Friday, June 29, 2012

US Airway/Delta 5,000 bonus miles + 6 wines for $6.99 each + a free gift

Update 6/30: Delta miles also joins this promo, thanks Mileage Saver post here

US Airways  emailed me this offer, for those of you who have US Airways account and also a wine lover, this is a pretty good deal. As I drink 2-3 bottles wine every week and I buy $20 wine from Costco (primarily Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon), so while I switch gears to try other wines, it saves some $$$ for me as it's only $7 per bottle. :-)
·        5,000 bonus miles
·        6 wines for only $6.99 a bottle and 1¢ shipping with your first shipment
·        A 6-piece Cellar Master Wine Tote (a $37.95 value) with your third shipment
All wines are 100% guaranteed and there’s no obligation. You can cancel anytime.
Also, I've applied USAirway card, the good thing of this card is it can be churnable every 3-4 months and it pulls Transunion vs EQ or Experian which is a huge benefit for credit cards miles/points folks like us. You may not fly US Airway, it’s ok, it’s Star Alliance member, in other words, you can call US Airway to redeem for United or other Star alliance members. For example, let us say, you churned this US Airway 40,000 miles card 3 times, you will end up with 120,000 miles, what does it mean for you? You can redeem for a FREE round FIRSTCLASS from US to Asia. 
Per my blog name, one of my goal for this “insane” miles/points hobby is to take my wife travel the world not just for FREE, also in FIRSTCLASS for free. J

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Million Miles and Points

As of today, my wife and I are very close to 1,000,000 miles and points all-up. We have still 4 months to go this years(We take a break of refraining applying for credit cards for the next 2-3 months), hopefully, if my calculation serves me correctly, we should earn 1,3000,000 miles/points this year. Wow!!! given the fact the Gloria of bonus has been gone, we are looking forward for a better 2013. As our readers' common view, the sign-in bonus will remain the same, but requirements of spending will raise. For instance, more and more offers are from $3,000/3months to $5,000/3months or even more.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Last day of 75,000 AMEX Gold Card

6/26 is the last day for this great offer, however, i have to skip it as I have too many spending requirement lately. if you want to proceed, please refer to http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/06/20/75000-point-american-express-business-gold-card-apply-by-june-26-2012/

FREE Independent holiday mini-vacation

Any vacation shorter than a full week, I take it as mini-vacation. Here is what I planned for my 7/4 holiday with literally paying no airfare and hotel stays, how did I do that? Read on…..
Trip Route


Air ticket

Whole family will take Southwest from SEAàSJC, cost $20 around trip. For those of you who believes $20 is a typo, it is not. See the free companion pass post  here . Essentially, my wife and I have earned ~300k Southwest points, our year-end vacation will be Orlando, FL since we have companion pass, I’d say we will fly free domestically for a while for a family of four. J

Hotel

I redeemed a Category 4 Marriott hotel night @Santa Cruz , two nights for 20,000 points close to YosemiteNational Park, because I applied for Chase Marriott VISA before. I like the 70,000 points,  not only I redeemed a few nights free in this trip, also, I converted 30,000 to 10,000 Southwest miles for me to gain companion pass. To summarize, this card gives you 70,000 points plus one category 1-4 night for free.

I actually paid one night @ Santa Maria at Radisson for a little over $100, why should I do that? Because I will earn 50,000 points of Club Carson when they ran the promotion a while ago. Literally, I paid $100, and get three free nights in return, no brainer. I already did redeem one night @ Country Inn @Fresco, CA which includes breakfast for the while family thanks for the 44,000 points I got last time I stayedin Oregon.

Car Rental

I used Priceline to bid a mid-size car for a week for $170 total, not too bad. I am a Golden Hertz member which you can get it for free until Sept 30, 2012, as a Golden member, you don't need to wait in the long queue, Hertz has a dedicated lot for those members, I don't understand why people don't want to enroll, maybe the reason is they forget to cancel it by next year which incurs $60 fee.

