About Harlan

Just a dude living in Dallas.

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My Experience with Alitalia

Where to even begin?

My experience with Alitalia was the worst I’ve ever had with an airline. They’re uncommunicative, highly unhelpful, and their website is a complete disaster.

Let’s start at the beginning.

I found a really great deal of a ticket – only $281 with a promo code that I used on Alitalia’s Japanese website.

Cheap ticket to Madrid!

Cheap ticket to Madrid!

 

The code was valid on any fare. However, the best deal was to go to Madrid. I’d never been to Madrid and had always wanted to. I used Google Chrome to convert the Japanese text to English, plugged in the code, and got $315 off the fare. It went through after some coaxing. Amex converted the Yen to US dollars, and the total came to $281. Shortly after, I received a confirmation email with a ticket number.

Then, I got this email on the 21st:

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 1.27.05 PM

 

Then, on the 22nd, I got this email:

 

 

Rejected purchase

Rejected purchase

I figured the deal was off and forgot about it until I received another email on the 25th:

Screen Shot 2013-03-05 at 1.29.41 PM

 

Shortly after, I received my itinerary. Great. I was booked for Madrid. Those few days in waiting were very “will they or won’t they” – and I honestly thought they wouldn’t honor the fare. So when they did, I wanted to verify that the reservation was in their system.

alitalia.com is a piece of you-know-what. The only way to view the reservation, I found after a lot of Googling, was to use the Russian website – alitalia.ru, which I had to translate from Russia into English. Sure enough, my reservation was there. February 1-5. Yay. I booked a cute room in Chueca, Madrid’s gay district, through Airbnb.

All was good for a few months. November and December passed, and I thought I was still on for my February trip to Madrid. On January 21st, I received this communication:

They canceled my flight on the 5th

They canceled my flight on the 5th

 

Great. Canceled flight. So I called them to get onto another flight on the 5th. Nothing. But I could get on a flight on the 4th, which meant I’d have to cut short my first trip to Spain, and update my Airbnb reservation. I only got $5 back after paying the change fee, and Alitalia put me on a flight on the 4th instead. Fine.

All went as planned on the departure, thank god, because after so much back and forth I already swore I’d never take Alitalia ever again. Their CSRs are like freaking robots. Talking to them is like pressing a button on a phone menu. They don’t listen. They just repeat the same statements over and over. Oh, it’s worth mentioning that the number I called them on isn’t listed on their website. That would be too easy. I had to Google around to get that too. No reservation on their main website, no number to call them on, random flight changes, and a less than accommodating bunch of CSRs. I even hung up and called back a few times. It’s like they’re all brainwashed.

I had a great time in Madrid, and on my last night there, the 3rd, was getting ready to for my 7am flight the next morning. Until I got an email at MIDNIGHT that Alitalia had pushed back the second leg of my trip, FCO-JFK, by five hours. Which meant my layover in FCO, a total shithole of an airport, would be over nine hours.

I called them and asked if I could tighten up the connections in any way. Maybe connect in Milan, or Miami instead of Rome? No. No, no, no. I tried to check their flight schedules on the website, which simply doesn’t function. BUT, it did work on their mobile app. I took a few screenshots and called back again with another plan.

Could I at least fly out of Madrid a little later? The agent gasped like it was the most brilliant idea she’d ever heard. What a moron. She put me on a 12pm flight instead, which meant I could sleep in a bit. How shady to do something like that the night before an early flight, when I was planning on getting only a few hours of sleep anyway.

By that time, I was most unhappy to be taking Alitalia back to JFK. The airline is garbage. And they’re supposedly the 8th largest carrier in the world and Italy’s premier airline? Between Alitalia and FCO, color me extremely unimpressed with Italy’s aviation experiments. Regarding Alitalia: between the terrible agents, multiple canceled/delayed flights, last-minute communication, back-and-forth on whether I even had a ticket or not, and the piece-of-$#!+ international websites, I will avoid this airline at all cost. If you ever have to fly with them, be very wary. You’ll have to check in on them a lot. And even then, expect a lot of red tape to get clear answers. Very customer UNfriendly.

