Monday, December 26, 2011

Argentina Trip Report

Our first ever excursion to South America went relatively well, depending on how much stock you put into the flight aspects of any trip. Before we left I was very optimistic about every feature of what we planned and only worried about my foot injury getting in the way of the usual intensive itineraries that Patrick and I assemble. Our departure date snuck up on us and before we knew it we were waiting for our flight in the United lounge at SFO, even scoring Economy Plus seats at check-in. All seemed on track until we arrived at Dulles for our layover and encountered the first airline problem, one hour delay. We thought nothing of it and boarded our Buenos Aires bound flight with plenty of confidence still. That all changed when about 4 hours before landing in Buenos Aires we noticed that the travel route map no longer showed a clear line to Buenos Aires but rather a line to Rio, as in Brazil. 

We were perplexed but figured that since there had been no announcement by the captain, we would be arriving in Argentina eventually a few hours later. Unfortunately, shortly thereafter we learned that the volcanic ash hanging over Buenos Aires (blown in from a Chilean volcano spewing ash for months now) forbids United to land there and instead we would be landing in Rio.

The news was far from satisfactory as I was already exceptionally tired (the trip to Argentina is longer than Europe when coming from the West Coast) and not feeling all that well. Nevertheless, after 11 hours of flight we landed in unanticipated Rio de Janeiro and soon after landing learned that we would not be able to fly out to Buenos Aires until the next day, oh yes and there were no available hotels so all the people onboard would enjoy the comforts of an airport Executive lounge instead. Needless to say we were not impressed and so for the next two hours we tried to see about getting a flight out on a different airline, trying to find a hotel in Rio that was not atrociously expensive and figuring out what a night in the lounge may be like since some folks were already snoring loudly at 2pm.

Hotel "St. Moritz" in the Rio Mountains

An announcement came at last informing passengers that nationals of countries that do not require a visa to enter Brazil or those who have a visa already in their passport would be allowed to leave the lounge and spend the night at a hotel arranged for by United. This was a great time to be carrying an EU passport as my hubby was and also to be a national of two nations (as in my case), one which is not the US. We collected ourselves and entered Brazil with about 40 other people, heading to a hotel high up in the mountains above Rio. The trip was supposed to take 40 minutes however after about 3 hours we drove up to an Alpine cabin (Hotel St. Moritz) in the middle of the jungle. Everyone was a tad surprised as the only thing throwing off the Euro-mountain scene were tropical bird sounds, intense humidity and intensely green vegetation. The hotel was rustic but decent food was served and bed with clean sheets beats an uncomfortable couch in an airport lounge. The next day we were picked up and taken back to Rio International for a flight to Buenos Aires at last. 

Some Buenos Aires Attractions
We had already lost 1.5 days in Buenos Aires so right after arriving at our hotel in Microcentro we set out to explore the city by night. We headed for Florida street where the first meal we had was delicious gelato, an appetizer before a meat-centered dinner. We checked out the Plaza de Mayo and then walked to Puerto Madero where we ate at a fixed-price restaurant, La Bistecca, at 11pm no less. The late dinners in Argentina fit our tight schedule well but eating that late is an adjustment. The next day, before leaving for El Calafate we explored La Boca with famous Caminito and La Bombonera stadium. We also threw in San Telmo, a lovely neighborhood with homes of yesteryear’s aristocrats. 

Arriving at Aeroparque for our Patagonia flight on Aerolineas Argentinas was a little shocking as the flight time had been moved up, the line for check-in was long and while using a self-check in machine we learned that our ticket was not valid for the flight we were booked on. After some trepidation, being relegated to a “special” line along with 10 other passengers, discussion with airline reps about what the problems at hand were (reasons included allowed weight limits for the aircraft that needed overriding by an airline supervisor, to an air traffic controller strike), we eventually got on the flight we were meant to be on. This would not be the first time that Aerolineas Argentinas would make our life a tad difficult. Nevertheless, we arrived in El Calafate safely, checked into Las Dunas (a lovely hosteria outside of the town center, right on the shores of Lago Argentino) and enjoyed a steak and Patagonian lamb dinner to die for before retiring for the night. The next day an excursion to the Perito Moreno Glacier awaited us, complete with glacier trekking.
Perito Moreno Glacier

The glacier turned out to be a spectacular trip, complete with a scenic drive to the park, a rainy/windy boat ride, an incredible trek on the white-blue glacier and time on the overlook balconies where we saw chunks of the ice mass crash into frigid waters. An excursion like this would likely prove difficult for anyone who would have a hard time hiking up and down hills, but if health permits this trip is not to be missed. Hielo y Aventura does a really nice job of challenging you physically a bit, teaching you a thing or two about glaciers and rewarding you at the end with some alfajores and cold whiskey (ice courtesy of the glacier that surrounds you).

After a physically trying day we learned that Aerolineas Argentinas would again complicate things for us by making it seem like the flight we were booked on, once again was cancelled. They even hung up on both our helpful hotel clerk and Patrick when we tried to confirm with the Aerolinas Argentinas telephone customer service. We were lucky to have the staff of a local Aerolineas office (which was packed with tons of other less than happy passengers when we arrived early on Saturday morning to deal with the matter) solve our ticket dilemma. Still we are not quite sure what was wrong entirely but after 30 solid minutes at the counter, the agent furiously typing, head shaking, discussion with her colleagues and worried looks she finally issued 2 boarding passes for the flight we were to be on anyway based on our previous reservations. We got on the flight, but again only after a slow, long line for check-in, little information about things like the need to pay a local tourist tax (last minute since boarding had started while we were still in line with other passengers and a change of arrival airport in Buenos Aires (EZE instead of AEP).

