Just the Tip(s)

Category Archives for Just the Tip(s).

A Scary Moment at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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

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

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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Everyone Can Get Free Kindle eBooks From IHG App

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

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

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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My Best Advice: BOOK THE TRIP

Also see: 

Like most peeps, I am ready to put 2016 in the can. It was a good year. I visited many places for the first time, including:

Mmmmagick :)

Mmmmagick 🙂

And I got to return to a few places, like:

I also left New York – finally! – bought a house and moved to Dallas.

Moving into 2017, there’s a simple principle I’ll apply when it comes to booking travel: BOOK THE TRIP.

BOOK THE TRIP

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$130 in Free Uber Airport Rides (2 up to $65 each) for Amex Cardholders (Select Cities)!

This is gonna be a fast one so you can add this code ASAP.

Add code "AMEXAIRPORT" to your Uber account

Add code “AMEXAIRPORT” to your Uber account

The code is “AMEXAIRPORT” and you can get 2 free rides, up to $65 each, through December 31st, 2016 from these airports:

  • LaGuardia Airport (LGA)
  • John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)
  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
  • Boston Logan International Airport (BOS)
  • McCarran International Airport (LAS)
  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)

You need to set an Amex card as your payment method.

Here are the full terms of this offer.

Looks like there are plenty left

Looks like there are plenty left

I just added this to my account and it went through right away. So hopefully there are plenty left.

This is another great move from Amex, after the 2X small business points promotion, cheap Hamilton tickets, and recent great Amex Offers.

They are doing good things and I’m really pleased to see this!

Get it while you can!

50% Off at Boxed for New Accounts + Amex Offer

Hope you’re having a wonderful holiday. Here’s a good deal alert!

NEW Boxed users can get ~$67 worth of stuff for ~$31 by stacking a new account bonus, cash reward, Amex Offer, and clicking through a shopping portal. The discount works out to be slightly above 50%, assuming you can hit the target right around $67.

50% off at boxed

Stock up on household basics with over half off

I love a good stack! But keep in mind the math only works for new accounts. So you can either make a new account. Or just use the Amex Offer with a portal bonus and still do well.

Stack to get 50% off at Boxed

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Pick Up 30,000 Alaska Miles Every 45 Days

I recently picked up an personal Alaska Visa card, then tried to get another one soon after. It was automatically denied. Like, straight up the answer is no.

That’s unusual, so I thought it may have been because I didn’t lower the limits on my existing Alaska cards before applying. Not wanting to waste the hard pull on my credit (because multiple inquires on the same day are combined), I applied for the business version of the card and was instantly approved.

alaska miles every 45 days

Deeee-nied!

But I didn’t want to let it go. I called the next day to speak to a credit analyst (they are open 8am to 7pm and I usually apply for new cards late at night while tipsy) for reconsideration.

I offered to lower my limits on one of the other cards, as they are pretty high (like $20,000 each), but she said the denial had nothing to do with my credit score or account history. And moving credit lines wouldn’t help me, either.

I was denied because I already opened a personal Alaska card within the last 90 days – which was the first time I’d heard that. But apparently it’s been enforced sporadically for a while.

So I figured how to play by the “new” rules and still get my doses of Alaska miles: rotate between the personal and business versions of the card every 90 days.

Get 30,000 Alaska miles every 45 days

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6 Last-Minute Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas for the Frequent Traveler

Also see:

Yeahhhh buddy, ’tis the season (for putting things off to the last minute)!

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, there’s still time to order gifts before Christmas with free 1-day or 2-day shipping.

Here are some cute stocking stuffers for anyone who travels often. And hey, if you get an Amazon gift card, maybe you’ll treat yourself to a couple of these. (Or if you buy one, use your Discover It card for 5% cashback through December 31, 2016. Just remember to activate your bonus before you shop).

6 Gift Ideas for Travelers

1. Noise-canceling earbuds

For the love of gods, yes yes yes. These little guys are worth their weight in gold if you want to work or read during your flight. And if you get the seat next to a screaming child (we’ve all been there), they can go a long way toward preventing that third Aleve (or is that just me?).

gift ideas for travelers

The prices run the gamut

Earbuds are like cars: there are cheap ones, and there are really not cheap ones. What’s funny is how, at all price ranges, you can find a solid pair with nearly all 5-star reviews.

I’d personally go middle-of-the-road, but whatever you decide on will surely be welcomed with open arms. I mean… ears. 🙂

2. Travel tubes

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Google Photos App: A Must Download for Unlimited Backup

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.

sa

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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