Monthly Archives: May 2014

Chase Freedom Now Offering $200 Bonus (20,000 Ultimate Rewards for Many People)

Chase has increased the bonus on the Chase Freedom card from $100 to $200 after you spend $500 in 3 months (application link here). A bit of a refresher on the Freedom card:

– There’s no annual fee, which makes it a great card to just keep open to help with your credit score (you earn points on your score for having open, unused credit. You also earn points for having credit open for a longer period of time. Because there’s no fee, you can just keep it open forever).

– It’s 1% cash back on everything, though they offer rotating categories each quarter where you can earn 5% (it’s Restaurants and Lowe’s for this quarter – you max out at $1500 spend, or $75 bonus cash back).

– If you have a Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus, or Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can get 20,000 Ultimate Rewards points (in lieu of $200 straight cash back).

There used to be 35,000 point bonus offers floating around for this card years ago, but 20,000 points is as good as it’s been for the past couple of years. If you were waiting, I’d go for this (assuming it fits in your churn schedule).

(HT Slickdeals)

Let’s Catch Up on Some News About Routes

A bunch of routes news to catch up on:

– Air Canada launches an Air Canada Rouge nonstop between Toronto and Honolulu on Wednesdays and Sundays on a 767-300ER beginning November 26th. It’s the only nonstop between Hawaii and eastern Canada.

– In early November Delta will continue its very slow assault on Alaska Airlines when it launches Seattle-Calgary and Seattle-Spokane.

– United will end its services between Portland and Eugene, Redmond & Seattle on September 1.

– United will clean up some smaller routes, changing its Kelowna-LA service to Kelowna-San Francisco. and eliminating its Las Vegas routes to Palm Springs and Fresno.

– And United will drop its LA-Bakersfield, and Newark to Moncton routes at the end of the summer.

– Both United and JetBlue (for some reason) are launching Ft Lauderdale – Jacksonville.

– Not sure why there’s so much United news, but they’ve applied for twice weekly Guam-Shanghai service beginning this October.

– In October China Airlines makes its Taipei – JFK service nonstop (though it makes a stop in Anchorage on the return), and moves to a nonstop when its 777-300ER is delivered next February. This means that JFK will lose its current nonstop to Osaka (where the plane stopped on its way to/from Taipei).

– UAE and Cuba have signed an open skies agreement.

50,000 Bonus Points for Amex Business Gold Rewards

It’s not the 75k offer we saw in March, but if you’re in the market for the Amex Business Gold Rewards card, I found an offer for 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $5,000 spend in 3 months (the usual offer is for 25k points after $2,000 spend). You have to go through this link (not affiliate).

You’ll earn 3X points on airfare and 2X points on gas. It’s free the first year, and $175 after. I don’t think it’s worth keeping around, but you may want to grab it for the bonus points (I’ve gotten it in the past, so I’m no longer eligible).

Just thought you’d like to know…

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Here’s What the DoT Is Actually Proposing When It’s Asking Airlines to Be More Transparent about Ancillary Fees

This week the Department of Transportation proposed new rules for airlines and how they display ancillary fees to the public (You can read the full proposal here…the DoT is currently awaiting comments from airlines about the proposal). They are basically recommending 2 changes to current rules about how airfares are displayed:

– When displaying airfares, airlines would have to show fees for first checked bag, second checked bag, carry-on bags, and seat assignments. I’ve seen articles suggesting that they would have to display other fees, but they would not – those are the only fees covered in this proposal.

– They are proposing that GDSs (Global Distribution Systems, which power airfare searches for travel agencies, both online and offline) AS WELL AS airfare comparison sites such as Kayak would also have to display the fees. (The DoT has actually made 2 proposals, one that says GDSs do not have to display this information, and one that says they do). The big news here is that so-called metasearch companies like Kayak would be included in these rules.

There are open questions in the proposal, I think the largest being whether the display would have to call out whether Elite frequent flyer members or credit card holders receive discounts on those fees. I suspect that in the end those will not need to be called out.

This basically means that airlines and travel agencies would need to create a so-called Schumer Box for airfare (the credit card fee disclosures you see on credit card applications has been dubbed the Schumer Box, as Senator Chuck Schumer championed full disclosure of credit card fees). The airlines aren’t happy about this, but I’d guess we’ll see some version of this in the next 18 months. Pricing strategies have changed for airlines, with fees making up more than one-third of Spirit Airlines’ revenue. Airfares no longer reflect the cost of the trip – I think airlines have done an OK job of making that clear, but this will unify how this information is displayed to consumers. Airlines can complain about it, but it’s a good thing.

Here’s my stab at what it would look like, for what it’s worth.

farebox

That would just live under the fare display…Not perfect, but it’d be much better than the confusion we have now.

