Category: Everyday Spending

Putting Non-Bonus Category Spend on the Club Carlson Visa – A Secret Weapon to Earning Free Hotel Nights with Minimal Effort for Infrequent Travelers and Families

If you and your family

  • Only travel once or twice a year;
  • Don’t mind staying at Country Inns, Park Inns, or Radissons (for free) for your vacation or road trips;
  • Would like to minimize the number of credit cards your use on a daily basis;
  • Have no time or desire to manufacture credit card spending;

Then, there might be an easy solution. All you have to do is to put ALL your non-bonus category spending on a single hotel credit card.

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Leveraging 5 Marriott Deals to Get a 50-100% Rebate and Possibly 1+ Year of Marriott Gold/Platinum Elite Status

Once upon a time when TravelWhimsy and I were both working in Hong Kong, the JW Marriott Phuket was our favorite vacation spot. Ever since we moved back to the States, Marriott hasn’t really been our hotel chain of choice.

This fall/winter season, however, we plan to shift almost all of our hotel spending to Marriott because we are looking at a rebate of almost 100% when all is said and done.

If you happen to have hotel needs between now and January 15, 2013, concurrently taking advantage of some or all of the following 5 Marriott-related deals could net you at least a 50% rebate, plus a possible gold or platinum elite status good until February 2014.

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Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation

This is part 14 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.

  1. Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
  2. How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
  3. How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
  4. What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
  5. How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
  6. How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
  7. Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
  8. Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
  9. Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
  10. How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
  11. Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
  12. Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
  13. Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
  14. Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
  15. You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

Travel can be very expensive, even with the help of miles and points. Many of us play the miles and points game for the thrill of getting the best possible deals, but the reality of it is that most families don’t have the luxury of an unlimited amount of time and/or money to devote to travel.

TravelWhimsy and I always share the true out-of-pocket all-in cost (including food, sightseeing, and incidentals) for all our trips, because we want to show everyone that a weekend cross-country getaway or an annual vacation abroad does not have to exceed your travel budget.

Let me use the actual expenses from this South America trip to explain.

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“What’s in My Wallet?” – Guest Post on TravelSort

Check out my “What’s in My Wallet?” guest post/graphic on TravelSort! If the graphic is too small, here is a link to a larger version. Hilary was kind enough to also add a written summary of all the cards I included.

I currently don’t have any of my own affiliate links to those cards that I mentioned, except for the American Express Permanent Prepaid Card, which can help you earn 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for almost everything you buy. If you don’t already have the American Express Prepaid Card, you can get a free $25 gift card before August 31, 2012 by loading $200 or more onto the card at the time of order. I will earn a few dollars if you use my referral link, and appreciate your support of the blog!

Gift Card Alert – Kroger Offering 4x Points Again – Save $2 per Gallon of Gasoline (up to $70)

I flipped through last night’s grocery store ads, and was glad to see the return of Kroger’s 4x rewards points offer (valid between today and September 11, 2012).

A $500 purchase of merchant gift cards (excluding Korger family store gift cards, prepaid or reloadable credit cards, or iTunes variable load card) will net you 2,000 rewards points, which can turn into $70 savings (14% rebate) at the gas pump ($2 off per gallon, up to 35 gallons per fill-up). You can park two cars on two sides of the pump and fill both cars up with one hose in one transaction.

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Gift Card Alert #3 – 4 More Days (Until 6/21/2012) – $20 in Free Groceries (20% Return)

Here is the last gift card promo alert for those of you who fit one or more of the following criteria:

  1. You shop at a SUPERVALU-owned grocery store (ACME, Albertsons, Cub, Farm Fresh, Hornbacher’s, Jewel-Osco, Lucky, Save-A-Lot, Shaw’s/Star Market, Shop n’ Save, Shoppers);
  2. You are not interested in $40 worth of FREE Greek yogurt and 2 FREE movie tickets, or don’t have access to a Safeway-owned grocery store;
  3. You are not interested in getting $2 off per gallon of gas (up to $70 off per fill-up), or don’t have access to a Kroger-owned grocery store.

You have 4 more days (until June 21, 2012) to take advantage of the SUPERVALU grocery chain’s gift card promotion – Buy $100 gift cards (8 to choose from), get $20 in free groceries.

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Gift Card Alert #2 – 2 More Days (Until 6/19/2012) – $2 off per Gallon of Gasoline (up to $70)

For those of you not interested in free Greek yogurt and free movie tickets, or don’t have access to a Safeway-owned grocery store, you can spend $500 on gift cards at a Kroger-owned grocery store and save up to $70 for your next fill-up at the gas station. That is a 14% return, before you factor in any bonus points/cash back on your credit cards. You also have 2 more days (until June 19, 2012) to take advantage of this.

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Gift Card Alert #1 – 2 More Days (Until 6/19/2012) – $40 Free Greek Yogurt + 2 Free Movie Tickets (up to $26)

If you love Fage Greek yogurt and movies, you have 2 more days (until June 19, 2012) to get them for free (a $66 value + bonus points/cash back on your credit cards).

$40 Free FAGE Greek Yogurt from Vons / Safeway

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Get the Cash Discount for Gas While Paying with a Credit Card & Get 5% Cash Back or 5x Points

Have you noticed this when filling up your car at the gas station?

If you are like me, you probably value miles & points too much to go with the cash option. If your car takes 20 gallons each time, the cash discount saves you $1; but if you do the math, 5 cents per gallon represent 1.3% in savings. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get that cash discount AND use our credit card of choice to maximize miles & points?

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Chase Ink Winners Picked & Additional Tips to Ensure a Safe Ride to 5% Cash Back or 5x Points