Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gun Control, RIP and End of the World of 12/21

A bit off topic of this kind of blog. If the killer, Adam Lanza’s mother, Nancy Lanza has some common sense of his son’s autistic and we probably wouldn’t be completely shocked on Fri 12/14. Parents have their own way to educate their children, I have no intention to interface and I respect their decision. However, Nancy definitely paid her price. Yes, my finger point is on her, period.

Will gun control be enforced? I don’t think so, it’s a historic issue and I don’t expect it’ll be resolved any time soon. We will have this kind of tragedy again and again and again, it's a shame!!!
RIP, as a father of two children between 9-10, I have no word to express my condolence. For rest of us, let us Cherish the time we are together. I have more motivate to spend more time with my family and I will supercharge our vacation each year going forward, Life is short, Life is unforeseeable.
Lastly, let us ephemerally restrain the loss. X’mas is coming and I will be with my family in FL and Bahamas. I wish everyone has a great holiday no matter what. However, don’t spend all your credit card limit believing End of the world is 12/21, because if you do and sun arises on 12/22, it’s your “end of the world”. J

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A $600 value Complimentary Regus Gold card for one-year

I received an invitation for one-year free Business Gold card from Regus via my United Premier status. By searching the FT, it appears that others got it too without catcha, no credit card, no contract, no obligation.


The idea is for you to get free access to 1200 business lounges globally as a Gold card holder and to me I recap
  • It’s not airport lounge
  • It’s alternative to Starbucks
  • If I have some time hanging in some other countries, I can pop in their office in downtown area and get access to Wi-Fi, free coffee.
Why not?

I’ve signed up and am waiting for the card to be delivered and I will report back the experience.
Also, if you are not United Premier status, search internet, AA/Delta and other airlines also have the link of this freebie. AVIS preferred guest too, which you get the status for free, right?

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Credit Score Facts

I still have friends with the perception of applying too many credit cards will hurt or ruin their Credit scores. They are hesitating to foster this hobby or goal of “Travel FirstClass For Free”

The Answer: No, but it depends.

1. My Score
I am still maintaining my Credit Karma score which is a proxy of TransUnion (one of the three credit bureaus) at Excellent level 750, given the fact of
a.   I have/had 20+ credit cards
b.   I open/close credit cards every a few months via app-o-rama
c.   I had flied 40,000 miles and checked in 30 nights this year, literally paying only tax
d.   If I were to convert those benefits into list price of airfare/hotel nights, it would be approx. USD 40~50k (one FirstClass ticket is ~10k USD at least, one suite night is easily beyond $300)
 
2. I confidently and safely make my statement that applying 20+ cards won’t hurt/ruin your score in a long term, say 6 month to 1 year.

3. However, in short term, it will. Every inquiry (aka hard pull) will likely lower your score by 3~5 points, if you are doing an app-o-rama with 5-7 cards, my experience 20-30 points drop is very likely. By short term, I mean 3-4 months. Therefore, if you are buying a house, car, hold your horse until it’s done.

4. Breakdown of FICO score.
Please have a look at here. Essentially, you can see the 5 factors of different weight really impact your score. My personal experience then:
a.   Do not cancel a long history card. If it doesn’t have annually fee, lock in your drawer and make one or two transaction every 6 months. (some banks have policy if you don’t actively use the card every 6 months, they will cancel it). if it comes with fee, talk to your bank to trade(downgrade) to a no-fee card

b.   Payment, payment, payment on time, if you can’t, remove all this kind of blogs from your blogroll, you won’t take advantage this hobby at all.

c.   Lower your credit utilization, say you have $50,000 in total across the board for all your credit cards, keep the balance at 10-20% level should be safe. Once upon a time, when I don’t have huge credit (now I have over $100,000 J ), I heavily used my credit to 80% level, my score lowered to 640 for a period of time.

d.   You can see that once you have more and more credit cards, it’s actually doing good for your score because you have more credit. Does it make sense? That’s explained why those bloggers with 30+ cards and travel around the world for free, their score is still 780.

Recap


1. Applying too many cards wont hurt your credit score in a long run at all, however, you should keep the discipline of paying balance on time and

2. Don’t open too many cards in a short period of time(banks will treat you as aggressive credit seeker and likely shutdown all your cards, not kidding!).

3. Check your credit often and make sure you don’t apply for cards if you have a refinance or mortgage in the coming months.

