Monday, June 30, 2014

Saying Goodbye

Last week, I said goodbye to another credit card: Delta American Express Gold card.

I got the credit card as part my Delta New Member bonus. By getting the card, I earned close to 55,000 miles:

        45,000 sign-up bonus
         5,000 new member credit
         5,000 from credit card spend

The card did what it needed to do: earn miles.

Now, one year later, the annual fee of $95 was due. Could I justify paying $95 for the card?

  - Do I value Skymiles? No!

  - Will I use the free bag? No, I have flown Delta once in 24 months.

  - Do I want another AMEX card? Yes, but is $95 worth keeping it?

After thinking about it, the decision was easy. I called American Express and cancelled the card.

Goodbye Delta American Express . . . I am sorry that I used you.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Booking Tickets for Holidays Now!

Last night, I decided to start booking tickets for the holidays. Why in June? Because it other people aren't thinking about booking the holidays. There is less demand ie possible lower prices.

Photo Credit:

I am flush with Southwest Rapid Reward points through getting 2 Southwest credit cards. The benefit of booking with Rapid Reward points is the ability to cancel the ticket with no penalty. 

Last night, I was able to book my ticket back to DC for less than 3,500 points. Less than 3,500 points!

The other benefit of booking with Rapid Reward points is that if the price drops; you have an opportunity to get some points back. For that reason, I bit the bullet and book my ticket to Connecticut. The price was closer to 7,500 points.

My hope is that Southwest has a sale and the price of the ticket drops. However, I am not going to complain about spending 11,000 points for my ticket back to Connecticut for the holidays. Last year, I waited to long and paid close to $350.

If you don't have Southwest points, British Airways Avios points can be useful as well. With US Airways joining the OneWorld Alliance, cheap flights can be found.

The trip from DC to Hartford is less than 500 miles; therefore, a one-way ticket would cost 3,500 Avois points. Unfortunately, I could not find any availability. If I did find availability, I would have transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my British Airways points.

Take a minute and look at December. It will be here sooner than you think.

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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Sometimes You Can Leave Points On The Table

Frequently, I preach the motto: "Don't Leave Points On The Table." I love points and I hate seeing people not earning points for things they can. For instance, the time my boss bought a new TV from Best Buy without going through a points/cash-back portal. However, there are some points offers that are best left on the table or in your email account.

The other day I receive an email from Spirit Airlines that caught my attention.

The offer from Spirit looked great on first look, but absolutely terrible on further review.

This offer is similar to the United offer that I wrote about in February. Borrow money and earn miles. When I wrote about the offer last, I determined that you could buy the miles for cheaper than the interest paid on the loan. Overall, the offer is terrible. On top of this, United miles are worth a lot more than Spirit miles.

In conclusion, delete this offer out of email box.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

5 Thoughts On My Trip To Toronto

One day in March, I got an email from a friend asking me to go to Toronto in June. Not being one to turn down travel, I decided to go along without question. The trip was overall good.

Here are five quick observations from the trip.

1) Porter Airlines is a Great Airline

     The reason for the trip to Toronto was a fare sale with Porter Airlines. The ticket cost $200
     round-trip direct from Washington Dulles to Toronto.

     Never Hear of Porter? Porter Airlines is a low cost Canadian airline that has a hub is in
     Toronto. The airline flies Q-400 Turboprop Aircraft with a 2-2 seat set-up.

     My first trip with them was very positive. The trip was 90 minutes, but felt much quicker.
     The seat pitch did not feel tight like other regional jets. They offer you a snack basket
     and complementary soft drinks, beer and wine in real glassware. In addition, the airport
     waiting area at Toronto is a lounge with soft drinks, snacks, leather chairs, plenty of
     electrical outlets & strong WIFI.


       I would defiantly try them again.

2)  Toronto City Airport is Located On An Island

      Porter Airlines flies into Toronto City Airport, not Toronto Pearsons Airport. Toronto City
      Airport is built on a man-made island. The only way to get on/off the island is by ferry.
      Yes, there is no bridge to the airport. All cars and passengers must take a ferry.

      The ride takes about 90 seconds once the ferry leaves. However, you need to plan 15
      minutes total for loading and unloading. They are building a walking tunnel under the
      river which should eliminate the ferry.

      This is no airport to be late to. From arriving to getting through security, it took 30 minutes
      with light passenger traffic.

3) Courtyard Marriott Toronto is Average

      We decided to stay at the Courtyard Marriott due to price and a free night certificate I
      had.The cost per night was $200 CAD inclusive of taxes. Overall, the cost of hotels in
      Toronto this particular weekend were expensive.

      The hotel has 550 rooms and 25 suites. It is one of the biggest Courtyards, I have ever 
      stayed in. Our room was average unrenovated room.

       The common areas were renovated, but not our room. The hotel was packed with
       groups. Service was good, but not great.

4) Toronto has Islands?

      Looking for things to do, we learned that Toronto has islands covering 580 acres. They
      are located a short boat ride from the city.
Photo Credit :
        The islands have parks, places to grill, restaurants, bars, bike rentals, trails, kids
        amusement parks and of course, beaches. The place had a fun atmosphere. This was
        the place to be on hot sunny Saturday.

        We paid for a harbor cruise to get to the island. Only once on the islands, we learned
        about the free public ferry running until 11 pm.

5) I like Tim Horton's; Maybe Love

       You all know I love doughnuts. When in Toronto, I fell in love with Tim Horton's.

      I had way to many doughnuts from them. There was one right next to our hotel
      and I forced my friend to stop or get me one each time we/he passed it.

