Get the Southwest Companion Pass for 2 Years for 90,000 Starwood Points

Want the Southwest Companion Pass? It's yours for 90,000 Starwood points

So it’s done: the Marriott-Starwood merger.

To be honest, they’re handling it a lot better than I thought they would. But I also get the feeling they can’t wait to destroy the program in 2018. But that’s neither here nor there.

Within the opportunity to link your Marriott and Starwood accounts, you’ll get:

  • An instant status match
  • The ability to transfer points instantly between both programs (3 Starwood points = 1 Marriott point)
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90,000 Starwood points gets you enough Marriott points for a Southwest Hotel + Air package, and thus, the Southwest Companion Pass

If you transfer 90,000 Starwood points, you’ll wind up with 270,000 Marriott points. Which is enough for a Southwest Hotel + Air package to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

It could be a fantastic deal if you fly Southwest a lot!

Use Starwood points to unlock the Southwest Companion Pass

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Honest Review: Amex Starwood Business Card 2 Free Nights Offer

There are a few instances where this deal might be worth it, like 2 nights at the new Westin Nashville, but you'll have to be selective

Note: The offer for 2 free nights expires October 19th, 2016, but is valid at the time of publication. 

Well color me surprised. I wasn’t expecting to see any type of limited-time offer on the Amex Starwood cards again. But now we have one, although it’s only on the business version of the card.

And, it’s dumb. Geez, Amex, it’s like you’re on the Titanic, and about halfway across the Atlantic right now…

The short

The most restrictive offer ever on an otherwise so-so card. Either Amex is desperate or thinks we’re stupid… or both. Not worth it for most. 

The long

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My Best Advice: Unpack When You Get to Your Hotel Room

Even hung my pool shirts in Hawaii

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Something fast and simple I’ve been practicing lately has gone a long way to change my mindset when I stay in hotels: unpacking.

It sounds so small – it is! – but I’ve found the effect is well worth the extremely minimal effort it takes. And, you end up saving yourself time in the end.

It beats living out of a suitcase, especially for stays of more than a few nights (and curiously, I’ve had a lot of 4-night stays recently thanks to Citi Prestige). Unpacking has made the difference between feeling transient or temporary and like I’m home for a little while. And that mindset carries over to how I interact with the place I’m in, albeit in a very small way. But, hey, it all adds up.

Why unpack?

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Yes! Just Got My $1,100+ Discover It Cashback Match (The Dublin)!

Gee thanks, Discover!

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Well, I woke up this morning to find a smooth $1,100+ in raw cash in my Discover It account. Talk about something nice to wake up to!

And just last week, I got a second Discover It card – so I can have another Dublin around this time next year!

Um, what’s The Dublin?

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Honest Review: Barclaycard Arrival Plus 50,000 Mile Offer

The new limited-time 50,000 mile offer on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

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Interesting offer from Barclaycard.

They’ve had a so-so year with their cards, with a limited-time increase to 50,000 miles on the Miles & More card, the release of 2 decent JetBlue cards, and now this.

The typical sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus is 40,000 Arrival miles, so this offer adds an extra $100+ of incentive.

Perhaps Barclaycard is rethinking their strategy with this card, as they should. It used to have a lot more features and benefits – but those have been cut, leaving behind a product that’s unremarkably ordinary.

The new limited-time 50,000 mile offer on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

The new limited-time 50,000 mile offer on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus

With a ~$500+ sign-up bonus, it might be worth a look.

The short

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Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

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Honest Review: Chase Sapphire Reserve 100,000 Point Offer

Good job cooking this one up in those headquarters of yours, Chase

For my first Honest Review, I’ll come to a card I haven’t written about yet: the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Make that THE Chase Sapphire Reserve.

I’ve avoided mentioning it because, well, most of us can’t get it because of Chase’s prohibitive 5/24 rule. But, if you’re new to the points & miles world, wow. What a great place to start.

Or, if you can manage to get yourself a pre-approval in-branch (no dice here!), definitely pick it up.

You can tell if you’re really pre-approved is if Chase gives you a definite APR. If they give you a range, you’re pre-qualified, not pre-approved. You want that definite number.

chase sapphire reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve is in here, or at least you’d think judging from the publicity

Another strategy would be to say screw it and apply anyway. If you’re denied, have another Chase card waiting in the wings that isn’t covered by 5/24, which are at the time of writing:

  • Chase British Airways
  • Chase Hyatt
  • Chase IHG
  • Chase Fairmont
  • Chase Marriott Business
  • Chase Ritz-Carlton

That way the inquiries will hopefully combine and hey, at least you’ll have something.

The short

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Introducing Honest Reviews

Yay for Honest Reviews!

Hidey ho from gorgeous and sunny Honolulu, Hawaii, where I’ve spent the last week doing absolutely nothing!

Well, not entirely nothing. I worked on a new column for Out and Out and wanted to introduce it.

I like applying for new credit cards to boost my points and miles balances (as I’m sure most of us do). And I already write about various offers from time to time.

So I thought it would be a fun exercise to make a format out of it that’s easier to read and follow – and one that’s standardized. So here’s Honest Reviews – my honest take on credit card offers.

How Honest Reviews will work

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Uber Alternatives in Austin: Ride Austin and Fasten

For my next trick, I will put up a post from the city I’m currently visiting lol.

I got to Austin on Sunday, and decided to meet up with a friend for drinks downtown.

No problem, I’ll Uber down, a 15-minute ride.

Tips from my friend Jason

Tips from my friend Jason

He gave me two tips: Ride Austin and Fasten.

Ride Austin

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PSA: Use Your $100 Mercedes-Benz Certificate (and What I Got With Mine)

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Lots of folks got the 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards point offer on the Amex Mercedes-Benz card earlier this year (including me).

If that’s you, you should’ve received a certificate in the mail for $100 toward “genuine Mercedes-Benz parts and accessories.”

I frequently pass a M-B dealership in Dallas, and one weekend afternoon, I decided to pop in and see what I could get.

So here goes!

My experience redeeming the $100 certificate

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Hilton Makes More Award Rooms Available for Diamond Elite Members

Works in Philly, worked in Hawaii too

I made a glancing comment on my Booking Hawaii: Part 3 post:

There were technically no award nights available, but I love the soft perk of Hilton giving Diamond guests enhanced award availability.

(Yasss, quoted myself!)

Which prompted some discussion in the comments. Drew asked for more detail. And Brandon reported getting more award space at a lower rate.

Aye verily, I was able to book an award stay when no award rooms were “technically” available:

hilton diamond

Boom

Hilton also has the room rate as “confidential.” Fancy!

This is, as far as I know, an unpublished benefit of the Hilton HHonors program.

They go on to say:

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How Hilton describes this perk

If you’re Diamond with Hilton, this could come in handy more often than you think.

Is this actually useful?

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Hotel Review: Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

My view

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I was in ABQ this past weekend checking out some potential investment properties.

I’m not sure I found a good mix of price, appreciation, rental demand, and location – but maybe I’m being too picky. It’s a whole other thing I’m thinking through now.

To set the stage for this heady trip, I booked 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown (and booked the flights and car rental, all within 10 minutes).

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

It was so good to remember the serenity of the high desert. The days were gorgeous. And the skies there are incomparable. I love seeing mountains in the distance. I’ll take mountains over sea any day.

After landing, I immediately drove to the East Mountains to meet the real estate agent. And checked in to the hotel around 8pm that night.

Arrival and check-in

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