I Bought the Wrong Gift Card – Then Broke Even With Points & Raise

My little brother came to visit recently. We went to the mall because he wanted to buy a new pair of shoes – in cash. He’s one of those “sneakerheads” so his purchase was likely going to be around $100.

My little mind started wondering how to get some points out of the whole deal. Then I remembered MileagePlus X!

sell gift card raise

An app you really need to download

And because I have the Chase United Explorer card (see it here), I knew I could get a 20% mileage bonus on any gift card I purchased through the app – even if I didn’t pay with that card.

We went into a dozen stores – Nike, Finish Line, Journeys, Foot Locker, and a couple of department stores. I’m not much of a mall shopper, so my head was spinning. When he finally decided on a pair of Nikes at Finish Line, I licked my chops and bought a Nike gift card on the MPX app. But realized the second the transaction processed I was in the wrong store. Guh!

My brother paid cash and I… had a Nike gift card I couldn’t use. “It wasn’t that much,” I told myself. But then remembered… I could sell it online. Maybe that would make it OK – and at least break me even – with the points I’d earn in the mix.

I ended up selling the gift card on Raise. Here’s how it went!

My experience selling a gift card on Raise

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Chase Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited: Which Is Better for Your Spending?

Chase has 2 great no annual fee cards that pair nicely with premium Ultimate Rewards cards: Freedom and Freedom Unlimited.

The Freedom card earns 5X in rotating quarterly categories on up to $1,500 per quarter in combined spending. The Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5X on all purchases with no cap.

Really gonna depend on bonus categories and how much you typically spend

Lots of peeps ask which is better. To which I always answer: it depends on how much you like the bonus categories. But there’s a longer answer even beyond that: how much to you plan to spend on the card each year?

Let’s talk about the break even point and which is better for your finances.

Freedom Vs Freedom Unlimited

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Earth Day 2018: Commit to Using Less Plastic!

Earth Day is TODAY – Sunday, April 22nd this year. And I have a new mantra:

The only plastic I carry is in my wallet.

Our earth is full of plastic in oceans, landfills, and accumulated litter. This past year, I committed to eliminating plastic from my life as much as I can by using refillable water bottles, steel straws, and cloth bags.

I’ve made so much progress that I mostly touch plastic to earn points & miles.

use less plastic

I believe we can interact peacefully with the earth and help it heal. There is too much plastic pollution

The travel and hospitality industries are incredibly wasteful. If everyone took a small step to offset plastic use, imagine how much we could save from ending up in oceans, hurting animals, or going into a landfill.

“The only plastic I carry is in my wallet.”

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A $2,100 Trip to San Francisco and Portland for 30 Cents Out-of-Pocket!

This month’s marked with lots of travel. I just got back from a week in Japan. And tomorrow, I’m off to San Francisco and Portland!

I was tallying up my points totals and comparing what the retail costs would’ve been. This trip would’ve cost over $2,000 had I paid cash.

san francisco with points

I got 30 cents… will this be enough for 5 days in San Fran and Portland? :p

I should disclose ended up paying a little cash, in addition to my points. 30 whole cents. 😹

Here’s how I did it!

5 days on the West Coast for under a buck

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Which Chase Card Is Best When You’re Starting With Points?

In general, I tell most peeps to start with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. It’s the quintessential points card, even after all these years. And you can transfer the points you earn directly to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio – most of them instantly.

If you spend a lot in travel & dining, or if you want lounge access, spring for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s how to find the break even point with the annual fees ($95 for the Preferred and $450 for the Reserve, but you get a $300 annual travel credit).

which chase card is best

I transferred Chase points to Hyatt to stay 3 free nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

Already have one or the other? Then get the Freedom or Freedom Unlimited. The only difference is the bonus categories. Freedom has 5% rotating quarterly categories. Freedom Unlimited earns 1.5 points per $1 spent – and you can combine the points with your Sapphire card points. So they’re an easy way to boost your Ultimate Rewards points balance fast. And both cards have a $0 annual fee!

If you’re looking for a small business card, get the Ink Business Preferred or Ink Business Cash. The former earns points that transfer directly to travel partners and has a $95 annual fee; the latter requires you to have a premium Chase card to access travel partners, but a $0 annual fee.

If you just want to earn cashback, spring for any of the cards with a $0 annual fee (Freedom, Freedom Unlimited, or Ink Business Cash).

But to get awesome travel (think international Business Class flights, upscale hotels, and cheap flights to Hawaii), you want one of the annual fee cards (Sapphire Preferred, Sapphire Reserve, or Ink Business Preferred). The annual fees are worth it for the huge travel savings you can get. It’s how I got a $2,000+ Mexican vacation for $90!

Which Chase card? Here’s a flowchart

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Review: American Airlines Business Class 777-200 Dallas to Tokyo-NRT

Also see: 

The day finally came to travel to Japan. I love travel days. And this one was silky smooth.