Airfare Deal: New York – Milan – Prague – Tokyo, $130 One-Way (Taxes Included)

This has been on FT, but I figured I’d hold off until it was posted elsewhere, and this morning it was on Slickdeals, so it’s time to share:

There’s a mistake fare allowing you to travel from New York to Europe and then onward to Asia starting at about $130 one way (taxes included). Dates are available this fall and next spring.

You route it:

JFK – Milan (On Alitalia)
Prague – Tokyo (On KLM – you can fly from other Eastern European cities instead of Prague, as long as they connect through Paris or Amsterdam on KLM)

(You’ll have to get from Milan to Prague on your own).

Priceline is showing the fares, and you can also find them on Hipmunk. (I’m going to assume you’re smart enough not to need screenshots…use multi-city search on those sites)

Lots more info here, but you can also route to other cities in Asia (Bangkok, for example), India and Africa for a few dollars more.

Yes, you’ll have to figure out how to get home (use miles).

It’s a mistake, so don’t call the airline.

(On a side note: Bloggerville is in an interesting conundrum right now. When bloggers post things that are supposedly “secret” (as if anything on the Internet is a secret), people get up-in-arms that a deal has been ruined. If bloggers post the same crap as everyone else (especially around credit cards), people complain (rightfully) that non-original content is crap and to stop wasting our time. So as a blogger, I think we find ourselves in a bit of a pickle – post original content that isn’t considered a secret. I’m not sure what that is anymore. Is it something only I know? Sure, that happens sometimes. Is it something that a few people know? I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know that given the incredible proliferation of bloggers in this space, it’s increasingly difficult to find things to write about that aren’t already out there, either widely out there or secretly out there.) Just saying…

American Airlines to Run 1-Time 777-300ER Flight from JFK to Dallas

If you’re the type of person who cares about getting a chance to fly in American’s schmancy business class on its 777-300ERs, but you don’t get the chance to fly internationally all that much, I have some good news for you. They’re using the aircraft to fly on June 9th at 420pm from JFK to DFW (it’s a repositioning flight). There aren’t any award tickets available for business class on that flight, but if you want to use an upgrade for the nice seats, this is an opportunity…

(Thanks, airlineroute.net)

#TBT Why You Should Get the Pan Am Take Off(tm) Credit Card Now!

(For Throwback Thursday, I wanted to share this article from the May 7, 1970, issue of Online Travel Review – then called Line Travel Review)

Other newsletter writers are afraid to tell it like it is, instead pushing inferior affiliate links for credit card offers that aren’t as good as other offers that are widely available. Everyone knows that Braniff Visa offer that everyone was pushing last month wasn’t as good as the widely available Mercedes Benz Braniff Visa card. And I know it sounds like the boy who cried wolf when they come out and say, “ooh, you better apply for your Eastern Airlines card now because the bonus offer is going to drop at midnight on May 31st.” But I am the only newsletter author out there who is not afraid to really take a stand, and that’s what I’m going to do today:

You have to – HAVE TO – apply for the Pan Am Take Off(tm) Credit Card right now. Stop what you’re doing. Do not finish the application for the Chase Manhattan Bank Ink Bold. Don’t. Tear yourselves away from the pamphlets about how to spend those 10,000 extra bonus points. Just stop. This is really, truly your last chance.

The Pan Am Take Off(tm) credit card is, according to the ad below, the only travel card you’ll need. And I agree! And they’re totally not paying me $350 an application to tell you that.

Benefits of the Card
As the ad below notes:
– It comes in green for women and yellow for men. Always important so you know which you are.
– It’s a guaranteed credit reference at Pan Am offices overseas so you can cash a check for up to $100 (one hundred!) US dollars.
– It’s a doctor’s authorization to accept your personal check (I don’t know what that means)
– You can get a $50 cash advance overseas for NO CHARGE!

When Will This Card Disappear?
Um, like never? I mean, what on earth could happen to Pan Am? It’s the biggest freakin’ airline in the world…it’ll be around forever! And while you don’t earn any bonus miles because frequent flyer programs (what’re those???) won’t be invented for another 10 years, how else are you going to get a $50 FREE cash advance when you’re overseas?

So why am I telling you to get this card now, even though the offer has been around for years? Because it might go away at some point in the future! And do you want to be THAT asshole who DIDN’T take advantage of this offer? I mean, we just put a man on the freakin’ moon….it’s only a matter of time before Pan Am is sending travelers up there. And how are you going to buy a ticket to get to the moon on Pan Am? Using a North Central Airlines BankAmericard? Hells to the no! They’re not going to accept that. Well sure, they might if you want a COACH seat to the moon. But you bet your sweet ass they’re gonna serve me some Krug in business class when I fly to the moon, and THAT’S gonna be like a $3,000 ticket that I’m gonna get for free because I have the Pan Am Take Off(tm) Credit Card.

