Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free $25, Free $20, 50,000 Points Credit Card Signup Bonus and 100 Free Miles

As I've written in a previous post, I am not regularly updating this blog, but will sporadically post when I see or hear about offers and promotions that I want to share.

Here are some nice offers for free money and miles. Some of them have been around for a while already, but just in case you haven't seem them yet, they are still available.

  • FREE $25 or more!
    Amex is running a promotion: Get a free $25 credit per Amex card just for spending $25! The only catch is that the $25 needs to be spent at a small business (not a national chain).

    You need to register each Amex card separately, then spend $25 at a small business store by 12/31/2010 and you will get a $25 statement credit per card that you spend $25.

    Purchases made online, at large, national chains, at franchised business locations and at government agencies are not eligible.

    Should work with any Amex credit card. (Including Citi Amex, Starwood etc.) So, if you have a number of Amex cards, you can really save some money, or get free items.
    More on Flyertalk and DansDeals

  • FREE $20!
    Amex is running a promotion where you get $20 statement credit just for spending $20 with any of their charge cards before 12/31/2010 at:

    - Brookstone, at: JFK, Newark, LGA & IAH
    - Dunkin' Donuts, at: JFK, Newark, & LGA
    - Hudson News, at: JFK, Newark, LGA & CLE
    - GOGO Inflight Internet, on any flight.

    No registration necessary
    . Just use your card, and you will get a statement credit for whatever you spend, up to $20.

    If you are not planning on traveling before the end of the year, here's an option: Call an actual Brookstone store (LGA: 718-505-1040 or IAH: 281-821-4641) and ask to make phone order through their store, and have it shipped to your house.
    More on Flyertalk and FrugalTravelGuy.


    If you don't see the 50,000 offer, try a different browser.

    American Express is offering their Platinum Charge Card with with a 50,000 points signup bonus after spending $1,000 during the first three months. Amex points can be transferred to many airlines, or you can get gift cards instead.

    The Platinum is the best publicly available, feature rich, Amex card. The only d
    ownside, and it's a big one, is the annual fee of $450, which applies even for the first year.

    The card comes with many really amazing benefits, in addition to the ones that come with most Amex cards. Some examples are: Lounge access at Continental, American, US Airways and Delta; Lose something within 90 days of purchase and Amex will reimburse you for it! (most other Amex cards only cover damage and theft).

    Plus get up to $200 credit per year for incidental charges from an airline. Charges like baggage fees, flight change fees, in-flight food all qualify.

    If you don't travel often, then you can cancel the card as soon as you get the points and still get most if not all of the $450 back (Amex should prorate the annual fee and refund the rest).

    Some people report that you can even enter the lounge with a cancelled card...

    Bottom line, if you travel often this is for sure a great card to sign up for. If you don't travel, then just check the benefits, and see if it's worth the extra money or the hassle.
    More on Flyertalk and DansDeals

    You will probably only get the miles if you have a Continental debit or credit card.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

500 Free Continental Miles

  • Free 250 Miles (for learning about their OnePass Online Auction.)
  • Free 250 Miles (for learning about onboard discounts.)
    You will probably only get the miles if you have a Continental debit or credit card.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

400 Free Priority Club Points

Download their toolbar to receive 300 points (Hint: You don't actually have to download the toolbar to get the points).

Answer all three questions to this quiz for another 100 points (Hint: 15, All of the Above and Silver)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Amazing Citi AA Signup Bonuses - 75,000 or 100,000 AA Miles!

This offer has been around for a few weeks now, so this may be old news to many, but I have been quite busy with other projects, and just signed up for them:

Citi is offering amazing signup bonuses for their AAdvantage cards. They all seem to come with first year free.

I know that a while back Citi effectively stopped churning, but it would seem that there are still exceptions, especially with the Business card. Myself and my wife both had Citi AA Business cards in the past (more than 90 days ago), and they are both currently closed. We both signed up for business cards the other day, (one from each of the offers below) and we were both approved!

Here are the current amazing offers from Citi (Both officially expire October 31st):
  • 75,000 Miles Signup Bonus
    Offer Link
    75,000 Miles after spending $1,500 within the first six months. This offer is for the Personal Visa, Personal Amex and Business Visa.

  • 100,000 Miles Signup Bonus
    This one doesn't seem to have an offer page, but I signed up for it, and then confirmed with the representative over the phone, that this is the offer.
    You get 50,000 after speding $750 during the first four months, and another 50,000 for spending $10,000 during the first year, So this one is great if you can do the spending.
    Personal Visa
    Personal Amex
    Business Visa
Good luck!

Some notes on Citi:
  • Citi charges 3% on all foreign charges (charges not made in the US). The 3% is even if the charge is in US dollars.
  • The Citi Amex is not a real Amex. If you are getting an Amex in order to take advantage of Amex's benefits, try one of these.

