Archive | March 2013

Planning A Trip To Paris!

Next month will be my first trip to Paris and Barcelona! Five nights in Paris followed by a short flight to Barcelona and three nights there. Unfortunately, my desire to travel is currently greater than the balances in my award point accounts. Therefore, I went ahead and paid for this trip. There will be no points involved. I came across a website called and decided to try it out. It was a package deal, you pick the dates and the locations and they recommend hotels and flights and give you an overall price. We selected Paris and Barcelona and the total package price came to a little over what I was able to find just the flights for online! My friend and I decided to give it a try and took a slight risk in doing so. I did some research on the company prior and although there were some mixed reviews there was enough positive to go for it. Luckily so far it seems to have worked out and I can see my flights on Delta’s website. So even if both hotels fall through I’m not out a whole lot of money. We were able to see the hotels before booking and looked up reviews on and similar websites.

Since our trip is now set, it’s time to start looking into details for the Paris portion! I have several friends/coworkers who have been to Paris and all had great suggestions. Ultimately I am currently trying to narrow down my list to the “must dos” and the “if we have times”. For now, the musts are: Read More…


[Expired] Free Weekend AVIS 2-Day Car Rental Code

If you’re looking to rent a car over a weekend before June 30th of this this year it could be free! The Mr. Pickles has tested and shared an awesome deal for a free two day weekend AVIS car rental. You can find out all the details here on his blog.

Rookie Misplay #2 – Changing Award Travel Plans

With the upcoming Hilton changes on March 28th, I wanted to go ahead and book the portions of the Japan trip that I could. Specifically the Hilton four night AXON award at Conrad Tokyo, the two free weekend night Citibank Hilton Category 1-7 reward stay, and the flight home on American Airlines.

You can read more about how I initially booked the trip, but what I didn’t mention in that post is that I had backed the trip up by a week. When planning a few months ago I looked at availability on American Airlines from Tokyo and it showed plenty for the week I was interested in. When I went to book that flight last week, there was no availability that entire week! Seemed odd, but I figured maybe award seats ran out and that was it. So I booked a week later with no problems and booked my Hilton stay as well. Earlier this week I checked the American Airlines site again, and the entire week I had wanted was suddenly available again!

Read More…

Citi Hilton Reserve Certificates – Changing My Plans To Avoid Disappointment

I had originally planned on booking the Japan trip using Citi Hilton Reserve Visa’s two free weekend night certificates at the Conrad Tokyo as a backup until I got the Hyatt two free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo set up through the Hyatt card. The Citbank certificates currently say category 1-7 hotels, but there are some reports that the free weekend night certificates will still be useable at the top tier Hilton hotels even after the category changes next week on the 28th (see my previous posts on the Hilton Honors devaluation if you’re not sure what I’m talking about). I recently met the minimum spending on the Citibank Hilton Reserve card and was issued my certificates this week. Unfortunately, they specifically say Category 1-7. I called Citibank to see if they would be updated or if I lose out and they told me to ask Hilton. I asked Hilton, who – surprise, surprise – told me to ask Citibank. So I decided to be sure and change my plans. I will no longer apply for the Hyatt card, and instead we will spend 6 straight nights at the Conrad Tokyo. I will go for the Hyatt suite nights on another trip in the future.

So I currently have two nights booked at the Conrad Tokyo using the Hilton Reserve Visa certificates from meeting the minimum spend, and four nights booked using an AXON award from having the American Express Hilton Honors card (which has no annual fee, no reason not to have this card!). We are set for 6 nights in Tokyo!!

Booking My First Rewards Trip (to Japan!)

With the recent Hilton HHonors devaluation I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the Hilton reward I intended to use for four nights in Tokyo will cost me more points after March 28th. Currently, I can book an AXON award for a Category 7 hotel like the Conrad Tokyo for four nights for 145,000 points. It is unclear how much this will change to after the 28th, but for a single night the Conrad Tokyo is going from 50,000 to 95,000 and Cat 7 to Cat 10! So it most likely will be much more. Due to this change I’m booking my trip earlier than I had planned.

I currently have enough for one way Business class on American Airlines and enough hotel to cover 5 Hilton nights (four AXON at the Conrad Tokyo and one at the Hilton Narita by the airport). I will have enough United miles after my next month’s statements to book the other flight. And also just met the minimum spending for the two free Citi Hilton Reserve Weekend Nights (although hope to get the Hyatt card and use the two free nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo instead of the Hilton certificates if possible). But with the Hilton changes I wanted to lock in that award.

Honestly I have no idea if I’m going about this the right way, or if there’s a much better strategy – but here’s what I did. If it’s terribly wrong hopefully you can learn from my mistakes. Read More…

How Not To Meet Minimum Spends

I met the minimum spend on one of my cards today – by deciding I can’t wait until the Japan trip and booking a Paris/Barcelona trip sooner! No, I am not falling into the depths of credit card debt hell. I got my tax return and figure I have the rest of my life to be responsible. 🙂

So, I broke the rules and flat out purchased a trip. No points, no free nights, just a package vacation at a good price. I have plenty of destinations left to use points/miles in the future as they accrue! Will be spending five nights in Paris and three in Barcelona. Any suggestions?

Also, I’m glad I worked a card with no foreign transaction fees and a chip into my last churn (Citi Hilton Reserve). Wasn’t planning on it before but it looks like that card will get some use!

You Don’t Always Have To Follow The (UR Shopping Portal) Rules

I recently made a purchase from and checking revealed that the Ultimate Rewards Portal would give 3 pts per $1.  However, I also found a promo code/coupon I wanted to apply for $25 off. The terms and conditions heading through the Ultimate Rewards portal stated that it was not valid with promotional codes. I decided since gift cards from Office Supply stores can generate 5x points per $1, I was going to risk it and try a $25 off coupon and if I didn’t get the points it wouldn’t be a huge loss. But I just got an e-mail saying it worked anyways!

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