3 months ago the authors of the newsletter A Wing And A Prayer said that you should get this credit card now because it was going to disappear in a few weeks. They were a BUNCH OF MORONS and I told them so in a tersely written letter to the editor. But now I’m coming out and telling you that IF YOU DO NOT GET THIS CARD TODAY – TO-FREAKIN-DAY – YOU ARE NOT WORTH THE GLASS OF TANG THEY’LL BE SERVING ON THE PAN AM MOON SERVICE. You should rot in hell.

I reached out to a Pan Am representative this morning via courier to find out the end date of this offer, and I hope to receive a letter back from them in 4-6 weeks with the end date. But until I have that exact end date, I’m going to tell you to hurry the hell up and mail in an application. Yeah, this offer has been around, and yeah it’ll certainly be back, and yeah pretty much all of those benefits are widely available without this special offer, but I’m telling you – and I’m only going to tell you this once – you are missing the opportunity of a lifetime if you don’t get your application in for this Pan Am Take Off(tm) Credit Card now.

Pssst. Come here. You. Yes, you. We’re friends, right? Friends share things, right? Like I share all of these pictures of the abso-freakin-lutely awesome champagne-drenched flights I take with the benefits from this card, right? You love that. If you want to have a giant-ass recliner seat on a 747 to Pago Pago, and I know you do, I have only one question: What do I have to do to get you into a shiny new Pan Am Take Off(tm) Credit Card today? Do you want me to list 25 ways to use the card? Would that help? Would you like me to compare it (favorably, of course) to some of the other cards out there? Would that help? Would it help if I showed you pictures of some of the hotel rooms I’ve booked using the credit card? Would that help? What in God’s name would it take for me to get you to understand that I’m not – NOT – screwing around anymore, and that you have to get this card? Have to. That’s it. Get it. Get. Get the card. End of discussion.

The opinions here are mine. The content is not provided by Manufacturer’s Hanover, Chase Manhattan Bank, or The Money Store.

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It’s Starting to Feel Like Tom Vu Out There in Blog World: If You Don’t Get Credit Cards, You A Loser!


Don’t listen to your friends, they’re losers!

I read a handful of blogs each day. I was about to write that I read a handful of travel blogs each day, but really I read a handful of credit card blogs each day, and those credit card blogs will sometimes talk about using the points from those cards to go on a plane and sit in business class. I’ve been reading these blogs for years, and over time they’re starting to morph together into a stream of mantras repeated over and over until the next credit card deal comes along: “I OPENED 7 CREDIT CARDS AND I GOT A FLIGHT WORTH $37,275!…LOOK AT ME, I’M ON VACATION!”

Which made me think about Tom Vu. Tom Vu, you may remember, ran infomercials in the 1980s and 1990s touting a plan for buying and selling real estate. But his M.O. was to make you feel like crap when you saw the amazing (“amazing”) lifestyle he led, filled with beautiful women (“beautiful women”) and gigantic houses with waterfalls in the front yard.

As he said, “I hope you enjoy seeing my waterfall as much as I do. I built this water fountain right in front of my estate, so I feel good about it. I feel successful every time I come home. Speaking of waterfall, that remind me of a secret that made me to become very wealthy…” And so forth.

He would then tell you that if you weren’t interested in that lifestyle, in taking risks on real estate, that you were “a loser.” Or perhaps it was your friends telling you not to go to his seminars who were, in fact, losers. “I had to keep telling these people every time, I kept saying, ‘You a loser! Get out of my way! I make it somehow!'” The key point: If you were satisfied with your non-slutty wife and waterfall-less house you were a loser. (And please, get out of his way.)

After reading the 372nd blog post about someone getting points through credit card signups and now they fly business class and if you don’t fly business class you a loser, I was feeling just a bit beaten down. 275 ways to use 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points. If you miss this added bonus you a loser. It’s exhausting.

So for all of us losers, I wanted to share a few thoughts:

– You are not a loser for flying coach on points. At some point this game will be up, and manufacturing points will slow to a drizzle (already happening), and you will be able to take more trips than if you flew in business class. It’s OK to make that tradeoff. Really, it is.

– If you fly coach on an award ticket and still want to feel really special, Carmel Car charges about $50 for a Mercedes to take you to LaGuardia. Zabar’s will sell you good caviar for $99, and you get a bottle of Dom Perignon for $169.99. I look forward to seeing 300 pictures of that.

– It’s not sexy, but for 90% of you a cash back card is your best bet. Sure – you should feel free to get cards for their signup bonuses. But putting $40,000 on the Hilton credit card to earn Diamond status is, for almost everyone, completely nuts. Get the Fidelity Amex (no annual fee) or the Barclays Arrival ($89 annual fee), and enjoy your 2% cash back. You’re probably better off with that. More on that here.