Once again only having an evening in the capital we headed for Torre de los Ingleses and a HUGE steak dinner at a somewhat touristy restaurant recommended by the concierge at our hotel. Good advice for eating out in Argentina’s restaurants: under-order as the portions are huge no matter what you get. After we finished our dinner we proved once again that we live in a truly small world these days by running into visitors from the San Francisco area in a convenient store. The next morning we were off to Iguazu Falls up north, this time though on a LAN flight. Everything went according to plan, and even though Argentinian airports are somewhat unorganized when it comes to boarding protocol we had a pleasant flight.
Iguazu Falls

Once Iguazu we headed for our hotel located inside the Park, where we spent the rest of the day walking around and admiring the Falls (there is a total of 275 actual falls). Our first glimpse was Garganta del Diablo, a momentous sight to behold, and be soaked by. Between the heat, humidity and mist from the Falls you will not be able to stay dry for long. Other interesting things to see included coatis (raccoon like mammals that roam the park in great numbers), monkeys high up in trees, beautiful birds and loads of colorful butterflies. The rest of our two day excursion was spent visiting the Brazilian side of the Falls, admiring them from above in a helicopter tour and a visit to the Parque Das Aves to see some amazing birds. No trip would be complete of course without me injuring myself in some way so to add to my foot problem I slipped on a wet floor and caused my already sore neck to painfully lock in place. When Patrick and I travel we don’t mess around so everything we planned still unfolded but required pain meds to get me through. What added to our pleasant trip was the fact that our cab driver from the airport, Ramon, ended up taking us around the rest of the area, to and from Brazil. 
Toucan in Parque das Aves - Brazil

Returning to Buenos Aires for one last time we set out to explore Palermo where we got caught in a summer thunderstorm. At that point we had already covered a lot of ground from the zoo to the neighborhood so we spent the rest of the evening taking the subway and taxis to cut down on the walking in Recoleta. Our last full day was spent visiting Café Tortoni, Manzana de las Luces and shopping in a very non-tourist, off the grid neighborhood on Gurruchaga Street (up from where Palermo is). We benefited from knowing where to go not only through careful research on our own but also through familial connections with folks who are Buenos Aires natives (Portenos). No trip to Argentina would be complete without a leather purchase and so I scored a bright green purse as a souvenir.

The last part of our trip which requires reporting is our departure from Ezeiza, again an aiport nightmare, which clearly followed us throughout this entire journey. With plenty of time to go before our flight we were told at check-in that we better hurry up because the line for security is over an hour long. Sure enough the line snaked all the way down an escalator (airport designer likely did not plan for so many people in one line), with people nervously checking their watches and monitors for their flight’s boarding and departure times. Basically, many people began to cut in line with the help of airline agents as boarding times approached, causing mayhem as the agents would disappear once through the first boarding pass check. This was probably the first time in our lives that the threat of a mob where people get trampled loomed.

By cutting in line we ticked off many people, clapping and yelling ensued as one measly security guard looked on, hoping to control hundreds of people. Between the long line outside, only two screening machines being open, not enough passport control people and additional checks for those traveling on flight to the US (total of 5 separate security checks) we had a hard time believing we would make our flight. Airlines agents also did not prove helpful as some said that airlines wait for folks like us in these situations and others just shook their head, oh yes and advice given by one agent amounted to telling people in the passport line to run (not walk) to their gate once their passport was checked. We made it on our flight, left with a delay because we were waiting for all those people who were still stuck in line but arrived home in one piece, exhausted after 10 days of hard-core travels, but certainly enriched by the experience.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Virgin America Sale....

I just got an interesting little email - if you are flexible and feeling like a little getaway, Virgin America has an excellent sale to lots of cities from SFO. To receive these special updates, sign-up for Travelzoo newsletters.

As a Travelzoo VIP, you are receiving this Newsflash email
before other subscribers.

SAN FRANCISCO--NOVEMBER 08, 2011-- For the next 96 hours,
Virgin America is reducing nationwide fares from San
Francisco to as low as $39 each way -- the lowest we've seen
from the airline for winter travel.

These fares are available Mondays-Thursdays and Saturdays,
Nov. 24 - Feb. 15.

One-way nonstop fares include:

- Los Angeles ... $39
- Las Vegas ... $39
- San Diego ... $39
- Seattle ... $69
- Dallas ... $99
- Chicago ... $99
- Palm Springs ... $99 (begins Dec. 15)
- Boston ... $129
- Washington, D.C. ... $129
- Fort Lauderdale ... $129
- Orlando ... $139
- New York ... $139

Thursday, October 6, 2011

From FrugalTravelGuy - Deals of the Day

Delta is offering 1,000 (2,000 for cardholders) miles for giving $50 to the United Way. Offer is limited to the first 5000 people so I would make sure you’re one of those before giving (if you’re just in it for the miles, that is).

Deals We Like discusses how to get Triple Southwest points (1800 WN points per Hyatt stay) instead of Hyatt points.

View From the Wing has a way to earn 2500 free US Airways miles and a hit in the Grand Slam! All you have to do is sign up for a ShareBuilder Account!

Earn 250 Delta MQMs for every two-night stay at Hilton. This can be used in addition to their Q4 promotion.

Enter to win up to $1 million at Chase Freedom’s Facebook page.

National Car is also running a Facebook contest that is giving away up to 350,000 airline miles, plus Emerald Club Executive Elite Status for one year.

Southwest is giving away up to 3 Million Points or 100 weekly points

Free and Instant Accor A-Club Platinum Status

Via Milepoint, Accor is offering instant Platinum status just for enrolling (with this HSBC promo).

Platinum status generally requires 60 nights (or 25,000 points earned) and comes with a 100% points bonus and then at Sofitel, Pullman, and MGallery hotels: room upgrades that the rules say you specifically have to ask for, 4pm late checkout, guaranteed availability, and a welcome drink and gift.

So not a bad deal and more importantly - it's FREE!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Current Mileage/Point Status

It's always nice to have a general accounting of mileage/point balances. I used for all my miles/points tracking and highly recommend it!


American - 87K
British Airways - 120K
Continental - 48K
Delta - 17K
Hawaiian - 122K
LAN - 27K

United - 121K
US Airways - 35K
Virgin America - 6K

Hilton - 40K
Starwood - 41K
Holiday Inn - 60K
Radisson - 53K

Obviously I will need to boost both my Delta and Virgina America accounts in the next few months. I am comfortable with both the AA and United situation and especially happy about my Hawaiian account balance - all courtesy of repeated sign-up bonus gravy from BofA and Bank of Hawaii Visa cards.
Hotel points could be better but 41K Starwood points will pay for a lot of cash+point hotels in the future.
Radisson 53K was all the points we earned during our stay in the Bahamas. We will probably use it in Europe since the awards in the US are heavily overvalued.


American - 6K
British Airways - 109K
Continental - 24K
Delta - 51K
Hawaiian - 47K
United - 36K

Virgin America - 2K

Hilton - 61K
Starwood - 2K
Holiday Inn - 21K

It is obvious that Nadia is not as active as me in the mileage/point collecting through credit card sign up bonuses. However, she has a healthy account balance in both Delta and Hilton accounts and decent balances in the major airlines. We just signed her up for two personal Citi AA cards which should give her a total of 150K miles after minimum spend requirements are fulfilled.

All in all, not bad and we are still young so the collecting will continue unabated. Once I have established a continuous level of 100K+ in most of the current airline accounts we will start adding more airlines to the mix.

