Author Archives: 2btravel

About 2btravel

I love traveling and go where I can when I can. I prefer to use points & miles as payment! This site will concentrate on trip reports and how I used points to accomplish it. Happy to help others 2B Traveling with points too!

Activate 2020 3rd Quarter Bonus Categories

It’s the 15th of the 3rd month of the quarter so it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses for next quarter.  All of these cards offer bonus points or cash back on up to $2000 in purchases during the quarter.

US Bank Cash+

If you’re not already getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points by using a Chase Ink card (and even if you are!) you may want to switch the card you’re using for payment for TV/Internet/Streaming Services and Cell Phones.  You must register your card before September 25th to get the bonus cash-back in the categories you select.  As a reminder, you choose two 5% categories and one 2% category.  To register, click on the link in the email you received from US Bank or visit this link.  I’m choosing Home Utilities (as usual) and Gyms (as usual).

Discover Card

Discover has already given us the full calendar for 2020.  For Q3 the categories are:

This is a great category for me as I eat out a lot.

Don’t forget that Discover added Home Depot for the month of June as a 5% category and Home Depot sells gift cards, although the one near me does not sell the variable load Visas.

Chase Freedom

Q3’s Chase Freedom categories are Amazon and Whole Foods.  With so many people ordering online, this will no doubt be a popular category.  You can redeem the Ultimate Rewards (UR) points earned through these purchases in several ways.  As a statement credit they’re worth one cent apiece.  You can use them to book travel through the Chase portal, also for one cent apiece.  Where their value really shines is if you have either the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) or Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Though these cards carry annual fees ($95 for CSP, $450 for CSR) you can combine the UR points earned on the Freedom with those earned on your other UR-earning card and transfer them to several airlines and hotel groups.  Or you can book through the Chase travel portal for 1.25 cents apiece if you have the CSP or 1.5 cents each if you have the CSR.  I have the CSR and my friends and I booked a lovely ocean-front condo on the Sunshine Coast of Australia using UR points at 1.5 cents each.  It was a fantastic way to top off our trip Down Under.

To register you can go to this link to look at the calendar, then click on the Activate Now button as seen above.

In the end

Always register for the bonus categories even if you don’t think you’re going to use them.  You’ll never know when they might come in handy!

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

Bonuses Galore

Chase, American Express and Citibank have each unleashed a slew of new bonuses for those who carry their travel-related cards. Since folks aren’t spending money on travel, they’ve increased the bonus points earned at groceries on cards you might not otherwise be using there. Amex and Citibank are also giving you different ways to spend the travel credit that come with some of their premium cards.

All of these changes are temporary as we deal with this virus. While it’s great to have these options, let’s hope they don’t have to come up with more creative ways to incentivize us to use their cards once these offers run out. That will mean we are or will soon be traveling again. Continue reading

Categories: Chase, Citi Prestige, Citibank, Credit Card Promos, Credit Cards, Delta Amex, Hilton Aspire, Hilton Surpass, IHG Rewards Card, Marriott Rewards Card, Membership Rewards, Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Torian Plum Condos, Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Our club stayed here as we enjoyed a week of skiing the Champagne PowderⓇ  at Steamboat resort in north central Colorado. If you choose to fly to Denver it’s a 3+ hour drive so the preference is to fly into nearby Hayden (HDN) which is about a 35-minute drive from the resort. We’ve stayed at this property a number of times and one of the main things we love about it is that each morning you take the elevator down to the ground floor, walk across the plaza and you’re on the snow and can ski down to the lifts from there. In the afternoon, as long as you be sure to stay on the skier’s right at the end of the day you can ski right up to the plaza too. It’s a location that’s hard to beat! The property is comprised of two towers: the Plaza Tower and the Creekside Tower. The Creekside tower, which is slightly uphill from the Plaza Tower is approximately 10 years newer than the Plaza Tower. The Plaza Tower has the parking garage beneath it. The garage is accessible to both towers, it’s just a slightly longer underground walk to the Creekside Tower.

Aerial view of the Torian Plum and the plaza between it and the snow

Continue reading

Categories: Condos, Lodging Review, Steamboat | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Homewood Suites Steamboat Springs, Colorado

For my second ski trip this year I visited Steamboat Springs, Colorado. My group was arriving on Saturday and since I was the assistant trip leader I wanted to be sure I arrived before or at least with the group. To be certain of this I flew out Friday night and spent one at the Homewood Suites Steamboat Springs.

Homewood Suites Steamboat Springs

I arrived on a group shuttle from the airport sometime after 10 PM so things were fairly quiet at that point. (Side note: due to the hotel’s location, it’s very possible you’ll be the last stop on a shared shuttle ride.) I was assisted promptly, my Diamond status was recognized, and I was directed to a room on the third floor. The hotel has two elevators, one on each side of the lobby and I was helpfully shown the one that would be closest to my room. The hotel is laid out in a gentle V shape with the lobby, bar and breakfast area in the center. A free parking area is in the back of the hotel. There’s a small market with snacks available next to the front desk.

Lobby area

The hotel is relatively new; this is only its second ski season. As such almost everything is still in very good shape and the decor looks modern. My room was only a short walk from the elevator.

