About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

More articles by Harlan »

Easy Win: Do the Dollar Shave Club Amex Offer and Get Some Free Stuff

From the Out and Out bathroom, thank you DSC!

So there’s a semi-complicated new Dollar Shave Club Amex Offer that you can approach in a couple of different ways.

Whichever way you wanna slice it, it’s extremely worthwhile because you end up with free stuff. If you have this Amex Offer in your account, there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t get in on this.

Dollar Shave Club Amex Offer

Shave wit me

I’ll break it down and help you decide which route you should go, should you be a human who removes hair with a razor or bathes, and have this Amex Offer. Even if you don’t, read on.

Dollar Shave Club Amex Offer

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

Get $25 With New Accounts at Giving Assistant, Ebates, and BeFrugal Shopping Portals

BeFrugal is a new one for me

When you shop online, always always click through a shopping portal to earn extra points, miles, or cashback.

I personally use Cashback Monitor to find the best payouts before I shop anywhere.

shopping portal bonus

Da best

I usually like to earn Alaska miles or Chase Ultimate Rewards points for online shopping. But occasionally, cashback offers are simply too good to pass up.

And competition is fierce. So much that they’ll sometimes give you free money to sign up and use their portals.

BeFrugal is a new one for me

BeFrugal is a new one for me

I thought I’d round up 3 cashback portals where the initial bonus might be worthwhile for a little shopping. And tell you what’s required to get the bonus AKA the cash in your hot little hand.

Note: I get cashback when you sign up for these portals, too. Thank you for using my links!

Get a shopping portal bonus

These bonuses are for NEW sign ups. If you’re an old-timer to points and miles, you likely already have accounts with all of these portals. In that case, check out my backlog of Every Single Out and Out post! 😉

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

I’m Over Cashback Cards and Into Starwood Points

I like you now and I'll be sad when you leave

Also see: 

There, I said it.

In 2013, I famously said (typed), “I don’t care about Starpoints.” At the time, my grievances were:

  • 1 point per $1 spent was too low of an earn rate
  • You have to spend so much to earn a meaningful reward
  • The earn rate with other hotel programs is better, so why bother with Starwood?
Starwood Points vs cashback

I like you now and I’ll be sad when you leave

But a lot has changed since then. The merger with Marriott opened a few cool new opportunities, like:

Nothing's fine I'm torn

Nothing’s fine I’m torn

And, I’ve been putting a non-bonused spend on my Amex Starwood card, to the chagrin of my previously beloved Fidelity Visa. (Although I still use the mess out of my Discover it card cuz I want that sweet Dublin!)

In fact, I think I’m…. over cashback cards. For now, at least.

Drinking the Starpoints Kool-Aid

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

Hotel Review: The Drake (Hilton), Chicago

as

This past week, I ventured up to Chicago to see Hamilton and hang out with some old college buddies.

I booked 5 nights at The Drake hotel Chicago, located on the Magnificent Mile/Michigan Avenue, with Hilton points. The 5th night was free on this award booking, so I paid 200,000 Hilton points (50,000 X 4) for the entire stay.

the drake hotel chicago

My eventual room would’ve cost $1,400+ out of pocket

Because I’m Diamond with Hilton, I got an upgrade to a King Bed on the Executive Floor. Similar room rates to when I stayed say this would’ve been ~$1,404 in cash. But I didn’t have to pay taxes on the award booking, which are over 17% per night (!!!).

That means my Hilton points were worth .07 cents each – and more when you count the free breakfast and free food in the evenings. That’s a good rate for Hilton points!

I took a Lyft from Midway after flying on Southwest from Dallas-Love Field. Traffic was backed up, but I made it to The Drake in about 30 minutes.

Arrival and check-in

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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

It's back, like a heart attack

Also see:

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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

as

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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?

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

Confirmed: FoundersCard Gets You Total Rewards Diamond Status Through 2018

Yes! FoundersCard's best benefit returns for another year

Also see:

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.

as

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

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

"What have I gotten myself into now?"

Also see: 

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!

A Scary Moment at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

asd

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

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update! And thanks for using my links to apply for new card offers!