Starwood Preferred Guest - Cash and Points - A Guide

From FrugalTravelguy - Rookie Shannon
This is the best write-up about the excellent Starwood Cash&Points program I have seen and we have been a continuous user of this, especially in Europe, where top-notch hotels can be reserved for as little as $60/night and a few thousand SPG points. It's a very nice deal. 

Shannon (
A great way to maximize SPG points and save big on hotel rooms is to utilize SPG's cash-and-points offer. They allow you to redeem hotel nights using a combination of Starpoints and cash, which in many cases, turns out to be a pretty good value.

Cash and Points Guide: This is just a "guide" they provide and it is not all-inclusive. You must search for your destination and dates individually to confirm availability and to see if the deals really work out for you. Blackout dates do apply to some cash and points redemptions. The hotel list offers only a few examples since there are many, many more hotels in each category. I just wanted to give you a general idea of the hotels that fall under each category.

Note to all: "Guest will not receive Starpoints or airline miles for their reservations; therefore, a Cash and Points stay does not qualify as an eligible stay toward earning elite level or toward any promotions requiring nights or stays." (Taken directly from

Category 1 Hotels (offer valid for Asia Pacific, U.S., and Canadian hotels only) -- 1200 Starpoints + $25 per night

Hotel Examples:

 Four Points by Sheraton: Lexington KY , Detroit Metro MI, Charlotte NC, Pittsburgh Airport PA, Manasses Battlefield VA

Category 2 Hotels (offer valid for Asia pacific,U.S. and Canadian hotels only) -- 1600 Starpoints + $30 per night. 

Hotel Examples:

Four Points by Sheraton -  Sacramento Int. Airport CA, Ventura Harbor Resort CA, Cocoa Beach FLA, Orlando Studio City FLA, Boston Logan Airport MASS, Niagara Falls NY, Portland East OR, Houston Airport.

Aloft: Phoenix Airport, Ontario-Rancho Cucamonga CA, Baltimore-Washington Intl Airport, Chapel Hill NC, Chesapeake VA, Green Bay WI

Westin: Dallas Fort-Worth Airport TX, Atlanta Airport GA

Category 3 Hotels -- 2800 Starpoints + $45

Hotel Examples:

Sheraton: Brussels Belgium, Zagreb Croatia, Frankfurt and Munich Germany, Athlone Ireland, Bari, Florence, Catania, Malpensa, Padova and Rome Italy, Warsaw Poland, Canary Islands Spain.

Westin: Zagreb Croatia.

Le Meridien: St Julians Hotel and Spa Malta (great for me to find out as my grandparents are from Malta and I still have a ton of family there!), Dresden Germany.

Value of Points Example: Rome Italy, Category 3, Check in 10/17/2011. Check Out 10/21/2011. Cash-and-Points was available for the Sheraton Roma Hotel and Conference Center at 2800 Starpoints + $45 U.S. Dollars. The standard rate was 252 EUROS per night, At our current exchange rate of 1.44 EUR to the US dollar, that's $362 per night! I think 2800 Starpoints and $45 US dollars is a much better deal. When you subtract the $45 per night from the $362 per night fee, it leaves you with $317. Divide that by the total number of Starpoints required per night -- in this case 2800 -- and each Starpoint is worth approx 11 cents. That is great when the purchasing value from SPG is around 2 cents per point. 

Category 4 -- 4000 Starpoints + $60.

Hotel Examples:

Westin: The Westin Grand, Berlin, Munich and Frankfurt Germany; Dublin Ireland; Dragonara Resort St. Julians Malta; Valencia Spain

Le Meridien:Vienna Austria, Brussels Belgium, Lav Split Croatia, Park Hotel Frankfurt Germany, Le Royal Hamburg Germany, Rimini Italy, Warsaw Poland, Penina Golf and Resort Portimao Portugal, Istambul Etiler Turkey (starting Nov. 14, 2011).

Sheraton: Four Points Milan Italy, Rhodes Greece, Lisboa Hotel and Spa Portugal, La Caleta Resort and Spa Costa Adeje Tenerife Canary Islands Spain, Stockholm Hotel Sweden.

Value of Points Example, Europe: I searched for a room in Brussels, Belgium, checking in on 5/16/2012 and checking out on 5/19/2012. Cash-and-Points was available for a Category 3 and Category 4 hotel. The Category 4 Sheraton Brussels Hotel deal was 4000 Starpoints and $60 dollars per night; 10,000 Starpoints or 199 Euros per night ($285.5 US). The exchange is as follows: Using 10000 Starpoints per night, each point would be valued at 0.028 of a dollar or about 3 cents. Using cash-and-points, subtracting the $60 US and dividing the remainder by the 4000 points used leaves each Starpoint at a value of 0.056 of a dollar or about 6 cents. The Category 3 available was the Four Points By Sheraton at 2800 Starpoints and $45 US per night; 7000 Starpoints or 135 Euros( $194.4 US) per night. Starpoints alone: The value would be 0.027 of a dollar or about 3 cents per point. Using cash-and-points as indicated above: The value of each Starpoint was 5 cents.

Category 5 -- 4800 Starpoints + $90

Hotel Examples:
Westin: Resort and Spa Whistler, British Columbia, Sydney Australia, Shanghai China, Sendai Japan, Costa Navarino Greece, Grand Cayman, Princeville Kauai, Kaanapali Maui, Times Square NYC.
Le Meridien: Le Parker Meridien Palm Springs CA, Tahiti French Polynesia, Limassol Cyprus, Nice and Paris France, Barcelona Spain.

Sheraton: Waikiki Honolulu Hawaii, Maui Resort and Spa, Koloa Kauai, Tribeca NYC, Queensland Australia, Hong Kong China, Grand Tokyo Bay Hotel Japan, Rio De Janiero Brazil, Milan Italy, Amsterdam Airport Netherlands.

Value of Points Example,  The Element New York Times Square West: Checking in on 3/6/12 and checking out on3/9/12, the standard room rate is $390 US dollars per night. Using 100% points, it was 12,000 points per night, each point valued at 3 cents. Using the cash-and-points option of 4800 Starpoints and $90 US, each Starpoint was valued at 0.62 of a dollar or 6 cents.

Category 6 -- 8000 Starpoints + $150 US per night.

Hotel Examples: 
Prince de Galles Paris France, Vedema Resort Santorini Greece, Hotel Danieli Venice Italy, Le Meridien Beach Plaza Monte Carlo Monoco, Le Meridien Picadilly London England.