– You are not a loser for thinking that for many people, AirBnB is a better option for you when traveling to a city internationally than the $1,000/night Hyatt that you got for free. In many cases you should save those free nights for when there are no better options. A $150/night 1-bedroom apartment in Paris is probably a better choice for you if you don’t care about a small, schmancy room at the Hyatt. Save the Hyatt nights for when you don’t have a $150 alternate option, that’s a much, much better value.

– You are not a loser for trading down to coach to take your family along. Teaching kids about how wonderful travel is far outweighs the benefits of sitting up front. Sure, people would rather see a photo of a plate of business class chicken than a photo of your kid playing on an ipad in coach. Their loss. Or not.

– You can probably get 8-10 cards per churn. But you are not a loser if you’re only comfortable getting 1 or 2 cards a year. The Internet makes it easy for people who take things to the extreme to make it seem like they are normal and you are a loser for not taking part. Sleeping comfortably and not worrying about credit cards and manufacturing spend makes you sane, not a loser.

Traveling – whether it’s in first class on Singapore Airlines or in coach on Icelandair, is amazing. Whatever choices you make about how to spend whatever points you choose to generate are completely OK. I promise – if you haven’t flown business class internationally you really, truly are not missing that much. As I keep writing – a shitty version of a bed, even if it’s on an airplane, is still a shitty version of a bed. It’s better than coach, absolutely. But if you’ve ever sat on a couch, you’ve been more comfortable. Be thrilled that we live in an age – the only age in the history of humans – where we can pretty much roam around the world for next to nothing. That’s fantastic.

I’m not sure why it’s been bothering me so much lately – maybe because for years it felt like the good content outweighed the you-a-loser content. But the scales seem to have tipped the other way lately, and I think it’s good to remember that, devaluations and all, we have it really good. And for those of us who are open to coach and alternate lodging, it’s almost as good as it’s ever been…

See you in the back of the bus…losers…

Earn Up to 100,000 Bonus Avios Points for Trans-Atlantic Flights

British Airways is offering up to 100,000 bonus Avios miles for full-fare flights across the Atlantic between now and August 31st.

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You’ll get 25,000 bonus Avios for First or Business Class flights to the UK or Europe; 10,000 for Premium Economy; or 5,000 for full-fare Economy flights. The bonus is eligible on British Airways, Iberia, Finnair, OpenSkies, and American Airlines. You can earn the bonus up to 4 times.

Register here.

Fare Restrictions:
(i) on British Airways operated flights, includes fares booked in First class, Club World Business class, World Traveller Plus Premium Economy or flexible/non-restricted World Traveller Economy class: F, A, J, C, D, R, I, W, E, T, Y, B or H;
(ii) on American Airlines operated flights, includes fares booked in First class, Business class or flexible/non-restricted Economy class: F, A, P, J, R, D, I, Y, B or H;
(iii) on Finnair operated flights, includes fares booked in Business class or flexible/non-restricted Economy class: J, C, D, I, Y, B, or H;
(iv) on Iberia operated flights, includes fares booked in Business class or flexible/non-restricted Economy class: J, C, D, R, I, Y, B, or H;
(v) on OpenSkies operated flights, includes fares booked in Biz Bed/Business, Prem Plus/Premium Economy and flexible/non-restricted Eco/Economy: J, C, D, R, I, W, E, T, Y, B or H;
(vi) on US Airways operated flights, includes fares booked in Business class or flexible/non-restricted Economy class: C, D, Z, Y, or B.
This promotion does not apply to flights marketed or operated by franchises, including Comair, Iberia Express, and Sun-Air, or any other code share partners or oneworld© Alliance Members.
It is the Member’s responsibility to ensure that the booking/selling class of the fare purchased qualifies for this promotion. Please confirm prior to purchase. For bookings on ba.com, simply click on the flight number hyperlink on the “Choose your flights” page and refer to the booking/selling classes listed above in 3. (Discount Economy class fares, including those booked/sold in K, M, L, V, S, N, Q, O, or G fare classes, do not qualify for this offer.)

USAA Members Can Earn 5% Cash Back on Gas with New USAA Cash Rewards Plus American Express Card

I just received an email from USAA about their new USAA Cash Rewards Plus Amex credit card offering 5% cash back on gas purchases up to $3,000 in spend each year (you also get 2% at the grocery store and 1% on everything else). There’s no annual fee on the card.

It’s only available to USAA members, or to people who have military in their family (you’ll see who qualifies when you click through the link). It is the best no annual fee card out there for gas cash back. I wouldn’t use it for anything else, but the $3k cap is reasonable for most people, and with no annual fee you can keep it open forever to help with your credit score (open unused credit & the length you’ve had credit open both help your score).

Application (not affiliate) here.