • 2 points per dollar at US gas stations and supermarkets
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases

Starting June 1, 2015 the card’s benefits will expand to include:

  • 2 points per dollar at US restaurants
  • No foreign transactions fees
  • A $100 credit per calendar year on qualifying airline charges including incidental fees like baggage fees, itinerary fees, in-flight food and airport lounge day passes that are charged by the airline to the card

Cardholders will also now have access to a team of travel professionals to assist with travel needs. This can be great for items that points and miles won’t allow you to arrange for yourself.  Note that the annual fee is $175 after the first year.

These new benefits are nice though I’m disappointed that the 2x points at restaurants is only for US restaurants. If I wanted to take this card overseas that would be a category I’d definitely use but if it’s not going to earn me 2x points I have other cards that will.

If you already have this card you’ll see more details on your March 2015 statement.

If you don’t have this card, you can apply HERE. Be sure to check the card match tool to see if you can get a better offer.

Categories: American Express, Premier Rewards Gold Card | Tags: , | Leave a comment

IHG Adds New Top Tier Loyalty Level

IHG, the company behind Intercontinental Hotels and Holiday Inn, has announced that they’re adding a new top tier loyalty level that will be the next step above Platinum. Platinum has been fantastically easy to achieve because you can “earn” it just by holding the Chase IHG MasterCard, although you can also earn it the hard way, by staying 50 nights or earning 60,000 points via hotel stays. The IHG MasterCard has possibly the lowest annual fee of any status-earning credit card at only $49 per year. Paying the annual fee also entitles the card holder to a free night at any IHG hotel.

But now a new tier has been added though we don’t yet know its name. Check out the graphic from the IHG website – it’s just called New Membership Level:2015-04-14 New IHG Loyalty Levels

If you get Platinum status the hard way, the good news is that it’ll be easier to attain, requiring only 40 nights or 40,000 points through hotel stays. The new level requires 75 nights or 75,000 points earned at an IHG hotel. Platinum members get a 50% bonus on points for paid stays while the new level members will get a 100% bonus on points earned. They’ll also receive an annual 25,000 point bonus or they can choose to gift Platinum status to a friend or family member.

Another change is that points will now expire after 12 months of inactivity in your account. To get around that you can transfer in points from Ultimate Rewards. As a general rule I’d transfer as few UR points as allowed as URs are much more valuable than IHG points.

And on May 1st IHG will be reclassifying some 450 properties, though they claim that less than 300 will be increasing by 5000 – 10,000 points per night while 150 properties will decrease by 5000 points.

I typically don’t stay at IHG properties though in the last four months I have stayed at two different hotels. My Platinum status didn’t help at all at a Candlewood Suites but it got me an excellent free breakfast buffet at a Crowne Plaza.

The IHG website does state that all stays in 2015 will count towards the new level, so if you often stay at IHG properties, maybe this will be a benefit to you. As long as I still get breakfast and wifi I’ll hang on to the credit card just for the free night. Once any of those benefits goes away I’ll have to re-evaluate.

HT: Frequent Miler

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Quick Hits for the Weekend

Bonus on Purchased AAdvantage Miles

American Airlines is offering bonus AAdvantage miles where the bonus amount varies depending on how many you buy or gift. If you bought the full 100,000 miles you’ll get 60,000 bonus miles for $3201.25 including taxes and fees. That works out to ~2 cents per mile which is actually about as cheap as we’ve seen American offer them for sale. On the other hand, if you’re accustomed to US Airways selling points at 1.7 cents, it’s a bit of a price hike. So it looks like the new management has decided to split the difference on the price. This is a pretty good deal if you need to top off your account for an award but not necessarily a great way to stock up on them. For other, more knowledgeable opinions, check out what Gary and Ben have to say – and if you haven’t combined your American and US Airways accounts yet, Ben makes a compelling case as to why you might like to hold off if you’re planning to buy miles.


Discount on Visa Gift Cards at Kroger Stores

I actually don’t get to travel a lot and accrue the majority of my points via credit card sign-ups and through manufactured spending. If you’re not familar with manufactured spending, it’s the process of using points-earning credit cards to buy products that can be quickly turned into cash. For some people this involves buying and reselling things on eBay. For others it’s buying gift cards that can be used like debit cards and loaded to one of the prepaid accounts like Amex’s Bluebird (Wal-Mart) or Target RedCard or used to buy money orders. These prepaid accounts or money orders can be used to then pay off the credit card account.

Now through April 18th, Kroger is offering an electronic coupon that will save you $5.00 when you buy two or more Visa gift cards. Kroger (and their family of stores including King Sooper, Smiths and City Market) sell Visa gift cards offered by US Bank and these cards come with a PIN so that they can be used as debit cards. The cards come in various fixed-value denominations from $25 to $100 and a variable-denomination card where you can load $20-500. There is an activation fee from (I believe) $3.95 for the cheaper, fixed-value cards up to $5.95 for the $100 card and the variable-load card.