4.  Most importantly, pay the balance on time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

SEA-PEK 4.4 CPM Mileagerun and 72 hours VISA free policy from 1/1/2013

China has approved 72 hours VISA Free for 45 countries passport holders, including USA, Canada and most EU.
http://zhengwu.beijing.gov.cn/bmfu/bmts/t1290501.htm

Essentially, as long as you hold 3rd country visa/airticket and stay in Beijing and departure from Beijing within 72 hours, you don't need a VISA. wow!

However, if you fly to Beijing and come back to America is disallowed. As a workaround, if you do head to other country, no issue, if you don't, like below mileage run and take a look at Great Wall, I'd book a full refund ticket from PEK-NRT for example and show the ticket when you enter Beijing custom.

I quickly checked UA for a Mileage Run opportunity of March/April 2013, there are tons of $617 all inclusive tickets from SEA-PEK. it's about 4.4 CPM (Cents per mile)

 

Monday, December 3, 2012

PointBreaker is out until 1/31/2013

I am not a big fan of IHG hotels(Holiday Inn), however, periodically, they throw in 5000 points/night deal aka PointBreaker. I have reviewed the 80,000 points Chase PC card and PC’s points here. Feel free to take a peek to understand why it’s a GOOD deal.
 
Today, IHG released the latest 5000 points deal here until 1/31/2013. My experience of those 5000 points hotel nights are gone super fast, last time I booked a hotel night near Portland, OR airport and the night was gone within 1-2 days. So, act fast!
 
If you follow the pointbreaker from the last a year or two, you will find out that the hotel list becomes shorter and shorter in America and the hotels are most likely in some unpopular places. Hence, I am hesitating in the future I still consider it’s a good deal. However, if you look up Asia(such as China), some Crown Plaza nights are 5000 points which is a smoking deal, I paid ~ $200 a night a few years ago in some of those Crown Plaza in China.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bump, what’s it all about?

Have you heard the term “bump”? Essentially aka VDB (Voluntarily Denied Boarding), you give up your seat back to the airline company in order to exchange some future travel credit, vouchers or anything lucrative to you.

Let me give you an example, 10 years ago, my wife and I were waiting in a long queue and preparing to get our boarding pass from PEK-YYZ (Beijing to Toronto). I heard the broadcasting of looking for two volunteers that giving their seats and changing to next day flight. I immediately reported to the gate agent and started to negotiate the “compensation”. Since they were looking for two, our one booking confirmation fits perfectly. I secured the deal of
1.      $1000 Air Canada credit each
2.      One night hotel stay. (I didn’t accept, instead of a round trip taxi fee from airport to downtown my parents’ home)
3.      We can check in in first class counter the next day to expedite our waiting time.
4.      Two lounge passes we can use within 12  months

We purchased our flight with ~$1000 each, so we not only will take the flight back to YYZ next day, also a free around trip to Beijing from Toronto in the future. J all we have to do is to hang-in with our parents with one more day. (I don’t think my in-law were really concerned about this. ;-) )

Why airline companies do that?

They do this all the time, primarily “oversold”, to make most of profit, airline company is inclined to oversell 20% of their flight capacity if possible. Secondly, there are always full refund customers don’t show up and reschedule, since they pay 2x or 3x times then the cheapest T class, airline companies are very grateful to honor you a few hundred dollars to accommodate those bigger spenders. J (every ticket can easily make $2000 profit for airline companies)

How do I qualify?

Unlike priority boarding or some other elite benefits, everyone can be qualified, it’s just matter of the following criteria

1.      You need to be flexible, if you are catching an important business or you can’t afford the delay, don’t bother. A few years ago, I was in a thanksgiving evening from SFO-SEA, everyone seemed concerned to go back home on time and nobody wanted to take the VDB. I took it for the morning flight and $400 voucher plus a very comfortable hotel stay.

2.      You need to ASK. When you check-in in the computer, there might be a prompt whether or not you want to be a volunteer, take it, it doesn’t guarantee you, but you are recorded. See below picture. If the computer doesn’t have this info, most likely the flight is not full. You can always press the change “seat” when you check-in, if you see the plane is full, now you know you don’t have to change seat, but you need to ask gate agent.

