Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Check Your IHG Balances

(Major HT to Frugal Travel Lawyer)

Yesterday, Frugal Travel Lawyer reminded me of a very valuable benefit of the IHG Visa. The IHG/Priority Club Visa offers a variety of benefits:

The most unique benefit of this Priority Club Card is the "10% Rebate on IHG Rewards Club Point Redemptions." Yes, I know the AAdvtange Citi Visa offers the same benefit. Use 30,000 points for one night at an Intercontinental and get 3,000 back after your stay. The 100,000 points maximum rebate is very generous.

Frugal Travel Lawyer's post was her story about not getting the rebate. After using points for an October stay, she still has not received the rebate. I forgot about this benefit. Forgot about it completely. On my trip to Buenos Aires, I used 90,000 Priority Club points for 3 nights at the Intercontinental. With the rebate, I should have receive 9,000 points back.

After reading her article, I went to my IHG account to see if I received the rebate. To my surprise, the 9,000 points were in my account.

Looking further down, I saw another rebate:

My initial reaction was confusion. Why was I getting 3,200 points back? After a few minutes, I remembered that I spent 32,000 points for my Ambassador Status. Was this a mistake?

The answer is no. According to a IHG customer service representative, the rebate is for any points redemption including ambassador status.

The moral of this post:

 "if you have the IHG Visa and have used IHG points, in 2013, make sure the rebate has hit your account."
 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Live Like Ron Burgundy (for a night)

In 2004, Ron Burgundy stormed into America's heart in the movie The Anchorman.

Mr. Burgundy is back with his antics in Anchorman 2.

To celebrate, one hotel in Washington, DC is offering the "Stay Classy Package."

The Helix Hotel, apart of the Kimpton brand, is offering a package devoted to "Staying Classy," and being Mr. Classy himself, Ron Burgundy.

The "Stay Classy DC" Package includes the following:

This is a pretty great package. The two scotches are worth $20 and tickets to the Newseum tickets go for $22 a piece ($44 for two). That's $64 extra you are getting from this package.

The bad news is that availability for this package is not good. Most weekends the package is not available.

Maybe you will have better luck . . .
 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Saturday, December 28, 2013

My Absence Explained . . .

I'm sorry that I haven't posted much in the past few weeks. In honesty, I needed a break to make some decisions. A lot has happened and I needed a clear mind to work something out.

First, I lost the domain name: doitforthepoints.com. It was a stupid mistak. I am kicking myself for letting it happen. You see, I forgot to renew the domain name and someone else bought it. The only person to blame is numero uno!
To rectify the situation, I have moved back to the blogger platform. Back to www.doitforthepoints.blogspot.com. However, this is only for a short time.

The next thing I needed to determine was "did I want to continue to blog?" The loss of the .com address means that I am starting from the ground floor. Maybe not the ground floor, but no higher than the 2nd floor.

To make this big decision, I decided to stop blogging for a few weeks. The outcome wasn't shocking. While I like not having the stress of writing everyday, I felt something was missing from my life. One could call it a void. I was missing blogging. As I wrote in my Thanksgiving post, blogging is my outlet; my escape from the daily grind of life.

So, I am back! 

Blogging will continue at its normal pace in 2014. I absolutely love blogging and I need to continue.

But new changes will be coming in 2014:

  • New website
  • New domain name
  • New logo
  • New "Earning" Series 
  • More crazy travel for me 
  • More giveaways!
And much much more . . . 

2014 is a going to be a great year! I hope you are ready to join me for the ride.....

 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Look What I Got . . .

Back in September, I wrote about an offer from Bank of America and Alaska Airlines Credit Card.

The offer gave me a $15 gift card to my choice of store, if I used my credit card to pay for a monthly reoccurring bill. To complete the offer, I paid a portion of my cell phone bill in October. However, I forgot about the offer until earlier this week, when this letter arrived:

The letter contained an awkward letter and my $15 Starbuck's gift cards:

Here is a copy of the letter:

The letter is awkward for two reasons:

   1) Its not personalized. In the age of mail merge, your can do this easily

   2) The second paragraph is not appropriate. This letter should be a simply thank you, nothing

Overall, thank you Bank of America for keeping your promise!

 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 Reasons Why I LUV Southwest

I have a love/hate relationship with Southwest. Depending on my mood, I love Southwest and other days I treat Southwest like the red-headed stepchild. I have even gone as far to write the 5 Reasons Why I Dislike Southwest.

