Google Photos App: A Must Download for Unlimited Backup

Gamechanger alert

I read about the Google Photos app from Jeanne at Le Chic Geek back in July and downloaded it based on her write-up.

I was initially wary of:

  • Another app
  • Another recurring charge on my card
  • Another something to keep track of
Google Photos App

Gamechanger alert

But I’ll go ahead and say, you can do well with the free version. Especially if you don’t already have a backup.

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You get free unlimited storage if you go for a reduced file size

In fact, whether you decide to pay the $2 per month or not, this app is a MUST download.

Why the Google Photos app?

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Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card Has No Fee the First Year, Plus $400 in Travel Credit (and Free Lounge Access!)

My friend Angie passed this tip along today, and I must say I was very tempted.

You can pick up the Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card with no annual fee the first year.

Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card

Good deal alert!

For those of you who can’t earn the sign-up bonus on an Amex card, the good news here is there isn’t one – so you’re not missing out on anything.

Plus, now is a good time to apply because the $200 annual travel credit will reset in January 2017.

So you essentially get the card free for a year, plus $400 in statement credits ($200 in 2016 and $200 in 2017).

Why the Ameriprise Amex Platinum Card?

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Honest Review: Chase Ink Preferred 80,000 Point Offer

Um, what business is he in? Cuz I'd be all up in it

RIP: Chase Ink Plus was one of the best cards for 5X categories. Yes, you earned 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points at office supply stores, and on phone, cable, and internet service. And 2X on hotels and gas.

chase ink preferred review

Um, what business is he in? Cuz I’d be all up in it

Chase Ink Plus is gone and in its place… the Chase Ink Preferred. But they nerfed the 5X categories! (And kept them on the Chase Ink Cash, thank gods.)

If you’ve opened more than 5 new cards in the last 24 months from ANY bank, go ahead and stop here. And read some of my other posts. Cuz its unlikely you’ll be approved for this one.

Or get one of these cards, which aren’t subject to the 5/24 “guideline”:

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

If you’re on the prowl for a card to use for your small business, the Chase Ink Preferred is still extremely worthwhile.

The short

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I Imagined a New Premium Chase Card… How’d I Do?

Are you the premium Chase card of my dreamz?

Also see: 

Back in March, I imagined what a new premium Chase card would look like. By August, we had a new bundle of joy: the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Are you the premium Chase card of my dreamz?

Are you the premium Chase card of my dreamz?

I had high hopes for such an offering. So I thought it’d be fun to look back and compare what I wanted at the time to what actually came about.

And because my points & miles predictions for 2016 aren’t doing so hot. Oops.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: What it is

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Honest Review: Chase Freedom (With Any Sign-Up Offer)

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Also see: 

Let (Chase) Freedom ring!

I love this card. 5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on up to $1,5000 in spending per quarter – 7,500 bonus points – in rotating categories? And useful ones to boot? OK!

That’s why I called it the best card for shopping this holiday season

Chase Freedom review

2016 was another strong year for Chase Freedom quarterly bonus categories

This card has been a bastion in my arsenal for years by now. 

And why not? It’s free to keep forever. In fact, it’s my oldest card – I’ve had this account since 2002. So it’s been almost 15 years!

Chase Freedom provides an easy way to rack up an extra 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per year. That’s worth $300 on its own, which is awesome for a card with no annual fee.

Its power lies in pairing though, so be aware. However, 5% cash back – on its own – is nothing to sniff at, either.

The short

If you spend a lot in the rotating bonus categories, this card is an ace in hand. 

The long

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Hotel Review: Aloft Winchester, Virginia

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During my drive from Brooklyn to Dallas, I planned to stay 2 nights at hotels along the way. Long story short, my freaking car broke down. And I was plunged into a land of endless Plan Bs.

I prefer Hilton hotels. So during a fuel stop around dusk, I searched for a room on the Hilton app. Nothing was available within 100 miles. And I was tired from driving since 4am.

I didn’t have 100 miles left in me. I was ready for anything – even a roadside motel, “Psycho”-style.

So I checked Hyatt and Starwood. No Hyatt hotels in rural Virginia (not a surprise, but worth a looky-loo).

But there was a random Aloft hotel 45 miles away. I booked a room at the Aloft Winchester, nestled near the West Virginia border in extreme northern Virginia. It was ~$120 with taxes for the night.

As an added bonus, there were no pet fees! Hilton likes to charge $30 to $75 as a non-refundable pet deposit. So that was a silver lining.

Aloft Winchester review

Location of the Aloft Winchester

I booked on my phone and sped down the highway. I was so tired, my eyes were literally crossing. And I was getting bad road hypnosis.

Obviously, I made it because I’m writing this now. That day is etched into my memory as one of the longest of my life…

Arrival and check-in

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The 4 Best Credit Cards for Holiday Season 2016

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It’s nearly mid-November, how’d that happen?

I’m gearing up for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, as I’m sure many of you are, too.

holiday 2016 best credit cards

Dear everyone I know, you might get a kitchen appliance. Love, H.