Guest Floor Hallway

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Categories: Hilton, Homewood Suites, Hotel, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Hyatt Place Denver Airport

To wrap up my ski trip to Copper Mountain that included a couple of nights at the Hyatt Place Keystone and a week at the Village Square Condos, I spent the last night of the trip at the Hyatt Place Denver Airport. I’d hoped to be able to ride back to the airport with my ski club but my flight was much earlier than theirs. There were no shared shuttles leaving Copper in the wee hours of the morning so I’d already decided to use my free night certificate at this hotel. It turned out to be a good move because there was another snow storm due to arrive the day of my flight and it turned out some friends with a car were driving back to Denver that night too so it all worked out well.

Continue reading

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Lodging Review: Village Square Condos, Copper Mountain, CO

I stayed here for a week this winter as my ski club visited Copper Mountain. I don’t believe there is any true ski-in/ski-out lodging at Copper Mountain but there are several buildings of condos located in Center Village that are just a short walk away. There are also several restaurants and shops in Center Village, making this a nice convenient place to stay, especially if you don’t have a car.

Check In

Check in takes place about a quarter mile away from Center Village in the building that houses the Athletic Club and the spa. If you’ve booked through the main Copper Mountain reservations, you’re entitled to use the athletic club at no charge. The spa offers massages, saunas and hot tubs within the locker rooms.

Main Check-in and Athletic Club

I arrived well before the official check in time as I was coming over from skiing at Keystone the day before. I was able to leave my bags at the bell stand in this main building and walk around Center Village while waiting for my group to arrive. Once our condo was ready the bell staff brought my skis bag and my giant clothes bag all the way up to my room for me. Continue reading

Categories: Condos, Copper Mountain, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Hyatt Place Keystone

I stayed here for a couple of nights on a ski weekend. The hotel has a great location, right on Highway 6 and there are a couple of easy ways to get to the slopes.  The hotel is on the ski shuttle route and it’s only one stop to the River Run base area. If you have gear for several people, grab one of the red wagons to help cart your stuff around. Ingenious idea! When returning to the hotel you may find it more convenient to choose the stop across the highway from the hotel then use the crosswalk. That’s certainly faster but depending on your ski party that may or may not be the best option. If you stay on the shuttle it is probably another 10 minutes or so before it circles back around to Hyatt’s side of the street.

Hyatt Place Keystone

Note that you don’t have to take the shuttle to reach the slopes. There is access to the area with the Argentine and Peru Express lifts that’s just a little bit of a walk away. But I was set to meet folks who were driving up from Denver and parking at River Run so taking the shuttle made more sense in my situation. Continue reading

Categories: Hotel, Hyatt, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Activate 2020 2nd Quarter Bonus Categories

It’s the 15th of the 3rd month of the quarter so it’s time to activate bonus categories for card that have quarterly bonuses for next quarter.  All of these cards offer bonus points or cash back on up to $2000 in purchases during the quarter.

US Bank Cash+

Even though TV, Internet & Streaming Services are shown as new below, though it’s been available for several quarters now.  If you’re not already getting 5x Ultimate Rewards points by using a Chase Ink card (and even if you are!) you may want to switch the card you’re using for payment.  You must register your card before June 25th to get the bonus cash-back in the categories you select.  As a reminder, you choose two 5% categories and one 2% category.  To register, click on the link in the email you received from US Bank or visit this link.  I’m choosing Home Utilities (as usual) and Gyms (as usual).

Discover Card

Discover has already given us the full calendar for 2020.  For Q2 the categories are:

If you’re a wholesale club member or can get Visa gift cards at gas stations, this quarter could earn you a lot of cash back.

 

Chase Freedom

If you don’t have a Chase Ink card that earns 5x points on internet/cable/phone already and don’t want to use one of your US Bank categories, this is the quarter to use your Chase Freedom card on those bills.  Otherwise use this card for your gas purchases (and gift cards, if sold there) and on any streaming services you may use.

To register you can go to this link to look at the calendar, then click on the Activate Now button as seen above.

 

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

Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

It was time for our flight back to the US. As I mentioned in the intro to this trip report, this was the leg I booked first, simply because we found 3 business class tickets on the same flight. And I got to give the birthday girl the present of a business class flight when she usually chooses to fly economy.

Our bird for this flight

Qantas 15 BNE-LAX
Boeing 787-9
Seat: 7A (Business Class, Window)
Scheduled Departure: 1010 (Actual: 1019)
Scheduled Arrival: 0545 (Actual: 0535)
Scheduled Duration: 12h 50m

Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Flight Review, OneWorld, Qantas | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

After spending a few days on the Sunshine Coast we needed an overnight stay in Brisbane so that we didn’t have to leave Mooloolaba at a very early hour to be at the airport by 8 AM. I had an unused Marriott category 1-5 certificate from my credit card (either the Chase Marriott Visa or the Amex Marriott Bonvoy) so we booked the Marriott Brisbane. We knew that with three adults in a room with only two beds someone was going to be uncomfortable but since it was for only one night we weren’t concerned.

The hotel does not have a large footprint but is about 25 stories high. In front there’s only a place to drop off/pick up passengers so if you need to park, circle behind the building where the valet can help you.

Brisbane Marriott

We arrived in the early afternoon and our room was not quite ready though we had only a very short wait until we could check in. Continue reading

Categories: Australia, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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