That all being true; there are certain things I love about Southwest. Here are the 5 Reasons Why I Love Southwest:

The Companion Pass

- The secret weapon of travel hacking. The Companion Pass is like a buy one, get one free coupon. The holder of the pass designates someone has his/her companion. From then on, anytime the pass holder flies on Southwest, so does the companion for free. Be it paid or award tickets, the companion flies for only the cost of the 9/11 Security Fees.

To earn the Companion Pass, you need to earn 110,000 points in one calender year. 110,000 points might seem a lot to earn, but it is very doable within one year. Here is how I obtained my Companion Pass.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to use my Companion Pass yet. The person I designated as my companion decided to get an MBA and attend classes on Saturday. Regardless, I have learned 3 Things Since Earning My Companion Pass.

The Southwest Companion Pass is the single greatest travel tool that you must have in your arsenal.

Rapid Rewards Program

- Southwest's frequent flyer program is known as Rapid Rewards. Rapid Rewards is not your typical frequent flyer program. Instead of having set amount of miles for award tickets (ie 25,000, 50,000), award tickets are issued based upon the price of the ticket on the date of purchase.

 Here is how many points per $1 are needed for an award ticket:

However, the number of points per $1 is increasing to 75 for Wanna Get Away Fares on March 31st, 2014:

Southwest's frequent sales are great opportunities to purchase award tickets. For instance, I got my ticket to Connecticut for Thanksgiving on a sale date for 6,000 points. The award program is simple and predicable, which is more than other frequent flyer programs presently.

Lower Prices = Money Back

Another unique features of Southwest is their refund program. With other airlines, a drop in price after purchase, is to bad for you. Not with Southwest. If you purchase your ticket and the price drops, you may ask for a refund from Southwest.

Southwest allows you to get a credit for the difference. Book the flight with points? The difference in points will be credit to your account instantly.

To get your refund, find your itinerary and click "change reservation" link directly under the reservation.

The system will ask you which flights (outgoing or incoming) that you want to change. Next, you will see your options to change your ticket and the price of the new ticket. Complete the steps and Southwest will eventually show your savings.

If you booked with point, the points will be credited back to your account. On the other hand, if you purchased your ticket with cash, you will receive a voucher for the difference. The voucher must be used for future travel completed within a year of it being used. 

Your ticket price dropped multiple times? No problem, you can do this change as many times as you like. 

2 Free Check Bags

Southwest is one of the few airlines that doesn't charge for checked baggage. Currently, they allow you to check 2 bags at no additional cost.

That small difference makes Southwest the common man's airline. The average Joe can take his family on vacation and not spend hundreds checking baggage.

In-Flight Entertainment System

As I wrote here, Southwest is the only airline with gate to gate WIFI. That alone should be enough to make people love them. However, they go one step further. The cost to use the WIFI is affordable, at only $8 a day.

In addition to WIFI, Southwest offer DirectTV and a selection of movies for purchases. I reviewed the system here and was pleasantly surprised.

My only compliant is that my Kindle Fire is not compatible with Southwest's system. Unfortunately, reading the message boards, Southwest doesn't have a plan to make Kindle Fires and Android products compatible with their system. This is a real shame . . .


Despite Southwest's IFE incompatibility with my Kindle Fire, I still LUV Southwest every once and a whilet. Southwest has all the makings of a great airline. The problem is that every once and a while they want to be a legacy carrier and they get greedy. Get too greedy and average Joe might turn their back on you.

Over the next two weeks, I will be flying Southwest with frequency. Hopefully, I can report back only good things.
 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Preparing For The US/AA Merger

With the DOT giving its blessing, the AA/US Airlines merger is in its final stages. Late 2014 or early 2015 will see the end to one on my favorite frequent flyer programs, Dividend Miles.

Dividend Miles was the first frequent flyer program that I ever signed up for. Its the program that I earned the most miles with. Its been a fun ride. I am going to miss you, my friend.

The loss of the Dividend Mile program is a win for you. Why? Any miles that you earn now will later turn into American Airlines miles. Therefore, it is time to start thinking about earning Dividend Miles.

The most obvious place to earn Dividend Miles is by getting the Barclay's US Airways Mastercard. This credit card is definitely going away. The "New" American has already stated that they are going to be issuing credit card from Citibank. If you never had the card or had the card a while ago, why not apply for this card one last time. The current public public offer is for 30,000 miles. However, there are reports of 40,000 mile offer. A quick search will lead you to a landing page. Applying for a US Airways credit card is a great start of earning miles.

Similar to US Airway credit card, many other partnership will likely be discontinued. The best partnerships to target are the ones with overlap between US Airways and American already. When partnerships overlap, my best guess is that the US Airways program will be shut down or merged into the American program.

