Monthly Archives: May 2013 - Page 2

[NOW EXPIRED] American Express Business Premier Rewards Gold: Now 75,000 MR Points after $5,000 Spend

[OFFER IS NOW EXPIRED] Great offer from Amex: For some sort of limited time, they’re offering a great bonus on the Business Premier Rewards Gold card — 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in 3 months. The first year fee is waived and $175 thereafter.

The most recent offer has been for 50,000 points after $10k spend, so this is a great deal if you qualify.

By “if you qualify” I mean that you have not had a Business Green, Business Premier Rewards Gold or Business Platinum card in the past 12 months. That means you canceled it at least 12 months ago (this disqualifies me, for example).

I don’t keep this card open because of the $175 annual fee, but you do earn 3x points on airfare spend and 2X points on advertising for your business (or “business” such as it is).

People on other blogs have said that they have not gotten this offer when they’ve clicked thru the link below. I would open a browser you don’t normally use and either clear the cookies or go in Incognito Mode (for Chrome) or Private Browsing (for Firefox) before clicking the link.

Application here
. – [This link is now for a 50,000 point offer]
(It’s an affiliate link, btw).

Adventures in Hitting Minimum Spend: Going from the Emergency Room to a Free Trip to Hawaii (Kinda)

If you’re like me (and, Dear God, I hope you’re not), you may get this odd feeling while you’re trying to hit minimum spends after a credit card churn where you’re actually kinda (sorta) maybe a little bit happy when you have to spend some money because at least it’s getting you closer to earning the signup bonus.

Were we, perhaps, slightly more generous than usual this year at my kids’ school fundraising auction because I was trying to hit the minimum spend for the Chase Ink Bold card? Perhaps. Or maybe we were just being nice. Either way.

So we can just establish that during my minimum spend periods, I’m perhaps not as upset by having to buy stuff as during other times.

But that really doesn’t excuse the ever-so-slight twinge of happiness (that’s not the right word – gratification?) when I received an $1,100 bill from a recent visit to an emergency room. I have a nut allergy, and last month (in a story for another blog) I mistakenly ate something with nuts, which caused me to have to go to an emergency room. I’m was fine after a few hours (obviously, as it’s me typing this and not my wife following my untimely demise), and I hadn’t thought about it much since.

Until yesterday, when the bill came and my first thought was, “Fantastic, this will let me hit the spend on my United Explorer card in just one purchase! 50,000 miles!” Which is when I realized that I’m completely nuts (as it were).

So you all can run around from Walmart to CVS to Office Depot with your fancy Vanilla Reloads. I’ll take a butter pecan and see you on the beach.

TSA Expands PreCheck to Include [Some] International Flights

Last week I learned that TSA PreCheck (the amazing program that allows you to pass through security as if it’s 1989) did not apply to international flights. I learned this when I asked a security person at Newark Airport’s Checkpoint C3 where the TSA Pre line was. She sent me the [roughly] 3 1/2 miles down to Checkpoint C1 where I was told that TSA Pre didn’t apply to international flights.

Turns out I was off by a week. TSA has now expanded PreCheck to include “select” international itineraries. The TSA doesn’t say which itineraries. But when you combine that with the news that certain airlines (Delta, United) will now actually tell you if your flight is PreCheck eligible, it will make flying internationally a bit easier for some people. I say “some” because TSA randomly excludes some PreCheck eligible people from PreCheck for some flights as a security measure.

Marriott Q2 Promo: 1 Free Night After 2 Stays

Marriott launched their Q2 promo called Unexpected Bonus (though I think they do this each year, so I’m not sure what’s unexpected about it…)

Stay twice at any Marriott property between May 15 – July 15, and you’ll get a certificate good for a free night stay at a Category 1-5 property worldwide, good for stays through September 2nd. I seem to remember that this was only good for categories 1-4 last year (is that right?). You can earn up to 2 free nights.

Register here.

A Few Restaurants I Like in Amsterdam

I was thinking that I could blather on about my flight home (napped; had a snack; watched about 137 episodes of 30 Rock; thought about how many different Business Class seats United is currently flying, as the seat on this 767-300 is different from the seat on the former Continental 757-200 I flew over on, which is different than the seat on the 777 I flew on last time I went, etc; for what it’s worth I think this seat on a former United aircraft is quite comfortable,, perhaps slightly more than the 757 version, though I’m probably splitting hairs)

But then I though I’d actually write something that might be useful to someone: the people I work with and I often mention how we always go back to the same 4 or 5 restaurants in Amsterdam because they’re pretty good, and why mess with success? Right, that’s a terrible reason, but that laziness will benefit you as I share the places we like to eat in Amsterdam. The city is not really known for its food culture, but we’ve found a bunch of places that are consistently good, even if they’re none of them are really a can’t-miss kinda place.

