Monday, July 30, 2012

Priority Club 5000 point pointbreaker until Oct 15 2012

It comes back, last time I explained the PC Pointbreaker here and I personally took advantage by booked a 5000 points Holiday Inn near Portland, OR airport for my family’s memorial long weekend Oregon excursion.

Essentially, every 3 months PC(IHG) will renew a group of 5000 points hotels around the world, called PointBreaker and if your travel plan is falling into one of the hotel night, grab it, it’s a good deal. I always use priceline to book hotels, however, for 5000 points or $35(explained below) per night all inclusive, you can't beat that.

Take a look at how to spend $35 for those hotels from MileValue.com, it’s a loophole, but I do believe PC(IHG) has no problem if you “abuse” it. J

Also, I’d like to point out that if you want to book those 5000 points hotel night, act it quick, because it will sold out pretty quickly.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why/When do I close credit cards?

Why do I want to close credit cards?

1.      First and foremost, if you have ANY no fee card, DO NOT close it. It will hurt your credit and it doesn’t cost you anything to keep it, lock the card in your draw FOREVER if you don't use it.

2.      Annual fee, and you don’t want to pay the annual fee(who does?!). There are some cards that I’d like to pay the annual fee such as Chase Priority Club VISA card (make sure you apply the 80k offer one from FlyerTalkthread) for $49 you get one night free each year, not bad.

3.      For no fee cards, I don’t see the reason you will need to cancel it, if you do, I’d say hold it at least 6 months, don’t give creditors an impression that you got the sign-in bonus and you canceled it right away, if they were to “blacklist” you, you are screwed. (particularly for Chase)

4.      Some banks don’t want to offer you another card unless you close an existing card if you have too many of their cards. In this case, you have to choose which card to cancel.

When do I close card?

1.      Preparation starts at “T-2”, what I mean by that is T=2nd year annual fee starting month. Say, Feb 2013 is the month the annual fee will kick in, I’d like you to get prepared by Dec 2012.

2.      If you haven’t used this card for a while, make a few transactions, it’s Important and I will cover why in the retention offer later.

3.      You call the number on the back of your credit card and tell the rep you want to close the account. You will be diverted to a retention department where their job is to keep you as possible as they could.

4.      You explain to the rep that you like this card but dislike the annual fee. Since you have a few transactions in step2, the rep you are talking to will offer you a better retention offer, say, they will offer: if you use the card for the next 5months, instead of getting 1x point/mile per dollar, what about 5x?

5.      The offer varies from person to person for obvious reason, big spender, better offer, for reference, take a look at others’ offers at Chase, Citi, for other banks, search the forum

6.      Keep in mind, the above offers are for your reference only. You can either decline or accept, at this point, I always accept their “best” offer as I have 2 months to make my decision, and that comes to next step: double dipping retention offer.

7.      Say, you accept whatever offer they gave you, good! At “T-1”, one month prior to the annual fee, call them again. Now, this time, you are not “bluffing”, okay? You have to make a decision whether or not to keep the card.

8.      You will most likely be offered another round of retention offer(if you are not being offered,  politely hand-up and call again), that’s why I called it double dipping, say, they offer you this time, 3000 points/miles to offset partial of your annual fee(this is what they called).

9.      Do you want to take it? GREAT, go to step 10. You don’t want to? Fine, you stop here and close the card.
I recommend TAKE IT, because now I am telling you this is the fun part starts, “pre-rated fee refund”.

10.   You can call back T+1, one month after you actual paid the fee(say $120), this time, you know that you are for SURE to cancel this card, and it’s very rare they offer you another retention offer. You canceled the card and since the annual fee normally pre-rated, you will get $110 back. (make sure you confirm with your bank that the fee is pre-rate-able prior to paying the 2nd year fee )

11.   In a nutshell, it cost you $10, and you get 3000 points/miles and 5x for 2 months spending. Not bad at all! you did max out the benefits of this card.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

[Targeted] US Airway Barclay 15,000 Miles Offer

I received an email that from Aug thru Oct, if you charge $750 on your US Airway Barclay Master Card, you will get 15,000 miles. My wife didn’t get this offer, so I think it might be targeted, watch out your email and junk folder. J

If you’d like to get this kind of offers, I’d suggest you opt-in their email communication.