Negotiate the compensation

If you are lucky enough to be on the first volunteer list, the gate agent will offer their compensation, here are tricks
1.      the international flight is better than domestic, typical $400 for domestic (or free ticket) and $800~1000 for intl’
2.      the longer or more inconvenient of the changed flight, the better offer. Say, they put you in the flight in 2 hours later, $400 is pretty good, 6 hours later, I’d ask for a bit more for sure.
3.      you need to know how many volunteer, the more, the unlikely they want to negotiate. Last time, in SFO, there was no volunteer at all besides me, I was in a good position to talk, right?
4.      The closer to departure time, the better offer. The same principle, airline companies don’t want to delay their flight.
5. the important point is if you dislike the offer, you don't need to take it.

Recap

Don’t be greedy, if you think the offer is reasonable, take it. If you think you can’t afford the reschedule, don’t even ask. For others' experience and how much they got, take a look at here and here

Monday, November 26, 2012

A few AMEX benefits (Free Money)

During the Black Friday and 11/24, I’ve got $200+ free money as AMEX card holder. If you missed below #1 promotion, don’t feel bad, you can still register #2/3 and the upcoming gigs in the future.


Every year, AMEX prompted this one-day event that each AMEX card can get you $25 statement credit if you shop in your local small business to support them. I’ve knocked down 7 cards x$25=$175 literally free money this past Saturday. And I bought a lot of wines and spirits and had a fancy dinner and lunch with family. I asked the server to split the bill to two cards if it exceeds $25.

2.      Bestbuy buy $200 save $20

a.      Spend $200 or more, get $20 back

b.      Get a one-time $20 statement credit by using your synced Card to spend a total of $200 or more online or in store at Best Buy by 12/31/2012. Offer excludes Best Buy Express locations.

c.      I bought two iPad with $460 each at Bestbuy 11/23 Black Friday per AMEX card, the $20 credit posted within 2 days.

d.      I actually saved 9.5% tax as I bought in Oregon. J see how much I saved last time.

e.      You need to register and sync your AMEX card to the facebook here. If you still can’t find the link or the offer, it’s under my facebook here

3.      Costco spend $100, get $25 back

a.      Get a one-time $25 statement credit by using your synced Card to spend a total of $100 or more online at Costco.com by 12/31/12.

b.      I bought two Costco gift card and got my $50 credit back within 2 days

c.      You need to register and sync your AMEX card to the facebook here. If you still can’t find the link or the offer, it’s under my facebook here

Recap

During the holiday reason, I saved $175+$50+$50=$275 with just swiped my cards a few times and took a few minutes to register AMEX/Facebook sync app. I will highly recommend you to watch out for AMEX "free money" in the future.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Cashback and on-line shopping

As BF(Black Friday, not boy friend, even though he will pay the bill. :-) ) is around the corner, if you shop a lot online, you probably already know the cashback and miles/points you can get back. I don't understand people just go to on-line shopping without getting the cashback or points/miles, it's a HUGE waste!!!

My experience is
1.      Firstly, you need to compare which cashback websites and on-line shopping portal offers the best rate. I always go to www.evreward.com and let it compare for me. (it doesn't list topcashback however)

2.      Once you lock down which website or portal you have the max rebate, click the link

3.      For cash back
      a.      I have huge successful rate with Topcashback ( my referral link is http://www.topcashback.com/ref/benlucanada, both you and me will get $10 to start with). I personally like it most, for example, Groupon offers 16% cashback and IHG(holidayInn) threw in 21% recently and etc..

      b.      My second choice is fatswallet.com (my referral link is http://www.fatwallet.com/?referral=benlucanada and both you and me get $5)

4.      For miles/points shopping portal, I prefer United/Chase UR as I value their miles $0.02/mile. however, if Citi thankyou (last time, I managed to snag a iPAD with deep discount) offer 3x than other portal, go for it.

Free $25 statement credit on 11/24 by enrolling your AMEX Card and supporting your local Small Biz

Link: https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/#
1.      Corp card doesn’t count
2.      11/24 only
3.      Go to above website to check which merchant qualifies
4.      You have to spend above $25 per transaction
5.      Multi-card is ok, technically, you can get $25 x N back. If you have 10 AMEX cards, you will get $250 back in total
6.      Enrollment has limit, so act quick!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Never Hurt to Ask

If you love this hobby of traveling around the world for free or saving tons of coins on Air tickets/hotel stays. You should be familiar with what the title of this post says. Essentially, anything is possible, it is just matter of fact “Are you going to Ask?”.  Let me give you a few examples.