Here are some examples of programs that I am sure with go bye-bye:

Dining Rewards

 - I wrote about this program here. The current sign-up bonus is 1,000 miles.


- More about the program can be found here. Check your email for bonus offers. American Airlines does
  not participate in e-Miles.


-This is an invite only program, which I described here. Invites are sent out via email all the time. Check your  email for an invite from US Airways. AA does participate with this program, so you may be able to get
 two bonus eventually. 

Insurance Quotes

- 21st Century will give 200 points for getting a car insurance quote. 


There are probably other partnerships that will end before the merger. The key to get double bonuses will be transferring points out and canceling the membership before the end of the program. My guess is that some of the programs above will merger with their AA Counterparts. Others like eMiles will simply stay put, but turn into AA affiliated. 

The biggest question is when will this merger with partnerships occur. Some might send emails to you letting you know its coming. When you get one these emails, make transfers quickly. However, the best indication is when you hear that US Airways Mastercard being turned into the Barclay's Arrival. This is the best indication the end is near.

The end of US Airways can be a great thing for the community. 

 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

How To Get More Food & Points At Chipotle

I am a big fan of Chipotle. In college, it was my reward for a night of hard studying. Now as I grow older, I have to limit how often I go there, typically once a month.

A few weeks ago, I tweeted out a link from Business Insider about How To Get Bigger Portions at Chipotle. The title of article drew me in. Surprising, the tips provided in the article are quite useful and many of them I use currently.

  • Smile at your server                   
  • Get a burrito bowl.    
          Business Insider's analysis confirms that you get substantially more food by 
          ordering the bowl instead of a traditional burrito.  
  • Ask for a tortilla on the side. 
  • Ask for extra rice at no extra cost. 
  • Order both pinto and black beans for free
  • Get free fajita vegetables. 
  • Ask for two different proteins, for example, half chicken and half steak
  • Ask for salad dressing
  • While you'll always pay more for guacamole
  • Finally, timing is important. 
             Go late at night, about an hour within closing time

Now that you know how to get more food. How do you get more points?

If you use your Chase Sapphire at Chipotle, you can earn 2 points per $ spent everyday and 3 points $ on the first Friday of the month.

To get even more points, why not prepay for your Chipotle meal? 

Chipotle sells gift cards at thousands of outside vendors, including office supply stores. If you have the Chase Ink Bold, you can buy a Chiptole gift card at an office supply store and earn 5 points per $1 spent. 

Using that gift card now earns you 5 points per $1 at Chipotle compared to the 2 points you earn at Chase Sapphire or 1 point earned on other credit cards. Yes, you have to put up money in advance for meals, but you will earn extra points. Also, $25 is about 2; maybe 3 visits to Chipotle at most. This is a win, win!

Now you know how to get more FOOD and POINTS at Chipotle!

 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Do It For The Donuts: Shipley's Do-Nuts

On my mileage run to Omaha, I had a long layover in Houston's Airport (IAH). While I was wandering the terminal, I came across a Shipley's Do-Nuts' stand. Yes, a donut stand in the airport.

Shipley's Do-Nuts has a storied history:

"It was 1936, the end of the Great Depression, when Lawrence Shipley, Sr. created a gourmet recipe for Do-Nuts.  So delicious were the Do-Nuts that they have withstood the test of time.  Cut by hand and served hot throughout the day, the Do-Nuts were 5 cents a dozen and were only sold wholesale. The product was so successful that it started to sell on the retail market in the mid 1940s. With Lawrence Sr. away on donut routes, his wife Lillie would stay behind and make the culinary delights with Lawrence Jr. at her knee.
People would come from miles around to sample the nectar of the sumptuous hot glazed Do-Nuts. Serving them hot was a goal of the elder Shipley.  Lawrence Shipley, Sr. once said, “When they bite into that hot do-nut, it will bring them back every time.”
Over the years, the Shipley family has grown to more than 190 stores around the nation in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas, 86 of which are in the Houston area."

The Shipley's stand in the terminal was short on doughnuts. Typically, they have around 60+ types of doughnuts.

I choose 6 Do-Nuts and a crawler. They come in a nice compact box.

The first doughnut I choose was a coconut one:

Very simple doughnut, but very tasty. This is a yeast doughnut frosted with vanilla icing topped with sweetened shredded coconut.

The second one was Devil Food:

This reminded me of Ding-Dong. The devil food is from the filled family. A chocolate yeast doughnut filled with vanilla cream, almost like Fluff, and covered in glaze. The glazing of the doughnut brought elevated this doughnut to new levels.