When I think about it all now, it makes me cringe. I’d honestly be surprised if anyone’s had a positive experience with them. Did anyone else get in on this fare deal? How was the service?

At least I credited it to Delta and got a nice batch of MQMs out of it. In fact, when I got back, I found out it had bumped me into Silver Medallion status. Small wins. Small wins.

MTA Fare Hikes Are Killing NYC

 

 

Argh, the lovely and esteemed MTA has once again raised fares on the subways of NYC. I usually by a weekly because I don’t get enough value out of a monthly. When I went to refill my weekly card before hopping on the F Train today, I noticed a whole slew of new info screens at the machines. My $29 MetroCard was now $30. Overnight. Thank god I get 2 points/dollar with my Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

20130304-141630.jpg

New fares! Don’t like ’em? Go kill yourself.

It’s also an extra $1 if you want a brand new card (or you can swap in an old one for free). I sometimes get a new card because the magnetism on the card wears off after a while, meaning you have to go talk to one of the agents in the little booth. This is always a debilitating experience, because they:

1. Glare at you like you’re the most annoying person in the world

2. Move as slow as possible, even, and especially if, a train is pulling into the station

3. Hate to be useful, preferring to look bored and annoyed

4. Berate you if you make any indication that you are in a hurry (which everyone always is)

 

20130304-141644.jpg

Poor tourists

 

 

20130304-141651.jpg

 

I can’t say I’m surprised by the newest round of hikes, but the MTA is killing NYC. It’s little things like this that are slowly chipping away at my willingness to continue living in this corrupt, overcrowded, but insanely fun and cultural city. My love/hate relationship with New York is already pretty extreme. This just exacerbates it way more.

The newest round of hikes is especially rough for Long Islanders, and for any of the B&T (Bridge & Tunnel) commuters because LIRR and bridge tolls are more expensive, too. So in the future, when you want to visit New York, it’s going to cost you more to get around. After a while, they’re going to price all the tourists, and eventually the residents, out – one little annoying overpriced fee at a time. The “green” fee – $1 for a new card – is, for me, the worst. What a crock of shit.

Happy travels? Yeah, right. Have you been on a piss-smelling, packed-like-sardines, frequently rerouted MTA train lately? Wait till 2015! More hikes on the way. I hope to be long gone by then. Thanks, MTA, for slowly killing NYC.

Trip Report: Madrid 2013

I went to Madrid February 1-4, 2013.

Booking Madrid

The ticket was only $281 R/T in economy thanks to an awesome deal described in this post from The Points Guy. I was actually in the middle of putting together The Points Game guide, so this was a real opportunity to put some of the things I’d learned from the blogs into practice.

The currency conversion came to $281

The currency conversion came to $281

I bought the ticket for a number of reasons:

  • As a Silver Medallion on Delta, I was entitled to a 25% RDM bonus
  • The itinerary was JFK-FCO-MAD-FCO-JFK – over 10K MQMs and nearly 13K RDMs
  • The end result was 2 cents/mile – a screaming deal

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 7.28.18 PM

 

Multiply this times two

Multiply this times two – I credited the flights to Delta’s SkyMiles program

 

I paid for the ticket with a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card (my Amex Platinum Card) since I had a credit with them after bitching for a solid week in September.

And I’d always wanted to visit Spain. You can’t beat a $281 R/T ticket that comes with ~13K RDMs. It would also be my first chance to utilize my Global Entry (coming back to JFK) that I got through the Amex Platinum Card.

Departure

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Looky What I Just Got

20130303-163435.jpg

So it’s official. I’m FO on Delta.

Deciding where I want to place my airline allegiance. Should have American Platinum or even Executive Platinum status by the end of May. 2013 will definitely see a lot of programs get a good shake out. It’s definitely between Delta and American. Waiting for the dust to settle a bit before I commit to either, though.

 

Woo hoo! Just got 1,500 free AAdvantage Miles!

Thanks to the Frequent Miler for posting this opportunity today.

Nice lil' haul

Nice lil’ haul

 

I’ve done this FAR (Free-After-Rebate) thing once before, and it worked like a charm. The Staples people say you’ll get the check within 4-6 weeks, but for me it was more like 8. I also had to do the live chat help thingy a couple of times to coddle them into moving the process along. That last check was for $60. This time I upped the stakes and spent $500 (not the full $800 as suggested in the post linked above.)

