Monthly Archives: January 2014 - Page 2

Top 5 US Paper Currency Denominations for January

In my ongoing quest to write stories that other bloggers won’t touch, I thought I’d forgo the usual “Top Credit Cards for the Month” post and try to help out those readers who eschew credit cards and prefer to use cash (losers!!). So here are my Top 5 US Paper Currency Denominations for January:

1) $20 Bill. You may remember the $20 bill from my post last year called “One US Paper Currency Denomination To Rule Them All.” This is my everyday, go-to currency. It’s incredibly flexible – you can purchase literally tens of thousands of items that are priced at less than twenty dollars. That $7.95 ball? I’ll use a $20 bill. That $14 taco platter? Perfect, I’ll use a $20 bill. Even that $19.99 K-Tel 8-Track Collection of the Best Disco Hits of 1977? $20 bill will cover that every time. Even more amazing? If I want to buy a $32 steak at a schmancy restaurant? I can just break out TWO of those twenty dollar bills, and that will work as well.

But here’s a tip you won’t get on the other blogs: At the drugstore I’ll buy a $1.99 pack of mints. Then I hand the clerk a $20 bill. Sometimes they’ll say, “I’m sorry, but at CVS we can’t accept $20 bills for that — you have to use a credit card.” And I’ll say, “just try typing it into the machine.” And it always goes through! (If it doesn’t, just go to a different CVS). But that’s not the best part. I’ll give him (or her) $20, and he’ll hand me $18.01 cash back. That’s right, I get 900% cash back when I use my $20 bill at drug stores. Amazing! Shhhh, don’t publish that anywhere or it’ll blow the whole operation!

2) $10 Bill. The $10 bill isn’t quite as useful as the $20 bill, but it can definitely come in handy. I’ll break it out in a bar sometimes and slap it down like I’m a grizzled gold prospector from 1872 and say, “What can a guy get for a sawbuck?????” It’s perfect when you need a roll of quarters, because you can exchange one of these beauties for 40 of the shiny coins. Also makes a nice birthday present for your 7-year old niece. And no other bill beats it when purchasing a $9.99 bouquet of flowers. 0% cash back on $10 purchase.

3) $100 Bill. The $100 bill just feels good in your hands, which is always a reason to choose how to pay for something. A $100 bill tells the guy at the gas station, “Don’t F- Wit Me, Asshole!” It also tells the guy at the grocery store, “Don’t F- Wit Me, Asshole!” I wouldn’t recommend breaking it out at the convenience store, because they’re not going to accept $100 bills, my friend. No sorry, buddy, no $100 bills. It is, however, perfect when paying a prostitute for services rendered. Or add it to a few of its $100 bill friends and suddenly little Joshua has the best gift ever from his grandpa. Unless his grandpa lost it gambling, which is also a great use of these suckers. $0 annual fee not waived first year.

4) $1 Bill. Did you ever park your car at a valet? Maybe a rental car. Or your own car. Or someone else’s car? Whose car it is isn’t really relevant. You know how when you retrieve your car and the guy pulls up and you feel like you should give him something? Yeah, that’s right – two $1 bills will do the trick. Or did you ever go into a douche-y restaurant and go into the bathroom to do your business and some guy is in there waiting to hand you a towel? Yep, our old friend $1 bill is great for that occasion. Also it’s the correct currency for making it rain at the strip club when you don’t want to blow too much money at once. If you spend $40,000 one-dollar bills in the year, you won’t get any status whatsoever.

5) $5 Bill. I’m never sure what the hell you’re supposed to do with this one. Does anything cost $3.75? No, it doesn’t. It’s too little for a birthday gift and too much to tip the douche-y restaurant bathroom attendant. Abe Lincoln would be saddened to know he’s on this currency.

BONUS CATEGORY: WORST US PAPER CURRENCY DENOMINATION FOR JANUARY:

$50 Bill. Why in God’s name is there even a $50 bill? Go try and buy a soda at a bodega and pay for it with $50 and see what they do to you. They will literally crinkle it up and throw it at you, then kick your ass til you cry. Try and pay your babysitter with it and ask for the $15 change back. C’mon, now! Makes a decent birthday present for a 13-year-old until that 13-year-old tries to go to whatever the hell store a 13-year-old goes to and tries to use it. They will LAUGH IN HIS FACE! Who the hell do you think you are, kid? Now go to the bank and get 2 twenties and a ten and then maybe – MAYBE! – you can come back in here and buy Halo 7. Maybe! Damn $50 bill. Your friends aren’t impressed when you break it out – if you had real money you’d have a $100 bill. It’s saying, “ooh, look at me – I don’t have normal denominations of currency, but I’m not quite rich enough to have that bad-ass $100 bill. I’m just gonna settle for a $50, as if you’re gonna be impressed with that.” I’m over you, $50 bill.

That said, it’s perfect for bribing hotel desk clerks for a suite.

There you go – next week, Top 5 US Coin Denominations for February!

twenty

Anyone Having This Issue with the Southwest Credit Card?

