Wednesday, July 31, 2013

From Chris: Thanks For the Fun!

For the past 12 days I have realized how lucky I am to have found this hobby. Flying over 23,000 miles, sampling 11 different flights from Qantas to Thai Airways, visiting 5 countries (four of them for under 24-hour each). It's really been an amazing experience that I will never forget and at 24 I never thought I would have.

At the end of the trip I arrived in my new home, Seattle. Saturday was a whirlwind 40-hour day that started with a red eye that arrived at Tokyo from Bangkok at 7:00 a.m. It ended much later after a 9-hour layover and a 9-hour ANA flight in Seattle, where it was 10:00 a.m. We got off the plane and headed straight for our new apartment to check out the digs. Then we had an amazing cook out with my parents, who have done so much for us during this move that I can't thank them enough, and crashed at 10:00 p.m. Yesterday was an all day moving affair and today was my first day at a brand new job. To say it was a blur and to now realize that I live across the country is still settling in...would be an understatement. Thus the reason for my radio silence over the past few weeks (thought the lack of internet the past few days hasn't helped either).

But with a new chapter...comes new circumstances. I am sad to say that with a new city and some new factors I am going to have to step away from the blogging chair and leave the site in JD's very capable hands.

As sad as it is, it's been an awesome year run. I remember signing up for our blogger account and starting our Twitter account with just one I'm proud of what we've done over the past year and am so happy with all of the friends I have met, both online and in person in this hobby. Y'all are wonderful.

Thanks to JD as well for taking a chance on a crazy idea we had one night and had joked about....I would say we went far beyond just a joke about starting a blog. Thanks for everything.

But just because I am going off the blog doesn't mean I am going away. I'm still on Twitter (@chrisguizlo) and will be hanging around talking travel there. I hope you will come say hi. :)

Thanks for all of the fun and safe travels.

Day 31: Sign Up For United's Emails

The last and most important way to earn MileagePlus miles is to sign-up for their emails. This seems obvious, but I bet a few of you have unsubscribed to these emails, sent them to SPAM or never signed-up.

Many of the ways to earn miles, written in this series, came from offers sent to us in United's emails including:

Switching Insurance


Dining Rewards



United offers 4 different emails that can be sent to you. I would recommend signing up for all of them. If you are afraid of getting to many emails, create an account just for your frequent flyer emails. I know many people within the community that have email accounts just for offers from hotels and airlines.

To check to see which of United's email subscriptions you are signed-up for, first sign into you MileagePlus account. Click on "View Account Details"

Then click on "Sign Up for Online Statements"

It will show which email subscriptions you are currently signed-up for and to subscribe to those that you are not:

Signing-up for these emails will bring mileage earning opportunities to your fingertips and help increase your MileagePlus balances to new levels.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Unlimited Vacations, What Would You Do?

From Memorial Day through Labor Day, offices throughout the country have desks that are empty, computers that stay black and phones that go unanswered. The summer is prime time for people to take time off from work for vacations. It is something about the rising temperature that makes people want to escape from the office.

I have always been a firm believer of using all my vacation time, but I am in the minority of Americans. Every August and December, articles like this one start to appear talking about how Americans leave vacation time unused. Taking time off from work is important for your health. Stepping back and turning off from work can help you be more productive at work. I need my vacations to be a better employee.

Every year. I run into the same problem. I have a list of places I want to go, but not enough vacation time to clear the list.  I always wondered what would happen if I worked for a company that offered unlimited vacation time. How much would I use? Would I be a better employee with more time off?

Yahoo recently had an article by Dan Lyons a about the benefits and pitfalls of unlimited vacation time. In the article, Lyons writes that unlimited vacation time boosts moral and can save companies money. He cites his own boss, Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of Hubspot, who argues "that unlimited vacation policy actually *boosts* productivity, if only because employees aren't 'spending valuable time and energy micromanaging their vacation time to fit an archaic policy." I agree with Shah. I spend way to much time stressing about how to squeeze everything I want to do within my vacation time. It gives me anxiety. Also, I spend way way to much time day dreaming and planning my vacations at work especially those last few days before leaving.

For employers, Lyons argues that unlimited vacation policy can save companies money. "It turns out that when a company has a traditional vacation plan, accounting rule require the company to keep track of how many vacation days each employee has accrued, and to set aside a cash reserve to cover that liability. That cash reserve can add up to a substantial sum of money. But guess what? Switch to unlimited vacation, and voila! --that requirement goes away."

Saving money can be a powerful tool for business to make big changes. Another way unlimited vacation saves business money is when employees leave the company. Unlike what Lyons writes, I have worked for many companies that paid out vacation time when I left the company. With unlimited vacation time, the company doesn't have that expense when you leave.