 

It actually was pretty easy. Thanks, Staples.

It actually was pretty easy. Thanks, Staples.

 

This accomplishes many things. It will help me meet the minimum spend on my brand new Citi Amex card, which is $3,000 within four months.

I’ll get 500 AAdvantage miles for putting this on the Citi Amex. I clicked through the AAdvantage Shopping Portal to get an additional 2 miles/dollar. Total haul of 1,500 FREE AAdvantage miles. The redemption value for me is .02 cents per mile, so I value this at $30. But more importantly, it brings me closer to getting 50,000 more miles when I reach the $3,000 mark with the new card.

The software is for Windows computers, and I have a Mac, so it’s pretty much useless to me. I’m thinking I could sell it online or perhaps donate it to a local non-profit and write it off on my taxes next year, either of which would help me to turn a further profit on clicking a few links and floating $500 for a month or two. Not bad. Not bad at all.

The only thing that bugs me is that status that says “Researching.” Researching what? Hmmmz.

Trip Report: Hawaii 2013

Also see:

When Jay and I were in Iceland late June/early July of 2012, I discovered I’d finally accumulated enough miles via my Chase Sapphire Preferred card to book our dream trip to Hawaii. We were effectively on one vacation and planning another.

Our excitement was through the roof. I booked us from JFK-SFO-OGG on January 10 and HNL-LAX-JFK on January 20th.

Ten days in Hawaii. Total out-of-pocket cost: $15. To book the award ticket was just $7.50 a person.

There was only a little drama. I ended up redepositing the miles and outright buying a flight from SFO-LAX-HNL on Delta because it was so cheap that I was no longer getting my .02 per mile – pretty much the only policy I hold when it comes to redemption values. But we kept the JFK-SFO leg on United.

The big day finally rolled around. It was balmy in New York, but certainly not beach weather. We woke up early to take the A train to Howard Beach, then the AirTrain to the terminal at JFK. It was one of those moments where the plane was boarding, the door would soon be closed, and we were still in the security line. It was the first time I ran through the airport in my socks. We found our seats on the plane, which was surprisingly empty. Economy seats we had. There were plenty of business and first seats available, but we had to suck it up and sit in the back of the plane. But we didn’t care. We were embarking on the first leg of our trip to Hawaii.

Flying over Colorado

Flying over Colorado? Wyoming?

When we got to SFO, we had to change terminals, which was actually pretty easy. The only thing that sucked was having to grab our bags and recheck them. There was no SkyClub in SFO (!) but we only had time to grab a quick sandwich and then it was time to board our Delta flight to LAX.

Thanks, Deltoid

Thanks, Deltoid

Once at LAX, we had a few hours to kill, so we hung out in the SkyClub, where I concocted a brilliant new drink: ginger ale and rum with a splash of grenadine. I had two. NOM!

Impromptu mixology

Impromptu mixology

I worked on my laptop and watched the sunset over the ocean from inside the terminal.

Sunset at LAX

Sunset at LAX

LAX-OGG was our third flight that day. The two before were nothing special. Economy, standard service, no food, alright seats. Small regional jet from SFO-LAX. The plane to OGG was huge though, and completely full. It always breaks my heart to watch the boarding process of a large aircraft. Oh my fuck, people are so stupid.

I chose Delta as my airline of choice for my $200 airline credit benefit with my American Express Platinum card, so treated myself and Jay to some drinks and food for purchase. We were obviously on a flight that held many attendants of a destination wedding. People were getting plastered and were so loud. Since it was a late flight, people finally konked out after about 90 minutes.

I managed to get a wink or two, and when I woke up, we were a little over an hour from OGG. I was beyond thrilled. When I saw the first flickers of lights on the ground, I knew we were close. Flying over the ocean at night is terribly boring. But the long day of flights was finally over. We were in Maui. The flight attendants made an announcement wishing everyone a pleasant wedding. We did not get lei’d.

MAUI

It was 11pm when we landed. We dashed off the plane, stretched our legs, and went to grab our bags. I was immediately struck that the airport was all open-air (they all are in Hawaii, I found out). The light jacket I was wearing was too much. It was WARM. YES.

