AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAMEX Gold CardAMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaCredit CardsDiningPerks

Why Have the Alaska Card?

If you have taken a flight with Alaska Airlines recently, you have heard about the Alaska Airlines Signature Visa card from Bank of America. Flight attendants, who receive a commission if you apply on-board, will tell you about the exclusive and remarkable benefits available to cardholders, and their inflight entertainment systems even now include commercials advertising the card too. What is the Card? The card itself is one of the most basic on the market. The annual fee is $75.00/year, it earns 3x Alaska Miles on money spent with Alaska and one mile for everything else. Notably however, the card offers a Companion Fare benefit that permits you to add a second ticket to your Alaska reservation for just $121 (taxes and fees) once a year. Should I Use It Everywhere? No!! It ca...

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Chase Sapphire ReserveRental Cars

Rental Cars

Whether or not this is a fair assessment, rental cars are one area in the travel world where I have found no value with elite status. The reason for this is that your elite status only benefits you when you book through the company directly. While this isn't that bizarre of a policy, the rate differentials between the companies themselves and third-party sites like Costco and Priceline are astounding! Using the same dates and details, a two-day weekend rental on Priceline cost $40 total; booking through the company directly cost $123 total. My Wasted Status Rental car agencies seem to have given up on the leisure traveler and instead go after business travelers whose companies are less concerned about the best deal and more interested in convenience. By holding the American Express ...

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AirlinesAlaska AirlinesAMEX Hilton AspireAMEX PlatinumCredit CardsDestinationsFlamingoHiltonHotelsLas VegasWaldorf Astoria Las Vegas

A Weekend in Vegas

Ever since I added the Hilton Aspire card to my wallet, I knew I'd be using it to go to Las Vegas. Vegas, and all that comes with it, is undoubtedly my favorite vacation spot. As ridiculous as that sounds, it is an adult playground and I will never get enough of it. To celebrate a milestone birthday later this year, I took advantage of some perks in my arsenal to develop a quick weekend with flair. Airfare Because I have MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines, I have the ability to complete same day flight changes for free. I also am awarded some first-class advance-award tickets on select flights each year. For my departure, I found a great mile redemption of just 7,500 miles for the one-way ticket. I booked it, and even though the flight departs at an ungodly evening time (arriving ...

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HotelsUpgrades

The Hotel Upgrade

Preparing For Your Trip When planning your vacation, I hope you develop a budget: I hope you identify how you will travel to your destination, where you will stay once you get there, which attractions you wish to visit, where you will dine out, any other incidentals expenses you will incur such as ground transportation and parking and how much all of that will cost. Then as your trip progresses, I hope you reconcile your expenses against your budget and ensure you are using the credit card that gives you the best redemption for your spend-categories. Easy! But we forgot a budget: The Hotel Upgrade Budget - $20.00. Tipping at Check-In Though it may seem cliché, I have had incredible success with tipping at check-in over the years. In fact, I've only been denied ONCE because the hotel truly

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AMEX PlatinumBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningGasSupermarketsTravelUpgrades

2018 Rewards in Review

Another Year Gone 2018 was a wild year for us with big changes including the relocation of my wife who is now working in Nashville completing a postdoctoral appointment while I have remained in Seattle. As a result of our anticipated increase in travel, we increased our monthly spending for annual fees this year to an average monthly budget of $187. With that, we not only supported a bicoastal living arrangement but even fit in some personal vacations as well, all thanks to our reward points. As in previous years, I meticulously tracked every dollar in and out with regard to credit card annual fees and reward redemptions in 2018 and I'm pleased to say we more than quintupled our budget by using the appropriate mix of cards and redemptions over the last twelve months. 5X Return on Investme

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AMEX Hilton AspireCredit CardsFree NightsHiltonHotelsPerksPriority PassTravelUpgrades

Why I’m Using the Hilton Aspire Card

Recently, Hilton increased all of their signup bonuses for their American Express cards including the Aspire Card; the high-end version of the branded card. This piqued my interest and caused me to consider the card's addition to my wallet in 2019. The new sign up bonus of 150,000 Hilton Honors points seemed to make it worth my while alone. In reviewing the details of the card, I ended up applying for the card that same day. As is typical for American Express, the card was express-shipped to me and I received it just two days later via UPS. The Aspire card carries a $450 annual fee without any trial period; however the signup bonus is valued at $1,200 which more than pays for the card in its first year. Here's what else the card will do for you, and why you may decide to renew it in futur...

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AMEX Gold CardAMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningSupermarkets

Why You’ll Love the New AMEX Gold Card

It's Goldddd! You may remember the recent history of luxury travel cards: A longtime American Express employee left the bank to work for Chase where they worked to develop a luxury travel card that millennials (not American Express' core customer group) could enjoy. Get 'em while they're young, and keep them forever! They developed the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card and (until now) have been the go-to card for dining and travel rewards. It took a couple years, but American Express is finally throwing its own punch with the reinvention of its Gold card (currently available in Rose Gold for a limited time only). What's Good About Gold? The Gold card pairs perfectly with the AMEX Platinum card which already offers 5X points on airfare and travel booked directly with AMEXTravel.com. The Gold card

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AirlinesAlaska AirlinesDelta AirlinesUpgrades

Earning Elite Status

As you may be aware, I travel every two weeks while my wife and I maintain our lives in two states over the next few years. The journey officially began two months ago, and despite the abrupt halt to our "normal lives," the upcoming travel presented an interesting opportunity: Earning elite status with an airline. While it is very easy to "buy" status with hotels by having the right credit card in your wallet, the same is not true for airlines. The only way you can achieve elite status with an airline is to complete their flight-based requirements each year in order to earn and maintain the status. So naturally, I was very excited at the prospect of playing this through. Here is how I approached planning for this process: Be Intentional from Day 1 There's nothing worse than coming up a fe

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CLEARDelta AirlinesTSA PreCheck

My Experience with CLEAR

I've been aware of CLEAR for sometime, but never felt compelled to join. Frankly, it seemed to me like an alternative to TSA Precheck that I did not need. Why pay more to stand in their line rather than the one I'm already expedited through? Then I began to notice it at Mariners and Seahawks games. Interesting. Then fellow frequent fliers, who I trusted, swore by it. It WAS worth adding, they said, if you traveled frequently, and since I travel every two weeks, and since I was offered two months free, I decided to give it a try! I enrolled online with relative ease providing my name and date of birth to complete registration. On my next trip to the airport, I went to the CLEAR kiosk and spoke with a representative. Armed with my driver's license and fingertips, I completed my account se...

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Alaska AirlinesAMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningPerksTravel

Finding Your Next Card

Commitment While I'm no loyalist, I do value commitment in all phases of my life including credit cards. That's because a percentage of your credit score is the average length of your accounts. If you have two cards, one you've had for ten years and the other brand new, your average length of your accounts is five years. If you cancel the card you've had for ten years, you now have a nonexistent average. On the flip side, if you retain the card(s) you've had longest (assuming they have no annual fees or you're still claiming the value from the fees), your score can afford to adopt some new plastic or metal friends into your wallet. Know Yourself and Spot the Fakes Where do you spend your money? For me, it's dining and travel. Nearly 100% of my discretionary income goes to one of those two

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