While unlimited vacation time can have many benefits, it comes with some drawbacks. Lyons writes that a unlimited vacation time policy can cause moral problems between fellow employees:

          "Indeed, one complaint is that some people end up taking less vacation than they otherwise
           would. That's particularity true of boomer and older workers who are used to calculating
           days off based on days worked.
           Millennials, meanwhile, have no such inhibitions, so they zip off to Burning Man, take a few
           weeks to go backpacking in Thailand, and jet down to Cabo for a long weekend of
           partying with their college pals."

When thinking about unlimited vacations, my first thought was the generational divide. Older workers would take less time off while younger workers take more time. At some point, the older workers will start to resent the younger workers and their vacation habits. My generation has a strong belief in a life-work balance. We believe that our companies should not constrain us to normal working hours. If I work better in the afternoon, let me come in late and stay into the evening. Flexibility helps breed productivity which is good for the employee and employer. Ultimate vacations is apart of that flexibility.

I don't know if I would be a good fit for unlimited vacations. Guilt would cloud my mind. Am I taking to much time? Did I contribute enough last year to the company? Maybe I am to old-fashion for unlimited vacations . . .

What would you do with no restrictions on the amount of vacation days taken within the year?

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Earn Miles with Surveys

Earlier this month, I wrote about how you can earn United miles taking surveys through eRewards. Another way to earn miles taking surveys is Opinion Miles Club.

Opinion Miles Club is offering 600 miles for those who sign-up, create their profile and complete a survey. I received the email below alerting me to the offer, so check your email to see if you were sent the same offer:

If you did not receive the offer via email, don't worry. You can go here to find the same offer.

Its important to clink the learn more button to access the 600 mile offer. You should land on a page like this:

If you clink the website button, you will be taken to the 300 mile offer landing page:

From what I have read, completing your first survey is a PIA (Pain in the Ass). However, those who have completed the first survey have indicated that they have received the promised miles into their MileagePlus account within a week.

600 miles won't get you an award ticket to anywhere. However, I hope you are seeing with this series that completing offers like this one can make that dream trip a reality.

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Monday, July 29, 2013

MyPoints and United: Win/Win Partnership!

I have been a member of MyPoints since at least 2005 and been very very very satisfied ever since.

MyPoints describes itself as "a reward network, just like when you earn miles on an airline or cash-back on a credit card. The difference is that MyPoints is flexible. You don't have to stick with one store to earn Points, and you don't have to take your rewards in just one form."

MyPoints offer thousands of different reward options from gift cards to cash. One of those available rewards is United miles. Currently, you have the chance to turn your MyPoints points into either 2,500 or 5,000 MileagePlus miles.

There are many ways to earn points though MyPoints:

The other way is to use the MyPoints shopping portal to purchase from your favorite stores:

I would recommend using the United MileagePlus shopping portal over MyPoints portal, as described here.

The way to earn United miles through MyPoints is during the sign-up process.  By using this link, one can earn 250 United Miles for signing up with MyPoints and 750 more award miles for making a $25+ purchase through their shopping portal within 30 days of signing-up. Go here to find the link to the offer.

A similar offer was sent to me via email last week (third week of July), so check your emails as well.

The terms and condition of the 750 additional award miles state:

This is a great offer to participate to earn miles. At the very least its 250 free miles. A little work and transferring a purchase can net you 750 more.

This is a win-win promotion!
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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Earn Miles and Join A Gym

If you want to still accomplish your New Year's Resolution of getting in shape, United would like to help.

United has partnered with 1,000's of gyms to offer 2,000 MileagePlus miles for signing-up for a new gym membership.

If you go to this website, you can type in your zipcode to see what gyms are participating in the program.

A few key notes about this program from their FAQ:

       1) You are purchasing your gym membership through MileagePlus/Global Fitness
       2) You will be billed by Global Fitness, not your local gym

       3) There is a one-time processing fee of $39

       4) Some gyms offer a Non-Commitment contract, but it includes a $49 Activation Fee

       5) To cancel your membership, you have to send written correspondence to Global Fitness

On first look this was a great offer. After digging down into the conditions, this offer has to many additional costs to make the 2,000 miles worth it.

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Saturday, July 27, 2013


My mom has DIRECTV at her home and every time I go home I curse it. I think it is slow and the quality is questionable. However, my mom LOVES it. Since she is paying the bill that's what matter.

Yesterday, I received an email offering 30,000 miles for those who switch to DIRECTV and sign-up for a 24 month contract of the Entertainment Package or higher. 

The offer states, "MilagePlus and DIRECTV have joined together to bring you an exciting new way to earn award miles. Now when you switch to DIRECRV, you'll earn 25,000 award miles, plus 5,000 bonus miles just for being a MilagePlus Cardmember."