Love that shirt!

Love that shirt!

We went out to find a taxi and were immediately scolded for jaywalking. Um, this definitely wasn’t New York. It was actually really hard to find someone who would accept a credit card as payment. Again, very NOT New York. Also, there were a lot of women taxi drivers. We finally found a lady who would accept cards. I want my Ultimate Rewards points! By this time, we were halfway delirious and wanted to be in our room ASAP.

She drove us the twenty minutes to our hotel, the Aston Maui Li in Kihei, HI that I booked using ~47,000 United miles. We got our bags, and wanted to leave tip on the credit card. She demanded the tip in cash. Jay gave her all he had, which was about $6 (still a good tip for a $20 cab ride). She glared at us as we wheeled our bags away. It was so weird. But whatever.

We went to the checkin desk where the front desk employee was EXTREMELY thorough about the property. We were both so tired that we nodded off a bit during his spiel. I perked up when he said he’d upgraded us to an Ocean View room for free. The words “free upgrade” could pull me out of a deep REM cycle, I swear.

The room was basic, but we could indeed see the ocean. It was night, we were exhausted, and we looked forward to seeing Hawaii in the morning sunshine.

The next day we got the full effect. The property, the palm trees and beaches, the ocean… it was all perfect. We spent four days lying on the beaches to recover and reenergize. Maui was amazing. The beaches were wonderful, and we got quite a nice base tan.

Right outside our room

Right outside our room

Aston Maui Lu

Our beach on Maui

Hang loose

Hang loose

There were lots of handgliders during the day on the beach. In the mornings, we had breakfast at a cafe down the street, and in the evenings we explored a few different restaurants including the most amazing taco place I’ve ever been to in my life. The fish tacos were so flavorful and fresh. YUM.

We heard of a couple of gay places on Maui. First, the Sunseeker Resort is a gay owned and operated facility, and is apparently clothing optional. We walked by on the way to a sushi place, but didn’t see any nudity. :p

Then, there is a gay nude beach called Little Beach. It is only accessible by car. Since we didn’t rent one for this leg of the trip, we missed out on the chance to get some sun on our blindingly white backsides.

Let's face it, I went to Hawaii for the Mai Tais

Let’s face it, I went to Hawaii for the Mai Tais

What I wore to the luau

What I wore to the luau

Sunset over Maui

Sunset over Maui

Then, on January 14th, we flew to Hilo. We took a different car service to the Maui airport.

HAWAII (THE BIG ISLAND)

The big island was all Airbnb and Pointshound finds. We got some great deals, averaging about $60/night. We picked up a rental car from National, booked through Ultimate Rewards for only $167 for three days, and drove to our first Airbnb in Pahoa, HI.

Black sand beach on Hawaii

Black sand beach on Hawaii

Waves crashing over black lava beaches

Waves crashing over black lava beaches

I was immediately struck by vast change in geology. The black sand beaches were rugged, and breathtaking.

Our Airbnb host was charming and kind, but we only stayed in each place for one evening. The next day, we drove north on the Hawaii Belt Road, all the way to Kona. The plan was to completely circumnavigate the island. Along the way, we saw Akaka Falls, more stunning beaches, and so much lush vegetation. We also grabbed a delicious lunch at a bakery/cafe and stopped to stretch our legs, and visit a few scenic points.

Hawaii

Hawaii

Very rugged

Very rugged. Uh oh!

Northern tip of the Big Island

Northern tip of the Big Island – it looks like Wisconsin

The change is geography was dramatic. In the higher altitudes, it was extremely foggy, and sometimes rainy. By the time we made it to Kona, it was sunny and gorgeous again. The western side of the island is very rocky and rugged, with lots of lava fields. We did make it to one coffee plantation near Kona, though.

Coffee plantation in Kona, Hawaii

Coffee plantation in Kona, Hawaii

That night, we tried to sample Kona’s gay scene, but me and Jay ended up at a bar with one other guy and a very eager bartender. Not so great. Maybe we didn’t hit up the right place(s). We were exhausted anyway, and went to sleep in our gorgeous Airbnb rental with a view of the ocean beyond the city of Kona.

