Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Long Weekend trip report and a few tips on using Credit card benefits

3 days long weekend is not long enough to take a flight for the family size like ours, however, it’s long enough for an excursion from Redmond, WA(where I live) to Portland, OR. I found out that every time I learned some tips and tricks with regards to how to max out our credit card benefits and/or wisely use the benefits on the right time and the right place. Here are some.

1.      Saved ~30% on a new iPad 3 16gb Wi-fi

I live in a county which has the most expensive sales tax 9.5% and I live close to the a state which has ZERO sales tax, Oregon. If I were to buy a retailed iPad 3 16GB wi-fi, it would cost me $499+9.5%~=$550, I managed to get the same with only $400, a close of 30% saving. How?
1)      Citi Thank you points regularly has promotion on Macys redemption, last time, I took the advantage of 20% saving, say, I redeemed 40,000 points for $500 Macy's giftcard instead of $400 giftcard
2)      Macy's sells Apple iPod Touch, iPad on their Kiosk machines. You can only use one Macy's giftcard per transaction, however, you can use multiple cards to purchase one “giant” giftcard by asking the cashier @ Macy's.
3)      OR has zero tax

Tip: Monitoring Thank you promotion closely, sometimes, they throw in 20% off some retail giftcard there.
Cynthia can't let iPad go even in sleep. :-)

2.      Priority club pointbreaker

I stayed one night at Holiday Inn Portland airport by taking the advantage of recent PC pointbreaker promotion by spending only 5000 points. I value PC points 0.7 penny, so, $35 including all tax for a night is not too bad.
Million Miles Secrets has a GREAT post on how to use this pointbreaker

Tip: pointbreaker hotels list is subject to change, bookmark their list for future reference, if you need 80,000 PC points, apply for this Chase card.

3.      ClubCarson 138,000 points promotion

For those of you who are not familiar with the recent promotion of Clubcarson, you should. Literally, I paid $80 total for one night in Country Inn and Suite near Portland airport which our family enjoyed a good overnight rest and a great breakfast, but also, we got 44,000 points, plus online booking 2000 points for Elite member, which is enough for 3 nights for some of nice hotels here(15,000 points per night)
You join club with Red status, but you can email them and ask for matching your Hilton/Marriott/Hyatt elite status, and they will do it within 3 days. J this is how I got additional 2000 points.
Annie/Cynthia enjoyed the hotel and tiny falls.

4.      Tax saving and credit card spending

It’s a high time for this trip as we not only saved ~10% tax on everything we bought, also, we managed to meet Irene’s two recent credit cards spending requirement which is ~$4000 we need.

Tips:
   a. try to  use your trip to meet credit card spending requirement is the most efficient way.
   b. if your trip involves a big portion of shopping like us, write down the list of things you want to buy in advance, by doing this, it controls your spending, in other words, you really don't want to meet the credit card spending to "buy" a lot of stuff you don't need in the future.



Cost/Saving Analysis

In terms of having fun with the whole family, I know I shouldn’t do the cost/saving analysis, as the experience is priceless. However, I can’t help doing this. J
Cost:
Gas:$150, Food: $200, hotel stay: $80, total: ~$400
Saving:
Tax: $400, iPad: $150, free three nights Hotel stay: $60x3=$180, one free night at Holiday Inn: $60. Total: ~$800

In a nutshell, I took the whole family enjoyed three days trip and I was ~$400 ahead. Unbelievable! J

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