Value of Points Example, The Hotel Grand in Bretagne Athens, Greece: Checking in on 2/1/2012 and checking out on 2/7/2012, the standard room rate was 245 Euros or $352.8 US per night. Using points alone, the redemption rate is 20,000 Starpoints per night valuing your points at 0.017 of a dollar or just under 2 cents each. Cash-and-points was 8000 Starpoints and $150 US per night, valuing your points at 0.025 of a dollar or 2.5 cents each.

As you can see, Cash and Points can be a great way to maximize the value of your Starpoints redemption. Category 3 and 4 hotels in Europe seem to offer the greatest value. Have fun planning your next vacation using Cash and Points!

Get in on the action by applying for a Starwood American Express Card
For a limited time you can get 30000 points (10K at first use, 20K after spending $4500 in 3 months)

Application Link HERE

500 Free Points for Accepting Text Messages From Priority Club

Via Points Addict, if you’re willing to accept Priority Club marketing messages via text there’s 500 free points for doing so. It’s a Visa promotion, you have to register a Visa card with your signup.

You Should Go to Grand Bahama if…..

We spent a wonderful week in Grand Bahama, at the Raddison Our Lucaya resort in the late spring. While we had a nice relaxing time, something that two itinerary wielding individuals usually don’t do, there are things that we would like to warn other travelers about. 

Grand Bahama is a sole destination for a small percentage of travelers, almost everyone else visits the island on a cruise. The combination of this along with the recent economic downturn means that Grand Bahama lacks some of the luxuries typically associated with a tropical hot spot. The small number of restaurants outside of the Lucaya Marketplace was further diminished by global economic woes in recent years. In addition, entertainment options are also scant. Unless you plan to visit some shops during very specific opening times in Freeport, the city itself has nothing to offer. We lucked out by visiting when the annual Junkanoo celebration (which historically took place only around Christmas time) was taking place  and this parade was in Freeport. Keep in mind that the International Market that many un-updated guidebooks write extensively about is nothing spectacular, and today largely features dodgy restaurants and a few shops.

With that in mind you may be asking yourself why go at all? The answer is that crowd-free, deserted beaches and poolsides are something extraordinary. Additionally, the value of relaxing in a place that isn’t crawling with screaming tourists and forceful souvenir peddling shopkeepers is simply unmatched. And while those who are foodies will find the options somewhat lacking, there is still plenty to eat without worrying about getting ill like in numerous other tropical destinations. So if you want to be wowed by white, powder sand, deserted beaches and simply hunger for simple relaxation with a book and drink then Grand Bahama is a brilliant choice. For Southerners and East Coast dwellers it is basically the same distance as Florida (Grand Bahama is the closest island to the Sunshine State). We returned from our 7 day vacation rested, refreshed and content. 

While there do checkout the dolphin experience, rent a car to explore beaches off the beaten path => drive east on the Great Bahama Highway, turn right on some of the small, little dirt roads leading to either "For Sale" abandoned beach front properties or direct beach access that only locals know about. We discovered multiple nice beaches that way, had them completely to ourselves and found a treasure trove of sea shells, which are now gracing our dining table. Also, take advantage of various boat excursions (including snorkeling, deserted island exploration etc).

Bahamas Trip Report - brought to you by Nadia

Raddisson our Lucaya Resort & Spa - Grand Bahama
A few weeks ago we returned from a very relaxing trip to Grand Bahama (stayed at Raddison our Lucaya). We had a great time, enjoyed fantastic weather and loved the soft, white sand beaches. Unfortunately, the Bahamas, and especially Grand Bahama, is undergoing a major economic downturn which takes a toll on what is offered to vacationers. The economic situation is a result of less tourists coming to the island and so unemployment is high. A large number of restaurants, stores and even hotels are closed. While the island is not in its prime, so to speak, I would still recommend going if you are looking for a truly relaxing time. The fact that there are so few people works out well for those who hate crowds or shiver at the thought of having to wake up early to get a place to sit by the pool. We greatly enjoyed the quiet atmosphere and overall beauty offered by the Caribbean. The situation in general left us less annoyed at the small number of places to eat or closed hotel facilities for example, and more feeling sorry for the people who live there and have to deal with the unpleasant circumstances. As a bottom line, if your expectations are not too high and you can get used to the laid back, island attitude about it all, Grand Bahama is still a great destination.

The hotel:

Raddison Our Lucaya was not all that we had hoped it would be. The service and attitude of hotel employees varied, from the unorganized at the front desk to more personal and sweet at restaurants, bars, towel shack and so on. Only one pool is open (and it is not the one with the Sugar Mill and cascading water), and most restaurants are closed, leaving the open ones to rotate opening days/times among. We stayed for 7 days and during that time only the weekends felt somewhat fuller, while during the week perhaps 5% of the rooms were filled. The food at the hotel (and at restaurants outside the Raddison) is also nothing to get too excited about. It is ok but certainly not a paradise for foodies. Diners with moderate expectations will also find that the food is unimaginative and simply blah, with a gem once in a while (try the Key Lime pie at Led Med). The hotel could also use a facelift as the rooms are clean but somewhat outdated. The grounds are nice but suffer from the lack of desperately needed money, cash that would allow for some extra sprucing up. The Lucaya Marketplace area where the Raddison sits is actually one of the best places to be. In the eastern part of the island you will find tiny vacation rentals that are truly secluded (as we found the one day we rented a car to explore). While the beaches there are nicer than the one outside the Radisson, there is nothing in terms of entertainment, decent dining options etc. If you really want something exceptionally low key, it would probably be a good place to check out for a few days. If you want some entertainment though and less seclusion, check into the Raddison.

Excursions/Things to do:

We really had a great time on the UNEXSO dolphin experience and on Pat and Diane’s Desert Island/Snorkeling Adventure (both highly recommended). Also if you can rent a car definitely go to the eastern part of the island. The deserted, calm-water beaches are stunning. Freeport, a short cab ride away from Lucaya Beach, also does not offer much. We went to the International Bazaar only to be really disappointed by the emptiness and mostly closed shops. On a different night we had the opportunity to take in Freeport again though when the 1st Annual Rush for Peace junkanoo parade took place. Junkanoo is a parade with costumes and music that takes places in the Bahamas (and a few other Caribbean islands) around Christmas time. Recently though Grand Bahama has started hosting one in June and since we were there we decided to take it in. It was fun to watch although took a LONG time to get started and was a bit unorganized.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hillarious! :)

Hilarious video - so true! :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

It's raining Miles & Points

Recent sign-up bonuses are out of's literally raining points & miles people!!!