The next day, we drove to Volcano to see some of the hot magma and even more lava. What we saw, I will never forget for the rest of my life. Pictures don’t do it justice. It was a complete sensory experience. I could not only see it, but hear the crackle and force, smell the sulphur, and feel the vibration of the earth. Completely stunning.

I highly recommend a visit to Volcano if you are at all interested in geography/geology, or just want to experience the power of the earth.

Pele was raging

Pele was raging

Mist and fog filled the air all around the volcano

Mist and fog filled the air all around the volcano

We stayed that night at a creepy BnB we found on Pointshound. The woman was very religious, and the decorations were horrible. It was called End of Road Bed and Breakfast. Yeah, um… if you’re a fellow gay traveler, AVOID. We did have a fantastic dinner with lovely cocktails at the main lodge in Volcano. We wished we’d opted to stay there instead. Live and learn!

The next day, we returned the car and flew to Oahu.

OAHU

We were supposed to stay with one of my college friends on Oahu, but she screwed us over so we had to make last-minute Airbnb accomodations. Luckily, they were fine. We booked another car rental for pickup at HNL, this time with Budget. It was only $125 for three days.

We were most looking forward to our stay at the Hilton Waikiki Village. In the meantime, we partied with the gays in Honolulu, stayed out till four in the morning, and got drunk for $15 at a great little bar called Bacchus. Honolulu was very gay-friendly.

Dramz in Honolulu

Dramz in Honolulu

The next day, we explored Honoruru.

Honoruru

Honoruru

We went to check into the Hilton, which I booked through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. It offered me a whole slew of upgrades, including early checkin, late checkout, room upgrade, free breakfast, and a $100 food and beverage credit to use in the resort.

When we finally found the checkin desk which took forever as the place is very poorly signed, I heard those magical words again. “Free upgrade.” But this time, we snagged ourselves an Ocean View Suite. It had a separate sitting area, a huge king sized bed, and a large bathroom filled with sweet-smelling coconut- and pineapple-based products. We were shown to our room by the Concierge, who made us feel very welcomed. He brought along a kit detailing all of our amenities.

Our suite

Our suite

View from the balcony

View of the Pacific from the balcony

Thanks, Hilton and Amex!

We definitely used our food and beverage credit!

We definitely used our food and beverage credit!

Kissing penguins at the Hilton

Kissing penguins at the Hilton

The next day, we laid on next to the beach until about 3pm and sipped Mai Tais. Then, we came in, showered, and packed up our things. The Hilton was wonderful! Five out of five stars.

Then, for our last day/evening in Hawaii, we had lunch at a little cafe downtown and dinner at an Italian restaurant further east, and drove around Oahu. We went down to Diamondhead and hiked down to the beach. There was supposed to be a gay beach down there, but all we could see was families with small children. We gave up and laid out to get a few last rays of sun.

Last day on Oahu

Last day on Oahu

All-in-all, a wonderful trip. A few observations:

  • Hawaii was way more religious than I expected. There were churches EVERYWHERE
  • The weather was perfect (that might warrant a DUH)
  • I felt very comfortable the entire time. Everyone was kind
  • Hawaiians LOVE Spam
  • It was no more expensive than anything in NYC
  • I would totally go back again. I think Maui was my fave! (Then the Big Island, then Oahu.)
They love it

They love it!

Bottom line

Couldn’t have asked for a better trip. Read this post to find out how I made this dream a reality. We only paid $100 per day between the two of us for hotels, car rentals, food, gas, souvenirs, AND R/T flights from New York.

This trip was my first points redemption. Safe to say I’m completely hooked!

Doesn't have to be!

Doesn’t have to be!

Hot dogs at HNL - back to NYC

Hot dogs at HNL – back to NYC

The flights back to New York were standard. We hung out in the nice SkyClub at HNL and had a couple of beers. When we got to LAX, we saw all members of the Boy Band 98 Degrees at the SkyClub. They were in business, of course. Jay and I were upgraded to Economy Comfort, which was a nice gesture. I sat right next to the door, and was the first person off the plane.