We arrived to the airport in 20 minutes flat, cleared PreCheck in I swear to gods 90 seconds, and headed to the Centurion Lounge. There was time for breakfast, a cocktail, and a free manicure. And, our departure gate was right across from the lounge.

(Perfect!)

I was relaxed and happy when boarding began. And used 54,000 American miles for this flight.

The actual cost is 60,000 American miles. But I got a 10% mileage rebate upon booking – so 6,000 miles were instantly redeposited into my account. This perk comes with most American co-branded cards (with both Citi and Barclays). It’s worth the annual fee for this alone.

american-airlines-business-class-777-200-review

Ready to fly over the Pacific (and nearly halfway around the world!) in Business Class for 54,000 American miles

Last time I flew this route in this plane was in First Class.  So I was curious to see how the new retro-fitted Business Class seats would look and feel. And off we go!

American Airlines Business Class 777-200 review

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New! Chase Hyatt Visa Offers for Spending at a Dozen Merchants

Just got this email from Chase. Peeps with a Chase Hyatt Visa can now sign up for an official offer page and activate offers – very similar to Amex Offers. The only difference is there’s a dedicated page for it – you can’t activate the deals from your Chase accounts page.

Visa Offers with the Chase Hyatt card are live

I have 13 offers on my card after signing up for access, to places like Lowe’s, Boxed, Hulu, and StubHub. Here’s how to find it!

Chase Hyatt Visa Offers

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Review: JAL Business Class Sky Suite 787-8 NRT-DFW

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Last week, before my flight from Tokyo to Dallas, I checked if seats were open on JAL. I originally booked my way home with 50,000 Alaska miles for an American Airlines Business Class ticket. But I was totally willing to pay 10,000 more miles to fly back on JAL. Especially when the cash rate was $7,300+!

JAL Business Class Sky Suite

JAL Business Class cabin

Seats were available! I called Alaska Airlines to make the switch. A few minutes and 10,000 miles later, I was booked into a JAL Sky Suite seat back home to Dallas.

I’d always wanted to fly a Japanese airline. Both times I’ve flown were with American. So I did a happy dance I was able to score this seat.

Even better, the new flight time was within 5 minutes of my old one. So I didn’t have to change any plans, other than fly home in a better seat on a new (to me) airline!

JAL Business Class Sky Suite review

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Happy Hour Tonight – Join Us at the Frequent Flyer Meetup in Dallas!

Hey-o, I’m back from an amazing trip to Tokyo. And man, jet lag is no joke!

I can’t wait to write about the hotels, flights, and wanderings. In the meantime, follow me on Instagram to see the city covered in pink and white cherry blossoms – or let’s talk about it tonight at the next Out for Miles frequent flyer meetup!

dallas frequent flyer meetup

Take a break from Monday-ing and have a drink with us

There’s a great group of folks chatting about points & miles, trips, and credit cards tonight at Blue Mesa in Addison, TX. We’ll be there at 6pm – just in time to make the end of happy hour!

Out for Miles frequent flyer meetup

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Updated: What’s FoundersCard Membership Worth in 2018?

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I wrote my first post about FoundersCard 4 years ago (!). And have been a member ever since.

I renew my membership every year to get discounts and many of the same ancillary benefits offered on co-branded credit cards. So it’s high time for an update about what FoundersCard gets you in 2018.

founderscard review 2018

A lot has changed but many perks have stuck around

If anything, it’s gotten better. Though benefits have shifted, it’s still worthwhile if you can make the most of a few good deals.

What’s FoundersCard about?

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Recap: Out and Out’s 9 Best Posts of March 2018 💯

Wow – March 2018 was the best month ever here at Out and Out. Your likes, comments, clicks and views are definitely noticed. Thank you.

The blog got over 54,000 page views, from readers in every US state. That’s not as much as the “big travel blogs” but it means everything to me.

out and out march 2018

Thank you, Cali! 🌴

The top 5 states this month were California, New York, my home state of Texas, Illinois, and Florida – as is usual for the blog. Feeling the Cali love!

April is a big month full of travel – I’ll be out of town most of the month, in Tokyo, San Francisco, and Portland. I won’t be able to blog quite as much. But follow me on Instagram, which I use as a mini travel diary, to be a part of the action.

Here’s what resonated in March 2018.

Best posts March 2018

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5 Ways to Practice Self-Care at Conferences

Once or twice a year, I make it to another city for a conference, like Frequent Traveler University (FTU) or FinCon. (I actually plan on attending FinCon 2018 in Orlando this September!)

I’ve seen lots of articles on how to get more out of conferences. The gist is: talk to everyone, go to social events, get involved, show up early, even go for a run to keep energy levels up.

That all sounds great. It also sounds freaking exhausting.

conference self care

Industry conferences come with amazing opportunities. But you need self-care along the way

There’s a point during every conference where my energy dips, I’m thirsty and/or starving, and talking to more people sounds awful because my voice is shot.

Here’s how I plan to prepare for my next conference: get more out of it by bringing self-care with me.

Take care of yourself first

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