This card is churnable and you can get it every 3-4 months, first year is free, 40k miles sign-in bonus.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Southwest Premier VISA Cards no foreign transaction fee starting Aug 1, 2012

I received a letter from Southwest that effectively 8/1/2012, the $99 annual fee VISA cards aka premier card will be 3% foreign transaction fee waived. (not the $69 ones)

Recently, Southwest released all four (two personal, two business) versions of those cards here with 50,000 miles sign-in bonus, which greatly enables your ability to fly your partner/family for free for almost 18 months.
This is the BEST perk for domestic flyers, and I seriously recommend you check it out. Most of readers got the companion pass via applying two $69 fee cards and they often ask the question is it possible to apply the $99 fee cards to acquire another year of companion pass, I am telling you with a positive “YES” because I personally got all four of those cards with each 50,000 miles posted without any issue.

Why waived 3% transaction fee is a big deal to us?

Not only we will save 3%, now we have a better reason to call reconsideration line to get those $99 cards given the fact you’ve already had the $69 ones. This is a STRONG reason you can tell Chase recon agent that why you want this card so badly on top of other reasons, such as separating expense(which I believe Chase agents are tired of. LOL) For example, you can explain you travel aboard (your relative in Canada maybe) often and 3% saving is a big deal for you, you will likely use this card vs paying by cash. TRUST ME, It’s very convincible than the reason of separating expense. Last time, I got my another Chase card(7th Chase card) by simply told Chase I don’t have any Chase 3% fee waived card and if they don’t approve me, I will have to use Citi/AMEX card as I don’t like to pay the 3% fee. J

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

check your UAL account for 65,000 miles CHASE card offer

I just found out the "man" is replaced by the "lady" in my parent's UAL account and they have 65,000 offer. check your account out if you have just a few miles. it's likely you will have the same offer.
Note: it requires $1000 in 3 months now vs 1st purchase 50k miles. I think Chase will add spending requirements for any of their cards, such as the new Southwest 50k offer came back yesterday.
I posted before how to max out the benefit of this card here. I vote this card the best Chase card of 2012.

Blog for fun or Blog for $$$

An interesting post that I concur with the blogger(Scott), take a look at here. Essentially, Scott debated of the 2nd offer of BA Chase VISA card which offers $75 first year fee and 50k miles and 2nd year $75 with another 50k miles comparing to the normal offer which pays the bloggers a referral fee of $100+.

 I agreed with the blogger has to make a living, particularly for those F/T bloggers, however, only two bloggers revealed the 2nd best offer which doesn’t pay them anything. Noted, MillionMiles Secret is consistently revealing/comparing any better offer than his affiliation link since day1. I have no problem of the bloggers get paid and they spent a lot of time researching and helping us, however, if they are intentionally hiding the 2nd offer in this case, it’s a shame IMO. Will you agree with me?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Southwest 50,000 offers are back.

1000 free miles of United Mileage Plus in 60 seconds

It's free, it takes 60 seconds to register your Chase United Card and it's no brainer. Click here.
I have a previous post on how to max your United Chase card, take a peek here, all the points applied for my and my wife's cards without any issue.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Trip Report: Independent holiday San Jose/Santa Cruz/Santa Maria/Santa Barbara/Yosemite National Park Part 2

Day2, we stopped at Hearst Castle, $24 adult admission and last bus tour is 6pm, highly recommend.




We stayed that day at Radission Santa Maria, I paid a little over $100 and my Club Carson 50,000 points posted 3 days later.

Day3, we stopped over in Santa Barbara for a few hours, the beach is ok, nothing special and it took us a few hours driving to Fresno, CA where I redeemed a 15,000 points for Country Inn.

Day4~5, I booked 2 free nights with Jr Suite @ Springfield INN by Marriott Medara, CA 60 miles to Yosemite National Park entrance and the hotel is very new and breakfast is included and only cost 10,000 points per night.
Day 6, we stopped over at Google and Apple headquarters and had a very nice Chinese meal at Cupertino Village Shopping Center where tons of choice of good Chinese food before we were on boarding our flight back to Seattle.