Fenwick was VERY happy to see us when we got back home to Brooklyn. I slept for a solid 12 hours to recoup from a long day of travel. A few days later, it snowed and was blisteringly cold, but I still had Hawaii on my mind as I geared up for my next trip to Madrid.

Thinking of doing an American Airlines Status Challenge

So I got in on the awesome fares to South America during American’s great fares that emerged around Valentine’s Day. I’m going to Easter Island, Chile in May. So excited. Round-trip in business/first class was a touch over $1,000. Check out this sweet itinerary:

There...

There…

and back...

and back…

 

So now I’m thinking of doing a status challenge on American Airlines.

You only need 10K points to get Platinum during a challenge, but there are reports that 20K will get you Executive Platinum.

Points are calculated as miles flown * fare class.
So 15,088 * 1.5 = 22,632.

Here’s the info I found:

Challenge (AA) – FlyerGuide Wiki

Here are the LAN earning rates, by class, on American:

http://aa.com/i18n/AAdvantage/earnMiles/travel/airlines/lan.jsp

And the miles calculations:

Screen shot 2013-02-17 at 1.43.03 PM

 

I’ll also get 25K+ redeemable miles for another free domestic R/T at some point in the future based on the fare classes.

I’ve read that an Exec Plat status match is $250 – well worth it for the unlimited domestic upgrades and the 8 system-wide upgrades on ANY fare class. I’ll also earn 2 500-mile upgrade certificates on this trip (one for each 10K points earned), too.

So when I saw the fare and trip for the first time, I thought:

• EASTER ISLAND
• Exec Plat Status
• Eight system-wide upgrades
• Two upgrade certs
• Free domestic R/T
• and all in biz and first class

Can’t beat that with a stick.

I think there are still goes good fares to Buenos Aires and Santiago. You can play around on the Matrix and see what comes up.

matrix.itasoftware.com –> such a good tool.

American’s giving Delta a run for their money (literally) with this one! Excited to experience their premium products. And if all goes according to plan, I may switch the bulk of my flying over to American. At least until the ahem, MERGER goes through.

Thoughts, anyone? Are my calculations correct?

Hawaii: 10 Days and 3 Islands for $100 a Day

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card was my first premium credit card.

Before that, my credit history was full of collections, defaults, and charge-offs. My credit score was in the low 500s.

In early 2012, I resolved to finally get my credit under control. I used my tax return (in conjunction with my full-time job at the time) to pay down my credit cards to $0. I started making big payments at the end of January.

By late February, my credit score shot up to 702! Pretty amazing – but was I ready to apply for a premium card?

My relationship helped

Read More

Another Lost Amex Bonus

Giiiive me the pointssss

Giiiive me the pointssss

Ugh, American Express just looooves to screw me out of bonuses. I recently got the Premier Rewards Gold card which comes now with a nice bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after only $1,000 of spend in the first three months. BUT! It’s not available if you already have a Green, Gold, or Platinum card. And I have the Platinum Card. It was right there in the terms and conditions the entire time. I guess that’s what I get for doing an app-o-rama while half drunk – OK, really drunk – on tequila. This isn’t the first time I’ve been screwed out of a bonus. Here’s why: I never actually applied for the Platinum Card. That’s right. I called to upgrade my Gold Delta card to a Platinum Delta card. Guess what came in the mail? Yep. And there was no signup bonus attached to it.

The accidental Platinum Card

The accidental Platinum Card

I bitched and bitched, called and emailed, and bitched some more to the point where I’m sure I’m on some sort of blacklist with Amex. I kept the card in the end because I had a big trip coming up with two friends and thought the free lounge access would be nice. Plus I wanted the airline credits and Global Entry… eventually. Basically, I wanted the card, but didn’t want it then. But I kept it as I’d already taken the ding on my credit report. I also still have the Gold Delta card. Go figure. You’d think that they’d offer MORE of a bonus for getting another card when you already have the Platinum Card, not less (or nothing!). I’m sorta hoping they give me the bonus for the Premier Rewards Gold card anyway. What’s the likelihood of that happening? Yes, I should’ve read the T&C more closely before I got all trigger-happy. But this is the second Amex bonus I’ve lost. It especially burns knowing that the Platinum Card recently had a 100,000 MR bonus. I’m sorta thinking of just canceling both cards for a year and starting all over from scratch. I don’t want a business version of either card, nor do I want to pay those hefty annual fees with no bonus to offset it. And of course Amex won’t match a public offer or award some goodwill points.

