**Giveaway of two invitation codes for Chase Ink – bonus points after first purchase with no minimum spend required!**
To get that 5% cash back or 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points I talked about yesterday, you need a Chase Ink card (Bold for $95, or Classic/Cash for free). If you opt for the free Ink card, you will ALSO need to have a Chase Sapphire Preferred card in order to turn those points into free travel.
A couple of days after I wrote the Walmart post, I updated it with my own experience of purchasing a $500 VISA gift card at my local grocery store and then using it to buy gas. If you don’t mind the trouble of buying and using a prepaid gift card, you will be on your way to earning 5% (5x points) for almost all your purchases. [I started this post over the weekend, but today Frequent Miler posted his new discovery, and I will go over his strategy later in the post, too, for those of you interested.]
For this trip (not our first time in DC), we decided to book and pay for one night at the Park Hyatt Washington DC, which normally goes for $400+/night. After the 14.5% tax, our hotel bill came in at $227.85; all the benefits we received for booking through American Express FHR (Fine Hotels & Resorts) made this stay practically free. I am going to talk about how you can do this, too, even if you don’t have the American Express Platinum card required for an FHR booking (I’ve cancelled my card already).
Daily Getaways 2012 deals for Week 5 (May 7 – 11, 2012) have been posted. (You can see my thoughts on Week 1 & 2 deals here, Week 3 here, Week 4 Choice Hotels & Hertz points here.) There are no screaming bargains like the Wyndham or Choice points offers, but you might still find something that works for your upcoming hotel stays (I checked all offers for airline transfer redemption possibilities, but nothing attractive came up – cheapest transfer comes at a cost of ~2 cents/mile).
My personal favorite of the week 5 deals is the Hyatt points offer. You can buy Hyatt points for about $0.01 each (about 58% off the regular purchase price of 2.4 cents). A top Hyatt category-6 hotel requires 22,000 points, so you can stay at the Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Milan, or Park Hyatt Maldives, for about $220 all-in. Hyatt points do NOT expire; however, the official terms & conditions state that accounts inactive for more than 12 months are subject to closure (but in reality, accounts don’t get closed easily, and Hyatt offers outstanding customer service and will usually help you out).
Quite a few readers who are ready to embark on the miles & points journey asked about how to get started with credit cards. This post is meant to be a follow-up to our initial beginner series on credit & what credit cards to consider for beginners. We will go over two tables, the first of which helps you determine what card(s) might work best for your various spending habits, while the second shows you what cards I personally use most often.
Before we start, I would like to quickly talk about cash back cards. Some of you may be aware of the fee-free Fidelity Rewards American Express Cards, which give you 2 cents back (2%) for every dollar you spend (There are also other Amex, Citi, or CapitalOne cash back cards with bonus spending categories). I personally don’t use cash back cards, because I can usually get 2 cents or better from using most miles & points. But if one or more of the following describes you, then a straightforward 2% cash back card might work better for you.
On the heels of TravelWhimsy‘s recent post on our delayed honeymoon to Italy, this is part 4 of a 4-part series to answer some of our readers’ questions on the nitty-gritty of how the trip was booked to maximize savings.
Our Twitter reader Chris asked us for help with planning his upcoming 6-day/5-night trip from Washington DC to London in October with his girlfriend to celebrate his graduation from graduate school (Congrats, Chris!). I thought that this topic might be helpful to some of our other readers who might be considering a similar trip.
On the heels of TravelWhimsy‘s recent post on our delayed honeymoon to Italy, this is part 3 of a 4-part series to answer some of our readers’ questions on the nitty-gritty of how the trip was booked to maximize savings.
Taking full advantage of some of the hotel promotions offered in late 2010, we booked ourselves into some phenomenal hotels for a total out of pocket expense of $300 (vs. a normal cost of almost $4,000).
Week 4 has some hidden gems for those of you planning to travel outside of the US. Examples include hotels in Paris, Rome, or Venice for as low as $30 a night (including breakfast!), or a one-week Hertz car rental in Europe for $124.