AirlinesAlaska AirlinesPerksUpgrades

Benefits of MVP Gold

As you know, I visit my wife who is pursuing her career in Nashville twice a month. So when I myself chased a career opportunity out of state, I was faced with an overwhelming amount of useless pre-booked flights. Luckily, I was able to take advantage of my MVP Gold status with Alaska Airlines to solve that problem. Logistics Regardless of your Elite status, Alaska allows you to cancel and change flights online without speaking to a representative. However, some of my itineraries were complicated in nature (I had used companion fares and needed partial rather than full changes), so I opted to call the MVP Gold line for assistance. The team was great to work with, and in no time, my 16 flights were cancelled or changed accordingly with the refunds deposited as a credit to my Alaska ...

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AirlinesAMEX Gold CardAMEX PlatinumCredit CardsDiningGlobal EntryInsuranceLoungesPerksPriority PassRideshare AppsSupermarketsTSA PreCheckUpgrades

The AMEX Power Couple

If you're like me, you have a credit card for each facet of your annual budget because the value is just too good to pass up. That said, for many of my accounts, the physical cards themselves have been locked in the safe for years since they are simply on record with my merchant of choice. That's because when it comes to what cards you carry with you in your wallet each day, it is important to keep it simple. So today, I'm here to tell you why two, yes two, premium credit cards may be the perfect arsenal for your daily spending: The AMEX Power Couple - Gold and Platinum cards. Costs Incurred Let's get this out of the way because it is the hardest to stomach. The annual fee on the Gold card is $250; the Platinum is $550. Yes, that's $800 in annual fees. But keep reading: There are th...

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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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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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AMEX PlatinumChase Sapphire ReserveCredit CardsDiningGlobal EntryHiltonInsuranceLoungesMarriottPriority PassRental CarsRideshare AppsSheratonTravelTSA PreCheckUpgradesWestin

Platinum or CSR? Why You May Choose Both.

Choices The American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve: These two cards are the power couple of the premium credit card world. Deciding which one is right for you can be tricky; so why not choose both? I'm Not Crazy While applying for not one, but two premium metal credit cards with a combined $1,000 annual fee may seem absurd to you, I'm here to provide you with the alternate narrative and tell you why we've decided to hold both cards in our wallet in 2018. Read on, and I will explain how $25/month will unlock a plethora of travel benefits for you and your loved ones this year. Sign Up Bonuses With the sign up bonuses offered by both cards, the rewards more than compensate you for the annual fees you incur in that first year. At the laziest redemption level, using points to...

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Chase IHG MasterCardFree NightsIHGUpgrades

Chase Changes Terms on the IHG Card

As I've told you before, one of my "keepers" has been the IHG Card from Chase due to it offering a free hotel night at any of their properties in exchange for the $49 annual fee each year. Earlier this week, I received a letter from Chase explaining that the "Anniversary Free Nights issued after May 1, 2018 will [only] be redeemable at eligible IHG hotels with a redemption value up to and including 40,000 points. In addition, a "premier card" is hinted at for the future. My supposition is that Chase would ultimately like to offer two IHG card options: The original $49 card with lower value; and a premium card with a larger annual fee and better benefits for frequent guests. While I don't have a problem with the addition of a premium card, it is very disappointing that Chase is downgrading

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AMEX PlatinumBarclay Uber VisaBoA Alaska Air VisaChase Hyatt VisaChase IHG MasterCardCredit CardsDiningFree NightsTravelUpgrades

2017 Rewards in Review

Annual Fees In 2017, we spent almost $800 on annual fees for five credit cards. That number may seem staggering, but we used the rewards associated with those cards to redeem nearly $6,000 in travel! Often times, cards that carry an annual fee also carry several benefits that, when used appropriately, can make for quite the lucrative hobby. By budgeting $66.50/month for travel (used entirely on annual fees), our monthly vacation budget became worth $497.48/month thanks to the reward redemption and associated benefits.   Return on Investment We tracked every dollar spent and earned through this process using Mint, and as you will see from the charts, we netted $5,171.78 in 2017. The largest return was from our AMEX Platinum Card which originated a whopping 36 redemption this year; but th...

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AMEX PlatinumCredit CardsGlobal EntryLoungesPriority PassRideshare AppsTravelTSA PreCheckUpgrades

Why the AMEX Platinum is Worth $550

I've been a happy holder of the American Express Platinum card since the beginning of the year, and despite my original intent to churn the card, I've been surprised to realize its value and I expect to renew it annually. To tell you more about my perceived value of this card, I've developed a Q&A below. What is a quick summary of the top benefits provided to the cardholder?  $200/year in Uber Credits $200/year in Airline Fee reimbursements Gold status with hotels: Marriott, SPG and Hilton Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre Check $100/year in Saks credits Airport lounge access with Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Club and Preferred Pass which grants access to the Alaska Airline lounges among others I'm worried I won't get the value of $550 I put into the card, should I s

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