The offer page does not mention that you need the MileagePlus credit card. It does mention that you need a credit card to apply except in PA or MA. So, I don't know which one is correct. If you apply for this offer, take snap shots of the landing page and the terms and conditions.

If you didn't get the offer via email, you can get 25,000 miles with the offer found here.

If you are fed-up with your cable company, this may be a good time to switch to DIRECTV.

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Friday, July 26, 2013

Recap of 31 Days of Earning United Miles (Posts So Far)

Since we are 3/4 of the way through July, here is a recap of all the posts so far. The links below take you to that day's article.

Day 1: Flying

Day 2: Insurance

Day 3: e-Miles

Day 4: Buy / Transfer Miles

Day 5: Exchange Gift Cards

Day 6: Shopping Portals

Day 7: Tickets to Shows

Day 8:  Social Media

Day 9:  Credit Cards

Day 10: Mortgages

Day 11: Hotel Stays

Day 12: Super Shuttle

Day 13: Buy Wine

Day 14: Amtrak

Day 15: Renting Cars

Day 16: Peapod

Day 17: Eating Out

Day 18: Electricity Bills

Day 19: eRewards

Day 20: Transfer from Hotels

Day 21: Gilt

Day 22: RocketMiles (PointsHound broke up with longer a way to earn)

Day 23: Investments

Day 24: Thanks Again

Day 25: Send Flowers

Day 26:

I hope this series has helped you to see that there are many ways to earn United/Airline miles.

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Earn Miles By Transferring from

This is again one of those "I don't know if this is the best value for your miles, please do your research, have your goal and see if this is the best way to earn miles" posts. is a website that helps track your point balances in your frequent flyer accounts.

The service is free and has helped me keep track of my account numbers for airline and hotel loyalty programs. One of the most unique features of is the ability to trade or swap points between two different loyalty programs. I will discuss both options below:

Trade Points allows you the opportunity to trade your points in one particular loyalty program with someone else's points in another loyalty program. The trade could be 1:1 or another amount.  Here are some examples of trades that were offered to me:

To complete the trade you will have to pay a fee. As you can see, the fee gets more expensive as the amount miles being trade increases. Is this a good deal? It depends on the offer and your need at the moment.

Swap Points

The other options is to swap points from one loyalty program to another. The transfer rates depend upon the program. For instance, here is what you would need to trade to earn 1,000 United Mileage Plus miles:

None of the transfer rates are particularly attractive. If you have orphan points in a loyalty account transferring to another program might be a good idea. However, transferring points just to earn more Mileage Plus miles is a terrible idea.

Below is a list of loyalty programs participating with

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

I Got Punk'd By United and Chase

I came home today from work to a mailer from Chase:

My Chase United anniversary package came. Inside was a nice letter thanking me for my loyalty ...

 And a nice brochure with pretty pictures:

  When I opened up the brochure, I found this:

 "Be our guest....twice. Enjoy these passes when you travel," but there was no passes attached. I saw the sticky glue thingy, but nothing attached. How am I suppose to be your guest without passes?

I called Chase and spoke with a representative. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I received my anniversary package today, but the club passes were missing.
Chase: Did you check the entire package?
Me: Yes, I see the glue, but nothing was attached. I checked the empty envelope and nothing was in it.
Chase: Did you check the brochure?
Me: Yes, the glue is there, but nothing is attached.
Chase: Hmmm...Silence for close to a minute.
Me: Is there someone else I should speak to?
Chase: No, I don't know how to handle this. I have noted your account and asked for this to be escalated.
Me: Ok
Chase: You will receive a letter with our determination in about a week.
Me: Will I get new passes?
Chase: Yes, in 3-6 weeks.
Me: Thank you???

3 to 6 weeks to receive replacement passes seems excessive. I can wait, I don't really need the passes anytime soon. However, punking someone in a letter thanking for my loyalty is not good customer service practice. 

All I can do is wait . . . 

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Send Flowers and Earn Miles

Do you need to send flowers to that special someone in your life or just one of your family and friends that you feel would appreciate a good bouquet of flowers or gift basket? If you do and are considering using FTD flowers, you might also consider earning some United miles in the process.

Currently, FTD and United are offering you 25 points per $1 spent on flowers and gifts purchased through FTD.

FTD places the number of miles you will earn under each product. For instance, this bouquet earns 1,000 miles:

It is important for me to point out that you may be paying a premium for earning miles for with your purchase. For instance, the same flower arrangement above is only $34.99 when going through directly, not through United's link.
In this case, $5 extra for 1000 miles might be worth it. Here is another example, the opening page of FTD shows an offer for roses at $19.99:

Here is the bouquet for $19.99, very nice.

Now here is the opening page through the United FTD link:

And that same bouquet of colored roses is now $39.99:

Is paying $20 more for 1,000 miles worth it? That's a personal choice.  

