How stuff works

Flexible Points for the Win!

I keep meaning to diversify my points.

I have a whole pile of American Airlines miles (thanks Citi), plenty of American Express Membership Rewards, United MileagePlus miles, and a smattering of points with Alaska and Virgin America (soon to be combined anyway).  I had a healthy balance of Southwest Rapid Rewards, but I’ve been burning through those before my Companion Pass expires at the end of the year.  As for hotels, I have decent stash of SPG and IHG, but I’d like to snag some Hilton and Hyatt points, and maybe even some Wyndham, Club Carlson, or Best Western points to round things out.

Luckily, I continue to build my portfolio of points slowly but surely.  With the cards I have, I can easily get Membership Rewards points and Citi ThankYou Points in a pinch, while my girlfriend has a good balance of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards points.

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Rocketmiles Review

I used Rocketmiles to book a hotel for the first time this past trip – the lovely Hotel Santa Maria Inn, on the outskirts of Alajuela.

For those of you that aren’t aware of the site, Rocketmiles essentially acts as a travel agent, charges a bit extra, and throws some airline miles your way for the hassle.

Here’s my experience.

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Investing with Rewards

Hey everyone!

You know what I find really interesting?

All the stats on this blog, any blog, really.  Come to think of it, I guess I just like statistics!  (Hey, anyone that tells you travel hacking doesn’t attract folks with a geek side…is lying.)

It’s not a big blog over here in my corner of the internet, by any means, but there are enough people stopping by every month that I’m starting to see some trends.  One of the more interesting trends is seeing which posts are the most popular.

My write-up and first impressions on the American Express Platinum Card for Charles Schwab is still holding down third place for all time popularity!

I wrote that one when I opened up the card in July of 2016, and it continues to bring in an audience.  Last year, it was in 4th place for total views, even though it was only up for less than half the year!  Given the popularity, I thought I’d do some experiments with the Schwab card.

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Setting up JetBlue Family Pooling

So, this summer the kiddo has the privilege of jumping on JetBlue metal.  Guess what?  It’s a trip without me!

When I told him I booked his flight on JetBlue, he exclaimed, “Finally!  Something other than Southwest!”  I haven’t been on a JetBlue flight yet either, I suppose I owe that to the Companion Pass..

He’ll be going to visit some family on the West Coast, and I’m not heading up in the air with him this time.  Naturally, I signed him up for a JetBlue TrueBlue account, so he could earn miles on his flight.  Normally, I would have stopped there.

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The First Time I bought Points…

First time for everything, right?

This hobby has taught me a lot.  First, I was appalled by paying annual fees on credit cards.  I mean, I had my trusty Discover card.  Who needs a card that’s going to charge you just to use it?  Plus, way before all of that, I thought all credit cards were evil!

Then, I thought people chasing status were crazy.  I’m too tough for premium level service anyway, that’s for sissies.  That may have changed too.

And up until recently, I thought buying your miles was nuts.

Well, that’s all changed.

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Thoughts on the Airline Reimbursement Perk from American Express

American Express just isn’t what it used to be.  (Ask your grandfather.)  Sure, there’s this lingering air of prestige* when you pull out the Platinum card, but there are plenty of cards licking at its’ heels.  You can make (and probably win) the case that a card like the Citi Prestige or the Chase Sapphire Reserve has already surpassed the Platinum.

Whether you win that argument with yourself or not, I find myself with an American Express Platinum card, so we might as well see how it works, right?

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Gift Card Arbitrage: An Introduction

Welcome to my dirty secret.  I sell gift cards.  Lots of them.

I’m not walking up and down the streets “Geeeeet your gift cards here!”  But I am turning them and making a profit.  When you boil it down, gift card arbitrage (fancy name for reselling them) is commerce at it’s simplest form.

Find something.  Add value.  Sell for higher value.

Although with gift cards, it’s really more like this:  Find a gift card at a great deal.  Sell for market price.  The marginal profit between your buy rate and your sell rate is yours to keep!  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the ability to earn credit card points/miles on the purchases, as well as the occasional shopping portal pay out!

So, let’s figure out how it works.

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Just another ride home from the airport: Triple stacking an Uber promotion

No, unfortunately, it wasn’t me heading home from the airport.  Full disclosure…I haven’t gotten time to travel since exploring Chicago this past October.

I know!  I’m getting restless, but don’t worry.  I do have a few travel ideas coming up in the next couple of months.

I happened to have friend flying into Boston last week though, and that flight just happened to land after the public transportation system had shut down for the night.

Hey, did you know you could request an Uber ride for a friend?

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Christmas Shopping: Travel Hacking Edition

Ready for Christmas??  If you celebrate this particular holiday, you can often feel like it’s all about buying presents, and has very little to do with the actual ‘spirit’ of Christmas.

I’m all for the spirit, it’s about giving, right?  Now, I try to ensure the gifts I give are actually useful for the recipients.  Or something thoughtful and sentimental.  If I can hit both targets, even better!  I just don’t believe in giving useless gifts.  And I can’t stand getting something that I’ll never use.  I just hate to see people lose out on their money for something I won’t use, you know?

Christmas is such a corporate holiday, anyway.  It’s just as bad as Black Friday, but hidden under a cloak of candy canes and hot chocolate.  At least we see Black Friday for what it is when people are fighting in the aisles over a new TV.

Takes a deep breath…

Ok, sorry about that.  Rant over.  No matter how you feel about Christmas, make sure you’re getting yourself a little something too!  For me, that means the kickbacks from shopping portals!

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