A quick sample of currently available sign-up bonuses on credit cards:

60,0000pts Priority Club Chase Visa Card
50,000pts Marriott Chase Visa Card
50,000pts Chase Sapphire Visa (transferable 1:1 to British Airways, Continental, Hyatt, etc...)
50,000pts American Express Membership Reward points Gold Premier (transferable 1:1 to a variety of airlines & hotels)
35,000Miles Hawaiian Airlines VISA (Bank of Hawaii)
35,000Miles Hawaiian Airlines VISA (Bank of America)
50000 but up to 100000Miles American Airlines Citibank...

The list goes on and on and would be too long to list completely.
I am not sure if 30 to 50000 miles/points is the new normal - I doubt it. So, I suggest you quickly jump on the bandwagon because these sign-up bonuses can't last. The airlines are practically giving free tickets away.

Just today I applied and was approved for both the 60,000 Priority Club visa card & the 50,000 American Express Gold Premier card. That means lots of free hotel nights & a 50,000mile injection in a airline reward program of my choice.

I recently cancelled my Hawaiian Airlines credit cards and am thinking of going for the combined 70K Hawaiian mile offers soon.

Take advantage of these offers - it's a lot of miles & points for the taking. Unfortunately many of these cards are given out by Chase so make sure you apply for some of them at the same time (multiple browser windows!!!). I project that these offers will shrink significantly once the economy is back on its feet and consumer spending is up again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Raddisson Goldpoints is now Club Carlson - 5000pts to subscribe to emails

I just received an email from my Raddisson Goldpoints program - they officially changed their name now to Club Carlson. With the email, I received a nice 5000pts bonus for newsletter sign-up. Since free nights start at 9000 points, this bonus is significant.

Raddisson email excerpt: "Subscribe to our emails to be the first to know about hotel discounts, special offers and more. Subscribe today and stay subscribed until August 31, 2011 to earn 5,000 bonus points."

Monday, April 25, 2011

1000 Free American Airlines Miles

Simple really...

Download, use a couple of times...forget about it...1000 AAdvantage miles...

50,000 Marriott Points for Card Sign Up

Marriott credit card has bumped up their offer to 50,000 points on sign up. Not bad - that's about 2 free nights in regular Marriotts....

Here is the link.

PointsBreak Hotel List is out...

Enjoy 5000 pts nights at Intercontinental/Holiday Inn, etc...


British Airways 100,000 mile offer is back - Continental 50000 mile offer still available

Maximize your miles this spring!!! :)

British Airways is offering their 100,000 miles offer with Chase. $95 annual fee is NOT waived for the first year now and you have to spend $2500 to get the second set of 50,000 miles. This card has no foreign transaction fee, which makes it an idea card to travel with.

Other than that, everything is the same - so hurry, only available for a limited time.

Go here:

Use card 1 time = 50,000 British Airways miles
Spend a total of $2500 in 90 days = another 50,000 miles

If you want to buy coins go to the US Mint Website - HERE and buy 4 packs of coins ($1000) can do this every 10 days if you'd like....Coins are shipped by UPS, free of charge.

Continental Airlines:

Continental will stop to exist by the end of the year - they have an excellent credit card available until May 15th so I suggest you apply for this one as well.

Go here:

Sign up for card - First year annual fee is waived - after that $85.
Use card to buy something really cheap or replace your united card with this card, after the first time using it you will get 50,000 Continental Miles. These will convert to United miles on 1/1/2012.

I would sign up for one card, wait a few days and then sign up for the other one. Do the British airways one first since it gives you more miles....
If you don't want to spend actual money, buy coins.

150,000 miles - total actual costs $95...not bad. That's 0.06 cents/mile

Friday, April 1, 2011

2500 Free Hilton Honors Points - VERY EASY

2500 Hilton Honors Points

This is probably the easiest 2500 Hilton Honor Points you will ever make! Follow this link and give your account information. DONE! :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport - nobody is home...

Well this is concerning...

Apparently if you fly into Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport late at night, there might be a chance that nobody is actually in the tower overseeing your landing...

Awesome! Makes me feel better flying in/out of Washington Dulles were professionalism still reigns apparently.

Read the story HERE

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

100 Free American Airline Miles

100 Simple AA Miles

Answer are:
1) Destinations
2) All of the above
3) AAdvantage Facebook page
4) All of the above
5) 5 - Dining miles
6) 1,000 miles - for car etc

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Starwood is giving 100 free Starpoints for registering your pledge to participate in ‘Earth Hour’ by March 26.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Holiday in Europe - Germany-Poland-France Christmastrip 2010

The end of 2010 proved to be a deluge of snowy, frigid weather for all Europeans.  So considering that we were traveling right in the middle of December’s angry weather attacks, we got very lucky.  We missed all storms and despite a small, non-weather related delay on our flight to Frankfurt and some train issues between Frankfurt and Paris, our holiday trip turned out as fantastic  as it possibly could. 
Christkindlmarkt - Nuremberg
Upon arriving in Frankfurt we took off in our rented car to explore a few German cities, on our way to spend Christmas with my family in Poland.  We saw countless warnings on the internet, and heard cautionary advice from various people about how awful the roads are, people are stuck in cars on autobahns without water for hours as the storm rages, yet we experienced none of this.  We did see lots of snow, holiday card landscapes and huge mountains of the plowed white stuff all over Germany and Poland but it never really got in our way.  As a result we had the chance to explore a pretty, medieval town named Rothenburg ob der Tauber, before moving onto Nuremberg, with its spectacular Christmas market.  If you ever have a chance to spend some time during the holidays in Nuremberg, checking out the Christkindlmarkt and savoring its gingerbread is an absolute must.  Not to mention the beautiful Christmas ornaments, other handmade goods and soul warming food.

As we headed further East, we stopped to enjoy the city of Dresden.  Dresden has Germany’s oldest Christmas market called the Striezelmarkt.  The city is much prettier than I thought it would be and the fact that we got a chance to enjoy a meal at Pfunds Molkerei (always looking to fulfill my appetite for all things dairy) made the day there perfect.  After Dresden we drove to Berlin to explore the city more than we had on previous visits.  As always, Berlin was fascinating and we were glad to affirm once again that we would definitely be back.
Our full week in Poland was filled with Christmas festivities, family visits, food, food and more food.  If you are not eating a lot than you are not truly enjoying a real Polish holiday, and what is the point of holidays without mind-blowing food and family?  In Krakow, my favorite city in Poland, we met no crowds so we had a chance to really enjoy the pre-Christmas atmosphere.  If you happen to find yourself in the magical city, stop in for a thick hot chocolate or other sweet goodness at Wedel
Laduree Macaroons