 1.      Chase SM (Secure Message)

Chase is very friendly in terms of matching Credit card offer, say you applied 30 days ago for a 40,000 points(miles) card and Chase bumped the offer to 60,000. Send them a SM and most likely they will match you. I’ve explained how here

2.      A few hundred miles short for Elite Status

I missed my flight two weeks ago and I posted my story here. After I returned home, I asked MMS Daraius what's my options, Daraius suggested me to email them and  try the "never hurt to ask".
I sent UA MileagePlus an email and they said “ no problem” within 24 hours. I am very happy that I avoided a mileagerun

Dear Mr. Lu:

Thank you for contacting the MileagePlus Service Center.

No problem. I gave you credit for your original scheduled flights on 11/5/2012 and removed the others. Please check your account in 24 hours. For technical reasons, I had to post the new flights with a date of 11/6/2012.

Regards,

MileagePlus® Service Center

Original Message Follows:

Hi, I was late for my flight from SEA-IAD-FLL, confirm# , ticket#: . The gate agent managed to rebook me to SEA-IAH-FLL. Thanks for that!

However, I am now short 246 miles to elite for 2013, which I intended to fly IAD vs IAH for the extra miles. :-)

I don't have travel plan for the rest of 2012, is that possible for you to credit me the same amount miles SEA-IAD-FLL-IAH-SEA vs SEA-IAH-FLL-IAH-FLL?

3.      Complaint and compensation

I can’t remember how many times that if I have some negative feedback(or complaint) about ground agent or flight attendant or hotel staff or room or literally anything that I feel I’m obligated to feedback to them to improve in the future.  Most of time, I received “apologized letter” and often time, I receive flight voucher/coupon/miles/points or some small gift to compensate and appreciate my feedback.

Being in the customer services industry for many years, I know this is the way we apologized to our customers and kept our customers’ loyalty and why not take it with a 5 minutes email? Never hurt to ask, right?

4.      Rule is rule, exception always occurs

Every company has their rules that they ask us to stick to it, this is quite understandable. However, tell you what, they do have exceptions. For example, Priceline.com has strict rule of no change, no refund once you booked their hotel or air flight. But if you do have some emergencies, call them, they will accommodate once you can approve it, such as email them your family doctor’s visit record.

Bottom line

Take 5 minutes of your time and don’t be afraid to ask, what do you lose anyway? Never hurt you to ask for something, the worse scenario is a “Nope”.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Free Experian Report from Wells Fargo by 11/15

Go to your Wells Fargo branch and ask for free report code by 11/15.

They don't check whether or not you are their customer. it's free and it's for Experian, most of Credit card companies, Chase/AMEX/Citi hard pulls against Experian in most states.

If you are not sure which credit card company pulls which credit bureau, take a look at here  (MMS has a great post here to explain everything you need to know)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My thoughts on the DEAD of Vanilla Reload card at Office Depot of 5x UR points

Based on recent blog posts, like MMS one here, it’s coming to an end of this “deal”. I am actually very happy of this news, seriously?!

Not because I didn’t even try it in the first place, it’s due to the fact that there is no business in the world will always turn into profit without someone actually paying the bill for ever. No exception. It could happen for a short period of time though. The biggest reason I didn’t try is I don’t want to be at risk Chase shutting down all my cards as I don’t know the “moderate” rule of taking advantage of this deal, it’s all about Chase thinks you are a perk abuser or not. If I earn extra 20k or 30k UR points, it doesn’t worth the effort, if I earn 100k or 200k, I catch some attention from Chase. Either way, I have other ways to get a million of miles/points each year, it’s enough for my family’s vacation. I am not greedy.
Apparently, those buying $5000 VR cards on a day, aka “abusers” killed the deal, not those bloggers, nor Flyertalk. However, when this kind of insane deal spread out enough to some Jr dummy beginners, things will lose control and deal will die sooner or later. Time to move on, it’s as simple as that.

In terms of applying credit card to accumulate points/miles, I always suggest to my friends, “don’t bite more than you can chew”, be a moderate gamer, don’t abuse the system, then you will never be at risk of Chase’s action against you, or AMEX’s so called “financial review”………

Bottom Line

So far, we have earned over a million points/miles this year and we have redeemed lots of trips with paying only tax or a fraction of true cost. I am taking a break applying credit cards until 2013 and my credit score as of yesterday is 750. Cheers! J

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A $150 Starbucks Mocha

I missed my flight yesterday in the terminal of my route SEA-IAD-FLL. Unbelievable?! Here is what happened:

I got up 4:30am and managed to get to the Sea-tac Airport. I thought I was safe so I grabbed a cup of Starbucks and the gate closed 2 minutes when I heard my name was called. L

The agent said she paged me 5 times, but I wasn’t able to hear. It’s not sky falling, United managed to rebook me to SEA-IAH-FLL in a late flight. However, I intended to choose IAD(Washington DC) route, because based on gcmap.com it’s 6046 miles and I need 6000 miles to get Elite for 2013. The IAH(Houston) route is only 5679 miles. ( I short for 321 miles, kidding me!!!)