A reader wrote yesterday with this question:

I just received this letter from Chase: “We’re writing to provide you with information about your new account, Southwest Airlines, which offers a bonus premium to new card members. the terms and condition associated with the new account state that the premium is only available to new card members. Since our records show that you have taken advantage of the offer or a similar offer within the past two years, your account is not eligible to receive the premium.”
BACKGROUND: I have not had this exact card before. Card in question is Chase SW Business Plus. Of SW cards, I have only had the (non-business) Premier, which I canceled a few months back.

Has anyone else had an issue where Chase would not offer a bonus on a Southwest credit card because you’ve had a DIFFERENT Southwest credit card in the past?

Friday Roundup: People Express, Ghana Airways Restaurant, Turbulence, Ryanair

– The new fledgling People Express has purchased the remains of Ryan International Airlines (that’s not Ryanair) for $500,000. For that low low price they’ll get a bunch of crap, but most importantly they’ll get an FAA 121 operating certificate, which they would likely want because it allows for international flying. Who knows if they’ll ever get off the ground, but between this purchase and their purchase of XTRA Airways a while back, they’ve got a bunch of the pieces.

– A United Airlines 777 on its way from Newark to Beijing turned around after 45 minutes because several flight attendants were injured during a bout of severe turbulence over Maine (Note that the reporter calls the airplane a “Boeing 772”. As I’ve probably written here a dozen times, you should not be worried that your plane will crash, but you should be worried about being hurt very badly if you do not wear your seatbelt while flying.

– Ryanair’s softening of its image campaign continues this week with the announcement that it will update some of its policies and products to go after business travelers. They said that in the coming weeks they’ll announce business-focused changes, including “flexible tickets, reserved seating and fast-track through selected airports.” Previously they announced that they would stop crapping all over their customers and (like Spirit Airlines) assign everyone a seat prior to boarding, even if they didn’t pay the 5 Euro advance-seating fee.

– Check out this extremely cool restaurant in Ghana that was built out of an old Ghana Airways DC-10. Dammit, now I have to go to Ghana. Who’s in?

Review of the Amex Centurion Lounge in Las Vegas

I headed back from Las Vegas yesterday and I thought I’d stop in the Amex Centurion Lounge there after I read online reviews that described the place as “stunning,” and “feels like being in a art gallery, with “unique culinary experiences.” That’s one hell of a goddamned lounge! I can’t turn down a visit to such as paradise.

I can say only that none of those reviews fully captures the breathtaking breathlessness you’ll have when you enter the Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas.

Speaking of entering, the incredible design team created an entranceway that not only serves as an entrance, but also, get this, serves as the exit. Yes, the space you enter is the VERY SAME space that you exit. Incredible!

When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by a human employee who addresses you by name, “Hey Steve,” she said to me, “may I please have your Amex card?” (See, you need an Amex Platinum or Centurion card to enter). Then she added, “And may I see your boarding card?” Hilarious! Finally, after I managed to catch my breath she finished up with, “And now do you have an ID?” Go find THAT at a Delta Lounge!

I walked in and was greeted by a floor that prevented all of the visitors from falling through and landing on the tarmac 20 feet below. Some of the floor was covered in tiles and others were covered by carpet, which engulfed the bottoms of my shoes in pure luxury. I felt like an angel floating through clouds! Clouds made out of industrial carpet!

I chose from the many available tables. Now, I say “table” but that doesn’t really do justice to the area in which I sat. You know how some tables are just for “dining” and other tables are for “kitchen” while others are for “coffee”? I could put almost anything I wanted on these tables! It’s hard to put a label on such a table when it handled coffee, my bag, my ass, a napkin, and a one dollar bill with equal aplomb. I ask my readers, what do YOU like to put on a table?

I lifted my ass from the table and headed over to the big buffet which was stocked with delicacies from around the globe. There was meat that was originally part of a cow that lived in Kansas until it was lifted up by its hind quarters, stunned with a pipe, had its throat slit, blood drained, disemboweled, had its carcass cut up, vacuum sealed, shipped to Las Vegas, then fried up in a pan and served to me, hamburger style! And there was a chicken quesadilla representing the finest cuisine both from Mexico, and Arkansas, which is home to the Tyson Chicken company, and was home to this chicken before they injected it with antibiotics, grew it to 6 pounds in 3 1/2 days, killed it and chopped it up so that it could end up inside my quesadilla. Delish!

But the best part, perhaps, was the bathrooms. First of all, they had showers, which is incredible because I typically use a bucket and a rag on a stick at home to bathe myself, so this was luxury redefined. Also, I do like to make sure the rooms where I shower are only populated by people who have an Amex Platinum card.

Second, I thanked God that I was a man because while (it is my understanding) women only have toilets in their bathrooms, the Amex Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas provided visiting gentlemen with a choice — they could choose to use the toilets provided (just like the ones in the women’s bathroom) or they could use one of the 3 urinals the bathroom has on offer. It was a really tough call for me – do I enjoy a few relaxing minutes of alone time on the toilet, or do I quickly zip in and zip out with the urinal so that I could head back to the buffet and partake in some dessert? I did both!