A few days before New Year’s we drove back to Frankfurt, gave back the rental car and boarded a train for Paris.  If it wasn’t for the somewhat over-cautious Deutschebahn’s policy regarding decreased train speeds in cold, but not too-snowy weather, we would have arrived in Paris on time.  Alas, we had delays on the way there and on the way back but we still had the opportunity to enjoy Paris exactly how we planned.  If you are planning on spending New Year’s Eve in Paris, do note that while the Parisians have a wonderful time, the events are not as spectacular as London’s for example.  Paris does not allow fireworks so there isn’t a pyrotechnic display like in other European cities, but it is still a fun place to ring in the New Year.  We took in the sites, although on a more laid back schedule than normal, because we have both been to Paris separately a few times before.  This more leisurely pace allowed us to do some things that a regular tourist rushing between the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower may miss.  And of course what trip to Paris would be complete without warm crepes on the street, copious amounts of croissants and baguettes and the best macaroons we have ever had (and I don’t even love macaroons) from Laduree.
As we imagined, holiday time in Europe is beyond amazing.  The atmosphere, the glistening snow, the tastes, sounds and feeling that Christmas time is somehow different, seemed like something out of a storybook.  The commercialism, although there, was definitely not at the center and we acknowledged that you cannot recreate a setting like that.  In closing, if you do have a chance to travel to Europe at the end of the year, do enjoy its many splendors.  Oh, and how could a trip be bad when one flies in First Class, for a pittance, thanks to this very websites’ ideas about traveling all over without spending a fortune. 

Happy Travels!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A US Airways Credit Card with No First Year Fee

There a US Airways card from Barclay's without a first year fee. 35000 Miles after first use. Another 10000 at account renewal. There's also a Business card offer for 25000 Miles but that one has an annual fee ($79).

Here is the 35K personal card: link
Here's the 25K business card link 

The Travelbandits actually are staring at 0 Miles with US Airways - shocking,we know! :) But those cards should ramp up our balances with US Airways rather quickly. :) Remember, US Airways is part of the Star Alliance - you can use the miles on United, Lufthansa, etc...

As always, your credit is important so make sure you know your credit score and always pay your balances - don't dig yourself a hole you can't get out of.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Free STARWOOD GOLD status for 1 year

I believe I posted about this a while back but since there might be some new readers here it is again. Starwood Hotel Properties include Sheratons, Westins, W, Four Points, etc...

If you are currently a preferred member (if not, sign up for the program on the Starwood website).

There's a cool little trick to get Gold status for 1 year without actually meeting the stay requirement.

It requires a phone call and the spelling of 2 letters.

Call 1-888-625-4990 and mention code UI....that's U as in Unbelievable and I as in Intelligent.
Some people have reported that this code still works - some say that a new code works as well (SN). If at first you don't succeed, hang up and try again with the second code....

When you call you will be connected to the AMEX Platinum Card® member customer service line. You can tell them you got a code when you "received" your AMEX Platinum Card (be suave and use your imagination when talking to the rep!!!) that should provide you with a Starwood upgrade to Gold. They will take some information (Starwood membership number, etc...) and upgrade you. It's all over in less than 5 minutes.

As a Gold Preferred Guest you will:

• Earn a 50% bonus (a total of three StarpointsSM) for every eligible U.S. dollar you spend at any Starwood Preferred Guest hotel

• Receive a complimentary upgrade to a Preferred Room when available at check-in, and 4 p.m. late checkout

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

When to buy flights - if you have to buy that is.... :)

Read this very insightful article on "when to buy airline tickets".

Turns out, Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursdays are best!!! :)

Article HERE

Continental MileAthon now active

The Continental MileAthon is now active. Time to apply for the Continental Card below!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Continental - WHOA - 50000 miles sign-up bonus

It never ceases to amaze me - the banks are just throwing miles at us!

Continental - soon to be United - is offering a sweet increase in their credit card sign-up bonus. The original bonus was 30K but now they upped the offer to 50K after first use - no annual fee for the first year. SWEET!!!

I HIGHLY suggest you get this card. But if possible, wait for February first! If you are an avid reader of this blog you know you have to register for the Continental MileAthon first.  So, if you arent' a ONEPass member - sign up on Feb. 1st, then sign up for the MileAthon, then apply for the CARD. That way, you will maximize your bonus points from the MileAThon. Applying for a Continental Card normally gets you about 30 to 40 pts which is another 5000 miles at least...

This is a great opportunity. Don't let it pass by. 50K Continental miles will transform soon into United Miles. 50K miles will get you to lots of places!!

Your credit is obviously important so proceed with caution. Only use the card to get the bonus, don't necessarily use it for your everyday purchases. Make sure you don't carry balances! There's no limit on how many cards you can own. Having 20 cards doesn't hurt your credit score - carrying a balance will.

Hertz - a lesson in standing your ground....

So, as some of you might know, Nadia and me were traveling in Europe over Christmas (Travel report coming soon). This involved renting a car from Hertz in Frankfurt and driving it all the way to Poland and back. Arriving late in Frankfurt due to a technical issue with our 777 flight out of Dallas we picked up our reserved car in the Hertz Gold Canopy parking lot. In case you have never picked up a car at Frankfurt Airport - it's a complete organizational nightmare.

First, identifying were to pick up is a lesson in patience. One has to hike through almost the entire terminal to finally arrive at the correct location. I stopped at the counter, just in case, but was told that my car was already waiting. Since I am a Hertz Gold member I just have to show up at the lot, look for my name, throw the bags in the car and go. Well, that's at least how it normally works.

After talking to the more than bored customer service rep at the Hertz counter we continued our underground tour of FRA airport to find the Hertz parking lot. It's a hike and signs guiding you the right way could obviously be much better.

Finally we arrive at the lot. We round a corner and there are the familiar digital displays with one's name displayed. I searched & looked and finally saw my name above a Ford hatchback. Great...finally.
Now, to make one thing clear - I reserved a D Class car from hertz, meaning a Mid-size Sedan. I could have gone with a cheaper Economy or Compact Class but I thought for driving across Europe in the Winter I should pay a little premium, plus we would be driving family around and a Fiat Panda or little KIA isn't very cozy for 4 people. So I reserved the car with confidence. The original reservation I made online at (utilizing a UNITED booking code) was for a D Class car and a pic told me that it will be a Ford Focus or similar.

Well, a Ford Focus Hatchback was hanging out under my name so, everything is fine, right? Bags into the back, set your seat, adjust mirrors and head for the exit. Now, how many of you ever check the rental contract, the little white paper hanging from the mirror or lying on the passenger seat? Probably not many. I stopped doing it because the charges are always wrong because discounts and special coupon savings are never incorporated in the total - only after you finish the rental is the price adjusted automatically. So, I didn't look at it, signed at the exit that the car is not damaged (I always walk around the car before driving out - you should too!) and off we went.

