Uber is more and more used for transportation including commute from/to work. Along with increasing its presence it has also partnered with SPG to provide SPG Rewards points where you earn SPG points for each Uber ride. It also has partnered with Sears SYWR where you earn flat $2 SYWR Points in about ~25 markets in United States.
While the SPG partnership requires 1 qualifying stay each year before you start earning SPG points, the partnership with Sears SYWR does not have any such requirements. Also you earn $2 in SYWR points regardless of the ride cost. Although the SYWR points earned from UBER Ride expires within 30 days of earning, $2 in SYWR can potentially give you value of USD $2.
The other interesting aspect of the SYWR partnership is that as of now you do earn SYWR points on UBEREATS as well. So, if you order your food often from UBEREATS then linking your Sears SYWR rewards account would easily get you $2 SYWR per order which you can redeem for anything Sears sells. Also UBER runs the "commuter" uberPOOL service where you can use your commuter benefits and get tax-free rides to your work while also earning $2 in SYWR points.
So, next time you ride with UBER make sure you link your account to earn these benefits free of cost.
Most of the folks who earn miles using credit card would have heard about the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card from Bank of America. You can check out the flyertalk thread here with an important must-know here. Below are the few reasons folks have keen interest on this card:
The issue though is that when you apply online for the Alaska Airlines Credit Card you could either get "Visa Signature" card or the "Platinum Plus" card based on your credit worthiness. You get "Visa Signature" credit card when you secure a credit limit of $5k or more otherwise "Platinum Plus" when you secure the credit limit of less than $5k. Only the "Visa Signature" version earns 25k to 30k bonus miles whereas the "Platinum Plus" card only earns 5k bonus miles. So, your goal is to always secure the "Visa Signature" card or in other words get approved with the credit limit of $5k or more.
There are two approaches to make sure you get Visa Signature card or credit limit of $5k or more. The first one is more commonly known and used and the other one is lesser known:
Regardless of which approach you use, make sure that you have closed any of your previous opened Alaska Airlines Credit Card or do a product change to any other no-fee credit card few days before you roll in the new application. Also Bank of America combines the credit card hard-pull done on the same day most of the time, so you would (probably) not get hit with 2 credit card inquires.
So, get the easy bonus miles while this last...
Google Flights is one of the go-to tools for most folks looking to book the revenue flights. The various ease-to-use features help easily find the fares to the destination (or near by destination for creative souls). Since the ITA Matrix is at heart of the Google Flights, the same flight results can result from ITA including more details such as "fare class" as well as "Fare Rules" which are usually not shown by Google Flights. Using the "Fare Rules" details can help find out the details of the fare including the change/cancellation fees which vary by carrier.
The interesting aspect is when the flight is operated as "Code Share" flight. For e.g. a United flight is code-shared with its star alliance partners Lufthansa. Similarly carriers can have code-share agreement with another carrier in the market or route where they do not operate and this can represent the same flight being sold with different "Fare Rules" based on where you purchase your ticket from. There are certain routes which are code-shared by American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Since Alaska Airlines has a very generous cancellation policy where you can change or cancel the flights up to 60 days before the date of departure the same could potentially apply to code-share flights on American Airlines. This can be easily found by looking at the "Fare Rules" from ITA Search.
For e.g. below is the one way flight search in Google flights from San Jose, Ca (SJC) to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) for Dec 15, 2017. As you can see the American Airlines flight AA 1231 is marketed by Alaska Airlines as AS 6719. To top it the price is significantly cheaper on Alaska Airlines (Of-course the tickets would be booked in different booking class based on which carrier is selling the tickets) but still if you just care about going from Point A to Point B that's a good price difference. Also American Airlines charges whooping $200 as cancellation/change fee on non-refundable paid fares where as Alaska Airlines cancellation/changes are free up to 60 days before the date of departure or just $125 (assuming you do not have status with Alaska Airlines) till the date of departure.
So if you book the flight using Alaska Airlines you can get:
Of course there are few downside to this:
The next time you book the flight on any airlines and want to make sure you do not have to pay hefty fees do check the "Fare Rules" to determine Cancellation/Change fees. Also if the above Alaska Airlines booking downside seems minor to you for a code share flight between American Airlines and Alaska Airlines, select Alaska Airlines for booking to get great cancellation/change policy.
