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


·        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


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


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


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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Southwest 40% discount fare until 10/11


Discount is valid on new reservations only and purchase must be made prior to 11:59 pm PT on Oct. 11, 2012, for travel between Nov. 28 through Dec. 12, 2012, and Jan. 7 through Feb. 14, 2013.

I tried a dummy book from SEA to SAN in Jan 2012 and for four people, the cost is $600 and we use Companion pass brings down to $300. Wow!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Southwest 50,000 ($69 fee version) is back , $99 premier is still 25k.

If you are interested on flying your domestic for free for at least one full year, you should take a peek at my post here.

Now the 50k offer is back, but you have to spend $2000 within 3 months, I remember last year or earlier this year, there was no spending limit at all, however, it increased to $1000,$2000. The trend for credit card bonus points/miles is, you still have a lot of those cards in the market, the spending requirement became more and more challenge.

MMS has published the detail of this news, have a look……
If you search my blog, you will find that I have a lot of ink on "Southwest", for example, I only redeem two people miles for the family of four, thanks for the Companion Pass. This coming Dec, our family will fly to Orlando with only paying $5 per person for the tax of our flights.

Priority Club 5000 points breaker has released, barring US/Canada

5000 points breaker for this period has been released, US/Canada list has NOT been updated, but it will be very soon out. For those of you who are not familiar with PC’s 5000 PB(Pointbreaker deal) and potentially $35/night(all-in). take a look at my previous post here and here

Essentially, I had successfully snagged 80,000 PC points by applied Chase PC card before, which is good for 80,000/5000=16 nights if I opt to stay on those pointbreaker nights. J if you value $60 per night, the card will knock down close to $1000 benefits for you. How does that sound?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

US Airway 100% bonus to SHARE your miles with friends/family

The link is here.

There are tons of discussion on the other blogs and I don’t want to repeat. In a nutshell:
1.      Oct 1 to 31 2012 only

2.      If you transfer 50k miles to John, he will get 100k, the cost is $500+30(transaction fee)+7.5%=$567.5 or 1.135CPM(cent per mile)

3.      If you don’t have miles with US Airway and you apply for new account(there is 12 days freeze, that’s why I don’t understand why people still don’t sign up all loyalty membership, it’s free, dude!!!)

a.      You can log on your account, go to buy miles, currently there is targeted offer until 10/31/2012 that you can get 100% bonus miles.

b.      I didn’t get the targeted offer, but my account is entitled to the 100% bonus.

c.      If you can get 100% bonus, buy 25k, you will get 50k, share with another party as #2 above. The cost will be around 1.5~1.7 CPM, still a smoking deal.

4.      How to spend US Airway miles

a.      Limitation than United airline, for example, no one-way award ticket and etc..

b.      60k business class from US/Canada to Europe off-peak, 1/15 to 2/28. (if you own Barclay US airway card, it’s 55k). WOW!!!

c.      I searched SEA-CDG(Paris) in Jan/Feb 2013, there are a lot of availability .

d.      Also US Envoy(their business class) is a flatbed class, think about this

Take your sponsor to Paris for a week in business class with ONLY 110k Miles and if you follow the above steps, your cost will be around $1200~$1500. If you are still not with me, let me re-phrase what I am telling you “Only paying a coach ticket to Europe and they will fly two people business class”.

e.      Still not convinced with this deal, remove my blog from your list. J

Monday, October 1, 2012

Will your credit really got hurt by this hobby? What about my mortgage?

I’ve always been asked the question of “If I apply too many credit cards, I am concerned about my credit score and I am afraid that I can’t get a better rate mortgage”.

Let me give my personal experience.
1.      I just finished my 3rd time refinancing with 2.699% for 15 years fixed and zero cost.  (you just can’t believe the historic low rate at this time)
2.      My credit score is a bit over 710 now (down from 740) since I’ve done my app-o-rama back in Aug.
3.      I’ve consulted my mortgage broker in prior and confirmed that as long as I am staying in 700-740 range, 15 yr fixed rate is no different to a 780 score.
4.      I am not advising that for 5 or 7 yr ARM or other terms , let us say, 5% down the 740 score is the same rate as 700 rate. 740 score should have a better rate, consult your broker. However, you get the picture.

My score has a potential 20-40 points climbing based on the Credit Plus report that my broker sent to me, it means, in the next a few months, my credit score will be self-heal to 740 (excellent range).

During the course of the last 2 years, I’ve banked ~1.5 Million points and secured my mortgage at 2.699%, I just can’t believe it. J  My family enjoyed different domestic and international trips with only paying the tax of air tickets and resort fees in hotels. It saves us thousands of $$$.

RADISSON® 1 FOR 1 Stay One Night, Get One Night

Register below

I like ClubCarlson, last time they ran the 144k points promo and I banked ~100k points that I redeemed for 10 nights for free for my upcoming Orlando trip.

The first 50,000 Club Carlson members to register for the Radisson® 1 for 1 promotion will be eligible for a Free Night Award at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel in the US, Canada or Caribbean.

Here is How it Works:

  1. Register for the Promotion by completing the form on this page and clicking on the “Register” button.
    • You will need to be a Club CarlsonSM member to register. Not a member? No problem, join now.
  2. Then, book a qualifying stay online at www.radisson.com or www.clubcarlson.com at any Radisson Blu or Radisson hotel in the US, Canada or Caribbean between October 1 and October 31, 2012.
  3. Complete your qualifying stay between October 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.
  4. When you are ready to book your Free Night Award, go to www.radisson.com or www.clubcarlson.com and log in to your Club Carlson account and then search for your desired location and date. Select the 0 Point rate option in the Gold Points® column and click “Book Now.”
    • The Free Night Award will be available through your Club Carlson account and will be valid for online reservations at Radisson Blu Radisson hotels in the US, Canada and Caribbean through December 31, 2013.