– The Restaurant at the Conservatorium. Located in the really amazing Conservatorium Hotel, the food is perfectly good but the room itself is beautiful. It’s in a huge atrium in an incredible building, and I could just sit there for hours (which, because it’s a Dutch restaurant with Dutch service, you may just do anyway). The food is mix that, from what I can tell, has no underlying theme (pastas; fish; bagel). I don’t know why the bagel with cream cheese is on the dinner menu. Yesterday they had a tasting menu where everything had asparagus. But everything I’ve had has been very good, and given the variety there’s something for everyone. It’s right by the Museumplein, so after a day at the Rijksmuseum it’s a nice option.

Casa Di David (Singel 426) is a straight ahead Italian place located on a canal in an old home (I think everything is an old home in Amsterdam). Pastas are solid, as are the pizzas. I like sitting upstairs because it’s just a bit cozier up there. Whenever we ask anyone in the office where we should go to dinner, they always mention this place, and now I’ve started recommending it as well.

La Olivia Pintxos y Vinos is a Tapas restaurant over near Anne Frank house in the Jordaan neighborhood. The food is really good, though I think we like going there because we are always treated like crap by the hostess if we don’t have a reservation. I have probably had this happen 4 times:

Me (walking in): Hi, do you have a table for 4
Hostess: (pause). No.
Me: When do you think a table will open up?
Hostess: (pause)
Me: (continuing to wait expectantly)
Hostess: We are full

But if you call ahead and reserve a table you’ll have a great time

Café George is a little brasserie that has the regular mix of sandwiches, burgers, omelettes and fries. Food it perfectly good, and I’m not sure it’s particularly interesting though it’s near our office and sometimes I just want something easy. The only odd thing is that some nights it’s packed to the gills, and some nights we are the only people in there. Perhaps there’s some secret there that I don’t know about.

– We ate at The Butcher in the de Pijp neigborhood for the first time this trip, and they have really amazing hamburgers. We were talking to the guys who work there, and they knew a ton about the hamburger restaurant situation in New York, and I would put the burger I had there up against anything I’ve eaten in NYC. A really pleasant surprise, to be honest. Also, there’s a “secret” cocktail bar in the back, inasmuch as it’s a secret even though I know about it. You need to get a reservation by emailing It was closed the night we went, but it’s supposed to be great.

– I’m not sure there’s much special about Palladium, but it’s right near our office just off the Leidseplein, the servers are all extremely attractive for some reason, and they make a club sandwich where they crumble hardboiled eggs on it, which sounds awful, but is actually fantastic. That said, they use mayonnaise like an ingredient, rather than a condiment, so you may want to ask them to hold back on that (though they won’t listen to you).

– I haven’t been to de Kas in years, but when we went it was amazing. Located in a greenhouse 15 minutes outside of the center of town, they grow much of the food that they serve. They do 1 menu each day (3 courses for about 50 Euro), and it was a wonderful experience. Someone told me they went recently and didn’t love it, but I think they must have been full of crap.

– I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Door 74, my favorite bar in the city. It’s a cocktail lounge, and while they have a menu I just tell Leroy, one of the bartenders there, what kind of thing I’m in the mood for (rum, not too sweet) and he makes something up. Then he’ll adjust the next drink based on what you thought. Unfortunately, his last day was this week (he’s going to a place around the corner called Mystique), but I love the place. It’s kinda hidden, and if you can pronounce the address (Reguliersdwarsstraat 74) I’ll buy you a drink. Just write it down and show it to the cab driver – they’ll know.

Thursday Roundup – Whew, That’s a Bunch of Stuff

I’m away for 2 days for work, and a whole bunch of nonsense piles up, including:

– United is adding Saturday-only nonstop service from Newark to St. Lucia beginning July 13th. Fly down with United miles and fly back on American, which has more frequent flights.

– If there is a worse flight in the Western Hemisphere than this flight departing Sao Paulo at 2:50am and arriving at 1010am in Havana on a Russian-made Ilyushin Il96, I don’t know what it is.

– Delta is now offering free drinks, newspaper and snacks on their flights between JFK & SFO/LAX (inasmuch as paying $89 for those things is “free”).

– US Airways is running one of their never-ending 100% bonus mile promotions, when you buy 30,000-50,000 miles. 100,000 miles will cost you $1750. You decide whether it’s worth it.

– F-U Spirit, JetBlue is launching nonstop FT Lauderdale – Lima, Peru service.

– A man with tourette’s syndrome was denied boarding after he said “bomb” before boarding a flight.

– The AP is reporting that American Airlines will begin hourly shuttle service between NY and LAX ni early 2014.