Its not a long trip, the saving was huge though, make sure you get your Southwest companion pass once the 50,000 miles offer reinstates and i will keep you in the loop, no worries. in the meantime, get the Chase PC/Marriott or AMEX SPG cards to gain the free nights.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trip Report: Independent holiday San Jose/Santa Cruz/Santa Maria/Santa Barbara/Yosemite National Park Part I

This is a series of posts of our family’s 7/4 holiday trip to North-ca

Cost

Airfare
$5x4 people=$20
Hotel
$112 @ Radisson Santa Maria, earned 54000 points good for three free nights
Food
$100x 6 days=$600, we still prefer Chinese food and they are reasonable price. J
Car rental
$170 (Priceline bid middle-size Toyota Corolla,38 MPG , WOW!)
Gas
$130
Total
~$1000
Saving
$830 airfare+$400 hotel stays

Route


Day1 SEA(Seattle)àSJC (San Jose), we arrived SJC around noon, after a quick lunch in San Jose downtown and short walk around Circle Palms, we headed our way to Santa Cruz where we stayed in a Jr. Suite @ FairfieldInn by Marriott. Nice suite and good rest after a few hours flight and drive.

Day2 We drove alone the hwy1, 17 miles drive is beautiful and we paid $9.75 for the toll.( You can get reimbursed if you dine in one of the café in pebble beach on the back of the ticket.) The Lone Cypress, a prominent landmark along the road, you can find it in a lot of publications.
(To be continued)

How to book Southwest Companion Pass

I’ve been issued Southwest Companion pass, take a look at the previous post of this greatest perk here. However, the Southwest 50k points offers have been expired, please do not sign up the 25k offer, just wait for the 50k offer as Chase will not allow you to churn those cards.

When you hit 110k points, literally two cards +10,000 points from Marriott transfer(the most easy way), Southwest will send you an email and ask you to choose a designate. Once you’ve done this, you can fly your partner right away without having to wait for the physical companion pass to arrive.

After I got my pass below, I immediately booked a trip to Orlando, FL in Dec 2012 (BTW, Southwest opened reservation to Feb 2013 now). My past experience is if you want to redeem , do it quick, because 1) you can cancel  the trip and points will go back to your account without any penalty 2) the points can be doubled when it approaches the travel date.

To book via companion pass, there are two ways

1.      Online
You log into your account and book your travel first. After you have your travel booked, under My Rapid Rewards on your right, you can click the Book Now below and follow the steps to add a companion.

2.      Call Southwest and give them your confirm # and they will verify your designate name and book for you for free

If you need to travel before you have the physical pass, make sure you call Southwest and let them know your plan, it takes 7 days to get the pass.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Love it, hate it, Bank of America and Bank of Hawaiian Credit cards

I’ve heard at least a few incidents that be mindful to apply for BoA and BoH credit cards that Bank of America/Hawaiian may issue you a lower platinum plus or preferred card, if you don’t qualify for the Signature card, which offers only at minimal of 5000 miles/points. This sucks if it happens to you.


I list below three cards that luring most people.
1.     25,000 miles Alaska Airline
·       Earn 25,000 bonus miles after approval on the Bank of America Alaska Airlines card.
·       $75 annual fee NOT waived for the first year; 3% foreign transaction fee
·       $99 companion certificate valid on ALL fare types and in both first and business class

2.     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 Airlinecard. 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

3.     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 Airlinecard. 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

Love it?

1.      All three cards seem to be churnable, meaning you can get it every 3-6 months.
2.      Hawaiian miles can convert to 1:2 Hilton points which will rack up 140,000 easily by applying for just two cards, if you churn, you can get 400,000 points  and it’s whole week hotel stay in a dreamed resort anywhere in the world with your significant others (or your favorite in-laws if you prefer. ;-) ) by using Hilton’s VIPdiscounting redeem.

Hate it?

1.      YMMV, you take risk of being lowered to up to 5000 miles of each card
2.      Annually fee not waived first year

My Take


1. To me the risk of being low ball offer is a big thing, if you are willing to risk and unluckily being offered 5000~10000 miles, call BoA and they might upgrade you to the Signature card, however, YMMV.
2. The two Hawaiian cards is a quick way to racking up 140,000 Hilton points and I’d give a shot in my next app-o-rama and also try to churn in the near future.

3. to avoid being offered low ball, make sure your credit is excellent >700, check Credit Sesame for free of proxy score of Experian where most creditors will pull your credit.