Upside is the new business travel website which aims at reducing business traveler expense while at the same time providing incentives in terms of gift cards for travel package (flight + hotel) booked through their website. The way it works is they will encourage you to choose "alternative options" which might still work for you while providing you with $100 or more in known brand gift cards (You can select which gift card you want).
They nominally charge $35 booking fee which is potentially offset by the gift cards they offer for the booking done through their website. As of this writing their are offering a minimum of $200 in gift cards for the "flight + hotel" package regardless of price booked through them and also waiving $35 booking fee if you use some of their launch partner promotion code (google it and you will find few of them easily and you can enter them here). Although their primary target audience is business travelers you could still book the trip through them for leisure and earn the gift cards. So potentially it can be very lucrative offer to give them a try if you are looking for a weekend outing somewhere close by where you can essentially earn $200 in gift cards easily.
Their package cost are usually equal or less than the cost of flights and hotels if booked separately but at the same time providing you with good value gift cards. The biggest return is if you book international itineraries but even domestic itinerary would give you good value for your money. Also you do have option of making your trip "refundable" but at a higher cost. Below is one of the examples of available trips which looks very attractive using their promotion.
As you can see from above example your actual cost is close to ~50% factoring in the gift card rebate. If you are flexible in your days and are looking for vacation close by, you could easily reduce the above cost more than 50%.
So, take upside for a ride and see what you can find for your getaway.
American Express Offers has been on a tear off lately. Not all deals are good and not everyone gets targeted for great ones, but lot of these deals are released on Twitter and so if you have synced your American Express card on Twitter and follow handle "@OffersBot" you will be alerted whenever new American Express Offer is released.
You can earn membership reward points (MR points) or cashback using the deals in addition to meeting the minimum spend (for a new Amex Card to get Sign-up Bonus) and generating slight profit. As of this writing you could still enroll in American Express NewEgg offer using hashtag #AmexNewEgg to get $25 statement credit for spend of $200 on NewEgg. For e.g. Buying $100x2 Visa gift card will cost you $8.94x2 in Fees, but after $25 credit from American Express you will still have profit of $7.12 and will have spend $217.88 on your American Express card.
There are other offers such as #AmexBestBuy (No longer available) where you get $25 in statement credit for purchase of $250. Even if you have nothing to buy from Best Buy you could simply purchase the Best Buy gift card of $250 and sell it off at ~90% of its face value to various gift card re-sell websites and thus recover your $250 back ($225 from re-seller + $25 from American Express) while earning Amex MR points or Cashback.
Then there are offers which do not look that lucrative or might sound like you cannot take much advantage of, but in reality if you dig deeper you can profit from them as well. Few such targeted offers are:
The idea is to analyze some of these offers to maximize your profit from them. So, get on your Social Media Gear (Twitter) and get earning with these Amex offers.
Its been long hiatus at this blog. So, why not re-start with something interesting. Today I want to talk about Plenti Points from American Express. I am sure you would have heard about it and if not you can check out the details here. The reason I want to talk about it is because till December 31st 2016 you can transfer your Membership Rewards points to Plenti at 1:1.5 ratio. So every 1000 MR (Membership Rewards) points transfers to 1500 Plenti Points. Also the transfer is instantaneous and you can transfer as often as you want. Below is the quick snapshot of locations where you can earn Plenti Points at as of now:
Although you can earn on many partners the only partners as of now where you can spend are AT&T, Exxon / Mobil, Macy's and Rite Aid. Out of these partners AT&T and Exxon/Mobil are the most useful one as most of the folks would use Cellular Service and pretty much everyone needs gas for the vehicle (unless you are already on Electric Vehicle).
AT&T -- Primarily you can use to pay your postpaid wireless bill and In-store available merchandise (excluding gift cards).
Exxon / Mobil -- You can pay for gas or any other purchase in-store (excluding gift cards). You need to have Exxon or Mobil Gas Station to take advantage of this though.
The interesting aspect of Plenti is even if you use the points towards the payment you still earn Plenti points (Although, You earn 1 point/Gallon for Gas which is sort of peanuts, but they have frequent promotions for bonuses).