Fast forward back in the US. I receive a letter in the mail from Hertz Autovermietung GMBH in Frankfurt with an Invoice. Total: 507 Euro....Whoa....that was more than a 100Euros more than my reserved rate. I scanned the charges and soon found the culprit....a 100Euro Vehicle Upgrade charge..... Now, I was a bit perplexed by that. Sure I noticed a few 100 kilometers into our drive that our car had GPS installed and voice recognition and whatever else they crammed into the console but I had my own GPS with me and thought that the FRA Hertz location probably had nothing else available for us. So...Sweet!!!, a little automatic upgrade, which one gets once in a while from rental companies due to lack of specific car classes in the lot.

The invoice also stated that I reserved a D Class, was charged a D Class but Rented a Q6 class. I have never seen the Q6 identifier since I never rent crazy expensive cars. Cars are supposed to get you from A to B during your travels. People who rent Mercedes and BMW on their travels in our opinion are wasting money.

So, faced with an exorbitant and in our minds, fraudulent charge I did what any sensible consumer does - I called customer service and asked for an explanation/refund.

I provided my rental agreement number, name and dates and was told the matter will be investigated since it's on a different continent they couldn't help me right away and I should give them 10 days. While waiting for a response I received yet another letter from Germany telling me how much I owed.

Finally, the long-awaited email from Hertz customer service arrived in my Inbox. The more I read, the more I got frustrated. I basically had received a standard: "You used it - you have to pay for it" letter from Hertz.
I was shocked. Normally, complaints such as this (they are not uncommon - a simple good search of "hertz upgrade charge" will give you plenty of results) are resolved immediately with a simple refund.

This is the moment in any customer service interaction that has the companies on the edge of their seats. Will the customer raise more hell or will they bow down to our verdict? Well, if you know us, we don't bow down when we know that it is actually them who stands on weaker ground. Customer service is all about making the customer happy - while some people might have gone on paying the extra charge with slight annoyment or telling themselves to never rent from Hertz again or at least check the contract next time, we wasted no time. I immediately sent of a reply-email stating that this is unacceptable,an outrage even and that this means that Hertz, at least in Frankfurt, Germany is participating in very questionable business practices. A mentioning of "escalating the issue" coupled with "Better Business Bureau" and "never will use Hertz for my personal or corporate travel again", in our opinion would do the trick.

48 hours later I received an email, apologizing for the mishap, telling me that a refund of 119 Euros is on its way and hoping that I will use their services again. I also liked how they stated that my complaint will be forwarded to the appropriate management, meaning, I presume, that somebody will get a talking to behind the FRA airport rental counter. Well, maybe that's just our wishful thinking. Afterall, this is just business as usual. Imagine how much money the rental companies make each day on people that don't go the extra mile to complain or simply overlook extra charges. Same goes with banks and their millions of dollars in fees each year.

The moral:

1) Check your rental contract before driving off the lot - anything wrong, call Hertz or head back to the counter.
2) If you are Gold Canopy and simply pick up your car - don't rely on Hertz to give you the correct car.
3) If the rental counter is at the other side of the world (as in FRA) - just leave with the "upgraded" car and fight it later.
4) If challenged by customer service - persist and fight. You are in the right. You reserved a specific product and never requested an upgrade. You weren't told you received an upgrade by anyone and throw in how disappointed you are and the other powerful words (Better Business Bureau and escalation).

Our situation was resolved and had a happy ending. Many of you might not be so lucky or come across a stubborn Customer Service rep. going by the book. Keep at it. The more you escalate, the more embarrassing and dangerous it gets for them - this includes airlines, rental companies and hotels. The customer is definitely still king in the USA. Believe me, complaining about this in Europe would have gone probably nowhere. 

Hope this little episode helps you to stick up for yourself and standing your ground against ridiculous charges.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Free Priority Club Points for some Quick Surveys

This post on Flyertalk notes 3 quick Priority Club surveys which offer free points:
100 points:
Answers are : C,D,B
100 points:
Answers are: D,A,D
300 points:
Answers are: D, D, D, D, C

It's nice to be able to boost ones Priority account a little once in a while. Especially if you are at 4800 points and 5000pts gets you a free night at participating Pointbreaks-hotels.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

AwardWallet Rocks!!

If you are like us, you like to be organized and have all your Frequent Flier mileage and Hotel point information at one place. Well, for years we tried to do this by updating our Travel Excel file but then we came across AwardWallet online.

This site is great. First we started to add all our airline and hotel information but soon thereafter we started adding the whole family. Now we rely on nothing else to check if miles or points posted. We also check our itinearies (they are downloaded automatically to the site after you reserve with your Mileage/Point account) and  love the check-in reminders that AwardWallet sends out automatically.

You can use this website and their services for a lot of online membership accounts, not only travel related. Airline miles, Hotel points, Shopping points, Credit Card points, Rental points, Dining, Train, Survey and many more categories are available - you will be sure to find your program in their extensive list.

If you sign up for AwardWallet Plus (pay whatever you like $5, $10.....whatever u think it's worth), they will even provide you with mileage/point expiration dates and status updates.

All-in-all a wonderful service and one that we can proudly recommend! So go sign-up today - it's free! :)

Get your Continental OnePass Miles NOW!!

We have mentioned this to people for a while now, maybe we have to scream it: SIGN-UP FOR CONTINENTAL ONEPASS AND GET AS MANY MILES FROM THEM BEFORE THEY MERGE WITH UNITED!!!! Whew, that's better... :)

Seriously though, this is probably the #1 advice we can give for 2011.  

Maximize your Continental OnePass Miles!

Why? Because in a few months, probably at the end of 2011 the United Mileage Plus & Continental OnePass accounts will be merged and Continental Airlines will officially be gone. Thus, all promotions, credit cards and other deals will from then on be labeled as "United"only. So right now, you can still get seperate sign-up bonuses for credit cards getting a Continental OnePass Credit Card (25000 miles after first use), participate with promotions from Continental, such as the MileaThon that will start 2/1...etc.. At the same time, you can sign up for United Credit Cards, participate in United promotions (for example 1000 Miles from Hertz for car rentals...), etc...

