About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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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

Also see:

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

asd

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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Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

Also see: 

Ahoy, mateys! I have so much to tell you about – just back from a week of meetings in Austin.

I’ve been meaning to report on the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, so here goes.

I booked 3 nights with points in late January.

The flights were paid with Citi ThankYou points (which I’m always rolling in). And I charged the $55 round-trip airport transfer to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which trigged part of the $300 annual travel credit. And because it’s an all-inclusive, food was covered (more on that in a future post!).

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

So flights, hotel, food, and transportation were all completely free. I did bring $100 in cash to leave as tips for the drivers, bartenders, servers, and housekeeping staff.

This trip would’ve cost north of $2,000 out of pocket.

But back to the hotel!

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Arrival and check-in

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Everyone Can Get Free Kindle eBooks From IHG App

asd

Greetings, earthlings. No idea if this has been mentioned on other blogs or not.

I found a cool deal while tooling around on the IHG app.

ihg kindle offer

Free Kindle eBooks – thanks, IHG!

Anyone can download the app and access free Kindle eBooks. You get more free eBooks throughout the year for having status with IHG.

Here are the deets!

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Citi Offering Instant Upgrades for Hilton Visa, but No Bonus

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This morning, I got an email from Citi with an offer to upgrade my no annual fee Citi Hilton Visa to a Citi Hilton Reserve with a $95 annual fee.

The email subject was, “Upgrading your card means enhanced benefits.” I was excited because I’ve never seen an offer from Citi like this. So I was hoping to score some bonus Hilton points in the process. But, all you get with this offer is “One Weekend Night Certificate Opportunity and Gold Status.”

upgrade citi hilton visa

Ya know, nah

Thanks but no thanks. This isn’t a good deal with no bonus points involved. But I’m glad Citi is trying new things.

I also don’t know if they’re sending out targeted offers with this card or others, so it’s worth checking your email and junk folder to see if anything is in there.

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Refer 3 Friends to Ebates and Earn $75 (Share Your Links!)

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I’m a huge proponent of shopping online through portals – you literally get free extra airline miles, hotel points, or cashback for clicking a link. It couldn’t be simpler.

I always check Cashback Monitor before buying anything online. And lots of stuff earns points or cashback that you wouldn’t expect:

ebates

I got Alaska miles for filing a DBA through LegalZoom

And I plan to file taxes myself this year through H&R Block. I was surprised to see I could get 19 Avios per $1. My taxes this year will be about $60, so that will net me a free 1,140 British Airways Avios points for something I was planning to do anyway.

Get 20% cashback or 19 Avios per $1 at H&R Block

Get 20% cashback or 19 Avios per $1 at H&R Block

None of the amounts are staggering individually, but it’s easy to see how it could add up over the course of a year – or even a few months if you shop a lot online.

a

Get $75 free bucks from Ebates

And Ebates has a promotion through March 31st, 2017 where you can earn $75 for referring 3 new sign-ups who make a $25 purchase.

About Ebates and cashback portals

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My Experience Getting the Southwest Companion Pass With Starwood Points

Yessa!

Also see: 

It is here! My coveted Southwest Companion Pass.

After a disappointing New Year’s Day announcement that hotel transfers would no longer count toward the Companion Pass, to a reversal a few days later after much criticism, the beginning of 2017 was a wild ride for Southwest.

Southwest Companion Pass

Back n forth on January 1st

I wasn’t surprised by the announcement – I predicted it would happen a year ago – but it was underhanded and calculating for them to “close the loophole” on January 1st with absolutely no forewarning.

It was sleazy and the opposite of transparent. And for those few days, I was kind of happy to not have the Companion Pass. Because why would I want to commit to a company that makes those sort of changes without warning?

Made it official on January 5th

Made it official on January 5th

But they did the right thing, and added a generous 3-month deadline. So that turned me around. Although they have devalued their revenue-based points system without notice twice in recent memory. So I still have that thought in the back of my mind.

My experience getting the Southwest Companion Pass

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How’d I Do for 2016 Travel Predictions?

Go go gadget clairvoyance

Also see: 

Last year, I tried my hand at predicting… the fyoocha!

Travel Predictions

Go go gadget clairvoyance

So let’s recap and find out what happened in 2016 behind the smoky haze of palo santo and sage.

My 2016 Travel Predictions

1. Citi will add American Airlines as a ThankYou transfer partner

WRONG.

He's looking for Citi's new transfer partner. Good luck, buddy

He’s looking for Citi’s new transfer partner. Good luck, buddy

I don’t it’ll ever happen at this point. My hope is dwindling.

2. American Airlines will “get in bed” with Hilton

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Bahama Breeze: Part 2 – Exploring the Atlantis Resort in Nassau

Atlantis Resort Nassau

I referenced the enormity of the Atlantis Bahamas complex in my earlier review. But wow, this place is gigantic!

Walking through it all would be a nigh impossible task. There’s a free shuttle bus to get around the various towers. Most places are a 5- to 30-minute walk, depending on which tower you stay, and how quickly you walk.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

View from Dolphin Cay

The Atlantis is a city unto itself. It would take several weeks to experience the dozens of bars and restaurants, swim in all the pools, and walk around the beaches of Paradise Island. So go into it knowing you won’t see everything. But do sketch out a rough idea for what you’d like to see and do.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

You won’t get to all 21 restaurants and each of the 19 bars and lounges – not to mention everything else!

I had a Casino Experience Pass included as part of my 4 free nights, and that set us on a course to exploring the Atlantis.

Bahama Breeze Index

Using the Casino Experience Pass

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Out and Out’s Top 9 Posts of 2016

RIP

It’s been an incredible year. I’m thankful for readers new and old; for all the comments and emails; and for all the support.

Here are the most-read posts written in 2016.

Out and Out Top Posts of 2016

1. My Experience Getting the $650 Phone Credit With Citi AT&T Access More Card

out and out

RIP

Readers were intensely interested in this card. And for good reason: 3X Citi ThankYou points on all online shopping, including payments through Plastiq, and shopping at Amazon and Costco. The card isn’t available any more, sadly. But I still use it regularly to bump up my Citi ThankYou points balance – it’s a wonderful complement to Citi Prestige.

2. My Last Chase Card: Just Applied for Chase Freedom Unlimited

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