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Hacking Uber: Earn Points, Cashback, and Credits Every Time You Ride 🚙

To disclaim up front, I have a difficult relationship with Uber. I don’t like how they treat their drivers, women in particular, and their company culture seems… toxic. For the longest time, you couldn’t even tip your driver, which is why I preferred Lyft.

However, I’ve been riding Uber more lately because they make it so easy to stack multiple offers when you ride.

earn points with uber

Oh, Uber. I am “getting there”

And, I’m hopeful they’re slowly but surely turning things around.

With Lyft, you can only earn 3X Delta miles – and 30 JetBlue points on airport trips. Which, meh.

I’d rather earn cashback and Drop points, use travel credits, and get Uber credits for shopping around town. And many times you can stack these deals. You know I love a good stack!

1. Easy win: $1 from Ibotta every time you ride

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Should You Dump Your Car If You Have Premium Card Travel Credits?

It occurred to me I only drive for a handful of reasons:

  • To go to the gym
  • To drop the dog off before I travel
  • Costco runs every ~6 weeks
  • To visit nearby places, like Fort Worth

Most of the time I walk or use Uber/Lyft. Because if I intend to drink, I don’t want to deal with parking (and possibly having to pay for it) or of course driving back unsafely. And I live so close to many of the places I frequent that I can walk.

I realized, surprisingly, there are lots of peeps in Dallas who don’t have cars. And I I was shocked by how extremely walkable certain parts of the city really are.

dump car uber lyft

Lookit all my Lyft credits

I’ve also been using the $325 travel credit from my US Bank Altitude Reserve card for Lyft rides lately (I prefer Lyft for many reasons). Then it hit me that I could subsidize $825 in Uber and Lyft rides thanks to travel credits of 3 of my premium cards. It got me thinking – are those credits enough to consider getting rid of my car?

$825 in Uber and Lyft rides from 3 cards

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Booking Glacier: I Used Points for Free Flights and Hotel Nights – and Still Paid $1,000

Later this week, I’m heading to Kalispell, Montana, to hike in Glacier National Park with my friend Angie. I can’t wait – it’s been 10 years since I’ve been in Montana!

glacier national park

Me in Montana – 2007

Though I’m excited, I found it admittedly difficult to cobble this trip together with points and miles – rural places are not kind to our hobby. So I paid about $1,000 out-of-pocket because I really wanted to go.

Here’s how I minimized costs as much as possible.

Flights to Glacier National Park with US Bank Altitude Reserve points

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Update: My Credit Score Is Recovering After Disputes With All 3 Bureaus

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Well, it’s been nearly a year since a $6 charge from Dollar Shave Club on an Amex card plunged my credit score over 100 points.

At the time, my credit score was 803 – the first time I’d ever gone over 800. I know it doesn’t intrinsically “matter,” because a score over 750 is as good as it gets. But I did have some pride at earning an above-800 score.

So I was pretty horrified when one stupid error brought me down to ~700. All the work I’d done to build my credit was instantly erased. And, Amex was totally clueless, unhelpful, and actually prolonged the repair process by saying they’d corrected it on their end when in actuality they hadn’t done anything.

I dragged my feet on filing a dispute with the 3 major credit bureaus because I knew it would be a slog – and it was. No sugar-coating that ish.

 

credit score recovery

Only 13 points to go before I get to 800 again

But, as of last month, my score is now above 780 across the board!

It’s not over 800 yet – I doubt that will happen any time soon – but I am happy my score is recovering. Here’s how it went down.

The long, long dispute process

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Plastiq Rent Payments With US Bank Altitude Code as Travel but Do NOT Earn 3X

On May 1st, I got the US Bank Altitude Reserve card – the first day it was available.

I wrote how payments with Plastiq coded as travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (lots of peeps on Reddit confirm this, too). So I was hoping that would be the case with the US Bank Altitude Reserve. Especially because the minimum spending requirement is $4,500 – that would’ve been a nice points haul at 3X.

us bank altitude

The merchant code gave me hope for 3X

And the charges did code as travel. But my statement just closed and I only got 1X point per $1.

This US Bank card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are both Visa cards. So while it doesn’t work for the former, I’m hoping it will still earn 3X with the latter for a while longer.

Here’s what I found.

A charge that codes as travel but didn’t earn 3X

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Should You Use a 0% APR Card to Pay Off Debt?

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NOTE: The card APRs in this post are current at the time of writing (July 28th, 2016). Be sure to check the offers for more details.

So here’s an idea I’ve been tossing around.

It absolutely burns me up that I’m still dealing with student loan debt. And it should. Mr. Money Mustache said it best:

YOUR DEBT IS NOT SOMETHING YOU “WORK ON”. IT IS A HUGE, FLAMING EMERGENCY!!!

I’ve put off paying down this debt because there have been other opportunities to earn more: I bought a house, maxed out my IRA, started Airbnbs, and now I’m looking at buying a duplex in the DFW area.

All of these things either appreciate or earn more than the interest I pay on my student loans.

But I’ll be damned if carrying that balance doesn’t give me a red rump.

The idea

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What’s with all the crap promotions lately?