       What I really loved from Tim Horton's are their Timbits or small doughnut holes. I
       got a box of them and woke up in the middle of the night to snack on them. 

       Tim, Mr. Horton, we are going to be friends.

Overall, a great trip to Toronto.

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Sunday, June 8, 2014

UPDATE: No Travel For You

UPDATE: Story turns out to be not true.The Independent sites the Wall Street Journal as calling the Chinese Embassy in Seoul and learning "the photo was a hoax and the South Korean immigration service hadn’t prevented anyone traveling because of child’s play on official travel documents." 

Regardless of if this story is fake. One has to believe that some boarder authority could deny entry/exit due to drawings on a passport. At the very least, do you really want to look at those doodle for years on years?

FOX 4 of Kansas City & MetroUK are reporting an interesting story about the tribulations of having kids. Supposedly, a father from China, was forced to extend his vacation in South Korea after his child decided to doodle on some paper. 

What's the big deal? The paper that he doodled on was his father's passport.

Photo Credit: FOX4 Kansas City

"The child got busy during a recent family trip to South Korea, where he took to the back page of his dad’s Chinese passport with a black pen and drew some really nice pictures of people, animals, and – obviously – added a bit more hair to his dad’s face. Classic. 
The only problem is that now his dad is stuck in South Korea because of his unrecognisable documentation, and authorities have warned it is likely he won’t be able to travel home with his son, and the rest of his party"

The lesson in this story? Have scrap paper for your kids when traveling; otherwise, they are going to draw on the nearest piece of paper.

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Friday, June 6, 2014

Happy National Doughnut Day!!! + Giveaway

Happy National Doughnut Day!!!  

As many of your know, I love Doughnuts. So, I have to celebrate National Doughnut Day. A little history of the holiday:

The first National Doughnut Day occurred in 1938 and was a fund raiser for The Salvation Army of Chicago. The goal of the day was to help the needy during the Great Depression, but to also, honor the women of the Salvation Army, who served doughnuts to soldiers heading off to World War One. Since 1938, the holiday has been held on the first Friday of each June.

Many national chains like Dunkin Donuts and Krispy Kreme are offering free doughnuts today. Always check with you local store to see if they are participating, but many are locally owned.

When I travel to new cities, I try to visit Doughnut Shops. To date, I have visited and reviewed the following shops:

Voodoo Doughnuts - Portland Oregon

Gourdough's - Austin, Texas

Astro Doughnuts &Fried Chicken - Washington, DC

Carpe Doughnut Truck - Brooklyn, NY

Shipley's Do-Nuts - Houston Airport

I hope 2014 brings more visits to tasty doughnut shops.

In honor of National Doughnut Day, I am giving away 3 $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts.

Go here to enter the giveaway.

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National Doughnut Day Giveaway!

In honor on National Doughnut Day, I am have decided to do a giveaway!

I am giving away 3 $5 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts.

To enter, leave me a comment telling me your favorite doughnut by Friday June 6th at 11:59 PM Eastern.

  • 1 Comment per Person.

  • 3 Winners will be chosen random

Good luck and enjoy Doughnuts today!

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Check Your Email - United Offer

Check your email to see if you received this great offer. United MileagePlus is offering selected members a chance to earn 500 miles for completing 2 partner offers.

There are four partners to choose from:

Each of the four partners offer easy way to earn points and should be in your points earning repertoire. I have written about each of the partners before:

For me, I have already did the OpinionMiles Club (survey site) and MileagePlus Dining. I should be 500 points richer in about 6-8 weeks.

Say you just found this offer in your email. There is no need to register for the promotion, but you should be selective in your 2 partners. 3 of the 4 partners offer bonuses for first time use:

MileagePlus Dining - 500 miles for signing-up and another 500 points per dine, up to 5 in the next 30 days 

OpinionMiles Club - 300 or 600 miles for first completed survey 

ScoreBig - 2000 points for purchasing 2 tickets

You have until June 30th to earn points from the partners. 

Check your emails to see if you qualify for this promotion.
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Monday, June 2, 2014

Triple Points on JetBlue from DCA

JetBlue is celebrating its new spots at DCA (Washington National) by offering triple points for all flights to and from DCA.

To register for this promotion, go here.

I was excited for this promotion as I have my first JetBlue flight later this month. As I wrote early this year, one of the new routes JetBlue is adding from National is to Hartford, Connecticut. My excitement for the promotion was quickly diminished after reading the terms and conditions.

To qualify for the bonus points, only tickets booked after registering count. : (

Either way, I am excited to try out JetBlue.
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Sunday, June 1, 2014

One of My Worst Fears

CNN & many other media outlets are reporting that one of the Willis Tower's Skydeck ledges started to crack this week.

Photo Credit: CNN
After investigation, the cracking turned out to be the protective coating on the glass, not the glass itself.

A Willis Tower spokesman Bill Utter clarified Thursday that it was a protective coating, not glass, that cracked -- as it sometimes does. 
"At no time whatsoever was the integrity of the structure compromised," he said, "The protective layer did exactly what it was supposed to do," Utter said. 
After learning that almost 6 million people have ventured into the ledges since 2009, you could assume that the coating should have broken by now.  However, if you were the tourist on the ledge, when it started to crack, you would have freaked to.

I am not afraid of heights, but these clear viewing stations bother me. I just imagine that one day one is going to break and fall. With that in mind, I decided to stay off them most of the time.

Yes...I am freaked by glass floors. Hopefully the clear bottom airplane never becomes a reality....

Photo Credit: Virgin Airways
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