As you can see, you need to comparison shop when receiving an incentive from flower companies online. In addition, I believe these products are quite more expensive than just the flowers at the store down the street or with your local florist. I have found that the delivery charges are also quite steep. But, if you are doing some comparison shopping of the different vendors and what you are comfortable might as well check out the options!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Earn Points at Airports: Thanks Again

I love earning points, when I have to do little to nothing to get them. Swipe my credit cards (earn points!), dine out at certain restaurants (earn additional points!!), grab a bottle of water, magazine and snack at the airport (earn bonus points!!!).

How many of you know that you can earn points at major airports by registering your card?

Up until last year’s US Airways Grandslam, I didn’t.

There is a program called “Thanks Again,” that allows you to earn points by shopping at vendors located in major airports. Thanks You is very similar to Dining Rewards: one has to sign-up (free) with a points earning program and register your credit cards with that program. Unlike, Dining Rewards, you don’t have to complete surveys about your experience.

Thanks You currently has programs with US AirwaysUnitedAmerican AirlinesDelta. Again, you can only earn miles with the program that you are registered with. Most vendors at the airports earn you 1 mile for $1 spent. However, every once and a while a vendor might offer 2 miles per $1 spent.

According to their website, Thanks Again has afflictions with over 150 airports. However, their "affiliation" is sometimes only a car service and/or an entertainment store as in the case of LAX, MCO, SAN. You can use this search engine to see what merchants participate at particular airports:

How can you tell if a merchant is participating? My experience, at Dulles (IAD), was that merchants had signs up indicating they were a member. The type of vendors participating was numerous: from sit-down restaurants to kiosks selling jewelry. According to their website, Dulles has only 3 vendors: CNBC, Brooks Brothers and DC Express. However, my points earning statement says I have earned points (in the past month) from Gordon Biersch and Subway, so the search engaging might not be updated.

In addition to earning points at airports, Thanks Again allows you to earn points at local (non-airport) vendors. Most of the local vendors ares restaurants and require you to buy gift certificates, earning you 3 points per $1 spent on the certificate. This is not a great rate, as the United Airlines shopping portal earns you 10 miles per $1 spent. Other local merchants include spas, storage units, and golf courses.  As I have previously mentioned, my former dry cleaners was apart of Thanks Again earning me 1 points per $1 spent.

Thanks Again has bonuses based upon the amount of money who spend in 90 consecutive days:

  • Earn 500 bonus miles/points when you spend $250 or more (2 miles/points per dollar spent)
  • Earn 1,500 bonus miles/points when you spend $500 or more (3 miles/points per dollar spent)
  • Earn 4,000 bonus miles/points when you spend $1,000 or more (4 miles/points per dollar spent)
  • Earn 25,000 bonus miles/points when you spend $5,000 or more (5 miles/points per dollar spent)

  • All it takes to earn points from Thanks Again is signing up and registering your credit cards.

    Will you earn a ton of points by joining "Thanks Again," probably not!

    Can you earn points for simplying registering your credit cards and using it at airports? Yes!

    Will you? I think it would be unwise not to!!!!

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    Tuesday, July 23, 2013


    United Airlines has partnerships with Fidelity and ShareBuilder that allows MileagePlus customers the opportunity to earn miles for signing-up and investing money with these companies. The amount of miles you can earn is determined by the amount of money you have to invest. The good new is between the two companies there is an option for people at all investment levels.

    For those who have $25,000+ to invest, Fidelity's offer is better.
    Fidelity currently offers MilagePlus customers the opportunity to earn up to 50,000 Mileage. The current offer is tiered with those investing $25,000 to $49,999.99 earning 15,000 miles, $50,000 to $99,999.99 earning 25,000 miles and $100,000+ earning 50,000 miles.

    The terms and conditions state that you must open a new non-retirement account or add new money to an existing brokerage account. Those opening a new account have 60 days to transfer the funds to earn money; while those adding new money to an existing account have 30 days to make the transfer to qualify for the miles.

    For those with significantly less money to invest, like me, Sharebuilder is the offer to look at.

    The current offer from ShareBuilder is 2,000 miles after opening a new account and making your first trade.

    The offer does not have restrictions on the type of account, other than it being an investment/brokerage. You can open up general investment, retirement or custodial accounts.

    Also, unlike the Fidelity offer, there is no minimum investment required. However, you will need enough money to complete your first trade; therefore, you could call that the minimum investment.

    I would be remiss not to give a warning here. Investing money comes at a cost. Each of the companies charges to make trades on your behalf. Please look at the cost sheet before making the decision to sign-up for either promotion. If, like me, you are in the market to start investing money, these are good (not great - I have seen better) offers to use.

    Happy Investing!

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