Priceline sometimes emails you an offer of saving a few dollars per day when you bid their rental car, I will have a post in the future talking about my experience of the last 7 years with Priceline, in short, they saved me tons of coins.

Final Words

Airfare/Hotels can literally be free when you know which credit cards you apply for. (consult me if you don’t, it depends on your trip destination and a lot other factors). Also, watch out for those hotel offers, like the Club Carson 138k ones a few weeks ago. I am sorry if you missed that, but if you keep your eyes widely open and visit those travel blogs, you won't miss again.

Wisely spending those hotel points you earned is another trick, some people just use 30k/40k for one hotel night which to me is a waste. I’d rather find a nearby hotel with the same chain company which only cost 10,000 or 15,000 points. If I can’t use one credit card points to redeem 5-7 nights, I would hesitate to do that.
In terms of domestic flight, Southwest cannot be beaten. This is the best airline company I like for my family travel domestically.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

SouthWest 50,000 point link

I found this link in a comment here, i am not sure whether or not the link will honor you the 50,000 points, but it does say so. take a screenshot prior to applying and YMMV.
I'd suggest wait for the 50k offer though.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Time to App-O-Rama

It’s time to app-o-rama for my wife. For those of you who are not familiar with App-O-Rama, take a look at the link and it’s all about “apply a few credit cards within the same day”. Simple and Easy to understand, huh?

First, why do we want to do that? I list major reasons below.
1.      Better tracking: say you apply for 4 cards with first year annually fee waived, $69 on-going, fine, if you plan to cancel one or all of the cards, you know that those cards have almost same time of 1st year free, then you don't lose tracking of unwillingly paying 2nd year fee.

2.      Chance of getting approval is HIGH: because creditor take hard inquires(every time you apply for a credit card, aka Pull) seriously, if you have >5 pulls over the last 6 months, chances are they will deny you. Now, since you apply the same day, some creditors’ system is a bit behind, even though they pull the same bureau (Experian for example), they don’t see other creditors’ pulls. Hence, your chance of getting instant on-line approval is much higher.

However, since you apply for some cards together and most of cards have spending limit, say $3000 within 3 months, the drawback is that you have to complete a large spending within a period of time. Say, you apply 4 cards, each with $2000 within 3 months, now within 3 months, you need to spend instead of $2000 but $8000. Wow. However, there are 40 ways to meet the requirement by Million Miles Secret.

Now let us take a look at my strategy for this round for my wife’s app-o-rama.

Card Points 1st year Fee Note
SPG 25000 hot offer
AMEX Hhonor 40000 Irene will keep this card for years as it's no fee
BoA Hawiian 70000 $79 convert to Hilton points
BoH Hawiian  70000 $79 convert to Hilton points
205000

 

1.      Irene already had 5 Chase cards, I don’t want her to be blacklisted by Chase. Most of good offers are from Chase, you will be definitely screwed up if you screw Chase up. So, I will exclude Chase.

2.      Irene also has 4 Citi personal cards and it’s not beyond 65+ days for her to apply AAdvanage business card, so I will exclude Citi as well. FYI, you can apply Citi with the schema of 1P+1B (one person + one business), but two notes: 1) you can use two browser trick to get 2P 2) business card you need to wait for 65 days.

3.      Irene applied two AMEX cards
1SPG  (this is my link that I will get 5000 points if you use, I will be very grateful if you did)

2)      American Express Hilton HHonors – 40,000 bonus points 
40,000 bonus points after spending $750 within 3 months on the American Express Hilton HHonors card.  You can email Million Mile Secret at daraius@millionmilesecrets.com for an application link (he will earn 10,000 Hilton points if you’re approved)

3)      Two cards to earn Hawaiian Airlines
Bank of America Hawaiian Airlines credit card - 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles (or 70,000 Hilton points)
20,000 bonus Hawaiian Airlines miles after 1st purchase with Bank of America Hawaiian Airline card. 15,000 bonus Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months
Hawaiian Airline points transfer to Hilton in 1:2 ratio, so 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles becomes 70,000 Hilton Honors points
$79 fee NOT waived for first year; 3% foreign transaction fee
Warning: Bank of America may issue you a lower platinum card, if you don’t qualify for the Signature card, which offers only 10,000 miles!

Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines credit card - 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles (or 70,000 Hilton points) 20,000 bonus Hawaiian Airlines miles after 1st purchase with Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airline card.
15,000 bonus Hawaiian Airline miles after spending $1,000 within 4 months
Hawaiian Airline points transfer to Hilton in 1:2 ratio, so 35,000 Hawaiian Airline miles becomes 70,000 Hilton Honors points
$79 fee NOT waived for first year; 3% foreign transaction fee
Warning: You may be issued a lower platinum card, if you don’t qualify for the Signature card, which offers only 10,000 miles!

Final Words

In terms of App-o-rama, my advice are
1. every 4~6 months, or 2~3 times a year, whatever you feel comfortable, even you just apply for two cards, it's fine. make sure your score is >700 and credit utilization <30%.
2. apply with diversity(more creditors, the better, for example, AMEX/CHASE/Citi/BoA combo)
3. You need to closely monitor your credit, understand hard pull, soft pull, which creditor pulls which bureau.

Feel free to contact me for any questions.

Also, since most of WA credit cards pull my Experian credit. I’ve signed Experian monthly monitoring and unlimited credit report services for ~$8/month, you can get $1 for 7 days trial and regular price is $14.99, but I negotiated to 50% off over the phone.(you can cancel anytime)
If you don't want to pay for it, Credit Sesame has FREE Experian score(it's a proxy score, but pretty close). You can sign up to understand your score, however, it doesn't give you an idea of how many pulls within 6 months which is a MAJOR factor of creditor approve/deny your application.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Annotating Priority Club Points

Recently, I found myself overlooked one hotel chain points : Priority Club. From hotel quality standpoint, if I compare Holiday Inn and Residence Inn, I prefer latter, the Marriott group. However, from flexibility and point requirement and promotion award night standpoint, the former is superior.

1.      PointBreaker (only cost you 5000 points)

PC regularly has some hotels around the world on promotion, they called it PointBreaker. It means instead of paying 10,000 points to book those reward nights, it costs you 5,000 points, a 50% saving.
For the full list, you can go to here. The hotel list changed quite often based on availability. Therefore, when arranging your travel and planning your reward nights, take a look at the list and book it before the deal is gone. A few weeks ago, I used 5000 points to book Portland, OR Holiday Inn and the hotel is removed from the list as of today.
I also found out there are some 5,000 points hotels in China for Crown Plaza will cost you around $200 per night list price. J

2.      Getting 80,000 points

Now the question is to get the points from? Please have a complete read of this forum thread. As of yesterday, reader confirmed the 80k offer is still valid. We don’t know how long the offer will still be avail, however, if you do need the card, go for it.

The official offer is only 60,000 points and you can apply from here and list below the benefits.

3.      Extra 1500 free points

Do you want an instant 1500 PC points posted to your account? Go here, it took me 5 minutes.

4.      Transfer points

You can also use UR points (Chase) to transfer to PC points with an 1:1 rate, however, I value PC points 0.7 cents/point and UR 1.5 cents. It’s not a good idea of points transfer. However, if you have 4000 points and expect a 5000 reward night, 1000 points transfer makes perfect sense.

For more detail, Million Miles Secret has an in-depth post, including the cash/points option, please refer to here

Disclaimer: all the links are not referal links in this post. I am not a big fan to get a few $ of referal links, I blog for fun. :-)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Canadians, is the credit cards sign-in bonus really NOT gonna work for you?