Jesus, since I have no plan for United by end of this year, I might have to rebook my return ticket via Newark which $150 change fee applies. Hence, the title of this post. J

While I had 3 hours lay-over in IAH which is United hub city, there are tons of United clubs in their 5 terminals, I don’t have club access( and I don’t want to waste my one-day pass which you get two when you apply for ChaseUnited MileagePlus card), I sat beside a seat near one of the club, and they have free Wi-Fi. (Hint: if you travel to those airports don’t have free Wi-Fi, approach United clubs to “steal” their free Internet)

In short, if you miss your flight, the ground customer service desk has MORE power than the phone agent and they don’t charge you anything as long as there is an open seat. However, I don’t recommend you to intentionally miss your flight, say, the flight you missed is cheaper than the later flight and you want to take the late flight. Because YMMV. In my case, I apologized for the CSR for my ignorance and asked any alternatives. You never want to yell at CSR, nothing they can do, as the gate is closed. If you are calm and be polite, it always helps you in all circumstance. I don’t really understand people believe if they yell at the CSR, they will treat differently, being in the domain of customer service for the last 10+ years, I know it won’t work, not at all.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

How do I stay 4 nights and gain 2 free nights

Hotels are running promotion every Q, like this one from Marriott that I registered back in Sept.
·        Stay twice between September 15, 2012, and January 15, 2013
·        Earn 1 free night after every second paid stay, up to 3 free nights

I have a 4 nights in FLL next week, here is what I am going to do to get the 2 free night certificates
1.      I check in one of Marriott on Monday for one night
2.      I check in another Marriott which is 2 miles away for one night
3.      I come back to the first Marriott Day3
4.      I come back the 2nd Marriott Day4

I will have 2x twice stays and two certificates. J
 

Recap

·        Hotel promotion runs quarterly, I always monitor their websites and opt-in their email comms. If you think that’s too much work, Loyalty Traveler has summarized for you every  few months here, it also analyses each promotion and you can tailor to your specific needs.
·        Among those hotel chains, I am diamondof Hyatt which is my most favorite hotel, I think this is the best top-tier hotel benefits which in short, you will get upgrade, free lounge access for breakfast, snacks, cocktails and even before dinner meals.
·        However, Hyatt has relative limited hotels in America, Marriott is my 2nd choice. They asked me to stay 9 nights until Jan 2013 to keep my platinum status(top-tier) which I might have to miss it. You can get Silver status by applying their 70,000 points card here. Most of bloggers have their referral link which is ONLY 50,000 points, donot apply, 20k more points worth at least $150.
·        I also recommended SPG/IHG cards which you can get more points using the public offers on flyertalk vs those referred link.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

TODAY ONLY: 75,000 AMEX points after $10k within 4 months

https://www262.americanexpress.com/business-card-application/business-gold-charge-card/apply/45151-286-0

10/24 only, get the card if you could. AMEX runs this one-day deal every a few months.
1. normal offer is 50k with less spending $5000 within 3~4 months
2. 75000 points can transfer to BA 40~50% miles more.
3. I hate to say this, but some of bloggers suggest those less spending power people use their referral link for the 50,000 points with less spending $5k. I get the point of $5k is 50% than $10k, however, for less spending power people, is that really a huge difference?