So if you log into or the Kroger app and apply the coupon you can save $5.00 which will nearly cover one of the activation fees. Plus, if you use a cash-back card to purchase these gift cards, you’ll save even more.

HT: Miles To Memories on Frequent Miler

Categories: American Airlines, Manufactured Spend, Quick Hits | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Triple Points at Club Carlson

2015-04-06 Club Carlson Triple PointsAfter taking away the best benefit in the world of hotel points, Club Carlson is trying to make nice by offering triple points on stays between now and June 28, 2015.  Award stays – whether on points only or by using points + cash – are not eligible.  You must register HERE to take advantage of this promotion.  The triple point calculation is based on the standard 20 points per dollar spent, not on any bonus points you may earn as an elite member.

Additionally, for each reservation made through the Club Carlson mobile app you will receive 1000 bonus points.

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Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class IST-IAH

Turkey Trip Overview
Booking Flights To Turkey
British Airways First Class Lounge IAH
British Airways 777 First Class IAH-LHR
Transiting Heathrow and British Airways A320 Business Class LHR-IST
Marriott Courtyard Istanbul Airport
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul to Izmir and Back
Ephesus, Mary’s House and Basilica of St. John
Swissotel Efes
Pamukkale Bus and Preiene
Ritz-Carlton Istanbul
Major Sites to see in Istanbul
Radisson Blu Bosphorus
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class IST-IAH

We boarded through door 2L and I crossed through the galley to the right aisle to settle in seat 3K, which I had selected via a call to Turkish Airlines once the seat selection window opened in June. And it was here that the tale of musical chairs began.

Turkish Airlines 33
Boeing 777-300ER
Seat 3K (business class)

Continue reading

Categories: Star Alliance, Turkey, Turkish Airlines | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Club Carlson Removes Crucial Visa Benefit

Club Carlson Credit CardOne of the great things about Club Carlson is how easy their points are to accrue. The Club Carlson Visa offers 10 points per dollar for purchases at Club Carlson hotels like Radissons, Radisson Blus, Park Inns, and 5 points per dollar everywhere else. The cherry on top of this was that when you have the US Bank Club Carlson Visa and have an award stay of two nights or more, the last night is free. That meant for two people who each had the card, they could make alternating reservations of two nights each and the stay would cost half the points.

Per Frequent Miler’s post this morning, this benefit is going away. In its place is an offer for a free night each year after spending $10,000 on the card and paying the annual fee of $75.

This is a huge devaluation. I hadn’t even had a chance to take advantage of this benefit and it’s already going away. At the time I made my reservations for our stay at the Radisson Blu Bosphorus, I was not a card member and thus couldn’t take advantage of it.

I’m seriously wondering whether or not I should keep this card once the annual fee comes due. Club Carlson is not my go-to hotel chain and their footprint in North America is pretty small. It’s certainly better overseas but my plans for the next few years include places where I expect I’ll be able to find Hyatt, Marriotts and Hiltons. I will definitely have to reconsider keeping this card.


Update 13:45 CT – Club Carlson has now sent out an email to holders of the Club Carlson Visa further clarifying the changes:

Beginning June 1, 2015, you can earn a Free Night, good at any Carlson Rezidor hotel in the U.S. This Free Night will replace the current Bonus Award Night benefit. Bonus Award Night stays may not be booked after June 1, 2015. You’ll receive the new Free Night award upon renewal of your card after an annual spend of $10,000. Updated program terms and conditions will apply and be available on June 1, 2015.

As a Club Carlson Visa® cardholder you will continue to enjoy the following benefits:

  • 10 points per $1 spent in eligible Net Purchases at Carlson Rezidor hotels worldwide – that’s in addition to the 20 points per dollar you earn as a Club Carlson member
  • 5 points per $1 spent in eligible Net Purchases everywhere else
  • 40,000 renewal bonus points each year when you renew your card by paying the annual fee
  • Gold Elite Status – which now includes a dining discount at participating hotel restaurants!

And, to thank you for your continued loyalty, you can earn 30,000 bonus Gold Points® on your next Eligible Stay at a Carlson Rezidor hotel worldwide when you pay with your Club Carlson Visa®. Offer ends August 31, 2015. Terms and conditions apply.*

So spending $10,000 on the card each year will net a free night and at least 50,000 points for that spend. Pay the annual fee of $75 and get 40,000 bonus points. If you were to use the card to load the Target Redcard you could get 90,000 points per year for the annual fee of $75 or $0.000833 per point. Even if you bought Visa gift cards for $10,079, you’d only pay $0.00171 per point. Either way that’s a pretty awesome price for points and a free night to boot.

And if you have a stay at a Club Carlson property before the end of August you’ll get an additional 30,000 points. If you can find a room for $90 those 30,000 points will cost $0.003 apiece. Of course, if the cheapest room you can find is more expensive, the points get more expensive too. Ben values these points at 0.4 cents per point while Brian values them at 0.6 cents each. So if you can get the points this cheaply, it may be worth it to you, especially if you have a great use for them.

Categories: Club Carlson, Club Carlson Visa, Credit Cards, US Bank | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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