Blog Update

Blog Update:

As you most probably have noticed, there hasn't been any new posts for a month and half.
I apologize for that. I have been out of the country for a while now, and extremely busy. The truth is, I'm not sure if and when I'll be posting regularly again.

I am going to leave the blog up and running,
as there is lots of valuable information on it, and will post updates whenever I have a chance, or whenever I hear or see something that's too good to pass up. Perhaps I will put up an option to be notified of future posts.We'll see what happens.

Friday, July 2, 2010

250 Free Continental Miles

Here's another 250 free Continental miles. Will probably only work if you have a Continental debit or credit card.
In the past some of these free miles offers have posted while others haven't. It only takes a few seconds, so why not try.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Amex Starwood 30,000 Points Signup Bonus!

American Express is now offering 30,000 points signup bonus after spending $1,000 during the first three months! This is the best offer from the Starwood Amex that I've seen.
The offer is for both the Personal and the Business cards, and the first year is free.

If you haven't gotten one of them in the past, get it now! Or better yet, get them both for 60,000 points (120,000 if your spouse get's them too). The offer expires July 6th 2010.

The Starwood Amex is a great card to keep long term, and is one of my two main cards, together with Charles Schwab, that I use on a regular basis.

Some benefits of this card:

- It's an Amex - Great benefits and security and Ages your credit history!
- Reports your credit line to the CRA's - which helps keep your score high. Not all cards report it.
Best points/mileage program - more on OneMileAtATime and DansDeals.
- Hotel nights start at just 2,000 points
- Points transfer to miles in over 30 airlines
- Transfer 20,000 Starwood points into 25,000 miles - Often there are promotions for more.
- Low annual fee - First year free, after that it's $45/year

More on ViewFromTheWing

Chase Freedom 5% Cashback on Travel During Summer Months

Chase Freedom is offering 5% cashback on Gas, Airline tickets, car rentals and hotels, from July 1st - September 30th 2010.

The 5% is on up to $1,500 in spending. Totaling $75 cashback (1% standard cashback + 4% bonus).

Registration required

If you are looking for a cashback card, Charles Schwab is the best, but they aren't accepting new cardmembers now. Fidelity Amex also has 2% cashback. For a non-Amex, Chase Freedom is a decent card, but if you are applying for a new Chase card, there are way better signup bonuses out there, so I'm not sure I would 'waste' an application on a card that only has a $100 signup bonus.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Three Months Amazon Prime, Syms Bash & $0.99 for 250 labels

Amazon Prime - Cheap Diapers
After ordering the amazingly priced pampers from Amazon the other day, I got an email today giving me a free three month trial to Amazon prime. Whether or not you get the prime, the pampers are really cheap.

Now Amazon is offering 30% off diaper products when using Subscribe and Save. You can click here after ordering to cancel subscription.

Syms Bash

Syms is having their bash, where prices are cut approx. 25%, until July 5th. Nice store with good prices.

$0.99 for 250 Customized Labels - Today only
Use coupon code 854758859 to bring price down to $0.99 with free shipping.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google Voice Open to All - No Invitation Needed

Google Voice used to be open by invite only. It wasn't too hard to acquire an invite, but now Google made it easier by making it open to the public.

Google Voice is a great way to have a totally free US phone line anywhere in the world. I have been using Google Voice with an old Voip box (from Sunrocket) for the past couple of years, and love it.

In short:
Google Voice gives you a free US phone number. You can either choose by area code, or see if they have a word available. They don't give you a phone, just a phone number. So, you need to have another component to actually let you make and receive phone calls. Any phone will do the trick. If you want the whole thing to be totally free, then use one of the free programs out there, that can either be used as a soft-phone on the computer (you would then use a mic and headset to talk), or can be installed on an old voip box, you would then connect any land line phone to the voip box (this way would be much clearer).

I set it up my Google Voice with Gizmo Project, but now Gizmo Project is not accepting new sign-ups, so try Sipgate. I'll write up an updated post on the best ways to use Google Voice sometime when I have a chance.

You can also use Google Voice as a voicemail service, and for sending free text messages. Google Voice has unlimited free calls to anywhere in the US and Canada, free texts to anywhere in the world (I think) along with decent prices to the rest of the world.

Previous Posts
Review: Grand Central - Free virtual phone line!
GrandCentral Upgrades To Google Voice!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Great Sale on Pampers at Amazon - $27.89 For Big Box - Now $26.85!

Update 2: The Subscribe and save discount went up to 30%, making the total $26.84!
Update: Price dropped to $40.49, making the total $26.85!

Amazon currently has an amazing sale on diapers. They are offering 30% off most of their diaper products using Subscribe and Save. You cancel the subscription straight after ordering. Plus you can use a coupon for another $1.50 off.

I got the Pampers Economy Plus Pack for $27.89 after discounts, with free two day shipping. The regular price is $41.99. Usually the discounts are only for the smaller boxes, not on the big Economy Plus packs. So this came out very, very cheap.
  1. Click here, then click the coupon that says 'Save $1.50 on any ONE Pampers Diapers or Pants'. You may need to refresh the page a few times to get the coupon to show up. Once you click the coupon, come back here to #2.
  2. Pick the size you need:
    Size 1 (252 count)

    Size 2 (228 count)

    Size 3 (204 count)
    Size 4 (176 count)

    Size 5 (156 count)

    Size 6 (128 count)
  3. On the right side of the page, click 'Subscribe Now' for 15% off (Now 30% off).
  4. By checkout, use coupon code PMPLUVJN for another 15% off
  5. Once your order ships, you can cancel your 'Subscribe ans Save' in a second. Just click here, and cancel your subscription.
Total price is $41.99 -15% -15% -$1.50 coupon = $27.89.
Without the $1.50 coupon it's $29.39, which is still a great price.

$25 From American Express Pass, Free Pedometer and Miles

  • Free Pedometer

  • 5,000 Free Spirit Airlines Miles

  • $25 for reloading American Express Pass

    Update: The maximum amount you can take out of an ATM each week is $200

    It's basically a prepaid credit card that you purchase from American Express. Each time you add money to the prepaid card, the minimum amount is $25. When you add on $25 a second time, before August 15th 2010, you get a $25 bonus. Starting October 1st there will be a $3.95 monthly fee, until then it's free. So, if you don't want the fee, cancel before then. You can take out the money at an ATM for a $1.50 charge.
    More on Fatwallet

  • Kindle price drop to $189

Monday, June 14, 2010

35% Bonus For Transferring Hotel Points to American Airlines

American Airlines is running a promotion: Transfer hotel points to your AAdvantage account, and get a 25 - 35% bonus. The 25% bonus is on transfers up to 20,000 miles and 35% bonus for anything over 20,000 miles. See the terms and conditions for more details.

On nice opportunity here is with Starwood. If you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to American Airlines, between 6/14/10 - 6/30/10, you will get 33,750 AAdvantage miles: 20,000 + 5,000 bonus from Starwood (Starwood adds in an extra 5,000 for every 20,000 you transfer) + 35% = 33,750. The regular transfer, without this promotion, will get you only 25,000 AA miles.

To get the most miles, transfer only up to 60,000 points a day, as there is a maximum of 99,999, and 80,000 will total 100,000.

American Airline is the only airline I know of that counts mileage earned from any source (and not just actual flying miles) towards their million miles program, which gets you lifetime gold at a million, and lifetime platinum at two million.

For a while now I was considering transferring my Starwood points over to American, but never actually did it. Now with this promotion, I figured it's a good time. I moved over 60,000 Starwood points, which should get me 101,250 AA miles. Right now I have just under 650,000 lifetime AA miles. After this goes through, I should have around 750,000, just 250,000 short of a million. Maybe I won't reach a million before they cancel the program (and start counting only actual flight miles like all other airlines), but I figured why not give it a shot.

More on Flyertalk and DansDeals

Sunday, June 13, 2010

All About Credit - Collection Of Links

Here's a post with links to all the important credit articles from this blog.

Why use a credit card?
Which credit card to use?
What is a credit report?

Building and fixing your credit

Where to check your credit report and score

Credit cards for fun and profit

Advanced credit issues

Friday, June 11, 2010

Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Originally posted July 2nd 2008

Part nine in a series on Credit Card Education.

Part 1: General Credit Card Information
Part 2: Credit Reports and Scores Explained
Part 3: Building Your Credit - Your First Credit Card
Part 4: Fixing Your Credit – Tips And Tricks
Part 5: Where To Check Your Credit Reports And Scores
Part 6: Amex Financial Review
Part 7: Store Credit Cards
Part 8: Churning Credit Cards - Tips and Tricks

Part 9: Credit Cards With Great Signup Bonuses

Here are some of the best credit card signup bonuses available online. Read chapter eight for tips on on how to keep on opening cards without harming your credit.

In general, applying for a few cards every few months is a good balance between collecting lots of miles, and keeping a good credit score. If you want to earn lots of points and yet want to keep the process as simple as possible, then apply for 2-3 cards every six months, and when you apply for new cards six months later, cancel any of the previous cards that you don't want to keep anymore. You should also keep your eyes out for those amazing limited time offer signup bonuses, like the 100,000 BA miles offer.

If yo use an excel spreadsheet, keeping track of the cards, and seeing which cards you need to cancel and which ones have an annual fee coming up, can be a real simple and painless process.

This list of cards is not necessarily the best for long term use, see this post for a list of cards to use on a long term basis.

Before deciding which card to open, ask yourself:
1) Do I want to collect miles with a specific airline?
If you don't know what airline you want, consider getting a Amex Starwood, they're less points, but you can use them in any airline. Alternatively, get the Amex charge card. I like to collect miles with many different airlines, like that I have more options when it comes to redeeming.
2) How much money will I spend on each new card?
Many cards, you have to first spend a certain amount on the card in order to get the signup bonus. If you don't want to spend much on your credit cards, get the ones which give you miles after first purchase without a minimum spend. Read this post for lots of 'free' ways to spend money...

Some points to keep in mind when applying for cards at different banks:

Chase has been having some really good offers lately, but you can't open too many chase accounts. The general rule seems top be one application every six months, but it's definitely not strictly enforced, as I managed to get more than one within a six month period.
Citi is no longer allowing churning AA cards. If you once got a specific card, it's unlikely that they will approve you for the card a second time. If a long time has passed since you had the card last, you can try again.
I used to stick mainly to Citi AA cards, as they let you open them again and again, and even have more then one of the same exact card at the same time... but now that they basically stopped the churning, I moved on to other cards.
American Express: I wouldn't open too many Amex cards, as that can trigger a financial review. One or two a year should be fine though. A real nice thing about Amex cards is that every new personal card you open gets reported to credit bureaus as if it was opened the year your first Amex card was opened. This really helps lengthening your credit history!


Amex Business Gold - Special Offer
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 by December 31st 2010.
- First year is free, after that it's $125/yr.
- Every year that you spend $50,000, you get 25,000 bonus points.
- This is a great offer if you can do the spending.

Amex Premier Rewards
- 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000.
- Lots of people reported actually getting 30,000 signup bonus.
- Every year that you spend $50,000 on the card, you get a 25,000 point bonus.
- First year free. After that it's $175/yr.

- There was a limited time offer of 25,000 for this card (although the 30,000 seems to be a better deal...)

Gold Charge Card
10,000 points after first purchase. (Redeemable for $100 gift card)

Amex Delta
35,000 Miles. Personal and Business. $95/yr. First year free.
Try this link to see if you can get a better offer.

If you got a Amex Delta card in the past, try applying without entering your Delta SkyMiles number. I've read that if you do that, they will just make you a new Delta SkyMiles account and give you the miles. After you get the miles, you can call Delta and ask them to combine the accounts. There's no guarantee that it will work, but worth a try.

Amex Starwood
Personal and Business:10,000 points after first purchase
With the personal card, get an additional 15,000 points if you spend $15,000 during the first 6 months. Some people were able to get the 15,000 points with the Business card as well.
First year free. After that it's $45/yr.
The personal Starwood is a great card to keep. It's one of my two everyday spending cards, together with my 2% Schwab card. (See here for more on the Schwab card)

Amex Hilton
Up to 52,500 points, with spending $1,500 and adding an additional user. If you stay at their hotels you can earn an additional 10,000.
No annual fee.


As above, Chase might decline your application if you applied for a Chase card within the past six months, so choose wisely.

Chase Sapphire:
25,000 points for spending $3,000 during the first three months. First year free, after that it's $85/yr. When first year is over, downgrade to free card.
- Use 25,000 points for one of the following: redeem for a flight worth up to $312.50 (and earn miles on that flight), get $250 statement credit, or transfer into 25,000 Continental miles

Chase Marriott -
50,000 points plus free hotel night, annual fee is $65, even for first year. I'm not sure as to the value of their points, but it looks like a nice offer. You also get a free hotel night every year you renew.

Chase Continental - 32,500
25,000 after first purchase, and 5,000 for adding an authorized user.
No social needed for the additional cardmember, so it won't hurt anyone's credit.
Plus, get at least 2,500 from the Mileathon promotion. Even more if you get more points.
First year is free, $85 from second year.

Chase United

Personal Card: 30,000 after spending $250. First year free. After that $60.
Business Card: 30,000 after spending $250. $75/yr.
Limited Time Offer - 50,000 miles signup bonus for United Visa. $60/yr. First year free.

Chase Amtrak - 36,000 points
Transfer to Continental once you spend $200 on Amtrak.
Hint: If you buy a fully refundable train ticket, it can be canceled and refunded even months later.
More at ViewFromTheWing

Chase SouthWest
16 Credits (free flight) after first purchase.
Personal and Business are $59/yr.

Citi used to allow you to open the same cards again and again, and earn the signup bonus each time. That changed since Citi stopped churning.

Citi AA Cards
35,000 miles after spending $750. Officially only for first time applicant . Very few people have reported getting the signup bonus a second time after the crackdown.

Here is a link for a Citi AA Business card that doesn't say that it's for first time cardmembers only. So if you cancel your old Citi Business cards you might be able to get this one. The thing the first year isn't free, it's $85.

-AA is the only airline I know of that considers mileage earned from credit cards towards their million miles program.
-Citi AA cards have no preset spending limit, which could slightly negatively affect your score.
If you pay your bill before the statement closes, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Still unsure which card to get? Send me an email, I'll try to help.

Targeted promotions:
There are often better promotions that are sent out to specific people (Targeted). Make sure to look at the credit card offers in the mail, as there are some great offers among all the junk. One of the more common targeted offers that I've heard of: Amex Gold Charge Card with 50,000 MR points after spending $500

Important Tip:
Most credit cards will check your report and score at only one of the three CRA’s.
So, if you see that you have lots of inquiries with one CRA, you might want your next card to be one where they check a different CRA. Also, if you have a higher score at one of the CRA's you might want to try to get your next card and inquiry at that CRA. From my experience, each bank will usually check the same credit report for all people within a geographic area.

My reports here in NY were generally pulled from the following CRA's
Amex – Experian
Citi – Transunion (From mid 2008, they started checking Equifax)
Chase - Experian

Expired Offers

I will move some of the expired offers down here.

Chase United
United Airlines Personal and Business 20,000 miles after first purchase
United Airlines
Personal and Business 25,000 miles after spending $25o
United Airlines
Personal 30,000 miles after spending $250, but first year is not free.
American Express

Amex Delta
Personal and Businesss: 25,000 miles after first purchase and adding two additional cardmembers. Plus get $50 off your next Delta trip.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Great Business Amex Signup Bonus, And The End of Bing

American Express Business Gold Card
  • 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 by December 31st 2010.
  • First year is free, after that it's $125/yr.
  • Every year that you spend $50,000, you get 25,000 bonus points.
This is a great offer if you can do the spending.

Most people, I believe, will gain more from keeping a Starwood after the first year, as it is cheaper ($45/yr, compared to $125), and Starwood points are generally accepted to be worth more. If, however, you need to make really large purchases on the card, then you might want to use a charge card like this one and not a Starwood. With the charge card, which doesn't have a preset spending limit, you can build up your spending limit to a very high amount. With the Starwood, you would be more limited.
In addition, if you spend just over $50,000 a year, you will end up with 75,000 points, and if you would transfer those points to airline miles, you will end up with more than had you used the Starwood.

The End of Bing
Come July 31st, Bing will no longer be offering cashback for clicking through Bing has in the past offered some of the largest cashback around. They were at one time offering 35% at eBay, 25% at Macy's and 20% at Walmart, along with many more great offers. So, if you are planning some big shopping, you might want to check Bing t0 see what cashback they offer.

There still will be the regular cashback sites, MrRebates, eBates and Fatwallet to name a few. But Bing will most definitely be missed. For lots of stores, Bing by far had the highest cashback offers.

You can continue earning cashback until July 31st 2010. After July 31st you won't be able to earn cashback, but you still will be able t oredeem your cashback that you have in your account, and Bing will remove the $5 minimum to get your money, so everyone will be able to empty their Bing account.

Further Reading:
Best uses of American Express Membership Rewards points
Pay Less When You Shop Online: Get Cashback

Friday, June 4, 2010

Free Miles, Credit Card Offers And Some Updates

Sorry for the lack of posts the past week.

Here are some of the latest offers for free miles, along with some nice credit card offers.
  • 100 Free Continental Miles
    - Will probably only work if you have a Continental debit or credit card.
  • US Airways Promotions
    I have never collected miles with them, but the promotions seem nice.

  • 10,000 United Miles For Graduating College
    before graduating.

  • Chase Credit Cards With Nice Signup Bonuses
    If, you've taken advantage of the amazing offers from Chase that have been around lately, namely the 100,000 BA card, 50,000 United and 30,000 Continental, then I'm not sure if you are ready for any more Chase cards right now. But, if you missed those great offers, get one of these.

    • Chase Sapphire - 25,000 points for spending $3,000 during the first three months. First year free.
      Use 25,000 points for one of the following: redeem for a flight worth up to $312.50 (and earn miles on that flight), get $250 statement credit, or transfer into 25,000 Continental miles
    • Chase Marriott - 50,000 points plus free hotel night, annual fee is $65, even for first year. I'm not sure as to the value of their points, but it looks like a nice offer. You also get a free hotel night every year you renew.
  • Some Updates
    • The 50,000 United miles posted even though a card was had in the past.
    • If you signed up for the 100 Membership Rewards points, keep an eye out on your email for the certificate, then redeem it.
    • If you got the free gold status with Virgin, try and use it sometime. Their lounge in Heathrow is really something special.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fly to Europe In The Summer For $399!

Update: The $399 fare is disappearing very quickly. Will not last much longer.

Iceland Express is running a promotion for Round-trip flights from NY to many places in Europe, including London, starting at $399 after all taxes and fees. Valid for flights June through September. With ticket prices in the summer costing over $900, this fare is truly amazing!

The catch:

- Iceland Express is a no frills airline - They even charge to choose a seat!
- 20kg luggage per person (as opposed to the normal 23)
- A stopover in Iceland...
- I don't think you get any miles for the flight.

If their fares were only $100 cheaper than others, I'm not sure I would recommend it, but this price is just too good to pass up.

You can sign up to get such deal alerts from Travelzoo.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

500 Free American Airline Miles - Download eShopping Toolbar

Download the AAdvantage eShopping toolbar, and use it once before June 30th to get 500 free miles.

In addition, you can earn 1 mile for every three searches, up to 100 miles a month. Great to keep your miles from expiring, as earning even just one mile will extend the life of all your AA miles. Also good for when you need to top up your account.

The toolbar is an easy way to see at which shopping sites you can earn miles. If you don't like the toolbar, simply uninstall it.

If you didn't sign up yet with AAdvantage eShopping, sign up before May 31st for an additional 500 miles. If you're new to the American Airline mileage program, enroll using promotion code HIS10 to maybe get 1,000 miles.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why The Obsession With Miles?

This blog is devoted to creative ways to save and earn money. Why do I focus on earning miles, which seems to be something for hobbyists or collectors? Isn't mileage collecting only for people that constantly fly and like flying first class, and not for most people?

Well, in short, the answer is that miles are valuable for (almost) everyone, even for regular people. The exact value of miles really depends on who is collecting the miles, and which airline they are collecting with. The bottom line is that miles are extremely valuable, even if you don't consider yourself a traveler or don't care for flying first class.

I know when something sounds too good to be true, our gut reaction might be to think that it probably isn't for real. But that's not the case here. I have collected way over a million miles over the past three years. Many people have collected way more than me.

The easiest way to collect lots of miles is through credit card signup bonuses. True, you earn miles every time you fly, and when you use some credit cards, but it doesn't even come close to the miles you can earn from opening credit cards.

One of the reasons people are skeptical of earning mileage is that it takes so much travel just to earn one free flight. But you can earn a free flight just from one credit card signup!

For example, 25,000 miles gets you a free flight anywhere in the US. This is worth anywhere from $200 for someone on a tight budget to $1000 for someone who pays for first class tickets. You can earn 25,000 miles easily, just by opening a credit card! In fact, there are often promotions which let you earn two, or even four free domestic tickets, just for opening up a credit card! Recently, we've applied for the 50,000 United miles and the 100,000 British Airways miles signup bonuses.

The miles are generally free to collect. The amazing thing about miles is that companies give them out far faster than they give out free cash. Even if you don't have any travel plans, it's a good idea to save up for when you might fly, even in a year or two.

Let's take a current offer out there as an example: 35,000 miles for a Citi credit card. (You can get three different types of cards, totaling 105,000 miles, or 4 domestic tickets.)

The amount of time it takes to get a credit card, including spending the money, paying the bill (and canceling the card, if you choose to do so), shouldn't take longer than 3 hours. If you are applying for more than one card, the amount of time per card goes down. It probably takes me about 1.5 hours per card total.

Now, let's see what those miles are worth. It really depends on your travel style. To me miles are worth just over a penny a mile, making 35,000 miles worth $350. In many situations, miles can be worth way, way more than that. This doesn't mean that you should be pay $350 for 35,000 miles, as you might have to hold on to the miles for a long time before actually using them, but it does give you an idea as to their value. Here's an article that discusses the value of miles as well.

Even if you consider 35,000 miles to be worth just $200, remember that this currency is not taxed! So it's better than getting $200 in cash which you would have to pay taxes on.

Here's how I would generalize the different categories of people using miles. The value per mile is just an estimate. It can be worth less, say if you use the miles for a cheap / short distance flight. And it can be much, much more valuable for you. Take for example a flight within the US which cost $500 - $600. In such a scenario, the same 35,000 miles would obviously be worth much more.
  • Never Travel: 0.5c/mile
    If you absolutely never fly at all, and never plan to fly in your life, then you can use the miles to either get gift cards, magazine subscriptions etc. or trade your miles with someone, for something they might have that you want.

  • Travel Every Few Years: 0.7c/mile
    If you are like most people, and travel at least every once in a while, even it's only once every couple of years, then you can benefit from using the miles for flights. You need to keep on top of your miles (use AwardWallet) to make sure they aren't expiring. For such a person I would value miles at least .7 cents a mile.

  • Fly Often - Tight Budget: 1c/mile
    If you are a frugal traveler on a tight budget, then you can use your miles instead of spending a few hundred dollars on airfare. For such a person I would value miles at about a penny a mile. So 30,000 miles is worth $300. As mentioned above it can be worth less, if you use it on a cheaper flight, though if you fly often, then you can save the miles for the more expensive flights. If you use your miles for a last minute booking or an expensive route, then the miles can be saving you double that or more.

  • Enjoys Flying First Class 2c/mile
    If you fly coach when you pay for tickets with cash, but would be willing to pay a few hundred dollars more in order to fly business or first, then I would value miles between 1.5 and 2 cents a mile. See this post from ViewFromTheWing for some amazing First class mileage redemption options. Some of them seem to be pretty close in cost to a economy flight redemption.

  • Only Business or First Class: 3c/mile
    If you are the type of person who enjoys flying business and first class, and are willing to pay for it, the miles are much more valuable. For such a person, miles can be worth three cents a mile or more, making 35,000 miles worth over $1,000!

  • Trading Your Miles
    If you have a friend that needs a flight, you can use your points to get them a ticket. One day down the line, that friend might get something back for you.

    Some people go as far as outright purchasing miles from people. This is not allowed by the airlines. So, if you go down that path, be aware that the airline can take away all your miles. The point is that you are allowed to buy someone a ticket using your miles but you are not allowed to get paid for it.
To summarize, when you apply for a card for the miles, you are earning $300 - $1000 for three hours of work. Impressive? Come on board and start reaping the awards!

There are a few basic downsides to mileage collecting:

1) Miles Expire
The downside of points and miles, is that it can take a while until you actually use the miles, and especially if your family collect miles or points with a few different programs, it can be a headache to track all the points and make sure they aren't expiring. It can also be tough to even remember all those mileage accounts, and how many miles you have in each account.

To solve this, use AwardWallet. See my review here. Also, every once in a while there are offers for free miles from different airlines. Every time you have some activity in a mileage account, it extends the life of all the miles in that airline.

2) Keeping track of all your credit cards
If you sign up for lots of credit card for the signup bonuses, it can be a headache trying to remember which cards you have, and which you need to cancel.

To solve this, use an excel spreadsheet to easily keep track of it all, and you can set a reminder in your calendar for when to cancel the card. Send me an email, and I'll send you what I have.

3) Don't like opening and closing cards
If opening and closing cards isn't for you for whatever reason, either because you find it too time consuming, or because you don't feel comfortable with the idea of opening a card just to get the signup bonus then closing the card after that, you can still get one great signup bonus card from each company, then just downgrade it to a free version once the first year is over.

If you are new to the credit card scene, read up the Credit Education Series, and check your credit report before you go out and apply for a bunch of cards. Make sure your credit is good before you start.

Recommended Sites:
Here are some sites you may want to check out if you start collecting miles. Each one is unique, check them all and see which ones you like: Flyertalk, FrugalTravelGuy, ViewFromTheWing, OneMileAtaTime, FrequentFlyerMiles and DansDeals.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

35,000 Miles For Citi American Airlines Credit Cards

Citi is now offering 35,000 miles as a signup bonus (after spending $750). First year is free.

This is the best offer I've seen from Citi. If you haven't gotten all three of these cards in the past, now is the time.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

100 Free Membership Rewards Points

Earn 100 Membership Rewards points for enrolling in the Dunkin’ Donuts Perks Program.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Get $30 for Paying Three Bill With Chase Debit Card

Here's how to get an easy $30 from Chase.
  1. Log in to your Chase account.
  2. Click here to enroll your Chase or WaMu Debit Card in the promotion.
  3. Pay 3 or more phone, cable/satellite TV, insurance and/or utility bills using your enrolled Chase or WaMu Debit Card by August 1, 2010. Each bill needs to be at least $25. You can pay the bills by using your debit card as you would a credit card, when paying your bills at the website of the company who's bill you are paying.
  4. The $30 should be deposited to your Chase account after September 1st.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Amazing Deal! All Jetblue Flights $10 - May 11th & 12th

Will sell out very quickly!

Some cities are excluded, see link.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Three Steps in Handling Disputes With Companies

It happens. You order something that doesn't arrive; you buy a ticket and the flight is delayed/canceled; you get overcharged; you're disappointed with the level of service you receive. What do you do? And how do you get your money back?

Here are the three steps to try. Start at the first step and stop when you succeed. I've had success at step one, sometimes at step two, and there were a few times where I only succeeded at step three. Decide how much your time is worth and stop when it's not worth pursuing any further.

1. Try dealing direct with the company.

Depending on the company, this ranges from extremely easy to a nightmare. Some companies are generous, while others make you fight for your money. In any case, the right thing is to try to sort it out with the company first.

Contact the company's customer service department by phone, and ask to speak to a supervisor if the representative can't help you. If that doesn't work, send an email.
If that doesn't work, try an Executive Email Carpet Bomb. An Email Bomb is simultaneously emailing many people from the company, including those at the executive level, such as the president and vice president. This Consumerist article has directions on preparing a Email Bomb and tips on writing an effective letter of complaint.

At all levels, make your complaint clear and specify how you would like to be compensated.

If that doesn't work, then:

2. Dispute the charge with your credit card.

If you made the charge on a credit card, you can usually dispute the charge with the credit card company. All it takes is a quick phone call to your credit card company. If you used an Amex, you can even easily do the dispute online.

The credit card company will temporarily remove the charge until they finish their investigation. You will usually see results within a month. Sometimes the company doesn't respond to to the credit card company. If that happens, you usually get a refund. If they do respond, then the credit card company decides who is right.

In my experience, Amex has consistently been the best with handling disputes. (See my story at the end of this post.).

As a side note, I have found that any dispute under $10, it seems that Amex just refunds to you without even contacting the company in dispute.

If that doesn't work, then:

3. Take them to small claims court.

This information is for New York City, check your local court for details in your city.

I know, it sounds like a big deal. Court cases sound big and scary. Small Claims Court really isn't. It's a fairly simple process and you don't need a lawyer.

The court fee is $15. If you want to file it online, rather than going to the court, it costs another $15, totaling $30. Small Claims Court is for claims up to $5,000. You will get a court date, and the company will receive a summons as well.

Last I checked, the court has a system for assigning court dates: All cases that are opened today will be given a certain day as the court date. If you are worried that the court date will be inconvenient, you can call the court and find out when your court case would be if you file today, and if it's not good for you, call the next day. The site I have used to file claims online, is

If you are taking a big company to court, chances are pretty good that they will want to settle out of court. (When I took Virgin Atlantic to court, that's what happened as well.) You can negotiate with them. Even if you go to court, you don't need a lawyer, and it's pretty straightforward. A judge will hear both sides of the story and decide.

Here's the link to New York Small Claims Court for more information.

You can only take someone to small claims court in NYC if they do business or have a mailing address in NYC. Search the New York Department of State to see if the company has an address in NYC.

Good luck!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Amex Return Protection and Amex Online Claims

A way to live better while spending less, is to take advantage of situations that present themselves. Be it a 30,000 mile signup bonus that can save you a few hundred dollars next time you travel, setting up a free worldwide phone service or making sure to use a credit card that rewards you and protects you from all different issues that can come up with purchases.

Keeping on top of things like that can make a difference of thousands of dollars a year! Just because something sounds too good to be true, doesn't mean it is. That's not to say that you should take advantage of every single offer, signup bonus and benefit out there. Read the details of different offers and benefits, and decide for yourself which ones you want to take advantage of.

Some things take time till they reward you, while with other things you see it right away. Don't not take advantage of something just because the reward will be months or years in the future.
The point is to invest in the future, think ahead and think outside the box.

Here's an example. When shopping with an American Express credit card (and lots of other cards for that matter, I just like Amex the best) you are automatically protected from many different issues that can come up with a purchase. Anywhere from disputing the charge, to the item breaking a year and a half after purchasing, to wanting to return the item simply because you don't like it. So when you shop, think twice about which credit card you use.

I recently took advantage of the one major Amex benefit that I haven't utilized yet, Amex Return Protection.

If you buy an item and the store doesn't want to take it back, and it's still within the first 90 days after purchases, Amex will take it back and credit you the full amount, up to $300 per item, and $1,000 per year. If the store will take it back, but will charge you a restocking fee, Amex will cover the restocking fee, up to $300!

Click here to file a claim online, or call them at 1-800-297-8019. Click here for more information on this benefit.

If Amex wants you to send them the item, which in my experience, they always did, you will need to pay to ship the item to them.

This benefit comes with most Amex cards free of charge. Cards from other banks that have the Amex branding (like the Citi AA Amex) do not have the same benefits, although they might have their own.

My experience
I purchased something from BestBuy. Two months later I filed a online claim with Amex, (BestBuy only has a 30 day return policy). I was then instructed to email Amex a copy of the receipt, which I did. Two weeks later I got an email telling me to ship the item to Amex at my expense. Once they received it, they credited the full purchase amount to my credit card. All I lost in the process was $2 for shipping the item to Amex (First Class Mail).

Filing claims online:
To read more about all the benefits of Amex cards see this post:
Review: American Express Credit Cards Benefits