Folks, get this card RIGHT NOW, 75000 is 50% more than 50,000 points, do the math!!! There are tons of ways to get the rest of $5k, if you don't know, ping me. For less spending power people, I don't see $5k is a huge different to $10k. if you really can't meet the spending, you should seriously consider quit this hobby, as one of my best friend "complained " to me, he is almost "bankrupt" now. LOL. (well, his life style has completely changed, am I right?)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Time limited offer: 65000 Hilton points from AMEX by 11/30

Link is https://www262.americanexpress.com/apisites/microsite/apply/hilton-hhonors-card/71-1000-198?returnUrl=https://www.americanexpress.com
Get 40,000 HHonors Bonus Points when you spend $750 with your Card within the first three months of Cardmembership
Get an additional 25,000 Bonus Points when you spend $3,000 with your Card within the first six months of Cardmembership
•Earn 6 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points for every dollar of eligible purchases at any participating hotel within the Hilton HHonors portfolio of brands, at U.S. stand-alone supermarkets, at select major drugstores, on gasoline at U.S. stand-alone gas stations, and for U.S. wireless and home telephone, cable TV and satellite TV service. You will receive 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each dollar of other eligible purchases.3
•No Annual Fee
•No Blackout Dates: No blackout dates when redeeming for hotel stays
•Silver Status: Complimentary Silver status for life of membership
Offer Expires November 30, 2012

Recap

1.      I got this card back in May for 50k point only, since it’s no fee, I will keep it to show AMEX that I am a loyal customer
2.      You can get Hilton HHonors Gold status by doing a virtual move to Australia here
3.      MMS posted applying 8 cards for 450k Hilton points here
4.      If you redeem >=4 nights, you should take AXON discount and this post has detail of how-to
5.      If you just got the 50k card, try to ask AMEX to match this offer. Normally, unlike Chase, AMEX and Citi is very restrict on matching the better offer, however, YMMV. (I’d escalate to their supervisor to give a shot. Of course, be polite to the agent will always help you.)

Monday, October 22, 2012

2 Vacations, one cost

My wife and I are planning our next summer vacation, I know it’s too early, but the biggest benefit is you have lots of availability in terms of award tickets. We have too many options, Asia, Europe, Hawaii, Cancun. Since we will have our X’mas2012 trip to Bahamas, we figured Europe and Hawaii are our best bet.
I have enough AA to cover the Hawaii trip if we opt for 8/22 off peak rate, it costs me 35k per person or 140,000 AA miles the whole family, which if you apply for three credit cards(two personal and one business) you will get those miles.
I also want to travel to Europe in off-peak with 40k per person, so I was hesitating to redeem my AA miles solely for Hawaii.
I also want my kids to spend some time in Japan to enjoy the food and diversity culture, so the decision was made fairly quickly: let us have a longer vacation in both Japan and Hawaii. Here is why.
1.      It costs us the same award miles to go to Japan and stop-over in Hawaii, thanks for the United rules.
2.      We plan to stop-over in HNL for a week and head to Tokyo
3.      We plan to visit Osaka, Kyoto and maybe Hokkaido during one week trip. JR pass is a MUST to buy in advance
4.      From NRT(Tokyo), we directly fly back to SEA via ANA’s Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner (did I tell you I love ANA?)

 

In a nutshell

Below is my itinerary and let me highlight something real quick
1.      HNL is a free stop-over and it doesn’t cost us much. 65000x4=260,000 miles, that’s a lot, however, our hobby will get the miles in a few months, right?
2.      For the United rule, take a look at MileValue post here. To be honest with you, I’ve never figured out precisely, however I plan to add one more leg of free one-way from SEA to LAS sometime in later 2013 by calling United to my itinerary. (I will do an elite platinum challenge, so the $25 phone booking fee will be waived)
3.      JR Pass will save us tons of coins when travel in Japan
4.      We will enjoy the 787 dreamliner on our way back from Japan.
5.      We saved AA miles for another trip for Europe in off-peak reason.

 
 

Final Words

This post has a lot of info that I want to share with you.
1.      Asia/Hawaii vacations are better go together. Breaking down a 11 hours flight into two 8 hours will ease the pain(long haul and timezone) when traveling with young children.(there is no direct from SEA to HNL via United award ticket)
2.      If you want to take the offer of share US Airway 100% bonus before 10/31, do it, it costs you only 1.13 CPM. US Airway is a member of Star alliance and you can redeem the same thing above. Plus their off-peak to Europe in business class only cost you 60k. If you have Barclay card, it costs you 55k.
3.      AA flies Europe off-peak with only 40k coach, it’s better use that way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Free 1000 UA miles, why not? take it before 10/31/2012

https://www.mileageplusshopping.com/bam____.htm

T&C:
To qualify for the initial download 1,000 bonus miles offer, make at least one search or purchase using the Shopping Assistant. Bonus offer is only valid for the initial download and install of the Shopping Assistant. Not valid on subsequent downloads or installs. Offer ends 10/31/12.