Fuck-Amex

Good thing I’ve had MUCH better luck with Chase. Totally open to thoughts/opinions on this. Just burns me so bad to lose out on 150,000 MR points between these two cards. That’s R/T biz class to Australia! I’ll end this one the way it began: UGH.

My First App-O-Rama 2.22.13

On the evening of February 22, 2013, I had a little too much tequila and decided to do an app-o-rama. Not the best idea ever, as I caused myself to miss out on yet ANOTHER Amex bonus by not paying close enough attention to the T&C. I think I was little nervous about applying for three cards in one night.

I would’ve applied for four, but I’m sorta between jobs/projects right now and didn’t want to push it with the minimum spend requirements. Here’s what I ended up getting:

british-airways-visa

Chase British Airways Visa Signature® Card

  • 50,000 Avios after spending $1,000 within three months
  • 25,000 more Avios after spending $10,000 in the first year
  • 25,000 MORE Avios after spending $20,000 in the first year

Why I got it:

  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Smart Chip Technology
  • Great earning structure: 2.5 Avios/dollar on BA and 1.25 on everything else. Pretty fantastic.
  • Avios are GREAT for short-haul trips under 650 miles – only 4,500 Avios each way in economy. But for short flights of ~2 hours, I couldn’t care less about class of service. This is great for visiting Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and other cities in the near-Northeast region. And it’s only 7,5000 Avios to Chicago (I love Chicago).  They’re also great for repositioning for mileage runs (I haven’t done one… yet.) This post from Extra Pack of Peanuts has a lot of great info about the Avios program.

AAdvantage Citi card

Citi Select® / AAdvantage® American Express® card

  • 50,000 AAdvantage miles after spending $3,000 within four months
  • 2 Admirals Club lounge passes
  • $150 Statement Credit on American Airlines

Why I got it: 

  • To build up my AAdvantage balance
  • I am thinking of switching the bulk of my flying from Delta to American
  • 1 free checked bag, priority boarding, and get 10% of miles redeemed back (up to 10,000 miles per year)
  • $85 annual fee is waived for the first year (so why not)

premier-rewards-gold amex

And the sore spot. The American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card

I got in didn’t get in on this offer:

50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $1,000 within three months

Why I wanted it:

To build up my Membership Rewards balance

It has the best earning structure of all the MR cards (three points/dollar on airfare (four if booked thru Amex Travel), two at gas stations (moot point for NYC) and grocery stores (which could encourage me to not spend so much eating out!), and one point everywhere else.

I went ahead and put $1,000 of spend on it the first day JUST TO SEE if it would trigger the bonus or not. I’m not eligible for it because I already have the Platinum Card, but whatever. Anyone know how good Amex is about blocking bonuses for this reason? It’s entirely my fault – I should’ve read the T&C more closely. I blame first app-o-rama jitters and too much tequila.

I also really wanted to pick up the Ink Plus card from Chase while I was at it, but alas. The $5,000 spend within three months was a little bit much. Plus, I’ve got a lot of spending to put on the new British Airways card to unlock the full 100,000 Avios.

So that’s it. My first app-o-rama. I was instantly approved online for all three with nice credit lines on each, which made me feel really confident about my credit health. My travel goals for this round of apps are Toronto, Montreal, Boston, Dublin, Seattle, Alaska, and eventually, Australia. I’d also LOVE to fit in Vienna/Prague sometime this summer. 🙂

Chase Sapphire Preferred 7% Annual Points Dividend Posted

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I LOVE this card. Chase consistently knocks it out of the park with their Ultimate Rewards program. I’m saving up 150,000 points to redeem a dream trip to Australia and Tokyo this winter (Australia’s summer). This little perk of the Sapphire Preferred card is worth more for travel than the annual fee of $95 (assuming each point is redeemed for over .02 which I always do). Definitely a keeper. I almost feel bad about having to route most of my spend onto the British Airways Visa. But it’s still a Chase product. Well played, Chase. Well played.