The third one was the typical sprinkle.

In fairness of disclosures, I love sprinkles. When I worked at a doughnut shop, I would eat handful of sprinkles. Yes, gross, but I liked them more than the doughnuts at the time.

This doughnut is a yeast doughnut frosted with strawberry icing with sprinkles on top. I did not like this doughnut. It failed on so many levels. First, the strawberry icing was to sweet. Second, there weren't enough sprinkles on it. Third and finally, it looked like it had been beat up.

The fourth was similar to the third, strawberry frosted:

Didn't like this doughnut either. Same reason as before.

The fifth doughnut was another filled one:

Number 5 was filled with apple filling and again had the glaze. That glaze is what made this doughnut memorable. This was one of my favorite. One night I dreamed about this doughnut.

The final doughnut was another yeast frosted:

This doughnut was frosted with chocolate icing and cover in walnuts. I am happy that I choose this one, because the chocolate icing was sweet, but not to sweet. Also, look about of walnuts on this doughnut. Tons! I wish the sprinkle doughnut was covered liked this walnut doughnut.

On top of six doughnuts, I decided to get a crawler as well. Don't know why I did this, since 6 doughnuts should be enough.

Unlike other crawlers, this one was an actual all connected. Many crawlers are two long pieces of dough tied together rather than one piece. Again, the glaze on the doughnut was so so so tasty. I know I have used the term elevated many times to describe the glaze, but that's what made the crawler amazing. When you bit into the crawler, there was a crunch. Not a stale crunch, but a sweet glaze crunch. Its been a long time since I have experienced this sweet crunch.

Overall, I was happy to visit the Shipley's counter at IAH terminal. It was a nice break for a long layover, but the doughnuts were amazing. Another major positive of Shipley's Do-Nuts was the price. The price per doughnut was around $.75. This is a crazy low price.

I look forward to visiting a non-airport Shipley's in the near future.
 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Huffington Post: 7 Ways Travel Makes You Healthier

Huffington Post has put out a list of 7 Ways Travel Makes Your Healthier.

I have always believed that travel has immense benefits. After trips, I always feel so much better, but mental health is only one of the benefits of travel.

Improve Your Social Skills

Meeting new people is one of the great upsides of traveling. Whether it's chatting up your hostel roommate, making small talk with your seat-mate on a train or having a lively discussion at a local bar, you will be forced to improve your social skills. If new situations tend to make you anxious, traveling is a sure way to take steps toward reducing that anxiety.
Reduce Stress


But while staying home and resting is a worthy use of your time off, traveling removes you from your everyday life and lets you truly escape. Traveling lets you put aside your daily responsibilities and focus on yourself for a moment. When you return home you'll feel refreshed and have the motivation you felt drained of before you left.
Accomplish Goals

Having a travel "to-do" list and slowly crossing things off that list keeps you motivated and positive. That list can include things like visiting certain locations or accomplishing a feat such as climbing a mountain or becoming conversational in the language of your next destination. Achieving those goals also increases confidence and gives a sense of success.
Stay Fit

Let's say while traveling you get lured into taking a hike with beautiful panoramic views. You go, it's not too strenuous and the experience takes your breath away. Now you want more -- harder hikes with even better pay off. While home, you exercise and prepare for more challenging hikes. You're healthier and fitter than ever and you get to look forward to accomplishing new goals.
Become More Flexible

Sometimes things don't go according to plan while traveling. Maybe your flight is cancelled or it rains the day you're scheduled to go on an epic outdoor adventure. It's okay -- there are other flights to take (or trains, or buses) and maybe on that rainy day you'll discover a hidden bookstore to explore or an adorable cafe to experience. Traveling helps you be more flexible and open-minded, making you more zen in your everyday life.
Become More Patient

Travel can involve a lot of waiting. You'll wait in lines. You'll wait for flights. You'll wait at restaurants. Learning how to cope with those waits, how to make conversation with those you're waiting with and how to stay calm in frustratingly slow situations will teach you how to remain patient and calm in all situations.
Have Better Relationships

Surveys have shown that couples who travel together report more intimate relationships and better sex lives. While travel can't make you have a good relationship, it can strengthen it. Being free of responsibilities like doing the dishes and walking the dog helps you relax together and focus on each other.

I am a big big fan of travel. For weeks before a trip, I am so excited to go. And when I return, I am so relaxed and energized. Travel is an amazing thing that produces so many benefits.
 Follow us on Twitter @doit4thepoints! Have a question for me? E-mail me at jd@doitforthepoints.com