Monday, October 15, 2012

50% bonus Club Carlson points

Link is here
Their category 1 hotel requires 9000 points and if you pay $42 for 6000 points, for this promo, you will end up with 9000 points with $42, it’s not a super good deal. It’s good though if you need to top up to redeem your free nights.

Earlier this year, Club Carlson ran a good promo of 144k points for 3 night stay. We managed to redeem 90k points for 10 nights in Orlando later this year amd my cost is ~$160 for two paid nights, thats $16 a night. :-)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Economy, Business or FirstClass?

I’ve always been asked by my friends what class when we travel. They have a perception that I always travel business or firstclass. The truth is I am NOT and it depends. Here are some of my thoughts.

1.      Domestic USA

Our family use Southwest most of the time, not because it’s cheaper, also the Companion pass I posted a few times, this is the BEST perk fly domestically. Since SW doesn’t have business class, there is no different of the fare class, you just need to go for the cheapest fare. No brainer.

The drawback of SW is sometimes it’s a full flight and you better web check-in as early as you could to 1) secure a row with 3 people 2) to load your carry on. The boarding group is based on the fare and how early you check in.

SW is planning on expanding its routes to Hawaii next year, keep eyes on it and get the two SW cards to achieve companion pass.

If you book award ticket, such as United, sometimes, the business or first class has much availability than economy, go for the higher level, although you don't save any mile. say, both economy standard and business saver is 50k around trip, but its silly yo book economy at this point.

 
2.      International

I fly economy most of the time, and if it’s United, I am in the process to get Gold Elite, so complimentary upgrade is possible, but it depends on the capacity and your luck.

You can match the elite by providing another airline’s elite status, here is what United asked me to do.

 
We’re always glad to hear from MileagePlus® members like you. Thanks for writing.

We would be happy to consider you for Premier Silver®, Premier Gold® or Premier Platinum® status through our Premier Status Match promotion. To get started, email, fax or mail a copy of your most recent other airline summary to the address below. The other airline summary should indicate your current premier status level. If you fax or mail your summary, be sure to include your email address.

Email: premiermatch@united.com
Fax: 605-343-4104, Attn: Premier Status Match 
 Mail: MileagePlus Service Center

Attn: Premier Status Match

P.O. Box 6121

Rapid City SD 57709-6121

We’ll respond to your request within 5-7 business days. If your status match is approved, we’ll upgrade you to either Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum status for 90 days from the date of approval. Here’s what you’ll need to do to keep that status:

                 For Premier Silver, fly 10,000 paid, qualifying miles or 15 segments within the 90-day conditional period.

                 For Premier Gold, fly 17,500 paid, qualifying miles or 22 segments within the 90-day conditional period.

                 For Premier Platinum, fly 25,000 paid, qualifying miles or 30 segments within the 90-day conditional period. 

                 Qualifying flights must be operated by United, United Express or Copa, with a United flight number and credited to the member's MileagePlus account. Flights operated by United, United Express or Copa that have a partner’s codeshare flight number do not qualify. Flights operated by any other airline do not qualify.

                 Once you meet the appropriate threshold, you’ll remain a Premier Silver, Premier Gold or Premier Platinum member through January 31, 2014. If you don’t meet the threshold, you’ll return to your previous level of membership.

                 You may earn premier status through the Premier Status Match promotion a maximum of one time in a five year period.

Basically, if I fly 25k miles in 90 days, they will extend Platinum to me until Jan 2014. I consider the justified Mileage Run to achieve this goal.
If you don't have a lot of travel plan next year, save the money and time, Mileage Run doesn't justify for you.

 
3.      I’d rather fly some Asia airlines' economy vs America airlines' Business. Why?

If you haven’t tried Business and first class, grab a piece of paper and write it down “I will fly my family business/first class by 201x to YYY” and post on your wall. I understand most of America families fly economy for the whole life time, I’d like you to experience the different classes for your family. Life is SHORT and life is all about experience.

1)      To achieve the goal, our hobby of miles/points is the helper

2)      Research: google the aircraft that you plan to fly business or firstclass, is the business full lie-flat or incline old seat? Does it worth I spend more miles.

3)      If it’s red eyes international flight, go business, it’s much comfort. If it’s daytime, maybe save the mileage.

4)      Use http://www.milez.biz/en/index.php to see which partner has less miles, you will be surprised that the different of business class, for example, US airway 50k around trip from US to Europe in off-peak reason while United will cost you 80k and it’s the same Star alliance members.