So, if you do not have any better use (airline partner transfer?); rather than redeeming the Membership rewards points as statement credit it's better to redeem them at 1:1.5 ratio and use it to fill up your gas or pay your postpaid wireless bill with AT&T.
The Daily Getaway for this year are here again. The schedule for 5 weeks of deals is already published and we have same deal partners as last year except the Wyndham Hotels is back again (with not that great of a deal though!). The Day-1 of the deal starts from 04/04 and has one of my favorite deals of Daily Getaway which is purchase of choice privileges points. The deal is similar to the last year where you can buy points ranging in cost from 0.4 cent/point to 0.45 cent/point. The good thing is since Choice privileges has revamped some of it terms of points expiration where points DO NOT EXPIRE if there is any qualifying activity including that of "points purchase" within 18 months from last activity. That essentially means you no longer have to worry about point expiration at set 2 years period anymore (the previous points expiration policy).
So, below are few highlights (most are same as last year) of why this is a good deal:
So, go ahead and make your purchase. The sale starts at 1 p.m. EST on 04/04/2016
I have been offline for a while so apologies for that. That being said lets explore something which is useful if you have credit cards which earns you points which you can redeem for travel credits at 1:1 ratio. Let me begin with the few cards that I am aware of which provide great value on earning or redeeming for travel credits.
Thanks for reading!
P.S. - I do not earn any commission from the above credit card links.
There is currently an offer available for new members of Mileage Plus Dining where you could earn 6k United miles if you are MileagePlus member or 7k United miles if you are MileagePlus Premier member. Let's dissect the offer to see what it really means. Below is what is stated for the offer:
Now here is one of the way (Thank You Amex!) using which you can maximize this without dining and minimum out of pocket cost. There is an American Express Sync offer for dining place called "Buca Di Beppo" where you get $10 statement credit for spend of $50. The Amex sync offer expires on 09/16/2015. This restaurant is a participant on United Mileage Plan dining and other Reward Network Dining Program at lot of locations. (You will need to check for your location, but below is a snap shot in Bay Area). The interesting thing is that they sell gift cards for dining with them in their restaurant locations and buying those gift cards would still trigger the cash back and bonus for United Miles. Also these gift cards have "re-sale" value of ~70% at the time of this writing.
So here is the gist of the deal:
As you can see if you spend ~$550 (spend needed to earn full promotion bonus) you would earn 6k or 7k United miles (plus any additional 5 miles/$ spend for your dining). Thus for an out of pocket spend of $55 you can earn 6k or 7k miles.
Of-course there are better ways to maximize this deal. As a teaser by going after just the initial sign up bonus for multiple family member accounts you can earn 1k/2k miles for net cost of $5 only!
As most of you guys know that E-bay is one of the go to place to rack up miles/points at near zero cost. The way this works is as below:
Now here is the interesting part of this whole cycle. You can technically use "Ebay gift cards" to make all your purchases on Ebay. These Ebay gift cards can be purchased at 3% to 5% discount at many of the same gift card re-sellers to whom you sell the "merchant gift cards" or you can also purchase them at many B&M stores such as Staples, Safeway, Rite-Aid etc. So essentially you are bringing down your cost further to buy/sell merchant gift cards. (Note - Ebay limits the "Ebay gift card" usage to $500 / 30 days for unverified Paypal account and $5000 / 180 days for verified paypal accounts).
Here is the interesting tid-bit and highlight of this post. If you are Amex Target redcard debit card holder (which is a similar product to Bluebird & Serve) you can purchase Ebay e-gift card through "target.com" for 5% discount when you use your "Amex for Target redcard". Here is the interesting part though. You can make the entire payment for the purchase using "Target gift card" with a very small amount charged to "Amex for Target redcard" and still receive 5% discount on the entire purchase amount of "Ebay e-gift card". Since target gift card can easily be bought from 3% to 7% discount (or more if you know where to look), you are easily looking at purchase E-bay e-gift card from at minimum 5% to more than 10%+ discount.
So, enjoy the discount while it lasts and maximize your miles/points for near zero cost.
I love traveling / backpacking. This blog focuses on 3 aspects: