Archive | February 2013

Meeting Minimum Spending – Summary of The Basics

Yesterday I received the last of the cards from my recent app-o-rama in the mail. Now it is time to spend! It’s very tempting to begin charging like crazy once you receive cards, and I can see how many people fall into the trap of credit card debt. So let’s talk about how you can meet the minimum spending requirements for bonuses without buying everything you see.

For those who have been doing this for a while there’s nothing new here, just a summary of existing info to help anyone who is just starting out.

1) The obvious – charge all of your normal expenses to the card. Treat it exactly as you would a debit card. When you go to the grocery store or gas station, put anything you can that you normally spend on the card. If you can meet your minimum spends this way absolutely choose it, easy and risk free.

2) Gift cards/Prepaid cards – I was lucky enough on my first churn to come across a couple great gift card deals. As I was attempting to meet the minimum spend on my Hilton HHonors American Express card I saw an ad for Office Max selling $100 Visa gift cards for $91. Yes, this means you can make money while spending even!

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Options to Top Off Mileage Accounts

A couple options today for topping off your mileage accounts (if any are set to expire these may be good options to extend):

1) 12 miles/points for Delta, Starwood or US Airways miles by answering a few trivia questions. Details here on Slickdeals.net.

2) 1,000 free Club Carlson points – Facebook like required. Details from The Points Guy.

Always Research before Applying

My phone rang yesterday with news of someone who decided to apply for a new card because my applications were going well. Before applying for anything make sure you are able to meet the minimum spend for the bonus and that you are getting the absolute best offer out there. I am NOT suggesting you sign up for any cards with bonuses you come across. Do your research and get the best bonus possible!!

My phone call was about the Delta Skymiles American Express. They were excited about a $50 statement credit. And while yes, that is exciting – they weren’t planning on using the card to spend $500 and get 30,000 Skymiles! When I mentioned that all they needed to do was put their normal charges on that card instead of their debit card they admitted they were nervous about credit. I treat my credit cards like my debit card. If the money is there, great I will use it. If not, I will wait until it is. DO NOT spend money you do not have. If you do, interest charges outweigh any benefits of these cards and you are no longer traveling for cheap. If you aren’t sure you can do that, then don’t sign up. There’s too much risk.

While this particular sign-up was not bad for the individual, this card has had better offers in the past – some with more miles (50,000 or 70,000) and/or a $100 statement credit. This was the card that I mentioned first peaked my interest in traveling this way, but I am waiting for one of the better offers to apply myself. Make sure you’re getting the most out of each application, research before applying.

Points Destination #1

I’m not the world’s most patient person…I couldn’t wait until my big trip to Japan. I needed a vacation this month! So when my boyfriend and I bought tickets to go see Cirque du Soleil’s Totem in Fort Lauderdale I started looking into hotel options. I checked the normal sites and tried bidding on Priceline even, but it was looking like $160 was the best I could do for a one night getaway. And when I live about an hour and a half away it’s difficult to justify that.

I decided beore the Hilton devaluation to go ahead and book a room at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina for 35,000 points. It was rated about 3.5 stars on most view sites so I was mostly expecting a decent enough place to stay. It was also my first stay as a Hilton Gold member due to my Citi Reserve card.

Upon arrival I was informed the hotel was at full capacity so there were no upgrades available for my first Gold stay. I was offered continental breakfast or 1000 Hilton points and chose the breakfast (definitely worth more after the devaluation!). I also used my Gold status to request a late checkout so we could relax the next morning.

Our room was in the East Villas and was nice enough. The hotel was slightly dated, and I can understand and agree with the 3.5/5 rating.

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Our room

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Hilton Gold Less than 48 hours after Citi Hilton Reserve approval

I have a Hilton stay coming up and after being approved for the Citi Hilton Reserve card, (Hilton Gold status as well as 2 weekend nights free after $2500 spent in 4 months and $95 annual fee NOT waived) I was anxious to see how long it took to get Gold status. I was approved Tuesday morning and by this morning (Thursday) my Hilton account shows Gold! Looking forward to my first stay on points and as a Gold soon!

Also, Mommy Points shared today that the two weekend night certificates (Friday, Saturday or Sunday nights) that used to be category 1-7 covering all categories before the latest Hilton HHonors devaluation will now be category 1-10 and still cover all categories. This is great news as category 10 properties can cost 95,000 points per night! (There is a link to the card on her page). There are some catches in that standard award availability has to exist to redeem the certificate, so I suggest you research if you are planning to use them in a specific location.

Rookie Misplay #1 – Transferring Points

With the upcoming doom of Hilton HHonors devaluation on March 28th I wanted to ensure I could book my AXON award by then. This means I needed roughly 102,000 HHonors points to post. While I had several methods for getting points, and am expecting about 72,000 more to post – I don’t think I will see them by March 28th due to the way my credit card statements hit in March. I decided to go ahead and transfer my American Express Membership Rewards points to Virgin Atlantic (1:1) and then to Hilton HHonors from there (1:2).

Virgin Atlantic’s page states ” Flying Club members can spend their miles for any reward available on the Hilton HHonors reward chart by exchanging Flying Club miles for HHonors points through the HHonors Reward Exchange. Miles can be transferred into Hilton HHonors points at a rate of 1 for 1 (minimum level of 10,000 miles and then in increments of 5,000) by calling the Flying Club helpline. Be sure to have your HHonors account number handy.” While I had read many reports online of transferring 1:2  – I definitely should have called at this point to confirm!! Instead, I transferred 51,000 points…

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American Express Opportunities

I mentioned applying for the Premier Rewards Gold back in January. The offer is back today, as The Points Guy explains here.

This is the same offer I jumped on for 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $1000 spent in 3 months and first year $175 annual fee waived. If you apply, take a screenshot as I was actually charged the annual fee and had to call and complain.

The points have been pending in my account since the last statement, but I learned today that by calling Amex Membership Rewards at 1-800-297-3276 they can post pending points to your account earlier.

I’ve decided to convert my points to Virgin Atlantic (1:1) and then to Hilton HHonors (1:2) in order to ensure I have enough HHonors points to book AXON by March 28th. This could take right up until the deadline as Virgin Atlantic claims their transfer to Hilton could take 30 days. Reports on FlyerTalk seem closer to two weeks though. But I wanted to convert my points right away so I was glad to learn Amex will post pending points if you call.