As I look out onto the barren fields where credit card crops once grew, I mourn the loss of Chase (with the 5/24 rule). Of Citi (when they shut down so many peeps’ accounts). And definitely of AMEX (1 bonus per lifetime? Um, OK). Barclays and Bank of America are both one-card wonders (Arrival for sign-up bonus and Alaska Visa, respectively).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve received a lot of terrible offers lately. Here are the best of the worst.

AMEX

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Reminder: Get Your Club Carlson Free Night E-Cert (If You Haven’t Already)

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Man, I was a Club Carlson fanboy for a while there. You couldn’t get me out of Club Carlson hotels when they offered the BOGO for cardholders of the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature.

And then, they brutally snatched the benefit away, leaving peeps (and their brand) in the dust.

It was a too-big-for-their-britches move during which they artificially inflated their points currency, and made themselves completely irrelevant when compared to the big players… but that’s just one man’s opinion.

The upshot was they started apologizing in the form of free night e-certs good at any Club Carlson property.

Except there was one snag. Not everyone got them.

But, you can email US Bank via their online platform if you didn’t get one!

How to do it

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List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

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Spoiler alert. On this list, I find the FIA Fidelity AMEX to be the most valuable. I just love that card so much.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express

Thank you for being a friend – and for NOT being issued by American Express

And this post is gonna be focused on Serve.

Note: It is possible to send money between Serve and REDbird, or Serve and Bluebird.

So if you’re managing multiple cards, you can get a Serve card, load it up for $1,000 each month, and send it to Bluebird or REDbird to pay bills that normally don’t accept credit cards. Like student loans, utilities, mortgage payments, or anyone else.

List of AMEX Cards NOT Issued by American Express: 

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Hotel Review: Radisson Blu St. Helen’s, Dublin

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Ireland was my last hurrah with the Club Carlson program, which is now dead to me.

After leaving the Radisson Blu in Limerick and kissing the Blarney Stone, we drove into the city of Cork, and then looped back up to Dublin to stay our final night at the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s in Dublin.

Arrival and check-in

The hotel is located in an area that is rez. ee. dent. shul. OK?

That means that traffic is terrible at rush hours, because people are going to or from work.

It’s about 3 miles (~Whatever kilometers) from Dublin proper, but there is free parking in a huge lot right in front of the hotel. For late night escapades, you can easily get a taxi to the city center and back.

The reason I chose this location was because:

  • It was a new property for me
  • It was near the M1 which goes right to the airport
  • The property looked gorgeous

Because I had an early-ish flight back to Boston on Aer Lingus, I wanted to hop right on the highway and get outta there.

I knew the traffic would be bad, and I budgeted time for that, but wow. It was really bad. We were stuck on the same 3-block stretch for over 20 minutes.

Anyway, arrival and check-in.

We parked in the rain after a lovely day in Cork, and walked in.

You’re instantly transported to some other era, where opulent mansions still exist.

Upon opening the door to the Radisson Blu St. Helen's

Upon opening the door to the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s

Indeed, this property is a 1700s estate converted into a hotel. And it is lovely.

The desk agents checked us in within a few minutes and told us how to climb through a maze and get to our room.

Hallways of the Radisson Blu St. Helen's

Hallways of the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s

Again, no upgrade to a business class room, but we figured we’d eat in the lounge at DUB and then again on the flight over. So whatever. Ireland was 50/50 with the upgrades for Gold status elites in the Club Carlson program (through the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature which is now deep in a sock drawer and will never be used again).

The room

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Reminder: Club Carlson Program Changes in One Week! Book awards by May 31st

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The time draws near.

RIP

RIP

I managed to burn most of my Club Carlson points during my trip to Ireland earlier this month (reviews of Radisson Blu Royal in Dublin and Radisson Blu in Galway are up so far). But I also had a paid stay at the Radisson Blu St Helens and ended up earning ~44,000 Club Carlson Gold Points between that and the room charges in Dublin.

Nearly enough for 2 nights at a Category 5 property... if booked before next week

Nearly enough for 2 nights at a Category 5 property… if booked before next week

Book now, change later?

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Special Guest Review: Exploring Ireland’s Radisson Properties

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My partner Jay wrote an article about our hotel stays at the Radissons of Ireland. I’m still working on full reviews of all the properties – they’ll be posted soon.

I thought it might be nice to read a different viewpoint and hear a new voice. Jay recently opened the US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature card (pre-devaluation) and is still getting the hang of this points and miles business. So our trip to Ireland trip really was a last hurrah with Club Carlson – for both of us.

Ireland is Club Carlson HEAVEN, by the way. They have hotels in every major Irish city (see map below). It’s really too bad that not only are BOGO award nights going away, but categories are going up, AND the free night certificate they give after $10,000 in spend is only good in the United States.

Anyway, I’m also working a few new articles for the What to Do series. I’d definitely welcome other guest writers that would like to share their viewpoints about the best places to stay, where to eat, and how to get to your neck of the woods. Feel free to email if you’re interested – I’d love to learn about new places!

Without further ado, take it away, Jay!


We stayed at almost 50% of the Radissons in Ireland (4 out of 9)!

Our Radisson/Club Carlson Circuit

In order, we stayed at:

  1. Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Dublin
  2. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Galway
  3. Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa Limerick
  4. Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel Dublin

That’s a lot of Radisson!

Blu Royal, Dublin

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