Here are my top picks for cards to use for gift shopping and travel this holiday season.

Holiday 2016 best credit cards

1. Chase Freedom

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4 Free Nights in the Bahamas, Thanks to FoundersCard!

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Also see:

The (good) hits just keep on coming! (I wrote about a free private jet flight from FoundersCard yesterday).

I got free Caesars Diamond elite status this year from FoundersCard, which comes with a ton of benefits, including:

  • Diamond lounge access
  • No resort fees at Caesars properties
  • $100 celebration dinner
  • Priority lines everywhere

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Another benefit of Caesars Diamond status is 4 free nights at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection).

Well, I just called to book it – and it went off without a hitch!

I used British Airways Avios points for flights there. And American miles for flights back. Total cost of ~$214 for round-trip coach flights for 2 from Dallas to Nassau. But the whole experience is worth nearly $2,600.

That includes 4 free nights from Caesars Diamond status – courtesy of FoundersCard. I’m so stoked!

About the 4 free nights

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Cool! FoundersCard Members Get a Free Private Jet Flight With JetSmarter

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Also see: 

It’s no secret I love my FoundersCard membership. It’s not for everyone, but I’ve gotten outsized value from it. And continue to be impressed by their offerings, like free Diamond elite status with Caesar’s among a ton of other travel benefits.

There’s a fun new promotion for a free seat on a private jet through JetSmarter.

I was a smidge jealous when I saw fellow blogger Angelina scored a free seat. But now I may be joining her ranks!

free private jet flight

The deets are buried in the fine print. But it works!

Now FoundersCard has a deal where members can get a free 3-month JetSmarter membership. And as part of that, a free JetDeals flight. It’s only a one-way flight, so you’ll have to find another way home.

But considering these tickets can be pricey, not to mention an awesome and unique experience, this is yet another innovative FoundersCard perk.

And depending on where you depart, this benefit alone can totally cover the $395 a year membership cost.

The JetSmarter benefit

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Pro Tip: Purchase In-Flight Wifi Before You Fly

I'd recommend the all-day pass, especially if you have connecting flights

Just a little reminder and tip.

I rarely pay for in-flight wifi. It’s kinda nice to be uncontactable for a little while. Most domestic flights are ~5 hours max anyhow, and usually shorter.

But I found myself needing to get some work done on a plane this week and made the decision to rely on American’s in-flight wifi from Gogo.

(Typing on a computer in a cramped economy seat is another issue altogether. And I highly recommend one of these for seatmates who can’t stop staring at your screen.)

Yes, I like saving big on in-flight wifi

Yes, I like saving big

The all-day pass I bought 5 minutes before boarding my American Airlines flight was $16. But on the plane, they wanted $24. So I saved a tidy $8, a  ~33% discount, just for paying in advance.

Note that prices can vary based on the flight. But in general, if you need or want it, it’s better to purchase an all-day pass ahead of time.

And WHERE you buy the pass makes a difference for American or Delta all-day passes. 

Why buy an in-flight wifi pass

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One Month Left: 3X SPG Points on Plastiq Payments With Starwood Amex Biz Card

New Orleans, here I come?

Y’all know I love a good opportunity to stack!

Well shiver me timbers and ’tis the season, but I’ve been putting most of my spending these days on… Amex cards?! Yup, even though I recently product changed to the precious Chase Sapphire Reserve.

For regular spending, I’m meeting the minimum requirement on the Hilton Amex (no fee version). And for everything else, I’ve been using my Starwood Amex business card to run payments through Plastiq. It’s just too good of a deal right now.

Here’s why.

Get 3X SPG points on Plastiq payments

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Hotel Review: Capital Hilton, Washington, DC

Back like a heart attack

I’m back in Dallas and still reeling from an incredible trip this past weekend to Washington, DC, for BAcon 3 (BoardingArea’s conference for the blogger crew).

The more I stay in hotels, the more I feel it’s the staff that makes a good stay above all else. Location is probably second. Yep. Followed by breakfast. All I ever want is breakfast.

I took a Lyft for the short ~4-mile ride from DCA to downtown DC for my stay at the Capital Hilton. It was nice to see the foliage, and feel the fall chill: two things I’ve been missing in Texas.

capital hilton washington dc review

Back like a heart attack

I was in DC this August for FTU Advanced. So it was nice to be back, twice in a year.

The location of the hotel is incredible.

Easy walking distance to

Easy walking distance to so much good stuff (Click to enlarge)

You can easily walk to the White House, and Logan Circle or 14th Street for bars and restaurants. And anywhere downtown. Or take a quick Lyft to the Smithsonian museums, Washington Monument, and Lincoln memorial (or just walk it – it’s a beautiful part of the city).

It’s also 2 blocks from the subway, for those who like to ride the train. The location is the biggest reason I chose to stay here – it was the closest Hilton hotel to my conference location.

Arrival and check-in

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