It’s Back: 35,000 Points With Both Amex Starwood Cards

It's back, like a heart attack

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Well would ya lookit that. I wasn’t expecting to *ever* see a limited-time offer on the Amex Starwood cards again. But now, you can earn 35,000 Starwood points on the personal and small business cards after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements through April 5th, 2017.

spg amex 35000

It’s back, like a heart attack

Marriott has agreed to leave SPG alone until 2018, but then get ready for a butchering. Realistically, Marriott has no incentive to keep the program as it currently is. But, I’m pleased Amex is giving peeps one more stab at this terrific offer.

I broke the seal with the business version of the card last time this offer came ’round in March 2016. Before it ended, I had both versions.

Little did I know I’d hoard the points like a squirrel or ferret until such a time as I’d use them for a Southwest Companion Pass. The hammer drops on that method on March 31st, 2017. But if you applied like *now* and met the minimum spending in short order before the statement closes, you could probably squeak by.

The huge caveat is the bonus on both cards is once per person, per lifetime (AKA 7 years). But if you’ve never had it… I highly doubt this offer will ever come back.

The short

Highest-ever offer returns. If you’ve never had the card, this is probably your last chance to get it.

The long

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This Card Got Me a $500+ Hotel Stay for $49

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So, I’m shutting down my last New York Airbnb at the end of this month. This will effectively cut my final tie to that city – finally. I wanted to go for a night or two to turn in the cable box, return the keys, and officially wrap it up.

Of course, I thought about using hotel points because I really didn’t want to pay for it (although I could theoretically write off the expense). Then it occurred to me I had a free night from my Chase IHG card set to expire. Even better, I just earned another one for paying the second year’s $49 annual fee.

chase ihg card

Right where I need to be in town and 100% free

I used them for a ~$539 two-night stay at the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York for $0. Because the annual fee is waived the first year, I basically paid $49 – and got back a stay worth over $500.

Here’s why you might consider picking up the Chase IHG card. Even if you already have lots of other cards.

The Chase IHG card gives easy value year after year

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Join Me at FinCon 2017 in Dallas with Limited-Time $249 Passes

Get your finance fix, Texas-style

I read a lot of personal finance blogs. Increasingly, they mention “travel hacking” AKA what we do on the daily as a way to travel cheap.

And it’s true – I see the parallels between the 2 niches. Especially if you’re using the money you save on traveling and put it in a retirement account. WHICH YOU ALREADY DO, RIGHT? 😉

So when I learned FinCon will be in Dallas this year, I couldn’t think of a single reason not to attend – expect for maybe the cost of the pass.

When I looked, I saw the basic passes were only $249 until February 14th, 2017. Then they’d go up to $469.

Be a Super Early Bird and Come to FinCon for $249

Be a Super Early Bird and Come to FinCon for $249

I whipped out my card faster than you can say “points and miles” and bought a pass without a second thought. And you should come, too!

Why attend FinCon?

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Bahama Breeze: Part 3 – Wanderings in Nassau

The cute promenade at the Fish Fry

During my time in Nassau, I managed to make it into town twice. The first time was in the middle of the day on a Saturday. And the second was a Monday night, which we quickly found out was not the best time to visit.

If you stay in Nassau (maybe because of the 4 free nights at the Atlantis from FoundersCard/Total Rewards Diamond status), you will probably end up on Bay Street at some point. Wait, I made a little map:

nassau

Lay of the Nassau land (click to enlarge)

So that’s kinda what to expect.

And here’s what I did during my explorations beyond the Atlantis!

Bahama Breeze Index

Beach bummin’ in Nassau

1. Downtown/Bay Street

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How a $6 Charge Made My Credit Score Drop 100 Points

So, so ugly

Considering all the things I’m juggling all the time, my accuracy rate is pretty high. But more to keep track of means more things fall through the cracks.

Before I moved to Dallas ~7 months ago, I changed all my addresses to my new address. During this, I paused the shipping on my Dollar Shave Club account.

And somewhere along the line, I canceled my Amex EveryDay Preferred card because I wasn’t making 30 transactions on it per month. To help with the transactions, and because it was so low, I made it my primary card for Dollar Shave Club’s recurring $6 monthly charge.

You can guess what happened. Somewhere in the middle of everything, the shipping resumed.

my credit score dropped

$6 messed up my credit score

And somehow, the charge cleared. Usually, when a card is closed, you’ll get an email from the merchant saying the payment failed. Not so with this one.

Amex cleared the charge. And I never got an email from or letter from them. Until one day, I saw my credit score dropped from 803 to 702 – because of non-payment of the $6 charge.

Amex has no idea what’s going on

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Confirmed: FoundersCard Gets You Total Rewards Diamond Status Through 2018

Yes! FoundersCard's best benefit returns for another year

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I’ve written a lot about FoundersCard over the years.

One of their cornerstone benefits since 2014 has been free Caesars Total Rewards Diamond elite status.

Thankfully, it’s made a comeback every year. Including this one!

Total Rewards Diamond Status

Yes! FoundersCard’s best benefit returns for another year

You can get Total Rewards Diamond status through January 31st, 2018 – nearly a full year.

The bad news is FoundersCard currently costs $495, plus a one-time $95 fee, if you’re new.

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Been better, been worse

However, if you have a trip to Vegas in the near future, it could be worth it anyway.

What you get with Total Rewards Diamond status

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Kohl’s Deal Results: What I Learned & How It Turned Out

"What have I gotten myself into now?"

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A few times per year, Kohl’s sells small kitchen appliances at a steep discount. With card category bonuses, shopping portals, promo codes, and rebates, it works out to better than free – especially if you can resell them. It’s the ultimate in deal stacking.

I ordered 40 appliances. (Do I sound crazy yet?)

kohl's deal results

“What have I gotten myself into now?”

While I’d love to say the whole thing went off without a hitch, that’s not exactly true. Here’s what I learned about stacking. And how it all turned out.

Stacking is like jenga

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A Scary Moment at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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I wrote my review of the Hyatt Zilara Cancun and how I’m an honorary Roman for how much I feasted there.

But there was a moment that was terrifying.

The beaches have markers every 100 feet or so, color-coded green, yellow, or red. They swap them out throughout the day and are intended to let you know how dangerous it is to swim in the water.

Jay and I got into the Gulf of Mexico in a yellow zone, next to a red zone. We were laughing and talking and suddenly heard a whistle that we’d gone too far. Jay swam away. But I had trouble moving – every time I made progress, I was pulled deeper into the water. And it was over my head before I knew it.

There was another guy next to me (and lots of peeps a few feet away) so I didn’t think any of us were in any real danger. I asked him if he was having trouble, too. He nodded. “We need help.”

“Yeah. We need help.” So we both started waving to the lifeguards on the shore.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Travel safety above all

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Comments Are Back on Out and Out

I watched the whole "Telephone" video and made screen grabs lol

When you have a blog baby, getting an email from a loyal reader with this subject is pretty horrifying:

*Expletive* *Censored*

*Expletive* *Censored*

But then I thought, wait a minute, I’ve gotten some comments recently. But I took another look.

Come to find out, there were 2 versions of the site. The “real” version and a “staging” version.

WordPress uses the staging version when you migrate themes or redesign the site (I haven’t done either in 2+ years). But somehow, all my site stats and comments were on the staging version of the site.

Some comments did make it through on the staging version.

Don't stop telephoning me

Don’t stop telephoning

But comments on the real version (outandout.boardingarea.com) didn’t make it through. The BoardingArea team is working on combining both sets of comments into the current, real version of the site.

How long has this been going on?

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Mexico and Bust: Eating at All the Hyatt Zilara Cancun Restaurants

IMG_2652

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OMG, y’all. I have never eaten so much in my life. I seriously – like legit – have new stretch marks from how much I gorged myself during my recent free stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

I knew I wanted to write about the food and drinks at the various restaurants. But found balance a hard one to strike because I was literally always eating and drinking. So I was torn between wanting to capture the moment and be in the moment. But I have enough to  give you an idea of what to expect.

Also, I tried every dang restaurant there – some of them twice.

hyatt zilara cancun restaurants

Love is a many splendored thing

I was impressed by the quality, selection, and creativity of the dishes. There was a huge variety. And all the drinks are made with top-shelf liquor.

Girdle thy loins, let’s look at each one.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Hyatt Zilara Cancun restaurants

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Are Checking Account Bonuses the New Credit Card Sign-Up Bonus?

sdf

I opened 3 new checking accounts last week. And will earn a total bonus of $900 after making the required number of transactions and/or direct deposits.

That’s a super easy way to make $900. And I didn’t even have a credit pull.

checking account bonuses

Boom

I have around 30 credit cards. And currently can’t get most Chase, Citi, or Amex cards because:

  • Chase has 5/24
  • Citi limits to “family of brands” every 24 months when you open OR close an account
  • Amex has the once per lifetime (AKA every ~7 years) rule

I’m not interested in any Barclaycards. Or US Bank cards. And I can’t get more Discover cards (limit 2).

I’m really only dealing with Bank of America these days for Alaska miles from credit card sign-up bonuses. Except for when there’s an odd offer here or there.

So, scraping the bottom of the barrel. But it’s not so bad down here! I’ve been following more checking account bonuses recently – a new world indeed.

How I got $900 in a week from checking account bonuses

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Don’t Make This Mistake With Sapphire Reserve & Prestige Travel Credits

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Update 2/6/17: So… the entire premise of this post is incorrect. I flubbed this one, guys.

Because you get 2 credits and 1 charge so in the end, you really do get to keep your credit. My mind has been hazy this week and I apologize for the incorrect information, though it was well-intentioned guidance. Anyhoo, nothing to see here.

Huge thanks to my readers who pointed out my mistake in a guiding and gentle way. It means a lot to me – kind of super emotionally sensitive right now. You guys really are the best.


Oy. I had a slip-up with my Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 annual travel credit last week. Luckily, it wasn’t that bad.

But here’s a PSA of what NOT to do.

annual travel credit

If you get a refund, you essentially lose your credit!

I booked a round-trip award flight on Southwest with my Sapphire Reserve. The taxes were $11.20.

Immediately after, I thought it better to have the trip as 2 one-ways so could lock in the price if plans didn’t change. Or have the option to change either (or both) legs down the road if needed. So that was another $11.20.

When I canceled the first ticket, I had the option to get a refund or store the money in my Southwest bank. I didn’t think it through, and impulsively hit “Refund.” Not good.

A couple of days later when the charges and credits hit, I realized what I’d done. I did get the $11.20 refund. But I lost $11.20 of my travel credit. It’s not a huge loss, but what if it was an entire paid flight? 

A similar thing almost happened to me again this week at a hotel!

Another time I messed up

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