All-in-all I would highly recommend the Amex Centurion Lounge at Las Vegas to all travelers.

What do you think?

There Are 2 Alaska Airlines Credit Card Offers Better (Probably) Than the 25,000 Point Offer

The Alaska Airlines credit card bonus offer has bounced around a bit for the past few months, but recently everyone has been reporting that the 25,000 point offer (with a $100 statement credit) is the best available. I’ve found 2 others that may be better for you ($75 annual fee is not waived on either):

This page offers 30,000 bonus miles after approval. The top of the page says you’re getting an extra 5,000 bonus miles for being a Bank of America customer, but the T&Cs at the bottom just say you’ll get 30,000 miles.

This page offers 25,000 miles after approval, and then an extra 15,000 miles for spending $2,000/month for 12 months. That isn’t worth it for me, but it may be for you.

People love the Alaska cards because they’re churnable, and the miles are good on a host of airlines, including Delta, American, British Airways and Emirates.

(I’ve updated the section of Current Credit Card offers).

20% Off Hotels at CheapTickets

You may remember CheapTickets as one of the first online travel agencies. They’re now part of Orbitz – it’s basically a clone of the Orbitz site – same back end, similar design.

Anyway, they’re offering 20% off hotels this week when you use code TAKE20. It’s not good with most chain hotels, but it actually does take 20% off the lowest rate at a ton of independent hotels (I just used it myself to book a room).

Click here to get this deal.

Yes, You Can Easily Replace Your Battery on Your iPhone for $4

This has nothing to do with airlines, but if you travel a bunch and you have an iPhone 4 or an iPhone 4S you may be at the point (as I was) where the battery was lasting about, oh, 3 hours before it died. It seems that the phones are good for about a year or so, then the battery gives out.

I had bought a battery charger case, but it was bulky and heavy and ruined the design of the phone.

But then I stopped being a moron about it and learned that, despite everything Apple suggests, you can very, very easily replace the battery in your phone in about 10-15 minutes. And did I mention it costs about 4 bucks?

Here’s how:

– Go to eBay and search for “iphone 4s replacement battery kit” – it’s got a couple of small screwdrivers and a plastic prong thingy (technical term) and the battery. I’m looking at one right now that they’re selling for $3.39 with free shipping.

– Then watch this 4 minute video showing you how to do it:

That’s it.

Well, that’s not exactly it. It took me about 15 minutes. I had trouble getting a very, very, very tiny piece back on correctly. In the video the guy does it easily. Me, not so much.

Also, I dropped the world’s smallest screw on my floor, which led to 3 1/2 minutes of crawling around and swearing a lot. But the kids were there so I had to make up swears (flarksmuckle!).

But sure enough – I got it back together and lo and behold my phone is like new.

Good luck.

For Real This Time: Biman Bangladesh Announces Last DC-10 Flight

Among airline nerds there was a bit of hubbub last fall when Biman Bangladesh announced that it would fly the last DC-10 flight in November. But Biman Bangladesh being Biman Bangladesh, that date was moved about 127 times.

Now, they promise (?) that the very last DC-10 flight will be on February 20th from Dhaka to Birmingham, England. The flight will depart 830am and arrive (after a stop in Kuwait) in Birmingham around 4pm that day. They’ll sell tickets for that flight beginning tomorrow (January 14th). I would guess the fare will be around $500, but they haven’t announced that.

I’d love to go on this, but those times are rough. Unless you were willing to leave Tuesday night and arrive very early Thursday morning then get on the plane for the long flight back home immediately, you would have to leave the US Monday night, and get to Dhaka Wednesday morning. There’s no way to make a connection back to the US from Birmingham if you arrive there at 4pm on Thursday. So while this would be a fun flight to be on, it would also require a week off a work. I can’t pull that off, but maybe you can. Details here.

This Week’s OTR Airline Quiz

[WpProQuiz 2]

Delta Raises Sky Club Price to $695, Charges $29 for Amex Platinum Members’ Guests

Delta just sent out an email that will, in their words, “give you a more exclusive experience.” Which is to say, you’re not going to be happy.

Effective immediately, membership price for Sky Club is $695 annually. They’re calling this “Executive Membership” and will continue to allow two complimentary guests.

– For those customers who rarely need guest access, an Individual Membership at the current rate of $450 will be introduced Spring 2014. This membership will allow guest access for $29 per visit.

– Beginning May 1, 2014, all customers who receive complimentary Delta Sky Club access as a benefit of their eligible credit or charge card will no longer receive complimentary guest access. A $29 fee per guest will apply.

That last one means that Amex Platinum holders will now pay $29 to access the Delta club. (EDITORS NOTE: THAT’S WRONG – I MISREAD THE EMAIL. AMEX PLATINUM HOLDERS STILL GET ACCESS, BUT IT’LL COST $29 TO BRING A GUEST.

If you’re currently a Club member, they’ll give you “Executive Membership” until your current membership is up.

I think Delta sums it up best when they write in the email: “We hope these changes will provide a more comfortable and productive experience for customers like you.”

That’s funny.