I am a Canadian who live/work in USA, therefore I have my US SSN to apply for those giant sign-in bonus credit cards, this is not the issue. My wife however doesn’t have an US SSN and I managed to get her a dozen of those credit cards over the last 6 months. How did I do that?

As Canadians, we know that, US and Canada doesn’t share credit (well, AMEX may pull your credit from Canada if you request, but this is not the topic we want to discuss). If you don’t have an US SSN, you won’t be able to apply for US credit cards for the most part. True, the question is “is there a way to work around this?” I found one based on my personal experience.
Note: the following experience /steps worked for my wife and it may or may not work for you, YMMV.

1. You need an US residence address

You need to have an US address, this is the first step. If you current live in Canada, you can ask your friends or relatives and use their address, very important!
Update: I've been told Canada address is ok and using US address is not legal, since my wife has US address, this is not the problem, i agreed with this point that for Canadians, they should use their Canada address.

2. ZERO credit for Canadians

We all went thru this before that without any credit history, it’s unlikely to get those giant bonus cards. However, “time” is the cure and as time pass by, your credit score arises. However, for Canadians, they don’t have US SSN, so technically, they are not entitle to apply for any credit cards here in US at all. Right? NOT EXACTLY.

3. Department Store credit cards

For Canadians, next time you go to US, stop by a few department stores and make sure you have your Canada SIN with you.(you need to physically show the cashiers and tell them that you are Canadian, as i've been told if you are hiding the points, it's consider "fraud")
  • Our first stop is Children Place, when you check out, kindly ask you’re a loyal customer and would like to get their credit card. Even though you are Canadian, it won’t block you from applying the card using your US address. Hopefully, a few days later, you got the card in the mail with a few hundred $$$ credit, good enough, you've done 80% if I am an optimism.
  • If it doesn’t’ work out for you in there, like I mentioned earlier, it’s YMMV. don't give up. walk out of the door (Please do not slam the door with anger. :-) ) and let us head to Macys. When I came to US with zero credit, it was Macys who offered me $300 credit at that time, I was able to accumulating credit and reached 700,000 points/miles YTD. J
  • Our 3rd shot is Target, as far as I know, a few Canadians friends got the Target Red card in US.
  • it's not limited to other stores, as you can see, the point is to start building up your credit history by using your Canadian SIN.

4. Apply for US Credit cards

Once you have one or a few of those store credit cards, you just have to use them overtime and wait for your credit to arise. You can actually check your credit at Credit Sesame using your Canada SIN. Sooner or later, it will hit 700 and during the interim, you may even get some targeted offers from Citi Thank you regular card for example, last time my wife got 35,000 points and she used the 20% Macys giftcard redeemption to save $140 for a new iPad3.  so those targeted offers are not bad at all and it helps a lot in terms of your new credit build-up. Go ahead just apply for it, no worry about the bonus. the reason I ask you to apply for those offers is because targeted offers are VERY likely got approved. (you invited me and you don't issue the card, right?)

5. Others thoughts

there are also a few other ways to get you  a credit card, such as open a CIBC account and they may help you get a BoA(Bank of America) account, then issue you a BoA card as start. however, those ways haven't verified by me. and I think my wife's experience was super fast, 6 months per say.

In a nutshell, my wife got 300,000 miles/points this year and she is a CANADIAN. :-)

Friday, June 1, 2012

US Airway buy 1 mile get 1 mile free deal

Today, US Airway announced this deal. To me, this is a good deal considering

1.     You buy 50k miles and get 100k cost you ~$1800

2.     100k miles can get you a business trip to Asia

3.     You are $3000-$1800~=$1000 ahead

If you are only redeeming domestic or intl’ coach, I don’t recommend you buy the miles as the value proposition doesn’t justify.

Most people may argue that US Airway availability of award tickets sucks. Hold on, that’s true online, but when you call them, you will find out that

1.     They don’t charge phone booking

2.     All star alliance airlines are avail, meaning you can check United.com for award ticket and call US Airway.