Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Danger of Using Credit Card Points to Buy AA and UA Tickets

Yesterday both American Airlines and United Airlines rolled out their new basic economy fares in limited markets.  These are cheaper fares that come with a number of restrictions like no carry-ons in the overhead bin, no seat selection, no flight changes (even for a fee), last boarding group, limited mileage accrual and lesser credits toward elite status. (Some of these restrictions are waived if you have elite status and/or hold one of the co-branded credit cards.) When you book these fares on their website, there should be clear indication of what is and is not included in your fare.2017-01-18-aa-basic-economy
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Categories: American Airlines, United | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Highlands Lodge, Beaver Creek, Colorado

The Highlands Lodge has become the go-place for our ski group to stay when in Beaver Creek.  We had five units inside the Lodge, which is the building where the reception desk is located.

Welcome to unit 203

Welcome to unit 203

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Categories: Beaver Creek, Condos, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Increased SPG Card Sign-Up Bonus!

Starwood Preferred Group (SPG) Starpoints are among the most flexible currencies on the market, which is why both Ben of One Mile At A Time and Brian, The Points Guy, value them at over 2 cents apiece.  About once a year they offer an increased sign-up bonus and that time is now!

In addition to using these points at SPG hotels, they can be transferred to over two dozen airlines at a 1:1 ratio – and if you transfer 20K points at a time they’ll tack on a bonus 5K points!  Other airlines are available at less favorable ratios.

SPG points can also be transferred to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio (1 SPG = 3 Marriott) and used either for stays at Marriott hotels or transfer them to other airlines.

Here are the airlines where you can transfer points at a 1:1 ratio:
spg-1-to-1-partners
Here are the other airlines:
spg-other-partners
The Air New Zealand transfer rate is a horrific 65 SPG points = 1 Air New Zealand Airpoint so you want to make that a transfer of last resort. GOL Smiles and United MileagePlus both transfer at a rate of 2 SPG points = 1 frequent flyer mile.  Might do in a pinch but again, you’d try to avoid it.  Since LATAM uses kilometers for their currency the transfer rate is 1 SPG point = 1.5 LATAM Pass mile.

If you choose to transfer your points to Marriott, they are best used at Marriott properties but they can be transferred to airlines as well.  However the airline transfers are usually at a terrible transfer rate so I do not recommend this method.

The normal sign-up bonus for this card is 25K points but if you are approved by April 5th and meet the minimum spend, here’s what you can earn:

25,000 bonus Starpoints after using the new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months and an extra 10,000 bonus Starpoints after making an additional $2,000 in purchases within the first 6 months.

That’s a maximum of 35K Starpoints which is the biggest bonus ever for this card.  Note that those “first 3 months” and “first 6 months” are dated from the date of approval, NOT the day you activate the card.

The card has no foreign transaction fees and the annual fee of $95 is waived for the first year.

There are business and personal versions of this card though I can only refer you for the personal card.  If you allow me to refer you and are approved, I will receive a 5,000 point bonus for doing so.  Just drop me an email at 2btraveling@gmail.com.  All I need is your first name and an email address!

Categories: American Express, Credit Cards, SPG Amex | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

US Bank Cash+ Q2 Category Selections and Reminder

The US Bank Cash+ card has rotating bonus categories each quarter.  You can choose two categories from a large list to earn 5% cash back and from a list of three categories to earn 2% cash back.  All other purchases will earn 1% cash back.  The nice part about it is that you get to select the categories that will help you most!  You may now make your selections for the second quarter of 2017 by visiting the selection site.  Here are the categories for the second quarter of 2017:

2017-02-17-us-bank-q2-categories

As a reminder, effective today, February 17, 2017, you can no longer earn 5% cash back for charity contributions if that was one of the categories you selected for the first quarter.  As I mentioned last month, this is the main reason I got this card and I’m really disappointed US Bank is dropping this category.  I’ll keep the card because it’s free and because I can get 5% back for my gym membership but otherwise I’d let it go.  Hopefully they’ll change their mind at some point in the future.

Categories: Cash Plus, Credit Cards, US Bank | Tags: | Leave a comment

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