Thus, you can earn miles in 2 accounts right now and just sit back and relax and see them become one soon. Instead of having 25000 at Continental and 25000 at United - you will have 50000 United miles....nothing to sneeze at. :)

Now, what should you do? Wait until February first and then perform these tasks:

1) On Feb. 1st -> Go to the Continental Airlines website and SIGN-UP for a Continental OnePass Account in case you don't have one yet.
2) Then - REGISTER for the Continental Mileathon HERE
3) Wait until February 2nd (just to be save) and sign-up for a Chase Continental Airlines-branded Credit Card of your choice. You should receive at least 25000 miles for it. With a bit of searching you might be able to find a 30000 mile one, with a 50$ statement credit...
4) You can look at the Mileathon requirements for more opportunities to earn miles (buy flowers, buy tickets, buy something online....) or simply check-in with us to see the best strategy to maximize the bonus miles from this promotion.
5) Once you have received your CC - you can receive numerous 100 mile bonuses by registering & "learning" about all the wonderful things Continental Airlines will do for you. We post these registration links all the time. Here's one for example: LINK
6) At the end of the promotion you should sit on 25K from your CC (maybe 50K or more if you sign up for a business credit card as well - don't need to have a business just enter XYZ consulting and check the self-proprietorship box.....get creative with the name, annual revenue, etc...)
7) If we are all very lucky - Chase Bank will have sign-up bonuses for personal & business banking 1 more time before Continental disappears.... you could get 25K for opening a checking account & 25K for opening a business account. Keep it for 90 days, then close both accounts. Only cost is a debit card for each account ($25 for personal, $35 or 45 for business card - and fulfilling the purchase requirements for each account - more on that later if this deals becomes available again!) Fingers-crossed!!

So go out there and get as many Continental Miles as possible before it's too late!! :) Happy Mileage-Hunting!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

2011 Travelbandits Mileage/Point Status

A new year brings new opportunities. It's always a good idea to list your mileage & point balances at every beginning year and look for gaps or places of improvement.

So here it goes:


American Airlines - 20K
British Airway - 114K
Continental - 83K
Delta - 117K
Hawaiian - 7K
United - 117K
Virgin America - 1K

Hilton - 23K (Gold)
Starwood - 44K (Gold)
Priority Club - 5K (Plat)

American Airlines - 5K
British Airway - 108K
Continental - 51K
Delta - 51K
Hawaiian - 5K
United - 30K
Virgin America - 2K

Starwood - 1K (Gold)
Priority Club - 20K (Plat)

As you can see, we are sitting comfortably on a lot of miles. But there are gaps. Both our American Airline accounts were wiped out by our recent First Class trip to Europe (125K each) so we need to work on building up our balances again. We both still have our British Airways Credit Card sign-up bonus of 100K+ miles and need to find a way of spending it - twice to Europe or 1 far-away trip??? Or maybe first class to Europe again? Ah, choices..choices....

Since Continental will soon stop to exist we maximized our credit card/bank mileage collection in the past few months. My 83K and Nadia's 51K will bolster our United accounts nicely...

Delta - we are both sitting on a lot of miles - I am happy with my number, however Nadia could try to bring the number up to 100K for maximum travel flexibility. I will have to look for any Credit Card sign-up deals that are new for this year from Delta....

Hawaiian - we are almost out of Hawaiian Miles since we flew to Kauai last year for almost free ($105 per ticket = 2x $50 annual fee for 2 CCs plus $5 booking fee) - that's unacceptable. :) I already applied for both Hawaiian Airlines credit cards again (50$ annual fee each - 20K for each card after first use) and will bring my total back up to over 40K (enough for a free flight to any Hawaiian island). Nadia will have to do the same shortly...

United - our main carrier here in SF - we are just sitting back and waiting until our Continental miles fold into our United Mileage Plus accounts at the end of the years (approximately). Unfortunately, booking free flights with United will be harder than it was with Continental but that's what happens in mergers - the worse program unfortunately survives...

Virgin America - we love to fly Virgin - normally we pay for our flights but last November we used my VA Credit Card sign up bonus and a lot of major US Mint coin purchases (2x $5000 in coins - yes it was heavy and the bank teller wasn't happy! :)) to fly for free back from NYC. I will start to buy coins again soon and at least bring it back up to 10K-12K in the next few months...
Same goes for Nadia of course...

As you can tell, we mainly focus on free Airline miles and our Hotel points are pretty dismal. That's because it is more important for us to get to places for free instead of staying at them for free. Free hotel rooms are oftentimes of questionable quality so we have no problem paying top dollar for a nice experience.

Nevertheless, after staying at many, many different hotels and brands we have found that Starwood and most of their brands, especially Westin & W, is one of our favorites. Thus, we will try our best to maximize point collection in this program. We love the flexibility of the program and it's points & cash redemption option - paying $60 and 4000 pts for a top class metropolitan Westin is a great deal. With 44K we can do that 11x! :)

Now the wish list for 2011:

Hawaiian - 2 cards for both of us - 40K+ each by May in both our accounts
Continental - waiting for a new personal/business Checking deal - 25K for each new bank account - hopefully it will be back!!
Virigin America - COINS!!! Free flight to NYC??
Starwood - COINS!!! Free stay in NYC??

Nadia should start enrolling in Hilton & Marriott to open up more stay options.
In addition, Chase just came out for the first time with a Hyatt Credit Card which provides free upgrades and a few points to start you out - waiting for the sign-up bonus to increase....\

American Airlines- It seems I will soon have enough miles for a domestic ticket (5K away) but Nadia's account was wiped out by our First Class trip. She should sign-up for CC from Citi again and hope for the best...Citi has become very stingy lately, all credit card companies unfortunately have....but since Nadia has very few inquiries and CC applications on her record it should be relatively simple.

For all those who are still very nervous about their credit score - it's your credit and you operate all these deals at your own risk of course but I can tell you from my experience that my credit score has gone up, and up and up the more cards I carry. Sure there's a small dip 5pts or so when you apply but you get that back & extra sometimes, after a few months when the credit bureaus update your status again. Remember - only use the CC for the deal. Don't carry a balance, just get the sign-up bonus and put the card away for a while...Cancel after 6 months or a year, or keep it if it's useful and comfortable for you. Either way, be smart about your credit! :)

Now - start your own list & add a wish list!! Here's to a great new travel year! :)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Year Registration Reminders

2 good promotions to register for in the New Year:
Of course, first you gotta be members of these programs. Any questions, shoot us an email and we'll walk you through. :)

150 Free American Airlines Miles

Via MilesQuest, Bose is again offering American Airlines miles for learning more about, for testing, and for buying Bose products.

It’s 150 miles for watching a video about their bluetooth headset. If you want to safe time -  you don’t actually even have to watch the video.

Answer to their question is “All of the above

You get another 250 miles for going into a Bose store for a demonstration.

And 400 miles if you buy the darned thing.

Offer is valid through 1/17/11.